In the moment

In Newsletter Editorial4 MinutesBy Dave McCoidSeptember 29, 2023

It’s awesome being a Gen-Xer, the last generation to remember a cellphone-free world and the last to be taught safe practice at the hands of the masters. But it’s also hard being a Gen-Xer – the post-baby-boomer ‘attitude-y’ cynics. General elections are one of the things that make it hard.

We’re now entering the last-ditch, woo-the-voter phase, with both major parties finding more and more money to promise more and more things.

For Hipkins, that’s a dangerous game – or maybe not. Labour’s track record for delivering much at all hardly makes the soul sing with joy and relief as to the great things that might be coming our way. But then, maybe he’s conceded emotionally and knows if he pressures Luxon into matching his generous (albeit debt-riddled) offerings, it’ll make opposition fun… for whoever ends up in that position.

Luxon, of course, has the magic arrow in his quiver. He and Nicola will open the books post-election to find they need a ventilator, a splash of cold water over the face, and possibly resuscitation. “The pre-election economic and fiscal update barely scratched the surface as to how bad things are.” They will preach the need for austerity, and maybe they’ll have to crib on a few promises made or delay a few things in the interests of the country’s vital signs.

Don’t get me wrong here, I’d believe them all day long. As we’ve seen here, borrowing to shore up popularity rather than productivity is a highway to hell for the West – something the smarter emerging economies know so well.

Chris L is a successful man in the big corporate world, for sure. He undoubtedly knows how to make a profit and loss report ‘hum’ and a balance sheet ‘sing’. However, KPIs in that world are much tighter; the board/shareholders are generally easier to please. The old ‘run the country like a business’ thing doesn’t wash, especially in a populous so familiar with personal debt and so attuned to their ‘rights’. Society today wouldn’t have the first clue as to what austerity means. Dropping a coffee a week? That’ll sort out the $150 billion we owe.

In this ‘business’ of running a country, you have to bring everyone along for the ride. There’s no dropping those who don’t agree with your style or beliefs or aren’t pulling their weight for the greater good. Leeches get the same vote as the warriors. And if you curb anyone’s ability to consume excessively in the interests of a better tomorrow… forget it.

For me, it’s running a similar path to the climate thing by trying to cure the problem with exactly the same tools used to get you there in the first place. The problem is that our morbid and over-indulgent life now dictates how much anyone can swing on the levers of change.

Regardless of whoever gets the big seat on the 14th, it’s not a job I’d envy – too much self-interest, too little common purpose.

All the best

Dave McCoid