Are our politicians hopelessly out of touch?

With the ludicrous “incentives” politicians are making to buy votes next year, PAT PILCHER wonders if heads need to roll.

A long time ago, a famous French aristocrat declared “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”, more famously known in English as “Let them eat cake”. This occurred during one of the many famines that swept through Europe. There has since been a lot of debate about her thoughtless comment and the role it played in her head parting company with her body during the French revolution. It’s also a great example of how out of touch with the people French Aristocracy was.

 

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You might sigh and say, “yeah, but that’s then”, safe in the knowledge that such a travesty would never occur today in New Zealand. But guess what? soemthing similar is happening right now.

We might not have famine, but it appears that politicians from two political parties are telling Kiwis to nibble at sweet confectionary as their economic misery mounts.

In a tone-deaf piece of elitist nonsense, Act party leader David Seymour announced that Act would fund annual payments of $749 to a family of four. The money is to be drawn from the Emissions Trading Scheme.

According to Seymour, the Emission Trading Scheme collects around NZ$1 billion a year. He proposes that instead of the money going into what he calls a government “climate slush fund”… we should return carbon tax revenue to those struggling with high prices”.

Could this 360-degree policy backflip of giving money to the people really come from Act? They’ve traditionally had little interest in the poor, or middle NZ. Their interests are aligned with rich listers and big business.

Before you book a trip to your physio to deal with the political whiplash from Seymour’s brain fart, let’s take a look at what Act’s policy proposal would deliver: $749 to a family of four to help with the increasingly challenging cost of living as inflation sees prices trending skywards may sound good. However, the reality is that this amount works out to just over $187, per family member, per year. Per week that’s a whopping $3.60. In the prevailing economic climate, that’s a litre of gas or one cauliflower – if you’re lucky. Plainly speaking, it’s fuck-all of anything helpful to a struggling family.

It isn’t just Act. Newish National Party leader Chris Luxon also proposed a restructuring of taxation scales as a means of helping families with rising costs. The Nat’s propose that anyone earning $45,000 a year would save $112 a year on tax, those earning $55,000 would save $800, and those on $85,000 or greater would save a thousand dollars – or more. Once again, just like Act’s ill-conceived lolly-scramble, the real usefulness of Nationals proposed tax cuts to the average New Zealander is at best a piss-take. The reality is that the policy is more likely to help billionaires buy yet another private jet or luxury yacht.

Worse still, this policy has attracted criticsm as being un-costed, a potential driver of inflation, and that it’d lead to the de-funding of other services. None of this has rated a mention in the media, which seems preoccupied with the latest poll results. Personally, I care far more about something that’ll impact my wallet than yet another meaningless poll result with a sample audience of a mere 1000 plebs.

Is it just me, or are we hearing our own politicians telling us to “eat cake”? Both Luxon and Seymour are not financially uncomfortable. Good on them. They’ve both probably worked their asses off to get there. They are, however, woefully out of touch with the day-to-day realities facing many Kiwis right now.

Here’s what we at Witchdoctor think needs to happen. After an election, all MPs, regardless of party should have their assets frozen for eight weeks. During that time, all their earnings/expenditure would be monitored. They would be made to live off nothing but the benefits available to everyday New Zealanders. At the same time, the MPs and their families should be allocated a rental property as part of the process and made to pay market-rate rent/utilities, etc.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this sounds a tad harsh, but the reality is that very few MPs have had to endure the grinding poverty that many families in New Zealand face on a day-to-day basis.

How can an MP be expected to know what policies are helpful when they’ve never had to decide between paying the power bill or feeding their kids? Perhaps eight weeks of experiencing this might sharpen their policy-making decisions? A side-benefit of this concept is that many grifters seeking to get their snouts into the tax-payer trough may also be put off getting into politics. This may even improve the calibre of MPs we get. Looking at some of the utter muppets we have as list MPs, anything would be an improvement!

UPDATE: After being roundly criticised and dropping in recent polls, Labour has announced that they are to slash petrol excise taxes, resulting in around $17-$20 savings on a 60 litre tank of petrol when kiwis fill up at the pump. Labour has also announced that they are halving public transport fares. There are also rumours that there may be more to come in the May Budget.

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