Formal challenge to the excessive debt local council’s putting themselves in

Ahhhhhh being a Civil Society Activist is a complicated and varied job.   Although I quite enjoyed this submission to Carterton Council.  I should be head of Treasury instead of rotting on bloody welfare, grrrrr.

3 July 2019

Carterton District Council

Holloway Street

CARTERTON

 

SUBMISSION – LGFA

I have just discovered the proposal to join the Local Government Funding Authority and I felt it was an opportunity to state my position on how we should proceed on basis of current proposal but also the entire concept of excessive debt by local and central governments. This current system is related to neo-liberalism which me and many others now consider a completely failed concept that has caused serious economic, social and cultural problems in New Zealand.

 

Neo-liberalism IS NOT my culture as a Pakeha/Maori citizen and the only people who can reinstate our decent, civilised, egalitarian society is the government. It is quite obvious to those who are suffering, THE MARKET model is a failure in the areas of basic human needs for safety, housing and food security. Without these essential areas of ‘wellbeing’ available to all citizens in our Commonwealth democracy, no amount of council debt/$ (including what is wasted on interest payments) will improve our internal economic prosperity and restore our civil society. I have many other ideas on how to do that, which I will be following up on.

 

In my work as a Civil Society Activist I spend many hours a day on the internet learning from world experts and participating in discussions about our world’s current economic, social and environmental problems. The confidence of writers of this proposal that there is not going to be a global economic collapse that could bankrupt heavily indebted local governments is irresponsible. A financial collapse in the USA would bring us down with it as we live in one of the most unregulated exposed small OECD countries on the planet, having been one of the most highly regulated and protected economies/societies (Refer Paul Ormrod book The Death of Economics, where he refers to NZ doing this).

 

This proposal to join the LGFA may save money in interest, however I believe there to be significant advantage in making a serious plan to get rid of council debt altogether. At this point I have not reviewed the legislation around the establishment of these massive neo-liberal inspired debt liabilities by Councils so I am not even sure if a Council can OPT OUT of participating in this INDUSTRY.

 

From my perspective all interaction with the stock market is nothing more than gambling and part of the neo-liberal extremism that is also destroying us. Council’s need to stay well away from this, I see there have been and still are very strict rules around it, they aren’t working of course. Extravagant council leaders seem to be running councils like their own private business/wealth creation enterprises.

 

Indebtedness leads to ownership and control by those you are in debt to. Government and laws ONLY PURPOSE for existence is to keep the peace between rich and poor. Currently the richest are the bankers/money lenders. It is common knowledge the obscene abuses of power and control they are wielding in the world, to the detriment of almost all local communities. Wairarapa/NZ world leading suicide, homelessness and violence statistics are proof of this.   I see everywhere how countries in massive debt are forced to subject those marginalised and poor to austerity and persecution (yes I know what this word means and I am using it appropriately). Government borrowers are forced to bend to the will of the $$$$ obsessed market harming us, while pretending to care about the wellbeing of all members of society. You can be assured from my extensive personal experience rotting on welfare thanks to ACC. The social services enterprises/not for profits etc are nothing more than insulting, marketing and lies for those most marginalised by economic deprivation.

 

One of the themes that keeps reoccurring at the moment is how our governments have their priorities wrong and that is what I also see in this proposal.   Rather than the focus on keeping costs down for communities and only doing essential works, it is now more about running it as a business (one that tourists and affluent people will enjoy). You are a government, trying to fit into a business model has been a catastrophe and gross waste of resources, especially when the model is supporting and controlled by business interests.   Which is known as an Oligarchy rather than the Democracy we are supposed to be operating under.

 

Realising each person who lives in the Carterton District owes debt that will be taken out of their personal resources if we do have a global financial collapse is shocking to me. As a disabled citizen I am expected to live within my means, those people controlling our government appear to have conned people into thinking our leaders don’t have to. You take enough taxes to cover the operation of a country/council under the laws, you don’t give HUGE tax cuts of over 40% to the wealthiest members and business operations in society, then borrow and pay interest because you haven’t got enough.

 

I am well aware I do not understand the nuances of THE MARKETS and different markets. Neither would 50% or more of the population that doesn’t participate in this system that is ruining their lives and those of their children. What I do know and we all want to know is why it has to continue operating in a way that is hurting the most vulnerable and poorest of the local population while advancing and catering to the strongest and richest. Why are so many of us so controlled by debt and huge costs of living. I am 54, I know New Zealand was not like this when I was growing up, I know we have regressed over 300 years in the area of constitutional rights – because I was just reviewing Schedule 1 of the Imperial Laws Application Act. Which related to tenancies, property rights and protections of the poorest members of a commonwealth society required by governments.

 

From my understanding, I would imagine those who get involved in the MONEY TREE of government/tax spending are well educated and know how to make money from everything they are involved in. They are taught at universities in their business etc degrees. Having studied Econ 101 five years ago at Victoria, I know they only taught neo-liberal economics. I challenged it then, unlike 99% of the people in my classes who were young people, while I was 50 years old. Sadly due to a dangerous living situation, refusal of ACC to provide entitlements and my deteriorating mental health I was unable to finish my degree. I did read a lot from the library, including the first time I read Prof David Harvey’s book (which I now own a copy of ) A brief history of neo-liberalism. Council representatives and staff should be aware of how neo-liberalism really works and why it should not be allowed to continue.

 

It is sad the people who control local government have to be forced by law to tell the citizenry the debt they are being put into, often for things they should not be paying for in my opinion. Like the influx of immigrants from outside the region and country. While local poor people are driven from their homes into dangerous and inhuman situations – which includes unstable and unaffordable housing. This is not supposed to happen in a civilised society.

 

I have seen where council’s have been bankrupted in the USA, as we follow the American neo-liberal economic model I can see no reason why it couldn’t/won’t happen here.   Mass shootings for religious reasons came here, large numbers of people in the justice system, 20 channels of rubbish on TV and over-crowded prisons full of mentally ill people came here, etc etc. I would rather leave the ugly parts of a culture where they are and accept the good parts into my Pakeha/Maori one.

 

There is extensive information on the extent of government debt in America, if those debts start having to be paid, then they will call in their loans. Recent information confirmed in a free trade globalist system small countries are exploited and raped of resources by big countries. Which is exactly what is happening in New Zealand and why those who are now poor cannot even afford to eat much of the produce we grow here. We cannot eat our traditional Pakeha food and those who can afford it appear to be mostly the ones who want the poorest to have even less. China gets so much of what we once produced and enjoyed – now many live on 2min noodles, $1 bread and ‘chicken’ groan.

 

In my short amount of investigation I am very concerned at the backgrounds of the directors in LGFA, these are the very people who have lead neo-liberalism for decades and have done very well for themselves and their friends from it.   The multiple governing bodies, independent advisors, directors and public servants have NO PERSONAL LEGAL RESPONSIBILITY if this doesn’t work. They can just quit and we will be left to deal with the fallout.

 

It seems obvious from the consultation document you are going to choose to participate in the LGFA, I prefer the option with the least amount of responsibility, even if that means higher interest. When trying to understand the entire LGFA in such a short amount of time, it appeared to me a desperate internal money creation scheme, where rates were saved and loaned out for profit – at the same time as the same council’s had massive debts to private banks. I do not understand fully how debt to government works – I consider it a rort personally.

 

As I can balance my budget every week, and have to in order to barely survive on welfare, I cannot see why governments cannot live within their means.

 

The repeated mentions of ‘independent directors’ worries me, as these people are part of what I consider a rogue market. The mantra of neo-liberals that the market knows better than government – which most can see is not true at all. The Chinese have done exceptionally well economically with their government in control. Now they have gone mad with power, money and corruption at the top, I am sure it will not be long before their society falls.   All power to the people of Hong Kong and I know for a fact there is deep unrest within Chinese society. I have spent many hours outside Parliament protesting over the past nine years and met many very interesting people, including several Chinese people. One gentleman told me China was now controlled by cruel capitalists and it was very bad there – we would call them neo-liberals, same thing.

 

The sell off of Westland Dairy Company at the moment is very worrying and I hope it does not get approval by the OIO. The idea that the Chinese only have to provide their products to NZ market for only 10 years and then they can export everything back to China is obscene to me. Our own people will not have access to what they make, they will have to get it in from other regions. I am from Hokitika original and have family there, very few local people want this, they want the factory to continue, but not under foreign ownership.

 

All this investment in New Zealand by foreign companies must be horrendous to our balance of payments when the profits are sent back to the parent company and investors.

 

We are one of the smallest councils in New Zealand, we only have a rating base of around 4500 properties. If lenders start demanding their money back residents will have to pay, if residents have to pay for the incompetence and extravagance of government workers and their consultants there is going to be ‘hell to pay’. You can feel it everywhere, people are very angry and upset about the inequality and suffering they experience and see around them. The never ending poverty, whether you on welfare and even if you work for low wages.

 

It was a shock to me the council propose raising almost $26million in debt. I have not had time to review what this will be spent on, but I have been asked by several ratepayers to explore what is going on and where this money is going. I realise the plan has been set and I wasn’t involved, neither were the people now angry about the more taxes/rates. I intend teaching members of the community asking me to do things, how they can do it too. I know if we just let neo-liberal economic believers continue on the wrong track, THINGS ARE GOING TO GET A LOT WORSE. Things are not ka pai and they will not be unless we reject neo-liberalism completely. (It is anti-capitalist as far as I am concerned, which I believe must be based on small and medium sized business – not big business/franchise etc.)

 

The council should be saving for essential capital improvements, essential is making sure the environment is not polluted, making sure we have clean water, take away our sewage and disposing of our rubbish sustainably, building inspections, town planning etc.   Sports, arts and business promotion should be paid for by those who profit from those activities, not taxes. I also completely disagree with charities funding anything that is not responding to a genuine NEED – not a want! Our neo-liberal government changed the law to change the dictionary meaning of the word charity – I am subjected to that abomination and it is really bad and so are the self-righteous manipulated people involved in it.

 

Local government do have obligations under ratified UN treaty on economic social and cultural rights, also disabled rights and civil rights etc. Then of course there are the Constitutional laws I know about that are not being adhered to and nobody seems to think are important and essential to being called a democracy.

 

It feels to me and many others we are just a money tree for the wants of affluent people with agendas in positions of power. Like wealthy people coming here are trying to create some sort of utopia for themselves, that LOOKS GREAT ON THE OUTSIDE, but scratch beneath the surface and what is happening is really disturbing.   Sadly the dysfunction many are experiencing is then exploited by social enterprises and many others who profit in this extremist neo-liberal system. It was considered extremist when it was first muted, it was never tested by any research WHATSOEVER as to what would happen to society and if it would work long term.

Unlike those who like the neo-liberal system, that demand endless research (now an industry) to prove restoring our Pakeha/Maori culture is the best way to progress as a country, society and planet.   Some refer to pre 1984 society as socialist, I am still not sure how to understand these types of political constructs – I consider myself a political atheist, my only interest being truth, science, justice and rule of law. All I know from my other area of study in psychology, sociology and human behaviour etc, is humans are social animals, we cannot survive alone. How a concept like socialism, that gave us some hope of living in large numbers peacefully, was made into a political idea that could be removed to create dissension envy hate violence, suicide and mental illness still defies belief.

 

On page 7 overseas experience was cited as a reason for adopting this model. While I prefer to refer to what worked well prior to 1984, regarding funding of infrastructure and roles of local and central government. Just because was developed decades ago doesn’t mean it is wrong, in fact New Zealand was once cited as the most socially advanced and safest countries on the planet (from my research into the reasons behind ACC).

 

Why can we not create so much money from the ‘money tree’ we have money in the bank that we can lend out and charge interest. Couldn’t that potentially end up with people having huge cuts in their rates?? I just cannot understand why ANYBODY would go into debt and pay interest to some foreign banker when they didn’t have to.   No sane person would, I mean who wants a share market trader or banker anywhere to get richer.   Again I do realise my view of this is simplistic, if anybody can explain to me/people why this can’t be done, I would like to know.

 

There are so many residents who would have no idea of how to respond to this consultation document. We all expect our leaders to do what is best for us, but I think they have been perverted by neo-liberalism. In my opinion allowing parasitic bankers and ‘loan sharks’ to make the rules and profit from the debt makes us look naïve, unintelligent and really gullible to marketing/propaganda from clever greedy rich con men.

 

At least I have had the opportunity through this consultation document to express how me and many others feel about some of the massive indebtedness that plagues our economy, Pakeha/Maori culture and government.

 

Sincerely

JR

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