“Once Was Enough, Gareth.” – Why I won’t be voting for TOP

By   /   March 21, 2017  /   58 Comments

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Fuck it, I’ve seen enough. Morgan’s shown himself to be just another latter-day Procrustes*. If the TOP man has his way, New Zealand and New Zealanders will, once again, be “restructured” to fit the ideologically-determined dimensions of Morgan’s Procrustean bed.

WHEN GARETH MORGAN launched “The Opportunities Party” (TOP) project, I instructed myself to take it easy. Yes, in the 1990s, Morgan had been one of the more vociferous supporters of the Neoliberal Revolution. But, with the new century, he’d appeared to mellow. On the big issues of climate change, inequality and poverty he’d demonstrated an encouraging willingness to refrain from the standard right-wing knee-jerks and hear the evidence.

Given that the number of neoliberals actually willing to listen to inconvenient truths is vanishingly small, Morgan’s performance struck me as impressive. “So,” I told myself, “the Left should wait for the release of TOP’s signature policies. No rushing to pre-judgement this time. For once, let’s just suck it and see.”

But, fuck it, I’ve seen enough. Morgan’s shown himself to be just another latter-day Procrustes*. If the TOP man has his way, New Zealand and New Zealanders will, once again, be “restructured” to fit the ideologically-determined dimensions of Morgan’s Procrustean bed.

Well, once was enough, Gareth, thank you all the same. Between 1984 and 1993 New Zealand was plagued by a seemingly endless succession of economists-turned-social-engineers – all bearing complicated plans for improving the lives of its citizens. When people objected that these plans would throw people out of work, devastate communities, radically widen the gap between rich and poor, and generally upend the lives of thousands, they were greeted with long sighs and pained expressions.

“Yes,” said the economic engineers, “there would be a certain amount of short-term pain – but what you need to think about is the long-term gain!

“And besides,” they always added (as if it constituted a clinching argument) “there is no alternative!”

And there wasn’t, not back then, because the economic engineers enjoyed the full backing of the Treasury and were acting in accordance with government policy.

So painful and disruptive was the Neoliberal Revolution, however, that in the years following the introduction of MMP in 1996, no government dared to indulge in the sort of wholesale social-engineering made notorious by Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson.

The Labour Party had been deeply traumatised by Rogernomics and the Neoliberal Revolution. The vicious ten-year-long civil war on the Left, during which Labour and Jim Anderton’s Alliance had fought each other to a standstill, only ended when Labour signalled that while the revolution would not (should not?) be rolled back, neither should it be advanced.

The Don Brash-led National Party was willing to give the revolution another go, but the New Zealand electorate decided (narrowly) not to give him the opportunity. What’s more, Brash’s successor, John Key, made a fetish out of not wanting to change very much at all. The Helen Clark/Michael Cullen-defined economic and social policy consensus of 1999-2008 would not be assailed.

But the Clark/Cullen consensus is precisely the status-quo that Morgan and TOP are determined to disrupt. The party’s entire political strategy hinges upon securing the balance of power in the House of Representatives and then leveraging TOP’s parliamentary indispensability into a raft of radical constitutional, economic and social “reforms”. Absent such leverage, none of TOP’s policies would be contemplated. If implemented, however, Neoliberalism in New Zealand would get its second wind.

Twenty-two years ago, the Australian essayist and social commentator, Rosie Scott, contributed an essay to a University of Queensland publication entitled Columbus’ Blindness (later republished as “The Dark Abyss Of Pish” in the February/March 1995 edition of The NZ Political Review.) Interestingly, Gareth Morgan featured prominently in the author’s unsparing critique of “economic rationalism”.

In Scott’s words:

“Morgan’s language reflects the heartlessness at the centre of economic rational thought, the arid landscape of the cost accounting mentality, a world where ordinary people’s lives, national institutions, cultural treasures, rights that have been painfully gained over generations, compassion for the poor, the dispossessed and the sick are all squashed flat by the bulldozer of profit and loss.”

Though TOP has been at pains to cloak its policies in the rhetoric of equity and compassion, its manifesto strongly suggests that it intends to unleash the neoliberal bulldozer against the middle class – that sole remaining bastion of socio-economic privilege outside the invulnerable One Percent.

TOP’s tax policies would strip homeowners of their capital gains; his superannuation policies would lead to the steady impoverishment of retirees; his so-called “Universal Basic Income” would reduce 90 percent of the population to powerless “gig workers”; and his constitutional reforms would gut New Zealand’s parliamentary democracy of its power to implement the popular will.

“Good!”, some might say, “the middle class has had it coming for the best part of thirty years!” And if Morgan’s policies were aimed at re-empowering the working-class, I’d be tempted to join in the cheering. But they’re not. Re-energising the labour movement is the last thing TOP intends to do.

That’s because Morgan and his party subscribe to the myth of meritocracy. While TOP purports to be committed to bringing all of us up to the same starting line, once the starting gun is fired, we’re on our own.

The massive advantages conferred upon individuals by virtue of their location in the complex class hierarchies of late capitalism form no part of TOP’s policy equations. That a person well-endowed with cultural capital will always be significantly better placed to transform his $10,000 UBI into $100,000 than someone born into a culturally impoverished household, has been quietly and unobtrusively ushered out of the argument.

What finally prompted me to say “Fuck it – I’m outta here!”, however, was this little gem from the TOP website:

“We also need to remodel the way we engage citizens in democracies. Modern technology means people are more suited to continuous interaction, and less suited to queuing up at a polling booth once every 3 years. There is also (thankfully) a blurring of traditional, tribal approaches to party alignment. The old two-party left-right ways are obsolete. This is a challenge to the current model, but opens the way for more thoughtful and deliberative democracy, if it is well designed.”

Ah, yes, Gareth. And just who, do you think, should do the designing? The People? Through the political parties they elect to give practical expression to their socio-economic interests? Doesn’t sound like it. Which just leaves “the experts”, Gareth. Those “thoughtful and deliberative” types who will not be swayed by the “obsolete” and “blurring” considerations of Left and Right. People who know how the world works. People trained in economics. People like, well, not to put too fine a point upon it, Gareth – you.

* In Greek mythology, Procrustes was a robber who invited weary travellers to spend the night in his house by the roadside. As soon as they were inside, however, Procrustes tied them to an iron bed. If they were shorter than the bed, he would stretch them on a rack until they equalled its length. If his guests were taller than the bed, Procrustes would cut off chunks of their feet and legs until they fitted. Not surprisingly, none of the unfortunate occupiers of this “Procrustean bed” ever survived their host’s … restructuring.

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58 Comments

  1. countryboy says:

    Fabulous stuff. I completely agree with your appraisal.
    I’ve seen too much of morgan’s ugly mug on neo liberal media over the years to trust the fucker as far as I could throw paula bennett.

  2. johno says:

    “Not surprisingly, none of the unfortunate occupiers of this “Procrustean bed” ever survived their host’s … restructuring”

    Except for Theseus, of course, who restructured Procrustes!

  3. jay says:

    100% Chris! 🙂

  4. garibaldi says:

    Well said Chris.I do agree with you after ‘digesting’ TOP policies. I thought at first they were quite worth a second look but ….. no.

  5. dougal says:

    “TOP’s tax policies would strip homeowners of their capital gains”

    Why do you think home owners deserve capital gains Chris?

    This is the sense of entitlement for easy profit (via the property market) that has caused the properties to be so overvalued in NZ. A shift from the mentality that owning a home (or in the case of those that are greedy, owning multiple properties) is the be all and end all, is exactly what NZ needs.

    • David Stone says:

      So called capital gains on a home simply hold the asset’s value in real terms. If it is taxed it is removing the owners equity in his /her asset.
      The significant factor driving house price inflation is the willingness of banks to lend the overwhelming part of the price to a qualifying buyer, usually a speculator, especially to a speculator. The same client asking 1/4 the loan and 4x the equity on a viable business doesn’t get a look in.
      What happens when the crash comes? Is Morgan going to give it back?

      Good post Chris You are a hard worker.
      D J S

      • Doug says:

        Sorry, I wasnt referring to tops tax policy specifically, i was talking about capital gains on property. I think tops tax policy is a farce, too​ hard to administer and needs a back up plan when the property market crashes.

        Additionally, I personally think if you lose money on an asset you aren’t entitled to a refund, but you should pay tax on gains. But for that system to work you pay capital gains tax at time of sale

        • David Stone says:

          Hi Doug
          As it stands it needs very few transactions of property before IRD declares you to be a property dealer. Then all “capital gains” are deemed to be income and taxed accordingly. This system could be tightened if it was felt to be inadequate but it needs to be clarified what a capital gains tax would capture that the existing system doesn’t. If a family home is subject to CGT only when the old people pass on then it’s just a death duty in disguise. If capital gains tax is to be applied to farm land , all farms will very soon be corporate owned.
          D J S

        • mikesh says:

          This seems illogical. Surely if capital gains are taxed then capital losses should give rise to a reciprocal rebate.

          • In Vino says:

            You may as well argue that people who don’t have a job should receive refunds for not having earned any income. Not as logical as it first looks…

            • Peter Sumpter says:

              Is that not the case with the present system?
              UBI: You get $200 a week and can improve your situation if you do any work to improve your lot.
              Currently: You get $270 a week but if you try to do any work we will take it all off you.
              They both cost almost the same because full time workers would have a higher tax rate to equal the UBI so no difference for them.
              But which one provides an incentive?

              • Strypey says:

                I would definitely prefer a $200 UBI, assuming we get to keep our accommodation supplements. A $200 UBI is nowhere near enough without a region-adjusted supplement to make renting a room affordable.

                If my benefit wasn’t means tested, I could take little bits and pieces of paid work as they come up, without having to panic about reporting it to WINZ and figuring out how much of my benefit I lose each week. This allows we to build up contacts, references, and a work history.

                Under the current system, it’s a lot easier to just budget for the same benefit amount each week, and do unpaid work (or for some people undeclared and untaxed cash work). The downside is not being able to show a paid work history or offer recent employers as references, making it much harder to get the regular part-time (20 hours+) or full-time job I need to get off the benefit completely. I also have to put up with being treated as a loser by the system and the benny-bashers, just because the work I do is unpaid and often self-managed (or co-managed).

            • mikesh says:

              People without a job have not actually suffered a loss.

      • mikesh says:

        Actually a capital gain usually does more than maintain a houses “real” value. It’s true that part of the gain may be due to inflation, but most of the gain will more than likely be due to factors such as housing shortages and/or increased desirability of the location concerned.

    • Nitrium Nitrium says:

      Capital gains on property, especially if it’s your home, are often very cruel. Take pensioners, for example, who might have bought their house before the big bubble. How many could pay the capital gains tax out of their weekly Super income? Remember a capital gain is purely a “paper profit” – it’s NOT money in the bank. So okay, maybe they should get a loan to pay for it? Which bank is going to provide a loan to a pensioner? And isn’t that just making the banks even more money on interest (i.e. when you’ve just paid off your 30 year mortgage)? Well maybe they should be forced to sell their home then if they can’t pay the capital gains tax on it. But the person who is then going to rent that home back out ALSO needs to recoup the tax. Guess who get’s to pay it? IMO it’s basically, like GST on essentials, an insidious blanket tax (including those that can’t afford to pay it), that ultimately does preciously little to address the underlying problem.

      • Andrea says:

        Thanks, Nitrium.

        I don’t know who all these on-paper rich people are: I just live in my home and curse the revaluations that lead to higher rates with nothing tangible to show for it – other than the juicy salary rises for the mayor, councillors and drones in the council offices.

        Out in the property quiet places of NZ that’s just how it is.

  6. fatty says:

    The Opportunities Party is a joke. They claimed they’d set a fuse under NZ’s politics, but they’re bland unimaginative centrists.

    Their first policy was interesting, but everything after has been a timid flop. Morgan should be ashamed of himself. He had the opportunity (lol) to offer something different, but all he’s offered is policies that Labour or National could easily put forward.

    Gareth Morgan is a fraud. Please go away Morgan – take your targetted UBI with you (who the fuck offers a targeted UBI?). It’s painful to watch you lurch around with your predictable centrist policies.

    • mikesh says:

      To be fair on Morgan, his UBI is intended to be targeted only initially. He doesn’t intend permanent targeting.

  7. Afewknowthetruth says:

    Yeah, well when people were getting excited about TOP I checked a few things, and saw the same bollocks that other political parties present as ‘truth’, and knew immediately that TOP was just another ‘more of the same with slight tweaking to suit certain vested interest groups’ party.

    If TOP does gain any seats in parliament it will immediately become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

    • mikesh says:

      “and saw the same bollocks that other political parties present as ‘truth’,”

      What is this “bollocks” to which you refer. Do tell, so that we may all be enlightened.

  8. Brigid says:

    What they said.

  9. Siobhan says:

    I agree with your view on TOP, and I hate to burst your bubble…but maintaining the status quo pretty much limits Labours share of the vote to home owners with a social conscience…just as long as it doesn’t mess with their Capital Gains, the joy of landlordism, and heaps of cheap garden furniture from China.

    It is a shame that Labour doesn’t feel any compulsion towards “Re-energising the labour movement”..they might actually get in with a clear mandate for change.

    Oh, no, sorry, that’s right…despite claiming to be traumatised by Roger Douglass’s reforms, Labour would rather eat metal tacks than ‘roll back’ that particular Revolution.
    Interesting.
    Maybe in all fairness Labour should just publicly declare their support for Douglas rather than pretending it was all just some Historical anomaly.

  10. I was interested, but it’s waning a little lately. I’m not completely out yet, but I would have liked to have seen his tax policy as it currently stands including the abolition of GST as the best means of crimping off poverty, it would have been a game changer. Wasting one of his top 7 policies on Geoffrey Palmer’s pet subject/obsession of introducing a written constitution is also a bit of a squib. I just don’t see a pressing need in a time of child poverty and growing wealth inequality, along with the persistent troubles of globalism.

    I’m not of the more common left view that we can only do better by constructing an overbearing state to achieve an equitable society, so things like that don’t bother me. Likewise, the targeting of property rather than income is actually how to go after the rich like a pro. My main problem with Labour and the Greens is that they still have this economically naïve fantasy that higher income taxes are the way to go after the rich. Income tax does not in the least get at the wealth of the rich – that’s why they’re still rich after all those years.

    Morgan could do with asking the public for submissions to tighten up his policies a little, because I think if they were tweaked here and there, they could be a winner. My advice would be to ditch the constitutional nonsense and add the abolition of GST to the tax policy in the interest of making good on this ‘make NZ fair again’ approach. Otherwise, it is more likely by the day that he’s just going to be this election’s example of a rich fool and his money being easily parted in politics. I’m not precious about the Labour party like Trotter is, so I don’t have that barrow in my path. In fact, looking at the arguments Trotter puts out in this article, the only thing that astounds me is that he might think Labour is any less likely to avoid the outcomes he fears.

    • Nick says:

      It was a flat tax, to go with the UBI.

      (The darling ultimate of the Right, which leaves the bottom 90% to cross-subsidize each other, but allows the top 10% to surge ahead forever, untouched).

      The UBI itself is totally in adequate.

      However, in a world where potentially mechanized production leaves the nation richer, or at least no poorer, but work scarce, the only effective solution will be a massively top-loaded graduating tax, and a government that uses the higher taxes to finances an enhanced service sector.

      Early retirement, not later retirement, would free up work opportunities for younger workers, while older people, no longer in the paid workforce, would have greater encouragement to participate in the voluntary (cost plus) sector on an adequate stipend.

      This may be the only way to counter an ever increasing Deadpool of hopelessness and an ever self-enriching TOP pool.

      • Flat tax? Where in the policy announcements/documents was that?

        • mikesh says:

          A flat tax was advocated in his book, The Big Kahuna, along with a UBI. A flat tax combined with a UBI would provide us with the equivalent of a progressive tax system. Keith Rankin, NZ’s other main cheerleader for a UBI, also proposes that a flat tax be introduced with it.

    • Strypey says:

      As I mentioned in a comment on another article, a written constitution, enforced by a Supreme Court with the power to overrule parliament, could be a game-changer (depending on the contents of the constitution of course). For example, a constitution could mandate that parliament can only sell the public commons they operate under the “public trust doctrine” with the approval of a binding referendum, or a 75% vote in parliament, or a 75% vote in a binding referendum. Constitutionality challenges could be used by the opposition to prevent the government of the day passing laws or signing up to treaties that undermine our human rights or civil liberties (eg mass surveillance or TPP). Problems like “child poverty and growing wealth inequality, along with the persistent troubles of globalism” are exactly why a formalized constitution is a good policy, and I’m glad to see TOP promoting Palmer’s constitutional consultation project.

  11. Mr Anderson says:

    The voice of the left bemoaning a threat to capital gains? Have I fallen into a parallel universe? Or is the rant of someone who’s been out lefted?

    Also this middle class you speak of, it doesnt exsist, its just a bunch of folk who can service enough debt to keep up the facade

    At least Gareth is pitching some ideas beyond the BAU disaster train we are on

  12. WILD KATIPO says:

    ” That a person well-endowed with cultural capital will always be significantly better placed to transform his $10,000 UBI into $100,000 than someone born into a culturally impoverished household, has been quietly and unobtrusively ushered out of the argument.”

    ———————————————————————————

    There were a few policy’s that I read in the NZ Herald that gave me a sense of disquiet … this being one of them as I looked ahead to the possible consequences and outcomes … I think another one was about state/social housing and the use of ‘NGO’s ‘ … which as we all know… translate into private company’s … ie : like we saw with an Australian company looking into buying NZ owned state houses…

    • mikesh says:

      “That a person well-endowed with cultural capital will always be significantly better placed to transform his $10,000 UBI into $100,000 than someone born into a culturally impoverished household, has been quietly and unobtrusively ushered out of the argument.”

      This is true of any monies that a culturally well endowed person might possess. It seems a tad gormless to use this as an argument against the introduction of a UBI.

  13. Priss says:

    “When people objected that these plans would throw people out of work, devastate communities, radically widen the gap between rich and poor, and generally upend the lives of thousands, they were greeted with long sighs and pained expressions.”

    And we’re still seeing that evidence in Northland, when high unemployment and borred youth with no prospects (other than the patched variety).

    “Modern technology means people are more suited to continuous interaction, and less suited to queuing up at a polling booth once every 3 years. ”

    Which means – what? Electronic or online voting? No thanks. The mess in the United States with allegations of hacking, stolen emails, and fraudulent election results is enough to make me shy away from anything that does not leave a firm paper trail.

    And even if online voting was 99.9% secure, we’d always have idiots like Trump and other conspiracy fruitcakes harping on about “hacked election results”, just because their candidate failed to win.

    One conspiracy theory after another!! We’d never hear the end of it!!!

    Keep it on PAPER. At least it’s something better than ephemeral pixels on a screen.

    “Good!”, some might say, “the middle class has had it coming for the best part of thirty years!”

    Yes, well, ahem, I’d be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind.

    • “Which means – what? Electronic or online voting? No thanks. The mess in the United States with allegations of hacking, stolen emails, and fraudulent election results is enough to make me shy away from anything that does not leave a firm paper trail.”

      Note that the hacking allegations came from the technologically illiterate Jill Stein whose recount request was thrown out in one of those states when they judge asked, “so do the voting machines connect to phone lines or the internet?” The answer, of course, was no, they do not, and consequently her vexatious lawsuit was thrown out.

      As for the matter of a firm paper trail, the recount which did go ahead resulted in Trump’s paper ballot count increasing his margin, not decreasing it. The strategy of the sore losers backfired big league.

  14. e-clectic says:

    When you’re a rooster, the idea that the political animal doesn’t have to have wings to the left and right is a very threatening viewpoint. It more than fucks with a well-embedded paradigm, especially threatening when it’s the one that you’ve built your whole reputation on.
    The Government and Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition: is that as good as it gets? In the 21st century? Under a putative PR election process?
    So, it went to the people, they spoke and then the recommendations went to “the political parties they elect”(ed) and it wasn’t in their interest so they shelved it.
    Conclusion: suck it up, don’t try change, this is how it is.

  15. Bruce says:

    He lost me when he told me the house I paid 250K for put me in the top 20% and I should be glad to pay more than I now earn in tax for the privilege of remain8ng in it.

  16. Andrew says:

    [Banned for ONE WEEK. – Scarletmod]

  17. mikesh says:

    As far as taxing the rental value of homeowners’ houses, Susan St John, who is hardly a cheerleader for either neo liberalism or the right, has also suggested this expedient.

  18. Mike in Auckland says:

    This is much anger about just another “approach” or rather experiment with the NZ Inc lab rats, once upon a time called human beings.

    I think that Morgan has got some good ideas, some not so good ones, and what makes me suspicious about the man is, that he is just another rich and successful man, who thinks so much of himself having the answers for society, he does not really have the ability to work within a team, and make democracy function.

    Top down is the term for this, and that is what I observe.

    But what we have is no different, even Labour does not offer any significant solutions to the major challenges and problems we face. I also do not shy away to put some blame directly where it belongs, with the many individual persons, who do simply not take a stand themselves, who simply carry on as usual, who never really challenge the misinformation and bias coming from the elite and their MSM.

    How do you offer solutions to a people where the large majority simply loves to continue to drive cars everywhere, polluting the ari, where they simply want to buy and turf things away, where nobody does much care about the environment, except in verbal diarrhea never followed by any walk of the talk?

    Too many shrug things off, do not do what needs doing, and too many continue voting for parties offering selfish policies for selfish, consumerist wasters and self serving profit and opportunity seekers.

    Almost daily do I despair about the status quo in this country, we had another poll on TV3 – Newshub tonight, and we appear to get more and more of the same, with heads stuck deep into the sand, or up each others’ backsides, I guess.

    So I never expected much from TOP, but what Chris dishes out, that offers also no alternatives, so what are we supposed to do with all this? When are you going to blow back the spirit and life into the Labour Party, Chris, or have you quietly given up on them also?

  19. peterlepaysan says:

    I have always viewed Morgan very warily. Like most of the commenters above I see him as basically a “greed is good” gordon gecko neo lib.

    BUT he does have the cojones to raise issues that raise the ire of other gordon geckos, AND he does have a sense of social justice, unlike ACT or the Nats.

    In an mmp environment TOP could be a very useful fish to have swimming around our political pond (alongside Winstone, wouldn’t rhat be fun to watch).

    I would not want to rule TOP out out of an mmp system.

    obtw I am rather fond of cats, but they a menace.

    I am not sure extermination or curfews are sensible options for dealing with cats.

    Is’nt mmp democracy wonderful. we all get together to discuss things

  20. John W says:

    Morgan – another rich man who would like to do things his way.

    What you hear from rich men and their mouthpieces seldom resembles what you are likely to get.

    Uruguay elected a poor man who has struggled for the people not his rich friends.

    President Pepe made a simple but brilliant observation.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/23/mujica-rich-people-politics_n_6036892.html

    “I’m not against people who have money, who like money, who go crazy for money,” Mujica said. “But in politics we have to separate them. We have to run people who love money too much out of politics, they’re a danger in politics… People who love money should dedicate themselves to industry, to commerce, to multiply wealth. But politics is the struggle for the happiness of all.”

    Gareth Morgan who touches on small details but not substance, may well learn from a poor old man.

    Pepe addressed Rio + 20 summit.

    “But what are we thinking? Do we want the model of development and consumption of the rich countries? I ask you now: what would happen to this planet if Indians would have the same proportion of cars per household than Germans? How much oxygen would we have left?

    “Does this planet have enough resources so seven or eight billion can have the same level of consumption and waste that today is seen in rich societies? It is this level of hyper-consumption that is harming our planet.”

    Mujica accuses most world leaders of having a “blind obsession to achieve growth with consumption, as if the contrary would mean the end of the world”.

    • mikesh says:

      It is difficult to see Morgan as loving money; to paraphrase Shakespeare, he seems to have had money “thrust upon him”.

  21. Pat O'Dea says:

    Because I am of the opinion that climate change won’t be properly addressed until the conservatives, (or at least a leading section of them) are convinced of the necessity to act.

    I had held out hope that the TOP climate policy might offer something different or even something better. After all Gareth Morgan wrote a book on the subject.

    Unfortunately the TOP climate policy, shares a lot with current National Party climate policy, ie. A mixture of kicking the can down the road, (2050) and market driven tinkering. But generally BAU.

    To understand the TOP climate policy, more can be gained from what wasn’t said than what was.

    Because these issues weren’t addressed, we can take it that;
    More motorways less public transport.
    More unconventional oil extraction, deep sea oil, fracking.
    More coal being mined. etc etc. will continue under any administration that the TOP party is part of.

    • e-clectic says:

      What they all lack, Greens included, is any sense of urgency.

    • John W says:

      All this consumer stuff will end but BAU will just bring that end it closer.

      Industrialisation is peaking and showing inevitable decline after 2 centuries of growth and destruction. A completely unsustainable population growth coupled with stripping out of Earth’s Non Renewable Natural Resources with resultant pollution, spell an end to BAU.

      Morgan and others just stuff around with details while the bigger picture is ignored. That suits some people who just can’t get their head around what is actually happening and where is is heading.

      Morgan and co are basically egotistical time wasters, It is our time they are wasting as well as out future.

  22. CLEANGREEN says:

    Gareth is slimy as the name “opportunities” used for his party.

    he did a slimy move back when he offered to buy a public beach “with conditions” recall that?

    The sale of the beach issue came up a year or two ago and Gareth tried to “curry favour with the locals, who didn’t trust him with “his conditions” and they instead raised enough donor NZ public money to give it back to us NZ’ders instead.

    That should remind us he is another Key type wheeler dealer nothing more.

    • Strypey says:

      This is a total misrepresentation of the facts CleanGreen, and reminds me of the media feeding frenzy about DotCom’s copy of ‘Mein Kampf’. Gareth Morgan had nothing to do with instigating the buy-back of that beach and claimed on a number of occasions that the same money would be better spent on other conservation projects, which is exactly why DOC didn’t want to buy it back themselves. His “conditions” were facetious one, intended to illustrate his reasons for not supporting it, when the group that started the crowdfunding campaign approached him to chip in. There are plenty of legitimate criticisms to be made of TOP policy and of Morgan’s philanthropic activities, but this kind of cheap smear is not a good example.

  23. Matt of Fact says:

    To summarise Chris Trotter’s piece and mst of the posts here:

    Because you’re rich you offerings are worthless?

    You can’t be trusted because you were seen to be part of the neo-liberal pack of the 80s?

    By offering of some intelligent well articulated ideas of change to a broken system makes you evil and deceptive?

    What a mean spirited article by Chris Trotter and what a chorus of narrow minded “lefties” stuck in your adversorial rut of Left versus Right, rich versus poor? Really, a major point being capital gains tax? It smacks of the comfy lefty in the leafy suburbs that sees his wealth under attack and his position as being morally superior challenged!

    Wake up! This whole political and financial system is broken and this damnation being brought to bear on a man who suggests some different ideas is ludicrous! The challenging of this left vs right, career politician system that does nothing more than serve itself at the expense of the majority of society is at the heart of what needs to change. Not just a goverment change but a change of mind and heart in the general populace, we are never going to advance when all we do is judge and fight.

    • In Vino says:

      Utter cobblers. You want us to believe the same crappy ‘range of ideas’ (a favourite diversion from right-wingers pretending to be neutral) as we got back in the 80s-90s. Chris Trotter has a far better grasp of history and what constitutes worthwhile change than you do – and that is without you putting any ideas forward at all. You don’t like people being Left Wing, do you? But I bet you are happy with Right Wing policies. Change of mind and heart indeed. Please elaborate (and I bet it involves all lefties giving up their values). For a supposedly neutral ‘range of ideas’ that are basically Right Wing, like Morgan’s.

  24. Strypey says:

    “Top down is the term for this, and that is what I observe.”

    This is just not a fair criticism. Any party running in parliamentary elections has to offer policy that they would try to implement “top down” if they won. Parliamentary democracy is top-down by nature. If you’re not cool with that, welcome to the anarchist movement. However, within those structural limits, do we want to promote a Labour party that talks a good game but in practice supports (for example) the ongoing construction of a surveillance state where the government watches people going about their private business, or a party that supports the construction of a participatory democracy, where the government listens to people and responds when they comment through formal public channels?

    As quoted by Chris”
    “We also need to remodel the way we engage citizens in democracies. Modern technology means people are more suited to continuous interaction, and less suited to queuing up at a polling booth once every 3 years.”

    That Chris twists this into some kind of endorsement of economist supremacy says much more about Chris than it does about TOP or Morgan.

  25. Never trust a man with a cleft palette and a moustache. They think they’re hiding something.

    • In Vino says:

      Never trust a snide bastard who criticises anyone with a cleft palette. That bastard has a cleft brain.

      • John W says:

        100%.

        They can’t hide who they are nor are they capable of learning empathy for others not the same as them.

        And they are usually unaware of there problem personality disorder.

  26. saveNZ says:

    Think you hit the nail on the head.

    In particular Kiwis have had decades of economic reform, and has it made our society better?

    • Strypey says:

      So… you’re saying we shouldn’t have any economic reform? Doesn’t that mean you should support the Nats, since they aren’t engaging in any reform, just tinkering with the neo-liberal system put in place by Rogernomics and Ruthenasia? The question is not whether we need economic reform, as it’s pretty obvious we need radical economic reform, to move us to a place where everyone can afford to live in a house for a start. The question is what should the specific nature of that reform be? Policy, policy, policy. At least TOP are putting forward policy for debate. All I see in this thread is name calling, and while that might be cathartic, it doesn’t do anything to help us figure out how to escape from the neo-liberal, open-air prison we find ourselves living in.

      Specific things I like about what’s emerged from TOP policy so far:
      * Support for full UBI, with specific, revenue-neutral proposals for moving towards it
      * Support for increased participation in democracy beyond the almost meaningless “participation” of voting for temporary dictators every 3 years
      * Moving public housing into functioning as a non-state-controlled commons, that can’t be corporatized and sold by a future neo-liberal government

  27. mosa says:

    When i found out Sam Morgan supported Thiels citizenship i thought twice about attending Gareth Morgans meeting in Christchurch.

  28. […] is hard to tell exactly what Trotter is arguing, as it is mostly a ranting ad hominem attack rather than a discussion of ideas. He tries to portray […]

  29. […] Take, for instance, his recent blog on Gareth Morgan: “Once Was Enough, Gareth.” – Why I won’t be voting for TOP. […]