Bare for anyone to see.
Sometimes there is a darkness behind a smile. An inner truth that the owner inadvertently reveals, putting lie to the happy go lucky, friendly, image prepared.
John Key let the mask slip a few times, but the media politely didn’t mention it. Yesterday his heir apparent, Christopher Luxon, dropped the illusion briefly on RNZ. Like a candidate at a job interview being found out, unable to really answer any of the questions, but all too happy to provide words in their place.
When it came to Luxon’s plans it was apparent that the would be ruler wasn’t wearing anything at all. He was bare and bereft of ideas, naked as a Jaybird, and he was a bit cross too. CEOs shouldn’t have to justify their visions, people should just get on board and admire them. That’s what a narcissist would expect.
Signs of narcissism include:
Thinking very highly of oneself.
Believing others are inferior.
Lacking empathy for others.
That’s four ticks out of four for our man Christopher. So what of this radio interview?
Corin started by saying he’d read in the Herald that New Zealand, and the United States, were being spoken of as winning the global beauty pageant when it came to inflation. That economists were expecting a drop in inflation later that morning, which was indeed confirmed a couple of hours afterwards with the CPI dropping from 6.7% down to 6%, as below.
It was not the sort of grovelling welcome Christopher could expect from the snivelling weasels over at breakfast television. Needless to say he did not agree with the assessment in the Herald, that notorious hot bed of left wing views.
There was some toing and froing over which countries had higher inflation than us, and those with lower inflation, but the interesting part was when they talked about how the government has handled the last few years.
<Spoiler Alert> Christopher was not happy with government spending.
He talked about the government having spent 80% more during the pandemic, that they shut the country down for too long, and he complained that there was nothing to show for it. He listed a number of indicators - infrastructure, roading, crime that had not improved by 80% as a result of that spending, but neglected to mention another important indicator - the amount of people that died, or more to the point didn’t.
But for the actions of the government we would have likely had hundreds, if not thousands, of additional deaths during that period. Health outcomes didn’t appear to be a significant economic factor, a KPI on Mr Luxon’s star chart of success.
The problem is that while narcissistic attributes may work well for a CEO, they are not the ones you want in the leader of a country. In fact you need the opposite. You need someone who is humble, and puts the needs of the people ahead of themselves. Not someone focussed on how they look, and keeping the shareholders happy - even if that means getting rid of some people to make the bottom line look better.
So who are the shareholders in this analogy? Well we could start with the individuals who have poured millions into getting National and ACT elected. I’m guessing they’ll want something for their money, and Mr Luxon is all about shareholder happiness.
If we look at the most recent political donation returns available, those for last year (2022), we get some idea of the amount of money being invested in a National/ACT victory. ACT received over $2m, National got over $5m, Labour and the Greens received less that $1m - between them. Any way, back to the interview.
Corin pointed out that most economists said we’d barely gone into a recession, and were probably out of one already. He asked Christopher if he was perhaps talking down the economy too much, given that his description of things seemed so much worse than that of the experts.
Some of you might recall that Mr Luxon has quite a track record of talking down both the New Zealand people, and our businesses. Now, as Corin highlighted, his social media was telling people our economy is a house of cards.
Christopher responded by saying what would make the difference, to the most New Zealanders, was good economic management, and then proceeded to say some things that sounded like slogans. Corin tried to pull him back on track, pointing out that National’s policies were designed to encourage investment in property, which would make house prices worse.
Mr Luxon brought up his KiwiSaver policy. You know, the one they’ve just announced where young people starting out can divert their meagre retirement savings directly to landlords. The strangest thing about it was that listening to Mr Luxon he almost seemed to believe that they were doing it for the benefit of young people. If this indicates that he is starting to master sincerity it is a worrying development.
The two men agreed that was just a small policy, and Corin asked Christopher to give him a big policy. Something that would grow the economy beyond just pumping up the housing market and having high immigration. Christopher said he was serious about growing the economy, so that’s good, and there were five things we had to do.
We have to have a world class Education system.
Invest in Infrastructure.
Invest in Science, Technology and Innovation.
International Connections to the world.
As for number five, who knows, he didn’t give one.
The bad news for Christopher is that any reasonable analysis of the last two governments shows that Labour has provided much more funding to education, infrastructure, and innovation than National. But the main point should have been - these aren’t policies or plans, they’re just a list of things. An incredibly high level “to do” list, with no substance.
The only indication Luxon gave of what “International connections” might be, assuming he hadn’t forgotten where he was and had actually been talking about new long haul routes, suggested it involved free trade. You know, like the comprehensive agreement Labour has just signed with the European Union.
Corin tried to get the interview back on track again, as Luxon burbled ever on with his stuck in an elevator pitch. He asked whether if National does the things they’ve indicated, drop the bright line test back to just two years, change interest deductibility for rentals, we’ll just fall back to a surging housing market, to boost consumption and increase growth.
Mr Luxon of course denied this was so, even though it was obvious to anyone listening that that was exactly the case. He had nothing beyond the failed policies of the Key government, which would only accelerate inequality, causing misery to some while making others wealthier.
That is all there is, there is no grand economic plan. The Emperor is wearing, not a thing. Everything is fully on display, for those who might care to look.
Here is the Luxon plan, such as it is, in it’s entirety:
Cut taxes, paid for by cutting the funding of public services.
Bring back the glory days of a booming housing market, maximising capital gains.
That’s it. That is his whole plan.
To have the wealthier half of society, the property owning half, get even more wealthy at the expense of the poorer half, the rent paying half, of the population.
One group swimming in vast oceans of untaxed capital gains, the other getting further from the security of owning a home by the day. That’s Luxon’s vision for Aotearoa.
We’ve already tried that with a different narcissist, and it didn’t work out very well. I don’t want to see what another three, or six, years of that kind of government will do to this country. Surely we’re not going to fall for it again, are we? The last thing we need at this time is a return to the greed and the apathy of the Key years.