the comprehension gap: why we don’t know what to say about the election – or what to do about the climate

…the wind is strong again today and gusty and blowing in from the West. Why mention the wind? because the climate is fucked-up-edly weird.

I was sorely tempted to vote for the Climate Change candidate on Election Day.

Everyone we know is running around saying not only is the climate wrong so is the vote! Flat-back-headed fker returned with an historic majority – last time this shit happened was in the twenties. People really don’t know what to say or what to think about this. Which is really interesting … to me. Because it means a lot of people are completely out of touch with … the majority!

There is also the complete disarray and political stupidity of the Labour party, the head honchos of which stood down the smart and logical candidate, David Shearer, eighteen months before the election, at which time they were polling at around 30%. Putting in Cunliffe (a name the spelling of which you don’t want to mess with) cut the vote for Labour by 10% immediately – and as Josie said on the TV3 panel on Saturday night (worth a look some time – on demand), if the party wants votes it needs to mean ‘labour’! the workers’ party! representing those who work against the managers and executives and bankers – people like John Key.

My theory is that a gap has opened between government and nation because public policy is now handled by private companies and organisations and institutions, privately owned, that is. Implementation of policy – even when it is in the public’s interest or that of a group inside society – is separated from government and government cannot be called to account for its poor or ineffective implementation. This happens – this gap opens – because of the insistence that every factor and element of public life, of political life, and maybe even of life itself, is run by a market. Schools and universities, for example, now report on learning ‘outcomes’ – this is exactly the same as productivity. The model in question is that of a competitive marketplace: schools and universities are allocated funding according to how competitive they are – measured and compared by how productive they are of ‘outcomes’. They are still funded, I hear you say, and that funding comes out of the public purse, from tax-payers. But now they have to compete for funding, they have to be run like businesses.

What has this got to do with the gap between the government and the governed? The neoliberal market-led model has been so successful that the governed don’t recognise that they are under the governance of markets because this is the way the government has constituted them, this is how the government deals with the governed – by making them into markets. School children constitute the market for education just like supermarket-shoppers constitute the market for Signature Range products.

Of course, the markets are in turn governed … not by public interest or national interest but by the interests of share-holders. This new abomination ‘stake-holders’ only appears to take the place of those with a financial interest in the ‘outcome’ – it really stands for ‘consumers’.