Compassion and social responsibility facing extinction

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n48mtt

It’s one of many days where I get up and read the news – real news, and not just NZ news – the USA, UK, Australian and European news too – and rage against the amount of injustice and selfishness that is the Western World. It is so embarrassing, disgusting and depressingly frequent. Especially if we take the time to consider our tipuna – those who came before us – and what they were prepared to do to make the world a fairer place.

I was one of the first home-schooled children down south – taught with Mennonite (a branch of Amish/Quaker thinking) curriculum shipped from the USA. That kind of upbringing certainly had issues. I’m pretty sure that when my Christian Heritage Party voting pro-life birth parents went down that route they didn’t intend to produce a pro-choice feminist queer Greenie. But on maturing I’ve come to see the positives in that alternative upbringing, and one is gratitude for having the chance to be immersed in a world history very few if any other NZ children have been exposed to.

I grew up through the lens of understanding a proud history of the way our world changed and grew through the 15-1900’s – change created by ordinary people standing up for freedom and equality, a total refusal to blindly accept the prevailing religion or rule.

I read endless true tales of people who stood up with no fear and changed our world for the better no matter what the cost. Fox’s Book of Martyrs, Joan of Arc and the likes were compulsory and to me genuinely interesting and inspiring reading. So was my study of slavery and the US Civil War, as well as the Holocaust and World War II. Centuries of torture, martyrdom, imprisonment, mass murder and exile fighting for freedom and equality. Incredible bravery, incredible selflessness.

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That education is what turned me into an activist. For me this belief in ending injustice & inequality is ingrained, for me this is normal. I certainly landed on the other side of the fence – but not really – while I’m non-religious, there are a lot of parallels between Quaker and Green thinking.

I am so frustrated to live in a world where the fight for equality, fairness and peace is a minority – I would understand it if we had actually reached that place, but from anecdotal stories, news right up to the UN’s reporting, it is clearly obvious and proven that we are far, far from it, and that we are going backwards from goals we made as a society – even those made in the recent past. But so many are asleep – lulled into oblivion by what we are fed by the mainstream media and government’s ‘everything is fine, move along’ lies; or worse are aware yet do not care.

Everywhere I look, everything I read, the stories I hear – the message from those in control to their citizens on how to act within society is the same. It’s every man/woman for themselves, and we should not give a fuck about anyone but ourselves. Put the blinkers on and ignore the poor/refugee/children/vulnerable/etc around us- as long as your money is protected and your little bubble is safe, stuff the rest, and believe that they have all the choices you do. It’s only up to them to fix their sorry life. Keep out of their mess, it’s their own fault, and keep yourselves busy chasing your own personal utopia.

Aka – neoliberalism.

How could we so quickly forget the millions and millions of our ancestors who fought for positive change, who travelled to far flung corners of an unknown world, who lost their lives to give us what we have today; turn our back on that history, shrug our shoulders powerlessly and say ah well, not my problem?

It’s Easter. And while we can correctly argue that religion has caused more war, hate and death than any other belief system, if you look at the words of Jesus from a literal, humanitarian (rather than religious) perspective, what he purportedly said is a damning rebuke of neoliberalism and our prevailing selfish culture. It also reminds us why being rich with money doesn’t equal richness in heart, conscience and life.

Matthew 7:1-2 Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.

Matthew 7:12 So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them.

Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Matthew 10:42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

Luke 3:10-11 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”

Luke 12:33-34 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Luke 6:37-38 Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.

Acts 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’

94 COMMENTS

  1. Beautifully written, Rachel…

    I love the texts you have provided and suggests to me that Jesus Christ should have been born into this era, not 2,000 years ago.

    Mind you, I can imagine where He would have ended up; Guantanamo Bay, being water-boarded. Or simply disappeared after “rendition” to some Third World hell-hole allied to Washington…

    As for those that “don’t care”, which seem to be a considerable number… all we can do is persevere and keep pointing out what is terribly wrong with our society.

    Especially here in New Zealand, and remind people that they are first and foremost Citizens, not just consumers, and that as Citizens we did great things in the past…

    We just don’t give up. 🙂

    • @Frank Mackasy

      +1000
      Love it, especially Jesus ending up in Guantanamo Bay.

      Speaking of wrongful imprisonment..

      I remember being in a peace class at school where were writing letters to ‘free Nelson Mandela”. One of my friends was from South Africa and she (normally a really lovely person) had this massive outburst on what a terrorist he was! After a stunned silence the peace class resumed.

      People should remember one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter.

      Nobody at that time of Mandela’s imprisonment could have ever envisioned he would become the president of South Africa, Nobel peace prize winner and one of the most revered men of his time.

      It was kind of disgusting when the selfies at his funeral were happening. Neoliberal World Leaders Networking. Even a funeral is not sacrosanct.

      Things can change and you have to fight for the change for it to happen and support just causes and individuals who are fighting or being persecuted or imprisoned unfairly.

      I feel the movement in NZ has already started rolling and it is a world wide trend …. Key, Abbott, possibly Cameron, Obama are all on their way out. Goodbye.

      • @ SAVE NZ –

        Unfortunately the great Nelson Mandela’s funeral was used as an “event” for the shallow and self serving, to be seen rubbing shoulders with the movers & shakers of the world.

        The “unidentified guest” from NZ being one, for whom nothing is sacrosanct!

        Sickening!

    • Jesus according to Christian theology had to suffer. So if he did end up getting water boarded at Guantanamo that would be a good thing according to them.

  2. It seems that current “leaders” prefer to follow the morals of the old testament with its genocidal, racist , spiteful, warmongering god.

    • Hi S.A.

      100% Jesus was a socialist non materialist sharing compassionate person. However organised Christianity here in NZ offers no moral resistance to neoliberalism except the profession of charity.

  3. Get rid of all foreign Banks , write off mortgage debt , crush the poverty traders aka suburban money lenders and re nationalise the likes of our electricity , transportation and basic communications . And when you see a politician strolling along ? Make the bastard run for his/her life .

    • Why write off mortgage debt Countryboy? We borrowed it for whatever reason. Why should we not be held accountable for our actions?

      • Because buy the time youve finished paying it, youve paid the money back 4x. Im with countryboy on this one.

        • But they were presumably the terms of the deal. There is of course the option of exercising your right to choose not to borrow the money for a start. To pay 4x the principle, the loan must have been a 25+ year deal or of a very high risk and the lender could offer little or no security.

          Money lenders are merely providing a service to supply a demand.

      • @Mike@NZ

        Closely scrutinise the reasons for us having to borrow such vast amounts of money to have a shitty house in a country the size of the UK but with only 4.3 million and where us Kiwis are almost buried in natural resources . Scrutinise the psychology behind being lured into selling your time to a foreign bank for the remainder of your life for a small stack of second hand sticks , twigs , screws and glass ? Scrutinise the extremely clever advertising that lures us into debt and what their advertisers coerce us to do with that debt once we’re signed up to it then ask your frankly think-lacking question again.

        • I’m sorry Countryboy, but your contribution is a little too cryptic for me to understand. I have no idea what you are asking me.

          • MIKE@NZ, I think what Countryboy means is that the banks exploit the consumer through lack of options. I agree with Countryboy, all mortgages should be issued at minimal interest by the government to prevent “market forces” driving up the cost. There should be no foreign ownership of New Zealand homes, they are supposed to be for New Zealanders. A home is a human right and should never have been allowed to become a speculative commodity. Even the banks issuing the mortgages are foreign owned, as is the Reserve Bank. Our farmers are now just finding out that “free markets” don’t work. They may work in a perfect world, free of corruption and greed, but since that has never and will never happen – it simply doesn’t work.

            • You are advocating total government control and regulation of the money supply? Really? You are advocating total government control and regulation of New Zealand’s housing stock? Really? And you trust the government to get that right and be fair, seeing the situation from your viewpoint? REALLY?

              In actual fact, New Zealand farmers (and by that I presume you mean dairy farmers) have just found out how well the free market works. They are finding out first hand what happens when they offer non farmers and passive investors with a different set of beliefs and priorities the chance to sit on the board and invest in their previously farmer/producer only co-op. They are finding out how effective the free market is at matching supply and demand. They are finding out how much the consumer is prepared to pay for their product. They are finding out the mindset of the consumer in the form of prioritising their buying decisions and they are building a better business by developing the flexibility needed to bounce from being a production based business to a cost based business and back again.

              All economies are cyclical in nature (usually based on around 7 year cycles) and all businesses use the downside to consolidate, re-evaluate and strengthen their businesses. This will, in the medium to long term, strengthen the environmental and financial position of the dairy sector.

              • If that’s all so wonderful then why are the Dairy farmers not going to be able to break even, let alone make a profit this year. Mike@NZ, you seem to post allot of fancy sounding fluff while ignoring reality.

              • You are advocating total government control and regulation of the money supply? Really? You are advocating total government control and regulation of New Zealand’s housing stock? Really? And you trust the government to get that right and be fair, seeing the situation from your viewpoint? REALLY?

                Yes I do advocate that, MIKE@NZ, REALLY. They could not do any worse than the dog’s dinner situation we have now. At least there would be some accountability if the government did it and obviously then the profits would stay in New Zealand, not funnelled out of the country to goodness knows where. It’s a no-brainer.

                • Wow! I mean WOW!

                  You must have balls of steel to advocate a future regulated and decided upon entirely by a politician. This whole blog site is dedicated almost exclusively to complaining about the government. Any government. ‘They pay people too much for this’, ‘They don’t pay people enough for that’. You call them heartless, spineless, marxist. You name it.

                  And now in your new utopia, you would be happy for your ideal world to be controlled by heartless spineless marxists.

                  That must be the no-brianer you refer to in your post.

      • One reason, Mike@NZ?

        SOEs were once owned by the people. They were privatised (partially or in full) against public opposition.

        So it was a form of theft.

        So really, if right wing governments can steal from us, the people, the rightful owners of those assets – then by the gods, I feel no compunction in doing likewise to the money-lenders.

        Because my question to you (and other neo-liberals) is: why is property sacrosanct when privately owned – but not so sacrosanct when publicly owned, and able to be disposed off by a few dozen elected civil servants?

        • You know as well as I do Mr Macskasy that any democratically elected political party anywhere is elected and sworn in to politically represent the people. The political parties guilty of what you allege were (in their opinion) representing the people.

          Whether we agree with their policy or not, it was done by a party elected by the people…..and in some cases, re-elected.

          • The hope the Right Wing will accept your justification should a Left Wing government come to power with a policy and mandate to re-nationalise these same privatised SOEs?

            What do you thing are the chances, Mike@NZ?

            Personally, I’d put it next to nil.

            Because, really, what you are justifying is legalised theft. And Libertarian-types have a thing against legalised theft, don’t they?

          • Mike@nz

            The political parties guilty of what you allege were (in their opinion) representing the people.

            Your inclusion of the words in brackets reveals that you are aware that you are attempting to justify a lie.

            The tenor of your comments reminds me of a particularly dim-witted troll we once had in here who went by the name intrinsicvalue.

              • No, the brackets meant that their opinion differed from mine.

                And that of over two thirds of the Nation.

                Frank is correct, the asset sales were theft.

                Key and company had no mandate to sell.

                They held a mandate only to govern, the mandate to govern includes the obligation to respect the wishes of the overwhelming majority of the citizens.

                • It is not theft. It has not been stolen. It is reallocated capital.

                  Simular to an older couple downsizing their house and investing the balance. Or deciding to sell altogether and renting. It is fiscally responsible to review an investment portfolio periodically on the basis of ensuring the best use of capital.

    • As the cornerstone of civilisation did or is about to do, would be GREECE.

      We like Greece have been saddled by a drip feed of debt by Key, and everywhere around the globe.

      Why is Key still borrowing $300 million a day now still?

      • Simple – to bankrupt New Zealand and render us a vassal state to be served up to foreign masters.
        Into whose hands does that $300m per day wind up? Some of it might briefly pass through the hands of welfare beneficiaries, but where does it ultimately go?

  4. Although I admire your intentions of this post, I believe you are wrong in your assumption that we common people don’t care.

    In fact, we care more than we ever have before. We are aware of more than we ever have been before due to our connectedness to the world around us through our notoriously poorly built and overpriced personal communication devices. The worry of the injustices, the suffering and the plight of the poor regularly threatens to overwhelm us to the point that we often feel that we want to fix it all but don’t know where to start.

    As a civilised democratic society, we as a voting bloc have decided as a majority to ‘farm out’ the worry and responsibility of the welfare of the less fortunate to a centralised group of elected representatives who handle the task of welfare on our behalf. They remove a portion of our income from our bank accounts forcefully via an act of legislation and hand it out in a haphazard manner to those whom they deem to be the most deserving or most qualified to receive a portion of the rewards of the working class.

    Unfortunately, ‘charity’ has morphed into ‘welfare’ and as welfare payments are taking a considerable portion of our income, we are now in a position of not being able to offer as much charity as we would like. If I may speak for a moment on behalf of the silent majority you are attempting to accuse of not caring enough, please be rest assured that we do in fact care more than you will ever know, and that as we toil in our day jobs and watch an ever increasing portion of our hard earned income leave our accounts as tax, I can confidently assure you that we care so much it hurts.

    • “In fact, we care more than we ever have before.”

      This would be why NACT won the election with their eyepoppingly mean and downright nasty neo-liberal policies would it?

      • I think that if you were honest with yourself that you would admit that NACT had no cohesive competition.

        To the masses, they offered a safe, non-volatile option.

        • I think that if you were honest with yourself that you would admit that NACT had no cohesive competition.

          Rather grumpily, I have to admit you’re correct on that point, Mike@NZ. I think enough of us on the Left have made that point ourselves.

          National did not win so much as the Left was disjointed and lost. The infighting between Labour and potential coalition allies left voters with the perception that we were not ready for government.

          • Yep. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on, it’s a hollow, unearned and unproven victory without competition.

    • I can’ t agree that charity is preferable to the Welfare state. Remember work houses for the poor – they were charities. The concept of Lord and Lady Bountiful, where the rich can salve their consciences while maintaining their extravagant lifestyle is not a society that I would want to go back to. Some of the worst excesses of human exploitation and degradation have gone on in so-called charitable institutions.

      • The problem with the welfare state is that it tries to offer too much to too many. In short, it’s prime motivation is political expediency rather than actual welfare.

        The problem with politicians is that they usually know what needs to be done, but are at a loss as to how combine that with the certainty of gaining the votes required to gain another term.

        • Welfare only exists in the modern neoliberal neofeudal paradigm because the state fears the inevitable social/class violence that would accompany its total dismantlement.

          It is not motivated by offering anybody anything.

        • @ Mike@NZ

          What do you have to say to the fuckers who stole housing , electricity , transportation , food , hospital care , dental care , telecommunications, fishing, forestry etc not to mention billions of farmer dollars swindled off to numbered Swiss bank accounts when you have so much to say about welfare for people at risk who might not be so at risk if the above scum hadn’t fucking ripped us fucking off !
          Like the other fucks who try to defend the indefensible , you just talk in circles out your arse . If wishes could come true I’d wish you’d just fuck off !
          Welfare is a noble effort by those more well off than those who are not . It’s faceless and uniform . Charity is a tax write off, an advertising opportunity and a play-thing for wankers .
          So , the more charity , the more of an advertising opportunity and the more playing at the expense of the poor and poverty stricken . The recipients of charity seem more like a exploitable resource than a human being in dire need to me .

          • I would like to take you up on a few points you made, just like the debates we used to have in the past, but I fear your posts of late have turned vulgar and offensive. Your post above sounds like the expletive riddled ravings of a madman about to tip over the edge. How your posts make it past the moderators is truly beyond me.

            You need to clean up your act.

            Mike@nz

          • CB, you need to get a life and possibility some help for your condition. Extreme anger and hate is not good for the soul.

        • Yes, Mike, BUT, our current government actively creates policy to cause unemployment, to keep wages low so that only the few can benefit. The only creator of wealth is from labour of workers. The rest just move money around and create nothing. I do not believe for a second that the government cannot fix this. This country used to have full employment and good wages. There was very little need for welfare. Furthermore, you haven’t mentioned the corporate welfare that goes on when the government bails out the private sector. Then it seems it’s an open chequebook, with tax dollars. I would rather my taxes go to help feed people who through no fault of their own, cannot earn enough to cover the cost of living due to their corrupt representatives, than to the greedy, corporate crooks.

    • So if I understand you right, what you’re saying is that because the poor impact on you and your comfortable life, you would prefer it that they beg and grovel for the basics rather than (not really at all) receive enough to eat and have shelter over their heads? Because you are better than them, you would rather they prostrate themselves before you in humiliation to get the scraps you will spare?

      • I said nothing of the sort and in my opinion have done nothing to deserve the vitriol and negative hostility that is obvious in your response.

        I was merely stating the FACT that most NZers care intensely about the plight of those less fortunate. I then went on to say that through the evolution of the democratic political system and self serving politicians offering to solve the worries of the world, the voting majority elected, through better or worse, to leave the worry of welfare to the ‘agents’ (politicians) they appointed to centrally manage a comprehensive welfare system, in exchange for an agreed amount of extra money to be (forcefully) removed from their accounts through general taxation.

        The point I attempted to make is that in the eyes of the majority, welfare of the less fortunate is being handled to the best of their ability and that most families also top up the welfare system with direct donations of cash and goods to the charities of their choice. Maybe your target should not be the donors, but the donors agents; in other words, every welfare minister of every political party since the introduction of the “comprehensive” welfare system.

        • Let me quote what you said:
          “They remove a portion of our income from our bank accounts forcefully via an act of legislation and hand it out in a haphazard manner to those whom they deem to be the most deserving or most qualified to receive a portion of the rewards of the working class.
          Unfortunately, ‘charity’ has morphed into ‘welfare’ and as welfare payments are taking a considerable portion of our income, we are now in a position of not being able to offer as much charity as we would like. If I may speak for a moment on behalf of the silent majority you are attempting to accuse of not caring enough, please be rest assured that we do in fact care more than you will ever know, and that as we toil in our day jobs and watch an ever increasing portion of our hard earned income leave our accounts as tax, I can confidently assure you that we care so much it hurts.”
          That is saying that ‘charity’ is preferable over welfare & a sense as a nation of social responsibility. The truth about ‘charity’, as highlighted by another reply, is that it is all about humiliation, begging, forced separation, hand-outs that are tied to belief systems that force the beggar to believe in or not receive assistance – and forgive me a moment of perceived ’emotional blackmail’ but um, not that our system stops child abuse currently (not that Rebstock will fix it either) but I must bring up the hundreds of thousands of children raised in ‘charitable’ homes who were horrifically abused under the guise of ‘god’ and ‘charity’.

          • And look, you do have a point. I’m not saying the problem doesn’t need to be solved at both ends. Where I’m coming from is from the perspective of the kids. Who need it now. Who have no impact or voice on decision making both by their parents and the govt. By all means we need to work on our ‘welfarist’ state and the dependency issues, I don’t deny those – but in the meantime, for gods sake, literally, feed the kids.

            • Well said Rachel. I would love to feed the kids…right after I have fed my own.

              Looking at my own upbringing, I think part of the problem is that in some cases we (the state) care too much. What I mean by that is that most kids don’t care if the house is new or not, if if they live in Remuera or Takanini, or if the TV is a 21″ or a 42″. They only care for love, warmth and a stable sense of security. I spent over 10 years of my childhood in a farmhouse that was so badly slumped and rotten that none of the doors closed properly, the threadbare carpet rose and fell when the wind blew and one wore a jacket to the loo as the hole in the south facing wall was big enough to pass a rugby ball through.

              My point is that that house was a means to an end. I am going to guess that there are families out there who would be prepared to rent a double garage with a long drop for a year or two for $50 a week as a means to an end if they were allowed to. Think of the money they would save!

              Have we gone too far in (for example) our accommodation standards and priced bottom end income earners out of the rental market?

              • @Mike

                Have to agree with you a little on this one. Many of us have grown up without insulation and no large screen TV etc. We had crappy homes in un fashionable areas and survived fine. Landlords are in short supply, even the Sallies don’t want to become one.

                Renters and first home owners do need to rough it to save money. A real estate guy told me the other day for example central Auckland has always been unaffordable.

                He’s sick of seeing a young white couple against a multi million dollar Herne Bay house, saying how unfair it is they can’t get in on the property market!!

                Fuck it! There are studios in Auckland CBD for under $200k, houses in ‘brown’ parts of Auckland like Manukau City for under $300k. Stop whining and get on the property market, no one owes first home owners large central properties.

                And don’t fuck up the RMA with this myth of zero affordable houses in Auckland which is why standards and the environment must go!

                Get on Trade me, god damn it!

          • Yes, charity is definitely preferred over welfare.

            Charity lets the donor choose the most worthwhile charity to donate to based on their own morals, values and personal priorities. Centralized welfare distributes other people’s money for political expediency.

            • So Mike you would rather put people through the humiliation of approaching a charity (the indignities of winz aren’t enough?) than accept whatever trifling indignity you feel at the ‘forceful’ appropriation of having to pay tax?

              You libertarians are crazy.

              What is it about paying tax that offends you people so much?

              Remember your ability to earn relies on public infrastructure, a low wage economy among many other things.

              • I could ask you, Norm, why the hostility towards those who pay tax? It seems that the more tax an individual pays, the more hostile your attitude towards them. Taxpayers are your friend, big taxpayers are your ticket to a comprehensive welfare system.

        • @Mike

          Good try Mike. What’s your view on Corporate Welfare then?
          Should the tax payer be giving state assets to Sky Shitty and gambling deals and funding real estate deals for them?
          Most of the welfare goes to superannuation are you advocating we means test it, cos we means test everything else?
          Should we spend $65 mil on our defence forces being military minders in Iraq so we can fit in with the club?
          Should our power companies be sold off, our state houses cheaply during a housing crisis to developers to resell and make a fortune with a few thrown in at iwi as a bribe?

          There are so many dilemmas… Cos as I see it my taxpayers money is being wasted on benefiting the top 1% which might explain why they are getting richer while kids in NZ do not have food or clothes and we have US hacks like Paula Restock who are advising the government at great expense and little achievement a whole lot of nothing on these very issues.

          It is the 1% of the rich that are the biggest troughers here in NZ.

          • Good questions. Here goes

            1) corporate welfare is wrong, just wrong. Subsidies are wrong. Especially in an economy operating supposedly in the free market. Sky City can foot it on their own or go broke, end of story. But you and I know that they wouldn’t have gone broke over that, they were just fishing for a handout.

            2) No, ethically we can’t means test the output of superannuation while we don’t means test the input. The best solution is to raise the age of eligibility.

            3) Yes, because the liberty of the free world is at stake, not to mention the injustices being committed every day over there on both sides.

            4) Yes, governments have no business generating power, being a landlord, being a corporate farmer, being a coal miner and a myriad of other industries that the government has its nose in.

            I hate corporate welfare. But the reason it exists is because government representatives know that the building of infrastructure and industry is not only productive and job creating in the building process, but in the ensuing benefits of utilising and exploiting the asset for years to come. Businessmen with connections talk to politicians with influence and tell the politicians that they would love to build it, but it is not economic to do so. Between the two of them they hatch a plan to change the law, relax the restrictions and top up the building fund with other people’s money, justified by the “benefits to the community/environment/tourism/international reputation/scenery/the poor….you name it, they are never short of a reason to spend other people’s money. When I was chairman of the Board of Trustees of our local primary school, we needed to build an extra classroom due to an increasing roll. I pushed for a concrete floor….and got it. It cost an extra $6000, but I got it. Why? Because I wanted to make sure that if the roll dropped again, they wouldn’t move the building somewhere else, causing us to lose it. The roll did drop, but the building is still there! A music suite. An “asset to the school community.”

            That’s how those bastards think. Because they’re not using their own money, they don’t suffer the consequences. Once it’s built, nobodys going to take it away are they? They would rather build it at a loss than not build it at all. That way, the community gets the benefit of its use. But in reality, all the community get is a debt to pay. And they call these bastards professionals!

      • Now hang on a minute! Nobody calls me parsimonious!

        It is my money and I can (or should be) able to spend it any way and on any one that I choose. Why is it that people like you try to make me out as greedy just because I will not part with something I have earned so that you may spend it on something you desire.

        [EDIT – Mod – Ad hominem deleted]

        • That libertarian thinking is rubbish. My money, my rights, blah blah.

          Production is always a social dynamic. Wealth is created by society, not an elitist bunch of entrepreneurs, and a fair portion of it should go to the maintenance of public infrastructure and civil society. That means dealing with social problems, like poverty, the responsibility for which falls on all of us.

          The problem is that when people have sliced off enough for themselves and their egos, they decide to ditch the social contract and screw everyone else.

          That me, me, me crap is exactly what Rachel is talking about here.

          Guess what mate, your ‘right’ to dodge tax and avoid your responsibilities to society is not a human right. It certainly doesn’t take precedence over a childs right to food and an education.

          So get over it.

          [EDIT – Mod – enough name calling on both sides thanks!]

          • Oh, I’m sorry Norm, my mistake. Silly me to assume that my money belongs to me. Firstly, I am not a libertarian and secondly, I don’t dodge tax.

            Wealth is created by good ideas, clever marketing, researching and recognising public demand for useful products and producing those products at a (triple bottom line) price that the public is prepared to pay while providing a margin that incentivises further efficiencies and product improvements. It is the tax paid on these profits that builds community infrastructure, not infrastructure that creates business. You have it the wrong way around.

            There is an old saying in rural business; “you can’t be green if you’re not in the black.” Once a family (yes, a family) succeeds in business, they don’t turn into egotistic snobs who ditch the social contract. Quite the opposite. Once they can afford to, on the whole they increase their contribution to the social contract through increased financial contributions to charity and voluntary work. The downside for the less fortunate however, is that they tend to want to share advice on how others may improve their lot based on their own experience. They also tend to have less time for apologists and those who seek to forcefully re appropriate his families success out of envy. That can have the effect of coming across as elitist.

            • No Mike, wealth is created by the labour of workers. Without that nothing would materialise. If that were not true no one would employ anyone. In fact when someone makes huge profits off the backs of the actual creators of wealth, yet pays them next to nothing, that demonstrates the true parasites of this societal structure and it will now not change because this current system is working really well for the people at the top and those in charge of making policy. I, in fact, used to have similar ideologies such as yours, until reality brought me down to earth with a hard thud. The way things are going, you may experience that sooner than you think. The farmers are just finding out now, the damage corporatisation of their labour does.

        • You and your kind of thinking is why the world is in the mess it is in. So worried about your hard earned tax dollars that you forget about social responsibility that we should all have. You think the majority of your tax dollars goes to social welfare when really if you did some research instead of following this governments beneficiary bashing you would find alot of it goes to corporate welfare. Yes corporate welfare, where they already make mega profit. And just so you feel better your hard earned tax dollars can go towards the millions going to be spent on a flag referendum when it has already been polled the majority do not want a change. Feel better??? I am quite happy for my tax dollars to support NZ’s vulnerable. Sad that so many people are getting caught up in this capitalist system than makes grown adults act like children arguing over who’s cup got the most juice!

          • On the whole, Teresa, you are right. Corporate welfare is a disgrace and the flag referendum is one of John Keys pets and is not only an extravagant waste of money, but also I would bet that the idea of changing the flag now is not as high on the voters priority list as he thinks it is.

            It is sad that there are those who are less fortunate than others. But thankfully there is a comprehensive support system in place for those people.

            The great thing about the system we have in place now is that the mere sight of wealthy individuals proves to us that at least we all have the chance of making it big too. Personally I’m still waiting and hoping, but at least the possibility is there.

            • It’s not sad and fortune has nothing to do with it. It’s tragic because poverty in NZ today is structural. The obvious step is to raise benefit levels to what they were before National cut them in the 1990’s, then adjust for inflation.

              • Unfortunately I don’t think it is that simple. We can’t just magic extra money out of thin air. In order to pay beneficiaries more, the voters first need to decide what they are prepared to do without. Best not to ask me, as I have about 100 ideas on where government could start to save money.

                • We can’t just magic extra money out of thin air.

                  Oh?

                  Really, Mike@NZ?

                  And yet, National “magicked” sufficient billions to fund two tax cuts (2009 and 2010) at a time when English’s budgets were in deficit due to the GFC and Recession.

                  So where did those billions come from?

                  (Clue: offshore borrowing)

                  Funny ole world when right wing governments can “magick” money out of nowhere for tax cuts – but not for more necessary spending such as liveable welfare; good housing; etc.

                  Jeez, English even raised the cost of prescriptions from $3 to $5 – hitting low income families even harder.

                  Then he taxed paper-boys and girls, for godsakes?! (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10808314) All while the wealthiest in this country got the biggest tax cuts?!

                  My question isn’t why you aren’t affronted by this, Mike@NZ (you’re a Nat/ACT supporter, so it’s part of your dogma) – my question is why New Zealanders haven’t rioted over this radical, unjust change to their country. Unbelievable.

                  • Yes, exactly my point Mr Macskasy. Borrowing billions from overseas is borrowing with the eventual consequence of paying it back, not magicing it up out of thin air.

                    Why aren’t we rioting? Because we are being thrown the scraps to keep us quiet. We are seeing a ‘growing economy’. A Christchurch rebuild here, a holiday highway there, the economy is booming so I must be doing better myself aren’t I?

                    Now some quiet please Mr Macskasy lest you wake me from my dreams of a perfectly functioning spend and consume based economy

                    • A progressive tax system will need to put in place, not just to cover raising benefit levels, but also because it is necessary to take some money off the wealthy and get it back into circulation. A functioning healthy economy depends on tackling poverty and inequality head on. Don’t you dare mention trickle down.

            • The current system only works if there are winners and losers, for every “winner” there are hundreds if not thousands of losers. If it were equal then we would all hold the same amount of weath and people like you Mike would not be in a position to throw crumbs at the less fortunate. Your thinking suggests you would prefer some sort of Stockholm Syndrome mentality where the poor should be grateful to the very people that cause their enslavement, for a random act of generosity at the whim of their captor. We are all stuck in this nightmare of a system. You say your tax dollars are forcibly extracted from your bank account and that may be true, so your solution is to have the labour of the poor forcibly extracted or otherwise face absolute destitution. Being on a benefit is only one step up from absolute destitution. If welfare is removed, see how long you stay in the position you are in. I find your comments arrogant, selfish and only a person of privilege could think this way. I work very hard and struggle to keep the power on each month and I no doubt pay more tax than you, operatively, as a percentage of my ability to have necessities. There are real solutions but yours isn’t it.

        • It is my money and I can (or should be) able to spend it any way and on any one that I choose.

          Actually, no, you can’t, Mike@NZ. No right or freedom is absolute. I can provide you with a long list of things you cannot spend you money on – most of which would land you in prison, or with a a hefty fine.

          • there are only three ‘natural’ unalienable human rights, the right to life, to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness.

            Then there are a myriad of fake, synthetic rights such as the right to food, clothing and shelter. They are however not true rights, but man made contrivances built around political ideals with all the best intentions.

            I can in fact spend my nett income on anything I wish…on the condition of course that I accept the consequences of any immoral or illegal actions.

            • If the “right to life, to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness” (American terms) are inalienable – then why shouldn’t “rights such as the right to food, clothing and shelter”?

              What determines the difference?

              Because it seems to me that any distinction you’ve made is purely arbitrary and I could say that the “pursuit of happiness” is not “inalienable” if, in one example, it involves illegal activities being the major factor in creating “happiness” for an individual.

              Following the US Constitution – as in your case – simply suggests you’re good at parroting someone elses’ dogma, but haven’t thought it through.

              • The difference is determined by whether your example of a right in some way negates or removes the right of another. I don’t have the rights to food, clothing and shelter. What I have is the right to liberty to be free to persue and secure food, clothing and shelter in a way which doesn’t encroach on the rights of others to do the same.

                I have no claim on the rewards of the work of others.

                • The best analogy I could think of for Mike@NZ’s way of thinking is this. Mike bakes a cake. Mike thinks he should have the whole cake because he baked it. He does not think he should have to share some of it with the people who processed the flour or the sugar which enabled him to make the cake. He paid a pittance for those ingredients, just because he was in a position to, compared to the time put in to produce those ingredients but he is entitled to it ALL because he baked it. There would be no cake if it weren’t for the contributions of others but that reality doesn’t enter the equation in his head as it is an inconvenient truth.

                  • Now there’s a coincidence! Let’s use that same analogy as in real life I am a supplier of over half of those cake ingredients.

                    I produce the cake ingredients. I pay anywhere between trade price and full retail price for the inputs which go in to producing those ingredients. My suppliers set the price for those ingredients, I have virtually no input into price setting at their end, no matter how much I implore them to lower their prices based on my costs of production. That provides an incentive for me to do all I can to keep my costs of production competitive. I produce the products (ingredients) and sell them, measured by the ton, into the bakery business. We ‘negotiate’ a price…well, in reality, they tell me what they are prepared to pay according to the realities of the current market, based on import parity pricing, supply and demand, stock carryover, public demand for the cakes and, the end of the story, what the consumer is willing to pay. Sometimes I can convince them through the negotiations to throw another few dollars a ton my way as a goodwill gesture. If I make a profit, I pay tax.

                    So in a nutshell, we ‘accept’ the market price of the inputs and ‘take’ the price of the outputs. We are price takers both ways. Sort of like farming apparently according to JF Kennedy who once famously said “how’d be a farmer. They buy retail, sell wholesale and pay the freight both ways.” The real price setter in all this is in fact the consumer. They represent a HUGE buying bloc with the power to set the price according to how much they are willing to pay.

                    And while all this is going on, my staff come to work, carry out assigned tasks for between $20.50 and $34 an hour, then go home again.

                    Oh yes, it’s a hard life being a wage earner these days! From the real world where I live I find your analogy naive, simplistic, ignorant and a downright bloody insult to the small to medium business owners who go to the ends of the world to put good quality food on your table for a cheaper price than it has EVER been.

                    • Except there is not enough time in any day for you personally, to create all the ingredients yourself and even if there was, it wouldn’t be worth the cake, the profit would not be worth all the time required. If it was, you would do it and so would everyone else. I rest my case.

                  • A better analogy to the cake is a household with 1- an income earner, 2-a carer, 3- a couple of vulnerable individuals(but prob future workers) & 4-a past worker, now in need of care & support. Does the present income earner go ” It’s my money!” or think that “I was 3, I will be 4 & if I’m not reasonable to the rest, I’m not only gonna live in a horrible household but I’m gonna have to PAY for a 2 and the 3s are gonna tell me hook off once they start earning”.

                • pffft come on Mike@NZ you are clearly more concerned with property rights and most libertarians have a twisted view of liberty, especially liberty from the state.

                • Really you have the right to persue secure food? Well lucky you because being on a zero hour contract for my second job, apparently I, under the law, am not afforded that right. So apparently, if you hold wealth, you hold additional rights above others. Yeah that may be great in the utopia of Mike@NZ land, but it doesn’t work for me or the other around 700,000 people in this country who are underemployed.

                • But if you are a manager or owner of a factory do you not claim the rewards of the work of others?

                  Their are no ‘natural’ unalienable ‘human rights’ to be perdantic, but the only one that people – apart from Americans and libertarian – seem to believe in ARE the right to life, food and shelter.

        • It is absolutely necessary to reward hard work, innovation and merit.
          However,
          1) even the most dynamic, creative person on this planet if left alone would not manage much above a subsistence existence,
          2) humans are not a solitary species, most of our concepts of ethics / right and means of enjoying ourselves involve others beyond our kin.
          The emphasis on self implied in your statements is the underlying reason for the existential angst in the western world and if left unchecked will lead to collapse and the at best the dominance of a far more virulent system.

    • Unfortunately, ‘charity’ has morphed into ‘welfare’ and as welfare payments are taking a considerable portion of our income …

      Because the alternative is rampant poverty, Mike@NZ, and thousands of families living in alleyways and under bridges.

      Because the alternative if poverty driven crime, disease, and drug-use turning the entire country into a ghetto from the USA.

      Because the alternative is a society no sane person would want to live in. (The exception being ACT members/supporters.)

      Because the alternative would be eventual rioting and revolution and certain individuals lined up against the wall and shot.

      Let me illustrate why “welfare payments are taking a considerable portion of our income”.

      In late 2007, there were 78,000 unemployed persons.

      By July 2012, there were 171,000 unemployed persons.

      Calculator source: http://www.tradingeconomics.com/new-zealand/unemployed-persons

      What happened in 2007/08?

      Tell us, Mike@NZ, did 93,000 New Zealand workers wake up one morning in 2012 and decided to voluntarily chuck in their jobs, to receive the princely welfare payment of $210 (p/w, net, for a person 25+)?

      Because, really, if that’s what you’re trying to tell us, be prepared to be mocked.

      And tell us why unemployment was even lower before the neo-liberal experiment in 1984?

      Could it be that neo-liberalism was as much a failure as the Soviet system, and you are now trying to blame the victims of this rather grand, stupid experiment?

      Really?

      • If benefit levels were raised then minimum wage would be forced up … If wages / benefits increased, the parasite slum landlord would grab for more money … If the parasite slum landlord grabbed more money – the parasite CEO would demand a larger salary …

        I think the idea of putting them against the wall and shooting them is a much better option … Should I start to compile my list of those “First against the wall come the revolution” parasites?

  5. Very well said Rachel. Thank you. The second testament (socialist) quotes referred to in the blog are what we should be adhering to today.

    But the immoral status quo vindictive, aggressive old testament followers eg Key, Joyce, Bennett, Collins et al, would call them all left wing conspiracies, advocating of communism!

    If Jesus and his disciples were alive today, after having their homes invaded by police and searched for at least ten hours for evidence of their claims etc, if they didn’t suddenly go missing, they would be given life imprisonment for daring to rock the establishment and stir up the masses! The outcome of Key having set his beloved rabid GCSB onto them!

  6. Please provide me one quote from someone in a position of authority stating that it should be each person for themselves or a variation of that theme?

    • It is not a direct quote, it is an attitude by actions, that is why it is so hard to combat, it is insidious slowly eating away at people

    • *Ahem*

      Gosman – you’re demanding that someone provide you “one quote from someone in a position of authority stating that it should be each person for themselves or a variation of that theme”?

      Are you paralysed from the neck up down and demand that others run around to find bits of information for you?

      Or, as per usual, it is your wierd way to initiate discussion; frame your agenda as a question and await the answer, which you then attack?

      Because if you posit your own ideas, then Lordy, Lordy, someone might attack you, Gosman.

      And you don’t like being on the defensive to justify your own ideas, do you?

  7. It looks like the end of Rome all over again.

    It was then, “this it’s mine and you are not getting any of it” mentality that was the genesis for the birth of Christianity back then.

    But these greedy bunch of zealots don’t’ get the point as they didn’t back then, shame on them.

  8. It is certainly time that TDB had a discussion about those vexed subjects, debt and taxes. I’ll start off with debt. Since the above discussion had a Biblical theme, perhaps readers will recall the story of the widow, who donated a mite (lets assume it is worth 1$) to Jesus and he said that as a portion of her resources it was a most generous gift.
    Lets also assume that Jesus put the dollar in a Savings account earning 2% pa and told the throng that when he returned in 2000 years, he would use whatever amount was in his bank account to rid the world of money lenders. Question: How much money would be in the account 2000 years later?

  9. Compassion and Social responsibility facing extinction? Wrong target. It is the human race which faces extinction taking with it all other life except perhaps, a few hardy evolutionary survivors like the cockroach. The only question worth discussion is whether, given its history as some sort of evolutionary abberation, the extinction of the human species is of much importance. Shame about the rest of course.

  10. Such a good post here Rachael, it brought out all the NactZ trolls alright.

    So you now can clearly see that they certainly believe above all that “The winner takes all” policies of rip shit and bust.

    They don’t have any social conscience to even reflect what there reckless motivations are causing to the less fortunate, and this was exactly what brought about the demise of Rome and the French aristocracy later.

    NACTs need to get real and realise that there is a finite balance between rich and poor, else there will be social unrest aas has always been in the past.

    Bugger off you evil spawners of greed and learn to “pay it forward” as our past generations did for us when they left us with the security of our “essential services” state owned Electricity, water, rail, gas and education and health that this toxic lot are devouring as the spoils of greed they are multiplying every day, by privatising (Greed) as their wholly grail.

  11. A society that loses the capacity for the sacred, that lacks the power of human imagination, that cannot practice empathy, ultimately ensures it’s own destruction.

    Chris Hedges.

  12. One thing I am struck by when I peruse Herald articles online and view comments, or even things on Facebook – it’s incredible how many truly ignorant opinions there are out there. People forming harsh, even cruel, judgments of others and wiping their hands of any responsibility, ignoring the fact that we know people are a product of their environment, I mean even basic sociological study will illustrate pretty clearly that the current political bent is not serving anybody well. It’s destroying the planet, making a few people rich and many poor, and increasingly relegating certain members of society to the bottom of the heap with absolutely no merit to their reasoning.

    But the average person I see commenting on articles has no idea. They truly have no idea what they’re on about. Some of them have seen the vague and biased mainstream media report on a topic, many only read a headline, and they have a very strong opinion which often echoes the style and tone of a major MP. There are so many pigs in the National party – Key, English, Bennett, Bridges, Parata, Brownlee, Tolley, Joyce, Smith – ignorant’s of the highest order, all of them. It’s clear by the absolute shambles they have created in government. But the thing is, they’ve played it so slick the whole time. I don’t know how people were ever taken in by Key. When he arrived on the scene, I was what…still in my teens, but even then I knew he was a moron. He and most of his caucus, whatever they want to try and project, ARE NOT qualified to do the job. They have none of the right compassion’s and sympathy’s, none of the right knowledge, none of the decent ideas.

    But at the end of the day, most of our voting public fit that bill also. It’s all just become a game and a mud slinging match – the torys vs. the loony left. I’m sick of it. And I’m sick of an ignorant, irresponsible government that is signing us over to shit street whilst smiling in our faces, spying on us, fostering inequality among us, neglecting the vulnerable and wasting an awful lot of human and natural potential, and assuring us everything is fine.

    Frankly, I aspire to be a politician. But I just have no idea how I’d go about it. I have dozens of ideas for all sorts of schemes and ways to shape our society into something better, but I feel powerless to put any of these ideas to use. Meanwhile, the morons in our parliament continue to cultivate a society of uninformed, ignorant people so that they can better execute their bizarre, stupid and destructive course.

    I struggle with this every day, as it exacerbates my depression and a tremendous feeling of hopelessness. Some days, I want to die. Some days I think about making that happen. Because man, the way our society is going just isn’t acceptable to me at all. What to do about it though? I’m damned if I know. If anyone is interested in hearing my ideas, maybe we should meet?

    • Hey don’t let yourself go, we need people like you who are seeing through the shit. I get the depression -every person I know who’s of a social leaning is feeling the same way (Martyn was right about the long, hard 3 years). It wasn’t always like this -learn some history watch “Someone Else’s Country”, “In a Land of Plenty” “”The Hollowmen” (or read the book), etc and remember that your generation has been crapped on more than most but you still don’t understand your power. Once you do become enlightend, the world will change.

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