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America is becoming a third world nation

Written By: - Date published: 7:39 am, December 29th, 2013 - 194 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, Economy, Unions, wages, welfare, workers' rights - Tags:

Third world america

A couple of recent articles in Salon both deal with a subject that even 20 years ago would have been unthinkable, that the United States of America is becoming a third world nation because of its failure to look after many of its people.

Firstly CJ Werleman briefly but succinctly presents the evidence:

America has become a RINO: rich in name only. By every measure, we look like a broken banana republic. Not a single U.S. city is included in the world’s top 10 most livable cities. Only one U.S. airport makes the list of the top 100 in the world. Our roads, schools and bridges are falling apart, and our trains—none of them high-speed—are running off their tracks. Our high school students are rated 30th in math, and some 30 countries have longer life expectancy and lower rates of infant mortality. The only things America is number one in these days are the number of incarcerated citizens per capita and adult onset diabetes.

Three decades of trickledown economics; the monopolization, privatization and deregulation of industry; and the destruction of labor protection has resulted in 50 million Americans living in abject poverty, while 400 individuals own more than one-half of the nation’s wealth. As the four Walmart heirs enjoy a higher net worth than the bottom 40 percent, our nation’s sense of food insecurity is more on par with developing countries like Indonesia and Tanzania than with OECD nations like Australia and Canada. In fact, the percentage of Americans who say they could not afford the food needed to feed their families at some point in the last year is three times that of Germany, more than twice than Italy and Canada.

Joan Walsh digs deeper into issues of pay and worker’s rights and comes up with some conclusions that worringly also apply to New Zealand.

… a quarter of people who have jobs today make so little money that they also receive some form of public assistance, or welfare – a proportion that’s much higher in some of the fastest growing sectors of the workforce. Or that 60 percent of able-bodied adult food-stamp recipients are employed.

Fully 52 percent of fast-food workers’ families receive public assistance – most of it coming from Medicaid, food stamps and the Earned Income Tax Credit — to the tune of $7 billion annually, according to new research from the University of California-Berkeley’s Labor Center and the University of Illinois.

McDonald’s workers alone receive $1.2 billion in public aid, the study found. This is an industry, by the way, that last year earned $7.44 billion in profits, paid their top execs $52.7 million and distributed $7.7 billion in dividends and stock buyback. Still, “public benefits receipt is the rule, rather than the exception, for this workforce,” the study concluded.

Then there’s Wal-Mart, which as Salon’s Josh Eidelson recently reported, boasted to a Goldman Sachs conference that “over 475K” of its 1.3 million workers make more than $25,000 a year – which lets us infer that almost 60 percent make less.

But it is not only fast food or Wal Mart employees who are receiving welfare.

One in three bank tellers receives public assistance, the Committee for Better Banks revealed last week, at a cost of almost a billion dollars annually in federal, state and local assistance. That’s right: One of the nation’s most profitable, privileged and high-prestige industries, banking, pays a sector of its workers shockingly low wages and relies on taxpayers to lift them out of poverty. In New York alone, 40 percent of bank tellers and their family members receive public assistance, costing $112 million in state and federal benefits.

Bank CEOs get multi-million dollar bonuses as profits soar, while millions of tellers are so poor they get welfare. Something’s wrong with that.

It appears that the American Dream has become a nightmare.

The U.S. now has the highest proportion of low-wage workers in the developed world, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. One in four make less than two-thirds of the median wage, which is the same proportion that rely on public aid. It’s becoming more widely accepted that the spread and persistence of low-wage work is behind rising income inequality and reduced social mobility.

And Obama is heavily criticised for not doing anything about it although to be fair at least he is not standing on the steps of Capitol Hill with a baseball bat smashing what remaining protections for unions there are as the Republicans would be doing if they had the chance.

The article attributes the cause to the 1990s reforms which designated a job, any job, better than being on welfare.

At one level this is hard to argue with but I am sure that the creators of the reforms did not think for one minute that it would increase the leverage that the ultra wealthy already had on the country’s finances.

By not also demanding regular minimum wage hikes or putting muscle behind union organizing, Democrats have helped create a vast low-wage labor pool that hovers just above the poverty line, and sometimes still below it, thanks to public assistance, and lacks the economic and political muscle to improve their wages and working conditions. This can’t be good for anyone.

The American experience removes beyond doubt one of the supposed pillars of the capitalist system, that each person gets a shot at the big time.  There clearly are barriers in the way and no matter how hard many people work they will never get to live the capitalist dream.

And it is also clear that the State’s resources are being badly spent.

… every dollar taxpayers spend subsidizing corporations paying poverty wages is a dollar not spent on early childhood programs, building universities or funding college education. Yes we need safety nets, but we also need ladders of opportunity. The government spending that built the post WWII middle class invested in education and research, and it was backed by the New Deal’s most effective anti-poverty initiative: the Wagner Act, which eased labor union organizing.

Today, we’ve got a threadbare safety net, but those ladders of opportunity are even more rickety and unreliable. We’re just not building them anymore – and that’s why we’re facing a crisis of income inequality and a stalling of the social mobility that used to be the heart of the American dream.

The lesson for New Zealand is that working for families is arguably masking some fundamental problems that we have with economic equity.  And that if you want to do something about income equality then strengthening the Trade Union Movement may be the best thing that you can do.

194 comments on “America is becoming a third world nation”

  1. karol 1

    Excellent post, micky.

    So, the wealthy corporates depend on state handouts to increase the profits and high pay to the wealthiest.

    From this we cans see the real bludgers.

    • Sacha 1.1

      So true. NZ’s Working For Families is corporate welfare that subsidises employers who pay wages below living costs.

      • Grumpy 1.1.1

        Correct. If a business can’t pay decent wages, should it exist?

        • mickysavage 1.1.1.1

          Do you think the current situation is a good thing Grumpy? If not what would you do to change it?

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.2

          Depends upon the business. If it’s a necessary service then it should become a state service that’s paid for through taxes.

          Of course, that should also be attributed to businesses that can and do pay livable wages like telecommunications and power.

      • millsy 1.1.2

        You could argue that Nationals youth rates have the same effect. But with the nation’s parents subsidising employers by providing their children with free food and board, as their wages are not enough to meet living costs out in the big wide world.

    • Rogue Trooper 1.2

      +1

    • Draco T Bastard 1.3

      From this we cans see the real bludgers.

      QFT and it’s not the beneficiaries but the corporates and the rich.

      • aerobubble 1.3.1

        QFT surely is all about keeping the excessive amount of calls on wealth stable while reality continues to erode shonkey capitalism. Economies are for people, to live full lives. Economies are for environments to keep them sustainable. Economies are for resource use efficiency.

        How is rushing and burning all the trapped hydrocarbon in the world, to create massive environmental imbalance, maintaining the unreal unstable perceived wealth gap. Its just one almighty who can piss higher (more wealth the higher), its completely divorced from reality. Its as if the entire political media class have been infected with a zombie meme that says profit is the only public good, and then runs the world on that odious stench of an idea for thirty years.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.3.1.1

          Its as if the entire political media class have been infected with a zombie meme that says profit is the only public good, and then runs the world on that odious stench of an idea for thirty years.

          Not just the media but the economics profession as well. As I say:
          The average run of the mill economist wouldn’t know what an economy was if they tripped over one and Economics today is nothing more than the justification for capitalism neither of which serves the community.

  2. Ad 2

    Glad you like Salon. It’s one of my top.

    It was staggering to see the lines outside the Auckland City Mission prior to Christmas. Anglicans and Salvation Army can do it. Probably time the Pope started requiring it of the Auckland diocese as well.

    “.. Working for Families is arguably masking some fundamental problems we have with economic equity.”

    Hard to disagree with that. Are you proposing that it is removed?

    The general theme of poverty – and the steps we can all offer to get the poor out of it – should be bedrock Labour policy.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      Hi Ad

      The problem is that there is no way that WFF can be removed the way things are. There would be too much misery caused. What we need though is a set of policies to lift wages so that WFF becomes less and less relevant. Reinvigorating the Trade Union movement has to be a significant part of this process.

      This is not something that can be achieved over night. Vested interests have far too much to lose …

      • Grumpy 2.1.1

        WFF has become permanent. Mid range employees rely on it for a decent income. It distorts remuneration policy for business. I have had employees turn down a raise because it would affect WFF.
        But, it does increase the scope of the welfare state, so good for lefties.

        • Naturesong 2.1.1.1

          You have a warped view.

          Folks on the left like welfare, solely because it is welfare?
          You’re either trolling, or you are an idiot.
          It’s the same where folks say the left like regulation, solely because it’s regulation. Regulation is only good if it serves a specific purpose, not because its regulation.
          The same with welfare.

          I see many, many logical fallacies used by right leaning people who argue – this particular one is called composition logical fallacy.
          You think that because regulations targeted toward fire safety are good, you therefore believe all regulation is good” (irrespective of whether or not the person who wrote it is a fucking idiot who didn’t know what he was doing, or whether it served any relevant purpose or not)
          You think that welfare that enables unemployed people to survive and maintain their health in between jobs, or when there are no jobs, that any and all government welfare is good” (irrespective of whether or not a welfare policy enables private institutions to pay less wages, or increase rents to absorb the money supplied to the recipients)

          Welfare and regulations are tools to enable society to function, for communities to grow and not be mired in poverty, and engage in their communities, to prevent unnecessary deaths and crime.

          Speaking for myself, and loosely for most of the people I know, we would like appropriate welfare.
          It should be a safety net, outcomes should be specific.
          Unemployment should include with it a raft of opportunities for training, from literacy to apprenticeships to university.
          Disability and sickness should be paid enough for that person to receive appropriate help, and enable them to contribute to the community.

          Welfare policies that are wage subsidies, or rent subsidies simply reward capitalists for paying subsistence wages.

          And for fuck sake, make it easy to get if you need it.
          And stop treating people who lost their jobs like shit.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.2

          I have had employees turn down a raise because it would affect WFF.

          Then you actually needed to offer even higher wages.

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.2

        What we need though is a set of policies to lift wages so that WFF becomes less and less relevant.

        What a load of BS. The only reason why we have poverty in NZ is because a few are paid far too much. Think about it – the economy can afford to pay every working person the average wage. The problem isn’t wages per sé but the way that present wages are distributed.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    The capitalist elite know only one word: more. They do not even live in the USA: they live in Richistan. As a simple example: they don’t care that US airports are falling apart. They don’t fly commercial, and just like Queenstown is developing, they use only private terminals for private jets.

    In NZ the unionised Left, the parliamentary political left and the academics and intellectuals all cooperated with the neoliberal agenda. Do any of you remember the General Strike which was called against Rogernomics or against the ECA while organised labour still had teeth? The reason you don’t was because it didn’t happen. All these well qualified people, cleverly rationalising why we need student loans, why The super age must go up, etc.

    The biggest problem with the decline of the US is the fact that a lot of certainties we have relied on in our global civilisation is going with it. Just as our species is about to be tested to its survival limits.

    In the mean time let’s get on with a few wins in some boutique identity politics.

    • karol 3.1

      I was right with you until your final line, CV.

      You pay no attention to all the in depth accounts of what feminism, gender and anti-racist, anti-imperialist politics are about, and continue with your shallow line.

      Remember, poverty has a woman’s face, and too often that face is brown. Why is that, do you think?

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        Getting equal gender representation on big corporate boards and in the ranks of billionaires will help that.

      • Sanctuary 3.1.2

        This argument is pretty straightforward, which doesn’t stop making it seemingly impossible for a whole lot of identity politics junkies to grasp it.

        Ensuring everyone has a living wage will do more for poor women, Maori, youth workers and uncle Tom cobbly gender neutrals than any amount of hot air expended on battling Google in order to censor expressions of teenage culture on Youtube that the Gauleiters of the academic left don’t approve of. Common sense, but as Voltaire observed, common sense is seldom commonly held.

        • Grumpy 3.1.2.1

          And that, dear readers, is why the left has vanished off the radar. The left now could well be the right such has the issue of identity politics taken over. Identity politics currently finds a home with the left but many righties also subscribe to those tenets but in a different way. There is no reason why the right could not take the lead and leave the left with……..????

          • weka 3.1.2.1.1

            Economic politics, as defined by white dudes, is just as much an identity politic as any of the others that you abhor. You can try and make it gender/ethnicity/whatever neutral as you like, but the rest of us see through it.

            “Getting equal gender representation on big corporate boards and in the ranks of billionaires will help that.”

            All you have to do is be more nuanced in your analysis and critique. Instead of blaming feminism, indigenous rights, disability rights etc, point to where the problem is: The neoliberals in Labour co-opted feminism etc and used it to their own ends. Blaming feminism for that is both inaccurate and disingenuous. When I see some true understanding of the politics of women, Maori, all the other so called “identities”, then I’ll take the white boy economic political theory more seriously.

            Look to your own houses I say (unless the real problem here is that you want men to stay in charge).

            • weka 3.1.2.1.1.1

              btw CV, I also thought your comment was awesome until the last line, where you undid everything that came before. I can’t be bothered doing another round of this shit, so am just going to point out that it was YOUR party that fucked that country not feminism, Maori, queers etc.

              • Colonial Viper

                Not disagreeing with you about the 4th Labour Govt in the slightest weka, and in fact I said as much in my comment.

                • RedLogix

                  The last forty years has seen the left thoroughly co-opted by the neo-liberals.

                  The economic justice argument was completely betrayed by Roger Fucking Douglas and the string of his repellent toadies we’ve suffered since.

                  The social justice argument was brought off with some worthwhile, but ultimately unsatisfying reforms, that were tolerated as long as they did not threaten the economic order.

                  We don’t need anymore of either of these things

                  This tiresome mutual suspicion and finger-pointing ensures defeat. All politics is personal; figure out how to build some bridges here.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    I’m betting that over the next few years, issues of economic justice will be of the most concern to NZers by far (regardless of their gender), rather than issues of identity politics. Just a feeling that I have.

                    • RedLogix

                      I agree CV. Reading each other over the last … what is it now …. four or five years, it’s plain that you and I would be hard pressed to find an area of economic argument we disagree on.

                      But as we both know the left was deliberately fractured and divided against itself. That’s has only worked in the interests of our enemies. (That’s a strong word, but useful in this case.)

                      The people on the left with the live experience and capacity to win against the odds – are in fact those ’boutique’ identity campaigners you’re so disdainful of. Makes no sense to me to be alienating them.

                  • weka

                    “This tiresome mutual suspicion and finger-pointing ensures defeat. All politics is personal; figure out how to build some bridges here.”

                    +1,000

                  • Rogue Trooper

                    “Politics is war…war is politics” -to paraphrase Clausewitz and Mao Zedong

                    -”the continuation of war by other means”- Foucault

                • weka

                  “Not disagreeing with you about the 4th Labour Govt in the slightest weka, and in fact I said as much in my comment.”

                  CV, I didn’t say the 4th Labour Govt, I said the Labour Party. Back then, now, and everything in between. If you have a problem with how issues in NZ have been prioritised perhaps you should take it up with your colleagues rather than using ideological blame.

                  That Labour have allowed advancement of certain women’s, sexual orientation, ethnicity rights (at the same time as excluding other rights of those classes) at the expense of poor people, tells us about Labour.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    +1

                  • karol

                    Exactly, weka.

                    CV, continues to show his ignorance of what feminism and gender and sexuality politics (and the politics of ‘race’/ethnicity,etc) are actually about. And he continues with his hands-over-the-ears, blame-game – generalising a specific grievance into hand-over-the-ears prejudice against a wide, deep, multi-faceted and necessary movement.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.2.2

          Its shit that women are systematically paid 5% to 10% less for doing the same job as men. But why should I consider that any priority at all when ALL low paid workers, regardless of gender or sexual orientation need a 40% pay increase?

          Its the identity politics narcissim of minor difference for a few.

          • Zorr 3.1.2.2.1

            You do realize that supporting the “identity politics” (as you put it) of feminism isn’t mutually exclusive of campaigning for living wages that will raise us out of poverty.

            You would do well to remember that often saying less is more and the additional jibes that you make towards those that would campaign for gender equality just undermine any other statement you care to make.

            Remember, they are campaigning on behalf of 50% of the population. Last I checked that statistic was 10% more than your 40%.

            • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 3.1.2.2.1.1

              +1 Zorr

              It is well for left wing people to keep in mind the tactic of ‘divide and rule’ and keep uppermost in our minds not to be fooled by ‘either/or’ memes.

              For example if it is viewed that we can ONLY fix our problems by addressing low wages (for example) OR by addressing sexism/racism/environmental issues etc THEN we fall hook, line and sinker into a ‘divide and rule’ framing of our situation.

              On the contrary, how about holding to the understanding that there are ‘many ways to skin a cat’ – that we can have double-barrelled, triple-barrelled quadruple-barrelled approaches. That this is perfectly possible and possibly more effective; having a number of lines of attack toward the multitude of negative effects our society is experiencing from the very limited and limiting approaches that have been being taken toward us.

              If we take this inclusive view then there is no problem amongst us and we remain undivided in our mutual aim which is for a greater good for a greater amount of people than is occurring currently.

            • Colonial Viper 3.1.2.2.1.2

              “Remember, they are campaigning on behalf of 50% of the population. Last I checked that statistic was 10% more than your 40%.”

              Firstly, most women don’t like being spoken for, whether its men or feminists who are doing that speaking. So your 50% number is highly inflated.

              Secondly, my 40% number is highly inclusive: it doesn’t matter your gender, race or sexual orientation – that’s how much the working poor are being underpaid by. This is truly inclusive economic justice.

              For those who want to work on gender pay and career equality between corporate executives, lawyers, lecturers and laboratory managers, knock yourself out, its important work.

              • Zorr

                *facepalm*

                If you see the campaign for gender equality as that then you should get rid of those blinkers. Gender equality ISN’T just about pay equality. It is about life equality. Equal access to resources and opportunities without being pigeonholed, in this case, by whether or not one has a penis.

                We should all be partners in campaigning for equality. Until we are all free, no one is.

                In my opinion, you shouldn’t be making uncalled snipes against those who work very hard in their personal area of interest if you want allies. Campaigning for other kinds of equality shouldn’t lead you to treat them as people to disdain because they care about something else more than your chosen crusade. This kind of vitriol for “others” is what drives me from Labour and keeps me firmly Green because someone has to keep you in check.

                • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

                  +1 Zorr,

                  Well said

                  It seems that the left wing are particularly good at infighting (not just Labour); this seems to be the biggest weakness of the left.

                  It would be really good if we made a conscious effort to pull together and accept the diversity of focus and interests that the left have. This diversity should be a strength – let’s stop making it into a weakness

          • karol 3.1.2.2.2

            CV, you have such a narrow view of economics – you fail to grasp feminist economics, or how patriarchy and traditional masculinist values permeate capitalism. You want to either dismantle capitalism or make it more egalitarian, without dismantling patriarchy.

            Part of feminist economics is focused on the way unpaid labour, in the home, caring for others, and in the community, contribute to the wider economy.

            You have a very instrumentalist approach, with a narrow focus on finances and monetary arrangements – ultimately top down (even though you do some cheer-leading for pressure from the wider community). And you fail to understand the cultural values of traditional masculinity ,and various kinds of power dynamics contribute to capitalist arrangements. And part of that includes physical violence and force, the military, domestic violence, sexual violence – all intertwined with the power dynamics of capitalism and patriarchy.

            Focusing on waged remuneration is only part of the struggle – and important one, but it doesn’t take into account the way women can be left with the main caring work, bringing up children etc. , outside the traditional labour force. It fails to deal with issues like the way many single parents (usually mothers, sometimes fathers) struggle when their partner deserts them, leaving them without a source of living income. It fails to deal with the way caring work and community activities are under-valued.

            BTW, it’s mainly the economic and businesses academics that have been co-opted by neoliberalism – not so much those academics who have continued to deal with social policy, sociological slants on class, race &/or gender.

            A good example of someone who gets how all these things are interconnected within our current system – who has been active in the arenas of parliamentary politics, street and community politics, social policies, the academic world – and who sees how much extra struggles women, Maori and Pacific people have in NZ when they are living on low incomes. … Her PhD supervisor is one of the world leaders in feminist economics (re unpaid labour, et)c. And she never bought into the Labour Party’s neoliberal co-option.

            This woman’s twitter profile shows how, for her, so many of these things are interconnected:

            Ecosocialist, feminist, Mana member, co chair Auckland Action Against Poverty, PhD student at AUT – never too late to change the world, starting now.
            New Zealand

            “boutique identity politics” indeed! :roll:

        • Psycho Milt 3.1.2.3

          For a handy illustration of Sanctuary’s point, see this opinion piece in today’s Guardian – in which an American lesbian bemoans how unfair and unjust it is that having children is so much more expensive and inconvenient for ladies who don’t want to have to deal with that gross stuff men are always squirting out of their penises. This kind of “give me convenience or give me death” stuff needs to be consigned to the fringe where it belongs.

          • weka 3.1.2.3.1

            Yeah because the Guardian isn’t also full of men or whatever people of privilege pushing their entitlement barrow.

            Honestly, if you can’t understand that how class and privilege intersect other ‘identities’ you probably shouldn’t be commenting on it in public.

      • Foreign Waka 3.1.3

        Corporates do not care what race or gender people are. We have to stop looking amongst our self for the one that needs to be sacrificed so that these people can go on as per usual.
        I watched this morning the RL channel and it was quite a depressing I must say. Many issues that plague the US and so many nations were discussed. The means of Multinationals to effectively run the the affairs of the States and the Trade agreements that basically put the legislature out of business is very telling. Religion is being played up again, the military used as handler of affairs, environmental concerns are of absolute no importance to the profit makers etc. If a nation like the US was/is not able to hold the tide what hope has anybody to preserve all the democratic and human values created and paid for with so much blood? We ask why the young don’t care and /or are indifferent to the values that have been presented worth preserving. They may not know the details but they most certainly feel the helplessness of the very people they have entrusted with their affairs.

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.3.1

          “Corporates do not care what race or gender people are”

          This.

          • Naturesong 3.1.3.1.1

            They may not care, but they are happy to take advantage of it.

            • weka 3.1.3.1.1.1

              + 1 Corporations are anything but colour/gender blind.

              And even if they don’t care, what I don’t understand is why some men on the left also don’t care.

          • Draco T Bastard 3.1.3.1.2

            In Aaron Ruso’s Fascist America he recalls speaking with a big name in business many years before and asks what they thought about women in the work force. The answer was that they were thrilled by it. The reason became clear later – it increased the workforce thus the competition for jobs and lowered wages.

          • Foreign Waka 3.1.3.1.3

            This….?

          • karol 3.1.3.1.4

            It’s true that corporates an capitalists will support women and/or people from other marginalised groups if it is in their interests. however, they will also play on and incorporate racism, sexisim, homophobia, etc, if THAT is in their interests.

            of course, if corporates didn’t care what race or gender people are, equal numbers of women and men would be included in the world’s wealthiest CEOs

            and the world’s richest people,

            the NZ rich list,

            and especially the top 10 richest people in the world.

            Ditto for people of colour.

    • Grumpy 3.2

      I was in corporate management in a big public organization at the time. We could not believe how easily we could get the unions, not just on board, but doing our dirty work, explaining cuts to staff etc.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        Awesome eh. For the good of the many workers (esp the senior ones) these other workers have to be sacrificed. Very rational.

        • Grumpy 3.2.1.1

          Exactly……we would even trot out the best crockery with gold trim, out to the boardroom for meetings with the union, plus the best chocky biscuits……

    • Tiger Mountain 3.3

      There was pressure on the NZCTU to call a general strike in 1991 from workers rallies and marches around the country. What happened was an exercise in technical democracy where a special CTU affiliates meeting in Wellington narrowly voted down the proposal. Union officials from such as the PSA voted against when their own members and branches were in strong support for a national strike.

      The irony was of course ECA architect Bill Birch admitted years later that they had been prepared to concede major changes to the Employment Contracts Bill and couldn’t believe their luck when the expected industrial action did not occur. Then CTU head Ken Douglas vacillation and miss-leadership (to put it mildly) reverberates still. Though there is positive action out there amongst migrant workers and organised labour upswings are closer than imagined–a million marching in South Korea general strike by one union federation 28 Dec. and garment industry closed down in Cambodia due to thousands on strike.
      http://www.cambodiadaily.com/news/factories-advised-to-close-as-wage-strikes-swell-49703/

      WFF is an insidious barrier to raising union density and Labour will have to face this sooner or later. Strengthen and enforce more union rights so workers can get their own pay rises off employers not other taxpayers. Why have the the torys kept this “communism by stealth” –J.Key?

      And Tat turn the record over please on identity politics.

      Good post Micky “we take care of our own” is obviously just yankee bullshit for action movies not real life!

      • Sacha 3.3.1

        “Then CTU head Ken Douglas vacillation and miss-leadership (to put it mildly) reverberates still.”

        Can’t believe he faced so few consequences afterwards either.

      • Saarbo 3.3.2

        Interesting!

      • Colonial Viper 3.3.3

        Thanks for those details on how the union movement and the political leadership of the left betrayed both its own members and future generations of workers to corporate interests.

    • QoT 3.4

      In much the same way as some people define “slut” as “a woman who sleeps with anyone who isn’t me”, some leftwing men like to use terms like “boutique identity politics” to describe “anything which doesn’t immediately and directly benefit me”.

      Because fuck thinking about the wellbeing of society or community unless it’s coming directly from me getting ahead.

      • Rogue Trooper 3.4.1

        this may miss the point being argued Queen

      • marty mars 3.4.2

        +1 So true QoT – it pisses me off no end because they then hijack the poor to keep their privilege intact whilst their crocodile tears flow

        • Colonial Viper 3.4.2.1

          There will be no tears for us mate, the 0.1% consider the bottom 90% of the global population highly disposable (male or female, white or coloured – transnational corps don’t care ) and the other 10% they optionally keep around just to run the machinery.

          You want that 10% to have good gender balance? Hey I’m cool with that.

          • marty mars 3.4.2.1.1

            You don’t seem cool with it – imo it’s a journey not a destination and if we ditch values along the way then we have lost. Equality is the value I’m talking about and the varied ways we try to create that including focus on specifics such as gender, sexuality, ability and ethnicity. Achieving something without that value is actually not achieving anything imo. But as with others I don’t see it as an either/or situation – that is too limiting and plays into their hands through division derived from fear. Fuck fear frankly.

            • karol 3.4.2.1.1.1

              Agreed, marty. it’s not just about money & wealth distribution – it’s about how these and other power dynamics are used to exert power over others – it can also be exerted via gender dynamics, sexuality, physical violence, etc while also being supported by underlying cultural and social values and practices.

      • Colonial Viper 3.4.3

        Trans national corporations and the financial sector hold the real power in the global economy. And they are absolutely fine with the pursuit of boutique identity politics.

        • marty mars 3.4.3.1

          I don’t think they are fine at all – they hate it because it concentrates minds on people not money.

          • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 3.4.3.1.1

            …yes, Marty Mars, yet they probably love the way it is so easy to pit their opponents against one another as can be seen occurring in this thread.

            • marty mars 3.4.3.1.1.1

              I agree – why can’t we all just get along and fight the bastards – all oppression must be opposed imo and I support everyone’s right to fight the oppression they see or experience – how can I say to someone, “sorry, you just have to wait for the next revolution but don’t worry the oppression I am concerned about/experiencing is being sorted” – just doesn’t compute for me.

              • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

                +1 Million

              • Colonial Viper

                I’m not asking anyone to wait for the “next revolution.” There is no “next revolution.” We’re already in the second to last round now. How much bloody time do you think we havehave left???

                • McFlock

                  Ah. So you’re saying “never” then. The demographic inequalities and bigotry that indict us all today will never be addressed by your version of the left wing revolution.
                  Good to know.

                  • weka

                    As the crunch time approaches, issues of power over and suppression of different classes of people becomes even more important.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Nope. The single biggest class are of disposable proles. Slice and dice the subclasses in all the academic detail that you want. And once you’re satisfied, just know that they are all still disposable proles.

                    • McFlock

                      The “proles” are not identical, interchangeable units in a gray goo of workers.

                      Maybe you and the nactoids will figure that out one day.

                    • weka

                      Quite. That comment about the proles actually made me shudder. What a revolting and disempowered and disempowering view of the world you have CV. All people are helpless fodder for the machine until the revolution comes.

                    • Indeed – seems to me that cv doesn’t have much respect for people or faith in them – the slicing and dicing of the subclasses – jeeze that made me gag.

                    • karol

                      Agree weka @11.06pm.

                      Power by one group can be exerted over other groups in diverse ways, not just directly through capitalism. Even Marx recognised that with his historic charting of developments from slavery thru feudalism.

                      Also, economic power does not exist on it’s own within a capitalist economy – it is backed up by the treat of or use of physical force. Hence the term the “military industrial complex”. And physical force, power of status group alignments etc, can still be exerted in a cashless society.

                      And there’s a long history of those with power claiming they are democratic, denying their power and privilege, and being able to ignore, or not understand the oppression of other groups of people.

          • Colonial Viper 3.4.3.1.2

            Huh? They love it because of that, not hate it.

        • karol 3.4.3.2

          Trans national corporations and the financial sector hold the real power in the global economy. And they are absolutely fine with the pursuit of boutique identity politics.

          Yep.

          They certainly are.

          • Colonial Viper 3.4.3.2.1

            So you want to reduce sexist attitudes prevalent in the blood sucking parasitic financial sector? Great goal go for it. We do indeed need a massive improvement in gendered attitudes in the blood sucking parasitic financial sector.

            • weka 3.4.3.2.1.1

              CV, you are the one arguing that pay equity is all about the corporate sector and nothing to do with working and under class women. And that it’s about equal pay. This is why I don’t take your critique seriously, you either have no idea what issues like pay equity are about, or you are deliberatley misrepresenting them to suit your agenda.

              • Colonial Viper

                “Suit my agenda”?

                That would be economic justice for all, without the boutique identity politics add-ons.

                I have a feeling that this approach is going to become increasingly relevant over the next few years.

                “CV, you are the one arguing that pay equity is all about the corporate sector and nothing to do with working and under class women. ”

                Bullshit.

                I’m arguing that low paid workers in NZ are being shortchanged around 40% in terms of wages. Regardless of gender or colour. Compared to that, I find gender based pay differences of 5% to 10% small change.

                • weka

                  You framed pay equity in terms of corportate jobs in this very thread, and completely omitted the work done on pay equity for low income women.

                  “That would be economic justice for all, without the boutique identity politics add-ons.”

                  Great, so when we all have enough income we can settle into a world full of the other inequalities.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    “Great, so when we all have enough income we can settle into a world full of the other inequalities.”

                    I like the fact that you’re an optimist weka. If in 30 years we still have a world, and “income” not sheer survival is the major question, we’ll have done OK.

                  • Colonial Viper

                    “You framed pay equity in terms of corportate jobs in this very thread, and completely omitted the work done on pay equity for low income women.”

                    I talked about that in 3.1.2.2. Essentially, ALL workers on low incomes need a 40% pay increase. If you want to focus on making sure that inadequately paid women reach a par with inadequately paid men, that’s fine too.

                    • weka

                      No, I want to make sure that when your mythical revolution happens that people who are not white men will get paid their worth too. You still haven’t explained how in reality that would be achieved.

                • McFlock

                  5 or 10%?

                  Where did you get that stat from?
                  Because the statsnz data seems to place the gap a bit wider.

    • Paul 3.5

      Yup that nuclear free NZ was a useful smoke and mirror by Lange’s government to distract from their assault on New Zealand’s social democratic state.

      • Colonial Viper 3.5.1

        It was a good littlelittle surface salve on the rather deep third degree neolib burn that the 4th Labour Govt applied.

    • Murray Olsen 3.6

      I remember agitating for a general strike against the first ACT government. Those of us who did were called ultra-leftists, splitters, and even National stooges. Since that opportunity went to waste, things have become much, much more difficult.

      However, I have also participated in some “boutique identity politics.” On a personal level, now that I’m a moderately well earning white heterosexual male, I don’t gain a lot from either the identity stuff or the class stuff, but I can see past that. I can see how none of us are free until all of us are, how an injury to one is an injury to all, and other sometimes clichéed things.

      As for now, CV, I am going to ask you one thing. As far as your attitude to “boutique identity politics” goes, please do not become like Bomber with his attitude to baby boomers. No gay person that I know of ever bashed me with a baton while I was handcuffed to a chair. No feminist that I know of ever sacked me from a job or restructured a company I worked for. No vegan that I know of increased the interest on my student loan. And even if they had, it would not have been because they were gay, feminist, or vegan. Our task as I see it is to stand beside all the oppressed (horrible word) in their struggles, one of which is necessarily the struggle against capitalism. We will not win them for the fight by dismissing their very real concerns. It is not just the bright young things from Parliamentary Services who have cultural identity problems, so please do not confuse us with them.

  4. The article attributes the cause to the 1990s reforms which designated a job, any job, better than being on welfare.

    Which is a stupid thing for it to do, having already identified the actual causes further up: “Three decades of trickledown economics; the monopolization, privatization and deregulation of industry; and the destruction of labor protection…” Welfare policies had little to do with it – the real cause is that “destruction of labour protection.” If welfare policies can be blamed to any extent at all, blame policies (like WfF, for instance) that opt for subsidising employers’ unwillingness to pay the cost of labour.

    • mickysavage 4.1

      Agreed Psycho that the genesis of this problem predates the 1990s. The welfare reforms were said to play a significant part in the current situation because they drove people into accepting the lowest paid jobs.

      • Psycho Milt 4.1.1

        I get it that welfare reforms forced people to accept shitty jobs that don’t pay enough to live on, but I think the Salon author’s on politically dangerous ground in trying to make those reforms the cause of the shitty jobs that don’t pay enough to live on. Most people can agree that it is better to work than to be on welfare, so a call to arms based on “how awful that people were expected to get jobs rather than remain on welfare” is a call to failure. The problem is the subsidisation of low wages and destruction of unions, not the expectation that people receiving social welfare benefits will take work when it’s offered to them – by all means require them to take jobs, but the jobs have to pay enough to live on.

      • Herodotus 4.1.2

        There is a Dutch auction occurring in pay conditions; as those wanting to move up are willing to accept employment at a lower rate than those of the incumbents.
        Many I know who are considered well paid but suffer a form of what you refer to, so it is not limited to those underpaid at the lower end of the scale (even those in successful industries e.g. Engineers from air nz )that there are ever increasing demands placed on workers or attacks on reducing existing pay rates/conditions. as the alternative is to enter the job market and search for a more rewarding job is almost non existent. The enemy is in common to almost all workers and beneficiaries, not those of differing income brackets.
        With interest rates on the climb we will accept even less being slaves to indebtedness. So how can wages lift under these conditions ??
        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11174622

        • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 4.1.2.1

          +1 Herodotus

          Good point and well said

        • RedLogix 4.1.2.2

          +1 Herodotus

          All those deluded right-wingers who rant against welfare, seem incapable of grasping what happens when the boss gets a constant stream of desperate people banging his door down, offering to do your job at half the pay.

        • Rogue Trooper 4.1.2.3

          +1 (shall we split ends?)
          “History never (quite) repeats”, only genomes.

  5. Linz 5

    I don’t know what Identify Politics is, but what I think is what we need right across the board is an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.

    • weka 5.1

      ‘Identity politics’ is the term used by the people that think that white men’s economic reform should take precedent over everything else.

      Most of the other left wing politics assert that we can address multiple issues at once, including fair pay and decent work conditions.

      “I don’t know what Identify Politics is, but what I think is what we need right across the board is an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.”

      I’m curious how you view the needs of people that can’t do paid-for work, and how those needs fit in with what you just said?

      • Foreign Waka 5.1.1

        Excerpts:
        “Identity politics are political arguments that focus upon the self-interest and perspectives of self-identified social interest groups……
        Identity politics is a phenomenon that arose first at the radical margins of liberal democratic societies in which human rights are recognized, and the term is not usually used to refer to dissident movements within single-party or authoritarian states.”

        There are so many examples relating to race, gender, social affiliation, culture, religious belief, feminism etc that it is not befitting to bring this term down to: the white is guilty of it all. It is naive and will not be helpful to remedy the issues faced by all society except the 2% that watch and smile.

        • weka 5.1.1.1

          “There are so many examples relating to race, gender, social affiliation, culture, religious belief, feminism etc that it is not befitting to bring this term down to: the white is guilty of it all.”

          Who said that?

          The term ‘identity politics’ gets used on ts and within the wider NZ political scene to marginalise certain classes. As long as that is the case I don’t really care what wikipedia says on the matter.

          • Foreign Waka 5.1.1.1.1

            ‘Identity politics’ is the term used by the people that think that white men’s economic reform should take precedent over everything else.

            Your words. Now I want to say that regardless whether someone is white, red, purple or any other color, this is a racist statement. The fact that it is directed at white people does not negate the fact.

            • weka 5.1.1.1.1.1

              You think it is racist to identify a politics by ethnicity? So using the term ‘Maori politics’ would be racist? Or the word feminism (women’s politics) would be sexist? Are disabled people allowed their own politics? How about gay people?

              btw, my statement wasn’t saying that its all whitey’s fault. I’m saying that what CV and some others call economic theory, is really white men’s politics in disguise. CV’s objectives are laudable (the end of a grossly unfair economic paradigm). I just object to the way he wants to go about it.

              • Foreign Waka

                Weka, I have no intention to offend you or anybody. As I see it, I have responded to your comment with my opinion. For me, the world is not divided into colors but character traits and hence my answer is in that tune.

                • McFlock

                  How about “identity politics” is a term used by the speaker to maintain an individual’s own institutional advantage while complaining about others doing the same to the speaker.

                  The fact that the speaker almost always has one or two particular demographic characteristics is purely coincidental /sarc

                • weka

                  I’m not offended FW. I just don’t understand what you mean. You obviously misunderstood or misintpreted what I said, and you have declined to clarify your own comments, so I guess we will proceed with unclarity :-(

                  • Foreign Waka

                    Hi Weka
                    I try to clarify and hope this will work: We are all guilty of even occasionally assuming that the culprit are of a certain look/behavior/religion/accent/ etc. But when digging a bit and scratching the veneer of propaganda/vested interests it is quite often that it is a certain TYPE of person and their entourage that do all the damage. This is what I indicated earlier by Identity Politics do not denote race or indeed a particular unifying and yet separating appearance features. I honestly thought that was clear enough but I have assumed, haven’t I? :)

                    • weka

                      Hi FW,

                      lolz, now I am even more confused. Back up thread you said

                      “There are so many examples relating to race, gender, social affiliation, culture, religious belief, feminism etc that it is not befitting to bring this term down to: the white is guilty of it all. It is naive and will not be helpful to remedy the issues faced by all society except the 2% that watch and smile.”

                      This appeared to be in response to me calling CV’s proposition a white-dude’s game. I didn’t even imply that the white is guilty of it all, so I am still perplexed by where you are coming from.

        • Rogue Trooper 5.1.1.2

          :-D FW

      • Linz 5.1.2

        Well, for me the concept of an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay means that it is dishonest and even immoral for people to expect and take more than they deserve for the work they do. We should condemn the super rich and super greedy as being sociopaths rather than idealise them or envy them, or try to be like them.
        On the other side, there are lots of people who are doing an honest day but getting very little or no money at all for it . They should be paid an honest day’s pay. To me a person who wipes old people’s bums in a rest home deserves far more than a person who gambles with other people’s money on the stock exchange.
        People who honestly can’t do paid-for work should be treated with compassion and taken care of.
        People who are lazy, when work is available for them should not be paid.

        Old Zen motto: A day without work is a day without food.

        • Rogue Trooper 5.1.2.1

          Great Lines.

        • weka 5.1.2.2

          Fair enough Linz.

          “People who honestly can’t do paid-for work should be treated with compassion and taken care of.”

          And how decides what is ‘honestly can’t’? Is it the able-bodied people who can do a good day’s work, or is it the people who are unable to?

          • Colonial Viper 5.1.2.2.1

            Modern western neolib culture lacks these answers. Look to older or indigenous cultures.

            • weka 5.1.2.2.1.1

              Such as? Am curious…

              • Colonial Viper

                Look at any traditional culture which values and respects its old, for starters.

                • weka

                  Such as?

                  And how would you get NZers to adopt that practice?

                  Besides it doesn’t really answer the question, because even in NZ, which treats vulnerable old people relatively badly, we still acknowlege that for the most part they shouldn’t have to work. It’s the other people who can’t work that I’m asking about. Who gets to decide who had a valid reason for not working, and who doesn’t?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    ? When you say “work” you actually mean a paid “job” right? Theres going to be plenty of work to be done in the future. Dunno if there will be that many paid jobs though.

                    • McFlock

                      nice sidestep.

                    • weka

                      Linz was talking about paid work I think. In the context of disability it doesn’t matter though. People with prejudices will aim them whether the work is paid for or not.

                      You still haven’t answered my questions.

          • Linz 5.1.2.2.2

            Hi, Weka,
            When I said people who honestly can’t do paid-for work should be treated with compassion and taken care of, I meant people who are sick or very old, or physically or mentally incapable of working. People who are capable of work but don’t, through laziness or selfishness or a misguided sense of entitlement should not be paid.

            I’ve met a lot of people who have physical disabilities, and what they want more than anything is a job. That’s why maintaining a policy of high unemployment is so cruel; the most vulnerable workers are usually the first to lose the right to have jobs.

            Now, back to my mantra – an honest day’s work for honest day’s pay. An honest day’s work is not the same as a day’s honest work. In my philosophy, there’s such a thing as right or wise livelihood, and one of the things we should not do is work that involves lying or misrepresenting the facts, or misleading people by leaving out facts. Of course if everyone lived by that precept, what would happen to the advertising industry, the criminal justice system, tax accountants, spin doctors and politics generally – in other words the people in our society who earn heaps?

            • weka 5.1.2.2.2.1

              Hi Linz,

              that still doesn’t answer my question though. Who gets to decide if someone is fit for work or not? The reason I ask is because this whole conversation started with CV’s premise that identity politics are a distraction from the real thing. But as someone with a disability, I don’t want able-bodied people setting the bar without reference to what disabled people think, and to know what disabled people think we need disability politics (because able-bodied people just don’t know enough).

              I’ve had many poor and ill-informed judgements made about my capacities, from a number of sectors, including ones that put my income and health at risk. Without the ‘identity’ politics of disability, I would be much worse off.

              “I’ve met a lot of people who have physical disabilities, and what they want more than anything is a job.”

              I have a physical disability and there are a number of things I want more than a job. Wellbeing currently denied me would be top of the list. Adequate support. Self-determination. Most of the people I know in my situation, having a job comes down the list in terms of priorities. This isn’t true for all people with disabilities of course, so let’s keep in mind that not all people with disabilities have the same needs.

              • Linz

                Hi, Weka. Thank you for your reply. I’ll be honest with you, when I was sounding off, a tiny voice in my head was asking “Who gets to decide if someone is fit for work?” I chose to ignore it, and I thank you for keeping me honest :-).

                Of course, disabled people should have a major say in decisions that affect them because they know better than anyone else what they are dealing with. They should be treated with dignity and respect and they should be believed.

                A friend was telling me about his horrendous experience with Work and Income and he said the worse part was the little man behind the desk clearly didn’t believe him and made him feel like a common thief. That should never happen.

                When I said, “I’ve met a lot of people who have physical disabilities, and what they want more than anything is a job.” I was talking about people I knew thirty years ago, who were disabled and who had well-being and adequate support and a degree of self determination. We looked after people back then through the welfare state.

                You’ve brought home to me just how much we’ve lost as a society. Please excuse my sounding off and my presumption.

                • Colonial Viper

                  “Of course, disabled people should have a major say in decisions that affect them because they know better than anyone else what they are dealing with. ”

                  Uh, and this should be the same for every person as a universal human right, not just the disabled. Again, an issue of social and economic justice, not of identity politics.

                  • weka

                    Ah, so it’s social and economic justice now, not just economic justice. So tell me, if we’re not allowed disability politics, how will the people with the power know how to do the right thing by the disabled? Because we know already from experience that able-bodied people (the majority, who will be in power) generally have not a clue.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Different communities have different needs, same as it has always been. That’s not boutique identity politics.

                    • karol

                      That’s not boutique identity politics.

                      Neither is feminism, gender politics, socialist feminism, sexuality politics, etc. That term has no meaning in relation to the kind of politics I know about and have been involved in. It’s just some kind of smear of something in your own mind.

                      You really are continuing a nasty little smear, CV, that does you no credit, nor the party you claim to be part of. It just shows your willful ignorance

                      And in doing so, you show no understanding of the struggles and life-damaging conditions of many people’s lives.

                      You only want politics on your terms, and fuck everyone else.

                      I’m done with you – you show no willingness to actually look at the facts and evidence – just keep on perpetuating your prejudice.

                    • weka

                      + exactly karol. I’m kind of surprised to see this line being run intentionally by someone otherwise intelligent and sensitive. It’s not even that I disagree (am happy to disagree), it’s that CV is using some pretty dodgy debating tactics to push an agenda.

                      CV:

                      “Different communities have different needs, same as it has always been. That’s not boutique identity politics.”

                      Well maybe you should define what you mean then, because so far you’re coming across as saying that economic wellbeing trumps all other kinds of wellbeing to the point of exclusion. Still not clear if your visions means that economic reform will solve all other problems, or if you mean that economic reform is enough and all other people with needs are shit out of luck until after the revolution.

                • weka

                  No worries Linz, it’s been interesting to hear your thoughts.

                  I’m a bit tetchy when people start talking about lazy people who won’t work, because by far the majority of people I know who haven’t worked have either been unable to, or there simply haven’t been enough jobs. There have been very few people I’ve known who’ve just been lazy (am struggling to think of any). Not saying they don’t exist, just that I think it’s the least of our problems. I do support the idea of social ethic around contributing to society and our communities, and agree that much has been lost in decent decades.

        • Grumpy 5.1.2.3

          Or the Asian one “work, eat, live”

        • dave 5.1.2.4

          provided there is full employment not like the count down mt roskill stoddard rd where 2500 people turned up for 105 jobs.

          • Linz 5.1.2.4.1

            Hello, Dave. You are right when you say provided there is full employment. I’ve looked back over this discussion and I realize that I should have started off by saying “an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work” rather than the other way round.

            I think Colonial Viper is right in saying, in regard to decisions about people’s welfare it should be the same for every person as a universal human right, not just the disabled.

            And I think Weka is right in pointing out that the disabled are greatly disadvantaged in this country at this time, and therefore there’s a need for identity politics. Also, very importantly, the number of lazy people who won’t work is very, very small compared with the huge number of people who want work but can’t find it, or the number of people who have to work at multiple jobs just to scrape by because they are paid a pittance.

            Meanwhile the very rich seem to carry on untouched, even though they are the problem.

            Our bickering in this discussion reminds me of that scene in the ancient film, A Tale of Two Cities, where the poor fought one another viciously over some wine from a barrell that had fallen off a cart, even scooping it up from the gutter and quaffing it down. Well, we all know what happened next in that story. I hope it doesn’t come to that here, but I fear for all of us if John Key gets back in.

        • dave 5.1.2.5

          massive increase in energy cost proble do back that some jobs are not worth going to peak oil ,peak credit ,did anybody hear Sir Paul Callaghans speech to 2011 labour party conferance also rod orams at epsom lec presentation and economist professor roos in chrischurch 2013 they more less said the same thing agriculture as a base commodity supplier cant expand to pay the bills new zealand is at peak milk we must go value added rod orams presentation about fonterra is an eye opener and a shocker. wages riseing is critical for meeting living cost,saveings for capital investment paying off the dept ,and ritirement pinche thats already happening and last comment from professor roos “dont race to the bottom guys you dont want to go there “

    • Foreign Waka 5.2

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_politics

      Basically it is about smaller groups in society being given the same rights as the more prominent one. Not necessary measured by one issue as it covers a multitude of groups of people within society. It also is in context of a country’s political make up.

  6. Richard Christie 6

    It appears the USA is catching up to NZ.
    Irony is that total dependance on the state is supposed to be a socialist/communist condition, yet it is becoming the ultimate end point of neoliberalism.

    • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 6.1

      @ Richard Christie

      NZ is following the same ideology as the US, therefore there is no surprise we both are experience the same effects.

      I agree there is irony in these outcomes to Neoliberal theory – however these outcomes are fairly predictable – the belief that addressing individual needs and promoting a ‘dog eat dog’ attitude would be enough to keep a system of people functioning healthily while avoiding the existence of collective matters and cooperation doesn’t seem like a promising theory.

      You put forward that ‘state dependence’ is the final aim of Communism. Although this was the outcome in historical examples of Communism I do not believe that was the main aim of the ideology. I suspect Marx aimed at an end to class conflict. [It might be more accurate to say that he believed this process was occurring, rather than it being an aim.]

      • Richard Christie 6.1.1

        You put forward that ‘state dependence’ is the final aim of Communism.

        No, I didn’t say anything about “aim”. I said was supposed, (by those, usually neolibs, who hold socialism up as a terrifying bogeyman), to the be final condition, hence the irony, perhaps I should have been clearer, apologies.

        • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 6.1.1.1

          @ Richard Christie

          Ah! I see what you meant – yes, I read your meaning wrong on that one, sorry – good to have it clarified, thanks!

    • dave 6.2

      neoliberalism is a ponzi scam nearing its inevitable collapse and the bastards who caused it have long since f -off with the loot!

  7. clifford wright 7

    Well as a mathematician would say QE bloody D!
    I get fed up with old style neo Marxists raving on about the “wicked middle class”.
    The middle class are the meat in the sandwich. Why do you think the “middle classes” are shrinking all over the world.
    They end up paying the taxes that the super rich avoid and subsidising the underpaid workers for the same super rich.
    The Super Rich are everyone’s enemies.
    And of course there are the elephants in the room that no one can apparently see.
    Too many people in an overcrowded world means cheap labour and cheap lives.

    What suddenly struck me today was this. Monetarism is like Marxism seen in a mirror!
    Just as Marxism fell over because of its unreal expectations of human nature being selfless, Monetarism falls over because of the expectation that greed is inherently good and benefits everybody.

    Like I said, one is the mirror image of the other. Both are complete rubbish.
    “Animal farm” applies to both. “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”

    People are human! Big surprise! They need some reasonable rules to live by and most important of all the rules MUST apply to everyone.

  8. Will@Welly 8

    Friends, both from the left and the right, have had this debate over WFF, and can see no long-term sense in it, as it does not grow peoples wages. As children grow up, the tax advantages disappear, and surly there should be a cut off point where the number of children one has is what one can afford vs a lifestyle choice. Growing up, the average family back then was 2-3 children, now some people expect the state to fund families of 6 or 7.
    When Helen Clark & Michael Cullen introduced WFF, what many would have preferred would have been a lift in real incomes, not subsidies for businesses, which really is what WFF is all about.
    The fact that in the US they are subsidizing many of their workers in what traditionally were well-paid jobs does not bode well for New Zealand, under the neo-libs, regardless of who is in power.
    When you’ve got people like Phil O’Reilly telling everyone that workers should be thankful to still have a job, and not to expect more than a 1% pay rise for the next 3 or 4 years, then guess who the Government will be listening too? For 30 years this economy has been hood-winked by a cheating, lying aristocracy that has feathered and lined it’s own nest. While Labour hang onto so many of it’s failed past members, there is little chance of any radical reform within our society. Nine years of Helen Clark proved that.

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    The article attributes the cause to the 1990s reforms which designated a job, any job, better than being on welfare.

    We still hear that BS in NZ from the likes of Paula Bennett, Rebstock, well, pretty much the entire political-right. Hear it from some on the left too.

    It’s taken awhile but my nephew has finally persuaded my sister that some jobs just don’t pay enough to go to work. Interestingly enough, our calculations show that to be any job paying less than ~$20 per hour.

    The American experience removes beyond doubt one of the supposed pillars of the capitalist system, that each person gets a shot at the big time. There clearly are barriers in the way and no matter how hard many people work they will never get to live the capitalist dream.

    Capitalism is as much a hierarchy as feudalism and it’s been designed to protect the people at the top from the people at the bottom. It does this by impoverishing the many so that they don’t have the political power to challenge the status quo.

    Make no mistake – Capitalism is working exactly as designed. It just so happens that it was designed by psychopaths.

    The lesson for New Zealand is that working for families is arguably masking some fundamental problems that we have with economic equity. And that if you want to do something about income equality then strengthening the Trade Union Movement may be the best thing that you can do.

    No, the best thing we can do is get rid of capitalism and make our economy democratic. Let the people have a direct say in how their resources are used rather than leaving it to unelected rich pricks who’s only concern is for them to become richer from the sweat of other peoples work.

    • emergency mike 9.1

      “Capitalism is as much a hierarchy as feudalism and it’s been designed to protect the people at the top from the people at the bottom. It does this by impoverishing the many so that they don’t have the political power to challenge the status quo.

      Make no mistake – Capitalism is working exactly as designed. It just so happens that it was designed by psychopaths.”

      +1 You can almost sense the crossroads approaching. The psychopaths are running the asylum.

  10. Rogue Trooper 10

    for Draco, Ad, RedLogix, mickeysavage, CV, et al;
    The (main) Event being one of genuine knowledge: outstripped by faith .

    -Alain Badiou – art, love, politics and science; left for me as left for you. :-D

  11. Herodotus 11

    Great quote that to me sums many things up so succinctly!!
    “right now, someone is working too hard for minimum wage”
    http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=5aTYp8-O96M&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D5aTYp8-O96M
    http://songmeanings.com/m/songs/view/85162/

    • Rogue Trooper 11.1

      received yet another copy of my income statement yesterday (income-related rent purposes); 13K and change; so putting pencil to paper, 40hrs at minimum wage less tax less market rent for HNZ flat = $150 nett gain; Decisions, decisions; after a year of saving 2/3 of gain could
      A) take self and significant other on cruise up through Asia to the Med
      or
      B) check out ‘up North’
      or
      C) Uruguay. :-D

      won’t be any time left for blogging though; “Everyone’s a winner baby, that’s the Truth”!

  12. infused 12

    I’d hardly call it a 3rd world country. It’s just a poor, unjust country, with a very fucked govt.

  13. tricledrown 13

    Infused some states in the US are poorer than third world countries.
    Why the poor don:t vote because the republicans have taken over at governship level and are systematically denying voting rights to the poor.
    Voter ID
    Cutting the number of voting booths down in poor areas.
    Making poor workers do overtime on voting day.
    So the numbers in poverty are increasing rapidly in the US.

  14. Tracey 14

    People forget democrats are largely to the right of national. So those who think right wing economics are for us…. look to the usa to see your future.

    I always chuckle when I see the superyachts with the big usa flags… usually registered in georgetown!

  15. Draco T Bastard 15

    Noam Chomsky: We’re no longer a functioning democracy, we’re really a plutocracy

    Chomsky noted efforts to halt environmental damage by indigenous people in countries all over the world – from Canada’s First Nations to tribal people in Latin America and India to aboriginal people in Australia—but the nation’s richest, most advanced and most powerful countries, such as the United States, were doing nothing to forestall disaster.

    “When people here talk enthusiastically about a hundred years of energy independence, what they’re saying is, ‘Let’s try to get every drop of fossil fuel out of the ground so as to accelerate the disaster that we’re racing towards,’” Chomsky said. “These are problems that overlie all of the domestic problems of oppression, of poverty, of attacks on the education system (and) massive inequality, huge unemployment.”

    He blamed the “financialization” of the U.S. economy for income inequality and unemployment, saying that banks that were “too big to fail” skimmed enormous wealth from the market.

    The problem is the rich – time to get of them.

  16. Tracey 16

    I enjoy chomskys stuff.

    marilyn waring has written good stuff too but the right like forgetting she is one of theirs.

    not comparing chomsky and waring but I always think of warings writings of 20 years ago when unpaid and under vaued work comes up.

    • weka 16.1

      Don’t think Waring has been one of theirs since crossing the floor ;-)

      • karol 16.1.1

        Waring is kind of still to the right on economics. But she also was more liberal/left on social issues. And her feminist economics is important in pointing out some of the failings of traditional economics.

  17. Tracey 17

    And watch for our govts “reform” of welfare to start throwing up some of the anomolies appearing in the usa

    The end of the program may prompt a drop in the nation’s unemployment rate, but not necessarily for a good reason. People out of work are required to look for work to receive unemployment benefits. As benefits disappear, some jobless will stop looking for work out of frustration and will no longer be counted as unemployed.The trend has already emerged in North Carolina, which started cutting off extended benefits in July. The state’s unemployment rate went down from 8.8 percent in June to 7.4 percent in November even though the number of North Carolinians who said they had jobs rose only slightly in that time.The North Carolina evidence is consistent with the theory that ending benefits will cause some unemployed to drop out of the workforce, said Michael Feroli, an economist at JPMorgan Chase.That’s what Fed chairman Ben Bernanke meant when he said this month that the end of extended benefits “will bring the unemployment rate down, but for … the wrong reason.”

    http://m.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11179091

  18. tricledrown 18

    Less benefits less money in circulation means even more unemployment.
    But because the right are well off they don’t care.
    Until their businesses and jobs Go down the gurgler.
    By that time the dowmward slide of austerity has done the damage that takes years to get back to the same level of activity again.
    Japan has gone against the tide China being a command and control economy simply looks at what’s wrong and fixes it .
    Western economies will be left behind.
    A right wing think tank came out on BBC world the other day saying the UK will overtake both france and germany to regain 4th spot in the world in size of economy.
    What utter tosh.
    England will continue its slide .
    Same with the US.
    Same with NZ once the milk boom is over.

  19. Pete 19

    Yes it will be a third world nation very shortly and New-Zealand always was and still is, a third world nation. The difference is that New-Zealand has got delusions of grandeur and somehow are followers of fashion. Back to the good old US of A. In their efforts to control some or all of the world they forgot history. The roman empire did try a similar approach, they failed, so will the US of A! It’s that simple!!! The damage done by them in the mean time is unimaginable.

  20. Ad 20

    A post for someone to explore is: what are the five countries that will detrmine the economic fate of New Zealand?

    I personally think New Zealand’s capacity to alter its own course for the better is much weakened over the last five years, but I would rank the list of our strongest economic influences as:

    1. Australia
    2. New Zealand
    3. China
    4. India
    5. U.S.

  21. Glenn 21

    Last night on a US vegetarian health forum of all things I came across a thread titled “Obamacare in one sentence”.
    Reading it and deciding that many of the posters were negative about it I mentioned that NZ has a “universal” health system and that with a genetic familial cancer both myself and my daughter had been helped greatly over the years at little cost and we greatly appreciate it.
    Whoops!
    Immediately respondents started howling that Government paid healthcare was taxation theft, decent healthcare could only be run on a profit basis, NZ is socialist/commie,if the poor can afford cellphones they can afford health insurance and didn’t we feel ashamed of ourselves?
    Also evidently Taxation is confiscation! plus more.

    The US can afford to wage war around the globe, to monitor communications, to subsidize rich farming landowners etc etc and yet they fight and argue to keep their poor and sick just that…poor and sick.
    What a warped society!

    • Macro 21.1

      Yes they really are a sick society… I have had a similar experience. They really don’t get it it that we fund our Health care through taxation. They cannot imagine how ACC works! They are so blinkered its really pathetic, I sometimes feel sorry for them. :)

    • Foreign Waka 21.2

      The wild,wild west never ended, just the outer veneer changed.

  22. RedLogix 22

    The latest JMG post covers this topic of this thread with remarkable force.

    Yet these latter are the things that a great many Republicans, and in particular a great many of those Republicans who claim to be motivated by their Christian faith, have been pursuing in practice, if not always advocating in theory. If they’re deriving their commitments from a religion, it’s pretty clearly not the one taught by Jesus. Many people have made this same point in recent years, but it doesn’t seem to have occurred to any of them that another religion that’s active in today’s America does teach all the things the GOP supports. That religion, of course, is Satanism, and more specifically the version of it taught in Anton Szandor LaVey’s The Satanic Bible.

    Those who were around during LaVey’s glory days in the 1970s, when he appeared regularly on talk shows and had a coterie of Hollywood stars in his Church of Satan, will doubtless remember The Satanic Bible. For those who weren’t, it’s a book-length screed denouncing Christian morality and upholding an ethic of raw selfishness and might-makes-right. It’s still very much in copyright, so I’m not going to quote it here, but any reader who turns its pages will find the present social policy of the GOP precisely reflected in LaVey’s dismissal of two thousand years of Christian teaching about our duty to care for one another, his shrill denunciations of the vulnerable and needy as “parasites” and “vampires,” and his insistence that the successful owe nothing to anybody else.

    A compelling read.

  23. Tanz 23

    Yes, America was much more prosperous under the Bush administration. A much fairier land then. Now it is falling apart.

    • Murray Olsen 23.1

      You’re sort of right. It started getting worse with Nixon and hasn’t stopped on its downward path, so it will probably also be more prosperous under Obama than under whoever follows him.

  24. greywarbler 24

    “In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
    ― George Orwell

    It leads him to believe that the rich are scared of the poor having too much leisure time in case they start considering the inequalities of the system. “This instinct to perpetuate useless work is, at bottom, simply fear of the mob,”(Pg.120) …

    Many of the tramps are forced into beggary, … He believes that there are many jobs just as demeaning and worthless as begging. But he wonders why beggars are so despised and says: “I believe it is for the simple reason that they fail to earn a decent living…If one could earn ten pounds a week at begging, it would become a respectable profession immediately.
    http://www.humanities360.com/index.php/book-reviews-down-and-out-in-paris-and-london-by-george-orwell-13514/

    • RedLogix 24.1

      ‘Down and Out in Paris and London’ is one of the top three or four reads that shaped my life.

      It’s a shame it’s far less well known and taught than Animal Farm.

    • karol 24.2

      Aren’t a lot of lobbyists just well-funded and well-organised beggars?

      • greywarbler 24.2.1

        karol
        No way, they are just minions of the wealthy, arguing, pushing and shoving to get a share of the spoils. If you are comparing lobbyists to another group, think of a group of thieves dividing up the spoils. The Great Train Robbers etc.
        The beggars are further down the feed chain.

  25. adam 25

    Just to put the cat among the pigeons! I think trade unions are a major problem, they have in them structural imbalances which mean the members get further and further away from the people running the unions. It also becomes a path for wannabe politicians to push the pork barrel out. Now what do I think we should be working towards – industrial unions – these will create proper structural changes that a necessary for a cessation of a cycle of organised labour rising and falling, so people stop being smashed by the system.

    • McFlock 25.1

      wtf is an “industrial union” and how is it different to a “trade union”?

      • Psycho Milt 25.1.1

        It’s a union based on industry you work in, rather than your trade or skill, eg a “construction industry union” for everyone in the construction industry, rather than separate unions for the different types of work involved in building things. Thing is, modern NZ unions often are industry ones (eg, I’m in the Tertiary Education Union, which takes anyone working in a tertiary ed institution) and it’s not obvious how that achieves the benefits claimed in #25 above.

        • karol 25.1.1.1

          Then it would mean an “industry union includes people with varying skills and varying degrees of social and political power. So it would dilute the collective power of some of the (individually) least powerful workers, surely?

          • greywarbler 25.1.1.1.1

            An industry union would surely be valuable to the least powerful and less skilled workers who would be carried forward as part of the sector, and their real skills to the semi-skilled stage being recognised as useful parts of the worker body with pay accordingly better than those in the wider semi-skilled pool.

            • McFlock 25.1.1.1.1.1

              in the TEU example used by PM, the bosses have effectively promoted friction between “academic” and “general” staff in some institutions. And worked them against each other.

  26. dave 26

    i think we going to hit a tipping point sooner or latter i agree working for families is just covering up a much larger issuse this economy is disfuctional and no longer serving the needs of the population.i have heard the righties call it a system of top ups no longer welfare.welfare for there super sized profits. but as we reach peak credit both private and government as the say life as you is about to end !WHAT A F-UP!
    iam all for bring back the unions and the faster the better!!!!

    • greywarbler 26.1

      I have referred to old tax arrangements where there were tables that altered the tax take when collected. If you had children you went off the General tax and onto F1, and each extra child up to say 5 your tax reduced. And you got a child payment from the government. Which was very useful.

      If trying to take WFF away it must be followed by discounts for poor families particularly to help with school stuff, and I would love low income families to have the right to a low cost adventure camp holiday together every three years. Parents and children. It was great when opportunities came up for our family like that. Otherwise there isn’t much that poor families can do. Often the only time away is to attend funerals or such.

      More help for families should be the aim, and if that involves subsidising business don’t make the parents fallguys, somehow making WFF evil. Let’s push to get the minimum up. A woman this morning was quoting her dead forestry worker husband’s $16 an hour wage after he had been working for 20 years or so in the sector. Even if he got some allowances that added to that, it is bad pay for good work.

      • dave 26.1.1

        working for families ,rental supplement ,is only welfare for the rich the economy needs stiff medicine ,higher intrest rates ,a removal of wff rental suplement ,strong unions ,crack down on tax evasion by the rent seeking parasite class,capitals gains tax ,boost in savings r AND d, good training with job prospects not bullshit degrees with high depts,real jobs real wages real productivity and a country where we own our future not allow money that we generate through basic services ,water ,electricity ,to line the pockets of an entrenched oligarcy and reformed kiwi saver that doesnt line the pockets of a few elite fund manages we need to learn from the 401k mess before it happens here.

  27. SHG (not Colonial Viper) 27

    These articles are written by pundits who inevitably turn out to be just as blind as the readers they’re trying to shock. Check out the conclusion of the parent article:

    America is in urgent need of significant investment. We need to, as Obama said, “not be stuck in a stale debate from two years ago or three years ago. A relentlessly growing deficit of opportunity is a bigger threat to our future than our rapidly shrinking fiscal deficit.”

    That’s one part of the solution. The other part is a rejection of the Republican Party business model. A higher minimum wage; higher taxes on corporations and the rich; and a greater percentage of the labor force protected by collective bargaining will help restore the America whose middle-class was once the envy of the world

    Solution! Investment! Restoration!

    They don’t get it. IT’S OVER.

    America failed. All we can hope for is that it doesn’t take the rest of the world with it when it finally falls over.

    • dave 27.1

      totally agree
      the music has stopped and wankers like key are makeing sure they can run off with what remains hard assets collateral not paper and slippery sold those assets for toilet paper

      • Colonial Viper 27.1.1

        this is the thing

        the higher up they are in the system, the more rotten they know the way things are being actually run. NINJA loans, liars loans, fraudulent credit ratings, trillion dollar numbers made up for TBTF, etc.

        This is going to lead to increasing amounts of cynicism amongst the elite themselves, and even more efforts to try and fraudulently grab the last chair before the music stops.

        For the rest of us…well, we’re just disposable proles in their eyes.

  28. Has anyone here actually lived and worked in America?

    And your answer for NZ is to make the Unions strong?

    Oh happy new year.

    • millsy 28.1

      Strong unions = higher living standards, high wages, high working conditions and no poverty.

      Unions are banned in China. Look at the working conditions that Chinese have to endure.

      If you an enemy of unions, you are an enemy of humanity and democracy.

  29. joe90 29

    And your answer for NZ is to make the Unions strong

    Why not Brett?.

    All workers have gained and unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions.

    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25838

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BTDKdN2CUAE2OiW.jpg

  30. clifford wright 30

    Getting away a bit from social issues, I came across something today which, rather frighteningly shows just how decadent the USA is becoming.
    Apparently they are developing some thing called an SR72 Hypersonic scramjet plane which flies at up to Mach 15 (about 10,000 Km/Hr).
    Now an earlier USA might think of this as a potential answer to their (currently nonexistent) space programme. Not now! Their very first idea is to use it as an unmanned suborbital drone bomber to eliminate “threats” to the USA and its economic insanity.

    BTW the original idea was from a German engineer in 1942! Shades of my old mate Werner von Braun.

    The idea is to “skip” off the upper atmosphere using air breathing engines and spend most of the flight
    in “space”.

    Really to get an understanding of todays USA you need to read Gibbon’s “Decline and fall of the Roman Empire”. The parallels are getting too close for comfort.

    • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 30.1

      In conclusion, then: the US is being run by space cadets’….

    • exkiwiforces 30.2

      Yes, its a good read. I work with the US Military either at home or on deployment, for most of them are in denial just like the old Roman legions and they say that it won’t happen to them like all the other empires before them because are the good old US of A the leader of the free world. Our standard reply to this “What ever Dickhead”.

    • Colonial Viper 30.3

      The Russians are not happy with US plans to deploy hypersonic space bombing technology. To say the least.

      A few days ago they even wished NATO a very merry Christmas – with a highly provocative tweet.

      https://twitter.com/Rogozin/status/416913238807560192/photo/1

  31. dave 31

    has anyone noticed saudi arabia investing in 16 nuclear reactors PEAK OIL there sand is running dry????

  32. millsy 32

    The problem with the USA is the fact that it has over 1000 military bases world wide (with about 100 in Germany alone waiting for Brezhnev to rise from his grave and send thousands of Warsaw Pact tanks into Europe). A lot of those bases have things like foodcourts, golf courses, swimming pools, cybercafes, you name it. A far cry from the spartan surroundings that the fathers and grandfathers of their inhabitants had in Europe and East Asia. And of course, there is more. Millions of dollars spent on bolting lasers to destroyers, or building fancy VTOL fighter planes that pilots refuse to fly because they don’t work properly.

    And to think that the US military budget has been supposedly pared back over the past 20 or so years,

    But I am not completely hateful of the USA. I think there are some good things about it — for a start much of its strategic assets have been kept in public hands at state, county, city and federal level, and a lot of councils still keep a lot of their work ‘in-house’, and having elections for everything and anything is also pretty good too.

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