Chloe Swarbrick: We don’t live in a game of Monopoly

Written By: - Date published: 10:04 am, March 10th, 2023 - 49 comments
Categories: business, Chlöe Swarbrick, Chlöe Swarbrick, class war, economy, inequality, tax - Tags: , ,

49 comments on “Chloe Swarbrick: We don’t live in a game of Monopoly ”

  1. Tony Veitch 1

    Go the Greens!

  2. AB 2

    We don't live in a game of monopoly

    We do, wasn't the game invented to demonstrate that fact?

    The question is whether we ought to – and whether we are aware quite how radical and revolutionary the status quo actually is.

  3. Tiger Mountain 3

    How can a successful 21st century Green Party be anything other than anti capitalist?

    Dystopia Aotearoa NZ style will be here sooner rather than later if urgent measures are not taken. An East Coast Civil Defence co-ordinator on RNZ today described 28 remote communities still isolated and needing helicopter services, and 100 bridges affected–damaged or totally washed out.

    Most people I know now have a transistor or hand crank radio and mini solar panels for gadgets, go bags, medical supplies and bulk water at the ready.

  4. Mac1 4

    As AB hints at above ar #2, Monopoly has an interesting history. It was developed by a Quaker woman, Elizabeth Magie Phillips, a strong and independent, forthright character, and some friends. It was called the Landlord's Game and was developed to critique people and practices of the time.

    Three things stand out for me. It was a spoofing game and connected to progressives of the time. At University we used to play it and unknowing of its origins developed our own spoof called 'socialist monopoly' where at the end of the game all profits were shared equally amongst all players.

    Secondly, it seems that the woman who developed the game was written out of the history of its conception. Instead a myth was created that certainly did not reflect the game's purpose, the genius and the gender of its founder.

    She was an inventor who developed a device for easier rolling of paper through a typewriter.

    Thirdly, as a Quaker myself I honour the progressive genius of this strong woman.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/15/business/behind-monopoly-an-inventor-who-didnt-pass-go.html

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/apr/11/secret-history-monopoly-capitalist-game-leftwing-origins

    • cathy-O 4.1

      "Secondly, it seems that the woman who developed the game was written out of the history of its conception. "

      so there's nothing new about that. women are consistently written out of history, for example in literature and the arts.

  5. Ad 5

    One entity in New Zealand made $1,643,518.51 per second last year:

    The government.

    Their total income was NZ$142,000,000,000

    https://tradingeconomics.com/new-zealand/government-revenues

    There's 86,400 seconds in a day.

    Divide income by the seconds :$1,643,518 per second.

    Even with direct beneficiaries like superannuants and unemployed and sickness, there's little confidence from anyone that this government is doing a good job of redistribution to those who need it most.

    From 2017 you can go through all the failed plans, all the consultants, all the dead projects, all the poorly distributed COVID funding to business, all the institutional restructures, and figure out the culprit for the waste of our taxes.

    It's the government itself.

    The only reason Labour has a shot this election at all is because so many simply hope they will improve.

    Chloe, hold the government to account at Budget for use of our own money before imposing more charges that we will pay anyway.

    • pat 5.1

      Their total (annual) income was NZ$142,000,000,000

    • gsays 5.2

      I have a work around.

      Instead of taxing banks, tax the bank's shareholders. After all, a share portfolio, like a property portfolio, is a sign of excess wealth.

    • dvT 5.3

      I make it $4,500 per sec

      =$142,000,000,000 / 365 /84,600

    • Thinker 5.4

      So, you're one of those people who compare a government to a business?

      Most of us know there are differences between the two types of entity, or we would be able to compare these New Zealand banks with, say the Red Cross or UNICEF. And I doubt there are too many similarities between the two types of entity.

      Less ludicrous, we could compare the NZ banks with, say, Microsoft or Disney Corporation and we would weep to think of the meagre profits the banks made in comparison.

      The issue here is only partly the supernormal profits the banks made. The other part of the issue is that, being Australian banks, one would think they would make similar levels of profits and charge mortgage rates based on a similar multiplier on each country's OCR. According tot the Greens, they are charging kiwis more on both counts.

      That means, either the banks are making excessive profits based on (presumably) our deregulated economy (We are still waiting for the level-playing-field, trickle-down effects, seemingly) or Kiwis are subsidising Australians in their banking and mortgages. I guess whichever you decide is a personal choice.

      But, please, Ad, don't confuse business and politics.

  6. tsmithfield 6

    Assuming wealth were redistributed as the sub- title to this post suggests, (i.e. ”The case for redistribution of wealth in New Zealand”). how long would that practically solve anything? I have heard it said that if wealth were distributed equally around the world, it wouldn't take long until it was back in the hands of those who had most of it in the first place.

    Rather than redistribute wealth, would it not be better to focus on strategies that enable people to become wealthy from a sustainable perspective. Teach someone to fish rather than give them a fish etc.

    That would mean putting a heavy focus on the factors that sabotage people and prevent them from getting ahead.

    • Ad 6.1

      What part of our economic settings drives home owners to shift from house investment to some more reliable wealth generation category?

      Very very little.
      Our sharemarket outside of utilities is mostly property anyway. Both of those are essentially based on rent.

      We really are in a monopoly game. For most who have more than 1 property it's worked exceedingly well: loans using rental property equity are the primary way we start a business.

      • tsmithfield 6.1.1

        A lot of people use equity in their houses to fund businesses. We certainly do that. So, property investment can extend beyond just investing in property.

        • Ad 6.1.1.1

          Further taxes on property ownership through more bank costs on mortgages is a further cost on the 28% of New Zealand's population with a mortgage. That's a lot of voters.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 6.2

      Assuming wealth were redistributed as the sub- title to this post suggests, (i.e. ”The case for redistribution of wealth in New Zealand”). how long would that practically solve anything? I have heard it said that if wealth were distributed equally around the world, it wouldn't take long until it was back in the hands of those who had most of it in the first place.

      Redistribution could fix things long term. The alternative ("make everyone rich") relies on massive economic growth, which the planet can't support. You are absolutely right that a one-off redistribution (without system change), will quickly revert to the highly unequal status quo. The problem is the system that creates massive inequality.

      Rather than redistribute wealth, would it not be better to focus on strategies that enable people to become wealthy from a sustainable perspective.

      As above, everyone "becoming wealthy" requires massive economic expansion, which is unsustainable. Currently the poorest 50% of NZ has less than 5% of the total wealth, while the richest 10% has about 50% of the wealth.

      To double the wealth of the poorest 50% (so their share increases from 5% to 10%, which would have huge positive social effects), would only require the top 10% dropping their wealth by 10% (so dropping from 50%, to 45% share – e.g. John Key goes from a fortune of $50m to $45m). All this without needing any economic growth at all. Doubling the wealth of the poorest 50% by economic growth would require the entire economy to more than double in size (likely much, much more, because most economic growth accrues to the already wealthy).

      • Ad 6.2.1

        We need the Capital Gains Tax that Ardern promised.

        We are one of the most unequal societies in the developed world.

        (But we should do all of that after I've sold everything, cashed up, and collecting NZSuper (ahem).)

        • mikesh 6.2.1.1

          We need the Capital Gains Tax that Ardern promised.

          Perhaps. But with no exemptions for "family homes".

        • Craig H 6.2.1.2

          If you could point to a source for that promise, that would be excellent.

          I recall her promising to follow through with Andrew Little's promise to have a tax working group (which was a policy from Conference), but not specifically to deliver capital gains tax.

          • Belladonna 6.2.1.2.1

            She certainly claimed that she'd worked hard for it for three campaigns, and after 2017 while in government, before deciding that it was never going to get over the line, and formally abandoned it.

            After pushing for the tax for three election campaigns, Ms Ardern told Morning Report she still believed in a capital gains tax but that it was now time to look at other options.

            "I've been campaigning since the 2011 election but of course before that when we first proposed the capital gains tax … we've tried different variations."

            She said she fought hard for it and made the case but that it failed to pull through.

            "Here we were finally in government, we had political parties that represented the majority of New Zealanders and I still couldn't get it across the line.

            "I just couldn't get the numbers, and it wasn't for lack of trying."

            https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/political/388067/pm-jacinda-ardern-on-capital-gains-tax-i-could-not-get-the-support-of-nz-first

            • Craig H 6.2.1.2.1.1

              I guess I can't speak for anyone else, but I can't say I expected any MPs to keep promises made in the 2011 or 2014 campaigns, in future campaigns, other than policies that were retained in 2017 and 2020 as part of the manifestos.

              I was at the Labour Party conference in 2015 where the tax working group was originally suggested and then adopted, and it was intended to find alternatives to tax policies that had already been tried (like capital gains tax), not just come out with another go at capital gains tax.

              • Belladonna

                Oh, I wasn't making any comment about whether or not the 'promise' should be kept. Political parties (as you point out) move on.

                Indeed, given that Ardern subsequently explicitly promised *not* to implement a CGT while PM – one couldn't.

                But it does support Ad's point:

                We need the Capital Gains Tax that Ardern promised.

                You asked where she promised it…. that's the answer I gave.

                Whether we do, or do not, need the CGT – in the way it was proposed by Labour, or in any other format – is a different discussion, altogether.

      • Belladonna 6.2.2

        Given that NZ house prices dropped 7% over the last year (still wildly over-inflated though) – and that the majority of the 'wealthy' are only so, because they own their own house – combined with inflation eating away at real incomes – most people are pretty close to already having dropped their wealth by 10% already.

        And, as quite rightly pointed out, if you only target the millionaires, they'll withdraw their assets overseas.

        Most of these wealth redistribution schemes are wildly over-ambitious in scope, and offer over-inflated promises of returns (highly unlikely to be borne out in reality).

        Long-term solutions (like death-duties) which target intergenerational wealth transfer are much more likely to be effective (though trusts have a significant impact). Of course, they also encourage the wealthy to invest in their children/grandchildren before they go (gifting a house deposit, investing in a business – with a gift back period, setting up education trusts for grandchildren, etc.).

        Really, the most effective thing that the government (any government) could do would be to massively increase housing – to reduce rental/mortgage costs – which is where most of the 'wealth' is pooling. [And, no I'm not interested in the fairy tale that we don't really have a housing crisis]

        Halving housing costs, would come darned close to doubling the wealth of the poorest 50%.

        Stable housing also has a massive down-stream effect on a whole bunch of other long-term wealth creation factors (especially school attendance and qualification completion rates).

    • Drowsy M. Kram 6.3

      I have heard it said that if wealth were distributed equally around the world, it wouldn't take long until it was back in the hands of those who had most of it in the first place.

      Not much of an objection though, is it? Redistribute wealth more than once – simple.

      To those who are 'concerned' about a more equitable (re)distribution of (their) wealth, and would rather others 'rose' to their level, the question is – Where are those 50 extra plate-loads of food going to come from? This is the myth of lifting all boats.

      …they used to say a rising tide lifted all boats. Now the rising tide just seems to lift the yachts.

      The Side Eye’s Two New Zealands: The Table [16 August 2022]
      The richest 10% of New Zealanders hold more than half the country’s wealth. The poorer half of the population, meanwhile, holds just 2%. So why are we still so reluctant to talk about wealth inequality?

      • tsmithfield 6.3.1

        Not much of an objection though, is it? Redistribute wealth more than once – simple.

        Yeah. But I think we need to get past the politics of all this. For every person that is helped there are probably at least as many being locked further in cycles of crime and addiction through this sort of thoughtless funnelling of money.

        I am for solutions that start to reestablish the building blocks of people's lives such as education etc. I am more than happy to see people supported through the process, but not left in a hopeless endless cycle of dysfunction.

        For example, one of the trusts I am on the board of, Crossroads Youth with a Future, serves the Aranui community. Here is a 3 minute video about Crossroads if you are interested.

        Crossroads works with students from local schools that the schools have given up on, or are unable to handle. We aim to help youth understand what drives their behaviours and come up with much better ways of dealing with situations they face. We have seen some amazing changes in youth. But what we really need is 1000 or more organisations like Crossroads.

        Or another trust, NHT, that I am on the board of. At NHT one of our latest initiatives has been to establish a community garden with the aim of helping people to learn how to grow their own food. We also have access to a commercial kitchen. So, we are considering offering cooking lessons to the local community. These days so many people don't know how to cook their own food. Again, it is a building block we can look to reestablish that many have lost.

        Again, the need is so great that what we do is barely scratching the surface.

        But these sort of initiatives are at least going along the path of achieving something more for people than leaving them in a hopeless situation they see no way out of.

        • Drowsy M. Kram 6.3.1.1

          Crossroads Youth with a Future” sounds like a much-needed initiative, but I couldn’t get the video link to work – “This video is no longer available”.

          Yeah. But I think we need to get past the politics of all this. For every person that is helped there are probably at least as many being locked further in cycles of crime and addiction through this sort of thoughtless funnelling of money.

          By your "probably at least as many" reckon, increased wealth redistribution could help ~1 million of the 2.5 million Kiwis who collectively hold 2% of our wealth.

          Here's an (apolitical) idea – why not put some thought (and resources) into thoughtless funnelling increasing redistribution of wealth, so that recipients are less likely to be "locked further in cycles of crime and addiction"? Aim high, I reckon – say to improve the lot of 2 million Kiwis, leaving maybe less than half a million "locked further in cycles of crime and addiction".

          Naturally, the idea of alleviating poverty via an increase in wealth redistribution is very scary for a smallish percentage of Kiwis – indeed, some would resist it with every fibre of their being. But maintaining the status quo is very scary too, not to mention unhealthy and unsustainable for a relatively large number of Kiwis – just put a little thought into getting the biggest bang for our redistributed buck.

          Richest 1% bag nearly twice as much wealth as the rest of the world put together over the past two years [17 January 2023]
          A tax of up to 5 percent on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires could raise US$1.7 trillion a year, enough to lift 2 billion people out of poverty.


          Inequality is a corrosive force, like rust. Big income and wealth imbalances eat away at trust and empathy, making the country less healthy and less united. They also leave some people with much greater opportunities than others. In New Zealand, income imbalances widened faster in the 1980s and 1990s than in any other developed nation. The wealthiest tenth own more than half of all wealth. This is the result of deliberate policy choices that could be reversed. In doing so we would create a country in which people recognise each other as equals and can come together to tackle common problems.

          • mikesh 6.3.1.1.1

            Perhaps we should nationalise all land.The government could then lease land to those who needed it, charging a rent proportional to the land's value.

        • Hunter Thompson II 6.3.1.2

          Looks like the Crossroads video is no longer available.

          But congrats on the work you do with the youth trusts. You are helping people build their lives with in a useful way. Life skills are worth much more than money.

    • roy cartland 6.4

      It's statistically impossible for everyone to 'get ahead'. That's why the idea of private sufficiency, public luxury is so appealing. We shouldn't be caring about the 'rights' of others to be greedy, when half of us don't even have enough.

      • Stuart Munro 6.4.1

        It's statistically impossible for everyone to 'get ahead'.

        That might be true if your metric is comparative wealth – but in terms of being better off than before, that can certainly be achieved. In 1950, South Korea was poorer than Somalia. Now its standard of living surpasses NZ in many respects.

        Smart, careful government can achieve a great deal – if it is properly motivated. In my lifetime however, NZ governments have not been smart, careful or properly motivated.

        It makes one wonder why we pay them, and what it would take to replace with something better.

        • KJT 6.4.1.1

          Noting that South Korea has become progressively more "Socialist" in their economic paradigm. Funny that.

          • arkie 6.4.1.1.1

            They're still breaching ILO rules, raiding union offices and arresting union leaders:

            The offices of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) and the Korean Health and Medical Workers’ Union’s (KHMU) were targeted by the Korean spy agency early on 18 January. According to press reports, raids continued on 19 January as police targeted construction unions affiliated to the KCTU and the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU).

            In a statement, the KHMU said the government forces searched its offices for several hours despite its intention to cooperate: “We strongly condemn the public security suppression of the labour movement. We will fight strongly against this … We will never give in to the government’s targeted public security drive.”

            This is not the first act of repression by the Korean government against the union movement. In 2021, the president of the KCTU was arrested and in December, the authorities tried to raid union offices to break a strike by truck drivers.

            https://www.ituc-csi.org/south-korea-government-raids

            Also this is an interesting video on capitalism and consumerism in South Korea through the lense of Kpop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J8LxORztUWY&ab_channel=Jonas%C4%8Ceika-CCKPhilosophy

          • Stuart Munro 6.4.1.1.2

            It's complicated – the default position is in principle hard right. In practice however, most of Korea's most wealthy grew up in poverty, and unlike, say, the Labour party, which now lacks the visceral experience of the Great Depression, they try not to crap all over the poor. Likewise the Confucianism which remains a significant influence on Korean society, prefers a refined sensibility to the crude accumulation of material wealth – at least recently.

            The origins of the Korean labour movement however, are full of government repression and the extremes of greed reserved in modern times to decadent clowns like ACT and wage thieving migrants. The reaction against a geographically ever-present communism no doubt played a part.

      • tsmithfield 6.4.2

        It depends what you mean by "wealth". If you mean monetary wealth, then that is certainly not something all will achieve. But if you are talking about happy, fulfilling lives, then many can experience that type of wealth.

        Some of the richest people I know are actually quite poor financially. But they are wonderful people who do a fantastic job bringing up their kids, and are some of the nicest people you could meet.

        I would much rather be involved with people like that than some of the toffey-nosed people who have had it easy all their lives.

    • weka 6.5

      That would mean putting a heavy focus on the factors that sabotage people and prevent them from getting ahead.

      Like stopping banks from charging more fees the less money you have? That kind of thing?

      Or removing the abatement rate on beneficiaries so they're not paying an effective 100%+ tax?

      • tsmithfield 6.5.1

        Certainly that sort of thing. But more the things that are locking people into poor lives will little hope of anything better. Such as generational attitudes towards education and such.

        • KJT 6.5.1.1

          You mean things like the need to leave school and/or education while still young, to earn some money.

          Or things like internships and unpaid training, or the need to pay for higher education, locking up better jobs for the well off, only?.

          Or. The almost total lack of apprenticeships until recently?

          Many things lock people in poverty, including unearned wealth accumulating in rentier families over generations. Increasing inequality and decreasing opportunities for the less wealthy.

        • Craig H 6.5.1.2

          https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/statistics/achievement-and-attainment

          Educational attainment in the adult population: Indicator Report

          NZers are more educated in terms of finishing school and attaining bachelors degrees than at any point in history. I think education is really important to a functioning society and to individuals making sense of the world, but it doesn't look like more education is the answer to poverty reduction.

    • Jenny are we there yet 6.6

      And Jesus H. Smithfield spoke, (through his disciple)

      would it not be better to focus on strategies that enable people to become wealthy from a sustainable perspective. Teach someone to fish rather than give them a fish etc.

  7. Robert Guyton 7

    Swarbrick's awfully clever.

    They'll hate her for that.

    But she won't stop being awfully clever.

  8. SPC 8

    A windfall profits tax on banks

    1. an insurance scheme for the lending of money to business by banks/financial institutions funded by the large banks).

    Business loans are expensive (because of risk), and so people are limited to loans against their property or issuing shares (and we have poor take up of these options because of our predilection for the swings between property speculation binges and high OCR/bank interest rates).

    2. interest free loans to farmers to ensure improved farm environment standards without higher operating cost.

    3. …

  9. Mike the Lefty 9

    We don't live in a game of monopoly, because monopoly is no longer a game – it is our reality and reality is very difficult to change.

    • Drowsy M. Kram 9.1

      A good thing about Monopoly and other games is a lack of consequences. Our family must have played a fair bit, because I remember glueing all the paper-thin currency onto card in the early 70s to make it more durable. But Supremacy was more fun.

      They grow up so fast. https://www.lakeshorelearning.com/products/ca/p/LC1279/

      • Stuart Munro 9.1.1

        Interesting. If you're into boardgames, permit me to recommend Junta. a little contest for the control of Le Republic de Los Bananas, that increasingly resembles Trump-era America, and Kill Dr Lucky, a satire on Cluedo in which you try to kill the old villain – except when others are in the room and you are instead obliged to make polite conversation.

        • Drowsy M. Kram 9.1.1.1

          Thanks – KDL looks interesting, but I would struggle to find the necessary players.

  10. Thinker 10

    If only we did we would have a maximum density of 3 units per residential site instead of these so-called apartments being thrown up all over our suburbs… L

  11. Muttonbird 11

    We absolutely live in a game of Monopoly. It is sanctioned and celebrated by nearly all.

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