GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – “It Really Does Get In!”


There was an annoying Australian ad that seemed to play nightly our television screens some years ago. It featured a fictitious teacher going by the name of Mrs Marsh ( played the late Barbara Calcott ) who showed children how a brand of toothpaste worked to maintain your teeth.

It involved her dipping a stick of chalk into some ink which absorbed it .

She then broke the piece of chalk to show them how far the ink had been sucked into it.

“Look” she would exclaim “ It really does get in! ”

Something I have come to resent is the way the move to neoliberal economics thirty-six years ago changed not just our economy, but the way it “got in” to the way think about each other and our society .

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Because that engineered mind- frame move from a We society to a Me centred society even changed our everyday language .

My parents’ generation paid for things we once called “ Public Utilities” – like our electricity network which was bought and paid for by the tax payer in order to provide low cost electric power to every home.

When the 4th Labour government decided that government ought not to be in business in any shape or form and that neoliberalism as the economic star we should all follow, “Public Utilities” were relabeled “State Owned Assets”.


Well, you can’t sell “a Utility” but you can sell ” an Asset” and they did.

Lots of them.

Then there was “user pays” a doctrine that proclaimed that idea that we should collectively pay of things we all benefitted from as a society was bad.

Free higher ducation, for example , which we once gifted to the next generation ( in the belief that our country would progressively become a better and better place to live) ceased when we adopted the “user pays” mantra.

The result?

Our children now bear the debt burden of student loans because the Bolger government decided that educating our young people was not a public good but a private one that serves the personal ambitions of the individual and therefore society ought not to pay for it.

Overall we are collectively poorer thanks to neoliberal economics because we now have one of the lowest levels of Public debt in the OECD but one of the highest levels of Private debt.

Large businesses once had “Personnel Managers”. These were people whose job, amongst other things, was to liaise between management and the workers to negotiate such things as pay and conditions.

After the introduction of neoliberal economics, “Personnel Managers” became “Human Resource “ Managers signaling a change in the relationship .

Workers were no longer people – partners in the process of industry and wealth creation , they became a bottom line resource which could be trimmed and cut if it delivered more profits to the share-holders.

Mind how you go….oh.. and mind what you say
Kia kaha

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. As humans that evolved in small groups, we have evolved to cooperate with, and show great empathy for, those in our group.

    The globalists tried to turn all our genetic programming on its head and force us to compete with those in or near our local group whilst cooperating with, and showing great empathy for, those in distant groups.

    What the globalists really wanted was for a world of docile, coffee-coloured people, all subservient to them.

    The might have succeeded if it were not for human nature.

    The great unravelling of globalism is underway, but few realise. Indeed, the vast majority seem to believe that pre-Covid-19 arrangements can somehow be resurrected, even as the system goes into extreme failure mode.

    Interesting times, especially when the global environment is collapsing as a consequence of all the terrible policies implemented (foisted on us) over the past 35 years or so.

    • Agreed but it may not happen immediately.
      Corporates will continue, stock markets will still be the dangerous playground of parasites and banks will continue to control society. But the rot will set in and we will be the first victims.
      Our money in the bank will be stolen to prop up banksters ar the fill their pockets before skiving off.
      Kwisaver money in private hands will disappear. If it was in Govt hands our Govt would have a social backstop of billions.
      Small groups are already starting to form around some rural towns looking to set up sustainable food supply for themselves and sharing skills.

      At some point the internet will be very much in danger.

  2. I once worked for a large food production company in Avondale, Auckland.

    That would of been in 1979 as a teenager. I remember when a union rep came to hold a factory floor meeting that the “Personnel Manager” came out from his second floor office to directly berate the union rep to sway the workers.

    The neo liberals were all around us in those days just waiting and bidding their time.

    They found their opportunity in the fourth Labour govt in 1984. And as time went on, the effects were felt. Progressively , they passed more and more legislation that was not only rammed through, and thus anti democratic, but which lowered wages and conditions. Culminating in Ruth Richardson’s Employment Contracts Act 1991.

    They did away with tariffs that protected small businesses against competition from offshore sweat houses and thus workers jobs and wage security.

    They enacted the Reserve Bank Act that removed govt intervention in having any control in the protection of New Zealanders financial affairs and paved the way for foreign banks to assume the stance that our former govt regulated financial houses once had , thus placing us in debt to foreign company’s via banks and their shareholders…

    Workers were put on contracts and overnight lost most of their award rates and the conditions they would work under, – again, – paving the way for importing cheap non unionized labour from overseas. And the abuses that have plagued us ever since regards poverty wages, indeed,… poverty itself as evidenced by so many family’s who work and yet live in vehicles these days.

    And indeed, our former Utility’s were sold off at bargain basement prices to foreign company’s who immediately ratcheted up the prices as they knew only too well there was no competition and the govt was neutered as far as regulatory processes were concerned. This contrasts with the lies Jenny Shipley, Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson spoke off as ‘more competition’ will mean ‘lower prices’ for basic commodity’s like electricity.

    This country, New Zealand, – has been living under a colossal lie since 1984.

    This lie was brought about by a small group of opportunists, – in which the main protagonists belonged to a London based far right wing ‘think tank’ called the Mont Pelerin society. Both the two main protagonists , Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson , were actually sitting board members of the Mont Pelerin society. As was Roger Kerr of the then named ‘Business Roundtable’ , – now renamed the ‘NZ Initiative’.

    For more information see :

    Who are the New Right? – New Right Fight

    • Shades of grey is a better way to describe competition with imported products. While restricting imports will keep a few locals in jobs those owning the means of production will make the profit while the workers will still be on low wages & we all pay higher prices for the goods we purchase. There is a double hit on workers as those fortunate enough to have an import license will also charge more for their products since their will not be competition from other producers.
      Yes we need to do something but it will not be quick or easy.

  3. Sadly, the analogy is accurate. Even people who like to think of themselves as “liberals” routinely spout terms like “human resources”, “education providers”, and most ridiculously of all – “health providers”.

    A whole generation of Kiwis has grown up nothing but neoliberalism – it really has got in!

    As for utilities, I would love to see a well-researched comparison of the fraction of ordinary Kiwis’ income spent on electricity now and in 1980. Let’s see just how efficient privatization and deregulation has been at providing affordable energy.

    • Yes! And Teachers now’ deliver education’ the don’t educate. Delivery is when you put something on the doorstep and that’s the end of your responsibility. (not)In seminars etc when I hear someone talking about delivering a programme, I ask “what do you mean by deliver?” Usually followed by an embarrassed silence.
      And yes Human Resources (HR) used to be personnel.i.e. they dealt with persons. There was a move recently to change human resources to (god forbid,) “human capital’ .That seems to have died out but I still hear it occasionally from boffins in suits who wouldn’t know repugnance if it bit them on the arse.

      • TV has injected US words and ideas into our kids and the mainstream perverting our Kiwi view.
        How many kids have you hears calling a toilet a bathroom. ( When there is no bath there).
        We used to call it a lavatory. and some still do – They are Kiwis.


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