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Myths and moralising – the conservative trademark

Written By: - Date published: 2:17 pm, December 29th, 2011 - 36 comments
Categories: Economy, history - Tags: , ,

The Economist has a wonderful blog post from “Democracy in America” tearing apart an  argument by a conservative columnist for the New York Times

DAVID BROOKS argues that analogies between today’s America and that of the Progressive era are misplaced, and Progressive-era solutions ill-suited to modern times, because today’s America faces challenges it didn’t face back then. For example, today inequality is rising:

Moreover, the information economy widens inequality for deep and varied reasons that were unknown a century ago. Inequality is growing in nearly every developed country. According to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, over the past 30 years, inequality in Sweden, Germany, Israel, Finland and New Zealand has grown as fast or faster than inequality in the United States, even though these countries have very different welfare systems.

So, what was happening with inequality a century ago? In the 19th century, as basically everyone has always recognised, the budding industrial economy created very large increases in inequality.

The Gini coefficient on taxable wealth in Massachusetts increased from 0.734 in 1820 to 0.907 in 1900, and in Ohio it rose from 0.806 in 1830 to 0.864 in 1900 (Steckel 1994).

But maybe Mr Brooks meant to refer to the beginning of the 20th century? What was happening with income inequality from, say, the point when we can start consulting income-tax data, in 1913? Well, the share of pre-tax income earned by the top 1% of American households went from 18% in 1913 to 24% in 1928, pretty much exactly the same thing that happened again in America between 1993 and 2007.

Lovely – cutting with links, facts, and above all an understanding of the linkages between the multitudes of factors that make up modern societies that Brooks’s simplistic understanding clearly misses.

David Brooks tries to say that the recent increases in inequality are unique and are due to recent efficiency gains leading to changes in individual productivity. But as the DIA post points out that is complete bollocks (except he does it far more politely than that). Extreme improvements in efficiency and therefore individual productivity have been going on throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. We have been through the productivity increase cycle many times over the last 200 years.

Multi-factor productivity growth was highest between 1928-1950, and in general was much higher from 1890-1950 than from 1980 on, though it has picked up again since 1996.

Like most “progressives”, I think that rising inequality is a symptom of the inability of societies coping with the rapid changes in productivity rates. When we get rapid improvements in productivity there are more people thrown out of their jobs. Pretty much what we are seeing today.

In the past this has lead to rising inequalities and recessions rapidly falling into depressions as the wealthy hoover up surplus wealth without putting it into new enterprises. Meanwhile the jobless and underemployed tighten their belts and the economies stall through lack of customers apart from a small group of extremely wealthy – who start sliding backwards as their customers diappear. This is characterised by a rapid reduction in the velocity of money in the economy. It is a negative sum system that ultimately beggars everyone and leads to extremely frightening political consequences.

The general solution that evolved through the first half of the 20th  century was twofold. Firstly the state redistributed wealth from the wealthy back into the economy through taxation of various kinds. This redistribution was largely used to upskill the working population through government interventions in the market to form new industries by subsidies or infrastructure development of retraining. This has been shown to work at both reducing the crippling wealth inequalities, and to cause the formation of new industries and employment. But it does stick in the craw of conservatives and capitalists who have an emotional dislike for realising how dependent their prosperity is on the prosperity of others.

In the current ‘recession’ (which is looking more and more like a depression to me), the main response to date has been to simply prevent banks and financial institutions failing. That needed to be done. However very little has been done to deal with the consequences of changes in productivity. Instead what we get is standard response of conservatives everywhere when they don’t like ideas. It isn’t the lack of jobs, lack of investment capital for new industries,or the poor training – they blame the victims of productivity increases for “moral” issues.

The rest of Mr Brooks’s column criticises high rates of out-of-wedlock births and other vague indicators of moral malaise. “Bad habits have accumulated. Interest groups have emerged to protect the status quo,” he writes; apparently interest groups did not attempt to protect the status quo in 1911. “The job is to restore old disciplines, strip away decaying structures and reform the welfare state,” he finishes. This leaves him open to the riposte “no it’s not”, a rebuttal against which his column has failed to provide any evidence.

Even smart conservatives in my experience are generally idiots because they think far too short term, fail to look at history  and in the final analysis view everything from their own narrow short-term interests rather than those of society as whole. That is why despite my natural inclinations towards the right, I could never standing the sickening myth-remaking of history and the external moralising about other people that hypocritically concealed naked self-interest. David Brooks is just another example.

36 comments on “Myths and moralising – the conservative trademark”

  1. Georgecom 1

    One important aspect of the 20 century social welfare compromise was matching wage increases to productivity. In the US, for example, wage growth in the core heavy metal industries was linked to productivity. In NZ the state linked a ‘living wage’ and general wage orders to economic coditions, including productivity rises. In this manner rising productivity was shared with the workers and simply not captured by capital. Rising living standards were ensured for the many.

    The benefits of current rises in productivity are not flowing through the population but are being captured at the top of the socio-economic spectrum. A society ‘struggling’ to adjust to rising productivity must include meausres to spread the benefits around, not merely hope for some trickle down (in reality it’s trickle up).

    • Gosman 1.1

      Quite possibly you are correct however that doesn’t explain why some of the areas that had high productivity gains due to the deregulation of the economy starting in the 1980′s, (e.g. Telecommunication and Transportation for example), were generally the most Unionised and highly paid prior to the reforms. This would suggest that productivity was being inhibited rather than enhanced by the system.

      • RedLogix 1.1.1

        high productivity gains due to the deregulation of the economy starting in the 1980′s, (e.g. Telecommunication and Transportation for example), were generally the most Unionised and highly paid prior to the reforms.

        Absolutely nothing to do with de-regulation… and everything to do with the massive implementation of new automation technologies that was occuring at the exact same time.

        Indeed if we look at the consequences of de-regulation in the finance industry; it’s obvious that the consequences have been a stunning destruction of wealth and productivity; while at the same time highly unionised and very well paid industries like the German automakers have remained exceedingly successful.

        I’ve pretty much spent my entire adult life as tiny part of that revolution, and I can assure you the idea that somehow ‘market de-regulation’ was the principle drive of increased productivity in the last 30 years is a total… well myth.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.2

        “Productivity gains” are weasel words. The gains didn’t go to the laid off workers, nor to their communities wracked by unemployment nor to the country which lost strategic assets from its balance sheet. The gains all got offshored, and now the Government is subsidising broadband infrastructure for Telecom. How productive is that.

        • grumpy 1.1.2.1

          I think we used to call it Marginal Revenue Product of Labour…………………..?????

          • Colonial Viper 1.1.2.1.1

            Firing workers tends to be more profitable than having them around.
            No company that I know makes management decisions based on the ‘marginal revenue product of labour’.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.3

        If there had been any productivity gains in telecommunications since deregulation then we would expect to see two things:-
        1.) Significant reductions in real prices
        2.) An improved, high bandwidth network capable of supporting modern needs, ie, 100mbps broadband

        We haven’t seen either of those things. We have seen Telecom rip ~$20b dollars out of the economy in profit, extra costs to the economy as multiple networks get built and the need for the government to step in and pay Telecom and others to bring the network up to speed. If deregulation and privatisation shows anything it’s that it’s very expensive and doesn’t achieve what all the people in favour of it say it will – Lines their pockets with our wealth though.

      • Georgecom 1.1.4

        You are correct that it doesn’t explain productivity increases in certain sectors of the economy, and nor is it intended to. It reflects that we previously had mechanisms for ensuring rising productivity levels were spread amongst the many, not simply trapped by the few as we presently have.

        But changing the subject, at least 2 answers have seemingly been provided. New technology has come about and in the 1980s anyway, thousands of state sector workers laid off which will show higher productivity per labour input.

  2. Gosman 2

    Interesting arguments from both sides. What I find especially fascinating about this subject is that I very much doubt that the amount of direct income transfers from wealthy to poor has changed much over the last few decades.

    For all the left’s bemoaning of a supposed cuts in support to the poorer sections of society I would argue that spending has been realitively consistent over the past few decades. Indeed if we have a look at the graphs in figures 2, 3, and 4 of this paper ,(http://ips.ac.nz/publications/files/99f91186d74.pdf), it should be obvious that the State’s expenditure on welfare as a percentage of GDP has been remarkable consistent over time.

    Even the infamous ‘Mother of all Budgets’ didn’t seem to make much of a dent in this percentage figure. Certainly it is clear that prior to the economic reforms of the mid 1980′s Social welfare spending looks to be about 11 to 12 percent of GDP and that was about the extent of the spending in the late 1990′s.

    What is also clear from those graphs is that the size of the State has been steadily rising over the last hundred odd years and it was only in the 1990′s that this started decreasing significantly. Yet the areas that led to this reduction weren’t obviously in one area and certainly not in cutting welfare. In fact it looks like a large part of the reduction is as a result in reduced financing costs.

    So why do we have such an inequality problem then if we are essentially spending the same amount on welfare that we did thirty odd years ago before we were meant to have such an inequality issue? Well perhaps the answer to that is related to where we are spending that welfare money. Instead of reaching the people it should be targetted at , i.e. the bottom sections of society, it is being skimmed off by those who are better off. In short we are providing welfare to the middle and upper income groups via welfare programmes such as Working for Families and Superannuation.

    This is why I am comfortable with Labour party policies such as increasing the age of entitlement to Syuperannuation and even imposing a Capital Gains tax. Coupled with more effective targetting of benefits to those who need them rather than those who don’t you might be able to reduce the social impacts for those on lower incomes.

    • lprent 2.1

      Yet the areas that led to this reduction weren’t obviously in one area and certainly not in cutting welfare. In fact it looks like a large part of the reduction is as a result in reduced financing costs.

      It was. I think at one point we were spending about a quarter of the governments revenue on interest – and this was on the governments interest rates. Fortunately the reduction in global interest rates helped a lot as did the reduction in inflation down to manageable levels. There may have been a impact from asset sales in the 80′s and 90′s. But is suspect when you looked at the nett costs of increased people on unemployment in areas without employment, I suspect it was minor and largely eaten up by middlemen.

      But I wasn’t talking about welfare. The vast bulk of that is superannuation or highly variable based on a lack of jobs during recessions. A few minutes of reading on the latter will show that the numbers of people on long term benefits is minimal when there are jobs available. The problem is how to get those jobs.

      The question is how do you get new industries created in times of depression to create jobs, when the wealth required to capitalize those industries is being held in a small population of increasingly risk adverse wealthy? We have been through this cycle numerous times in the last 200 years, and in the absence of new resources, it gets increasing more difficult for the “market” to it without a shove from the state.

      It is the indirect transfers from the wealthy to the whole of society via infrastructure, incentives, and direct training that pay the dividends.

      • Gosman 2.1.1

        That is fascinating. So in lieu of direct transfers from wealthy to poor via welfare you think there is some other method involving Governmental support of business do you? I therefore presume you support the reimposition of high tarriffs and import substitution as the solution to this issue do you? The alternative is direct subsidisation of industry. This would require the renegotiation or outright withdrawal of NZ from a number of international trade agreements, (many of which were negotiated and signed under the previous Labour led government it has to be stated). I have yet to see a political grouping in Parliament seriously argue for this. It is a valid policy to pursue though, just not one I subscribe to. Why do you think no political party is pushing for this?

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          High import barriers, subsidies and other government protections were critical to the success of Japanese and South Korean auto, heavy machinery, ship building and high tech precision machining industries.

          The US Govt continues to subsidise their pharmaceutical and military-industrial complex to the tune of trillions per year.

          Government intervention and protection has also been critical to the success of the NZ ag/hort industry, including dairy.

          Other countries understand that close co-operation between a country’s industries and its government is absolutely necessary for global success. Germany, USA, Japan, Taiwan, China, Singapore, South Korea all get this implicitly.

          Why are we so slow.

    • McFlock 2.2

      Indeed if we have a look at the graphs in figures 2, 3, and 4 of this paper ,(http://ips.ac.nz/publications/files/99f91186d74.pdf), it should be obvious that the State’s expenditure on welfare as a percentage of GDP has been remarkable consistent over time

      Really? Of those charts, figure 3 is the only one that even mentions welfare. It seems to show around a 2 or 3% of GDP drop in welfare and GSF from 1994, which according to table 1 was 13.5% of GDP in 2008/9. So it would have been around 16% of GDP if it were “remarkabl[y] consistent”.
       
      Oh, and when comparing us to the 1970s you need to factor in unemployment rates, union membership keeping wages reasonable, the opportunities provided by the education system at the time, and demographic changes /  the entire gender politics thing. Plus, of course, the stuff we chose to ignore then like “domestic” violence.
       

      • KJT 2.2.1

        I would expect the total payments for welfare to be relatively constant. Recent Labour Governments may raise things such as the UB slightly, but NACT always causes has many more unemployed.
        Neither change the biggest welfare payments, super, by much.
        Most likely this largely cancels out.

  3. Georgecom 3

    One extra factor I neglected to mention in NZ was the Awards system and relativities. A wage increase struck in one of the core Awards, like the metal trades, was passed through the economy by the mechanism of relativities (pattern bargaining) that saw productivity dividends flow through the working class.

    Anything like that now?

    • Gosman 3.1

      If those productivity gains were truly being spread around the economy as you claim then there wouldn’t have been distortions requiring Government interventions to support productive sectors of the economy. This is the reason Farmers supported reforms that led to increased productivity in the transport sector as part of the Quid pro quo for removing direct subsidies such as SMP.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        In a near zero growth environment, the more productivity gains we have, the higher unemployment will be.

        • grumpy 3.1.1.1

          Seems to me that higher relative incomes are more disproportionate in the non-productive sectors………………

          • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1.1

            The ponzi-financial and banking sector, particularly. Also amongst the financial asset ownership class.
            Driving workers out of employment can be very profitable.
             

      • Georgecom 3.1.2

        The Awards and relativities framework allowed econom ic gains to be sp[read around the economy. One of the determinants for Awards and GWOs was productivity.

      • mik e 3.1.3

        Farmers didn’t support Roger Douglases reforms because all other farm export economies still haven’t reduced their subsidies.
        If they supported ACT they would have voted for Dinosaur Dons Nicholson.

      • mik e 3.1.4

        Gooseman road transport is still being subsidized heavily.

    • Mike 3.2

      Productivity has increased 90% in the last 30 years, whereas wages for those on lower incomes have remained stagnant or decreased in real terms. We used to share the gains from productivity increases by raising wages, etc. But in the last 30 years, the rewards have been mostly sucked out of the economy by way of profits.

  4. randal 4

    yeah like consultants, pr people, and general liggers and sausage roll abusers, all wrapped up in the sobriquet of nashnil gubmint parasites.

  5. ropata 5

    I don’t think the charge of propagating mass inequality is fairly laid against traditional “conservatives”, it is more the result of the neo-con / neo-lib movements who decided that the social contract was boring and getting super rich was much more exciting. Conservatism by definition puts great stock in history. The “Conservative” label has been greatly undermined by those with a (dominionist/evangelical/apocalyptic) religious agenda who forget the secular humanist foundations of democracy in the USA and elsewhere.

    Nowadays we all understand conservatism to mean the Brit “Conservative” party, US Republicans, or NZ NACToid corporate drones. Their moralising about identity politics was conservative in tone but their economic acts (and wars) were devastatingly radical.

    It’s the neocons, not the paleocons, who have screwed up the world.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      +1

      Its the neoliberals, and especially the neocons, who are the corrosive fuckers.

      Give me a ‘right wing conservative’ guy like Holyoake or Eisenhower any day.

      • Lostinsuburbia 5.1.1

        Yeah well Eisenhower wanted to tell the military-industrial complex where too go. That took some balls

  6. jcuknz 6

    I wonder if in the time being until people stop over copulating and over populating the world the solution would come from down skilling so that more people would be involved in less production to waste the worlds resources. Somehow, and I don’t have a clue how, we have to get away from the system that relies upon increased production and find an equilibrium … but first we need fewer humans … and spare me all the rude words such common sense seems to bring from short sighted un-thinkers.
    All the best for the New Year …..God help us all, or somebody ….something.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      A steady state economy powering a steady state society. Anything else and we will be screwed…soon too.

  7. One Anonymous Bloke 7

    The debunking handbook (pdf) discusses effective strategies for countering misinformation. Perfect for those wingnut moments.

  8. M 8

    ‘Even smart conservatives in my experience are generally idiots because they think far too short term, fail to look at history and in the final analysis view everything from their own narrow short-term interests rather than those of society as whole. That is why despite my natural inclinations towards the right, I could never standing the sickening myth-remaking of history and the external moralising about other people that hypocritically concealed naked self-interest. David Brooks is just another example.’

    Nice one Lynn – as you have said in the past you’re right leaning by heredity but left leaning intellectually (not exact words I know – forgive me) and thanks for having the balls to write this because for me right leaners in the main are short term thinkers who seem to operate on thinly disguised fear that by someone getting a slice of the pie too that they are somehow diminished.

    • lprent 8.1

      *grin*. It isn’t really by heredity – there are quite a few manual workers and unionists in the family tree along with the assortment of entrepreneurs, managers, shopkeepers and tradespeople. But I do have quite that strong tendency to have extremely individualistic tendencies and confidence in my own abilities verging on outright arrogance that shows up here frequently – usually when I’m tongue-lashing a fool. That tends to predispose you towards the ‘right’ way of thinking. I was particularly enamoured of it when I was doing the MBA in the mid-80′s.

      But there are different types of right leaners. The envy ones are almost the least of the problem. There are a lot of right leaners who intellectually see the issues but who have this interesting disassociation between understanding the issues, seeing how it will cause future problems, and feeling the responsibility for doing something about it in reasonable time frames. They tend to view everything as being someone else’s problem, usually the governments, while also decrying the government interfering in whatever they are doing. Kind of strange when they are the government….

      This shows up most clearly in the climate change debate. I just find it kind of weird.

  9. Mike 9

    “But maybe Mr Brooks meant to refer to the beginning of the 20th century? What was happening with income inequality from, say, the point when we can start consulting income-tax data, in 1913?”

    Interesting year 1913. Also the year the Federal Reserve Act was unconstitutionally enacted.

  10. randal 10

    Yes it is much easier to lean to the right. compound interest and all that, plus the psycholoigical satisfaction of bossing people around and last but not least professing to beleive in God so that it is all his fault.
    and they are all so smug and smarmy.
    so where are the f*cking jobs you nimnuls?

  11. Lostinsuburbia 11

    At the end of the day we exist in a modern quasi-feudal society. The majority of us devote our time to labour for the enrich of our boss/Corp aka The lord. Our spare time and capital is used to either rest or invest in our marginal scraps of the economy (I.e serfs got to farm thir own individual plots when not tendering their lordsfields).

    Then we have the modern equivalent of guilds, allowing the major companies to dominate and control their respective markets.

    And above it we have our modern version of the king and the royal court, which is place to make favours, give money for deals, and kid the lower classes that they might get a say.

    Things haven’t changed much – we just have more food, better teeth, and most can read.

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    Donna Tartt’s new book won the Pulitzer Prize today. Lots of people loved this book – and if you’re into beautiful prose there is a lot to love. But the story-telling really bugged me, and the event of it winning a...
    DimPost | 15-04
  • On what really annoyed me about ‘The Goldfinch’
    Donna Tartt’s new book won the Pulitzer Prize today. Lots of people loved this book – and if you’re into beautiful prose there is a lot to love. But the story-telling really bugged me, and the event of it winning a...
    DimPost | 15-04
  • New Fisk
    Has Recep Tayyip Erdogan gone from model Middle East 'strongman' to tin-pot dictator?...
    No Right Turn | 14-04
  • Maritimes magazine Autumn 2014 now online
    This edition of the Maritimes magazine covers the new Regional Maritime Federation, the offshore oil and gas industry, the 2014 Interport sports competition and much more....
    MUNZ | 14-04
  • Climate change: Action is affordable
    Last month, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the second part of its Fifth Assessment report, showing the dire future we faced if we did not act to reduce emissions. Over the weekend, the IPCC released the third part...
    No Right Turn | 14-04
  • 85 more jobs killed by the NZ dollar – Christchurch textile firm in r...
    Date of Release: Saturday, April 12, 2014Body:  News that the high New Zealand dollar has claimed another textile firm has come as a huge shock to those affected, FIRST Union said on Saturday.Staff at Christchurch Yarns were told yesterday that their...
    First Union Media | 14-04
  • Gordon Campbell on royalty and its tourism spin-offs
    Ultimately the Queen’s longevity has been one of her most significant accomplishments. A transition to Prince Charles while the monarchy was in the pits of public esteem in the mid to late 1990s would have been disastrous for the Royal...
    Gordon Campbell | 14-04
  • World News Brief, Tuesday April 15
    Top of the AgendaWorst Climate Change Scenarios Can Be Averted, Panel Says...
    Pundit | 14-04
  • Images of women and mother blaming
    There have been a few stories in the media about New Zealand women and obesity and body image, some referenced in this editorial from the Herald on Sunday. This article blames mothers for teaching girls to put on lip gloss....
    frogblog | 14-04
  • A Matter of Time: Reflections Of A Waning Republican
    Time Lords: The historical transition of the Monarchy: from that which rules, to those who reign, was a remarkable constitutional innovation. Neither a true monarchy, nor yet a full republic, Britain’s constitutional monarchy offered its subjects something unique. "[A] constitution...
    Bowalley Road | 14-04
  • IPCC 5th Assessment Report – exposing NZ on climate policy
    The IPCC’s 3rd Working Group has just released the final section of its 5th Assessment Report.  Following WGI report on the science and WGII on impact, this one focuses on a response strategy. The Report recalls that annual global emissions...
    frogblog | 14-04
  • Maori Party / Key fundraiser
    The Political Anorak News is full of the $5,000-a-plate fundraiser for the Maori Party hosted by John Key at the Northern Club in Auckland. A few thoughts: Nothing illegal about this at all, or really anything immoral either. Key wants...
    Polity | 14-04
  • The cost of small transport projects
    Every year the 21 local boards each get a share of $10 million to spend on transport projects in their area. The money is split up based on the population (except for Waiheke and Gt Barrier). The amount that each...
    Transport Blog | 14-04
  • I went to the Northern Club once. Really classy toilets.
    Via the Dom-Post: Prime Minister John Key says there is nothing unethical or inappropriate about charging guests at a Maori Party dinner $5000 a head to sit with him for part of the evening It has been reported that 15...
    DimPost | 14-04
  • I went to the Northern Club once. Really classy toilets.
    Via the Dom-Post: Prime Minister John Key says there is nothing unethical or inappropriate about charging guests at a Maori Party dinner $5000 a head to sit with him for part of the evening It has been reported that 15...
    DimPost | 14-04
  • Collins must admit misleading Parliament
    ACC Minister Judith Collins must front up and admit she has misled Parliament over ACC’s policy to stop paying compensation to clients who refused to fill in its privacy form, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “Judith Collins claimed Labour...
    Labour | 16-04
  • English confirms he has no plan to raise wages
    Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed he has absolutely no plans to lift wages, Labour’s spokesperson on Labour Issues, Andrew Little says. “Bill English told the Chamber of Commerce yesterday that workers could expect a rise in average income of...
    Labour | 16-04
  • Govt careless and callous about threatened birds
    The National Government is increasing the threat to two of the world's most threatened and unique birds by opening up Victoria Forest Park to petroleum drilling, the Green Party said today.Scientists have recently published a ranking of the 100 most...
    Greens | 16-04
  • Genesis: The biggest fire sale of them all
    National has finished its asset sales with a massive bonfire of a fire sale, showing once and for all how much of a disaster this programme was, says Labour’s SOEs spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove. “Just 68,000 Kiwis bought shares in Genesis,...
    Labour | 16-04
  • Interest rates rise but only smokes increasing
    Mortgage rate rises are making life harder for homeowners, and many of them will be surprised the latest CPI figures show inflation would be zero were it not for tobacco tax hikes, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson David Parker. “New Zealanders...
    Labour | 16-04
  • Term One Report Card for Hekia Parata
    Assignment Teacher’s Comments Grade      ...
    Labour | 16-04
  • Hekia Parata kept exam book errors from schools
    Schools will be appalled to learn Education Minister Hekia Parata knew since January that hundreds of exam booklets had been returned to the wrong students but said nothing about it, Labour’s Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Exams are stressful enough...
    Labour | 15-04
  • What has ACC Minister been doing?
    The ACC Minister needs to front up and explain what, if any, changes she has made to the broken culture of ACC rather than denying that she has any part to play in the dysfunction of her Ministry, the Green...
    Greens | 15-04
  • Promise of jam tomorrow takes the cake
    A claim by Minister of Finance Bill English that average wages will climb by $7,500 over the next four years is a cynical promise of jam tomorrow by a government whose record on wage growth is atrocious, Labour spokesperson on...
    Labour | 15-04
  • Judith Collins has to fess up on ACC blunder
    ACC Minster Judith Collins must front up and tell New Zealand how many people who refused to hand over their private details to ACC have been denied cover, says Labour’s ACC Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “The legality of ACC’s privacy waver,...
    Labour | 15-04
  • Board of Inquiry conditions will save rivers in New Zealand
    The Ruataniwha dam decision released today has protected the Tukituki River and dashed the Government’s hope of the “one nutrient model” (TRIM) being adopted nationwide, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson. “It is a massive victory for those in the...
    Labour | 15-04
  • Labour turns wheels for cycling safety
    With more than a million New Zealanders now using cycling as an attractive alternative means of transport it is past time their safety was taken seriously, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Darien Fenton says. Due to speak to a cycling rally at...
    Labour | 15-04
  • SPEECH: Institute of Directors
    LEADING AND MANAGING OUR ECONOMIC FUTURE David Cunliffe MP, Labour Leader Speech to the Institute of Directors 15 April 2014, Auckland It's a privilege to be speaking here. The Institute of Directors has a proud history of developing New Zealand's...
    Labour | 15-04
  • More Oravida endorsements from John Key
    The use of a picture of John Key in an advertisement for Oravida’s scampi products in a Chinese airline magazine is further evidence of an unhealthily cosy relationship between the National Party and this company, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says....
    Labour | 15-04
  • Workers at Canterbury Yarns need redundancy support
    Workers faced with redundancy at Canterbury Yarns need a redundancy support co-ordinator, Green Party industrial relations spokesperson Denise Roche said today.Last week, Canterbury Yarns was placed in receivership. Canterbury Yarns joins a long list of New Zealand manufacturers who have...
    Greens | 14-04
  • Making the holidays easier for Kiwi drivers
    The next Labour Government will make the holidays easier and journeys quicker for Kiwi families driving on the roads, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. “There’s nothing Kiwis like more than getting on the road and going on holiday. But on...
    Labour | 14-04
  • Ae Marika! 15 April 2014
    Our MANA AGM down in Rotorua on the weekend was a sold-out affair – even the media were struggling to get in! Political conferences can be very dull, but not this one. We had a great line-up of speakers including...
    Mana | 14-04
  • Green light from Labour for cancer screening programme
    Labour Leader David Cunliffe has today committed to a national bowel screening programme, starting with extending the current service to the Southern and Waikato districts. “Around 3000 New Zealanders develop bowel cancer each year and about 1200, or 100 a month,...
    Labour | 14-04
  • Adequate resourcing needed for victims’ advocate
    The establishment of a victims’ commissioner role will only be meaningful if it is properly resourced to do the job of advocating for victims’ interests, Labour Justice spokesperson Andrew Little says. Justice Minister Judith Collins has just recently indicated her...
    Labour | 13-04
  • IPCC report shows Government ignoring climate experts
    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) report into climate mitigation, just released in Berlin, shows the National Government is ignoring the pleas of the world's best climate scientists.The report says deep and fast emission cuts are vital from all...
    Greens | 13-04
  • Japan’s quick turnaround on whaling disappointing
    News that Japan plans to recommence some form of “scientific” whaling programme so quickly after the International Court of Justice’s ruling against it is very disappointing, says David Shearer, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson. “New Zealanders expected the ICJ ruling -...
    Labour | 13-04
  • Reviewable tenancies will increase risks for vulnerable children
    Instead of kicking families out of their homes if they can pay their rent, parents with young children should have the opportunity to purchase equity in a state-built home over time, the Green Party said todayFrom July, Housing New Zealand...
    Greens | 13-04
  • 48,000 New Zealanders drinking faecally contaminated water
    Some 48,000 people were provided with water that had issues with faecal contamination, 18,000 of whom were from Canterbury, the Green Party said today. The Ministry of Health's Annual Report on Drinking-Water in New Zealand for 2012/13 shows that 48,000...
    Greens | 12-04
  • Labour will move to save the Kauri
    Labour will spend $20 million over the next 10 years to stop the spread of Kauri dieback disease, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. “We are facing an ecological disaster with over 11 per cent of the Kauri trees in the...
    Labour | 12-04
  • SPEECH: Saving our Kauri
    Seech notes Good morning. Thank you for joining us here today. As a West Auckland MP I am very aware the kauri is an important part of this place. The Waitakere Ranges with their thousands of kauri, are a taonga....
    Labour | 12-04
  • MANA to continue negotiations with the Internet Party
    The MANA AGM has decided unanimously tonight to continue negotiaitions with the Internet Party. Within a month further negotiations, further consultation with MANA branches and a final decision on whether to proceed with a relationship is expected....
    Mana | 12-04
  • National’s tax dodge
      National’s insistence that it is cracking down on tax dodgers is little more than a bit of election year chest beating, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says. “Revenue Minister Todd McClay surely doesn’t believe collecting $100 million of an estimated...
    Labour | 12-04
  • Housing prices go up – Gens X & Y give up
    Today’s REINZ report shows house prices continue skyward while first home buyers are dropping out of the market, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “According to the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand the national median house price has risen...
    Labour | 11-04
  • Do Key and Adams support Chorus appeal?
    John Key and Amy Adams must tell New Zealanders whether they support Chorus’ appeal of the High Court’s ruling in favour of the Commerce Commission, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. “Chorus’ appeal is a waste of time. The company is...
    Labour | 11-04
  • Is Judith Collins unapologising
    Judith Collins appears to have retracted her apology for failing to disclose her meeting with her husband’s fellow company directors and a senior Chinese border control official just weeks after being ticked off by John Key for not doing so, Labour...
    Labour | 11-04
  • Media Advisory
    There have been a few minor changes to the MANA AGM agenda. Moana Jackson is unable to attend due to family commitments. Speaking in his place on Saturday morning MANA is pleased to welcome Georgina Beyer and Willie Jackson. MANA...
    Mana | 10-04
  • Green Party requests inquiry into Peter Dunne and Trust
    Green Party MP Denise Roche today wrote to the Parliamentary Registrar of Pecuniary Interests requesting an inquiry into whether Peter Dunne should have included his involvement as chair of the Northern Wellington Festival Trust on the Register of Pecuniary Interests...
    Greens | 10-04
  • Veterans short-changed
    The Veterans’ Support Bill reported back to Parliament today rejects a key recommendation of the Law Commission Review on which it is based and ignores the submissions of veterans and the RNZRSA, says Labour’s Veterans’ Affairs Spokesperson, Phil Goff. “A...
    Labour | 10-04
  • Tribute for Maungaharuru- Tangitu settlement
    Labour Member of Parliament for Ikaroa-Rāwhiti, Meka Whaitiri paid tribute to Maungaharuru-Tangitu today as their Treaty of Waitangi settlement became law. “The Bill acknowledges Treaty breaches that left Maungaharuru-Tangitu virtually landless. Today we were reminded of the history, mamae, loss...
    Labour | 10-04
  • Neglected rural and regional roads will cost more lives
    The government must take urgent action to prevent more accidents to truck drivers and other road users of increased logging trucks on neglected roads, says Darien Fenton, Labour’s Transport spokesperson. “The dangers to drivers and other road users in the...
    Labour | 10-04
  • Judith Collins’ refusal to answer a disgrace
    If John Key is holding his Ministers to any standards at all, he must make Judith Collins answer questions about the senior Chinese official she met during her taxpayer-funded visit to China last October, Labour MP Grant Robertson says. “Judith...
    Labour | 10-04
  • Ryall needs to heed hospital workforce issues
    The public health workforce, the same one Tony Ryall argues is making a lot of progress is facing increased pressure and staff burnout through his continued shuffling of the deckchairs, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “Mr Ryall uses all...
    Labour | 10-04
  • Key ducks but can’t avoid High Court slap
    The High Court’s slap in the face to John Key and his Government over Chorus has left it with no option but to accept the Commerce Commission’s lawful process in deciding the price of copper, says Labour’s associate ICT spokesperson...
    Labour | 09-04
  • First home buyers shut out as LVRs bite
    The bad news continues for young Kiwis as the latest Core Logic report shows the proportion of first home buyers has declined since LVR lending restrictions came into force, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. Twenty two centres across the...
    Labour | 09-04
  • MANA – and, or, or not – DOTCOM
    Both MANA and the Internet Party share goals in common with other parties, like getting rid of National and reining in the GCSB. There are also differences, as there are with other parties as well. MANA accepted a request to...
    Mana | 09-04
  • Wise heads want wise response
    Labour accepts the challenge laid down by the Wise Response group to protect and future-proof New Zealand’s environment and economy. A petition calling for urgent action was presented to Labour’s Environment and Climate Change spokesperson Moana Mackey at Parliament this...
    Labour | 09-04
  • Greens support high profile Kiwis’ call for climate action
    The Green Party fully supports a group of high profile Kiwi business people, lawyers, academics and commentators delivering a petition to parliament today calling for the Government to take the threat of climate change more seriously.Wiseresponse, a group of over...
    Greens | 09-04
  • Mayor’s jobs initiative shows up inactive Govt
    Auckland Mayor Len Brown and the Auckland Council are to be congratulated for providing opportunities for young people to get into work, but it stands in stark contrast to the National Government overseeing spiralling youth unemployment, Labour’s Employment, Skills and...
    Labour | 08-04
  • National discovers public servants needed after all
    New figures released today show National has done an embarrassing U-turn after discovering it actually does need the public service, Labour’s State Services spokesperson Maryan Street says. “Wellington now has the most public servants it has had since 2000. Figures...
    Labour | 08-04
  • School closures about saving Hekia, not kids
    The National Government's decision to merge Phillipstown and Woolston schools is another disaster for Christchurch and proves this Government is more interested in saving face than in what is best for children, the Green Party said today."Hekia Parata's stubborn refusal...
    Greens | 08-04
  • Cosgrove writes to invite Countdown to Committee
    Labour’s Commerce spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove has today written to the Chief Executive of Progressive Enterprises Dave Chambers, asking him if he would accept an invitation to appear before the Commerce Select Committee. “Yesterday National MPs blocked my motion to invite...
    Labour | 08-04
  • Phillipstown will get reprieve under Labour
    A Labour government will allow Phillipstown School to stay open, with a review after two years, Labour’s Associate Education spokesperson Megan Woods says. “Hekia Parata has failed the Phillipstown community with today’s decision to close the school. “It is disgraceful...
    Labour | 08-04
  • State Housing waiting lists go through the roof
    The waiting list for State Houses has risen by over a thousand in the past three months, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Low income people are feeling the sharp end of National’s housing crisis. A shortage of affordable houses...
    Labour | 08-04
  • Hekia Parata fails to answer basic questions
    Education Minister Hekia Parata’s inability to answer even the most basic questions about her proposed new Executive Principal roles will have alarm bells ringing in school communities all around the country, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Schools are already concerned...
    Labour | 08-04
  • Guy gets it wrong by any measure
    The Ministry for Primary Industries being forced to reprint rulers designed to help recreational fishers measure their snapper catch is right up there on the incompetence scale, Labour’s Fisheries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “MPI is having to spend another $8000...
    Labour | 08-04
  • So the US has assassinated a NZ citizen – what did Key know?
    A non judicial assassination by the US on a NZ citizen raises questions. Key made the idea that NZers were training with terrorists part of his farcical defence for the GCSB mass surveillance legislation. I say farcical because even if...
    The Daily Blog | 16-04
  • Something Better Than Something Worse: Why John Key could become our longes...
    IN HIS MEMORABLE holiday-home encounter with the host of Campbell Live, the Prime Minister, John Key, did not rule out running for a fourth term. Were he to be successful, the long-standing record of Sir Keith Holyoake (11 years and 2...
    The Daily Blog | 16-04
  • GUEST BLOG: RIO TINTO WINS 2013 ROGER AWARD
      Sky City Casino Second, Chorus Third  The seven finalists for the 2013 Roger Award for the Worst Transnational Corporation Operating in Aotearoa/New Zealand were: ANZ, Chorus, IAG Insurance Group, Imperial Tobacco, Rio Tinto, Sky City Casino and Talent 2. The criteria for judging are...
    The Daily Blog | 16-04
  • National drowning in an ocean of poisoned milk
    It is becoming difficult to keep up with which National Party MP is bleeding the most at the moment. Simon Bridges is being crucified by Whaleoil almost as much as Greenpeace are attacking him, suggesting Cam is seizing the moment...
    The Daily Blog | 16-04
  • Want to get rid of synthetic cannabis? Legalize real cannabis
    Have we managed to appreciate the madness that synthetic cannabis is legal yet more harmful than organic cannabis which is illegal? I find the current moral panic over synthetic cannabis difficult to become concerned with when alcohol is FAR more...
    The Daily Blog | 16-04
  • Save our homes – stop the evictions!
    “We will keep on fighting because it frightens me to think my grandchildren could become homeless,” Tere Campbell told me. Tere is a member of Tamaki Housing Group. In September 2011, tenants in 156 state homes in Glen Innes received...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • The daily humiliation of women and the constant policing and shaming of our...
    The last few months have been particularly bad for the shaming and policing of women’s bodies in the media, both in New Zealand and globally. First we had NZ Newstalk ZB presenter Rachel Smalley referring to women weighing over 70kgs...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • A case study of racism by Police at Auckland Airport
    A couple of days ago I returned from Samoa after attending a family matter and some contract work. Spending a few days in the warmth of our homeland was welcome relief from the cold weather starting to make its presence...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • An acute shortage of emergency youth housing
    The housing crisis is effecting everyone in Christchurch but some are more vulnerable than others. Recently I attended a workshop on emergency youth housing hosted by the 298 Youth Health Centre, who I worked for from 2001-2003. Over fifty people...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • The Oceans Issue
    The ‘Earth’ is 71% water but our oceans are the last frontier. The oceans are huge, relatively unexplored, full of weird and wonderful diversity. In New Zealand we’re never far from the sea, and our identity, our landscapes, our communities,...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • Fear of South Auckland
    Fear of South Auckland...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • TV News Geography
    TV News Geography...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • The best bit about gay sex
    The best bit about gay sex...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • On not voting 1
    On not voting 1...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • On not voting 2
    On not voting 2...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • Labour on trucks
    Labour on trucks...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • Claire Trevett shows how biased msm works
    Read this nonsense by Claire Trevett… David Cunliffe denies claims he is ‘running scared’ Labour leader David Cunliffe has dismissed claims he is running scared from Prime Minister John Key and playing hard to get over a Campbell Live series...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • Why won’t Judith Collins identify who the Chinese ‘bureaucrat’ is?
    Rumour as to the real reason Judith Collins won’t reveal who the mysterious Chinese ‘bureaucrat’ is who dined with her at a private dinner is because the Chinese ‘bureaucrat’ wasn’t some lowly border official and they are actually a junior ranking member...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • Fighting PNG corruption and social media gags with … outspoken blogs
    Graphic: shutterstock.com Dr David Robie also blogs at Café Pacific THE BLOGGING war is hotting up in Papua New Guinea – just when things are getting riskier with draconian proposals over cybercrime law on the horizon. The state target for...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • UNbelieved – the true racism of NZ
    Racist Cartoon by Al Nisbet sums up the casual racism NZers enjoy The New Zealand government must consider United Nations rebukes on their indigenous rights record as ordinary and unremarkable by their casual reaction to the latest indictment - delivered through the clear and clinical...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • What has ACC Minister been doing?
    Source: Green Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: What has ACC Minister been doing? Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 | Press Release Judith Collins has made such little progress on ACC’s unacceptable privacy practices and needs to be held to account for...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • Hekia Parata kept exam book errors from schools
    Source: Labour Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Hekia Parata kept exam book errors from schools Schools will be appalled to learn Education Minister Hekia Parata knew since January that hundreds of exam booklets had been returned to the wrong students...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • Promise of jam tomorrow takes the cake
    Source: Labour Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Promise of jam tomorrow takes the cake A claim by Minister of Finance Bill English that average wages will climb by $7,500 over the next four years is a cynical promise of jam...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • Judith Collins has to fess up on ACC blunder
    Source: Labour Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Judith Collins has to fess up on ACC blunder ACC Minster Judith Collins must front up and tell New Zealand how many people who refused to hand over their private details to ACC...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • Board of Inquiry conditions will save rivers in New Zealand
    Source: Labour Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Board of Inquiry conditions will save rivers in New Zealand The Ruataniwha dam decision released today has protected the Tukituki River and dashed the Government’s hope of the “one nutrient model” (TRIM) being...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • Labour turns wheels for cycling safety
    Source: Labour Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Labour turns wheels for cycling safety With more than a million New Zealanders now using cycling as an attractive alternative means of transport it is past time their safety was taken seriously, Labour’s...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • SPEECH: Institute of Directors
    Source: Labour Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: SPEECH: Institute of Directors LEADING AND MANAGING OUR ECONOMIC FUTURE David Cunliffe MP, Labour LeaderSpeech to the Institute of Directors15 April 2014, Auckland It’s a privilege to be speaking here. The Institute of...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • More Oravida endorsements from John Key
    Source: Labour Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: More Oravida endorsements from John Key The use of a picture of John Key in an advertisement for Oravida’s scampi products in a Chinese airline magazine is further evidence of an unhealthily cosy...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • 85 more jobs killed by the NZ dollar – Christchurch textile firm in recei...
    Source: First Union – Press Release/Statement: Headline: 85 more jobs killed by the NZ dollar – Christchurch textile firm in receivership News that the high New Zealand dollar has claimed another textile firm has come as a huge shock to...
    The Daily Blog | 15-04
  • Workers at Canterbury Yarns need redundancy support
    Source: Green Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Workers at Canterbury Yarns need redundancy support Tuesday, 15 Apr 2014 | Press Release Canterbury Yarns joins a long list of New Zealand manufacturers who have been driven to the wall by a...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Making the holidays easier for Kiwi drivers
    Source: Labour Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Making the holidays easier for Kiwi drivers The next Labour Government will make the holidays easier and journeys quicker for Kiwi families driving on the roads, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. “There’s nothing...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Boots Riley to perform live in Auckland
    Press Release: Mana Tamaki Branch are excited to announce that we have a very special guest, Boots Riley, coming to our very own neighbourhood! On Tuesday April 15 at 7.00pm Boots will be hosting a political discussion and Q&A followed...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Green light from Labour for cancer screening programme
    Source: Labour Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Green light from Labour for cancer screening programme Labour Leader David Cunliffe has today committed to a national bowel screening programme, starting with extending the current service to the Southern and Waikato districts. “Around...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Adequate resourcing needed for victims’ advocate
    Source: Labour Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Adequate resourcing needed for victims’ advocate The establishment of a victims’ commissioner role will only be meaningful if it is properly resourced to do the job of advocating for victims’ interests, Labour Justice...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Comparing Maori Party $5000 per ticket John Key Fundraiser at sexist Northe...
    So MANA can’t contemplate an alliance with Kim Dotcom because he is wealthy and MANA is not and that’s a terrible hypocrisy. Shock. Horror. So what is one to make of the Maori Party holding a $5000 per ticket closed...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • David vs Goliath – Key’s housing affordability TV debate challenge
    John Key allowed his frustration to get the better of him at yesterdays press conference when he responded to a question on housing affordability by shooting back that he would debate David Cunliffe on the issue. Cunliffe has accepted. The...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Deborah Manning joins Team Cunliffe
    Deborah Manning is a very good friend of mine and seeing her join Team Cunliffe in Wellington is just another example on top of Matt Mcarten and Clint Smith’s appointments that Cunliffe is serious about putting together the best strategic...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • If a tree falls in a forest, does Simon Bridges hear it?
    If a tree falls in a forest, does Simon Bridges hear it?...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • A picture says a thousand words, this one says about 20 000
    A picture says a thousand words, this one says about 20 000...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Comparing Key to Snowden
    Comparing Key to Snowden...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Latest Banksy
    Latest Banksy...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Valuing Teachers
    Valuing Teachers...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Plans-to-tax-the-rich-will-result-in-capital-flight-and-the-talented myth
    Plans-to-tax-the-rich-will-result-in-capital-flight-and-the-talented myth...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • TPPA is corporate thuggery
    TPPA is corporate thuggery...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Why we need feminism
    Why we need feminism...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Method In His Madness: Why did Russel Norman make Labour an offer it couldn...
    THE LINE FROM LABOUR is that the Greens made them an offer they couldn’t accept. Delivered in the condescending, world-weary tone one usually associates with a headmaster reprimanding one of the dimmer boys from the Lower-Fifth, the suggestion, clearly, is...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • iPredict has possible MANA-Internet Party alliance at 3 seats
    Latest iPredict scores has MANA at 1.1% and the Internet Party at 1.5% – combined that’s 2.6%, the party list percentages would roughly be… 2 seats (i.e. electorate and one list): (1.2%) 3 seats: (2%) 4 seats: (2.8%) 5 seats:...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Adam Bennett and his wonky Tai Tokerau logic
    Adam Bennett, the NZ Herald’s political reporter, has published a column with some wonky Tai Tokerau logic… Unless the Mana Internet alliance pulls off the unlikely feat of reaching the 5 per cent mark on election night, all of this...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Boots Riley performing for MANA fundraiser
    Mana Tamaki Branch are excited to announce that we have a very special guest, Boots Riley, coming to our very own neighbourhood! On Tuesday April 15 at 7.00pm Boots will be hosting a political discussion and Q&A followed by an...
    The Daily Blog | 14-04
  • Businessman who is taking Blogger to court for defamation attacked
    The NBR are reporting (paywalled) that Matt Blomfield, the businessman taking Cameron Slater to court for defamation, has had been attacked last night with shots fired at his home. How vicious and nasty. Thoughts are with Matt and his family....
    The Daily Blog | 14-04