GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Are the ‘politics of kindness’ and a ‘well being budget’ just words?


A proverb is a simple traditional saying that expresses a truth based on common sense or experience. And years ago when I was at school ( yes in the days before television and way before the internet )we had to learn these pearls of wisdom as part of our English lessons.

“Birds of a feather flock together” was one .( Speaking of which I see they arrested Roger Stone in America this morning making him ( I think) the 7th member of the Trump campaign to face charges as aresult of the Muller inquiry. The idea that the head duck flew alone seems increasing less likely).

Another was “Fair words buttrer no parsnips” meaning talk is cheap. You can say whatever fair words you like, but without action your words are meaningless.

The Prime Minister is talking up the politics of kindness at Davos and we’re hearing a lot about an upcoming “well being” budget, but last September the Government released its interim tax rerport that frankly does little to address some of the main drivers of inequality in our country

For example:
It doesn’t recommend wealth or land taxes
It doesn’t want to change GST
It’s not going to increase company tax

So..”One law for the rich and one for the poor?” …. Still?

If you appoint an avowed neoliberal like former finance minister MIchael Cullen (who served in the Clark government) to chair a tax review you are not going to get progressive reforms that will address the yawning gap between the haves and have nots.

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“Fair words butter no parsnips” indeed.
( Especially when low income families cannot afford butter in our dairy producing country because our “free” trade deals means we pay the international price for it.)


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.


  1. I think the same.
    I saw a Facebook link of J Adern speaking at Davos, charismatic, genuine.
    Amazingly very few comments from both sides of the political spectrum were negative. She is a powerful asset for the left, but….
    none of the tinkering her party is currently doing is going to make meaningful change to working people or to the environment.

    There is a mandate for both that is being squandered.

    Labour should not forget the lesson of Obama, the last charismatic leader whose principles, beautifully elucidated, were never delivered upon. The backlash installing Trump, unwinding the small gains made and taking things violently in the other direction.

  2. You’re right there. It is the squandering of a real opportunity to close the gap that is the big crime. In a few years it will become obvious that nothing has changed. What then? And who will be around to offer help? The next swing will be to the right and it will be fueled by the disillusionment of the mass of people who invested hope for change in this government only to have it thrown back in their faces.

  3. A climate change budget is what is needed.
    The house is on fire and we’re shopping for more comfortable furniture?

    • Point of austerity is not to grow the economy, it’s to prevent a default and causing cascading damage to the nation. So it’s hypocritical to be simultaneously for AND against growth at the same time.

  4. Of course they are, Bryan. Anyone on the property ladder only has words… they are just going to wait for the corpses of their enemies to float down the river of their own accord, as you yourself said previously. Were you being sarcastic or have you lost some brain function?

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