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Piketty: inequality & capitalism’s flaw

Written By: - Date published: 8:56 am, April 30th, 2014 - 50 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, economy - Tags:

There is a major new economics tome out this year that’s sending waves through the economics community like none since Friedman in the 70s.

It’s Thomas Piketty‘s Capital in the Twenty-First Century.

Such is the impact that in a recent seminar at New York’s CUNY he was the headliner over Nobel-winning Krugman and Stiglitz.

Krugman’s review of his impact on conservatives in the New York Times is telling – they are warning that Mr. Piketty’s work must be refuted, because otherwise it “will spread among the clerisy and reshape the political economic landscape on which all future policy battles will be waged.”

And yet they cannot refute his superbly researched thesis, which spans hundreds of years of history and 700 pages.

So the conservatives – who have been focussing on denying the obvious and growing income and wealth disparity, and when that fails, insisting on the rich as job creators (except they’re not) – have resorted to name calling. Piketty, like any who acknowledge unequal wealth, must be ‘Marxist’.

That’s the sum of their refutation.

But Piketty’s argument is stronger than a bit of name-calling.  The essence is that:

economic growth will always be smaller than the profits from any money that is invested. Economic growth is what we all benefit from, but profits from invested money accrue only to the rich. The consequences of this are clear: those who have family fortunes are the winners, and everyone else doesn’t have much of a shot of being wealthy unless they marry into or inherit money.

So Piketty is doing more than acknowledging that inequality exists or is growing – he says that capitalism dooms us to it.  To combine it with a recent Nasa study shows us heading reasonably rapidly to societal collapse.  We’re at pre-WWI levels of wealth disparity and quickly heading to nineteenth century levels (and aristocracy).  That’s levels that hit beyond massive disparities in income, onto worryingly large disparities in equality of opportunity.  The rest of us have very little to no chance of ever catching up, without inheriting from or marrying into the 1%.

Wealth is no function of a fictional meritocracy as the right would have us believe, but of inheritance.

And wealth is where it is at more than income – the top 10% in Europe & the US earn 25-35% of income; but have 60-70% of the wealth.

So a wealth tax is where we need our answer, along with inheritance taxes and high taxes for high incomes.

Those things are beyond our current orthodoxy, but maybe economics may yet lead us there.


Another treatise on the economic (not political) impacts of inequality.

And join Closing the Gap for a NZ focus on reducing inequality.

50 comments on “Piketty: inequality & capitalism’s flaw”

  1. karol 1

    This looks to be a very important development in countering the myths of “neoliberalism” and moving towards an alternative approach to society and governance.

    I see there’s already a big queue for Piketty’s book, as on my public libraries’ website.

  2. Sanctuary 2

    Of course, our forebears – who had direct experience of the aristocracy and income distribution of the gilded age barons – didn’t need Thomas Piketty to tell them these things. They instinctively understood what he has empirically now proved, which is why they introduced heavy death duties and progressive tax systems to force the break up of great wealth.

    BTW – Piketty’s book is only $22 for a kindle edition.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      Thing is, these things have been known since ancient times when interest was first banned and the writing off of debts was a regular occurrence. Actions that prevent such massive accumulation of societies wealth by the few.

  3. “..So a wealth tax is where we need our answer – along with inheritance taxes –

    and high taxes for high incomes..”

    amen to all that…

  4. just saying 4

    I think inheritance tax is a no-brainer, except for the fact that those with trusts (the middle class and up) would again be able to circumvent paying their fair share.

    Already we have the offensive situation in which the aged of more modest means (and no trust) are asset stripped if they need care, but gazillionaires get a free ride (this situation was somewhat improved by a raise in the value of assets that the elderly are able to keep, under Labour).

    Undoing the inequity caused by trusts would be a natural policy for a Labour Party worth it’s salt but the Labour Party only represents its own nowadays – the minority middle-class who are comfier than they have ever been. It really should change it’s name to reflect the reality. I suggest ‘The Puku Party’.

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      I think inheritance tax is a no-brainer, except for the fact that those with trusts (the middle class and up) would again be able to circumvent paying their fair share.

      The entire tax system, which has effectively been written by the wealthy for the last 500 years, needs to be re-written so that people can’t circumvent paying their fair share. The correct result of such would be that there would be no more wealthy.

      but the Labour Party only represents its own nowadays – the minority middle-class who are comfier than they have ever been. It really should change it’s name to reflect the reality. I suggest ‘The Puku Party’.

      QFT

  5. Colonial Viper 5

    This is what I wrote in Open Mike last night about Piketty. In essence, we are now in a world where the Red Queen rules. Because of energy depletion, resource constraints and climate change, we will have to work harder and harder just to stay in place, let alone “grow.”

    All the while, the power elite are taking over all the levers of power and are concentrating more and more paper and physical wealth around themselves. Piketty’s criticism of capitalism is excellent,but we are leaving that age behind. What we have now is an age of usury, extortion, neo-feudalism and imperial decline. Not capitalism.

    Piketty’s ideas are decent, but they are 25 years too late. We’ve actually moved far past the time the assumptions he uses will actually hold. Care of one of favourite websites Zerohedge:

    By Charles Hugh-Smith:

    The real problem with Piketty’s taxation/social welfare solution to wealth inequality is that it does nothing to change the source of systemic inequality, debt-based neofeudalism and neocolonialism. Simply raising more taxes to fund more social welfare programs leaves the unjust, rapacious, and ultimately destabilizing Status Quo entirely intact.

    I have laid out another path in my books: refuse serfdom, abandon participation in neofeudalism and neocolonialism, and build parallel systems of cooperation and wealth-building that are not debt-dependent.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-28/critique-pikettys-solution-widening-wealth-inequality

    And by James Kunstler:

    I doubt that the Warren Buffets and Jamie Dimons of the world will see their wealth confiscated via some new policy of the Internal Revenue Service — e.g. the proposed “tax on wealth.” Rather, its more likely that they’ll be strung up on lampposts or dragged over three miles of pavement behind their own limousines. After all, the second leading delusion in our culture these days, after the wish for a something-for-nothing magic energy rescue remedy, is the idea that we can politically organize our way out of the epochal predicament of civilization that we face. Piketty just feeds that secondary delusion.

    http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-28/second-biggest-delusion-us-culture

    In relation to today’s conversations, my view is that Reserve Bank goals and interest rate settings are akin to trying to cleverly keep steam pressure up on the Titanic’s engines while the compartments are filling up with water. At this point nothing apart from getting ready for fossil fuel energy depletion, climate change, GFC II and permanent global economic contraction matters one whit.

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    So a wealth tax is where we need our answer, along with inheritance taxes and high taxes for high incomes.

    That’s only part of the answer. A hell of a lot of that 60 to 70 per cent of owned wealth needs to be returned to the state as well. In NZ that would mean renationalisation of telecommunications, power and the farms. A maximum income of around $100k would help as well.

    • Not Petey 6.1

      Cuckoo

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        Cuckoo You

        • Tracey 6.1.1.1

          but if petey cant be paid much more how will he know his self value or if he is succeeding.

          • Not Petey 6.1.1.1.1

            The $100k maximum income was the least cuckoo comment of DTB although still nutty one must say.

            The nationalisation of telecommunications, power and farms is the kind of cuckoo that could power all the clocks in Switzerland.

            • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.1.1.1

              It’s privatisation, otherwise known as feudalism, that’s totally insane. This is what the research that’s coming out shows.

      • aerobubble 6.1.2

        See that’s the point, we should actually just give all our wealth to the richest 1% of 1% because ‘Not Petey’ would say it was the smart thing to do. All hail the King.

    • greywarbler 6.2

      CV and DTB
      Good thinking stuff. DTB you are undoubtedly right and CV you give paths to self-help until the larger DTB suggested action can be brought about.

      • Colonial Viper 6.2.1

        Yep, need stuff for immediate effect while working on massive medium and long term changes.

        • Tracey 6.2.1.1

          yesbut also need something to break the mindset. when you see the resistence to this thesis youcan see why your solutions are such a long way off.

          • Colonial Viper 6.2.1.1.1

            the truth is that political parties and the Wellington elite will be unlikely to deliver for us as real physical constraints close in and start grinding the economy down. We will have to rely on ourselves, on local communities and our close networks to keep going and to find new ways of getting things done.

            A simple example is raising the retirement age. Whose interests exactly is this austerity measure in? A whole bunch of Labour MPs with super schemes and Kiwi Saver schemes worth a quarter million dollars or more are going to have the nerve to vote through an increased retirement age for all other NZers. That’s courage for you.

    • Colonial Viper 6.3

      I would broaden out your comment “needs to be returned to the state” to”needs to be returned to public ownership.”

    • srylands 6.4

      How stupid. A maximum income of $100,000? We would end up looking like a temperate version of Niue. Why would anyone bother getting out of bed?

      • Colonial Viper 6.4.1

        To do work which is personally and professionally fulfilling, to positively contribute to society, to find a unique role and sense of identity in ones local community.

        (I personally think that a maximum income of 10x the median income is more reasonable = $290,000 pa or so. Set the income tax rate above that at say 91%, like it used to be in the US in the early 60’s).

      • Draco T Bastard 6.4.2

        $100k is more than enough to live comfortably on. Any more than that is pure greed and it is greed that destroys society.

        • Tracey 6.4.2.1

          slylands doesnt realise that most people in nz earn less than 100k pa and get out of bed everyday. some even serve others ahead of large paypackets.

          he doesnt know how to measure his self worth unless he can strive for a further payrise, like the donkey and the carrot.

  7. Ennui 7

    The problem we will have with regulating top wage levels by means of tax is that the money will find its way elsewhere. With the public sector I believe wages could be easily regulated (by way of a State Services pay structure) to get rid of fat cat managers pretending to be the same as private sector managers.

    The basic difference between private sector CEOs and public sector CEOs is that the private sector has income risk. State services CEOs get their income via tax, no risk, no need to have to sell etc. In my book they have so little income risk that they are worth fekk all.

    Control of private sector salaries gets problematic in that corporates in particular are often monopolies, duopolies etc, in effect rentiers. Rentiers need to be thoroughly regulated, and taxing their companies at a high rate is a great idea. In my experience these companies (power, telcos etc) if allowed are a dead weight on productive enterprise, their CEOs a parasitic elite.

    Companies in competitive markets have pressure to sell, and price pressure, which means they have to be lean and mean. These companies generate the money that gets sucked into “rentiers” books and tax that pays for public services. It would in my mind be counter productive to try to hard to restrict what could be earned. Top tax would be OK but I suspect that the accountants would find a way of using profits elsewhere, so it becomes a matter of Treasury and the IRD etc of coming up with ways of channeling that cash into places where it benefits the whole economy.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      The basic difference between private sector CEOs and public sector CEOs is that the private sector has income risk.

      Uh, no.

      From what I’ve seen big private sector CEOs who screw up get shown the door with a big golden parachute. In the US, bank CEOs almost destroyed the economy. Did you see the likes of a Jamie Dimon or a Lloyd Blankfein get sent to the poorhouse? So where is the income risk exactly?

      Do you mean getting a base salary of $1M pa with a potential bonus of $1M “at risk”? Oooooh that’s so risky!!! You might miss out on the $1M bonus and only make $1M total for the whole year!!!

      State services CEOs get their income via tax, no risk, no need to have to sell etc. In my book they have so little income risk that they are worth fekk all.

      Nah. NZ was built on a tradition and culture of public service; public servants who were paid very moderately but who believed in the professionalism of their calling of ‘serving the public’. These kinds of people have either been pushed out over the last 20 years, have left for overseas, or have simply retired.

      Calling state services heads “CEOs” is a total neoliberalism, and one that both Labour and National have perpetrated.

      • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1

        +1

      • Ennui 7.1.2

        CV, we dont disagree….you will note that I describe two reward systems that have very little risk attached.

        One is the leadership of state sector departments etc. The job is not to be strategic and to generate income. That’s the hardest bit in any job, it falls into that category of entrepreneurship, marketing and sales. In government the politicians should deliver the strategy, the IRD delivers the cash….wheres the risk. Its a bureaucratic delivery job. Your best monkey can lead the other monkeys, but monkeys are only worth bananas.

        So to corporate CEOs…..thats where I talked “rentier”. When you “own” a market or part of it your risk factor plummets. This is where the highest pay is given, look at what Telecom has paid its’ CEOs. What for, generally they are useless.

        Which leaves where the real money is made that all the corporate profits and tax take rely upon. That is in “productive” enterprise, and it requires strategic thinking, clear tactical direction, revenue risk, expenditure risk….and lots of people go broke, lose their shirts doing it. These to me are very valuable people and they should be encouraged.

        And in doing so these people should generate the wealth that is better spent rewarding aged care givers, dustmen etc rather than corporate of state sector CEOs.

  8. odysseus 8

    “And wealth is where it is at more than income – the top 10% in Europe & the US earn 25-35% of income; but have 60-70% of the wealth.”

    Does anyone know what the situation in NZ is?

  9. aerobubble 9

    I think the point is missing. That physic rules the universe. That the economic activity, called financialization brought about by neo-liberals like Thatcher and Douglas, has nothing to do with economics, or economists. It was due to the appearance and longevity, of the cheap high density liquid fuels flowing out of the middle east. Economics was what happen afterwards.

    Instead of using the money to go to Mars, end world poverty, we instead use the oil gusher to have wars and create financial empires. It was the biggest fraud in history, the worst kind of survival of the financial fittest. Dumb doesn’t do it justice, Thatcherism was always indecent and doggy, in its simplistic way that made the most boring of conservative feel like revolutionaries.

    Burn all the oil, as quickly as possible; how our animal brain took over our civilization.
    Our collective inner pyromaniac was unleashed.

    Piketty merely provides economists with a way to save their naff science credentials
    and provides a way back in for the neo-liberals to re-brand themselves.

    Monetary value depends solely on the people consenting to it having value, so it
    follows that we the people should benefit from its existence. Yet a media was born
    in the late 70s that use the propaganda machines to peddle that not only are economist
    market makers, rather than followers, but that we the people aren’t underwriting their
    whole neo-liberal experiment with the lives of our kids and grandkids.

    In order for growth, it was decided we had to have it all, now. Now the costs
    are appearing and the day of realization is upon us, least of course we accept
    the economist Piketty putting the heavens back into order even if dire.

    I suppose I’m trying to say, is I agree with Piketty its dire, I just think
    economists isn’t the intellectual sector that should have any say.

    • geoff 9.1

      Piketty’s argument for how 19th century economics snuck back in via Thatcher and Reagan is that the US and UK economies had flattened growth because their economies had finished post-war expansion. They compared themselves to other growing post-war western economies which were still undergoing enormous infrastructural rebuild and felt themselves falling behind. This somehow provided the political impetus to bring in neoliberalism.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      +1

      Economists wouldn’t know what an economy was if they tripped over one

      Piketty is right that capitalism, quite literally, sucks but he fails to realise that and so just says that we to have more taxes on the very well off. It’s not enough. We have to get rid of capitalism.

  10. Picketty’s ideas in their 19th C form were demolished by Karl Marx.
    Capitalist inequality is inherent in the fact that the class that owns the means of production forces the other class that is dispossessed to produce surplus-value as the basis of profits. The distribution of income that results is a mere symptom of these unequal relations of production.
    Worse, Picketty thinks that a widening income gap is accompanied by increasing profitability. Those bosses are truly bloody minded bastards.
    Marx refers to a fixation on the symptoms rather than causes of inequality as “The Trinity Formula” as in the father, son and holy ghost. http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch48.htm

    This fetishism has its materialist roots in the alienation or objectification of human labour as a intrinsic characteristic of the commodity which is explained in the first part of Capital Vol 1.
    https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ch01.htm#S4

    Ironically, it was the French translation of Capital that Marx thought the best since he had the chance to edit it and since it was serialised accessible to the ordinary worker. Even so, he had misgivings however that the French reader would be impatient to pass quickly from the difficult analysis to :immediate questions that aroused their passions”.
    http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/p2.htm

    Most of the 600 page books written since on social inequality have only detracted from the truth.

    So what you say?

    Well even though Picketty’s passions leads him to condemn Capitalism his French impatience puts him alongside the German moral socialists that Marx excoriated in the Critique of the Gotha Program for forgetting that capitalism leads to falling profits and that any equalising of income requires a socialist revolution. [Google for the Cached version of the Critique]
    So Picketty’s empiricist method leads to rising profits and a falling share of wages where the political solution that presents itself is a moral condemnation of capitalism, combined with a practical push for the poor to rise up and demand their ‘fair share’ of income, even though their production of profits was never fair.
    So like all those who think that climate catastrophe can be managed by ‘adaptation’ of capitalism Picketty’s analysis stops short of overthrowing capitalism.

    • geoff 10.1

      The value of Picketty’s book is that it leaves those in power, who have used the economic theories of Friedman and Co to justify neoliberal economic reforms, without a leg to stand on.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        We still have to raise the retirement age to balance the budget long term and ensure the sustainability of the super system

        We have to be able to force workers to hand over more of their hard earned money to private sector financial institutions in order to control inflation.

        The economic answer is in export led growth.

  11. BEATINGTHEBOKS 11

    The basic problem with socialism and communism is that homo sapiens will always try harder if they can get a better life by working harder, it is human nature. If there is no incentivisation they won’t try harder but will languish in mediocrity. This is the problem with socialist theory. It is also why there has never been a car made in the European eastern block that anyone in New Zealand or Western Europe wanted to buy. Marxism in New Zealand will never take hold. The desperate conditions necessary for it to become attractive are unlikely to ever exist, I contest that the percentage of the population to VOTE for it ( the irony is not lost on me) will not happen under the current government, maybe the next labour government, but they will probably vote national at the next ELECTION in protest. Life in NZ is simply too good. I know unemployment exists, but most of them won’t vote, and if they do their percentage will be too low. It is a situation carefully managed by the government. Socialism fails because it is human nature to try and win the prize, once fed the winner can spread the spoils, but why would you risk your own neck if somebody else will feed you. Catch 22. Marxist theory belongs to a different time, and a different country ( a poorer country with fewer opportunities) and a different generation. Marxism will never exist in the era of twitter and facebook. Goodbye marxism its over.

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    ‘Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19410723-34-27’ Hi y’all and welcome to Sunday Reading. Here’s a collection of stuff I found interesting over the week. Please add your links in the comments below. Whoops, we forgot to build housing. During ...
    Transport BlogBy Kent Lundberg
    2 days ago
  • 2016 SkS Weekly News Roundup #35
    A chronological listing of the news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week. Sun Aug 21, 2016 91,000 Electric Cars Sold In Europe In 1st Half Of 2016 by James Ayre, Clean Technica, Aug ...
    2 days ago
  • Guest Post: Rail Safety Week – A HSEQ Perspective
    This is a guest post from Harriet.  Recently we have had Rail Safety Week, the aim was to increase awareness of level crossings and their danger. Unfortunately we have had many deaths and injuries, with countless more near misses over ...
    Transport BlogBy Guest Post
    3 days ago
  • A wheely suitcase in Europe #6: San Sebastian to Gijon
    After four nights in San Sebastian, Basque we journeyed further west to Gijon, Asturias. Again we decided to use BlaBlaCar, mainly because the alternative rail and bus journeys were slower and more expensive respectively. The route we took is illustrated below, which as you ...
    Transport BlogBy Stu Donovan
    3 days ago
  • PFLP statement on Bilal Kayed hunger strike victory
    Support from the Palestinian people and international solidarity were key to this victory The following statement was released by the PFLP on Wednesday: The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine announced the suspension of the hunger strike of Comrade ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    3 days ago
  • Report Shows Whopping $8.8 Trillion Climate Tab Being Left for Next Generation
    This is a re-post from Common Dreams by Lauren McCauley "We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children," is an oft-quoted proverb, frequently used to explain the importance of environmental preservation. Unsaid, however, is ...
    3 days ago
  • Glasgow Celtic fans defy UEFA, step up support for Palestinians
    Taken from The Electronic Intifada (see our links section): Glasgow Celtic fans have launched a fundraiser to match any fine that Europe’s ruling football body, UEFA, will give the Scottish club for an expression of Palestine solidarity at a recent ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    3 days ago
  • Fixing our broken economy
    Globally, the “neo-liberal” consensus is rapidly vanishing (I use quotation marks because there are some in Aotearoa who deny such a thing as neo-liberalism exists). Regardless of the debate around its meaning, neo-liberal is a useful descriptor for the general ...
    frogblogBy Julie Anne Genter
    3 days ago
  • Legal Beagle: It’s Carter/Docherty Day; or three short – and wholly unrelated – things
    I’m big on making sure voters know how to make the best use of their votes at elections, so last week I went along to the Transparency International Mayoral Forum.After short-opening statements, the candidates were asked about governance, and avoiding ...
    4 days ago
  • A national day to commemorate NZ land wars
    It’s fantastic that the government has agreed to a hold a national day commemorating the New Zealand land wars. Announced at Kingi Tūheitia’s 10th koroneihana celebrations, alongside the return of Rangiriri Pā to the Kingitanga, the news marked a significant ...
    frogblogBy Marama Davidson
    4 days ago
  • A national day to commemorate NZ land wars
    It’s fantastic that the government has agreed to a hold a national day commemorating the New Zealand land wars. Announced at Kingi Tūheitia’s 10th koroneihana celebrations, alongside the return of Rangiriri Pā to the Kingitanga, the news marked a significant ...
    frogblogBy Marama Davidson
    4 days ago
  • Just because it’s been done before doesn’t make it right
    Back in March I wrote this post in which I expressed scepticism about Auckland Transport's rationale for having a by-law that prohibits the display of election advertising anywhere that is visible from a road, except for the 9 weeks before an ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    4 days ago
  • National Poetry Day
    I discussed this celebration with friends at lunch and somehow none of them had heard of 19th Century Scottish poet William Topaz McGongall, widely celebrated as the worst poet of all time: he seems roughly cognate to Tommy Wiseau. Here ...
    DimPostBy danylmc
    4 days ago
  • National Poetry Day
    I discussed this celebration with friends at lunch and somehow none of them had heard of 19th Century Scottish poet William Topaz McGongall, widely celebrated as the worst poet of all time: he seems roughly cognate to Tommy Wiseau. Here ...
    DimPostBy danylmc
    4 days ago
  • Sailing to the Arctic with the people who call it home
    The courageous Inuit community of Clyde River is standing up to protect their Arctic home from devastating seismic blasting.The circumpolar Arctic is home to four million people representing a diversity of cultures. As northerners, they share many connections, but in ...
    4 days ago
  • Why fixing your phone is one of the most empowering things you can do
    Like most people, I don’t go anywhere without my phone. In the morning, its shrill alarm rouses me from sleep. During the day it bobs between my ear, my hand, and my pocket. At night, I hunt for Pokémon before ...
    4 days ago
  • Microbeads: How did companies respond?
    Remember THIS video?Back in July, Greenpeace East Asia ranked 30 global companies to see how they measured in terms of their commitment to phasing out microbeads – the tiny terrors that are often found in shower gels and facial scrubs, ...
    4 days ago
  • Does your cafeteria serve ocean destruction?
    Every time you eat in a restaurant, hospital, airport, a university cafeteria, or at even at a rock concert, it is likely that you are eating food provided by a large foodservice company. Sea of Distress, a brand new Greenpeace ...
    4 days ago
  • My Arctic Home
    I live in Kangiqtugaapik (Clyde River) in the Canadian Arctic. Most people have never heard of my town. It's 450km north of the Arctic Circle with a population of roughly 1,000. We are isolated from much of the world, but ...
    4 days ago
  • Up Front: I Swear, It’s True
    There is a persistent myth among the kind of people I desperately try to avoid that swearing is a sign of low intelligence. Frequent swearing shows a lack of imagination and vocabulary.Fuck that noise.Research shows what people I would choose ...
    4 days ago
  • Up Front: I Swear, It’s True
    There is a persistent myth among the kind of people I desperately try to avoid that swearing is a sign of low intelligence. Frequent swearing shows a lack of imagination and vocabulary.Fuck that noise.Research shows what people I would choose ...
    4 days ago
  • One less objection to Skypath
    Some great news yesterday that the main objector to Skypath, the Northcote Residents Association (NRA), has withdrawn their appeal against the project. That leaves just the Northcote Point Historic Preservation Society (NPHPS) – made up of many of the same people ...
    4 days ago
  • A Political King.
    Birds Of A Feather: If Edward VIII had been a less enamoured sex-slave to Wallis Simpson and a more convinced fascist, it is entirely possible that he could have completely upended the British constitution. Royal words, and deeds, still matter ...
    4 days ago
  • Polity: Key peddles cynical “interest rate avenger” fantasy
    This week in Parliament, John Key repeated one of the lines that looks to be central to its election campaign in 2017. As we’ll see, that word “lines” probably has one too many n’s in it. Anyway, here it is:Rt ...
    4 days ago
  • Hard News: Friday Music: The Gaffer Departs
    My friend Simon Grigg this week announced something I've known for a while – that he's stepping down from his role as creative director at Audioculture. It is, literally, to spend more time with his family: Simon and his wife ...
    4 days ago
  • Places to go, people to be
    Nothing from me today - I'm off to Christchurch for Phoenix, their annual larp convention. Normal bloggage will resume Monday, once I've caught up. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Is There Something Wrong With Aussie Sport?
    Is There Something Wrong with Aussie Sport? The news that Australian Olympians returning from Rio have been given a hard time by the Australian media and public for the alleged paucity of their medal haul will, sadly, have come as ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    4 days ago
  • The Pencilsword: I can’t draw horses
    ...
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand – we’re in the sh*t
    . . “…We should always measure a Government’s environmental rhetoric against its environmental record.” – John Key, 7 September 2008 . . ref . In September 2008, one month before the general election, National’s leader addressed the party’s “Bluegreen* Forum“, ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    4 days ago
  • Housing is popular
    I’ve written several blog posts talking about challenges facing local democracy and consultation processes. This is an important issue. Harvard economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson make a convincing argument that inclusive political institutions, such as broad electoral franchises and ...
    Transport BlogBy Peter Nunns
    4 days ago
  • Increasing cycling and walking in New Zealand cities
    This is a post from Caroline Shaw and Marie Russell who are researchers at the University of Otago Wellington Having high levels of walking and cycling for transport in our urban centres is a crucial component of having a sustainable, people-oriented, 21st century transport ...
    4 days ago
  • Movement or Moment.
    Barring some disaster, Hillary Clinton will win the US presidential election in November. That poses an interesting question for the US Left, because the defensive support for her offered by Sanders supporters and other progressives in the face of the ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    4 days ago
  • Global warming is melting the Greenland Ice Sheet, fast
    A new study measures the loss of ice from one of world’s largest ice sheets. They find an ice loss that has accelerated in the past few years, and their measurements confirm prior estimates. As humans emit heat-trapping gases, we ...
    4 days ago
  • Weekly Reading: White rappers, Gawker and the Uber killer
    Our weekly recap highlighting the best feature stories from around the internet.   G-Eazy. Photo: AFP White Rappers, Clear of a Black Planet – by Jon Caramanica, The NY Times “But now we have arrived in the ...
    4 days ago
  • Cooking 4 Change at the Auckland City Mission
    On Tuesday evening I participated in the launch of the ‘Cooking 4 Change’ recipe book, which Metiria and I both contributed our favourite recipes to. Along with Dick Frizzell, Trelise Cooper, Tiki Taane, Erin Simpson, Jono & Ben, Colin Mathura-Jeffree, a couple ...
    frogblogBy James Shaw
    4 days ago
  • An improved design for the Tamaki/Ngapipi mess
    My post yesterday about the hot mess that is the proposed Tamaki-Ngapipi intersection resulted in a lot of discussion, especially around the design and the role consultants play. Reader George who is also an engineer decided he could come up ...
    5 days ago
  • Electrons!
    Earlier this year Key is said to have asked his Ministers to come up with some new policy ideas, to deflect the criticism that they were a tired, exhausted, intellectually bankrupt government spinning its wheels and going nowhere. Maggie Barry’s ‘Predator ...
    DimPostBy danylmc
    5 days ago
  • Rally in the rain shows love for humanities
    Tertiary Update Vol 19 No 30 Hundreds of people who work and study at the University of Otago rallied under umbrellas yesterday to say they love humanities. The university is planning to cut staff from five humanities departments Local TEU ...
    5 days ago
  • 10 percent budget cut at Lincoln
    Lincoln University is planning to cut “unpopular courses” the Christchurch Press reports. The Press says that vice-chancellor Robin Pollard told the university council it was necessary to “expedite” a review of all courses offered by the university and that he ...
    5 days ago
  • Victoria told pay offers are unequal
    People working at Victoria University of Wellington have rejected two pay offers, saying both treat people unequally. Union members at the university held a large and lively paid union meeting this week to consider two pay offers from their managers. ...
    5 days ago
  • Perspective
    From an excellent New Yorker article about the exoplanet detected in Proxima Centauri: In the coming decades, we will discover exoplanets by the tens of thousands and will come to know them, from afar, in intimate detail. Yet the nearest ...
    DimPostBy danylmc
    5 days ago
  • Perspective
    From an excellent New Yorker article about the exoplanet detected in Proxima Centauri: In the coming decades, we will discover exoplanets by the tens of thousands and will come to know them, from afar, in intimate detail. Yet the nearest ...
    DimPostBy danylmc
    5 days ago

  • Disability sector is in a ‘slow burning crisis’
    Disability advocates say the sector is in crisis and broken, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says.  “A roundtable at Parliament organised by the Labour Party, heard today how National has left disability services chronically underfunded. ...
    11 hours ago
  • NZ fisheries depend on the environment – they should protect it
    The attitude of the fishing industry and the National Government to our oceans, and the life within it, still amazes me. Like many New Zealanders, I find it perplexing that an industry which depends entirely on the long-term health of ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    11 hours ago
  • Bigger is not always better with local government reform
    I have written previously about the overwhelming opposition expressed by local councils and community members to the latest Local Government reforms.  The Select Committee heard more submissions this week, specifically about some of the unintended consequences that may arise from ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    12 hours ago
  • Labour calls for state of emergency on homelessness
    Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is calling on the Government to declare a state of emergency over the nation’s homelessness crisis. “There are 42,000 people homeless and living in severe housing stress while the National Government behaves like a possum ...
    1 day ago
  • Labour calls for state of emergency on homelessness
    Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford is calling on the Government to declare a state of emergency over the nation’s homelessness crisis. “There are 42,000 people homeless and living in severe housing stress while the National Government behaves like a possum ...
    1 day ago
  • Government must review state sector retirement investment
    The State Sector Retirement Savings Scheme has no business investing in companies which manufacture cluster bombs, anti-personnel mines and nuclear weapons, Labour MP and Parliamentarians for Global Action executive member Su’a William Sio says. “I endorse the call made by the ...
    3 days ago
  • Councils shouldn’t rush into Easter Trading
    City and district councils must ensure they don’t rush into trading on Easter Sunday ahead of local body elections next month, Labour’s Pacific Islands Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio says. “This decision must be taken seriously and only after extensive ...
    3 days ago
  • Minister can’t wash hands of illegal KiwiSaver investments
    The Minister responsible for appointing default KiwiSaver providers should take responsibility for ensuring they act legally, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “The National Government has now had confirmed what they were told more than a week ago – that ...
    3 days ago
  • Fixing our broken economy
    Globally, the “neo-liberal” consensus is rapidly vanishing (I use quotation marks because there are some in Aotearoa who deny such a thing as neo-liberalism exists). Regardless of the debate around its meaning, neo-liberal is a useful descriptor for the general ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter
    3 days ago
  • Fixing our broken economy
    Globally, the “neo-liberal” consensus is rapidly vanishing (I use quotation marks because there are some in Aotearoa who deny such a thing as neo-liberalism exists). Regardless of the debate around its meaning, neo-liberal is a useful descriptor for the general ...
    GreensBy Julie Anne Genter
    3 days ago
  • Government railroading Maori Land Bill through
    Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell seems determined to railroad his Te Ture Whenua Maori Bill through despite the large number of submitters in opposition to the bill, says MP Meka Whaitiri, whose Ikaroa-Rāwhiti electorate contains nearly 30 per cent ...
    4 days ago
  • A national day to commemorate NZ land wars
    It’s fantastic that the government has agreed to a hold a national day commemorating the New Zealand land wars. Announced at Kingi Tūheitia’s 10th koroneihana celebrations, alongside the return of Rangiriri Pā to the Kingitanga, the news marked a significant ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    4 days ago
  • A national day to commemorate NZ land wars
    It’s fantastic that the government has agreed to a hold a national day commemorating the New Zealand land wars. Announced at Kingi Tūheitia’s 10th koroneihana celebrations, alongside the return of Rangiriri Pā to the Kingitanga, the news marked a significant ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    4 days ago
  • Government turns a blind eye to struggling sole parents
    Social Development Minister Anne Tolley’s claims that her Government’s work with sole parents is her biggest success are in tatters after a major increase in homelessness amongst that group, says Labour’s Social Development spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni. “Anne Tolley is seriously ...
    4 days ago
  • Time has come for state apology on abuse
    Labour is today calling on the Government to issue an apology for historic abuse in state institutions. Speaking after the launch of Elizabeth Stanley’s book “The Road to Hell; state violence against Children in Post-war New Zealand”, Labour’s Justice spokesperson ...
    4 days ago
  • It’s OK to have a few slaves, just not too many? Minimum wage loophole hasn’t gone away
    New Zealand still needs legislation to ensure adult New Zealanders are not exploited by being taken on as contractors for less than the equivalent of the minimum wage, says Labour list MP David Parker.  “My Minimum Wage (Contractor Remuneration) Amendment ...
    4 days ago
  • Lessons from the Future of Work Commission: Building Wealth from the Ground Up
    Good morning, and thank you for attending today’s Future of Work Seminar here in Wellington. I want to particularly acknowledge Beth Houston who has spent many hours pulling together the programme for today’s event, and to Olivier and the staff ...
    4 days ago
  • Cooking 4 Change at the Auckland City Mission
    On Tuesday evening I participated in the launch of the ‘Cooking 4 Change’ recipe book, which Metiria and I both contributed our favourite recipes to. Along with Dick Frizzell, Trelise Cooper, Tiki Taane, Erin Simpson, Jono & Ben, Colin Mathura-Jeffree, a couple ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    4 days ago
  • Cooking 4 Change at the Auckland City Mission
    On Tuesday evening I participated in the launch of the ‘Cooking 4 Change’ recipe book, which Metiria and I both contributed our favourite recipes to. Along with Dick Frizzell, Trelise Cooper, Tiki Taane, Erin Simpson, Jono & Ben, Colin Mathura-Jeffree, a couple ...
    GreensBy James Shaw
    4 days ago
  • Backbencher Matt’s Bill is a Doocey
    The latest National Member’s Bill pulled from the ballot is yet another waste of Parliament’s time and shows the Government’s contempt for the House and the public with much more important issues needing debate, says Labour’s Shadow Leader of the ...
    5 days ago
  • Gun laws creaking under the strain
     Questions have to be asked  after surprising revelations at the Law and Order Select Committee about the police and their ability to manage the gun problem in New Zealand, says Labour’s Police spokesperson Stuart Nash.  “The lack of resources is ...
    5 days ago
  • Most homeless are working poor – Otago Uni
    The finding by Otago University researcher Dr Kate Amore that most homeless people are in work or study is one of the most shocking aspects of the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Social service agencies report many ...
    5 days ago
  • Māori seats entrenched by Tirikatene Bill
    National and the Māori Party need to support my member’s Bill which is designed to entrench the Māori electorate seats in Parliament, Labour’s Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene says. “Under the Electoral Act the provisions establishing the general electorates ...
    5 days ago
  • Trade dumping bill could hurt NZ industries
    The Commerce Select Committee is currently hearing submissions on the Trade (Anti-dumping and Countervailing Duties) Amendment Bill. This bill worries me. I flagged some major concerns during its first reading.   I am now reading submissions from NZ Steel, ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    5 days ago
  • Just 8 per cent of work visas for skills shortages
    Just 16,000 – or 8 per cent – of the 209,000 work visas issued last year were for occupations for which there is an identified skills shortage, says Labour Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “The overwhelming majority of the record number ...
    5 days ago
  • Hard won agreement shouldn’t be thrown away
    The Government should ignore talk across the Tasman about doing away with the labelling of GM free products, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King. “Labelling of genetically modified products was a hard won agreement in 2001 by Australian and the ...
    5 days ago
  • National’s privatisation Trojan horse
     The National government is using the need to modernise the school system as a Trojan horse for privatisation and an end to free public education as we know it, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.  “There is no doubt that ...
    5 days ago
  • Shameless land-banking ads show need for crackdown
    The fact that more than 300 sections are shamelessly being advertised on Trade Me as land-banking opportunities during a housing crisis shows the need for a crackdown on property speculators, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. “Of the 328 ...
    6 days ago
  • Standard and Poor’s warning of housing crisis impact on banks
    The National Government’s failure to address the housing crisis is leading to dire warnings from ratings agency Standard and Poor’s about the impact on the strength of the economy and New Zealand banks, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Standard ...
    6 days ago
  • Ihumatao needs action not sympathy
    The Petition of Save Our Unique Landscape (SOUL) calling on Parliament to revoke Special Housing Area 62 in order to protect the Ihumatao Peninsula and Stonefields, has fallen on deaf ears, says the Labour MP for Mangere Su’a William Sio.  ...
    6 days ago
  • Another delay to justice system reform for victims of sexual violence
    I believe most, if not all, New Zealanders would expect our court system to uphold the dignity of complainants, hold perpetrators to account for crimes including sexual and domestic violence and uphold the crucial right to a fair trial. Yet ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    6 days ago
  • Another delay to justice system reform for victims of sexual violence
    I believe most, if not all, New Zealanders would expect our court system to uphold the dignity of complainants, hold perpetrators to account for crimes including sexual and domestic violence and uphold the crucial right to a fair trial. Yet ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    6 days ago
  • Student visa fraud & exploitation must stop
    The Government must act immediately to end fraud and exploitation of international students that threatens to damage New Zealand’s reputation, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. ...
    6 days ago
  • Government needs to show leadership in reviewing monetary policy
    The Reserve Bank’s struggles to meet its inflation target, the rising exchange rate and the continued housing crisis shows current monetary policy needs to be reviewed - with amendments to the policy targets agreement a bare minimum, says Labour’s Finance ...
    7 days ago
  • Local democracy under threat
    The National Government is in the process of gutting our local democracy through it’s Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). We’ve been hearing submissions from councils, and a few community members, all around the country who are deeply ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    7 days ago
  • Local democracy under threat
    The National Government is in the process of gutting our local democracy through it’s Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). We’ve been hearing submissions from councils, and a few community members, all around the country who are deeply ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    7 days ago
  • Slash and burn of special education support
    Slashing the support for school age children with special needs is no way to fund earlier intervention, Labour’s Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.  “National’s latest plan to slash funding for children with special needs over the age of 7 in ...
    1 week ago
  • National’s Pasifika MPs must have free vote
      Pacific people will not take kindly to the Government whipping their Pacific MPs to vote in favour of a  Bill that will allow Sunday trading  at Easter, says Labour’s Pacific Island Affairs spokesperson Su’a William Sio.  “We are seeing ...
    1 week ago
  • Maritime Crimes Bill – balancing security and free speech
    Parliament is currently considering the Maritime Crimes Amendment Bill, which would bring New Zealand up to date with current international rules about maritime security. The debate around the Bill reflects two valid issues: legitimate counter-terrorism measures and the right to ...
    GreensBy Kennedy Graham
    1 week ago
  • Rio Olympics captioning – setting the record straight
    In the House on Thursday, my colleague, Labour Party spokesperson on Disability Issues, Poto Williams asked a great question. After which the Minister, Nicky Wagner, stood up and finally publicly acknowledged the National Foundation for the Deaf for funding the ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    2 weeks ago
  • Rio Olympics captioning – setting the record straight
    In the House on Thursday, my colleague, Labour Party spokesperson on Disability Issues, Poto Williams asked a great question. After which the Minister, Nicky Wagner, stood up and finally publicly acknowledged the National Foundation for the Deaf for funding the ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    2 weeks ago
  • Teachers’ low wages at the centre of shortages
      Figures that show teachers’ wages have grown the slowest of all occupations is at the heart of the current teacher shortage, says Labour’s Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  In the latest Labour Cost Index, education professionals saw their wages grow ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government’s Tax Law undermines common law principles
    A tax amendment being snuck in under the radar allows changes to tax issues to be driven through by the Government without Parliamentary scrutiny, says Labour’s Revenue spokesman Stuart Nash. “The amendment allows any part of the Tax Administration Act ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government slippery about caption funding
      The Government has refused to apologise for taking the credit for funding Olympic Games captioning when the National Foundation for the Deaf  was responsible, says Labour’s spokesperson on Disability Issues Poto Williams.  “This shameful act of grandstanding by Ministers ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Default KiwiSaver investments should be reviewed
    The investments of the default KiwiSaver providers should be reviewed to make sure they are in line with New Zealanders’ values and expectations, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Most New Zealanders would be appalled that their KiwiSaver funds are ...
    2 weeks ago
  • New ministry should look after all children
    The Government has today shunned well founded pleas by experts not to call its new agency the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Labour’s Spokesperson for Children Jacinda Ardern says.  “Well respected organisations and individuals such as Children's Commissioner Judge Andrew Becroft ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Triclosan – nasty chemical will be reassessed
    Last week my campaign for this chemical to be reassessed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) took another step forward. After many months of waiting, the EPA have agreed that triclosan needs to be reassessed. Triclosan is an ingredient in many ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Triclosan – nasty chemical will be reassessed
    Last week my campaign for this chemical to be reassessed by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) took another step forward. After many months of waiting, the EPA have agreed that triclosan needs to be reassessed. Triclosan is an ingredient in many ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    2 weeks ago
  • Ratification okay but we need action
    Today’s decision to ratify the Paris agreement on Climate Change by the end of the year is all well and good but where is the plan, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods.  “The Government’s failure to plan is planning ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Stats changes can’t hide unemployment reality
    Today’s minor drop in unemployment numbers is nothing to celebrate given the changes made to the official numbers that cut thousands of people looking for work out of the jobless rate, says Labour’s Employment spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Making any comparisons ...
    2 weeks ago

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