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GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Call no man “Sir”

By   /  January 3, 2019  /  7 Comments

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While I think it is important to acknowledge people for their contribution to our communities and our country, I do think it’s time we had the discussion again about what Knighthoods and Damehoods signify.

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We are approachig that time of year again when Knighthoods, Damehoods, and Queens Honours are handed out.

Former Prime Minister Jim Bolger refused one,Helen Clark tried to get rid of them John Key brought them back in again.

While I think it is important to acknowledge people for their contribution to our communities and our country, I do think it’s time we had the discussion again about what Knighthoods and Damehoods signify.

Do we still want to cling to these vestiges of the British Empire or is it time to replace them with our own honours that reflect our now diverse multi-cultural country ?

Your answer to that question, I suspect ,reflects what you think it means to be a New Zealander.

A few days ago I was talking with Liz Gunn on her Drive show on Radio Live when I found myself remembering out loud that one of the things that once marked our National character is that we were an egalitarian country – that we believed “Jack was as good as his master” and that we called no man “Sir”

It’s a charactistic, I regret to say, that is in grave risk of disappearing from the New Zeland psyche.

I think that one of the side effects of neoliberal economics and the politics of selfishness is that it has created a false sense of entitlement in many of those who have benefited hugely by the reduction of tax rates and allows those with capital to get richer each year simply by sitting on their assets.

“I’ve worked hard for my money” they often argue “I should be entitled to keep as much of it as possible and not to be forced to donate a large amount of my earnings to making my community better by taxing my wealth to pay for schools and hospitals and the like.”

But have THEY really worked hard? Or did the deregulation of the banks and finance industries in 1987 simply give them the wiggle room they needed to allow their money to make money?

Don’t get me wrong I would never want to replace the politics of selfishness with the politicis of envy,but I do think a person’s value in any community is measured by the respect and affection with which they are held by their family ,friends, neighbours, workmates and collegues- not by the size of their car or their wallet

So with that last thought for 2018 I wish you all the best for the coming year.

May it treat you, your whanau and your friends better than the last – and let’s keep working towards a fairer more egalitarian New Zealand .

 

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.

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7 Comments

  1. Michal says:

    I think we should absolutely scrap these sorts of things. Many of the people in our society who have worked at the grass roots level would never ever be offered a gong! Those who led the anti apartheid, those who led the NZ Nuclear free movement, the peace movement, the GE free movement. And the many who are leading things for real change right now to help us return to that egalitarian society including the union movment. NO DAM POLITICIANS SHOULD GET GONGS THEY ARE THE ONES WHO COULD HAVE MADE REAL CHANGE BUT DON’T TOO busy hanging on to their salaries to be bold and forward thinking. Let’s give a gong if we must to the likes of Mike Joy and Russel Norman, really putting themselves on the line.

  2. let me be frank says:

    “A few days ago I was talking with Liz Gunn on her Drive show on Radio Live when I found myself remembering out loud that one of the things that once marked our National character is that we were an egalitarian country – that we believed “Jack was as good as his master” and that we called no man “Sir”

    “It’s a charactistic, I regret to say, that is in grave risk of disappearing from the New Zealand psyche”

    And you are right on both counts

  3. DOC HORRORDAY says:

    Value decouples from Worth when Wealth disconnects from Morals, and Honors ring hollow when they do nothing about it.

    For example, Banks advising Landlords to Ghost House to force other buyers to take on more debt, whilst the architected loopholes make the loss deductible. That situation inflates the book value of the properties by inflicting artificial scarcity on the housing market.

    But the actual net situation produced has negative real worth. Ghost houses are useless. Ulterior calculations have contaminated the dynamics.

    Now we have these chronically ulterior market dynamics across the entire market and we call it the property ladder, the stepping on people’s faces. Where’s the honor? I suggest there isn’t much and it behooves the honorable to reject honors emerging from the context of such a system.

    One shouldn’t want to be a prosthetic face for something ugly

  4. Draco T Bastard says:

    ?But have THEY really worked hard?

    No they haven’t. As I learned in AMWAY you don’t get rich by working.

    The next question is Do they deserve to be rich?

    The answer is also no.

    Extreme Wealth is Not Merited

    Extreme wealth evokes images of both deserving entrepreneurs and fat cats. This paper explores whether the meritocracy argument stands up as a defence of extreme wealth. It uses an analytical framework – ‘the ladder of demerit’ – to look at several sources of extreme wealth ranging from crime and cronyism, to inheritance, monopoly, globalization and technology. The higher rungs are clearly not meritocratic. The lower ones reward talented people multiple times what can be justified based on merit.

    Data drawn largely from Forbes’ list of billionaires provides a tentative indication of the relative importance of each rung.

    The paper concludes that fifty percent of the world’s billionaire wealth is non-meritocratic owing to either inheritance or a high presumption of cronyism. Another 15 percent is not meritocratic owing to presumption of monopoly. All of it is non-meritocratic owing to globalization. By contrast, crime and technology are found to be negligible sources of extreme wealth.

  5. Dean Reynolds says:

    Key reintroduced knight & dame hoods for 2 reasons:

    1) To give himself a knighthood when he left politics

    2) To sell these honours to wealthy (undeserving) people, to raise funds for National’s election campaigns

    • mosa says:

      Well put Dean
      I said the same thing when that shyster re implemented the old British honours system in 2009.
      The french had it right with the invention of the guillotine.

  6. mosa says:

    Well written Bruce and all the best for 2019.

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