My parents generation came through the Depression with the very firm belief that saving for a rainy day was better than borrowing to enjoy the sun today.
My generation got a reminder of the good sense of that when the ag-sag of the 1980s hit.
We didn’t like it at the time but the tough prescription of Roger Douglas’s Budgets were a very necessary correction of the policies of successive governments from the early 1970s. They spent more than they earned, taking the country into debt which was in effect stealing from future generations.
Reducing the burden of the state and freeing the economy to allow better growth were worthy aims which were subverted by Labour from 1999. Michael Cullen reduced public debt and achieved Budget surpluses but he also increased government spending, gave welfare to people in want rather than need and increased taxes.
The worst damage was done by the extravagant promises which Helen Clark used to win the 2008 election. The productive sector was in recession but it was disguised by high government spending and consumer spending and escalating property prices fuelled by borrowing.
We were already in recession when the global financial crisis hit. Recovery has been patchy at best and the economic impact of the Christchurch earthquake has been the last straw.
The government has recognised the seriousness of the situation and is making it clear there will be no pre-election lolly scramble. There won’t be any increased spending at all – if there is more in one area it will have to come from less in another.
The left either can’t or won’t see the sense in this which gives voters a very real choice in the election.
Labour and its potential allies want to steal more from the future. National knows the lesson the Depression taught my parents still hold true.