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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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  • Why Voters Aren’t Angrier About Economic Inequality
    This is the USA but there are strong parallels here in New zealand ...
    Closing the Gap | 28-07
  • Goodbye Nick Smith
    On the back of recently trying to silence DOC over their concerns about the impact of the Ruataniwha irrigation project on water quality in central Hawke's Bay, Nick Smith is once again bullying a statuary body with threats that clearly...
    The Jackal | 28-07
  • Minister for Conservation of What?
    Attendees at the Fish and Game council’s hui earlier this month raised concerns over Conservation Minister Nick Smith’s attempt to reduce their ability to advocate for freshwater quality. The Minister is said to have implied that he would restructure the...
    Greenpeace NZ blog | 28-07
  • New Zealand’s Southern Alps have lost a third of their ice
    This article by Jim Salinger, University of Auckland; Blair Fitzharris, University of Otago, and Trevor Chinn, National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, was first published at The Conversation. The photo at left shows the calving face of the Tasman...
    Hot Topic | 28-07
  • Speaker: Jim’s Festival
    As he did last year, Jimmy Rae Brown has been ushering and assisting at the New Zealand International Film Festival. This means he gets to see quite a few films -- the ones he works at and the ones he...
    Public Address | 28-07
  • Waiting for Gower’s Twittering of indignation…
    .   . Key has made his call; deals with ACT and Peter Dunne are in – a deal with the CCCP (Colin Craig’s Conservative Party), is out; . . .   .   References Radio NZ:  Deals show contempt,...
    Frankly Speaking | 28-07
  • Hard News: Media Take: In the Eye of the Storm
    I'm flying solo on this week's Media Take -- for a very good reason. My colleague and co-host Toi Iti had an engagement in the Urewera on Sunday. He was present when Police Commissioner Mike Bush visited six whanau --...
    Public Address | 28-07
  • COLOURFUL PROTEST CAPTURES DISGUST AT ISRAEL GOVT
    Gaza Massacre draws thousands to protest in Auckland, New Zealand. Snoopman, July 29 2014 Spirited DissentBetween 3000-5000 humans blocked Auckland’s Queen St on Saturday July 26 to protest the Zionist Israeli government’s bombing of Gaza. Organizers called for an end...
    Snoopman News | 28-07
  • Clash of opinion
    Here's Andrea Vance talking sensibly about the Conservative no-deal yesterday: Prime Minister John Key used his own code yesterday to kill off the Conservatives' chances of getting into Parliament. There will be no cup-of-tea deal for Colin Craig in East...
    Polity | 28-07
  • A musical interlude
    Every couple of months a bunch of my friends meet up for an ‘under-appreciated music appreciation society’ in which we play each other songs based on a theme. On Sunday we covered ‘covers that are better than the original’ and...
    DimPost | 28-07
  • When the mainstream media go feral: A tale of two holidays
    . . The recent non-story on David Cunliffe’s three day holiday should be proof-positive that the mainstream media (msm) is fixated on pumping out as many “bad news” reporting as can be generated by a headline-seeking; advertising-driven; lazy corporate-media system....
    Frankly Speaking | 28-07
  • Environmental effects of an Additional Waitemata Harbour Crossing
    The additional Waitemata Harbour crossing is a crazy project for a variety of reasons. The blog has noted before that the project is both completely unaffordable and totally unnecessary because of the lack of the actual benefits when you look...
    Transport Blog | 28-07
  • Finding the right door to catch a flight
    Why must the Minister of Transport go through airport security? Do we seriously think he will storm the cockpit and knife the pilots? Will he blow the plane up? It’s a matter of form. First, as the boss of air...
    Colin James | 28-07
  • Making the past strange: Justine Fletcher’s ’607′
    It begins with a list of 607 names, and you might not know who they are and what it means. So perhaps the point of the exercise is how to restore that meaning. Because each one of the names, taken...
    Bat bean beam | 28-07
  • Something Fishy About Nick Smith’s Game
    Intimidator-in-Chief: For eight years Dr Nick Smith has attempting to convince voters that he is the National Party's chief point of environmental resistance; the one brave voice raised in opposition to the milk-before-water lobbyists of Fonterra and Federated Farmers. Now we...
    Bowalley Road | 28-07
  • Regional roading omnishambles
    As soon as I saw the details on National’s $212 million regional roads package, I knew something was amiss. National has a history of funding economically dodgy road projects because, well, because they just love the smell of bitumen in...
    Polity | 28-07
  • Gordon Campbell on National’s electorate deals
    Column – Gordon Campbell For all the talk yesterday from Prime Minister John Key about National being transparent about its electorate deals in Epsom and Ohariu, that transparency is entirely front-loaded. Yes, we know a lot about how Act and...
    Gordon Campbell | 28-07
  • Capture: Te Arai – The Veil
    Capture is pleased to present a selection of the work of Tia Huia Ranginui, a photographic artist from Whanganui. "'Te Arai' (The Veil) is a series of photographs of my daughter on our journey home from the Coromandel peninsula.Our journey...
    Public Address | 28-07
  • Adventures in the Anthropocene
    Science journalist Gaia Vince left her desk at Nature and spent two years visiting places around the world, some of them very isolated, where people were grappling with the conditions of what is sometimes described as a new epoch, the...
    Hot Topic | 28-07
  • The inflationary impact of road spend-ups
    It’s time for a quick round of everyone’s favourite game, Ask An Economist. Today’s question is: What happens when the government decides to spend up large in a growing economy? If you guessed that the answer is that it will...
    Transport Blog | 28-07
  • I did not order this – again
    I originally posted this back in September 2013. The passage of time is relentless, but some things, and people, don't ever seem to change....
    Imperator Fish | 28-07
  • Nigel Lawson suggests he’s not a skeptic, proceeds to deny global war...
    Nigel Lawson is the chairman of the Global Warming Policy Foundation; a political group that regularly releases selective scientific reports about climate change. The organization consistently tries to argue that concerns about global warming – concerns that are based on...
    Skeptical Science | 28-07
  • Another 1945?
    Steve Richards (The Guardian, 28 July) is right to say (and Ed Miliband obviously agrees with him) that next year’s election will not, and should not, be decided by personality politics. So what is it that will determine the voters’...
    Bryan Gould | 28-07
  • Stuart’s 100: #1 Transforming the Motorway Ring
    Urban designer Stuart Houghton has set himself a personal project of coming up with 100 ideas for improving Auckland at the rate of one a day. He is Tweeting them here: @HoughtonSd  Discussing this project with Stuart he said that “I see the city...
    Transport Blog | 28-07
  • No deal
    Its official: National won't be cutting an electorate deal with the Conservatives this election. I guess they figured out that a Colin Craig - Winston Peters deathmatch in East Coast Bays might not go their way - or that snuggling...
    No Right Turn | 28-07
  • Earning that reputation XIV
    Another year, and the Remuneration Commission proposes another increase in MP's expenses. But the MPs don't think its enough: A review of expenses by the Remuneration Authority, which sets MPs' pay, is proposing the amount they are allowed to claim...
    No Right Turn | 28-07
  • Valid reasons to change the government
    If you were to rely on the six O’clock news for your daily intake of information you would be forgiven in thinking that the National party can do no wrong.So fleeting is their coverage of the government's numerous cases of...
    The Jackal | 28-07
  • National standards results 2014
    If ever we needed evidence of the corrossive nature of national standards it’s in the stories of teachers pressured to rank their pupils by their national standards results and then display each child’s ranking on the classroom wall. The Government...
    frogblog | 28-07
  • Jilted Revisionism
    Here is Colin Craig putting on a brave face this morning: "I'm reasonably negative about [electorate deals]. I've been quite critical of arrangements like National do with Act and United Future, because I'd like to think the voters get to...
    Polity | 28-07
  • More bullying from Nick Smith
    This morning Radio New Zealand reported on Nick Smith's crude attempt to bully Fish & Game into silence on water quality:Dr Smith met the Fish and Game Council in Wellington on 18 July, and four people who attended told Radio...
    No Right Turn | 28-07
  • Deep sea oil and love don’t mix
    Locals, surfers, Green Party members, dog lovers, beach lovers at Piha Yesterday we launched our plan to keep New Zealand beaches free from oil spills. With Piha’s world-famous waves crashing in the background, we stood in the local surf club...
    frogblog | 28-07
  • New Fisk
    Eight hundred dead Palestinians. But Israel has impunityOne of the oldest Christian communities in the lands of Christ has been destroyed as the Sunni Caliphate spreads...
    No Right Turn | 27-07
  • The male party
    Another election, and another National party list packed with men. This time though its getting some attention:National released its party list yesterday and if it gets 60 MPs into Parliament after the election, just 16 - 27 per cent -...
    No Right Turn | 27-07
  • Vacuous ravings in the Herald
    You know it's a slow news day with nothing in particular to attack the Labour party over when journalists in New Zealand undertake a bit of navel gazing. Much like their biased political opinions, most reporters are invariably prejudiced in...
    The Jackal | 27-07
  • Risible courtier watch
    I think there are a few interesting things going on in this John Armstrong piece sternly warning everyone about the disease of ‘gotcha politics’: It sure ain’t pretty. It sure ain’t enlightening. It is most definitely insidious. It is a...
    DimPost | 27-07
  • Risible courtier watch
    I think there are a few interesting things going on in this John Armstrong piece sternly warning everyone about the disease of ‘gotcha politics’: It sure ain’t pretty. It sure ain’t enlightening. It is most definitely insidious. It is a...
    DimPost | 27-07
  • Awful, powerful video on family violence
    This is one woman's video of daily-selfies-for-a-year. It is not for the faint of heart, and it is enormously powerful. The sign she is holding at the end is in Croatian. It says: "Help me, I do not know if...
    Polity | 27-07
  • A tale of two lists
    The National party list came out yesterday, and all the talk was of gender balance. National does not have it. According to Kiwiblog, if National gets 49% of the vote, is will have a caucus that is 71% male. At...
    Polity | 27-07
  • Bye bye, Colin
    National has all-but confirmed today that there no deal for Colin Craig in East Coast Bays, or for any other Conservative. This was the right thing for them to do, for one simple reason. All the stuff about Winston running...
    Polity | 27-07
  • Speaker: A true commitment
    In recent weeks, the Government has come out in support of a push for strangulation to become its own offence. One of a number of recommendations by an independent committee into family violence deaths, the Family Violence Death Review Committee...
    Public Address | 27-07
  • June 2014 Patronage
    The patronage results for June are out and like recent months the results are particularly good for the rail network. The June stats are also significant as they represent the end of financial year results for Auckland transport. The 12...
    Transport Blog | 27-07
  • iPredict Ltd2014 Election Update #28
    Press Release – iPredict The chances of a fiscal surplus in 2014/15 continue to plunge and are down to 50%, according to the combined wisdom of the 7000 registered traders on New Zealands online predictions market, iPredict. The forecast surplus...
    Its our future | 27-07
  • TPPA is a bad idea
    Press Release – Democrats for Social Credit Currently New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, the USA, Japan, Malaysia, Canada, and Mexico are still negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Officially talks finished last August, but the reality is that they keep...
    Its our future | 27-07
  • Conference on Democracy, Ethics and the Public Good
    Press Release – Public Good Conference on Democracy, Ethics and the Public Good A conference is to be held in Wellington on 1 and 2 August with the aim of starting a NZ-wide discussion about the quality of our democracy....
    Its our future | 27-07
  • 2014 SkS Weekly Digest #30
    SkS Highlights Dana's Climate models accurately predicted global warming when reflecting natural ocean cycles examined a new paper by James Risbey et al that takes a clever approach to evaluating how accurate climate model temperature predictions have been while getting around the noise caused by...
    Skeptical Science | 27-07
  • Greens call for shipping lanes backed by Maritime Union
    The Maritime Union is backing the Green Party’s policy to implement compulsory shipping lanes for coastal shipping....
    MUNZ | 27-07
  • Government needs to get Fishing reform bill passed now
    The Maritime Union is urging the Government to push through the Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill to protect workers from exploitation and abuse....
    MUNZ | 27-07
  • Annette Sykes to launch campaign for Waiariki Annette Sykes, MANA candidate...
    At midday tomorrow, Annette Sykes will officially launch her campaign to win the Waiariki electorate seat for MANA in the upcoming general election. “A key goal for MANA this election is to mobilise our people to vote, especially rangatahi, and...
    Mana | 28-07
  • Minister shouldn’t stop Fish and Game doing its job
    It seems that Conservation Minister Nick Smith has again been caught out interfering to allow more pollution in our rivers, the Green Party said today. Last year the Department of Conservation submission on the proposed Ruataniwha Dam was suppressed after...
    Greens | 28-07
  • Public deserves electoral integrity
    National's deals with spent political forces ACT and United Future will be met with a deepening sense of unease over the manipulation of MMP, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says."These parties have no electoral mandate and will return to Parliament only...
    Labour | 28-07
  • Out of control costs raise questions about National Science Challenges
    Amid strong criticism of the value of the National Science Challenges from some of the country’s senior scientists, new figures show administrative costs are skyrocketing while the level of investment in actual science remains a mystery, says Labour’s Innovation, Research...
    Labour | 28-07
  • Low build numbers and faulty repairs: what has Brownlee been doing?
    Despite being a man in a hurry new figures show just 2160 new homes, thousands fewer than needed, have been built under Gerry Brownlee in the last two years, say Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford and EQC spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove....
    Labour | 28-07
  • Joyce’s heavy hand stifling innovation
    The National Government should allow scientists and businesses to get on with innovation rather than allow Steven Joyce's heavy hand to direct it, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today. Dr Norman was responding to reports today that several...
    Greens | 27-07
  • CERA spends almost $2m on 7000 flights
    CERA has spent $1.8 million on 7286 flights from Christchurch to Wellington in three years – a huge waste of money as Cantabrians still wait for solutions, Labour’s EQC spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove says. “Of course CERA officials do need to...
    Labour | 27-07
  • Nick Smith oversteps the mark yet again
    Nick Smith has yet again completely overstepped the mark as a minister – this time with a threat to muzzle Fish and Game if they don’t keep in line with Government’s views, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson. “Nick Smith...
    Labour | 27-07
  • Georgina Beyer to stand for MANA in Te Tai Tonga
    “It’s great to have Georgie on board” said Hone Harawira, MANA Leader and Te Tai Tokerau MP.  ”She’s strong-minded, stands up to be counted, and has fought for the rights of those who haven’t had any – and won.  That...
    Mana | 27-07
  • Green Party launches plan to protect our beaches from oil spills
    The Green Party today launched its plan to protect New Zealand beaches from oil spills. The plan is the second component of the Party's environmental priority this election: Rivers clean enough to swim in again, and beaches safe from oil...
    Greens | 26-07
  • Auckland rail use spike shows need to start link now
    The Green Party today welcomes Auckland Transport figures showing rail patronage has soared by 23 percent in June from June 2013, demonstrating both the value of electrification and the need to immediately get cracking building the Auckland City Rail link."We...
    Greens | 25-07
  • Soaring rail use in Auckland shows need for rail link now
    The Green Party today welcomes Auckland Transport figures showing rail patronage has soared by 23 percent in June from June 2013, demonstrating both the value of electrification and the need to immediately get cracking building the Auckland City Rail link."We...
    Greens | 25-07
  • Puhoi-Warkworth decision doesn’t stack up
    The Board of Inquiry decision on the Puhoi-Warkworth motorway gives the green light to a project that doesn’t stack up, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Labour would spend $320 million immediately to fix the accident black spots, put in...
    Labour | 25-07
  • Key must stand Brownlee down during investigation
    The wise thing for the Prime Minister to do is ask Gerry Brownlee to hand in his transport warrant and to stand him down for the duration of the CAA investigation, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “It’s not good enough...
    Labour | 25-07
  • Puhoi highway won’t help Northland roads
    The draft decision by the Environmental Protection Agency to grant resource consent to the proposed $1.65 billion Puhoi motorway doesn't stop it being a waste of money, the Green Party said today. "The Puhoi motorway is an unnecessary waste of...
    Greens | 25-07
  • Green Party to focus on issues not sideshows
    The Green Party has launched its creative for the 2014 election; Love New Zealand. The Green Party campaign focuses on the issues where there is concern that we do not love New Zealand enough; our increasingly polluted environment, increased poverty...
    Greens | 25-07
  • Coleman must come clean about FBI briefing
    Former Immigration Minister Jonathan Coleman must come clean about when he was told the FBI was investigating Kim Dotcom, Labour’s Associate Security and Intelligence spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Jonathan Coleman has previously said ministers were not aware of the American...
    Labour | 25-07
  • Regional economies need tailored plans
    News that up to 114 jobs could be lost from Fonterra’s Canpac plant in Hamilton reinforces the need for a government plan to build resilient regional economies, Labour’s MP for Hauraki-Waikato Nanaia Mahuta says. “The Canpac site has effectively responded...
    Labour | 25-07
  • Kiwis to get the final vote on amalgamation
    New Zealanders will get the right to have a final say on any proposed local body amalgamations, says Labour’s local government spokesperson Su’a William Sio releasing Labour’s Local Government policy today....
    Labour | 24-07
  • Dr Rajen Prasad’s Valedictory Statement
    Draft Hansard Parliamentary Record. Subject to correction. Bula vinaka. Namaste, Mr Assistant Speaker. Thank you very much. Tēnā koe. I am a lucky migrant and am privileged to have received as much as I have from this country for over...
    Labour | 24-07
  • Darien Fenton’s Valedictory Statement
    Nga mihi nui - kia koutou. I acknowledge all Members of Parliament I have served with and I do so without rancour or criticism. Over nearly nine years in parliament I’ve found that despite furious debate about political difference, most...
    Labour | 24-07
  • Immigation and Kim Dotcom – Harawira
    “I just got a call from National Business Review reporter, asking whether there was any contradiction between my thoughts on immigration in 2009 and now, particularly given MANA’s newly minted relationship with Kim Dotcom” said MANA leader and Tai Tokerau...
    Mana | 24-07
  • Nats to announce 2nd crossing without rail
    Labour Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says it has been leaked to him that John Key will rule out a rail option when announcing an accelerated timeframe for Auckland’s $5 billion second harbour crossing next month. “I understand the Government’s plan...
    Labour | 24-07
  • “They put Maori centre stage” – Harawira
    “I’m sorry I can’t be at parliament for the valedictory speeches of Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples” said Hone Harawira, MANA Leader and MP for Tai Tokerau, ”but I’d like to add my own best wishes as they reach the end...
    Mana | 24-07
  • ACT trying to have it both ways on zoning
    ACT Party candidate David Seymour’s campaign against changes to school zones in the Epsom electorate looks hollow given his party’s commitment to the abolition of school zoning altogether, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “It’s disingenuous for David Seymour to...
    Labour | 24-07
  • Interest rate rise will hit the regions
    The latest interest rate rise will hit the fragile regional economies of  New Zealand and hurt exporters by putting more upward pressure on the exchange rate, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson David Parker.  “The regions are already hit by dropping  export...
    Labour | 24-07
  • Burning the flag or accepting the evil
    Burning the Israeli flag in Auckland in protest over the murder of innocent civilians in Gaza is nothing to be ashamed of” said MANA Leader and Tai Tokerau MP, Hone Harawira. “Calling for both sides to stand down when one side...
    Mana | 23-07
  • Photo op disguises abysmal failure
    John Key’s opening of four Housing NZ units in Bexley today is nothing more than an insincere photo op designed to hide the Government’s failure to rebuild the housing stock destroyed by the earthquakes, says Labour’s Associate Housing spokesperson Poto...
    Labour | 23-07
  • TAXPAYER UNION “outrageously stupid”
    Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union says a MANA billboard “appears to have been funded by taxpayers”, and calls it “an outrageous use of taxpayer money”. “But the only thing that is outrageous, is how outrageously stupid Jordan Williams was...
    Mana | 23-07
  • Green Party launches Solar in Schools policy
    The Green Party will help schools install solar and save money on their power bills by investing $20 million into solar PV systems in schools. The $20 million is expected to:Help around 500 schools install solar over three yearsResult in...
    Greens | 23-07
  • Extent of job losses at Invermay remain hidden
    Despite growing concern in the agriculture and science sectors, both AgResearch management and the Minister responsible are continuing to hide the true extent of job losses at AgResearch’s Invermay campus, Labour’s MP for Dunedin North David Clark says. “Science and...
    Labour | 23-07
  • Tōku reo, tōku oho oho, tōku reo, tōku mapihi maurea – MANA launches ...
    “MANA is launching its te reo Māori policy this morning ahead of the first reading of the government’s Māori Language Strategy Bill this afternoon”, saidMANA deputy leader and candidate for Waiariki, Annette Sykes. “MANA’s policy is based on a love...
    Mana | 23-07
  • Connectivity Upgrade to close digital divide
    Labour will close the digital divide with its Connectivity Upgrade to ensure all New Zealanders can be part of a growing, more connected economy and have the right to access quality broadband, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says.  “The digital revolution...
    Labour | 23-07
  • New parents deserve support – Labour will deliver
    ...
    Labour | 23-07
  • National refuses meeting with Maui’s advocates
    National has refused a briefing from a group of Maui's dolphins experts, whose research shows 80 per cent of New Zealanders want greater protection for the critically endangered dolphin, the Green Party said today.Dolphin campaigner Gemma McGrath and marine scientist...
    Greens | 23-07
  • MANA Tamaki send a challenge to Labour
    “Labour should set the agenda and purposely do something positively controversial once a week”, said MANA candidate for Mt Albert, Joe Carolan. “A good start would be for all Labour Auckland MPs and members to join the Justice for Palestine...
    Mana | 23-07
  • We must act to save our dolphins
    A new report makes it clear for the urgent need to protect Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins while arguing  it is clear that there is no need for further research, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson.  “Labour backs the public call...
    Labour | 23-07
  • School told to manipulate national standards data
    Parents can have little confidence in the Government’s National Standards after an Auckland school was told to manipulate its data so it added up, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. “Valley School in Pukekohe was advised in an email from the...
    Labour | 23-07
  • Regional economies must have tailored plans
    News that up to 114 jobs could be lost from Fonterra’s Canpac plant in Hamilton reinforces the need for a government plan to build resilient regional economies, Labour’s MP for Hauraki-Waikato Nanaia Mahuta says. “The Canpac site has effectively responded...
    Labour | 23-07
  • Auditor General slams Shared Services project
    The Auditor-General’s Office could not have been more damning about the 18 months spent on the Central Agency Shared Services (CASS) project at the Finance and Expenditure Committee this morning, says Maryan Street, Labour’s State Services spokesperson.  ...
    Labour | 23-07
  • Fonterra job losses a massive blow to Waikato
    The potential loss of up to 114 jobs from Fonterra’s Canpac plant in Hamilton is a massive blow to the Waikato region which has already lost hundreds of jobs, Labour says. Labour’s Social Development spokesperson and Hamilton-based list MP Sue...
    Labour | 23-07
  • Basin flyover decision an opportunity for capital
    The decision to reject the proposed flyover at the Basin Reserve must be taken as an opportunity to properly fund Wellington’s transport future and must not be used as an excuse to take resources away from the capital, Wellington Labour MPs...
    Labour | 22-07
  • National out of touch with the regions
    John Key is out of touch with regional New Zealand if he believes tinkering with council regulations will restore opportunities to small towns, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “While the regions are crying out for sustainable growth and job opportunities,...
    Labour | 22-07
  • Flyover rejection a victory for sustainable transport
    The rejection of the proposed Basin Reserve flyover by a Board of Inquiry is a victory for sustainable transport in Wellington and paves the way for other alternatives to be given a fair hearing, Wellington Labour MPs Grant Robertson and...
    Labour | 22-07
  • Reo Māori Policy Launch
    MANA will be launching its Reo Māori policy at 10am Thursday 24 July, at Matangireia (the old Māori Affairs Select Committee room at Parliament). We will also be addressing our concerns regarding the Minister of Māori Affairs Māori Language Strategy...
    Mana | 22-07
  • Basin Flyover decision victory for common sense
    The Green Party welcomed the Environmental Protection Authority's draft decision announced today not to allow the $90 million Basin Reserve flyover in Wellington to proceed."Both popular and expert opinion opposed the flyover. The proposal was expensive, unnecessary and would have...
    Greens | 22-07
  • Loss Leading could destroy Kiwi lamb’s reputation
    Meat companies that supply supermarkets and sell New Zealand lamb as a loss leader in the United Kingdom should lose their access to this valuable quota market, said Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor. “Our reputation as a Lamb producer...
    Labour | 22-07
  • Ae Marika! 22 July 2014
    The big storm has gone, but the damage that it did and the saturation levels that it reached meant that smaller storms quickly overwhelmed roading, and water-flow systems again in the north. And although certain individuals are talking up the...
    Mana | 21-07
  • 2014 Roger Award nominations now open
    The Roger Award is for The Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand in 2014 Nominations are now open please visit the website to nominate the worst TNC in Aotearoa. You will need to include reasons why you think your...
    Mana | 21-07
  • Labour will revive the regions with new fund
    The next Labour Government will co-develop Regional Growth Plans for every region of New Zealand and will invest at least $200 million in a fund to create breakthrough opportunities for jobs and sustainable growth, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says....
    Labour | 21-07
  • GUEST BLOG: Michael Wood: Weekend at Bernie’s lll – ACT in Epsom
    While no one will be surprised by yesterday’s deal to prop up ACT in Epsom, the audacity of it is still astounding. ACT is a political corpse. Their sole MP has been found guilty of electoral fraud and bides his...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • So how’s all the ‘ Labour Party man ban’ hysteria working out for you...
    Remember all the screams from the media at the so called ‘man ban’ of the Labour Party? Labour’s attempt at gender equality was really just more evidence of Labour’s man hate,  feminists were taking over, heterosexual red blooded men burnt at the stake....
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Paul Henry; the issue is you, not flag-burning
    There will always be reductive, dangerous and reactionary responses to different forms of oppressive violence by our western, often biased, mainstream media. These reactionary responses purposefully distract from the real issues and those who are at the root and the...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Oh now John Armstrong and Vernon Small want to talk about policy?
    The audacity of the mainstream media seems to know no end. This week both John Armstrong and Vernon Small had the hilarity to demand a focus on policy and not ‘gotcha’ politics… John Armstrong: The ‘gotcha politics’ disease is afflicting...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • “They put Maori centre stage” – Harawira
    MIL OSI – Source: Mana Movement – Headline: “They put Maori centre stage” – Harawira  Posted on July 24, 2014 by admin in Hone Harawira, Press Releases“I’m sorry I can’t be at parliament for the valedictory speeches of Tariana Turia...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Burning the flag or accepting the evil
    MIL OSI – Source: Mana Movement – Headline: Burning the flag or accepting the evil Posted on July 24, 2014 by admin in Hone Harawira, Press ReleasesBurning the Israeli flag in Auckland in protest over the murder of innocent civilians...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • TAXPAYER UNION “outrageously stupid”
    MIL OSI – Source: Mana Movement – Headline: TAXPAYER UNION “outrageously stupid” Posted on July 24, 2014 by admin in Hone Harawira, Press ReleasesJordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union says a MANA billboard “appears to have been funded by taxpayers”,...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Tōku reo, tōku oho oho, tōku reo, tōku mapihi maurea – MANA launches ...
    MIL OSI – Source: Mana Movement – Headline: Tōku reo, tōku oho oho, tōku reo, tōku mapihi maurea – MANA launches te reo Māori policy  Posted on July 24, 2014 by admin in Annette Sykes, Press Releases, Te Hamua Nikora“MANA...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Green Party launches Solar in Schools policy
    MIL OSI – Source: Green Party – Headline: Green Party launches Solar in Schools policy Thursday, 24 Jul 2014 | Press Release Our Solar in Schools policy will allow them to save money on electricity – money which can be...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Media Release: New report on GP costs for 6-17 year olds
    MIL OSI – Source: Child Poverty Action Group – Headline: Media Release: New report on GP costs for 6-17 year olds 24 July 2014 Free doctor’s visits should be extended to all children under 18 as GP charges are a...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • 3 reasons why I can’t care about Gerry Brownlee’s airport security fias...
    I find it very difficult to get upset about Gerry Brownlee barging through airport security for 3 simple reasons. Firstly I think airport security in this country is a total farce. Why we need to be conditioned to security searches...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • How the Opposition win Epsom now Key has cemented Goldsmith into place
    One fear I had this election would be that National listened to Matthew Hooton and removed Goldsmith from the ballot box to leave the race open enough for David Seymour to ensure an ACT Party victory. Thankfully National Party hubris...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Now Conservative Party has been killed off, is a vote for NZ First a vote f...
    Are Winston and John Key new Best Friends Forever?   Colin Craig and his Conservative Party have been cleverly played and tricked and trapped by National. Whatever promises and flirtations Key made with Craig last year have eventuated into nothing....
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • The front page the NZ Herald would use if they thought they could get away ...
    The front page the NZ Herald would use if they thought they could get away with it...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Best National Party Billboard
    Best National Party Billboard...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Annette Sykes to launch campaign for Waiariki Annette Sykes, MANA candidate...
    MIL OSI – Source: Mana Movement – Headline: Annette Sykes to launch campaign for Waiariki Annette Sykes, MANA candidate for Waiariki Posted on July 28, 2014 by admin in Annette Sykes, Press ReleasesAt midday tomorrow, Annette Sykes will officially launch...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Something Fishy About Nick Smith’s Game.
    NICK SMITH’S crude intimidation of the Fish and Game Council points to the bleakest of environmental futures should National be re-elected on 20 September. It is now considerably clearer than 60 percent of New Zealand’s lakes, rivers and streams that...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Minister shouldn’t stop Fish and Game doing its job
    MIL OSI – Source: Green Party – Headline: Minister shouldn’t stop Fish and Game doing its job Monday, 28 Jul 2014 | Press Release Fish and Game is supposed to advocate for clean and healthy rivers, it’s the law. It...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Key’s odd personal hypocrisy in Epsom, his kiss of death to the Maori Par...
    Aside from tricking Colin Craig into running in an electorate National can crush him in, John Key has announced three things in his election deals that are ill thought out. The first is his deal with the Maori Party. At a time...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Public deserves electoral integrity
    MIL OSI – Source: Labour Party – Headline: Public deserves electoral integrity National’s deals with spent political forces ACT and United Future will be met with a deepening sense of unease over the manipulation of MMP, Labour Leader David Cunliffe...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Out of control costs raise questions about National Science Challenges
    MIL OSI – Source: Labour Party – Headline: Out of control costs raise questions about National Science Challenges Amid strong criticism of the value of the National Science Challenges from some of the country’s senior scientists, new figures show administrative...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Low build numbers and faulty repairs: what has Brownlee been doing?
    MIL OSI – Source: Labour Party – Headline: Low build numbers and faulty repairs: what has Brownlee been doing? Despite being a man in a hurry new figures show just 2160 new homes, thousands fewer than needed, have been built...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • UNEMIG: Disgraced hotel operator still hasn’t learned
    MIL OSI – Source: First Union – Headline: UNEMIG: Disgraced hotel operator still hasn’t learned A publicly disgraced Auckland hotel is still not paying their workers the minimum wage, according to the Union Network of Migrants (UNEMIG). Last week the...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Christchurch CHEP workers walk off the job again
    MIL OSI – Source: First Union – Headline: Christchurch CHEP workers walk off the job again Workers at Brambles-owned CHEP Christchurch have walked off the job again today to protest the employer’s refusal to negotiate an improved pay offer, according...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Why it’s all over for the Conservative Party
    Whatever flirtations were made months ago to Colin Craig by National strategists, the polling must have come back showing them too much of their soft urban vote would walk if Key was in Government with Colin Craig.  The necessary inside muscle to...
    The Daily Blog | 28-07
  • Balance in the NZ Herald and has something gone terribly wrong at the Heral...
    So the ‘balance’ in the NZ Herald this year for the election will be… Guest columnists will include the acerbic Cactus Kate from the radical right, former Labour candidate Josie Pagani and broadcaster Mark Sainsbury. Right, so that would be...
    The Daily Blog | 27-07
  • Joyce’s heavy hand stifling innovation
    MIL OSI – Source: Green Party – Headline: Joyce’s heavy hand stifling innovation Monday, 28 Jul 2014 | Press Release “The heavy hand of Steven Joyce is destroying New Zealand’s innovation economy.” The National Government should allow scientists and businesses...
    The Daily Blog | 27-07
  • CERA spends almost $2m on 7000 flights
    MIL OSI – Source: Labour Party – Headline: CERA spends almost $2m on 7000 flights CERA has spent $1.8 million on 7286 flights from Christchurch to Wellington in three years – a huge waste of money as Cantabrians still wait...
    The Daily Blog | 27-07
  • Nick Smith oversteps the mark yet again
    MIL OSI – Source: Labour Party – Headline: Nick Smith oversteps the mark yet again Nick Smith has yet again completely overstepped the mark as a minister – this time with a threat to muzzle Fish and Game if they...
    The Daily Blog | 27-07
  • Phew – National Party hubris seals strategy
    The National Party are bot listening to Matthew Hooton. Phew. Hooton has crunched the numbers and based on past polling National always drops 6 points come election day. National aren’t listening. Barging through the need to cut deals with all...
    The Daily Blog | 27-07
  • Noam Chomsky on the TPPA
    Noam Chomsky on the TPPA...
    The Daily Blog | 27-07
  • Unacceptable secrecy around labelling people terrorists
    It’s good to see the Sunday Star-Times attempting to get more information from government agencies about Daryl Jones, the Kiwi killed in a US drone strike in Yemen.  The paper is right to complain about the government’s refusal to provide...
    The Daily Blog | 27-07
  • A critical deconstruction of John Key – what’s behind the facade?
    Aspiring national leaders need a popular narrative of their rise to power.  Once in office, the narrative can be refined to fit the requirements of leadership and re-election.  Such is the purpose of John Roughan’s John Key: Portrait of  a...
    The Daily Blog | 27-07
  • Radio Live – off Mark
    The Top Marks lasted five weeks on Mediaworks radio station The Sound. This may have something to do with last being relevant in the mid-1980s when there were only two commercial FM licences in Auckland and they were on one...
    The Daily Blog | 27-07
  • Wellingtonians say ‘No!’ to Israeli aggression
    .   . Wellington, NZ, 26 July – About 600 Wellingtonians, and from further afield, met at the Cuba Mall Bucket fountain under a wintery sunny sky, to protest Israel’s continuing aggression in the Gaza strip, which – at the...
    The Daily Blog | 27-07
  • Greens call for shipping lanes backed by Maritime Union
    MIL OSI – Source: Maritime Union of New Zealand – Headline: Greens call for shipping lanes backed by Maritime Union The Maritime Union is backing the Green Party’s policy to implement compulsory shipping lanes for coastal shipping, announced 27 July...
    The Daily Blog | 27-07
  • Government needs to get Fishing reform bill passed now
    MIL OSI – Source: Maritime Union of New Zealand – Headline: Government needs to get Fishing reform bill passed now The Maritime Union is urging the Government to push through a Bill reforming the fishing industry. Maritime Union of New...
    The Daily Blog | 27-07
  • Georgina Beyer to stand for MANA in Te Tai Tonga
    MIL OSI – Source: Mana Movement – Headline: Georgina Beyer to stand for MANA in Te Tai Tonga  Posted on July 27, 2014 by admin in Hone Harawira, Press Releases“It’s great to have Georgie on board” said Hone Harawira, MANA...
    The Daily Blog | 27-07
  • Israel/Gaza conflict: Questions and Answers
    MIL OSI – Source: Amnesty International NZ – Headline: Israel/Gaza conflict: Questions and Answers What does Amnesty International think of the resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council on 23 July? What should happen next?Amnesty International welcomes resolution S-21/1...
    The Daily Blog | 26-07
  • Green Party launches plan to protect our beaches from oil spills
    MIL OSI – Source: Green Party – Headline: Green Party launches plan to protect our beaches from oil spills Sunday, 27 Jul 2014 | Press Release Like New Zealand chose to go nuclear free, we can add to our national...
    The Daily Blog | 26-07
  • GUEST BLOG: Shasha Ali – I am an indigenous person but I will never call ...
    Yesterday was indeed a politically hectic day in Aoteaora New Zealand, especially if you are an activist that cares about both human and non-human animal rights. Protest actions were organised to demand an end to factory farming from about noon, and...
    The Daily Blog | 26-07
  • Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine or ‘Pro-Peace’?
    Latest protest for people of Gaza in Auckland In the past couple of weeks I have heard a lot of people say that they are neither Pro-Israel nor Pro-Palestine; they are pro-peace. This is a stand that I respect. Everyone...
    The Daily Blog | 26-07
  • So we can’t feed the kids, the poor OR the sick now?
    Let me get this straight. We can borrow $10 billion in tax cuts over the last 6 years for the richest NZers, but we can not feed the kids, the poor or even the sick now? Revealed: Warning over hospital food...
    The Daily Blog | 26-07
  • Kim Dotcom has said it, Laila Harre has said it and now David fisher says i...
    Fascinating piece by David Fisher in the NZ Herald breaking down how many opportunities the Government had to listen to officials and stop KDC entering the country and concludes KDC should never have been allowed in… It prepared papers for the...
    The Daily Blog | 25-07
  • You, Me and the GCSB Public Meetings
      The GCSB and TICS legislation rushed through Parliament by John Key represent the largest erosion of civil liberties this country has seen since the 1951 Waterfront Lockout. In the post Snowden world we now know a mass surveillance state operating...
    The Daily Blog | 25-07
  • A feminist takedown of Whale Oil
    Whale Oil does it again. How many more times is he going to attack and discredit Tania Billingsley publicly? In a short blog published on Wednesday ‘Nothing to be sorry for‘ Whale Oil also known as Cameron Slater, is defending John Key...
    The Daily Blog | 25-07
  • GUEST BLOG: Curwen Ares Rolinson – New Zealand First – We’ll Be Back
    Earlier this week, Bomber penned a missive which set out in some detail why he thought my people, New Zealand First, wouldn’t be making it back into Parliament later this year. Being a pugnacious, vindictive sort who’d never let such an...
    The Daily Blog | 25-07
  • The changes teachers DO want
    “Oh you teachers, you just want everything to stay the same – what’s wrong with choice?  Bloody teachers.  Typical that you don’t want testing – trying to hide that you’re all useless. What about our poor kids?  Gnash gnash rant rant...” That’s...
    The Daily Blog | 25-07
  • A feminist take down of Whale Oil
    Whale Oil does it again. How many more times is he going to attack and discredit Tania Billingsley publicly? In a short blog published on Wednesday Nothing to be sorry for Whale Oil also known as Cameron Slater, is defending John Key...
    The Daily Blog | 25-07
  • On so called Labour Party ‘distractions’
    The right wing of the Labour Party are constructing a narrative that Labour need to stop chasing distractions and focus on the real issues that matter and not these silly GCSB, inequality, domestic violence, media bias, TPPA issues. It is...
    The Daily Blog | 25-07
  • We are going to campaign harder
    “It was great news to learn that John Key says I am his recommendation for Epsom. While the Prime Minister is an important person and he is my pick to remain Prime Minister, John Key is just one voter. I...
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • Why Green isn’t the best colour for water
    Why Green isn’t the best colour for water Ian Mackenzie is Federated Farmers Environment spokesperson and was on the reference group for the National Objectives Framework. An opinion is also running in the New Zealand Herald. The Green Party recently...
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • Rainbow Wellington General Election Candidates Forum
    In many ways the transgender community is in a similar position now to that faced by lesbians and gay men a generation ago. It is having to face many of the same difficulties, often based on the same ignorance and...
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • Defence Lawyer Disgust!!!
    “ The Sensible Sentencing Trust is horrified by Defence Lawyer Steven Zindel's comments at the Sentencing of a Man Jailed for the Rape of his 4 year old daughter .”...
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • Ōhāriu deserves better than a rort
    The National Party's deal with Peter Dunne is a rort and shows the people of Ōhāriu are being taken for granted, Labour candidate Virginia Andersen says. "Peter Dunne has been placed on political life support by the National Party. His...
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • FMC Backs Fish and Game’s Role on Freshwater
    Federated Mountain Clubs today reinforced its strong support for the New Zealand Fish and Game Council's statutory role in advocating for anglers and hunters interests in freshwater. FMC President Robin McNeill stated that the Federation's 17,000 members...
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • The Letter: Key Gives Nod for Seymour in Epsom
    This afternoon the PM acknowledged the importance of Epsom to National’s re-election prospects when said he wanted National’s supporters in Epsom to vote for ACT’S David Seymour. We always thought David could win Epsom, for which he has been campaigning...
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • Forest & Bird supports Fish and Game’s freshwater advocacy
    The independent conservation organisation Forest & Bird is concerned over allegations the Fish & Game Council has been threatened over its advocacy for freshwater quality....
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • Time for Epsom to say “no deal”
    “Epsom voters will be disgusted by the deal announced today to try and once again gift their electorate to the ACT Party”, says Labour candidate for Epsom Michael Wood....
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • Petition for release the of seven Bah
    At the invitation of the Honourable Annette King the New Zealand Bahá'í community is presenting a petition to the House of Representatives asking the NZ government to demand the release of the seven former leaders of the Baha’i community in...
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • Capital gains in the capital city
    Victoria University will today be hosting a public debate on the merits of more comprehensive capital gains tax—a step which taxation expert Associate Professor Dr David White considers would be beneficial for New Zealand. Organised by student group Beta Alpha...
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • Te Kupenga supports efforts of anti-violence campaigner
    Te Kupenga Whakaoti Mahi Patunga – National Network of Stopping Violence Services (Te Kupenga) wholeheartedly endorses statements made by DJ, Kickboxer and Anti-Violence Campaigner Richie Hardcore this morning on TV3’s Firstline about the role of men...
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • iPredict Ltd2014 Election Update #28
    The chances of a fiscal surplus in 2014/15 continue to plunge and are down to 50%, according to the combined wisdom of the 7000 registered traders on New Zealand’s online predictions market, iPredict. The forecast surplus is now just 0.22%...
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • TPPA is a bad idea
    “Currently New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, the USA, Japan, Malaysia, Canada, and Mexico are still negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Officially talks finished last August, but the reality is that they keep...
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • Getting privacy right in our data future
    Privacy Commissioner John Edwards welcomes the release of the New Zealand Data Futures Forum’s report....
    Scoop politics | 28-07
  • Conference on Democracy, Ethics and the Public Good
    Conference on Democracy, Ethics and the Public Good A conference is to be held in Wellington on 1 and 2 August with the aim of starting a NZ-wide discussion about the quality of our democracy. The conference is hosted jointly...
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Paddock to plate, and smart roads possible
    New Zealand’s international brand and exports could grow significantly with the creation of a data sharing ‘eco-system’ according to a paper released by the NZ Data Futures Forum today....
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Ngapuhi wants to overthrow Maori King
    Ngapuhi is planning a hui for the end of the year – organised by iwi leader David Rankin – in which the future of the King Movement will be discussed....
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Housing warrant of fitness little help for sick children
    A housing warrant of fitness has been promoted as a way of preventing sickness among children in poverty. The attached report shows that such a regime would have little impact on health outcomes but would come at a considerable cost,...
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Upcoming Fabian Events in Auckland
    Sue Bradford ’s PhD thesis, 'A major left wing think tank in Aotearoa—an impossible dream or a call to action?' looked at why no major left wing think tank has developed in Aotearoa and whether the left in 2010-2013 was...
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Senior Citizens, Not Senile Citizens
    The Taxpayers’ Union is questioning the merits and costs of the “ No car? No problem! Getting around your community without a car” brochure, released by the Office for Senior Citizens. The brochure’s purpose is to explain to senior citizens...
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • NZ Troops Hone Their Skills in Queensland
    Around 260 New Zealand troops are on a 25-day Australian-led warfighting exercise in Townsville, Northern Queensland....
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Maritime Union backs Green Party call for shipping lanes
    The Maritime Union is backing the Green Party’s policy to implement compulsory shipping lanes for coastal shipping, announced today....
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Auckland Council Bypasses Public, Ditches Rodeo Ban
    Auckland Council Bypasses Public, Ditches Rodeo Ban The Auckland Council has announced that they are abandoning the rodeo ban on council land, put into place in 2008. This was done with virtually no consultation, says SAFE, the animal advocacy organisation....
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Tolley and Coleman urged to meet West Papuan visitor
    Ministers Tolley and Coleman urged to meet West Papuan visitor Police Minister Anne Tolley and Defence Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman have a rare opportunity this week to gain first-hand knowledge about Indonesian police and military activities in West...
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Minister Right to Give Fish & Game a Serve
    Reacting to Radio New Zealand’s report concerning allegations that Conservation Minister Nick Smith warned the Fish and Game Council that it acts like a 'rabid NGO', Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union says:...
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Government needs to get Fishing reform bill passed now
    The Maritime Union is urging the Government to push through a Bill reforming the fishing industry....
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Ivory trade laws look set to tighten following petition
    A petition mounted by an Auckland schoolteacher has won the support of a powerful Select Committee and has moved the New Zealand closer towards a fully enforceable ivory trading ban....
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Bilingual guide a demonstration of leadership
    “Waikato River Restoration: A Bilingual Guide” to the Waikato River that saw Tainui Waikato, Landcare Trust and the Waikato River Authority working together is a demonstration of rangatiratanga or leadership says Race Relations Commissioner...
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Georgina Beyer to stand for MANA in Te Tai Tonga
    "It's great to have Georgie on board" said Hone Harawira, MANA Leader and Te Tai Tokerau MP. "She's strong-minded, stands up to be counted, and has fought for the rights of those who haven't had any - and won. That...
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Q + A: Sir Bob Harvey
    SUSAN Sir Bob Harvey was behind the transformation of Norm Kirk, and one of New Zealand's most popular Prime Ministers. He also advised Bill Rowling, David Lange and Helen Clark, the latter as Labour Party President. Wild Westie a new...
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Q + A: Rod Drury
    Xero boss Rod Drury told TVNZ’s Q+A programme what the political parties are offering at this election is ‘all too small.’ “There's no policy, all it is a bunch of incremental stuff. “All too small. What we want to do...
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Q + A: Gerry Brownlee
    Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee Rules Out Fastracking Auckland’s City Rail Loop Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee told TV1’s Q+A programme this morning that he won’t be bringing forward an Auckland City Rail loop based on new figures showing...
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Owen interviews Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey
    Lisa Owen interviews Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey Headlines: Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey suggests “we can move on some” changes to welfare for New Zealanders in Australia New Zealanders “brothers and sisters” who make “a massive contribution”,...
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • Flavell and Harawira on The Nation
    Lisa Owen interviews Maori Party leader Te Ururoa Flavell and Mana leader Hone Harawira Headlines: Hone Harawira says realistically his Mana Party can take three Maori seats, Te Ururoa Flavell sticks to prediction that Maori Party will win all seven....
    Scoop politics | 27-07
  • The Nation 26,27 July: Flavell & Harawira, Joe Hockey
    On The Nation this weekend…. With the Maori seats primed to play a pivotal role this election, Torben Akel reports from the key battlegrounds and meets the top contenders. Then the Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell and Mana Party...
    Scoop politics | 25-07
  • Announcement of New Zealand First Candidate for Rangitīkei
    New Zealand First has endorsed Dr Romuald (‘Rom’) Rudzki as the candidate for the Rangitīkei Electorate in the 2014 General Election....
    Scoop politics | 25-07
  • Labour Offer Len Brown a Hotel Tax
    The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the Labour Party's plan to allow councils to levy new 'pillow taxes' and regional petrol taxes. Reacting to this afternoon’s NZ Herald report Jordan Williams, Executive Director of the Taxpayers’ Union ,...
    Scoop politics | 25-07
  • Cell phone evidence a first
    Cell phone evidence a first Evidence gathered solely from a cell phone has been used for the first time to convict a Hastings man for possessing child sexual abuse pictures. Michael Lawrence Worsnop, a 29-year-old orchard worker pleaded guilty to...
    Scoop politics | 25-07
  • New Zealand Aid Worker Helping in Gaza
    A New Zealand Red Cross nurse working in Gaza says she has never experienced anything like the current conflict in her long aid work career....
    Scoop politics | 25-07
  • Parking officers deserve safety at work
    The union representing the Auckland Transport parking officer severely beaten on July 17 says everyone has a right to go about their job without fear for their safety....
    Scoop politics | 25-07
  • Caritas Aotearoa NZ to provide Gaza humanitarian aid
    Caritas Jerusalem is providing medical assistance, food and other necessities to the thousands of vulnerable people affected by the escalating conflict in Gaza, and Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is contributing an initial $20,000 to support the humanitarian...
    Scoop politics | 25-07
  • ALCP challenges parties to support Charlotte’s Web
    The leader of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party Julian Crawford is calling on all other political parties to state their position on using cannabis oil to treat pediatric epilepsy....
    Scoop politics | 25-07
  • Oxfam accepts cheque from Pacific Corporation Foundation
    Oxfam New Zealand has accepted a cheque for almost $1000 today from the Pacific Corporation Foundation toward recovery efforts in the Solomon Islands, following April’s flash flooding that left thousands homeless....
    Scoop politics | 25-07
  • Draft report and decision – Pūhoi to Warkworth proposal
    The Ara Tūhono – Pūhoi to Wellsford Road of National Significance: Pūhoi to Warkworth section Board of Inquiry has released its draft report and decision....
    Scoop politics | 25-07
  • New Zealanders willing to pay tax to protect dolphins
    A report released this week shows a large majority of New Zealanders want Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins protected and they are prepared to pay for it....
    Scoop politics | 25-07
  • Stop Smart Meters
    “The Democrats for Social Credit Party (DSC) wholeheartedly endorses the Stop Smart Meters campaign for a moratorium on installations of smart meters until the technology is proven not be a risk to health, and until home owners are given a...
    Scoop politics | 25-07
  • Maori Roll Electors Urged to Vote Strategically
    Voters enrolled in the seven Maori electorates must learn to maximize their influence by voting strategically, according to the Maori Party candidate for Te Tai Tokerau, Rev Te Hira Paenga....
    Scoop politics | 25-07
  • Politicians Ignore Families’ Concerns on Street Prostitution
    Family First NZ says that politicians are ignoring the concerns of families, lack the will to take appropriate action, and are happy to drag the ongoing problem of street prostitution into the next parliamentary term....
    Scoop politics | 25-07
  • Plunket celebrates Te Wiki o te Reo Māori
    Plunket is proud to celebrate Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (21-27 July), with Plunket people across the country among several thousand New Zealanders taking part and increasing their kete of knowledge in te reo....
    Scoop politics | 25-07
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