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“A commodity”

Written By: - Date published: 9:55 pm, September 12th, 2011 - 94 comments
Categories: class war, Economy - Tags:

The Herald thought it appropriate to publish this vile little gem from Damien Grant yesterday.

In it Mr Grant lays out why you don’t give the low paid any quarter:

Economically, the unskilled are irrelevant. They are a commodity.

Only talent matters and a progressive tax system hurts the most productive members of the community.

Meanwhile in the world of irrelevant commodities:

A man died after he was crushed by falling clay as he was laying a drain at a housing development in South Auckland.

Philip Rimmer’s workmates scrambled with a digger and spades to try to dig him out, but could not save him.


A 30-year-old man died in Christchurch after he was crushed by a generator as it was being unloaded at the Hornby branch of TransDiesel.


On the OECD measure, New Zealand ranked just 21st of the 30 countries included and data showed at least one in five children lived in severe or significant hardship, while at least one in four children lived below the semi-official poverty line.

Apparently Mr Grant is a liquidator. How appropriate.

94 comments on ““A commodity” ”

  1. Adrian 1

    Not a liquidator, the term is White-Collar-Looter

    • Tigger 1.1

      My term for him is rather more earthy.

      • aerobubble 1.1.1

        Technically speaking everyone has skills otherwise the whole ethos of back to work
        strategies for the unemployed would be meaningless, even torturous. Everyone
        does have skills many people are highly paid for their ability to discern good buys,
        our PM is a typically variaty of this unskilled parasite. Or are we going to say
        people skilled at spotting a bargain are unskilled. Many thrifty people in this
        economy have some very good skills in avoiding debt and shortcircuiting
        add value mechanisms to become solely basic commodity buyers. They
        avoid the manufactured foods in the supermarket, they home butcher meat,
        they grow their own vegies and barter to get their bicycles fixed with a dead
        chock form the garden. Would a thrift person be unskilled, no, would
        John Key be able to survive without all the support structures modern
        society provides him, unable to fix his own transport, grow his own food,
        and people might have him over for a beer but let him baby sit I think Not!
        Second thoughts, no I wouldn’t even trust him over for a beer, he obvious
        does not do well in emergencies, no contingency planning, his role when he
        was a parasite speculator was to active distort perception talk up a loss
        and downplay a winner, and seize on an opportunity a disaster provides.
        Even this morning he was on TV3 morning news stress how great the
        Rugbyy was not how important the the perception abroad that public
        transport in auckland was a problem that would put off tourists,
        along with the lack of planning in looking after students in ChCh
        teaching classes at the CTV building, or the lack of mining safety standards
        as compared to Australia that saw 29 dead. So yeah, the trifecta in
        ballsup that Key is unable to stomach fessing up for, it happened on
        his watch, it was predictable given the collapse of finance that
        incentivize people to ask for more money to cover the contingency
        planning, whether in a mine, or the feasibility study of sandy ChCh
        soils in a Earthquake…

        What gets me though, is he is the defacto commander in chief of the militrary
        and any militray person would know that plans go out the door the
        minute the curtain goes up, whether on the battlefield, or in managing
        crowds, or mines, but no Key comes from a profession where
        cleaning up after mistakes is all about not learning the lessons because
        the market will not repeat itself (investors and stakeholders would know better
        – onece bitten twice shy), but taking profit from others pain.

        Sorry but the National party needs to do much better in leadership selection.

    • IrishBill 1.2

      I believe the correct taxonomy is “parasite”.

      • Zorr 1.2.1

        I think you are all overcomplicating this with unneccessary labels. Only one is needed… “fuckwit”

      • Policy Parrot 1.2.2

        Liquidators are most certainly parasites. And I am sure many of those he dumps into the “unskilled” category have worked many multiple times harder than this kook.

        • ghostwhowalksnz

          NZs richest man, was all most certainly categorised as ‘unskilled’ when he left school- hence the stint as a tow truck driver. Seems that Grant is cutting of his nose to spite his face

  2. Blighty 2

    It pales in comparison to the vileness of the values underlying his statement, but he’s also wrong on the facts.

    Under Morgan’s Big Kahuna idea would see even people on high incomes paying less tax on their income and have a lower top marginal tax rate. The lower income tax take once the unconditional basic income is taken into account would be made up with the comprehensive capital income.

    Why does the Herald publish this garbage?

    • Blighty 2.1

      and, of course, the labour provided by the unskilled isn’t irrelevant. If it weren’t for minimum wage cleaners, labourers, and retail staff, the ‘good people of the world’ would find their lives a lot more shitty and the economy would be a lot smaller – low pay doesn’t mean the work being done doesn’t provide value.

      • It also means that all work needs skill.I wonder how long this rich dick -head would last working on the roads. He might find that hard labouring on road works needs a lot of skill for one to last the course.I would presume that he would last about 5 mins heaving a pick and shovel.

      • Vicky32 2.1.2

        low pay doesn’t mean the work being done doesn’t provide value.

        In fact, there seems to be an inverse relationship! The people who clean Mr Noddy’s office, the people who wipe his granny’s bum in her rest home, those who clean litter in the streets his car drives through – all essential and all on minimum wage!

  3. Armchair Critic 3

    Economically, the unskilled are irrelevant. They are a commodity
    The way I read the statement, he says more about economics than about the unskilled. Putting it simply – the unskilled are not irrelevant, therefore the fault must be with the economy.
    Acknowledging also that, at face value, Mr Grant’s views are reprehensible.

    • mik e 3.1

      From a business point of view its totally dumb.Having unskilled workers is a low productive economy thats why national always trot out figures that when theres high unemployment productivity increases because the less skilled don’t create as much wealth so it would be wise to increase the skill base no Tory would think of such a smart move it would disrupt their elitist ideology.As for leaving 200,000 children in poverty thats costing the economy $6 billion a year bean brained bean counters are at it again.

  4. Was that him in the picture – he looks a prick; you can tell a lot about people by how they look – he looks like a first class prick. Not very objective, but it’s all your getting at this time of night.

    • mik e 4.1

      with dumb elitists like him in charge no wonder we are a poor indebted commodity based economy.The logic brigade can’t have feelings for other human beings Spock springs to mind.But he had more compassion than Damien Grant, Spock was a team player and no one was left behind.These people like Grant are nothing more than abusers in a family situation if they made comments like this to their wife or children they could be had up for abuse but Narcissists like this don’t listen to any body else’s opinion

    • Private Parts ex army 4.2

      I thought you remarks were very objective.

      I also wondered who named him when he oozed out of a cesspit somewhere, the Right Wing Red Neck Slimeball. Arsehole

  5. mik e 5

    He should form a political party called narcissists united or just join Act

  6. rosy 6


    Twenty-four modern day slaves were released from bondage on Sunday after a pre-dawn police raid found them emaciated, hungry and living in “filthy and cramped” conditions on a caravan site in Leighton Buzzard.

    The men – Poles, Romanians and Russians as well as British – had been forced to survive in a “state of virtual slavery” at the Green Acres caravan site, according to Bedfordshire police.

    The men varied in age from about 20 to 50 years old; all vulnerable men who had been recruited from homeless shelters and dole queues. Some are believed to have been in virtual captivity for up to 15 years.”

    He explained that the men had not received payment for physically demanding labouring jobs, were hardly fed and were given no clothes. If they complained they faced beatings.

    • aerobubble 6.1

      Horrible story about people who paid little but even 9 still hold out, unwilling
      to help Police because they were ‘institutionalized’ it is all they have come to accept.

      Sounds very neo-liberal, in an era of plenty, child poverty, unemployment,
      missed opportunity, poor planning of contingencies in mines, in earthquake
      land planning, in the third largest sporting event in the world. Still some
      cling on, ‘institutionalized’ by neo-liberal free market perfection. A cult
      that says the market will provide and governments are a waste of expense.

    • Private Parts ex army 6.2

      Probably the ones who were treating them as slaves were members of the Round Table.

  7. Afewknowthetruth 7

    ‘The Herald thought it appropriate to publish this vile little gem’

    Let’s face, the NZH is a pretty vile ‘newspaper’ which is invariably full of corporate bullshit.

    Anyone who talks about GDP or tax rates is irrelevant. The industrial economy ‘game’ is nearly over.

    The main point of discussion amongst the informed is: will the collapse come this year or next year?

  8. Colonial Viper 8

    Damien Grant is a fucking sociopath.

    I hope he enjoys unskilled spit in his local cafe coffee.

    Oh, on a more critical note, any wealthy bastards who would like to move offshore because they are taxed lower somewhere else, please go now. Mogadishu or Brunei awaits. And we’ll be left with people who are truly interested in living in NZ and moving the country forwards.

  9. Afewknowthetruth 9

    At the height of its industrial development Britain burned up coal and spat out ash.

    Nowadays the system burns up people and spits out wefare beneficiaries and corpses.

  10. johnm 10

    The U$$$$$$$$$ is run on the same attitudes as this NZ ars*h*le talks of. Overpaid unskilled American workers lost their manufacturing jobs as 43,000 factories were transferred to Asia. There are now 47,000,000 yes 47,000,000 Americans existing on food stamps-not very clever to do that to your own people eh? They are just commodities. Meanwhile corporate America makes huge profits off the backs of dirt cheap asian labour. The failed state of the U$$$$$$ no longer has any concept of the common good they even want to attack medicare and social security to give further tax cuts to the already disgustingly rich. Wall Street and the The White House are in bed together and are corrupt. people like him must be put in their place and taxed to the hilt good riddance if they p*ss off somewhere else.

  11. Jenny 11

    Slaves also were not considered human beings, but commodities.

    I think the Herald is gearing up for the next government, which the Herald is hoping will not be a National or Labour led government, but an ACT led government. And as such will be the most vile anti-worker and anti-Maori administration in the history of this country at least since the last ACT government.

    Witness the letters column of the Herald yesterday. From personal experience I know that letters of a left view are regularly binned, while recently letters attacking Maori are getting more and more copy.

    Racism is also a brand of class war.

    And Granny is becoming more and more an open class warrior for wealth and privilege.

    Thank God for the alternative media.

    • Bill 11.1

      What do you mean ‘slaves also‘…We are slaves!

      Capitalism kind of cut out the middle man of the slave trader and has us wilfully ( to a greater or lesser degree) lining up and competing with one another to get into the cotton field (as it were).

      Once in, the only other difference is that the boss (plantation owner) no longer provides the shelter, food and whatever else we need for sustanence, since we get a wage to buy all that stuff.

      rosy’s comment/link (above [linked below] ) is a nice illustration of the tendancy of capitalism to revert to type though.

      “A commodity”

      • Puddleglum 11.1.1

        Yes, there’s a very real sense in which the employee-employer relationship makes us all commodities (which shouldn’t surprise anyone – after all, they don’t call it ‘selling your labour’ for nothing).

        I’ve always said that what we need is a party that is determined to eliminate employment altogether. (If you get what I mean.)

        • Bill

          I absolutely get what you mean. But a party could never achieve such a thing in the context of politics embedded within a market context. If, however, the market context didn’t apply then it is possible to dispense with the division between jobs (ie renumerative work) and work.

          Unemployment then becomes a well nigh impossibility as it is not defined in ‘non-job’ terms. All work is work. And work is (most) activity….and most onerous job shit -that which is engaged in as a necessity and that exists only to make money for some other bugger – disappears and becomes nothing beyond an object of historical curiosity for future scholers.

    • rod 11.2

      Jenny, what alternative media? they all seem just like Granny to me.

  12. happynz 12

    Economically, the unskilled are irrelevant. They are a commodity.

    Only talent matters and a progressive tax system hurts the most productive members of the community.

    Another Randian wanker.

  13. lefty 13

    There is nothing surprising about this mans attitude. As a union organiser I come across it every day. Capitalism reduces labour to a commodity so he is just stating facts and the Herald is simply reflecting social reality which is part of what the media should do.
    Damien Grant’s thinking is perfectly logical. The illogical ones are the social democrats who think you can have “kind’ or ‘socially responsible’ captitalism.
    I actually find it much easier to deal with pricks like this than so called ‘good employers’. It is possible to develop a working relationship based on mutual hatred and contempt with them, whereas the goody goody capitalists live in a world of total denial and lie to themselves and everyone around them all the time.

  14. Olwyn 14

    Imagine the outcry if any other group was publicly dismissed as a mere commodity. At the height of the feminist movement, when women were railing against being treated as commodities, even the most reactionary man would not have come out and said, “Well they are commodities.”

    The fact that this guy’s statements are hardly raising a murmur shows that we have drifted to the point where poverty here is now treated by many much as race is treated in a racist country.

  15. Bill 15

    Hang on Irish!

    It wasn’t Morgan who said ” Economically, the unskilled are irrelevant. They are a commodity.”

    That little beaut was the words of the reviewer. (edit. Which is what you said. Apologies. Fuck, I really should finish coffee before switching on tha net thingy.)

    Anyway. In a market economy, wage slaves are a commodity. ( It’s a job market ffs!) Our labour and time, body and minds are bought and sold. Traded and then discarded when deemed to be of no further economic use.

    • ghostwhowalksnz 15.1

      And it looks like investors are to be protected at all costs – $2 bill + since the GFC. Funny that they arent though of as commodities too

      • Bill 15.1.1

        Well yeah, but investors might be said to have escaped the slave market, either wholly or to the extent they succesfully trade the product of that market (ie, money) in the financial (or whatever other) market.

        In other words it’s wholly appropriate to view investors as something other than commodities. They aren’t bought or sold and could even be seen in terms of people who potentially grow the market in people they are no longer a part of.

        Gotta protect your own as they say.

      • Afewknowthetruth 15.1.2

        investor = parasite

        When parasites gow too big or too numerous they kill the host.

  16. Todd 16

    Colonial Viper 8
    12 September 2011 at 11:10 pm
    Damien Grant is a fucking sociopath.

    I hope he enjoys unskilled spit in his local cafe coffee.

    More class from the snake, I would love to to go through life with your attitude (not).

  17. tsmithfield 17

    Workers definitely are not commodities. If they were, wages would rise and fall with supply and demand and businesses would be able to take futures contracts out on their wage bill. As it is, workers are more like commercial leases, with ratchet clauses so that prices can never decrease.

    • Daveo 17.1

      with ratchet clauses so that prices can never decrease.

      This was not my experience in the early 90s.

  18. randal 18

    If my memory serves me well, Mr Grant wants to esrtablish factories in Equatorial Africa so that all those (fill in the blanks) people can spend their lives working in sweatshops.
    What a guy.

  19. coolas 19

    Grant’s opinions are vile.

    His contempt for the ‘unskilled,’ who oil the wheels of the machine he greedily feeds from, reveals his ignorant self importance.

    He has no gratitude, let alone appreciation, for all the low waged who contribute in producing the steak he eats, the wine he drinks, the clothes he wears. They like the steak, the wine, and the clothes, are mere commodities.

    And what’s the dig, ‘untalented poets staying and radiographers leaving’, about?

    No doubt he looks down on people who make their livings producing art and culture, but worships the finance and corporate sectors.

    I reckon Damien Grant has challenged all ‘unskilled’ workers who cross his path to show him the contempt he shows them.

    Yeah – make his trim latte undrinkable, accidentally spill red wine on his shirt, pile on the parking tickets, don’t pick up his rubbish, pretend you can’t see him in your shop – we’re just commodities, after all.

  20. Afewknowthetruth 20

    Most people, whether they are at the top of the heap or at the bottom of the heap, won’t know what hit them when the present system goes under.

    Blind faith in failing systems….


  21. marsman 21

    Damien Grant seems to be a regular contributer to the Herald. His writing sounds very much as though he has a connection the the Centre for Independent Thought or somesuch, a neoliberal bullshit academy. A first class prick, hopefully his house-cleaner will take revenge for his nasty sentiments.

  22. Tom Gould 22

    Who is this Damien Grant creature? Anyone know anything about him?

  23. NickS 23

    His analysis is shit.

    The main reason radiologists leave NZ is due to low wages due to underfunding of the health system, not tax rates. And the Nordic countries with their high top rates progressive tax systems provide a significant counter point to his claims about the effect of tax rates. Furthermore, people don’t just move offshore on the basis of wages, they also move on stuff like job availability, standard of living and other social services that he ignores completely.

    As for the unskilled being “irrelevant”, I’d like to see how he manages to move offshore with “unskilled” movers packing his stuff, or any of the myriad other jobs that he thinks are “unskilled” despite in the real world actually requiring skills learnt on the job.

    And the comments section…

    By the mind eating Elder Things.

    It’s filled full of twits living in a fantasy land were policy planning/research is something that’s “parasitic” and that living on a benefit amounts to doing “nothing”. As though people don’t go slightly nuts with jack all to do and seek diversion activities or look for work or have kids that need caring for. Or are living with disabilities which limit their ability to work (or study, such as me _again_ ).

  24. damien grant 24

    A commodity is something that is interchangeable. Milk powder, iron ore etc, that is mostly homogeneous.

    You cannot swap a dentist with a computer programmer. However, that is not the case with many occupations that fall into the unskilled category.

    The use of the term unskilled is a bland economic term.

    Really guys. You can disagree with me but the hatred expressed here towards someone you do not know who has views different from yours is a little silly.

    Flattering, but silly.

    • Blighty 24.1

      I think you’ve offended people on several grounds:

      1) reducing the dignity and labours of people, often in the hardest, most dangerous, and lowest paid jobs, with a derisive term like ‘commodity’. By using that term, you reduced unskilled people to mere inputs to be used and expended. This looked particularly bad on a day when two men lost their lives doing exactly this kind of work.

      2) the context of the use word commodity in your article is dismissing people with low skills as worthless and not worthy of consideration in the setting of policy. In fact, our society needs cleaners and labourers just as much as it needs liquidators. Our economy can’t work without these people who you think are not worthy of notice.

      3) getting your facts wrong in saying that higher income people would pay more tax under teh Big Kahuna, when even a basic reading shows that income tax paid is less for even people on very high incomes

      • NickS 24.1.1

        This +1

        And again, evidence please, instead of the evidence-free statements you’ve given. As for being able to swap unskilled people around, it appears that you’ve never read the job adds, as generally companies look for people who are capable of either being trained, or have the experience to do the job, resulting in specialisation for many on low wages into particular roles. Even temping agencies recognise this and try and fit their workers into suitable jobs.

    • coolas 24.2

      ‘Economically, the unskilled are irrelevant. They are a commodity,’ … is unambiguous, and your defence of the statement doesn’t make sense.

      Economically, the unskilled do contribute. Without unskilled workers the economy would grind to a halt.

      How is a commodity interchangeable?

      Surely milk powder and iron ore are no more interchangeable than the dentist and programmer.

      Homogeneuos is ‘consisting of parts all the same.’ How are milk powder and iron ore the same?

      You’re writing non-sense, but perhaps you also think, ignorance is strength, slavery is freedom, and war is peace.

      • damien grant 24.2.1


        Iron ore can be used to make any number of finished products, just as a person can be employed to do a vast array of tasks.

        However, if you want to swap a kidney from one person into another you need a special skill that needs training and study.

        Does not mean that the surgeon is any better than the person he is standing next to.

        However, if the surgeon leaves the city and he was the only one there, then people with dodgy kidneys are in trouble.

        • Carol

          And if all the “highly skilled” economists, financial speculators and derivative traders left the city, most “unskilled” workers would be better off, and probably in a better frame of mind to perform the range of jobs needed to keep a city (and country” running.

    • Vicky32 24.3

      You cannot swap a dentist with a computer programmer. However, that is not the case with many occupations that fall into the unskilled category.

      Oh really? I am sure you’d say that road workers and health care assistants (those who look after the elderly in rest homes) come into the unskilled category. However, you can’t swap an HCA with a city council gardener! Or an office cleaner with a ditch digger. I suppose my point is, that there’s no such thing as an ‘unskilled’ worker!

  25. damien grant 25

    And these are all good points Blighty I am happy to debate them but does not explain why you all pour vitriol towards people who hold differing views?

    Most of the comments here are denouncing me not taking my views to task. Play the ball, people.

    Most of us have a very limited skill set, including those in skilled jobs. Try getting your plumber to set a broken limb. But those with no real employment skills are interchangeable by most employers.

    I am not saying that is a good or a bad thing. I am just saying it is a thing

    A progressive tax reduces the amount of money you get the more you earn and this reduces the number of hours people on high incomes will work.

    It may not impact on all high income workers but it will affect some. The more you tax income the less work will get done. If the person who works less is a surgeon then less surgeries will be done.

    As for facts, you are ignoring the effect of the extra tax on capital, which is just a delayed tax on income.

    • Bill 25.1

      ” I am not saying that is a good or a bad thing. I am just saying it is a thing”

      Nah. Just to remind you, what you actually said/wrote was:

      “Economically, the unskilled are irrelevant. They are a commodity. Only talent matters and a progressive tax system hurts the most productive members of the community.”

      So economic worth is elevated above all other measures of worth and people are diminished to the level of economically useful inputs or by products….even those you view as skilled and worthy. But more than that, those that you consider to be untalented, become not merely diminished, but consigned to irrelevancy, beyond even the ridiculously reductionist measures you apply that void most of what it is to be human from the get go!

      That’s not neutral. Thats not ‘just a thing’.

      To contrast. I have said in comments above that the job market treats us all as commodities and that that’s unacceptable from a human viewpoint of humanity. But in your worldview, the human disappears and only the economic framework remains; a framework against which the sum total of humanity should properly be measured and rewarded or discarded.

      That’s moral bankruptcy and the morally bankrupt making judgement calls just never pans out well.

      • damien grant 25.1.1


        The critical word is ‘economically’, and I stand by that. If you have no skills you can be swapped out by your employer, anyone can do your job.

        Maybe not as well as you do it, at least not right away, but that is not the point.

        The fundamental inter-changeability of unskilled work is a fact.

        That does not mean that the individual is of no importance and you cannot read that into what I have written.

        However, even if I am a morally-bankrupt-soulless-cretin my point remains unchallenged: If you tax high income workers too much they will work less and we need the work done by the high-income earners of our society.

        The computer programmers, medical workers, engineers, lawyers (yes, even lawyers), because without them the system would grind to a halt.

        If the cleaners all get better jobs then good for them. Commerce will continue.

        • McFlock

          “However, even if I am a morally-bankrupt-soulless-cretin my point remains unchallenged: If you tax high income workers too much they will work less and we need the work done by the high-income earners of our society.”
          Um, no. You’re essentially arguing that someone will say “oh, if I work to earn another million I’ll only get $300k (that I otherwise wouldn’t have had), so I don’t think I’ll bother” – or other generic “oh noes, taxs R 2 hi!” percentages. 
          If they’re that big a moron, then frankly we’d be better off having that level of demand empty to be filled by someone else, so when richie rich A moves to Switzerland or Monte Carlo, richie rich B still has a career in NZ.

          You’re assuming that higher paid jobs are unique skills that cannot be developed. I suggest that economically we’d be better off with high turnover in that area, so people are encouraged to raise their skill level in the hope of social mobility. I’e’ the top nth might lower in skill, but a wider pool boosts their skills and productivity.

          BTW, “unskilled” work like cleaning isn’t optional. It needs to be done, otherwise the place gets shut down, sooner or later. And you’d be amazed at how one “interchangeable” worker can be different from another, and add (or subtract) value from the organisation. Might not be noticable at the rarified heights of your fine self, but such roles can cost an organisation thousands.

          • damien grant


            That is exactly what I am saying.

            If I am a dentist and I charge $300 for a cavity repair, I might go into work on Saturday morning if the tax rate is 20% because I keep $240 of that income.

            However, if the tax rate rises to 50% then I would only get $150, so I’d rather go to the beach because $150 is not enough compensation for losing my Saturday.

            Extend this principal to people wanting to invest in their own education to get better paying work, invest their time and effort in building their business, etc etc, then you can see my point.

            If the reward is reduced less people will be willing to make the sacrifice to get it.

            If you do not think that this will happen then we share a different world view. If you think that the dentist will go to work on the Saturday because that is the nature of dentists then okay.

            I think that you are wrong, but that is all, and I would not urge anyone to tamper with your coffee.

            • McFlock

              BUT if you and your ilk go to the beach, there’ll be a bigger market for dentists who are happy to receive $150 because they’re recent graduates/whatever. You’re assuming that there will be no dentists open on a saturday because of a “high” tax rate on high income earners – the fact is that there’ll be a market for newly qualified dentists to exploit. And if the rate is too small for even new dentists, then we need to increase the supply of dentists by reducing barriers to education.

              And by reducing the rewards for a few, the costs for many are similarly reduced (e.g. education and healthcare). So your tax argument only looks at half of the equation.

              • damien grant

                McFlock, I do not understand what you mean here:

                “And by reducing the rewards for a few, the costs for many are similarly reduced (e.g. education and healthcare).”

                However, in my world view I have a dentist who wants to work for $300, and someone willing to pay $300 to get the work done.

                High tax rates mean that the work will not get done. Yes, some cheaper dentists will enter the market but this is a sub-optimal result because more dentists will leave than will enter.

                • McFlock

                  It means that the tax take is not simply a drain on the economy – it comes out the other end. So part of that $150 tax will go to lower the $100,000 debt that new dentists acquire in training, so more dentists will enter the market. They will be willing to work for $150 net. Hence why more dentists will be able to enter the market than your “Yes, some cheaper dentists will enter the market but this is a sub-optimal result because more dentists will leave than will enter.” assumption.

                  • damien grant

                    Ah, I see what you mean now.

                    However, in my simple model the $150 in tax would not be collected becuase the dentist is at the beach. The slacker!

                    • McFlock

                      But your model is too simple – it assumes that you will only enter the 50% bracket by working on a saturday morning, for example. 
                      Essentially there are two competing curves – the supply/demand curve for services, and the laffer curve for taxation.

                      To extrapolate from your model, you seem to be suggesting that the current tax regime (among the lowest in the developed world) is either optimal or already too high tax-wise, so any increase will not result in increased govt revenue and therefore not result in increased in govt expenditure on e.g. education, therefore not affecting the supply-demand curve for dentists.

                      Personally, I’m not sure what you have to back that up.

            • Bill

              “However, if the tax rate rises to 50% then I would only get $150, so I’d rather go to the beach because $150 is not enough compensation for losing my Saturday’

              So work for nine months of the year (or whatever). Nobody stopping you.

              But on this dentist front, the empirical evidence is against you. If your argument is correct then when the NHS in the UK shifted away from universal dental care, every dentist would have opted out of the NHS.

              But that wasn’t the case.

        • Bill

          Un-be-fucking- lievable!

          Even as you attempt to deny that hook you placed within yourself, you continue to denigrate those you consider as less worthy by your economistic world view measure. (“See us talented buggers, we dun’t need cleaners and others of their lowly ilk. They’re dispensable. [Unless they become talented like us talented buggers] Indispensable us and our indispensable talents exist and persist without social context.”)

          As for high income earners working less if taxed too much. Many high paying jobs exist within empowering and in other ways rewarding work environments. It’s not all about pay…shit, I’m probably wasting my breath attempting to introduce concepts outside your all encompassing economic paradigm.

          There are doctors who volunteer their skills and expertise for free.

          There are lawyers who will work pro-bono.

          There are computer programmers, engineers etc who continue to focus on engineering and computing related spheres after the ‘9 to 5’. They do so because they have a genuine interest in what they do and because what they do is rewarding in and of itself and regardless of financial compensation.

          A bit like a highly talented but unrecognised piss poor artist perhaps, who gets reward from the activity they are engaged in – and who may well sell works by the thousand after they die (when the wheels of fashion set the indispensable talented to scramble for even their cast off napkin doodles).

          • damien grant

            Bill, you write:

            “There are doctors who volunteer their skills and expertise for free.

            There are lawyers who will work pro-bono”

            Yes, there are people who do these things, but there are not enough of them to drive a modern economy.

            Most of us want fancy cars, nice houses, holidays in swanky resorts and to send their kids to expensive schools.

            However, we also like time at home, going to the movies, gardening and the proverbial long walks on the beach, (not sure that last one is true, not sure anyone really likes long walks on the beach), so we want to be paid to compensate for missing out on these things to work.

            • Bill

              “Yes, there are people who do these things, but there are not enough of them to drive a modern economy.”

              What? Where did I suggest that all economic activity should be undertaken on a voluntary basis? I didn’t, did I?

              And if by ‘modern economy’ you mean ‘market economy’ then, lets face it, the market insists we pay top dollar for what we used to give away for free. And so wouldn’t function at all if everyone did everything sans monetary exchanges based on competition.

              But nice (read: sad) to see you sidestep to merely, yet again, highlight in spades, your meagre and stunted economistic view of life.

              edit and why should your compensation for missing out on the ‘good things’ of life while at work be different to mine or anyone elses? Do you think you should get more because you are a talented person missing out on those things; that they become somehow more valuable than if a mere grunt was missing out on those same things for the same reason?

              • damien grant


                “edit and why should your compensation for missing out on the ‘good things’ of life while at work be different to mine or anyone elses? Do you think you should get more because you are a talented person missing out on those things; that they become somehow more valuable than if a mere grunt was missing out on those same things for the same reason?”

                I believe a person should get paid what the market is willing to pay them.

                Some people will earn more as a result of their talents and skills being in greater demand than others.

                It is not me making that determination.

                • Bill

                  “I believe a person should get paid what the market is willing to pay them.”

                  But, nah. You wrote “we want to be paid to compensate for missing out on these things to work.” ( ie walks on the beach etc)

                  Maybe you should stop opening your mouth for the purpose of allowing your belly to rumble and go eat tea. Or do talented ones refer to such a meal as dinner?

    • framu 25.2

      its got zero to do with discussing different views. Its about you calling whole sectors of society irrelevant and treating them as interchangable and expendable resources when in fact they are… people.

      also – yes theres plenty of name calling on this 1, but theres plenty of rebuttal as well – yet your not engaging in any of it. Why dont you ignore the name calling and engage the rebuttals?

  26. happynz 26

    A progressive tax reduces the amount of money you get the more you earn and this reduces the number of hours people on high incomes will work.

    From which book did you grab that gem?

  27. Oligarkey 27

    He seems to be missing the point of this whole “life” thing.

    We are here to live, love, laugh, create and learn. EVERY human has the right to do these things. Creating an ever growing economic surplus is irrelevant. We have plenty of economic surplus in order for everyone to have a wonderful life.

    But people like this guy want the rest of us to think like him – that life is about working and manipulating circumstance to deliver yourself ever more money and power. He’s what you call a jerk, and it’s jerks like him that control the National Party. They’re just a little more careful with their wording..

    • damien grant 27.1


      I am not trying to stop anyone doing whatever they want to do. Quote the reverse actually. People should be free to do with their lives as they wish without interference from the state or anyone else.

      My view, however, is that if you wish to pursue your dreams then you do so at your own expense and not at the expense of those who are working long hours to earn enough money to put their kids through school, or to build their own business, save for a holiday or pursue whatever their own life’s goal is.

      • Afewknowthetruth 27.1.1


        It is perfectly clear from your comments that you just don’t get it. All the complesx systems you rely on to maintian you elite position are at failutre point. In particular the energy systems necessary to maintain a globalised consumer society are in decline. Add to that the fact that fiat currencies are unravelling and the global environment is collapsing and it is very easy to see the present system has no future whatsoever.


        The industrial system is on its last legs and will collapse around 2015, if not before.

        All the bullshit we have heard over the decades about growth, GDP, tax rates, enhanced shareholder value, blah, blah, blah will be exposed for the nonsense it always was.

        Those regions when population overshoot is greatest will go under first.

  28. Todd 28

    damien grant
    Sorry but as long as your bum points down you will never win over on here,its like someone said the trouble with common sense is its not that common,non existent on here.

  29. Oligarkey 29

    I’m not sure if i should speak to damien. Look what happened to Eve. But i guess the standard is a safe enough forum. Bill has killed your argument dead in the water, but i would also add a big “and what”?

    Maybe if the dentist goes to the beach instead of pulling more teeth he won’t be nasty and abusive to his children that night. Hell, he may even decide to bond with his children by making a sandcastle? Get the gist? Life is so much bigger than your little “all encompassing” supply and demand graph. That little graph has fucked many families and in fact, whole nations. Time to think LIFE, not supply in demand. Our short dance on this planet is so precious. Far too precious to put in to dollar terms.

  30. damien grant 30


    You may be right, but what about the person with a tooth-ache?

    It is no fun making a sandcastles with a sore tooth.

    (Line about Eve was funny!)

    • Afewknowthetruth 30.1

      Twenty years from now there are unlikely to be many, if any dentists. There could be a few tooth-pullers around, depending on how the die-off pans out and whether the present economic system has rendered the Earth largely uninhabitable or not.

  31. Oligarkey 31


    The person with the sore tooth. Dunno man. Maybe they can buzz out on some neurofen plus for the evening? Pain is a natural part of life anyhow. You could just see it as a sign to start eating better. Either way i don’t think it’s wise to encourage money-getting over everything else. Avarice is rightly seen in almost all spiritual traditions as a sickness of the soul/spirit. Such a person becomes a junkie. Maybe the methadone program should be compulsory for ACT voters? Then they can lay on the couch watching “who wants to be a millionaire?” and leave the rest of us to get on with leading a balanced and fulfilling life. Just a thought.

    P.S – i will add to that – no offense intended to any junkies out there. Your breed has produced much brilliant art, music and literature, because of your emotional sensitivity. I don’t mean to equate you with ACT voters.

  32. damien grant 32


    Guys, got to go but it has been fun if a little time consuming.

    Remember, role of a columnist is to be a little provocative. Consider that maybe I’m stirring the pot a little to get a reaction.

    The Herald likes it if you write in and challenge what people like me say so do that. They publish the letters in the following Sunday.

    Next time you write me up feel free to invite me. I promise to come along. I’m pretty easy to find and you have my email now.

    And if you have not read Gareth Morgan’s book you should. It is a good read even if I disagree with it.

    Oligarkey: maybe some Act voters are junkies! liberals, man, have funny views on stuff like that.



    • marsman 32.1

      Stir the pot. But when you refer to a group of people as ” they are a commodity” then expect some flack and a fair bit of spitting. People may be commodities in your ” economics” but don’t forget to a lot of people neoliberal policy is a nasty scam and has nothing to do with economics and everything to do with the exploitation of the people you call commodities.

      • Colonial Viper 32.1.1

        The country would be better off by making a gravy stew out of these neo-liberal ‘kowtow to wealth’ bastards.

        Hey just stirring the pot, nothin’ personal ya kno.

  33. stever 33

    Great piece by Stuart Hall


    which includes the “everyone should be free to do what they want” that we’ve heard here.

    • marsman 33.1

      It is a great piece stever and frightening. I fear for NZ if the current mob of plunderers are returned to power.

  34. Jenny 34

    This Thursday, in the business section of The New Zealand Herald, syndicated cartoonists Charles Peattie and Russell Taylor through their fictional character Alex give their take in the rise of more overt brutality from class warriors the likes of Damien Grant.

    businessherald.co.nz 15/09/11


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