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Key's plan for "Little America"


The Alliance Party says that New Zealand doesn't need the "American culture of giving" promoted by the Prime Minister.

Alliance Party spokesperson Victor Billot says New Zealand already has its own culture of giving – where the people collectively provide for their social wellbeing through public goods such as health, education and welfare.
He says this model has been far more successful in creating a "fair go" society rather than Mr Key's "George W. Bush" vision which was outlined at a Philanthropy New Zealand conference this week.
Mr Billot says a good example of the end result of the "American culture of giving" was the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans.
"What you saw then is the reality of a Government that has abandoned its responsibility for ensuring the safety and security of its own people. The individual generosity of the American people could in no way make up for this terrible political failure."
He says there is an important role for community organizations which has always been very strong in New Zealand, but that has not and can not replace the responsibility of Government as the representative of the people in ensuring the social wellbeing of society.
"Instead of charity, how about decent wages and public services."
Mr Billot says when Mr Key was in the United States, it was obvious he hadn't been spending much time outside "gated communities".
He says that while New Zealanders may not give as much to charity as Americans, through taxation New Zealand ensured that people were able to get medical treatment when they needed it.
"This shows exactly where John Key is coming from – he obviously wants a society like the United States where health care has been denied to tens of millions of working Americans, where education costs are enormous and where income equality is an entrenched and negative social problem."
Mr Billot says Mr Key is too late in his quest, because even the United States was now moving away from tax cuts for the ultra rich and towards better social services under President Obama.
"Mr Key wants to turn the clock back to the nineteenth century where the Lords and Ladies doled out some crumbs when they felt like it – while the whole structure of society was about exploiting the workers who created the wealth."
He says New Zealand has its own culture of giving – one developed over a century starting with old age pensions under Richard Seddon and extended through the First Labour Government with figures such as Michael Joseph Savage and John A. Lee.
"These political leaders had a goal for a society where working people did not have to rely on charity, but where by working together New Zealand built up a society that was based on the collective provision of infrastructure, health, education and social welfare."
"This vision has unfortunately been derailed by successive National and Labour Government's who have pursued policies that have benefited the minority rather than the majority."
He says that Labour leader Phil Goff might as well save his breath complaining because the Labour Party had pushed tax cuts for the wealthy as well before the previous election.
Mr Billot says the idea that someone on a low to middle income is going to experience some kind of life change due to National's tax cuts is a nonsense.
"The people who need it most get a pittance, and those who are already wealthy get a massive boost. It's grotesquely unfair since those on low wages are often doing vital work that society needs done."
Mr Billot says the way for workers to improve their wages and conditions through joining unions and fighting for their rights, and supporting pro-worker political movements such as the Alliance that represented the majority.
He says under the Alliance tax plan, those on incomes like Mr Key of $393,000 would be able to contribute their "fair share to society" and pay a higher marginal rate of tax.
The Alliance supports a progressive tax system that redistributed wealth and removed the inherent unfairness of a society where the rich got richer and the poor got poorer.
"John Key wants workers to be reliant on handouts and charity. The Alliance wants decent pay, public services and a fair society."