Austerity will increase inequality

Written By: - Date published: 10:12 am, May 18th, 2012 - 42 comments
Categories: equality, uk politics - Tags: , , ,

A good article in the Guardian yesterday – by Kate Pickett and Richard Wilkinson, authors of The Spirit Level.

They argue that despite the UK government saying that tackling social mobility as its guiding purpose, the fact that “tackling the financial deficit is the coalition’s most immediate task” is undermining that supposed goal.

Social mobility shows a strong tendency to be higher in societies with smaller income differences between rich and poor.

[…] Observations from sociology and psychology help explain how inequality of income increases inequalities of opportunity. Downward prejudices (or, more simply, snobbery and discrimination) flourish in hierarchical societies. Material differences increase social distances. The elites have the “right” schools and ways of speaking, cultural markers of status. The more hierarchical a society, the more obvious differences in status, and the more likely these are to attract downward prejudice and stigma. Lacking these cultural markers of status increases the obstacles to social mobility. Young people from less well-off backgrounds risk losing out on opportunities for better higher education and jobs.

In addition, experiments show how recognition of social differences diminishes performance among those who are made to feel at a social disadvantage. […]

The Right speak of aiming for equality of opportunity to justify the wide inequality of outcome.  This gives the lie to that aim: inequality of income causes an inequality of opportunity.

Obama sees it “Gaping inequality gives lie to the promise at the very heart of America:” the American Dream, where everyone can make it if the try, is ever more false.

But back to Pickett and Wilkinson:

This is not simply a matter of justice or fairness for individuals. The country as a whole would benefit from increasing social mobility. When people are excluded from opportunities because of their background, their talent is wasted. Because so many politicians, judges, CEOs and senior people in business and the civil service have similar backgrounds, our institutions are more at risk of being out of touch with the majority, geared primarily to the needs and interests of people at the top of the income distribution.

Sound familiar?

[T]he austerity measures now being implemented mean that in the coming years the social ladder will be steeper and the rungs further apart. It is hard to see how the government’s “immediate task” will do anything other than undermine its “guiding purpose” in the absence of bold initiatives to tackle social inequality not only at the bottom, but also at the top.

Austerity is reducing the opportunities for social mobility, for reducing income inequality, for a fair society.  The increased class sizes, the removal of Adult and Community Education, the removal of Training Allowances, the removal of State Houses from more expensive suburbs and new subdivisions, and many more things National are doing in the name of “austerity” are undermining our society.

It’s a well-argued opinion piece against a different Tory government’s policies, but the arguments hold here too.  Worth a read.

42 comments on “Austerity will increase inequality”

  1. Carol 1

    Austerity can do nothing BUT increase inequality. It’s a TINA that’s designed to mask the further accumulation of wealth by those who already have wealth and power, by syphoning off money and resources from those already struggling, at a moment of systemic crisis.

    This response to the TINA, austerity wealth grab puts it well:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/mark-steel/mark-steel-starve-the-greeks-and-theyll-feel-better-7754276.html

    Up until now the argument has been that there’s no alternative. We have to slash public spending and wages because there’s so much debt that otherwise there’ll be chaos, absolute chaos. The joy of this method is it saves having to make a case for your actions, so it ought to be used more often. Journalists accused of phone hacking could say, “I had no choice but to listen to a dead soldier’s voicemail because otherwise there’d be chaos, absolute chaos. Just look at Greece, they didn’t hack any phones and look at the mess they’re in, there was no alternative.”
    […]
    Maybe muggers will adopt this approach, and instead of pushing pensioners against a wall they’ll tell them, “Give me your wallet, otherwise the whole of Europe will fall apart and it will be your fault.” But now the situation is changing, because across Europe it’s being suggested the poor shouldn’t be the ones made to pay. In Britain for example it’s been revealed the national debt is equivalent to the amount the richest 1,000 people have become richer by in the past four years. Presumably they can’t be made to give it back, as they’d scream, “Please don’t make us go back to the pitiful way we had to live in 2008, that’s too cruel”. But there may be a way round that, by politely pointing out, “Sorry Mr Ecclestone and Mr Abramovich, but there’s no alternative.”

  2. True Freedom is Self-Governance 2

    With no clear evidence to suggest austerity has ever been a successful strategy (for the greater good anyway), I can think of only two possibilities; a) The government are blindly following an idealogy that has been tried and failed many times before and are hoping for a different outcome (this is commonly referred to as the very definition of stupidity), or b) The government is well aware of the true consequences of austerity and either dont care or wish to actively encourage inequality. My guess is on the latter, needy people are so much easier to control.

  3. The Baron 3

    … and the flipside, irresponsible spending increases, essentially amount to intergenerational theft as left wing Governments seek to continue buying off large parts of the electorate. Please tell us; just how much additional debt is enough to avoid these horrible outcomes, Ben?

    See, both sides can play the hyperbole game.

    • Bunji 3.1

      As KTH points out below, there are 2 sides to a balance sheet – one can increase revenue as well. One doesn’t have to introduce tax cuts for the rich (and nationalise their debt) when one can’t balance the books already…

      Beyond that we’re in a recessionary cycle at the moment, and fortunately the previous Labour Government with 9 long years of surplus had got us into net credit in the good times, so we could afford to pay for the bad. Now admittedly National have racked debt up incredibly fast – amazing without any effective stimulus to get us out of our hole – but we’ve still got a very sustainable debt currently.

      If you focus on reducing the vast gaps between rich and poor (firstly by making sure there are jobs for people to go to) you’ll find there’s a lot more people able to pay their way, a lot less talent wasted and the books balance a lot easier in the long term. But that’s not on the government’s short-sighted penny-pinching agenda.

      • simon 3.1.1

        Labour increased government spending as a proportion of GDP during its 9 years. If had maintained at same level of GDP as Nats had then accumulated government debt would have been reduced to somewhere around 10%-15% (and give a net govt stockpile) AND Nats current round of cutbacks would be nowehere near as savage as level of government expenditure would be close to Nat’s ideological norm.

        Cullen seemed to hold the views that (a) any problem could be solved by throwing money at it, with no need for any performance standard (b) the government knew better how to spend taxpayers’ money than the taxpayer. Which reminds me: you may choose tonight’s meal from the following list of approved fish.

        • Half Crown Millionare 3.1.1.1

          What the fuck are you on about

        • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.2

          Labour increased government spending as a proportion of GDP during its 9 years.

          Prove it. And by that I mean show us the %age of GDP spent by government since 1990.

          Also, this: Basically, if the government didn’t spend the economy would collapse – which is what’s happening ATM. It’s not private businesses that drive the economy but government. All private businesses do is take money out of the governments hand through the dead weight loss of profit (that’s why the government is now having to pay to upgrade the telecommunications network which should have bee upgraded with Telecom’s profit over the last 20 years).

  4. tsmithfield 4

    Austerity has to happen sooner or later.

    Austerity is simply living within a budget and generating a surplus to repay debt. The longer debts keep getting racked up, the deeper the austerity will be, as Greece has discovered. Therefore, it stands to reason that we are better to start some mild austerity now rather than much deeper austerity later.

    • The Baron 4.1

      Nonono TS, you’re forgetting that Labour planted that magical money tree a couple of months before the last election! We never need live within our means again – spend spend spend, because otherwise the entire world breaks down or something.

    • Kotahi Tane Huna 4.2

      You’ve really swallowed the kool-aid haven’t you?

      Minor detail: the deficit is caused when revenue < expenditure. There are two sides of that equation and you're only focussing on the expenditure. Which has increased under National.

      So not only are you ignoring revenue, you're supporting a party that does the opposite of your mumbo-pocus.

      Cognitive dissonance much?

    • OneTrack 4.3

      No you just have to fire up the printing press and print as much money as you need. Look it’s working for Robert.

    • McFlock 4.4

      “Austerity” is quitting your job and then not feeding the kids because you’re broke.
      “Living within a budget” includes keeping the job, or even increasing your income, before considering spending cuts.

      • tsmithfield 4.4.1

        ““Austerity” is quitting your job and then not feeding the kids because you’re broke.”

        Nah, mate. That’s stupidity.

        Austerity has such a nasty connotation because at the moment it involves extremely indebted nations having to take medicine they should have taken decades ago. So the pain is much higher, and the disease has gotten so bad that the medicine might kill the patient.

        At the moment, in relative terms, we have a case of the sniffles that we can resolve relatively painlessly through some gentle medication.

    • Good grief. Back to political kindergarten.

      First question: Why do you think we have a ‘welfare system’ (broadly conceived)?

      Correct Answer: In order to pre-empt the numerous uprisings, riots, widespread civil disobedience and, potentially, revolt that characterised history in capitalist and other societies prior to its arrival. The main enemy has always been the threat that people will resort to that greatest of all heresies – governing themselves and so realising that they do not need someone else to govern them.

      Second question: Why else do we have large government expenditure?

      Correct Answer: to provide wide-ranging subsidies to corporate and industrial interests – e.g., mass education was established for this purpose; modern universities primarily arose – and were taxpayer funded – to serve this purpose (by providing not only highly trained specialists but also the taxpayer funding of research and development in new and emerging areas of technology); health systems – and budgets – were expanded to ‘grow’ pharmaceutical companies and associated industries; roading, other transport, energy and water infrastructures were primarily turbo-charged as a direct subsidy to commerce.

      Here in New Zealand this pattern continues with ‘roads of national significance’, ‘ultra-fast broadband’ and the like.

      Government expenditure has never been instituted to help the masses directly – when that happened it was always as a means to its real end: Providing protective fortifications – of various kinds – for those with wealth and property.

      ‘Austerity’ can be understood most simply as the current risk calculation by those with wealth and property as to the degree to which current expenditure on state provision (that actually helps ‘the masses’ most directly and subsidises the elite most indirectly) can be reduced without leading to the aforementioned uprisings, riots, etc.. (In Greece and elsewhere, the calculation is woefully awry and – guess what – the aforementioned riots, etc. are happening, as would be predicted.)

      That’s what is meant when people talk about “living within our means”: it’s code for how hard the lemon (aka ‘the masses’) can be squeezed without the pips and acid spurting out and taking out the eyes of those with the most to lose (who are not to be confused with the most vulnerable, of course).

    • mike e 4.6

      the silly monaterist!Austerity is a joke less economic activity means a bigger amount of money to find for taxes a debt repayment even David Cameron has acknowledged that today with the Greek problem.

  5. just saying 5

    Great article Ben.
    I’m hoping you push this agenda hard in the Labour Party. Because, as you know, Labour is also advocating austerity.

    • Te Reo Putake 5.1

      Crikey! I must have missed the email. Can you point out where Labour has advocated austerity, just saying?

      • just saying 5.1.1

        Am in a bit of a rush and this requires a long answer. I will get back to it. In the meantime can you point to all the Labour policies that are the antithesis of austerity?

        Ever so slightly less austerity is still austerity.

      • just saying 5.1.2

        So, not that interested in the question after all TRP.
        In that case I won’t waste my energy responding.

  6. Kevin 6

    Without austerity and economic discipline the risk to lower income groups is greatly enhanced, there would be fewer resources available and everyone would suffer.

    • Carol 6.1

      Depends on who is being austere and how. If the wealthy and powerful corner all the resources, particular when the supply is limited, the poor will never benefit.

      Now austerity by the increasingly wealthy would be more be beneficial to all.

      PS: see Olwyn below – what help is it to the poor if they starve as a result of austerity, meanwhile, the rich keep getting richer?

  7. Olwyn 7

    There is a context to the debate between austerity and “borrow and spend” as they are presently discussed, and that context is TINA, as Carol has pointed out, and linked to an excellent article in the Independent. To further quote from the article:

    “…it turns out Greece includes some of the poorest areas of Europe, and these are the areas that will be affected the most by the proposed agreement, with reports that people could actually starve. So if they caused the crisis by not starving, what were they eating? Are there regions of Crete where villagers have been living off emerald flan? Are they saying, “We thought the state-funded puddings made from grated Van Gogh paintings would go on forever.” So now they must be told, “If you don’t starve there’ll be chaos, so the quicker you start starving the better.”

    It would be possible, if not for TINA, to have a bottom line as to what is needed for a modestly decent life, and treat it as sacrosanct, so that all austerity measures had to begin above that level, and all investment required to contribute to maintaining or, within reason, raising that level. We could also tax in relation to the amount of decent employment generated, so that if you exist only to get wealthy yourself at the expense of others you pay more, and face limits as to the extent to which you may prosper at the expense of others; that is, you could not get rich in ways that would render others homeless, jobless or hopelessly underpaid.

    In fact it seems to be true that all this debt is about enslaving people and countries to financial institutions, and wealth accumulation having become far more reliable than manufacture as a source of revenue. I would guess that there is far more debt in the world than a theoretical super-rich alien would be willing to pay for the world as a package deal.

  8. DH 8

    It’s annoying that people are turning this into a ‘spend more or spend less’ issue. It’s never about how much the govt spends, it’s all about the quality of the spending. The way some on the left are talking you’d think that the govt just needs to borrow more, spend heaps, and all will be well with the world. It’s shallow thinking that detracts from the real problems.

    It’s not that this govt is being austere, it’s that they’re spending the money badly which results in cuts having to be made on other fronts. The highways of notional insignificance is a prime example. It’s plain bad spending. The money should be spent on something else like a big housing boost that will help train more tradesmen for ChCh, ease the housing problem & take the pressure off rising rents that are killing the poor.

    IMO The mantra of the left should not be ‘spend more’, it should be ‘spend wisely’.

    • Vicky32 8.1

      The mantra of the left should not be ‘spend more’, it should be ‘spend wisely’.

      Seriously, what makes you think it’s ‘spend more’? That’s just a right wing belief…

      • Carol 8.1.1

        Indeed, it sounds a lot like the “borrow and spend” misinformation that Key & co keep repeating that Labour & Greens plan.

        Whereas, NAct has been practicing, and planning to, borrow, cut and hope while siphoning off finds to the private sector, especially the already wealthy and/or powerful e.g. by adding in ticket-clipping, price-raising, middlemen and competition for prisons, electricity, water etc, etc…

        • DH 8.1.1.1

          Carol & Vicky. The original post says that cutting spending has a negative social outcome. Now unless they approve of that negative outcome they must therefore be implicitly demanding; “don’t cut spending”. That equates to spending more. You can argue the rights & wrongs of it, you can bitch about it, it is still spending more. Unless of course they can show some equivalent savings elsewhere in the budget to pay for it. Which they haven’t.

          As for links, you’d need to follow the wider debate on it Carol. It’s not a hard picture to build up. The Herald for example has had Hazeldine & Gould pushing for stimulus spending instead of austerity. They’re both old guard left, both call for more govt borrowing and more spending. We’re not borrowing enough according to them, we’re only up to $30odd billion in hock.

          • DH 8.1.1.1.1

            And by the way folks; the opposite of austerity is spending… anyone complaining about austerity must by default be clamouring for more spending. I’d assumed everyone must realise that. Perhaps not.

            • Carol 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Please, Mr DH, don’t presume to tell me what debates I have not been following. I certainly have read some of Bran Gould’s recent writings. Here,for instance, he outlines selective spending, balanced with policies to raise the funds in which to do this.

              http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10788648

              Here he argues that the so-called “market solutions”, PPPs etc., result in
              more government spending in the long run, while also siphoning off funds to private entities:

              http://www.bryangould.net/id210.html

              But a moment’s thought would suggest that this is unlikely to be the case. The cost of financing a project will be the same in principle, wherever the funding comes from. While the initial capital cost, under a PPP, is borne by the private investor, that investor will want to cover the cost of capital and in addition earn a return on capital (or profit) over the lifetime of the scheme –typically, 25 or 30 years. Not surprisingly, in countries like the UK where such schemes were pioneered two or three decades ago, recent impartial research has shown that they often cost the taxpayer more over the whole period than if they were built and funded by more conventional methods.

              The truth is that the main function of PPPs is to provide, through infrastructure projects, secure and profitable investment opportunities for the government’s friends in the private sector, while ensuring that the greater cost of funding the projects in this way is spread forward over decades to be borne by future taxpayers.

              And unlike your characterisations of the left being into reckless, unfocused spending, Gould argues for spending being balanced with debt and the raising of funds.

              http://www.bryangould.net/id169.html

              Governments can choose to focus on cutting spending, or they can try to increase revenue. These further economic shocks show that, in focusing exclusively on cutting spending, they have made the wrong choice.

              The problem is that the level of debt is a function of the level of economic activity; the higher the level of economic activity, the more buoyant the government’s tax revenue. A government that has trouble in balancing its books in a recession, and that seeks to deal with that issue exclusively by cutting its spending, necessarily reduces the level of economic activity and – by depressing its tax revenue – makes the debt problem more difficult to resolve.

              So, DH, you may have been following these debates, but you are not representing them accurately.

              • DH

                Sure I am. Gould is saying the govt needs to spend more. That’s what stimulus is. We’re running a deficit so we don’t have the money to spend, we’d need to borrow it. Now while he’s confident all his grand schemes would work there’s no guarantees, they’re unproven, and we could end up mired in even more debt with a reducing tax take and no way out of a very deep hole.

                Before the Nats got in and blew our budget out of the water stimulus spending was a viable option. We had little debt, we could afford to borrow & spend wisely in order to stimulate the economy where it was needed. Now we’re facing a far more difficult scenario. The interest bill on this govts borrowing alone is costing nearly a $billion more per year, we can’t afford the grandiose schemes that carry a high risk of failure (such as printing money). Blow it again and we’ll be saying hello third world.

                • Carol

                  DH, you’re now changing your argument. First you said that the left shouldn’t be spending more, but spending wisely.

                  It’s pointed out that the left does have plans for spending wisely, so you drop thatpart of the argument, now you just focus on the “spending more” part of the argument.
                  If you had followed Cunliffe’s plan during the last election, you would have seen that, in the long term, Labour’s plan was to run a similar deficit to National in the medium term, and then to have less debt in the long run.

                  Gould also talks about ways to raise the necessary revenue, including ways other than borrowing.:

                  http://www.bryangould.net/id169.html

                  Governments can choose to focus on cutting spending, or they can try to increase revenue. These further economic shocks show that, in focusing exclusively on cutting spending, they have made the wrong choice.

                  You only seem to be focusing on as much of left wing arguments as you can get away with in order to make your point.

                  Not tried? Actually, the left take a lot of their guidance for dealing with a recession, from what was done during the 1930s recession.

                • Carol

                  And as the respected economist, Joseph Stiglitz argues, one of the ways to raise funds when there is a lot of debt, is to raise taxes.

                  http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Global_Economy/NE10Dj01.html

                  Stiglitz thinks they are right to be. Time and again, he comes back to one basic point: Austerity is not the answer. “No large economy has ever recovered through austerity. Growth won’t come just from austerity, nor just from structural reforms,” he says.
                  […]
                  In most of Europe it’s a different picture, however, because of borrowing constraints. What then? Raise taxes, says Stiglitz. “The view that you should not increase taxes is just wrong.” He says governments should implement the tax hike and then spend the proceeds on high-return investments. “Then the net effect is to stimulate the economy and create employment.”

                  NZ, compared with other OEDC countries has quite low taxes. And a lot of the reason our current government has increased its debt, is because it lowered taxes for higher income people…. just at the time when it couldn’t afford to. And as the Independent article I linked above said, the wealthy in the UK increased their wealth by the same amount as the debt increased – so, the wealthy are much better positioned to face some austerity, than the rest of the population.

                  But of course, “austerity” currently is being enforced for those least able to deal with it. The “age of austerity” means jam today for the wealthy, austerity for the rest, with a promise of jam tomorrow for the many … but, evidence of neoliberalism shows that once the wealth has been moved upwards, it never does “trickle down”.

                  Also the NZ government has spent money bailing out the wealthy & in return for law changes to suit big corporates.

                  If your asking for evidence the left approach will work? Well, as Stiglitz argued, we have plenty of evidence that austerity doesn’t work. The early 20th century new deal and welfare state policies are a guide to an alternate way to respond to a recession.

                • Carol

                  And for more on what some lefties say, take a look around at some of the discussions on the Standard…. here for instance, where Descendant of Smith argues for increasing taxes:

                  Open mike 18/05/2012

                  Or at some of the views on threads like this:

                  Poor people NIMBY

                  • DH

                    “DH, you’re now changing your argument. First you said that the left shouldn’t be spending more, but spending wisely.”

                    I’m just trying to stay on topic & avoid thread drift Carol, I’d be happy to debate economics with you but that wasn’t the point of discussion. When you take an everyday word like austerity & use it as a catchcry you send a message whether intentional or not. If I criticise being austere it must follow I advocate the opposite, which is spending. I might not mean that, but it is the message.

                    As to whether austerity is good or bad, it’s subjective isn’t it. If this Govt instead placed a total ban on the use of outside consultants, or forced down the bloated salaries of civil service mandarins, or shut down the quangos hiring their mates on cosy sinecures, all in the name of austerity, well then austerity wouldn’t be so bad after all would it.

                    I guess it’s more the blanket use of the term, and the way it’s turned into a bit of a political rallying cry, that I dislike because IMO it sends the wrong message. It becomes an all-enveloping ideological stand whereby everything austere must be bad. That leads further to the creation of a left/right schism in people’s minds where the right are austere & the left must therefore be spenders.

                    And just to set one thing straight. When I refer to the left in this kind of context I’m talking about those who purport to represent us, not the ‘left’, so I’d ask that people don’t presume I’m attacking them. We all want similar things here, we just have differing ideas on how it might be achieved.

    • Half Crown Millionare 8.2

      IMO The mantra of the left should not be ‘spend more’, it should be ‘spend wisely’.

      They do

    • Draco T Bastard 8.3

      The way some on the left are talking you’d think that the govt just needs to borrow more, spend heaps, and all will be well with the world.

      Governments should never borrow money, they should just print it and then adjust taxes to prevent excess money in circulation and excess accumulation.

      It’s shallow thinking that detracts from the real problems.

      The real problem is capitalism and that’s not being addressed at all.

      IMO The mantra of the left should not be ‘spend more’, it should be ‘spend wisely’.

      That’s what the left tends to do, even Labour (which is a centre-right party) does that. It’s the radical right (National, Act) that spends badly.

  9. Carol 9

    The way some on the left are talking you’d think that the govt just needs to borrow more, spend heaps, and all will be well with the world. It’s shallow thinking that detracts from the real problems.

    Where do lefties say this? Evidence, please?

    Most of what I read from the left is about how the government is borrowing heaps, cutting revenue by bad taxed policies, and cutting much needed public sector jobs and services to make up for it. – as was discussed on this thread for instance:

    The only growth industry

    • DH 9.1

      That’s what the whole austerity argument is about Carol. The people who dreamt up the ‘austerity’ jargon are the same ones who push for stimulus spending. They don’t say ” we could spend less here and more there..”. They just want more spending without offering any ideas on where the money is going to come from.

      • Carol 9.1.1

        Links, please?

      • Carol 9.1.2

        The term “austerity” in it’s current political context is partly attributed to David Cameron – that particular “jargon” came from the right not the left.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_austerity

        The term “Age of Austerity” was popularised by British Conservative leader David Cameron in his keynote speech to the Conservative party forum in Cheltenham on 26 April 2009, when he committed to put an end to years of excessive government spending.

        There are a range of policies that have been advocated by the left, including targeted spending on such things as spending on public transport, education and training etc, etc. There have been different proposals from different groups, as anti-austerity campaigns range across diverse demographics and political preferences.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-austerity_protests#Examples

        This is because they are of the sizes they are; that they cut across age groups (e.g., both students and older workers) and other demographics; that they can incorporate many different types of actions in many different segments of a given country’s economy including education funding, infrastructure funding, manufacturing, aviation, social welfare, and many many others; and that the phenomenon of austerity, when explained by itself, is inadequate to properly encompass the phenomenon of widespread opposition to it, and that opposition’s nuances and fluctuations.

  10. Fortran 10

    Love the word “Austerity”.
    Can see it being the buzzword for this year at least.
    Looked it up – “severe in self discipline”.

  11. Murray Olsen 11

    Key’s tax gift to the rich could be rolled back without borowing a cent. NAct’s mantra seems to be borrow and spend on our rich mates. Their cutting of public services usually end up with more money going to consultants, so that’s borrow and give to their rich mates again. Shearer has plenty of economic ammo – whos’s advising him not to use it?

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    Dangerous Foes: For those readers of Bowalley Road who feel disposed to dismiss any prospect of an Israeli destabilisation of New Zealand politics, the example of the United Kingdom repays close attention. Ever since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party, the Israelis have sanctioned, funded and ...
    1 day ago
  • Something to go to in Wellington
    Make It 16, the youth-led campaign to lower New Zealand's voting age, is holding an official campaign launch at Parliament this Friday from 16:30. If you'd like to attend, you can register using EventBrite here. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 day ago
  • A founding member responds to Peace Action Wellington
    by Don Franks It was a lovely sunny Wellington afternoon with blue skies above  the beaches.  In Courtenay Place, political activists packed out a stuffy upstairs room for an important meeting. The assembled pacifists, anarchists, communists and independent young radicals of Peace Action Wellington felt the need for a mission ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 day ago
  • “Mistakes and errors”
    Current and former NZDF top brass are being publicly grilled this week by the hit and run inquiry over their public responses to allegations of civilian casualties. Previously, they've claimed there were no casualties, a position which led them to lie to Ministers and to the public. Now, they're saying ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 day ago
  • “Homosexuality is same-sex attraction and relationships, not heterosexuals with delusions of gende...
    by Rafael D. Quiles (gender-critical gay man from Puerto Rico) The writing on the wall is right in people’s faces and people just don’t see it or don’t want to. What could actually possess a heterosexual male to want to feminize himself and claim that he is a lesbian? Because ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 days ago
  • Trump: “Where’s my favourite dictator?”
    From the Wall Street Journal:Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in ...
    2 days ago
  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    3 days ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    4 days ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    4 days ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    4 days ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    5 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    6 days ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    6 days ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    6 days ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    7 days ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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