Does truth in politics no longer matter?

Written By: - Date published: 9:10 am, April 15th, 2022 - 68 comments
Categories: boris johnson, immigration, politicans, uk politics - Tags:

Over in the UK the English version of Donald Trump, slightly less crass and slightly less compromised by the Russians, has had a week from hell with police fining him for holding gatherings at 10 Downing Street while the country was meant to be in a Covid lockdown.  Do as I say not as I do is clearly Boris’s mantra.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has also been fined.  If anything his week has been worse than Boris’s.  From Aditya Chakraborrty at the Guardian:

Bad news now clings to Sunak like burrs to a dog after a walk in the woods. First, the resounding emptiness of last month’s spring statement, even as the country was sliding into a historic social and economic crisis. Then last week’s revelations that his wife doesn’t pay UK tax on her international income and that the chancellor himself held a US green card while living in Downing Street. And on Tuesday, the Metropolitan police slapped him with a fine for attending a birthday party for Boris Johnson. Sunak’s allies are telling journalists he is furious about the police decision, saying he only went to the cabinet room to see the prime minister about something else. This may be true. What is false is the chancellor’s claim that he broke no rules and that he “did not attend any parties”. Just like his boss, he has lied to both the public and parliament.

Both politicians face allegations that they have misled Parliament.  The evidence seems pretty compelling.

Not only is Boris’s contention that no Covid rules were broken and that there was no party clearly disbelieved by the police but his being fined for being there provides an extra level of “what the” to what he said.

The convention is that ministers who deliberately mislead Parliament should resign. If Boris and Sunak do not then England should prepare itself to become a failed democracy just like the United States, where words don’t matter and rules are for losers.

And it looks like Boris is digging in.  What better way to give the fingers to the constitution than to announce that Rwandan refugees will be forcibly relocated back to Rwanda.

The Guardian has the details:

Detailing plans to send unauthorised migrants to Rwanda, Boris Johnson managed to blame “politically motivated lawyers” for forcing the government to draw up such a drastic policy, and also for any future failure to implement it.

By blaming them for Britain being seen as “a soft touch for illegal migration”, continuing a government narrative against “lefty lawyers”, many in the profession believe the prime minister is putting a fig leaf over a policy that is likely to be extremely difficult to defend in the courts and may end up at the European court of human rights.

Adam Wagner, a human rights barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, said that while detail was lacking, sending asylum seekers to a repressive country was dangerous and potentially unlawful.

“That suits the government because I’m sure the Home Office will have been advised that these aspects of policy risk being struck down by the courts, but it’s just part of their overall strategy of picking fights with lawyers and courts – then they can blame them for the policy not working,” he said.

Want to know the difference between Rwanda and the Ukraine?  Both groups are fleeing war and atrocities.  But one group has black skin and the other has white skin.

The policy announcement has the hallmarks of a well planned diversion and is a policy that Scotty Morrison would be proud of.  And attacking lawyers at the same time as refugees has an added political benefit.

If Boris survives then we need to deeply reflect on what has happened to democracy in western nations.  Success in politics should depend on a combination of skills and dedication and having a world view that resonates with the majority, not who is the most compelling liar.

68 comments on “Does truth in politics no longer matter? ”

  1. DukeEll 1

    It would appear so. The laughable “statement of fact” from the government that all inflation is imported and not at all caused in part by government policies and actions domestically is devoid of truth

    • mickysavage 1.1

      Got a citation for that?

      Robertson has said on a number of times that inflation is "offshore-originated inflation" and that is true. All major nations are experiencing high inflation due to a number of factors including the Ukraine war and supply chain disruption.

      As for Government policies they recently paid off a big chunk of debt which would reduce inflationary pressures.

      • tsmithfield 1.1.1,and%20ongoing%20supply%2Dchain%20disruptions.

        "This global inflation has many causes, including the effects of trillions of dollars of fiscal and monetary stimulus, pent-up demand, increases in shipping costs, ongoing supply-chain disruptions, and rising energy prices."

        So there are a number of reasons for inflation. But one of those is the "effects of trillions of dollars of fiscal and monetary stimulus".

        So, to the extent that our government and Reserve Bank participated in the money printing and borrowing, and our own Reserve bank followed a least regrets approach to stimulus during that period, it is clear that our own internal actions with respect to stimulus has been partly responsible for the inflation we experience now.

        That is not a criticism by the way, because I think it was necessary at the time. But the long term consequences we are all experiencing now was unavoidable.

      • Poission 1.1.2

        As for Government policies they recently paid off a big chunk of debt which would reduce inflationary pressures

        It made no difference,as it is being replaced by the asset sales from the RBNZ to treasury,5 billion a year for the next 5 years.

        In addition, direct the Reserve Bank to sell nominal
        New Zealand Government Bonds and Inflation-indexed
        New Zealand Government Bonds to New Zealand
        Debt Management at a rate of $5 billion per fiscal
        year, commencing in July 2022, provided it remained
        consistent with the Bank’s monetary policy objectives,
        and subject to market conditions.

        The increase in the debt servicing alone (due to increased debt and higher interest rates),will exceed increased tax revenue .

        • Ghostwhowalksnz

          The reason for the transfer $ 5 bill yearly of Bonds from Reserve Bank ( Bond printers) to Debt Management ( Treasury) is they can be onsold to private entities ( there is a normal buy and sell tender process)

          They might even make money in the disposal by Debt management as they were created at 0.2% interest rate and onsold at higher interest rates. ( I hope I got that the right way round)

          • Poission

            They were wholesale assets purchased by the RBNZ to ensure liquidity in the debt markets over the covid period.

            A high proportion of the debt was in long positions in the 10yr bonds.

          • pat

            If the yields of new bonds are higher the older 0.2% yielding bond price will drop…so they can expect to lose money on sale.

            • Ghostwhowalksnz

              10 yr government bonds havent been below 1% since beginning of last year and are now 3.5%

              the OCR rate is 90 day or 3 months only


              • pat


                "Because interest rates were tracking down in 2020 and early-2021, the government bonds issued earlier in the period were higher-yielding. This made them more valuable.

                So, when the RBNZ went about buying the bonds on the secondary market (IE from banks that bought them from the Treasury), it paid a premium. The eligible banks included ANZ, BNZ, Citibank, ASB's parent Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, Rabobank, the Toronto Dominion Bank, UBS and Westpac.

                The Treasury said the RBNZ paid $7.2 billion more for the bonds than what they were originally issued for. This was recorded as a loss on the government’s balance sheet and resulted in an increase in net debt.

                Initially, the Treasury wasn't too concerned about this, arguing the loss would be offset by the LSAP programme lowering interest costs on government borrowing."

                • Ghostwhowalksnz

                  The RBNZ normally didnt trade in or buy bonds at all. Its Treasurys function
                  There was never any ultra short term 90 day bonds issued by RBNZ at 0.2%. Treasury does its own ‘ T bills’ for short term financial reasons, who knows the rates were but could be around that level

                  For the Covid response the RBNZ 'created bonds' under the quantitative easing process or as it was called here Large Scale Asset purchases. These it held and didnt trade at all. There was some trading in inflation indexed bonds issued by Treasury or held by others


                  Treasury has been more recently selling off the bonds RBNZ created,

              • DukeEll

                “The OCR is 90 day or 3 month only”

                the overnight cash rate, or OCR, is the rate banks use to determine interest due to the reserve bank for the exchange of securities for cash before settlement. It sets the floor at which borrowing occurs between institutions.

                the 90 bill rate is the shortest Fixed term financial instrument for use by retail Customers when dealing with financial institutions such as banks and th rate differs between banks.

      • DukeEll 1.1.3

        while some inflation may be imported, there are many domestic policies and actions that have contributed to a perfect storm of inflationary pressures.

        • dv

          So how about at least listing the policies then?

        • KJT

          After an article about "truth in politics" right wingers reliably come up with half truths and bullshit.

          At least you are predictable.

          Ponder this. Is the NZ Government so powerful that they have caused worldwide supply issues, shortages and inflation as you imply?

          • Foreign waka

            You could use the same argument for global warming policies. Is nz such high contributer that we have to revert to putting everything on stand still to "prevent" further global warming. The coice of words is manipulative and the same is true in politics. Politics was never an honest business. To think it can be is deluding. As for inflation, it is the supply of money into the market that drives it. See it like that. An item costs today $1. Set that as a value against the money in circulation. Lets say 1:100. Then double the money in circulation and you can fill in the blanks. ?:200. I have people saying just print more money. This is signifying the lack of knowledge. Money is just an expression of value not the value in itself. So yes, by giving billions of dollars to shareholders everywhere and increasing the fiscal hole while at the same time printing money the finance section of the government has set nz in the sand. It will take 2 to 3 generations to get out of that hole. Nz would need some financially sound stewartship right now and I cannot see one person that is fit to hold that role.

          • DukeEll

            Hiking the minimum wage without increasing productivity, capturing all those earning within 25% more than the minimum wage as well, lifting the cost base. Hard to argue this won’t increase prices

            artificially promoting labour shortages by being unable to effectively manage skill shortages in the economy through visa approvals

            spending huge amounts of money either on housing stock or any number of poorly targeted schemes post covid lockdown 1.

            These paint a picture of economic managers unaware that their actions have consequences. And simply blaming the world shows a vapid disconnect of economic reality, that external forces can be mitigated by good domestic actions and policies

            • Incognito

              Increasing the minimum wage to keep up with inflation is inflationary?

              If yes, we should not increase the minimum wage or only marginally, so that minimum wage earners fall further behind in real-dollar terms?

              Every minimum wage earner has to work harder to ‘increase productivity’ in order to earn deserve an increase in their minimum wage keeping with inflation?

              Your second ‘argument’ is self-contradictory.

              Your third point is unhinged and thus lacks persuasive power.

              Your last point is the typical RW meme that is both pathetic and a strawman of binary blaming & shaming. You forgot the take-home message of the RW Manifesto: we need better managers of the economy and we are the better managers of the economy – leave it to us and you your future will be lighter & brighter.

              • Poission

                Wage growth that runs ahead of productivity gains both fuels inflation ( reducing nominal gains) and is formative with subsequent recessions (along with creative destruction from speculation)

                These results imply that it is highly improbable that average price inflation will fall below 3 percent by 2023 — as predicted by the Federal Reserve — without a significant drop in wage growth from its current level of 6.5 percent. We have shown that such declines in wage growth have historically been associated with recessions and large increases in unemployment. Overall, the historical evidence presented in this note thus suggests that we have reason to be wary that higher nominal wages are always good for workers: on an economy wide basis, wage growth that runs too far ahead of productivity can contribute to underlying inflation and reverse the very gains in worker purchasing power that we are trying to achieve.


                So there are limits on wage growth, for the sake of wage growth.As there is for growth for the sake of growth ( read ideological KPI 's) Limit cycles have limits.

                • Incognito

                  What’s your point re. increasing the minimum wage? Government should have scrapped them because productivity across the whole economy has not lifted much? And thus they increase inflation? Is that your point? If so, that seems a bit unfair rough to our lowest-income earners.


                  • Poission

                    The point is wage raises without productivity or increased efficiency,tends to have push relations for historical margins or pay parity,these are inflationary,as is large scale Government spending during a construction boom.

                    • pat

                      Depending on what facilitates the wage increase….it dosnt necessarily have to be increased productivity….it could be reduced profit (in aggregate).

                      "Inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon"

                    • Incognito

                      Very helpful and educational indecision

                    • Poission

                      There is also skill shortages which have increased pay,its interesting that this demand response in the US saw wage increases in the lower quartile nearly twice the top end of town.


                      This was without large increases in stat/mins,This also allows for elasticity for when there is demand shocks,as through attrition alone replacement workers can have a lower boundary.

                    • Descendant Of Smith

                      Productivity will be mainly increased in New Zealand by reducing our dependency on low paid jobs.

                      Productivity increases by themselves will always result in less jobs unless there is growth in a market – if no market growth you just pinch the sales off other competitors resulting in job losses there.

                      The meat industry is a good example of large increases in productivity with little pay progression or job security. In fact productivity has increased so much there are now plenty of surplus workers which then drive wages down as if you don't like it there are trained people to replace you.

                      Maybe you can suggest how productivity can be increased in the low paid areas of cafes for instance and therefore how staff can get pay increases without the minimum wage being put up.

                      In fact wage growth will result in productivity increases through investment in better plant and processes – such as horticulture investing in robotics.

                      Tax cuts are the other big lie employers give for not paying their staff more. Never been any employer yet in NZ who increased their staff's pay after tax cuts were made.

                    • Poission

                      The meat industry is struggling with staff shortages.Increased productivity is well accepted with incentive (production)bonuses being around 30% of pay.Inverted dressing systems also made the work less intensive (and physically punishing)

                      Cafes are facing the new reality of the cost of discretionary spending in a high inflation regime.there are real price points that lose customers eg a 7$ cup of coffee,or a 6$ scone.

                      Here productivity gains can be in the form of rent discipline by landlords,(who got building depreciation as a covid response),or increased hours for workers,for cleaning etc.

                    • Descendant Of Smith

                      Meat industry is simply refusing to employ union members as it goes on a union busting regime. There isn't any shortage of trained workers.

                  • Poission

                    So the government colluded with big meat to bring in workers from overseas to offset union workers and the O/S workers also have to be paid a minimum of 27$ an hour,where they will live is another matter.


                    • Descendant Of Smith

                      Yep. There is collusion between employer and government.

                      "Affco Talley are seeking approval to bring in migrant workers to its Wairoa and Rangiuru plants, but Cooke said: "It's absurd to try to import workers into a community where there are 600 job seekers — especially following past practices of Affco including lockouts of vulnerable workers, and the lack of any training programme to get new local workers employed.

                      "Given the high level of under-employed or unemployed in the Wairoa district, and the limited ability of a small and relatively poor community like Wairoa to absorb and support new migrants we think Affco is taking the mickey."

                      He said 22 million lambs/sheep and 2.5 million cattle are processed over a 12-month season which peaks in February/March.

                      "There is already an over-capacity of killing chains within New Zealand and in our view, the industry requires much more innovative solutions than looking for a cheap supply of labour from overseas."

                      After years of this nonsense as well. Guess what despite increased productivity the employer has continually tried to pay the workers less.

                      "Affco's appeal to the Supreme Court, over a long-running battle with the Meat Workers Union in Wairoa, has been dismissed. The dispute started after negotiations for an expired collective contract broke down.

                      Affco was the first employer to end bargaining under 2015 amendments to the Employment Relations Act, which allowed firms to opt out of multi-employer agreements and removed the duty, under good faith bargaining, for both sides to reach agreement.

                      Workers who refused to return to a new season on individual contracts in 2015 were locked out for five months.

                      The Employment Court ordered the union members return to work, but upon their return they found their terms and conditions were very different. After a compliance notice was issued to Affco the workers were employed according to their collective agreement.

                      Affco took the case to the Court of Appeal which upheld the Employment Court decision that the lockout was unlawful. The Court of Appeal said Affco sought to fragment future bargaining strength of the workforce by isolating individual workers.

                    • Descendant Of Smith

                      Cafes, like a lot of other businesses are facing the increasing decline of the baby boomers who were for twenty plus years dinkies – double income no kiddies, are now moving into retirement and are now dying off.

                      That disposable income they had is reducing quite quickly as they finish work.

                      COVID and working from home has just accelerated the rate of change.

                    • Poission

                      The article was 2019,you got any links for the present.

                    • Descendant Of Smith

                      Yep. You think Talley's of all employers wat to pay for increased productivity? You think after yeas of anti-union, wage busting activity they have had a change of heart?


                      The mayor of Wairoa says the local economy will suffer due to the early closure of AFFCO's sheep and lamb plant.

                      The meat company has laid off more than 200 workers in the past two weeks, with most of those going on Thursday.

                      The sheep and lamb plant could be closed for up to five months for the season, instead of the usual five to eight weeks.

                      Mayor Les Probert says less money is being invested in the local economy because people from the town's main workforce have been laid off.

                      He says he hopes they will only be laid off for a short time.

                      Didn't have a choice – AFFCO

                      The union representing the workers says they were told that unless they were prepared to increase productivity for no extra pay, they would be out of work.

                      But AFFCO says staff have not been locked out. Operations director Rowan Ogg says the company had no choice but to action an early closure, because the plant is not meeting production requirements.

                      Mr Ogg says the Wairoa plant is not its most productive operation.

                      Its beef plant at Wairoa, which is operated by about 100 workers, remains open.

                    • Poission

                      That was 2010,is there anything from this decade?

              • DukeEll

                Minimum wage up 25%, inflation up 17% in the same time period.

                you can call my third point unhinged, which it isn’t. It’s just not palatable by you. And that’s because it is “absolutely refuted” by jacinda adern. But its not refutable, Which kind of proves MS’s point that truth in politics no longer matters.

                • Incognito

                  Unhinged to means it has no hinges, no foundation in reality other than the one that appears to exist only inside your head. That’s neither palatable nor unpalatable to me because I cannot experience what’s inside your head except for some remote projections that you submit here as comments.

                  Stop the ambiguous nonsense and gives us some facts that we can deal with. For example, what time period are you referring to? Did you know that inflation fluctuates? Do you know why that is? Does the minimum wage in NZ fluctuate too? Do you know why that is?

                  MS’s word is not Gospel here on TS, so that makes for another strawman of yours – it proves nothing, it is not an absolute truth. I’m on record that I personally think truth does not matter in politics and never has.

                  Have a Kit Kat an Easter egg, you sound hangry.

                  • DukeEll

                    Well, MS asked the question in his post. You can take whatever you like as gospel.
                    Labour caucus utterances seem to be yours, and that’s cool.

                    which in no way makes them relevant to the facts of inflation.

                    • Incognito

                      Looks like you have not much else to say on the subject. So, how about you give us some facts about inflation and minimum wage, without the garnish? That would be truly cool.

            • KJT

              Half truths and bollocks. Thanks for proving my point so well.

        • KJT

          In the area that the NZ Government can have an influence, house price inflation, it appears their policies are starting to work, with house price rises finally slowing.

    • SPC 1.2

      All you have to do is note inflation rates overseas to determine whether local or international factors were dominant.

      Inflation is currently a global problem, so your opine is a definition of “bozospeak”, inaccurate thinking that even the class clown could imitate. So I guess you picked it up on a right wing blog.

      • Foreign waka 1.2.1

        Your assertion is not quite right. The inflation spiral has been set off by printing money in all the western countries to prop up mainly corporate activity but devaluing currency and coupled with that the largest wealth transfer in recent history by handing out billions of dollars to corporates not just in NZ, but most western countries. If you do the same it should not come as a surprise that you get the same result.

        • Incognito

          Isn’t the NZ $ one of the most-traded currencies globally?

        • SPC

          Two factors – the money through banks to own property raising such values and the greater amount of money itself as a secondary impact.

          But not so much of this feeds into the official inflation rate, it's not assessed on such things.

  2. " If Boris survives then we need to deeply reflect on what has happened to democracy in western nations "

    I wondered the same thing from 2009 to 2017 except had the shyster had a party in this situation and broke the law it is difficult to see the NZ Police charging him , probably just a good talking too.

  3. mac1 3

    "Coup D'Etwat" Brilliant.

    What Boris should attend to is the challenge from his former Justice Minister, who resigned as an evident man of principle.

    David Wolfson said, " It is not just a question of what happened in Downing Street, or your own conduct. It is also, and perhaps more so, the official response to what took place."

    So truth in politics does matter to Wolfson, and we should honour that.

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    More on Sunak:

    Johnson has become openly contemptuous of Sunak, referring to him disparagingly by at least two expletive-laden nicknames. Both convey the sense of betrayal that Johnson feels after Sunak failed to offer his full support to Johnson at the peak of the partygate crisis in February.

    At Chequers ten days ago – prior to the damning tax revelations that have scuttled Sunak’s national standing – Johnson was already delighting in the blowback Sunak was facing after his Spring Statement fell flat three weeks ago… Perhaps most fatally, Lynton Crosby – the most trusted political strategist in the Tory party, who is informally advising Johnson in No 10 – is also gunning for Sunak. He has let it be known that he intends to finish the Chancellor off.

  5. Dennis Frank 5

    John McTernan, British political strategist and former advisor to Tony Blair: "Be true to your brand, Boris. Be the Anti-Corbyn."

    This is the true politics of wartime: battling with your political enemies (always on your own side), fighting your political opponents (the invariably smug, self-satisfied opposition parties), and wrestling with the media. As Tony Blair’s Political Secretary during the cash-for-peerages scandal in 2006 — the last time the Met investigated Number 10 — I know this well.

    Move swiftly after the local elections to have a mini-Budget. Use it as an opportunity to abandon the cuts in your Spring Statement. No voter will care that it’s a U-turn, so long as it gives them what they need. And what they need is cash, and quickly. Stop pandering to the Treasury orthodoxy. Indeed, there will be no better time, given the Icarean fate of your once-illustrious neighbour. This is politics. What’s good for the voters is good for the government.

    Perhaps most importantly, do this fast: speed kills, in politics too. Don’t be distracted from the simple strategy. Apologise, take your medicine, give the public what they want.

    Can Boris pull off a smart pivot like this? If his colleagues support him, yes. But you're right to point to the parliamentary convention. If he did mislead parliament, he ought to resign. It gets down to how many in parliament would vote him out on that basis I suppose – presumably via loss of majority due to tory defectors…

  6. aj 6

    If the voters don't care about truth, then truth doesn't matter. We can't stop politicians lying but it's up to voters to remember the lies and punish them.

    We are going to have a test case across the ditch in May. By most measures Scomo should be gone, but I wouldn't bet on it.

  7. tsmithfield 7

    "Does truth in politics no longer matter?"

    I think that is the wrong question. I think the right question is: "did truth ever matter in politics?"

    • Barfly 7.1

      "did truth ever matter in politics?"


      • Incognito 7.1.1

        Actually, I tend to agree with you here. Only actions matter and the accompanying narrative & story (aka spin) aim to influence public reception & perception (aka voter sentiment). Politics is not an intrinsically or fundamentally truth-seeking process or endeavour, unlike science or even religion (mull on that one!).

        • tsmithfield

          I think the problem with politics starts with the tendency for politicians to over- promise before they get elected and under-deliver on those promises after they have been elected.

          Under promising and over delivering would be nice. But I don't think that wins many votes unfortunately.

  8. Dennis Frank 8

    Incidentally, here's a useful resource for ascertaining alt views on UK politics:

  9. roblogic 10

    We have seen the power of disinformation sowed by malefactors on social media. Now we are about to see what happens when the population of a country is finally availed of the truth of a rotten government and exercises their democratic power

  10. Stuart Munro 11

    Truth is a slippery thing, a weapon that can turn in one's hand, and a thing one can create from whole cloth up to a point.

    From time to time however, a regime carries its post-truth wishful thinking too far, reality breaks through, and the lies become untenable folly. At the international community level the Putin regime is having that problem now, and no amount of social media trolling can get the rapprochement he once took for granted back.

    The UK media have sadly been Murdoched to the point of irrelevance. Boris should long since have been hounded from office, but, being a Tory, and a largely ineffectual one, the media supports him. We saw the like with Key, who had no redeeming policy competencies. Baying press poodles, like the unlamented Soper, was schmoozed and boozed to irrelevance – it's astonishing the useless baggage was allowed to hold onto his job.

    • RedLogix 11.1

      I would suggest that key to understanding truth is that no single individual, nor even political viewpoint is useful in isolation.

      We get confused, in that in some domains, especially logic, math and STEM generally there are objective truths. But as soon as we move into the social and political domains there is too much complexity to be certain – too many moving parts. What is a useful idea one day, fails when the context changes tomorrow..

      For this reason I tend to lean on pragmatism as my yardstick. And it turns out there is a relatively small range of useful ideas that work in terms of increasing measurable human development and reducing the sum of all human suffering. But crucially we have to continually negotiate our path through the trade-offs and interests.

      I think that there are three core ideas that are essential to a healthy society; the role of the individual and their capacity to be kind and innovate, the role of the community to order and conserve and the role of the state to regulate and balance. Each is a differing weight on Haight's six core moral 'tastebuds' that we all share, but to differing degrees.

      In religious terms we have spent ten millenia developing the notion of the sanctified individual and their relationship to these core moral foundations. In a fully globalised world the benchmark has been lifted, we must now be thinking beyond this to develop the sanctified society – a world in which truth emerges from a process of constructive discussion and negotiation. The great challenge we all face in this is turning down our attachment to our own views and opinions.

      Another way of looking at this – we are all crazy and stupid to some degree, but by outsourcing out mental health to others, we can be good to be around, or even amazing if we are very lucky.

      • AB 11.1.1

        First impressions:

        Haidt's foundations are obvious – really just generalising labels under which to lump the various observable differences between liberals and conservatives. So they don't really tell us anything helpful. His opposition of "Authority" with "Subversion" is an extremely odd choice of words – he might have opposed "Authority" with "Reason" or "Freedom" or "Negotiation" or "Agreement" or any number of words – none of which incidentally would have got us any further forward either. But "Subversion" just sounds nasty.

        His background to the "Sanctity/Degradation" would be laughed at by some contemporary anthropologists (such as Graeber & Wengrow) who reject such linear progression based on a supposed 'agricultural revolution'. Agricultural societies were not necessarily more authoritarian, and hunter-gather societies were not necessarily less so. Each could be either, depending on the self-conscious political choices of their members.

        His suggestion that it may all be predetermined before birth threatens to eliminate the possibility of free will and moral/ethical development of individuals. His suggestion that there are good people on each side of these divides ends up too easily in moral relativism or false equivalence, i.e. that neither side of each divide carries any intrinsic moral superiority over the other.

        The whole thing looks to me like junk psychology, junk philosophy and junk science. So I guess he sells quite a few books.

      • Stuart Munro 11.1.2

        You've hit on a plausible line, and it seems to be a set of beliefs about truth that will encourage tolerance and compromise.

        In a situation that contains significant proportions of malicious liars however, a philosophy that allows one to call them out is essential. I used to be more tolerant and compromising – but then I ended up working for NZ fishing companies on Russian slave ships. There were rapes, a mutiny, a stabbing – someone even got shot with a flare pistol. (it bounced off, breaking a couple of ribs – it was not cinematic). Now I draw lines in the sand, and call out the scoundrels that cross them.

  11. pat 12

    Do we expect salespeople to be honest?….politicians are little more than salespeople.

    • McFlock 12.1

      Salespeople are legally obliged to be honest within certain criteria.

      And I think that's the difference in politics today: every politician in history has massaged, stretched, and polished the truth (or at least rolled it in glitter) to their best ability. They've even outright lied on occasion when given no other choice. But they've almost always had the truth as a starting point, and to be blatantly contemptuous of the truth resulted in career destruction. Honest, within certain criteria.

      But now there's a common breed of politician who doesn't even bother using truth as a starting point. They just say whatever is expedient at the time, actuality is irrelevant. And it's so beyond blatant that there is no facility to deal with it.

      • pat 12.1.1

        Salespeople who are completely honest dont remain salespeople….as several salespeople have imparted to me….regardless of what you may believe the law requires.

        The more relevant point however is not the dearth of honesty in politicians but rather their contemporary role.

        • McFlock

          There's a big gap between being completely honest and not bothering about any shred of truth.

          If I go into noel leeming for a toaster, they'll sell me a toaster. They might try to screw me on "insurance" or say my preferred colour isn't made when really they have too many green ones, but it'll still be a toaster.

          Bojo or dolt45 would swear to my face that the fridge in front of me toasts bread.

  12. DB Brown 13

    Folks mostly seem to be missing the point. Governments are not shit in isolation. They all have fleas in their ears. While politicians might enter politics for altruistic reasons they're quickly met by a wall of lobbyists (actual lobbyists, and compromised persons from their own party) telling you 'how it is'.

    Governments are not by the people for the people that's absolutely an illusion. Most progress is only made via protest – where they give the public an inch only at the point to avoid us lynching them.

    Case in point is smoking. How many hundreds of thousands, millions, have died prematurely or spent their latter years struggling for breath due to Governments cashing in on tobacco. Or see alcohol. Or pharmaceuticals. Or land banking. Or housing. Or shitty diet.

    Social media has broken down societal trust but governments lent all the fuel that fire ever needed – for a profit.

    To regain trust they'd have to actually stand up to corporates. All of them.

  13. NZSage 14

    I really hope Marcus J Ball gets to complete his documentary before the rich, powerful and the politicians get to him…again.

    • DB Brown 14.1

      Good stuff. Now there's a man who wants to change the world.

      Probably best to keep plans under wraps but maybe he needs backers?

      Trump made blatant lying appealing to MP's all over the globe – who needs policy or moral compass when you can just make stuff up, or control the narrative with imaginary bogey-men and utterly compromised media.

      We've see it tentatively tried on here. Bishop loves a nonsense sound bite, same with Seymour. Dog whistle – no, silly, humans can't hear dog whistles.

      It's all in your head, these feckless fatuous fakes.

      Many will scurry off quickly should they ever see daylight.

  14. SPC 15

    An honest look at good economic management.

  15. Patricia Bremner 16

    Thanks SPC I think Luxon would recognise that!!


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