Nothing quite reinforces ‘Privilege’ than an ‘Us and Them’ Attitude



silver spoon


When , drunk, dumb,  and ultimately doomed National backbencher, Aaron Gilmore, uttered his now-infamous words,  “Don’t you know who I am?“, it revealed to the public a glimpse of the attitude of those who – in their minds – are Born To Rule (over us).

For a certain type of persons who happens to be blessed with wealth, power, business acumen, and/or other talents, they consider themselves to have “earned” the right to be superior to those around them not-quite-as-fortunate. (Or even, gods-forbid, not particularly interested in wealth, power, business acumen, etc.)

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It is this arrogance – born from success in their chosen field of endeavour – which results in attitudes such as the law (or social “niceties”) not applying to them.

Case in Point #1: In Aaron Gilmore’s case, he became angry that the waiter refused to serve him any more alcohol. The waiter’s decision was based on a simple law-of-the-land; that intoxicated persons shall not be sold/served any more liquor. Failure to comply can mean hefty fines; suspension (or full cancellation) of liquor license; and having employment terminated.

But Gilmore didn’t care. He just wanted more booze to flow down his gullet. When his demands were declined, he attempted to use his position of authority (an elected member of Parliament) to get his way. When that failed, he invoked the Office of the Prime Minister. That, too, failed.

But what was it about Gilmore’s position that he believed he had status sufficient to believe that the law did not apply to him?

Case in Point #2: When government minister, Gerry Brownlee walked through security doors at Christchurch airport, he obviously held a view that being late for his flight was just cause to ignore Civil Aviation rules;

Gerry Brownlee is standing by his version of how his airport security breach took place – after being contradicted by an airport staffer.

The Civil Aviation Authority’s released a heavily-redacted report into the July incident at Christchurch Airport.

Mr Brownlee said he knocked on a secure door and asked to be let through, because he was late for a flight.

But the airport employee told the inquiry that one of Mr Brownlee’s staff pulled the secure door open, and the trio walked past him without seeking permission.

Gerry Brownlee was later fined $2000.

Despite being fined for his rule-breaking, a spokesman for Brownlee said that the minister  “stands by his testimony“. So not only did Brownlee consider himself (a) above the law, (b) acted on that belief, but (c) when found guilty, and fined,  showed no acceptance of his wrong-doing.

What was it about Brownlee’s position that he believed he had status sufficient to believe that the law did not apply to him?

Case in Point #3: Multimillionaire property developer, Bob Jones, was recently thrown off an Air New Zealand flight for not following an on-board safety briefing, reported the  Civil Aviation Authority.

According to CAA spokesperson, Mike Richards;

“The passenger was basically ignoring what was going on and wearing headphones. The crew member complained to someone in command and said, ‘I don’t want passengers on the flight who aren’t following instructions of the crew’.”

So, basically, Bob Jones couldn’t be arsed following the rules and paying attention, despite being asked to? Did Jones believe that, in the event of an emergency, somehow his wealth would be sufficient to circumvent the laws of gravity, and he would descend gently to the ground?

What was it about Jones’ position that he believed he had status sufficient to believe that the law (both Parliamentary and gravitational) did not apply to him?

Is the answer to the question posed at the end of each case, simply because society allows status, based on political power and/or  wealth, to gain privileges which are not accorded to the rest of us (99% of us)?

If Air New Zealand’s “Elite Priority One” is any indication, then political power and wealth  invites special privilege that other paying customers for the airline’s service apparently do not deserve;


Air New Zealand offers secret invite only Elite Priority One lounge


New Zealand – the nation that once prided itself on it’s egalitarianism – now has an airline trading on our name, and offering services to the “elite” that the ordinary folk of this country were not even aware of.

That is real privilege accorded to the wealthy and powerful – when the masses aren’t even aware that Jack is no longer as good as his Master.

So when an MP expects that liquor laws can be flouted so he can get more inebriated; when a Minister expects that Civil Aviation laws apply to others, but not him; and when a millionaire thumbs his nose at critical safety information – let us be clear that they deeply believe they are entitled to hold those views.

They are, after all, better than us.

Air New Zealand says as much. They are, after all, Elite, Priority One.





NZ Herald: ‘Rude’ MP tweets apology over drunken night out

Fairfax media: Sir Bob Jones escorted from Air NZ flight

NewstalkZB: Brownlee contradicted on airport security breach

Fairfax media:  Air New Zealand offers secret invite only Elite Priority One lounge

Previous related blogposts

And so it came to pass




Glass half full



= fs =


  1. some people with any type of power over some one/s take advantage of the position, a good test of some ones character is to see what they do to the ‘little people’ under them, what does key do to waitress’s ? what does campbell do to children with no food? what does sir bob do to flight attendants?

    Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.

    Abraham Lincoln

  2. Well Gilmore’s power didn’t last long ,he was just a would be if he could be.
    Gerry Brownlee, is I believe heading for retirement.

    Bob Jones heading for retirement home .unfortunately the Herald hasn’t realised it yet.

    The secret room with Air New Zealand ,any wonder fares don’t drop .

    If anyone has a born to rule complex its Key, and he uses his advantage to the full,Northland showed him, “don’t rely on it John. “

  3. Very worthwhile to shine the light on manifest egotism and arrogance. There is every reason to want politicians to be good role models.They should be.

  4. We do this to ourselves.

    The position of an elected MP offers a salary in excess of $150,000, accommodation, travel perks, waiting staff and an expectation of public respect for absolutely no qualification or proof of competency. One can literally walk in off the streets and go from a sole parent benefit to a government MP in one fell swoop, no transition or baby steps required.

    Who would pay $150k plus to an unqualified idealist to oversee the most important things in our lives, namely freedom and liberty? The voting public.

    I’m afraid that the days of ‘I promise to give you more of other people’s money to do what you have always done and I promise to ask nothing in return’ may be coming to an end.

    Hopefully we are entering a new world of honesty, integrity and accountability. But somehow I doubt it.

  5. ‘…when the masses aren’t even aware that Jack is no longer as good as his Master’…

    But Jack and Jill can only feel worse than their masters if they think those ‘masters’ are better than Jack and Jill.

    As Eleanor Rooseveldt said, no one make you feel inferior without your permission. And those who rest on their laurels may be wearing them in the wrong place.

    • Sorry Jo but thats just bullshit. Its the type of comment made by ignorant right wingers who have no idea what its like being disadvantaged. Being treated as inferior does make most people feel bad. And according to you and Eleanor its THEIR fault for not having a hyper-inflated ego that can withstand all the crap that might come their way.

      • You’ve totally missed the point. Who we are is not determined by how others treat us. I refuse to let people richer or more powerful than I am put me down. ER was not finding fault, she was saying ‘grow a spine’. She was on the money. Just like the airline attendant who stood up to Bob Jones.

  6. Nothing reinforces your post more (that born-to-rule attitude AND all that goes with it) than this weekends QB ‘Honour’s’ (probably should be honors) List than the Talley quota.
    FFS! …… for services to slavery maybe?

  7. I was chatting to a very skilled carpenter/builder the other day. He was telling me about all the posh homes he’s worked on, and how arrogant and rude many of the owners were. It shocked me. I’ve got no problem with people being rich, but that doesn’t give you permission to be disrespectful to hard working people.

  8. Years back in UK I had a paper round. A Major Jenkins lived at the top of a steep hill that was best approached with no load and a more gentle slope at the end of the round. He complained that he needed to be the first delivery. I refused to do so for which I was fired. Class insubordination methinks. This arrogance goes with the turf. As we build a more overt class based society these same slaters will rise from the rotten woodpile that is their loavesome pretence.

  9. Excellent, well researched post, as ever Frank. I must say that my first impression of the bloke with the large half full glass of wine reminds me of how the Herald cartoonist Minhinnick used to caricature ‘Kiwi’ Keith Holyoake when he was PM.

  10. The idea that NZ was ever a truly egalitarian society is a myth. When my father left behind the class structure of post war Britain he found NZ had it’s own version of the old ‘school tie’. Snobbery was rife, and you only got ahead if you went to the right school and made the right connections. The same applied when I left school in the 70’s, but I fought against it with everything I had, using my pride in my working class roots to fuel my ambition. Today we have too many whose passion has been doused by the crutch of welfare dependency and other forms of the state intrusion in our lives. These are far greater menaces than some dreamed up disadvantage of priviledge.

    • Today we have too many whose passion has been doused by the crutch of welfare dependency and other forms of the state intrusion in our lives. These are far greater menaces than some dreamed up disadvantage of priviledge.

      Dave “”crutch of welfare”?! Welfare isn’t a “crutch”, it’s a mechanism to prevent people starving to death; our streets filled with homeless; and rampant disease sweeping through communities. It’s also the right thing to do when capitalism fails the most vulnerable, poorest, and disadvantaged.

      Your desparaging of welfare sounds like ACT/Business Roundtable/NZ Initiative rhetoric.

      Last time I looked, Air New Zealand never set up a “Priority Elite One” lounge for the unemployed; homeless; solo-parents; low-paid; etc.

      And when was the last time someone living in a car admonished a waiter “Don’t you know who I am” – or pulled a woman’s hair, whilst police bodyguards stood idly by doing nothing?

      Your attempt to turn this situation on it’s head and focus on welfare is instructive of those who support certain right-wing dogma.

      • Just one thing Mr Macskasy…what would Air New Zealand gain from setting up a “Priority Elite One” lounge for the unemployed, homeless, solo parents, low paid etc?

        On second thoughts, the Priority Elite One lounge is, in my opinion, the same as business class, that is it is reserved for the suited blowarses that fly courtesy of someone else’s money. Kind of like your average welfare recipient in a perverse kind of way. The only difference between a politician and a beneficiary is the power to negotiate your benefit level!

    • There are genuine people in need of welfare,but there are also people who expect welfare all their lives,its these that are the problem.
      My mother told us children ,if you can avoid it don’t go into a state house, but if you have to , treat it like a tempory thing,not a lifelong entitlement otherwise you get a lifetime of state house mentality.

      She meant be as independent as you can not rely on state for everything or you will never get anywhere.
      So saying some people are unfortunate enough to need help all their lives, this dosnt make them any less than anyone else.
      The wealthy are unfortunate enough in some cases to never learn compassion needed to share anything, they have more a sense of entitlement than any state tenant or welfare beneficiary.

  11. If we imagine the kind of society we might want – low crime, low drug usage, low obesity, fewer health problems, fewer mental health issues, longer life expectancy then the evidence exhibited in The Spirit Level shows that inequality militates against those outcomes.
    In short, if we want a happier, healthier, safer society then inequality has to be addressed.

  12. Yes let us ban all forms of wealth based privilege such as premium seating in Theartres or premium brand items in supermarkets. Everyone should be forced to buy the same item at the same price.

    • Goosey, when I was a young adult, we didn’t have premium seatings in movie houses. Then again, the movies were much better. So I guess movie houses drew in audiences based on the quality of their product, not how well padded some comfy chair was, or free popcorn or whatever. (And theatre floors were nicely designed to accommodate rolling jaffas. Ah, the good old days.)

      Anyways, I’m sure your masters will appreciate you sticking up for them. When serfs stick up for their Lords,it shows how well the brainwashing and social conditioning works.

    • What a facile response, even by your standards. Let’s take the Bob Jones case. He was in economy class, sitting by the emergency exit. When you take that seat, you have a responsibility to be aware of what to do in an emergency, and how to help others. If he thinks that paying attention to that responsibility is somehow beneath him, then he can bloody well pay for a different seat, or for business class, or a private charter flight. So your argument of “let us ban all forms of wealth based privilege such as premium seating in Theatres or premium brand items in supermarkets” or, in Jones’ case, premium seating on a flight, falls rather flat, rather quickly. Jones can well afford to pay those premiums, but he chose not to, so he must act in accordance of the rules. It really is quite simple, so it shouldn’t take you too long to get your head around it.

      Frank’s article does not advocate for some kind of communist system where everyone is forced into a single mold. That idea is nothing more than a reflection of your knee-jerk responses to anything and everything written by TDB contributors, because your rigid ideology does not allow the flexibility of thought required to respond in any effective way. It seems that in your world, judging by the way you phrase yourself, the way you sneer and reduce any and all arguments to a sarcastic lowest common denominator stereotype, anyone who does not support your version of events is clearly incapable of rational thought. Perhaps you might fare well to consider that we may indeed consider that it is you who is incapable of such, based on your constant march to a single drum.

      As for the article, it merely questions the practice of those with wealth and/or power abusing those positions of privilege to the detriment of others. Your apologist nature towards those people, and their behaviour, simply indicates that most likely, given the chance, the money, and the privilege, you would take the first opportunity to be equally as much of a horse’s ass as the aforementioned.

  13. Bob Jones has done this before on Air NZ but he is still able to fly. And he’s so rude to staff- when I work for Air Nz ground we used to dread having to check him in. A nasty man.

    • Bob Jones a nasty rich man and by his face and manner a very unhappy one.wealth dosnt bring happiness but it allows you to be miserable in comfort,He can look out at the world from a position of privilage,we have to look at a miserable face from a different angle.

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