Monday, June 2, 2014

The Politics of Jesus (Monday 2 June 2014)

Let's pass by the honours system (for which the politics of Jesus has no time, as we serve the Lord without thought of reward), the manipulation of our electoral system by the impermanently married Internet and Mana Parties (to say nothing of anger against National for refusing to revise our MMP arrangements a few years ago), and, noting that it is a public holiday in honour of our current Head of State (when will we become a republic?), make a very brief observation about our forthcoming election:

At heart, when all is said and done by proliferating numbers of parties, the election is about resolving the tension between running an economy which offers most bangs for most people's bucks and bridging the growing gap between the rich/getting richer and the poor/getting even poorer.

It is a tension because modern economies are finely tuned instruments. Small changes here and there to suit certain ideologies can be like a wrecking ball as unintended and far reaching consequences occur (cf. the global recession since 2008 which seemingly started because of the US government's policy on making housing more accessible). We can ill afford to change the hands on the tiller if those hands do not know precisely where we should be sailing and what rigging we should have set in order to get there.

Conversely, for those complacently satisfied with the direction we are sailing in with John Key as skipper and Bill English on the tiller, it is a mistake to ignore the growing gap between the rich and the poor. One lesson from history is that when the gap between the rich and the poor grows large there is a tendency for revolution (think France, Russia, China). That countries such as the USA and UK have avoided such revolution since becoming functional democracies is largely due (I suggest, in a broad and sweeping judgment!) to the ability of those countries to change governments from time to time, giving the poor hope of change to their situation.

As a functional democracy NZ can pretty much be anxiety free about revolution. But the left could win the coming election - whatever they promise about running the economy - simply because the gap between the rich and the poor drives a feeling across the country that only through change can hope for better days be given expression.

And from this perspective the single greatest issue on which the current government will be judged is affordable housing.

But that is where things get interesting because there are signs that anxiety over affordable housing is largely focused on two cities, Auckland and Christchurch. Will the numbers of voters affected by this issue (that is, people angry about not having affordable housing to access and people (themselves in satisfactory housing) concerned about this) amount to sufficient numbers to change the government? Or will a largely satisfied and/or unconcerned mass of voters get the present government across the line? [ADDITION: for the harsh and kind realities of differences in housing prices, read this NZ Herald article. If it spurs you to buy a cheap house in Gisborne to rent for a great return, you might like to pay a modest commission to ADU :).]

In the politics of Jesus, a concern for the poor and a commitment to equality of care for each citizen will drive many Christians and (in a residual manner) many post-Christian citizens to vote for change.


John Campbell's series continues. Here is Te Ururoa Flavell.

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