Social Policy Kiwisaver as a Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

The authors believe that some citizens have become "...socialized into a particular ideological system that molds their values, attitudes, beliefs and/or symbolic predispositions on a wide range of issues, including political parties and the economy." And this article also found that most party interests and self-interests revolve around both ideological considerations and economic considerations; however, those voters who are on the lower rung of the economic ladder tend to be less ideological and more economically-motivated, which makes sense.

Labour...[which is] traditionally welfare state in ideology, was the party that initiated the conversion to neoliberalism" prior to the election of the Alliance in 1999, the article continues. Allen and Ng write that many members of the Labour party "felt confused and betrayed" when the Alliance moved away from the welfare state policies and into neoliberalism. Another result of the Labour Alliance's shift from welfare to neoliberalism was an "increase in poverty and income inequality," the writes assert. Poverty increased "perhaps as much as 50% from 1984 to 1993," the authors write. Moreover, research presented by Allen and Ng indicates that "people with incomes in the top 25% income bracket believed that their economic situation had improved" under neoliberal policies. And those in the "bottom 25%" of the income bracket in New Zealand "believed their situation had deteriorated."

So the point here is, the political leadership in New Zealand is aware of the need to provide as many citizens as possible with secure financial futures. But the Labour Alliance and other parties are aware of the research provided by Allen and Ng that having a political policy that appeals to people because it embraces financial progress as a theory; the theory is that is we as a party go out of our way to offer some financial rewards to constituents, the voters will join our movement.


Is the Third Way linked to the establishment of KiwiSaver? The first step in this investigation is to examine what the Third Way (TTW) truly is - and in the case of University of Auckland law professor Jane Kelsey, what it is not. Kelsey puts forward the idea that TTW is not an attempt at transformation of the New Zealand government. The Third Way is just "a political project whose objective is short-term political management" (Kelsey, 2002). The author states in her book at the Crossroads (excerpted in ( something of a cynical tone) that TTW "enables centre-left governments to rationalize their role in consolidating neoliberalism" (Kelsey, 2002). She does concede, according to the introduction to her excerpts, that the Labour Alliance coalition has given some "genuine redirection" to social justice (which would include KiwiSaver), environmental and foreign policy, but she has serious reservations about the true meaning of the Third Way; in her view, is it a theory or a temporary tool?

Moreover, Kelsey writes that TTW management style may have a chance to "defuse the tensions created by globalization in the short run." She suggests that globalization has not been all that good for New Zealand, and in fact, globalization has been a thorn in the side when it comes to social justice; and she quickly adds that the Labour Alliance Coalition Government did, in its first ten months of being in control of the NZ Government, the business side ("a hallmark of the free market era") had been "restored" under the guise of the Labour Alliance's insistence that they were offering "a new way forward."

What Kelsey is really saying here is the theory of the Third Way is really just a ruse, and in fact the Labour Alliance basically continued the "globalization agenda" which had previously led to New Zealand falling from 9th in OECD ranking in 1970 to 19th in 1999, when the Labour Alliance took over. Kelsey suggests that the real political theory embracing the Third Way is better understood through the writings of Anthony (Lord) Giddens.

Giddens' view of the politics of TTW: it is "above all an endeavour to respond to change" (Giddens, 2000). Change in the case of KiwiSaver is certainly linked with the Third Way, as it was apparent to the Labour Party and others in political leadership roles that too many New Zealanders were being left out in the cold when it comes to their ability by buy a home or plan for their retirement with financial security. In his book the Third Way and its Critics, Chapter 2, Giddens believes that Third way politics amounts to "modernizing social democracy" (Giddens, 29); indeed, it the politics of the Third Way does not "displace social justice" but indeed "represents the only effective means of pursuing those ideals today" (Giddens, 29). On page 32-33 of his chapter Giddens suggests that social democracies need to be modernized, and Third Way politics "is an attempt to carry further the reform process" that social democrats have begun. After conservatives like Ronald Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher set the stage, some leaders on the left became more prepared to "question orthodoxies" related to social justice - and therein lies the need for the Third Way (or Third way politics as Giddens likes to say).

While Maharey avoids using the Third Way theory (fearing it will be seen as a "label") and instead insists that the "new social democracy" can help refurbish the "welfare state," Giddens insists that TTW implies "a thorough-going programme of policy modernization... [Needed in order to] modernize the state and government, including the welfare state..."

And Giddens is careful to point out on page 39 that pension reform leads to questions about social justice, and this is where TTW comes in. The Third Way is certainly a left-leaning theory, but moreover TTW is about "breaking with the established leftist doctrines" where they have failed to produce positive results. Indeed, when considering pension reform, many aging issues come to the front, such as, "How can we ensure that older people don't live in poverty?" And on page 48 of his essay, Giddens notes that discussions of social justice need to include the issue of crime. Third way politicians, he goes on, are correct to point to "the hypocrisy of the traditional left," many of whom push the crime issue off the table of reform and link crime with "other social problems." The Third Way considers "liberty" at the "forefront" when talking about crime, because solutions like surveillance and "saturation policing" butt up against personal liberties.

Another notable proponent of the Third Way is former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In a 1998 speech (available from the Goucher College Web site) Blair explained that the Third Way " not simply a compromise between left and right" but rather TTW seeks to take "the essential values of the centre and centre-left and apply them to a world of fundamental social and economic change" (Blair, 1998). An alert reader of the Blair theory can readily see how KiwiSaver fits into the world of "fundamental social and economic change" by providing citizens with an opportunity to be homeowners due to their own frugality and a little push from the government.

The role that Blair sought for TTW was a "new balance between rights and duties" in education, welfare, justice and parenthood. Indeed, Blair insisted that TTW stands for "Democratic renewal and a restoration of faith in politics" (Blair, 1998). Meanwhile, in a joint 1999 statement issued by Blair and then-Prime Minister for Germany, Gerhard Schroeder, the Third Way was described as being shaped to embrace the "social democratic values of 'fairness and social justice, liberty and equality of opportunity" while at the same time modernizing "the policies and programs" designed to originally achieve those values (

In their joint statement, the role of the state in carrying out the Third Way (called "New Centre" in Germany at that time) would be to address concerns of all people who must to cope with "societies undergoing rapid change" (both losers and winners in those societies). Specifically, Blair and Schroeder were alluding to rapid changes brought on by globalization and "scientific changes" (new technologies, climate change, etc.).

With those TTW goals and values in mind, the Labour Party of New Zealand, in its Web site, expresses the belief that it has "Delivered on its commitments to invest in our health system" ( coming into power in 1999, the Labour Party wishes for follows the lead of Blair's theory of "fairness and social justice"; to wit, screening for breast cancer has been expanded; 33 hospitals have been revitalized; doctors' costs have been reduced; and school health checkups for children "are being rolled out this year to catch problems which may hinder learning," the Labour Party explains.


And in conclusion, the question should be posed: when does a theory - no matter whether it is called "The New Social Democracy," "Neoliberal Governance," or "The Third Way" - become social policy? The answer - at least one answer - should be, when the party…

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