Why Jamie Whyte’s Daughter Is A Better Philosopher Than Her Dad

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IN YESTERDAY’S HERALD (20/1/15) the former leader of the Act Party, Jamie Whyte, offered the behaviour of his 11-year-old daughter as a useful guide to the thinking of the Jihadis responsible for the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

Wow! That’s not a context into which I would want to plunge my daughter, but then, I’m not a Cambridge-educated philosopher.

Jamie’s daughter’s deadly act of extremism, as elaborated by her father, was (by Jihadi standards) pretty mild. “She took the cigarettes of one of our dinner guests and threw them into our back hedge.”

Gosh! That’s pretty bloody hard to equate with the bloodbath at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, but, okay, let’s follow Jamie’s argument all the way to its conclusion.

En route to that conclusion, thankfully, Jamie does pause to observe, generously:

“Of course, my daughter and her moral tutors do not want to slaughter smokers or satirists. They are not as angry or bleak or deranged as the Parisian killers and the others who have committed ideologically motivated atrocities.”

Whew! That was good to hear! Even if, as I was reading Jamie’s exculpatory aside, the word “but” was already taking shape in my mind. And, just as I feared, there it was, right at the beginning of the next paragraph:

“But they have the same basic urge – to compel, to dominate. And they seek justification for it in the supposed vices of their victims.”

Well, yes, that’s right Jamie, they do. Just as the members of the Act Party offer up their unwillingness to be subjected to the vices of others (taxation, regulation, collectivism) as justification for their attempts to impose their own frankly bizarre social, economic and political beliefs upon the rest of us. Indeed, when it comes to compelling and dominating, the Act Party is pretty hard to beat. (How else to explain David Seymour’s willingness to exercise what is, in effect, Act’s casting parliamentary vote on the strength of just 16,689 Party Votes!)

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Except, of course, I would delete such sententious words as “compel”, “dominate”, “vices” and “victims” from Jamie’s description of his daughter’s motivation. That’s because his daughter’s behaviour is entirely consistent with the highest moral conduct.

Not even Jamie, I trust, would argue that it is the right of every individual to inflict actual physical harm upon individuals who are inflicting no actual physical harm upon him. Indeed, I would expect him to argue that human-beings, both individually and collectively, have the right (even, some would argue, the duty) to prevent the unjustified infliction of actual physical harm upon other people.

Certainly, by throwing her father’s dinner guest’s cigarettes in the hedge, Jamie’s daughter was doing exactly that. Having learned from her teachers that the passive inhalation of tobacco smoke is every bit as dangerous as its deliberate inhalation, she was well aware that there was no “safe” way the guest’s cigarettes could be consumed. Though she was only 11, she also appears to have shrewdly calculated that the other people present were quite capable of endangering her own and her loved ones’ health out of a misguided respect for the norms of social etiquette. Her unilateral decision to steal the cigarettes and ditch them in the hedge was, thus, no more worthy of her father’s condemnation than another person’s decision to deprive a drunken guest of his or her car keys.

The actual or potential threat to the rights of other human-beings always trumps the right of an individual to indulge in behaviour that puts those rights in jeopardy.

Not that Jamie gets this – no siree Bob! After a perfectly reasonable critique of American drug laws, the father of the person he describes as his “sanctimonious, bullying daughter” goes on to state that:

“Decisions Western governments do not leave to you and the adults you freely deal with include: how much money you work for, what you wear on your head when cycling, the quality of your house, what you eat, the race of the people you employ, the ways you kill yourself.”

Decoded, this sentence tells us that Jamie is opposed to the minimum wage, basic health and safety regulations, anti-discrimination laws, and the State’s not unreasonable refusal to countenance you dynamiting yourself in a crowded street as a means of committing suicide.

It also tells us that Jamie’s “philosophy” is blissfully unaware of the fact that the consequences of one’s individual actions radiate out through society in ways that are all-too-frequently extremely damaging to other individuals and groups.

What he obviously believes to be the entirely harmless act of agreeing to work for a pittance, if repeated often enough by other like-minded individuals, will depress the incomes of people who have entered into no such voluntary agreement to work for less than they are worth.

Likewise, Jamie also sees nothing wrong with allowing the individuals who refuse to follow sensible safety precautions imposing the costs of their accidental injuries upon the rest of us.

And is he fazed by the billion-dollar consequences of the leaky homes scandal? Not one bit!

The former Act leader is able to articulate such absurdities because, like so many others on the Right, he really does believe that Margaret Thatcher was correct when she announced that “there is no such thing as society”. And, it’s a perfectly understandable position to take if it’s one’s intention to empower a tiny minority at the expense of the overwhelming majority of one’s fellow citizens. Indeed, taking any other position must, in the end, open the right-winger to social, economic and political claims that he or she is personally loathe to acknowledge. The fact that such untrammelled individualism is philosophical twaddle is neither here nor there. As Humpty-Dumpty informs Alice in Through The Looking Glass: “The question is, which is to be master – that’s all.”

Questions of political mastery aside, it would be wrong to end these observations without acknowledging that, in spite of his absurd philosophical musings, Jamie Whyte has clearly succeeded in raising an intelligent, daring and, ethically-speaking, disarmingly mature daughter. To whom I can only say: “Good on ya luv! A “little thuggery” in defence of other people’s rights is no vice.

81 COMMENTS

  1. While I don’t necessarily agree with allot of what he says, I actually respect Jamie Whyte. He strikes me as genuine with what he says, telling the truth as he sees it. The trouble is he is full of philosophical idealism that really doesn’t work in the real world. All theory and very little practicality. I have to say I disagree with your perspective on his daughter’s behaviour, Chris. It was possibly understandable if the smoking guest lit up around everyone else inside. However, if like most smokers, the habit was taken to the open air outside, then it would be completely unacceptable, bratty behaviour, worthy of a light, corrective, attitude adjustment!

  2. Allowing a friend to come to your house and smoke outside because you enjoy their company and care about their feelings does not seem to smack of ‘untrammelled individualism’ to me. Whereas openly hostile behaviour from an uncompromising 11 year-old does.

  3. Chris,

    You seem to be wilfully misinterpreting my article. I obviously did not mean that people should be allowed to kill themselves by blowing themselves in public. Because that affects people who do not consent to it — and I explicitly made that a condition of the liberties I think people should enjoy.

    As for passive smoking, again, why do you assume the smoker broke the modern convention of going outside to smoke?

    All the stuff about ACT and its electoral mandate strikes me as utterly irrelevant to my argument.

    Which leaves you with what? The assertion that those of us who believe that safety standards, pay and similar matters can be left to those involved are wrong. Safety standards, pay and so on are all trade-offs. More safety means less other stuff because safety is costly. Higher pay means a lower chance of employment. These trade-offs must be made by someone. My answer is that they should be made by the people affected. Is that really so bizarre? The alternative is that other people (superior people?) make the decision, though lacking most relevant information about the people affected. And that this trade-off be imposed on everyone through the threat of imprisonment.

    Which approach is the more anti-social?

    • Yes, there’s the rub. In almost every case where a Libertarian asserts his right, a right opposed by others, it soon becomes clear that when you drill down into the right claimed, you will find some kind of damage done to some one. When it is genuinely a victim-less crime there is not likely to be any opposition. But where is the gee-whizz philosophical traction in that?

      Of course, although I agree with you, Chris, about usually not hurting those who have not harmed you physically, it should also be asserted that Mr Whyte may well be the first up against the wall, come the revolution. (I think I heard his daughter mutter that).

      • “When it is genuinely a victim-less crime there is not likely to be any opposition.”

        Then why is it a ‘crime’?

        And there are always, but always, ‘we-know-better’ people who will argue for their right to interfere: think same-sex marriage, abortion, personal antipathies. Intermarriage, education for females, vehicle driving for females.

        Some people simply cannot bear to let others live differently.

    • I’m trying to think whether I consider your relation of this ‘true’ story to be slightly abusive of your daughter or bullying.

      Despite the fact that her actions gave you a framework for your somewhat flawed article, as her parent you should have decided not to use what you considered her flaw, as fodder for the masses.

      Children need to be allowed to make mistakes in their own homes that are not relayed to all and sundry. I’ve always been a little bit appalled at the coffee group meetings that relate all the foibles and incidents of children within the hearing of those children. You have taken that a step further and have published a criticism in a national newspaper.

      The bullying label is also appropriate because instead of ‘correcting behaviour’ at home as you see fit, – which you may have done – you have also used your access to a much more public and powerful platform than she has access to, to drive the point home.

      Your logical processes often fail to impress me, but this time I include a condemnation of your parental responsibilities and actions.

    • The alternative is that other people (superior people?) make the decision, though lacking most relevant information about the people affected.

      Nonsense. Part of the reason we have regulations imposed by the state is that human knowledge is limited. For example, I have no idea what sorts of pharmaceuticals are safe, and it is too costly to learn for myself, so I, along with everyone else, get experts to do it. Compulsory regulation is the cheapest and most efficient way of doing this. Sometimes this leads to poor regulations, but on the whole it works quite well, and there are various checks and balances to prevent abuse. If you don’t like it, you are free to leave.

      Modernity is so complex that massive amounts of “relevant information about the people affected” is not known to those people, so your voluntarist scheme is a non-starter. It’s probably for that reason that the tea party folks dress up as 18th century yokels.

      • Yes, and we also all witnessed how well the deregulation of banks worked out in 2008 during the GFC! No company, however large, should be able to influence the Government. When a thinly veiled threat is issued to a government from a company, it’s high time for the government to nationalise said company and break it up to instantly neutralise any possible threat to our sovereignty. People like Jamie Whyte and John Key would find that sort of policy horrific, I’m sure.

        • Jamie:

          Lower pay means I, as a highly skilled and successful person, don’t work in New Zealand. I’ll work in Europe.

          Lower safety makes my job less valuable. My health is, quite frankly, more important to me than your salary.

          It is a trade-off, and you are the one making compromises.

          I would suggest a TED-talk by Simon Sinek.

          But the long and the short of it is that I’ll work for people who treat me like a human being, not cattle.

          Your party is in government. Dealing with the brain-drain isn’t my problem. It’s yours.

          If you want, you could save yourself some money and buy a car without ABS, air-bags or seatbelts. I have some respect for kidney donors.

          For the record, Jamie isn’t a libertarian. He’s an anarchist. Liberty means freedom from oppression, and all of ACT’s policies are incredibly oppressive.

          After all, it was Adam Smith who said “Every tax is to the person who pays it a badge, not of slavery, but of liberty. It denotes that he is subject to government, indeed, but that, as he has some property, he cannot himself be the property of a master.”

          • Libertarianism is a joke. It doesn’t do what libertarians say it will do.

            If people are free to do with their property as they like, then part of that freedom is their freedom to create democratic states where ultimate sovereignty over land is given over to a representative government.

            In fact, that is exactly what has happened in NZ and countless other countries. Libertarians who complain about this are being disrespectful of property rights.

        • Nitrium (if that is your name),

          Do you know anything about the history of the regulation of banking? Do you know that the most ambitious piece of regulation of banking — supposed to make banks safe — came into force in 2007? Do you know that the number of people employed in the business of supervising banks grew during the 10 years leading up to the financial crisis? Do you know that the main price in the financial industry — the rate of interest — is set not by normal market forces but by the decisions of government appointed officials at central banks? Now that you do know all this, will you still count the financial crisis as condemnation of free exchange?

          • Do you know anything about the financial system whatsoever?

            All of your facts are not relevant.

            “The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission concluded that the financial crisis was avoidable and was caused by “widespread failures in financial regulation and supervision,” “dramatic failures of corporate governance and risk management at many systemically important financial institutions,” “a combination of excessive borrowing, risky investments, and lack of transparency” by financial institutions, ill preparation and inconsistent action by government that “added to the uncertainty and panic,” a “systemic breakdown in accountability and ethics,” “collapsing mortgage-lending standards and the mortgage securitization pipeline,” deregulation of over-the-counter derivatives, especially credit default swaps, and “the failures of credit rating agencies” to correctly price risk”

            All you’ve proved is you know nothing of which you speak. As usual.

            The financial engineers really don’t depend on interest rates. The global financial system is global. It doesn’t matter what the interest rate is of any nation in the OECD.

            They trade on currency values, they bet on economies, they bet on stocks, they bet on house values, they bet on commodities, they bet on every asset they can possibly get. Interest rates are fairly unimportant.

            The stock market only crashed because the assets they held in stock were highly liquid, so they flooded the market with sales to cover the huge losses from people defaulting on mortgages.

            It shows that Keynes was right. In the long run, the market is efficient, in the short term, it’s irrational. The invisible hand of the market is an ancient god. It plays its own game. It’s not merciful at all, and it will destroy the global economy to get market efficiency, with the resulting socio-economic results of that.

            Interest rates are the main tool governments have to control their economy, and is the main tool for tackling inflation. It’s an incentive to spend or an incentive to save.

            You clearly haven’t paid any attention to macroeconomics, ever.

            • Oliver, an essay anyone can read with profit is Ross Levine’s “An Autopsy of the U.S. Financial System: Accident, Suicide, or Negligent Homicide?” who concludes that

              The evidence is inconsistent with the view that the collapse of the financial system was caused only by the popping of the housing bubble (“accident”) and the herding behaviour of financiers rushing to create and market increasingly complex and questionable financial products (“suicide”).

              Rather, the evidence indicates that senior policymakers repeatedly designed, implemented, and maintained policies that destabilized the global financial system in the decade before the crisis.

              Moreover, although the major regulatory agencies were aware of the growing fragility of the financial system due to their policies, they chose not to modify those policies, suggesting that “negligent homicide” contributed to the financial system’s collapse

              Although influential policymakers presumed that international capital flows, euphoric traders, and insufficient regulatory power caused the crisis, the paper shows that these factors played only a partial role.

              The most interesting morsels are:

              1. The New York Times warned in 1999 that Fannie Mae was taking on so much risk that an economic downturn could trigger a “rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980s,” and again emphasized this point in 2003; and

              2. Alan Greenspan testified before the Senate Banking Committee in 2004 that the increasingly large and risky GSE portfolios could have enormously adverse ramifications! A rare occasion on which Greenspan did not talk in riddles.

              • I’m not sure what you’re trying to say, but read the Quants by Scott Patterson please.

                The information contained within that essay is pretty much identical to that reported by Patterson, and the Quantitative Analysts themselves said it was their fault.

                The Chicago School teaches Friedman to the letter. They have a self-interest in achieving a completely unregulated economy.

                The evidence is crystal clear – a small number of organisations were leveraged very highly on sub-prime mortgages. When housing values reduced, they had to liquidate their positions. (If you don’t understand what leverage is.. well, that sucks for you). They had large enough stock portfolios to cause a domino effect, as other institutions had to liquidate their positions to prevent them from losing money in the short term (which just added fuel to the fire)

                There was a cultural belief that the market (and every market) is efficient short term, and efficient long term. The GFC could not have happened without a sincere belief that asset values were appropriately valued.

                Policy makers had a very negligible effect on the crisis. Deutsche Bank didn’t even know what its own Quants were up to, and how much risk they had accepted.

      • Of course, we all defer to experts all the time. But why should deferral to experts be centralised and made compulsory? that merely reduces competition between experts and lowers standards. More importantly, on many issues, the only expert is the person involved. Who is more expert than me on whether or not the trade-off between health and the pleasure of ingesting certain substances is the best trade-off?

        • Because we have to pay for your healthcare. We have to pay for your daughters healthcare. And her education. And at some point, we will probably employ your daughter.

          We could have been spending that money on something else, other than the pernicious effects of your own addiction.

          Who is more expert than us on how we want to pay our taxes, and the trade-off between allowing you to pursue a mental health problem versus public healthcare?

          • Without wanting to put words into someone else’s mouth, I think that Mr Whyte would likely argue that you shouldn’t be paying for his, or his daughter’s healthcare.

            • I’m sure he might.

              However, he might feel differently if he’s lying in the gutter, wasting away from a disease or critical injury. Or his daughter. His sense of self-preservation might just overcome his fanatical devotion to a lunatic ideology that simply doesn’t take human nature (the better side) into account.

              Just as the Soviet system ignored human nature’s sense of individualism and to better one’s self, neo-liberalism ignore’s humanity’s urge for collective, social behaviour to strengthen the group as a whole. That is why neo liberalism is a fad and will eventually go the way of the Soviet system.

              • As Mr Whyte would never have been able to afford to pay unsubsidised healthcare for his family, the point is moot.

                What Mr Whyte believes “should” happen, and what he would believe if he was allowed to implement his system in full, are two completely separate things.

                He can always move to the USA.

                  • Why all the personal stuff? What do you know of my personal finances, my “addictions” and so on? and what is the relevance of the US? The US government spends more on healthcare (per person) than most countries and regulates the industry heavily.

                    • 1) You can hack it. You’re always being unsympathetic and often lack empathy.

                      2) I know what healthcare costs, unsubsidised. It’s unaffordable, unless you want to reduce your quality of life?

                      3) The United States spends twice as much on healthcare as New Zealand, and achieves poorer health outcomes. It’s the most expensive healthcare system in the world and delivers poorer outcomes than every other wealthy country. Bang for your buck matters.

                      The United Kingdom’s National Health System is ranked top, by the way. +1 for socialism.

              • I do not know what you mean by “neo-liberalism”. But neither I nor anyone whose ideas have influenced me denies the reality of communal feeling. Where did I deny it in my article?

                • I do not know what you mean by “neo-liberalism”.

                  If that is indeed the case, then you have not been paying attention.

                  But you do know, of course, and that was a pitiful attempt at dodging the issue.

                  • Frank,avoiding debate?

                    Not only is there no single definition of neoliberalism, there is no one who identifies himself or herself as a neoliberal. At least communists and socialists were proud to be called so.

                    In Neoliberalism: From New Liberal Philosophy to Anti-Liberal Slogan, Taylor Boas & Jordan Gans-Morse went in search of anyone who identifies one’s self as a neoliberal:

                    They did not uncover a single contemporary instance in which an author used the term self-descriptively, and only one – an article by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman (1999) – in which neoliberal was applied to the author’s own policy recommendations.

                    What Boas and Gans-Morse found, based on a content analysis of 148 journal articles published from 1990 to 2004, was that the term is often undefined. It is employed unevenly across ideological divides; it is used to characterise an excessively broad variety of phenomena.

                    That is academic speak for neoliberalism is an empty slogan.

                    • Frank,avoiding debate?

                      No, Jim. Some of us have jobs to go to.

                      I’ll reply in my good time and not according to some bizarre sense of entitlement that we must jump to your tune.

                      Not only is there no single definition of neoliberalism, there is no one who identifies himself or herself as a neoliberal.

                      Oh dear… First it was the repudiation of the trickle-down “theory”, now you’re repudiating the “neo liberal” label?

                      When ideologues start splitting hairs about terms and labels, then we’re really starting to witness avoiding debate.

                      Funny how the neo-liberal term served you and others in your camp so well for 30+ years – and now you’re feeling uncomfortable with it?

                      Hmmm, perhaps that’s because it’s a damaged brand?

                      Just like the Business Roundtable changed it’s name (in conjunction with the so-called “NZ Institute” ) to the “New Zealand Initiative”.

                      Funny how this re-branding seems to happen at certain moments, eh?

                      That is academic speak for neoliberalism is an empty slogan.

                      Nah, you’re half right (excuse the pun). Neo-liberalism is an empty ideology.

                      That’s why you’re so earnest in trying to divorce yourself from it.

                    • Jim, it doesn’t matter if you call it neoliberalism or whatever. It’s still a bankrupt ideology and in 2008 we nearly came to the precipice.

                      The profits are privatised, the debts, unemployment, collapses, etc, are socialized.

                      When telcos can set up a nationwide broadband network without $1.5 billion of taxpayers’ subsidy – get back to us. All it proved is that telecommunications is dependent on the State and us taxpayers. Neolibs like you simply parasitize what has been built and expect a free ride.

            • Yes. And that’s one of the problems when the government functions as provider….it starts to rationalise control in the name of “making sure public money is well spent”.

          • Oliver, this never wise for paternalists to talk on specific numbers such as budgetary cost of a private activity that annoys you.

            The numbers may not fall in your favour.

            • Yeah nah the numbers over the long term often fall in my favour.

              Whereas the numbers for tobacco – that has massive costs and very little benefit (people always get sick, so they aren’t creating jobs, and having experienced people dropping dead and falling out of the workforce – bit of a waste).

              Hey, you’re a taxpayer, if you’re fine with that, that’s ok. But it comes at an opportunity cost of something else.

      • One day you may come across some chemical touted by Big Pharma as ‘safe’ and ‘tolerated well’, and all the other drivel they apply to make sales, and it will not work for you. Or it will cause some devastation in your life.

        In the usual run of things you have no need to delve deeply. When it’s your well-being on the line then it’s time to move off ‘trusting and gullible’.

        “If you don’t like it, you are free to leave.”

        Personally, I find this statement to be indicative of someone who will withdraw all the services to which a citizen is entitled simply to get them to conform – ‘for their own good’, of course. (Imagine dripping sarcasm for the latter part of the sentence.)

      • Tom, YOUR WORDS:
        For example, I have no idea what sorts of pharmaceuticals are safe, and it is too costly to learn for myself, so I, along with everyone else, get experts to do it. Compulsory regulation is the cheapest and most efficient way of doing this.

        Tom, you are probably a very good person. Have you worked it out yet that often these “expert” opinions are bought and paid for, so you will buy it, if and when you need it, regardless of whether they are the best thing for you. This is what we are dealing with. Do some research for yourself, please don’t blindly trust the powers that be.

    • You’ve made some interesting unstated assumptions here.

      Safety is not necessarily costly overall. If safety reduces accidents, which are costly, then it can actually save money. Not all safety requires purchase of safety equipment, some safety is just change in how we do things.

      But a bigger more incorrect assumption you’ve made (which I see right wingers constantly make) is that higher pay reduces employment, usually stated as increasing minimum wage will cost jobs. No. It does not. Look at the data. Look at the unemployment rate and the number of people in work, and then look at each rise in minimum wage rates. You will see that the unemployment rate fluctuates with the economy, and does not appear at all to have a direct relationship to the minimum wage rate.

      I’ve done this exercise using data from the relevant govt depts. This is the clear conclusion I came to.

      Putting more money in the pockets of those who have the least may actually increase employment. Because then poorer people have more money to spend, and they spend it in the local economy, increasing the rate of money circulation, boosting the economy and making it easier for business to profit.

      • Oh shh. The political right doesn’t give a damn about data. They never have and never will.

        http://www.forbes.com/sites/timworstall/2012/03/04/the-story-of-henry-fords-5-a-day-wages-its-not-what-you-think/

        There’s a stronger argument, that increasing wages improves morale for your staff, reduces employee turnover and improves the organisational culture.

        Increasing minimum wage is not that great, in my opinion. Better to increase redistribution and increase the maximum tax-rate (which has no-effect on inflation) (http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/13/rage-and-reaganolatry/).

        Performance based pay is also a waste of money.

        http://youarenotsosmart.com/2011/12/14/the-overjustification-effect/

      • Trouble is, Lara, we’re buying rubbish imported by knightly people and not locally-produced stuff. Kiwis seem to do only ’boutique, designer, and top end’ now. Not bog-standard everyday.

        The work that could be done here, which would help our work force become more skilled and innovative, cannot happen. We sent that benefit overseas. We’re spending the inheritance built up when we used to train apprentices and develop new products, and not building a new one.

        Yes, we poorer folk will spend locally – but the problem is ‘on what’. (Imported pork, spuds, biscuits, cheese, fish, etc, etc and so on.)

      • Lara,

        If I could show you that purchases of new cars increased and decreased with the overall economic output, would you conclude that the normal relationship between price and demand does not exist when it comes to cars?

        • Jamie, your faith in the so-called free market is quasi-religious in nature because it ignores the inherent flaws which it’s adherents (like you) are at pains to ignore.

          As one example, 1.25L bottles of coca cola are half the price of a similar quantity of milk.

          Milk is vastly healthier than soft-drinks – the latter are responsible for growing child obesity and rotting teeth being extracted from two year old children.

          Yet “the market” has determined that soft drinks shall be cheaper than more nutritious milk. And of course, price is often a factor in cost-conscious low-income families.

          If this doesn’t demonstrate to you that the “invisible hand of the market” can often wield a dagger, then you are willfully blind.

          Such blindness is often found in followers of religious cults or fundamentalists.

  4. I’m a primary school teacher. I’d totally let 10 to 12 year olds rule the world.

    Thy have a clear moral compass, are sensitive to others. And there is no way they could do worse.

    • Darling if you had the slightest idea on how to run a planet yourself, you would retract that statement with passion.

      Having your heart in the right place is important, but heaven forbid your head needs to come to the party too….otherwise you’ll never see and come to understand the difference between policies that look good, and policies that ARE good.

    • No no no no…

      Those who graduated yesterday and stopped learning today are uneducated by tomorrow.

      Jamie White is an uneducated Cambridge graduate. He clearly learned nothing from the second world war about what people do to social darwinists.

      • Oliver,

        I did not respond to the rudeness of Countryboy because I suspect from his incoherent diatribe that the effort would be wasted. You are more coherent. But your comment is rude and, since we do not know each other, based on a flimsy understanding of your subject. Do you really want to behave in this way?

        • Rude ? You aint seen nothin’ yet Mr Whyte .

          I’ll show you a rude, so rude it’ll put a high polish on your fucking head . I’ll show you rude , so rude that when you look up ‘ Rude ‘ in the dictionary you’ll see ‘ Rude’ ? refer Countryboy .

          You know what else is rude Mr Whyte ? Your shrivelled old boyfriend roger douglas selling off our stuff and things to his mates so now we go without unless we’re rich little fuckers like you , then that’s ok . That’s rude .
          And thanks to that same old boyfriend of yours ? We now have one of the highest wage gaps in the world with its associated mental and physical illnesses and a bourgeoning prison population comprising mostly Maori who’re a minority in their own country . That’s pretty fucking rude I’d’a thought ?
          Hospital waiting lists ? Rude .
          Absurdly expensive electricity ? Rude
          Absurdly expensive AND slow internet ? Rude
          Absurdly expensive and almost impossible to get fish ? Rude .
          Absurdly expensive and almost impossible to get fresh fruit and vegetables ? Rude .
          Price of cow flesh ? Rude.
          Price of cow sundries like cheeses ? Rude .
          Price of cow piss and shit in our water ways ? Rude .
          Cost of NZ sweet crude oil and LPG ? Rude .
          Dr’s visits ? Rude .
          Dentist visits ? Rude .
          Lawyers fees ? Rude .
          Accountants Fees ? Rude .
          The Money Gap between Dr’s, Dentists , Lawyers and accountants ? Rude .
          And don’t you dare say ; ” They studied for their degrees therefore they deserve to earn more than the hoi polloi . That’d be rude .
          All of the above and much , much more is because of the scum you inherited as you took the helm of a dung barge loaded to the gunnels with a cadre of liars , swindlers , crooks and thieves . And lets not forget traitors, to not only their country people but to humanity itself .

          Now, that’s fucking rude Mr Whyte .

          • Well you see Mr Whyte,

            Given that most of Act’s policies are based on flimsy understandings of their subjects, I think I can stand by the assertion.

            I’m sure you’re a perfectly nice person and a master of philosophy, and yet I have never seen a single Act policy which is data-driven.

            Take the Housing Bubble – it’s guaranteed our economy will slow down and demand for houses will drop off. Increasing the supply of houses just means you crash the property values of your constituency (and that would reverberate throughout the economy)

            Look at what just happened to oil prices.

            Did you learn anything from the GFC? The prices will regress to the mean.

            Does it occur to you that real estate agents, who profit from the commission paid on the sale, might distort the market in favour of the seller, and property developers might prefer the low costs of greenfield land compared to the higher costs of brownfield land? Brownfield convenience at Greenfield prices?

            Does it also occur to you that Council Planning exists primarily to ensure the economic well-being of the city into the future, and that the Council benefits from having a more prosperous urban population, because that decreases service costs, and allows the rates of your constituents to decrease? So they are doing as much as they can to ensure that happens?

            Further, cities with higher density perform better in the Knowledge Economy, have greater productivity/industriousness/creativity, a greater range of social activity and their population earn more. The richest cities on Earth all have good urban density, like the Netherlands or San-Fran.

            Not to mention that building on perfectly good farmland is economic suicide for New Zealand, and building on farmland again and again is how the UK got so overpopulated in the first place?

            Moderate density doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Here’s a TED talk for you:

            http://www.ted.com/talks/moshe_safdie_how_to_reinvent_the_apartment_building?language=en

            It starts off badly, it gets good towards the end. The ideas in that TED talk are what’s important, not the nitty-gritty details.

            I would think ACT would be a little more proactive about encouraging developers to innovate and encouraging nation wide economic growth. Currently the Council’s wall around the city is the only thing suggesting people start thinking about densification.

            That’s housing.

            Now Future Economy:

            The world is going to have too many high skilled jobs in 2030, and not enough people to fill those jobs, plus a surplus of low-skilled employees. So why you’re not investing in human capital, and ensuring as many New Zealanders get a quality education as possible is, quite frankly, beyond me.

            Don’t the Managers of Epsom want the skilled employees they need to be competitive, productive businesses in the 21st century?

            You’ve just lived through the 15 year Internet Revolution. It’s highly probable we’ll go through a 15 year Robotics Revolution, because we’re beginning to make decent advances in soft-tissue robotics and computer science more generally.

            Honestly, I really truly can’t figure out whether the ACT Party are sociopaths who deliberately mislead people, or whether they’re nice people who are often mistaken.

              • Lol no.

                The market is not efficient short term. Supply and demand are not the only two market forces.

                Investor speculation is a really significant force, as the GFC proved.

                Talking about the problem as if it’s just a supply problem is stupid. As long as you’re talking to increase supply, investors will stay in the market because they can bid up the values of houses higher and higher.

                You limit supply, and no one can afford to purchase any houses at all. Demand gradually shifts to other cities.

                You build new supply, the bubble just inflates ever more.

                Until it regresses to the mean.

                  • You clearly don’t understand economics.

                    Look at the housing bubbles which all popped last decade. And think.

                    We’re not making land any more. You can’t infinitely increase the supply of land. If Auckland’s land supply is reduced, other retail markets take off instead. Hamilton has a street per week of new families moving in, at the moment. Demand for Auckland houses slackens off, prices drop, and people move back to Auckland.

                    The market is efficient, long term.

                    Seriously, read Beat the Market. The housing bubble is overvalued.

                    The video was made by some idiot with a year 9 economics textbook.

  5. Great of you to respond Jamie, I hope Chris notices and gets back too.
    Cool daughter stopping people smoking because it isn’t good for them, big step between stealing and hiding some cigarettes and locking someone in jail.
    The freedom of people to do bad things should be opposed, from Le May to Hitler evil things happen in society becuase reasonable people turn a blind eye. Even the small evils like smoking should be opposed in such a peaceful manner as your daughter, she is a little parrhesiastes it seems.
    Modern so called libertarianism is the freedom of a few to coerce the majority into subsistence wages and stands in stark contrast to the true history of libertarian thought, at least what I have read from the likes of John Stuart Mill, Wilhelm von Humboldt and Adam Smith who thought that under conditions of perfect equality free trade would lead to liberty.
    With corporations dominating the landscape and elites owning the economy any ideas that we live with a ‘level playing field’ have no basis in fact.

    • err… No.

      “Some speculative physicians […] have imagined that the health of the human body could be preserved only by a certain precise regimen of diet and exercise, of which […] the smallest, violation necessarily occasioned some degree of disease or disorder […] however […] the human body frequently preserves, to all appearances at least, the most perfect state of health under a vast variety of different regimens […] Mr. Quesnai […] seems to have entertained a notion of the same kind concerning the political body.”

      http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2013/10/economic-history-0

      Adam Smith is a figure of the enlightenment. Adam Smith did not think that conditions of free-trade would lead to that at all.

      No one was ever that dogmatic. Except for the vile masters of mankind we’re currently sunk with.

  6. Ah ? What the fuck am I missing here ? What perverse parallel Universe’s anus do the above ACT party sycophants fall from ?

    You do know what , and who, the ACT party are don’t you ? It’s the cave within which the boneless cadavers of douglas , prebble , quigley lurk and you do know who they are don’t you ?

    They destroyed our wonderful New Zealand / Aotearoa , created four generations of dysfunctional , greedy creeps and monsters and you’re here discussing jamie whyte as if he were worthy of such attention . Are you fucking MAD ! You perverse bastards ! How dare you !

    Those bastards , including whyte should be appearing in front of a Royal Commission of Inquiry , not inciting the weirdest , most perverse exchange of arse kissing adoration I’ve witnessed in quite some time .

    Not since that Christchurch nutter, who used to write letter after letter to the Press of how wonderful he thought muldoon was .

    I might be many things but thank Christ I’m as sick as you morons .

    • Countryboy – Prebble and Co destroyed our previous context while they still masqueraded as ‘Labour’. ACT was a later incarnation.

      And the Labour Party still hasn’t, may never, recover from being hauled from their dreams of equality and fraternity in such a rude, oh gee, we agree! manner.

    • Countryboy,
      Your passionate, human, opinions are from a caring place in your heart. I am a very big believer, speaking from experience, in give ’em enough rope, and they hang themselves, my friend!!!

  7. The likes of Jamie Whyte’s daughter gives us hope for the future!
    He is so lucky that she can think for herself.

  8. I understand trade-offs. They are beautifully whimsical when political parties trade off basic tenets and immutable truths for political reasons.

    I like the ensuing rationalisations, the navel gazing while tripping the light fantastic through the language and logic.

    I guess Whyte is his own daughter’s “moral tutor”. That being the case she will be well versed in enjoying a little thuggery while believing herself to be virtuous. The Herald article was headlined “Bullying Western morality a kind of tyranny too”. Are there others who see the irony in a philosophical person, an Act person, getting a discussion going on bullying, morality and tyranny?

  9. Mr Whyte – firstly, welcome to The Daily Blog and congratulations to responding to Chris’s piece.

    Secondly, I refer you to your statement,

    “But they have the same basic urge – to compel, to dominate. And they seek justification for it in the supposed vices of their victims.”

    Indeed.

    And no better example comes to mind than the ACT-policies of one, Roger Douglas, who rammed through his “reforms” in the 1980s without mandate, and opposed by many.

    New Zealand was compelled to implement policies that were never put to the electorate and we were dominated by a small cabal whose policies we were utterly unaware of.

    And Douglas, Prebble, et al, sought justification for it in the supposed failings of the nation they were elected to govern.

    So please don’t lecture us on coercion. I witnessed it first hand in the 1980s.

    • I cannot see how what Roger Douglas did in the 1980s is relevant to my article. Please explain which of my claims is shown to be false by the actions of Roger Douglas in the 1980s.

      • Well , you wrote the article . You can’t be serious when you ask for help explaining your own article surely ? And of the tentacles that stretch up to you from the dark past that is douglas and his associate scumbags do you ? You’re the head of the gang now and douglas is likely breathing over your shoulder . That’d be the rasping sound you can hear . You can calm him down if you let him sniff at other peoples money for a moment .
        So much for a Cambridge Education I suppose .
        Do you take responsibility for more than 30 years of dysfunction directly attributed to financial hard ship caused by neo liberal / ACT-like policies levelled at innocent , once – upon – a – time working class people ?
        Do you agree that selling off our state owned assets was a failure at best and a swindle by , no doubt you, and you’re associates in politics and Big Business ?
        Are you a well educated though intellectually under-funded puppet groomed to desperately defend douglas et al from a Royal Commission of Inquiry ?

        Don’t fucking play your logical fallacy games with us . That game is over . You can twist and turn as you like . No escape for you now whyte . The Truth’s scratching at the kitchen door is it not ? ( That’s a metaphor . )

      • yeah well you didnt think you were responsible for john banks – even though you were leader of the act party – so its hardly surprising why you dont get why douglas is relevant

        never mind your toxic and failed religion – your logic behind your arguments is a disgrace man!

    • Frank, you make a number of points that deserve a response, and a polite response too because you value the to and fro of discussion over the desire of some to just vent.

      First of all, the labour government was re-elected in 1987.

      The government that succeeded it in 1990, completed its economic reform programme. Similar to Clinton, his welfare reforms completed the Reagan revolution.

      Secondly, a mistake is a mistake because if you could, you undo it.

      What 1980s reforms would you undo? Exchange-rate controls, a floating exchange rate, tariff cuts, or airline deregulation and taxi deregulation.

      Under the exchange-rate controls pre-1984, if they were still in place today, you would need for foreign exchange licence from the reserve bank to use Amazon one-click!

      Do you want to give Telecom its monopoly back or are you just Roger Douglas lite?

      When Thatcher passed, the Guardian back-casted to what it would be like if Jim Callaghan had won the 1979 British general election, or Michael Foot in 1983 – to a decade of nationalisations, nuclear disarmament and state-run pubs:

      “Perhaps we would be waiting six months for a mobile telephone, and paying the bills to the post office, headed by the Postmaster General – I don’t believe it would be a very advanced telephone, either.

      Perhaps there would be three TV channels and the requirement for a licence before you could use the internet.”

      • I think Frank’s main concerns are around corporatisation of some public services and their consequent privatisation (e.g. Telecom), benefit reforms (whatever that means) and Tetiary education moving towards a partial cost recovery basis. That stated I think he is also against the general thrust of the reform programme where the focus was moved from government trying to solve economic problems directly to government providing an environment where the private sector was encouraged to do so. I think he is basically distrustful of the private sector.

        • Gosman, I will thank you not to try to put words into my mouth or paraphrase my “concerns”. You’ve made enough errors on your part without dragging me into your worldview.

          • If you disagree with my assessment (Which I prefaced numerous times with I think and not that you do definately hold those ideas) then perhaps you can answer the question Jim put forward to you.

      • Jim, the points you raise merit a response because – as usual with your right-wingers – you’ve distorted the facts to suit your ideological bent.

        First of all, the labour government was re-elected in 1987.

        Correct. However, the more unpopular aspects of Labour’s policies – such as asset sales – were not rolled out until the 1987-90 Labour government. (Ref: http://www.treasury.govt.nz/government/assets/saleshistory)

        It wasn’t until Lange/Douglas’s second term that state asset sales came into play.

        From Jan 1988, unemployment began to rise (ref: http://www.dol.govt.nz/publications/discussion-papers/current-recession/fig1-img.asp ) and skyrocketted in the early 1990s.

        Labour’s support plummetted and they lost the 1989 election.

        The government that succeeded it in 1990, completed its economic reform programme.

        Yes, the Nats did indeed. That despite that they criticised Labour’s neo-liberal “reforms” whilst in Opposition and went into the election with no manifesto to complete Douglas’s policies.

        It was as dishonest as Labour’s policies were in the late 1980s.

        What 1980s reforms would you undo? Exchange-rate controls, a floating exchange rate, tariff cuts, or airline deregulation and taxi deregulation.

        Under the exchange-rate controls pre-1984, if they were still in place today, you would need for foreign exchange licence from the reserve bank to use Amazon one-click!

        Jim, even if some of the policies may’ve had merit – you simply cannot equate justify all the “reforms” that Labour enacted. Currency de-regulation may have been required – but not to the extent that Douglas went.

        China has a controlled currency and it doesn’t seem to have harmed their incredible growth rate one iota. Even Singapore has a “monitoring band” where the government keeps a careful watch over its value.

        I’m sure Labour in the 2000s enacted at least one policy you agreed with. Does that mean you support all Labour policies and you’d vote Labour premised on one or two issues you agree with?

        Ridiculous. I’m positive you are not a Labour voter.

        Do you want to give Telecom its monopoly back or are you just Roger Douglas lite?

        The sale of state assets was a form of theft and only Key’s government came close to some form of mandate (and even then, it was still opposed by 66% of the populace).

        If private enterprise wanted to run telecommunications in this country (or electricity, banking, etc) – they should have set up their own systems and infra-structure. Be my guest.

        But the public handout of $1.5 billion of our taxes to private telcos to build the broadband network proves they cannot build their own infra-structure and happily rely on tax-payer support.

        Short answer; if a government decided to re-nationalise Telecom (or Spark or whatever they’re branded these days) and Chorus – I’d be quite happy. Let Vodaphone, 2 Degrees, et al, offer their competitive models.

        “Perhaps we would be waiting six months for a mobile telephone, and paying the bills to the post office, headed by the Postmaster General – I don’t believe it would be a very advanced telephone, either

        Aside from putting up a very silly straw-man argument, you’re forgetting one salient point: it was the State that originally set up the phone system in this country.

        And no one ever waited six months for a phone – you are indulging in outlandish hyperbole. (Because facts alone are insufficient to prove your case?)

        There was a wait of a few weeks (or longer in some areas) for new phone connections as properties changed hands – and those reconnections usually took place during settlement.

        By the time I moved in to my new house(s) in 1978 and 1980, the phone was set up and waiting for me. There was no waiting period. You just had to use common sense.

        It was the State – that vastly “inefficient” entity that built the vast infra-structure we now know as the phone network – that private enterprise simply could not emulate.

        Or else why else did a Consortium spend $4.25 billion (1990 dollars) buying it?

        Contrast that to one incident in the late 1990s where Telecom took nearly three weeks to transfer my phone line between adjacent Dunedin suburns (St Kilda to Sth Dunedin). That took place whilst I was living in my property.

        Of course, there are other instances of private enterprises fouling up former SOEs. Air NZ? Railways?

        Perhaps there would be three TV channels and the requirement for a licence before you could use the internet.

        And perhaps not. Creating scenarios in your head to justify real life historical events is a strange way to validate your worldview?

        Or maybe not. Neo liberalism is an act of faith pretty much like any other “ism” you care to mention.

        • I’m not sure you understand the concept of theft. Purchasing assets up for sale is not theft. Whether you believe those assets should have been up for sale or not is a different matter. Also the BNZ was nationalised in the 1940’s. Do you equate this with theft?

  10. “New Zealand was compelled to implement policies that were never put to the electorate and we were dominated by a small cabal whose policies we were utterly unaware of. ”

    The more it changes, the more it stays the same…

  11. I note that ACT’s members (all fifteen of them) have been busy down-voting comments critical of Mr Whyte, and up-voting his responses.

    Well… at least we have their undivided attention for a while.

  12. What the self-styled “Libertarians” value most is their freedom to exploit everything and everyone around them until there is nothing left to exploit. And then they tell you that God wants it that way! *******!

  13. Mr Whyte,
    Liberty is another word for freedom, I’m all for that, hence the user name. Liberalism, however, has been perverted into freedom of choice devoid of social responsibility and regard for others, with full knowledge that the game is rigged in favour of very few people. That is where the ideology falls down, by the ommission of what we all know but seldom admit.
    Actually, your daughter’s behaviour, I would have thought goes against a libertarian’s principles, infringing on a smoker’s free right to smoke, provided they cause no harm to others.

    • Hear hear, it is the refusal to acknowledge that there is ever anything standing in the way of any sainted bloody “individual” to prevent them from achieving a level of wealth that means they don’t need any help at all from anyone else that sticks in my craw. It is such utter bullshit. Not everyone even wants to spend all their time trying to accumulate everyone else’s bloody money. Life is not a game of monopoly for most people. It sticks in my craw even more that this bald-headed nitwit shares my surname, and is referred to as Mr Whyte. That’s my dad’s name and this gimp’s wilfully ignorant and self-serving cant is the antithesis of everything he stood for.

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