During lockdown the world was different for most of us.
- The daily commute disappeared
- Shopping shrank to the essentials
- We baked and cooked for ourselves
- We cleaned places in our houses that had been unmolested for years
- We walked and cycled in our local areas for exercise
- The air became cleaner and we experienced silence (and wildlife) in our cities
- We connected online with friends that we had neglected
- As a community, our interests and hopes aligned
- We learned what it is to be kind
The positives might not have been quite so universal and for some people lockdown amplified the things that were wrong with their lives. Also we know that the costs of lockdown have been huge and we will be paying them back for years. Over time, health outcomes are likely to suffer as there is less to spend on hospitals. Incomes have suffered for many and the demand on foodbanks is much greater.
So how do we get the benefits of lockdown (a simpler life) without the negative effects (loss of income/development)? or do we go back to life as it was before as fast as possible? Would we vote for a truly transformational party if they were standing for election?
Both major parties have policies that will not bring about any real change. One likes roads and punishment (and has a shaky relationship with the truth). The other talks about reducing poverty and inequality but has policies that will not make any difference to either.
Some people have tried to imagine what could be on offer. Here is a selection from recent articles in the spinoff:
Most people try to reduce the amount of tax they pay, and it is really hard for a party to get elected promising to increase peoples’ taxes. However a US style tax system doesn’t pay for scandinavian-style government services. ACT and others will try to make out that we in NZ are paying a lot of tax, but on a world scale our tax rates are very low. The problem is not high taxes, but low wages and high housing costs. People who complain about paying taxes are often the first to complain when they can’t get access to health services.
Inequality and poverty are a plague in NZ. We have some of the worst rates of diseases of poverty (like rheumatic fever) and winter pneumonia from cold houses and overcrowding. Children are going to school hungry and we wonder why their educational achievement is lagging behind. There are measures to help, like food in schools and requirements to improve the standard of rental housing. They are, however, just tinkering at the edges. The real problem is that people do not have enough to live on. Benefit levels are too low, and minimum incomes are not enough to live on with dignity. There are subsidies for landlords and employers and charity provides foodbanks and emergency housing, but these shouldn’t be necessary for so many.
From the last of the links above we see a list of the things that people need:
- Somewhere to live: It needs to be the norm that everyone has healthy housing.
- Someone to love: It needs to be the norm that all whānau enjoy wellbeing.
- Something to do: It needs to be the norm that everyone has good work.
- Something to hope for: There needs to be justice. Everyone has to have a fair go.
Does any party really offer to create en environment where they get them?