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Evolution and Crime

Written By: - Date published: 12:19 am, December 28th, 2008 - 76 comments
Categories: police, prisons, science, scoundrels - Tags: ,

The Economist is one of the few main stream media that seem to be flourishing in the days of decline for most media outlets. This is probably because it offers truly interesting comment and opinion.

For instance in the current science section, they have “Darwinism:Why we are, as we are, a view on the current trends in evolutionary theory related to society. I’ve picked out a few bits about the evolutionary role of crime.

Now this is not the mindless use of evolution professed by some of our more stupid trolls. They never seem to have learnt why Social Darwinists are considered to be fools for ignoring the societal glue of altruism and its relatives. Humans evolved as a social species and evolved society as a means to continuing development on the same lines

For instance, there appears to be a blind faith insistence by some that more rapid and longer incarceration has a noticeable effect on crime. There is essentially no evidence that this is or has ever happened. Policy makers should probably learn more about the factors that actually drive crime in evolutionary terms. There are remarkable similarities in criminal patterns worldwide when you eliminate age and population density factors. For instance in the age ranges and frequency of homicides.

An evolutionary analysis explains many things about crime (and not just murder)—particularly why most criminals are males of low status. A woman will rarely have difficulty finding a mate, even if he does not measure up to all her lofty ideals. In the world of Moulay Ismail the Bloodthirsty, however, a low-status man may be cast on the reproductive scrap heap because there are no women available to him at all. Though the world in which humanity evolved was nowhere near as polygamous as Moulay Ismail’s, neither did it resemble the modern one of monogamous marriage, which distributes women widely. In those circumstances, if the alternative was reproductive failure, risking the consequences of violence may have been are worth the gamble—and instincts will have evolved accordingly.

Like the Economist article, I’d suggest that politicians and the publics ideas about causation of crime are incredibly weak and depend far more on wishful thinking than analysis. For instance ‘born criminals’, racial characteristics of crime, and poverty driven crime don’t appear to be supported by the evidence. In the latter case the correlations can be explained as easily by status and reproductive failure. As the chart above notes for its area, crime is largely the province of males. This tends to indicate that it is as much a reproductive strategy as a male peacocks tail. In its typical acid tongue, the Economist notes:-

Sexual success, by contrast, tends to dampen criminal behaviour down. Getting married and having children—in other words, achieving at least part of his Darwinian ambition—often terminates a criminal’s career. Again, that is a commonplace observation. However, it tends to be explained as ‘the calming influence of marriage’, which is not really an explanation at all. ‘Ambition fulfilled’ is a better one.

Now obviously this is not going to accord with some peoples ideas. As the article states close to the beginning

Traditionally, the answers to such questions, and many others about modern life, have been sought in philosophy, sociology, even religion. But the answers that have come back are generally unsatisfying. They describe, rather than explain. They do not get to the nitty-gritty of what it truly is to be human. Policy based on them does not work. This is because they ignore the forces that made people what they are: the forces of evolution.

Perhaps our law makers and upholders of the law should learn a bit more about the sciences of human behavior and its evolutionary background. Because it is difficult to see what much of the law and order debate in the recent election had to do with reality.

76 comments on “Evolution and Crime”

  1. r0b 1

    Interesting post Lynn, thanks for that. Nice to see some topics like this, not necessarily on current political issues, but looking for the real explanations that underlie social behaviour and important social / political issues.

    I was going to take issue with the conclusion – if the alternative was reproductive failure, risking the consequences of violence may have been are worth the gamble – as far too simplistic – until I read the article. The full article is a good summary and makes a reasonable case, I do recommend that people read it before piling in with any knee jerk responses!

  2. lprent 2

    rOb, yeah. The problem is that if you are trying to compress into about 400 words, it gets impossible to be precise. This one wound up as 600 odd words on one aspect of a much larger article. Which was itself a summary of some of the study and thinking of one aspect of explanation across a number of areas.

    What I wanted to do with this post was point out an alternate way of thinking about the issue, and get people reading the article.

    Personally, I’ve always found thinking about the evolutionary approach has been the most effective in understanding the patterns I see in people. Strip away the rationalizations that people place on things and assume that humans are smart social animals. That seems to work more often than not. It is a pity that research in this area seems to be constrained.

  3. Peter Burns 3

    I think the holistic approach to tackling the current scourge of crime is a far better option than evolution methodology, which has failed and mass produced moronic heartless filth.
    Must go, got to get to that Church on time.
    God bless.

  4. Anita 4

    One of the frustrations for me about this kind of “Darwinian” analysis is the way in which it overlooks biology and focusses on providing a scientific rationale for “rational choices”.

    A more biochemical analysis would look at the chemical soup that makes us up and discuss, for instance, that the curve in the graph looks a lot like the graph of testosterone over the lifetime (although the decay curve is not quite as steep and also the male/female differences in testosterone levels which also match the statistics. They could then discuss the evolutionary advantage of testosterone levels like that.

    I’m not arguing against a Darwinian analysis, just that pop science tends to focus on higher order behaviour and ignore the fact that we are no more than chemical soup. Many behaviours can be better explained by a kind of biochemical determinism than an attempt to apply Darwinian logic to a pure free will model..

  5. marco 5

    I agree there needs to be a better approach to crime prevention in this country, however there also needs to be a sense of justice for the victim. The reason for this is its generally victims who campaign for tougher sentences, which galvanises opinion and influcences policy.
    The best form of crime prevention is a higher standard of education. Most violent offenders (although not all) have a lower level of education. This ifluences reasoning and decision making.
    Manurewa which has been in the news with regards to its violent crime, only has 35 percent of its under 5′s in early childhood education. A quick check around Manurewa shows that all its early childhood providers are full meaning there is a huge market for more childcare providers in the area.
    This is both a failure of private enterprise (plugging the hole in the market) and the government (who fail to make it attractive to become a provider in the area).

  6. Anita 6

    marco,

    The reason for this is its generally victims who campaign for tougher sentences, which galvanises opinion and influcences policy.

    Many victims of crime don’t campaign for tougher sentences. Some even campaign against prison sentences for the types of crimes of which they have been victims.

    That the crime-and-punishment lobby is so successful in the media is not because all victims of crimes are behind it. It’s because of a very successful media strategy, and the media’s appetite for crime stories and extreme points of view.

  7. RedLogix 7

    But just because the shape of the murder rate/age curve is the same in the UK as it is in Chicago, does not discount the fact the UK curve is still by far the better one to have. What this does tell us is that while the underlying cause of murder is the same everywhere, external social conditions play a dominant role in determine just how many murders occur.

    The best analogy that comes to mind is say, shot noise in electronic circuits. While the root cause is the same (the stochastically random motion of individual electrons), the actual amount of noise in any given circuit is also directly related to absolute temperature.

    Given that humans evolved within a purely Darwinian framework over millions of years, it is entirely unsurprising that the root causes of our behaviour also have Darwinian explanations. But the pre-eminent feature of humans (I won’t say unique) is our astonishing ability to form and manipulate purely asbtract concepts. It is this faculty that allows us to ‘step outside of the box’, to become post-Darwinian as it were. Religion has long proposed a dual nature to humanity. The essence of this idea that is while our mammallian-derived behaviours are largely predictable, hard to change and destructive, we are also possessed of another nature that is creative, contemplative, and transformative.

    Our life in this world necessarily constrains us into inhabiting the body of an ape, with all the hardwiring and firmware that evolution has endowed us with. But we also get to play with the application layer. The fact remains that the total murder rate in Chicago and the UK is differrent, AND that we can manipulate this if we choose.

    In fact taking the article to it’s logical conclusion, we could almost eliminate murder if we arranged our society to ensure most people married and had children much younger than our present custom, pretty much from the age of say 16 onwards. A society that was so ordered as to make such young families sucessful (emotionally, financially and socially) would look a fair bit different to ours present form, but is not wholly unthinkable. And that is the point.

  8. lprent 8

    A: Sure we are a chemical soup.

    The point I was trying to make is that the debate about crime is just weird. It ignores virtually everything known about human behavior and concentrates on the corny discredited solutions. It seems to operate on the general basis of “it it didn’t work last time, maybe it will this time”.

  9. Anita 9

    lprent,

    the debate about crime is just weird. … It seems to operate on the general basis of “it it didn’t work last time, maybe it will this time’.

    Isn’t that the definition of insanity? :)

  10. Ianmac 10

    It follows I suppose, that the Destiny Church has a valid function in helping to provide a base for males to be successful and therefore create fewer criminals. They seem to my middleclass eyes to be a bit dodgy, but like the Salvation Army they are probably a vital part of society.

  11. burt 11

    lprent

    The point I was trying to make is that the debate about crime is just weird.

    It might not be weird, perhaps all that you thinking it is weird tells us is that you don’t understand it.

    I think Anita has made a very valid point, I could probably use that same graph to illustrate road deaths as a result of stupid driving behaviour (arguably criminal behaviour – arguably not). I could probably also use that graph to show number of times a hormonal pimply faced person (male or female) masturbates each year.

    But hey that wouldn’t be using the graph to preach my ideology would it.

  12. Mr Magoo 12

    Merry xmas everyone and soon to be happy new year for you guys I hope. Yes I am happy, I am not working and this always makes me happier. :)

    I lament that an article on scientific rigor uses a graph with three plots from random places and implies from this that crime is very similar all over. Now I have no idea if it is, but I am damned sure that graph proves absolutely nothing and is VERY misleading.

    But that is what you get with journalists I guess. Their science is about as good as their ethics.

    Having got that off my chest. Interesting point about getting your freak on stopping crime. It figures.
    We are just rutting animals in a field. :)

    PS: Yes, that last post was intentionally and ironically vulgar.

  13. RedLogix 13

    Is this the point you are referring to Burt?

    A more biochemical analysis would look at the chemical soup that makes us up and discuss, for instance, that the curve in the graph looks a lot like the graph of testosterone over the lifetime (although the decay curve is not quite as steep and also the male/female differences in testosterone levels which also match the statistics.

    I was wondering if Anita was going to spot the obvious question that might arise from her biochemical explanation, is that if it is true, then can we infer that young males in Chicago have roughly 30 times the testosterone levels of young males in the UK? (Hell this may be true, I don’t know.)

    Captcha = thrust 17 (errk!)

  14. Anita 14

    burt,

    I’m not sure I was making the point you think I made :)

    We are chemical soup, many of our patterns of behaviour have biochemical drivers seated in our evolutionary heritage we should consider this, rather that the need for vengeance or populist political point scoring, when we design our law and order, education and health policies.

  15. Anita 15

    RedLogix,

    I was wondering if Anita was going to spot the obvious question that might arise from her biochemical explanation, is that if it is true, then can we infer that young males in Chicago have roughly 30 times the testosterone levels of young males in the UK?

    An lo, we have yet another example of proof that it is neither exclusively nature or nurture :)

  16. Interrogative Mode 16

    Hmm. Thought-provoking post. I’d be interested in what the paper’s authors have to say about domestic abuse. We know that men (it’s almost always men) who were abused as children are more likely to abuse their own children and their partners. The behavioural explanation for this seems to me to be far more on point than any evolutionary explanation.

  17. RedLogix 17

    Some of the source documents by Martin Daly and Margo Wilson are here.

  18. RedLogix 18

    A fast skim through their material yeilds this one critical clue:

    The results of these analyses support the proposition that the degree to
    which resources are unequally distributed is a stronger determinant of levels of
    lethal violence in modern nation states than is the average level of material
    welfare.

    In other words they consistently find that the GINI (income inequality) coefficient (especially when used on a local or regional basis) is the best predictor of violence. Young males, shut out from reproduction by severe social inequality, have nothing to loose by engaging in risky behaviour (even murder), because in essence, the reproductive difference between keeping one’s nose clean and dying celibate, and taking a risk and dying young is nil. For young male with no opportunity to attain a mate legitimately, it is worth the risk to attain one by behaving badly, even if the downside is death. (A rather brutal reduction of the old obervation that nice guys really do finish last.)

    Conversely one could draw the obvious conclusion that monogamous societies which strive to moderate the extremes of wealth and poverty, allow for an equality of opportunity and security, and encourage the formation of stable families… are going to experience the lowest levels of violent crime.

    Kind of bleedingly obvious really, so why does our public policy persist in heading off in entirely the opposite direction?

  19. Ag 19

    Kind of bleedingly obvious really, so why does our public policy persist in heading off in entirely the opposite direction?

    Because it is written by social dominators who see themselves as winning this “contest”?

  20. Paul 20

    of course the difference between England and Chicago may well be simply down to the availability of weaponry – young males in England may end up in a punch up outside the pub while in Chicago one of them pulls a saturday night special – the initial arguments may be similar but the results are amplified by the tools available

  21. burt 21

    Interrogative Mode

    It’s always the step father, quite possibly the step father that was messed up by an abusive parent (step father) themselves, but nevertheless it’s usually the step father occasionally the uncle.

    RedLogix

    Kind of bleedingly obvious really, so why does our public policy persist in heading off in entirely the opposite direction?

    Because our social policy is incapable of reducing the problem to it’s root cause as you have done. We cannot provide breeding vessels as a compensation for young male antisocial or dangerous behaviour. Therefore we seek to address another more PC factor and we administer more welfare and/or harsher sentences and pretend we are dealing with it.

  22. Anita 22

    burt,

    It’s always the step father, quite possibly the step father that was messed up by an abusive parent (step father) themselves, but nevertheless it’s usually the step father occasionally the uncle.

    Nope. Craig Manukau, Lilybing, Sade Trembath, and the Kahui twins for starters.

    I need to walk in the sunshine now.

  23. Peter Burns 23

    Anita, contrary to feminist ideology the presence of the biological father does help in the nurturing process and provides the much needed balance craved by healthy and happy children. Family breakdowns are always aided by the no fault divorce system in which the bio dad is shafted into oblivion by a gender bias de family court of mongrels. The system breeds resentment! Criminals abound – build more jails dumbos! Anybody remember the days of mum, dad and the kids. What century was that? Why do I bother. What year did Coral B get killed. RIP Kahui Twins etc…etc…

    Don’t forget to put on your sun cream and I hope you don’t get mugged by young thugs.

  24. Ari 24

    ROFL Peter…

    The presence of the father only helps when the father has half a clue. Abusive and manipulative parents can be worse than no parents at all. That goes for mothers as well as fathers. What Anita was saying was that it’s not exclusively step-fathers and uncles who are to blame for abuse- which seems a pretty logical conclusion.

    Get off your hobby horse ;)

  25. Peter Burns 25

    I know I hit a tender point when Ari starts a reply with ROFL. Yawn, so predicable. Rising crime rates and family breakdowns go hand in hand when a family unfriendly government does not endorse the traditional family as the fundamental building block of society. But, you know this and we sit on different sides of the ideological fence. Please don’t insult my intelligence with pathetic jibes like ROFL and hobby horse.
    How many more prisons shall we build Ari?

  26. Carol 26

    I welcome any nuanced approach to understanding crime, especially when it includes a consideration of social class differences and issues of relative power. However, an evolutionary approach seems pretty limited to me. A sociological one seems more helpful.

    The problem with using crime stats is that they don’t fully reflect the violence and other crimes actually happening or the social class distribution of the perps: eg with domestic violence.

    How much white collar crime is masked by the people with most power? Who defines what counts as a crime? How many police officers (from middleclass backgrounds) commit and get away with illegal acts of violence or other crimes in the course of their jobs? Violent crimes against humanity, initiated by middleclass men (and women) in positions pf political power are not included in national crime stats: eg Iraq, Palestine etc.

    What evidence is there that large numbers of women are attracted to men who commit crimes? Many pacifist and/or non-criminal men are very attractive to some women.

    IMO it’d be more fruitful to look more closely at the contexts in which crimes occur with a focus on socioeconomic and political factors.

  27. Peter Burns 27

    Yes Carol I find it rather offensive that police officers and judges can continue working with protection orders in place. Doesn’t DV count for the slimy – underhand judiciary!? Silly me, evolution dictates that the selected few are different in a world of the survival of the fittest. Thanks Charles. Want a Bible in hell mate?

  28. RedLogix 28

    Considering only the category “fatal batterings of small children” the data is very striking:

    Australian data indicate an even larger Cinderella effect. Wallace (1986) reported that perpetrators of fatal baby batterings in New South Wales in 1968-1981 included 11 putative genetic fathers and 18 stepfathers, even though the victims’ median age was only 12 months. Strang (1996) reported that comparable cases for the country as a whole in 1989-1993 included 11 children killed by putative genetic fathers and 12 by stepfathers, although the victims’ median age was in this case less than 1 year.

    For both of these samples, the age distribution was such that fewer than 0.5% of a random sample of same-age children from the population-at-large would be expected to have had a stepfather according to Australian Family Characteristics Survey data, and the estimated relative risk from stepfathers vs genetic fathers exceeds 300-fold.

    From Daly and Wilson again. here

    Sorry if the data is a dated, but there is little reason to think this affects the takeaway conclusion much. A similar highly elevated risk is found in most countries with reliable source data.

    There will be of course genetic fathers who do kill children, but the authors stress that these cases often present quite differently; the usual history being of a parent either depressed or alienated from his family commits a murder/suicide in which the minimum of actual suffering is inflicted, death usually inflicted by gun or asphyxiation.

    Also of interest:

    Nevertheless, all available evidence indicates that excess risk from stepmothers (relative to genetic mothers) is roughly on the same order as excess risk from stepfathers (relative to genetic fathers).

    although they emphasise that the actual number of children who live with stepmothers in these modern times is very low. (In contrast to pre-Industrial times were death in childbirth was very common and step-mothering was the usual resort. Which is why this whole phenomon is called the “Cinderella Effect.)

    Carol:

    How much white collar crime is masked by the people with most power? Who defines what counts as a crime? How many police officers (from middleclass backgrounds) commit and get away with illegal acts of violence or other crimes in the course of their jobs? Violent crimes against humanity, initiated by middleclass men (and women) in positions pf political power are not included in national crime stats: eg Iraq, Palestine etc.

    Couldn’t agree with you more, but the thread was mainly focussed on the root causes and responses to the kind of violent crime that captures popular paranoia.

  29. Anita 29

    Peter Burns,

    Anita, contrary to feminist ideology the presence of the biological father does help in the nurturing process and provides the much needed balance craved by healthy and happy children

    I think you’re disagreeing with me about something I didn’t say (and don’t believe).

    In fact I think you’re disagreeing with feminism for something that it (to the extent feminism is a single belief structure) doesn’t believe either.

  30. burt 30

    My comment about the stepfather’s earlier in the thread was partially tongue in cheek. Clearly it’s not always the stepfather but as the statistics dug out by RedLogix support – there is a very amplified risk to children with step parents.

    This sort of non genetic offspring abuse is common across much of the mammal species. We think we have evolved eh…. We are indeed a chemical soup.

  31. Rex Widerstrom 31

    Like r0b, I’m pleased to see analysis of issues outside of reaction to a particular incident. Not only because this is something The Standard does particularly well, but also because it takes some of the heat out of the comments if people aren’t reacting to some horrendous slaughter and can thus think more dispassionately. So thanks, lprent.

    Being a particular hobby horse of mine, there’s so much I want to comment on here I could easily exceed the length of the original post (a sure sign your comment is too verbose ;-) ). However there’s a point Anita made that jumps out for me at present:

    Many victims of crime don’t campaign for tougher sentences. Some even campaign against prison sentences for the types of crimes of which they have been victims

    I recently had lunch with a member of the Prisoner Review Board (formerly known as the Parole Board) in WA. She’d grown up watching domestic violence by her father on her mother, then been a victim of it over a prolonged period by the father of her child. She became a member of the government’s Victims Reference Group and then was appointed the first “victims’ representative” on the Board.

    Despite the fact that she personally was a delightful person I approached her with my guard up. I wanted to challenge her on whether her appointment was any more valid, than, say, a representative of the wrongfully accused or those whose sentences were excessive compared to others of a similar nature.

    But her attitude to prisoners totally disarmed me. She’d taken the time to think through the issues and her responses didn’t seem to be at all motivated by fear, revenge or prejudice. She had the capacity to see prisoners – and victims – as individuals with individual needs and whose paths to being “fixed” differed greatly.

    Despite the intensity of what she’d endured (she was the first person in WA’s history to be granted a lifetime restraining order against her former partner) and despite working with hundreds of victims since then, she’d retained – or perhaps recovered – her humanity.

    Rather than challenge her I listened, and learned. And amongst the many things I was taught was that Anita is absolutely right: not all victims want longer and harsher sentences. Some actively oppose it. Most can see that offenders are individuals, and that what works for one won’t necessarily work for another. And that the time to ask them what they want isn’t just after they or their family have been offended against, or as the sentence is handed down. They admit their thinking at such times isn’t rational – which is, of course, exactly why the SST choose those moments to exploit them.

    And because they were victims they know that what’s most important isn’t that the Garth McVicars of this world get a pulpit from which to preach their sermon of dehumanisation and punishment, but that other members of society are stopped from becoming victims too.

    And if the price paid for that is to treat prisoners like human beings it’s a price the vast majority of victims say they are only too happy to pay.

  32. RedLogix 32

    We are indeed a chemical soup.

    But that overstates the case in the other direction. The other fact that is relevant here is that the huge majority of step-parents do a wonderful job, all the more admirable given their relative lack of genetic drive to do so. We have to keep in mind that extreme child murders and abuse are still relatively rare.

    Yes we are a chemical soup, but one with the astonishing faculty of self-reflection.

  33. Chris G 33

    Interesting thread all round. Great post and good user comments.

    Crime just seems to be the most difficult problem to even attempt to solve in our society. I think our first problem is that we never have open discussions and debate on causes of crime, we only hear from (in the media) this one sided victim/vengeful perspective and I think its this huge obstacle for us moving forward in anyway – Its sort of created this Cartesian thing going on like ‘We’re all victims and over there are the dogs who roll in crime’. Eg.It doesnt help when you get dopes like Michael Laws week in week out in the SST decrying criminals as ‘brown, uneducated underclass’ without offering any realistic solutions to solving crime other than alluding to long jail sentences.

    It also doesnt help when you get a flurry of Anti-Abortion lobbyists using the Nia Glassie et al. cases as examples of why Abortion is bad! They essentially believed that those crimes were committed as some part of evidence of why abortion is bad. That just gobsmacked me when I read all those letters to the editors. Surely it should serve as a case for pro-abortion… anyway, I digress slightly.

    The point im getting at is that we are rarely, if ever, shown reasoned debates or inferences about causes of crime. Threads like this should be up for more widespread, public discussion. Instead we get this crap ingrained in our national psyche by the media that we can place a ‘box’ around criminals and we tackle them as a side issue by listening to fuckin McVicar and Michael Laws and hear Rodney the Razor Saying he’ll get tough on crime… but how the hell will he pull through?

    I hear what your saying Peter B with regards to the importance of family, but. What is it, at a policy level, that can strengthen families? Tax cuts? – bollocks (refer: families under $44K in latest tax package), ultrafast broadband – bollocks……. Spying on Greenpeace? (Okay that wasnt at a policy level, but I had to chuck it in)

    Once again I stream of consciousness and I wont bother to check over what I’ve scrawled…Take from it what you will.

  34. Bill 34

    What exactly is crime when it’s at home?

    Killing a Muslim may be a crime today, but during the crusades was a sure way to heaven.

    Killing your neighbour might be a crime. Killing over a million Iraqis isn’t. Apparently.

    Stealing a handbag is a crime. Stealing a pension fund?

    To argue that the marginalised and dispossessed ( the people ‘crimes’ are invented for after-all!) are more disposed to being criminal is….whatstheword? I’ll settle for ‘not very ingenious’ when you look at it face on for a second.

  35. RedLogix 35

    Bill,

    Again the same answer as to Anita, who raised the same issue. I agree with you, but for the purpose of the thread we had discounted the wider questions you raise. In all three examples you mention, deplorable acts are justified by power elites protecting their interests via a conventional wisdom.

    How about this idea? The very broad overview of history (sort of Toynbean-ish) suggests that social evolution consists of a series of stages, each one embracing a wider moral horizon than the one before.

    At some stage in our pre-history the prime moral value was the survival of your family, and secondarily your familial tribe. Civilisation has progressed as we have been able to extend that loyalty to larger and larger constructs, religion, city, culture, race, and state. An act (such as disembowelling a thief from a rival tribe) that was acceptable, indeed praised at one stage, is deplored and criminalised at a later stage.

    Killing Muslims en-masse is ok while you are at that moral stage, (and sadly lots of people still are)… but the horizon has shifted since the time of the Crusades.

    Killing your neighbour is an act committed by an individual, and society is long accustomed to regulating the behaviour of individuals. Much less so when it becomes a question of regulating the behaviour of the so-called ‘sovereign state’. Collectively we lack the institutions and will to convict a rogue state that illegally kills a million Iraqis, but at least there are many, many others in the world who now recognise it as a moral wrong. Consider the few lone voices who protested WW1, compared to this, so maybe we are progressing painfully in the right direction and will get a proper International Court within our lifetimes.

    Again stealing handbags is a crime we are accustomed to dealing with. Vulnerable women have been robbed since time immemorial, while the complexities of the monstrous Ponzi scheme that is Wall St and global finance is only just being grasped by most of us. This kind of non-violent (yet hugely destructive) crime is something relatively new in human history, with the fall-out really only hurting us three times, 1873, 1929 and 2009. Each time we think we have put in place safeguards to prevent it happening again, but each generation in it’s hubris forgets and gets suckered by the cheaters all over again. When enough people truly believe greed is good… dissenting voices and whistleblowers are silenced and eventually things go very bad.

    (It turns out Madoff bribed the SEC to give him a clean bill of health, despite numerous very clear concerns having been raised about his fund. The rot had infected the whole system, it had to collapse, and take with it all the pernicious crap about ‘self-regulating free markets’.)

  36. Rex Widerstrom 36

    Ohh this thread is so good I just wanna strip down to my togs (why is it no Australian understands this term?) and wallow in it. Sorry about that mental image…

    Carol asks:

    What evidence is there that large numbers of women are attracted to men who commit crimes? Many pacifist and/or non-criminal men are very attractive to some women.

    In my experience it very much depends on the “class” into which you were born. Where I grew up, in a distinctly lower socio-economic area, nice guys do finish last in the reproductive stakes. They did when I was young and by all accounts still do. Hence I do question that part of The Economist‘s conclusions.

    Growing up, the aggressive, if not violent, boys – those who rarely attended school and disrupted it when they were there – were like magnets to “good” and “bad” girls alike. I’ve seen mothers – from the mothers of girls I grew up with to the mothers of my daughter’s friends 20 years later – encouraging relationships with boys who had a steady job, a car, some dreams and at least some prospects, all to no avail. It was the ones who stood over those kids for their money or to “borrow” their cars to whom the girls almost always flocked.

    When I returned to the school as Chair of it’s Board I was only slightly surprised to learn that, while in my day the ‘pecking order’ amongst boys was determined by how many girls one could seduce and then abandon this was now so commonplace as to hold no cachet at all – status was now gained by the number of girls one could impregnate and abandon. Thus there were teenage boys proud to have had, in some cases, two or three children, all to different mothers.

    The problem with the conclusion that:

    …Sexual success, by contrast, tends to dampen criminal behaviour down. Getting married and having children?in other words, achieving at least part of his Darwinian ambition?often terminates a criminal?s career.

    …is that amongst lower socio-economic orders sexual success doesn’t equate with “getting married and having children” any more. Instead it has come to be viewed as a scorecard – like how many people you’ve robbed or how long you’ve spent in juvenile detention – as merely an indicator of your “success” as a societal outcast.

    Then we have a generation of children growing up and knowing that’s the entire extent of the regard held for them by their biological fathers…

  37. Ag 37

    Each time we think we have put in place safeguards to prevent it happening again, but each generation in it’s hubris forgets and gets suckered by the cheaters all over again.

    We do nothing about the root of the problem, because most of our cultural mechanisms for dealing with bad behaviour assume some form of the free will theory, which is usually tied to some vestigially Christian belief that everyone has an equal chance to be good or bad.

    Of course, it isn’t true. Some people are born bad, and others are made that way with no way of going back. Anti social personalities and social dominators abuse this belief to the detriment of everyone else.

    As usual, the first people to think about this knew the answer. Even Plato understood that the primary focus of any large organization ought to be to discover some way of measuring those who are psychologically unfit to be put in positions of authority over others, and then preventing those people from ever being put in such positions. It’s amazing how well things run when that happens (although it mostly does by accident).

    My favourite claim of his is the one that says that anyone who has the remotest interest in exercising political rule ought for that very reason to be excluded from consideration as a potential ruler.

  38. Anita 38

    Carol,

    What evidence is there that large numbers of women are attracted to men who commit crimes? Many pacifist and/or non-criminal men are very attractive to some women.

    A Darwinian argument would be that a woman should be attracted to men who are most likely to successfully reproduce the woman’s material.

    In my nice middle class enclave that means men who will be financial successful so that our children will not only survive childhood but also have the best possible educational and economic outcomes, giving them the best possible chance of reproducing successfully. So yeah, I should choose intelligent, driven, healthy and non-violent (more likely to not get himself killed).

    In a more violent and less financially able place perhaps I would be better to choose a man able and willing to win physical contests. That way he’d live to breed and support me and my children and our children, in turn, would be more likely to survive a physically violent world.

  39. uroskin 39

    Looking at the graph cynically, I can’t but think that if we locked up all males when they hit puberty until they have grown a brain, there’d be no crime.

  40. merl 40

    This is not a position that I hold (just a random neuron sparking in the back of my brain).

    But when I read the argument about “Sexual success, by contrast, tends to dampen criminal behaviour down. ”
    That seems to me to be an argument to ‘lock them up and throw away the key’. If you penalise crime by essentially removing their ability to procreate, then would the be considered a sufficient deterrent?

    Assuming of course that the above point is correct.

  41. ak 41

    Lovely post Lynn, and great thoughts everyone, even Peter4 (notwithstanding the mental image from Rex, but at least you kept your cossie on…budgiesmuggler?)

    Like all great theories (and beliefs), Darwinism is open to interpretation and abuse. It can elicit the cruel, tory “survival of the fittest” mentality, and also the more enlightened “social Darwinist” staged evolution outlined by Redlo.

    Both interpretations can be useful. The “testosterone/reproduction” scenario outlined above rings particularly true as an explanation of youthful status-seeking: the variable that cries for attention is the (socially defined) definition of status.

    As Red points out, where wealth is more evenly spread, education and skills will carry more weight. In 1950′s NZ, where the postmaster lived next to the doctor, the man who had “passed UE” or “can play the piano” – (or the ultimate, the “university man”) had the status – and got the girl.

    Nowadays, status is all money, and the fifty-million dollar paper-shuffling cipher is the new role model. Being the baddest biker or growing the big crop are indeed the rational choices for those ill-equipped to scale the increasingly-steep conventional ladders.

    So where does the current social definition of status come from? Same place as most of our definitions – the brightly-coloured box that leaves pulpit, principal and whanau in the grey and dusty shade The handfuls of professional persuaders that daily bombard our youth with compelling messages of bliss-via-wealth in order to please their employers.

    The (mainstream) media is the messenger. Which is why this interwebby thing has such huge potential: witty, pithy, well-made clips on U-tube garnering millions of hits accelerating Red’s social evolution – and nerdy left-wing computer geeks the new sex-symbols. (might even be a bit-part for Peter Burns as the reformed villain..)

  42. Rex Widerstrom 42

    (I swim in rugby shorts, actually… though only in my pool since a shark took yet another swimmer in shallow water near where I live, and the mad Aussies won’t dream of getting rid of it. I’m all for conservation till I’m dinner, then Darwinism kicks in in a big way).

    I’m not sure we can lay the blame entirely, or even mostly, at the feet of the media – much as I’m always happy to lambast them for the crap they peddle, and not just in the ad breaks.

    Aside from promoting rampant consumerism, which no doubt contributes to raising desire which can be met only by theft or perhaps even robbery, TV is still pumping out the same morality tales that have emerged from pulpit and principal for centuries.

    Take “Californication” as but one instance, since it upset the moral orthodoxy so much. Yes, it showed a man indulging in emotionless sex and large volumes of drugs and booze. But he was unhappy. He yearned for a life with his wife and daughter and, at the very end of the first series, he got it. Redemption arrived in the form of the nuclear family.

    Every show popular with young people – from “Buffy” to the new “90210″ – is packed with interweaved morality tales: it’s bad to cheat; boys who treat girls with contempt might seem superficially attractive but they’re ultimately bad news; mums and dads might be hopeless nerds but they love you and usually know best… and so on.

    Yes, you may watch a diet of these shows (interspersed with ads) and feel the urge to go out and get a flash car or an iphone, by illegal means if necessary. But the urge to bash for no reason at all? To rape? To murder? To allow yourself to be impregnated by a male who clearly will not give a damn for you or the child? To harm a child, sometimes to the point of senseless torture and death?

    The status that comes from a trail of unwanted offspring, or the amount of harm – for the sake of harm – you’ve done to others isn’t, I don’t believe, generated by television or even violent video games.

    It’s somewhere in that “chemical soup” Anita mentioned, and we’re far from understanding it.

    Just last night I watched a documentary (not everything on the idiot box is for idiots, thankfully :-D ) which showed experiments proving, amongst other things:

    - That if a subject is asked to hold a warm cup of coffee prior to being asked to assess someone else’s personality, they will mark that person much higher than if they are asked to hold a cold drink with ice. Experimenters postulated it was something to do with the infantile warmth = comfort reaction.

    - That a subject shown a series of random images (selected by computer), some of inanimate objects and some of people doing things designed to elicit an emotional response will begin to react emotionally 3 seconds before the “people” image appears even though they seemingly have no way of knowing which type of image they’re about to see. Experimenters couldn’t attribute it to anything but precognition.

    We’ve barely touched on the mind’s complexity nor understood its uniqueness, yet we’re arrogant enough to think that threatening everyone with longer and longer sentences is going to act as a deterrent.

    Sometimes I cannot help but conclude we’re only one step removed from chopping off the hands of thieves…

  43. RedLogix 43

    Fantastic comments everyone, esp ak… I envy the clarity and vividness of your writing.

    Sometimes I cannot help but conclude we’re only one step removed from chopping off the hands of thieves

    Actually a bit of a misapprehension. The Koran only specified the removal of the left little finger for the third offence. In the context of the barbaric, tribal society that prevailed in 7th century Arabia, where normally a suspected thief would be killed on the spot, this punishment was considered by many at the time absurdly ‘bleeding heart do-gooder’ liberal. (An irony you might appreciate Rex.)

    It was a much later fundamentalist perversion of the Koranic Law that led to the practise of removing an entire hand. Sort of like how it’s hard to find much justification in the New Testament for burning witches at the stake.

  44. Chris G 44

    Rex “not everything on the idiot box is for idiots, thankfully”

    Agreed. Exception:channels 70-75 on Sky (Discovery, History, Animal Planet and Doco channel etc) are the only things worth watching

    And of course Aljazeera english. But I just look at that via the web!

    I digress (Sorry mods)

    Back on: “I can’t but think that if we locked up all males when they hit puberty until they have grown a brain”

    Seems very sensible…. It would be interesting to look at the same crime graphs for countries like Malaysia and (Singapore?) where males enter compulsory military training after high school. When they re-enter society… How does the crime graph look?

    Food for thought. But I wont be the role of researcher for that, its too late.

  45. Bill 45

    Redlogix

    The idea you posited that we are undergoing some type of moral evolution, while appealing, just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The focus of our morality shifts over time and societies, but our basic (in)humanity persists.

    I don’t know how accurate your example of a tribe dis-emboweling a thief from a rival tribe is, but the members of gangs approve of terrible acts of revenge on others. ( Think of the ice man executions as an example?)

    Is a wider moral horizon a step forward, or a merely an indication that all horizons are wider? If I now identify with a nation and a large religion rather than a tribe and a shaman, doesn’t it merely open the door to worse excesses (pogroms directed at and cleansings of, vastly more ‘others’ than would have been possible in a tribal set-up?)

    And although many people protested Gulf Slaughter 2, how many less protested Gulf Slaughter 1…or the sanctions…the destruction of Afghanistan…world wide hunger…Gaza…and on and on.

    We are, at the end of the day, still cave men and women who merely collectively posses more technology and fewer world views; much homogenised…both borne of cunning and fear. The technology and world views mutate rather than evolve, while the fear and cunning remain constant, only their focus shifting.

    While it is true that we could devise cunning systems that rewarded the better aspects of human nature/behaviour, the reality at present is in the opposite direction. Hardly a sign of us evolving towards better selves.

  46. deemac 46

    I knew a guy who’d been in a tough prison in Northern Ireland (or northern Ireland, depending on which foot you dig with… ) for a couple of years and he said if you don’t get the message after six months you never will; though of course there are some people in the latter category.
    It’s worth noting that “an eye for an eye” in the bible is actually a demand to RESTRICT punishment to a proportionate response, ie if you lose an eye you can only demand an eye, as previously any dispute involving injury could soon escalate into a blood feud involving whole families and lasting for generations.

  47. Rex Widerstrom 47

    Bill:

    While it is true that we could devise cunning systems that rewarded the better aspects of human nature/behaviour, the reality at present is in the opposite direction. Hardly a sign of us evolving towards better selves.

    Bingo. Whether it’s the Taliban choosing to pervert Koranic law as RedLogix mentions above or our politicians choosing to play the “get tough on law and order” card to garner votes, this is an area of failure for which our leaders must carry more blame than most – because the populace understandably finds it difficult to set aside their fear and think logically – especially with crime the lead story on almost every bulletin.

    While there were widespread protests in the US against the Iraq war, for instance, how many people turn out to protest every time a death row inmate is executed? A handful, comparatively.

    Because it’s easy to decide that shooting or bombing civilians thousands of miles away is wrong – even if a miniscule percentage may one day possibly join a Qaeda and pose a risk on US soil – but it’s much harder to dismiss state sanctioned murder of one’s own citizens (or, in NZ’s case, sentences so long there’s no hope of rehabilitation) because we lack an understanding of the underlying issues and the efficacy of alternatives. Heck, some of us haven’t taken the trouble to consider that there are alternatives… we just go to bed at night trusting that the state will keep us safe till we wake.

    It therefore falls to our leaders to have the courage to study the facts, listen to opinions, even experiment a little with the solutions. To be brave enough to admit that the hang ‘em high brigade do have a right to a voice in the debate – but no greater voice than anyone else. To craft policies that don’t have the superficial attractiveness of longer sentences but which might, if the leaders held to their course, produce results over times that would help convince the populace of their effectiveness.

    Yet no government has done this, ever, in New Zealand and only rarely in any Western deomcracy – and then in an overly cautious way that has damned it to either failure or mediocre results.

    I’m normally amongst those objecting loudest when a politician or party says one thing and then does another. But on this issue we desperately need someone who’ll take a “Roger Douglas” approach to justice – do it, ignore the critics, almost certainly make errors along the way, but change things so fundamentally that there’s no going all the way back, because there’s simply no other way to achieve change. People will see it – and any Opposition will strive to portray it – as putting people’s safety at risk. The fact that better assessment of prisoners would inevitably see some – the true sociopaths – serving longer sentences (while receiving better treatment) would be lost in a babble of slogans.

    Instead we see government after government make the wrong noises, take the wrong decisions, and eventually lose to another government whose policy is to do the same wrong, only more of it.

  48. RedLogix 48

    Bill,

    I can see what you are getting at, but I don’t think it invalidates the basic thesis. The moral horizon has made it generally wrong and illegal for individuals to kill for a very long time, but murders still occur.

    Just because a prohibition is not 100% effective, does not mean that we would be better off not having it.

    Rex,

    Lets see if this puts the problem in a lumpen sort of nutshell.

    1. Humans have an innate instinct to distrust and dehumanise outsiders. Unscrupulous political leaders with little else to offer, like exploiting this instinct to distract from internal issues and unite an otherwise sceptical, fractious community behind them. This has always been a cheap source of political power.

    2. Modern civilisation, if I stick with the notion of an expanding moral horizon, now generally encompasses in effect, the whole of humanity. The Declaration of Universal Human Rights (among many other things) for example, means that it is no longer acceptable to demonise others simply because they are of other race, nationality, religion and so on.

    3. This means that the modern world offers a general lack of acceptable ‘outsiders’ to for our leaders to exploit, whereas criminals offer a soft target, because their actions do arouse strong emotions of despair and disgust. In the absence of an alternative, dehumanising them becomes a prime option for a politically weak leadership.

    4. With the happy connivance of a profit driven media, the ‘law’n’order’ issue becomes an auction of the stupid, resulting in stupider sentences, almost certain recividism and an inevitable escalation of the very problem they were claiming to solve.

    5. But of course an expanding criminal class (or even the perception of one) is in reality serving the underlying political drivers. A politician or party, who actually succeeded in reducing crime would be acting against the interest of the political establishment. Nations most stressed, difficult to govern or simply cursed with lazy incompetent politicos, would logically be most prone to punitively expanding their prison populations as a way of diverting attention from underlying, dangerous and challenging questions that the establishment is unwilling to face. (Like why do Maori represent 50% plus of NZ’s prison muster?)

    This analysis begs the question then, where is the circuit breaker in this mess? It identifies that the root locus of the issue lies with the relationship between the political classes and the electorate, and it tells us that reforming prisons and prisoners ultimately is futile, if it ultimately suits our political masters that they don’t.

    Is it simply a case of bringing enough people to awareness (by whatever means) so that they can see the process at work? Where is the point of leverage here?

    But on this issue we desperately need someone who’ll take a “Roger Douglas’ approach to justice – do it, ignore the critics, almost certainly make errors along the way, but change things so fundamentally that there’s no going all the way back, because there’s simply no other way to achieve change.

    I have to like the boldness of it, but by itself there is no political payoff for whoever undertook such a thing, just a vociferous triumverate of an Opposition, Media and a Public baying for blood. Something else is required. The only forces more potent that ‘fear of the stranger’ are forgiveness, compassion and love for the fallen ones. As you have described in a post above:

    But her attitude to prisoners totally disarmed me. She’d taken the time to think through the issues and her responses didn’t seem to be at all motivated by fear, revenge or prejudice. She had the capacity to see prisoners – and victims – as individuals with individual needs and whose paths to being “fixed’ differed greatly.

    How is this almost magical transformation wrought? You have seen it with your own eyes, so you know it is possible and I am not just going off on one of my pollyana-ish tangents again. And if it one person can do it, what is the means by which we all can? How do we get from the sanctified individual, to the sanctified society? I don’t believe this is the hopeless task it seems, because over and again our history has examples of seemingly instrangient generations of impossible prejudice melt away at the right moment, with the right touch.

  49. ak 49

    A fine nutshell Red: and your optimism is justified. As you note, the list of targettable “outsiders” has shrunk rapidly since we and Pollyanna were born.

    Gays, blacks, women, crips, loonies, Jews, Catholics – even reds under beds, with the fall of the wall – now off the menu for all but the tiny group of sociopathic flies that lazily drone around the reeking Rightblog recta.

    I’d thought Race was our final frontier: but even there, the electoral mood demanded Key’s balancing-Act act with Pitariana. Even the language has flip-flopped dramatically since Orewa One: “inclusion” is the new blue/black for our golden kid and his bullet-point council.

    When the strike wing of the exploiter axis is reduced to scraping the barrel-bottom for mythical armies of health bureaucrats (or lightbulbs!) to scapegoat, it points to the end of an era.

    You’re wrong, Rex and Bill. Seen too many minor miracles. Humanity’s venom and misery has no innate or a priori mass: rather an inverse correlation to education and communication. Long way to go of course, but there’s silver dew-drops all over this beautiful Web.

  50. Rex Widerstrom 50

    RedLogix:

    It’s almost 7pm, it’s 38 degrees outside, a glittering blue pool beckons and yet your comment offers a stronger attraction. Damn you!! :-P

    I’m essentially in agreement, though I think it might be possible, by some lucky accident, to find a politician willing to do what’s right despite the lack of short-to-medium term political payoff – as, in fact, was Douglas. Trouble is, almost every wide-eyed candidate these days sees themselves as a future PM and won’t dare say anything that has been rinsed through several focus groups and then blanched to remove any vestigal traces of controversy.

    I didn’t have long enough with the woman I’ve mentioned above to delve into the how… I had too many mundane questions about the thinking of the Prisoner Review Board as a whole. I’m hoping we can meet again.

    An interesting instance that did arise during the same conference was that of Belgium and the Dutroux case. Dutroux, you’ll remember, was the sadist with a habit of kidnapping young girls and keeping them locked in his basement. When he was arrested and briefly imprisoned on an unrelated matter there was no one to feed his current captives and two young girls died.

    What was remarkable was that the parents of the victims led marches (called the “White March” and involving 350,000 people) and made statements not calling for Dutroux’s castration (nor for him to be shown unusual mercy) but for a wider investigation of corruption and an overhaul of the police and justice systems.

    There was also an entirely different system at work – in common with much of Europe Belgium has an investigative legal system. Judges are required to conduct an investigation into the case; and in Belgium there are three police forces – judicial, state and communal (local) – which operate independently, and even in conflict and competition with one another.

    Because of numerous questions surrounding the case (including whether policement had particpated in some of Dutroux’s kidnappings and whether he was protected as a police informant) there was a full enquiry into the case including 280 hours of televised hearings. Its first 300-page report was unanimously adopted by the Belgian parliament in 1997 and focussed on three key areas: streamlining the three overlapping police forces; training and new procedures on how to respond to missing persons reports; and fundamental reforms of the justice system.

    So, in short, the parents of the victims (and some of Dutroux’s earlier victims, who’d survived) concentrated their anger and the energy it produced on improving the system.

    True this didn’t encompass issues of rehabilitation and recidivism but nor was there a McVicar-like “let’s re-introduce capital punishment” response.

    I’m not, at this stage, sure how they overcame their understandable thirst for vengeance but I’m in touch with a Belgian researcher (via the Prison Reform Group of which I’m a member) and hope to gain some insight. I’m sure all of the factors outlined above were in play, but even in combination they don’t explain it adequately.

    Do Belgians have innately better natures than NZers? Does our adversarial court system encourage us to see things in black and white, with the guilty person irredeemably bad and no one else responsible for their actions? Are the Belgian media different to NZ’s?

    Although I suspect we could answer yes to all of these questions I don’t think that explains the difference. While we can work to change these attitudes as you suggest, that process makes glaciation look rapid.

    In the meantime, I still maintain our best hope lies with a politician who has (ironically, given the double entrende) conviction and courage.

    ak: I admire your optimism, truly. But you’re deluding yourself if you think the narrow minded revenge-driven bloodlust is confined to a single blog (or two, or three). Read the comments section of “The Herald” lately? I regularly try to engage with the populace over here in WA on justice issues via a local newspaper’s blog. Their most recent consensus was that it was unfortunate that a woman suffering post-natal depression who took her child in her arms and jumped from an 8th floor balcony had not died along with her infant. A few voices suggested she didn’t deserve to die, but perhaps to spend life in a cell. They were denounced as “softon crime”. I sincerely wish you were right; I’ll weep with joy when and if you become so; but experience suggests we’re far, far from the tolerance you imagine you can see.

  51. r0b 51

    If anyone is still following this thread, I have a question. Assume that this evolutionary account of crime is completely true. Now what?

    I’m a big fan of evolutionary explanations in general, they can be very compelling and powerful. But they also frustrate me, because it’s hard to build on them, to use them to guide future action. An evolutionary explanation is pretty much saying well, this is just the way we are, the way we’re made. (In such a case we happen to know quite a lot about the details – evolution – but it might just as well be an ineffable God, or some other cause).

    So specifically then in this case – assume that this evolutionary account of crime is completely true. What does this understanding change? How does it guide future policy or action?

  52. ak 52

    It’s a real long-term thing r0b. Millions of years – hard to translate into things to do tomorrow. But a handy mental tool to see how far we’ve come in such a short time – and to comprehend facts like a 1.6 billion-people smiling country abounding under practical Christianity while the USA broils in fat: and why Maori and PI grow while colonists fret and sweat.

    And crims have always lacked only love: it’s their definition, completely true alright r0b, nothing new there, thanks Charles. Take our feet off em, water, sun, the right dirt and watch em recover, every time.

    Future policy? Depends on human evolution, but l suss that eugenics is out, so only one way for the Keyster to go really: and looking back at the past 50 year rate of progress, I’d say the next decade’s gonna be a cracker. Revolutionary even – Darwinistically speaking, of course.

    Happy new decade r0b – I reckon you’re gonna love it.

  53. Ag 53

    So specifically then in this case – assume that this evolutionary account of crime is completely true. What does this understanding change? How does it guide future policy or action?

    It means that we don’t waste time with silly right wing lectures about “responsibility”, and that we tailor our society to minimize the risk by providing young men with jobs and economic security to make it easier for them to marry and have children.

    Our societal prohibition against polygamy already helps to lower the rate of young male violence (polygamy actually benefits women over men, but don’t let feminists hear you utter that little truth), but providing public support of expectations of social norms regarding monogamy and fidelity would also help. If this sounds socially conservative, then that’s because it is to some degree. One reason such rules existed was to tamp down male violence, but our society seems to have conveniently forgotten that (on the other hand prostitution ought to be legal).

    Of course right wingers will moan on about social engineering, but who gives a damn about what those deluded idiots have to say. A society that ignores evolutionary psychology does so at its own peril.

    We also tailor our prison sentences to keep young men who prove violent in jail until they are 35 or so. By that time most of their angry juice tends to have run out.

  54. r0b 54

    Happy new decade r0b – I reckon you’re gonna love it.

    I do hope so! And to you ak, and to all here. (I’m off the net now for several days, but I’ll be fascinated to check this thread again when I get back!)

  55. Rex Widerstrom 55

    I’d answer r0b’s questions with: nothing much. Evolution provides one tool too help explain the problem, but isn’t a great deal of help in crafting solutions.

    Just to pick up on one point Ag’s made: silly right wing lectures about responsibility aren’t so silly if they’re talking about balancing that against the second part of your praragraph – providing people with jobs and economic security.

    A judge in Australia was ridiculed when, confronted with an 11 year old Aboriginal girl brought before him for the umpteenth time for burglary and similar offences, he said “behave yourself for six months and I’ll give you a bike”. But it actually worked. With another, even worse, young offender, he offered the chance of a holiday with him and his wife. Not sure how that one turned out.

    Where the right fails when talking of “responsibility” is that they ignore human nature and expect that responsibility to be inculcated solely by a “good talking to”… or a prison term.

    Any parent who’s said “behave or I’ll smack you” knows that any effect is likely to be short term, and only engender resentment. “Be good all year and you can have that bike you wanted” tends to work better, as does “stop that or I’ll take the Playstation away for a week”.

    Even though the good behaviour is initially only acting against type, often the unruly child discovers that, when they’re not stressed and yelling, mum and dad aren’t too bad after all. And good behaviour becomes a habit. An ownership leads to pride in what you own and a desire to take care of it. And so on.

    I’m not suggesting rewarding crims for not mugging us by handing out free Holdens – which is how the right sees many programs aimed at helping the underclass. They tend to see the left as wanting to hand out privileges (paid for by their taxes), without any accompanying responsibilty.

    Neither answer, IMHO, is right. Instead I am positing that social contracts, which trade privilege for responsibility, can be part of the answer – and not just to crime.

  56. Chris G 56

    Ill second the amazement of this thread. It truly is fascinating. I’ve barely contributed but mainly just read what you jokers have to say – Quality.

    That is all.

  57. RedLogix 57

    I’m a big fan of evolutionary explanations in general, they can be very compelling and powerful. But they also frustrate me, because it’s hard to build on them, to use them to guide future action. An evolutionary explanation is pretty much saying well, this is just the way we are, the way we’re made.

    Yes that is sort of true, but that may be just because this science is so new to us; we are the very first generation of humans to be faced with this evidence based evolutionary social dynamic, and it is like we have yet to figure out the best way to unpack the potential. But maybe this thread has been making little steps in the right direction.

    I want to see if I can wrap together Rex’s critical point above, with the idea of ‘future discounting’.

    A society where there primary political driver is capitalist self-interest, tends towards increasing inequality of wealth and opportunity. As wealth concentrates into fewer and fewer hands, so does opportunity, leaving the huge majority of people with less opportunity… and critically far less security. (So far this is just standard Marxism I guess.) Not only does the gradient between sucess and failure become too steep for an increasing portion of the population, at some point class divisions become so entrenched, people realise the rich have pulled the ladder up behind them.

    When a person perceives the environment around them is insecure, they will discount long-term investments because of the very real risk that they will never get the pay-off. This is called ‘future discounting’. Instead they will resort to short-term tactics that yeild immediate results…even if the longer term consequences are bad. (An increased crime rate is merely one expression of this at the lower boundary of acceptable social tactics.)

    Moreover both males and females participate in this process; with males taking increased risks as the disposable gender, and females selecting the risk takers in order to secure protection and resources for their children, In a dangerous socially incohesive environment, not only do nice guys finish last, but so do nice girls, but the tactics they both use to improve their chances are for very good reasons different. (Notably if the environment becomes too hostile, even the girls give up trying to have children, transitioning quite dramatically into bad behaviour and crime simply in order to survive.)

    The power of an evolutionary explanation, is that it informs our rational mind what the problem is, and what actions will be effective. It is as if we were faced with a complex unruly machine that we have finally discovered the long-lost program documentation for; finally we can set the damm thing to doing some useful work.

    The rational choice is to substitute service to others as the prime social driver, instead of self-interest. This yields a completely different result. Now prosperity becomes a tool for helping others, those who have the opportunities that wealth creates use them to also increase the opportunities for others. This in turn increases their opportunities and over time replicates itself virtuously. It also reduces the perceived inequality gradient in society, and increases security… which reduces ‘future discounting’. This means long-term investments in people and the environment become worthwhile because the pay-off is not only greater… but far more likely to be realised.

    The correct response as Rex lucidly outlines above, is BOTH reward and punishment. Our current punishment system is really just an institutionalised form of revenge… and entirely absent any meaningful reward. The supposed reward is their eventual release; right back into the shit pile they came from. There is no choice, opportunity .. nor even security… in what we are doing. The real choice we should be offering criminals needs to be far more clear; continue on your current anti-social path and be separated from society, or change and participate in it.

    The problem is that it is totally unjust to offer a criminal MORE opportunity than is generally available to most people, especially those struggling honestly at the lowest margins. And for many criminals… they make the not wholly irrational choice that they would sooner be in prison and maintain their self-respect on their own terms (however much you and I might deplore that)… than be openly humilated as the lowest of the low on our meanest streets.

    What all this tells us is that poverty is the cause of crime, but not in a way we usually think of. It depends on what the cause of poverty is. If it is the result of a universal lack of resource and development, then everyone is pretty much in the same boat and the inequality gradient (GINI) is fairly mild. By default everyone has pretty much the same order of opportunity, even if it is fairly limited, and the general level of social security, while compromised by physical things like poor food, shelter and health… is at least evenly distributed. This means that crime has a very poor pay-off, there is not much to be gained even if there is not much to be lost either.

    If however poverty is deeply endemic in a society that is actually very prosperous, this is a wholly different thing. Now there IS the appearance of something to be gained from crime, however short-term and illusory it may turn out to be. (And of course the most effective criminals may go on to be very respectable pillars of society indeed..). Moreover such inequality gives the criminal a self-serving rationalisation to justify his actions, because “hell everyone else is a self-serving prick anyhow, why do I have to change?”.

    Worse still it frustrates most attempts at rehabilitation because the effective choice between being imprisoned behind physical bars, and imprisoned in poverty.. in terms of security and opportunity… are not so very different.

  58. Carol 58

    This is a very interesting discussion. The main problem I have is differentiating a sociological explanation from a Darwinian one. Most of the convincing explanations for crime expressed here, seem to me to be more sociological than Darwinian (eg inequalities, social values/goals that become unachievable to large sections of society etc).

    There maybe is an underlying social evolutionary explanation, but is it needed to support the sociological ones? The main evolutionary element that seems to be included in these arguments makes me a little uneasy as it seems to be quite conservatively heteronormative and gender-normative, positing the main (or even only) relevant human drives as being towards hetoerosexual coupling and reproduction. This seems to incorporate an underlying stereotypical gender division in which males are the criminals and/or perpetrators of violence, and women seek a male partner for security and protection for them and their children.

    I have always felt there is far more to human motivations and underlying drives than a desire, always focused on the future, to reproduce new generations. I do concede that this heteronormative, gender-normative reproductive drive in an evolutionary theory, only needs to apply to the majority of people for the community to be reproduced. It doesn’t automatically dismiss those who fall outside this norm.

    But it still leaves me feeling uneasy and dissatisfied with a social evolutionary explanation.

    BTW my understanding of classical physical evolutionary theory is that it is not explained by human motivations or drives, but almost by unintended results of a group fo organisms’ adaptations to their environment. ie the organisms most suited to existence in their environment will survive over other organisms least suited to that environment. So if an organism has drives that are maladaptive or less adaptive than that of another organism, that organism will die out.

    But how can such explanations be easily and credibly adapted to explanations of differences in class behaviour? Other people may be a step ahead of me on this. But I find it quite hard to pull all these threads together into one comprehensive theory.

  59. RedLogix 59

    But how can such explanations be easily and credibly adapted to explanations of differences in class behaviour?

    Would you be willing to consider class behaviour to be the two biological drives of ‘group identification’ and ‘self interest’ manifesting together in a sociological complex?

    Humans do have an innate drive to belong to a group and behave altruistically. This makes sense as the isolated individual is not only likely to die, but will fail to reproduce.

    On the other hand when resources are limited, then self-interest demands that we compete for them. This makes sense as poverty causes early death and failure to not only to reproduce, but death of the children as well.

    For most of our history resources have been limited, so self-interest has tended to dominate, but fundamentally neither can our altruistic social drives be totally displaced either. This means that we have to operate both drives in some kind of compromise with each other.

    Naturally (and essentially) there is always some variation in wealth. This creates opportunities for those in different strata to create perceived ‘classes’ within society. This satisfies our ‘socialising nature’ as class group then treats it’s own as ‘insiders’ and other classes as ‘outsiders’. Which of course the economic self-interest of the most powerful wealthy group, acts to amplify and make permanent, the original wealth variations in the first place.

    The modern technological world we live in has released potentially unlimited resources (yes the planet is still finite, but we have endless opportunity to use resources in smarter and more effective ways), therefore realistically we have the opportunity to switch from competition to cooperation. Rationally this leads to an unlimited win-win scenario for the entire human race.

  60. Carol 60

    Oh, yes, RL. I am very interested in this dynamic between group-allegiance and self-interest. In fact, I am at present reading a book that focuses just on that: ie between human tendencies to act cooperatively verses that of (capitalist) competition. It draws strongly on Marxist theory, and focuses on the dynamic between cooperation and competition within network/informational capitalism (characterised as the current form of capitalism). The book is a difficult read in terms of its language and style. This may be because the author’s first language is not English (I think Austrian). It is:

    Fuchs, Christian (2008) Internet and Society: Social theory in the Information Age.

    Fuch’s argues that there is an antagonism between cooperation and competition in this latest manifestation of capitalism (eg as seen in online gift economy like open source software and wikis, verses attempts to commodify the Internet and digital culture generally). Fuch argues that within this informational version of capitalism, the fundamental antagonism (between cooperation and competition) has a Marxist type potential for the present form of capitalism to self-destruct, or at least evolve into a non-capitalist form of society. Though he also says that, this won’t happen as some form of inevitable evolution, but through individuals struggling to enable or free up the (cooperative) potential within the system to promote revolutionary change.

    Yes, RL, I have long thought that there is some sort of basic human tendencies towards cooperation and competition. I think both have helped to benefit human societies and their technological and social achievements. I have thought that problems arise when these two elements are out of balance. This has happened within neoliberalism with its dangerously extreme focus on individualistic competition.

    I am not sure what the biological basis is for these two tendencies of cooperation & competition, but they do seem to be necessary for the survival of human society. This does not require that everyone be focused on reproducing (over-population can threaten survival as much as underpopulation, or inadequate care for the young). Some people who don’t have children, contribute to the overall success of society by working (cooperatively) for its betterment( eg within social services etc, or even sometimes within business).

  61. RedLogix 61

    Carol,

    Very interesting. I wonder if I could try another approach here. Consider the American experiment with alcohol in the 1920′s; the Prohibition.

    We all know that the unrestrained abuse of alcohol is a terrible thing; imposing enormous costs to society. Yet when the state imposed draconian restrictions, the result was entirely peverse and counterproductive and the experiment was eventually abandoned.

    And as should be totally obvious to all but the most blinkered ideolog, unrestrained, ‘self-regulating’ capitalism is a total disaster. Yet attempts by the State to impose restrictions on capitalism are often less effective than we hope for, and finish up being resented and rejected by the electorate. (The Soviet state being the most egregious example.)

    Yet if as an individual and alcoholic truly determines to go sober, it can and will happen. I personally only drink very modestly (mainly a few glasses of nice reds) from time to time… I can choose not to abuse alcohol… and do so successfully.

    Equally there are any number of wonderful individuals who give generously of their time, energy and wealth to help their family, their friends and others less fortunate than themselves. Millions of individuals successfully put into practise the ideals of socialism every day. In other words, what we dream of achieving, is successfully actualised by millions of individuals everyday, but the overall oppression of a hostile society limits and frustrates the effectiveness of their altruism.

    (And this is why right wingers so often come at us with from a ‘there is no such thing as society’ perspective. In this one sense they are correct, that individuals routinely achieve what as a society we routinely fail at.)

    The missing link is this; how do we get from inspiring the few individuals to inspiring the whole of humanity?

  62. RedLogix 62

    Carol,

    Very interesting. I wonder if I could try another approach here. Consider the American experiment with alcohol in the 1920′s; the Prohibition.

    We all know that the unrestrained abuse of alcohol is a terrible thing; imposing enormous costs to society. Yet when the state imposed draconian restrictions, the result was entirely peverse and counterproductive. The experiment was eventually abandoned.

    And as should be totally obvious to all but the most blinkered ideolog, unrestrained, ‘self-regulating’ capitalism is a total disaster. Yet attempts by the State to impose restrictions on capitalism are often less effective than we hope for, and finish up being resented and rejected by the electorate.

    Yet if as an individual and alcoholic truly determines to go sober, it can and will happen. I personally only drink very modestly (mainly a few glasses of nice reds) from time to time I can choose not to abuse alcohol and do so successfully.

    Equally there are any number of wonderful individuals who give generously of their time, energy and wealth to help their family, their friends and others less fortunate than themselves. Millions of individuals successfully put into practise the ideals of socialism every day. In other words, what we dream of achieving, is successfully actualised by millions of individuals everyday, yet one cannot help but observe that a hostile or indifferent society limits and frustrates the effectiveness of their altruism.

    (And this is why right wingers so often come at us with from a ‘there is no such thing as society’ perspective. In this one sense they are correct, that individuals routinely achieve what as a society we routinely fail at.)

    The missing link is this; how do we get from inspiring the few individuals to inspiring the whole of humanity?

    PS The prior post in moderation can be deleted please.

  63. RedLogix 63

    I have long thought that there is some sort of basic human tendencies towards cooperation and competition. I think both have helped to benefit human societies and their technological and social achievements. I have thought that problems arise when these two elements are out of balance.

    Agreed. But what if our thinking that this kind of ‘either/or’ balancing act was too limiting? What if we could have BOTH competition AND cooperation at the same time?

    What if for instance, we redefined competition so as we vied with each other to be of the greatest possible cooperation with each other? It is not so silly; just a question of what we believe in.

  64. ak 64

    ….classical physical evolutionary theory is that it is not explained by human motivations or drives, but almost by unintended results of a group fo organisms’ adaptations to their environment.

    Absolutely Carol: certainly not explained by human motivations (as it explains development prior to humans even existing), but rather a stunningly simple and compelling explanation of the inevitable physical reality.
    Random mutations occur at conception (how/why is a whole nother story which doesn’t matter) and those best suited to the world they meet at birth will survive.

    Many won’t even make the hatching: miscarriages, stillbirths, dead-eggs – sans or defective in some essential feature, never made the first cut. And runt of the litter, spotted tail at a pedigree stud, twin-headed or even boy-calf on a dairy farm (twin udders might be different) – bad Darwinian luck, baby.
    The “invisible hand” of brutal reality weeds out the weak and the fittest survive: and those survivors in turn fight tooth and claw to ensure their own genes survive in further offspring. Beautiful, simple, accessible theory at the individual level – and many are happy to leave it there, embrace the individualistic “chemical soup” nihilism of the pure Libertarian, and live and die as a dog-eating dog.

    The vast majority aren’t though. Its a pretty bitter soup – and as top dogs we’ve long since left the individualist jungle – in fact it’s how we got out.
    Even dogs (and Libertarians) will form packs: bees and ants have done pretty well out of being hard-wired for self-sacrifice. Ants at the lead of an army on the march will cheerfully pile in and make a bridge of their own dead bodies. We did the same at the Somme. Our greatest heroes have faced down tanks, cut their lifeline to save their pals, risked disease to save the lowly – as one famous bloke said, “No greater love….etc” – and He and his disciple Karl seem to be pretty widely accepted still.

    And there’s a hint, when it comes to understanding our social evolution. Look back. The jungle delivered us huge brains – and philosophies and ideas are the “genes” of our social evolution. What works and endures will survive and prosper – so what has endured longest might just be our best bet. Such random mutations as colonisation, centrally-controlled markets, free Markets, Chicago School economics, imperialism, chauvinism – all gulped oxygen for a time, but succumbed to the rapidly-changing reality.

    And there’s another clue: and where the theory becomes less useful. Time has shrunk. Thanks to that big-brain-delivered technology, change has accelerated exponentially. Even our big brains struggle to process alarming developments like finite resources, shifts in societal power-balances, global warming or economic turmoil: we cower and fret, grasp wildly at archaic ideas (or even inanities like lightbulbs!), and all the time our socio-evolutionary psyche restlessly scans the horizon for that elusive Third, fourth or fiftieth Way – the mutant and miraculous instant Key to nirvana. (Jesus, look at the time, better land this lumbering hulk….)

    Forget about a second coming, we haven’t used the first yet – but even it’s partially-implemented record is top of the longevity pops so far. Puts us lefties on the right side of history. Rex and Redlogix are onto it: use those big brains and thoroughly research what’s worked – then use that technology to disseminate that knowledge to every other big brain on the globe. Just as reality changes apace, so too can social evolution: but only if the pure oxygen of competing ideas can elude the filters of current vested interests.

    Hence my inordinate optimism in this wonderful new-fangled tool and folks like youse Standardistas and commenters. Happy New Year and keep up the good work.

  65. Bill 65

    Been dipping into this thread off and on. Some interesting stuff. However, one painfully obvious point that seems to have been overlooked is that the article linked from the post posits an explanation from a vacuum. By that I mean that it discounts the environment (capitalism) within which it’s topic (human behaviour) exists. Further, it decries the descriptive nature of other analysis and then offers up a purely descriptive analysis!

    Attempting to explain behaviour through evolutionary theory is, I’m sorry to say, completely bogus and nothing beyond an interesting mental exercise. Sure we have biological parameters and motivations. But that is only a part of the story. And a not very interesting part at that. ( I cannot flap my arms and fly and I cannot think or behave in ways that are not human. Big deal.)

    But are we to believe that capitalism is neutral with regards the effect it has on behaviour? Why would we believe such a ridiculous suggestion and why would anyone suggest such a thing in the first place? Could it be because without that premise being accepted the authors would have nothing to say?

    We are multi faceted and our intentional environments offer incentives and disincentives to certain types of behaviour. We live in an environment (Capitalism) that rewards some of the worst behaviours and motivations which is enough by itself to act as a disincentive to some of the better expressions of being human. ( Under Capitalism, good guys come last).

    Forget evolution in this context and forget about putting the blame for this state we’re in on unimaginative or self interested leaders. Those leaders sought a mandate and for some reason that escapes me, people keep on giving a mandate to leaders in order that they make life altering decisions on behalf of others. Were there any evolution in the sense that some commentators have suggested, (evolution as a progression; a process of betterment) ,we would surely have outgrown that particular stupidity long ago n’est pas?

  66. RedLogix 66

    Attempting to explain behaviour through evolutionary theory is, I’m sorry to say, completely bogus and nothing beyond an interesting mental exercise

    I guess that had to be my initial response when I first encountered these ideas some years ago. It turns out that Darwin’s theory is far more generally applicable than even Darwin himself could have suspected. It is in fact one of the two or three most potent ideas humanity has ever had… and that is scarcely exaggerating. Most people are reasonably comfortable with the basics of evolution as we learnt it at school, but the the cutting edge of evolutionary theory has swept a deep transformative path through biology and now through sociology, in a way that until recently I was quite unaware of.

    Radio NZ had an excellent series of talks about a month ago.

    There is a lot of great material in them, but the fifth lecture by Professor Russell Gray is especially apposite.

  67. Bill 67

    Ok. Will give a listen. Sceptically. And if they allow space for the intentional environment….a dynamic of our behavioural patterns in context, then I’ll allow that it’s not bunk. But so far it’s a theory in a Petri dish. Cheers for the links.

  68. RedLogix 68

    Just listened through one of them again, and found it really worthwhile.

    Actually I totally agree with you… somewhere way up in this thread I think I was pretty much saying the same thing, that while the human physical being is definitely an evolved creature, complete with a whole range of complex evolved behaviours that very much drive aspects of our behaviour… our most distinctive feature (I’ll hold back from the word unique, it’s too limiting) is our ability to conceive and manipulate purely abstract concepts. Much of Prof Gray’s talk explores the outlines of this faculty, giving examples of how it might express itself in say toolmaking, language and so on.

    And of course it is from this ability for abstract thought, springs what you have called the intentional environment.

    Curiously enough of course, all the religions have made explicit reference to humanity having a dual nature; essentially the same idea but using of course a non-scientific language to express it.

  69. Rex Widerstrom 69

    I wondered how long it would be till someone proclaimed “capitalism is the root of all evil” ;-)

    Unmitigated capitalism is a recipe for disaster as is, at least IMHO, unmitigated socialism. It could be argued that enlightened capitalism would offer just the sort of Utopian society where everyone could prosper and crime would thus be much reduced. The kind of altruism mentioned above, such as Bill and Melinda Gates’ support of microloans (amongst other charitable enterprises) is offering an essentially capitalist solution to the problems of poverty and thus, indirectly, crime.

    I think Redlogix almost has it with:

    What if for instance, we redefined competition so as we vied with each other to be of the greatest possible cooperation with each other?

    That, though, ignores the very strong motivation still within our brains to win, be the best, run the fastest, make the most money. Rather than try to go so far in the other direction, why not at least start by encouraging everyone to strive to win, to acknowledge their achievement when they do, but acknowledge also their “sportsmanship” along the way? Just as sport has awards called “best and fairest” implying the two qualities are inextricably linked.

    Rather than denounce capitalism, why doesn’t the left counter the “rich list” with the “altruism list”? Acknowledge the (usually) hard work and intelligence that’s gone into making the pile, but also the generosity of spirit in giving some of it away?

    And concentrate not on those who chuck some at the opera or the ballet (in return for a corporate box, usually) but those who truly want to change society.

    Rather than hiss at the telly every time the BRT comes on, let’s do a NZ version of The Secret Millionaire – a show that simultaneously shows that capitalism works for those who can master it, but that those who have can, and should, remember what it’s like to have not. And that they can instigate huge change through relatively small investment if done cleverly.

    On a different note…

    The stabbing over the “frightened cat” has awakened the commentariat and the response is universally one of condemnation of the Parole Board (because the stabber was close to release), calls for longer sentences, etc etc. I’ve even had to get very crotchety at one person who (no doubt “jokingly”) suggested the cat problem could be solved by “giving 1080 to the vermin… and then the cats”.

    I envy other commenters their optimism, but the dissemination of rational argument which you’re advocating as a means of societal change works only when it comes up against another rational, though perhaps mistaken, argument.

    The nuances of correctional policy, let alone the underlying causes of crime, cannot be debated with someone who, as RedLogix perfectly described on the “prison tucker” thread, has dehumanised the people about whom they’re being asked to change their opinions.

    And those people, I’m afraid, are the majority. Vast numbers of them are Labour voters (it’s these people who peeled off to support NZF in the mid-90s, though the “other” then were immigrants). Some probably even vote Green. I’ll guarantee that outlook finds favour with a proportion of members of the Maori Party, despite their whanaus’ appalling over-representation in our prisons. And of course it’s a favourite theme of the right – even those who are utterly liberal on every other social issue.

    So sorry to beat the same drum, but I don’t believe this is an area where change will come from popular opinion. It’s one that requires brave, even reckless (from the POV of the proponent’s career) political leadership.

  70. Rex Widerstrom 70

    I should note for the record that I appear to have misinterpreted the comment about “vermin” I referred to above and that the commenter says he was referring to actual vermin (rats and mice), which I accept.

  71. RedLogix 71

    Rex

    I’m very concious that I (along with most others here) have had a pleasant few days THEORISING over crime, criminals and how it all comes about, and what might hypothetically be done to improve matters.

    But Rex, at each turn you bring us back to the truth; a gritty reality that you are actually DOING something about. For that I stand in sincere respect.

    The stabbing over the “frightened cat’ has awakened the commentariat and the response is universally one of condemnation of the Parole Board

    Curiously enough today we nearly lost our faithful old dog. She was chasing sticks in the river and swallowed a bit too much water. For a few moments she was choking and floundering very badly in about a foot of water… if I had not got to her PDQ she would have drowned. Gave us both a bad fright.

    People love the animals in their lives, and this man serving his sentence loved this cat… and when this other bloke scares it he reacts emotionally… just like 99% of all other humans do. (The other 1% are psychopaths and I’m not sure about them.) Prisons are evil, evil places…and in them people get worse not better, and mad, vicious stabbings are nothing especially new or unusual in these places. It is probably a wonder they do not occur more often. And few of us who have not so much as spent several seconds inside a prison, should be so cock sure as to exactly how WE would react under the sustained stress of being forced into such a dehumanising place.

    Am I excusing this act? Of course not. It was wrong, and the man will pay a consequence for it. And being stabbed in the neck will likely affect the victim’s health all his life. A needless tragedy for the both of them really.

  72. ak 72

    Rex: Unmitigated capitalism is a recipe for disaster as is, at least IMHO, unmitigated socialism.

    Granted, under the current understanding of the terms. The point I was (rather clumsily) trying to make is that neither exists as a pure (or “unmitigated”) entity – and never has. Rather, these concepts (and others) have interacted and produced a single evolving socio-political reality since the coining of the word “capitalism” as the initial explanation for a particular stage of political evolution around the 18th century.

    Today’s “capitalist” countries, with progressive taxation, public companies, employment law etc., have little in common with the system that dragged feudalism into the satanic mills. And “pure socialism” has never been even approached in practice: it can be more usefully viewed as a similarly-evolving ameliorating reaction to the downsides of capitalism. Karl was right – it’s just that good things take time, and rarely turn out exactly as you planned.

    ..but I don’t believe this is an area where change will come from popular opinion. It’s one that requires brave, even reckless (from the POV of the proponent’s career) political leadership.

    Oooooo…..dunno, Rex. Fiats don’t have the best track record (the 125 I had was a real lemon… ;)
    True, the public will accept the odd “punt”: Roger Douglas was given rope to produce our “Switzerland of the South Pacific”, but as he well knows, it punishes failure heavily – and as you note above, in the area of punishment it has a particularly short fuse. It just threw out a perfectly good government because it tried to curb child-beaters, remember? Nope, any govt going “soft” on crims without a mandate will be caned black and blue at the first opportunity.

    Sorry, but public opinion is all, especially in these focus-group/permanent-poll days. And sorry too to keep beating this drum, but public opinion is at the mercy of the media. Clubs, dances, lodges, union meetings, the flix, neighbours, churches – all fading relics of the glory days of social interaction and opinion formation – the box and the dailies hold a growing monopoly on our hearts and minds.

    Rex Widerstrom’s thoroughly informed and eloquent positions on Correction hold a power born from experience that resonates with truth (and even blows kiwiblog flies out the door I see): he’ll be read once or twice by a motley handful of tragic die-hards, while the asinine bile of Laws, George and McVicar is pumped almost daily into the living rooms of millions. Don’t blame the millions, Rex. It’s literally all they know.

    Which brings us back to evolution (and incidentally to a prediction from Marx): technology has lured us into this blind alley, and it can take us out again. Bring on that fibre to the gate, Johnny boy, and limber up your fingers, Rexes of the world.

  73. Bill 73

    Competition can be fun and affirming. But in the capitalist scenario where the winner takes all and everyone else loses…well, far too much weight to undesirable traits is necessary if you don’t want to wind up last. And ‘last’ includes second.

    Facile examples. The Crystal Maze was a game show where teams had to cooperate to get anywhere. It stands in sharp contrast to the ‘Survivor’ type shows where cooperation is ultimately subverted by the individuals need to turn everyone else into losers.

    Can we can have what we want and desire without the rapaciousness of Capitalism? Yes. But only if we reward better aspects of our behaviours and create systemic disincentives for behaviours currently associated with success under Capitalism.

    Our internal and external environments create a reinforcing loop. Under Capitalism, it’s a fairly negative reinforcement. The solution is to break the cycle.

    And that means no Capitalism. And it does not mean a socialist state either. And it can not mean solutions being crafted and handed down from leaders because in such a situation we are already back to a scenario of privilege. And privilege encourages ‘means to an end’ mentalities and behaviours…much like Capitalism.

  74. RedLogix 74

    The Crystal Maze was a game show where teams had to cooperate to get anywhere. It stands in sharp contrast to the ‘Survivor’ type shows where cooperation is ultimately subverted by the individuals need to turn everyone else into losers.

    That is not a facile example. It is a powerful instance of exactly how parts of our media machine has completely trashed it’s moral compass.

    And it gets pumped straight into the formative brains of our young people. It is this kind of thing that really scares me.

  75. Carol 75

    I said:

    I have thought that problems arise when these two elements are out of balance.

    RedLogix replied:

    Agreed. But what if our thinking that this kind of ‘either/or’ balancing act was too limiting? What if we could have BOTH competition AND cooperation at the same time?

    What if for instance, we redefined competition so as we vied with each other to be of the greatest possible cooperation with each other? It is not so silly; just a question of what we believe in.

    I was a little confused by this response because, RL, you just seemed to be repeating the same idea I expressed, but seemed to misunderstand me. Actually, I think we are really in agreement.

    When I talked of cooperation and competition being out of balance, I was not thinking of an either/or situation. It’s more that both exist, as fundamental elements of human society, but that competition has dominated over cooperation. So to get back into balance would have them both co-existing on an equal basis.

    Fuchs convincingly argues that the information society, the Internet etc, are fundamentally constructed as cooperative enterprises, with lots of individual autonomy for participants who are distributed across a decentralised network. But big corporates have increasingly colonised these cooperative enterprises, and have moved in the opposite direction towards more centralised control, based on competitive market ethos aimed at making big profits. Think for example of social network sites that big corporates have been taking over: corporates that amalgamate others, and get bigger and more centrally controlled. Meanwhile the users continue to operate cooperatively, with a certain amount of independence. But it is the competitive ethos that dominates and has most control and power, and makes money from it all. (That’s the antagonism built into the current system between cooperation & competition)

    These big corporates also often encourage cooperative practices amongst their workers, who are given a fair amount of opportunity for decision-making, flexibility etc. But, ultimately it’s a way of getting the workers to (apparently willingly) participate in furthering the competitive profit-making goals of the elite in control of the enterprise.

    Along with this comes a certain amount of worker insecurity, especially in moments of crisis as we have now. And many are excluded from the major rewards of the system, and are likely to become criminals and commit acts of violence, as others have discussed above. I was reminded of this when I read news reports (eg on Stuff) of the increase in domestic violence reported by women’s refuges over the Xmas-New Year period. This seems to be a response to the increase in worker and/or unemployed insecurity during the global financial crisis.

    So basically, we have a system where a wealthy & powerful elite has co-opted cooperative methods and enterprises, in the service of a highly competitive system.

    The alternative is to use the cooperative potential of contemporary technologies to work towards a situation where cooperation and competition are more equally employed and in balance with each other. But I’m not sure exactly what that would look like. However, the aim would be for a more inclusive system than the divisive competition-dominated hierachy we have now. And therefore, hopefully, less crime and violence.

  76. Rex Widerstrom 76

    ak:

    Actually I was having a wee nudge at Bill for his “nice guys finish last under capitalism” comment ;-) Quite a few nice guys have finished last under socialism too.

    You’re of course completely right that any government that was perceived as going “soft on crims” would be committing electoral harakiri in the present environment. But it’s all about how you sell it politically.

    I’d simply sell it as an attempt at a solution to having the occasional sociopath slip under the gaze of an overworked psychologist, to be released into the community ready to engage in a fresh round of slaughter – i.e. longer sentences for truly dangerous crims.

    Of course to achieve that we need more prison beds. So do we waste the taxpayer’s dollars on building new prisons just to accommodate non-violent offenders? To hell with them… they don’t deserve a nice new prison. Let them repay the rest of society by working to repair the damage they’ve caused and/or to make general reparation…

    Of course someone from the “hang ‘em high” brigade would cotton on, and McVicar would be let out of his cage to snarl and wail, but if one seizes the initiative one sets the terms of the debate. I’d love to see how he constructed an argument against longer sentences for the truly dangerous…

    Bill:

    Hadn’t heard of “The Crystal Maze” but it’s helped to… crystalise, if you’ll pardon the inadvertent pun… my thinking on the media’s potential to change attitudes through shows which don’t attempt to pilgerise on some weighty topic but in fact tap in to formats people already have an appetite for, like game shows.

    I shall do some more thinking on the topic this year, and endeavour to do something about it. I’d been considering something on documentary lines, about the lives of prisoners etc… but this line of thinking is potentially much more effective. Thanks for that.

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    Polity | 01-09
  • Matthew Hooton’s dirty tactics
    Outside observers might be watching the National party unravelling and wondering what the hell is going on. This is especially the case with one particular right wing propagandist, Matthew Hooton.At first Hooton’s behaviour might seem a bit strange. He has...
    The Jackal | 01-09
  • Is Petrol cheap?
    I don’t tend to look at the motoring section of the Herald much however every now and then something stands out - often for its comedy value - and that was the case yesterday in an article titled Motoring Mythbusting. The article covers off...
    Transport Blog | 01-09
  • People of Turkey, Ukraine, I salute you!
    For some reason, I seem to be getting a lot of visits from Turkey.  Or perhaps that's just where IP address disguisers are presenting as at the moment.  But I like to thin the Ruritanian nature of New Zealand politics...
    Left hand palm | 01-09
  • The health pillar of good government
    Whatever the result on September 20, John Key will start the next term with diminished personal authority. Our democracy’s health is also diminished. Key’s inch-by-inch retreat to the point where his imagined leftwing conspiracy turned into a rightwing one and...
    Colin James | 01-09
  • Keystone XL: Oil Markets and Emissions
    Estimates of the incremental emission effects of individual oil sands projects like the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline are sensitive to assumptions about the response of world markets and alternative transportation options. A recent Nature Climate Change paper by Erickson and...
    Skeptical Science | 01-09
  • Union to support Work and Income staff following tragedy
    The Public Service Association (PSA) says today’s shooting at a Work and Income office is a tragedy, and nobody should...
    PSA | 01-09
  • We no longer have a Prime Minister
    Having just listened to an item featuring John Key on Checkpoint (National Radio) I now have to announce that New Zealand has no-one at present performing the proper role of Prime Minister. John Key could not have acted less Prime Ministerial if he had...
    Political Scientist | 01-09
  • We no longer have a Prime Minister
    Having just listened to an item featuring John Key on Checkpoint (National Radio) I now have to announce that New Zealand has no-one at present performing the proper role of Prime Minister. John Key could not have acted less Prime Ministerial if he had...
    The Political Scientist | 01-09
  • Ashburton, 1 September 2014.
    Crime Scene: The murder of two WINZ workers and the wounding of another in Ashburton adds another tragic chapter to New Zealand's grim history of lone men committing multiple murders.I NEVER WENT BACK to Aramoana after the killing. I had...
    Bowalley Road | 01-09
  • Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 1 September 20...
    . - Politics on Nine To Noon - . - Monday 1 September 2014 - . - Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams - . Today on Politics on Nine To Noon, Mike Williams and Matthew Hooton on...
    Frankly Speaking | 01-09
  • Radio NZ: Politics with Matthew Hooton and Mike Williams – 1 September 20...
    . - Politics on Nine To Noon - . - Monday 1 September 2014 - . - Kathryn Ryan, with Matthew Hooton & Mike Williams - . Today on Politics on Nine To Noon, Mike Williams and Matthew Hooton on...
    Frankly Speaking | 01-09
  • John Key’s Top 69 Lies, Today no. 19 – The SkyCity deal doesn’t m...
     SkyCity deal doesn't mean more pokies – Key SkyCity is understood to be seeking law changes allowing 300 to 500 additional pokie machines and wider use of technology which would increase gambling revenue in return for building the $350 million facility...
    Arch Rival | 01-09
  • Will an inquiry make it all better?
    So far, the Dirty Politics book has generated two inquiries. The first is into the release  of information from the SIS to a certain blogger whom we don't name. The second is into Judith Collins' alleged involvement with an alleged...
    Pundit | 01-09
  • We Play Dirty at the Climate Talks Too: New Zealand’s Dirty Politics of C...
    This guest post is by David Tong, an Auckland based community lawyer working on his Master’s in Law on the UN climate talks. He chairs the P3 Foundation and co-chairs the Aotearoa New Zealand Human Rights Lawyers Association, and last...
    Hot Topic | 01-09
  • The trouble with liars
    A group of habitual liars try to get their story straight....
    Imperator Fish | 01-09
  • Photo of the day: Mitre 10′s bike parking
    The other weekend I went to the Mitre 10 Mega in Wairau Road to pick up some building supplies. To my surprise, they’ve put in a bike rack near the store entrance. I’m not sure how much use it’s going...
    Transport Blog | 01-09
  • TEU VICTORIA UNIVERSITY BRANCH NEWSLETTER – SEPTEMBER 2014
      TEU Victoria University Branch Newsletter – September 2014 In this issue: AGM-a-calling: Welcome from the Branch President Ask them Anything: TEU Presidential Election Election Special: Union members could make the difference Election Special: 3 Reasons to Vote Bringing Back Dignity:...
    Tertiary Education Union | 01-09
  • Stumbling towards Power?
    Let's be honest about it.  Labour have absolutely nothing to celebrate just now.The last few days have been fantastic for the left and in particular for a certain Mr D Cunliffe.  But before we get too deliriously joyous, let's face...
    Left hand palm | 01-09
  • Will the police investigate?
    John Key is busy putting together an inquiry into Judith Collins' attempt to undermined SFO Chief Executive Adam Feeley. The effectiveness of any inquiry will ultimately depend on its terms of reference, and the signs are not good; Key looks...
    No Right Turn | 01-09
  • Dirty Politics symposium on Friday
    Otago University will be holding an online symposium this Friday on "Debating 'Dirty Politics': Media, Politics and Law". Andrew Geddis has more details on the agenda: 1:00-1:15: Opening interview with Mr Nicky Hager 1:15-2:05: Media panel with Dr Rosemary Overell;...
    No Right Turn | 01-09
  • Debating “Dirty Politics”: Media, Politics and Law
    Love it or loathe it, Nicky Hager's Dirty Politics and its aftermath has lit a fire under our perception of "politics as usual" in New Zealand. Exactly how all that plays out come September 20th is an as yet unknown...
    Pundit | 01-09
  • More British collusion in torture
    This time in Nepal, where they funded, equipped and supported a regime torture-squad:British authorities have been accused of funding a four-year intelligence operation in Nepal that led to Maoist rebels being arrested, tortured and killed during the country’s civil war....
    No Right Turn | 01-09
  • August ’14 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
      Bloggers in the thick of election campaign? Image Credit: Against the Current PLEASE NOTE: Sitemeter is playing up again making it impossible to automatically get the stats using the normal process. I have done a manual work around but it was...
    Open Parachute | 01-09
  • What Collins’ resignation means for journalism & the campaign
    Isn't it curious how often major scandals end in farce and how often it really is cock-up rather than conspiracy? Judith Collins' fate was decided in the end by friendly fire, an accident of one of her own. And it...
    Pundit | 01-09
  • Chalk one up to Cactus Kate
    People must be getting the correct impression about now that Cameron Slater and Cathy Odger’s aren’t the smartest of bloggers.Not only have we learnt that Slater is just a simple copy and paste hack, the leaked emails show that he's...
    The Jackal | 01-09
  • R.I.P Ashburton shooting victims
    Thoughts go to the families. Everyone else around Ashburton – Stay Safe, gunman is still loose! ...
    An average kiwi | 01-09
  • EQC advertises for National
    Yesterday, EQC ran a double page spread in the Sunday Star-Times, timed for the fourth anniversary of the 2010 quake. The ad focused on lessons learned and earthquake preparedness, but part of it was about what a great job EQC...
    No Right Turn | 01-09
  • According to Slater and ‘Cactus Kate’ Gay People are “F*****g Gross...
    In the latest release of ‘alleged emails’ between National Party affiliated Right Wing BloggersCameron Slater (Racist Adulterous Blogger – WhaleOil) and the other Right Wing Blogger, ‘Cactus Kate’, anti-homosexual comments are commonly made between them. One comment by Cactus Kate...
    An average kiwi | 01-09
  • The Food Industry’s Three Essential Soundbites
    When their backs are against the wall, the Food Industry usually pull out one of three soundbites. Each of these soundbites appear sensible on their own, but when you take them as a package, it becomes clear that they are...
    Gareth’s World | 01-09
  • Urban Farm Vehicles
    Wow who knew there were so many farms in Remuera or have some locals just started taking the term Remuera Tractor a bit too literally. Motorists are evading hundreds of dollars in vehicle licensing fees by incorrectly registering their cars as...
    Transport Blog | 01-09
  • Why Is John Key Not Compelled to Give Evidence Under Oath?
    I have today sent an open letter to the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security to ask why Mr Key is not required to attend her inquiry and to give evidence under oath.  The letter is attached. Dear Inspector-General, I was...
    Bryan Gould | 01-09
  • Vega Auriga should be detained in New Zealand until problems fixed
    Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Joe Fleetwood says that the ship Vega Auriga should be detained in a New Zealand port until it is deemed seaworthy and crew issues have been fixed....
    MUNZ | 31-08
  • Judith Collins and Me: A familiar story
    It dates back to 2005, another election year. And as one of those responsible for seminars for the School of Government and the Institute of Policy Studies at Victoria University of Wellington I assisted with the organisation of two pre-election forums...
    Pundit | 31-08
  • New Fisk
    Isis isn’t the first group to use the butcher’s knife as an instrument of policy. Nor will it be the last...
    No Right Turn | 31-08
  • More OIA skullduggery from National
    Another day, and more evidence the National government is manipulating the OIA process:Judith Collins' office processed an Official Information Act request in just two days to release an email embarrassing then Serious Fraud Office head Adam Feeley in 2011....
    No Right Turn | 31-08
  • Speaker: A Slight Diversion from Election Fever: A Brief Essay on the Lost ...
    About forty-three years ago, when I was a mere 55-year-old lad, I was fishing off Red Mercury Island in a cabin motorcruiser that I’d built. A fairly large yacht came slipping past quite close to us, very peaceful and quiet,...
    Public Address | 31-08
  • Time Decent Kiwis Demanded Key Resigns Immediately, Or Postpone The Electio...
    The dodgy, immoral, probably illegal activities that the National Party, and by default the Gov’t has been up to that are just starting to come to light, are simply totally unacceptable! The National Supporters who are more worried about who...
    An average kiwi | 31-08
  • Key must be summoned
    It beggars belief that the Minister in charge of the SIS, John Key, is still claiming to know nothing about his official's attacking public servants through a third rate blog site, Whale Oil Beef Hooked.If we were to believe the...
    The Jackal | 31-08
  • New shit has come to light
    Via Stuff (sorry about quoting so much of your story, guys):  Judith Collins’ office processed an Official Information Act request in just two days to release an email embarrassing then Serious Fraud Office head Adam Feeley in 2011. The revelation...
    DimPost | 31-08
  • Brownlee’s contempt for the OIA
    Minister’s office has delayed responding to my OIA request about possible cronyism involving up to $284 million of taxpayer's funds until after the election. This is a disgrace. As readers may recall, Gerry Brownlee recently announced the winners of $284...
    Polity | 31-08
  • Capture: The Colour Of Spring
    Here she comes Silent in her sound Here she comes Fresh upon the groundCome, gentle spring Come at winter's end Gone is the pallow From a promise that's nature's giftWaiting for the colour of spring* In as much as we...
    Public Address | 31-08
  • My own take on Dirty Politics
    Now that Judith Collins is gone, what now? First, of course, the search for answers carries on. What did John Key or Wayne Eagleson know about the dirty tricks campaign in their midst? Which other Ministers might be rotting the...
    Polity | 31-08
  • What is the CFN? Transport Debate Summary
    At the 2014 Election Transport Debate organised by the Campaign for Better Transport I was charged with summarising our Congestion Free Network as an introduction to the candidate’s speeches. Here is that short speech: What is the CFN? The CFN is...
    Transport Blog | 31-08
  • Gordon Campbell on John Key’s ‘blame it on Judith’ strategy
    Right now, Prime Minister John Key seems intent on limiting the scope of any inquiry into his government’s dealings with Cameron Slater. The declared aim is to make that inquiry solely about Judith Collins’ behavior with respect to the Serious...
    Gordon Campbell | 31-08
  • On eve of major conference, UN chief spurs green investment
    Press Release – UN News 31 August 2014 Encouraging partnerships between the private sector and small developing island nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday urged corporate leaders to invest in renewable energy and make historic strides in sustainability.SAMOA: On eve...
    Its our future | 31-08
  • The Greens Are Deep In Dirty Politics
    I have a confession, as a Green candidate I too have been involved in some dirty politics and it has been filthier than many would expect.I had someone contact me recently because of his concern about poor service from an...
    Local Bodies | 31-08
  • Pop-up Tea Shop
    Rose and vanilla tea, complete with cosy, and accompanied by old-fashioned carrot cake, Pop-up Tea Shop, August 31 2014This post is part of the 100 Days ProjectDay 52Some enterprising people ran a pop up tea shop in the Grey Lynn...
    Notes from the edge | 31-08
  • Collins gets a cheer
    This post is part of the 100 Days Project Day 51I was in my hairdresser's making an appointment today and the owner was on reception, so we got to shooting the sh*t a little, as you do.  Things turned political and...
    Notes from the edge | 31-08
  • MANA Movement Leadership stands strong behind Internet MANA relationship
    “There is now, and always will be, a range of views about many issues within our movement and members are free to express them, but Georgina’s views on Kim Dotcom are not shared by the MANA Movement leadership or the vast majority...
    Mana | 01-09
  • Rebuilding the New Zealand Defence Force
    A Labour Government will make it a priority to rebuild the capacity of the Defence Force to carry out the tasks expected of it, says Labour’s Defence Spokesperson Phil Goff. Releasing Labour’s Defence Policy today he said the NZDF has...
    Labour | 01-09
  • Speech to Canterbury Chamber of Commerce
    Today I'm going to talk about our policy package to upgrade and grow our economy and how we turn that growth into a foundation for a decent and fair society. But first I want to address the issue of our...
    Labour | 01-09
  • Commission of Inquiry must have bipartisan support
    The Labour Party is drafting terms of reference for a Commission of Inquiry, Labour’s Shadow Attorney-General David Parker says. “It is abundantly clear there is a need for an independent Commission of Inquiry, chaired by a High Court Judge, into...
    Labour | 01-09
  • Rapid Transit to unclog Christchurch
    Labour will build a 21st century Rapid Transit system for Christchurch, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. “The long delayed recovery of Christchurch hinges on a modern commuter system for the city. “We will invest $100 million in a modern rail plan...
    Labour | 31-08
  • Labour’s commitment to public broadcasting
    A Labour Government will set up a working group to re-establish a public service television station as part of our commitment to ensuring New Zealand has high quality free-to-air local content. “We will set up a working group to report...
    Labour | 31-08
  • A new deal for the conservation estate
    The health of our economy depends on New Zealand preserving and restoring our land, air, water and indigenous wildlife, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson. Announcing Labours Conservation policy, she said that there will be a comprehensive plan to restore...
    Labour | 31-08
  • Labour’s plan to end homelessness
    Labour has a comprehensive approach to end homelessness starting with the provision of emergency housing for 1000 people each year and putting an end to slum conditions in boarding houses, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “Labour believes that homelessness is not...
    Labour | 30-08
  • Labour: A smarter approach to justice
    A Labour Government will improve the justice system to ensure it achieves real public safety, provides equal access to justice and protects human rights, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Andrew Little says. “Our approach is about tackling the root causes of crime, recognising...
    Labour | 29-08
  • Labour to foster Kiwi love of sport and the great outdoors
    A Labour Government will promote physical activity, back our top athletes and help foster Kiwis’ love of the great outdoors by upgrading tramping and camping facilities. Trevor Mallard today released Labour’s sports and recreation policy which will bring back a...
    Labour | 29-08
  • Pacific languages recognised under Labour
    Labour will act to recognise the five main Pacific languages in New Zealand including through the education system, said Pacific Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio. Announcing Labour’s Pacific Island policy he said that there must be a strong commitment to...
    Labour | 29-08
  • No healthy economy without a healthy environment
    Labour recognises that we cannot have a healthy economy without a healthy environment, says Environment spokesperson Moana Mackey announcing Labour’s environment policy. “New Zealand’s economy has been built on the back of the enormous environmental wealth we collectively enjoy as...
    Labour | 28-08
  • Better protection, fairer deal for Kiwi consumers
    Tackling excessive prices, ensuring consumers have enough information to make ethical choices and giving the Commerce Commission more teeth are highlights of Labour’s Consumer Rights policy. “The rising cost of living is a concern for thousands of Kiwi families. A...
    Labour | 28-08
  • Media Advisory – MANA Movement Candidate for Waiariki Annette Sykes, Waia...
    Media are advised that this coming weekend, the MANA Movement Candidate for Waiariki, Annette Sykes, will be on the Internet MANA Road Trip within the electorate of Waiariki. Speakers confirmed are Annette Sykes, Hone Harawira, John Minto, Laila Harre and Kim...
    Mana | 27-08
  • Internet MANA – Waiariki Road Trip: 29, 30, 31 Aug 2014
    The Internet MANA Road Trip hits Waiariki this weekend. It would be great if all MANA members in Waiariki could especially attend the public meetings and show their support for our Waiariki candidate Annette Sykes. Confirmed speakers Hone Harawira (except Taupo), Annette...
    Mana | 27-08
  • First home buyers $200 a week better off with Labour
    A couple earning around $75,000 a year would be $200 a week better off buying a two bedroom terraced Labour KiwiBuild home instead of an equivalent new build under National’s housing policy, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe.  “National’s policy to...
    Labour | 26-08
  • Another Day – Another big power profit
    The latest profit announcement from Genesis Energy shows that the power company was sold for a song to the detriment of the country’s power consumers, says Labour’s Energy spokesperson David Shearer. “A net profit of $ 49.2 million follows hard...
    Labour | 26-08
  • Labour embraces the rainbow
    Labour will work hard to ensure all New Zealanders enjoy the freedom to grow up and live their lives in dignity and security. Labour’s Rainbow policy, released tonight in Wellington, focuses on International Relations, Human Rights and Education....
    Labour | 26-08
  • National gets fast and loose with the facts
    In their desperation to make it look as though they are doing something about the housing crisis, National is playing fast and loose with the facts, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford....
    Labour | 26-08
  • Labour will drop power prices for Kiwi families
    New Zealanders will get cheaper power prices under NZ Power, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. “The electricity market is clearly broken. With falling demand for electricity, prices should be going down. Instead prices are going up and companies are extracting...
    Labour | 26-08
  • Labour: Promoting sustainable tourism
    Ensuring New Zealand’s clean, green status continues to be an international tourism benchmark and reviewing MBIE’s oversight of the tourism sector will be on the radar under a Labour Government. Releasing Labour’s Tourism policy today, spokesperson Darien Fenton said tourism...
    Labour | 26-08
  • Skills shortage a result of National’s complacency
    The fact that there is still a severe shortage of skilled tradespeople, despite a growth in the number of apprentices, is a result of National’s failure to plan and develop the workforce, Grant Robertson, Labour Employment, Skills and TrainingSpokesperson says."The...
    Labour | 26-08
  • How much tax does John Key pay compared to a minimum wage worker?? – Mint...
    MANA Movement Economic Justice spokesperson John Minto is calling for a radical overhaul of New Zealand’s taxation system with calculations showing that a minimum wage worker pays a ten times higher tax rate than the Prime Minister. o Minimum wage...
    Mana | 25-08
  • Labour’s culture of science and innovation
    Labour will create a culture of science and innovation in New Zealand that will be the envy of the world, says Labour’s Innovation, Research and Development spokesperson Megan Woods. “Labour believes that good science lies at the heart of a...
    Labour | 25-08
  • Improving life for our new New Zealanders
    New Zealand’s international standing as a community that encourages and fosters all cultures will be bolstered under a Labour Government with an upgrade of the present Office of Ethnic Affairs to a Ministry. Releasing Labour’s Ethnic Affairs policy, spokesperson Phil...
    Labour | 25-08
  • South Auckland housing crisis
    National’s HomeStart package is nothing more than a political stunt designed to beguile South Auckland voters, said Labour’s Pacific Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio. “Few working Pasifika and Maori workers in South Auckland will be able to buy their own...
    Labour | 25-08
  • Home buyer subsidy discredited in Oz
    Treasury advised against National’s policy of ramping up home buyer subsidies after it was discredited in Australia because it pushed house prices even higher, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “Documents released under the OIA (attached) show Treasury advised the...
    Labour | 25-08
  • Nursing hours explain turnover and high-stress culture
    A staff survey supports concerns nursing staff at Dunedin Hospital are under increasing pressure and that the emergency department is in a critical state, says Labour’s Associate Health Spokesperson David Clark.  “An ED nursing survey at Dunedin found that 80...
    Labour | 24-08
  • Underhand tactics prove case for axing donations
    Revelations that schools are using underhand tactics to coerce donations from cash-strapped parents further highlights the need for Labour's plan to increase funding so they aren't dependent on contributions from parents, Labour's Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “By law New...
    Labour | 24-08
  • National applies band-aid to housing crisis
    The Government’s flagship housing announcement is a band-aid approach that will push up prices rather than solve the housing crisis, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. “House sales to first home buyers have collapsed as a direct result of the Government’s...
    Labour | 24-08
  • Climate change focus on the now for the future
    A Labour Governmentwill put in place a comprehensive climate change strategy focusing on bothmitigation and adaptation, establish an independent Climate Commission andimplement carbon budgeting, says Labour Climate Change spokesperson MoanaMackey."This is about future-proofing our economy. Making the transition to alow-carbon...
    Labour | 24-08
  • Labour’s 21st century transport pledge
    The next Labour-led Government will create a 21st century transport system for New Zealand that promotes the most efficient and sustainable combination of transport options, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Labour will rebalance the Government's transport spending away from...
    Labour | 23-08
  • Housing under National: the facts
    1.       House prices in Auckland Council valuations indicate Auckland house prices have gone up by one-third over the last three years. (Auckland Council) The average Auckland house price has gone up by nearly $225,000 since 2008, up over $75,000 in...
    Labour | 23-08
  • Labour irons out low income tax issue
    The increasing casualisation of work has led to many New Zealand families being disadvantaged through the tax they pay, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. "Many low paid workers are having to work two or three jobs to make ends meet...
    Labour | 22-08
  • Cornered Government comes out swinging
    The National Government is so desperate to keep its dead-in-the-water expert teachers policy alive, it has refused to rule out forcing schools to participate through legislation, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “John Key today attacked the Educational Institute for...
    Labour | 22-08
  • Pacific people continue to go backwards under National
    A report from Victoria University highlights the fact that Pacific people are continuing to go backwards under a National Government, said Labour’s Pacific Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio.  “The report shows the largest inequality increases were in smoking, obesity, tertiary...
    Labour | 22-08
  • Wellington transport plan needs to keep moving
    The failure of the Transport Agency to properly look at alternatives to the Basin Reserve flyover is not a good reason for further delays to improving transport in Wellington, Labour MPs Grant Robertson and Annette King say. “The Board of...
    Labour | 22-08
  • Labour’s focus on inequality, kids and better job prospects
    Tackling child poverty and removing barriers to people working part time to enhance their prospects of moving into a fulltime job are highlights of Labour’s Social Development policy. Releasing the policy today, spokesperson Sue Moroney said while part-time work was...
    Labour | 21-08
  • Political staff should give answers under oath
    The Inspector General of Security and Intelligence should use her full statutory powers to question witnesses under oath about the leak of SIS information, says Labour MP Phil Goff. “Leakage of confidential information from the SIS for political purposes is...
    Labour | 21-08
  • High dollar, hands-off Govt sends workers to dole queue
    The loss of up to 100 jobs at Croxley stationery in Auckland is devastating news for their families and the local Avondale community, Labour’s Employment, Skills and Training spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The company’s inability to compete in international markets...
    Labour | 21-08
  • National’s flagship education policy dead in the water
    National’s plan to create executive principals and expert teachers is effectively dead in the water with news that 93 percent of primary teachers have no confidence in the scheme, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “The fact that teachers are...
    Labour | 21-08
  • Dunedin will be a knowledge and innovation centre under Labour
    Dunedin will become a knowledge and innovation centre under a Labour Government that will back local businesses, support technology initiatives and fund dynamic regional projects, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “Nowhere has the National Government’s short-sightedness been more apparently than...
    Labour | 21-08
  • Inquiry into SIS disclosures the right decision
    Labour MP Phil Goff says the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has done the right thing by launching an inquiry into the disclosure of SIS documents about a meeting between himself and the agency’s former director-general. “This inquiry is necessary...
    Labour | 20-08
  • Labour – supporting and valuing carers and the cared for
    Placing real value on our elderly and the people who care for them will be a priority for a Labour Government, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. Releasing Labour’s Senior Citizens policy today David Cunliffe promised that a Labour Government would...
    Labour | 20-08
  • By Hoki! It’s Labour’s fisheries policy
    A Labour Government will protect the iconic Kiwi tradition of fishing by improving access to the coast, protecting the rights of recreational fishers and reviewing snapper restrictions, Labour’s Fisheries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “Catching a fish from the rocks, beach...
    Labour | 20-08
  • Mighty River – Mighty Profits – Mighty hard to swallow
    Mighty River Power’s profit increase of 84 per cent is simply outrageous, says Labour’s Energy spokesperson David Shearer. “Demand for electricity is flat or declining yet the company has made enormous profits. It is the latest power company to celebrate...
    Labour | 19-08
  • Collins’ actions were wrong, not unwise
    John Key’s moral compass remains off-kilter as he cannot bring himself to declare Judith Collins’ actions outright wrong, not simply ‘unwise’, said Labour MP Grant Robertson. “Under pressure John Key is finally shifting his stance but his failure to condemn...
    Labour | 19-08
  • Public servants behaving with more integrity than their masters
    The State Services Commission's new report on the integrity of our state services reflects the yawning gap between the behaviour of public servants and that of their political masters, Labour's State Services spokesperson Maryan Street says. “This report, which surveyed...
    Labour | 19-08
  • Phil Twyford Speech to NZCID
    "Labour's plan to build more and build better: how new approaches to housing, transport and urban development will deliver cities that work" Phil Twyford, Labour Party spokesperson on housing, transport, Auckland issues, and cities.  ...
    Labour | 19-08
  • Labour commits to independent Foreign Affairs and Trade
    “Labour is committed to New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs and Trade policy being independent and proactive, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “We are a small but respected country. Our voice and actions count in international affairs. Labour will take a...
    Labour | 19-08
  • Coalition for Better Broadcasting – Auckland Broadcasting Debate 2014
    Coalition for Better Broadcasting – Auckland Broadcasting Debate 2014...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • Petition for Governor General of New Zealand to Investigate all the allegat...
      Now we see the inquiry will be a whitewash, that is secret, won’t be consulted with the Opposition, will have limited scope and will ignore Nicky Hager’s book, we must demand the Governor General step in and demand an...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • Ashburton, 1 September 2014
    I NEVER WENT BACK to Aramoana after the killing. I had been a frequent visitor to the tiny seaside village back in the late 1970s and throughout the 80s. Its tall cliffs and broad beaches providing a colourful backdrop to...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • Checkmate in 1 move – how could Slater have known what was in OIA request...
    And now we get down to the final few moves before checkmate. If the following investigation is right, how could Slater and Collins have known what was in the Secret Intelligence Service Official Information Act request that hadn’t been released...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • The Edge Posts Naked Photos Of Jennifer Lawrence Without Consent
    Today the Edge website – owned by Media Works – published fully naked photographs of Jennifer Lawrence without her consent. It is not OK to publish naked media of any woman without her consent, full stop. It is absolutely disgusting...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • Bomber, Laila and Maggie – a highlight from Auckland Broadcasting Debate ...
    Bomber, Laila and Maggie – a highlight from Auckland Broadcasting Debate 2014...
    The Daily Blog | 01-09
  • Jeremy Wells’ Mike Hosking rant on Radio Hauraki: Today, how good was I i...
    Jeremy Wells’ Mike Hosking on Radio Hauraki...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • Maggie Barry slags Laila Harre & blogger, audience erupt
    The Coalition for Better Broadcasting held their public meeting in Auckland last night and it became a fiery shouting match when Maggie Barry decided to slag Laila Harre and me off. 250 people packed into the Pioneer Hall off High...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • It has to be a full independent public inquiry and Key MUST front
      You know things are bad when images like this start appearing in the media.  It isn’t a ‘left wing conspiracy’ to point out the over whelming evidence of what is clearly a right wing conspiracy! If it looks like a conspiracy, sounds like a conspiracy...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • Political Party social media stats – National playing Dirty Politics on s...
    Interesting data from friend of the blog, Marty Stewart, on social media likes and it shows an interesting question that post Dirty Politics should probably get asked…   …it’s interesting that Key has so many personal followers.  One wonders if...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • The depth of the National rot and the compliance of our news media
    I’m so tired. Aren’t you? I don’t want to read the news anymore. It’s awful and I feel ashamed of it. We live in a country that people all over the world would give an arm, a leg; their life...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • Conservative Party candidate links smacking ban with suicide, sexually tran...
    If Chemtrails, faked moon landings and climate change denial weren’t enough, welcome to your new Minister for Spanking,  Edward Saafi... The anti-smacking law is to blame for youth suicide, youth prostitution and even sexually-transmitted infections, a leading Conservative party candidate...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • A brief word on the canonisation of Matthew Hooton
    Before we all start the canonisation of Matthew Hooton, let’s consider some home truths here shall we? While the Wellington Ruminator Blog, the blog who was previously mates with Judith Collins, now seems to have a crush on Matthew Hooton… …I...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • A brief word on undercover cops in bars
    Dunedin police booze operation labelled ‘creepy’ Undercover police officers drank in Dunedin bars as part of an operation targeting liquor licensing offences. While police said the inaugural operation was a success — with most bars found compliant — the Hospitality...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • Judith Collins press conference
    Judith Collins press conference...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Angry Lawyer – Collins, Odgers, Williams and legal ethics
    We deserve better lawyers than Judith Collins Three of the worst offenders exposed in Dirty Politics are lawyers: Judith Collins, Cathy Odgers, and Jordan Williams. What Nicky Hager exposed them doing would be out of line for anyone, but from...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Pat O’Dea – Necessary Defence
    Increasingly climate change is becoming the main fracture line between political parties. Where political parties stand on climate change defines political parties and movements like no other issue. The Mana Movement like the Maori Party it sprang from, came out...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • Why it is all over for John Key
    Image: Melanie D I’ve been confident that National will lose this election and that our focus should be on what a progressive Government needs to establish as its agenda in the first 100 days. Past that point, the establishment pushes back...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • A brief word to everyone who voted National in 2011
    I received this interesting email from a National Party supporter today… …let me say this to anyone who voted National last election – you should be ashamed by what has been revealed and what your vote ended up enabling but...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • EXCLUSIVE: Déjà Vu All Over Again: John Ansell confirms his participation...
      THE MAN BEHIND the Iwi-Kiwi billboards that very nearly won the 2005 election for Don Brash and the National Party has confirmed his involvement in businessman John Third’s and former Act MP Owen Jennings’ campaign to drive down the...
    The Daily Blog | 31-08
  • Public Broadcasting Auckland debate 6.30pm tonight now with Colin Craig &am...
    The Coalition for Better Broadcasting debate on public broadcasting happens tonight at 6.30pm in Auckland at the Pioneer Women’s Hall, High Street, Auckland City.  In the light of Dirty Politics and the manipulation of the media, public broadcasting is more important for...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Winners & Losers in Collins sacking plus what’s the latest on Slater...
      Make no mistake, there was no way this was a resignation, it’s a face saving way out for Collins, she was sacked.  My understanding is that National internal polls are haemorrhaging and that the powers that be within National...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Third party propaganda attacks incoming Labour-led government
    . . Further to a report by Daily Blogger, Chris Trotter, on receiving information regarding planned attack-billboards, the following billboard is highly visible to traffic on the southbound lane of the Wellington motorway, just prior to the Murphy St turn-off....
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Labour wins the Internet
    I’m sure I’m not the only one who tried to vote online for the leaders debate and couldn’t because the website was down. The next option was the txt vote, 75c a pop of course. So I’m not surprised that...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Anjum Rahman – Rotherham and the need to challenge willful bl...
    I haven’t been following the events in Rotterham too closely.  I’ve read about the basic issues and the culture of silence that stopped action been taken even after complaints were made.  That culture of silence is incredibly familiar, and described...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Review: Hairspray
      Oh Hairspray! What fun! Somehow I managed to miss the movie when it came out, I had no idea really what it was about though I felt it had a vague relation to High School Musical. In retrospect, that...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • Mounting global pressure against Timor-Leste’s ‘death sentence’ media...
    East Timor’s José Belo … courageous fight against ‘unconstitutional’ media law.Image: © Ted McDonnell 2014 CAFÉ PACIFIC and the Pacific Media Centre Online posted challenges to the controversial ‘press law’ nine months ago when it emerged how dangerous this draft...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Curwen Rolinson – Spies, Lies and When Campaigns Are Fried
    Like most of the rest of the nation’s political classes, I was eagerly affixed to TV One from 12:30 on Saturday afternoon to witness the downfall of Judith Collins.Whenever we witness the crumbling of a titan of the political landscape...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • BREAKING: Whaleoil crushes Crusher
    Judith ends up shooting herself A new email has been released suggesting that Collins was attempting to undermine the head of Serious Fraud Office with the help of far right hate speech merchant Cameron Slater. Unbelievable!   She has been forced...
    The Daily Blog | 30-08
  • BREAKING: Rumours Judith Collins gone at lunchtime
    Brook Sabin first of the mark with rumours Judith Collins is about to resign – PM announcing a statement at 12.30pm… …Paddy follows… …Vance confirms..   …if Collins is gone by lunchtime, it will be because the PM understands the...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • BREAKING: UPDATE on DIRT ALERT!
    Thanks to the information passed to Chris Trotter by “Idiot/Savant” from No Right Turn it is now possible to identify at least some of the persons involved in this latest example of attack politics. What follows is Chris’s response to Idiot/Savant’s timely assistance: Well done...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • Comparing burning puppets, hip hop lyrics and drunk student chants to black...
    Watching the mainstream media try and obscure Cunliffe’s surprise win in the leaders debate  is a reminder the Press Gallery is in depressed shock. The current spin line from the Wellington bubble media in the wake of Dirty Politics is that...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • Why has it all gone quiet on Charter Schools?
    They’re one of ACT’s flagship policies and the National Party have been gung ho in supporting them. So how come we’re not hearing Hekia Parata, Jamie Whyte, Catherine Isaac, et al singing from the rafters about what a resounding success charter...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • Moment of Truth – September 15th – Auckland Town Hall
    Moment of Truth – September 15th – Auckland Town Hall...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • EXCLUSIVE: Dirt Alert! Are the Greens and Labour about to become the target...
    WE’VE SEEN IT ALL BEFORE. In 2005 pamphlets began appearing all over New Zealand attacking Labour and the Greens. For a couple of days both the parties targeted and the news media were flummoxed. Who was behind such an obviously...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • The Donghua Liu Affair: the Press Council’s decision
    . . 1. Prologue . The Donghua Liu Affair hit  the headlines on 18 June, with allegations that David Cunliffe wrote a letter in 2003,  on  behalf of  business migrant, Donghua Liu. Four days later, on Sunday 22 June, the...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • The difference between Cunliffe & Key in the debate
    It was with much interest that I watched the leaders debate on Thursday night.  I watched with an open mind, always happy to have my opinion changed.  Maybe John Key is all the wonderful things that many say about him,...
    The Daily Blog | 29-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Denis Tegg – When Did We Agree To Our Data Being Shared with ...
    New shocking evidence has emerged from Edward Snowden’s trove of documents about a program called ICREACH under which data collected by the GCSB is shared with 23 US spy agencies. Under new sharing agreements which appear to have commenced immediately after...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Why Internet MANA are the best political friends the Greens could ever get
    Metiria at last nights #GreenRoomNZ: standing on the shoulders and camera cases of giants  NZers, regardless of political spectrum or apathy level, have a wonderful beach cricket egalitarianism about us. If we can objectively conclude a winner, then that person...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Sick of the Sleaze? Protest against National’s dirty politics THIS SATURD...
    Sick of the Sleaze? Protest now dammit! Three weeks before the election, action is being taken across the country voicing a rejection of the National Government’s track record and direction. Rallies are being held in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • GUEST BLOG: Sir Edmund Thomas – Address at Nicky Hager public meeting
    I regard it as privilege to chair this public meeting. I have long had the greatest admiration for Nicky Hager’s work, and nothing I have read or heard in the media over the past week or so has caused me...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Labour and New Zealand Superannuation
    The kerfuffle in the wake of Nicky Hager’s Dirty Politics has had a detrimental impact on our discussion of economic policies. Signs are that the main beneficiaries of the dirty politics revelations will be Winston Peters and Colin Craig; certainly National suffered...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Coalition for Better Broadcasting – Mike Hosking and the Leader’s Debat...
    A few weeks ago I blogged that Mike Hosking was a terrible choice as moderator for the TV One Party Leader’s Debate, because he is so embarrassingly biased in favour of John Key. So I watched the show with curiosity,...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Democracy and Cancer: A critical analysis of Dirty Politics
    Twenty years ago, England’s renowned television playwright Denis Potter died of pancreatic cancer.  Readers may recall his two masterpieces ‘Pennies from Heaven’ and ‘The Singing Detective’.  During a final television interview with Melvyn Bragg, Potter declared that he had named...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Cunliffe beats Key in First Leaders debate
    I watched the First Leaders debate at the Green Party #GreenRoomNZ, they were very kind to include me and the atmosphere was great. The debate was a resounding victory to Cunliffe. He won Round 1, Round 2, Round 3 and...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • LIVE STREAM: The Green Room Leader’s Debate from 6:30pm
    The Green Room will be hosted by media commentator Russel Brown, and will feature Green Co-leaders Metiria Turei and Russel Norman responding to the debate live, along with comment from thought leaders and commentators. ‘The Green Room’ 6pm – 8.30pm...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • How many taxpayer funded staff does John Key need to prepare for a Leaders ...
    John Key is currently at the Auckland Stamford Plaza with 40 staff, 4 undercover police cars and an entire floor booked out in preparation for tonights Leader’s debate. Isn’t 40 staff including coms, flown up to Auckland for a debate...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • A brief word on National Party Rodney MP, Mark Mitchell
    MP considers legal action against Nicky HagerThe National MP says he is considering taking a defamation case after the September 20 election.“Someone needs to be held accountable,” he said. Oh really champ? Brothers and sisters, there is a long way...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Greens advertise on Whaleoil – but not on The Daily Blog?
    PaknSave have shown ethical compass and blocked adverts on Whaleoil, yet the Greens are advertising on Whaleoil, and not The Daily Blog? I would imagine there are far more potential Green voters on The Daily Blog then ever are on...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • It’s about the stupid economy stupid
    In focus group meetings, the sleepy hobbits of NZ by a staggering amount all believe that National are better economic stewards of the country than Labour, that’s why, instead of answering questions about blackmailing MPs, trawling brothels for dirt on...
    The Daily Blog | 28-08
  • Personal Statement by Matthew Hooton
    Personal Statement by Matthew Hooton 1 September 2014 For Immediate Release “This morning I made comments on Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon programme about an attempt by staff in the Prime Minister’s Office to interfere in the appointment...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • The Worm turns down for John Key
    John Key struggled to coax The Worm above the line in Thursday’s Leaders Debate, according to Roy Morgan’s Reactor, the original Worm. John Key struggled to coax The Worm above the line in Thursday’s Leaders Debate, according to Roy Morgan’s...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • The Edge Posts Naked Photos Without Consent
    The Edge website, owned by Media Works have published fully naked photographs of Jennifer Lawrence without her consent....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Statement from the Governor-General on Ashburton Shootings
    The Governor-General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae, has expressed his deep shock following the shooting of three people in Ashburton today....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Update on IGIS inquiry into release of NZSIS information
    In recognition of the public interest, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, took the unusual step of providing an update during the course of an inquiry and confirmed today that she would be summoning a number of individuals...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • An Open Government Plan developed in secrecy
    The State Services Commission sent NZ’s Open Government Action Plan to the international Open Government Partnership (OGP) Secretariat on 31 July. The countries involved in the OGP since its inception - from the UK and US to Indonesia and Brazil...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • KiwiRail; another year older and deeper in debt
    That is a lot of money and there are lessons that need to be learnt before we pour in another $1 billion....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Fonterra China Deal Demands Safe Supply Chain
    The future success of Fonterra’s deal to sell infant formula in China [1] requires all milk it uses be safe and for Fonterra to secure its supply chain from contamination by GE DNA and pesticide residues. There is now significant...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • HRC praises Auckland mum for speaking out
    Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy has praised an Auckland mother of four who went public after humiliating treatment by staff at The Warehouse....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Southern DHB refers disputed issue to Serious Fraud Office
    Following advice from forensic investigation firm Beattie Varley Limited, Southern District Health Board has referred the expenditure at the centre of its long running dispute with South Link Health to the Serious Fraud Office. The parties have been...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • The Letter 1 September 2014
    Last night’s TVNZ Colmar Brunton poll puts the left and right 60 MPs each. United and the Maori Party say they will go with the side that gets to 61 MPs. ACT just needs just 1.3% or 28 thousand Party...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Shopping Giveaway Harmless Fun For Kids
    Family First NZ is rubbishing claims by critics including Gareth Morgan that the New World ‘Little Shop’ promotion is harmful for kids, and says that kids should be allowed to be kids. “Children love acting like their parents and pretending...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Red Cross launches employment service for former refugees
    New Zealand Red Cross is encouraging employers to give refugees a fresh startwith the launch of Pathways to Employment, a nationwide work assistance service....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • EDS welcomes Labour’s Conservation Policy
    The Environmental Defence Society has welcomed Labour’s Conservation Policy including the key objective of halting the current pattern of indigenous biodiversity decline within ten years....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Poverty is falling and income inequality is not rising
    “A Roy Morgan poll shows that the issue people are most concerned about is income inequality. This just goes to show how the persistent repetition of a lie bewilders the public. Income inequality is not in fact rising. And the...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Rotary NZ responding to Fiji water and sanitation issues
    Clean water and sanitation are vital to health. In Fiji Rotary New Zealand have been targeting 22 communities that are experiencing severe hardship mainly because they don’t have access to clean water for their drinking, cleaning and cooking needs....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Work & Income shooting a Tragedy
    Kay Brereton speaking on behalf of the National Beneficiary Advocacy Consultancy group says; “Two people shot and another wounded, this is a tragedy and our deepest sympathy goes out to the family and whanau of the victims, as well as...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • 1080 Poison Deer Repellent not Effective – Farmers
    Four deer have been found dead within a farmer's bush block, after an aerial 1080 poison drop applied with deer repellent. The drop was part of a 30,000 hectare drop across the Northern Pureora Forest Park....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Employment Charter will strengthen migrants’ rights
    Establishing an Employment Charter for construction companies is a critical step to strengthening the rights of migrant workers that are fast becoming the face of the Christchurch rebuild, according to an alliance of union groups. The charter has...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Global March For Elephants and Rhino
    It’s a trans-national business that funds terrorist organisations, fuels conflict in Africa, and poses environmental, development and security challenges. The illegal wildlife trade is also a lucrative business, generating an estimated USD$20 billion...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • New series of videos aimed at disengaged youth
    From the people who brought you 'NZ Idle' (NZ's favourite web series about an artist on the dole) comes a new series about election time: Choice Lolz....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Picket Of Leaders Christchurch Debate
    KEEP OUR ASSETS PICKET OF LEADERS CHRISTCHURCH DEBATE TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 2nd, 6 p.m. ST MARGARETS COLLEGE, SHREWSBURY STREET, MERIVALE...
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Vega Auriga should be detained in NZ until problems fixed
    Maritime Union of New Zealand National Secretary Joe Fleetwood says that the ship Vega Auriga should be detained in a New Zealand port until it is deemed seaworthy and crew issues have been fixed....
    Scoop politics | 01-09
  • Minor Parties Added to Election ‘Bribe-O-Meter’
    The Taxpayers’ Union have added the Green, ACT, United Future and Conservative Parties to the ‘ Bribe-O-Meter ’ hosted at taxpayers.org.nz . Excluding ACT and New Zealand First, the total election ‘bribes’ - that is new spending not already...
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • Fiery Broadcasting Debate in Auckland
    Over 250 people turned out for the Auckland Broadcasting and Media Debate in Auckland City last night to hear politicians give their solutions to NZ’s media and broadcasting woes....
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • Independent Epsom Candidate: Adam Holland
    Today I am very proud to have been nominated to run as an independent candidate by the people of Epsom in order to work hard for the people of Epsom, Mount Eden, Newmarket and Remuera....
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • Voters favour parties with factory farming policies
    A Horizon Research poll shows that 64.7% of adults are more likely to vote for a political party with a policy against factory farming....
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • Collins And Dirty Politics Drive The #nzpol Wordcloud
    After Judith Collins' resignation as Minister from Cabinet on Saturday, the data insight organisation Qrious collected all tweets that used the hashtag #nzpol and for approximately the 24 hours since the announcement to produced this wordcloud....
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • Bill English: allegations against Judith Collins are serious
    Deputy Prime Minister Bill English told TV1’s Q+A programme that the allegations against Judith Collins are serious and that’s why an inquiry is needed....
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • Culture Change Required
    "There are serious issues raised in an Employment Relations Authority judgement released this week. The culture within the Whangarei District Council (WDC) organisation must change. The culture of any organisation is defined by its leadership starting...
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • Reducing Reoffending Statistic Challenged
    In Rethinking’s latest blog, http://blog.rethinking.org.nz/2014/08/th-bps-reducing-crime-and-reoffending.html it closely examines the current claim that reoffending in New Zealand has reduced by 12.5% since June 2011, and reveals how that figure has been achieved. It argues...
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • University economics team studying workers’ comparing wages
    A University of Canterbury economics research team is looking at fairness of the job assignments and whether workers are sensitive to the wages of their co-workers....
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • Statement by State Services Commissioner
    30 August 2014 "The State Services Commission was contacted by the Prime Minister's Office over the last 24 hours on this issue." “Any activity that undermines, or has the potential to undermine, the trust and confidence in the public service...
    Scoop politics | 31-08
  • Christchurch Council Circus … Continued
    In 2010 the UK Daily Mail investigated the antics of a major bureaucratically bloated London Local Authority and reported with THE GREAT INERTIA SECTOR ....
    Scoop politics | 30-08
  • The Nation Housing Debate
    Patrick It's the great Kiwi dream, but is owning the roof over your head now just a pipe dream for many Kiwis? Homeownership is at the lowest level in half a century. National's answer is to double subsidies to first-home...
    Scoop politics | 30-08
  • Time to Shine Light on Shadowy Spies
    Internet MANA has promised to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into New Zealand’s intelligence agencies, with a view to transferring oversight of spying operations to a new, independent authority....
    Scoop politics | 30-08
  • New Zealand’s biggest problems are Economic Issues
    New Zealand’s biggest problems are Economic Issues (41%) while the World’s most important problems are War & Terrorism (35%) just three weeks before NZ Election...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • NZ 2014 Leaders Index – week ending 29 August
    Below is iSentia’s first weekly Leaders’ Index, showing the relative amount of coverage of nine Party Leaders in the lead up to the National Election across news media and social media. We will produce these reports for the next three...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Judgment in Paki v Attorney General
    Tamaiti Cairns said that today’s Supreme Court decision is complicated, but, in essence opens the door for Maori people to go forward with their essential claims to water. Further work is required and Pouakani Trust will continue to pursue its...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Supreme Court Decision on Maori Water Rights
    “ … the Supreme Court refused to give Pouakani people what they asked for, but may have given them something much, much better instead. The Appellants had argued that the Crown’s ownership of the River was as a fiduciary for...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Leaders Dinner with Campbell Live, Dessert with RadioLIVE
    John Campbell is hosting Colin Craig, Winston Peters, Laila Harre, Metiria Turei, Peter Dunne, Jamie Whyte and Te Ururoa Flavell LIVE from Auckland’s Grand Harbour Restaurant on Wednesday 3 September at 7pm....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Credit unions in the political spotlight
    Dirty politics was put aside last night as senior politicians outlined their universal support for growing the cooperatively owned credit union and mutual building society sector in New Zealand....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Maryan Street on issues of importance to older people
    Liam Butler interviews Hon Maryan Street MP on issues of importance to older New Zealanders...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • John Hanita Paki and others v The Attorney-General
    JOHN HANITA PAKI, TORIWAI ROTARANGI, TAUHOPA TE WANO HEPI, MATIU MAMAE PITIROI AND GEORGE MONGAMONGA RAWHITI v THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF NEW ZEALAND FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE CROWN (“THE CROWN”) (SC 7/2010)...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Last Nights Leaders Debate Drives The #nzpol Wordcloud
    Following last nights leaders debate on TV One between John Key and David Cunliffe, the data insight organisation Qrious collected all tweets that used the hashtag #nzpol from approximately the last 24 hours to produce this wordcloud....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Campaign suggests reason behind suicide gender statistics
    An online campaign about meaning and belonging has revealed an interesting connection with the difference in suicide rates between men and women....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Act Policy Vindicated by Sensible Sentencing Data
    ACT Leader Dr Jamie Whyte says the Sensible Sentencing Trust's just released analysis of 3 Strikes legislation "proves ACT was right to promote the policy and that it has made New Zealand a much safer country. The figures show beyond...
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • “Robin Hood tax and other clever ways to help our kids”
    It’s time to talk about tax. Not just income tax but other kinds of tax too....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • Cannabis Laws Breach Treaty – ALCP
    Cannabis prohibition is neo-colonial oppression resulting in the disproportionate imprisonment of Maori, the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party says....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
  • 2014 Variation Broadcasting Allocation Decision Released
    The Electoral Commission has released a variation decision on the amount of time and money allocated to political parties for the broadcasting of election programmes for the 2014 General Election....
    Scoop politics | 29-08
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