23 September 2013 “Mind the Gap” a documentary produced by Bryan Bruce first shown on TV3 in Sept 2013; can be viewed from TV3 website.

This is a hard hitting doco which starts with the searching question “What’s an economy for?”  We would do well to ponder this and challenge politicians for their view and actions they would take to bring it to reality.   The film is full of disturbing factoids – poor families unable to survive as their income, including Social Welfare payments, is barely sufficient to exist.  In NZ the gap between the top 10% and the bottom 10% is growing faster than in any other country.  Bryan laid the cause of this trend over the last nearly 30 years at the door of Neo-liberalism as promoted by Reagan and Thatcher. Their 3 fundamental economic planks of asset sales, privatisation and the tickle down theory (of wealth) have failed in not providing the general population with greater wealth or opportunities.  The result has been that the wealthy have grown even more wealthy.  Why are CEOs paid 100s of times more than the shop floor workers on who the business depends?  Of the detected fraud in NZ, it is estimated $23M arises from welfare payments with 800 prosecutions (60% sent to jail) and $1 – 5Bn in tax evasion with only 20% jailed.  Why not more focus on evasion – or at least, eliminating the legal loopholes? Is the purpose of our life to make money?

The programme prompted considerable discussion: we are actually more heavily dependent on each other (to design, manufacture and provide the technology that underlies everyday living) yet we are experiencing greater social/society dis-integration; every aspect of life and living is being monetarised; less direct Government involvement in favour of markets which favour those who can pay.  Could the ‘Living Wage’ campaign be part of the solution?

Ian Harris

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