Is an appeal to self-interest the only solution?


How should I respond to Chris Trotter’s cynical summary of why it is pointless to rail against Labour’s lack of gumption in addressing the distressing wealth and income divisions that result in damaging and entrenched poverty? 

Maybe one way, is to take his critique to heart.

According to Chris the reason that “a government with a clear majority of parliamentary seats, facing the worst Opposition in a generation, with the perfect excuse of a global pandemic, will still not take the drastic actions necessary to rescue its most vulnerable citizens” is that the required increase in redistribution (aka tax hikes) is unacceptable not only to National supporters but more critically to “the well-heeled, Labour-voting professionals who inhabit the leafy suburbs of New Zealand’s largest cities”.

As much of my life I have inhabited the group he targets I think I understand the point he is making.

Two things drive the “don’t do anything about the poor” group attitude. The first is naked self-interest, the second is ignorance. Perhaps the best approach is to appeal to the first and dispel the latter. The latter may be hardest. Well-educated they may be, but do the well-heeled who favour doing nothing for the poor understand the role of the state in a mixed market economy? Were they ever taught anything at all about taxes, social security, public goods, externalities, collective action or political philosophy at school?  I certainly wasn’t.

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I was however fortunate to escape from the confines of a traditional science education by taking the opportunity to retrain as an economist specialising in a core discipline public economics. When I diverted into the field of social policy I was grounded in the interlinked relationships between the old and the young, and the top and the bottom of the wealth divide. 

This lockdown awakens the imagination by throwing into stark relief this intersection of those interests. Essential workers, skilled tradespeople, supermarket workers, carers, cleaners, and nurses underpin the living standards of the well-off.  What good is a treasure chest of money when there are no trained plumbers, cleaners, or lawnmowers to be found? Wealth does not prevent dementia or the need for 24-hour care in late old age: having the money to pay is not the issue, the actual skilled workforce is.  Who are you going to call when for decades the potential of so many of the young, particularly Māori and Pasifika has been undermined by poverty, debt and the failure of housing policy?    

Chris Trotter is saying that Labour, like National will respond to its voting base, which is not the young and poor.  If so, and assuming the Labour government would prefer to have a more equal society, the task for the Prime Minister will be to provide the leadership she is so good at, to get that neoliberal left to re-envision the future.  In a sentence: appeal to their self-interest and challenge their ignorance.

Thus the rhetoric should make it clear that the future lifestyles of the well-off require that they invest extensively in poverty prevention, decent social housing, health and education of the generation on whom they will depend. Nowhere is there a better opportunity than this lockdown to show this- the costs to everyone, including restrictions on lifestyle of those in Auckland’s “leafy suburbs“ reflect decades of serious underinvestment in social capital in South Auckland.

Instead of Labour taking credit for subsidising foodbanks, the Prime Minister could express alarm that able-bodied, desperately needed in the health sector, are diverted to service the ever-expanding charities. The food parcel recipients who are made time poor and feel diminished and stigmatised are not likely be productive cheerful workers either. This is what the European settlers left Britain in the 19th century to escape.  As Anand Giridharadas brilliantly explains in this interview, using private philanthropy and charity to address inequality undermines democracy and perpetuates, not solves, inequality. 

To return to Labour’s voting base. It is the men, it seems, the “aristocracy of labour” who are the hardcore anti-welfare brigade that glorifies the paid work that men do.   “But just let Jacinda threaten to raise their taxes, and that nostalgia vote will disappear in an instant. National and Act are always just a polling-booth away.” 

If Labour’s voting men are a dead loss what about Labour women? Chris Trotter’s claim that “the kind, well-educated women who now constitute Labour’s electoral core get a kick out of voting for a party that talks about helping the poor – just so long as it doesn’t help them too much” is patronising and dismissive.  

Women tend to get the intergenerational issues and the value of unpaid work. These ‘kind Labour women’ have a unique opportunity to flex their muscles. If their deep-felt concern for the unconscionable struggles of families and women doing the undervalued social care in society remains cynically dismissed, it is at Labour’s peril. The Greens are just a polling-booth away. Go the sisterhood!




  1. Good article, however I broadly don’t see things as a men or women issue. Yes, there are smaller demographics coming into play, – but let us always remember the Ruth Richardson’s, the Jenny Shipley’s, the Paula Bennett’s, and yes even the Helen Clarks of this world. Those women who more often than not had no qualms destroying the family’s of those women you are talking about. Extrapolating, – those women in Nazi Germany who were some of the most sadistic prison guards ever.

    The difference is in our modern history( bearing in mind our destructive women were in no way shape or form as the NAZI ones I referred to! ) , is that less than charitable types and not only allowed to walk free, but are given Dame title, often preferential treatment for CEO positions , are part of the Old Boys/ Old Girls social network,…such that they NEVER , EVER have to brush with the unwashed massed and see the destructive effects their political careers and ideologies created.

    They are, like the others of their ilk, never forced to see or acknowledge their wrongdoing, and wrongdoing is exactly what it is because they knew full well what negative social effects they were setting in motion. In other words it was deliberate and calculated,- for many reasons of which I haven’t the time to list here. But suffice to say a chief motive was to create a layered society of low waged workers with small minority holding all the wealth and power.

    And in that, …. these evil men and women have succeeded beyond all expectations.

    And yes indeed they are evil people. The fact that we now have gone back socially and politically to where we were over 150 years ago and rely on churches and maraes and other charity’s to pick up the slack left by these odious neo liberals is demonstrative of how they think and just how much they care ( did they ever?) about the majority of society other than as being serfs with very little power to change their lot and the unwanted current misery’s caused by unorthodox neo liberalism.

    I do not recall being asked at the ballot box if I wanted to see a return to 19th century ‘East end of London’ style working conditions and charity complete with its slum tenements, do you? But I do recall Douglas and co all braying on about ”more competition and lower prices and more efficiency and less govt waste”…

    Anyone who hadn’t got a blocked nose from a winter sniffle could easily smell the huge dead rat in the attic as it putrefied and cast its stench throughout rest of the house… even way back then we could smell it.

    Basically, all they did was LIE to us.

    And their still doing it.

  2. Removing any hope of a CGT for as long as she is in power was the first time I realized I had voted for a person who was not the person I thought I had voted for. I voted for a happy smily empathetic person with a red outer skin who it turned out actually had a blue black heart. That was when all my hopes where dashed. Its gotten worse rapidly and all hope has now gone. There is no party worth voting for and no point even voting if a party comes along giving hope. How can I ever trust any politician ever again? Even the apparently good ones are truly awful people.

    • ExL
      Ok have your CGT. Nothing will change. You guys gotta get away from this idea of a CGT being the silver bullet for everything. Think of it this way – CGT will generate a bit money from within the pool of money available (distribution) . But how much more money could NZ generate from outside if we upped our game with ‘desirable’ commodities for world to buy? Oil, coal, minerals, more produce…you name it. The answer is: so much money, we wouldn’t know what to do with it. NZ has its blinkers on!!!!!

      • Kraut you need to move away from thinking that money or silver bullets will transform any society. That’s not how values are acquired, or were traditionally acquired.

        • No money won’t fix anything…that’s why everyone her always keeps calling for more benefit support, more (child) poverty relief, more support for the needy, more pensioner support, more support for housing and rent…And rightfully so! Oh hang on??? That cost money. So yes, money is the key!!! Why don’t you ask you internet company of you can have broadband for free? Someone said it’s a human right…keep on dreaming of a perfect world.

          • ” always keeps calling for more benefit support, more (child) poverty relief, more support for the needy, more pensioner support, more support for housing and rent”.. You do realise that all these people are asking for is for the massive damage done by Ruth Richardsons “mother of all budgets” to be addressed.. Remember that? or is that behind the veil of pre history that was the whole of our existence before 1975? You do know that the major issues that cutting benefit levels across the board, and selling off over 60,000 state houses caused are what they are talking about, don’t you? Add to that(apart from the 1999-2008 attempts to accelerate the rebuilding of said state houses) was the forced evictions carried out by the Key government so that their speculator patrons could profit from the misery caused.. The deliberate destruction of ACC, the progressive removal of workers rights(with the full support of the msm, and those voters in the “leafy suburbs”) The imposition of the “supercity” idiocy that provided them with the opportunit6y to privatise the business of providing basic necessities to Aucklanders, and forcing a ridiculously unwieldy governance structure upon the whole region that is now almost impossible to rebalance… not to mention the deliberate watering down of our education standards, for the obvious self serving reasons.. You do understand that these attacks on our health, safety, well being, and ability to feed, clothe, and house ourselves were cemented in by appointing organic robots to positions of power within the ministries, and social agencies, which is now showing up as a major impediment to making rational progress.. Add to that, a fourth estate that id almost totally beholden to the colonial privilege power structure, and will attack any attempts to fix these issues in a rational way relentlessly, and without a care for whether their broadcasts are accurate or just blatant propaganda.. You do understand that every reforming labour government has been short lived as a result of the unrelenting propaganda war the msm waged on behalf of these colonial throwbacks, don’t you? You do understand that a return to the reactionary stupidity of tory governance is exactly what we don’t need, and can’t afford to risk, don’t you? The fact is, that the people that used to vote labour are now not voting at all, or have wasted their votes on minor parties that wouldn’t have a show of getting any cut through in Wellington, which is effectively a vote for the tories.. If we want a labour government to be representative of us, then we need to get involved in more ways than just whinging on the sidelines.. Not one single mp from the union movement, or from the trades resides in government today.. How did we let our own party become the tool of the middle classes? By supporting our own destruction in large enough numbers to make certain the nats would keep their grip on power, that’s how… Stop whining, start doing.. That’s how we were able to take our place in the first world by the 1950’s.. Did any of you believe it was going to be just delivered back to you without any real effort??

            • Whilst I wholey agree Stefan and I’ll whisper this, ” you’re not aloud to talk about history”. People want now! If I could use the right wing analogy, if ACT and National were voted in tomorrow, it would be their fault for the poverty and homelessness happening now, makes sense?

        • When someone is overthrown someone takes their place. To make the effort worthwhile the new one has to do what the old one wouldn’t do.

          So, is the new one to be Judith Collins? Or Davis Seymour? Or who from the Labour lot?

      • No, that’s not correct. CGT’s are not revenue gathering taxes, they’re behavioral taxes. They are meant to redirect investment into more productive assets. End of!

    • Ex Labour I have to agree with you even though I am A National supporter. The Kraut is correct in saying that not much tax would come from it is also correct. But it’s important symbolism. When Jacinda sniffed a few votes leaking she couldn’t wait to blame WP for opposing the CGT. I’m a retired farmer and paid Death duties (CGT) on the farm my brother and I purchased from our family. The farm wasn’t large and it was difficult to pay the tax but we did. I had to accept that it was a tool that was being used to redistribute wealth. This was in the 1960’s and seventies. If they could do that then they can do it now but chose not to. Susan’s post describes Jacinda as being surrounded by people that stop her doing all the good things. BS. She could use her Karisma to change people’s thinking. She just doesn’t.

      • Hi New View. Good post! Yes, I have no problem with the ‘symbolism’ of CGT – every dollar made should be taxed (except Lotto)! Investors will still invest, even with CGT there’s money to be made…more than any bank pays. The problem I have is that this govt is not treating NZ as a business – NZ HAS TO MAKE MONEY (NOT PRINT MONEY)…AND LOTS OF IT, NOW THAT WE HAVE NO TOURISTS! This govt believe that you can simply print money and it will solve everything…just like Zimbabwe did. Clearly Robertson and Jacinda and most of the ministers have never ever experienced life outside of the student union, or some tax paid govt dept job. It starting to show in a big way and will show even more when Covid is under control..somewhat. I keep saying look at Norway or Denmark, small nations that have done it. Why can we explore resources and sell them? They can and they do. Aaaah yes, of course, NIMBYsm…the great ball and chain on the ankle of NZ. It would a strong govt to overturn all that NYMBIsm. As for Jacinda’s charisma…I think her legacy will be that she did nothing of substance or transformative (as promised with big fanfares) but was kind during crisis – which is always a great thing to be known for as when your country goes bankrupt. I’d rather she was known as being tough and fair, but got shit done. I don’t want a ‘friend’ PM…I want a CEO. Scary times ahead!

        • TK I agree entirely with everything you say. This Government, along with some on this forum seem to think a spirited domestic economy will cut the mustard, of course it won’t. What it is doing with the help of the printed money, is causing a money go round that is seeing interest rates rise. They are quick to limit any land based activity including farming that can earn us overseas funds but are happy to build houses all over our best land. As you point out we haven’t seen the worst of this yet.

        • You could be the modern-day alchemist. Transform all those ghost properties into gold along with any other horded wealth and waste of resources. It’s mainly a redistribution issue. NZ has painted itself into a corner and only major reform can get us out of this. Greed and selfishness are at the heart of the situation. You blame the leader. Do you really believe any leader in this so-called democracy has the power to make real change?

          • Pragman Possibly not, but initially Jacinda had me inspired, and I’m a National supporter. She was worse than a wet bus ticket when it came to pushing a CGT. She had the power to make a point. She didn’t even try. I agree wealth needs to be distributed better under our present system.

    • Yes but she is so good at hand wringing and angst and many of us thought that would then move into practical application and did it no no no

  3. Good article SSJ, we need more focus on “the haves and the have nots”. I have for a long time thought that National Party policy is reflecting what their voters want. Look after the Business sector and wealthy at the expense of the majority that are battling week to week. Look after themselves to increase their wealth and throw a few crumbs to the battlers. National are giving their voters what their voters want. This is a large chunk of voters called “the middle” any many have seen red in the wake of Covid19. The “middle” is the problem, not the Politicians, if you want to fix the Housing Crisis and Poverty. The “middle” has gained it’s wealth in property investment and want to leave it that way. The Business sector has created poverty by low wages. Both are responsible for this mess and neither want change. The Politicians are doing what the “middle” want and that is democracy in action. Kiwi’s have become greedy and selfish and uncaring. I hope future generations will demand change from their Governments as our current “middle” is glued to BAU.

    • Yes, GB. I think we’re quite a sick society, possibly also partly due to being a homogenous group isolated at the bottom of the world, without the influx and influences of different nationalities, and older more developed cultures, which much of the northern hemisphere experiences on a daily basis. The arrogant smugness of many hapless New Zealand“leaders” is suffocating. We’re stuffed.

    • At absolute most 20 % benefit from the present set-up, the rest of the percentage for the present regime is hope for more and fear of less and not enough now.

      The prob is all our leaders are in the 20 % and think they deserve it by their own merit. So we rely on ‘imagination’ from some of them. Fuck that. None of the leaders of ’35 needed to imagine a fucken thing.

  4. Jacinda gives $10 million to food banks to feed all the pathetic poor. Last year an investor like Gary Lin with 14 Auckland rentals would have been given approx 5 to 6 million in TAX FREE capital gains as a result of Jacinda and Adrian Orrs neoliberal acceleration…… in a single year. Its a fucking sick joke!

  5. The assumption here is that by giving the poor more, they will become less poor. This is false – all you will get is better fed poor and more of them.
    Already the structure of welfare provides a nice little sweet spot for the professionally feckless to exist in.

      • I know this is hard to digest if you’re driven by emotions rather than a rational examination of the evidence, but it’s a fact.

        It is a fact based on research that in order for a poor kid to access the middle classes all he/she has to due is stay in school until 16, not commit crime and not get pregnant. The economy is crying out for young people to start work in the trades and do apprenticeships. Within 5 years they’ll be earning more than their teachers.

        So one has to wonder why this isn’t happening when it’s so obvious a move. The reason is that these poor kids are born to shit parents who neglect them and sometimes beat them. Many don’t even have a dad – and essential ingredient for balanced child development. They don’t encourage study and as we know, in many cases can’t even be arsed to to provide breakfast before shoving them out the door in the morning. Most of these kids don’t even bother to attend school regularly, preferring to wag and make mischief.

        All of which is fueled by the welfare system.

        • “I know this is hard to digest if you’re driven by emotions rather than a rational examination of the evidence, but it’s a fact.”
          Do you reckon, when you get a moment and are not too busy creaming yourself over your ideology, that you could explain the concept of ‘business confidence’?
          I’d be eternally grateful because it has a lot to do with the state of the meerkats

          • Nice, OnceWasTim
            Andrew: promoting a system that allows only a tiny minority to succeed, then making the silly claim that all can succeed if they do what that tiny minority did is downright dumb.

        • “It is a fact based on research that in order for a poor kid to access the middle classes all he/she has to due is stay in school until 16, not commit crime and not get pregnant. ”

          It is a fact based on research that a poor kid doesn’t get the same opportunity at a younger age as a child born with a silver spoon in their mouth once they get older, that is called psycho-social trauma.

          The rest is just your ideology.

          • Bert, life just isn’t fair and never will be.
            But in our society there are still plenty of opportunities for people to elevate themselves if they have the wit and desire to grasp the opportunities presented to them. I am the son of an invalid solo mum and was brought up on welfare. But I paid attention at school, passed exams and slowly worked my way up from zero. This is why I know what I’m talking about.

        • Which is fuelled by poverty. We carried everyone along until 90, actually. The implicit message of 84 was we would no longer do that. An indictment of freemarket Labour.

    • If that is your belief, then so be it but do you have an answer because at present no one seems to have one other than generating more revenue by way of a CGT to redistribute wealth.

      • Bert,

        The CGT will not be liable till the properties are sold. If never sold, no taxes to be paid.
        If you want to raise $1B in CGT yearly for redistribution, it would mean a sales assets of $10B each and every year (based on 10% taxation rate). Not sure NZ inc has that sort of capital turnover year in year out. Any redistribution plans you had would collapse if the bottom fell out the housing or share markets.

        Are you instead meaning the tax on wealth? A tax on an asset value owned but not sold?

        The two are quite different. A CGT will never raise a steady income stream for distribution for it is totally dependent upon what is sold, at a capital gain, over the year. This amount will fluctuate wildly.

        Now a tax an wealth will generate a steady income stream but is 100% dependent upon who sets the year valuations on each item of wealth. Would need an army of public servants to keep track of the wealth of individuals plus every sale of any wealth taxable item needs to be registered to the new owner.

        I think the Cullen’s tax group looked at this but ruled it out is to cumbersome.

      • CGT does not generate more revenue. CGT just stirs the soup around in the pot. We need more soup so the pot overflows. It starts by treating NZ as a business. For that you need business minds running it, not kindergarten teachers with acting coaches on huge salaries.

        • The old trickle down dogma, which has been debunked over and over and over again.
          Business only have one thing in mind…profit…for themselves.

          Jenny Shipley was a “business mind” running the country and look at the mess she left Mainzeal liquidation of about $111m. If you want Kindergarten teachers running the country, think David Seymour.

            • Trump did and went bankrupt three times, how did that work out for “the people”.
              Remember the mid 2000’s when we had a “rockstar economy” which resulted in people living in cars and under bridges and a higher unemployment rate than now?

              As the caption reads today…
              “I have a joke about trickle down economics…
              but 99% of you won’t get it”

    • Andrew we have to feed the poor at present because that’s the only option. Long term what you say is completely correct. These people need work that pays. When they get that work it needs to be a living wage. The alternative is food parcels for 60% of the population. Bert and others look upon business with contempt but haven’t shone a torch on where else any money comes from. Somehow workers and businesses need to co exist whether we like it or not. Workers need genuine bosses who value their work force and workers need to understand that business needs workers that can add value for their business. At present we have too many miserable uncompromising business employers and too many workers not understanding they need to earn their wages by adding value to their employers business. Not sure where the answer to that is.

      • “These people need work that pays”

        Fascinating concept.

        People like New View believe all people are equal and all have the ability to work. People like New View believe that long term all poor people should stay in school longer and not get pregnant. Life was clearly uncomplicated for you growing up New View as your views are idealistic.

        The money comes from a livable wage, a government promoting a livable wage and not businesses and right wing governments believing in a low wage economy.

        • Bert your quote “The money comes from a liveable wage, a government promoting a liveable wage” So who’s money is it Bert. The Government’s?. I don’t think so. The government has no money. It spends yours Bert, and you either get it directly from a business through wages or indirectly through government benefit. that benefit comes from tax (other peoples money) not the government. Obviously those that can’t work should receive a liveable benefit Bert. My reply to Andrew suggests I feel that those who CAN work need a living wage. If you read my exchange with Ada you will see my thoughts on why we have a low wage economy. Large companies exploit it and small business can’t get out of it. I certainly don’t think it’s uncomplicated.

  6. Excellent response Susan St John. I can only hope that the apparent lack of the required seismic shift in restoring some equality is the overwhelming distraction caused by the covid crisis. IE ‘it’s hard to remember you came to drain the swamp when you are up to your backside in alligators’.
    The covid crisis has clearly demonstrated who are the essential workers and also that if the country doesn’t progress as a team ultimately everyone suffers.

  7. There are some other factors too Susan in the decision by the Labour Caucus not to radically and promptly assist the 50% of New Zealanders that own just 2% of the wealth.

    • 37 years of neo liberal hegemony, where via the State Sector Act and Reserve Bank Act etc. monetarism is embedded in the NZ State. Govt. is basically run like a business rather than a social project and service. Widespread penetration of public infrastructure by private capital is encouraged and required.

    • State sponsored demonisation of beneficiaries for 3 decades, in the Shipley years this included TV ads exhorting people to “dob in a bludger”–especially a neighbour that could be spied upon. Beneficiaries made poor choices you see, rather than being subject to macro economic decisions well beyond their control, such as industries moving offshore! Helen Clark bought in the “Jobs Jolt” that banned beneficiaries from moving to provincial towns among other sanctions.

    • “Last place aversion” among the working class itself–a phenomenon that according to academic research saw lower paid US workers oppose hiking the minimum wage. They saw their position of not quite being on the bottom of pile as under attack.

    • Neo liberal individualism and commodity fetishism (consumerism) have a strong psychological grip on much of the population, public participation in civic and community affairs is low, collectivism is not the default model for many particularly since the 1991 Employment Contracts Act which substantially reduced the power and standing of organised labour.

    Put that steaming pile together and it is easy enough to see why people are too hateful, spiteful, fearful or disengaged to bother too much with less well off citizens. How to get out of this bind though?

    Well, my hope is for the boomer replacement generations to get widely politicised in the face of Climate Disaster, Student loans, renting for life and alienation. With the participation of NGOs, older leftists, Unions and public intellectuals the younger ones have their turn–it will take direct action though and community organisation once more.

    • Thanks for that. My nephews and nieces are deeply depoliticised where not religised (worse). Our views of the future are based on our present. The 30s and the 1890s were happy moments for the people because of the unhappy circumstances of the people. We’re just frogs in pots really. We die soon unless the gamble of science comes off.

      Funny to be back in times that matter. I remember thinking when Muldoon announced his snap election in 1984 that was the first bit of news I’d ever seen that mattered. So 40 good years. The shadow of the ideals of WW ll gave us those good years. We thought history was over.

      In retrospect, if Muldoon hadn’t called the early election before my 18th birthday I would have voted for him. The people matter more than the liberal elite’s discomfort. That’s the whole of the last 37 years politically. Nuclear ships and anti-apartheid aren’t and never have been main issues, but maintaining the welfare state, which was, wasn’t good sales. Blu’ry glad the elite has got on! Nup.

      They cut their ties to the people. Like the Highland chiefs after the 1745 Jacobite rebellion. Economics in both cases. Except the anti-Rogernomes here were in the majority til 2000.

      Yet here now these creatures are still in charge, no matter how wrong.

  8. The rhetoric should “make it clear that the future lifestyles of the well-off require that they invest extensively in poverty prevention, decent social housing, health and education of the generation on whom they will depend”?

    Absolutely. The difficulty though is convincing them that the way to do that is not by way of the simple notion their brains can handle, their quick fix, build more prisons.

  9. @ SSJ.
    “Go the sisterhood!” You write… Let me remind you?
    Back in the day, jenny shipley, the freak show in a frock called on neighbours of single parents, comprised almost entirely of ‘female’ single parents, to peer into their back yards and rental properties to dob them in to WINZ if they had a fellow ( Or Female ) lover stay over for longer than three nights, I think it was. Those same Pillars of Society we’re also called upon, by shipley, to contact the authorities if they saw Satan’s Weed AKA Dope growing in those most despicable members of our wonderful, beautiful, honest, decent, law abiding, beige paint, clipped lawn plasti-paradises our neighbourhoods must all be forced to become.
    Hell-en ‘barking-dog’ clark was the same thing in a different bra strap. She was, and likely still is a kind of quasi anti-andern. The same thing but without the fake charm, the fake snake-eyed smile, the fake agendas and the fake down-home, apple pie, good night john-boy schtick we’ve had rammed down our throats during the MSM offensive to coerce us AO/NZ’ers into being becoming God Bless bleached perineum America, home of the brave now praise the lord and pass the ammunition clones ! ?
    @ SSJ. We have no AO/NZ left. We must begin to debate that particular cat shit on the carpet.
    We have no gubbimint. And what does desperately pretend to be our [successive] gubbimint/s can’t help itself by spinning around and biting the hand that feeds it which is you and me and every one else who isn’t a multi millionaire, billionaire or, as in Apple’s case, multi trillionare trinket company who’s primary earner gadget is a telephone that doubles as a camera that one can take a picture of one’s self on to show to potentially millions of strangers globally. Wow! How vital and important when our planet’s in its death throws. Every seen death throws, by the way? Shoot a poor animal in the head and it falls over then runs like fuck while going nowhere. Until the collective we, by some divine, or alien intervention realise that we need a government by us, for us and not fucking them we’ll trudge mindlessly, guided by Google, informed by ‘social media’ to our certain demise.
    All we need from an AO/NZ government is to come clean. Tell us the truth and let us rebuild on that. We could easily do it. The most difficult step would be the first one.
    A Renaissance Government would be a brave, truthful and honest government. We don’t have that. We’ve NEVER had that. The entity that pretends to be our government is in reality a work of fiction with a set of pre agreed upon strategies to keep the wheels oiled and the money coming in.
    A new government would simply come clean. They’d tell us the truth about our country and of its economics then that new government would step up and do what governments must do. Put the interests of ordinary persons first. Not companies or corporations and starting with those most at risk first.
    Our economy is primarily agrarian. Our farmers work to bring their product to the export table and also into your mouths three times a day and they’re the property of politicians who discredit farmers, divide farmers and exploit farmers every single day and have done so for more than 100 years.
    We have child poverty, homelessness and a pimped out economy because our primary economy’s money earned isn’t getting past the fancy riche in Wellington, Auckland or The Cook Islands etc where the laundry’s never finished.
    “Our Enduring Bond”
    Aw, Bless…..

  10. For all those farmers who have farmed and farmed then died under the wheels of ‘commerce’ while being blamed for not working harder.
    Jim Carroll wrote a poem about a young smack addict woman who died of hepatitis likely from an unclean needle.
    Bizarrely it seems to fit in metaphor with this old farmers romantic inclinations.
    Jim Carroll.

  11. Since Adam was a cowboy the same social structure of humans has prevailed. A strong leader surrounded by strong types with weapons, albeit rocks and sticks. (Modern equivalent is police, military industrial complex, corporations and debt.) Well supported by spiritual types who can do the mind bending work on the minions via religion. (Modern equivalent is education system/propaganda/media/social media.) Then the minions who need to work not only for themselves but give tribute to the ruler or have it stolen from them. (Income tax, rates, GST, fuel taxes, tolls.)
    This is human nature and exhibited remorselessly in all countries at all times as far as history can tell. A few societies have had benevolent dictators which were inspiringly successful but usually only until the next leader came along.
    Remember the African countries with huge natural resources that became independent from their colonisers in the 20th century? How much did their leaders (look up Idi Amin) improve the life of their minions before fleeing to reconcile with the gold and treasure they stashed in another complicit country? Details vary but the lies and spin never stop.
    I have fled the Labour Party where I was involved at branch level. All I could hear when asking questions of our MP was spin. Especially when looking for progress on housing, health, education, cameras on fishing boats, poverty and homelessness. They are walking around with blinkers on and hopefully a great day of reckoning is a-coming. I don’t think the women are likely to stand up for anything as a group as they are generally used to walking behind and not rocking the boat. Also both genders of the middle class now have the elitist mindset and conscience-salving charity options filtered into their lives. I have experienced this at work getting more obvious over the last ten years. They are so busy thinking about their next promotion and how to crawl up their manager’s dark spot and where to go on their next overseas jaunt that they REALLY don’t care about anyone else. And as a country our politicians are creaming it when compared to other countries. How come they’re worth so much? Because they think they are. Elitist bastards.
    I am not entirely without hope as it is nice to think we can rise above the ignorance, corruption and betrayal of our situation but the immediate outlook is murky. I am still willing and able to support a worthy cause. Which is what I thought Labour were in 2016 and I am deeply disappointed in the outcome of an absolute majority in 2020 being absolutely squandered and misappropriated.

  12. You can’t increase welfare payments and social support for beneficiaries above what people doing low paid work get for 40 hours labour. So the lowest paid NZers are the upper limit for what someone on welfare gets.

    So the core problem is low wages, hence efforts to increase the minimum wage- now AFAIK the highest in the OECD. Governments can pass minimum wage regulations, which assists a narrow group of low paid workers, but the bigger and more serious cause of low wages is low productivity per worker overall.

    Why does NZ have low productivity per worker? Low level of machinery and capital per worker means our workers’ output are driven by the number of hours worked, and our hours of work per year are increasing, not decreasing as in other developed nations.

    Why do NZ businesses have low levels of capital (machinery) per worker (and hence low wages)? Because we made housing the best possible investment, far better than investing in new machinery or more productive workplaces. Which is great for the political class – who love rising house prices, but terrible for wage growth.

    • I think you’re right Ada. But your proposal would require the government to grapple with complex reality, and to have a well-informed long-term plan – things this government seems unwilling or unable to do. Much like the previous government.

    • Ada from what I understand it’s a lot harder to have hi productivity ( or high profit per worker) in a small business. In small businesses there is not the automation (investment in machinery) than you get in big companies. It means that we as a country are described as having low productivity because there aren’t the large numbers of large companies that are found overseas. It doesn’t mean we’re lazy or inefficient however the smaller businesses have less potential to pay higher wages and our big companies that do have that potential aren’t forced to.

      • That is good reasoning for our apparent low productivity New View, that our preference for small firms means low productivity growth overall.

        But it still leaves us with the low wages.

        • You are so right Ada. Regardless of what many believe it’s difficult for many businesses to just suddenly raise wages by say 10%. There goes all the businesses expansion money. On the other hand if large companies were forced to pay higher wages everyone will want to work there. That may help small businesses to catch up or it could also add extra negative pressure. I believe we have to try this. The big companies need to be forced to pay better wages.

    • There is a very simple reason why our productivity is so low and it has nothing to do with small business or labour inefficiency but rather to do with the eye watering amounts of the contribution of the FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate) to gdp. None of FIRE are productive (they don’t produce any material thing) and hence only serve to water down productivity. We could change our productivity over night by sticking a large sharp pin to the real estate bubble and in fact will have no chance of addressing poverty until this is done. The people that shaft workers with rental accommodation that chews up 2/3 of their wage are the same leaches that destroy our productivity. Until a government takes on this sector we will continue to have little say over our future since the rules will continue to be written that elevate property rights over human rights.

  13. When companies can get millions of dollars of aide from our government during lockdown and then go on to make profits and then distribute those profits to their shareholder that is plan wrong and extremely unfair. We seem to have double standards in our country and our government is implicit in this. And to make matters worse those greedy self serving bludging companies have a bloody cheek to say open the borders, bring in more cheap labour and we have to learn to live with it.

  14. “Is an appeal to self-interest the only solution?”… As long as NZers are going to blindly follow the path of self satisfaction and short sighted exploitation that is at the heart of traditional kiwi economics, as gifted us by our British “superiors” then yes, there is only self interest that works…
    Never mind that exploitation, and unbalanced privilege is the major impediment to any society being able to actually evolve in the way it should, and how NZ did for short periods, which is the only reason we have any standard of living at all, and haven’t been absorbed by Australia for our own survival.. Since arriving back in the country of my birth, I have been confronted with a wall of short sighted self obsession, and bigotry that is probably going to have me leaving again if the covid stupidity ever gets dealt with properly… Indeed, even though this country was forced to react the way it has to the pandemic is because of the utterly degraded state of NZs health infrastructure, as gifted us by successive tory govts, and only partiallty rebuilt by the last labour govt, to be completely sold out by the last gang of carpetbaggers (Key), we have succeeded better than just about everywhere else… In spite of the fact that the population have responded as planned by those who have largely succeeded in degrading our ability to think outside of our personal feelings by degrading our ability to educate ourselves in ways that foster independent thought, and encourage innovation at a useful level.. In short, we have now got at least two generations of selfish whiners getting near to the age where they will be responsible for our administration…
    What else is there but self interest at the heart of the “reforms” the successive waves of Neo liberal economic assaults on our economy, and society have imprinted upon us?

  15. People cannot drive without passing a test but they can be given the greatest oppetunity in the World with no checks or balancing and that is being a parent. Poor parents have poor children for some it will be the catalyst to get their shit together and make a future for this special person but in too many cases it leads to going further down the rabbit hole of dispair and taking the child with them. The problem for too long now has been that for many it is hard to see the goal even if they work hard.
    . In my younger days to get this oppetunity I migrated from the Uk to here as I saw the results hard work could bring . I doubt if that dream would be there now unless you came from a 3rd world country like India or much of Asia.

    • Sadly Trevor I work with many of those poor whom have grown into adulthood that have gone further down the rabbit hole of despair. When you are the result of Fetal alcohol syndrome or Neonatal abstinence syndrome you will most likely have a life constantly in need. Thus why I am irritated by people whom make generalised statements like they just need to stay in school longer or not get pregnant or we need business minds to run the country so that monies will trickle down(false) when in fact none of that will make any difference, if it did the cycle would well and truly been broken by now. Happy for someone to prove me wrong?

  16. I took Trotter’s column as an indictment of Labour, rather at odds with a previous column saying the poor had to do more. I very well may be wrong. My comment on Bowalley Road was his going back and forth depending on his audience. He’s such a good writer for reality and the social democratic cause (siamese twins) it’s disappointing to think he might be another Jim Anderton.

  17. Susan, you along with many are the best generation of the Welfare State in our time. Fought, and are often successful, against the Rogernome elite, which still ridiculously rules us.

    Merkel remembered when she welcomed 800,000 Syrian refugees against her politics. The kids who rule us now have no compass.

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