Magazine article New Zealand Management

The Greens' Tinge. (Politics)

Magazine article New Zealand Management

The Greens' Tinge. (Politics)

Article excerpt

Who owns the under-30s vote? Nandor Tanczos, say the Greens. This icon of greenery is anti-establishment, modern, different and attractive.

But will the Greens own these people when they get to be 40-somethings, then 50-somethings, when they are the establishment of the future? Only if they offer them something more than Nandor's youth, something that resonates deep down.

The Greens think they can. They believe they are the future.

A century or more ago socialists wanted to change how we thought and lived. Greens want the same now.

Socialists forecast the collapse of capitalism unless there were radical changes in distributing the proceeds. Greens now forecast the collapse of the ecosystem--our life support--unless there are radical changes in the way we use resources.

They emphasise small-scale economic enterprise and cooperation, in order to make a `just' society. But, individualists themselves, they also value the individual. That sets them apart from the socialists.

Socialists were centralisers. Their social democrat descendants are, too. Greens are decentralisers.

So are young people. That, rather than Nandor's anti-establishment image, is what strikes a deep chord between the Greens and the young. The young want diversity and scope to `customise' their lives. `Conformist acceptance of central state prescriptions runs counter to their upbringing and real world experiences.

Last century mass production of goods on the assembly line lowered their real price and brought more of them within reach of the ordinary worker's wage.

In tandem with the mass market came the `factory state', which mass-produced `social' services, particularly of health, education and income support. This, too, enriched ordinary workers.

But in the last quarter of the 20th century production and delivery techniques changed dramatically. A limited range of goods and services no longer satisfy. They must be customised to individual tastes. And, surprise, surprise that is beginning to be expected of the state, too. A one-size health or education service no longer fits all.

Stir in the constraints globalisation imposes on national governments, both in revenue and scope of action. No longer can a government impuse any level of taxes its public chooses to bear. Investors decamp to lower-tax places and economic growth slows.

Yet the public wants more, not less, public services. …

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