Banana Split: David Seymour’s Latest Declaration of Intergenerational War

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THAT DAVID SEYMOUR’S latest effusion of political bile is being hosted by The Spinoff is entirely fitting. The ACT leader and his hipster enablers cannot wait to get into the political engine-room, and their chosen path to the centre of power is via fomenting an intergenerational war. The headline attached to Seymour’s piece says it all: “NZ Baby Boomers are Building a Banana Republic, and No One Gives a Shit.”

Except that “banana republics” are characterised by obscene extremes of wealth and poverty, authoritarian modes of governance, ruinous levels of corruption, and the irretrievable loss of national sovereignty. In other words, states that have dispensed altogether with democratic politics. That this continues to be Act’s and Seymour’s endgame should surprise no one. But for those who still regard The Spinoff as a platform for serious journalism, its tacit support for Seymour’s plans to incite young citizens to use their votes as weapons against the old may come as a bit of a shock.

Seymour’s latest excuse for fanning the flames of Millennial discontent is the Treasury’s most recent Long-Term Fiscal Outlook (LTFO). And, when the Treasury boffins say “long-term” they’re not kidding. Their latest LTFO purports to describe the fiscal position of the New Zealand government in 2056!

To put their heroic prognostications into some sort of perspective, ask yourself how much luck someone living in 1916 would have had describing the world of 1956. As Peter Drucker quipped: “Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window.” Which is why the only way to produce a half-way credible LTFO is to proceed on the assumption that current government policy settings remain unchanged for 40 years. If you’re thinking that this reduces the LTFO to a simple exercise in linear extrapolation, then take a bow. That’s pretty much all it is.

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So, what are the fiscal implications of the current policy settings remaining unchanged for 40 years? Well, not surprisingly, they’re pretty dire. As Seymour, hyperbolically, puts it:

“If no policy changes are made, by 2060, when current students reach retirement age, government debt will be 206 per cent of GDP. In other words national debt will equal two years’ income, worse than the current debt of countries world famous for being fiscally screwed such as Zimbabwe (203 per cent) Greece (179 per cent), Italy (133 per cent) and Portugal (121 per cent). No matter how well you prepare for retirement, you’ll be living in a banana republic.”

Unless, of course, we, the voters of New Zealand, taking serious and principled thought for our nation’s future, decide to change the current policy settings.

The most obvious way pay for the dramatic increase in human longevity would be to restore a much larger degree of progressivity to New Zealand’s taxation system. Additional measures to improve our future fiscal position might include re-starting government contributions to the Superannuation Fund and making Kiwisaver compulsory. Getting rid of the commercial imperatives currently driving New Zealand’s universities and research institutes into the ground would also help. Neoliberalism is deadening our national imagination.

That’s why a thorough-going “deliberalisation” of the whole of New Zealand society would be so helpful. Modelled on the “denazification” of post-war Germany, such an exercise would unleash precisely the sort of pent-up social energy and creativity that the LTFO itself identifies as a the best way of avoiding the long-term fiscal difficulties it is projecting.

Not that David Seymour wants a bar of anything even remotely resembling these solutions. He dismisses the option of raising taxes with characteristic venom by presenting it as yet another dastardly imposition by the Baby Boom Generation:

“The first way of absorbing [the projected demographic changes] is to raise taxes by about a quarter, so GST becomes nearly 20 per cent and the top tax rate goes over 40 per cent, along with every other rate being increased by the same proportion. People embarking on their careers now would pay a 25 per cent extra “boomer tax” for being born at the wrong time.”

As if all the young people of today will not themselves grow old and be succeeded by a new generation of New Zealanders. As if the whole experience of human existence is not a constant process of paying forward and paying back.

Utterly dependent when we are born; utterly dependent as we drift inexorably toward death. Isn’t this the universal fate of humanity? As applicable to the richest people in the world as it is to the poorest – and just as inescapable? The true measure of our equality.

And isn’t this the dreadful reality that all the pathologically ambitious are running from: that not all the power in the world, nor all the money, can save them from the grave? And isn’t it the true measure of wisdom that, in the end, we come to recognise that we are defined by what makes our fellow human beings’ similar to ourselves – not by what makes them different?

As President John F. Kennedy told the students of Washington’s American University in his celebrated commencement address of June 1963 – delivered just six months before his assassination in Dallas:

“For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.”

24 COMMENTS

  1. It seems like the NZ Alt-Right are nervous? With whats happened worldwide politically lately?
    Having a crack at a “Trump-esk” strategy, a “suck-it-an-see” if its got legs. Desperate or what!
    Just let the cry baby millennials have there moment. Just see how many of them turn up at the polls??
    Missguided and in need of another come election 2017 “Cup-O-Tea!”

    • Nope, they are NOT “nervous” at all, after the rule and divide neoliberals from left and right of centre have already manipulated and divided the world, the right are on the win. When you beat a child, it is likely to become a child beater also when grown up. That is the political phenomenon we are witnessing in much of Europe and in the US, and in some other odd places now. The strong arm, harsh talking and right wing politicians appeal much more to the people than liberals and leftists or progressives. We are seeing a historic tidal change, a wave of REACTION:

      https://www.pvv.nl/
      http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/right-wing-freedom-party-is-netherland-s-largest-political-force-says-poll-1.1691011

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_Party_of_Austria

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/11/09/marine-le-pen-can-win-the-french-presidency-next-year-after-trum/

      The left is becoming obsolete in many countries and parliaments, I fear, because the people that have been exposed to neoliberalist capitalism, that is capitalist internationalism, are sick and tired of being told what to think and do, even if their sentiment is maybe irrational.

      Donald Trump managed to win enough votes to become President, his Republicans, eventhough disaffected, got the majority in Congress, and the Senate, and he can reign almost as he wishes.

      Europe is turning right, all over the place, as the left and liberals played with idealistic globalistic dreams that most could not follow, so the tolerance is gone, the freedom is compromised, the immigrants are no longer welcome, we face a political ice age, or new cold war.

      So that is what is happening, the “left” betrayed their own voters, by going the Blairist third way nonsense, now the people no longer trust them, and they are history, the left are now in most countries just a fringe party. The same is happening in NZ now, as much as it may disturb me or others.

      Prepare for a new world, not a better one, rather one looking to the past, and repeating the same mistakes as before, we are heading for a repeat of global political and social and economic realities that led to the last major world wars, prepare for WW3, get your head out of your arse, that is where we are heading.

  2. Having posted David Seymours spinoff blog on my page.

    I agree with him on only ONE point THE MILLENIALS need to get off their asses and vote in 2017.

    Superannuation is only one issue as we all know.

  3. ‘a simple exercise in linear extrapolation’ ceased to provide meaningful predictions about the future from 2007 on, and we are now in the period of human history which is characterized by MAJOR DISCINTINUITIES such as the peaking of global oil extraction and its decline, and the collapse of the environment that accompanies abrupt climate change.

    NZ will definitely not exist in its present form much beyond 2020. And there is unlikely to be much vertebrate life at all on this planet beyond 2040 if humanity maintains its addiction to fossil fuels for much longer. (The NZ government short=term plan is, of course, the INCREASE fossil fuel dependency.)

    Guy McPherson is touring NZ with the message that industrial humans will cause their own extinction within one decade, i.e. before 2026 as a consequence of the damage already done.

    We will definitely break through the so-called upper safe limit of atmospheric CO2 within a decade:

    Daily CO2
    November 27, 2016:  404.93 ppm
    November 27, 2015:  400.03 ppm

    https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/wp-content/plugins/sio-bluemoon/graphs/co2_800k.png

    However, there are serious defects in McPherson’s analysis that suggest human extinction as a consequence of the industrial activity that accompanies dominant way of life will occur somewhat later than McPherson suggests, and very likely near the middle of this century.

    Kennedy may have been right in 1963 when he said, “‘We all cherish our children’s futures,” but his words do not apply now.

    Present-day adults are the major cause of destruction of their own children’s futures. And that is particularly true of the politicians and bureaucrats who continually lie to the masses in order to promote the short-term agendas of money-lenders, corporations and opportunists.

    Whether you call destruction of your own children’s future ‘Intergenerational War’ is debatable. I think it is a lot worse than that.

    2017 is going to a very ‘interesting’ year, with Antarctic sea ice already at a record low and melting fast.

    https://ads.nipr.ac.jp/vishop/#/extent

    and Arctic ice cover is still way below normal.

    • Cunning AFKTT, cunning.
      To suggest that the apocalypse will occur far enough away to be indistinguishable from the usual global warming predictions with a tipping-point up turn like a cute nose or a ski-jump (ironic metaphor in cinder-land) at the end, means you can go on spouting about your hobby-horse for the rest of your life!
      Well played, Sir.

  4. Fabulous Post @ Chris Trotter. You’re a bit exceptional.
    If not all TDB’ers actually. ( Though you are a bit extra spesh’ @ CT. )
    The Right have nothing at all of the caliber of thought much less the ability to express those thoughts. Not one. And yet, there they are. In ‘ power ‘ .

    I hate to say this, but the likes of you, us. We must come to embrace the smell of blood. We must become that which we hate the most to purge the single-plane thinkers from our lives. Knowing that, that fool david seymour, is able to…. God. What a fucking nightmare?

    I just read a story about female, human, identical twins. They were beautiful, intelligent and mad.
    One, the survivor, is being held in custody on charges of 2nd degree murder of her sister. The reason for that ( I just laughed out loud ! OMG! ) is because they were engaged in one of their usual bought’s of mindless violence toward each other, seemingly for the sheer murderous passions of it. They started brawling in a speeding car, one on the back seat clawing at the one on the front seat ( and the driver of the vehicle.) The one driving gave up control while at speed on a mountainous rd to indulge in extreme violence with her, as equally eager, sister and attacker on the back seat. There was a crash through a barrier and they all tumbled 200 feet or meters, I can’t remember which, to one of the sisters death. The survivor suffered serious injuries. They were so busy hating and desiring of murderous outcomes for the other that they failed to see the real problem. One of being in a vehicle hurtling along, no one in control.
    Why does david seymour come to mind??
    We must not become victims to the likes of david ‘ding dong’ seymour !

  5. Fabulous Post @ Chris Trotter. You’re a bit exceptional.
    If not all TDB’ers actually. ( Though you are a bit extra spesh’ @ CT. )
    The Right have nothing at all of the caliber of thought much less the ability to express those thoughts. Not one. And yet, there they are. In ‘ power ‘ .

    I hate to say this, but the likes of you, us. We must come to embrace the smell of blood. We must become that which we hate the most to purge the single-plane thinkers from our lives. Knowing that, that fool david seymour, is able to…. God. What a fucking nightmare?

    I just read a story about female, human, identical twins. They were beautiful, intelligent and mad.
    One, the survivor, is being held in custody on charges of 2nd degree murder of her sister. The reason for that ( I just laughed out loud ! OMG! ) is because they were engaged in one of their usual bought’s of mindless violence toward each other, seemingly for the sheer murderous passions of it. They started brawling in a speeding car, one on the back seat clawing at the one on the front seat ( and the driver of the vehicle.) The one driving gave up control while at speed on a mountainous rd to indulge in extreme violence with her, as equally eager, sister and attacker on the back seat. There was a crash through a barrier and they all tumbled 200 feet or meters, I can’t remember which, to one of the sisters death. The survivor suffered serious injuries. They were so busy hating and desiring of murderous outcomes for the other that they failed to see the real problem. One of being in a vehicle hurtling along, no one in control.
    Why does david seymour come to mind??
    We must not become victims to the likes of david ‘ding dong’ seymour !

  6. “If no policy changes are made, by 2060, when current students reach retirement age, government debt will be 206 per cent of GDP. In other words national debt will equal two years’ income, worse than the current debt of countries world famous for being fiscally screwed such as Zimbabwe (203 per cent) Greece (179 per cent), Italy (133 per cent) and Portugal (121 per cent). No matter how well you prepare for retirement, you’ll be living in a banana republic.”
    Look no further than our master speculator as Jonkey is who has enticed the Housing bubble by his Engagement in the money trading/headge market and now he has his whole cabinet involved in the housing speculation market so us Baby boomers in most parts of NZ are suffering with no health coverage and rising prices while key and his cohorts are racking in big dough setting Auckland Tauranga,and Wellington as well as the resort areas up as housing bubbles.

  7. >>>The most obvious way pay for the dramatic increase in human longevity would be to restore a much larger degree of progressivity to New Zealand’s taxation system.
    I’m a dreadful person who pays tax at the 30% rate.

  8. It’s quite easy to sit and pontificate from your house with your zero student loan debt and talk down to the younger generation. The world is going to burn. Those on Zimmer frames may find the tables turned; it’s all cyclical baby… the pendulum is swinging back, and it ain’t going to be pretty. I do often wonder why the Daily Blog hosts the right-wing Chris Trotter, but, then again, the Daily Blog doesn’t really seem to want to get rid of Key, or every article and opinion piece would be on housing and immigration; these are the issues that will bring National down.

  9. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A9UmdY0E8hU

    so this guy did the research to where it is the easiest place to become rich . and its got interesting findings. and obviously to become rich from nothing requires social mobility. it also requires free education and good strong unions …. so its those pesky social positive statistic countries that neoliberals get so irritated by cos they are the polar opposite of what the neoliberals subscribe to. but oh thats right statistics lie …. or do the right lie about statistics … hmmmm ?

  10. The WWII generation sacrificed a lot, having lived through a depression and a World War. Their offspring not so much, being born into the most perfect wealth curve humanity has ever seen. Having benefitted from that they then systematically took it away from the generations that followed them. Partially a fate of being born when you are and partially just being indifferent and greedy.

    So unlike that WWII generation who earned their slipper-wearing dotage the boomers will be hunted in the streets by marauding millenials raised on a diet of electronic screens and empathy reducing paracetamol.

    Buy shares in a razor wire factory would be today’s top tip.

    • Oh grow up. I am a baby boomer who has consistently voted left, except when we were conned by the 1st Lange Govt. The problem is that the majority of every generation are short-sighted, self-interested gits. Every generation, including all those since baby-boomers. Get used to it – you will suffer from the same problem when you are old, unless McPherson is right.

    • Sorry, but all generations are alike. Not only the Baby-Boomers have a majority of self-centered, short-sighted gits – so do all the others. Most vote for the greedy right to make a quick buck for themselves. So don’t romanticise – you will probably face the same persecution when you are old. I am a baby-boomer who always tried to vote left, but the 1st Lange Govt fooled me.

      • “Partially a fate of being born when you are and partially just being indifferent and greedy.”

        You fall into the “partially a fate of being born when you are” side of the equation then.

        I stand by my statement that the generosity of spirit extended to the WWII generation will not be extended to the boomer generation.

  11. David Seymour has to say and do stupid things to get attention because there probably isn’t all that much for him to do as an MP in Ponsonby. After all, who in the heart of 1% sleepy hobbiton needs any help? The only help most of them need is whether to choose a Ford Ranger or Landrover for their annual new car purchase or whether to go to the Carribbean or Hawaii for their Christmas holiday.
    Any that do genuinely need help would be better off contacting a list MP from another party instead of that dope.

  12. Assuming that the semi-regular TDB forum poster “David Seemore” is in fact the real ACT leader Seymour, as it appears to be, since Seemore promotes ACT policy often within his comments, let’s have a quick look at his character based on a post I recall from about 2-3 months ago, where Seemore lamented that it was impossible to afford a house in Epsom on his “middle income wage.”

    So, two ridiculous points therein:

    1) “Middle income” is $175,000p.a. plus perks? May we all one day find ourselves so fortunate as to be “middle income” earners.

    2) Is the man so out of touch with reality that he considers not being able to live in such a notoriously expensive suburb as a point of concern? Many Aucklanders can no longer afford to live in even outlying suburbs, and we have families sleeping in cars, or if they’re lucky, renting a garage.

    The man is a colossal twit. Of course his latest statement is farcical – But to his credit, it at least matches all his others.

  13. “GST becomes nearly 20 per cent”..that’s not something ‘just’ or even ‘mainly’ affecting baby boomers.
    That would be a tax that the poor and young are unable to avoid, a tax on nearly all their spending. (And I suspect that pensions would be increased to offset the impact on pensioners.)

  14. I would invite Mr Privileged Prick Seymour to join others in occupying the expensive properties by rich pricks in his electorate, to make them available for people in desperate need of housing. Since he seems to want to join into the inter generational socio economic warfare, we may be able to get him show solidarity with the homeless and poor, and enable them to get their share of the cake, that many in his electorate devour large chunks off 24/7.

    Come on David, occupy, occupy the rick prick’s turf, and share the pie, share the cake, once you join into that action, not only directed at the “boomers”, we may get some real action from you.

    If that does not happen, go back to sleep, or seek another career in “business and sleeziness”, as so many of your mates.

  15. As we know, Mr Seymour is more like verbal kaka, nothing else. Who is tracking my comment here, again, it seems GCSB or SIS or both are.

  16. Who/what is generating this persistent mozzie drone about ‘Baby Boomers’ and ‘Millenials’?

    Who stands to profit from this malarkey?

    The endless wittering about ‘free education’. It was NEVER free. Not at any level – from kindy, with the endless working bees and cake stalls to buy equipment, through primary school with uniforms! and equipment and school ‘donations, to college, with more of the same and ‘varsity with text books costing huge wallops out of a pay packet.

    And can those same paint roller ‘thinkers’ please work out that those same ‘Boomers’ did not get the range of options presently available? Girls – secretary, typist, shop or factory worker, teacher, nurse, Karitane nurse – oh, absolutely wealth building, every one of them.

    Most people didn’t go to ‘varsity. Most took to their scrapers at 14 or 15 and went out into manual work. Most voted for whichever party their family had voted for – including the Communists and the Social Credit folk. And most New Zealanders are conservative in outlook, particularly when they’re finding times are hard.

    This quote is apropos: Most people would sooner die than think; in fact, they do so. Bertrand Russell

    It’s as true for the alphabet generations as it is for their regretting parents and grandparents.

    And for all those whingeing, kvetching, sullen ingrates – what exactly do you want the ‘Baby Boomers’ to do about what’s been, gone, and few benefitted from?

    Just what?

    • You can be seriously comparing “working bees” with tens of thousands of dollars of debt just to get a basic degree which is used as a filter system for even the most basic jobs?

      You can’t be seriously comparing a time with full employment “walk out of your job in the morning and have another in the afternoon” with the constant “precariat” existence of contract work?

      You can’t be seriously comparing a time where youth mobilised because a future seemed changable to one now where the future is an ecological-holocaust-climate-meltdown wrapped up with a ribbon of neo-fascism?

      I could go on but whats the point? Back to chewing gum and not thinking.

  17. You have to wonder if all the studies show we can’t afford super for our own oldies why we are importing in migrant oldies who we have to support for health and super after 10 years.

    So 70,000 migrants have the potential to bring in 2 parents, 140,000 potential parents per year without paying any taxes. My what a wealthy and generous country we are…. If the migrant is 35 years they could have 2 parents at 55 years – already for super at 65, a gold card and free health care!

    Or is National, ACT and all the other cheerleaders (many who are sadly from the left) going to intentially crash our welfare system and intentionally bankrupt our country?

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