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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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    Closing the Gap | 21-09
  • 2014 SkS Weekly Digest #38
    "Today, we march... In Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Oslo, Rome, Stockholm, Paris, Madrid, Porto, Geneva, Ljubliana, Budapest and so many other places." - 350.0rg SkS Highlights As to be expected, Dana's The 97% v the 3% – just how much global warming are...
    Skeptical Science | 21-09
  • Hard News: Five further thoughts
    1. Christ, what a shellacking. Click around Harkanwal Singh's Herald interactive. In electorate after electorate, polling place after polling place, National won at least a plurality of the votes. Even where voters collectively chose to return their Labour MPs to...
    Public Address | 21-09
  • The law of unintended consequences. Data security edition.
    This report from Flashpoint: ‘Measuring the Impact of the Snowden Leaks on the Use of Encryption by Online Jihadists’ (available here as web page or PDF) concludes (SPOILER:) Meh, not so much. The Flashpoint report recounts how the use of...
    The Paepae | 21-09
  • A healthy dose of humble pie
    I got one thing right about this election. I managed not to do anything as misguided as publicly state a prediction that National would get anything like as low a vote total as 44% ... as for instance, did Bryce Edwards. Yep,...
    Pundit | 21-09
  • Alas no mystery – it’s voter apathy
      There once was a PM named Key Re-elected with a majority The left fell flat What happened Matt? Alas  it’s voter apathy...
    Politically Corrected | 21-09
  • Labour must change
     Labour's problems can't just be fixed by a switch at the top. Change requires more than that. It must challenge the intellectual, organisational and cultural fundamentals of what it means to be Labour....
    Pundit | 21-09
  • Looking Ahead
    Win or lose, there are never any final battles in politics. A defeat simply means the firing of the starting gun for the next round in a never-ending struggle. And, especially for the left, it is the struggle that matters....
    Bryan Gould | 21-09
  • Left in tatters.
    A while back I wrote a post arguing that the NZ Left was in serious disarray. Various Left pontificators fulminated from the depths of their revolutionary armchairs against my views, denouncing me for being defeatist. I responded as politely as...
    Kiwipolitico | 21-09
  • Psephology-o-rama: Hangover nerdery edition
    I was really privileged to be able to work with the TV3 election night team last night, providing some quantitative analysis on the results as they came in. One of the things we put together was a tool that could...
    Polity | 21-09
  • The Key to a 4th term
    The coming days will see a welter of words on the reasons for the spectacular success of National and the failure of the broad left. As a 'pundit', I might as well add my views....
    Pundit | 20-09
  • Democracy 101
    Earlier this week Scottish voters participated in their independence referendum. There are many, many points to be made about this. Most notably, however, is the fact that the percentage of people turning out to vote in this democratic process was around...
    My Thinks | 20-09
  • Gutted
    OK, so 24.7% is a disaster. Three years ago we were saying 27.5% was a disaster, and this is substantially worse again. It is true that the government had some economy-based tail winds this time round. But the government also...
    Polity | 20-09
  • What it all means for the Labour Party
    An analysis of what went wrong and why, and what it means....
    Imperator Fish | 20-09
  • NZ General Election results
    Congratulations to the winners, commiserations to those who missed out. These are the results as at close of counting 1:10am today. This is where the rubber hits the road in a democracy. Check electionresults.govt.nz for latest results. {Fill the in...
    The Paepae | 20-09
  • Hard News: The sole party of government
    It turned out to be a great night for the National Party and its leader. For everyone else, the 2014 election result ran from disappointment to disaster.Even New Zealand First, which doubled the support it was showing in polls only...
    Public Address | 20-09
  • Electoral Fraud, Hacking, Law Breaking = National Winning?
    No matter which party you support, how does it make one tiny bit of sense that a party who in their own internal polling was only getting 42% support just days before the election can jump to 48%? Also, when...
    An average kiwi | 20-09
  • Election results, my first thoughts and so on
    So, the 2014 election results are in, with an emphatic win for National. Six years into his Prime Ministership, and having just been re-elected for a third term, John Key has achieved what very few NZ politicians have done before...
    Transport Blog | 20-09
  • Lessons to be learned
    As the gloating on the right wing and throughout the mainstream media begins, it's important that those who stand up for democracy don't lose heart.For a start, every defeat you can walk away from has at least one silver lining....
    The Jackal | 20-09
  • Three more years
    This election result is not the end of the world for me. I don’t have kids. I don’t have to worry about whether their school will be closed, or privatised, whether they have shoes to wear or a lunch to...
    Boots Theory | 20-09
  • The 2014 election result
    I have a few thoughts about the result last night. They are in no particular order so I’m just going to type them up and see how they fall. National appear to have won an outright majority despite being shown...
    My Thinks | 20-09
  • 2014 SkS Weekly News Roundup #38B
    2014 on track to be hottest year on record Arctic Sea Ice to reach sixth lowest extent on record China's dirty coal ban causes waves "If we want to prevent conflicts, we have to address climate change now" India's push...
    Skeptical Science | 20-09
  • ROUT!
    Triumphant! John Key leads National to its greatest victory since 1951, routing the forces of the Left in the process.  Progressive New Zealanders, we have some very serious thinking to do.This posting is exclusive to the Bowalley Road blogsite....
    Bowalley Road | 20-09
  • The Greens’ new caucus
    Despite goals of 15% and 20 MPs, the Greens only managed to just scrape over 10%, with their only new MP being James Shaw, with Steffan Browning missing out on getting back into Parliament. The Greens traditionally pick up an...
    Progress report | 20-09
  • Brief thoughts on National’s historic victory
    The National Party is an incredibly well resourced, well managed, professional political party and it turns out that these things counted for a lot last night. The phone was not off the hook for Labour. Twelve months ago, just after Cunliffe won...
    DimPost | 20-09
  • Labour’s new caucus
    It’s brutal. My expectations weren’t great, but this loss is much worse than I predicted. Labour’s worst defeat since 1922. Here is Labour’s new caucus… MP Seat David Cunliffe New Lynn David Parker List Grant Robertson Wellington Central Annette King...
    Progress report | 20-09
  • Five stages of left: a visual post election representation
      (Image source: distractify – Stuck Cats)...
    Politically Corrected | 20-09
  • Legal Beagle: Election 2014: The Special Votes
    We have a provisional result, and now await the official result after special votes are counted. Special votes are:those cast overseas;those cast on polling day by people voting outside their electorate;those cast by people who enrolled after the printed electoral...
    Public Address | 20-09
  • 2017
    .   . Bugger. Ok. We pick ourselves up, dust off, and  start working for a victory in 2017 (or earlier) tomorrow. . . = fs =Filed under: Various Tagged: 2017 Elections...
    Frankly Speaking | 20-09
  • 2017
    .   . Bugger. Ok. We pick ourselves up, dust off, and  start working for a victory in 2017 (or earlier) tomorrow. . . = fs =Filed under: Various Tagged: 2017 Elections...
    Frankly Speaking | 20-09
  • The Specials
    Based on the way the Special Votes fell in recent Elections, we might expect:- the Nats' Final Result to be about 0.5-0.7 points down, so perhaps around 47.5% or thereabouts- Labour to be up about 0.4 points, so around 25%-...
    Sub zero politics | 20-09
  • Legal Beagle: Election 2014: the no threshold counterfactual
    As I have done on election night of the last two elections, I present below the New Zealand House of Representatives, had the election been conducted with no threshold: National – 57 ACT – 1 United Future – 1 Conservatives – 5...
    Public Address | 20-09
  • I was wrong
    Of all the blogs I’ve written, I think the most off the mark was this one where I said I was “(tentatively) happy about Internet Mana.” Second would be this one where I underestimated how bad Dotcom’s failure at the Moment of Truth...
    Cut your hair | 20-09
  • A trifecta of electoral suck
    This week has been a trifecta of electoral suck. First, Fiji voted for dictatorship. Then Scotland voted to remain subjugated to Westminster. And finally, New Zealand voted for a third-term majority National government. The last boggles me. Not the fact...
    No Right Turn | 20-09
  • The Final Election Result Is – 48% of Kiwis Are Arrogant Idiots!
    Though there is still about 18% of the vote to come in, it looks fairly certain the proven incompetent, dishonest and corrupt National Party are going to get at least 48% of the vote. Incredibly we had actual evidence National...
    An average kiwi | 20-09
  • 50 Canadian climate researchers speak out in support of the People’s ...
    The Canadian government is hell-bent on exploiting the Alberta tar sands to the fullest extent possible, even at the expense of the global climate. Canada simply cannot meet its carbon pollution reduction pledges if it continues to expand tar sands...
    Skeptical Science | 20-09
  • Election 2014!! The live, rolling, increasingly intoxicated Post From Hell
    7pm - Drinking red (naturally) wine.  A 2011 Mt hector Pinot Noir.  Very nice it is too - likely the last nice thing I may experience for the next couple of hours.  We're doomed, I tell you, doomed!  And if we're...
    Left hand palm | 20-09
  • Speaker: A live peek at your cray
    On Saturday morning London time, a rag-tag bunch of left-wing weirdos will descend on my flat to huddle around the glow of livestreams, making panic pikelets and schadenfreude pie, and wishing it was evening here so we could justify sinking...
    Public Address | 20-09
  • Election Day Post # 10
    The last of my special election day posts, in which I honour our freedom to dare not say anything remotely political until 7pm...
    Imperator Fish | 20-09
  • Election Day Post #9
    The ninth of my special election day posts, in which I honour our freedom to dare not say anything remotely political until 7pm...
    Imperator Fish | 20-09
  • The Big Man
    So, Alex Salmond has announced he will step down as First Minister of Scotland.  This is, of course, being presented as throwing his toys and peevish behaviour following the independence referendum and the defeat of the 'Yes' campaign.Which is an...
    Left hand palm | 20-09
  • Election Day Post #8
    The eighth of my special election day posts, in which I honour our freedom to dare not say anything remotely political until 7pm...
    Imperator Fish | 20-09
  • Voting turnout affected by bad weather?
    . . NZ, Upper Hutt, 20 September –  Cold, wet weather in the Hutt Valley, north of Wellington may be impacting on voter turn-out. A head-count of people visiting the Trentham School Voting Station in Moonshine Rd, Upper Hutt, indicated...
    Frankly Speaking | 20-09
  • Voting turnout affected by bad weather?
    . . NZ, Upper Hutt, 20 September –  Cold, wet weather in the Hutt Valley, north of Wellington may be impacting on voter turn-out. A head-count of people visiting the Trentham School Voting Station in Moonshine Rd, Upper Hutt, indicated...
    Frankly Speaking | 20-09
  • Election Day Post #7
    The seventh of my special election day posts, in which I honour our freedom to dare not say anything remotely political until 7pm...
    Imperator Fish | 20-09
  • Election Day Post #6
    The sixth of my special election day posts, in which I honour our freedom to dare not say anything remotely political until 7pm...
    Imperator Fish | 20-09
  • Another Song For Election Day (As Requested By “Kat”)
     NOT DARK YET: Bob Dylan's haunting hymn to the failing day and advancing night.   I was born here and I'll die here against my will I know it looks like I'm movin' but I'm standin' still Every nerve in my body...
    Bowalley Road | 20-09
  • Man Steals Nun’s Blue and White Livery, Says Newspaper Made Him Do It
    Tapping into the Party Line: A prominent talkback radio listener detected a subtle right-wing tone at work in The New Zealand Herald‘s advertising.    By Hemi Iti, 20 September 2014 An Auckland man was charged with theft and impersonating a...
    Snoopman News | 20-09
  • Election Day Post #5
    The fifth of my special election day posts, in which I honour our freedom to dare not say anything remotely political until 7pm...
    Imperator Fish | 20-09
  • Hold fast to your Mana – Harawira
    Hone Harawira today called on the voters of Tai Tokerau to hold fast to their mana, and not be dictated to by those party leaders who have ganged together to tell them how to vote. “I call on our people...
    Mana | 18-09
  • Media Advisory – Interview availability
    This is to advise all media that Hone Harawira will be available in Auckland tomorrow, Friday the 19th of September from 7am to 4pm for interviews relating to his recent press releases. If you are interested in interviewing Mr Harawira on...
    Mana | 18-09
  • Labour stands on proud record on Suffrage Day
    Women have come a long way in the 121 years since New Zealand became the first country to give them the vote on September 19 1893, but there is still more to do, Labour’s Women’s Affairs spokesperson Carol Beaumont says....
    Labour | 18-09
  • Polling Booths asked to treat Maori voters with respect
    “Polling booths without Maori roll voting papers, Maori people not being offered assistance to vote, people getting sent from Whangarei to Wellsford to vote, Maori people getting turned away from voting because they didn’t have their ‘easy vote’ card, Maori...
    Mana | 17-09
  • Aussie Liberals embroiled in Key campaign
    John Key needs to explain why Australia’s Liberal Party is interfering in New Zealand domestic politics and is encouraging Kiwi voters across the ditch to vote for National just days out from the election, Labour’s campaign spokesperson Annette King says....
    Labour | 17-09
  • The MANA Plan for Beneficiaries and Income in Waiariki
    Median Personal Income for Waiariki is $21,700. Over 13,000 Maori who live in Waiariki rely upon a form of government benefit including the Unemployment Benefit, Sickness Benefit, Domestic Purpose Benefit and the Invalids Benefit. “If you’re lucky enough to have...
    Mana | 16-09
  • Māori development crucial to New Zealand’s future
    Labour recognises the concern of Māori about child poverty and the rising costs of living, and in Government will make a real difference to the wellbeing of whānau and iwi, Labour’s Māori Affairs spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta says. “As our Māori...
    Labour | 16-09
  • MAORI PARTY – DON’T COMPLAIN … WALK
    “If the Maori Party are serious about stopping government spying on NZ citizens then they should tell the Prime Minister to either stop doing it or they will walk away” said MANA leader and Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira, on...
    Mana | 16-09
  • JOHN KEY SUPPORTING LABOUR
    “There is something really sick about a National Party Prime Minister coming out in support of a Labour candidate” said MANA leader and Tai Tokerau MP, Hone Harawira, after hearing that John Key is urging voters to back Labour in...
    Mana | 16-09
  • SHUT DOWN THIS GOVT NOT KAITI WINZ – Nikora
    “I’m going to make it as hard for you to get help as I can” is Paula Bennett’s message to the people of Kaiti  said MANA candidate Te Hāmua Nikora today in response to the news that National will close...
    Mana | 16-09
  • Winegums make for better polling – Harawira
    I wanted to laugh when I saw the Native Affairs poll the other night (Hone Harawira 38%, Kelvin Davis 37%) because it was almost the same as the one they did back in 2011”, said MANA leader and Tai Tokerau...
    Mana | 16-09
  • The Leadership of MTS Lied – Harawira
    “Normally I’m happy to tell people that I was right but when I received the news about the staff cuts at Maori Television, I had nothing but sympathy for the three Maori media leaders who are going to be made...
    Mana | 16-09
  • Privileges Complaint Laid against Prime Minister – Harawira
    MANA Movement Leader and Te Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira has today lodged a Privileges Complaint with the Speaker regarding the Prime Ministers denials in parliament that he knew anything about Kim Dotcom before 2012. “Information made public today appears...
    Mana | 15-09
  • Sharples’ new appointments are out of order
    The new appointments to the Waitangi Tribunal announced by Dr Pita Sharples this morning are completely out of order given the election is just five days away, says Labour's State Services spokesperson, Maryan Street. “This Government continues to show disdain...
    Labour | 15-09
  • MANA Movement Housing Policy
    “When families are living in cars, garages, cockroach-infested caravans and three families to a house then we have a housing crisis”, said MANA leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau, Hone Harawira. “When you have a housing crisis for low-income...
    Mana | 15-09
  • Bigger than the Foreshore and Seabed – Sykes
    “Over the past week I have received some disturbing information that has led myself and a number of Maori lawyers to conclude that this National - Maori Party - ACT and United Future Government are going to put an end to both...
    Mana | 14-09
  • MANA wants Te Reo Māori petition fulfilled
    Hone Harawira, MANA Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau Annette Sykes, MANA candidate for Waiariki Te Hāmua Nikora, MANA candidate for Ikaroa Rāwhiti  “More than four decades have passed and the petition calling for Te Reo Māori in schools...
    Mana | 14-09
  • Primary focus on the critical issues
    A Labour Government will prioritise New Zealand’s agricultural sectors by recreating a Rural Affairs Minister and appointing a Primary Industry Council and a Chief Agricultural Adviser. Releasing Labour’s Primary Sector and Rural Affairs policies today, spokesperson Damien O’Connor says the...
    Labour | 12-09
  • Maori Television fears confirmed – Harawira
    ...
    Mana | 12-09
  • More ghost houses from National
    The Government’s desperate pre-election announcement of more ghost houses won’t fool Aucklanders wanting action on the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “These are ghost houses, to go with National’s ghost tax cut. Families cannot live in ghost...
    Labour | 12-09
  • National bows to union pressure over travel time
    National has reluctantly bowed to pressure from unions and adopted Labour’s fair and sensible policy to pay home support workers for the time they spend traveling between clients, Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “This decision is long overdue...
    Labour | 12-09
  • Predators on Poverty – Harawira
    “As poverty has ballooned out of control, the Predators on Poverty have emerged to suck the lifeblood from whole families and communities” said MANA Movement leader and Tai Tokerau MP, Hone Harawira. “They are deliberately targeting low-income areas, particularly those...
    Mana | 11-09
  • MANA Movement Policy Launch
    Predators on Poverty (pokie machines, alcohol outlets and loan sharks) 1pm, Thursday 11th September Corner Great South Road and Criterion Street Otahuhu Shopping Centre...
    Mana | 10-09
  • Eliminating Poverty – Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate, Otara | Internet MAN...
    A campaign to Eliminate Poverty, Feed the Kids, build more houses, and create thousands of new jobs, was outlined by Internet MANA at a public meeting in Otara this evening. When MANA and the Internet Party first sat down to...
    Mana | 09-09
  • Housing in Waiariki – Sykes
    Fact:  Under this National-Maori Party-ACT-United Future Government 61% of Maori in Waiariki do not own their own home and nearly 70% of Maori rentals in Waiariki pay $200 or more per week. “Maori in Waiariki have low rates of home ownership...
    Mana | 09-09
  • Charter school crisis shows time to axe costly experiment
    Dysfunction from day one at a Northland charter school shows it is time to dump this costly and failed experiment by the National-ACT Government, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Te Kura Hourua ki Whangaruru received $27,000 in government funding...
    Labour | 08-09
  • Labour will crack down on loan sharks
    A Labour Government will crack down on predatory loan sharks by making it illegal both to charge exorbitant interest rates and to exploit uninformed borrowers, Labour’s Consumer Affairs Spokesperson Carol Beaumont says. Labour today released its Consumer Affairs policy which...
    Labour | 08-09
  • Let’s do the FEED before the weed
    “Last week I put out a very strongly worded email to my colleagues about an online promotion about cannabis law reform” said MANA leader and Tai Tokerau MP, Hone Harawira “and I stand by that criticism today.” My concern was...
    Mana | 08-09
  • TE KAEA and NATIVE AFFAIRS live to fight another day
    “I understand that both the chair of the Board of Maori Television, Georgina Te Heuheu, and new CEO, Paora Maxwell, are now saying that my comments this morning about their plans to cut Te Kaea and Native Affairs, were wrong, and that...
    Mana | 08-09
  • How come the PM only pays 2.8% of his income in tax – Harawira
    “Before John Key talks about the piddling tax cuts he plans for low and middle income families today he needs to explain why he only pays 2.8% of his income on tax while a minimum wage worker pays 28% tax,”...
    Mana | 07-09
  • THE DEATH OF INDEPENDENCE FOR MAORI TV
    “If what I’m hearing is true, tomorrow Maori Television Service (MTS) will dump its news programme, Te Kaea, and staff will lose their jobs” said MANA Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau, Hone Harawira “and the Minister of Maori...
    Mana | 07-09
  • Labour recommits to Pike River families
    An incoming Labour-led government will do everything possible to recover the bodies of the Pike River Miners and return them to their families, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. “This tragedy and its aftermath has left the families of the 29...
    Labour | 06-09
  • Voting has started and still no tax plan or fiscal budget for voters to see
    "Even though voting for the election has already begun, National still refuses to provide any details of its proposed tax cuts. And Bill English admitted this morning that he won’t provide any specifics until after the election", Labour’s Finance spokesperson...
    Labour | 06-09
  • National’s partners’ tax plans cost at least $42 billion
    If National forms the next government its partners’ tax plans will cost the country at least $42 billion, and maybe as much as $50 billion, wreaking havoc with the books, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson David Parker. “National claims to be...
    Labour | 05-09
  • Labour: Providing more opportunities for young Kiwis
    A Labour Government will ensure every young Kiwi under the age of 20 is given the opportunity to be in work, education or training, and plans to develop a conservation apprenticeship scheme to help do that, Labour’s Youth Affairs spokesperson...
    Labour | 04-09
  • Candles out on teachers’ slice of birthday cake
    Today may be Novopay’s second birthday, but there’s little to celebrate, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Novopay has cost the taxpayer tens of millions of dollars already, and the cost is still climbing....
    Labour | 04-09
  • National’s blatant broadband pork barrelling misses the mark by a country...
    National’s blatant pork-barrelling ICT announcement today should reinforce a growing sceptical electorate’s view that they are all about the gift wrap and not the present, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Instead of addressing the real issues - the woeful...
    Labour | 04-09
  • More evidence of the need to clean up the system
    The latest release of emails and messages between disgraced Minister Judith Collins and blogger Cameron Slater are more evidence of the urgent need to clean up politics, Labour MP Grant Robertson says. "This new evidence confirms a near constant flow...
    Labour | 04-09
  • Labour commits to stable funding for voluntary sector
    A Labour Government will establish long-term funding and streamline contract accountability for community and voluntary groups, says Labour’s spokesperson for the sector Louisa Wall. Announcing Labour’s policy for the community and voluntary sector, she said this would give much greater...
    Labour | 04-09
  • Better trained and skilled workforce under Labour
    Labour is committed to a skilled workforce that benefits businesses as well as their workers, and will increase workplace training to improve productivity and drive innovation, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “Labour believes the Government should support New Zealanders into...
    Labour | 03-09
  • Labour will make renting a better option
    Labour will provide greater security of tenure for renters, and build more state and social housing, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Labour believes every kid deserves a decent start in life. That means a warm, dry and secure home....
    Labour | 03-09
  • At least 15 new taxes under National
    John Key is the last person to talk about creating taxes, presiding over a Government that has imposed at least 15 new taxes, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “John Key tried a novel line in the debate last night claiming...
    Labour | 03-09
  • Labour will strengthen New Zealand’s democracy
    A Labour Government will act quickly to protect and enhance New Zealand’s reputation as one of the most open and least corrupt countries in the world, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “The health of any democracy is improved by greater...
    Labour | 02-09
  • MANA Movement says tax cut on GST must be first priority – Minto
    “If Prime Minister John Key has money available for tax cuts then cutting GST must be the first priority”,  said MANA Movement Economic Justice Spokesperson John Minto. GST is a nasty tax on low-income families”, said Minto. “People in the...
    Mana | 02-09
  • The Maori Party’s Mana-Enhancing Relationship with National – Minto
    “First we had Cameron Slater and David Farrar backing Labour’s Kelvin Davis bid to unseat MANA Movement Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau Hone Harawira.  Now we have Slater writing a pro-Te Ururoa Flavell article on his website, Whale...
    Mana | 02-09
  • There’s Only One Poll That Counts
    “One of the oldest sayings in politics is that there is only one poll that counts – the one on Election Day – and that’s the one that I am focusing on” remarked the MANA Movement candidate for Waiariki, Annette...
    Mana | 02-09
  • Local communities critical to Civil Defence
    Labour will focus on empowering New Zealand communities to be resilient in Civil Defence disasters, says Labour’s Civil Defence spokesperson Clare Curran. Announcing Labour’s Civil Defence policy, she says that Labour will work with schools, voluntary agencies and community groups...
    Labour | 02-09
  • Labour looks to long-life passports, gambling harm review
    A return to 10 year passports and a review of gambling laws are highlights of Labour’s Internal Affairs policy released today. “More than 15,000 New Zealanders signed a petition calling on the Government to revert to the 10 year system...
    Labour | 02-09
  • A Fiji democratic mandate for the coup leader – what now for the media?
    Attorney-General Sayad-Khaiyum and Rear-Admiral (Ret) Voreqe Bainimarama’s Fiji First party is poised to lead the country in the next four years. Photo: Mads Anneberg, an AUT Pacific Media Centre student on internship in Suva with Repúblika Magazine and Pacific Scoop...
    The Daily Blog | 21-09
  • Why I voted Labour and why 2017 will be different
    As a 3nd and 5th generation Kiwi-Indian (depending on which side of the family we have to go with), my relationship with New Zealand is a special one. Like other New Zealanders who are not of the Caucasian variety, the...
    The Daily Blog | 20-09
  • Humble Pie
    Oh. My. God. This was a heartbreaking nightmare. I was wrong, horribly, horribly, horribly wrong. I honestly believed that the resources, the media attention, the vile toxic politics exposed by Dirty Politics and the mass surveillance lies would have seen...
    The Daily Blog | 20-09
  • Election 2014; A Post-mortem; a Wake; and one helluva hang-over
    .   . It would be fair to say that the results for Election 2014 did not go as anticipated. The Left has had a drubbing – and some of it was of our own making. In other aspects, there...
    The Daily Blog | 20-09
  • Voting turnout affected by bad weather?
    . . NZ, Upper Hutt, 20 September –  Cold, wet weather in the Hutt Valley, north of Wellington may be impacting on voter turn-out. A head-count of people visiting the Trentham School Voting Station in Moonshine Rd, Upper Hutt, indicated...
    The Daily Blog | 20-09
  • Final total of advance voting
    And the final total for the advance voting was a staggering 717,579 advance votes against 334,558 in 2011       Tonight, I’ll be watching the TV3 election coverage because I could bare Paul Henry’s smugness one inch more than Mike Hosking’s...
    The Daily Blog | 20-09
  • Vice article on NZ election
    Here is my Vice article on the NZ election....
    The Daily Blog | 19-09
  • The attempt to kill off Internet MANA
    It’s the last day of campaigning today and the long list of those attacking Internet MANA got longer yesterday with Winston Peters backing Labour candidate Kelvin Davis against the MANA Movement’s Hone Harawira. Davis is now supported by Labour, National,...
    The Daily Blog | 19-09
  • A final word on the election – it’s now all up to you
    Brothers & Sisters, the fate of Aotearoa is now all in your hands. We here at the Daily Blog have thrown everything we can at this bloody Government and have spent every waking hour of this campaign trying to highlight...
    The Daily Blog | 19-09
  • I can’t tell what is National Party advert and what is the NZ Herald – ...
    I can’t tell what is National Party advert and what is the NZ Herald – but then again, I never could...
    The Daily Blog | 19-09
  • TVNZ election coverage – white people telling other white people why Nati...
    TVNZ election coverage – white people telling other white people why National Party is great...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • REVIEW: Royals of Kihikihi
    What an absolutely stunning show.  I had to ask twice to check I’d heard right that this is the first staged production for Samuel Christopher, who also played a raw, real, but vulnerable, Wolf Royal, home from London for his...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • 800 Cops to detain 15 ‘terrorists’ – why Australia’s hysterical Isl...
    I’m sorry but I can’t take this current Australian terror threat seriously. 800 cops to detain 15 people and arrest one of them? A week after Abbot decides to send in Australian forces to the cluster fuck of Iraq, suddenly...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Unbelievable corruption inside Government to attack Kim Dotcom
    The corruption inside this Government just more and more filthy – we now have an ex-Customs Lawyer quitting  after being told to bury information that could embarrass the Government, specifically to do with Kim Dotcom… Curtis Gregorash said he was told...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Coalition for Better Broadcasting – Everyone Loves A Win-Win That Keeps G...
      Permit me to quote some figures at you… -68% of New Zealanders think political news on television focuses too much on politicians’ personalities and not enough on real issues. This is the key result of a recent UMR survey commissioned by...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Jeremy Wells’ Mike Hosking rant on Radio Hauraki: Today, another week of ...
    Jeremy Wells’ Mike Hosking rant on Radio Hauraki: Today, another week of being the most in demand broadcaster in the country...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • EXCLUSIVE: Te Tai Tokerau independent poll (44% Hone-27% Kelvin) vs Maori T...
    The Te Tai Tokerau Maori TV poll on Monday this week painted a bleak picture for Internet MANA supporters, and it’s results have been seized upon by Labour, NZ First and even the Maori Party (who seem set once again...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • The time for TPPA weasel words is over
    Almost every day of the election campaign there has been a policy announcement that would potentially run foul of what I understand is currently in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA):  more constraints on foreign investment or investors … regulation of...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • MELTDOWN – Maori Party turns on their own Te Tai Tokerau candidate – ag...
    The tensions are building in Te Tai Tokerau with the Maori Party on the verge of meltdown. Days out from the election, the Maori Party Executive has tried to heavy their own Te Tai Tokerau Electoral Committee and their own candidate, Te Hira Paenga,...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • We Can Change this Government
    We Can Change this Government – Mike Treen at the First Union stop work election meeting...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Election 2014: For and Against
    With the general election tomorrow, we have had a very noisy campaign but little sign that the electorate wishes for a fundamental change of governmental direction. This reflects in part the fact that the economic cycle is close to its decadal...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Eye To Eye Uploaded: Martyn ‘Bomber’ Bradbury
    This interview was filmed a couple of weeks ago between Willie Jackson and myself, I was a tad off with my prediction of NZ First....
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • The Donghua Liu Affair – The Players Revealed
      . . – Special investigation by Frank Macskasy & ‘Hercules‘ Speculation that the Beehive office of Immigration Minister, Michael Woodhouse, was behind the release of a letter linking Labour leader, David Cunliffe, with controversial Chinese businessman, Donghua Liu, is...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • As if you needed another reason to boycott Telecom/Spark – they sold NZ d...
    It should read ‘never stop spying’. As if you needed another reason to boycott Telecom/Spark – they sold us down the river to the US by allowing the Southern Cross cable to be tapped… The ability for US intelligence agencies...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • The NZ First-Labour Party attack strategy against Internet MANA better work
    The final days of the campaign are ticking down and Labour and NZ First are manoeuvring to kill off the Internet MANA Party by both backing Kelvin Davis for Te Tai Tokerau. It’s a risky gambit that they better pray to Christ...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Bill English’s latest insult to beneficiaries – apparently they are lik...
    National’s hatred towards the poor continues unabated as National desperately try to throw raw meat to their reactionary voter base in the hope to inspire enough hate and loathing to win back their redneck voters from the Conservative Party and from...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Eminem ain’t happy with John Key
    Eminem ain’t happy with John Key...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Key claims he did not inhale
    Key claims he did not inhale...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Final prediction on election result 2014
    What an election campaign. The character assassination of David Cunliffe kicked things off with the Herald on Sunday falsely claiming $100 00 bottles of wine, $15 000 books and $150 000 in donations  from a donor that turned out to be...
    The Daily Blog | 18-09
  • Live blog: Bainamarama takes commanding lead in Fiji elections
      Interview with Repúblika editor Ricardo Morris and Pacific Scoop’s Mads Anneberg. PACIFIC SCOOP TEAM By Ricardo Morris, Mads Anneberg, Alistar Kata and Biutoka Kacimaiwai in Suva WHILE the results are provisional at this stage, it is clear today that...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • 5AA Australia: NZ Elections Two Days To Go! + Edward Snowden + Julian Assan...
    Recorded live on 18/09/14 – Captured Live on Ustream at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/multimedia-investments-ltd 5AA Australia’s Peter Godfrey and Selwyn Manning deliver their weekly bulletin: Across The Ditch. This week, they discuss the latest news as New Zealanders go to the polls on...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • What has Colin Craig done for his Press Secretary to quit 2 days before ele...
    This is VERY strange.  Colin Craig’s Press Secretary Rachel McGregor, has quit 2 days before the election, allegedly telling ZB that Colin Craig was a “very manipulative man”. I’ve met Rachel many times in the past as Colin’s Press Secretary, she is...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • “If you want steak, go to the supermarket and buy steak,” – A brief w...
    “If you want steak, go to the supermarket and buy steak,” said Key in the final leaders debate. Problem of course is that the 250 000 – 285 000 children living in poverty can not afford steak, milk, butter, eggs...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • National’s final bash of beneficiaries before the election
    On cue, whenever National feel threatened, they roll out a little bennie bash just to keep their redneck voter base happy. Nothing like a bit of raw meat policy to keep National voters focused on the evil threat solo parents...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • With All Of This In Mind, I Vote
    This is my last blog before the election and I really just want to speak from the heart. Right now in this country it seems to me that a lot of people consider the “essentials” in life to be simply...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • Left has to vote strategically this election
    The dedication, loyalty, and tribalism of party politics means that sometimes the left lets itself down by not voting strategically. We all want our favoured party to get maximum votes, naturally, but the winner-takes-all approach doesn’t always suit multi-party left...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • Dear NZ – as you enter the polling booth, stand up for your rights
    The last days before a NZ general election are a busy time as politicians make their pitch and party activists prepare to get out the vote. It is sort of weird watching from the distance of Europe the strangest election...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • What is Waihopai, John, if it isn’t a facility for “mass surveillance...
    John Key assured us on RNZ’s Nine to Noon programme yesterday that “In terms of the Fives Eyes data bases… yes New Zealand will contribute some information but not mass wholesale surveillance.” How does this square with the operation of the...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Catherine Delahunty – Mass Surveillance and the Banality of E...
    Renowned journalist and intellectual Hannah Arendt coined the phrase “the banality of evil” to describe the normalisation of genocide in Nazi Germany. I thought of her phrase when I was listening to Glenn Greenwald and other international whistle-blowers talking about...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • Election. Down. To. The. Wire
    Funny how last week it was John Key winning by 50%, now it’s neck and neck. I have always believed this election would be down to the wire and it is proving so. The flawed landline opinion polls the mainstream...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • 3rd Degree uses Whaleoil for story ideas as if Dirty Politics never happene...
    TV3s 3rd Degrees smear job on Kim Dotcom last night doesn’t bear much repeating. It was pretty pathetic journalism from a team who have brought us some great journalism in the past. It is sad to see 3rd Degree stooping...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • Live blog: Bainimarama takes early lead in Fiji’s election
    Pacific Scoop’s Alistar Kata reports from yesterday’s voting. By Alistar Kata of Pacific Scoop in Suva Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama took an early lead in provisional results in the Fiji general election last night. With provisional results from 170 out...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • Has The NSA Constructed The Perfect PPP?
    Former intelligence analyst and whistleblower, Edward Snowden – speaking live to those gathered at the Auckland Town Hall on Monday September 17, 2014. Investigation by Selwyn Manning. THE PRIME MINISTER JOHN KEY’s admission on Wednesday that whistleblower Edward Snowden “may...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • No way – Key admits Snowden is right
    After claiming there was no middle ground. After claiming there was no mass surveillance. After calling Glenn Greenwald a henchman and a loser. After all the mainstream media pundits screamed at Kim’s decision to take his evidence to Parliamentary Privileges...
    The Daily Blog | 17-09
  • Bad luck National
    ...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • The incredible changing John Key story on mass spying – why the Moment of...
    While the mainstream media continue to try and make the Moment of Truth about Kim’s last minute decision to prolong his battle against John Key past the election into the Privileges Committee, the reality is that the Moment of Truth...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • GUEST BLOG: Curwen Rolinson – Themes of the Campaign
    There’s one area of a political campaign that just about everyone, at some point, falls afoul of. The campaign song. I’m not sure quite why it is, but it seems to be almost impossible for political parties to come up...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • GUEST BLOG – Denis Tegg – The NSA slides that prove mass surveillance
    The evidence presented by Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden on The Intercept of mass surveillance of New Zealanders by the GCSB is undeniable, and can stand on its own. But when you place this fresh evidence in the context of...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • Ukraine, United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland
    The Ukrainian civil war discomforts me. It seems to me the most dangerous political crisis since the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. And it’s because of our unwillingness to examine the issues in a holistic way. We innately prefer to...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • John Key’s love affair with a straw man – the relationship intensifies
    John Key’s love affair with the straw man is now a fully-committed relationship. It’s now the first love of his life. Sorry Bronagh. Yesterday I pointed to Key’s constant assurances that there is no mass surveillance of New Zealanders by...
    The Daily Blog | 16-09
  • Roy Morgan NZ Election Update With A Look At The Polls
    Roy Morgan NZ Election Update With A Look At The Polls National re-elected to third term with record high vote as Labour slumps to worst result in over 90 years...
    Scoop politics | 21-09
  • National-led Government wins mandate for RMA reforms
    An unprecedented increase in support for the third-term National Party, the best electoral performance since 1899, has delivered a clear mandate for reform of the Resource Management Act says Federated Farmers. “Vital reforms to the RMA have...
    Scoop politics | 21-09
  • New Zealand says no to Culture of Death
    Right to Life is pleased that the people of New Zealand have rejected a culture of death by refusing to elect a Labour/Green government that supported the decriminalisation of abortion....
    Scoop politics | 21-09
  • Q + A – Steven Joyce
    CORIN Steven Joyce if we could start with how things are going to look now with your support partners. Can you just run us through, National can technically govern alone on what you’ve got at the moment, do you think...
    Scoop politics | 21-09
  • Q + A – Kelvin Davis
    SUSAN Well earlier this morning, just before we came to air in fact, Corin spoke to Kelvin Davis, one of the big winners of the night, the new MP for Te Tai Tokerau....
    Scoop politics | 21-09
  • Q + A – David Cunliffe
    CORIN Joining me now is Labour Leader, David Cunliffe. Good morning to you Mr Cunliffe. This is a tough result for Labour, how much personal responsibility do you take for this....
    Scoop politics | 21-09
  • Grey Power congratulates Key
    Grey Power National President Terry King congratulated John Key for his party’s “resounding win “ in yesterday’s election and hoped that the new National Government would look hard at issues affecting the ever–growing number of older New Zealanders....
    Scoop politics | 21-09
  • EMA congratulates PM John Key and National
    The Employers and Manufacturers Association extend hearty congratulations to the re-election of Prime Minister John Key and National....
    Scoop politics | 21-09
  • Helen Clark Receives Inaugural Women’s Health Rights Award
    Helen Clark was honoured as the first recipient of the Women’s Health Rights Award at the 121st Woman’s Suffrage event held in Auckland....
    Scoop politics | 21-09
  • National deal with New Zealand First unlikely
    The National party is unlikely to offer a confidence and supply agreement to New Zealand First according to Dr Ryan Malone, Director Training and Research at Civicsquare....
    Scoop politics | 20-09
  • Daily Election Update #12: NZ First to hold balance of power
    Winston Peters’ NZ First Party will hold the balance of power after tomorrow’s election, according to the combined wisdom of the 8000+ registered traders on New Zealand’s predictions market, iPredict. Mr Peters is then expected to back a National-led...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Election Day is Time to Refocus on Policies
    Over the course of this election campaign there has been a lot of focus on dirty politics and spying, and not a lot on policy. With election day looming, Gareth Morgan is calling for people to refocus on the issues....
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • The Kiwi FM Alternative Election Commentary
    Saturday 20 September from 7pm on 102.2 Auckland, 102.1 Wellington, 102.5 Canterbury, or KiwiFM.co.nz...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Beneficiary Bashing unacceptable
    Kay Brereton of the Beneficiary Advocacy Federation of New Zealand says “ the comment made by Bill English yesterday comparing beneficiaries to crack addicts is shocking and incredibly poorly timed.”...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • UN Experience Beneficial
    Acclaim Otago representatives have just completed their participation at the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability examination of the New Zealand government in Geneva, Switzerland. "It was an interesting two days which we believe has...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Changing face of NZ should be reflected in newsrooms
    With Fairfax Media’s Journalism Intern search closing on Sunday, Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy is urging aspiring journalists from Maori, Pacific and ethnic communities to apply. The deadline was recently extended to 10pm, Sunday...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • SPCA expresses concern over toxin in waterways
    Ric Odom CEO of Royal NZ SPCA has expressed concern over the toxic poison 1080 entering waterways, but DoC, Council’s and Ministry of Health have colluded to make it legal....
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • NZ 2014 Election Index – 13-18 September
    Below is iSentia’s final weekly Election Index, covering the period 13-18 September and showing the relative amount of coverage of nine Party Leaders in the lead up to the National Election across news media and social media. The methodology used...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Epsom Candidate (Adam Holland) More Liberal Than ACT
    For the past four years I, like 500,000 other New Zealanders, have been illegally smoking cannabis for medicinal purposes and/or even just for the occasional laugh with friends on the weekend. We don't hurt anybody, we don't cause nuisance, we...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Left Coalition Will Save Dolphins
    A left coalition would safeguard both Māui and Hector’s dolphins, as well as revive our inshore ecosystems. Labour, Internet Mana and the Green Party all have strong policies in place for dolphin protection. The Maori Party, and to a certain...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Waihoroi Shortland: Ngāti Hine is not standing alone
    The Chairman of Te Rūnanga a Iwi o Ngāpuhi, Sonny Tau is blowing smoke worthy of a Dotcom rally with claims that Ngati Hine is standing alone in its opposition to Tūhoronuku says the Chairman of Te Rūnanga o Ngati...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Oceania voices on environment loud and strong
    While money and energy continues to be spent on global talks about climate change, Pacific islanders are scrambling to build sea walls out of sticks, stones, shells and coral, to protect their lands and homes from erosion and rising sea...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Prime Time with Sean Plunket – Tonight
    No MPs tonight --- the campaign will be over at 9 30. Instead we will look back --- and possibly forward on what we have learned and what might happen. Listener Political Columnist Jane Clifton Editor in Chief, NZ Herald,...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Election fails to address youth financial wellbeing
    Young people don’t feel included in New Zealand’s financial success and believe inequality is a problem, according to a new survey conducted by Westpac’s Fin-Ed Centre at Massey University....
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Winston’s Waffle doesn’t hide the facts
    The Conservative Party is celebrating the ASA's finding announced today that rejected all but one of the complaints raised against its controversial “Conservatives or Peters” pamphlet. “Despite pages of complaints from Peters legal team the only...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • NZ Independent Coalition looking forward to tomorrow
    “Our team is looking forward to tomorrow. It is a real opportunity to reclaim politics for the people,” said NZ Independent Coalition leader Brendan Horan....
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Insights Issue 35/2014 – 19 September 2014
    Insights Issue 35/2014 - 19 September 2014 In This Issue • RMA reform the golden unicorn of policy | Jenesa Jeram...
    Scoop politics | 19-09
  • Special voting arrangements made for NIWA crew
    One of the most unusual polling stations for this year’s general election is in the middle of the ocean miles from land. NIWA’s flagship research vessel Tangaroa, has been doubling as a polling booth for crew and scientists at sea....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Tourism operators urged to vote strategically
    Tourism operators should make sure they know their local candidates’ view on tourism and use their vote to support the country’s second largest export industry, says Chris Roberts, Chief Executive, Tourism Industry Association New Zealand (TIA)....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • WGTN: March for free education
    We are students, university staff, and members of the community. Whichever parties form a government after September 20th, we are demanding an end to corporatisation of education....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Evidence of Corruption a National Scandal
    Internet Party leader Laila Harré will take evidence of corruption to international forums if there is not a full Royal Commission to investigate the growing evidence of the systematic use and abuse of democratic institutions and processes for political...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Govt continues to throw money at charter school experiment
    Official documents reveal the three primary sector charter schools approved last week will cost $2 million to set up as well as divert another $1.5 million of potential taxpayer investment from local state schools next year....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • ACT Final Election Rally
    Elections campaigns are an opportunity for political parties to put candidates and policy to enable voters to choose what sort of New Zealand we want. In this campaign there have been three tests by which you can assess the electoral...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Taxpayers on Hook Again for Solid Energy
    Responding to the Fairfax article that taxpayers are extending another $103 million to keep Solid Energy afloat, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says:...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Invermay Petition Tops 10,000 Signatures
    People across New Zealand continue to express their disgust at the downgrading of Invermay, says Dunedin North MP David Clark, as the Save Invermay petition he instigated earlier this year topped the 10,000 signature mark just days before the 2014...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • McVicar vows to continue fight for police
    Garth McVicar stated at a public meeting last week that he would fight to retain a 24/7 Police Station in Napier and no reduction in the number of police staff for the Hawkes Bay region, some said he was simply...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Party Vote Our Weapon in Fight Against Government Corruption
    Internet MANA urges New Zealanders to use their party vote to confront corruption in any new government....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Election day is tomorrow – make sure you’re a part of it!
    Tomorrow, Saturday 20 September, is election day, and New Zealanders’ last chance to have a say on who leads the country for the next three years....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Is the Shape of our Government out of the hands of Voters?
    In the last stuff.co.nz / Ipsos Political Poll before Saturdays election, National is down 5.1% to 47.7% and Labour up 3.7% to 26.15%. These results are remarkably similar to the 2011 election where National received 47.3% of the vote and...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Spirit of Suffrage a Call to Action for All Kiwi Women
    Internet MANA is drawing on the courage and integrity of New Zealand women on Suffrage Day – Friday, September, 19 – to encourage them to pay tribute to the spirit of their foremothers who gained women the vote....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Live Election Night Coverage on TV And Online
    Māori Television’s KOWHIRI 2014 – ELECTION SPECIAL kicks off at 7.00pm this Saturday with a five-hour broadcast focusing on the Māori electorates....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Judge’s Decision Disappoints Fish & Game
    Today’s decision to give a Temuka man 100 hours of community service for selling sports fish to the public has disappointed Fish & Game, which believes the sentence handed down was “too lenient and will not go far enough to...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Cutting-Edge Graphics Fire up TV3’s Election Night Coverage
    TV3’s Election Night coverage, hosted by John Campbell, will be enhanced by cutting-edge graphics that will showcase the night’s results....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Govt rushes to open charter schools in New Year
    The government’s decision to approve four new charter schools last week to open in January next year goes against the Minister of Education’s own advice that the schools ought to have at least a year’s preparation time....
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • 7 Days And Jono And Ben at Ten Hijack Election Weekend
    The 7 Days and Jono and Ben at Ten (JABAT) comedians are running their own version of election coverage, with a schedule of entertainment and comedy across TV3, Kiwi FM, the web and social media this Friday and Saturday under...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Fewer Prisoners Equals Less Crime
    In its latest blog, ‘Abolishing Parole and other Crazy Stuff’,’ at http://blog.rethinking.org.nz/2014/09/krill-and-womble-independent-policy.html , Rethinking Crime and Punishment urges government to rethink its approach to releasing prisoners. “The public expectation is that the excellent reductions in the crime...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • McVicar slams his political opponents
    I want a safe and prosperous society and that can only be achieved if we have strong and vi-brant families – McVicar...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Falling economic growth – wage rises overdue
    “The lower GDP growth in the three months to June is further evidence that growth has peaked. New Zealand’s economy is on the way down to mediocre growth rates,” says CTU economist Bill Rosenberg. “Yet wage rises are still weak...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Get Out and Vote campaign a success
    Tens of thousands of workers from all around New Zealand have embraced the Get Out and Vote campaign and have created their own personalised voting plan, the CTU said today. “With three days of voting left in the 2014 General...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
  • Animal Research Failing – So Do More Animal Research?
    Victoria University of Wellington is about to host a lecture on why the success rates of pharmaceutical development is so low and what can be done about it. The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS) welcomes discussion on this important...
    Scoop politics | 18-09
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