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Are the Vultures Already Circling Above?

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, April 14th, 2020 - 116 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, class war, Deep stuff, Economy, equality, housing, jobs, minimum wage, overseas investment, socialism, unemployment, wages, welfare - Tags: , , , , ,

We are all in the same boat now, rich and poor, more or less. We must not flout, we cannot flaunt, except online.

A common sentiment expressed is that we are all beneficiaries now. I know what they mean by it, but I think it misses the point that this has always been the case to a degree, even for the so-called and acclaimed self-made millionaires, who, arguably, have benefitted more from the State than most.

I suspect that when this is over – when it will truly be over and just another chapter in History books is anybody’s guess – a huge chasm will open and form an even bigger divide between the haves and have-nots and inequality will increase in society.

Many (?) SMEs with one or just a few employees will remain closed permanently, i.e. they won’t survive the lockdown. What will happen with their hardware and commercial space/premises? What will happen with the expertise, the goodwill, the networks of customers & business contacts, and the tacit knowledge of owning and/or operating a business that have been built with blood, sweat, and tears over the years?

The supermarket duopoly is likely to do well out of the lockdown although they claim they are not “super-profiteering” from it. Quite how they know this in advance I don’t know but we’ll take their word for it until the half-year financial reports are available. In any case, I doubt they will come out of this in a weaker position, which will put further pressure on and literally crowd out small food shops/outlets.

What will happen with small retailers and the retail space they rent or lease?

Many owners of commercial property will want (need?) to recoup any losses incurred during the lockdown and its aftermath. Who is going to cough up the money for this? Where will the money come from? From overseas?

People who have lost their jobs or experienced a large reduction in income may be forced to sell up their homes. Who will buy these homes?

I think it is fair to assume that in times of crisis the little people are generally worst off. You would think that those who can would extend a helping hand. However, apart from some targeted philanthropy, assistance has to come from the State.

The super-rich can afford to lose money, and they do in this crisis, as they don’t depend on it for the basics and necessities of life. People living in Struggle Street or SMEs that are under-capitalised and/or operate with very small margins have no buffer or safety net other than the State. However, this opens a whole can of worms as to what could or should be done with Taxpayers’ money. Bailouts of large companies (‘too big to fail’) tend to generate a lot of controversy, as we have seen during and after the GFC. At the same time, if a big one goes down, it usually drags down a whole lot of smaller ones into the deep dark waters of despair. There are no easy solutions given that everything is connected in some way or form.

I think there are exceptions, but even truly wealthy people are generally no different from the average person.

The rich aren’t different from ordinary folk, Matthews says. “They are just regular people with more zeroes in their bank accounts than the rest of us.”

Interestingly, this is not the sentiment you often hear from the wannabes, the ones who may have just one zero more in their bank accounts. They sometimes seem to believe that their success is through hard work, above-average intelligence, and making the right choices, not through (sheer) luck and most certainly not due to support/assistance from the State and Taxpayers.

With the astronomical stimulus packages almost everywhere in the Western world, there will be a lot of ‘rescue money’ floating around looking for a safe harbour and a good (read: cheap) bargain. Before the pandemic and global economic crisis, Little New Zealand was already on the watch list of many with money to spare for investment and/or speculation. Smaller investors could range from ‘Belgian dentists to Japanese housewives’. There can be no doubt that New Zealand has risen in the international preference stakes thanks to the way it has navigated through the pandemic so far. This will be further fuelled by our low NZ dollar.

I think it is inevitable that bargain hunters will snap up bargains here in NZ. To recoup or minimise losses, sellers (banks?) will try getting the best possible price in the market; one’s loss is another one’s gain. Businesses will need investment. Ordinary Kiwis won’t have a look in, as usual, only the ones with deep pockets who can afford to take a financial risk with backing of their banks – everybody is more risk-averse in a crisis. Thus even more money is likely to end up in the hands of fewer people, as it has always been the case with capitalism. These are opportune times but the question is, for me, can we do something about this and if so, should we do something to ensure that we don’t end up with a socio-economic desert where few survive and scavengers can pick the good parts off the dying and the carcasses and the rest turns to dust in the wind?

Now is the time to think about it and act, if necessary, because time is not on our side, it never is. Once the Alert Levels are being relaxed shit will hit the fan. Not only will we have tens of thousands out of a job but in the longer run, we may also find that more Kiwis find themselves having to work for less money doing the donkeywork for others, quite possibly including, but not limited to, overseas owners and investors. Lest we want to become serves and tenants in our own country and work for a minimum wage or be permanent beneficiaries, we’d better ask ourselves how we want to be as a nation and how we see ourselves in this brave new world.

This is not a call for protectionism, nationalism, anti-globalism, or even anti-capitalism necessarily but for a discussion about our daily lives, at work, in the social sphere, during our holidays (here or overseas), our retirements, our healthcare, et cetera.

116 comments on “Are the Vultures Already Circling Above?”

  1. pat 1

    It is more fundamental than that…..this is the moment when we decide whether the system developed to serve the interests of the 1% is saved and paid for by the 99% in perpetuity or whether we have the vision and courage to build something different….we wasted the opportunity a decade ago, lets not make the same mistake this time.

    • Forget now 1.1

      What do you mean we wasted the opportunity a decade ago, just because the "1% is saved"? This very touching anthem came out about then, and on the face of it, was wholly successful in achieving its stated intention:


      • pat 1.1.1

        We wasted the opportunity because we didnt address the cause of the problem….we are in the process of doing the same again.


        • In Vino

          I fear it is not only 10 years ago – the same process has delivered cheap assets into the hands of the rich after every economic crisis.  Squeal as some of us may, I very much doubt if we will be able to prevent it happening again.

          The ‘way forward’  will be for the poor to show enterprise, skill, adaptability, and follow that old dream of using your talents to create new wealth, new jobs, etc, with  the usual accolades of praise for those who do so…  until a new crisis will again deliver cheapened assets into the hands of the super-rich…

          • pat

            the difference now (and 10 years ago) from the past is the power of the rich exceeds that of even the largest governments….if we again fail to address that we will only increase that power further…the way forward is recognise it and then redress it….the longer we take the harder it will be

          • KJT

            It is very rarely "the poor" that manage that.

            It requires a degree of startup personal and money capital that the poor rarely possess.

            And. When the wealth is removed from the community already, it is even less possible.

            The innovation and expanding prosperity that characterised post WW2 USA, and New Zealand, came from an expanding middle class.

            Now. The wealthy spend tens of billions more, on share buybacks, than entrepreneurship and innovation.

  2. Nic the NZer 2

    A lot of what is being discussed here is the elevated level of unemployment the economy will exit lockdown carrying. In order to allow the people who become unemployed to most easily transition back into paid employment the govt should introduce a job guarantee scheme. Anyone would be able to take up the offer of working full or part time at the schemes going rate (which will become the effective minimum wage rate of the economy). These people being in work will ease the transition back into other parts of the economy. The alternative of waiting for the unemployed to get jobs leads to a long drawn out recovery and an example of this can be seen in how long it took for unemployment to fall back down after the 90s recession. The peak unemployment will be higher again this time.

    Obviously at present people in such a scheme would be told to stay home so it would look like our benefit regime does during lockdown.

    Otherwise the main thing is for the existing employment relationships to be maintained as much as possible by all the govt support packages.

    • Craig H 2.1

      Agree, bring back the Ministry of Works and other work programmes. 

      • Nic the NZer 2.1.1

        I thought the ministry of works produced roads and infrastructure?

        • Craig H

          Sure, hence the "other work programmes", whether that's art, aged care, tree planting, study or whatever.

  3. Janet 3

    I would think that the issuing of  all Work Permits should cease forthwith to ensure New Zealanders have jobs. It would be very disappointing to discover for example that the kiwi fruit is being picked again by overseas workers this season while the tourism and hospitality sector are down and out. Look after our own boat first . Kiwis first.

    • weka 3.1

      Crops that need harvesting right now (as in this month and next month at least) should be harvested by whoever is available to do the work. After that, put in some regs to increase wages and job conditions so that locals can afford to do the work. Work permits will have a natural attrition rate, and I can see an argument for not extending existing ones.

      • Ian 3.1.1

        From personal experience migrants working in the dairy industry are paid very well,and have excellent working conditions. Most are studying and gaining NZ qualifications  which makes them very valuable employees. Expecting dairy farmers to start employing  untrained kiwis who don't want to be there is not going to work.Calving starts in July and work visa's have been extended to 1 st September ,so sending these guys home in the middle of calving is not going to work. The money they earn is the best foreign aid NZ can provide to poor countries.

        • weka

          I don't have too much of a problem with that so long as the dairy industry starts training more Kiwis and paying a living wage.

          I'm sure there are dairy farms paying well and treating employees right, just like I'm sure there are ones that aren't. Dairy farms aren't any different than any other sector in that regard.

        • KJT

          The ones I've seen living in a shearing shed, working 120 hours a week, for 40 hours wages, were just a figment of my imagination.

          I'm happy to accept that you treat your workers well, but a large proportion of farmers, don't.

          My son experienced several that cannot get good Kiwi workers, because of the way they are treated. He loves farming, but only desperate temporary visa workers would put up with the conditions, he was experiencing.

  4. RedBaronCV 4

    Yeah we need to be very wary of being swamped in a flood of foreign capital and need some very clear rules and taxes to prevent this.

    I think we may  miss some sectors less than we think – tourism – particularly if the work visa's also decline sharply. The industry seems to have relied on a lot of foreign workers. Having said that, if we eliminate I could see plenty of better off individuals being willing to undergo 14  days quarantine for the joys of a few months unrestricted and safe living.

    Australia has I believe put a blanket ban on overseas purchases and it would be good to do the same – refer everything to the OIO and have a clear policy so the banks can't steamroll. Declaring land a national asset that can't be sold would help too. If buildings are sold on leasehold specifying a maximum term.

    Looking at some form of NZ patent protection so that the right to use can be sold but not the actual patent .

    Some things I would tax at 100%. Check all overseas ownership of shares cars houses and any tax haven registrations are taxed at 100% income and capital. That would include grandfathering -so if the ownership can't be tracked properly overseas that's included.

    Automated factory's here starting to appear overseas. Look at the list of major imports and see if we can fund some start ups in these areas might be a better investment than roads





    • Wayne 4.1

      The govt is not going to nationalise all overseas owned companies, which is what your 100% tax is. 

      I appreciate that you surely know that, and that you were simply expressing your marxist views.

      However, it is worth restating that Covid has not turned NZ into a communist dictatorship. The govt has been given very large powers to solve the immediate crisis, not to bring about a Marxist revolution!

      • pat 4.1.1

        Having said that Im sure you will support any policy changes that the majority should vote for….perceived communist or not

        • Wayne

          What will those changes be?

          I note that Bill English has an article in the online Herald noting the need to widen the tax base. I think it is more likely that a new 40% income tax rate will be introduced for income above $120,000. New taxes are hard to introduce and often have unanticipated effects. A income tax rate increase is more predictable.

          • pat

            what will those changes be?….thats the question isnt it…never will the manifestos be more closely read….new taxes/policies are no harder to introduce than tax cuts, both have the potential for unintended(?) consequences.

            With the US dominated financial world view exposed as the failure it is currently the opportunity for all countries to move to their own world view and way of doing things has never been greater

          • KJT

            Do you have a link.

          • KJT

            If you are talking about Democratic mandates, I believe polling already shows over 80% think Government should address human caused climate change, a majority want a CGT, and a reduction in GST, and over 80% were against continued asset sales.

            It is a tad hypocritical to talk about "no mandate" here.

            I suspect a higher top tax rate for over 120k would have majority support, also.

          • bwaghorn

            A cgt would broaden the tax base 

             Did Billy boy mention that.

      • RedBaronCV 4.1.2

        You appear to be stuck in your right wing meme – I'm actually not suggesting anything "marxist".

        You appear to have missed the words " tax havens" – now is not the time to facilitate a flood of "highly unlikely to be legitimate"  money seeking to establish itself in NZ As to grandfathering – then  we can track back through the registry of  other countries to ensure there are not cutouts.

        However, I still don't see those receiving multi million salaries  and the government subsidy dropping back to  a living wage to share their employee pain.

      • KJT 4.1.3

        Is "Marxist" the new right wing derogatory buzz word?

        You can relax. No one wants a "Marxist" revolution.

        Unless you consider Michael Joseph Savage, and indeed the National Government that followed him, "Marxist".


      • Chris 4.1.4

        Let's just hope this government is given another term, then.  Now's the time more than ever to highlight the truth about Labour governments historically being better financial managers than National governments and destroy the myth that it's the other way around.   

    • Foreign waka 4.2

      Well, the rug has just pulled on Burger King.

      Here is the part that I don't get. How can a company be bankrupt after 2 weeks closure? How much security is behind any of these oh so welcome investment firms?

      The whole group is owned by Tango New Zealand Limited
      The Blackstone Group LP, United States of America (100.0%)

      Yes, Blackstone, we all should have heard of that crowd by now. One of the founders was the CEO at Lehmans. 


      Existing shareholders of Anchorage New Zealand Holdings Limited
      Anchorage Capital Partnership Fund L.P, Australia (92.31%)
      Business Trustees Limited & Elliott Trustee Company Limited, New Zealand (1.88%)
      Hunter Corporate Trustee Limited, New Zealand (1.88%)
      Bluff Hill Trust Limited, New Zealand (1.31%)
      Jonathan Pinshaw, Australia (1.31%)
      Michelle Alexander Trustees Limited, New Zealand (1.31%)

  5. Poission 5

    The rich aren’t different from ordinary folk, Matthews says. “They are just regular people with more zeroes in their bank accounts than the rest of us.”

    From the great Gatsby,interesting used in one of the most important reviews on extreme events (Ghil 2011)

    The key question for the description, understanding and prediction of extreme events can be formulated as a para-phrase to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s assertion in “The Great Gatsby”: “The rich are like you and me, only richer”. Is this true of extreme events, i.e., are they just other events in the life of a given system, only bigger? If so, one can – a s one often does – extrapolate from the numerous small ones to the few large ones. This approach allows one to jump from the description of the many to the prediction of the few. It is essentially this idea that underlies the use of power laws form any classes of phenomena and the design of skyscrapers that have to withstand the “50-year wind burst” or of bridges that have to survive the “100-year flood”.The modest opinion of the authors – after dealing with many kinds of extreme events, in the physical as well as thesocio-economic realm – is that the yes-or-no answer to the“Great-Gatsby” question is a definite “maybe”, i.e. “it de-pends”.


    • pat 5.1

      The 'rich' have spent the last 40 years perverting our financial system for their own benefit and now hold it as a sword of Damocles over us (and our governments)…time to take the sword back.

      The resources will remain

    • Simbit 5.2

      When did Hemingway drop out? In response to Fitzgerald's comment, "The rich are different from you and me," replied, "Yes. They have more money."

  6. mac1 6

    "Are the Vultures Already Circling Above?" I thought this might be a post on the National Party, but the vultures are already there, nesting and feasting.

    Post pandemic is a concern.

    I am already seeing advertisements to fly to Australia to drink craft beer.

    No mind the problem of socialising and alcohol linked to disease transmission, the idea of using a resource like fuel to fly 4000 kms to drink craft beer boggles the mind.

    Nothing against craft beer, mind, I am a fan, but a chance to reassess priorities on how we live and use resources is being ignored by marketeers of businesses, and presumably by their targeted young male metro bearded type market opportunities.

  7. Gosman 7

    Instead of trying to use this public health emergency as a back door to try and force socialism on us by stealth why don't you wait until the election and campaign for socialism outright. It makes me angry that left wingers are using the negative economic impacts caused by government interference to try and argue the solution is even more radical government interference on a long term basis.

    • Ad 7.1

      Nothing says socialism like $50 billion of public money. 

      Not even a whimper out of National. 

      New Zealanders may not know the words, but they get this simple idea: 

      Solidarity forever.

      • Gosman 7.1.1

        The government is spending money to pay for the economic harm they have caused. That is entirely fair. That doesn't mean it should be like that ALL the time.

        • The Unliving

          What harm do you think the government caused here? Are you suggesting there would have been less harm had we had no lockdown?

          • Gosman

            There would likely have been less economic harm and more health harm. That was the trade off the government made. I am not stating they were wrong at the time. I'm stating they made a call to trade off the economy for health.

            • The Unliving

              Less economic harm in the very short term only. Had we not gone into lockdown when we did, we would have likely done so later, but for longer, and with far more people getting sick and dying.

            • KJT

              No, they didn't.

              Governments that made the decision to trade health for the "economy" have stuffed both.

              It is a trade off that was never possible.

              In fact, it looks like countries like New Zealand that gave lives more priority, are going to be back to work, sooner.

              • Nic the NZer

                Hey, don't knock it its a personal preference. Gosman is just suggesting he is ideologically quite happy to be out shopping now at a shop where you get a dose of Corvid-19 along with your coffee and smashed avocado however you like it.

                (Todays) Gosman is a real shop till you drop kind of guy!

                • Gosman

                  You mean like Australians are dropping like flies?… oh wait a minute, they’re not.

                  • Nic the NZer

                    Umm, Australia is in lock-down! Look I can't help you I don't know where your going to be able to catch your Corvid-19 from.

                  • Nic the NZer

                    "Australia's lockdown is generally much less onerous than ours"

                    implying what?

                    • Gosman

                      Implying that you can choose to be flexible in shutting down an economy to deal with a pandemic

                  • Nic the NZer

                    and people will judge those decision makers depending on how that works out. Hopefully you will be big enough to say that the countries approach was both in conflict with your opinion and much superior to it when that time comes.

    • Nic the NZer 7.2

      So your getting angry with anyone who wants to undertake measures to relieve the coming recession?

    • KJT 7.3

      A crisis has shown up the total failure of your way of doing things.

      You still want to continue with it?

      • Gosman 7.3.1

        Where is the failure of capitalism here?

        • KJT

          Where do you get "failure of capitalism". It is your model of small State, privatisation of infrastructure, low regulation, and "laughably called "free markets" that has failed.

          I expect a mixed economy where a democratically controlled Government compensates for market failure, will do fine, as they did before you ideologs, screwed it up.

          • Gosman

            Ummm… the size of the State has had ZERO impact on how bad a country has been hit by the virus. In fact nations with large amounts of State intervention (e.g. France) are one of the worst hit. 

      • Bazza64 7.3.2

        Not sure how you can say this crisis shows a total way of failure of our current political & financial system. Are people in Cuba saying we're glad we have a communist/socialist government – we can deal with this crisis so much better ? I doubt it. Yes Cuba has a world leading medical system, but the rest of their economy is a wreck.

        It is likely the way our country has been run means we now have the ability to borrow funds to help us get through this.

    • BArely Here, or There 7.4

      Stealth? It's right out in the open. How long did our economic system last in a (mostly imagined) crisis? A week, at best?  What was the first action of employers? Theft and firings. What would you think of someone that kept buying the same Operating System for their PC that keep crashing every week, despite alternatives? Stealth my fuckin ass. Our system catastrophically failed.

      • Gosman 7.4.1

        Yeah, when the government stops you carrying out your business funnily enough you tend to struggle to carry out business. Duh.

    • McFlock 7.5

      Did Gosman just bitch about "government interference" against a global pandemic?

      Never mind the stuff about lefties being keen on a bit of stealthy back-door action. Loud on the streets, quiet in the sheets… 👿

      • Gosman 7.5.1

        Not at all. That is one of the MAIN roles of government. However to try and argue that because the government has caused a massive economic downturn (albeight to combat a massive threat to public health) it means we have to change our entire economic system long term by increasing the size of the State sector even further long term is opportunistic at best and downright dishonest and anti-democratic at worst.

  8. Vultures? no …. but pīwakawaka? – yup

    • Ad 8.1

      Only if  you believe that crappy superstition about Fantails in your house portending death.

      They're just there for bread and spiders.

      • mac1 8.1.1

        Fantails and storks' nests. Classic examples of the  philosophical saying, "That synchronicity does not imply causality".  Fantails come into houses from the higher bush in colder times when of course more people died of disease. Storks built nests on new houses which were often owned by young couples having babies.

        As for vultures circling it is the nature of carrion to carry on in this way. The astute observer looks for their obvious presence to discover where the body lies.

        In the body politic look for where the Whips are, the BBQs and the fish and chip parties, the huddled messes and the corner table in the bar, restaurant or cafe- or the virtual equivalent.

        It's why Simon wants to be in Wellington. He can't see the vultures while looking from Tauranga.

        • Poission

          The fantails laugh is what precluded immortality,and allowed death ,it is not a harbinger of death it is signalling that it is an admissible probability (almost surely)

          As in other island groups, Maui obtained fire from the Underworld and snared the sun. New Zealand legend has a quest for immortality which differs from the Tuamotuan myth of the sea-slug already related. Maui sought to slay Hine-nui-te-po (Great-goddess-of-night) while she was asleep in her cave. He took with him a number of birds as companions. He enjoined upon them the necessity for absolute quiet while he entered into the body of the goddess to remove her heart and so end the cause of death. Unfortunately he committed an error of judgment in including the flycatcher, or fantail, in his retinue. This bird cannot remain still, and when it saw Maui entering the body of the goddess it twittered with laughter. The goddess awoke and Maui was strangled. An old lament says:


          Death overtook the leaders of men
          When Maui was strangled by the Goddess of Death,
          And so death remained in this world, alas!

          I could throw a stone at the descendants of that flycatcher, but perhaps I had better not, for problems of overpopulation might have arisen had the flycatcher not laughed.

          Te Rangi Hiroa (vikings of the sunrise)


      • Robert Guyton 8.1.2



  9. Siobhan 9

    "Many owners of commercial property will want (need?) to recoup any losses incurred during the lockdown and its aftermath. Who is going to cough up the money for this? Where will the money come from? From overseas?.."

    I'm curious as to how its accepted that many businesses will dissolve during, and in the aftermath of this crisis. And those that survive are having to absorb and shoulder the debts incurred, including having to either pay full rent, or paying half rent and owing the remainder (as if business will be back to normal at the end of lockdown. And as if small businesses can afford to be in debt to their landlords)

    ..yet the conversation is still about how the owners of Commercial real estate could be saved.

    Those of us at the mercy of the new breed of investor landlord are right now realising (if we didn't know already) that they are more than comfortable to see us gone, despite the obvious lack of new tenants entering the market in the forceable future..which begs many questions, but foremost..what exactly is the real value of land..Commercial and Domestic..and when will we allow it fall to its real worth/value.

    If not now..then when?


  10. Ad 10

    Looks like Burger King NZ is for sale. 

    Just in case any local vultures need fries with it.

    • Graeme 10.1

      Just playing hardball with their landlords, receivership extinguishes the leases.  It'll phoenix and carry on with new structure and leases, maybe, depending on how deep in the shit they really are.

      It is really getting down and dirty, but that's what happens when the talking stops.  Also suspect that the BK thing mightn't have been going all that well prior to all this too.  Could see a few others with the business strategy of being right in the face of their competitors coming a gutsa shortly.

      • Ad 10.1.1

        Wait until they all start blaming the higher minimum wage. 

        • KJT

          Our local BK ,was struggling long before this.

          They probably will blame the minimum wage rise.

          Ironic, when their business model depends on selling to low income people.

          • Chris

            It's a sad, sad industry on so many levels.  The sooner BK and others like them fuck off the better.

  11. KJT 11

    Beat me too it. Nice one.

    I'm not sure about small businesses disappearing.

    Kiwi's are a resilient lot. I think we will find, if the business was doing something necessary, it will resurrect or survive in some form.

    I'm not going to cry about property speculators losing money.

    • Chris 11.1

      Property speculators shouldn't be worried one bit because they believe in the market.  They know that's just how the cookie crumbles.

    • Janet 11.2

      I share your thought that Kiwi's are resilient. They always have been resilient, tenacious, and determined and most will just start again if they have to. I have no doubt about that. All that will be shed , and I hope for sometime, will be the parasite layer of our society – the last layer that develops in a society.

  12. bill 12

    If government doesn't formulate and roll out very specific measures, then many small businesses will not be coming back.

    Large companies like Air New Zealand can be let go. The infrastructure and expertise doesn't go anywhere if shareholders get wiped out. (jist sayin)

    I do wonder if any professional middle class types who are currently working from home are lifting their gaze and beginning to wonder if their 'widget arranging' actually means or achieves anything – and reflecting on their lives.

    I also wonder how many people are actively enjoying the silence and the the slower pace of life? And I wonder how many more will be in that boat if Level 3 means we continue as now, but without the stress that comes from being 'locked up' in our houses and flats.

    I wonder if astrologists will try to deny the existence of a magic money tree they always seem able to shake when money is needed for things they find important.

    I wonder if people will begin to shed that notion we've internalised over generations – that it's beyond question for notions of life and meaning to be reduced to pennies and cents and for our lives to be  'appropriately' trammeled.

    Me and the pangolin live in hope.

    • Poission 12.1

      I do wonder if any professional middle class types who are currently working from home are lifting their gaze and beginning to wonder if their 'widget arranging' actually means or achieves anything – and reflecting on their lives.

      I would suggest they are awakening to find they are irrelevant,not being part of the essential economy.

    • Ad 12.2

      Nick the NZer above proposed a job guarantee scheme – presumably like the Australian one. 

      Large companies like Air New Zealand or Fonterra or Gallaghers or Foodstuffs are needed more than ever. If the local owners depart, the vultures really do take what remains of profits coming back to New Zealand. CAFCA has good points on this.

      As a professional middle class widget arranger I'm quite confident what I'm doing is necessary, and my team and I are looking forward to doing good for the country and helping our companies make the money that pays us to keep doing that necessary stuff.

      I'm happy to wait until retirement to enjoy the silence and the slower pace of  life. Although I'm happy to have lost 3 kilos in the month from just running. If Alert Level 3 stays in place, may of us will just continue working from our homes as we already are.

      My uncles and aunties who went through the effects of the Great Depression in the late 1930s and 1940s assure me (by phone) that pennies and cents matter so very much when whole dollars aren't around. 

      • pat 12.2.1

        "Large companies like Air New Zealand or Fonterra or Gallaghers or Foodstuffs are needed more than ever. If the local owners depart, the vultures really do take what remains of profits coming back to New Zealand. CAFCA has good points on this."

        So we dont make the same mistakes others made post GFC….the bail outs dont come free of strings….the benefit of public money support flows to the country, not the holders of the lost capital.

      • Nic the NZer 12.2.2

        I'm not aware that Australia has a job guarantee scheme, so its probably a different scheme you are talking about. India and Argentina have such schemes to a limited extent.

        As I was questioning Craig about, a job guarantee scheme should not do anything which we want produced as a public good. This is because its quite acceptable for all the job guarantee workers to find work in the private sector if that suites them. Programs like a proposed climate core towards greening the economy should be hired by the government but on a more permanent basis than who ever is left over. We should also expect a higher level of expertise and skill from them.

    • Wayne 12.3

      Yes, you could "crash" Air NZ. But it would be many months before you got an airline back. In the meantime, there would be no flights at all.

      All the complex management systems would have to be rebuilt and the engineering organisation reconstructed. An airline is not just planes, pilots and maintenance engineers. All that has to be organised. That takes people, systems and time.

      Right now we have got all that. Yes, Air NZ will all have to be rightsized over the next few months, but in the meantime we still have an operational airline. 

      Right now it might be doing 10% of previous flights, but in 6 to 12 months it will be more like 30 to 40%.

      Keeping enough of the team together will be essential so that it can increase operations again in a timely way. That will require govt money, and thus govt shareholding. Quite a few people will effectively need to be paid to be in reserve, so they are available as business picks up again. 

      • bill 12.3.1

        What has any of what you say got to do with letting investment vampires sink?

        All of everything else can be held in place (just not the vampires)…whether we're talking Air New Zealand or about any other large/corporate entity.

        • Wayne


          You said "Air NZ can be let go." I was contesting that. I did presume you meant it could be placed in receivership or liquidated.

          In the case of liquidation it would be "crashed". In the case of receivership, it might continue, but only with hundreds of millions of govt money to keep it alive. In either case there would be a huge risk that New Zealand would have no air services for a while.

          The current govt strategy for Air NZ is way better. Companies can't be just "held in place." They need money for that, even with the inevitable restructuring.

      • KJT 12.3.2

        Pleased you agree on, necessary, infrastructure.

        That it shouldn't be left for the "Vultures" to pick up, and asset strip, and run into the ground.

        Like Railways were.

    • theotherpat 12.4

      living in a small town near SH1 i can tell ya silence is deafening….no truck noise constantly berating ones space and neighbors having more to do with each other…social distancing and all that still….to sit outside in the morning at dawn and hear the birds is stupendous.

      • bill 12.4.1


        I've read that some peeps find the recent silence eerie…which strikes me as odd (and maybe reason enough for them to book a leetle time on a couch).

      • Wayne 12.4.2

        What you are hearing is the end of the livelihoods of tens of thousands of kiwi families.

        • KJT

          Yes. Bit like the early 90's, eh?

          • Forget now

            If only someone like say (off the top of my head); the Minister for Research, Science and Technology (later; Science and Innovation), had done something a decade ago to prepare the country for the imminent Pandemic!

            It is not like there weren't clear warning signs. That way with adequate preparation the country could have been future proofed against the loss of livelihoods of those kiwi families that Wayne now apparently cares so very much about now.

        • weka

          "What you are hearing is the end of the livelihoods of tens of thousands of kiwi families."

          Best we don't fuck it up then, and instead create new jobs that don't harm the environment or degrade people's lived experience.

          • The Al1en

            "Damage to the skin or deeper tissues caused by sun, hot liquids, fire, electricity or chemicals."


          • KJT

            From the same people that didn't give a shit about "tens of thousands of Kiwi livelihoods" during the 80's and 90's, reforms.

            • weka

              the other irony there is that many rural areas shifted to tourism, and here we are again.

              • KJT

                We are addicted to what someone called, "sugar rush industries". 

                Extractive, unsustainable and low waged.

                • weka

                  what is it with that? Is it lack of imagination from people in position of leadership? eg the only things being presented are neoliberal models? Or is it greed?

          • Wayne


            You are not seriously suggesting that the Govt should use the crisis to radically reduce truck use, are you?

            As soon as we get back to Level 2, which will be within a month, business and therefore trucking is going to start again. But probably not at the same volume as previously because there will be a smaller economy for the next few years.

            But the govt is hardly going to say/order trucking firms that they can't operate, or can only do say 75% of previous business.

            One outcome is that a lot of older, and less efficient, trucks will go, given their will be less trucking due to the smaller economy.

            As will be the case with Air NZ. All their older less efficient aircraft will be retired, probably permanently. Only the newest aircraft (the B787 Dreamliner, and the newest A320's will be kept. That will mean about 10% less emissions per passenger.

            The same will happen worldwide. The aircraft graveyards will increase in size hugely. Most of the aircraft that go there will never fly again, probably all aircraft over 10 years old will be parked. Boeing and Airbus will be producing aircraft at about 20% of current volumes for years to come. It could either slow or speed up innovation.

            The US may buy more Airforce aircraft just to keep the aviation companies alive. Much of the USAF fleet is over 20 to 30 years old. They will use covid as a means of modernising the fleet, thereby keeping the aviation industry going.

            • Rosemary McDonald

              Wayne. No doubt you have mates in the industries you predict will be permanently retiring vehicles and aircraft.

              Would you like to suggest to them a few bucks could be made by repurposing these assets?

              Housetrucks of course…some of the early versions were converted refrigerated trucks. Fortunately weathertight and insulated.

              Same with the aircraft. Engage a bunch of designers and with clever use of available space an oldish plane could possibly house a couple of families in relative comfort.

              I am only half joking.  I'd hate to see these vehicles go to waste and I imagine the cost of recycling would be penitative.

              Although it would be a nice dream to hope that this kind of work would be done without the drive for profit.

              And yes.

              We should radically reduce road transport.

              Have you not been keeping up?

              • Forget now

                "Punitive" not "penitative" surely. Unless they are stealing RSA plaques from graveyards, I would hate to see some one imprisoned for recycling!


                I do like your idea of using decommissioned aircraft as housing though. Remove the wings and undercarriage and the fuselage would make a very tubular residence. Personally, I would be tempted to bury it in the ground for insulation (cladding a cylinder would be difficult) and strength. Also for the hobbit hole aesthetic.

            • Forget now

              What? Where did weka even mention the word "truck"? Are you misreading her "best we don't fuck it up then" response to your assertion that reduced noise pollution is the doom of livelihoods?


              I did seriously suggest (the  other day) that we should move towards improving rail and coastal shipping instead of trucking everything. Furthermore, I am currently saying that this should be largely electric rather than fossil fuel powered. After all we have to do something with the juice that'll be going spare when the Tiwai smelter cuts and runs.

            • weka

              Hi Wayne,

              "You are not seriously suggesting that the Govt should use the crisis to radically reduce truck use, are you?"

              No, I wasn't suggesting that. What I would say about that is that we need to reduce truck use because of the climate and ecological crises, and it makes sense to use the current necessary restriction to redesign how we do transport. My comment above was probably more about car use, and there are people already talking about the potential for us not to go back to BAU, but what if those people that can work more from home continue to do so, that we keep the popup bike lanes and footpaths and put incentives in place for people to use them, that we put 'recovery' emphasis and resources into public transport.

              These are all climate/ecology actions, and they also serve us with covid eg if we are to have an extended period of time of physical distancing and intermittent stay at home orders, then having these things in place makes more sense than rushing back to BAU.

              I'm more a carrot than stick person (unless the stick becomes necessary, and then it needs to be used smartly). I see great potential here for the people currently in power, and powerholders such as yourself, to be more creative in the approaches to what we do next. The narrative will play a bit part in whether a carrot or a stick is needed, JA has been demonstrating this in bold for the past few months.

              "One outcome is that a lot of older, and less efficient, trucks will go, given their will be less trucking due to the smaller economy."

              I hope so. What I am pointing to here is that as new trucks are needed, instead of just replacing them with EVs, we look at the whole system of goods transport and make changes over time to something sustainable, resilient and regenerative. That means things like we stop double freighting goods (think food, or mail), and redesign those systems to be more ecologically efficient. This requires a different kind of thinking than is commonly used that led to the double freighting in the first place.

              Also, more broadly, if we grow more food locally, then we reduce the need for freighting.

              Increase our rail freight.

              And so on. Looking at the whole system again.

        • theotherpat

          oh feck off…its nothing of the sort pillick……there would be more silence if a few 10's of thousands were dead huh!

  13. Drowsy M. Kram 13

    Hopefully governments and organisations will get better at detecting and responding appropriately to the early warning signs of major crises, because 'our' globe is becoming a ‘crisis hothouse‘.  The Covid-19 pandemic occurred roughly ten years after the GFC; imagine if the gap had been ten months.

    "The Covid-19 epidemic is a clear instance of governments and organisations not having learned from near misses"

  14. Jum 14

    I don't understand why businesses in danger don't throw their lot in with their employee(s) and form a cooperative.  Nobody wants a business to fail because it provides money for the business owner and it provides income for the employee(s).

    They both (all) know how the company works.  Make it work together.  If the business owner didn't need to take on staff, they would not have.  They would have kept all the profit for themselves.

    This keeps happening around NZ.  Cadbury should have been taken over by the employees and made to work with their redundancy funding.  I refuse to buy any cadbury product now, whereas I would have deliberately bought Dunedin Cooperative choc..  I buy Whittakers now.

    • weka 14.1

      I see a fair bit of failure of imagination. I understand that people will want to rely on known models, but if one's business is going to crash anyway, why not look at alternatives?

  15. adam 15

    Let's all be nice to each other, then maybe we will get more rainbows and unicorns. 

    Or if we hold our breath, maybe the man who is kicking me out of where I live will change his mind. 

    How about we all collect seashells and make nice necklaces for our new lords and masters whilst we slowly slip into slavery. 

    Or at the very least can we get people to stop thinking in liberal economic terms, and embrace what socialism lead by working people may look like?  But why bother, when middle class technocrates will fuck it up all over again. 

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