GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Will Coronavirus change the way we run our economy?


As many of you know I have advocating that we move from the Me society back to a We society.

In the last few days we have seen our government turn from the Neoliberal economics of selfishness to the Keynesian economic solution of Government priming the economy with money in in order to keep the market movng and helping us over this difficult time.

Is it just a temporary thing? Or are we experiencing a watershed moment in our history that we will look back on as the event that ushered in a more cooperative and sharing New Zealand.

I hope so.

Yesterday I interviewed Auckland University Economist Susan St John for a podcast . Susan was a founding member of Child Poverty Action Group and I was totally engaged by what she had to say.

TDB Recommends

The interview is audio only .

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. Positive actions our ‘news’ keeps on the low down, probably because ‘failed socialism ‘ is involved .


    Perhaps china could come to our aid ,,,, specifically in our shortage of ‘testing capacity’.

    Which will help lower our peak demand for ventilators ,,,

    US: 20.5 ICU beds with mechanical ventilation capability per 100,000 population

    • Canada: 8.7 ICU beds with mechanical ventilation capability per 100,000 population

    • Australia & New Zealand: 5.4 ICU beds with mechanical ventilation capability per 100,000 population

    Which is why we must Test ,,, Track ,,, Contain.

    “Western countries not doing enough “: WHO

    Our Five Eyes Pirate club ,,,, is failing us.

  2. Brief transcript of a few moments into the interview:

    Re: Before coronavirus became a problem:
    I think we were living in a bit of a bubble. The property market was driving everything, immigration, we were relying on increasing numbers of people to get the growth, rather than thinking about the longer term. And I think that what this current crisis is doing — it is giving us that opportunity now to take that longer view, and to see that the economy was quite unsustainable and quiet unbalanced.

    Re: Previous gov policy, was focused on public debt vs private debt:
    We were being too fiscally conservative, particularly in social areas, and making the mistake of thinking, for example, that if you put money into a big treasure chest of NZ Super Fund that that somehow is going to protect us in the future, whereas it is the real investment in people and in children and in development of the work force that really gives us security for the future, not a pile of money in a treasure chest that would be there at the end of the century.

    • Bryan: Conversations I was having with people before the coronavirus was that we have a Housing Crisis, we need to shelter people.

      One of the worries I have right now is overcrowding in houses. We’ve known for a couple of centuries, if people are packed together, that’s how bugs travel between people. We really should have been addressing our housing issue, more state owned housing, more leasing arrangements from big businesses, and that sort of thing. Should we have been spending more on those kinds of things prior to now?

      Susan: Yes, we’ve become very unbalanced in the housing market. Plenty of investment at the top end of the market, plenty of capital gains being made, which completely distort spending in the economy. And then it got totally bizarre. We were the strongest speculative bubble in the Western World. So eventually we have to have a correction. It’s very strange that it’s happening so quickly. And actually we’re not seeing it yet in the property market, but doubtless we will see it, just as in 1987, the property market will be affected. And it had to be, because obviously, we could not keep on going relying on those kinds of gains to drive the economy.

  3. This is very very good. Susan St John is excellent.

    I and my husband as retirees of 68+ and we have in this package received an extra $50 a week, we do not need it, sure it will get saved or spent or given to a charity but this idea of everyone getting it is stupid.

    The increase in the energy payment should be made to those on a community services card only. It is too difficult to say opt in for the payment, too many people who are disconnected from the community and not tech savvy then would never get it

    • Yes. Another way might be to automatically enrol everyone with the accommodation supplement.
      But I think with help to do it from family or advocates responding with a simple yes please would be possible-. Already, every year you have to verify your relationship status and living arrangements and you have to opt in for the NZXS itself– so I don’t see opt in as much of a problem for this additional payment. If the tech issues are daunting for some and they are disconnected then that disconnection is the problem we should aim to solve

  4. Will Coronavirus change the way we run our economy – I hope so.

    In particular preserving our environment as a vital part of ‘we’ and being taken a lot more seriously than just short term economic growth for the 1% (aka next 5 years of economic profiteering from polluters).

    It is no surprise that some of the biggest human disasters are from poor human and regulatory behaviour,

    aka cruel wet markets = Coronavirus,

    earthquakes – increased with fracking

    global warming deforestation, carbon release – climate change including bush fires, floods, droughts, land slides

    loss of biodiversity and monoculture and habitat destruction – decreased nutrition and health for people, aka obesity, diabetes, malnutrition, mental health issues

    Pollution – respiratory and other deaths – links to auto immune disease.

    Water pollution – death, poverty and drought.


    With transportation and food production being disrupted because of the corona virus, families and communities may need to start growing their own food supplies, locally. Rather than sitting inside watching Netflix, playing video games or surfing the Internet, we have an opportunity now to become more self-sustaining, to get out under the sun and connect with the soil.
    Moreover, with regenerative farming methods you would not only be growing food, you would also be helping to restore soil health and reverse climate change.
    Everyone who is able to grow food may soon need to do so. During WW 2 food shortages were avoided by families around the world that planted what were called “victory gardens.”
    The economy collapsing and even the corona virus itself may not be the most dangerous challenges the human family faces in the very near future. Look to Venezuela as a warning of what is coming if nations, communities and families don’t make local food production a top priority right now…
    “Planting a garden has the power to change the world. Regenerative gardens can help reverse climate change by restoring soil health. We’re bringing victory gardens back. This time, it’s for the climate.”
    source: Climate Victory Gardens
    Russian Family Gardens Produce 40% of Russian Food…/russian-family-gardens-prod…/
    Crisis In Venezuela Causing Some Citizens To Fight For Food, Survival
    “During WW 2, labor and transportation shortages made it hard to harvest and move fruits and vegetables to market. So, governments turned to citizens and encouraged them to plant “Victory Gardens.” Nearly 20 million Americans planted gardens in backyards, empty lots and even city rooftops. Neighbors pooled their resources, planted different kinds of foods and formed cooperatives..”
    source: Victory Gardens (farming in the 1940s):
    What is Foodscaping? Families around the world are starting food gardens, sharing and trading fruits and vegetables with neighbors in their community…
    How to grow a 3 sisters garden (Traditional Native American approach):
    An In-Depth Companion Planting Guide (which seeds to plant together, also information on which plants will keep away certain animals and insects).…/companion-planting-guide-…
    Natural farming methods (a beginner’s guide):…/natural-farming-methods-a-begin…/
    List of companion plants:
    Natural farming (Japanese ecological farming approach):
    Indigenous Three Sisters “Companion” Gardening Method
    “Reckless corporate farming practices release massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. They also eliminate one of the best ways the earth naturally captures and stores carbon — sequestering it in plants and soil. This signals disaster for our food supply and our planet.” (CNN)
    Reckless farming is destroying the planet. This could save it…/reckless-farming-carbo…/index.html
    In April 2014, the Rodale Institute published a white paper that outlines how agricultural techniques available today could sequester sufficient amounts of atmospheric carbon to slow down climate change and reduce greenhouse gas concentrations in the long term by fixing carbon in agricultural soil.
    Regenerative agricultural practices can help to build fertile soils, to maintain and often increase agricultural yields, and to support ecological abundance by nurturing healthy ecosystem functioning:
    “Simply put, recent data from farming systems and pasture trials around the globe show that we could sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions with a switch to widely available and inexpensive organic management practices, which we term ‘regenerative organic agriculture’. These practices work to maximize carbon fixation while minimizing the loss of carbon once returned to the soil, reversing the greenhouse effect. [original italics].” — Rodale Institute (2014)
    source: Regenerative agriculture: effective responses to climate change…/regenerative-agriculture-effective-res…
    Victory Gardens (wikipedia)
    Related: The Biggest Little Farm (2019)

  6. Just as I don’t need to know how to build a car to be able to own one and drive it, I don’t need a degree in economics to watch where my dollars earned goes.
    I’ll go with Vivienne Westwood’s wisdom when I look at our economy when she described watching the Twin Towers fall while burning.
    ” I’ll go with what my eyes saw. And my eyes saw a demolition job.”

    Air NZ is getting $900 million dollars. Air NZ’s board of directors actively and enthusiastically fought off Virgin Airlines attempts to come at AO/NZ to compete with Air NZ for domestic services.
    Until quite recently, one needed to mortgage ones house to fly from Invercargill to Auckland. One way.

    Old, work worn people get a miserable pittance to survive on and have to jump through hoops while wading through a quagmire of paper work to wring out a few more dollars to avoid dying of the cold, starvation and/or boredom.
    BNZ. They got $300 million of our dollars after jimbo bolger bailed them out using the argument that they were too big to fail. jimbo, a traitor to his own kith and kin then increased the age of retirement from 60 to 65 while reneging on an election promise to, in fact, increase retirement payments to those who worked all those physically hard days of their lives.
    I watch with wide eyes as a beautiful green tractor with a huge, air conditioned office-like cab purrs around a hay paddock here and wraps up the whole field/s of hay in two days.
    It mows the grass with a wide multi-rotary hay mower, then is able to be disengaged from the machine where the farmer then connects up to a huge 2 x rotary tine, hydraulic tedder ( Fluffs up the hay to dry and combines several lines of hay into one which makes bailing more efficient. )
    Once the hay’s dry, out comes an extraordinary piece of machinery in the form of a hay bailer.
    I’m amazed at how fast the bailer can operate. The bailer, with it’s flailing arms and manic wrapping can pop out large bails in literal seconds.
    Then, without breaking one single bead of sweat, the farmer, in her/his air conditioned Tracto-pod, disengages the manic wrapper machine and plugs into a hydraulic hay clamp with which he/she can pick up the enormous bales of hay, pop them on a truck to be stacked up in readiness for winters tyranny.
    In my day…
    Virtually every single element of hay making was a fucking hard slog.
    Mowing the hay with a finger mower was nightmarish. It’d constantly clog and needed soft purring tones whispered sweetly in it’s cauliflower ears to get an hours work out of the fucking thing.
    Tedding was not so bad. Not much could go wrong unless one were a hedgehog in the way.
    Bailing. Oh God. See mowing.
    Then each small, square hay bail had to be stacked just so, so as it could be further physically hoisted up onto a truck then, that had to be hand stacked into shed.
    Once winter set in it was hand fed to thousands of sheep.
    So, when I went to the Dr’s with a prolapsed disc at the T one after I dug dumb fucking holes with a heavy crow bar for no sensible reason I was diagnosed with old age.
    Dr Weaselly, the little prick in brogues and a fucking ugly tie showed me, on my MRI scan, why I didn’t qualify for ACC coverage. “ Age related.” He said “ You days of donkey work are over.”
    So. As my fingers went numb, my heel on my left foot went numb, as I waited to start pissing and shitting myself, as can happen, I learned that if my ‘condition’ worsened an operation could leave me a paraplegic, as it did for this poor woman. So, I had to take a year off physical work. Without ACC while ACC badgered me for levies and without a WINZ benefit.
    As a result of my ‘old age’ and my fear of doing anything to worsen my condition I forced me to sell my beautiful house and buy down.
    That’s Nu Zillind. That’s mine and your AO/NZ run by a cadre of greedy crooks.
    The positive to covid-19 is that it may be the wake-the-fuck -up call we need for all of those who prefer to cower and acquiesce to their criminal masters.
    But it’s ok. A lawyer said it was justified and as we all know about lawyers, they’re as vital and important to our lives and well being as Banks.

    Money. Look deep into their eyes…? What do you see? A soul? Empathy? A personality?

    Mo Money. As ‘merican as pumpkin pie…

    When I look with Vivienne Westwood eyes at our economy, I don’t need the opinion of a person with a degree in money fiddling.
    I need a rope and a stout tree branch from which to hang the deviant, crooked bastards from.
    roger? You first mate. C’mon. Up ya go.
    Cheers for your good work @ BB.

  7. The legacy of “Roger’n’Ruth” has to be turned on its head over the next couple of years or there will be a more massive social breakdown than we were going to get anyway. It won’t happen without political activists pushing the Labour Caucus all the way though, along with public campaigns.

    Air NZ should not have been bailed out yet again–it should have been restored to full public ownership. As should Power Generation and Supply, and the Marsden Pt Consortium. The State Sector Act, Reserve Bank Act and all the rest of the neo liberal enabling law need to go. And we will still be in for a tough time with so many neo rentiers and small businesses hating the “working class” and bennie bashing away while banks have their foots on their throats!

    Many thousands of NZers are about to find out what life as a “filthy bennie” is all about–when macro level events that you have little control over change your life and put you on a subsistence life. Neo liberal WINZ/MSD is not equipped to deal with that in a realistic way at all. Time right now to pay a UBI similar to Superannuation for over 65s for all, cutting WINZ/MSD out of the loop, is the only way to deal with this promptly in the short term.

    • Good stuff mate, … been sayin’ similar for years and years and years and years… as have many others…

      Keynesianism? whats that? … only the most successful economic plan and prosperous period per capita in the West that the world has ever experienced. And why was it changed?

      Greedy bastards.

      Here ya go , – have a gander at this and get enraged who changed it and why.

      New Right Fight – Who are the New Right?

  8. Not just short term …UBI is what is needed for now & future forward as the virus will prob end up speeding rate of automation/robotics uptake. Only by making every citizen a shareholder (ie UBI as social dividend on society/nation’s wealth) in the economy, getting us moving towards self-sustainability & real partnerships between Gov & corporations operating here ie via Gov-mandating that every corporation/company be owned 25-50% by state can we create a more equally & environmentally-friendly distributed wealth(y) economy. If NZers have more money in pocket, more job sharing, flexible hours of work, holiday leave etc no reason why tourism can’t thrive nearly as much with domestic tourists rather than relying on foreign tourists).

  9. Not just short term …UBI is what is needed for now & future forward as the virus will prob end up speeding rate of automation/robotics uptake. Only by making every citizen a shareholder (ie UBI as social dividend on society/nation’s wealth) in the economy, getting us moving towards self-sustainability & real partnerships between Gov & corporations operating here ie via Gov-mandating that every corporation/company be owned 25-50% by state can we create a more equally & environmentally-friendly distributed wealth(y) economy. If NZers have more money in pocket, more job sharing, flexible hours of work, holiday leave etc no reason why tourism can’t thrive nearly as much with domestic tourists rather than relying on foreign tourists).

  10. Thank you Susan, thank you Bryan.

    So much sense, so much wisdom.
    So much humanity.

    A privilege to listen to two of the finest social and economic commentators NZ has.

  11. Yay Team!!! Together we can knock this bastard off! Now what’s left is to take away Robertson’s Algorithm spitting wizz bang computer and pulling him into the back room for some Laurel & Hardy Lesson’s about Who’s on First.
    At this point in lock down, we need to bring back Keynesian thought and throw the bums that cling to this Neoliberalist nightmare to the mercy of their Banker – Sharks in the Reserve Banking system to beg for cash loans to pay their long overdue dividends to the folks that went through the Hay Bailer head first. Let the meritocratic market cleanse their souls of their Sin against our Tribes over the past Millennium.
    Then cancel the Bankers and empty their Debt-Vaults into the People’s Social Investment Banks to enable our Geo-Scientists to research cures for this whole cluster fuck of globalised theft thats been on steroids since god was a puppy on Mother Natures Tëte.
    Hoist the “Paybacks R’ Hell” flags and force compliance.
    IF (big IF), it can be proven that this bug was created outside natures Laboratory and set free to act as a buffer to competition, there’s gonna be a big demand for Hemp Rope and tall Tree’s. It just goes beyond my wildest imagination that all this shit is happening at the same time??? I ‘spect that the wobblies had infected this Globalised Banker’s dream of a system and sent the first round of shockwaves around the modern Globe in 1987 as a warning shot off the Bow, a wake up call for straight thinkers. The Federal Reserve Bank & its tentacle branches didn’t heed the warning and continued to pump poison thru the body like formaldehyde as a preservative against the inevitable collapse of their house of cards.
    Pedal to the metal, GREED is GOOD, full steam ahead and we’ll just hide the bodies under the bed so no one will notice. Dumb down education, and exclude a few zillion worthless eaters by putting a $$dollar value on their kids futures up front, so we can send em an invoice instead of a paycheck. We can’t have any smart people near the truth, so only the wealthy or stupid ones with no money, but qualify for loans need apply.
    (Conversations from the Vault)
    People are sheep and will forget what happened in 10 minutes flat. In 2000, their injections caused a mass outbreak of Hi-Tech virus threats that threatened to expose the Clinton Gangs crimes against humanity by canceling Glass Steagal, taking the heat off Wall Street’s finest. Our dear Financier’s didn’t like the thought of the world being automated and allowing those stupid sheep to relax before they finished building our Castle’s in the Hampton’s, we need those worker bee’s to keep buzzing and sniffin up our Marching Powders to make em feel like Super Dooper really Rambo act a likes.
    (The price is White!)
    We’ll just up the prices and that will eliminate the riff raff trying to climb on our property ladder. Let’s make some Reality Shows, Game Boy’s, Day Trader Software n such. so they don’t lose focus on being stupid sheep caught in the endless slaughter line after be shorn to the bone!
    2001 saw the big Oooop’s moment that all their Corporate Tax Plans and Secret Deals were exposed to the light of day and living in a super computer hub in a few big Buildings in NYC. Bugger that! What’s the plan Stan??? Who’s the wildest dissenter bunch in the world that we can tap on the shoulder to take the fall and give us an excuse to distract everybody and invade a strategically critical region to steal their resources and bring in the bulldozers to clear a path for a pipe line and stick a big Straw in Russia’s Oil wells so we don’t have to be obvious about it. Just route that black gold to Israel and make sure that they send it to us on a drip that we can use as an excuse to send the zillions of sheep tax dollars and call it protecting our interests.
    Well, shucks, that didn’t work out so well, the Natives are still restless! So lets print up a bunch of IOU’s, get the SEC to rubber stamp em as “good to go” regardless of the junk in the package and load em into Madoff’s account and make sure to gut Pension Funds and cut welfare, medicare, Food Stamps and unemployment payments to make sure the books balance.
    Whew! that was a relief! Don’t we need some extra land to own? We took our eyes off the ball while all the fun was going on and now we need some more Tax dollars to make sure that China doesn’t buy all the land up around us with those big bucks we sent em to count on – along with the manufacturing base and our Tech-Notes for the toys we needed to keep everybody happy & entertained while we euthanize em for the next phase in 2009 when we sell em a whole bunch of homes with crooked IOU’s attached, so we don’t have to use any real money to finance them. Then we pull the plug and move into “Market Efficiency” mode by stealing their houses, dumping them into the streets and cutting our labor costs. We don’t want a bunch of worthless eaters out there asking for bailouts. It’s our $Mullah$ and they can just pound sand, arm up and start shooting each others kids as long as they leave us alone to our next devices.
    (Call in the IMF and World Bank!) We’ve got all this funny money to spend, so we need to put a foot on the throats of developing countries! Let’s loan em a whole bunch of Monopoly money and make sure that they can’t ever pay it back so we own em all and call their shots.
    (Dear John Key,)
    Thank you for your services in the Currency manipulation & re-insurance Markets! You’ve been a good soldier to the cause and in reward for faithful service we’re gonna give you a raise and a new assignment that we call Austerity 101. Go to Ireland and set those stupid Mick’s up as Tax Haven Central, then go back to your Island Paradise and sign the natives up for some really bigly bailout loans and move on to Austerity 102. Cut out the bottom layers and tell the middle class that their tax dollars are being spent propping up dead beats, druggies, gangs and other losers and send your tax dollars to those silly Hay Bailer’s out there in the frontier and have em buy a whole ship-load of Automatic Milkin Machines and get them milking the economy and environment dry ASAP!! They won’t know what hit em! just wave a big bucket of money in front of em and tell em its for the good of the World Economy to feed the cash machines till they turn white and cover up all that green stuff that the Queen owns. She won’t miss it. The Sod Buster’s won’t figure it out if we send in the Bank Managers to run their books efficiently…
    Now here we are today. In desperate need of a new BIG Distraction. Hmmm, what should we do??? Here we go again…?
    Have we sheep waited long enough to see the whites of their pigments before opening fire?? Well have we???

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