As John Key recently stated, quoting from renowned economist Brian Easton’s work, the large inequality cliff was created by two large seismic activities caused by the Rogernomic fault (mid-1980’s) and the Ruthanasia fault (early-1990’s). Since that time the cliff has remained largely stable.
Although the region had good quality fences before the first neo-liberal earthquake, they were slowly removed or allowed to fall into disrepair in the twenty odd years that followed.
Major report on fencing
The Expert Advisory Group, established by the Children’s Commissioner in March 2012 to examine the evidence around measures needed to reduce child poverty in New Zealand released a report on the fences in December 2012 and included 78 recommendations and a list of initial priorities for action.
Reactions to report
The National Government’s immediate reaction was to say they would fix anything that didn’t cost money.
Since then, the Prime-minister has justified the lack of repairs to the fence by pointing out that none of the previous Governments had fixed the cliff so he was being consistent. He also believed that people stayed at the bottom of the cliff due to ‘lifestyle choices’, since he was proof that a determined person could climb the cliff if they wanted. (Editor’s note: Cliff was only a hill in PM’s time and there were strong fences)
His Social Development minister has argued that no reports to date have really measured the size of the gaps in the fence, though she wasn’t about to arrange one. She further argued that the gaps were not really gaps (i.e. absolute) but rather wider spacing between posts (i.e. relative).
Meantime, his Finance minister angrily asserted that there was no cliff.
All the while the Government has provided money through payments or reduced taxes for big businesses and wealthier citizens to build walls to keep away from them so that the majority of the population is forced towards the gaps and over the side of the inequality cliff.
The short-term solution to this problem is to urgently spend money to fix the fence: to provide living wages to those who work and adequate social security for those that do not. To ensure that companies distribute the fruits of their worker’s labours more evenly between capital, CEO’s and workers. And Governments gather the ‘up to $6 billion’ in missing tax receipts.
Most importantly we need to urgently work on the 78 recommendations of the Expert Advisory Group.
The longer-term solution is to start levelling the cliff so we return to a period when fences and ambulances were rarely needed.