Sunday, 5 October 2008
UNITYblog editorial 7 October 2008 The NZ Herald seems a little paranoid that RAM (not mentioned by name) may pull together a coalition to run a Citizens Initiated Referendum petition on GST off food. The NZ Herald editor feels it’s timely to rally against the whole idea of Citizens Initiated Referendums: "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously", the 5 Oct editorial bemoans. It's important, the editorial goes on, "to highlight the futility of the entire process of the referendum." They are "pointless" because "they reduce extraordinarily complicated hot-button issues to emotive pieties." The target of this elitist rant comes into view. "Removing GST on food - the subject of the latest petition for a CIR - would be a mind-bendingly complex and impose massive compliance costs on businesses (which would add to food prices). But people are signing up to the idea in droves because it sounds good." Unlike every previous referendum, a referendum petition on GST off food strikes at a central pillar of neo-liberalism: its unjust taxation system. This is serious. The editorial concludes: "the right to be heard does not include the right to have someone else foot the bill for your self expression." From the opposite site of the class fence this spokesperson for corporate privilege proves exactly why a campaign to remove GST off food is such a good transitional demand. Grassroots democracy ("self expression") in the form of a CIR petition on GST off food would unite the majority in a popular campaign to indeed get "someone else to foot the bill". That "someone else" being the corporate classes who've benefited from the historical transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich under the guise of neo-liberalism and globalisation. All who defend GST on food (from newspaper editors to political parties) will reveal where there class bias lies. A rigorous defence of this neo-liberal tax (as looks likely) will further sharpen an awareness of class divisions that's growing everyday in the minds of masses of people. A struggle over GST off food will increase consciousness of the structural divisions within society, just as corporate welfare for billionaires is currently doing so on a global scale. This opens up enormous political possibilities for a profound reforming of societies' foundations. A broad left party, like RAM, that is part of this process, understands it and encourages it, can hope to provide the strategic leadership which goes way beyond just GST off food. A broad left party in today’s historical conditions can grow to be a trusted spokesperson for the grassroots majority. Providing the necessary leadership in this unavoidable global war between the haves and the have nots.