GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Two core economic issues consider this election.


The wage subsidy is due to end September 1st.
The election starts September 5th and runs to September 19th

Unemployment is already a serious issue and who has the best economic plan to see us through the tough times ahead is going to be a top- of- mind issue for most of us as we cast our vote this year.

I’ll be looking into what all of the parties have to say on how they would deal with the post-Covid 19 economic crisis in the coming weeks, but today let me just point up two core issues we need to face .

1.Do we want the State to take a more active role in driving the economy than it has under the last 30 odd years of neoliberalism which holds that the government should not be involved in the marketplace?

2. What should our attitude be to foreign investment ?

For me the answer to issue 1 is pretty easy. The State ( by which I mean you, me, all of us) is the only organisation big enough and democratically controlled enough to drive the economy in a way that limits exploitation and promotes the public good.

The idea that passing the economic ball to big business and letting them run with it at this time would no doubt deliver a positive outcome for their shareholders but not for the vast majority of New Zealanders who would be forced to accept lower and lower wages into the distant future.

My answer to issue 2 is also a cautious one.

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In a recent speech to the Institute of Finance Professionals NZ Inc (July 16 ,2020 ) National’s economic spokesperson Paul Goldsmith told the money spinners what they wanted to hear.

“The world is awash with capital looking for safe harbours and decent returns. We need to attract more of that money” he said.

No doubt that’s true but we also know the truth of the old adage “He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

The danger I see is that the financial elites of the world are predatory by nature and inclination and right now is a perfect time for them to increase their wealth and influence.

In my view we ought not to throw open our country to foreign interests who would wish to exploit and own us in these tough times because short term ‘solutions’ can have long term consequences.

Yes we need to consider foreign investment but on a win-win basis. Leasing land on a long term basis to overseas companies, for example, not selling it outright to them.

Again, hard as it may be we need look more to our own resources. Promoting lending and borrowing to each through NZ based banks where the profits do not go offshore would be a good start.

And yes, we really do need to look at a wealth tax. because the many can’t continue to give so a few can take.

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. ‘The State ( by which I mean you, me, all of us) is the only organisation big enough and democratically controlled enough to drive the economy in a way that limits exploitation and promotes the public good.’

    Bryan, there are some fundamental flaws in your argument I’d like to examine.

    Firstly, the State is not democratically controlled enough to be effective in any area of endeavour. Those who get elected do so on the back of massive advertsing campaigns which are either self-funded because the individual concerned has inherited/acquired a substantial fortune, or through donations from others who have acquired wealth; the successful candidates go on to vote in favour of policies that reward them themselves and/or their donors. Indeed, as matters stand it not really a democracy at all, just a faux democracy, with all the appearance of democracy but none of the foundations. I might add that the vast majority if voters have no idea what they are voting for anyway and end to vote on the basis of whether they like the appearance of the candidate and how much money the candidate/party has thrown at the election process.

    All that before we even mention the banks and corporations that have a short-term vested interest in maintaining the status quo, even as the status quo destroys everything. After the coming election most of the banks and corporations are still going to be around (for a while*).

    Now the next aspect that requires examination is the matter of ‘drive the economy in a way that limits exploitation’: the economy IS EXPLOITATION and cannot function without exploitation -of natural resources, people, animals and the general environment (land, air, water). And, of course, the economy is predicated on the generation of wastes, many of which are lethal, and the ones that were benign when the economy was small are now life-threatening. Limiting exploitation still drives us in completely the wrong direction when everything is reaching a crisis.

    I cite New Plymouth as an example of utterly dysfunctional so-called planning, which is now having dire consequences. Around a year ago NPDC spent megabucks implementing a recycling system that was doomed to failure before it even got started. Plastic bins, that in many cases got blown over and spilled their contents on the first use, were distributed throughout the district. Within a matter of months the district had accumulated 300 tonnes of plastic waste no one knew what to do with, so the decision was made to cart it away (by diesel truck, of course) and dump it in a big hole. The massive ‘investment’ in tourism is now largely down the drain (though hotel-owner and mayor Pete Tennant did make a killing for a while). Even as the ship goes under the ‘idiots’ at the council are still thinking up ways to waste energy, resources and money and dig a bigger hole for the region. Not that there is anything unique about New Plymouth. I only mention the place because I know a lot about how awful local government was (is) there. Similar levels of idiocy prevail throughout the country.

    ‘promotes the public good’ is a massive quandary, since what is good in the short term is extremely bad in the medium/long term. The entire political narrative since the Second World War has been one of creating demand for gadgets that by-and-large no none actually needs and then selling them in order to make money or providing services that by-and-large no one needs but which make people feel good in the short term. All of it is unsustainable.

    We would do well to remember that as recently as 500 years ago most people in ‘civilised’ nations lived in dwellings made of sticks, mud and straw, and that as recently as 120 years ago, in the horse-dominated societies of Europe electric lighting was the exception rather than the rule.

    We would do well to remember that almost everything we see around us (other than what little of the environment not destroyed by urbanisation or industrial agriculture) is a very short term aberration, and that the more we destroy nature and disconnect from natural systems the worse our predicament becomes and the further we fall when it all collapses (as it most assuredly will collapse over the next two decades).

    In the meantime, those with a vested interest in short-termism make everything that matters worse and ensure our rapid demise, by way of energy depletion, global overheating and the proliferation of diseases etc.

    ‘Deadly diseases from wildlife thrive when nature is destroyed, study finds’

    I still find it perplexing that so many politicians and members of the general public are so utterly determined to destroy their progeny’s futures, or if they are under 70 years old, too destroy their own futures via futile attempts to maintain BAU, even as the system collapses before their very eyes:

    ‘U.S. oil supermajor ExxonMobil will start suspending the employer match to the retirement savings plans of its employees in October, people who received the notification told Reuters. ..

    Exxon’s Senior Vice President Neil Chapman said on the earnings call last week after the supermajor posted its second consecutive quarterly loss and the worst loss in its modern history.

  2. Yes and the financial elites are circling like the predators they are now wanting to set up their own private quarantine system. Mrs Alpe a business owner saying ( the private quarantine) is for everyone and then saying, ‘that is everyone that can pay’. And to make matters worse we have John Key who quit as our PM butting his big nose in and saying ‘bring in the rich Americans so our builders can build their mansions’. Wow! and who will take responsibility if the private quarantine lets the Covid in and what will there penalty be? these people live in gated communities so does johnkey who is showing his true colours. Its all about the money who cares about us peasants.

    • johnky is a banker again and always was a parasite in “the club” with other parasites. He put us into Nato and changed the SAS role in Afghanistan under US orders. Also do not forget that he agreed to and signed us up to the TPP without parliament even seeing the agreement that gave away our sovereignty to US corporates. It was accidental but fortuitous for NZ that Trump ditched the agreement.
      Key should be imprisoned. for treason.

  3. ” The danger I see is that the financial elites of the world are predatory by nature and inclination and right now is a perfect time for them to increase their wealth and influence ”
    The promotion work is being overseen by Key Thiel and partners. Judging by his recent comments we are still very much for sale and exploitable.
    At least he is consistent as is his MSM cheerleaders.

  4. The government is continuing to warn us that the re-emergence of the virus is a matter “not if, but when”. We should be planning for that eventuality.

  5. “The world is awash with capital looking for safe harbours and decent returns. We need to attract more of that money” he said.”
    This is because the US the UK Japan and China , and the EU are printing “capital”in as much as capital equates to money, at a rate never before imagined except in failed states like Zimbabwe . We might have just joined in at last , but some experts write of the govt printing money and some as if it were borrowed and has to be paid back. I’m quite sure that the confusion is completely deliberate. We are not supposed to understand lest that understanding undermines public confidence in the banking system and the money supply. Which is indeed a confidence trick.
    The concept that we need , if we are indeed a sovereign country, overseas investment is a critical and insidious branch of that confidence trick.
    We need clever resourceful enterprising people , which we have, we need land , water, energy and minerals
    all of which we have.
    Money, or capital as Mr Goldsmith terms it above , is a completely arbitrary human construction. A tool to facilitate the convenient circulation of goods and services and the utilisation of the items of actual wealth I mentioned above. The only legitimate issuer or controller of that stuff in a sovereign democracy is the elected government of that country. Certainly not someone from another country in possession by whatever process of a pile of what some other country’s government or central bank, or investment bank has created out of thin air.
    Wake up folks
    D J S

    • David I think a significant group leading this country in the 1930s had not only woken up but made substantial moves to create a sovereignty in NZ.
      But they owed London lots of dough, some of it being loans as far back as the NZ land wars,
      Nash the then minister of finance chickened out when in London and came back to pour cold water on the move to make the NZ govt the only lender who could create money with loans.
      The London cabal have tentacles right through the fabric of NZ
      The change in Nash and Savage indicated that such sovereignty was not to be tolerated.
      But the Bank of NZ which was nationalised and the creation of the Reserve Bank as well as a Govt agency giving loans to house buyers and small business called Sate Advances continued for some years were put in place.
      Much of this has been undone since.
      We need a strong and brave govt with radical leaders to achieve sovereignty.
      Kiwis need information and stirring up as they shake off the blood sucking predators & parasites.

      • I think it might need the system to completely collapse internationally before enough leaders will take a collective stand. But the average politician has no idea how the existing money system works, let alone what needs to be put in place to improve it.And the people who do understand and run it and profit enormously from it are not going to give it away willingly. They actually rule the world. Every western government defers to them and every act is subject to their co -operation. Leaders who do see the picture and run a sovereign banking system such as Syria are subject to the trouble that Syria is in. The US is now the policeman on behalf of the international banks.
        It only needs for one country to set up their banking system and be left alone for the whole world to see the social benefits of it and the system we have could no longer survive. It won’t be easy.
        D J S

        • Agreed 100% David.
          Libya and others with state banks running finances have all been under attack.
          Iran looks to be next.

          The Bank of North Dakota is a state bank and the envy of many states. In spite of Wall Street’s attempt to privatise it, the people of North Dakota will have none of it. They get too many community benefits from the state owned bank.

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