Friday, November 18, 2011

Saying grace before our election

For these and all your many mercies, we give you thanks, O Lord.

I cannot recall an election quite like this one before, that is, an election with so many non-issues being dressed up as issues (teacups, storm in; billboards, stickers over*) while a major world economic catastrophe bears down on us like the wolf on the fold or the 10 metre tsunami on the beach. What is not devoured will be swept away if Europe falls, takes the US with it and exposes China's growth as a bubble. Actually, I suspect that the NZ public has some instinct for the crisis in the world and that is why the National Party is polling so highly - not, perhaps, as a lovefest for National but as a trustfest for stable, continuing government. What is far from clear is whether our news media have any sense of a vision for the future of New Zealand. If they did we would expect to see a media scrum around the potential prime ministers and ministers of finance, rigorously and ruthlessly scrutinising their capabilities to lead us through the global crisis. Instead it is blah, blah, blather about nothing at all.

There are, nevertheless, many things we can be thankful for as we run up to the election. Here are three.

(1) That we are having an election at all. Recently governments in Italy and Greece, ostensibly civilised democracies, indeed one is the birthplace of democracy, changed at the behest of the Franco-German alliance controlling Europe. As Damian Thompson wittily asks, How many elected politicians are in the Italian cabinet? Check the link for the answer!

(2) That our election involves genuine choice (a plethora of parties), real prospect of minority voices being represented (porportional representation), and even a chance to change the system of voting (a referendum on MMP).

(3) That, actually, despite the blather of the media and the (mis)leading advertising of our politicians, our country is a great place to live in. That thought struck me recently when I had occasion to visit one of our all night emergency health centres: the variety of people and the range of health situations, at 11 pm at night, including a cough so excruciatingly painful to listen that I feared for my life if I caught the bug, was a salutary reminder that we live in a wonderful place with access to services second to none. The owners of Smiths City might also be thankful, caught out yesterday as they re-opened their quake struck Colombo St store by thousands more shoppers than they had bargained for.

Speaking personally I am still unsure of whom (in the electorate) and what (in the party vote) to vote for. I thought I would have a go at a quiz on the Conservative Party's website designed to tell the participant how conservative they are. I scored 10. The CP want people with a 10+ score to join them in their endeavours. I scarcely qualify in that direction so I remain both "undecided" and uncertain where my values lead me in terms of my two votes!

I imagine most Kiwi readers here would not mind me offering a certain statement about one party I will not vote for: New Zealand First. Even if they were the last party standing I would not vote for them.

*The wittiest interpretation of Jolyon's coordinated campaign I have seen is the description, "Jolyon White ... corrects misleading National Party advertising."


Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, why not do what some people do with their Bible Readings on Sundays. Shut your eyes and use a pin!

Teri said...

"That, actually, despite the blather of the media and the (mis)leading advertising of our politicians, our country is a great place to live in."

The 200,000 children in this country who wake up in poverty each day probably don't agree.

And I imagine that the more than 80,000 kids who witness or are victims of family violence each year disagree as well. NZ has one of the worst rates of child abuse in the world.

As long as our youngest are living in this kind of world I do not believe we are justified in calling NZ a great place to live.

Matthew 25:34-45

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Teri
I cannot think of any country in the world which would be a great place to grow up in if I were experiencing child abuse.

I wonder if NZ would still be a better place to be poor in than any other? Some say Scandanavian countries have great welfare, but I don't think I would like their winters!

Yes, the stats point us to tremendous difficulties in our country. I am not sure that makes the decision whom to vote for much easier. Ultimately we will have a Labour-led or a National-led government, ie. the government which has led us for ever no matter what is happening to the poor. Labour over the years may have the better record at distributing wealth and National the better record at creating wealth to distribute. How then shall we choose!?

Teri said...

Yes I agree Peter - hence I am still at a loss who to vote for.

I guess my concern with National (and I am not a Labour supporter!) is that it is all very well to create wealth - but if you are only or mostly creating wealth which is going to the already wealthy - how much value is that for those at the other end of society? I don't think relying on the trickle down effect is justified or adequate.