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Actions speak louder than words

08 December 2020

My mother was born in London. She was a very cultured English lady. Not posh in the Maggie Smith - Downton Abbey - dowager countess way and not rich like her either. My parents could never afford to own a house. But she was very well-spoken, well educated, and well read. Practical too - she drove an ambulance in London during the blitz.

Amongst her favourite sayings, ‘actions speak louder than words’, or simply ‘deeds not words’, was one of her special favourites.

She had a keen sense of history and a perspective shaped by it. That's substantially more than you could say about some of today’s younger, supposed rising stars like Chloe Swarbrick.

Swarbrick appears to think the pinnacle of her achievements would have been to make it easier for a new generation, and many more of the current one, to get stoned as an escape from the reality of a life vastly superior to the one my mother had, growing up through the depression and the bombing of London in World War 2.

My mother would have thought that housing mothers and kids living in cars, sheds and government-funded motel rooms would have been a far greater achievement, as would ensuring that no child in New Zealand went to school in the morning or to bed at night without having their hunger satisfied.

Swarbrick is making headlines in a world where truth is what you make it, where history is being rewritten as you wished it was, and where new Maori MP's think they are standing up for Maori by insulting the very institution that is providing them with the platform to resolve some of the issues affecting Maori - like kids and mothers living in cars and kids going to school in the morning and to bed at night hungry – if they were to use it.

While what British and Colonial troops may have done to Maori in the past cannot be condoned, to describe it as a holocaust and a genocide shows a complete lack of understanding of history and is a far greater insult to the Jews of Germany, Poland, Austria and other European countries who were sent to the gas ovens under the Nazis and to the two million Cambodians who died under Pol Pot's savage Khmer Rough regime, than any insult Stuff newspapers last week got on their knees and begged for forgiveness over.

Our Prime Minister, while in a stratospheric league in comparison to these beginners, is none-the-less guilty of similar virtue signalling and a distinct lack of action on the real things that count.

In her 2017 campaign opening speech, Jacinda said  “I want to build a country where every child grows up free from poverty, and is filled with hope and opportunity”.

“We know we have homelessness, that there are people living in cars who can’t afford increasing rents”.

“We have infrastructure in our cities that cannot keep up with daily demand, while our regions look for the job opportunities that will make their young people stay”.

“All we can do is make sure we leave something good behind. That means taking on the hard issues. Thinking not just about the next three years, but the next ten. It means being bold and being brave”.

Of climate change she said “This is my generation’s nuclear free moment, and I am determined that we will tackle it head on”,

While being quick off the mark to remove guns from law abiding gun owners following the Christchurch mosque shootings, to supposedly make New Zealand a safer place to live in, there has been precious little action on the issues highlighted in that election speech.

Interestingly there have been more shootings and gun incidents in the past three months than in the last three years.

Now, three years after that campaign speech a formal announcement of a climate emergency - ”the challenge that defines my generation”.

Jacinda appears to think the pinnacle of her achievements are those two items in particular, and she will no doubt be feted more across the globe for this latest.

My mother would have thought that housing mothers and kids living in cars, sheds and government-funded motel rooms would have been a far greater achievement, as would ensuring that no child in New Zealand went to school in the morning or to bed at night without having their hunger satisfied.

To go back even further, in her maiden speech in Parliament in December 2008 Jacinda said “Maiden speeches are a bit like words spoken in a heated argument. Like it or not, they will come back to haunt you.”

Haunting her are those campaign promises.

It is a national disgrace that 6,000 Kiwis are being accommodated in motels, and a further 7,000 are in transitional housing, camping grounds, boarding houses, and other temporary accommodation.

In addition another 31,000 are staying with others in severely crowded dwellings with little hope of ever being able to dream about owning their own house, let alone achieving that dream with the way prices are skyrocketing.

One in three New Zealand children is now living in poverty and our infrastructure is in critical condition and contributing to our lack of productivity.

Those are her generation’s nuclear free moment, and there are no longer any excuses for not being “bold and being brave” and “taking on the hard issues”.

We saw action on Covid-19 and a spectacularly rapid economic response. While commendable, that wasn’t “bold and being brave”. It was simply following most of the rest of the world.

Michael Joseph Savage, whose picture features on the wall of the Prime Minister’s Beehive office, was different. He got stuck in to the task of building state houses and tackling poverty within months of taking office.

He implemented Social Credit ideas, using the Reserve Bank to create the credit necessary to rebuild the nation.

He appointed John A Lee as housing under-secretary and they built 5,000 state houses in four years from 1935 to 1939, and 30,000 by 1949, all financed by Reserve Bank credit.

Today, the Reserve Bank is again creating credit - $128 billion dollars worth – but it’s being used to buy government IOU’s (bonds) off banks and rich investors at a premium that’s going to provide them a profit of $11.1 billion over three years.

That $11.1 billion should be going into building state houses, and some of the $128 billion the Bank is creating could be invested in hospital care, poverty reduction, providing free dental care and free public transport, building infrastructure, and a multitude of other possibilities.

The government has absolute power. It has a Treasury and Reserve Bank report advising how it could access no-interest, no-debt Reserve Bank finance. It has former high flying politicians and numerous economists saying it should use that, and it has Michael Joseph Savage’s example to follow.

The Social Credit movement of the 1930s was happy to see Labour implement its monetary reform ideas. It would be happy to do so again in the 2020s.

Remember my mother’s favourite saying – “actions speak louder than words”.

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