No Victoria, the machines aren’t taking our jobs

The right’s candidate for mayor isn’t remotely ready to be mayor of a super city.

If you’re going to stand for political office the minimum requirements must surely include some rationale for your candidacy. You want to do the job because you see a job needing doing. You need to have something sensible to say about topical issues and some guide to what you expect to do in office. 

If you don’t have these minimum contributions to debate, then your candidacy is pointless. 

An onerous duty of political commentary is the requirement to read the sources, and so I visited Victoria Crone’s website  to see what she plans for Auckland, only to find my low expectations wildly overestimated. There’s about as much substance here as Kanye West’s run for president. She wants to ‘Create Win-Win Situations’, ‘Empower People’ and ‘Lead From A Place of strength’; as if she’s running against a candidate who wants to lose, take power away from you, and be a weak leader.

Beneath the blandly moronic motivational platitudes  - “I believe anything is possible! (insert emoji) - she lists ‘Issues’: B is for ‘Housing', C is for ‘Transport’. Maybe they’ve changed Sesame Street since I was young.

These summaries reveal a candidate unprepared for office, lacking vision, and free from any meaningful communication of useful ideas. I know from experience it’s tough to run for office and you expose yourself to criticism. But given Victoria has the National party machine behind her, she should have been more prepared, and they should have thought this through.

Take ‘A' for 'Fiscal Management’. Correctly observing that many billions of dollars are needed to meet Auckland’s infrastructure needs, while funding sources like rates and debt are constrained, she offers: "few alternative sources of funding have been secured. This is a major problem for our city to solve, amidst perceptions of wastage in council spending.” Yes it’s a problem, so, what would you do, candidate? Reject new spending plans? Borrow more? Are you ruling out rate increases? Will you raise rates just a teeny bit? New taxes? Tolls? Privatising infrastructure?

Not even a hint of an idea, let alone a fresh one. That’s what makes the platitudes a problem. If you can't answer these most basic of questions about your political principles, you have no place pretending you could lead a major city. 

Then you come to ‘D’ Stands For Jobs.

Go here, and click on the Jobs tag to the left.

It comes up with a summary of her ideas: Jobs. Not Found. 

For most candidates I would concede ‘a missing website link is a  simple error’, but it’s hard when the sole justification advanced for her candidacy is that she had some involvement in an Internet company.

And yet she blames technology for unemployment. How else to interpret this Luddite miasma:

"In half a century from 1961, the workforce employed in manufacturing fell from 36% to 8% while employment in services grew from 49% to 81%. We need to make sure Auckland has the jobs, skills and conversations needed to transition to future jobs as automation and machines continue to automate our current jobs."

The suggestion that technology is taking jobs is the kind of simplistic analysis you used to hear your parents say. But if you think technology is taking jobs in Auckland, you don’t have the skills to be mayor of a super city. 

In the 50 years since 1961, many thousands of new manufacturing jobs have been created in Auckland, and many thousands more in other sectors. One of the main reasons for this, and for an associated increase in real incomes, has been increasing productivity as a result of technology.  Creating jobs is complex, and vital. Simplistic scapegoating of simple villains, like machines or immigrants, means you don’t have real ideas about what to do. 

Victoria Crone looks to me like someone who is running a profile-raising campaign for mayor as a way of gaining a council seat, who has been put up to a job she is not up to, by people who are desperate to find someone, anyone, to stand against Phil Goff. Genuinely qualified candidates won’t stand because they know they’ll lose. Victoria possibly believes that ‘anything is possible’, and anyone who dreams of being mayor can be. But it doesn’t mean she is equipped for the job. She isn’t. She is an ill-prepared candidate out of her depth, who thinks machines are taking our jobs.