Beyond mere rescue

Written By: - Date published: 8:49 am, April 6th, 2020 - 78 comments
Categories: economy, Globalisation, health, jacinda ardern, labour, uncategorized - Tags: ,

As a cool blue smudge appears on our morning horizon of a world beyond Stage 4 lockdown from Covid 19’s effects, we can already see this kind of economic and social collapse is different to the last one of this scale.

We’re begining to see the state roll up its sleeves.
 

Mr Mark Binns has been selected as the Chair of Crown infrastructure Partners.

He’s keen to get going.

This is who they are.

But we seem to have a lot of national infrastructure chiefs set up recently already.

Crown Infrastructure Partners, the Infrastructure Commission, NZTA, Housing NZ Kainga Ora, Transpower, a new urban development agency, the electricity companies we still own 51% of, let alone the obvious jockeying between Ministers for the same turf and same funding … it’s a lot of chief executives and still pretty low national coherence. Don’t even get me started on the secret national conspiracy of ACC and NZSuperfund, running off on their own plans as if none of this was happening.

Can we not do better than concrete and steel project by project?

Can we not have an actual plan for the country, rather than a series of stabilising moves, intervening one market at a time?

In similar dire circumstances, the British government rolled out a simply massive national overhaul.

While some were still alive to recount it, Ken Loach did an excellent documentary about it called The Spirit of ’45.

They invented the National Health Service, nationalised all the coal mines, revolutionised education, and in general propelled the United Kingdom away from wartime austerity and into long term prosperity.

In Zealand, Ministers Michael Joseph Savage and Peter Fraser started health camps.

They told our national story through a high modernist centennial exhibition.

They built great volumes of houses suburb after suburb.

They mobilised our entire national resource to protect us from invaders during World War 2.

They got the big electricity department rolling again with new postwar projects.

They started international air travel.

They did so much more –  as Michael Joseph Savage put it, “our mission is to build, and not to destroy, the social structure.”

That’s all-encompassing ambition you don’t hear too often.

Savage and Fraser pulled New Zealand out of crisis with their plans such as free healthcare, free entrance to University, and a world-first social security system. 

The results of the collected policies were that by the late 1940s Labour’s New Zealand boasted high living standards, and one of the smallest gaps between rich and poor in the world. 

It took them 14 years, but  the New Zealand they handed to National in the early 1950s was unrecognisably prosperous and cohesive compared to what it was.  Labour has a really good track record of generating massive plans that worked.

We should expect that now.

The last time Labour tried something with similar coherence was the Growth and Innovation Plan led by Helen Clark in 1999.

There wasn’t sufficient focus or crisis to bind all towards a single disciplined effort, so it fizzled out.

There’s too much at stake for that to happen again.

I have no need to argue with the Minister of Finance’s sustaining our remaining companies with massive wage subsidies.

But we are at an historic juncture as we have not seen since World War 2, and we should expect our leaders to do more than just drop 40-50% billion and about 15% of our entire GDP on mere rescue.

We need a full national re-creation, and the politicians with the plan to do it.

We need a total hunger from our leaders whether they be in government, business, iwi, social services, science, universities, young people – everyone – to assent to the plan that rebuilds us as we have been rebuilt before. Nationbuilders they used to call them. We need them all pulled together.

We need a Prime Minister who can do more than make us feel nice about the statistics of epidemiology and national pandemics.

We need a Minister of Finance who can do more than prop up employers to keep people employed, and pouring concrete and steel.

Now, who knows, maybe they’ve reached the limits of their imagination.

But if they can figure out plans over a weekend to drop a billion a week on us, they must have some capacity in the policy tank.

That post-Covid-19 day is going to come, and we must not live the tragedy of a country that didn’t actively seize this new day.

Rescue with concrete rescue remedy isn’t enough.

This government needs to lead beyond that.

It’s time to plan the re-launch the very idea of New Zealand.

78 comments on “Beyond mere rescue ”

  1. Dave C 1

    Agree completely – what an opportunity this presents. A huge and cohesive plan with people and shared prosperity at its heart could be the greatest legacy of any government in our times. Get this article in Jacinda and Grant’s inbox and get it there ASAP.

  2. Robert Guyton 2

    "New Zealand" is an idea, an intellectual construct; should be easy enough to re-imagine that and come up with a way-better one, now that this one's falling apart.

  3. RedLogix 3

    Yes. In the past 200 years science/tech/capitalism has optimised the generation an unprecedented prosperity, but it had no innate mechanism to distribute it optimally. Now this flaw must be addressed.

    I was just reading this brutal article:

    According to Mr Shvets, there are only three possible outcomes. One is that central banks win; that an economic recovery allows them to withdraw their stimulus without collapsing asset prices like stocks and housing. Not much chance of that, he reckons.

    The second is that governments take over, pick up the slack in jobs and cooperate with each other to solve global poverty and inequality. Slim chance.

    The third is war. This, he argues, is the most likely and the least pleasant outcome.

    This is a realistic assessment of the risk I believe; the conventional mechanisms are less likely to get us through this than we like to hope. Turning to the nation state to rebuild is the best alternative of these three.

    Rebuilding a strong nation demands however seriously competent leadership and management; if this vision you are outlining Ad is to be pulled off we need to work out very quickly how to get the best people into the top jobs.

    Then we need a serious conversation about how we are going to balance the freedom of action that is capitalism's best feature, with the coherency that the state can bring. The two exist in a creative tension … but how to mediate this? In this there another actor we frequently ignore that may well play a new role, the strong community.

    This is the opportunity this govt needs to seize, restoring our sense of community, care and belonging. Rebuilding human trust and solidarity is going to be our most powerful tool.

    • Ad 3.1

      Your question about the likelihood of war breaking out is fair if the Chinese government response is to continue to shift more Generals into provincial governor roles, and even more testing of territorial limits and waters, and even harsher suppression of public expression.

      It’s a simple slide to a low-level martial order.

      Xi Jinping could use a regional war to secure his position, tugging hard for popularity and CCP security on the national flag.

      A tried and true measure.

  4. Peter 4

    Relaunch, given the chance to start anew? We've been through that exercise, had practice on a smaller scale. Christchurch. How did that go? How is that going?

  5. Sanctuary 5

    It is important to remember when talking about the 1935-49 Labour government that the National party vote never dropped below 40%. So four out of every ten New Zealanders – despite the collapse of legitimacy of the ruling business and political class caused by the bungled handling of the Great War and the Great Depression, despite the Zeitgeist being of government intervention – always opposed the creation of the Welfare state. Also, FPP allowed Labour to consolidate over an initially divided opposition, after which a existential war of survival sidelined National.

    The 1945 UK Labour landslide was also achieved under FPP with a plurality – 47.7% – of the vote.

    Much of the feelgood about that era is ex post-facto built on the newsreels of the National Film Unit, which was basically a propaganda arm of the Labour government created expressly (along with strict control of radio) to talk to New Zealanders over the heads of the relentlessly hostile main stream newspapers (not much change there). In fact, there was a level of government control of the "new" media formats of the time (radio, news reels) that today would have much of the soft left liberal middle class denouncing the 1935 Labour government as a threat to freedom and unfit to govern. Radio was controlled by the New Zealand Broadcasting Service (established 1936) and a strong Labour supporter (Professor James Shelley) was in charge of it, while the content of all private radio stations needed to be first approved by the broadcasting minister(!)

    The point is, for a transformative program to work you have to accept that at least 40% of the population – the rich, the class winners from the status quo, slumlords, conservative farmers – will oppose it. And unless you control to perhaps an unacceptable extent these days the media narrative, that 40% will ruthlessly use the fact that in the current privatised media environment it has near total control of the media narrative to do everything it can to stop you.

    I am not saying a huge program of transformative change isn't again possible, just that a touchy feely appeal to altruism won't cut it in what would be at times a very nasty class war. You need to build an unassailable electoral alliance by create alternative power structures and centres of information, and using "new" media to again talk to your supporters and ensure they are fully mobilised and loyal.

    Our current political structures have, in the COVID-19 crisis, demonstrated they can deliver exceptional levels of managerial and technocratic skill to apply to a problem. I wonder though if it is at all equipped to deliver the radical politics required for a reinvention of the nation. After all, the MMP system is designed to prevent exactly that!

    • Ad 5.1

      MMP used to be a big constraint on large scale work, as did the Resource Management Act.

      Bot not so after the successive crises we've had in the last 12 years. Each one had required stronger and stronger responses.

      The scale of the budget spend announced in February, then in March, and then coming in May 8th, show that there's transformation already underway.

      The only question is whether it makes sense, whether we assent to it, and whether it delivers optimal results that turns the country around.

      They're working on it.

  6. Most of us certainly have time to think about and discuss what we would like the future Aotearoa to be like.

    Except our leaders who should be extremely busy right now trying to figure out how to enable the country to survive the pandemic.

    But now, a time of unprecedented health, social and economic upheaval with no clear idea of how things may pan out, is not a good time to launch into more wideranging social and economic experiments with no idea how they might work.

  7. pat 7

    The greatest threat to a successful reimagining of NZ is vested interests….and they are already working the ground to ensure minimal change…..hopefully events will overtake them.

    Despite the default of many to compare this to the GFC that is a complete misunderstanding….this is a crisis of the real economy.

  8. lprent 8

    My apologies for the front page image. There wasn't one.

    I couldn't resist the rethink theme.

    • RedLogix 8.1

      Love it! The 'Tazealand' tag I haven't seen before yes

    • Ad 8.2

      Depending on how weak New Zealand's state becomes through this, perhaps it's time to have a look at whether New Zealand needs to become the seventh state of Australia.

      It's a good time to look at our interests afresh.

      • bwaghorn 8.2.1

        O hell fucking no.

      • JanM 8.2.2

        Eeww 😣

      • RedLogix 8.2.3

        Amazing how much ignorant bigotry there is in NZ about Australia. There are many good reasons for NZ to become the 7th state, but we can't even have the discussion. Sad.

        • roy 8.2.3.1

          Would would be in it for Australia? Wouldn't we be a drain on their existing economy? And they'd treat us like it: an outpost to plunder.

          • RedLogix 8.2.3.1.1

            And they'd treat us like it: an outpost to plunder.

            They do already, but as it presently stands we get absolutely zero say on the matter.

        • bwaghorn 8.2.3.2

          What's the possible benefit. At only 4 million people we would be powerless . Add to that the aussie world view is closer to the USA s than ours . So it's not a match . Swipe left on this match.

          • RedLogix 8.2.3.2.1

            Your mistake is in thinking that Australia is just a single country, we'd be the third largest state … just behind Victoria. With more numeric clout than QLD, NT, WA and TAS.

            • David Mac 8.2.3.2.1.1

              If we were to become a state of Oz I think Maori would be concerned about being treated as native Australians are. Isn't hooking up with Oz selling out Maori? They're the ones with going on 1000 years of connection to NZ.

        • Drowsy M. Kram 8.2.3.3

          It's “sad” to state a position? I'm with bwaghorn and JanM – NO!

          Wonder if we’ll get to vote on it.

          • The Al1en 8.2.3.3.1

            Yeah, no way. If people want to live there and chase the foreign dollar, then fine, FO and do it.

            Wonder who would lead our Auxit party and start campaigning for a leave referendum?

            Hopefully not a right wing wanker like Farrage.

      • CrimzonGhost 8.2.4

        Yes …if NZ asks Oz has to say yes, it's in their constitution. Benefits to NZ.

        1) higher wages 2) no more compelled deportee kiwis 3) all kiwis eligible for Oz welfare 4) probable increase in Ozzies coming to NZ. 5) economies of scale 6) not such a huge burden on NZ re money leaving NZ economy to benefit Australia only & NZers more easily able to access loans, capital. 7) NZ actually being able to help correct Oz policies from inside tent rather than powerless on outside.

  9. MartinC 9

    A return to a national airline for domestic travel.

    A return to coastal shipping and rail instead of tons of trucks.

    A society that doesn't treat the unemployed like scum.

    The end of neo liberalism in public policy- health, welfare, education. etc

    • Wayne 9.1

      There is no neo liberalism in health, education or welfare. You have simply used it as a slogan.

      • Psycho Milt 9.1.1

        It's the left equivalent of right-wingers calling things "communist." In this case it refers to governments requiring management of health, education and welfare providers to act more like private sector managers would. That may not be "neoliberal," but it is a problem.

        • KJT 9.1.1.1

          Not correct. Neo-liberalism is the mindset behind which, the right wing has hidden for four decades of destruction, of social provision and infrastructure, to fit within an ideology.

          http://kjt-kt.blogspot.com/2011/04/kia-ora-corporatism-and-neo-liberalism.html

          "One of the corollaries or supporting ideologies behind Neo-Liberalism is the cult of Management.

          The idea that individual shareholders, managers or directors are the main contributors to the success of a corporation, and thence the economy. And deserve the greatest share of the rewards. The jobs and income of all other employees and State servants is a generous charitable gift from these people."

          The present situation has graphicly illustrated, it’s abject failure.
          Especially in the UK and USA.

      • Mike Smith 9.1.2

        Mother of all budgets Wayne?

        Great post Advantage. Very interesting article here from the bastion of socialism the Financial Times – the times they are a-changing

      • Barfly 9.1.3

        Jenny Shipley tried hard though Wayne – "hospital user part charges" remember that lovely sack of shit neo liberal National Party idea ?

        Now the current government has saved the country from the last National Party attempted rort private money building the Dunedin Hospital – see how great it’s been for the NHS in the UK

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zEw8xlcPmI

    • gsays 9.2

      Yes to MartinC above, plus:

      A reboot of a 21st century Plunket Service.

      Breakfast and lunch in schools. Some fresh food to come from school/community gardens.

      A teacher aide in all classes.

      Nurse/patient ratio established.

      In short increase public sector where children and the vulnerable are involved.

      Enact a health, happiness and well-being index as a primary indicator of the nation's standing.

      Having got away with this ^, nationalise water, gas, electricity, housing and internet.

      A reboot of the state house building.

      HEMP, HEMP, HEMP. Building products (replacing mdf/particle board and structural timbers). Plastics and textiles. Health products.

      Invest in research of Hemp.

  10. alwyn 10

    You certainly have an interesting view of the history of the Health Camp system. You say.

    "In Zealand, Ministers Michael Joseph Savage and Peter Fraser started health camps."

    Well, Savage was PM from 1935 to 1940 and Fraser from 1940 to 1949. They were both dead by the end of 1950.

    Now what was the history of the Health Camps? Well the first was launched in November 1919. Bit before their time wasn't it? The first permanent one was at Otaki in 1932. ditto. Then in the 1950's they were taken under the Government's wing and eventually 7 were established. Rather after them I think.

    Now the first Labour Government may have provided some Central Government money, and introduced the Health Camp stamps but the gentlemen you name certainly didn't "start Health Camps" did they?

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/national/programmes/eyewitness/audio/2018663001/new-zealand-health-camps-under-the-gunn

  11. bill 11

    Now, who knows, maybe they’ve reached the limits of their imagination.

    I'd imagine that to be the case – given the woeful junk they bought into and peddled for the sake of furthering their political ambitions.

    If that take's right, then the question is whether a vision of such immediacy and presence can be forced into the political realm such that dullards have no option besides shuffling off.

    We have AGW.

    If that's to be tackled, it requires a wholesale clean-out of the square box thinking that has wasted 30 years prevaricating, tinkering and then talking some more. The requisite mobilisation behind the execution of a green new deal is likely at least around the total cumulative order of things highlighted in this post.

    Most of the current crop of politicians here and around the world, basically need to be left on the vine.

  12. Ad 12

    Pretty interesting to hear Matthew Hooten on RNZ this morning recommending that the state should take equity stakes in companies that they assist, rather than loans.

    I'm sure Air New Zealand would be interested.

    Next he'll be proposing that the government renationalize all the electricity generators.

    Good to hear that imagination is not the preserve of the left.

  13. Wayne 13

    Air NZ is certainly going to return to state ownership. As for the electricity companies, they see to be doing OK, so no case for nationalisation.

    Though I think Hooten is generally wrong on this issue. The govt should not attempt to nationalise half the economy. They have no remit for that. Only is special cases such as Air NZ.

    • KJT 13.1

      I suspect they would have a hell of a lot more support for that, than National, and Labour, had, for flogging them off.

      No remit, my arse.

      • Wayne 13.1.1

        Why would the government waste money on buying companies that are doing OK? It is going to be hard enough to pay for the existing (and future) commitments.

        For instance is Auckland City going to be able to borrow another $300 million to buy their share of the just announced airport share issue? In that case it might have to be the government who buys the City shareholding off them, given the much greater capacity of the government to borrow.

        • KJT 13.1.1.1

          I wouldn't advocate the Government, or the council, buying Auckland airport back.

          Not because it was, a "successful" company, at least for the shareholders, but, because it is likely to be a "stranded asset" in future.

          I don’t want the Government buying into “buggy whips” either.

          Retaining assets we will need for the future, however, makes sense.

        • mac1 13.1.1.2

          Why? Control. Because it might keep national assets in public hands, lest they be sold off by foreign interests to people whose primary focus is to make money and not necessarily offer a public service.

          Public Good. Because then the profits can return to the people.

          Better Management. The belief that private industry is ipso facto more efficient is a canard best left for the hunting season.

          Profits. Profits kept within the country help our economy.

          Perception and Customer loyalty. Buy NZ. Keep it Local. Our international name is better protected by local ownership.

          Funding. Government can be a good source of funding for essential products and services which private industry would not be concerned with.

          Law and Safety. It is less likely that an employee for the state will be tempted to avoid taxation, safety standards and indulge in criminality.

          Employee security. Employees of the State are less likely to suffer job loss, reduction in work, and will probably be better protected by unions.

          So, why should government's function only be to rescue private industry's stuff-ups, and from the results of its often poor management and predatory habits?

          Why do we keep our schools, universities, hospitals, social services, military, prisons, border control, taxation services, pensions and railways in public hands?

          Why do we have a parliamentary government, rather than a Board of Directors, NZ Inc?

        • Mike Smith 13.1.1.3

          To keep essential assets from all that helicopter money from the Federal Reserve whirring around looking for a safe landing

    • KJT 13.2

      Especially as we are going to spend the money anyway.

      The main problem is that (Right wing) “Governments, cannot run a business”.

    • tc 13.3

      Wayne if you govern for the people and not the 1% then yes you have the remit, resources and backing.

      Power companies can wait, food/health, shelter/clothing are larger concerns.

    • Bruce 13.4

      Power companies may be doing ok its the users being ripped off. I need power ,I dont need 100 high paid CEO and their families in advertising , marketing and all the other bullshit. that comes with them. Its a huge dole scheme funded of the back of my need for electricity. I wont use more because its 10 cents off, or because some hack tells me too, I wont use less because its more expensive Ill just use what i need because it is a need.

    • RedBaronCV 13.5

      https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/120843044/fletcher-building-executives-double-pay-cuts-to-30

      This is the sort of stuff that makes nationalisation very tempting. Yeah sure the executives are going to take a 30% pay cut but that still leaves them in the millions for salaries. A 10% cut on $50,000 really hurts. Part of "doing all you can" before taking wage subsidies should be made explicit by Grant. High end salaries go down to the $100k-$150 k range & pro rata for directors. I don't see why we taxpayers are borrowing to support this.

      And a special mention to the comments by John Key referenced. Basically he said "15% cuts don't look good". Well they don't look good because they are not good – they give a whole new meaning to the word "selfish".

      Note too how a former prime minister concentrates his comments pretty much on the optics from a company executive point of view. Just where is his consideration for the nation – how this behaviour burns all taxpayers for the benefit of the few over entitled.

      This comment alone should disqualify anyone from even thinking he should have role in the future economy.

      • I Feel Love 13.5.1

        But the workers to take a 50% then %70 wage cut.

        • RedBaronCV 13.5.1.1

          Oops- I just used a general example to show how harsh even 10% was at 50k. Bigger %'s – quite rightly -leave the wages looking like pocket money only. The reverse of % cuts at the top.

  14. RedBaronCV 14

    And an honourable mention to Sky city who I believe have tossed about 200 people on the dole. Yes the executives took a % pay cut but if they rolled the dollars for them back to the $150k level then they would have had enough to keep all those people on.

    Grant really needs to define "everything possible" by outlining a few behaviours that are simply unacceptable. Clearly our corporate executives ( who you will note have been very quiet) can't operate in a high trust enviroment.

  15. RedBaronCV 15

    But onto beyond "mere rescue".

    Straight up- getting rid of the last century ideas percolating in the media.

    -making a process for better enforcement of employment law. It's painfully obvious – that even if employers know the law- debatable in many cases- they don't feel under any obligation to actually follow it.

    – laws reining in high salaries – multiples of the minimum wages perhaps? It's appalling that a significant part of the country has so few resources that they struggle to survive over 4 weeks.

    – stop spouting that we need overseas investment . As far as I can see it's done sweet FA for the country. We have no manufacturing sector and many local firms have been hollowed out or used as vehicles to import cheap overseas crap. However, we probably have a few new panic rooms deep in the southern alps.

    – cut out rich people residency/ immigration. Most of them seem to be nothing but trouble or they are tossing too much money at politics. It's a minor pleasure that all those US repugs that think they can bolthole down here have been shut out by the no residency clause.

  16. Corey Humm 16

    I like the idea but the problem is for the kind of politics the first labour govt to return or even something really transformative you'd need an entirely new party, the modern Labour party while paying lip service to the first labour govt has more in common with the United/reform coalition that opposed the first labour govt. I see tweaks ,targeted investment and targeted welfare, roads roads roads (bugger all trains etc) and if anything cuts. Lots of cuts. keeping as much of the status quo as possible. The modern Labour party is more or less what the old liberal party was (it once had the unions too) that labour was originally set up to oppose.

    The labour party is full of liberals at every level who would oppose old school labour kinds of measures I'm not talking mps I'm talking majority of the party machine in the NZ labour party ,they mostly detest the likes of Bernie Sanders and the Pm herself wasn't a fan of Corbyn (one remembers her going out of her way to differentiate NZ Labour from UK labour in 2017 in a Hoskings radio interview and there's those awkward photos from when they met, the pm seemed much happier and comfortable with Theresa May than she did Corbyn ) I remember the huge numbers gathering for her 2017 rallies and myself saying at them "wow it feels like a bernie rally" and the majority would say things like " eww Bernie ", the prime ministers political hero is Barack Obama, one can assume we'd have a similar kind of recovery to his post 2008 recession recovery, maybe more social democratic and at most some muldoonism but come on the NZLP is not a closet democratic socialist party, the prime minister is a centerist who ruled out even a capital gains tax so I simply can't see her and especially her caucus endorsing anything similar to the Savage govt, a green new deal or anything particular astounding.

    I would love to be wrong. I don't want labour to transform into the UK labour party under corbyn btw but some of those policies were great , I just feel the labour party has for some time been more or less a status quo party full of upper middle class liberals who would oppose a return to the post depression labour party ideals.

  17. AB 17

    Suspect the opposite is more likely – exhausted Labour government leaves office in 2023 and National pledges to return to surpluses and reduce Crown debt which has ballooned due to getting through the Covid-19 crisis. Then a new round of austerity for the common folk, inequality reaches new heights and we set sail for the next crisis. There is zero inclination on the right to engage in a collective kumbaya and build a shining city on a hill. They have to be decisively beaten by making their ideology literally unthinkable. I'm at a loss on how to do that.

    • Ad 17.1

      Under Key, National responded to multiple major crises, including:

      – Strengthening of economy after Global Financial Crisis

      – Christchurch earthquakes and comprehensive rebuild

      – Pike River collapse and full rebuild of Health and Safety legislation

      – North Canterbury and Wellington earthquakes and full rebuild of rail and road network north and south of Kaikoura

      They also pushed forward the largest transport projects New Zealand had seen since the 1960s, including:

      – Auckland Waterview Tunnel (even through the Clark government agreed to it first)

      – City Rail Link

      – Entire Waikato expressway system, from Pokeno to Cambridge

      – Transmission Gully expressway

      – Puhoi to Warkworth expressway

      It's not as if National are devoid of going for the mega-projects.

      And it's under National's responses to successive crises that this current government has the public service tooled to respond to even graver crises.

      Clark's government were good at building institutions for very long term gain.

      Key's government built for medium-term gain.

  18. David Mac 18

    I'm not sure why all future travel models include a quarantine period of approx 2 weeks upon arrival at any destination.

    Can't we have a test 2 weeks prior to traveling and our temperature scanned as we board a flight?

    I guess the concern would be 'So how trustworthy is the Shanghai test team?' The test team could be an extension of the NZ consulate and funded by the fee to get the 'TEST OK' stamp in a Chinese traveller's Passport. Those in NZ wishing to go to China would need a rubber stamp from the team that is an extension of the Chinese consulate in NZ.

    Such a regime could spread love throughout a healing world.

    • Forget now 18.1

      It's not just "how trustworthy is the Shanghai test team", it is; how trustworthy is the test itself! I was reading (in the Guardian I think, but a link eludes me) about the reliability of the home tests – something like 50% for asymptomatic cases. Laboratory tests may get that upwards of 80%, but that is still a long way from certainty.

      So given that you will be flying (maybe boating, walking isn't possible fortunately) into the country after hours in an enclosed space with poor air quality, surrounded by air staff and other passengers that are unknowably infectious, then having the test in this country rather than your destination makes a lot of sense. Two weeks after your arrival gives time for any infection to be detectable (statistically speaking, if not definitely in every case).

      Erring on the side of caution is good advice for any biohazard. Quarantine literally means; a"period of forty days" . So two weeks is merely a third of that, if that's any consolation.

      • David Mac 18.1.1

        Yep, I think you're right. The person behind an airport kiosk Help Desk could be a hotbed of transmission and have employers keen to see no masks on staff.

        I just don't think the hotel chains, airlines, restaurants etc etc are all going to throw their hands in the air and declare "OK, you win, I'm finished, who wants to join me at the pub and help me spend my last $100?"

        It could come to that but not long after being boarded up I think we'd see the ailing business owners exploring new avenues.

  19. David Mac 19

    Aren't we going to see what we've seen before?

    Over 1000's of years of Uh Ohs, life as usual with adjustments.

    Yes it's a great time for a paradigm slide but it just isn't going to happen.

    Civilisation moves with the speed of a snail.

    What we've become runs too deep.

    The cabin crew at Air NZ have a staunch union voice. Their salaries bump up about 5k a year. Rightfully so. After a few decades of service, 1000's of polished waiters with first aid certificates, international hotel rosters and all banking over $120k a year.

    The UBI doesn't cut it, forces for us to get back to close to normal ASAP are strong.

    Not to launch into the brave new world, the dominate force is to get back to normal.

    • pat 19.1

      and if 'normal' is not possible (for a substantial proportion)?

      • David Mac 19.1.1

        We all strive to find what we find normal with as few compromises as possible, that's human behaviour. We start looking for Maggi, if none on the shelf, Heinz, if none, Continental.

        I still want to go to Florence and I'm willing to pay $300 for the guaranteed medical clearances but I won't risk my life.

        I think we're all going to be able to pull right up alongside what we consider normal before too long Pat.

        4 weeks of culinary experimentation, Netflix hoovering and too many green bottles in the recycling bin, it's hardly fucking Colditz.

      • bill 19.1.2

        Isn't 'normal' some kind of middle class view of and station in life – not possible (for a substantial proportion)?

        So, as now, the 'substantial proportion' will get policed and controlled in a myriad of ways.

        • pat 19.1.2.1

          as far as Im aware normal means typical or expected….I doubt extended unemployment, business failure or bankruptcy will be either of those for many…middle class or not.

          • bill 19.1.2.1.1

            I guess what I'm trying to say is that the currently projected and reinforced idea of "typical or expected" isn't possible for a huge tranche of society – that is then merely seen as something to be policed and monitored.

            I see no reason to believe efforts won't be made to maintain that shite state of affairs.

            • pat 19.1.2.1.1.1

              I would have thought that a swelling of the ranks of that tranche (especially from the previously middle class) is the most likely way to ensure that it isnt.

          • David Mac 19.1.2.1.2

            For me, normal is what I was doing a few weeks ago and I'm suggesting that normal for you was what you were doing a few weeks ago.

            Almost all of us are currently experiencing some minor removal from what we consider normal.

            If you are experiencing anything beyond slightly removed from normal, ring 111, that system is fully operational.

            We need a decent problem.

            • pat 19.1.2.1.2.1

              you continue to miss the point (perhaps deliberately)….when the level 4 lockdown is removed there will not be a return to 'normal'…indeed even if and when a vaccine is available there will not be a return to 'normal' for a substantial proportion of the population….perhaps all.

              • David Mac

                Doom surfing never comes to no good. I have no time for it.

                It frightens children and directs people towards feeling helpless and useless.

                The refuge of the attention seeking non contributing useless dead weights.

  20. Gosman 20

    This is disgusting using a public health emergency to push a hard left economic agenda. The ONLY redeeming element is that there is an election coming up. If you want these policies then campaign on them at the election and THEN implement them if you win enough votes.

  21. Emma 21

    Maybe things will be "the same as it ever was", nothing will change…… but what if???

    Covid 19 has changed the world there is no denying that, the pause button has been pressed on the world economy, and everyone is just waiting either for things ( a miracle) to return to SOP or for a depression to end all economic depressions to happen.

    If people keep thinking a depression will happen then it will, it's really the nature of the beast these days. Some "expert" somewhere makes a claim that "………." will happen, then the people who heard it, or read about it, tell their friends, shares it on social media etc ….the story grows …. and hello that claim has become fact.

    There is an unprecedented opportunity now to actually to change the meaning of a successful economy. Measuring the success of a country on the growth of its GDP has always been an inaccurate and unsustainable value of measurement. I don't know where I heard it but I remember someone saying, in another system for example a human body….a closed system where balance to needs be maintained to feel/be healthy, if a cell multiplies uncontrolled….. you get cancer….. you eat too much -> gain weight -> diabetes ->heart condition……….. We also live in a closed system…. planet earth, with finite resources, We are now seeing the cost of that constant gap growth with global warming….. I guess I am saying with the economy on pause why not restart it with redefining how we measure a healthy economy.

    By changing fundamentally how a country measures success, one not based solely on growth you have a foundation for real change.

    Amesterdam is already looking at making this change, to adopt the (admittedly stupid name) donut economy model

    What if….we adopted this model measure our economy….. would this not lead to change in society, community and government???? why not?

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