Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey, where wealth accumulates, and men decay. Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village, 1779
This is the by-line to the 2010 book entitled “Ill Fares The Land” by Tony Judt on the growing inequalities of wealth and opportunity around the world.
I recommend the book, which David Cunliffe and Shane Jones each recommended to me. It examines the different outcomes for social cohesion and equality of social democratic cf conservative policies.
It describes well what is obvious to many in Labour. “We have entered an age of insecurity – economic insecurity, physical insecurity, political insecurity. ….. Insecurity breeds fear. And fear – fear of change, fear of decline, fear of strangers and an unfamiliar world is - corroding the trust and interdependence on which civil societies rest.”
There is much in this book which is worth reading. It has relevance to debates about total tax, our unjust tax mix, NZ’s appalling corrections policy, wealth inequality and the reality that our best assets now can only normally be afforded by NZers lucky enough to inherit wealth (and overseas investors from societies with concentrations of wealth).
We now see the differences between left and right playing out most weeks in parliament. This very week in parliament we are considering an Infrastructure Bill which has a rotten amendment by the government. It is another example of the sort of change in society caused by right leaning governments, which are described in the book.
The Bill as introduced by Labour included provisions relating to affordable housing. Now I concede there is a proper debate to be had between Labour and National whether all of those provisions are appropriate. Labour says yes, National no. But there should be no argument about the provisions in the Bill banning restrictive covenants in subdivisions against low cost housing
Make no mistake, in effect National are saying they see nothing wrong in the developer of land being able by private covenant to exclude those who can only afford less expensive housing from a new suburb. These sorts of restrictive covenant are new in New Zealand and ought to be stamped out. Allowing private planning to exclude those less fortunate from living near them is not right. National thinks that gated communities of wealthier New Zealanders are the way to go. It is yet another practical example of National’s right-wing values. It is wrong makes New Zealand a worse country.
It shows what a flawed set of values guides their decisions.