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Mike Treen

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New Zealand: Banking must be a public utility to solve the housing crisis

 

 

By Mike Treen

March 13, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Daily Blog — Housing availability and affordability are in a crisis in New Zealand.

31 percent of households spent 30 percent or more of their income on housing costs. This number was only 11% in the late 1980s.

For renters, 28% spend 40% or more of income on housing. Average rents have increased from $400 to $580 a week since 2008.

Over the last decade, average housing costs increased by 43%. This was similar to the growth of average incomes but the poorest housing incomes only increased by 29%.

The has been a decline in floating mortgage rates from 10% to 3% at the same time as median house prices have doubled.

Mortgage debt is now at $266 billion (May 2019) – up 38% in the last five years. Overall household debt has gone from the equivalent of 50% of GDP in the late 1970s to over 160% today. Household debt to income ratios is also extremely high and dangerous at 165% double the level of the mid-1990s.

For a Green New Deal with people’s power

 

 

By Mike Treen

January 14, 2020 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Today for the first time in half a century there is a wave of revolt sweeping the world that seems pregnant with revolutionary possibilities that may finally allow working people to help lead humanity and the planet we exist on out of the hell-hole that capitalism has created for us.

I lived through the 1960s and 70s during a similar period of challenge and change. It filled me with hope for the future of humanity. Progressive change seemed inevitable. Working people expanded their rights and living standards. Access to health care, education and welfare became expanded. Women, Maori, Gays and other oppressed peoples found their voices to challenge discrimination and seek liberation.

The institutions working people could use to empower themselves like the trade unions seemed to get stronger, active and more democratic. Parties that claimed to represent us became more progressive in their outlook. 

Internationally the ruling elites were frightened. In response, they launched a full-scale ideological, political, and social counter-revolution that swept away or corrupted many of the gains that had been made. Led by the then UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and US President Ronald Reagan, the right-wing wave swept the world.

The coming economic crisis, “unorthodox” monetary policy, and Donald Trump

 

 

By Mike Treen

 

September 7,2019 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from The Daily Blog NZ — What is behind the “unorthodox” monetary policies of the US and other Central Banks?

 

There is much discussion today around how effective monetary policies are in regulating the ups and downs of the business cycle.

 

Monetary policies are run by the Central Banks of the respective countries with the US Federal Reserve operating like the world’s central bank. Their principal tools are the setting of certain interest rates they can control or influence and creating or reducing the supply of token money.

 

The US Federal Reserve resumed monetary creation policies earlier than expected at its July 30/31 meeting including a cut in what is known as the federal funds rate from 2.5% to 2.25%. They also halted the repurchase of the massive amounts of token money issued between October 2008 and October 2015 in response to the global financial and economic crisis of that time.

 

To understand what is happening we need to understand the interaction of three types of money in existence today.

 

Why did New Zealand suffer the worst casualty rate in World War I?

 

 

By Mike Treen

 

January 23, 2019
— Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Armistice Day, November 11, commemorates the day when the fighting stopped on the Western front in Europe.

 

As a participant in this lie of the “war to end all wars” New Zealand had achieved the unique result of suffering the highest military casualty rate of any nation involved in that war.

 

'Being treated like slaves': Why migrant exploitation exists

 

 

By Mike Treen

 

November 16, 2018 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – Recently Unite Union discovered a case of migrant exploitation where the workers talked about being “treated like slaves”.

 

In a capitalist society labour is meant to be “free” – unlike the forced labour associated with slavery. Workers are not meant to be the property of an individual owner. But it is also meant to be free in the sense that the worker is not bound to the land like feudal conditions. Then the serfs had no right to leave the land but the owner had no right to evict them either. Creating a class of “free labour” under capitalism involved the forced eviction of peasants from the land.

 

New Zealand: A strategic vision for unions under Ardern's Labour-led government

 

 

By Mike Treen

 

June 9, 2018 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal reposted from Converge — The union movement needs to have a strategic approach to the newly-elected Labour-led government that can maximise the immediate gains to be made whilst not accepting the absurd fiscal limits they have imposed on themselves.  The Government has declared their acceptance of a narrowly-defined "fiscal responsibility" that accepts the unfair taxation regime of the previous Government and refuses to introduce any new taxes on the wealthy individuals and corporates who treat taxation as a voluntary activity. 

 

They have also accepted a commitment to run surplus budgets in most circumstances to repay the accumulated debt when these debt levels are actually very low by any international measure. Budget surpluses require a Government to collect more tax than it spends – which inevitably depresses economic activity rather than stimulates it. That does not mean that I think governments in a capitalist economy can spend what they like or can prevent economic crises – but that is another story. 

 

Confronting racism is key to realising working class unity and power



 
 

By Mike Treen 

February 9, 2017 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Working people need to confront racism, sexism and anti-immigrant prejudice if we are to be successful in uniting our class sufficiently to take on the huge power of the one percent – the super-rich owners of most productive wealth in society.

Migrant labour, exploitation and 'free' markets

 

 

 

By Mike Treen

 

October 27, 2016 — Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal — Currently, New Zealand has at least 150,000 people working on temporary work visas or as students with the right to work up to 20 hours a week or full-time when on vacation. Most of them have hopes of being able to transition towards permanent residence, yet official figures confirm only one in six is able to do so. Government policies have deliberately led to the creation of a huge pool of desperately vulnerable workers to help big business exploit them more effectively.

 

 

Immigration policy under “free market” economies are designed to keep working people down – not out. While mainstream politicians routinely resort to subtle (and not so subtle) racist smears on migrants, government policies actually facilitate further migration. Capitalist “democracies” love to have large segments of the working class with no, or very few, rights – and that is true for New Zealand as well.

 

Mike Treen: SYRIZA victory in Greece a blow to austerity

Crowd at SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras' victory speech, January 25, 2015. Photo by Vivian Messimeris/GLW.

By Mike Treen, director UNITE union (Aotearoa/New Zealand)

February 5, 2015 -- Daily Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The longer the SYRIZA government can survive and resist the better chance working people throughout Europe can act to remove right wing austerity governments and mobilise their own power through their unions and communities to create an alternative to the Europe of capitalism, recession and despair.

Inequality will be the issue for 2014

greed

By Mike Treen, national director of the Unite union (New Zealand)

January 14, 2014 -- The Daily Blog, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the permission of the author -- Everyone from the Pope Francis to US President Barack Obama is bemoaning the effect that inequality is having on the world today. It is even being blamed for the depth of the economic recession and the weakness of the current recovery because it is claimed that poorer people spend a larger portion of their income than the rich who save more and thus more equal income would help revitalise the economy.

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