Why Sue Bradford is (probably) right

Working at home this morning, an in-depth interview between Kathryn Ryan and outgoing Green MP Sue Bradford distracted me. An impressive interview, and when Bradford’s given the space to talk, to expand on her ideas & experiences, you realize what an injustice her public persona as humorless, battling activist does to her. But it was her thoughts on the economy, and economics, that struck a particular chord. Now, this is supposed to be a foodie blog, so let’s take this back to a supermarket experience, a little epiphany in the aisles. I enjoy a tisane in the evenings and was reaching for my usual herbal tea bags when I saw the price. From the last time I bought them, less than a month ago, the price had jumped from under $3 to over $4. A whopping increase. Unannounced, unexplained, and – as far as I could see – utterly unjustifiable. After all, they’re not petroleum based, transport costs must be minimal per unit … And this got me thinking about the essential POWERLESSNESS of the consumer and the worker in our economy. Why is it all right for the retailer or the manufacturer to push up prices relentlessly, or the employer to push wages down effectively by not matching cost of living increases, but the worker can’t act in the same way, can’t walk into work and say, right, you’re paying me an extra 50 cents an hour from today? Of course I understand why that wouldn’t work, it’d be chaos and societal collapse, but at the same time this inequity illustrates why capitalism is a desperately flawed system if you believe in a fair and just society. And because my tea bags leapt in price like that, well, that’s why I think Sue Bradford is (probably) right about the changes we need in our society. And so … haere ra, Sue Bradford, wahine toa. Kia kaha.

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