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The Human Cost of Inequality

Written By: - Date published: 2:10 pm, May 18th, 2014 - 131 comments
Categories: admin, Economy, notices - Tags: ,

The Sir Douglas Robb Lectures for 2014 start tomorrow evening in Auckland. These three free lectures are being given by the authors of “The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better“, a book much hated by those amongst us who would prefer that societies either didn’t exist or  were more unequal and tilted in their favour. Based on many of the trolls here on this topic, it’d appear that most Act supporters and many National supporters appear fall into this category*

Robb-Lecture-2014-Poster

 

 

* It is my contention that most of the people who decry this book are also people who haven’t read it. I think that they are also the same people who don’t read all of my posts before they start commenting on them. So lets try a wee experiment in inequality shall we!. People putting in links to “disprove” the claims in The Spirit Level into this post will be called on to show that they have in fact read the book. Those who cannot display their personal knowledge of the contents of the book will receive a free and unencumbered banning until after the election. This will be known as the “fine print”. Please refer to it as such. 

 

131 comments on “The Human Cost of Inequality”

  1. RedLogix 1

    When I was reading the book it occurred to me that while there are clear and measurable challenges associated with the kind of absolute poverty (defined as <U$10k pa/person income) – the more insidious and harder to define problems arose from the psychological impacts of a steep social gradient … regardless of income.

    In one rather literal sense this could be labelled ‘the politics of envy’. Yet the bizarre and unexpected hints in the data is that gross social inequality is bad for everyone – regardless of their perch on the pecking order – which rather puts envy out of the picture.

    I would argue that the most corrosive stress on people is a sense of powerlessness in the face of a perceived need. Some societies (I’m thinking here of India) have cleverly dealt with gross inequality by socially defining away the need for dignity and justice in this life. Who cares what happens to you in this life – when the reincarnation principle will make it up to you in another. Who can argue with an implacable fate? Why stress about the unchangeable? And why would gross inequality matter in this life?

    But when this one short life we have matters, then justice matters too. It is plain that some people contribute more than others, and our traditional, long evolved sense of equity approves of them being better rewarded for it.

    But there is some ill-defined point at which ‘getting more rewards for more merit’ is twisted into ‘using your privilege and status to rip the system off’. At some point what was fair – transforms into unfairness. Our instincts are perhaps troubled by it – but our mind has trouble putting words and definitions around it. Maybe extreme wealth and poverty is just something we did not evolve with – and we haven’t yet developed a strong social adaption for.

    Which is where Pickett and Wilkinson have done such valuable work – putting a rational white coat onto this otherwise dark moral specter.

    • Interesting red.

      The most corrosive stress? Powerlessness is definitely up there but for me inequality is absolutely corrosive. Inequality eats self esteem and most if not all of today’s woes can be traced to inequality imo – or more correctly the practice of inequality.

      Reincarnation is actually all about what you do now and not about any rebirth because what you do now determines (amongst so many things) what will happen to you after death – at least that was my understanding when I believed in it. But, you know, there are as many ideas about reincarnation as any other thought about what happens after death. IMO reincarnation is about modifying or understanding behavior and consequences today and any social inequality understanding it brings/creates acceptance for/contributes to, is a by-product, albeit a happy by-product for the elite.

      I am not sure i’d say that some people ‘contribute’ more that others simply because the measurement of ‘contribution’ is entangled in so many artificial societal constructs that its meaning is almost subjective. That some are better rewarded (for what?) is an area where the ‘practice of inequality’ rubber hits the road.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.1

        The most corrosive stress? Powerlessness is definitely up there but for me inequality is absolutely corrosive. Inequality eats self esteem and most if not all of today’s woes can be traced to inequality imo – or more correctly the practice of inequality.

        Powerlessness, anxiety, loss of sense of control, expectations/reality gap, those are the psychological stressors which wear people down.

        Inequality generates all those things but it is also upstream from them, more abstract and less biological.

        • marty mars 1.1.1.1

          i dunno – inequality permeates – it generates anxiety, powerlessness and so on but they are generated by inequality. This is not just an abstract concept but a real world reality. I’d also argue that there is a biological aspect to inequality – that wrench in the guts when you see it in action, when you experience it, especially when you aren’t expecting it.

          • karol 1.1.1.1.1

            Yes, marty, and it impacts materially on people’s daily lives – on their actions, life opportunities (or lack thereof), their daily work, home and community lives, etc

  2. greywarbler 3

    FI
    Sir George Douglas Robb, CMG (1899–1974) was a New Zealand surgeon, medical reformer, writer, and university chancellor. He was born at Auckland on 29 April 1899[1] and educated at the Auckland Grammar School and at the University of Otago (MB ChB). Robb had a reputation as something of a maverick and a rebel against the conventional medical establishment, as is discussed in a chapter in Brian Easton’s book The Nationbuilders[2]

    Robb was influential in the formation of the Auckland Medical School as part of the University of Auckland. From 1961 to 1962, he held the year-long position of President of the British Medical Association.[3]

  3. karol 4

    One website says this:

    All lectures will be recorded and available a week after the lecture.

    Does this mean they will be available online?

    If so, I’d prefer to listen to that, than trek into Auckland CBD 3 nights in one week.

  4. fisiani 5

    The book should be called Cherrypicking for idiots as that is what it have proven to be. The Spirit Level Delusion has conclusively debunked the findings.

    • felix 5.1

      Would you care to walk me through one of these debunkings, fiz?

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      No it hasn’t but the supposed debunking has. It’s just that you don’t want to believe reality as it gets in the way of your preconceived ideology.

    • lprent 5.3

      Yeah I’m quite interested in how much people have actually read of the book when they get around to “debunking” it for reasons to do with the fine print.

      In my experience almost every “debunking” appears to have been done by someone who hasn’t read books in knowledgeable detail.

      For instance I totally agree with Danyl at Dimpost talking about the Piketty book

      I will write more about the actual book later. But I’ve been interested in the debate in the economics blogosphere. Left-wing economists all seem to think Pikety is right and right-wing economists all seem to think he’s wrong. (I would note that the objections I’ve heard from some on the right: ‘Piketty disregards the decline of inequality between nations, cf the development of China,’ or ‘Pikety disregards the ability of education and skills transfer to reduce inequality,’ seem to be issues Piketty addresses in the introduction to his book. Maybe there are more substantive critiques out there?).

      I read the Spirit Level and I have quibbles about some of the stuff in it. I then read some of the criticisms including “The Spirit Level Delusion”. They cheerfully cherry picked their way around the book they were attacking, and didn’t deal with the points or alternate explanations. Basically it was a book that was clearly written as an attack by a moronic hack (Christopher Snowdon) doing the same poor quality of research and analysis that Ian Wishart does.

      For instance they attacked the detail on changes in teen pregnancy and crime without looking at the demographic age changes or the changes in social policy that The Economist was detailing this week. Incidentally I had to laugh about this moron putting in a very selective quote from The Economist shorn of the criticism of Christopher Snowdon’s book on his website. Needless to say it had no link – for very good reason.

      Essentially Christopher Snowdon is a stupid arsehole who didn’t manage to disprove anything in particular.

    • Sanctuary 5.4

      fisiani! Here is your big chance to confront these charlatans bro! As I recall, you claimed they were in hiding after being unable to counter your withering analysis and denouement of the spirit level. Yet here they are. bold as brass and larger than life lecturing in publically advertised events. How do you explain this fisiani? What do you put this failure to heed your informed arguments down to? Why do you believe you’ve not received the airing you deserve? is it all a conspiracy, perhaps?

      • lprent 5.4.1

        I suspect that his withering analysis and denouement was fatally crippled by his never having read the book.

        As I recall and in retrospect (after reading it myself), his analysis was like looking through a desert window left for a hundred year and which had sagged into a yellowed semi-opaque distorting lenses. I was basing his opinion on crowing by others who’d also about poorly written analysis by a hack whose only real qualification in the subject was that he was a favourite of a rightwing thinktank with a dubious connection to the infamous tobacco lobbyist coverups. The actual analysis by Christopher Snowdon looked like he’d scanned the book through a large condom (to avoid contamination by the intellectual), but not actually read the book.

        But hey. That is a rigorous analysis by the lazy…

  5. Clean_power 6

    Two academics lecturing from their ivory towers with little to go for.
    On my part, I love inequality because adds variety to life. We are not born equal, after all.

    • McFlock 6.1

      and john key loved to see wages drop.

      Doesn’t make it a good thing, though.

    • Colonial Viper 6.2

      On my part, I love inequality because adds variety to life. We are not born equal, after all.

      Agreed; some people are natural born-to-rule arseholes.

    • karol 6.3

      Yes, higher murder rates, lower life expectancies, more mental illness, more infectious diseases, etc, etc, just add spice to life. Sit back and enjoy the show on, desolation row.

    • greywarbler 6.4

      ‘We are not born equal after all.’
      True but nearly, all look pretty helpless and a baby’s cry probably sounds the same in any country.. Inequality shows up more in the quality of help the mother gets.

    • vto 6.5

      “On my part, I love inequality because adds variety to life” …
      … and this is an illustration of the thinking…. . try not to despair folks

      • Colonial Viper 6.5.1

        Let’s see the born-to-rule arsehole volunteer for a year living on $230 pw so he can get some “variety”

      • Roy 6.5.2

        It is also an illustration that some people are born with much less empathy than others.

    • RedLogix 6.6

      We are not born equal, after all.

      Drop the stupid strawman. No-one, but no-one in this debate is seriously arguing we are all the same and should earn the same income and be perfectly equal. Of course the other absurd extreme would be a totally unequal world in which one person owned everything.

      Yet right now some 85 people control more wealth than the entire bottom 3.5 billion humans on the planet – we are are much, much closer to being totally unequal than completely equal.

      Somewhere in between these extremes lies a happy medium – and all that is being advocated here is some movement back in that direction.

      Shit this is so obvious – did it have to be said?

      • vto 6.6.1

        “did it have to be said?”

        But that’s it mr illogix. Human’s don’t respond to logix stimuli, and this is what so many miss

    • Draco T Bastard 6.7

      We are not born equal, after all.

      I’m actually sure we are. Different, yes, but equal in those differences.

      • Puddleglum 6.7.1

        A good point Draco T Bastard.

        People seem to misunderstand the word ‘equal’.

        ‘Equality’, in the political sense, is about equal rights. ‘Equality’, in the economic sense, is about having the same economic resources.

        Yet, when people say ‘how ridiculous, after all we aren’t born equal‘ what they mean is that we aren’t born with exactly the same features (physical, psychological, intellectual, etc.). That really is irrelevant to the political and economic senses of ‘equality’, quite obviously.

        It is perfectly possible for different social and economic systems to produce different outcomes as a result of the same ‘inborn’ features.

        At the extreme, for example, only the physically strong might do well in a particular society (i.e., gather to themselves the economic benefits available in a society). In another, only the morally bankrupt may gather the same resources. In yet another it might be intelligence. In a further society it might be physical appearance. Clearly, what you are born with is subordinate – in terms of economic outcomes – to how a society makes use of what you are born with.

        Put simply, material outcomes are not directly determined by the nature of the attributes with which we are born (physical, psychological, intellectual, etc.).

        And the explanation that claims that the most important attribute that determines outcomes is ‘effort’ really annoys me. It is so manifestly wrong it is hard to understand how people who take their cognitive abilities seriously can hold to the view.

        First, it assumes that less ‘effort’ is required for some of the longest hours worked, the most distasteful work, the most psychologically draining work and the most emotionally demeaning occupations than is required for the most well-rewarded ones. Just nonsense – unless a very peculiar definition of ‘effort’ is being used.

        Second, even if it were the case that differences in ‘effort’, in a particular society, are responsible for ranking people’s relative economic success it is as clear as the nose on anyone’s face that the relationship between ‘effort’ and reward is in no way linear.

        Our modern economy is like a vast machine. Rewards accrue differentially to people depending upon which bit of the machine they operate. Disproportionate rewards, that is, are a function of the place one occupies in that vast machine – it does not depend upon one’s effort.

        I’m baffled by – and shocked at – how many people think so simplistically about this very basic structural mechanism that is partly responsible for producing such repellant levels of inequality of economic outcomes in our society.

        And then there’s the racheting of inequality through privilege, parents’ economic and cultural capital, etc.. But that’s another story.

        • Draco T Bastard 6.7.1.1

          +111

        • greywarbler 6.7.1.2

          Roy says “It is also an illustration that some people are born with much less empathy than others.”

          Empathy is something learned Roy. Just as almost everything is from the time of birth – although there are a lot of unrealised experiences in a baby’s brain from before birth that will provide instinctive behaviour, research shows, but most of that can be over ridden in time by learned experience.

          There has been controversial work on the means of shaping behaviour called operant conditoning, and there is also an approach called classical conditioning. These understandings get used in propaganda and PR hype, and political spouting. So it pays us to know how our minds work and try to keep from being taken over by blatantly false ideas received uncritically.
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning

          Puddleglum points out -
          “It is perfectly possible for different social and economic systems to produce different outcomes as a result of the same ‘inborn’ features….
          Clearly, what you are born with is subordinate – in terms of economic outcomes – to how a society makes use of what you are born with.
          Put simply, material outcomes are not directly determined by the nature of the attributes with which we are born (physical, psychological, intellectual, etc.).”

    • Tracey 6.8

      you are one of the 50% of employees in nz earning less than 30,000 per annum aren’t you.

      • Colonial Viper 6.8.1

        Median NZ income including beneficiaries, retired etc is circa $29K pa.

        Median full time working wage is around $41K pa.

        I suspect about 80% of NZ adults are on $50K pa or less.

        It’s pathetic

    • Mike S 6.9

      Inequality is not about wanting everyone to be the same and have the same incomes, that’s a ridiculous strawman arguement.

      It’s about the increasing gap in income and wealth yes, but it’s also about equality of opportunity and the means to feel part of community and society. Please don’t start saying we all have equal opportunity in this country as that is utter BS. There will always be exceptions but the chances of someone coming from a poor background becoming wealthy are next to none, no matter how hard they work, whereas someone born into a wealthy family is far more likely to stay wealthy.

      There are so many things that contribute to growing inequality. Even small things all add up to increasing the gap. For a simple example, those on low incomes are more likely to have a car older than 10 years so they must pay twice a year for a warrant of fitness whereas someone with a newer car, (who is more likely to have a higher income) only have to pay once a year. $50 may seem nothing to someone on a comfortable income, but $100 is often impossible for someone who struggles just to pay the rent and buy essentials.

      This can lead to not getting a warrant, getting fined, not being able to pay the fine so costs are added and it is paid off out of wages meaning less take home pay for the bills, etc,etc. So such a small thing has potential huge consequences for a low income person.

      A recent study (can’t remember where I read it but can probably find the source if needed) showed that unless you are wealthy you have zero chance of being listened to by government, let alone having favourable policy changes. If you are wealthy, you have much easier access to politicians and far more influence over policy decisions.

      There are probably thousands of situations, rules / laws, areas of influence, socio economic factors and so on and so on that all contribute to growing inequality. The big question for those who choose to ignore it is at what point does it stop? When a tiny percentage of people own all of the wealth in the world? What level of inequality do you think is acceptable?

      There is an interesting short animated clip called wealth inequality in america, it is only 6 min long and quite eye opening.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPKKQnijnsM

  6. tsmithfield 7

    So, it follows that if the government clipped the wealth off the wealthy and sent it overseas to poor countries rather than distribute it in NZ, then NZ society as a whole would do better? After all, NZ society would be more equal, and according to “the Spirit Level” that should lead to all sorts of wonderful societal outcomes.

    • McFlock 7.1

      lol

      Did you just draw a logical extension of a book’s thesis based solely on the title?

      Maybe you should read the book. It might make you less of a dick.

      • tsmithfield 7.1.1

        If the title doesn’t accurately reflect the thesis then they should change the title.

        • McFlock 7.1.1.1

          What a load of shit.

          You did see the “almost” in the title? Maybe you should have read the book to see what qualifiers and equivocations that “almost” implies. You might find that the book addresses moron-tory absurdities.

          By your logic “A brief History of Time” was neither brief nor a complete history, and it dealt with time AND space so you should probably get your money back.

          But thanks for admitting that you’re just another tory fuck who doesn’t read the book before he criticizes it.

        • felix 7.1.1.2

          So according to you, “accurately reflect” means “contain all the information and arguments in the thesis itself so I can comment on it without reading the book, particularly the fine print”.
          :roll:

          • tsmithfield 7.1.1.2.1

            McFlock, it seems to me that your avoidance of my argument is implicit acceptance of the proposition that the relative wealth of a country has far more to do with the social well-being of that country than the degree of social equality.

            If that is the case, wouldn’t it be a better goal to boost the average wealth of a country rather than equality?

            [lprent: You are aware how I view the "no answer = implied agreement" approach? In my view it is a step worse than the pwned/owned stupidity for a number of reasons. In a site as busy as this it isn't practical to consider that people have even seen a comment. But more importantly because I have to exert myself crushing the inevitable flamewars that result from its use. Consequently I have a tendency to ban people who try to use it.

            Of course in my usual reflective style I start from your assumption that you will sight and read this note. A lack of response means that you have and have agreed that you are abjectly apologizing for its use and will not do it again. Consequently any further use would be a repetition of the offense and warrant the use of an increased severity of the sentence. :twisted:

            I'd suggest you heed this warning that it is a very bad idea to try to start using this technique. ]

            • karol 7.1.1.2.1.1

              Then why are such things as child well being, worse in the US, than in most countries that are generally not as wealthy, but have less inequality than the US?

            • McFlock 7.1.1.2.1.2

              You didn’t make an argument.
              You asked a nonsensical question based solely on the title of a rather lengthy book.

              But seeing as you have now made an argument, no it would not. We have seen that to “boost the average” does nothing for the poorest. Reducing inequality (for example taking some from the top decile and giving that fraction of their income to the bottom decile) does help the poorest. And because the poorest spend rather than invest (because they cant afford to), that helps the economy for people who actually make and sell things.

            • vto 7.1.1.2.1.3

              tsmithfield … “If that is the case, wouldn’t it be a better goal to boost the average wealth of a country rather than equality?”

              if you knew anything about averages you would never have written what you just did you stupid idiot

              ffs, another illustration of the thinking… try not to despair folks

              • Draco T Bastard

                +1

              • Good point vto.

                Even accepting tsmithfield’s argument, boosting the median wealth would be far more sensible.

                And, interestingly, clustering individuals’ wealth around the median, at least for those below the median, would be even better – but then that starts to look very much like improving equality, of course. :-)

                • lprent

                  You going to confuse tsmithfield with all of these statistical concepts.

                  One of the things I found so interesting about the debate over the Spirit Level as I was wending my way through the references on wikipedia 3 weeks ago, was just how petty some of the criticism was. It was a book aimed at a general audience. Not a research paper.

                  Yet there were idiots wanting a research paper level of material on how a explanatory regression line was calculated. But the book had a reference to a bibliography complete with an old-style link to exactly that. Why didn’t they just access that?

                  I was able to get to copies of a fair chunk of the referenced material I was interested in, and I don’t have the academic resources of a university library.

                  • Agreed, lprent.

                    A lot of the criticism has been polemic in non-peer-reviewed outlets.

                    Peer-reviewed criticisms have been of the usual level and none that I’m aware of have claimed to completely debunk the thesis or claim that it is a scandalous piece of pseudo-science as many self-styled critics on the internet have claimed.

                    • lprent

                      Looked to me to be the same kind of approach as happened in climate change. Don’t deal with the argument, don’t go near the referenced papers, just nitpick on wording and layout. Buy a few retired profs who need their pensions topped up. Pay for a few “studies” from pliant thinktanks.

                      The tobacco company approach to science. Obscufucate and buy a few more years. About the only thing I couldn’t figure out was who was paying for it to happen.

                    • McFlock

                      Looked to me to be the same kind of approach as happened in climate change.

                      Same approach, same crowd. In the closing paragraphs of smithfields link to a review of Snowden’s book:

                      For those that follow the politics of climate change this should all sound eerily familiar. Wilkinson and Pickett claim to be representing a ‘consensus’ view that does not exist, data is massaged to conform to a pre-defined message, opponents are labelled as industry stooges or as being unscientific and on and on. It is no surprise that some of those most enthusiastic about the Spirit Level are also enthusiastic supporters of anthropogenic global warming.

                      Those labels are pretty accurate, but “massaged” data means “not cherry picked”, and John Oliver accurately described the non-existent sicentific consensus on AGW.

        • lprent 7.1.1.3

          Perhaps you should learn to read what you criticize? I can’t believe that you think yourself competent to criticize something on the basis of a title.

          I always thought you were a somewhat mindless dick. But this really does take the cake.

          • tsmithfield 7.1.1.3.1

            1prent, when this was discussed in depth some months ago, I pointed out that the charts provided showed correlations that existed only because of the presence of one or two outliers. Others much more qualified than me have made similar criticisms

            If that criticism holds true, then it is quite valid to question the book.

            • McFlock 7.1.1.3.1.1

              Yes, if the underqualified tory propogandist holds true, then… actually, that’s a motherfucking big “if”.

            • lprent 7.1.1.3.1.2

              Ben’s posts? I thought you were wrong then. But at that time I had neither read the book or some of the critics of the book.

              Perhaps you should try this approach of actually understanding what you are criticising before you indulge yourself in being a fool.

              By the sound of it, you haven’t even read the book whose review you linked to. Why does that not surprise me.

              In my opinion, Snowdon is a mindless cretin when it comes to statistics and I was really glad I hadn’t paid to read his trash. He is one of the few people who I’d consider make Ian Wishart look good on his research, and I consider Wishart to be untrained and more concerned with making a story than doing actual careful research.

              I think Snowdon is just a very stupid hack with no credentials nor ability to understand the area he is criticising. It shows all of the way through his book. About the only thing it is good at provide a good link for mindless morons like yourself in your unthinking and unread bigotry.

              Now it sounds like you have two books to read before you can really indulge in debate on this subject. Because you can’t even judge the validity of Snowdon’s book until you read both eh?

              • lprent

                Incidentally, I am not looking forward to reading what? the 700+ pages in Piketty. Has anyone had time to read it yet? Is it worth the effort?

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Has anyone had time to read it yet?

                  Ha, not yet but what I have read has been worthwhile.

            • Puddleglum 7.1.1.3.1.3

              Interestingly, that link goes to a Snowdon review on the London Book Review.com site.

              I hope that site title is not just piggy-backing on the more well-known (and highly respected) London Review of Books?

        • Tracey 7.1.1.4

          like when prebble wrote
          “i’ve been thinking”?

        • Roy 7.1.1.5

          If you’d actually read the book you would know that the title is very apt.

    • Lloyd 7.2

      Sending more aid to third world countries so that those countries don’t flood our borders with economic refugees or generate terrorists to attack us when we travel overseas would appear to be practical survival policy. Aid aimed at birth control and education in poor countries would appear to be of benefit to the wealthy in this country, eventually.

  7. Skinny 8

    Here is a link that highlights the inequality gap widening after Union membership declined. Bit of the Great Gatsby from pre World War 1;
    http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/1026472/new_chart_finds_correlation_between_income_inequality_and_union_membership

  8. Colonial Viper 9

    Dmitry Orlov spot on with the rule of “Moneybags Logic

    Well, job one for [oligarchic government] seems to be to make sure that the rich continue to get richer while the poor get poorer and the middle class is… well… class dismissed. If this sort of public policy seems self-destructive to you, that’s probably because it is. Whenever it is allowed to run its course, the results are abysmal—especially for the rich who continued to get richer, whose corpses end up festooning lampposts and whose arterial spray adds a touch of color to city squares.

    Now, you’d think that at least a few rich people here and there might realize this and do something about it; after all, they can’t all be completely stupid. Well, I think that it’s not a question of intelligence; it’s a question of sentience. These people are not people, they are moneybags. And moneybags have a logic of their own: I call it “moneybag logic.” This logic says that having more money is always good, having less money is always bad, and that therefore everyone should do everything possible to make sure that there is always more money. If that requires turning the Earth into a polluted, radioactive, lifeless desert, so be it.

    http://cluborlov.blogspot.co.nz/2014/05/moneybag-logic.html

    • Tracey 9.1

      the middleclass have become the donkeys with the carrot but they think they are thoroughbreds waiting for the break that will come from their efforts.

      the lower classes know theyre on a treadmill for fuck all, the middleclass are the truly duped, voting for tnose who enslave them, and when they have moments of lucidity they change to the other party that dupes them.

      • greywarbler 9.1.1

        The middle and upper class want to get to have a clear pipeline to all the good things they want and not to have to worry about delivery. Any suggestion that the flow of goods and comforts will be lessened or is coming under threat and stern action to save the situation will be taken. It is a simple condition that relies on the perfect peace of being totally self-absorbed.

  9. Wayne 10

    I have read both books. I have no doubt that Pickett and Wilkinson will convince the Greens and a fair part of Labour.

    From what I understand of David Cunliffe’s budget speech, and other interviews he and David Parker have given, Labour will increase the overall tax take by around $2 billion or so dollars per year, maybe a little more. They would retain the level of the surplus at pretty much what the Nats propose. They will restart contributions to the Cullen fund and repay debt at pretty much the same rate as the Nats.

    So maybe an extra billion in social spending above the Nats per year over the next 3 years. You can certainly do something with that, but not all the promises they have made to date. Which seems to be extending Working for Families to beneficiaries, 10,000 extra state houses a year, paid parental leave to 26 weeks, and a host of smaller things.

    The only way to do more ( or even all the promises to date) is to increase taxes to a greater degree than has been suggested to date.

    I did say in a post earlier this week that the Nats typically like central govt spending to be 30% of GDP and Labour 35%. But much of the Clark era had central govt spending at more like 32 to 33% and that was with income taxes at 39% for incomes over $60,000. Of course surpluses mean the the Govt actually takes more than what they spend.A respectable surplus means 2% of GDP.

    David Cunliffe’s tax package does not seems likely to produce an increase in the size of the state by 5% of GDP. It will be more like the Clark era.

    Increasing the size of Govt by 5% of GDP means actually increasing govt by around 15%, with tax rises to match. Since clearly the lower rates will not go up, Labour would need two new top rates. 39% for income from $80,000 to $150,000 and 45%, (or perhaps 50%) for income above $150,000. It would be described by the media as a radical approach, and I can’t really see Labour doing that. Not when the bulk of voters are saying New Zealand is on the right track.

    The Pickett/Wilkinson approach really requires Nordic levels of taxation, which are even higher than the two top rates I have suggested. Typically a top tax rate of around 60%.

    It does seem that the Anglo nations for the last 35 years have basically gone for smaller govts than the Europeans, and that is irrespective of Conservative or Labour govts. And while I can see the Greens will go for the Nordic approach (presumably they will produce some form of costed budget), I cannot see Labour doing that.

    It is just too far away from the comfort zone of middle NZ, by which I mean people who readily shift between the two major parties, which is around 20% of all voters. And quite a number of social surveys indicate this.

    And when the bulk of New Zealanders are saying New Zealand is on the right track, Pickett and Wilkinson have an uphill job, except for the Greens and the left of Labour.

    I did note that Russell Norman described the budget as a Cabinet Club budget around 30 times in his budget speech. I can only assume Cabinet Club members were saying to John Key, do whatever it takes in social spending to win the election, produce a surplus, and we don’t expect a tax cut any time soon. Make sure the budget appeals to middle New Zealand.

    • McFlock 10.1

      I can only assume Cabinet Club members were saying to John Key, do whatever it takes in social spending to win the election, produce a surplus, and we don’t expect a tax cut any time soon.

      Tories have such a half-arsed definition of “whatever it takes” :roll:

    • Colonial Viper 10.2

      Very good with the numbers Wayne and of course you are implicitly pointing out that 95% of government spending and revenues are fairly fixed so it’s only around the edges that things can usually be done.

      You are however ignoring the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who live in relative poverty, suffer from ongoing unemployment and underemployment, with their potential for work, innovation and contribution to our real economy being lost to the nation every day.

      Your analysis also ignores the slowly closing jaws of the long term economic trap that western nations find themselves in – a toxic mix of peak oil, peak financialisation, peak resource extraction and oligarchic influence. And it’s going to get much nastier over the next 10 years.

      So where is the vision which is going to secure the future of the nation and its peoples – and not for yourself Wayne or your generation – but for those New Zealanders in primary school today.

      The top 20% most economically secure NZers today aren’t thinking about these issues that much and it’s not surprising that the major political parties continue to try and keep them happy with this ongoing game of ‘pretend and extend.’

      But that will change. Those on $75K pa are clearly noticing that their dollars don’t go very far at all these days, and they are wondering why their kids – whom they know are smart, educated, hard workers – are finding it tougher and tougher getting and keeping any decent kind of job.

      • Draco T Bastard 10.2.1

        +1

      • Wayne 10.2.2

        An interesting post CV.

        I was expecting a bit more for Science and Innovation in the Budget.

        I see Science (Universities, CRI’s and private institutions like Cawthorn) will get an extra $177 million over 4 years. Actually a pretty good boost in funding, around 5% to 10% extra per year depending on the programme.

        Innovation for private firms, gets two tax initiatives, one to enable starts ups tho cash up their losses generated by R & D, and one that allows deductibility of R & D on capital expenditure. Both of these are quite useful and may be worth much more over time that further grants.

        But Callaghan Innovation did not get more money, either for itself, or for the grant programs it administers. The grant programs are currently $140 million per year. I thought that they might grow to $250 million per year over 4 years, or an annual increase of $30 million per year. Oh well there is always next year.

        And of course the Nats left a fair bit of head room for campaign promises in respect of the projected surplus of $1.6 billion for 2015/2016, and $3.5 billion for 2016/2017.

        By the way John Key is promising that there will be tax cuts for middle NZ as part of the Nats campaign, based on these future surpluses. He said they had the biggest need. Have a look at the tax tables as to where that will be.

        The rate that is out of kilter is the 30% rate for income $48,000 to $70,000. The rate below it is 17.5% and the rate above is 33%. So 30% is anomalous, and a pretty high rate for a middle income earner.

        A reduction to 25% (or at perhaps 27%) would provide a smoother step. Reducing that rate is aimed right at the middle of middle New Zealand. I guess the 17.5% rate could also go down to 15%, (but this is very expensive since just about every New Zealander is affected by this rate). And the bottom rate of 10.5% could go down to 10%.

        • Tracey 10.2.2.1

          where do you see the top rate, and why?

          • Wayne 10.2.2.1.1

            It covers both financial transfers through govt and the size of the state sector which have to administer the programmes.

            By the way it does not matter from a govt accounting perspective whether the people are civil servants or contractors. They are both covered by the calculations on the size of govt.

            • karol 10.2.2.1.1.1

              Thanks, Wayne. I think you must be replying to my question.

              I was thinking more broadly about what is meant by “size of government”? You view it’s size purely in $ terms.

              It’s a perspective I struggle with, because the neocon/liberal idea of “small government” seems to refer more (or at elast as much) to the amount government impacts on people’s daily lives – ie a reference to polciies , regulations, etc.

          • Wayne 10.2.2.1.2

            Leave the top rate where it is, perhaps push up the threshold to $80,000. I think the 30% rate is crying out for a downward adjustment. It is too close to the 33% rate and too far above the 17.5% rate.

            Tax rates in my view should be a smooth progression from the bottom rate to the top rate, with no steps out of the trend line.

            Of course I know why the 30% rate was done. There was no money left to do all the smoothing in 2010, when the tax switch was done. The rate changes were to the two bottom rates, which are extremely expensive, since they cover all taxpayers. The threshold for the 33% rate was pushed out from $60,000 to $70,000.

            But clearly the smoothing could be done in 2016/2017.

            • geoff 10.2.2.1.2.1

              God you’re such a dinosaur, Wayne.

              Go and read Thomas Picketty.

              While you try and plaster a smiley face onto rentier society, Thomas Picketty has proven what the end-game is for the policies you advocate.

              • Wayne

                I do intend to read him, having at this stage only read the reviews (some quite long).

                I wonder how influential he will actually prove to be in NZ and Australia, which both sit in the middle of OECD inequality index, and without much change in the level of inequality over the last 20 years.

                Although you might say I am a dinosaur, I seem to be at one with most NZer’s who do seem to saying that NZ is heading in the right direction. And in most OECD social stats we sit near the top, even though we are in the middle for GDP per capita.

                • geoff

                  I don’t expect Piketty to make much difference. If decades of scientific research into global warming can still be undermined by the corporate media then a single, French economist will be no trouble at all for them to dispatch.

                • karol

                  I agree to some extent that income inequality rose most strongly in NZ in the last two decades of the 20th century. It depends which stats you look at as regards whether inequality has risen much in the last 2 decades.

                  If you compare the incomes of the top and bottom 10% in NZ the incomes of those at the top has continued to increase, while that of those at he bottom have been static. (as summarised here)

                  You also need to take into account the wealth gap. Income inequality feeds into the wealth gap, which is way larger than the income gap. And the wealth gap is harder to reverse – eg with respect to ownership of assets, including property etc.

                  Those saying the NZ economy is trending in the right direction to lessen inequality, follow the same economic model that resulted in the increase in the inequality gap – and that have continued to maintain a high level of income and wealth inequality.

            • Tracey 10.2.2.1.2.2

              you were in the wrong party wayne. do you vote ACT now?

              • Wayne

                Tracey,

                Not sure why you would deduce that from my posts here.

                Have a look at my views on tax rates. Pretty much mainstream Nat positions. In fact by suggesting no change in the top rate, but suggesting reducing the 30% rate that applies to income $48,000 to $70,000 I am probably somewhat to the left of center for the Nats.

        • Mike S 10.2.2.2

          $48,000 to $70,000 is not a “middle income earner”.

          Even 48k is higher than the median income from salary and wage earners so 48k to 70k is well above the “middle”.

          If you wanted to aim for the middle then you could look at the 30 to 50k bracket.

    • lprent 10.3

      It is nice that you have both read the book(s) and that you read my post down to the fine print. You are the first critic here who has. Doesn’t that say something about the critics?

      The volume is part of it, sure. However a hell of a lot of it is shifting the emphasis on where money is spent.

      For instance, I’m failing to see the point in the very large budgets for the NZTA’s new roads which appear to have little to no economic benefit. In fact in the current climate of falling usage of cars (from well before the GFC) I’m failing to see much economic benefit after completion of SH20, the remaining repairs and upgrades in ChCh, and some road straightening. Moreover the jobs it creates are temporary if there aren’t ongoing projects – which we don’t need.

      So rather than continuing with Bill English’s preferred 6% plus unemployment, why don’t we start upgrading the public transport services. There are sustainable jobs in those bearing in mind that everywhere that public transport is boosted at present it grows rapidly. Those types of jobs at a lower tech level than road construction then feed out into helping bring the bottom end of our economy up. It also would help reduce costs (running a car is frigging expensive these days) for other workers.

      I’m sure that if I had some time to mull it over, I’m sure that there are literally hundreds of places where the existing spending could be diverted into systems and projects that cause significiant shifts in equality of opportunity.

      Like removing the excessive subsidies to private schools? Putting that money into the state school system for the schools who need it sounds like it’d be a much better use of the taxes I pay.

      I really only have to look at the social stats for some of the UK’s inner city over the last 30 years to see how it can be done.

      A large chunk of that was simple redistributions about where government resources were expended. Perhaps we should try that first?

      • Wayne 10.3.1

        Bill English’s budget says unemployment will drop to 4.5%. Labour is aiming for 4%. Hardly a dramatic difference.

        • vto 10.3.1.1

          Bill English is certainly a very believable person who never deceives…… ffs

        • Lanthanide 10.3.1.2

          He must have had a change of heart since saying it was a hoax back in 1999.

        • Tracey 10.3.1.3

          hes also pretending we will have a surplus by turning a grant into an interest free loan and writing down the cost of rebuilding christchurch.

        • lprent 10.3.1.4

          I don’t have the figures here, but I thought that the budget was hoping for unemployment being 5% in 2016. (I do wish they’d qualify what they were talking about – HLFS or WINZ, under-employment (the more relevant) or unemployment).

          Ummm

          The strong employment growth is expected to drive a fall in the unemployment rate across the forecast period. The unemployment rate is expected to stay broadly steady at around 6.9% over the first half of 2013, before declining steadily, to slightly above 5% in March 2017. The rise in employment, fall in unemployment and pressures from the Canterbury rebuild are expected to put upward pressures on wages in the near term, with annual growth in average hourly earnings expected to rise to 3.2% in the December 2013 quarter, before moderating the following year. Over time, wage pressures will begin to grow again as the unemployment rate continues to fall.

          Oops that was 2013 budget

          Of course wages growth came nowhere close to that rate. What we saw through the year was a boost in the dairy and associated industry, and job losses in most other areas.

          Employment growth accelerated over the second half of 2013, reflecting increased demand in the economy and greater confidence in the economic outlook, and the unemployment rate fell to 6.0% (Figure 1.6). With demand continuing to strengthen and confidence remaining high, further gains in employment are anticipated. The unemployment rate is expected to decline to around 5.0% in 2016, underpinned by a labour force participation rate that is assumed to return to its pre-recession peak in coming quarters and to remain at an historically high level. The higher labour force participation rate, coupled with rising net migration inflows, partly offsets the impact of stronger labour demand and results in only a gradual increase in wage growth.

          This years finger in the air

          Bearing in mind the effective increase in immigration as our job refugees come back from aussie and with the usual immigration running at the same levels, I think that forecast in National’s do-nothing environment is about as dated and useless as running iPhone 3G.

      • greywarbler 10.3.2

        Not when the bulk of voters are saying New Zealand is on the right track.
        Says Wayne. But the point is where is the track leading. These sort of questions lead to imaginative answers, as the replies are devoid of any real information as to what the interviewee’s opinion relates to.

        AA Milne had imagination and some thoughts on where it was right for people and perhaps voters, to go:

        Disobedience:
        King John
        Put up a notice,
        “LOST or STOLEN or STRAYED!
        James James
        Morrison’s Mother
        Seems to have Been Mislaid.
        James etc.
        (Commonly known as Jim)
        Told his
        Other relations
        Not to go blaming him.
        James James
        Said to his Mother,
        “Mother,” he said, said he:
        “You must never go down to the end of the town
        without consulting me.”

        Perhaps the voter was looking for a Parliament where she had a place:
        The Wrong House:
        I went into a house, and I thought it was a house,
        I could hear from the may-tree the blackbird call…
        But nobody listened to it,
        Nobody
        Liked it,
        Nobody wanted it at all.

        Oh well never mind – They’re Changing Guard at Buckingham Palace.
        They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace -
        Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
        They’ve great big parties inside the grounds.
        “I wouldn’t be King for a hundred pounds,”
        Says Alice.

    • karol 10.4

      Wayne said:

      Increasing the size of Govt by 5% of GDP means actually increasing govt by around 15%, with tax rises to match.

      What do you actaully mean by “increasing the size of government”? Is that just about government spending, or the amount of people working in and for government.

      Does axing publc service workers and trimming government departments result in decreasing the size of government – even when the jobs previously don by government employees are contracted out to private enetities, and paid for out of the government coffers?

      So much focus on stats, so little focus on what this means for the actual real life experinces and struggles of people, especially those struggling to survive.

      • Gosman 10.4.1

        It is total spend of the government as a proportion of GDP. Therefore it doesn’t really matter much if the Government is outsourcing services. It is still paying for them.

        [lprent: You are banned from making any further comments in this post. Check out OpenMike. ]

  10. Mike the Savage One 12

    There appears to have been a news mention on Radio NZ National yesterday, and TVNZ seem to have published something similar on their website, but it did to my impression not appear on the TV One news. A link is here:

    http://m.tvnz.co.nz/news/top_stories/5975043

    It is about the most recent OECD statistics showing that housing costs in NZ, based on the average wage, or income, are the most expensive in the whole of the OECD.

    I may suggest someone here does a good write up on that topic later today, being Monday. That is news that Labour and Greens may well gain some traction with!!!

  11. Gosman 13

    Their views on the link between crime and inequality seems to fly in the face of the actual evidence given crime rates have dropped significantly in most Western nations while inequality has increased. Additionally inequality has fallen in Venezuela yet crime has gone through the roof. It seems to me that there is a awful lot of cheery picking going on by Ms Pickett and Mr Wilkinson.

  12. Tracey 14

    to be fair, gosman is an expert in ” cheery (sic) picking”.

    interesting to note that is the pgrase of preference for two of our naysayers. at least gosman admits inequality exists, he just doesnt think it’s a bad thing.

    • Gosman 14.1

      Of course inequality exists. It is in fact vital for the efficient functioning of an economic system. Left wing utopian visions of societies with perfect income equality are pie in the sky dreams divorced from reality. They are also a major factor why hard core left wing ideas don’t tend to work when applied in real life.

      • Tracey 14.1.1

        this messahe was brought to you by gosman who

        a. hasnt read the book; and
        b. hasnt experienced inequality except by paying 33% on every dollar over 70,000

      • vto 14.1.2

        Except gosman, exceptionally few people advocate for the type of hard core left vision you described there….

        unlike people such as yourself and Crazy Act Party Pill people who, at the other end of the spectrum, advocate for extreme right policies and see every person as a commodity to be traded for a dollar note …. This is a major factor why hard core right wing ideas don’t work when applied in real life.

      • Mike S 14.1.3

        So how much inequality is enough then Gosman? Are we at a comfortable level for you now or do you think inequality should rise further? At what point would you say “enough? Or do you think it’s ok if it just keeps increasing until the inevitable occurs?

  13. Tracey 15

    any irony that the lectures are in the owen glenn building?

  14. Tiger Mountain 16

    I’ ll cherry pick from pages 220 and 221 of “the Spirit Level” 2010 edition.

    It is interesting to see that Cuba is the only country that manages to combine acceptable living standards with a sustainable economy. The WWF World Wildlife fund, used the UN Human Development Index which combines life expectancy, education and gross domestic product per capita to illustrate this. Scarcely a single other country combines a quality of life (0.8 above the WWF threshold on the HDI with an ecological footprint that is globally sustainable.

    The authors note that because Cuba manages this without access to the greenest and most efficient technology it means that it could be done far more easily in countries with that access.

    • karol 16.1

      And this is about the human costs and benefits. Bunji did a great series of posts on TS about The Spirit Level. I linked to all of them in this post. Binji’s posts are a great resource and summary of the books.

      The human costs, as I summarised:

      In a hierarchical and overly competitive society we all suffer. Poverty results in poor health and this impacts on all areas of life. On top of that the stresses of inequality can be overwhelming.

      Bunji covered the human costs of a big inequality gap, compared with less inequality, with a post focused on each of the following:

      2. Inequality is bad for everyone’s health.

      Equality breeds trust; inequality breeds crime. (Or: Do you want to be a bonobo or a chimp?).
      Equality: better education and social mobility. Inequality: more teen pregnancies.
      Equality works better for a sustainable future.

    • Gosman 16.2

      Excellent. We should all live like peiople in that great bastion of economic and personal freedom of Cuba. Except a number of people in Cuba are willing to risk their lives to get out of ther place. Why is that?

      • Tiger Mountain 16.2.1

        Worse places to live than a tropical island awash in mojitos. I don’t think you would be welcome there anyway Gossie, private estates in Paraguay might be more your style. People leave there due to the consumerist lure of Miami and the hard times enforced by the 50 year old economic embargo/blockade courtesy of the yanks.

        The Cubans due to circumstances beyond their control moved to organic agriculture several decades ago and have kept a relentless focus on education and health. They train medical staff in many third world countries in exchange for commodities.

        The Cuban type of life style will become more common elsewhere as the fossil fuel burns out and the seas rise.
        All the capital and markets in the world don’t seem able to slow climate change.

        • Gosman 16.2.1.1

          I love how many on the left blame the problems of Cuba on the economic embargo by the US. Cuba is free to trade with most other nations. In fact they did so for almost thirty years reasonably successfully till the collapse of the Soviet bloc. If they hadn’t hitched their wagon to a failed economic system they wouldn,’t be in the mess they are now.

        • Tamati 16.2.1.2

          Having recently visited Cuba, I’d advise those supporting the “inequality is the root of evil” hypothesis not to use Cuba as a shining example of successful socialism. Stick to Scandinavia and comparing different American States.

          I can tell you for sure, most Cubans don’t sit around quaffing Mojitos all day.

          • Molly 16.2.1.2.1

            Recently visited – does not necessarily mean well-informed – unless you have researched the historical political background and visited a variety of different demographics while you were there – with the intent of becoming informed.

            A friend of mine recalled her experience as an AFS student in Chile during the coup of Allende. Her host family supported the coup, and for many years she believed that it was the equivalent of throwing out a fascist dictator. Her view was skewed by the – fairly wealthy – family she was staying with.

            I was overseas for many years, but did not extend myself to learn about the politics and the lives lived by those who resided in those countries. I returned to NZ, and discovered to my shame, I was equally uninformed about my own country.

      • Tracey 16.2.2

        meanwhile back at the thread about a book youhavent read, gosman.

        • Tiger Mountain 16.2.2.1

          good point Tracey,
          back on track, it is a challenging read for lefties too to test their theories against, the right can’t handle “The Spirit Level” in any way because the failure of neo liberalism to deliver anything of substance to most of us is well exposed.

          The writers are found wanting in solutions to inequality though despite seeming genuine with their community based companies etc. They fall into the common trap that revolution (as in a shift in class power, not just regime changes as in the middle East recently) is not on the agenda due to past failures.

        • Gosman 16.2.2.2

          Why are you assuming I haven’t read it?

          • Tracey 16.2.2.2.1

            apart from your responses strongly implying it the fact that you have drifted a long way from the book is quite informative.

            slylands can be found at 125 the terrace at about 10am most mornings. meet up with and you guys can pat each other on the back about how successful the current state of affairs makes you feel. just clean up after yourselves.

  15. tricledrown 17

    Wayne was [deleted]

    [lprent: If you are going to assert a fact about a person then make sure that you also provide a link. To do otherwise cause this site to become liable and I don't like that. I'd prefer to get rid of the fool that increased the risk. In this case I think that your assertion was completely wrong. ]

  16. Ron 18

    A busy week for those going to lectures but just in case you still have energy left the Fabians have a good lecture on tomorrow Ethics in Finance and the Regulation of the Financial Sector
    Details on their site here Fabians

  17. greywarbler 19

    I thought I would provide a change from Gosman who is filling in his meaningless days filling the Standard with electronic utterances.

    This link is to Rosemary McLeod ‘s piece on Featherston subtitled Death in a town that lost its values. Rosemary illustrates the backdrop of the town with high unemployment low opportunities and lower hopes for the future under present regimes. She suspects that many small towns like Featherston ‘have gone bad since the infrastructure that one surrounded them collapsed…

    With that went opportunities for work, which offers the ability to live decently, if modestly, that welfare does not. You can see how hopelessness sets in, especially if you’re unskilled. When the world doesn’t value you how can you value anyone, even your own kids?.

    And this has resulted in sickening violence and deaths. Four young people, all parents, were found guilty in March of killing a man accused of rape, one wearing her special ‘stomping boots’, and then went to a service station, washed the blood off their shoes, and ate pies. Then went to some nightclubs and then to a local cemetery where one visited the grave of his partner and daughter. Also remembered is 6-year old Coral Burrows. Her stepfather killed her in 2003, after smoking P, on his fifth night and day without sleeping. (Mindless lives and deaths stripped of all purpose and nobility.)

    • Roy 19.1

      The catch there is that none of the murderers were Featherston residents. Three of them lived in Masterton and one in the Hutt valley.

      • greywarbler 19.1.1

        The catch is that Featherston happened to be the location for the murders plus other crime. And the point is that these are happening in the regions where there is not enough going on to keep young people occupied with lives to plan for. However in contrast with that there was Ewen Macdonald who had much to live for, and plenty of work and still committed crime.

        What values are the lads in the backblocks being taught. And there was a report about the violent and abusive behaviour of parents at rugby games and that kids were copying the adults. It was so bad that the young parents wouldn’t take it on and older men were stepping forward to help out as they were a bit distanced from it because of their age.

        It seems that rural practices and attitudes of respect and help for each other are not what they were, with serious rustling in some areas. Ewen Macdonald didn’t think twice about stealing a neighbour’s trophy deer – poaching is stealing – taking the heads and steaks and leaving the rest. He admitted it and didn’t seem to be ashamed of that or the other stuff he did. And found another guy to help him.

        • Phil 19.1.1.1

          What values are the lads in the backblocks being taught. [today?]

          I’ll wager all the money in my pockets, against all the money in your pockets, that they’re being taught the same values their fathers, and their fathers fathers, and the fathers fathers fathers were being taught.

          There’s a cultural phenomenon that we, as a species, have never shaken – belief that the old days were better. Based on interactions with my grandparents (before they passed away) and their siblings, I’d say that it’s almost certain the ‘good old days’ had a much greater quantity of vile and hateful racist, sexist, and homophobic tendencies than anything that exists today. I’d also wager that the Chris Trotter’s of this world suffer selective amnesia when they talk about how everyone got along and communities were more cohesive.

          • greywarbler 19.1.1.1.1

            Don’t wager anything Phil. It certainly is just conjecture that I have put forward. But the advent of psycho drugs and the long period of decline in opportunity of employment at a decent rate in the whole country made worse by the shrinking of numbers in farming communities will have had a downward effect on lives, future planning and values. Pinching the odd beast for dinner might have been ignored but organised rustling can put a family out of business. And the high jinks that might have led to problems in the past were of a different order than a home invasion, beating and murder.

          • Psycho Milt 19.1.1.1.2

            I’d also wager that the Chris Trotter’s of this world suffer selective amnesia when they talk about how everyone got along and communities were more cohesive.

            Fuckin’ A. As a teenager on the West Coast in the early-mid 70s, I saw no end of people that today’s wasters couldn’t teach a thing to. And no end of proof that ‘community cohesion’ is effectively another word for not rocking the boat or else.

  18. aerobubble 20

    Why did the allies, the humans first democracies, communist countries win over the fanatic and hierarchical? Simple. We were more equal and less bone’s to pick over. There is no time better than strife than to even scores. How many socialists, democrats in Hitlers armies trip up on purpose? How many buddhists drummed into the Jap airforce miss the US navy ships? Its because we don’t ask people to throw their lives away that we are a stronger society.

    And so the puzzle, why does it seem, thanks to all the spin, that we’d do anything, sell off our future for the planet to profit now. Its not only stupid, its crazy, as all it takes now is a few fanatical greenies to kick the system over to save the planet from our species. But you see we all still
    to democratic and free, that that is not happening.

    Its good economics, good politics, good society to be Green. Neo-liberals are fools.

    • How many socialists, democrats in Hitlers armies trip up on purpose?

      I remember watching a doco on guys restoring WW2 tanks, they were saying it was amazing how often the German tanks had obvious sabotage – bolts untightened, parts fitted backwards, pipes bent where it couldn’t be seen, cigarette butts stuffed down oil galleys…

  19. Ron 21

    I can confirm that John Key is not present at the lecture. Guess he will watch it on The replay

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    Public Address | 23-07
  • More stat-juking
    There were more allegations in Parliament today that the government is juking the stats, with Andrew Little pointing at a report from the Taranaki Daily News that a Crown prosecutor had claimed:"There was one occasion in 2012 when it was...
    No Right Turn | 23-07
  • A cleaner, fairer, smarter New Zealand
    Russel Norman- General debate speech, 23 July 2014   Together, it is possible to build a cleaner, fairer, smarter New Zealand. A New Zealand in which our rivers are clean enough to swim in and our precious beaches are safe...
    frogblog | 23-07
  • Using Ministerial Inquiries to Close Down Debate
    As a young MP in the British House of Commons in the late 1970s, I rapidly became aware that half the political stories in Fleet Street originated with the Press Association’s indefatigable political correspondent, Chris Moncrieff. I was regularly button-holed...
    Bryan Gould | 23-07
  • Prison hulks
    In the 18th and 19th centuries, Britain pioneered a new type of atrocity: the prison hulk. Faced with a shortage of jail space, they turned to imprisoning convicts on former warships. The prisoners were subjected to appalling conditions in an...
    No Right Turn | 23-07
  • Challenging Britain’s panopticon
    Last week, the British establishment rammed through new "emergency" surveillance and data retention laws, with the collusion of all three major parties. Now those laws are being challenged in the courts:Two leading Westminster civil liberties campaigners, David Davis and Tom...
    No Right Turn | 23-07
  • Systemic Realignment.
    The chaotic state of contemporary international affairs demonstrates the serious limitations of constructivism and idealism as theoretical frameworks for the analysis of global macro-dynamics. The former claims that the construction of international institutions helps universalise common values and mores, thereby...
    Kiwipolitico | 23-07
  • Member’s Day
    Today is a Member's Day, the last of the Parliamentary term. But thanks to government filibustering over the past few months, instead of seeing the third reading of Sue Moroney's Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months' Paid Leave) Amendment...
    No Right Turn | 23-07
  • Socially helpful photoshopping
    This one is close to my heart. It involves a man who lost his infant daughter Sophia to severe disease. She was only 6 weeks old. Sophia’s father Nathan had never seen her face free of wires and tubes. So...
    Polity | 23-07
  • Why are the electric trains so slow?
    In the first week or two of the Onehunga Line’s switch to electric trains there were major issues with the trains keeping to timetable, apparently due to overly conservative speed restrictions being put in the trains as part of their...
    Transport Blog | 23-07
  • Dairy Farming in Brazil :Nitrogen Management
    With the challenge New Zealand is facing with increased nitrogen leaching that has come with intensifying of dairy, there is understandably a tendency to ‘look over the fence’ and see how we compare with others. New Zealanders have applied our...
    Gareth’s World | 23-07
  • Gamechangers
    Updated the tracking poll. For variety’s sake this one goes all the way back to the start of 2005. It doesn’t correct for bias and the large circles intersecting the vertical lines are election results : Josie Pagani wrote a ‘what...
    DimPost | 23-07
  • Understanding the 2014 election campaign
    If David Cunliffe decided one day to redecorate his kitchen, they would call it a décor flip-flop....
    Imperator Fish | 22-07
  • Shuttling diplomacy between the bombs
    The mounting death toll in Gaza has spurred an intensified flurry of diplomacy (again), and finally a stated acknowledgement that this time the terms of any ceasefire (which will eventually come) need to differ from those of the past three...
    Pundit | 22-07
  • National Government Running Regional Health Services into Oblivion
    I am amazed anyone outside of Auckland will be voting for National this election.  They have shown only one intent in regards to regions outside of Auckland, and to a slightly lesser extent Christchurch, everywhere else  is considered a last...
    An average kiwi | 22-07
  • The MH17 blame game
    No matter who's side you're on, it's a terrible day when innocent lives are lost in another countries conflict. As questions still need to be answered as to why exactly flight MH17 was flying in controlled airspace in the first place, many headlines...
    The Jackal | 22-07
  • Hard News: Te Reo Māori in schools: let’s just start
    I was born 52 years ago today, on a date that seems unnervingly close to the 1950s. I caught the end of the free school milk years (they really did just leave it out in the sun) and I like...
    Public Address | 22-07
  • World News Brief, Wednesday July 23
    Top of the AgendaIsrael-Hamas Conflict Continues Despite International Pressure...
    Pundit | 22-07
  • The Regions and Stuff
    Yesterday Labour announced a boost for the regions, with at least $200 million available for large-scale projects that promise to give some of our struggling regions new economic opportunities. Dredging harbours, re-opening rail-lines, strategic procurement decisions, that kind of thing....
    Polity | 22-07
  • Disgraceful
    John Key’s refusal this week to apologise to Tania Billingsley is nothing short of disgraceful. Even worse is the reason he gave for ignoring Ms Billingsley: I don't make apologies unless there's a serious reason for me to do that....
    Polity | 22-07
  • Basin Bridge Bowled
    In stunning news yesterday the Board of Inquiry hearing the case for the Basin Bridge bowled out the NZTA by declined consent for the project.  This is what it would have looked like had it been approved: All up the...
    Transport Blog | 22-07
  • iPredict 2014 Election Update #27: Nats back in ascendency
    Press Release – iPredict Inflation and interest rate expectations fall ahead of OCR announcement tomorrow Forecast fiscal surplus again falls sharply, and growth marginally down Greens fall and Internet-Mana strengthens, as Sykes gets closer in Waiariki No feasible …IPREDICT LTD...
    Its our future | 22-07
  • Government Planning on Ditching Group Special Education?
    As Parents who have a child with a learning disability and/or behavioural problems at school will know, Group Special Education (GSE) have the Specialists to assist staff with the best way to support those children. I have been told by...
    An average kiwi | 22-07
  • DOWNING OF MH17: A FALSE FLAG OPERATION?
    Or: Why Didn’t the Flight-booking Computers say ‘No’ to a Flight over War-zone? MH17 vs Ukrainian SU-25? Russian Defense Ministry claims a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet was within 5-10 km of the Malaysian aircraft.  Snoopman, 22 July 2014   Genuflection...
    Snoopman News | 22-07
  • Green party statement on Gaza
    Today, the Green party's Kennedy Graham made a heartfelt speech concerning the immediate cease fire in Gaza and called on Israel to withdraw it's military forces. The Green party MP also read out the names of children already killed in...
    The Jackal | 22-07
  • Seal of approval – How marine mammals provide important climate data
    Understanding what is happening in the oceans is crucial since 90% of global warming is going there and attempts to measure temperatures at various depths go back to the 1960s. But, what does this Weddell seal have to do with this...
    Skeptical Science | 22-07
  • Taskforce to Tackle Loopy Rules
    The National Party have announced that if they’re re-elected they’ll form a taskforce to tackle loopy rules and regulations. Local Government Minister Paula Bennett today announced the establishment of a new Taskforce to rid New Zealand of loopy rules and...
    Transport Blog | 22-07
  • Manufacturing dissent
    So, it turns out that almost all US "domestic terrorists" are created and directly incited by the US government:Nearly all of the highest-profile domestic terrorism plots in the United States since 9/11 featured the "direct involvement" of government agents or...
    No Right Turn | 22-07
  • Minimum wage rises don’t lift unemployment, analysts agree
    More than 600 US Economists, including 7 nobel laureates, assert that increases in the minimum wage have little or no negative effect on the employment of minimum wage workers ...
    Closing the Gap | 22-07
  • The NZ First conference: policy highlights
    What were some of the policy announcements that came from the New Zealand First conference?...
    Imperator Fish | 22-07
  • Saved
    The Basin Reserve has been saved: Controversial plans to build a flyover next to the Basin Reserve in Wellington have been killed off by a board of inquiry. In a stunning move today, four commissioners declined resource consent for the...
    No Right Turn | 22-07
  • Not serious
    That's John Key's assessment of his government's failure in the Tania Billingsley case:"I don't make apologies unless there's a serious reason for me to do that." Except apparently it is serious enough to justify an independent inquiry (though one which...
    No Right Turn | 22-07
  • Vote Choice: John Key – the Fence Sitter
    Welcome to ALRANZ’s Vote Choice series, where we offer you our views on candidate’s opinions on abortion and reproductive justice, so that you can make an informed decision on 20 September. We encourage members to go along to candidate forums...
    ALRANZ | 22-07
  • Barry Brill and Anonymous: U R A Fraud
    People send me things. Brightening my email inbox last week was a pithy little email, headed U r a fraud. It didn’t have much to say. Here it is, in its entirety, exactly as it appeared: Please take down your...
    Hot Topic | 22-07
  • Access: Power to (all) the people!
    The society we live in today has been shaped by many struggles, social movements, and revolutionary forces, most aiming to create a more egalitarian existence.  Women, indigenous peoples, LGBT communities, and even animals have secured hard won recognition of their...
    Public Address | 22-07
  • Up Front: Tomorrow Lives Forever
    A while back, I promised you that next time I wrote, we'd have more fun. In that time, the world in general and my life in particular have become much grimmer. Therefore, in my opinion, the Fun is even more...
    Public Address | 22-07
  • More Australian torture
    Successive Australian governments have systematically dehumanised and demonised asylum seekers as part of their war on refugees, and the results have been predictable: torture, murder, and ill-treatment. And now they're torturing refugees to cover up their crimes:Two asylum seekers in...
    No Right Turn | 22-07
  • Petrol price elasticity, and supermarket vouchers
    As we all know, when the price of something goes up, we buy less of it. For some products, we’ll change our behaviour significantly (holidays or books, perhaps). For other products, we just grit our teeth, hand over the credit...
    Transport Blog | 22-07
  • Claudette Hauiti doesn’t wait for a third strike
    National Party list MP Claudette Hauiti has this morning announced her retirement from politics. It’s safe to say that since she came in to Parliament as Aaron Gilmore’s replacement, back in May last year, her career as a backbench MP...
    Occasionally erudite | 22-07
  • Who Shot Down MH17?
    Killing Fields: The tragedy of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 is amplified by the Western news medias' refusal to either contextualise the airliner's destruction, or provide its global audience with any explanation other than Russian guilt and perfidy. As if historical events have...
    Bowalley Road | 22-07
  • Good riddance
    Last week we learned that National MP Claudette Hauiti had been stealing from the taxpayer by rorting her expenses. Today, she decided to quit:National list MP Claudette Hauiti has decided to withdraw from the election and politics altogether. She has...
    No Right Turn | 22-07