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The wheels haven't fallen off here

1 November 2017 6:39 PM
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Hirschman's Cycle (From the Left, ODT Opinion, 27.10.17) refers to the United States' seesawing political system, grounded in shifting tides of private interest and public action. There is no ambulance at the bottom of an American societal cliff, you either fight to survive or you become part of the homeless underclass, living well below the living wage of $US8 ($NZ11.50) per hour.

With the impending erosion of Obamacare, a lucky break is one of the few rescue lines for underclass Americans ... it ain't coming from Congress.

Historically, America has been deeply polarised by individual, self-directed success. There are no established social democratic nets of safety, a critical point of difference in New Zealand's social democracy Jacinda Ardern will inherit, albeit in tatters, after nearly a decade of National governance.

Garrett Hardin's ''Tragedy of the Commons'' would be a more apt sociological comparison to describe Donald Trump's form of Republicanism, a sobering reference to an increase in military power and a decrease in national security, at the expense of upholding the second amendment, that being the right of a US citizen to possess a gun.

Ardern is dealing with a very different set of issues to the US model of governance. Over a baseline of social democracy, upheld by all MMP parties in the country, entitling every New Zealander to free healthcare, education, family support and government housing, Ardern has earnt the right to enhance these collective ideals New Zealanders hold dear to their hearts.

In the past, National has pandered to international progress and the economic development that comes along with that but the people's watchdog has now spoken.

New Zealanders have woken up to a collective desire we are now all seeking ... the need to, once again, look after our people. Ardern, Winston Peters and James Shaw have the privilege of driving this initiative towards a successful outcome.

Private interest does exist in New Zealand and Hirschman's Cycle has relevance in certain sectors of our society. However, the great leveller rests in one political issue close to our new Prime Minister's heart: child poverty.

Under New Zealand governance, led by any political party, an impoverished child will receive healthcare, agency supports, education and housing. Ardern's determination to enhance this has been well received by New Zealand voters.

In contrast, many American families are being forced into homelessness with little government support. Recently, as I walked the streets of San Francisco, handing my last US dollars and snacks to a homeless man with a young child whose fate was deeply uncertain, Ardern's victory shone brightly in the face of the current American demise.

''Falling down'' in New Zealand is somewhat akin to a Teletubby tumble.

''Falling down'' in the US is a time-travelling nightmare of popular Netflix Stranger Things proportions.

Ardern's relentless positivity has transcended this conceptual conflict to once again invest in a social democratic ideal New Zealanders all treasure: the right to a quality South Pacific lifestyle, envied by the rest of the world.

-Kirsten Anderson is a Dunedin mother, writer and proud New Zealander, recently returned from a trip to the US.

Source: odt.co.nz

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