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The Standard

‘Mind the Gap” – the way forward

Written By: - Date published: 11:06 am, August 30th, 2013 - 75 comments
Categories: benefits, child welfare, class war, cost of living, david cunliffe, democratic participation, grant robertson, greens, housing, jobs, labour, mana, Metiria Turei, poverty, tax, uncategorized, unemployment, Unions, wages, workers' rights - Tags:

Last Night TV3 showed a very important documentary by Bryan Bruce: important because it put before the general population the damaging impact of income inequality in a clear and straightforward manner. Preview:

At the moment the documentary, Inside New Zealand: Mind the Gap:A Special Report on Inequality  is available onemand on TV3’s website.

Zombie economics

As I have already commented:

The doco didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know. But I think it’ll be news for a lot of Kiwis. It’ll be news many Kiwis will either not accept, or forget about once they get back to their daily activities.

However, it’s the steady drip that changes cultural attitudes. The doco explained the issues clearly and in terms that are easy to understand. It supported the argument with visual images that are more likely to stay in people’s minds than words alone: the family living in tents, the guy keeping a record of his household’s budget, the graphs of wealth being sucked upwards while the middle-class is under pressure, the figures of benefit fraud compared with tax evasion, etc.

The doco needs to continue to be widely available so people can continually be reminded of the reality of a large income/wealth gap, the damage of a “me” society, and a need for a “we” society.

A 1 hour TV programme cannot present all the facts and evidence without sending people to sleep. The experts interviewed and stats presented indicate solid evidence behind the claims made in the programme:

NZ world leader in inequality

Inequality a New Zealand Crisis, Max Rashbrooke (ed)

Closing the Gap (NZ) on the evidence and claims in the book The Spirit Level.

Last year, Te Papa hosted a couple of forums on closing the gap between rich and poor.

Forum 1 September 2012:

At the beginning of Forum 2, Kim Hill summarises the ground overerd in the first forum October 2102:

A quick recap which Max Rashbrooke will flesh out in a moment. It’s simple really. The rich have got much richer, the poor have got much poorer. All the panel at the last session, traced the expansion of that gap back to the 1980s.  The directory of the Downtown Community Ministry Stephanie MacIntyre explicitly blamed what she called Rogernomics and Ruthanasia and she spoke about how complicated managing life is when you are poor.

Phillipa Howden Chapman health researcher reckoned that  former Telecom head Paul Reynolds earned (and I haven’t checked these numbers) 342 times the average income.  In Japan CEOs earn, she said, around 4 times the average income there, hence they have a more egalitarian society.  [?] Political journalist Colin James identified the problem as inter-generational and embedded disadvantage and he suggested considerable investment if needed to enhance social mobility.

Hill quotes a British columnist, Caitlan Moran, who said being on a benefit means you are always scared: scared that that your benefits will be cut or taken away.  Kaplan explained the main difference between being poor and being rich, which Hill quotes, thus,

When you’re poor you feel heavy: heavy like your limbs are full of water.  There is a lot more rain in your life when you are poor, she said, cheap [?], cheap houses go moldy, your cars break down you’ve got to walk, But really the heaviness comes from what she called the sclerosis of being broke, because when you’re poor nothing ever changes.  for generations passed down, like a drizzle or a blindness.

Forum two looks at solutions:

Professor Nigel Haworth, economist, (41 minutes) covered ways to address labour-market driven inequalities: beginning with the fundamental issue of economic policy settings that underpin a fairer labour market policies.  He ended talking about the need to (re)build a broad consensus to underpin a more social democratic solution to poverty.

Associate Professor Mike O’Brien (begins 53 minutes) from the University of Auckland, stressed the need for a shared community solution, especially in ending child poverty. He looked to policies of Nordic countries and said it was especially important to mend poverty for families on benefits.

The solutions clearly need a shift away from Rogernomics, towards policies that support, not undermine workers, as with the fairness at work campaign: to strengthen not undermine collective bargaining.  They require a more progressive taxation system.  And they require a reconstruction of the social security system, based on the notion that we are all responsible for those struggling in our society.

Both Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe commented on the Mind the Gap documentary on their Facebook pages:

Robertson:

Did you watch Inside New Zealand tonight? Inequality is holding us back socially and economically. Our economy must start working for all. That’s not a platitude – that’s a promise.

Cunliffe (focuses on work and wages):

Who else is tuning in to watch Bryan Bruce’s doco ‘Mind The Gap’ at 7:30 on TV3?

Remember the days when families could live off one income?

The graph shows a market failure which has made this near impossible for most families. We’re working harder and longer than ever before, but wages have remained flat. The failure of wages to keep up has meant many families are living in poverty. It hurts me to think that 270,000 kids live in poverty in this country. Part of the solution is a Living Wage for all Kiwi workers, and fairer workplace laws.

I’ll lead a government that is prepared to tackle this injustice head on.

Green MP Denise Roche blogs for the Fairness at Work campaign.

Metiria Turei leads the Green Party on their major policy plank: Mind the Gap.  This focuses on:

Fair Tax, Addressing Energy Poverty, Income Support (changes to, but not a massive overhaul of benefits),  and Housing (including increasing state housing).

The main focus of the Mana Party is on improving the lot of those on the lowest incomes.

Of all the possible solutions, I think building a new broad consensus is one of the main underlying ones, and the Mind The Gap documentary is one step in that direction.

75 comments on “‘Mind the Gap” – the way forward”

  1. Sable 1

    The real problem that many don’t want to face is that government in NZ is not benign. The main parties have been co-opted by the wealthy and greedy corporations which has led to declining standards of employment and not surprisingly, poverty.

    Worse still these same people are now engineering laws to silence opposition and monitor protesters/activists because they know damn well that opposition to this kind of behaviour is inevitable and will continue to grow.

    What I still find astounding is support still exists for these old, corrupt political parties.I wonder what it will take for people on the left and right of politics to see what is happening and change their minds?

    • johnm 1.1

      Sable
      100% right. :-)

    • aerobubble 1.2

      In a nutshell what happened was Saudi Oil started flowing after the 70s oil crisis, this massive amount of wealth could have flowed into building a sustainable future proofed world, going to Mars, building the next generation of energy, but instead the politics rejigged the western nation states to funnel that oil wealth into the hands of the finance sector. Who then declared that the wealth creation that was created from the ubiquitiousness of cheap high density fuels was actually their genius, their management of the economy, and here was a list of what next they needed to make us all rich… …privatization, deregulation… etc. Trust them.

      And then just as the markets realized that the era of cheap oil was over (and franking barely keeping us from the slump) the finance delusion collapsed, go figure. And left was the mess, badly run governments, deregulated to the bone, rent seekers taking unearnt profits from basic commodities, water, housing, food, etc.

      Now we enter the era reregulation, the renationalize (LabGreen energy fair energy prices), where those industries who fail to act responsibly in private hands will be taken back into government hands. So when the energy industry squawk how unfair Lab-Greens policy is, they are proof they are still deluded by neo-liberal eno-conservative hocus pocus, now-you-see-massive-wealth-now-here’s-the-debt-thank-you-for-playing.

      How do we change, well governments will target those in privated industry who promised to deliever better out comes but failed, like the Banks, and we will renationalize them fast and harder the more stupid their management think they are owe genius status. Those private companies that wise up and deliver on the promise that we will all get wealthier will keep the government dogs off for a while, and they hope long enough.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.3

      +1

    • Polish Pride 1.4

      seriously – to effect real change that doesn’t simply rely on taking from one group and giving to another….who else is there!?!
      Their should be an option on ballot forms that says lost faith in the system or they’re all muppets so none of them thanks very much.

      • quinnjin 1.4.1

        @Polish P. There you are like a broken record PP, got anything else to say? Actually one group have been taking from everyone else for quite some time, and are as a result responsible for the shabby state of things the world over… it’s a bad joke, a bit like your mindless corporate propaganda drone comments. What we are concerned with here, is preventing a very small group taking from the vast majority, a million times more than they need or could ever reasonably want, via legalised theft legitimised by a corrupted political system, which is what they’ve been spending there ill gotten gains on. This is fact. Now deal with it, face reality, get your head out of your arse and quit your whining.

  2. johnm 2

    One clip really struck me in MtG, Bryan holds up a ten dollar note and shows how much wealth the top 10% have sucked up, he folds it in half! 50% is their share. Then he asks how much wealth has the bottom 10% got? He screws up the note to nothing, they have nothing! Meaning the other 80% are struggling over the remaining 50%.
    Another clip: there is $5,000,000,000 in tax evasion every year! Now if I’ve got this wrong please inform me.
    We have political leaders who are part and parcel of the problem and so bought in to this greed system they’re incapable of acting against it. NZ is a business not a community and business is profit obsessed.
    The 10% who have nothing are being attacked with a punitive sanctions regime to reduce the undeserving to destitution and begging on the streets.
    We have followed the NeoLiberal U$’s example, though not totally,that unhappy land is on the point of economic and social collapse and has only serf (service) sector low paid jobs to offer even its graduates.
    The ordinary struggling middle class Kiwi family, the backbone of our society in terms of cohesion and decency, is struggling to pay huge mortgages for houses whose value is outrageously inflated by a housing bubble generated by get rich by capital gain speculators, some of whom could have up to 10 rental properties. We have Governments who refuse to countenance a CGT to stop this madness and deflate the market to an affordable level.
    This mortgage finance comes from Australian banks and has caused an immense outflow of kiwi dollars in principal and interest into their coffers.
    The social wage for the poorer kiwi is relentlessly eroded, State housing entitlement, right to a benefit, job security, in a phrase community and decency replaced by greed for profit and wealth.
    One example of the looting of the public sphere I noticed is when a newsreader, Judy Bailey, was being paid a $1,000,000 a year for reading from a prepared script.
    The Commonwealth of all is being robbed blind with asset sales at the moment Power Companies.
    The next trick will be: now we’ve trashed the public treasury we can’t give you the services you always had in the past. e.g. shortages of nursing staff where family have to come into the hospital and wash patients themselves.
    The 10% are parasites, overpaid,overinflated, self important rentiers supported by the political class.

    • Sable 2.1

      Of course like trusts John the chief tax fiddlers are those at the top so they are not going to want any tightening up of tax laws that may see their fat asses land in jail or worse still might require them to pay their fair share.

    • geoff 2.2

      Morally, they don’t have a leg to stand on. The excuse is ‘everyone else was doing it’.

  3. Half Crown 3

    All excellent comments here so far, and thanks again Karol for your efforts

  4. Bill 4

    Like many, I wasn’t really told anything I didn’t already know. And I agree that the presentation was clear and accessible – which is a good thing. But whereas I had no problem with the analysis, the prescriptions are problematic.

    For example, micro-finance doesn’t work. All it does is kick-start tomorrow’s market advantage for some at the expense of others. In other words, it eventually recreates the problem it is seeking to overcome.

    Now sure, social democratic governance can certainly legislate to ameliorate some of the more damaging aspects of the market economy, so… it can develop fairer distribution through progressive taxes and it can ‘close the gap’ by setting up more equitable employment legislation.

    But at the end of the day the market’s internal dynamics, the ones that promote gross inequality and encourage/reward ‘less than desirable’ human traits, will continue to be asserted. And the day will come around again when they are elevated and ‘let loose’. A quick look at the Glass Steagall Act is kinda instructive. It took the banking industry and its lobbyists 60 years or so to overturn that limiting piece of legislation. It will not take them 60 years the next time.

    The old adage, that if one continues repeating the same actions while expecting a different result indicates madness, holds with economic actions as much as it does with any other. From the late 1800’s (or thereabouts) we have run our economy on market principles. Sometimes it’s been more regulated and sometimes less regulated. But the same old problems persist to some degree or other, regardless.

    If the market economy produces given problems, then it seems a no-brainer to understand that the market economy will not and cannot deliver a solution to the very problems it creates. We need a new economy – an economy based on different premises to those of the market economy. Anything less, as I’ve said above, will simply allow a situation to persist, where the worse aspects of the market economy will constantly seek to reassert themselves.

    • karol 4.1

      Yes, I can’t disagree with that, Bill. But in order for a total change, there needs to be a total change in the dominant attitudes. And while we are waiting for that to happen?

      I’d work on short and long term change at the same time.

      Rather a social democratic government than a zombie “neoliberal” one.

      Democratic socialism looks a long way off.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        I’d work on short and long term change at the same time

        Absolutely agree with that sentiment. I know that what I’ve said above is somewhat ‘ahead of the curve’ in terms of what is ‘permissible’ thought. Doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be said though. And meanwhile, of course I’m supportive of the changes and the break with neo-liberalism that David Cunliffe, as the next PM of NZ, will make. 😉

      • Macro 4.1.2

        We have to change the way we measure “progress”. We have to re-evaluate just what we expect from our economic system. What is it that most people want? Is it more? Or is it Happiness? Mill and Bentham suggested a long time ago that the purpose of good government was to ensure the “greatest good for the greatest number”. I think we can all agree that that is what it is all about, and would add an inter-generational amendment – “for the longest time”.
        At present the conventional wisdom is that the purpose of Government is to grow the economic pie. Media, Economic Commentators, and Politicians from the left and the right worry about GDP growth. A dip is bad news and sends the markets into a spin, The hint that the number has gone up brings a smile to the news readers face. GDP has doubled and trebled over the years – but are the majority better off? The documentary shows that we aren’t. There is only one conclusion one can draw – the measure of economic success (GDP) is a flawed measure. At some point growing GDP ceases to improve the lives of the majority and becomes a burden just like any indulgent god.
        Bhutan has given up the goal of chasing GDP and instead has chosen to seek increasing Happiness for its citizens. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gross_national_happiness Obviously underlying true happiness is security, good food, shelter, and freedom from want and oppression.
        Whilst is important to chip away at the unfairness of our current system of growing inequality, we need to have some alternative in mind, and to that doesn’t mean BAU but just more so. To continue on our present path will not give us the results we so desperately want. We must also chip away at the prevailing conventional wisdom that continuing to grow the economic pie will result in bigger and better slices for all. Because it hasn’t!

      • Colonial Viper 4.1.3

        Democratic socialism looks a long way off.

        Actually, it doesn’t, when you think of how it can be practically applied. Bill’s favourite of housing co-operatives for instance.

        Financial, trade, shopping and farming co-ops and mutual organisations have been around in NZ for a very long time. Slightly modified structures which give employees meaningful democratic decision making in the business produce workable scales of “democratic socialism” immediately.

  5. TightyRighty 5

    all the people you’ve quoted couldn’t equalise a spirit level if their life depended on it. Now those in power are supposed to listen to their ideas on how to fix an economy that isn’t broken.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 5.1

      The Lancet has got it all wrong. TightyRighty says so so it must be true.

    • beGone Craven SpyBill leopard 5.2

      @Tighty Righty,
      “An economy that isn’t broken”

      That is a seriously odd thing to say when we are having ongoing financial crises world-wide.

      How can you justify that comment?

    • Paul 5.3

      Zzzzz

  6. captain hook 6

    Have to agree.
    Most people in New Zealand need money to go to makoo peekoo or buy a new chainsaw or leaf blower.
    They aint poor at all really.
    Just mentally impoverished.

    • karol 6.1

      So, there’s plenty of evidence provided in the documentary, the Te Papa forums and other links, and all TR & the captain can say is, “It ain’t so”.

      Got any evidence to back that up?

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        It must be that we are all middle class now.

      • TightyRighty 6.1.2

        Yawn. Really? it’s not really evidence. It’s assertions by these people as to what the stat’s mean. Anyone who has studied stats knows that opposing opinions can be formed by the same statistic. it’s what gives us the joke, ask an economist for definitive answer and all they’ll say is that the sun may or may not come up tomorrow.

        You just happen to agree with the assertions.

        • One Anonymous Knucklehead 6.1.2.1

          Then it will be easy for you to take those same data and use them to show the opposite, but until you do you’re just a bag of air, eh.

          Come on, put up or shut up. Don’t let the fact that a rabble of rightwing fuckwits just like you have failed miserably to rebut a single data point undermine your optimism.

          • quinnjin 6.1.2.1.1

            +1 like… I tell what really makes me yawn, right wing zombie group think drones like righty whitey up there who have nothing but the empty slogans they learn from the b grade intellectually enfeebled blogs they read, and can do nothing but repeat ad nauseum.

            Pull your head out of your ideologically blinded arse moron, or, come up with the goods.

            You don’t have the goods do you, yo ignorant twat, because the evidence is in, and you lose.

            Now suck it up and open you goddamn eyes you grovelling boot licker.

        • Murray Olsen 6.1.2.2

          “Anyone who has studied stats knows that opposing opinions can be formed by the same statistic.”
          What does that actually mean? My opinion is that you know nothing about statistics and are just trying to channel Key. I expect any reply to make this even more obvious.

          • beGone Craven SpyBill leopard 6.1.2.2.1

            @ Murry Olsen

            I predict there will be a deafening silence from Tighty Righty who is simply supplying a [hollow] narrative for doubt, yet would be hard pushed to substantiate their claims because it is very hard to wangle statistics to say that there is not a widening gap between rich and poor and it is very hard to establish how this isn’t a complete failure of governance by successive governments here and abroad.

          • QoT 6.1.2.2.2

            I’m reminded of Bill Hicks’ routine on the Rodney King trial.

            “Well, if you play the tape backwards you can see us help Mr King up and send him on his way!”

        • Macro 6.1.2.3

          “Anyone who has studied stats knows that opposing opinions can be formed by the same statistic”

          Obviously you haven’t…

    • emergency mike 6.2

      Captain Hook sez “Harden the f*** up New Zealand!”

      Boom.

    • quinnjin 6.3

      You’re a fucktard, and you don’t know “most people” in NZ. Obviously. Don’t pedal your zombie group think neo liberal drone bullshit here… we’re not interested in mindless regurgitation of apologist slogans for failed economic theories.

  7. Sosoo 7

    The only solution is to smash the Tories once and for all.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 7.1

      “Once and for all”

      Stupid people continue being born; I’m afraid right wing drivel is here to stay.

      • Sosoo 7.1.1

        They aren’t the problem. It’s these loons:

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

        Quietly cutting them out from any form of political influence is necessary. Stop them and you stop all of it.

        We won’t have a decent society until such people are held by the majority to be the moral equivalent of paedophiles, or are genetically engineered out of existence.

        • geoff 7.1.1.1

          Cut the balls off them. (I’m only slightly joking)

        • Dem Young Sconies 7.1.1.2

          Completely agree. We wont be able to achieve lasting societal change if neo-liberal evil is left to act against it. The 10% must be “genetically engineered out of existence”, but I’m not sure NZ society as a whole has the stomach to do what is necessary to achieve it.

    • jcuknz 7.2

      Sossco/Geoff ….. Mindless Left wing crap LOL

  8. amirite 8

    Until there is a Labour politician who is determined to move away from neoliberal policies, I can’t see not one of those 800 k lost votes going back to Labour.

  9. Mary 9

    Robertson’s and Cunliffe’s words are hollow. How can they suddenly say that after Labour has spent the last 14 years dealing the dirt on the poor? First it was between 1999 and 2008 by abolishing the special benefit and ousting meeting need as the stated primary purpose of social security, and then from 2008 until now by not once saying that their policy on benefits has changed. They’ve been asked constantly since 2008 about what it is but say nothing. Even yesterday Labour supported the Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill to the select committee, which pretty much suggests it’s going to business as usual for beneficiaries under Labour. Ever since the 1991 benefit cuts every single positive announcement Labour made about helping beneficiaries they’ve reneged on. There is absolutely nothing that shows anything has changed since Labour’s last stack of attacks on the poor and until this changes we must treat what Robertson and Cunliffe say as pure and utter bullshit.

  10. beGone Craven SpyBill leopard 10

    Yes, bravo to Bryan Bruce and the team that made that documentary, thank you! It was extremely comforting to see this information made it to mainstream TV. I am very curious how they managed to achieve this.

    I found the beehive graphic where the classes were changed (middle class = struggling class) particularly powerful and as someone who has experienced a benefit and poorly paid jobs I have witnessed how the arrows supplied are absolutely accurate. (The money ‘subsidising the poor, is going directly to the wealthy and enabling employees to continue with attitudes that think it o.k not to pay a living wage).

    No wonder nothing is being done to address wages, work conditions and joblessness when this con is benefitting those best placed to have the governments’ ears (and fill their election campaign coffers to spread the misinformation as to what and who is the problem).

    It is about bloody time things changed. I do not understand us continually following these strange economic approaches that are such proven failures.

  11. bad12 11

    The problem with a documentary like ‘Mind the Gap’ is that it has to compress all the complex issues into an hour of TV time, what is needed as an education for those who cannot or will not see what has occurred to this country under the auspices of 30 years of Failed neo-liberalism is for a series of documentaries which explore these complexities bit by bit, issue by issue all the while bringing each strand together to weave the full picture,

    Sorry to say i actually fell asleep while watching this one, just after the woman with 3 kids exposed her living conditions as being 2 tents in the backyard of a relatives house, i assume that they get to use the house during the day and the tents are their ‘bedrooms’,

    Where can a discussion start so as a logical outlining of first the problem and then the ‘fix’ can be shown in both terms of economy and society to be effective economically and the ‘right’ thing to do in terms of societal outcomes,

    Simply ‘taxing the rich’ isn’t going to do it as the ‘problem’ is far deeper than just ‘the rich’ and requires the changing of a whole societal attitude to gain the acceptance of the majority first of the existence of the disease that attacks our society and secondly the acceptance of that majority of what is necessary to provide that fair, that decent society will take far more than simply one documentary, but it is a start…

    • Plan B 11.1

      The tents are in Christchurch – it is very cold in Christchurch in the Winter- these are children of a first world country we are talking about.

    • Plan B 11.2

      actually taxing the rich is the answer or one of two key answers, theother being reduce the income of the elites
      and it does work.
      here is why
      really cool stuff is done by people not for money but because that is what they do- they cannot actually help themselves

  12. Appleboy 12

    I really wonder what right whingers like BM feel when theyt see this? Or do they just tune out, don’t want anything pricking their little bubble of no social conscience.

    • beGone Craven SpyBill leopard 12.1

      @ Appleboy,

      Same question arises for me.

      On a similar vein, based on the type of information in this documentary, I really can’t fathom how the governance we have had, and continue to have, inflicted on us can be referred to as good governance in the manner that the Herald, in the last few days, did??

  13. Enough is Enough 13

    The steady drip, as you describe it, is turning into a waterfall as Kiwis are waking up to the fact that Government has deserted them since 1984 and pandered soley to the interests of the wealthy elite.

    There is nothing more certain than the fact the occupy and other poverty motivated movements will grow if Natioanl is returned to office next year.

    Those who have been living in abject poverty for three decades will not put up with this any longer. Anger will boil over. We are coming to a point in time when the glass towers of wealth in downtown Auckland will become a traget and riots on the streets will become a common thing.

  14. grumpy 14

    Perhaps the answer is to just shoot all the rich, seize their property and distribute to the needy.

    A novel thought, anyone would think it might have been tried before…..oh, wait….

    Just a coincidence that The Greens are run by an unreconstructed Marxist communist…

    • quinnjin 14.1

      @grumpy Throwing around a term you don’t understand like it’s an insult is meaningless, you’re backs are against the wall and your mindless sound byte slogans, regurtitated like zombie drone moans from the rotting throats of the undead, won’t change the fact that when Marx said capatilism would eat it self, and some form of democratic socialism would be inevitable, appears to be true… So suck it up. Losers.

      • quinnjin 14.1.1

        Scuse the grammar an typos, let me rephrase that : ahem ” @grumpy Throwing around a term you don’t understand like it’s an insult is meaningless, you’re backs are against the wall and your mindless sound byte slogans, regurgitated like zombie drone moans from the rotting throats of the undead, won’t change the fact that when Marx said capatilism would eat it self, and some form of democratic socialism was inevitable, he appears from all REAL WORLD evidence to have been correct… So suck it up, or take your b grade novelist Rand , your invisible hand, and your tin foil hat and go play in the traffic.”

    • Macro 14.2

      “Perhaps the answer is to just shoot all the rich, seize their property and distribute to the needy.”

      Nah a waste of bullets – just tax the fuck outta them!

      • Half Crown 14.2.1

        “Nah a waste of bullets – just tax the fuck outta them!”

        I like that solution better

  15. bad12 15

    There are a couple of points made by ‘Mind the Gap’ that i would take issue with, the first being the ‘Absolute’ it presented as where the wealth is distributed in this country,

    Obviously trying to move the middle class into a position where they do not feel threatened by the documentaries conclusions and thus perhaps have that middle class become more amenable to any proposed solutions, the documentary ascribed to that middle class the title of ‘the struggling class,

    When it comes to the ownership of rental property in particular and believe me, structurally this question of ownership of multiple property’s strikes to the very heart of the ‘real’ struggle for the bottom 50% of the economy, in 30 years of Neo-liberalism 100,000 homes have been transferred from being the sole home and property of the individual family to being part of the burgeoning rental property portfolio held by members of that middle class right across the income spectrum of that class,

    Flick back to ‘Mind the Gap’ and we find a young family paying what was it, 90% of the family income in rent, and do not for a minute think that this is an isolated worse case scenario, i am immediately confronted by another in the same ‘trap’ as Mene Mene, a low waged worker, Him His wife,and 3 children, confined by the wages and hours of work to one room in a boarding house,

    Mene Mene and those like Him are mere slaves to the Neo Liberal economy, the literal difference between the life of Mene Mene and a cotton picking slave of the American South being Mene Mene’s chains that bind Him to His master are not made of steel but instead economics, and slave owners of the old American South had the common f**king decency to provide the slaves houses,

    i then am moved to ask how did the 10’s of 1000’s of Mene Mene’s in our economy became so trapped into a situation of master and slave, low wages of course, but the ‘trap’ is far deeper than simply low wages,

    Are your eyes tired, shall i simplify the ‘trapping of Mene Mene into a Master/Slave trap for you,

    It is simple, governments of all hues, both Labour and National have within the ritual of ‘the vows of silence’ decided that they will restrict the provision of the numbers of available State Houses, at a time when the population rose from 3.3 million souls to 4.4 million, the number of State Houses fell from 75,000 to 67,000,

    The population rose by a million and all that million were in a position financially where they did not desperately need the protection of a State House??? look at any graph or statistic which shows the wage rates and the distribution of wealth in this country in the past 30 years and such graphs and statistics will paint you a picture which screams in red ink, THEY DID, and ‘they’ still do,

    And there, right there, is where the real rot in our society was put into place, in what looks from where i sit, governments both Labour and National have decided to put into place a ‘protection racket’ for those spread right across the spectrum of the middle class who see rental investment housing as their nirvana, the path to wealth in their dotage,

    i am, with deliberation here, missing out the role of the Banks and how that spectrum spread across the middle class are mere ‘workers’ gathering for the Banks a nice chunk of the small profits of production which the Mene Mene’s of our economy gain as reward for their labor, that can be addressed later,

    The difference for Mene Mene and that whole demographic of low waged workers in our economy between a State House and renting off of the middle class???

    25% of income, 25% of household income is all that Mene Mene would pay in rent, if Mene Mene worked more hours or got a pay rise, His and His families rent would rise but still be 25% of His income,

    Is the ‘fix’ to the disease which ails our society really that simple??? in a word and remembering that this is simply my opinion, YES, the whole demographic of low waged workers in our economy should have State Houses built for them, and, the tax system should be adjusted so as to provide the monies necessary to build and fund them…

    • srylands 15.1

      ” YES, the whole demographic of low waged workers in our economy should have State Houses built for them, and, the tax system should be adjusted so as to provide the monies necessary to build and fund them…”

      Good thing you are lobbying for all those new State houses in the air space above Paraparaumu railway station :-)

      • Pasupial 15.1.1

        @ Shill-lands

        It’s not your economy. You live in Australia (or at least you know their GST rate), unless you’re spinning a different lie today? I generally scroll past your comments so I’m not fully up with the state of your BS.

        • bad12 15.1.1.1

          Yes my bad for engaging with this particular ‘it’ in another post, ‘it’ has decided to stalk me in this one with more of ‘it’s inane TR0LLING,

          Mental not to self: must do far better in ignoring such wastes of space…

    • srylands 15.2

      “then am moved to ask how did the 10′s of 1000′s of Mene Mene’s in our economy became so trapped into a situation of master and slave, low wages of course,”

      Because they have low skills? And with globalisation prices move to world levels. Like butter, milk powder, and unskilled labour.

      Raise productivity and we can fix the problem. Oh we could whinge and bitch and tax the rich too I guess.

      • quinnjin 15.2.1

        @ srylands Sorry to call BS on your little comment there, as you do seem so pleased with yourself, like a pompous ass, but I’m afraid the results are in, productivity is up, my friend, but not wages, only the wealthy and privileged have reaped the rewards of the extra productivity they have rinsed out of those who actually DO THE WORK. And if you’d ever worked an honest days “unskilled labour” job in your life, you’d quickly learn that most of them are pretty skilled actually, they’re just not respected. Or paid what they’re worth. I think it’s the neo liberal apologists who are whinging and bitching about thte fact the REALITY is that their policies are an outright, undeniable, proven, UNMITIGATED FAILURE. But “Oh we could whinge and bitch and bury our heads in the sand, carry our bible of Ayn Rand, and worship the invisible hand, I guess, while we’re living in la la land.
        Mentally enfeebled, self-righteous greed worshipping, evidence ignoring, troglodyte ideologues. Pathetic..

      • Muzza 15.2.2

        Raise productivity is equal to what, in your mind fraud-lands ?

        What is productivity, in your eyes?

      • Macro 15.2.3

        You know how we raise productivity in the banking sector? – get everybody to internet bank and ATM’s
        Fire lots of tellers.
        How about supermarkets?
        Get people to pack their own groceries
        Fire the checkout operators.
        How about petrol stations?
        Get people to pump their own gas – pay for at the pump using eftpos.
        Fire court attendents
        You see a pattern here?

        Oh some get mighty rich…

      • KJT 15.2.4

        We did that.

        Didn’t work.

        We raised productivity 84%.

        Wages went up 18%, which compared with inflation in necessities, means they went down in reality, and welfare dropped even more.

        Like the Greeks we work some of the longest hours, for the least money, in the OECD.

        Name me one country were the Neo-liberal prescription of cut costs, cut taxes, cut social welfare, cut wages has worked? Srylands. Just one country, where your heroes ideas have resulted in a higher standard of living for the majority, anywhere?

        Hell I will make it easier. Name me, one country, where the prescription has been tried, which has even stood still?

  16. quinnjin 16

    Will the right wing trolls hanging around this site with nothing better to do please accept that your theories have been given thirty years to bear fruit. After 30 years of stagnating and worsening wages with exponential rises in the cost of living, and the 2008 financial crisis, the results can be said to be well and truly in, and they are FAIL. NOW FACE GODDAMN REALITY AND STOP REGURGITATING YOUR MINDLESS ZOMBIE CRAP PLEASE. I think we’ve all had enough of your petulant mewling. Time for some fresh ideas or just bugger off if you’ve got nothing useful to add.

    • emergency mike 16.1

      So you’re asking th tr0lls to see the error of their ways? I sympathise brother but methinks you don’t quite understand the naute of tr0lls. Hint: not gonna happen. Best advice: don’t feed them.

  17. Poem 17

    There is a documentary Shock Doctrine on youtube that gives a great insight of the elitist ideology founded by the American economist Milton Friedman of which Ronald Reagun and Margaret Thatcher were disciples, as too were the likes of Rodger Douglas, Ruth Richardson and its this that right wing parties like national, base themselves on.

    If you haven’t watched it, when you can, take a look, its well worth it.

    • Half Crown 17.1

      And don’t forget the biggest disciple of Friedman was Thatchers lover boy Pinochet

      • Pasupial 17.1.1

        O yes – Pinochet and his “economic miracle”: In 17 years of brutal military rule; at the cost of thousands of tortured and disappeared citizens (many of whose bodies are still missing), they just about got the economy to where it was before the coup. If you ignore the tripling of national debt (courtesy of the IMF and World Bank).

  18. tracey 18

    Remember how national say its too tough for businesses in nz. How theres too much red tape and tax is too high.

    But Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said he wouldn’t be losing any sleep over Mr Davidson’s investment opinions.The World Bank ranked New Zealand as the third-easiest country in which to do business, and other wealthy Americans, such as Hollywood director James Cameron, had invested in Wairarapa and elsewhere quite happily, he said.”But we are old-fashioned – we like people to pay their mortgages.”

  19. Swan 19

    Is there any evidence that the loose correlations developed in the spirit level are causative?

    • Pasupial 19.1

      @ Swan

      It’d be difficult to get ethical clearance to conduct an experiment which sought to establish a causative link (or lack thereof) between social equality and health outcomes. Not that I expect you to have any concern for ethics of course… It’d be expensive and time-consuming too.

      • KJT 19.1.1

        It took 30 years, and cost us the NZ economy, and the standard of living for 100 of thousands, but we have proved correlation.

        • Colonial Viper 19.1.1.1

          Can someone please call the damn experiment off now, before 98% of the subjects die and the top 2% run out of Bolly.

    • McFlock 19.2

      read the book. Take your time.

  20. johnm 20

    There’ll be a point where those who know will write off NZ as a terminally stupid backwater ceasing to protest against the scum that infest this once decent country. Most bought off by greed and self-interest, Bye-Bye stupid mean suckers of the Key BS. 150,000 young people have voted with their feet to go to Australia during the Key darkness.

  21. jcuknz 21

    And now they are coming back dis-illusioned. I went o’seas way back and quickly realised the grass wasn’t greener over there and stayed back in NZ.
    That socialistic PM in the guise of a rightwing party said people going to aussie raise the IQ of both countries.

  22. quinnjin 22

    Well anyway, ignorant trolls with nothing useful to add, who find reality distasteful and prefer to leave there heads inserted up their ideological arse holes in the face of all evidence to the contrary, I’d just like to take this opportunity to call BS on the Heralds neo-fascist boot licking coverage of this doco.

    What’s with the quotations? Corporate boot lickers much?

    ‘Middle Nz [and the labour of the working poor] “subsidises” the rest’ like the the Earth “revolves” around the Sun, and neo liberal “economic” theory is a load of corporate “snake oil” propaganda “bullshit”.

    Bryan Bruce lays the truth absolutely and indisputably bare regards NZ history and the utter failure of neo liberal economic policies; and the herald fall all over themselves to pull this slate job, transparent, and criminal.

    Gotta roll out the propaganda when it looks like your corporate owners might have to face the fact that the lies they’ve been peddling for decades have been torn to shreds and they might have to pay decent wages and a bit more tax…

    If the vast majority of NZ MSM did its job and weren’t mindless, biased, profit driven “whores” to big business, this doco would be completely redundant, as anyone with an interest in politics and economics, who doesn’t have their head inserted firmly in their rectum, knows the story already, it’s blindingly obvious.

    As usual, national party gimptard responses equate to ” Don’t confuse me with the facts, not listening not listening na naa na naaa na….” pathetic.

    I see they haven’t left this one open for comment, they know they’d get eaten alive….

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11113927

  23. Some Jerk 23

    Disappointed to see no discussion of the universal income – in a discussion of equity, surely it should be the first possible solution raised.

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