web analytics

Brittle cities

Written By: - Date published: 7:30 am, October 29th, 2019 - 10 comments
Categories: auckland supercity, capitalism, China, community democracy, democracy under attack, democratic participation, Environment, International, Revolution, supercity, sustainability, uncategorized - Tags:

Following on from my little warning about the Auckland-central government relationship, it’s pretty hard to miss a variety of cities going nuts for apparently minor offences.

There’s no great regional uprising of the polis as per the Arab Spring or anything. Just a few big coincidences.

Cities are places people gravitate to in order to get ahead. But when we get there, the costs of living and the time-pressures and work-pressures are so relentless that the tiny measures of relief we buy from selling all this time and labour get so hard to defend, and so precious, that we can go psycho when we lose the tiniest measure of them.

Metropolitan living is a brittle and tenuous thing.

When you lose those little conveniences, those little margins of good, it can feel like a systemic social contract has been broken.

Tiny marginal things like fuel taxes affect everyone for whom fuel prices matter: most people.

Paris faced waves of protests since November 2018, because the French President raised fuel taxes. It has seriously corroded his Presidency.

In Saintiago Chile the President ordered an increase in metro rail prices. People went so nuts that most of the Cabinet is about to be fired.

Barcelona is having massive anti-Spanish and pro-Catalan protests that are going on and on. It’s one of Spain’s richest areas.

Hong Kong is having rolling upheavals after a proposal to allow extradition under law to the Chinese mainland. It’s half-assed democracy is allowing the worst of all representative worlds: limited power to express, limited autonomy.

In Beiruit the largest protests they have ever seen – last week – were instigated by proposed taxes on fuel, tobacco, and online phone calls.

By the traditional metric of GDP per capita, these cities are paragons of economic success. Per capital income is around US$40,000 in Hong Kong, more than US$60,000 in Paris, and around $18,000 in Santiago, one of the wealthiest cities in Latin America.

And despite this high average per capital income, people feel the need to revolt.

If they are so well off on average, why the mass protests?

All of them are by a long, long way on average are better off than the countries they dominate.

But there’s very little class mobility, very little respite from the grind of life: the promise of the city is broken. That matters the most when the city dominates its country or region and advertises its dream of class mobility the greatest.

For them ,the great ‘city on a hill’ is a lie.

Crippling housing prices are common in such cities, and for those who are utterly dependent upon cars, any change to fuel price subsidies or public transport is a devastating negative tilt in life.

In Hong Kong, Santiago, Lebanon, and Paris, their governments were quite blindsided.

Those cities who have the strongest social welfare nets, or the strongest class mobility, are going to be the most resilient. There’s less risk that the population will just rise up out of their kitchen chairs, snap in rage, and take in their millions to the streets.

Without strong formalized democratic expression, without sustaining the social goods that keep the marginal afloat, without strong links between local and central government, things just snap.

10 comments on “Brittle cities ”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    My Chilean friends tell me that 2,000,000 marched last week there. The real catalyst in Santiago has been that the government has lost the middle class, who are also starting to feel the pinch big time.

    One other thing. My friends are nice middle/upper-middle class Chileans, very much the equivalent of anyone you'd find living in,say, Mt. Albert or Sandringham. But they've been marching and they've been taking risks – blacklisting is common, and thousands have been shot and/or beaten and/or arrested. In at least one case reported to me by friends on Whatsapp the army shot numerous people then blocked access to the hospitals for the wounded. When I see them bravely taking to the streets, and then I look around at the complacent cowardice of the NZ middle class, I am just amazed and proud of them.

  2. We don;'t know how lucky we are. sang John Clarke as fictional Fred Dagg. And then the real person shifted to Australia where they are equally complacent but on a larger scale, and more competent about it than we are.

    And there lies our point of difference, there are cracks in our bland, dairy-fed comportment, that offer opportunity for real thinking people to penetrate and grow something sustaining, like persistent mint popping up. So there is some hope. It took Greta to disturb the bourgeoisie around the world, someone new and with a driving heartfelt message.

    We are getting it but with all the oldies who don't want to think any uncomfortable, unpleasant and disruptive thoughts, how do we get humans with the good principles of basic human respect for each other's needs even before 'rights', and also the planets needs into Parliament, into positions of power and past the hidden portcullis of officials deterring action, feeling resentment and prejudice, and the hidden wormholes of power and privilege and money feeding through from the wealthy and influential to the vulnerable needy or greedy politician?

  3. This news report on what organisers of public events have to consider and plan for fits into a brittle cities post i think.

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/programmes/the-detail/story/2018718770/the-festival-organisers-who-now-have-to-plan-for-disaster
    In the wake of the attacks, new security measures must be incorporated. Organisers look more closely at security, including training security officers to be vigilant for the likes of unattended bags. Barriers are looked at differently – would it stop a car being driven into people? And if evacuations are required, can the barriers be moved quickly to ensure everyone gets out?

    And I think about what social policy workers and advisors have said ad infinitum, and been teflon-heard by government, that every $1 spent on helping parents raise children in a good way, is returned sevenfold when they become happy, principled, self-managing, socially integrated adults. The anomic* male and female in society, is at the base of an inverted pyramid of costly trouble to society, both in money and in dissension, negativity and crime.

    There is profit for the country in helping parents, being there with grants and parental education and rewards for taking part, and fast health services, and friendly clinics fostering parental groups and activities in friendship, healthy behaviours, openings for weekend camps for families where parents can access services free, with a reward system to encourage participation, while their children have supervised activities. The whole tenor of NZ society could flip over from being negative most of the time, to being effective with positive outcomes, and we would be living our vision of ourselves instead of living behind a screen of lies and claims of exceptions when the unattractive truth pops up frequently. Our lies and BS undermine us and weaken us.

    * Anomie is a sociological expression.
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anomie
    Medical Definition of anomie
    : social instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values also : personal unrest, alienation, and anxiety that comes from a lack of purpose or ideals.
    .
    https://www.britannica.com/topic/anomie
    Anomie, also spelled anomy, in societies or individuals, a condition of instability resulting from a breakdown of standards and values or from a lack of purpose or ideals.

  4. Kevin 4

    When will the US start calling for regime change in Chile?

    If its good for Venezuela…

    • They are brave in Chile standing up and protesting – they have already been through the fire so to speak, with the generals.

      1973 https://www.theguardian.com/world/1973/sep/12/chile.fromthearchive1
      Richard Gott Wed 12 Sep 1973 16.55 BST First published on Wed 12 Sep 1973 16.55 BST
      Chile is today in the grip of a military regime, with every indication early this morning that President Salvador Allende had committed suicide after the presidential palace had been subjected to air and ground attacks.
      Early yesterday morning, a military junta of senior officers demanded Allende's resignation and, when he refused, the palace was attacked.

      Till 1990 – This in turn resulted in the 1973 coup d'état and the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet, whose subsequent 17-year regime was responsible for both numerous human rights violations and deep market-oriented economic reforms. In 1990, Chile finally made a peaceful transition to democracy.
      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Chile

    • Poission 4.2

      When will the US start calling for regime change in California ?

  5. A really thoughtful and illuminating think Ad. It's good to tell us what we sort of know but haven't time to think out in joined-up fashion, and might never do without a post like this.

  6. AB 6

    It's the collapse of a myth – that a middle-class existence is the outcome of individual merit and therefore a stable and reasonable expectation within one's personal control. The realisation that it is none of those things (in fact more like a brief historical accident that is being deliberately erased) results in the rage of powerlessness.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Government backs action to drive strong wool growth
    The Government is investing to create new product categories and new international markets for our strong wool and is calling on Kiwi businesses and consumers to get behind the environmentally friendly fibre, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said today. Wool Impact is a collaboration between the Government and sheep sector partners ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 hours ago
  • Veterans Minister pays tribute to service and sacrifice at Korean War commemoration
    At today’s commemoration of the start of the Korean War, Veterans Minister Meka Whaitiri has paid tribute to the service and sacrifice of our New Zealand veterans, their families and both nations. “It’s an honour to be with our Korean War veterans at Pukeahu National War Memorial Park to commemorate ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Prime Minister’s Matariki speech 2022
    Matariki tohu mate, rātou ki a rātou Matariki tohu ora, tātou ki a tātou Tīhei Matariki Matariki – remembering those who have passed Matariki – celebrating the present and future Salutations to Matariki   I want to begin by thanking everyone who is here today, and in particular the Matariki ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • First Matariki holiday marked across New Zealand and the world
    Oho mai ana te motu i te rangi nei ki te hararei tūmatanui motuhake tuatahi o Aotearoa, Te Rā Aro ki a Matariki, me te hono atu a te Pirīmia a Jacinda Ardern ki ngā mahi whakanui a te motu i tētahi huihuinga mō te Hautapu i te ata nei.    ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Minister to attend second United Nations Ocean Conference in Portugal
    Oceans and Fisheries Minister David Parker will represent Aotearoa New Zealand at the second United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal, which runs from 27 June to 1 July. The Conference will take stock of progress and aims to galvanise further action towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, to "conserve and sustainably use ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government supports innovative dairy sheep sector to scale up
    The Government is boosting its partnership with New Zealand’s dairy sheep sector to help it lift its value and volume, and become an established primary industry, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced. “Globally, the premium alternative dairy category is growing by about 20 percent a year. With New Zealand food ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government supports Buller flood recovery and longer term resilience
    The Government is continuing to support the Buller district to recover from severe flooding over the past year, Minister for Emergency Management Kieran McAnulty announced today during a visit with the local leadership. An extra $10 million has been announced to fund an infrastructure recovery programme, bringing the total ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government outlines plans for future COVID-19 variants
    “The Government has undertaken preparatory work to combat new and more dangerous variants of COVID-19,” COVID-19 Response Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall set out today. “This is about being ready to adapt our response, especially knowing that new variants will likely continue to appear. “We have undertaken a piece of work ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Next steps for NZ UK free trade agreement
    The Government’s strong trade agenda is underscored today with the introduction of the United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement Legislation Bill to the House, Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor announced today. “I’m very pleased with the quick progress of the United Kingdom Free Trade Agreement Legislation Bill being introduced ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Five new members join education Youth Advisory Group
    A ministerial advisory group that provides young people with an opportunity to help shape the education system has five new members, Minister of Education Chris Hipkins said today. “I am delighted to announce that Harshinni Nayyar, Te Atamihi Papa, Humaira Khan, Eniselini Ali and Malakai Tahaafe will join the seven ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Address to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons First Meeting of States Party
    Austria Centre, Vienna   [CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY] E ngā mana, e ngā reo Tēnā koutou katoa Thank you, Mr President. I extend my warm congratulations to you on the assumption of the Presidency of this inaugural meeting of States Parties to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. You ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Govt makes sure support workers have right to take pay-equity claim
    The Government is taking action to make sure homecare and support workers have the right to take a pay-equity claim, while at the same time protecting their current working conditions and delivering a pay rise. “In 2016, homecare and support workers – who look after people in their own homes ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Targeted second COVID-19 booster a step closer
    A law change passed today streamlines the process for allowing COVID-19 boosters to be given without requiring a prescription. Health Minister Andrew Little said the changes made to the Medicines Act were a more enduring way to manage the administration of vaccine boosters from now on. “The Ministry of Health’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Commerce Commission empowered to crackdown on covenants
    New powers will be given to the Commerce Commission allowing it to require supermarkets to hand over information regarding contracts, arrangements and land covenants which make it difficult for competing retailers to set up shop. “The Government and New Zealanders have been very clear that the grocery sector is not ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Plasterboard taskforce set up to ease shortages
    Ministerial taskforce of industry experts will give advice and troubleshoot plasterboard shortages Letter of expectation sent to Fletcher Building on trademark protections A renewed focus on competition in the construction sector The Minister for Building and Construction Megan Woods has set up a Ministerial taskforce with key construction, building ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • First Matariki public holiday celebrated with a unique broadcasting collaboration
    Minister for Māori Development Willie Jackson and Minister for Māori Crown Relations Te Arawhiti Kelvin Davis announced today the inaugural Matariki public holiday will be marked by a pre-dawn hautapu ceremony at Te Papa Tongarewa, and will be a part of a five-hour broadcast carried by all major broadcasters in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Health volunteers recognised at Parliament
    Volunteers from all over the country are being recognised in this year’s Minister of Health Volunteer Awards, just announced at an event in Parliament’s Grand Hall. “These awards celebrate and recognise the thousands of dedicated health and disability sector volunteers who give many hours of their time to help other ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Trade Minister to travel to Europe, Canada and Australia to advance economic recovery
    New Zealand’s trade agenda continues to build positive momentum as Trade and Export Growth Minister Damien O’Connor travels to Europe, Canada and Australia to advance New Zealand’s economic interests. “Our trade agenda has excellent momentum, and is a key part of the Government’s wider plan to help provide economic security for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister to travel to Europe and Australia
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will leave this weekend to travel to Europe and Australia for a range of trade, tourism and foreign policy events. “This is the third leg of our reconnecting plan as we continue to promote Aotearoa New Zealand’s trade and tourism interests. We’re letting the world know ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Remarks to ICAN Nuclear Ban Forum session “The Ban is the Plan and this is Why”
    [CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY] Nga mihi ki a koutou. Let me start by acknowledging the nuclear survivors, the people who lost their lives to nuclear war or testing, and all the peoples driven off their lands by nuclear testing, whose lands and waters were poisoned, and who suffer the inter-generational health ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • New Zealand leadership contributes to significant progress at the WTO
    New Zealand’s leadership has contributed to a number of significant outcomes and progress at the Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), which concluded in the early hours of Friday morning after a week of intense negotiations between its 164 members. A major outcome is a new ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Meth addiction service launched in Eastern Bay of Plenty
    The Government has delivered on its commitment to roll out the free methamphetamine harm reduction programme Te Ara Oranga to the eastern Bay of Plenty, with services now available in Murupara. “We’re building a whole new mental health system, and that includes expanding successful programmes like Te Ara Oranga,” Health ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Creatives in Schools Round 4 open for applications
    Kura and schools around New Zealand can start applying for Round 4 of the Creatives in Schools programme, Minister for Education Chris Hipkins and Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Carmel Sepuloni said today. Both ministers were at Auckland’s Rosehill Intermediate to meet with the ākonga, teachers and the professional ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Opening speech for MEETINGS 2022
    It is my pleasure to be here at MEETINGS 2022. I want to start by thanking Lisa and Steve from Business Events Industry Aotearoa and everyone that has been involved in organising and hosting this event. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to welcome you all here. It is ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Reconnecting across the Tasman: Australia – Aotearoa New Zealand Foreign Minister Consultations
    Aotearoa New Zealand Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon Nanaia Mahuta and Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator the Hon Penny Wong, met in Wellington today for the biannual Australia - Aotearoa New Zealand Foreign Minister Consultations. Minister Mahuta welcomed Minister Wong for her first official visit to Aotearoa New Zealand ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Global challenges reflected in March quarter GDP
    The volatile global situation has been reflected in today’s quarterly GDP figures, although strong annual growth shows New Zealand is still well positioned to deal with the challenging global environment, Grant Robertson said. GDP fell 0.2 percent in the March quarter, as the global economic trends caused exports to fall ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • One million New Zealanders vaccinated against flu
    More than a million New Zealanders have already received their flu vaccine in time for  winter, but we need lots more to get vaccinated to help relieve pressure on the health system, Health Minister Andrew Little says. “Getting to one million doses by June is a significant milestone and sits ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • NZ Principals Federation MOOT SPEECH -Friday 10 June 2022 
    It’s a pleasure to be here today in person “ka nohi ke te ka nohi, face to face as we look back on a very challenging two years when you as Principals, as leaders in education, have pivoted, and done what you needed to do, under challenging circumstances for your ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Provincial Growth Fund already delivering jobs and economic boost to the regions
    The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is successfully creating jobs and boosting regional economic growth, an independent evaluation report confirms. Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash announced the results of the report during a visit to the Mihiroa Marae in Hastings, which recently completed renovation work funded through the PGF. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Pre-departure tests removed from June 20
    Travellers to New Zealand will no longer need a COVID-19 pre-departure test from 11.59pm Monday 20 June, COVID-19 Response Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. “We’ve taken a careful and staged approach to reopening our borders to ensure we aren’t overwhelmed with an influx of COVID-19 cases. Our strategy has ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Foreign Minister to attend CHOGM
    Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta will travel to Rwanda this week to represent New Zealand at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali. “This is the first CHOGM meeting since 2018 and I am delighted to be representing Aotearoa New Zealand,” Nanaia Mahuta said.  “Reconnecting New Zealand with the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Joint Statement: Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) at MC12
    We, the Ministers for trade from Costa Rica, Fiji, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland, welcome the meeting of Agreement on Climate Change, Trade and Sustainability (ACCTS) partners on 15 June 2022, in Geneva to discuss progress on negotiations for the ACCTS. Our meeting was chaired by Hon Damien O’Connor, New Zealand’s Minister for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Chief Censor appointed
    Internal Affairs Minister Jan Tinetti has today announced Caroline Flora as the new Chief Censor of Film and Literature, for a three-year term from 20 July. Ms Flora is a senior public servant who has recently held the role of Associate Deputy‑Director General System Strategy and Performance at the Ministry ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government tackles elder abuse
    Eleven projects are being funded as part of the Government’s efforts to prevent elder abuse, Minister for Seniors Dr Ayesha Verrall announced as part of World Elder Abuse Awareness Day.  “Sadly one in 10 older people experience elder abuse in New Zealand, that is simply unacceptable,” Ayesha Verrall said. “Our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New connectivity funding for more rural homes and businesses
    More New Zealand homes, businesses and communities will soon benefit from fast and reliable connectivity, regardless of where they live, study and work,” Minister for the Digital Economy and Communications, David Clark said today. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us time and again how critical a reliable connection is for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Phil Twyford to attend Nuclear Ban Treaty meeting
    Disarmament and Arms Control Minister Phil Twyford will lead Aotearoa New Zealand’s delegation to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) First Meeting of States Parties in Austria later this month, following a visit to the Netherlands. The Nuclear Ban Treaty is the first global treaty to make nuclear ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Australian Foreign Minister to visit for talks
    Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta will this week welcome Australian Foreign Minister, Senator the Hon. Penny Wong on her first official visit to Aotearoa New Zealand as Foreign Minister. “I am delighted to be able to welcome Senator Wong to Wellington for our first in-person bilateral foreign policy consultations, scheduled for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Government’s School Investment Package supports 4,500 projects
    State schools have made thousands of site, infrastructure and classroom improvements, as well as upgrades to school sports facilities and playgrounds over the past two and a half years through a major government work programme, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. The School Investment Package announced in December 2019 gave ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • PM Ardern shares warm meeting with Samoa PM
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had a warm and productive meeting with Samoa Prime Minister Fiamē Naomi Mata’afa in Wellington, today. The Prime Ministers reflected on the close and enduring relationship the two countries have shared in the 60 years since the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, and since Samoa ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Govt acting to increase supermarket competition
    “Food price data shows New Zealanders pay too much for the basics and today’s figures provide more evidence of why we need to change the supermarket industry, and fast," Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister David Clark says. Stats NZ figures show food prices were 6.8% higher in May 2022 compared ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago