I’ve been saying for a while that ‘neoliberalism’ – ie a belief in the efficacy of free markets, the distortionary evil of taxes and benefits and the minimalisation of the state – is dead. There are still a few adherents drifting around the fringes of politics that truly believe, but this budget seems like a good time to mark that in National the doctrine is obsolete. National believes in massive intervention in the economy, mostly in favor of their political donors but also in response to signals from their polling and market research, and English has raised or introduced so many taxes I’ve lost count. I don’t know what we’re supposed to call this mode of government, exactly, but it ain’t ‘neoliberal’.
Anyone who calls this Government neo-liberal is profoundly stupid, and thinks it is just a label to apply to anything you don’t like.
Not that I agree with Danyl that National intervenes in the economy to favour political donors. All donors over $15,000 are listed and they’re not the ones who benefit from intervention. The biggest beneficiary of corporate welfare is Kiwirail, followed by all those tech companies that the Callaghan Institute gives money to.
So, on one hand the opposition can put this budget down as a victory. They’ve made a big deal about the housing crisis and child poverty, and the government’s main policy changes have been the introduction of a capital gains tax and an increase in benefits to beneficiaries with families. Forcing your enemies to adopt your rhetoric and policies is a huge win.
Yep, it is a huge win for the left. A National Government has done what not even a Labour Government would do.
On the other hand, the opposition looked like clueless losers yesterday. What kind of left-wing politician opposes the gutting of the KiwiSaver kickstarter – pretty much the definition of middle-class welfare – to tackle child poverty?
Well both Labour and Greens do.
And Little’s speech was just awful. ‘Gene Simmons’? ‘Fiscal gender reassignment’? Why did he think it was a good idea to reference a source of internal division within his own party? What a mess.
It was the worst opposition leader’s budget speech I have seen.
The kids on the social media like to use the phrase ‘hot take’ to describe commentary that is hysterical and uninformed, and that’s what we got from the opposition parties yesterday, gouging their own eyes out with horror at a budget filled with ideas they’ve been demanding for years. Ridiculous.
When I saw the Budget in the lockup and realised how left-wing it was, the one small ray of consolation was that Labour and the Greens would probably be so shocked when they got a copy at 2 pm, they wouldn’t know what to do. Would they look ridiculous, as Danyl says, denouncing they very things they had been demanding, or would they think quickly on their feet.
If I had been the Greens I would have have claimed credit as the only party that had been advocating for an increase in benefit rates, and held the Budget up as an example of why it is important to have the Greens in Parliament – that they can make a difference – even from opposition.
Instead they all routinely denounced it. I guess it was the equivalent of National in 1986 condemning the free market reforms of the then Labour Government.