Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wealth and Citizenship Part II

Last week I blogged about the relationship between wealth and your ability to participate in governance. We all think that it is our vote that is getting people elected but in fact it is powerful business interests driven by the wealthiest of our society. This week we have the story of John Banks and Maurice Williamson (both with heavy interest in the sustainability of the National Party) advocating for citizenship of a person who then later donated quite a substantial amount to the National Party. I find this extremely repulsive. The House of Representatives is suppose to represent the people of New Zealand. By giving people citizenship which enables funding of the party, National has the appearance of trading citizenship for campaign funds. Now, I am positive that of course National Minister didn't explicitly ask Liu to make the donation - that's Ministerial Conduct 101 (although not sure Judith Collins took that class) - but it makes it look like if you are wealthy you can have special treatment from the government and that is repulsive.

We, the people, no longer really affect decision making. You can submit at select committee all you want but let's look at the Mixed Ownership Model Bill and the Paid Parental Leave Bill for example - overwhelming opposition or support really made no difference to the final vote. I bet you, maybe if we donated heavily to the National Party we could make some headway on that. Maybe that's an unfair assessment but I can't help feeling like voting is just a symbolic exercise of citizenship and unless we change some rules around political influence by the wealthy and the non-people entities like corporations - we face a very depressing state of affairs. Now I know someone will say what about Unions?? They are non-people entities with a lot of influence but my response to that is they represent people. Corporations represent profits and could care less about human welfare. There is a difference. Unions themselves don't get anything out of changes to worker's rights - workers do.

I have digressed... BUT... Once again to reiterate last week's post, it isn't just income inequality that is crippling us, it is inequality of access to decision-making.

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