Women's human touch needed

OUT OF LEFT FIELD

ROSS HENDERSON
Last updated 09:54 08/03/2014

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It's International Women's Day today. I thought at least one of us two blokes who pontificate politically each week on these pages should at least acknowledge it.

The day is meant to mark the progress of women socially, economically and politically. But I look around and see that of the lowest paid jobs in our community, such as in caring roles in hospitals and retirement homes, it's mainly women who are in these roles.

I'm sure if it was men in those roles, immediate steps would be taken to lift pay rates.

I don't see too many women in senior roles in management in our large private companies, or on boards as directors. Or, for that matter, running unions.

About 10 years ago, the prime minister, the governor-general, the highest judge in the land and the Speaker of Parliament were all women. Now, only one of these roles is occupied by a woman.

So, I hope it's a good day for women who are in a position to make a difference and lead change. Blokes don't have a monopoly on the wisdom needed to run the world.

Research says women are better at combining hard decisions with a human approach.

A lot of the economic principles we've been run by over the last 30 years have been decided by a mainly blokes club called neo-liberal economists. They're Right- wingers. Their philosophy is pretty simple. Basically, everything has its price. Everything can be bought and sold. And whoever has the biggest pile at any point in time is winning.

The thing about free market economics is it only works if you ignore everything about how people actually work. Ignore the inconvenient fact that people are driven more by their emotions and sense of how they feel than carefully calculated equations about what is good today or bad tomorrow.

And forget that people form relations with other people, because that is our nature. We like to socialise with each other. We don't want our friends and neighbours to suffer from misfortune. As thinking, feeling humans, we usually help out those in need.

Neo-liberal economics pretends the human side of people doesn't exist. It also ignores our history. It takes things as they are today without ever explaining how they got that way. The best part of this, if you're a neo-liberal, is that if you're doing very well you can put it all down to your own efforts.

Never mind you grew up in a community supported by good social security and made safe by a good police force, or got your schooling in a well-run state school and that other kids in your street had the same opportunity.

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Never mind that you, your family and everyone else in your town had access to a good health system that has prevented diseases of poverty, and kept communities clean and sanitary.

And don't take into account our stable political and legal systems.

Neo-liberals think only of themselves. Which is why, putting all this together, neo- liberal economics is about those with the wealth and power now doing everything they can to hold on to it. It's about "might is right". Which is why it's so wrong.

I have been thinking about this after last week's revelations about the local council now starting to make cutbacks. And after John Rae of Americarna poured cold water on the future of the event because of a lack of local support.

None of what the council is doing should surprise us.

Most of the councillors, the blokes anyway, campaigned on cutting anything that looked like it appealed to our human need for entertainment or pleasure.

They are Right-wing neo- liberals.

Cutting spending on events might mean rates rises will be kept down, but it will mean those who can afford to travel out of town for interesting events and doing those things that make life interesting, will do so. Those in this town who are reliant on council-funded or supported events to bring the community together and have fun that way just miss out.

Rae's issue is interesting. Good on him for putting together an event for big American car enthusiasts. Let's face it, they are amazing pieces of engineering; some might say (and I am one of them) pieces of art. It attracts a lot of interest. It's the sort of event that makes a community.

He says private businesses should support it more. But if those businesses are paying rates (including through the rents they pay), why wouldn't they say the council should help promote the event. This will attract more people here who will spend their money while they're visiting and all sorts of businesses will benefit. Which is why paying rates is good for business.

But most of our councillors won't see it that way. Might be time for more women on council.

- Taranaki Daily News

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