A calculated feeding of the beasts within

Written By: - Date published: 2:13 pm, February 5th, 2015 - 74 comments
Categories: art, assets, benefits, business, class war, culture, discrimination, economy, Economy, Ethics, history, john key, Keynes, monetary policy, national/act government, Politics, privatisation, Privatisation, quality of life, social democracy, socialism, uncategorized, welfare - Tags:

There was a piece written in The Guardian last year by Paul Verhaeghe about the way that Neoliberalism has shaped current behaviours, titled Neoliberalism has brought out the worst in us. It touched on something I have been thinking a lot about lately: how the social democracy of my youth has so radically collapsed into our current culture of individualism, privatisation and personal greed.

Now hold on! Don’t get uppity at my use of the word ‘social’ (as in ‘socialism.’) For the record, I’m not a Socialist, Communist, Marxist or Anything-else-ist (not even, as one commenter on my post The Hypocrisy of Hate claimed, ‘Hard Right’, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean!) I’m merely using the word as a signifier for the kind of Keynesian-style economic policies that enabled the building of state houses and other communally beneficial assets, free and universal multi-tiered education and healthcare, affordable utilities, supporting local businesses and industry, full employment – in fact, the kind of supportive social environment that we used to hold up as a marker of ‘civilisation’ (i.e. a society’s ability to care for its most vulnerable.)

Whoa again! I’m certainly not saying that it was perfect! In fact, it was structurally racist and unfair for Maori and for other so-called ‘minority’ groups. Still is. But what it underlined and encouraged, I believe, in most ordinary people, was a belief that we were all in this together, and that we should place people’s needs and human rights at the centre of our decision making. We grew up believing everyone had a right to share the riches of the country: to own a home, to go to school with food in our bellies and shoes on our feet. In fact, we prided ourselves for this, even if the reality didn’t always live up to the hype. But underlying it all was an ethos of generosity and compassion. Of community. Of general goodwill.

These were the values I was raised with, as I’m sure were most of you. We were taught to share. Taught to tell the truth. To help the needy. That worker’s rights deserved protecting. That our environment was precious. That war was destructive and hideous; never to be repeated. Taught that those whom we democratically elected were there to act on our behalf for the greater good. (Ah, the good old 1960s, all that love and peace!)

Now fast-forward through the upheaval of the 1980s, to the current cultural climate we are living with today. Verhaeghe’s thesis is that the kinds of behaviour privileged in “meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.”

“There are certain ideal characteristics needed to make a career today. The first is articulateness, the aim being to win over as many people as possible. Contact can be superficial, but since this applies to most human interaction nowadays, this won’t really be noticed.

It’s important to be able to talk up your own capacities as much as you can – you know a lot of people, you’ve got plenty of experience under your belt and you recently completed a major project. Later, people will find out that this was mostly hot air, but the fact that they were initially fooled is down to another personality trait: you can lie convincingly and feel little guilt. That’s why you never take responsibility for your own behaviour.

On top of all this, you are flexible and impulsive, always on the lookout for new stimuli and challenges. In practice, this leads to risky behaviour, but never mind, it won’t be you who has to pick up the pieces[1]. The source of inspiration for this list? The psychopathy checklist by Robert Hare, the best-known specialist on psychopathy today. “

Okay, let’s deal straight away with the first obvious distracting argument that might erupt: namely, that NZ under our current government cannot be labelled as ‘neoliberal’. Bryce Edwards quoted several refutations of this recently in his excellent summary of the ludicrous response to Eleanor Catton’s comments (The Politics of Eleanor Catton and Public Debate) However, in general terms I think it’s fair to say that we have moved from a more Keynesian-style ‘cradle to grave’ approach to what the British Dictionary describes as: neoliberalism: a modern politico-economic theory favouring free trade, privatization, minimal government intervention in business, reduced public expenditure on social services, etc. (If you don’t like this definition try: Investopedia for a more business-minded approach or Corpwatch for a more left-leaning view or our own Chris Trotter giving it a more feminist spin or good old democratic Wikipedia!)

We saw the first real shifts, of course, during the Labour Govt’s dramatic U-turn in the 1980s, under arch-ACTor Roger Douglas. And by the early 1990s we were hearing social policy referred to deridingly as the ‘nanny state,’ despite the fact that governments have always been in the business of legislating around ‘best’ behaviour ( voting equity, 5 o’clock closing, milk in schools, swimming pools in schools to promote water safety[2], domestic purposes benefit[3] , recognising and criminalising rape in marriage, free vaccinations etc etc.) – and, despite the fact that this current National Government (many of whom who used the accusation of the ‘nanny state’ as a major weapon against the Clark Govt) continues to legislate similarly socially-engineered policies, such as pegging certain behaviours to welfare benefits, the banning of party pills and synthetic cannabis, adjustments to blood/alcohol limits, new work and safety measures etc. yet fails to see the irony (or hypocrisy) in this at all.

While we have seen some gains at the edges of social policy (think: the miraculous vanishing acts of hospital waiting lists before each election) the overall well-being of the majority in the country has taken a slide, despite the claims that a free and open market will benefit us all by ‘trickling down.’ A fascinating paper on the history of Social Policy (Social Policy History: Forty Years on, Forty Years Back,[4] concludes:

“The needs of families with children are treated residually, particularly if they are dependent on the state. It is not a coincidence that a high proportion of these families are socially, economically at the margins and Maori or Pasifica. A much higher level of inequality has not only become politically acceptable, attempts to close social and economic gaps pose clear political risks to government.”

In Bryce Edward’s article, economist Brian Easton argues that he doesn’t think “we have a ‘neoliberal’ government . . . In fact this government is . . . a business-oriented one. Business took on a neoliberal stance in the Rogernomic unwinding of the economic regime which Muldoon represented. But they don’t any longer. Rather they actively use the government to pursue their interests. The Sky City deal was not neoliberal.’ ” Eh?

Certainly, I don’t think it’s as simple as that. As Verhaeghe points out, with regards to business focused governments such as National, their main preoccupations are always going to be how to “extract more profit from the situation than your competition.” It’s an attitude. A value. A belief in profit above all else.

National knows it daren’t cut funding for social or artistic supports completely (its parsimonious and reluctant handouts the main argument flaunted by those who insist that the Nats are not ideologically driven by neo-liberal theory – see David Farrar’s piece in The Herald .) They know the outcry would be deafening. Instead, they chip away at it through sleight of hand . . . a tweak of the criteria here, a ‘consolidation’ of resources there. Like death from a thousand tiny cuts they undermine the support systems and push the load over to the already cash-strapped community providers, shifting the blame when these structures become so undermined they eventually fail. With all the slickness of Marine Le Pen’s PR campaign in France to rehabilitate Fascism, they present a sympathetic shark smile, distributing a few stale lollies to the masses while they knife us in the back.

I admit upfront I’m not an economic expert or a social policy analyst[5], but as a writer it’s my job to closely observe what is going on around me and to hone in on the complexities and vagaries of human behaviour. This is where my observations and thoughts begin to resonate with the underlying theme of Verhaeghe’s article. What I see is a growing lack of empathy, a rise in bullying behaviour, not only in a work context, but also in the population at large – and, as recent times have shown us, against those with the audacity to dare speak out. There’s been a steady creep in our values – in the kind of behaviours and endeavours we celebrate in our role models. Yes, of course, we’ve always been swayed by the flash of money, no doubt of that. But it now seems that the cut-throat accumulation of wealth is hailed as the apex of human endeavour – the highest possible attainable attribute – and that end goal somehow forgives the abysmally self-interested behaviour deployed in order to attain it. As Verhaeghe points out:

“Bullying used to be confined to schools; now it is a common feature of the workplace. This is a typical symptom of the impotent venting their frustration on the weak – in psychology it’s known as displaced aggression. There is a buried sense of fear, ranging from performance anxiety to a broader social fear of the threatening other . . .

Constant evaluations at work cause a decline in autonomy and a growing dependence on external, often shifting, norms. This results in what the sociologist Richard Sennett has aptly described as the “infantilisation of the workers”. Adults display childish outbursts of temper and are jealous about trivialities (“She got a new office chair and I didn’t”), tell white lies, resort to deceit, delight in the downfall of others and cherish petty feelings of revenge. This is the consequence of a system that prevents people from thinking independently and that fails to treat employees as adults.

Our society constantly proclaims that anyone can make it if they just try hard enough, all the while reinforcing privilege and putting increasing pressure on its overstretched and exhausted citizens. An increasing number of people fail, feeling humiliated, guilty and ashamed. We are forever told that we are freer to choose the course of our lives than ever before, but the freedom to choose outside the success narrative is limited. Furthermore, those who fail are deemed to be losers or scroungers, taking advantage of our social security system.

A neoliberal meritocracy would have us believe that success depends on individual effort and talents, meaning responsibility lies entirely with the individual and authorities should give people as much freedom as possible to achieve this goal. For those who believe in the fairytale of unrestricted choice, self-government and self-management are the pre-eminent political messages, especially if they appear to promise freedom. Along with the idea of the perfectible individual, the freedom we perceive ourselves as having in the west is the greatest untruth of this day and age.

The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman neatly summarised the paradox of our era as: “Never have we been so free. Never have we felt so powerless.” “

It is this sense of powerless, I think, which now manifests itself as mouth-frothing anger; the kind of anger that fuels groups of young people to chant out “fuck John Key” and send many of us to Twitter and other social media, needing to gnash our teeth. What they see is their future being stolen away: housing, education, employment, hope . . . and beneath it all a steady eroding of people’s self-respect, because the culture that has been fostered by neo-liberal ideology is to blame the victim, to despise anyone who does not fit the narrow ‘business’ focussed criteria of a self-made man.

“Our presumed freedom is tied to one central condition: we must be successful – that is, “make” something of ourselves.”

There’s a reason that we’ve heard John Key tell his state-house-to-millionaire fairy-tale ad nauseum (especially around election times.) It is part of the common myth fabricated by the rich; the carrot on the stick that serves to keep the workers questing for the riches of the kings. But the rules of this mythic world are very one-dimensional. Money equals power, full-bloody-stop.

Where is the place of arts in all this? It’s hard to believe that a Prime Minster who refers to our very own Booker Prize winner as ‘a fictional writer’ cares much about the arts or intellectual debate, or sees any valid reason for their pursuit at all (in fact, you’d be excused for thinking Key was channelling that spoonerising genius George W Bush.) Yet the irony, and the deep frustration, is that it is often only through the pursuit and practice of arts that we know so much about previous centuries and generations – often one of the only ways – learning from the art and literature left behind.

But there’s no place for arts or intellectuals in this neo-liberal Utopia, it gives rise to too many awkward questions, worships at the shrine of higher values that makes profit for profit’s sake seem greedy, selfish, even (quelle horreur) small. Instead, the masses are encouraged to fill their heads with trivia, feed the beasts inside ourselves. Look at the average programming on free to air TV: out with any commentary or documentary exploration, in with crime shows (murder, blood, betrayal and mayhem), bullying reality shows, pre-fabricated celebrities. Mean, ugly, dark, dark, dark. It suits those at the top to keep us distracted by dreams of short-lived notoriety and easy gains. It suits them even better to keep us in a trumped-up perpetual state of fear.

This is what I see as I look around each day. This is what Verhaeghe sees. Not that human beings are incapable of living peaceful, supportive communal lives (I hate the cynicism of nay-sayers who claim we can’t rise above our animal instincts), but that through cynical manipulation we are encouraged to live shallowly, selfishly, devoid of compassion for our neighbours and suspicious of everyone else.

“There are constant laments about the so-called loss of norms and values in our culture. Yet our norms and values make up an integral and essential part of our identity. So they cannot be lost, only changed. And that is precisely what has happened: a changed economy reflects changed ethics and brings about changed identity. The current economic system is bringing out the worst in us.”

Whew ! Amen.

[1] Remind you of anyone? That fellow with the mansion in Hawaii perhaps?

[2] As an aside, what a shame government has seen fit to close so many of these down as a cost saving measure, while our drowning rates are now reaching epidemic proportions

[3] one of the most important breakthroughs for NZ women EVER

[4] presented by Massey University’s Michael Belgrade at the “Affording our Future” Conference, Wellington, 10-11 December 2012

[5] Here you go, trolls, the perfect quote to jump upon!

photo credit: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

74 comments on “A calculated feeding of the beasts within”

  1. r0b 1

    Thank you Mandy. I meant to write about that Verhaeghe piece at some point, but you have done so much more comprehensively and articulately than I could have! You said:

    through cynical manipulation we are encouraged to live shallowly, selfishly, devoid of compassion for our neighbours and suspicious of everyone else.

    In the early days of the web I hoped that the tools of manipulation were going to become outmoded – that people would have forms of communication that by-passed such messaging. Not the way it turned out, of course.

    • Bunji 1.1

      He he! I’ve had it in my “must write about” pile as well!
      And yes, fantastic job done on it Mandy!

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      In the early days of the web I hoped that the tools of manipulation were going to become outmoded – that people would have forms of communication that by-passed such messaging. Not the way it turned out, of course.

      It’s not the way it’s turned out yet but the net is still young and looking at how the corporations and the rich are trying to make the net conform to what they want I believe it still has the potential to upset the way things are.

  2. framu 2

    interestingly – and im talking coincedence not conspiracy here – what drives modern consumerism fits hand in glove with what “neo-liberal”politics focuses on

    “what do I want?” – not what do i need, or what do we need

    • aerobubble 2.1

      Much effort is given freely to make life better for soceity.

      Then neo-liberals won power, Thatcher.

      Govt would get out of the way they said, and it did, of slum landlords,
      loan sharks, con artists ponsi schemers. Housing was left to run down,
      government was in the way.

      Consumers too, the quality just keeps dropping and its only because the
      price kept dropping too.

      But thats the point, Thatcher knew that a massive glut of cheap high density
      liquid fuel was about to be released onto the markes for the next thirty years.

      That one off energy bonanza was taken and used to con us all, consumers too.

      Many saw the conservative revolution as a turning a back on community,
      and so also did, shrinking civil society, I mean what point was there to building
      and renewing civil society when the market was, or worse, when money
      talked in the halls of power.

      The rule of law and its enemies, are the tories, even today they want to
      continue ravaging society, fearful unions will again return To demand
      a share, fearful that govt wil have to again worry about those who will
      never gey a proper education or live in a house, the poor who always
      are going to need.

      The tories think poverty will eventually disappear as markets deliver,
      yet ignore rent seeking, and the reults of thirty years of their experiment,
      take place at the best of time, cheap oil.

  3. Draco T Bastard 3

    Some deny society exists. Let’s prove them wrong |
    George Monbiot

    Individuation, a necessary response to oppressive conformity, is exploitable. New social hierarchies built around positional goods and conspicuous consumption took the place of the old. The conflict between individualism and egalitarianism, too readily ignored by those who helped to break the oppressive norms and strictures, does not resolve itself.

    So we are lost in the 21st century, living in a state of social disaggregation that hardly anyone desired but which is an emergent property of a world reliant on rising consumption to avert economic collapse, saturated with advertising and framed by market fundamentalism. We inhabit a planet our ancestors would have found impossible to imagine: 7 billion people, suffering an epidemic of loneliness. It is a world of our making but not of our choice.

    In 1949 Aldous Huxley wrote to George Orwell to argue that his dystopian vision was the more convincing. “The lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience … The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency.” I don’t believe he was wrong.

    We have stepped out of reality into flights of fancy and are now reaping the reward.

    • In Vino 3.2

      “In 1949 Aldous Huxley wrote to George Orwell to argue that his dystopian vision was the more convincing.” They are both men – ‘his’ is ambiguous. I assume Huxley was referring to his own vision. I hope so, because I have always felt that ‘Brave New World’ is more chillingly close to our world than ‘1984’. Mind you, the contest gets close at times. Newspeak, changing alliances in wars.. But your point about people loving their servitude does, I fear, give Huxley the edge.
      As a teacher (semi-retired now) I always encouraged kids to improve their already sharp bullshit-detectors. (They used to start on me, the little devils.) The sad thing is that detecting bullshit is only a beginning. It does not stop them being conditioned by the odious commercialism that now pervades everything.

      “We have stepped out of reality into flights of fancy and are now reaping the reward.” This could well be the human condition that each new generation has to cope with. One has to hope that the brilliant 2% or so of kids – who are talented beyond the point where our education system and commercialised indoctrinating media can tame them – will help the next generation to cope with the mess we are leaving for them.
      Assuming that they have an environment in which our society can survive.
      And hoping that Huxley was not entirely right…

      • Incognito 3.2.1

        Yes, reading the letter I think Huxley was referring to Brave New World. Great comments, BTW, although I don’t share your hope that “the brilliant 2% or so of kids” will or even could be our ‘salvation’ for want of a better word. They can be as easily manipulated as any other and turned against the masses; we cannot rely on others to do the heavy lifting and we all have to do our bit.

  4. music4menz 4

    There are lots of interesting and challenging things in this post, Mandy, but I’m not sure that I’d agree with you that in New Zealand ‘the cut-throat accumulation of wealth is seen as the apex of human endeavour’. This isn’t an attitude that I come across much in everyday NZ life, nor read about in the NZ media.

    I doubt that many NZers would be able to name the richest people in the country, or even have much interest in them. I don’t hear young people saying that they want to be like this person or that person because they’ve accumulated wealth. We don’t laud our sportsmen and women for the amount of money they are making but for their sporting talents. We don’t judge the likes of Kiri Te Kanawa for how much she has earned in her career but for the beauty of her voice.

    And if we are to take the example of John Key I think we’re likely to find more people criticising him for having accumulated wealth than praising him for it. Most NZers probably don’t even give it a passing thought because it is of no interest to them how much money he has.

    I’m wondering if you aren’t being just a wee bit tough on the average Kiwi who I think is more interested in having a job, earning enough to live on plus a bit more for the recreational side of life. Doing a good day’s work, looking after the family and enjoying what this great country has to offer is more important to most of us than accumulating wealth.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1

      Does that argument hold water?

      A common feature of National Party rhetoric around conservation issues is that a balance has to be struck between economic development and the environment, in spite of the fact that the former is entirely dependent on the latter.

      A common feature of National Party rhetoric is that Labour has no business experience, and are holding the economy back in some concocted fact-free way.

      And a sizable lump of the lumpen middle income earners buy into it by voting for them.

      Leaking like a sieve, in fact.

      • music4menz 4.1.1

        You may be right but I don’t see that people are therefore necessarily voting in order to accumulate personal wealth. I don’t see that NZers are consumed with making money as ‘the apex of human endeavour’.

        • weka 4.1.1.1

          Yes there are still plenty of NZers for whom wealth accumulation is not the be all and end all. But it’s there in the culture. Rock Star economy. The shift from family farming to industrial dairying. The way you’re not supposed to be critical of wealthy people. The exponential taking on of personal debt in the past 30 years in order to fund lifestyles that go far beyond necessity for good living. The number of people that vote for what they perceive as benefit to themselves rather than to the country.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 4.1.1.2

          …and yet when facts have the temerity to suggest that wealth is accumulated by chance, wingnuts get all bent out of shape and self-attribution biasy. They certainly behave as though it’s very important to them.

    • Incognito 4.2

      But this post is not about the “average Kiwi” but about the powerful forces that shape society and the people that make up that society. These forces are not forces of nature but driven by humans and human interests and these people often do hail the cut-throat accumulation of wealth as the apex of human endeavour. The fact that these forces are not on everybody’s mind is irrelevant because their actions are undeniable and unmistakable, just like gravity, which is a force of nature and also poorly understood by the majority of people.

      Your comment reminds me of John Key saying that about the only thing people are interested in is snapper quota; it isolates and marginalises what is raised in this post and in the Guardian article as irrelevant and thus unimportant. I hope this was not your intention.

  5. One Anonymous Bloke 5

    …the cut-throat accumulation of wealth is hailed as the apex of human endeavour – the highest possible attainable attribute – and that end goal somehow forgives the abysmally self-interested behaviour deployed in order to attain it.

    Yet wealth is delivered by chance, not behaviour.

    The increase in bullying you’re witnessing is also a feature of another type of malaise: increased income inequality, and this is a pretty well established link, too.

    It’s worth digging into the resources available from the Equality Trust, particularly regarding violence, trust and mental health.

  6. BLiP 6

    Wise words, well said.

  7. Olwyn 7

    When I read your piece Mandy, another Bauman quote sprung to mind, “In a system where rationality and ethics point in opposite directions, humanity is the main loser.”

    I don’t think that many people consciously subscribe to neo-liberalism, but since it is currently the dominant economic view, people do what they think they must to get by or flourish within that context. This could even apply to John Key himself. It is not a creed you can imagine anyone loving so much they would willingly die for it. Even those who do die for it in wars usually think they are dying for democracy. This creed’s dominance, and its ability to draw people to it through “rational self-interest” only, shows why it shapes society in the way that it does, toward individualism and selfishness.

  8. adam 8

    Can we move on from calling this economic system neo-liberal and call this economic system what it is please.

    This is liberalism.

    Simply, nothing to new about it any more – this is a liberal economic system. It is the triumph of economic orthodoxy, which seems to be all and more what Goldman, Kropotkin, Bakunin and others saw as hell on earth for the majority – and a privileged materialistic existence for a ruling minority.

    • Bill 8.1

      I always thought of the current economic orthodoxy as a resurrection of the classical economy – ie, ‘free trade’ pushed by the more powerful economic actors onto the weaker economic actors (think Structural Adjustment Programmes of the 80s being tied to aid etc)

      Anyway, labels aside, any form of capitalism rewards fairly despicable traits and one of the chief ‘get ahead’ behaviours is to rip off all and sundry while avoiding being ripped off. Pull that off, and you go far.

      Here’s a thing though. Back in the earlier days of capitalism, making mountains of money was frowned upon…and so consciences were salved by being ever so generous with those thieved/ripped-off gains. (Carnegie et al). Charitably offering somebody crutches after you’ve callously broken their legs is how I’d summarise the dynamic of many so called philanthropists of those earlier years.

      And now we have the Gates et al. Same shit.

      In the middle, there was a time when it didn’t pay quite so handsomely to be a complete b’stard. There were high taxes on the upper ends of earning meaning that at some point, the very rich saw no point in earning ‘even more’…not when the ‘even more’ was going to be taxed at 90% or whatever.

      I’d argue those high tax rates modified behaviour just a tad on the greed front. But now, greed has no ceiling – the sky’s the limit and the fuckers have the ability to buy and sell governments…something (I think) the early mega rich couldn’t aspire to since they lacked the boost of inherited zillions earning interest faster than any productive source of ‘wealth’ generation.

      Even if you want to preserve a market economy (I don’t), it’s past the time to bring the mega-rich crashing down. Hammer them (including corporations)hard with whatever (wealth and/or asset) tax running at 100% over a certain limit….moderate just how much greed can pay.

      • adam 8.1.1

        But the orthodoxy had a name – liberal economics. You know Ricardo, Mill and the like.

        On the other issue – name me one political party in the west with the spine to do that Bill. Maybe the new Greek mob – but time will tell. Many social democrat’s have succumbed to greed as well. Or have been infected with, I don’t know what – but they are weak.

        I’ll leave the last word with Lucy Parsons

        “Never be deceived
        that the rich
        will allow you
        to vote away their wealth”

        • Bill 8.1.1.1

          I think that both ‘Classical’ and ‘Liberal’ refer to the same economic theory. (Smith, Ricardo, Mill…)

          A political party that will act against entrenched power? Pass.

          I have never had a vote, and I have raised hell all over this country. You don’t need a vote to raise hell! You need convictions and a voice!

          (Mother Jones) 😉

  9. Anne 9

    We grew up believing everyone had a right to share the riches of the country: to own a home, to go to school with food in our bellies and shoes on our feet. In fact, we prided ourselves for this, even if the reality didn’t always live up to the hype. But underlying it all was an ethos of generosity and compassion. Of community. Of general goodwill.

    Add to that we knew everyone in the street and there was genuine respect for other people’s points of view. I well remember running in and out of the houses of my playmates, just as they ran in and out of mine. My father was for a few years the campaign manager of the local Labour member of parliament. When I grew up I realised that most of my friends’ parents were National Party supporters. But it made no difference.

    An egalatarian society where nearly everyone counted. Unfortunately anyone born after 1980 has not experienced such a society and they don’t know there is something so much better than what we have today.

  10. The main point about neo-liberalism is that it is not a policy enacted by supply siders and dictators, or an aberration from ‘normal’ capitalism.
    True, Pinochet’s Coup was organised by the CIA and promoted by the Chicago school supply siders to stop Allende’s plans to nationalise US copper interests, reverse this process and privatise state assets.
    And this coup was promoted as the archetypical neo-liberal regime, a model for all other states to follow. A strong state enforcing the move towards the free market.

    Neo-liberalism was the global response to the onset of a structural crisis of falling profits in the 1960s which saw the big imperialist powers aggressively attack the reforms introduced during the 1930s and WW2 to nationalise and regulate the economy.
    These measures saw the global economy through the war, but now became barriers to restoring profits.
    It was necessary to attack wages, privatise state property and deregulate the market to restructure firms so that they were internationally competitive.
    NZ took a while to join this counter-revolution as Muldoon battered down the hatches and tried to steer a course through the stormy sea to delay the inevitable.
    A decade after Pinochet the Labour Party proved that capitalist governments must always serve the interests of capitalism and put profits before people.
    Neo-liberalism is therefore just a label we attach to the period of structural crisis of falling profits consisting of an ideology of the free market masking the intervention of a strong and increasingly authoritarian state to restructure assets to restore profits.
    Neo-liberalism is struggling to realise its inner Pinochet supply side.

  11. NZJester 11

    When it comes to money there are also a big inequity in penalties for stealing it.
    It seams like those who can steal the most from people tend to get the smallest penalties and get sent to the better prisons. They also prevent the money being reclaimed by those they stole it from by putting it away in to trusts for their families.
    Any trust funded with stolen money and assets purchased with stolen money that are given to family should also be able to be reclaimed by the law.
    John Key was part of the corporate raider set that found businesses rich in assets but low in capital. They would move to take them over, then shutting then down and selling off all the assets and putting the workers out of work all for a quick profit.

    We in New Zealand have been rich in assets and low in capital. John Key and his mates have used their money to take over, strip out all the valuable assets they can and put everyone out of work all for a quick profit.

    • Colonial Rawshark 11.1

      It’s a simple rule. If you are high up the societal hierarchy and are thieving or using violence on those lower down in the hierarchy, that’s OK: you’re either celebrated for it as a genius or at worst receive some kind of minimal slap on the wrist.

      If you are low down on the societal hierarchy and just once thieve or use violence on those higher up in the hierarchy: they will burn you at the stake, rip you from limb to limb, and then feed your entrails to a ravenous MSM.

      • Anne 11.1.1

        Spot on CR .

        If you are high up the societal hierarchy and are thieving or using violence on those lower down in the hierarchy, that’s OK.

        We’re watching a good example of exactly that scenario unfolding at the moment. I would add the words If you are ‘perceived to be’ high up the societal hierarchy. That is different to actuality.

        • emergency mike 11.1.1.1

          “Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you king.”

          Bob Dylan

    • greywarshark 11.2

      The criminal reposession act? which strips assets gained running a crimunal business can be taken by the gummint. I don’t see why fraudsters shouldn’t be stripped of money and assets too.

    • John Keys career is pretty widely documented.

      Pretty sure he didn’t run an asset stripping operation.

      In NZ, Ron Brierley is the poster child for that sort of behaviour.

  12. geoff 12

    Was the environment that existed for 2-3 decades in many western economies an unusual economic situation compared to the rest of human history?

    I suspect there are many people people who believe social conditions will continue to improve simply because they did improve over the course of their lives.

    • Bill 12.1

      I suspect there are many people people who believe social conditions will continue to improve ….because many people are enamored with this strange notion they call progress and the idea that it is linear

    • greywarshark 12.2

      @ geoff and bill
      That was the general idea amogst people i knew. There would be downturns but the trend was improving and having opportunity.

      • Naturesong 12.2.1

        That only happens if individuals, communities and governments (local and central) work toward that goal.

        If they don’t, or if they actively work against that goal, it won’t.
        And that’s before you include any external headwinds (climate change, act’s of god, global financial system blowing up, etc)

        It’s not magic, it’s people doing actually stuff.

        • geoff 12.2.1.1

          And people ‘doing stuff’ is contingent on the situation they find themselves in. Drawing a line between people and everything else gives an inaccurate picture.

          • Naturesong 12.2.1.1.1

            I suspect I’ve been inarticulate.

            I’m not drawing a line, just pointing out that good things (improvements in health, education, transport etc.) do not happen by magic.
            They are the result of people identifying where things can be improved, and actively working towards that goal.

            People that “believe social conditions will continue to improve simply because they did improve over the course of their lives” without actually thinking for a minute how these things happen (let alone supporting policies that work toward those outcomes) is both naive and works to undermine further improvements.

            In summary, ignorance and apathy are the behaviours which diminish the chances of continued improvements to social conditions

  13. ianmac 13

    Wow Mandy! Will have much to think about.
    I wonder what I can do about the imbalance?

  14. coffee connoissuer 14

    ” I believe, in most ordinary people, was a belief that we were all in this together, and that we should place people’s needs and human rights at the centre of our decision making. We grew up believing everyone had a right to share the riches of the country: to own a home, to go to school with food in our bellies and shoes on our feet. In fact, we prided ourselves for this, even if the reality didn’t always live up to the hype. But underlying it all was an ethos of generosity and compassion. Of community. Of general goodwill.”
    add individualism to the above which can also be looked upon as personal freedom and you could have the best of both worlds by moving to what I now like to call the

    ‘Free Market Resource Based Economy Model.’ (yes it is a subversion of the term free market)

    Much of the problems we have in society today come as a direct result of the profit motive under capitalism. A FMRBE removes this, whilst at the same time ensures that the needs of society are met as are our individual desires.

    To help begin conceptualize it think of the system we have today but with no money.
    With the profit motive gone we can start to quickly move towards meeting needs through better more efficient use of resources.
    Over time ownership gives way to a concept of usership (just like we have with the internet in society today. You don’t own the standard but you use it every day).

    A transition is required obviously and UBI would be an effective strategy in helping with such a transition.
    As a system it meets the end goals of voters right across the political spectrum in my view.

    Moving to a highly geared technology based system designed around meeting the needs and wants of individuals, families, communities and society as a whole coupled with the aim of freeing people from needing to work where ever possible so that they have the time to do more of the things that they are truly passionate about is a recipe for the advancement of society at an exponential rate.
    People would work less (3 days per week perhaps with a 4 day weekend) and have more time to spend with friends and family.
    Compare that with the current system where families are financially incentivised to spend less and less time together as it is better financially for both the husband and the wife to be out working and put their children in day care.

    Sorts out those pesky world controlling banksters too…

    and stacks up under Systems Analysis

  15. Julz 15

    Great article Mandy! A couple more quotes to throw into the mix- Nancy Fraser said this about neoliberal capitalism: “Reversing the previous formula, which sought to ‘to use politics to tame markets’ proponents of this new form of capitalism proposed to use markets to tame politics.”

    And Australian Feminist Anne Manne wrote:
    “…the values of the market began to colonise the life-world. Its assumptions seeped inexorably into every cultural pore, penetrating all kinds of relationships, however intimate. As a consequence, our very sense of self began to change and to become more consistent with neo-liberalism’s self-sufficient and self interested ideal: Economic Man. “

  16. Ant 16

    Astute and accurate perceptions
    “People who dismiss the unemployed and dependent as “parasites” fail to understand economics and parasitism. A successful parasite is one that is not recognized by its host, one that can make its host work for it without appearing as a burden. Such is the ruling class in a capitalist society.” – Jason Read

  17. gsays 17

    hi mandy and thank-you.
    while a lot of comments here have rightly looked at the politics of what is and has occured, i was reminded of adam curtis book and bbc 4 part series century of the self.

    how the corporations pushed the idea that YOU are special, your desires are relevant etc, reinforcing the wedge that has been driven between and seperates us.

    • Incognito 17.1

      Personalised ‘advertising’ – online, of course – is the new ‘hot thing’ aimed to feed the beast and to further pump up the fragile and gullible ego and make one feel special and important. It can easily cultivate selfish behaviour and attitudes. Obviously, it is all rather meaningless, hollow and empty.

      • gsays 17.1.1

        hi incognito,
        i have made concious efforts to try and keep advertising at arms distance.
        given up newspapers, very little tv, tragically this is one of the few sites i frequent.

        as to facebook etc not enough users of fb realise they are not the customer, they are, in fact, the product.

  18. venezia 18

    Great writing Mandy. I very much agree with the point you made
    ‘the cut-throat accumulation of wealth is seen as the apex of human endeavour’.
    I am old enough to have observed among my extended family and their friends an increasing devaluing of people whose values are more community focussed, who support human rights and believe in a fair society for everyone. I have heard judgements made of them as ” losers” if they were not taking opportunities which arose to rip people off. Those making the judgements have benefited from the policies of the welfare state as they grew to adulthood, but deny this support to others now they are comfortably off. They have often turned out to be bullies in their business dealings, as well as in their personal relationships, and have supported policies promoting individual greed in their their political choices. Worryingly, these values are socialised into their children, and so it passes down through generations. And in many cases, they call themselves “Christians”!

    • greywarshark 18.1

      @ venezia
      I have seen also the scenario you refer to. And the effect on the children’s viewpoints and world understanding. It is upsetting to see how in the short time between 1984 and 2014 that the past beliefs, achievements and practices have been forgotten or twisted and perverted. And that includes religions and social movements.

  19. Observer (Tokoroa) 19

    @ Venezia

    It is good that writers and artists from time to time put their eye to the glass and examine what kind of a stormy unsettled world we are living in. In particular what kind of a micro world New Zealand has become.

    No amount of pseudo labels – such as “neo Liberalism” – can smother the obvious fact that in our world here as in the wider planet, fewer and fewer people own massive resources and liquid wealth. While the great majority own less and less.

    Hence, Emergency Mike above, has quoted Bob Dylan:
    “Steal a little and they throw you in jail. Steal a lot and they make you king.”

    But they don’t necessarily steal like robbers. They more usually lobby and manipulate government to get “legislative” endorsement for amassing obscene untrammeled wealth at the expense of others. Of course, they pay the politicians large sums.

    So, in New Zealand we have seen that assets which a short while ago belonged to all, are now in the pockets of the few. This is down to the “bugger the population” advocates Roger Douglas, John Key and Bill English.

    Douglas, Key and English strip the assets of NZ (including the very land itself) and give it to their wealthy friends here and abroad. The naive under-educated population at large simply does not understand what is happening.

    But you know all of this, and there is no point in me refreshing your memory. We simply need to infiltrate schools and give the rising generation of kids the facts about how to become poor and how to stay that way.

    Let’s instead Teach them how to recover what is rightfully theirs.

    • greywarshark 19.1

      @ Observer
      Good points. About education we need to educate for understanding our own world and how it works for and against us, then about how to hold and regain resources effectively, also and very important, how to manage to live as poor people with as good health, happy interaction within families, consideration of other’s lives, work in community projects etc.

      Whatever we do otherwise, many of us have already been placed on the train that is chugging along the impoverishment track, with no stations of opportunity along it, and the destination is obscure. If on the way we can help each other and at the same time help ourselves, we can get to the cab and change to a different, and better track.

  20. Pete George 20

    how the social democracy of my youth has so radically collapsed into our current culture of individualism, privatisation and personal greed.

    Some things have changed radically over the last half century but calling it a ‘collapse’ is highly debatable. I doubt that most people would agree that we have experienced a societal collapse – and I suspect most people would have no idea what ‘neo-liberalism’ is supposed to mean.

    Most who lived through the seventies and eighties will remember that post-Muldoon something had to drastically change in New Zealand and urgent action was required, or we really would have had a major collapse.

    But societal changes are not just reactions to political changes. Technology has had a huge impact on us, and major shifts started before the eighties.

    The population is much more mobile now. Locally due to a rapid change to the use of cars by far more people, enabling a spreading out into the suburbs and less time spent amongst neighbours. And internationally due to air transport that has made it easy to travel anywhere in the world.

    Television had a major impact on social interaction, keeping people indoors much more resulting in much less neighbourly interaction. I can remember when meetings used to be scheduled around popular TV shows. TV also meant we started to see much more of the world beyond our suburban/village and family bubbles.

    Computerisation has had a huge impact on how we work and live. I hadn’t heard of computers in my childhood but wrote my first program (on punch cards) in 1972, and witnessed and experienced the gradual changes which become rapid.

    Associated with computerisation is the huge change in personal communications through telephone and then internet transformations.

    And changes in health care technology have also had a major impact on our lives, helping significantly extend most lifespans.

    In many ways politics and governance has battled to respond rather than forged societal changes.

  21. Ad 21

    It’s false to project changes in values backwards over a country, because there are so many other major factors:
    – Massive immigration
    – the collapse of the church and religious devotion
    – the liberal revolutions of the 1960s and 1970s impacting on the 1980s
    – huge and accelerating demographic changes
    – the shrinking of analogue social networks
    – the rise of digital relationships
    – changes in spatial population balance

    I think you are simply conflating the collapse of the high modernist state with any agency it might have had over daily life.

    I like nursing my own version of left melancholy, and we’ve all got our own Big Chill moments. But the neoliberal task was to destroy the state. The state is changing, but its definitely still strong.

    • Colonial Rawshark 21.1

      The state doesn’t matter much because the Left has forgotten the nature of power and how to use it, while the Right has a very clear concept of the use of power and what to achieve with it.

      Further, outside of government the Left has near zero power – again because it doesn’t understand the nature of power in the modern world – while the Right can be outside government and still wield enormous power over the direction of a nation.

    • Colonial Rawshark 21.2

      But the neoliberal task was to destroy the state.

      Nope – you misunderstand what their aim was. It was not to destroy the state, but to transform it into a good corporate partner.

      • Ad 21.2.1

        Well I just disagree with you there. It’s a problem with the term ‘neoliberal’. The journey from 1984 to 2015 is massive. We can chart a whole historiography of economic thought and practise since 1984 if you like, but it wouldn’t support the premise of the post.

  22. philj 22

    ” The state is still strong ” You cannot be serious. I think state/public interests have been overwhelmed by corporate interest.Haven’t you seen the sell off of state assets, charter schools, sell out of public sports broadcasting on TV to SKY, Private Prisons, Killing off TVNZ7, disappearance of MOW ,replaced by Downers etc.etc. Good work Mandy. Thankyou.

    • Ad 22.1

      I’d agree that it’s weaker.
      But it’s also strong in more indirect ways than the old high modernist format last seen under Muldoon’s high water mark.

      The state’s information-trawling, meshing, and enforcement is much stronger.

      The state’s involvement in personal saving is much stronger.

      The state’s brokering of national with international capital is far more active.

      Mandy’s problem is she is trying to ascribe long term societal behavioral change to structural adjustment. It’s impossible to prove. Firstly you’d have to show that this kind of behavioral change wouldn’t have happened if structural adjustment hadn’t taken place.

      Second there are a whole bunch of competing societal changes – which I believe put together are more powerful upon long term behavioral change.

      • Incognito 22.1.1

        Did you read the Guardian article?

        There are constant laments about the so-called loss of norms and values in our culture. Yet our norms and values make up an integral and essential part of our identity. So they cannot be lost, only changed. And that is precisely what has happened: a changed economy reflects changed ethics and brings about changed identity. The current economic system is bringing out the worst in us.

        I believe you are trying to reduce this to a chicken & egg dilemma, which is an exercise in futility.

  23. SPC 23

    Apparently the price Helen Clark extracted for support for the Douglas economic programme was the lefts anti-nuclear position.

  24. Wayne 24

    I appreciate it is an article of faith for the author of this item, as well as most the commenters, that New Zealand is in the grip of a neo-liberal hell hole, and that anyone who contests this is deluded.

    So for mhagar her approach to anyone who might disagree with her is to state;
    “ok, lets deal straight away with the first obvious distracting argument that might erupt that New Zealand under the current government cannot be labelled as neo-liberal.”

    To begin with not, it is not a distracting argument, her whole thesis is built on the assumption that the government is neo-liberal, she cannot wish away those who might contest that.

    She cites the British Dictionary definition that neo-liberalism is “a modern politico-economic theory favoring free trade, privatization, minimal government intervention in business, reducing government expenditure on social services, etc.” and broadly speaking I would agree. But it is important to note that the whole package is required.

    After all the GATT, since 1947, has favored free trade, as has the EU for all its members. So one element is not enough.

    I think it is probably fair to characterize the Roger Douglas reforms and also those of Ruth Richardson as meeting the test of neo-liberalism.

    But is it true of Helen Clark and John Key? Because it is really necessary to label Helen Clark as neo-lberal in order to stick the same label on John Key

    The last Labour govt rolled back the ECA, it introduced Working for Families, interest free student loans, income related rents for Housing New Zealand houses, Kiwisaver, created KiwiBank, did a buy back of KiwiRail and air New Zealand. She increased the top tax rate from 33% to 39%.

    However, she did not bring back compulsory unionism, or restore all benefits to pre 1991 levels. And she did not try and turn back New Zealand to its pre 1984 condition with massive government ownership of much of the economy, exchange controls, high tariffs and import controls. And for many commenters on this site because she did not do that she is neo-liberal. And they want Labour to apologies for her. Mind you if Labour did the majority of New Zealander s would think Labour had gone mad. To some extent David Cunliffe did apologize, but Labour got the expected electoral verdict.

    For Helen Clark to unwind pretty much everything since 1984 would have meant opting out of much of the worlds economy. The closest analogies are Argentina and Venezuela, not notably successful economies.

    In my view John Key has been an incrementalist. He has reversed very little of the Helen Clark reforms, though he has modified them. So there has been the 90 day bill (pretty much modeled on Germany and Scandinavia), some limited partial privitisation, and more direct intervention for welfare beneficiaries, a reduction of the top tax rate from 39% to 33%. He has restrained the growth of government expenditure so that it hovers around 33% rather than 35 or 36% of GDP. Even so large scale borrowing was required yo sustain government expenditure during the GFC, in the order of $35 billion. In contrast the tax cut was $4 billion, so the bulk of the borrowing was to maintain government expenditure generally.

    There is a reason why most commentators, including Brian Easton (hardly a right wing economist) do not see John Key as neo-liberal. He has just not been radical enough to earn the label.

    Mhagars critique of the current state is rather different. It is more about the modern style of life. In her view “we are encouraged to live shallowly, selfishly, devoid of compassion for our neighbors and suspicious of everyone.” In addition she sees modern New Zealand as having no place for arts and intellectuals. At least on the last point that is hardly any more true of New Zealand than it has ever been. Surely the 1940’s and 1950’s was far more conformist and resistant to intellectual life than the modern era.

    Her view is a bit of a caricature of modern life in New Zealand. Certainly where I live in Bayswater/Devonport there is a strong sense of community. But at least I can understand why someone might have that view.

    There is a plethora of consumerist advertising, with the internet and mobile communications encouraging a more personal life. Traditional sporting clubs and community activities are on the wane (not that many on the intellectual Left actually like the style of Clubs such as RSA, Lions, Rotary, Rugby clubs, Schools PTA’s, Workingman’s and Cosmopolitan Clubs).

    I would also note that many of the regions do not provide the job rich communities that once existed. Farming, forestry and fishing are more large scale. Public works projects such as roading, etc are much more capital intensive with far fewer manual jobs.

    But coming back to Hhagars core point about the nature of modern life. Is that a function of neo-liberalism, or is it a function of technological and social change the world over?

    • Ad 24.1

      You’ve generally expanded on my point at 21
      Your choice at the end is too binary.

      Would be great if human nature were economically determined (in no small part because it would fulfill both the hard right and hard left’s desire for economic determinism), but it simply doesn’t change that much.

      • Puddleglum 24.1.1

        Hi Ad,

        Would be great if human nature were economically determined (in no small part because it would fulfill both the hard right and hard left’s desire for economic determinism), but it simply doesn’t change that much.

        In biology, ‘economics’ is simply the means used by a species to organise to meet its material needs (that organisation can be at the level of a single cell animal on up to social species).

        Human nature is therefore principally a product of economic necessity – almost by definition (and such biological ‘economics’ includes both processes of production and reproduction of course).

        Human nature, specifically, is highly adaptive relative to other species, which is to say that it is well-designed to adapt itself to perform behaviours that will be compatible with the prevailing ‘economic system’ (i.e., the material system through which survival needs – broadly understood – are met).

        So over the evolutionary scale, the developmental scale and the situation-by-situation scale human nature responds in concert with changes in the economic settings of the environment.

        Put another way, economic settings provide different behavioural ‘paths of least resistance’ dependent upon the particular structure they have. Humans – being humans – will find that path of least resistance and, chameleon-like, adapt to it.

        It would be magical if neoliberalism had NOT significantly altered the behaviours, attitudes and ways of thinking in a population.

        Human nature is not some fixed list of behaviours and dispositions. It is more like a huge repertoire of potential behaviours and social processes that can be turned ‘on’ or ‘off’ by signals from the environment. Many of these behaviours are completely contradictory (e.g., to cooperate or to compete).

        When viewed at the gross, population level, economic settings push the mix of behaviours people in that population will employ in quite predictable ways.

    • Incognito 24.2

      John Key is an “incrementalist”, a moderate centric pragmatist. Well, that’s what we’re told to believe, isn’t it? National hasn’t done anything during the 6 years ‘in power’, it has no ideas. Again, this is what the public is made to believe. However, I think that a lot of things have happened and are happening out of the public eye and without Parliamentary oversight and scrutiny; things get pushed through ‘under urgency’. Does the OIA ring a bell? We have no idea what really is going on behind the scenes; phone records get deleted, accounts get closed, OIA request are delayed and heavily redacted.

      When do you learn to get names right? It is very disrespectful IMO. It is MHAGER, with an “E”.

    • Hi Wayne,

      You say that the Clark and Key governments are not neoliberal.

      Imagine the case where a socialist revolution occurs in a country and it brings to power a government that sets about nationalising all the means of production, collectivises farms, installs worker control of firms, etc..

      Then imagine that a change of that government occurs (either through an election or simply a generational change of leaders). This new government changes very little that the previous government had established. Everything is still nationalised, etc.. In fact, it might even incrementally extend such socialist policies into areas that hadn’t been affected in the first big push by its predecessor.

      The country is therefore governed within the socialist economic settings.

      But, because the new government made few changes and so did not depart much from the ‘status quo’ it is lauded in the (state controlled) media as being ‘moderate’ and ‘centrist’ and – emphatically – not at all ‘socialist’.

      Would you agree with the media that that country is no longer being governed by a ‘socialist’ government?

    • Hi Wayne (again),

      But coming back to Hhagars core point about the nature of modern life. Is that a function of neo-liberalism, or is it a function of technological and social change the world over?

      It seems from this comment that you see “technological and social change the world over” as something quite independent of economic reform processes. Could you explain to me how that ‘independence’ happens?

      They seem inextricably linked to me.

    • RedBaronCV 24.5

      Are you sure you are correct about the government borrowing for tax cuts Wayne?

      I’m sure I’ve seen figures that suggest the top end tax cuts ( because after rejigging kiwisaver tax, ACC etc the bottom end wound up paying more) cost us some $2B a year and the GST income tax switch another $2B per annum. Plus of course the interest so this would make up around $30B or a third of our current $101B debt.

      So had we put into our economy the same cuts at the bottom end plus job training we would have reduced our welfare bills by the same amount or more. Then if we deducted all the road spending , some $20B plus, stopped fueling a property boom in Auckland funded by overseas buyers and their external borrowings we would have wound up some where in the vicinity of say $40B debt ( a $20B increase) and a population who could afford to buy a house.

      I’m picking John Key will resign (and Bill English) shortly before the credit downgrade arrives which will be soon. The NActs could not manange a local watering hole. This $101B debt will turn us into the greeks of the south pacific.

      It is really serious and no amount of balancing the current account rhetoric should be overshadowing it. Part of me hopes your lot will have to deal with it .

    • Coffee Connoisseur 24.6

      Key has been about as radical as he thinks New Zealanders would let him get away with.

  25. Observer (Tokoroa) 25

    @ greywarshark

    Thankyou for your comments on my post. We really do need to educate the numerous many on how to recover their rightful wealth and dignity.

    The few exceeding wealthy who hold nearly all the world’s resources and liquid wealth will be no match for the proud common man.

    Obscene Imbalance is a modern curse. Developed by pigmy thinkers for a disgustingly greedy few.

    • greywarshark 25.1

      @ Observer
      Yes your observations are spot on I think. But follow up the recent post put up by DracoTB on George Monbiot’s thoughts. M is trying to join the dots and see the effect of all that has been happening to us since WW2. Which answers a question that pops into my head frequently (and my mind is never satisfied with the answers I get),
      Why after the horrors of WW2 have we not been able to work out a system with balance – we have the UN that is supposed to help? And thinkers like Monbiot have answers or views that may help.

      We can forget about recovering rightful wealth please. If we can get some return we can settle like Maori who, holding on to resources they have and culture they have, make individual and collective lives of value, achievement and enjoyment. We will be lucky to be able to continue as individuals co-operating in a stable, livable environment with sane, thoughtful, kind humans.

  26. Jim Hawthorne 26

    all very true- but we need to acknowledge that the greed and selfishness is not natural to our species- it has been engineered by those who control the money supply- and decide who gets what. until we solve the issue of a foreign / privately run money supply- the harm will only continue

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