Russel Norman and his chums want the state to save capitalism from itself.
Green Party co-leader Russel Norman has often waxed lyrical on 'the power of the market' ( his words) and dreams longingly of his environmentally friendly capitalism. But he now seems to have come to the conclusion that 'the market' isn't as powerful as he thought it was and that it is in desperate need of a helping hand. So the former socialist has called for some 'quantitative easing' as a way of dragging the New Zealand economy out of the quagmire.
And Friday's 'Jobs Summit' called by the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union is another recognition that the neoliberal orthodoxy isn't working. The Jobs Summit will supposedly address the slump in manufacturing and the continuing job losses
Said EPMU national secretary Bill Newson: "The summit is a sign of the emerging consensus that the Government needs to take a more active role in the economy. No-one who has seen the mass redundancies of recent months, or the numbers of Kiwis heading to Australia, can be unaware of the deepening jobs crisis in this country and the need for a new approach."
Well, it won't exactly be a new approach. What we will get are some repainted and spruced up 'Keynesian lite' policies and past off as something else.
With the failure of monetarism to arrest both the financial crisis and the current trade depression Keynes has come back into fashion around the world.
However I'm not sure if one of participants in the 'Jobs Summit', Labour's finance spokesperson David Parker, has suddenly discarded neoliberalism. After all, just last year, he told some business suits that neither telecommunications and electricity generation were considered by Labour to be 'infrastructure assets' that ought to run in the New Zealand interest' and he has accepted that austerity measures are required.
But some of the participants at the Jobs Summit , such as New Zealand Manufacturers and Exporters Association chief executive John Walley , have been plugging Keynesian lite for some time, including at the dear old Fabian Society - a think tank closely connected to the Labour Party.
Last year Walley presented to the Fabian Society a paper called 'Fresh Ideas for a Productive Economy' . In that paper he called for action on the exchange rate, a capital gains tax and more investment in research and development.
We can expect these ideas to surface at the 'Jobs Summit'.
Mike Smith, a former general secretary of the Labour Party, is president of the Fabian Society. A couple of years ago he wrote that the Fabian's 'progressive policies' were 'just about different ideas to run the capitalist economy'. And that's what this 'Job Summit' is all about - a propaganda exercise to promote Keynesian-inspired policies . These are the same kind of policies that failed to prevent the rise of unemployment and prices and led to the neoliberal policies that have dominated for over three decades.
Keynes won't sole this crisis and indeed advocating 'quantitative easing' is an admission that capitalism has essentially run out of policy options.
It would be nice of if someone at the Jobs Summit championed the interests of ordinary people and advocated some socialist solutions - like a progressive tax system and the expropriation of the commanding heights of the economy to serve the needs of working people. Oh, and how about a complete rejection of austerity policies?
Of course, no one will. The message that the 'Jobs Summit' will be pushing, albeit subtly, is that the state must save capitalism from itself.