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Garth George’s best column … ever

Written By: - Date published: 9:01 am, January 6th, 2014 - 117 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, poverty - Tags:

As part of my holiday reading I happened to come across a copy of the Bay of Plenty Times.  Former Herald columnist Garth George has  retired to Tauranga and writes the occasional column for the local paper.

He is no stranger to TS readers.  Over the years he has been given a hard time by Standard commentators although looking at some of the posts where his views have been discussed it appears that occasionally he has struck a chord with some authors.  It will surprise many but I think that on the basis of Garth’s latest column we should cut him some slack and consider him seriously in the future.

The column is about how to banish poverty.  And his prescription is something that I agree with entirely.  And I never ever thought that I would say this.

Garth’s column needs to be read in its entirety.  He begins by talking about his hope for 2014 and expresses concern for the plight of kiwis who  live in poverty, “and particularly the dreadful effect that has on so many children.”  He then expresses the hope that over the next 12 months there will be real and determined efforts to alleviate the problem.

Thus my first and dearest hope for this year, which happens to be the 20th anniversary of the United Nations Year of the Family, is that the next 12 months will see real and determined efforts to alleviate this suppurating national sore.

For poverty is the trigger for so much else that ails our people – child abuse and neglect, poor child health and inability to learn, to name but three.

I could not agree more.

The next statement starts off on an interesting tract, that money will not solve poverty when by definition it will but Garth then gets all radical on it.

Constantly throwing people and money at these problems has not worked and won’t ever work. What is needed is an almost complete revision of our thinking on the economy as a whole, because that is where the problem really originates.

We have been told for decades that if we improve our economic performance, our wealth-production, the results will be felt by all. That is absolute rubbish, and we know that because the wealthier we have become, the greater the number reduced to poverty.

Wealthy people – and businesses – get that way because by every means possible they hang on to what they have got. Just look at our four major overseas-owned banks, which last year hoisted obscene profits in the billions of dollars.

That sort of profit reveals just one thing: that hundreds of thousands of bank customers are being royally ripped-off.

Again I could not agree more.  The dominance of our banking system by the Australian banks is a major drain on our wealth and has a particularly bad effect on terms of trade as these profits are moved offshore.

Ours is a low-wage economy and, as far as I’m concerned, that is the basic cause of poverty and all the social problems that flow from it. … It is long past time that we revised our attitude to wage and salary earners and paid them their due.

It is also long past time we got rid of terms such as “human resources” and realised anew that wage and salary earners are people and not just bums on seats with a brain and a pair of hands – what Karl Marx labelled “economic units” – but are a valuable investment, not a liability.

I never thought I would see Garth quote Karl Marx!

I am persuaded that the economic model which has driven our fiscal affairs for nearly three decades is seriously, if not irreparably, flawed, and that that is the place to start if we are ever to achieve economic justice for all and reduce poverty to its absolute minimum.

Laissez-faire capitalism has to go – or at least be subjected to some form of strict regulation.

One word Garth, respect.  When an old time conservative like Garth George enunciates clearly the problems with our economic system you know that things are changing.


117 comments on “Garth George’s best column … ever”

  1. Bill 1

    So, an old commissar retires and ‘suddenly’ he’s ‘persuaded’ that the economics policies of the past 30 years are ‘flawed’? I’m not going to be so quick to extend him any respect ms. He was, it seems, a more than willing piper during that time. But hey, anything’s justified if it means a regular pay-cheque… in some peoples’ world.

    • TRacey 1.1

      Having railed for 30 years for conservative, back in my day, values in a widely read publication he NOW sees the light? I hope so and hope he reaches farther than the bop to spread this word

  2. blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 2

    Wow! that is great to hear, thanks Micky Savage. (& Garth George)

    Could it be that rationality and sensible thinking are finally ‘trickling up’??

  3. karol 3

    Wait a minute – Garth is not arguing to give up his relative advantages, nor to do anything specific to help those in poverty – he’s blaming it all on the the greedy wealthy, and saying we need to move from laissez faire capitalism – is he in fact a bit of a litmus test for a general shift in views – harking back to pre-1980s conservatism?

    Any move away from “laissez-faire” capitalism, and toward a more equitable society is to be welcomed. But I’m not holding my breath for him to go very radical on it.

    • Tim 3.1

      Yea but, yea but ….. SOME of those old codger conservatives are beginning to see the light – usually the comfortably off etting a bit worried about their future. Tauranga??? probably was a good place for him to retire to – i.e. IF he chooses to get out and about a bit – i.e. down the line towards Te Puke and Maketu.
      The disparities are all there to see. Cruise ship visits and gated communities juxtaposed against orchard workers -some still awaiting minimum/slave wages – after having reconstructed an industry almost destroyed by PSA (let’s not get into the causes of that – too long to go into – but in short, government departments gutted and under-resourced; multi-million dollar motorways parallel to under-utilised rail; recovery from a Rena oil-spill (again epitomising a lack of government capability, but rather relying on the goodwill of a public)) …… the list goes on.
      Oh….. and all those forests in the vicinity being chopped down at the rate of knots by a workforce whose chances of coming out of it with their lives aren’t that crash hot.
      Maybe he has managed to get out a bit.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      is he in fact a bit of a litmus test for a general shift in views – harking back to pre-1980s conservatism?

      Probably but he doesn’t specifically say that. All he really does is say that we need to question the economic system that we have now. IMO, he’ll probably find that he doesn’t like the answer.

      • Tim 3.2.1

        Eugene Terre-Blanche claimed he had an epiphany – somewhat unconvincing however.
        Just saying …. (the imagery in my mind gets confused at times when I think of the RW guard)

  4. TRacey 4

    he is maybe a case of a journalist writing to pay the piper but once retired can write what they please?

    dj cameron was much more brazen about cricket when he wrote aFTER retiring from the herald.

    ross adams of whangaparaoa was regularly published when George was in charge of LTE.

    Dont see much of him anymore.

  5. Ad 5

    Arise, the new Labour candidate for Wainuiomata. 😉

  6. Matthew 6

    Garth George is suffering from the same syndrome as many other socialists.

    They become removed from society be it via “working” at academic institutions, retirement or “working” for the government.

    They then dream up perfect utopia’s that in the real world have not and never will work.

    The fact that he quote’s Marx says it all really.

    • karol 6.1

      Matthew, let me introduce you to the desert of the real.

    • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 6.2

      @ Matthew

      ‘Dreaming up perfect utopias that in the real world have not and never will work’ cuts both ways and brings to mind the neo-liberal theory. Although that may not have been based on a Utopian theory – it certainly was intended to provide for society and yet it has failed miserably.

      It is o.k to try something, yet terribly sad when something has been tried and has failed and yet people continue to justify it.

      Have you read Marx?

      His writing appears to be based on some pretty astute observations and I doubt whether we would have gotten as far as we have with quality of life had his writings not been in existence.

      On what grounds do you discard Marx’s writing?

      • Chooky 6.2.1

        @…probably on the grounds of Ayn Rand and Margaret Thatcher…smirk

        • phillip ure

          @ chooky..

          ..heh..!..you are a rand-ite..?



          ..you do know that despite a pillar of her vile/greed-driven ‘ideas’ being that any person who receives support from the state/fellow-citizens..is a ‘leech’..

          ..that rand herself was in there..filling her boots with welfare..

          ..for years and years..?

          ..but under another/different name..

          ..to hide the fact it was her..in her own words..being a ‘leech’..

          ..did you know that..?

          ..you ‘smirk’ing little randite..

          ..rand was one evil/twisted individual..

          ..and her followers are much the same..i’ve noticed..

          ..and there are a huge number of them in national..

          ..and a disturbing number in the neo-lib wing of labour..

          phillip ure..

          • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

            @ Phillip Ure,

            Nah, I think Chooky was pre-empting that Matthew was discarding Marx on these grounds….(and smirking at the thought…)

            Actually I smirked in response to this comment because I think Chooky has probably guessed correctly…

            However I continue to wait patiently for Matthew’s reply…suspect he’s gone off to read some Marx and will never reply, realising the dreadful assumption he has made grounded on nothing but excerpts from Rand’s rantings and Thatcher’s soundbytes…

            • phillip ure

              @ blue leopard..

              you are right..my bad/miss-read..

              ..so i should redirect that to natwest..

              ..and yep..of course he is a randite..

              ..his self-reliance-orgasm further down the thread..

              ..could have been lifted from a monologue from atlas shrugged..

              ..apologies to chooky..

              ..heh..!..(it is 11.05 pm..eh..?..that’s my excuse..!)

              phillip ure..

              • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

                Yes, you should definitely keep that comment as a quick ‘cut and paste’ answer to any Rand-ites lurking around -it’s just too good to waste! :)

    • TRacey 6.3

      yes, cos having opinions based on the highest bidder is so much more grounded and real?

      this must be the firs column of his you ever read to claim he is a socialist.

    • Sosoo 6.4

      In the utopia I dream of, the apostrophe is used correctly.

    • mickysavage 6.5

      Garth a socialist????

      I guess in your reality Barak Obama is a hard line communist …

  7. Olwyn 7

    On this subject I think that Garth is right.

    This, very roughly, is one of the arguments given for neo-liberalism when it was first being unleashed on us: (1) We are living beyond our means. (2) Businesses are answerable to their share-holders rather than the public. (3) Being answerable to share-holders constrains companies to working within their means. (4) Countries would be similarly constrained by the application of this model. (5) Hence, business should be the model for running the country.

    One might have been justified in thinking that developed countries had become too costly and inflexible to adjust quickly to contingencies, but the analogy between running countries and running businesses brushes aside significant differences. To pick just one, when you sack people from your business you can rely on them to go away, whereas you cannot rely on people to go away in sufficient numbers if they are sacked from citizenship. Instead they hang around as a begrudged cost.

    Following the above model, in which the shareholder is king, the means within which people live can always be made smaller and the returns to share-holders made larger. It is not a model for good governance. So long as it is followed, the results are tiresomely and sadly predictable. There just has to be a better way.

  8. Philj 8

    Garth, are you prepared to put your vote where your mouth is? Is this a personal admission of past serious errors in your political judgement? Or do you write what you are paid to write?

  9. Paul 9

    Maybe, just maybe, some Conservatives have finally woken up to the fact that neo-liberalism is NOT conservative, but revolutionary…for corporations.

  10. KJT 10

    Garth George has always had some degree of social consciousness.

    Now it looks like I am going top have to apologise to him.

  11. Anne 11

    I’m not surprised. Garth George is like a number of ‘old codgers’ who were brought up under conservative National governments – who, nevertheless, maintained (more or less) the principles of the egalitarian society initially set up by Labour in the 30s and 40s. He comes from the same group of National Party supporters who supplied Nicky Hagar with the information that enabled him to write his book “The Hollow Men”. They are basically good people and they would be as horrified at the trends in society since the introduction of neo-liberalism as is the Left.

    Give him credit for his change of stance. We just might need the Garth Georges to help us be rid of the pestilence that is the neo liberal market led economy.

    • mickysavage 11.1

      You are right Anne.

      I am impressed by the very decent members of the National Party who have privately confided in me how worried they are by recent developments. Their world view is totally different to the neocons and they want to have nothing to do with it. There is still a sense of decency in their principles even if their belief structure makes them see it differently to us lefties.

    • Will @Welly 11.2

      For many on the right, the promises of the neo-liberalism have not gone according to plan. Sure, some have done extremely well, but for a lot, they have watched as their children, and perhaps more importantly their grandchildren have become disenfranchised and been forced off-shore to earn a living.
      Remember, the neo-libs promised a “trickle down”, it’s never eventuated, and a lot of “oldies” must be wondering, after 30 years, why it has never eventuated.
      A lot of these “oldies” would once had nest eggs that they would have expected to have handed down to successive generations, but again, the policies of the neo-libs has seen those nest-eggs whittled away. And regardless of whether you’re left or right, many “older folk” had parents who were raised in ‘the Depression’ or they themselves were born in the Second World War, doesn’t really matter whether you were rich or poor, there was a collective unity then of living through the hard times. And most “old codgers” can’t believe that politicians today are so stupid as to want to repeat the lessons of the past. Perhaps the time has come when Garth George has said enough is enough.

      • Draco T Bastard 11.2.1

        Remember, the neo-libs promised a “trickle down”, it’s never eventuated, and a lot of “oldies” must be wondering, after 30 years, why it has never eventuated.

        Now it’s up to us lefties to inform them that it was never intended to eventuate. Unfortunately, we’ve Labour standing in the way of that.

        • Will@Welly

          So true. Initially, we thought they’d get rid of the right, but nooooooo. Look at the hangers on.
          My resignation came just after the 84 election, the writing was well and truly on the wall.
          Reading all the comments today, this has been a very positive day. It bodes well for the revolution. Thanks Draco.

      • Richard Christie 11.2.2

        Remember, the neo-libs promised a “trickle down”, it’s never eventuated, and a lot of “oldies” must be wondering, after 30 years, why it has never eventuated.

        The tragedy is that about two generations have passed since 1984. Those that remember the world pre-neliberalism will soon to be gone. Including all the ‘sincere old-timer conservatives’ mentioned in this thread. Even now nobody under 35 will remember it.

        • Bob

          Richard, I am under 35 (just) and I don’t remember a time without neo-liberalism.
          The only time I see NZ pre-1984 (on TV and documentaries) I see a country with real poverty, high infant mortality rates, low quality of living (although a higher sense of quality of life due to a lower sense of commercial need. Food, water and shelter were the staples of life, not Sky TV, iPhones and high speed internet connections, aparently food, water and shelter and being with friends and family alone is not enough to survive on anymore), institutional racism/sexism, blatant homophobic laws, and a country on the bones of its arse due to our over-reliance on British trade up until the late 70’s.

          I look at the country as we sit now and see so many great changes in this country due (in part) to neo-liberalism. The system is flawed, this is without doubt, both the role of the banking sector in the economy, and the Shareholder over worker paradigm needs an overhaul (also, Garth George is absolutely spot on in his assesment (especially “Constantly throwing people and money at these problems has not worked and won’t ever work” I hope Labour and Hone Harawira take this on board!)), but in terms of the overall changes to society under neo-liberalism, New Zealand as a country has been revived from where it was pre-Rogernomics (even though Roger Douglas got it very wrong on a number of counts).

          • Richard Christie

            I see a country with real poverty, high infant mortality rates, low quality of living….and a country on the bones of its arse due to our over-reliance on British trade up until the late 70′s

            This is subjectively filtered nonsense. NZ post war and pre oil-shock was in top 5 ranked of the world’s standard of living, at one stage topping it. Rather on the bones of our arse being result of reliance on Britain that relationship paid for the high ranking. Britain’s move to the common market owed nothing to neo-liberalism nor its own Thatcherism. Granted NZ’s reliance on the UK was short sighted but that mistake too owed nothing to NZ’s non adoption (then) of neo-liberal economics. Had neo libs been the dominant policy then, no doubt, pursuit of short term easy profit from a captive market would have had the same result – over dependence.

            Further, liberal reforms of social attitudes to sexism/racism and homophobia etc owe nothing to neo-liberal economics.

            You appear to confuse access to an abundance of consumer products produced off-shore by low wage economies with standard of living.

            • Bob

              Richard, neoliberalism is defined as involving “the priority of the price mechanism, the free enterprise, the system of competition and a strong and impartial state”, it is hard to have an impartial state that enshrines Sexism, Racism and Homophobia into law, so these reforms can be (in-part) owed to neoliberalism.

              “Granted NZ’s reliance on the UK was short sighted but that mistake too owed nothing to NZ’s non adoption (then) of neo-liberal economics.” It is impossible to say in hindsight, but under neo-liberal economics we have endevoured to open as many trade partnerships as possible, since 1984 we have completed free-trade agreements with China, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan (Australia was signed in 1983), meaning our economy is now far more resiliant to the demise of a single trade partner. Not to mention the TPPA which is currently in negotiations.

              “You appear to confuse access to an abundance of consumer products produced off-shore by low wage economies with standard of living” It seems it is you that is confused, I am saying that a good quality of life then was being feed, watered, housed, clothed and having access to education and healthcare, these things don’t seem to be enough in current society as I continually hear in discussions around ‘The Living Wage’. Do you realise that the living wage calculations include overseas trips for a family of 4? And Sky TV? And Playstations? Is it me that is pushing an unrealistic standard of living here?

              Some expenditure captured may not be considered a “basic necessity” by the community at large:
              Subscription TV
              Associated pet costs
              International travel
              Electronic video game systems

              Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand. http://www.livingwagenz.org.nz/index.php

              • Tracey

                “Subscription TV
                Associated pet costs
                International travel
                Electronic video game systems ”

                Yup, they will be much less fucked up and better contributors to the nation than the middle and upper class children who have all these things from birth…

                My nephew has been on two overseas trips this year. Once to New York and once to Malaysia. On both occasions he complained they clashed with a concert he had booked. SO his mother changed his flights and he flew up after the concert seperately to the family. He is 18. No job this summer, by choice.

                • Will@Welly

                  Aged 10, lawn-mowing round, too embarrassed now to tell anyone what I got paid.
                  Aged 14, Christmas holidays, 7 weeks, working on a farm, up at 6 am 6 days a week, my choice.
                  Aged 15, started in the freezing works. Worked there for 12 years.

                  • worked full-time every school holidays..from about age 10..

                    ..phillip ure..

                  • Tracey

                    worked in a stationery shop from 15 to 18. Then worked for Fullers Ferries from 18 until degree complete. BOTH jobs got through friends of family. I recognise the privilege of having a network that can get you work, something not open to many low income.

                    • Will@Welly

                      Not just low income. With so many jobs gone off-shore, and a lot of jobs now “casualised”, the availability of almost any holiday jobs for most is a thing of the past.
                      Student job search had 12, 2×8 hr positions advertised recently, all paying $14.00 an hour. Even if we returned to full employment tomorrow, we have cemented in a low wage economy. Five years ago, two women I was working with, who were paid just above the minimum wage had a discussion. We agreed then that the minimum wage should be around $20 – $22.00. Now it should be around $25 – $27.00. That will upset a few nobs. But then since 1991, we’ve had unrealistic wage restraints.
                      Teachers used to be paid the same salaries as back bencher M.P.’s, and for a reason.

          • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

            Hi Bob

            Yours is an interesting comment – I find your observations on how NZ was portrayed (on TV presumably) aligning with my memories of the pre neoliberalism NZ .

            I do not place the same regard as you do on neo-liberalism – quite the opposite.

            “(although a higher sense of quality of life due to a lower sense of commercial need. Food, water and shelter were the staples of life, not Sky TV, iPhones and high speed internet connections, apparently food, water and shelter and being with friends and family alone is not enough to survive on anymore)”

            I see neo-liberalism as having been pivotal to losing this above ‘sense of quality of life’. (Actually it was quality of life – not just a sense of it) Commercialism/consumerism has been ramped up – unsurprisingly – due to profit becoming the organising principle and the people issues being taken out of the equation.

            You also didn’t mention the levels of unemployment – which bumped up massively from the outset of neo-liberalism and hasn’t come down to the same low levels since. Profit for some, can be seen here as more important than everyone having a livelihood. Too bad for those people who miss out – they are not being told they are the problem to boot. They are not – government policies created these levels of unemployment.

            Food was much cheaper – we used to have roasts and good meats to eat when I was a child – I recently asked my mother how she could afford to feed us certain cuts of meats at that time ‘it was cheap then’ was the reply.

            Fruit has become noticeably tasteless (& less affordable) – this may not be to do with neo-liberalism – however I do believe fruit is being developed to have a good shelf life and the taste appears to be suffering due to this – and this has everything to do with profit over quality. Having worked in orchards – it is very apparent that the best produce is sent overseas – most of what I see in stores are the rejects.

            But its o.k because clothes, TVs and items for the household are relatively cheaper than they were, (they don’t last as long so really even they are not cheaper)…yes so all I see is that the ‘staples of life’ have become more unavailable and the things we don’t need (or at least don’t need to buy on a regular basis) have become ‘cheaper’.

            The things that you list as improving – (homophobia, racism, sexism – yes, I know we are not perfect by any rate, yet there have been improvements in these areas) I would like to hear an explanation on how these improvements are related to neo-liberalism – because I can’t see the connection! (Not saying there isn’t one – I can’t see it)

            Re your comment ‘throwing money at things’ – it is my understanding that both National and Labour throw money at things – just different things – and I believe that Labour tend to invest – put money into projects that bear fruit, whereas National tend to give handouts to wealthy people – in the name of bearing fruit later – yet this never eventuates. Both parties have been working under a neo-liberal paradigm.

            • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

              groan – edit re unemployed people: “they are now being told they are the problem to boot”

            • Bob

              Hi blue leopard,

              You make some valid points, “Commercialism/consumerism has been ramped up – unsurprisingly – due to profit becoming the organising principle and the people issues being taken out of the equation.” this in part comes back to the point I made about neoliberalism still being flawed, where shareholders are held in far higher importance than workers. There are theories out there to address this, around linking the lowest wage to the highest wage and both of these to the company profits, all of which could be done without an entire overhaul of our current system.

              The unemployment levels is one that I have often thought about, I don’t quite understand why politicians under a neo-liberal system see the need to have an unemployment rate at all. The way I see it, if there is zero unemployment that increases competition for workers (which is market forces at work, a neo-lib favourite) drives up wages due to supply and demand. I really don’t understand why governments like unemployment, but I also can’t see how this is strictly a neo-liberal phenomenon.

              Meats and Fruits can be found fresh, high quality and cheap at farmers markets, by only using Supermarkets for your shopping (and especially in a duopoly like we have in NZ) it means they have no reason to bring in fresher produce or reduce prices. Farmers markets are brilliant. The only thing that has changed since your parents day is where you need to access this produce from.

              With regards to homophobia, racism, sexism, I have explained this to Richard above, but as I see these changes as a cornerstone of neoliberal politics “the priority of the price mechanism, the free enterprise, the system of competition and a strong and impartial state”, you can’t have an impartial state that legislates against sections of society. I agree with you that there is still a way to go on all three counts, but the fact that there has been cross party support on legislation on all of these areas shows that real progress is being made.

              “Re your comment ‘throwing money at things’ – it is my understanding that both National and Labour throw money at things – just different things”, I cannot disagree here, the one thing that still gets me though is Hone Harawira still pushing forward with his ‘Feed the kids’ bill because he wasn’t happy the govenment came up with a solution that only cost the tax payers $2M/year, he wanted to see $100M being spent!

              • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

                Thanks for your thoughtful reply Bob,

                Ah! O.k I think I see where you are coming from and we may well be in some agreement. I would tend to agree re making changes to the system rather than throwing it out completely (if that is what you are saying). It sounds to me (for the reasons below) that you are more arguing the point of keeping some form of capitalism, rather than supporting laissez-faire capitalism specifically.

                [Some of the problem here is to do with language and concepts, we have been referring to neo-liberalism, whereas Garth George’s article actually refers to laissez-faire capitalism and perhaps it is better to be specific in this regard (I equate the two terms, yet there may be differences), so I will start using the term laissez-faire instead of neoliberalism (just in case there is a difference).]

                Because of the definition of laissez faire, as soon as you start intervening in the economy– it can’t strictly be called laissez-faire capitalism anymore. So when you say you support laissez-faire capitalism with adjustments – perhaps it may be more accurate to say you support a mixed model form of capitalism?

                In actual fact that is what NZ has been functioning on – a mixed model – not a pure laissez-faire capitalism at all. However, the purer the expression of laissez-faire capitalism the more the problems (that we both have listed and agreed upon) start rearing their ugly head. I believe the reasons we have been seeing these problems increasingly in NZ is due to the laissez-faire aspect of our successive governments’ ideology. On these grounds I am a strong supporter of our country moving away from laissez-faire capitalism, yet may be in agreement with you that I don’t (yet) see the need to remove the capitalist system completely – I do believe it is in severe need of fairly major change though (which we may not agree on!)

                I agree with you on the linking low wages to high wages idea – that idea sounds most promising.

                Interesting re the connection you see with neo-liberalism and shifts in social laws – Am glad you acknowledged neoliberalism as only partially responsible – does sound like could have a point there.

                Hone Harawira still pushing forward with his ‘Feed the kids’ bill because he wasn’t happy the govenment came up with a solution that only cost the tax payers $2M/year, he wanted to see $100M being spent!

                This sounds like very specious reasoning for why Hone might be continuing a push for a Feed the Kids’ Bill. You would have to provide a link for this one. It is my view that we wouldn’t have any feed the kids programme if it wasn’t for Harawira’s strong voice on the matter (showing up the two main parties and getting their ‘A’s into Gear’ for that reason). The Mana Party are strongly against corporate welfare and if there is anything in the dim mists of my memory over any objection, it may be that there was an objection to some form of ‘scratch my back, we’ll scratch yours’ going on with the current arrangement. (May be quite wrong on this – if you supply a link I shall look into it)

                • Bob

                  Correct in your assumptions, it looks like we are looking for solutions to the same problems but have just got slightly differing views on how we got to where we are.

                  I completely agree with you that it is too early to scrap capitalism all together, but it is in need of a serious overhaul. The banking system is one area that needs to have some serious regulation but in place (I don’t like the idea of nationalisation as this would give the Government of the day too much power, and too much power can be corrupting. Wide reaching regulation seems to be the best tool available, but it would need someone much smarter than I too come up with an effective model).
                  This along with the wage link would be a great start in getting the system back on track.

                  With regards to Hone Harawira, here is a link to the interview I was referring too:
                  I agree that he was a primary advocate for change, and I can see why he would be against the current arrangement, but it is a classic case of he would be happy to just throw tax payers money at the problem rather than come up with effective solutions.

                  • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

                    @ Bob

                    Do you realise that all the things you are pointing to changing in this system go against laissez faire capitalism? – which I understood you to be justifying in your first comment?

                    I agree with you re addressing banking issues and connecting lowest wage to the highest wage as being mighty fine ways to start getting back on track.

                    It is a complex subject re banking yet my thoughts on it: Any form of banking system is going to be tricky with regards to concentration of power – at present this power is in private hands – this gives some private citizens a lot more power than ordinary citizens and is what I consider led to deregulation of the banking sector and consequently the GFC. There might have been more motivation to pay close attention of the consequences of undermining regulations had the government been part of the banking system.

                    If nationalized, yes, the problem of concentration of power changes to that of the government. If nationalized there would be less requirement for interest on loans – more investment in productive activities likely with this option and less accumulation of debt. A lot more gains than we are getting at present with it in private hands.

                    I do not have broadband, so was unable to watch the link you provided. There was not much in-depth coverage of Mana’s bill that I could find. However I found this link

                    Which mentions re National’s [cheaper] version

                    “Critics said that announcement, made in May, was only a “drop in the bucket” compared to the extent of the problem. “

                    So yeah, it would be my view that throwing not enough money and having the problem continuing is more of a waste of taxpayers’ money than throwing the right amount of money at the problem and solving it. (Remember this is the next generations’ level of education and feelings of connection to society we are talking about)

                    Of course the best solution is to get 100% employment and good wages – that this hasn’t occurred already I would say is directly related to ‘successful’ neo-liberalists’ aims of keeping unemployment high so wages stay low (in the name of more profit); as I observe and understand it, neo-liberalists have no problem with manipulating market forces when it is for their own advantage, such as occurred with the LIBOR scandal and only really adhere to market principles when the market readings suit their agenda – which, quite frankly, could well be why the theory has failed. Too bad for neo-liberalisms’ fans that those most benefitting from that theory didn’t show a little more self restraint.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Of course the best solution is to get 100% employment and good wages

                      Preparing NZ for a transition off fossil fuels and also preparation for climate change could create several hundred thousand jobs. And I’m not just talking “green jobs.” I’m talking a full scale infrastructure and technology development programme, some of which will require the use of a lot of fossil fuels (while they are still available). At the moment what we are doing is avoiding creating these jobs by avoiding doing the work needed to prepare for a much more difficult future.

                    • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

                      Ooh C.V, that sounds awfully like many would need an education – and that has become terribly unaffordable for many now!

                      Yeah, basically we are avoiding addressing all the important issues so that those with the most clout can continue enjoying the profits, and thus clout, that they have become accustomed to – at everyone else’s expense – and the laissez-faire theory has been the vehicle in which this clout and avoidance has been achieved.

                      “Allow to do” = allows a few to do and many others to be entirely limited in what they can do, eat, earn, experience….

      • phillip ure 11.2.3

        @ will-welly..

        ..yep..!..they drank the kool-aid..they were true-believers..

        ..and they must know now that they have been conned by the 1%..

        ..they preached ‘trickle-down’ for them

        ..and it is people close to them who are suffering..

        ..but it has to hard for them to admit they were wrong..were conned by that 1%..

        ..conned into doing their dirty work for them..

        ..that’s gotta be a hard one to swallow..

        ..and if george has done a volte-ace..

        ..and wasn’t just having a magic-realism moment..

        ..then more power to him..

        ..and i hope he uses his influence/pulpit to join/support the progressive movements for meaningful-change..

        ..that will show he means what he says in the above..

        phillip ure..

    • Will 11.3

      I would say I’m one of those ‘old codgers’ except for the fact I’m in my 30s. My parents were Holyoake-style National supporters, and who will never vote Labour. Their disliking of Labour was more a social thing, rather than ideological.

      Like me, my parents, and many other old style National Party people, are appalled by the cult of selfishness, warped values and waste of neo-liberialism (although we differ from the Left in thinking that it pervades not only the economic choices of the rich). Being secular, and tolerant people, my parents look with disdain at the fundamentalist and intolerant fools who wrongly appropriate the label “Conservative”.

      We had hoped that Winston Peters would have brought something new and needed to New Zealand politics (ie, a centre-slightly right-pragmatic critique of neo-liberalism). However, Peters failings became evident very quickly. So we wait and hope.

  12. Sacha 12

    I thought Garth George moved to Rotorua, not Tauranga?

    He seems to be one of the genuine conservatives understandably offedned by right-wing radicalism, though it doesn’t erase the small-minded bigotry he brought to his NZ Herald columns and to choosing which Letters to the Editor got published for so many years. He might be voting Winston First this year rather than the Nats..

    • mickysavage 12.1

      You might be right Sacha. I was dredging my holiday addled brain and thought it was Tauranga but I could be wrong …

  13. Steve Alfreds 13

    More like rats leaving a sinking ship. Isn’t it funny how history repeats itself? Maybe Mr Cunliffe is on the right track and it’s time for a New Deal.

  14. dave 14

    the ground is shifting and 30 years of economic voodoo has caught up with them ,

  15. AmaKiwi 15

    Business managers are required by law to make as much profit possible. Otherwise their shareholders can sue them.

    Businesses are allowed to act “as persons” in order to make whatever deals they can. But unlike real human beings, businesses MUST be socially irresponsible if that is unprofitable.

    Once upon a time, businesses were not “persons.” They had charters which specified what they could and could not do. Result? Few monopolies.

    Bureaucrats and governments prefer to only have to deal with a few large players. They abhor small and medium size businesses. Thus National is destroying local bodies.

    Garth George does not enunciate his solutions. We know what does not work. Now we need to define an alternative system and show that it will work. It’s an opportunity that may arise only once in a century.

  16. Tanz 16

    I wish they would bring Garth back to the Herald miss his column there.
    He is a Christian and a socialist.

    • @ tanz..

      ..a ‘socialist’..heh..!..

      ..betcha george never thought he’d be called that..

      ..as his other hat (until now) has been as a reactionary/poor-bashing-blowhard..

      ..some apologies/retractions from george wouldn’t go amiss..

      ..phillip ure..

  17. tricledrown 17

    Pope francis I see see.
    The new pope is the bomb
    The atom bomb to neo cons
    This is a timely change
    Pope francis is being labeled by the McCarthiests as a communist.
    Which just makes more people listen and like him.

  18. Tracey 18

    If garth has moved to rotorua from his home in auckland what he sees each day is very different to what he saw on his drive to the herald each day. Right wingers arent evil. For many they just believe that life is for everyone as it is for them. Full of opportunity, networks, money etc.

    In rotorua he would be unable to avoid seeing and hearing about another existence. Interestingly the herald didnt puck uo his article.

    • Tanz 18.1

      ‘Right wingers arn’t evil’

      Coruse they arn’t. Even many lefiies are well off, with nice homes, good careers, travel, wealth. Choices. That does not make them evil either.

  19. J 19

    Laissez-faire is deemed to have failed, and it has if you are judging it by its stated intentions ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ and other such disingenuous lies. But if you take a step back and look at the needs of Capitalism then it has served its purpose – it crushed wages & reduced the public share of the economy (privitisation etc). Which injected profitability and liquidity into the system giving it the shot in the arm it needed when the post war boom was over. That has worn off and further stimulus is now needed. Capital can now either push wages down more (off-shoring, free trade agreements, more anti-worker laws), extract natural capital (primitive accumulation) – more mines, deep sea oil etc. It cannot go back to paying good wages and providing a livable society for the working class – its struggling as it is. The booms and busts are getting bigger and closer together, Laisse-faire only bought them 30 years! Global financial crisis still lingering, credit default swaps market larger now than before GFC … Reforms are out of the question. Either we bury capitalism or it will bury us.

  20. Tracey 20

    Plus 1

    when we last had full employment I wonder what percentage of the workforce belonged to unions.

    I keep hearing the right saying its about creating jobs but what changed between full employment times and a living wage and today?

  21. Natwest 21

    Garth needs to throw away his pen and retire like he said was a number of years ago – the man has a losers view of the world.

    When he starts talking poverty in NZ he loses all credibility – “poverty”, really, with all that welfare thrown about like confetti.

    Problem is Garth, you could double the welfare handout and nothing would change. It’s not about money, it’s about attitude and taking personal responsibility for your lot.

    Some numb nuts just don’t get it – talk about entitlement mentality, sheesh!

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 21.1

      Yawn. Vacuous clichés are all you bring to this forum, aren’t they? Correction: other people’s vacuous clichés which you’ve rote-learned like a parrot.

      Polly wanna cracker?

    • Colonial Viper 21.2

      When he starts talking poverty in NZ he loses all credibility – “poverty”, really, with all that welfare thrown about like confetti.

      Of course, poverty doesn’t exist in NZ for you, because you use poverty in Ethiopia or in India as the standard NZ should apply. A bit of a sad perspective really, but thanks for reminding all of us how twisted and narrow it also is.

      • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 21.2.1

        Nice to see you back CV, hope you had a good break! :)

        • Colonial Viper

          Thank you for your kindness BL, much has been learned and thought about 😀

          • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill)

            Thats good to hear – What a way for us all to start the year 😯 I hope we all learned something i.e. people on both sides of the argument (war?) learned something, not just yourself.

            …That way it’ll be onwards and upwards :)

            • Colonial Viper

              Indeed. And note the Barnum Effect in active operation…see I have been learning and thinking!!! 😈

      • Tracey 21.2.2

        The “I’m alright mate so you must just be lazy” attitude superimposed on those who aren’t by those who fail to see their own good fortune and cling to their money as though they are Oliver Twist. “Please Mr Key may I have some more”

        • Colonial Viper

          these guys are up against the tide now I believe. More and more people who know that they have been hard working are finding themselves underwater and running out of options.

          The brilliant trick that the Right has been playing through the MSM etc has been convincing these people that it’s their own individual fault, or of a few bad bankers far away, but nothing to do with an entirely (and deliberately) skewed economic set up. The people are slowly (too slowly) waking up, however.

          • Tracey

            VERY slowly. So slowly some, after 20 years of waiting for the brighter future, as slow to give it up and admit thatmaybe they were duped. No one likes to be made a fool. I believe this is the biggest psychological advantage National has… Labour’s supporters, for whatever reasns, seem quicker to abandon the boat when duped and then hold them to account either by fighting from within, or taking their vote elsewhere.

            As long as Ms Pagani is involved in any way shape or form in the Labour Party election campaign we are all doomed to a slightly lighter version of National if they win.

            My predication is they will need the Green Party more than ever before and won’t be able to lord it over the GP as though they are a minor party per se.

            • Colonial Viper

              Agreed. Support for the Greens and Mana remains as pivotal as ever. Capitalism has become a game of “the Greater Fool” and it is a shame that so many continue to eagerly line up for the title, thinking themselves somehow smarter than the rest.

            • Anne

              As long as Ms Pagani is involved in any way shape or form in the Labour Party election campaign we are all doomed to a slightly lighter version of National if they win.

              A bit unfair to lay it all at the door of Josie Pagani, but one thing that came through at the time of the leadership contest in September is… the neo-liberal apologists within the Labour caucus have all but lost their influence amongst the party faithful.

              • Tracey

                Wasnt laying it all at her door. She is but one example of many. She is the most recent example I have encountered. I did detect a bit of lack of support on her part for Cunliffe. I point to her eagerness to tar Cunliffe through Mickey’s post, which doesnt smell of someone who has been a good loser. Just an observation.

                • Anne

                  Oh yes Tracey. You’re right. I didn’t mean she wasn’t a part of the neo liberal apologist faction because she most certainly was – and is still. I was just observing she wasn’t the only one.

                  Actually you’ve hit on something. She IS a poor loser. I’d say she’s still smarting from Shearer’s demise and Cunliffe’s victory.

    • NZ Femme 21.3

      “…Problem is Garth, you could double the welfare handout and nothing would change. It’s not about money, it’s about attitude and taking personal responsibility for your lot…”

      A great deal would change. And funnily enough, it turns out to be cost efficient.


      (H/T to Qot)

      • One Anonymous Knucklehead 21.3.1

        But if everyone who needs one is given a hand-out as well as a hand up, who will Quisling little wankers like Natwest have to look down upon?

        • NZ Femme

          I wonder that myself sometimes. To where would all that sneeringly patronizing energy go? Maybe they’d be reduced to competitive rose growing. At least the world would smell better.

          • Tracey


            My brother is very wealthy and begrudges every bit of tax he pays. I sometimes, when I can be bothered, say to him, “I know how you could pay less tax, work for minimum wage.”

            • NZ Femme

              Gawd. That must make for some awkward family gatherings :(

              Perhaps he needs a rose bush in his life.

            • Tanz

              as he is yourr brother, I hope he shares the wealth. buys you a house etc. A very wealthy family member did that for me. Not many people share that kind of wealth like that.

          • thechangeling

            lol. great joke!

      • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 21.3.2

        @ NZ Femme

        Excellent link

        • NZ Femme

          It is a great link for which I can’t take any credit for finding! QoT tweeted the link with much happy lefty flailing of arms :)

      • Tracey 21.3.3

        For those who might not bother to click on the link, and we will all be the worse for them not clicking, here is an excerpt

        “‘I didn’t have enormous expectations,’ an aid worker recalls.

        Yet the desires of the homeless men turned out to be quite modest. A phone, a passport, a dictionary – each participant had his own ideas about what would be best for him. None of the men wasted their money on alcohol, drugs or gambling. On the contrary, most of them were extremely frugal with the money they had received. On average, only 800 pounds had been spent at the end of the first year.

        Simon’s life was turned upside down by the money. Having been addicted to heroine for twenty years, he finally got clean and began with gardening classes. ‘For the first time in my life everything just clicked, it feels like now I can do something’, he says. ‘I’m thinking of going back home. I’ve got two kids.’

        A year after the experiment had started, eleven out of thirteen had a roof above their heads. They accepted accommodation, enrolled in education, learnt how to cook, got treatment for drug use, visited their families and made plans for the future. ‘I loved the cold weather,’ one of them remembers. ‘Now I hate it.’ After decades of authorities’ fruitless pushing, pulling, fines and persecution, eleven notorious vagrants finally moved off the streets. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation did a study of this experiment.

        Costs? 50,000 pounds a year, including the wages of the aid workers. In addition to giving eleven individuals another shot at life, the project had saved money by a factor of at least 7. Even The Economist concluded:

        ‘The most efficient way to spend money on the homeless might be to give it to them.’”

    • Tracey 21.4

      “about attitude and taking personal responsibility for your lot.”

      Yes, they should be just like John Banks.

    • KJT 21.5

      Please read, and learn.

      “3. “They are not as poor as they are in (Insert a third world Nation with less than half our GDP, and a 10th of our resources per capita)”.

    • are you an algorithm there..?..natwest..?

      ..funny how those countries with no poverty..

      ..provide a living-income for all their citizens..eh..?

      ..no matter what their personal circumstances..

      ..so it obviously is bout ‘money’..eh..?

      ..and of course..our poverty-problems kicked off just after that richardson gutted welfare support..

      ..are you so arse-bitingly-dumb..you can’t join those dots..?

      ..but i guess..if you really are an algorithm..?

      ..phillip ure..

  22. SHG (not Colonial Viper) 22

    Rich white Baby Boomer decides he has all the answers after not even acknowledging that there was a problem during a lifetime of having the world handed to him on a platter.

    • Tracey 22.1

      Any moment now he will regail us with an anecdote about how hard his life was before he began working 9 days a week for over 320 hours.

      • blue leopard (Get Lost GCSB Bill) 22.1.1

        …oh lol! Natwest decided to take on that role….(see below @ 23)

  23. Natwest 23

    Poverty is being used as a political football, given it’s election year and the Labour/Greens and their repeaters at the MSM have nothing to counter Nationals efficient handling of the economy and, with. International commentary – “NZ ROCKSTAR ECONOMY 2014” – will have a large number of Socialists choking on their bread and vodka.

    Poverty in NZ! clearly most of you have not travelled overseas!

    And yes, I have worked hard all my life to achieve what I have and, never asked the Govt for welfare, unlike some on this site, I suspect.

    • Paul 23.1

      An international banking perspective, to be more precise.
      Now, I wonder why multinational banks love New Zealand so much.
      Could it be the enormous amounts of profit they take from these shores?
      Great to see who your true masters are.

    • NZ Femme 23.2

      The Cognitive Bias Song. Yay! Sing it again Sam.

    • KJT 23.3

      Another “self made man who worships his creator”.


    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 23.4

      I’d prefer to use Natwest as a political football. Nail this gimp’s hate-speech and prejudice and expose it for what it is.

      It parrots the self-serving conceit that its wealth is delivered by nothing but the sweat of its brow. Hence coal-miners and nurses must be wealthy, since (in it’s tiny mind) wealth is delivered by hard work (not to mention good character).

      It fails to mention the benefits it receives from society, the ungrateful piece of trash. The free education, the rule of law, the roads, etc.

      It vilifies anyone less fortunate than itself, and envies those more fortunate.

      It is the disease that infects the National Party.

    • Murray Olsen 23.5

      Haha Natwest, if you had travelled overseas with your eyes open, you would have noticed the extreme inequality, corruption, brutality, and poverty which the rest of us have seen and realised is what NAct has planned for Aotearoa. I’ve got news for you, and it’s not good. You are very unlikely to be on the neoliberal guest list for the rapacious goings on at the parties of the 1%. Prepare to lose what you have, what you’ve worked hard all your life to achieve. I won’t be crying for you, Argentina. I’ll be laughing. You remind me of the idiot German middle class that supported National Socialism as a bulwark against unions and the left, only to see all they had achieved given to the Krupps and their fellow giants of the economy, while they froze to death in front of Moscow. You will end up with nothing except your painful bleating and pleading for the latest incarnation of the ACT government to remember you and reward your services.

      Meanwhile, we’ll work together, cooperatively, because we realise no human is an island, and we will aim for a better world. The good news is that once we beat global warming, not even all your salty tears will raise the level of the oceans. You’ll be lost and helpless, wondering what went wrong.

      • phillip ure 23.5.1

        +1 olsen..

        esp. for..

        “..You remind me of the idiot German middle class that supported National Socialism as a bulwark against unions and the left –

        – only to see all they had achieved given to the Krupps and their fellow giants of the economy –

        – while they froze to death in front of Moscow.

        You will end up with nothing except your painful bleating..”

        phillip ure..

    • Will@Welly 23.6

      NatWest. In a word Smug. If you’ve gotten through life without ever been dealt a bad hand or a crocked deal, good luck to you. But there are hundreds, thousands who put their trust, faith in others, only to find they have been betrayed.
      There are people who work hard all their lives only to be struck down by illness or an accident, and through no real fault of their own, are forced to rely on the state. Then there are others, through circumstances have to give up work to look after others. But you NatWest would have none of that.
      What we now have is a Government who likes to act as Chief Justice, jury, and executioner, who happily takes away everything from anyone it finds entirely not agreeable. This Government is not about one that offers a hand-up or a hand-out, but functions purely to penalize anyone who does not meet their criteria.

    • y’see..natwest..once again..you get it completely wrong..

      ..’cos if the economy is going well..

      ..well that tears away that excuse for doing nothing proffered for so long..eh…?

      ..by both national and labour..

      ..that ‘we can’t afford it’ one..

      ..so..no..’socialists’ like me should be quite chirpy at that news..eh..?

      ..(and we’ll just put your little burst of auto-eroticism in that last sentence to one side..shall we..?

      ..do you need a tissue yet..?

      ..or do you need to say it again..?)

      phillip ure..

  24. tricledrown 24

    Natwesr you sound like you have worked outside NZ so you probably haven’t paid nz tax or had claim no children to educate no parents in hospitals roads and infrastucture police keepingcommunity safe for you etc etc.

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