Thinking Long Term

31 January, 2008

Politics is everything

I was thinking this morning about how much politics is a part of my life.  But really, it’s not just my life, politics is central to everyone’s lives, whether they realise it or not.  I realise this is rather a politically geeky thing to say – but hey, I figured if you’re reading my blog then I might be forgiven!  My family get irritated when I talk about politics at the dinner table.  They’re scientists – they like to discuss things like kidney ferns and isotopes and acute demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy.  Whatever that means.  I kinda wish I did biology in year 12.  The funny thing is, while most people profess to hate politics, they’re talking it all the time – whether it’s how much they’re getting paid, how well looked after they were in hospital, how many bloody pointless letters studylink sends them, what little Suzie learnt in school yesterday, or the weather (yes, weather is politics – climate change politics).  Most of these things I’ve mentioned are social issues – things that actually affect the way people go about their daily lives.   And it’s these things that the Labour-led government cares about.  Labour was founded on the principles of community well-being.  Labour cares about what we care about – whereas National instead has a focus on individualism.  Take John Key’s State of the Nation speech a couple of days ago.  While the first message people perceive (after the scaremongering about youth crime – ambulance at the bottom as usual from them) is that National supports free education, the hidden agenda is 1. Privatisation of year 12 and 13, and 2. cutting benefits to 16 and 17 year olds.  I.e. if you are 16 or 17 and you are pregnant, sick, disabled, or looking for work, you wouldn’t be able to receive the Independent Youth Benefit.  Good one, John.   And what exactly did he mean by “genuinely too sick to work”?  I was too sick to work recently, so I had to go on the sickness benefit.  I would not have been able to without a medical certificate.  Seems pretty genuine.  And I would have been earning about three times as much (in my near minimum wage earning summer job) if I had been well enough to work.  I really wish I could have been at work!  Sometimes, people are in unfortunate circumstances.  And that is when we should collectively support them.

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6 Comments »

  1. There in lies the problem. In modern first world countries politicians are irrelevant or at worst a small irritation and people take no notice of them. They are also the most harmonious nations. Politics is central in Kenyans lives and look what its happening there. So I suggest people should not take politics very seriously.

    Comment by Kevin — 31 January, 2008 @ 4:48 pm | Reply

  2. Kevin, there are many relevant politicians in NZ and a few large irritations (but I’ll leave you to decide on which is which, I’m sure your opinion differs from mine). You’re taking a dangerously ethnocentric leap draw a divisive line between “modern first world countries” and other nations. Now what you’re probably trying to get at is the role of the state… Well, I don’t agree that less is more. Sure, we shouldn’t take politics to seriously, funny’s good. Michael Cullen is pretty funny. I’d try to avoid comparing NZ with Kenya when they’re experiencing genocide – I doubt it’s occurring just because people take politics seriously there.

    Comment by alvera — 1 February, 2008 @ 5:50 pm | Reply

  3. “Labour cares about what we care about”

    Who is WE?

    Comment by arch0n — 3 February, 2008 @ 1:14 pm | Reply

  4. “we” = the collective – the people of New Zealand.

    Comment by alvera — 3 February, 2008 @ 6:47 pm | Reply

  5. I see. So “Labour cares about what [the collective people of New Zealand] care about” – whereas “National instead has a focus on individualism”.

    I take this as being the individuals who make up New Zealand, who care about things as individuals? These combined individuals being what makes up the collective people of New Zealand?

    Anyway, I take it that if Labour cares about what the collective people of New Zealand care about then there is no issue. The collective will vote hem back in. No worries.

    Comment by arch0n — 3 February, 2008 @ 9:20 pm | Reply

  6. Thanks for commenting, arch0n. I think you know what I was getting at. The ideological difference between Labour and National. It’s quite simple – Labour was founded on the principles that through support from the community and collective action, people will do well. The opposite view is that individuals should go it alone, and if they put in the effort, they will do well. I don’t subscribe to that view because I think there are a whole range of other factors (for example, the poverty trap) that mean some individuals don’t have the same opportunities to advance themselves and therefore community support is needed to provide equality of opportunity. Simple. No need for twisting words.

    Comment by alvera — 5 February, 2008 @ 2:05 pm | Reply


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