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Skinheads in Suits

Written By: - Date published: 2:03 pm, April 14th, 2011 - 53 comments
Categories: economy, making shit up, Media, Politics, radio - Tags: , , ,

They do not know what guilt, responsibility, or consideration are, these born organizers: they exemplify that terrible artists’ egoism that has the look of bronze and knows itself justified to all eternity in its “work,” like a mother in her child. - Friedrich Nietzsche

I’ve been goaded to write this post by a couple of Jim Mora panels last week, which created a stronger than usual temptation to throw the radio out the window.

On Tuesday 5 April a collection of middle-class white liberals (as it seems) end up in apparent agreement that the problem of crime in New Zealand will likely result in a physical isolation of the “underclass,” along with criminal sentences, jailing rates and generally stepped-up policing on a par with the USA.

Even if crime statistics were fluctuating, nonetheless it was an inevitability that we would go down this path for society was becoming harsher and more Darwinistic.

And that’s all there was too it, sorry folks: as a parting shot from one of the participants had it, “if you look at the United States, you see New Zealand in twenty years’ time.”

Of course in Auckland, “underclass” is dog-whistle for Maori. So what the Panel were really talking about was a form of Apartheid and the return of the Armed Constabulary to fight the Maori all the way up and down the Great South Road.

How could such atavistic nonsense pass for informed discussion these days, even in dog-whistle terms?

The answer is that we’ve been conditioned to it by a generation in which hardly anybody on the right has employed the slightest restraint in discussing economic matters. A certain ruthlessness in this area is catching, and metastasises to other areas of politics.

April 5 Panel part 1

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April 5 Panel part 2

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As if to confirm this point about economics, I was forced to listen on Friday 8 April to a ‘fair and balanced’ panel pitting Michelle Boag and the arch-Rogernome Roderick Deane, against token lefty Brian Edwards.

Edwards disarmingly confessed in his delightful brogue to being an “really financially illiterate.” In fact Edwards had really been wheeled on for a debate on broadcasting in the second half of the hour.

Which cleared the field, in the first half, for Deane to claim that record economic growth from 1987 or thereabouts through to the year 2000 set New Zealand up for prosperity, to scapegoat the domestically-funded public sector as a constraint on foreign lenders’ willingness to lend into NZ (technically true, but what are all the borrowings for?), to suggest that it all turned to custard after Helen Clark got in, and to peddle a few other choice lines, which Edwards and Mora actually bought into.

A transcript of part of the 8 April interview follows (any mistakes in transcription are, of course, mine). Some of the more interesting claims are highlighted in bold. There’s more, but I can’t be bothered transcribing the whole thing:

April 8 Panel part 1

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April 5 Panel part 2

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MORA: “So you’d prune the public service just as was done in the 1980s, you’d do that again?”

DEANE: “Um, unquestionably, I would do that again, yes, because that, at the end of the day that’s the only option if we’re going to bail ourselves out, other than that we’re going to end up with somebody else forcing solutions upon us, I’m afraid. I mean, our overseas debt as a proportion of our national income is now at the same sort of level as experienced by Portugal, Greece, Spain and Ireland just before they became cot cases, so we’re right, we’re the next cab off the rank in that respect. And, you know, we’ve got our destiny in our own hands. We should slow the growth of the government sector and allow more space for the private sector, reduce the regulatory burden, let people get on with the job, that’s what’s gonna produce the productivity growth. That’s what, we were one of the fastest-growing economies in the Western World from the late 80s through to, erm, the early 2000s, and that was off the back of really good monetary and economic, monetary and fiscal policies, we had a big fiscal surplus, ah, by the end of that period, ah, we’d got our overseas debt down, the government overseas debt was, ah, paid off completely, and that allowed space for the, um, private sector to really grow.”

MORA: “And yet someone like Brian Gould, of course, will say, ah, that that’s all very well, but since then we’ve had a gradual decline, we’ve gone rung by rung down the ladder of prosperity, and real incomes have declined, and people are actually not that much better off for all the reforms we’ve been through.

DEANE: “They’re not, they’re not better off in the last few years, but they were a few years ago, I mean if you go back to the mid-2000s they’re immeasurably better off than they had been twenty years ago, or even ten years before that….

. . . . .

DEANE: “… I mean I was Chairman for many years of Fletchers. To construct a building it would take us invariably longer to get the regulatory approvals than it would to build the building. So that was just completely out of hand. And that, everything just operates more slowly, and less effectively.”

EDWARDS: “But to come back to…”

DEANE: “To overcome that, from the, through the late 1980s, late 1980s through to 2000, the amount of deregulation, it really allowed people to get on with the job much more rapidly.”

EDWARDS: “To come back to Jim’s question, if there are too many of those people [in the public service] and they’re all talking to one another all the time and not producing very much, you’ve got to get rid of them, haven’t you?

DEANE: “Yes, yes, and then, um, you have to do that in a sort of sensible and reasonable way, such that as, as the private sector grows more rapidly they get absorbed into the private sector. “

MORA: “OK so that’s the theory…”

DEANE: “That’s what, what in fact we’ve been through that period in the past and proven that it can be done.”

MORA: “Getting rid of the 10,000 people, to a layperson, doesn’t sound enough to do the job, even if you did that.”

DEANE: “Of course not. No, it’s not about, it’s not about getting rid of the people, it’s about just doing things more effectively and more quickly. And that’s, the Government says that that is its wish, but, ah, most people in the private sector would argue that they’re just not doing that rapidly enough.”

EDWARDS: “There’s an issue here, isn’t there, also of what’s got to be acceptable to people. Rightly or wrongly, the most unpopular period, probably, in our history recently would have been the Rogernomics period, 1987 on. People didn’t like it. And they didn’t think it worked.”

DEANE: “Well, we got, we got huge benefits from it right through the 1990s and into the mid-2000s.

MORA: “Do you think…?”

DEANE: “That, that was the basis on which we had, we had the fastest rate of economic growth through that period that we’d had for very many decades.”

EDWARDS: “And did those huge benefits as was, as they were meant to do in fact, trickle down to other people?”

DEANE: “Well, it did in the sense that, ah, unemployment fell dramatically throughout that period.”

MORA: “Time magazine said that…”

DEANE: “We deny that now, but we don’t look at the facts of the matter.”

What’s wrong with this?

Lots.

  • How many times does it have to be reiterated that a significant wage gap with Australia didn’t appear until after 1984?
  • Or that the Rogernomic era was an era of high unemployment and recession?
  • Or that prior to the 1990s our houses, on the whole, did not leak?

Perhaps if another Brian—surname Easton—had been on the panel instead of Edwards, Rod might not have been able to get away with what amounted, basically, to making shit up.

Boag savaged Len Brown’s rail schemes as “totally cloud cuckoo land,” an obvious financial impossibility peddled by an unprincipled demagogue to an even easily-led electorate.

Well, ah, again, I’m afraid not. If Aucklanders have voted for the considerable mass of taxes raised in that city—including their petrol taxes—to be spent on rail, rather than on Roads of National Significance, then maybe their will should be respected.

You know, democracy and all that? No taxation without representation? That was a cry which really meant local tax powers, because representation gets watered down with distance, especially on local matters.

(Sorry if this sounds like men-in-tights Enlightenment stuff, Michelle. But it meant something in those days at least.)

Maybe Edwards gave a better account of himself when the topic shifted to broadcasting. But by then I had switched off, lest I throw the radio out the window.

Part of the problem is the format of Mora’s panel, in which three pundits discuss three topics. Mora tries to match one pundit to each topic. But the same format means that It’s rare to get a real expert discussion. Usually the discussion on any topic is dominated by whoever seems to know most about the topic.

But these two Panels also pointed to the worrying connections between right wing economic extremism and right wing extremism—indeed, all extremism—of every other kind.

A Savage Few

For there is a connection between the offensive messages of the two Panels, even though one was about economics and the other about crime.

As Karl Polanyi suggested in his Great Transformation, the problem is that the language of laissez-faire liberalism seethes with a hidden, Malthusian violence. Language like:

Language like:

  • There is No Alternative
  • Politics as War
  • Producers versus Parasites / Too many Useless Mouths

These three bullet points can, with only the slightest twist, be adapted to the cause of a Bolshevik or a Nazi, or any other kind of violent radical or terrorist.

It can be similarly adapted to the cause of ethnic cleansing, Apartheid and military-style policing against indigenous minorities by a settler state. The extreme insecurity and dispossession bred by laissez-faire, in turn, intensifies the problem.

Often both sides in an escalating conflict will use the same language, each against the other. For the radicalised right the useless mouths are the unemployed, for the radicalised left the bankers.

Ultimately, this spiral is an expression of what the American jurist Learned Hand called ”the ruthless and unbridled will,”which is actually the enemy of freedom; it is really the ‘liberty of the strong’:

“And what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will… A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few…”

The skinheads on the street acquire their mental habits, their idea of what constitutes the acceptable limits of rhetoric, from laissez-faire liberals; who are skinheads in suits.

The Congenital Bloodstain

The roots of all this violence lie in the fact that the issue is, fundamentally, about land, the possession of which is, as Marx said, born with a “congenital bloodstain.” Maori and Pakaha alike know all about this, or should do.

As we all know, laissez-faire liberalism as a political crusade is something quite dark and aggressive. It did not really begin with the sunny, humane optimism of Adam Smith, even though the claim is often made.

It actually began with the writings of the Reverend Malthus and his friend David Ricardo in the late 1790s and the Napoleonic era; authors who were writing in reaction to the French Revolution, as the full title of Malthus’s essay reveals: An Essay On the Principle of Population, As It Affects the Future Improvement of Society with remarks on the Speculations of Mr. Godwin, M. Concordet, and other writers.

Malthus and Ricardo argued that improvement of the conditions of the working class, generally at the expense of the landowner, would cause the workers to breed to the point where once more the landowner faced a seller’s market for the fruits of the land. Malthus focused on population, Ricardo on its economic implications.

As a corollary, the industrial capitalist would also be bankrupted by rising food prices, striking workers and land speculation. For a while the Malthus/Ricardo thesis led economics to become known as the ‘dismal science’.

But then some radicals, and radical liberals like James Mill and his son John Stuart, began to suggest taxing these landowners who made capital gains, “as it were, in their sleep” (JSM, Principles of Political Economy), so as to relieve the burden on workers and industrialists.

Ironically, these critics made use of the analysis of Ricardo, and so they came to be known as the ‘Ricardians’ even though they were by now on the opposite political side. Sure it’s the landowners vs. the workers; we just happen to side with the workers!

And in practice also—since we are talking about a fairly broad radical church rather than a strictly Marxist one—the critics would side with the industrial capitalists, at least when it was industrialist versus landowner.

More technically, the Ricardian critique zeroed in on a fatal flaw in the case for laissez-faire, the issue of ‘economic rent’.

The origins of economic rent lie in the landowner’s rent, though economic rent is more general in its significance. Rent in the economists’ sense is the component of private income that can be taxed away without affecting private productive output.

Land is the first and best case of economic rent; obviously, 100% of a speculator’s capital gains could be taxed away without affecting nature’s bounty and the distribution of continents. But the same could also be said for most forms of mortgage interest, especially if it is raised against land.

With other forms of income it’s a sliding scale of rent versus reward for useful effort, depending on how monopolistic they are. Most of the practical controversies of capitalism, such as controversies around intellectual property and copyright, all revolve around this issue. Does a given proposal lock in reward for the efforts of struggling creative types? Or just more rent for fat-cat corporations and their gravy-train lawyers?

From the 1830s, a second wave of reactionaries began to challenge the rent critique. But this time it was not so much in fully reasoned terms, because the idea of rent actually dated back to Ricardo himself!

Instead it was done by means of a less fully reasoned and more polemical approach, which tried to make property rights, above all those invested in land, absolute and beyond criticism on various hand-waving grounds, of which a hardy perennial was that land reformers were really Communists in disguise.

By the 1840s, so radical were the laissez-faire liberals in their opposition to giving an inch on the land question (lest reformers take a mile) that they notoriously opposed doing anything about the Irish potato famine, on the grounds of interference with the rights of private property and the self-levelling market.

Eventually the government relented and did something, but it was too late for those who had starved in the interim. The laissez-faire liberals should have been drummed out of respectable politics at this point like the Nazis a hundred years later. But they weren’t.

Indeed, the advent of Darwin a couple of generations later would give their cause another shot in the arm as ‘social Darwinism’, the law of the jungle applied to civil society. But even here we find self-subverting tendencies in the rationalisation of laissez-faire.

For as Darwin observed, in nature all kinds of symbiosis and cooperation can be found. Selection can favour groups as much as individuals, and groups can reshape their environments. Every organism big enough to be seen by the naked eye is, itself, a collection of smaller individual cells that at some point in the past somehow came to cooperate, as opposed to the deregulation that leads to cancer.

The social insects show that cooperation doesn’t stop there. For the Nazis, this cooperative message was warped into a predatory hive mentality. Other social Darwinists simply weren’t interested in that kind of Gaian hippyshit at all.

What’s the alternative? The answer is that in theory and in practice, a radical (or Millian) liberal will tolerate a fairly large dose of ‘social market’ policy where rents are concerned. The social market refers to an economy in which the state is the main provider of land, mortgages, electric power, and so on.

The state may charge a fair price for all of these in order to ration the resource, but the object is not to gouge the citizen and ship the money to a private bank account!

Instead, the pure rent component of all of these government charges becomes a form of taxation, enabling taxes on productive effort to be lowered: tax reform centre-left style.

Obfuscation of the rent issue is the whole basis of laissez-faire liberalism, from the time of the Potato Famine to the present day. Later developments such as the denial of climate change and peak oil (lest they lead to planning) are only variations on the obfuscation of rent.

As an aspect of this general obfuscation, the laissez-faire liberal also invariably equates market forces with privatisation, as if the choice lay between privatisation and the relative impracticality of doing without markets altogether. The social market is simply not mentioned.

Most people figure out sooner or later that laissez-faire liberalism is about the rent question and that all its ‘you-must-be-a-Commie’ polemics, and omissions of real alternatives, are directed to that end.

As Situations Vacant puts it very pithily and correctly, “privatisation is not about economic efficiency, it’s about the extraction of monopoly rent.” In short, the liberty of the strong, a savage few, to exploit the weak on the grounds that it’s the law of the jungle.

For anyone with a good knowledge of the history of ideas, the cause of laissez-faire is steeped in general intellectual disreputability, in the black dye of Malthusian reaction, through-and-through. Even F. A. Hayek said he wasn’t alaissez-faire liberal; though it goes without saying that most of his followers are.

Repressive Tolerance

We are under a duty to put this understanding into practice. Laissez-faire liberalism today must not be confused with the well-meaning doctrines of Adam Smith two hundred-plus years ago, before Malthus.

It must outed as a violent reactionary doctrine, that leads in an unbroken line from Malthus through the Potato Famine and social Darwinism to the horrors of the twentieth century.

It must be opposed by all people of conscience lest it lead to worse horrors in the 21st, which is potentially shaping up to be a very Malthusian century indeed.

Failure to do so is to practice what Herbert Marcuse called ‘repressive tolerance’; to tolerate the forces that will eventually lead to repression. It’s just another way of saying that for evil to triumph the good need only do nothing. The bayonet is always thrust in further and further, till it strikes steel.

It is exactly wrong to imagine that the true spirit of liberty is passive in the sense implied by the laissez-faire ‘nightwatchman state’. It is active and engaged. Yet at the same time it is a spirit “which is not too sure it is right.”

Active engagement in peddling their own ideas, with dogmatic effect, has never been a problem for LFLs. But it seems to be harder for moderates to sustain opposition to dogma.

Against fanatics, against ‘hired prize fighters’ who treat politics as war, the genuine liberal so often goes “ooh ah um well maybe you’re right.” It’s the same with poor old Brian Edwards and Jim Mora trying to inject a note of balance against Deane and Boag’s look of bronze.

The duty to oppose (more effectively) exists even now, because when the present belongs to laissez-faire, bad enough as it is, tomorrow may belong to revived Nazis and Bolsheviks who adapt the rhetoric of the unbridled will to their own ends.

Or it may belong to a theocracy with its roots in the sustained denial of reality. For all such habits of mind are catching.

If you go back far enough or dig deep enough, the attempt of a savage few to crudely dispossess a weaker group of the fruits of the land by actual or institutional violence is the common leitmotiv of all such atavisms.

Why is it so difficult for modern social democrats to oppose the savage few, whose arguments are often so uneasily unmasked as resting on a firm foundation of making shit up, or peddling stuff that someone else has made up? Do they no longer believe in progress?

ChrisH

53 comments on “Skinheads in Suits”

  1. Samuel Hill 1

    Argentina’s Economic Collapse

    I would advise anyone who hasn’t seen it to watch this documentary.

    There are obvious similarities between the Argentinean Collapse and what is going on in New Zealand. The fact of the matter is that we will have to face our debt at some point. We are not a military or economic powerhouse. The only way we will not see poverty and chaos in New Zealand is for the citizens to band together.

    • vto 1.1

      “The fact of the matter is that we will have to face our debt at some point”

      Bullshit we will. We will simply tell the money printers to get fucked and that we will pay it back, at near zip interest, when we can fit it in. Which will certainly be after everything else is put right.

      And then we will never use debt again.

      • vto 1.1.1

        And also Samuel Hill it aint “our debt” anyway. It is the national government’s debt. And the labour govt’s before that.
        It aint mine. I completely and utterly resent that both the national party and the labour party can put the government into debt and the government can then, by force of its jackboots, pull the hairs from my arse.

        • Samuel Hill 1.1.1.1

          I agree with your sentiments, vto. The debt is indeed very odious. But the fact remains that most people will not rebel against the system. I hope they do rebel. But I dare say that our little country is nothing but a pawn in the international system, and nothing has changed my mind to stop believing that on our current path, a great majority of New Zealanders will simply sit back and listen to the lies and rhetoric of National while we see our nation become a holiday playground for the rich, with zero middle class and dominated by a rich land owning minority and corporate shareholders.

          Our government is pushing through legislation which gives more rights to foreign corporations and less to workers and citizens. We are now seeing the beginning of a process where private debt is being put in ‘public’ hands. All this SCF, MediaWorks, Petrobras, Fonterra, AMI stuff is connected. Our taxes are going to pay for private interests to be served.

          • vto 1.1.1.1.1

            Yes, well it would be good to see someone in a government somewhere in the world who will stand up to these goons and simply say “No, we will repay when we can. You will just have to wait. It is a loan after all with a risk of repayment difficulties – and that is just what you got.”

            I imagine it would lead to a domino effect as the people across the western world cottoned on a-la middle east style protest.

            • Samuel Hill 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Unfortunately, someone has to remove the politicians and bankers from power. They won’t just leave their desks. Whilst they have the armed forces in their control, we are subject to democratic rule. Unless..

        • Dan 1.1.1.2

          It is your debt, you voted for them (presumably one of them), and if you didn’t vote then you’re just as culpable for not taking a stand.  It doesn’t matter who wins, ‘we’ the people voted and choose them to run the country, and we have to own our shit and take responsibility for it.  We don’t have to like it, but lets not deny we are the arbiters of our own destiny in this regard.

          • Samuel Hill 1.1.1.2.1

            I wasn’t even born when neo-liberalism swept our shores. I cast disdain at the short-sighted generation that lied down and allowed it to happen. Now they sit in comfort, expecting future generations to pay off their debt while we are struggling to afford to live. Fuck that for a joke. Its not my debt. Even my student loan, stick that up your arse. I’ll start owning my shit when somebody gives me some land.

            • Dan 1.1.1.2.1.1

              Yes, but assuming that you do vote you’re still voting to keep the inheritors of that economic legacy in power.
              As for a generation living in comfort, that’s painting with a pretty broad brush.  Sure, some came out on top but there are plenty who have had their savings wipped out and who will be looking at a bleak retirement.
              As for your personal attitude, good luck with that.  Maybe you will get lucky and have everything handed to you on a plate, but I doubt it.

  2. This is an excellent post and I’m almost sorry to seize on the one part I take the most issue on, though I’m sure others will be along in due course to discuss other bits.

    Of course in Auckland, “underclass” is dog-whistle for Maori. So what the Panel were really talking about was a form of Apartheid and the return of the Armed Constabulary to fight the Maori all the way up and down the Great South Road.

    The undoubted disparity in Maori representation in any number of indicators – especially arrest and incarceration – must not blind us to the fact that there are other groups who find themselves pitted against the might of the State, usually personified by the police and the courts.

    I think you’ll find Pasifika people who feel they don’t exactly get a fair deal, especially from the “justice” system, for instance.

    But it’s not particularly racial. Some are even middle class, middle aged white males who happen to hold views differing from the prevailing paradigm, and who are given to expressing those views.
    Portraying this as a racial issue rather than one of class (and even that is a clumsy delineator, which is why I speak of elites v non-elites) occludes the real picture, which is that those who don’t “fit” are silenced, by whatever means necessary.

    Similarly, the fix isn’t some sort of racial sensitivity training for coppers. It’s a fundamental shift, starting with getting through to talkbackland that the streets are not teeming with violent criminals, and that therefore one political party or another do not hold the key (the key, inevitably, to an overcrowded prison cell).

    • ChrisH 2.1

      Quite right Rex, appreciate it. I could at least as easily have said “Maori & PI” though I think the real seething redneck sub-hatred that I’m starting to detect is aimed at Maori first off. Middle class Honest-to-God white liberals like you and me I guess are alienated too of course (as opposed to pseudo-liberals who seem to have taken some pill that makes them uncritical of the USA and the finance markets). And in a wider sense the 1% are pitted against the other 99%, if the latter would just realise it. So it’s an onion, just some of us are focusing on different layers.

  3. deemac 3

    I have complained frequently about the makeup of Mora’s panels. Boag and Steven Fanks are regulars along with assorted old fogeys. He responded that the panels are balanced, which is bollocks. Too often they sound like the old men down the pub whining about society today.
    Maybe if more people emailed him, something would be done; it’s afternoons@radionz.co.nz

    • Carol 3.1

      Linda Clark has just made a good point about Flat Earth News, which she has recently read for a (uni?) research project.  She & the other panelist talked about the commercial pressures on getting a story out before the competition, these days, which emans facts are not verified before a story goes out, especially online.  Clark is wondering about how to give the press a requirement for some”:duty of care” with their stories.

      • ianmac 3.1.1

        Yes Carol. Many know that the  credibility of news items is dodgy. Its what to do about it that is hard. Too few journalists. The fronting journalists seem to be infected with delivering the spectacular but really the devil is in the detail.
        Re the Aussie gap, I remember Brian Easton demonstrating that the gap suddenly emerged with Douglas’s help and with the assurance that the pain would pay off, in due course. Brian showed using a variety of measures that the gap just kept growing through the 90′. I believe that there was a flattening during the 2000s but now the gap is increasing.
        Wonder if Brian E could be persuaded to write here? (Waste of time with Mora.)

  4. ianmac 4

    Bullying. On Mora today the guest speaker was Christine O’Brian Principal of St Thomas’s a 500 boys school. She is credited with a non-bully school. She does call for a distinction between bullying and assault. The whole school runs on Restorative Justice.

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  5. David 5

    Thanks for listening and reposting on our behalf once again, Chris. 

    Not to disagree with Part 2 of this post, I tend to think that overall you had two columns here not 1. Part 1 on its own to me is exactly the kind of ‘REALLY???’ critique these critters need: and that, it seems, they are particularly susceptible to.

    So, we need to line up the actual comparators just one more time: unemployment 1984-2010, public debt levels 84-2010, real growth vis population in the public service, real incomes by decile 1984-2010, listing the deregulatory and privatisation and supply side market solutions and failures one more time, and showing how and why they happened…  

    Its the layered smugness of Deane and Boag- along with the laziness, unexamined ideological response and complacent lying in what they clearly imagine is the public good that goes with it, selective, self indulgent memory of former glories———-  that demands this sort of response, even if it doesnt deserve it.  

    It’s especially dangerous right now. Recounters of neoliberal history in this crisis aftermath are clearly cashing in on public shock: a kiwi public vulnerable yet again to pop misrepresentation arguing for more neolib radicalism, slashing and austerity. But you have got to hope, dont you, that maybe that increases some folks appetite for some sober truth about what past razors really did and didnt achieve.

    • lprent 5.1

      That was what I thought as well. But I couldn’t find a place to suggest a split, and decided that it was a unitary piece

    • ChrisH 5.2

      Ta, yes, Lprent & I discussed whether to split or not. As for “reposting on our behalf” I did joke that I’d probably saved quite a few others the effort !

  6. great piece Chris
    the panel has become an absolute disgrace to RNZ as a Public Broadcaster
    most days the panel is really just redneck Talkback and National Party apologists

  7. Andrew R 7

    Yeah the level of ignorance is very very high on that programme. Save it is not such an insult to intelligence when that Irish woman (forgotten her name for the moment) is running it.

  8. gnomic 8

    Jim’s an airhead. He should stick with his infomercial stuff on TV. And I’m afraid Noelle McCarthy is also an airhead, though somewhat more pleasing to the ear provided she doesn’t start gabbling at ninety miles an hour. Jim I find unlistenable with that weird combination of obsequiety and bafflement and that tinny timbre. Part of the problem is having semi-celebrities in positions where some gravitas would be desirable. Jim of course got the job as part of the process of the dumbification of NatRad (aka the quest for market share). Anyone for a ‘Bring Back Wayne Mowat’ campaign? Now there was a radio voice.
    I mean, Twitter? Somebody please tell me this is a transitory epiphenomenon with no bearing on reality. Get it off my airwaves. Right now please.
    The great Rod Deane. Is this the man who given his head at a major corporation achieved a huge loss by boldly thrusting into Australia? And whose protege Gattung became famous for confessing that Telecom’s marketing schemes were devised to confuse the punters? Nice tight buns though apparently, biographer Bassett thinks he’s hot.
    “Telecom NZ has made a massive strategic mistake trying to merge an incumbent in New Zealand with a challenger in Australia. AAPT in 2000 was extremely successful but all the top people left and since then there has been reorganisation after reorganisation.”
    Agh Boag. What can one say? Perhaps Cactus Kate has said it already.

    ‘In summary I am a firm and erect believer that a National Party leader needs gonorrhea more than he needs a new or old Michelle Boag. Gonorrhea, as horrible as it looks on the internet, at least seems to have a cure. There is simply no cure for Michelle Boag.
    Boag’s history in politics is legendary and she has had one of the most colourful PR and political careers known in both “professions”. Unfortunately it is possibly not best practice in the PR profession to be in the paper more than your clients. And it is definitely not best practice in politics unless you are David P. Farrar to have a higher profile than the leader of the Party that you work for or belong to.’

     
     

    • ChrisH 8.1

      Jim Mora first came to my attention a few years ago when he was hosting “Jim’s music” in the afternoons. I used to listen to it when out on the road as part of my job. This was mostly stuff he’d been keen on when he was a Young Fogey as I recall, generally syrupy crooners from the 1950s even though he’s not that old. I came to dread going out on the road in the afternoons as a result. It’s personal !

      • Jim Nald 8.1.1

        I find that a CD player in the car provides a better option than RNZ in the afternoons when I’m driving. Jim Mora has recently been trying very hard to put it beyond doubt that he has been promoted beyond his abilities.

    • prism 8.2

      gnomic    You probably know that the nice sound of Wayne Mowat voice and music, can be heard late at night when he plays  past years music.   And Noelle McCarthy sounds like an actress putting on an Irish accent, over the top.   Is she actually Irish?  Jim Mora has been in radio from early days apparently.  I heard him mentioned recently – could have been on Jim Henderson’s past years show on Sunday night.

    • ross 8.3

      Yes! Jim Mora is awful. I remember when he was the moralising narrator for an NZ cop-style TV show which mostly focussed on busting unemployed rural north island maori families that were growing a bit of dope, probably just to put food on the table.
      He’s ruined RNZ afternoons for me and many others. He’s smug, boring and surreptitiously right-wing. Having Wayne Mowatt back would be terrific.
       
       

  9. Key selling off NZ 9

    National can go to hell. Key needs to leave.

  10. prism 10

    Yeah, at the end of the day, it’s inefficient to rearrange or even question one’s long-held beliefs which serve one well.  Rod Deane and Michelle Boag (who makes firm statements in a ringing voice – along the above lines), are not very interested in others and whether the status quo of society fits all of them.  Brian Edwards is another person like John Key with a high profile who had a ‘rather ordinary’ childhood.  I think he too was brought up by his Mum.  Brian seems politically ambivalent, leftish but with a right wing bias, so he can’t seem to drive straight.  I think of them as The Smug. The result of all this disdain from The Smug is that if ‘other’ people can’t fit, or be content with just existing in their niche in society, too bad, no change will be made except for criticism and tighter control.  Problem solving and creative thinking to advance others are required but we won’t get it from The Smug.

    Listening for the usual short time I allocate to Jim Mora recently,  I was amazed at Linda Clark’s supporting  the right of women in France to wear burqas.  (These are full body tents with a grill at the face.)   (Other coverings not extreme are the hijab, a headscarf and neck covering, also shayla or Al-amira which are two-piece head covering with the face showing.  There are others more enveloping, up to the burqa full body and head.) See link -  http://www.apologeticsindex.org/505-muslim-veils-hijab-burqa

    I couldn’t believe this view from a woman who has had a prominent well-paid position which she achieved using determination and ability in a New Zealand that was once heavily male-dominated.  She blithely over-rode the achievements of feminists who have sacrificed their time, money and relationships to gain better opportunities for women, and to be treated as equals.  She ought to understand the amount of energy and disharmony at least, that is caused when women try to raise themselves from dependence and an inferior standing in a male society.
    Wearing such an obliterating garment as a burqa by women has been done as a mark of real fear and resignation. I think that now there is a sort of spurious glamour and mystique about it found amongst some women.  It indicates how pure and holy they are and makes them feel special.  But these attitudes reveal ignorance of the real sufferings of older women and the burqa is an outward mark of those.  For an understanding of the punitive and capricious male attitudes to women and their right to be free people can read Souad’s story – Burned Alive, by Souad. Probably at your near library.
    Burned Alive is the horrific true story of one womans escape from a honour killing inflicted upon her by members of her own family. My name is Sou…, Go to google search – burned alive souad book review

    • Carol 10.1

      Actually, I think you will find that many feminists support a woman’s right to wear a burqa if she so chooses.

    • ChrisH 10.2

      The Smug. I like it. A serious point, but also sounds like a grey Smog smothering everything.

  11. prism 11

    Well such feminists are confused about the contrast between freedom and rights and the carrying on of backward cultural practices.  I suppose you will tell me that feminists support genital mutilation for girls if their mothers want it and it is an accepted cultural practice in their society.   There has to be a philosophy of life and respect for others that is greater than what one group of feminists would  allow. God may be feminine but she isn’t necessarily going to annoint feminists as her peerless priests on earth.

    • Carol 11.1

      I think there’s a big difference between genital mutilation & wearing a burqa.  Recently I saw a debate between a Muslim woman and man (on “Frost Over the World”, I think?) in which the British woman, wearing a headscarf, supported the rights of women who choose to wear a burqa and not to be told by the state whether to wear it or not.  The guy (an Imman, I think) argued that there was nothing in the Koran saying women should wear a full face covering, and that such practices pre-dated Islam.  However, it was interesting the way the guy talked over the woman and kept trying to dictate to her what she should believe.
       
      Also, I have heard many Muslim women who defend the burqa, say that it allows a woman to feel free of male stares & feel more comfortable in public.
       
      But anyway, see the debates on the handmirror on the issue, here,
       
      where stargazer says:

      for some women, the burqa is about not being on show, not being available for public consumption as a sex object. i know most people disagree with the burqa as a solution to that particular problem, which is fine, but that’s how burqa-wearing women want to deal with it.

      and here, in which Julie says:

      Personally I don’t see how controlling the way women dress, even if it is apparently intended to liberate them, is a Good Thing. And I saw a comment somewhere (I think on Boganette’s twitter feed but not from her?) pointing out that stopping women from covering their faces in public is going to further restrict those affected, by requiring them to stay out of public spaces. Which will in turn severely undermine their ability to participate in society. To give just one example, how will they get to a polling booth to vote?

      I have seen other comments in a similar vein on feminist web sites.
       

      • Whiskers 11.1.1

        Woman would mainly wear the burqa because their husbands expect them too, because their husband’s mother had and grandmother had and same goes for the wife, her mother had and grandmother etc….
        So basically it is a part of their culture and is ingrained in their psyche.
        To keep the full face ‘burqa’ men and woman would claim that it is for religious purposes, even though this ‘rule’ apparently is not in the Koran, but being a “good” faithful wife would probably play an important role in the Koran! So therefore wearing a burqa can be passed off as “religious” because being a “good” faithful wife and promising faithfulness and obedience to the husband would be a very important part in the Koran.
        So if the husband expects his wife to wear a burqa then it could be passed off as a religious tradition (being a “good” wife etc.).

        What bothers me about the french government is they have no right to tell people what to wear, whether it is for religious purposes or not, if it has been traditional for a long time to where a “burqa’ then some “understanding” should be in place.
        Is it okay for the white man to tell a Muslim woman what to wear when the white man is subjectively viewing this dilemma from his perspective only?

        Yeah I know they (the French Government) would say it “suppresses” woman and they are helping them, as the ‘white folk’ may be a little more evolved with their understanding of equal rights and are doing a good thing helping these woman.
        But that doesn’t mean the ‘white folk’ should be allowed to butt their noses in to other cultures and implement new laws that they believe to be right, to a completely different ethnicity!

        It’s like the Muslims telling the French people to stop wearing certain items of clothing that are traditional wear- like a suit.
        You can’t just go around telling people what they can and can’t wear. Even if Muslim woman are being suppressed let them sort that out for themselves.
        Let the Muslim woman make their own decisions, white woman may have evolved quickly in the past 100 years. The Muslim woman may take a little longer, but they will get there, they will, it may take a little longer but they will- fight for equal rights eventually, and they don’t need ‘pokey white folk’ telling them what to do in this supposedly ‘free’ world.
        And as a strong opinionated white woman myself I actually like veils, not the full-face veils, but I like how Muslim woman where scarfs over their heads, I think it looks gorgeous and feminine.

        • prism 11.1.1.1

          Whiskers – It’s like the Muslims telling the French people to stop wearing certain items of clothing that are traditional wear- like a suit.
          It isn’t.   And governments do have a right to set standards of dress on behalf of all of us.  It stops mad streakers from rushing out and frightening the horses for one!  And the comment is about burqas which are full body tents and niqabs which cover the face, not headgear like scarves and others which leave the face open.
          From Wikipedia – .. “Act prohibiting concealment of the face in public space”) is an act of parliament passed by the Senate of France on 14 September 2010, resulting in the ban on the wearing of face-covering headgear, including masks, helmets, balaclava, niqābs and other veils covering the face in public places, except under specified circumstances.[1] The ban also applies to the burqa, a full-body covering, if it covers the face.
          Another link with illustrations – http://www.france24.com/en/20110411-france-bans-muslim-full-face-veil-0

          • Whiskers 11.1.1.1.1

            Just read your Wikipedia reference.
             
            In ‘reality’ the French government wanted to get rid of the ‘burqa’ that is what it comes down too. All the other nonsense added on is ridiculous. So you cannot conceal your face in a public place, what about sunglasses are they banned too? Floppy hats? A woolly scarf covering the nose and mouth in winter? What about pollution, aren’t people allowed to protect their health with a protection mask?
            Helmets- we all know helmets are for motorcycles and not for the pavement, we all know types of masks are for handymen, doctors, scientists or skiers- not the pavement. Who walks down the street in a balaclava? Oh so your saying that the next guy who robs a bank WON’T wear a balaclava, yeah right?
             
            Wake up- it’s about the burqa!

            • Whiskers 11.1.1.1.1.1

               
              What about Halloween is that banned too? What about kids getting their face painted or wearing batman masks running around the streets. What about street parties, masquerades and parades (fancy dress)??? All in the public arena- are they banned too?
               
              This is about the ‘burqa’ for sure.

    • the sprout 11.2

      ‘genital mutilation’

      you mean like when boys are circumcised?

      • prism 11.2.1

        the sprout – Is that genuine enquiry or an attempt at semi-facetious comment?  If you really don’t know the difference between female genital mutilation and circumcision I suggest you look it up on google.

        • the sprout 11.2.1.1

          oh i know the difference alright, it’s just i can never understand why one cultural practice that’s still surprisingly common in western cultures isn’t also recognized as the genital mutilation it is.

  12. randal 12

    a spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down.
    Jim Mora is the problem.
    he is hired to make it all nice for middle new zealanders who fancy themselves as liberals or maybe even gasp intellectuals who need their prjudices topped up.
    ne never stop susing dishonest and disrespectful interrogatves either.
    pretty smarmy really.
    RNZ needs a good shake up.

  13. prism 13

    It’s amazingly easy to get right off topic.   I already did so from ChrisH’s focus when I referred to surprise at Linda Clark and her agreement of burqa wearing as coming from someone who has profited from feminist effort to raise women’s position and opportunities in society.  Then I unfortunately mentioned genital mutiliation (which is a very serious interference with a female’s body).  Now that has mutated into an argument about whether circumcision for males is the same.   This will teach me to keep to my point with no extra diversions in future.

  14. Thanks for this ChrisH. Very educative on the ‘rent’/land issue. That explains a lot about the virulence – as you point out – over protecting private property (especially land) rights.

    It’s always seemed strange to me at a gut level that we allow private ownership of land. A more ‘natural’ and less absolutist approach would be rights to land ‘use’. A market that rewarded use rather than just ownership of land would be one way but there are others too.

    Now I see where the Georgists fit into the picture and the argument over how increasing land values is a function of the presence of others. This is why and how the ‘old’ families in colonial societies come to dominate over time. They gain the full benefit of the value that accrues to land through no effort of their own – simply by being ‘first’ to stake their claim on a large hunk of land taken – often by force or prior to the establishment of a market in land – from the indigenous population.

    As I said, at a gut level it has always seemed grotesque that, given private ownership of land, people therefore do not have a right to occupy any space on this privately owned planet earth when they are born.

    It just seems weird – and, I know, economists argue that without security of property rights the land won’t be productively used. Yet look at how much land is simply bought, no improvements made during ownership, and then sold.

  15. ChrisH 15

    Ta. It’s always seemed to me after I twigged to this round 1996 or so (after reading Henry George, a key step in the education of all good radicals once upon a time) that a proper understanding of rent is the aqua regia that dissolves all right wing chains. To which we might only add that the descendents of those who were first to diddle the Maori so often turn into the “Smug” (Prism comment 10):
    “Her daughter, reading in her room
    “A catalogue of dresses,
    “Can drive a tractor, goes to Training College,
    “Will vote on the side of the Bosses” (Baxter, Pig Island Letters)
    Prism includes Brian Edwards among the Smug but he had a hard early life, there are plenty more smug than Brian, even if he seems to have lost his critical edge lately.

    • ChrisH 15.1

      Or it might have been the Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Once upon a time you couldn’t have stood for Labour without having read all this stuff and taken a test administered by Peter Fraser ;)

  16. gnomic 16

    Suppose I should I have included a “what would I know?” disclaimer. Somehow I feel sure RNZ must have some survey results showing that Jim M and the new format are the best thing since the pop-up toaster. And indeed the apparent flood of emails and texts (no doubt alas even tweets), and adulatory comments from the callers seems to show that many living among us are getting with the programme while a naysayer is likely an elitist grouch. Oh well. It’s interactivity innit, it’s new and modern so it must be good, am I right?
    For me the downgrading of the music content was one of the worst aspects of the new order. About the only redeeming feature is the occasional bit of live content, the rest is pretty dire. Not that I’m listening much. Still Wayne’s music lives late at night, but maybe it’s not quite the same as that hour of quality after lunch.
    The Smug. Not bad, something I meant to touch on. She’s a small country and it’s a small club of the commentariat, and by gosh, they are all pretty happy to be in the club, in the loop, on the circuit. Feel the love, it’s close to nauseating. Even that Bomber Bradbury doesn’t quite get it, he claims The Panel is the best hour on public broadcasting. Nah. Not really. Not even close. If I want meaningless opinionated topical babble I can listen to 1ZB, or heaven help us, 1ZM and the like. There is still a 1ZM somewhere out there? Could we have a who de smuggest contest? That Chris Trotter must be a front runner. Richard Griffin also a contender but I expect we won’t be hearing from him on The Panel in future. Or maybe we will in a brave new world of broadcasting? For me at any rate, the best of Radio NZ National is with Kim Hill, or Laidlaw, or with Bryan Crump in the evenings. Not forgetting the news of course, the best in the country.
    Perhaps get Hone Harawira or Sue Bradford on The Panel? What about Nandor, now the dreads are gone. Or is it necessary to live in Auckland, Wellington, or perhaps Christchurch to qualify for admission?
    I don’t think Mora is really the fundamental problem, he’s more of a symptom, after all he is just a creature of his producers, and beyond them the powers that be. But speaking of Jim, smarmy, that was the one word I was looking for, yes, smarmy.
    It’s all over the place this thread, a bit like the header article. Perhaps encourage more from this writer? There could be a thesis in it, or maybe there has been?
     
     
     
     
     

  17. prism 17

    Gnomic You seem to have been pondering late into the night/early morning 1.49 a.m.
    Your stream of consciousness, almost, post makes good points.  But Sue Bradford is already on the morning politics from the right and left with Kathryn Ryan Monday or Tuesday?  Sue is good. Knows her stuff, almost as good as Leila Harre who I really enjoyed.  And together Matthew Hooten and Sue seem to be able to make cogent intelligent points.  Where is Nandor by the way?
    Jim’s choice of panel seem the sort that he would invite to share a meal and an interesting political discussion with.  But deep thinking and passion argument for new  vistas of the polity would upset the digestive juices.  You will notice that when he announces his schedule in the morning, he never gives any information about the provenance of his panel.   It obviously doesn’t matter in these generic days where their expertise lies.   But adulation from the public is no doubt them reacting to the good old boy approach, a smile and wave effect coming over the radio waves.  People like Bomber Bradbury seem to have minds like a steel trap, they make quick decisions and then rigidly hold them still without any pesky pondering.
     

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