Gordon Campbell on Bill English living in denial

The working poor (aka the precariat) have been a direct byproduct of the economic policies in vogue for the past 30 years or more, all over the Western world. The resultant anger – and related sense of hopelessness – now finds political expression in the open hostility to migrants (seen as a further source of job insecurity) and the existing power structure.

That anger was evident in the Brexit vote, and it underlies the support for Donald Trump in the United States. As automation scythes its way through more and more jobs, we’re setting ourselves up for more of the same, and worse. We’re creating a society where incomes will be increasingly reliant on low wages and short-term, part-time contracts, reduced collective bargaining rights, and token increases in the minimum wage, if we’re lucky. Basically, a seedbed for all kinds of misery and social dysfunction.

Not that Finance Minister Bill English seems aware of any of this and/or is happy enough to remain in denial, thanks. In the House yesterday and on RNZ this morning, English still seemed to be living in the 1950s, within a Norman Rockwell painting. In his happy imaginings, hard work will still be rewarded with upward mobility, and anyone who wants to get ahead, can and will. Hope exists, and virtue and effort are amply rewarded. Kids of today can expect more, and better. This fantasy is a world where downward mobility and the rising tide of income inequality do not exist. And if you do happen to get in trouble… why, Social Welfare will always be there to lend you a cheery hand up, as the annual increases in the minimum wage roll in and put extra money in the kitty. God bless you, Mister English!

Oh yeah, there is the little matter of people sleeping in cars. That, English added, was not a fault of central government but of poor local planning rules. Nothing that a bit of better zoning couldn’t fix. Not his problem. Is this what English really thinks? Or is this more from the usual government readiness to ignore the social distress through which they drive in their ministerial cars – while they pitch their political messages entirely to the 50-60% of the public still not experiencing these life-blighting problems?

Other politicians are at least talking about the future shape of work. Ideas like the Universal Basic Income may have flaws, but at least they’re a recognition that business-as-usual is not going to be sustainable for much longer. English has yet to get up to speed on that reality… and obviously, he isn’t planning for it. Meanwhile, instead of offering a hand-up, his government has been hellbent for the past five years on making welfare support harder and harder to access.

As political rhetoric goes, it is all so very threadbare. Look, English told RNZ this morning, think how much better things are here than in Australia (!) and in the United States. Yep. That’s his version of the old 1950s parental saying – eat your vegetables kids, there are people starving in India. So, and similarly… count your blessings folks, as you work two and three crap jobs to pay the rent and put food on the table. Bill English sees hope on the horizon. And if you don’t… well, that’s your problem, not his.

Hillary and Elizabeth

The bonding going on between Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren has been one of the stranger aspects of the 2016 presidential campaign. Clinton has supposedly been sizing up the heroine of the left as a possible vice-presidential candidate. Yeah, right. The cosiness has had far more to do with signalling to Bernie Sanders supporters that look, I can’t be so bad – Elizabeth Warren likes me! For her part, Warren is doing her bit by reacting positively, in the hope this will make it even harder for Clinton to zigzag back to the right, after her coronation in Philadelphia.

In fact, the chances of Clinton choosing Warren as her running mate at the Democratic convention are low to non-existent. A double female ticket would still be widely seen as a too risky move, even after centuries of double male tickets, broken only by Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and Sarah Palin in 2008.

On Slate this week, there’s an excellent piece spelling out why Warren-for-Veep would be a bad idea even beyond the obvious – that Warren would easily upstage Clinton, and turn this into a Warren/Clinton campaign, not a Clinton/Warren one. That’s not what a vice-presidential candidate is supposed to do. Secondly and far more importantly, it would weld Warren-as-Veep into support for the Clinton agenda, when Warren could be better deployed in continuing to achieve meaningful results in the Senate as a free agent. Thirdly, the Democrats would lose Massachusetts in a by election, if Warren departed to become vice-President…and so on.

The more likely choices? Tim Kaine of Virginia (male, old, and reliably dull yet popular enough in a state that the Dems might then win) or Julian Castro ( male, young, and Hispanic) or Tom Perez ( male, youngish, Hispanic.) All these guys being well to the right of Elizabeth Warren.

Live From The Plantation

Its an oldie, but Mr Lif’s “Plantation” song is still on target as a theme song for the precariat… Lif really nails the nature of shit jobs, and the fantasies of revenge that go with them.

And then there’s Jennifer Aniston in the very great Office Space movie, expressing her flair…

And there’s the memo, and the cover sheets…

7 Comments on Gordon Campbell on Bill English living in denial

  1. As the economy is fully controlled by the Crown NZ govt(aka English’s prepubescent budget) in which he is borrowing from private banksters with interest using the taxpayers name… only idiots will believe him.
    Believers of his bankster spin(straight from the sticky part of a woman’s carefree sanitary pad), want to believe his remix version of the “american dream”.

    Bankster Bill’s other Key G spot hitting singles include:
    “Work debt slaves work”
    Work even harder to make the illegitimate Crown NZ govt and the corporations even richer.
    If you haven’t ” made it” working for the corporation on the new min wage aka “living wage” work harder.

    These bureaucrats deny it as they don’t want to know that their unnecessary bankster “austerity” and their policies are really hurting people.

  2. Bill English may not be in denial, may be more of a cognitive dissonance.
    The modern debt slavery system he personally profits greatly off , he cannot think objectively about it.
    Bill English is unconsciously identified with ( acting and thinking as) part of an evil corporation that just wants to protect the old ways/status quo.
    Mentally it would be felt as a form of self destruction for him to admit that the govt budget is wrong, the costly practice of borrowing of money off private banksters with interest is wrong, the “austerity” economy is wrong.
    Poor Bill he does not want to be evil or wrong, so he will deny it and hangs out with other well paid corporate thinkers. No homeless people there.The Bill English Club.

    So much dysfunctional corporate thinking has been normalized.

  3. and why is it that no one seems to have made the link between the Deputy PM launching a virulent attack on “unprogressive” Wellington, because it doesn’t build roads quick enough, just days after his sister-in-law erects bill boards across the town as mock State Highway signs?

    to quite the herald in 2008

    “Nowadays, discussing work can be touchy for the two brothers.

    Conor: “I’ve been in situations where I’ve been advocating, or involved in business that has a different view from whatever Bill’s view is. You’re very guarded in terms of anything that might be sensitive, you just have to be professional.”

    oops. Professionalism just went out the window to be replaced by something decidedly less honourable or am I missing something?

  4. Your tune selection reminds me of the not-enirely-superficial-or-irrelevant song,’The Sewing Machine’ by Betty Hutton (see Youtube). Plus ca change…

  5. @WGB Professional has a meaning “to be paid for”.
    Honor-ability on the other hand lies in the realm of the human being, not to be sought or found in the bankers “bought and paid for” professional bureaucrats and politicians.
    These deluded over paid egocentric people really believe they are normal (and not insane as they appear to sane people).Just as the mad man does not know he is mad as the psychopath politician who has lots of money just thinks he is successful, not what we see as displaying antisocial behaviors .
    Bill English just does not want to think his budget will cause harm so he blames others and finds excuses that are not true. Saying to himself the homelessness from his “austerity” (and the govt social and welfare needs cuts) is harm from another govt another budget (not his). Scrapping the RMA just feeds the govt’s preferred property developers.
    Nobody sane believes his crazy story that scrapping RMA earlier would’ve changed the austerity budget, or his colleagues in the out of control & ruthless govt agent MSD revealingly lead by X bankers( Ruth Bound).
    To many bwankers worshiping their demigod “money” in a corporate collective madness forgetting who they are.

  6. Mr English and the Nats are in complete denial about poverty – and a lot of other things, including the fact that resource limitation (strategic minerals, arable land, fish stocks, water supplies and sustainable energy) is now starting to impact on the economic wellbeing of Homo sapiens. Perhaps the most urgent aspect of this is climate change which few mainstream politicians have any idea how to tackle effectively. The Nats’ strategy is to make a few token announcements that will do nothing; Labour may do a bit more but still not enough. The sad fact is that most of us are still in the grip of the cargo-cult mentality of endless ‘economic growth’, and somehow believe that technical innovation will always find a way. If we are going to have a decent future we have to (a)get real about resource limitation and (b)get serious about growing inequality.

  7. What nativity, man’s emissions of Co2 alone warming the planet aka ” Climate change” is utter bullshit.
    A campaign done to push through carbon taxes and Carbon trading for Key’s and the Green party’s banker buddies invested in the hedge funds, “diesel transition buses” and carbon trading.

    There are enough resources for all, currently the Crown claimed about 90% with a few settlers Maori getting a illegitimate governance partnership payoff of 10%.

    Control of resources is in the hands of the big corporations (about half the food is wasted while people go hungry).
    That is a big inequality in the ownership of resources .

    The green party sucks worse than national (and the flaccid labor) at least Key is openly a greedy money worshiping evil bankster while the green banksters have done nothing and just talk a lot or environmental bla bla rivers bla bla.

    Technology today reflects the madness of Washington and the Crown.

    It is called ‘smart’ but is not smart . Expensive robot animals to kill men.
    It is expensive and unnecessary technology used to breach privacy, collect data, increase consumer costs and energy costs and also for surveillance.

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