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Dog-whistling

Written By: - Date published: 9:44 pm, August 14th, 2012 - 175 comments
Categories: the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags:

My father was a dog-trialler, and a very good one – 2nd in the 1947 New Zealand Championships with Speed. As a kid, I loved going to the dog trials,  where I heard a lot of dog-whistles, and Dad won a lot of short-head competitions.

Dog-whistling entered the political lexicon after the 2001 Australian election campaign with Howard’s  attack on the boat people, which I observed at close hand from the ALP campaign HQ. The theory holds that  aluminium dog whistles operate at such a high pitch only  dogs can hear them, and refers to messages that appear straightforward but contain a subliminal message to a particular target voter group. It goes along with wedge politics, another worn-out theory from the last decades.

As forms of communication, the political dog-whistle and the real dog-whistle are miles apart. Dad didn’t use an aluminium whistle, just a little finger crooked around his tongue. Everybody  could hear it for miles around, even if the variations  of tone only meant something to the Speeds. Communication between Dad and dog was powerful and direct, the partnership a delight to watch as they headed the skittery sheep down the hill, across the bridge and into the pen.

The political dog-whistle is a different matter. Supposedly about delivering clever mixed messages,  now any pretension to cleverness has well and truly gone. Resorting to such tactics has become just another reason why people distrust politicians.

That’s why those of us in Labour who would like to see more direct and straightforward communication from our political representatives do not want to hear any more of this sort of dog-whistling. As a political strategy it is bankrupt. Shearer should wake up and drop it. So far we’ve had the earlier indiscriminate attack on poor teachers, and now the example of the roof-painting beneficiary in his latest speech. In today’s DomPost, not yet on-line,  Hollow Man and dog-whistler extraordinaire Richard Long, who apparently has the inside ear, says we can shortly expect another attack on teacher unions to show that Shearer is on the side of parents.

This is not about left, right and centre either. I’ll come back to that in another post. It’s about good political communication. Mixed messages don’t cut it with anyone. They turn off supporters and give opponents an opportunity to ask for more.

Other insider defenders of Shearer’s beneficiary anecdote are Josie Pagani and more recently Rob Salmond.  Pagani’s truckdriver has been worked to death. Salmond  asks rhetorically “Can anyone seriously doubt Shearer was right as to the facts.” But the main problem in the anecdote wasn’t the facts – there weren’t any; it was the attitude it revealed. Shearer apparently didn’t think to ask whether perhaps the beneficiary may have been suffering from depression, painting the roof to save money as Kiwis do, and out in the sun because it is therapeutic.

If Shearer wants to say that Labour’s policy on welfare should be based on a social contract or some other form of mutuality why not say so directly? Then we can have a mature debate.

People are crying out for something positive, direct and straightforward from Labour. That’s winning communication. It’s not as though there isn’t heaps of opportunity, across the board.

175 comments on “Dog-whistling”

  1. BernyD 1

    Absolutely agree, if you don’t speak it everyone has to “Assume” the answers.
    It’ll likely never happen, but a phrase that puts it on the correct perspective, is what everyone wants.
    A “Mission” statement with power over the details being provided.
    And again when you are debating/responding with the opposition, that mission statement should floor them.
    It’s crazy but “In the name of every New Zealander I Believe [Insert PR caption]” wins

  2. IrishBill 2

    I’ve always thought the dogwhistle was one of the more cowardly tropes. I remember David Farrar spending most of 2005 doing his disingenuous “that’s not racist – he’s just saying we should all be equal” defences of Brash’s dog-whistling. I’m disappointed to see Rob following in his footsteps.

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    Time to smash a few things apart in order to rebuild them properly from the ground up. With the right people too, I might add.

  4. Policy Parrot 4

    The dog-whistle is a part of politics simply because it is effective. That doesn’t make it honourable or any less unsavoury. Just like sound-bite politics.

    Regardless, of what I think of some of Pagani’s ideas, she is correct in pointing out that perception “Labour is a party for beneficiaries” does exist out there in the blue collar non political population. I know, I work in such an environment every day.

    It is important that such a misinformed perception is well and truly destroyed. And too, other perceptions about Labour that have been concucted and portrayed successfully by opponents. It also takes a weapon from the Government political armoury and renders it useless.

    Do I like it? No. Do I support it? No. Dead rats aren’t something intended for consumption, but in cases where they are required eating, then so be it.

    • weka 4.1

      “It is important that such a misinformed perception is well and truly destroyed.”
       
      What is wrong with Labour being a party for beneficiaries? The misinformed perception is that there is something inherently wrong with being on a benefit, and that being on a benefit is a choice within the control of the beneficiary therefore they are somehow morally bankrupt and/or lazy/bludging. Those are the misperceptions that need to be destroyed.
       
       
       

      • Colonial Viper 4.1.1

        What is wrong with Labour being a party for beneficiaries?

        Everything. Both in terms of framing and reality.

        Labour needs to be the party of full employment, the 40 hour work week, part time jobs with material advantages, and a compassionate party who looks after those who can’t work or who have already done their share.

        Not “a party for beneficiaries”, with all due respect.

        • Policy Parrot 4.1.1.1

          Absolutely.

        • Jackal 4.1.1.2

          An argument between reality and perception… The reality needs to be that Labour is a party for all people. The problem is that the publics perception of beneficiaries is not good, and therefore Labour can choose to follow what the majority of people believe, or swim against the tide and in the process lose votes.

          It’s not just the well to do that hate beneficiaries, it’s many so-called middle class people and the working poor. It might be OK for leftwing intellectuals to argue that Labour doesn’t need to play the political divide and rule game, but unless there’s a huge change in public perception about beneficiaries, it’s game set and match against the welfare dependent.

          I’m not justifying what Shearer said, and think that pandering to the masses is beneath the next PM, but there are understandable reasons within a political context. One of those reasons is the human condition of needing a scapegoat, and unfortunately beneficiaries will continue to be an easy target for the foreseeable future.

          • gobsmacked 4.1.1.2.1

            I’m not justifying what Shearer said

            Yes you are.

            See my other comments – he doesn’t have to do it to win, and it self-evidently won’t work.

            • Jackal 4.1.1.2.1.1

              National have used similar tactics to win, as have Labour in the past. As far as I can tell, it’s not a Labour policy and clearly no politician is going to argue against playing golf. Your disinformation and sarcasm seems more concerned with damaging Labour than debating the facts gobsmacked.

              • gobsmacked

                If you think that some guy commenting on a blog is “damaging Labour”, whereas the events of the past few days …

                And honestly, what on earth does THIS mean?

                “the human condition of needing a scapegoat, and unfortunately beneficiaries will continue to be an easy target for the foreseeable future.”

                And Labour’s reaction should be … ?

              • locus

                Jackal, are you suggesting that playing a political game where ‘the ends justify the means’ is as benign as playing golf?

                Or are you suggesting that politics, like golf, has a set of rules and that in the case of politics these include the justification to exploit people’s natural wish to blame others – as fair tactics to win?

                I’m a bit confused, perhaps I’ve completely misunderstood you. Given my respect for your views in the past I hope I’m simply wrong.

                • Jackal

                  As previously stated, I’m not justifying anything. I’m simply pointing out one of the reasons behind many of the divisive political tactics employed by political parties here in New Zealand and abroad.

                  Like it or not, politicians will continue to exploit peoples need to blame others, which is a very powerful tool indeed. In fact most wars are founded on the exploitation of the human need to blame others.

                  The playing golf comment was in reference to gobsmacked @ 4.6.1.1. He/she seems to think this is a more populist issue than a bit of bene bashing?

            • rosy 4.1.1.2.1.2

              +1 Yes you are. That little word but gives you away.

              Come on guys (and it does appear to be guys) you lot are always going on about the inequalities of capitalism and the ‘system’ throwing people on the scrapheap, yet you’re willing to do exactly that to legitimate beneficiaries in order to win. Win what? what will you do when you’ve ‘won’? When is the lie being told – now? or later?

              • Jackal

                but… the human condition means the majority of New Zealanders need a scapegoat and that happens to be beneficiaries. I’m not making excuses rosy by pointing out the reasons and the lie so to speak is within the publics perception of beneficiaries. Please enlighten us as to exactly how this will miraculously change so that a party who is openly pro welfare can win an election?

                • Colonial Viper

                  but… the human condition means the majority of New Zealanders need a scapegoat and that happens to be beneficiaries.

                  It turns out you’re a sad sack. I’m truly sorry to realise that.

                  • weka

                    I’ve been wondering if someone hijacked their account.

                  • Jackal

                    A bit of Ad Hominem drivel there CV. The sad truth of the matter is that people need someone to blame… As people’s lives get harder, the need to blame somebody becomes greater. Sorry that doesn’t fit with your argument… But:

                    Once something goes wrong, it is only natural to assign responsibility to someone for the ensuing unfortunate state of affairs. We do not necessarily decide to blame others, we just do it. Psychological research suggests that moral judgment, at least initially, involves intuition based on experience rather than studied reason. Responsibility and blame are preliminarily assigned quickly as a result of one’s perception of events matching mental models of blameworthiness. Later, more refined analysis is possible. “Dual process theories” in psychology suggest that many decisions are based first on rapid, intuitive evaluations of situations, with subsequent reasoning available only later.

                    The rapid judgment of blameworthiness happens so quickly and so effortlessly that I call it here “the impulse to blame.” This Article examines some of the cognitive structures that trigger this impulse. It argues that the ease with which we blame arises in part from the fact that the impulse’s triggers consist of cognitive elements that we use routinely and completely independent of moral judgment in everyday life. This impulse is a combination of cognitive and emotional responses to bad events. It is largely a by-product of other, morally-neutral aspects of our psychology—the attribution of cause, recognition of good and bad outcomes and the drive to theorize about what others have in mind when they speak or act. Thus, being a moral actor is “inexpensive” in the sense that to attribute blame requires very little other than the implementation of structures that serve other purposes.

                    I would contend that most people don’t even get to the “more refined analysis” part with their beliefs on beneficiaries.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      The sad truth of the matter is that people need someone to blame…

                      Sucks to be in your universe mate.

                    • Jackal

                      It’s not “my universe” CV, it’s the human condition. Looks like you’re having a bit of a debating fail tonight… What exactly was you argument again?

                    • rosy

                      The sad truth of the matter is that people need someone to blame…

                      So it’s just pragmatic to go along with, and even add to the blame game. Even when the target is wrong. Good-oh.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Looks like you’re having a bit of a debating fail tonight… What exactly was you argument again?

                      🙄

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      And so Labour should be pointing out, loudly and clearly, that the beneficiaries aren’t to blame for their fate but the socio-economic model that they use to keep wages down…

                      Oh, wait, can’t do that as it would mean going back on 30 years of policy that they rammed down our throat.

                    • Jackal

                      rosy

                      So it’s just pragmatic to go along with, and even add to the blame game. Even when the target is wrong. Good-oh.

                      I didn’t say that… I said it’s the human condition to need someone to blame and that there are political reasons based on public perception for why politicians continue to blame beneficiaries for the predicament they find themselves in. It used to be socialists, Asians and woman etc. In some respects it still is.

                    • rosy

                      Actually, your argument is tacit approval of the strategy – a sort of ‘so be it’ acceptance. If we relied on the ‘human condition’ for all our political narrative nothing much would get better outside of revolution, ever.

                      And in reply to ‘what would I do about it @ your 12:09 I think I spelt out here.

                      There is no excuse for presenting the most vulnerable to the dogs.

                • rosy

                  What it the point of winning an election if you’re going to do exactly the same thing as the team in power now? Really, how can you justify that?

                  CV had it at 4.1.1.3.1 below.

                  You simply cannot ditch people who use the insurance policy for workers (social welfare) that their own taxes paid for… by all means go after the frauds – all of them – but don’t whip up hatred of people who fall on hard times, or are they just collateral damage in the game now?

            • KJT 4.1.1.2.1.3

              If we had principled , Leaders, in the Labour party they would be working on changing the perception to reality.

              Working on countering the RW myths instead of re-inforcing them.

              Recipients of social insurance are mostly us. A period of illness, bad luck, injury or unemployment.

              Most are on a benefit for less than two years, so are simply being paid the social insurance claims they have paid premiums/tax for.

              Someone who goes along with mean and inaccurate memes to gain votes is not worthy of the power they want to be given.

              That National are worse, is no justification.

          • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.2.2

            The reality needs to be that Labour is a party for all people.

            WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONG

            This is the WRONG vision for Labour. It is NOT what NZ needs from Labour IN THE LEAST.

            Labour needs to be a party for the bottom 3/4 of NZers who scrape and struggle just to get through each day, just to try and build a slightly better tomorrow for themselves.

            The remaining top 1/4 are competent at doing just fucking fine for themselves with National’s help OK.

            Labour’s “broad church” concept is a joke, its a party which proclaims that it represents all NZers and minority groups but lives just above 30% in all the polling which matters. This is not just a “disconnect” this is complete acceleration away from the electorate. First the core Labour working class and underclass and now, Labour is bleeding social liberals and intellectuals.

            This is a FUBAR situation in progress.

            And this is the hilarious bit…it doesn’t even get why, let alone get to the next step of sorting it out.

            • Jackal 4.1.1.2.2.1

              It’s wrong for a political party to want all New Zealanders to prosper? C’mon CV.

              The perception is that wealth has to be taken from one group in society to benefit the other, when the reality is that everybody can be wealthy.

              The belief that reducing inequality has to have losers is what keeps the cycle of poverty turning. This causes many social issues and economic problems that are not currently measured properly by the government. If they were, we would probably see a huge change in policy direction.

              Basically we don’t need to reduce the wealth of the rich to ensure people aren’t living in poverty, and reducing poverty will in fact increase the wealth of the already rich. I’ve never seen Labour promote such a concept, nor claim they represent all minority groups in New Zealand.

              • Colonial Viper

                Yeah you lost me at “it’s wrong”.

                The belief that reducing inequality has to have losers is what keeps the cycle of poverty turning.

                WRONG WRONG WRONG

                The system of capitalism maximum resource and labour exploitation for the short term benefit of financial capital is what keeps the cycle of poverty turning.

                And you just raised your flag as an economic and political centrist at heart, one who doesn’t understand political economics very well at all.

                It’s wrong for a political party to want all New Zealanders to prosper? C’mon CV.

                Prosper? The top 5% are already there.

                You pushing for Labour to represent them is abhorrent. Fuck that. In case you haven’t noticed THEY ALREADY HAVE STRONG POLITICAL REPRESENTATION.

                • Jackal

                  A political centrist… Hardly. You should probably be more concerned with the debate than who I am… Personalizing things just makes me yawn! You should also realise that all political economics grows from moral philosophy, which is usually dictated by public perception.

                  • rosy

                    You should also realise that all political economics grows from moral philosophy, which is usually dictated by public perception.

                    I’m not a moral philosopher, but I think you might have trouble defending that statement when you break it down. Hopefully someone more qualified will pick up on it.

                  • Olwyn

                    So it would be OK to exclude the Irish, Maori, gay people etc from economic consideration if public opinion dictated so? It that right? Didn’t moral indignation at the treatment of the above groups end up changing public perception? And wasn’t that a good thing? There should be no place in the Labour Party for the persecution of the most vulnerable. The people who defended the above groups in the face of public opinion won their battles by being brave and acting with conviction, not by pandering to the status quo.

                  • locus

                    You should also realise that all political economics grows from moral philosophy, which is usually dictated by public perception.

                    Public perception (if there is such a commonality) may include views that Labour is a party for beneficiaries. But if those public views truly do exist, and are as widespread as you think, should they “dictate” what we believe to be right or wrong in terms of our political values and associated economic policies?

                    If the Labour party respected the public whose perceptions are that beneficiaries are ordinary people who have fallen on hard times. And if the Labour leader had the courage to stand against the tide of this particularly noxious ‘public perception’ to the contrary, I think that Labour might just begin to get the support from the kind of people it needs to win the next election.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Basically we don’t need to reduce the wealth of the rich to ensure people aren’t living in poverty,

                Yes we do – the economy really is a zero sum game. That’s what this graph proves. Wealth was increased but all the gains went to the rich while the workers stayed where they were on average. A lot of them became worse off.

                • Jackal

                  Money is not a finite thing, although having more of it around sometimes reduces its value. The graph also shows that when inequality grew, so did problems with stock markets and other financial institutions whereby there were crashes. This would effect the ability of the rich to generate wealth.

                  Let’s put it another way… Wealth comes from productivity. Poverty reduces productivity and therefore reduces the amount of gain the wealthy can expect from workers. Reducing poverty increases productivity, thus increasing the overall wealth that is able to be generated.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    The graph also shows that when inequality grew, so did problems with stock markets and other financial institutions whereby there were crashes.

                    All part and parcel of the Crisis of Capitalism.

                    Let’s put it another way… Wealth comes from productivity.

                    What the capitalists use increased productivity for is to increase the amount of wealth that goes to them and they can do that because increased productivity allows them to hire less people while still supplying market demand. They really aren’t interested in decreasing poverty as they see that as decreasing their own income which it actually will as there is only so much made per time period.

                    Poverty reduces productivity and therefore reduces the amount of gain the wealthy can expect from workers. Reducing poverty increases productivity, thus increasing the overall wealth that is able to be generated.

                    And I think that’s almost as delusional as the RWNJ meme that lowering taxes on the rich will increase jobs. Increasing poverty costs the community but the wealthy just blame the poor for being poor and won’t accept that their actions are what created the poverty. Due to this they will complain about paying taxes to support those who don’t work.

                    • Jackal

                      I’ve outlined the overal dynamic, which isn’t delusional at all. What the rich believe and the reality of the situation are clearly two separate things, and that’s one of the main problems. Without the rich realizing the benefits of a more equal society, poverty will continue to mean additional costs for the government… This invariably means more taxes.

                      Yes there are manufacturing limits and reducing the amount of people employed while increasing production maximises profits, but the current problem isn’t just about free market capitalism… It’s about the cost of having impoverished people full stop. An impoverished person is more likely to need welfare for longer, they are less likely to start a business, more likely to end up in jail or in a hospital etc.

                      The government can choose to keep people impoverished and ensure secondary costs mean a higher tax threshold for everybody or the government can give people a proper helping hand at the get go. There are huge financial savings to be made even before you consider the reduction in suffering a more progressive and enlightened policy direction would impart.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      I’ve outlined the overal dynamic, which isn’t delusional at all.

                      No you haven’t, you’ve outlined a small part of the whole and not the major part that needs fixing which is the massive maldistribution of wealth to the few which is what causes the poverty. Increasing productivity allows the owners to lay off workers and then they point to those people laid off and say look, those people aren’t working and so don’t deserve anything but they’re taking the wealth that you made while increasing the wealth that goes to them and decreasing the wealth that goes to the workers.

                      Yes there are manufacturing limits…

                      there’s more than just manufacturing limits. There’s also environmental limits, limits of resource availability etc etc.

                      It’s about the cost of having impoverished people full stop.

                      And that impoverishment is a direct result of free-market capitalism.

                      The government can choose to keep people impoverished and ensure secondary costs mean a higher tax threshold for everybody or the government can give people a proper helping hand at the get go.

                      And how are they going to do that, within the free-market paradigm, without raising taxes?

                    • Jackal

                      Well for one thing by using the equity the government already has available. It’s not necessarily about raising taxes; it’s about how those taxes are redistributed. Redistributing taxes and using equity to ensure people don’t suffer the debilitation of poverty is a short term cost with long-term benefits. The long-term benefits undoubtedly outweigh the short-term costs.

                      I’m surprised you’re arguing against things like increasing welfare to ensure beneficiaries can survive, building more low income state housing and increasing support networks. Surely you can’t be serious that New Zealand doesn’t have the resources available to do these things?

                      I can however understand why you’re of the view that the entire capitalist system needs to be destroyed, but that’s much easier said than done.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      I’m surprised you’re arguing against things like increasing welfare…

                      I’m not. I’m arguing against this piece of tripe:

                      Basically we don’t need to reduce the wealth of the rich to ensure people aren’t living in poverty,

                      Reduce the wealth going to the rich few by increasing wages, decreasing individual work and, yes, increasing welfare through raising taxes and a Universal Income.

                      Surely you can’t be serious that New Zealand doesn’t have the resources available to do these things?

                      I’ve been saying for a long time that NZ has all the resources it needs. The problem is that the distribution of those resources is screwed in favour of the rich.

                    • Jackal

                      Reduce the wealth going to the rich few by increasing wages.

                      Generally speaking, increasing wages doesn’t reduce the wealth going to the rich. You’re simply buying into rightwing propaganda Draco if you believe that. Increasing wages can often increase economic wellbeing by ensuring people have more money to purchase the services and products they require. Contrary to popular belief, increasing wages can also create jobs that can in turn be taxed. This often means there are more opportunities for the already wealthy to invest and thus hopefully invigorate our internal economy, which in my opinion is the main problem. It means the poor can find employment and pay for the things they need. This reduces welfare dependency which in turn allows the government to further invest in socially beneficial undertakings. It can also mean a reduction in taxes on the poor.

                      Here is what the experts say:

                      Backed by what they described as 15 years’ worth of research, a panel at progressive think tank the Center for American Progress (CAP) argued that higher minimum wages flush more money into the economy without cutting into job growth — the latter a long-held contention of business interests and many conservatives.

                      If you truly think such reasoning is tripe, then you’re arguing against a raise in the minimum wage, and siding with the ignorant right.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Generally speaking, increasing wages doesn’t reduce the wealth going to the rich.

                      That’s of course absurd, and really, it shows you have NFI of the drivers of global trends like the massive outsourcing of manufacturing to China, from around the world.

                      Labour costs are one of the largest components of cost of sales.

                      You cut back wages, salaries and EFTs in order to reduce labour costs and reduce cost of sales.

                      This increases the margins on sales revenues which eventually translates into higher returns per share for investors.

                    • Jackal

                      Most of the jobs that are left cannot be outsourced to China CV… Not without a complete collapse of the internal economy. National favours growing our exports because it takes advantage of cheap labor in other countries. This mainly increases the wealth of foreigners, and it was New Zealands rich that I was talking about.

                      Obviously the government cannot tax the rich in other countries, and there are so many loopholes in trying to tax wealth generated in other countries that I think it is somewhat naive to believe it’s a viable solution.

                      You haven’t addressed the core of my argument… That having more money in the hands of people who will spend it is a boost for the local economy. Having a vibrant internal economy creates wealth and investment opportunities that in turn creates wealth for those who are able to invest. Therefore raising the minimum wage is not necessarily detrimental to the ability of the rich to generate wealth.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Most of the jobs that are left cannot be outsourced to China CV… Not without a complete collapse of the internal economy.

                      What are you talking about? You contended that lowering wages does not help the wealthiest get richer.

                      I just demonstrated that it does.

                      And seriously, have you not paid one whit of attention to what is happening in the US? In Spain? In Greece? In Ireland? In Italy? In Portugal? What almost happened in Iceland?

                      Since when does collapsing a countries internal economy pose any obstacle to the global elite pursuing their strategies of increasing their own wealth? What does a banker in NY care if Greek teachers have under gone a 30% pay cut, and then another 20% pay cut on top of that? Just as long his banks bonds are paid back and he gets his bonus.

                      You haven’t addressed the core of my argument… That having more money in the hands of people who will spend it is a boost for the local economy.

                      I agree with what you say here. The fact that you don’t understand why the elite wealthy will never let it happen (if they can help it) is what concerns me.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Generally speaking, increasing wages doesn’t reduce the wealth going to the rich.

                      Yes it does. That’s what the graph I linked to up page a bit shows. ATM something like 65% of GDP goes to the rich while the rest goes to the workers. Increasing wages reduces that 65% which means that less goes to the rich. IIRC, Back in the 1960s ~56% went to the rich and and the rest went to the workers. You know, back when one income was enough to maintain a household.

                      If you truly think such reasoning is tripe, then you’re arguing against a raise in the minimum wage, and siding with the ignorant right.

                      No, I’m not. I’m all for increasing the minimum wage but I also realise that that does mean that the rich will be becoming less rich which I’m also in favour of due to the simple fact that the rich are fucken problem.

                      National favours growing our exports because it takes advantage of cheap labor in other countries.

                      WTF? What planet are you on?

                      National and Labour favour exports because it keeps people employed here and maintains profits for the rich. Without exports profits would fall as the local market is already saturated – a situation otherwise known as a Crisis in Capitalism.

                      But, the manufacturers prefer exporting jobs offshore for the cheaper labour as it boosts profits and both National and Labour have helped with that and for the same reason. Exporting actual products to low wage countries from a high wage country must eventually result in loss which is why they look mostly to the US, EU and Australia as export destinations. China’s getting there as well but all we’re exporting there is cheap farm produce.

                      Obviously the government cannot tax the rich in other countries, and there are so many loopholes in trying to tax wealth generated in other countries that I think it is somewhat naive to think it’s a viable solution.

                      WTF did that come from? I didn’t suggest taxing the rich in other countries.

                      Therefore raising the minimum wage is not necessarily detrimental to the ability of the rich to generate wealth.

                      Yes it is because the economy is a zero sum game. It cannot possibly be anything else.

                    • Jackal

                      CV

                      What are you talking about? You contended that lowering wages does not help the wealthiest get richer.

                      No! I argued that increasing the minimum wage doesn’t necessarily reduce the ability of the wealthy to generate wealth. You don’t need to tax the rich more in order to be able to increase wages.

                      I just demonstrated that it does.

                      You’ve demonstrated that you understand globalization, one of the main reasons for the predicament New Zealand along with a lot of other countries is in.

                      And seriously, have you not paid one whit of attention to what is happening in the US? In Spain? In Greece? In Ireland? In Italy? In Portugal? What almost happened in Iceland?

                      Of course I’ve paid attention.

                      Since when does collapsing a countries internal economy pose any obstacle to the global elite pursuing their strategies of increasing their own wealth?

                      It doesn’t. However you’re lumping all rich people into the same cauldron. It’s the small New Zealand business owner and moderately wealthy Kiwi investor who needs to realise that increasing wages generally speaking doesn’t mean a reduction in their profits, because more people will be able to buy their products.

                      What does a banker in NY care if Greek teachers have under gone a 30% pay cut, and then another 20% pay cut on top of that? Just as long his banks bonds are paid back and he gets his bonus.

                      It’s New Zealands rich that I’m concerned with, not a fucking banker in NY. The rich in New Zealand have voting rights and therefore the power to affect change. Without them moving away from and seeing the neoliberal agenda for what it is, ensuring positive change is implemented in New Zealand is going to a lot harder.

                      You haven’t addressed the core of my argument… That having more money in the hands of people who will spend it is a boost for the local economy.

                      I agree with what you say here. The fact that you don’t understand why the elite wealthy will never let it happen (if they can help it) is what concerns me.

                      I’m not ignorant in this respect and the wealthy elite are not all powerful. If the majority of rich in New Zealand can be made to understand that a fair wage doesn’t have to eat into their profits… That would remove a huge hurdle to reducing inequality.

                      Draco T Bastard

                      WTF? What planet are you on?

                      Planet earth.

                      National and Labour favour exports because it keeps people employed here and maintains profits for the rich. Without exports profits would fall as the local market is already saturated – a situation otherwise known as a Crisis in Capitalism.

                      The local market is not saturated. A prime example of this is Christchurch builders importing cheap products because our internal manufacturing ability has been decimated.

                      But, the manufacturers prefer exporting jobs offshore for the cheaper labour as it boosts profits and both National and Labour have helped with that and for the same reason.

                      Isn’t that pretty much exactly what I said:

                      National favours growing our exports because it takes advantage of cheap labor in other countries.

                      Why then is that statement wrong?

                      Exporting actual products to low wage countries from a high wage country must eventually result in loss which is why they look mostly to the US, EU and Australia as export destinations. China’s getting there as well but all we’re exporting there is cheap farm produce.

                      And logs.

                      WTF did that come from? I didn’t suggest taxing the rich in other countries.

                      If you hadn’t noticed, I was replying to CV there.

                      Therefore raising the minimum wage is not necessarily detrimental to the ability of the rich to generate wealth.

                      Yes it is because the economy is a zero sum game. It cannot possibly be anything else.

                      The economy is absolutely not a zero sum game… Where the fuck do you come up with such things? The economy fluctuates greatly dependent on a variety of reasons. Saying the economy is a zero sum game is like saying everybody cannot own a house. It’s the economic structure that inhibits everybody owning a home, not that there has to be poor in order to justify wealth. Comprehend?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      If the majority of rich in New Zealand can be made to understand that a fair wage doesn’t have to eat into their profits…

                      OK suggest a way which has a good chance of working and lets do it.

                      As for the economy not being a zero sum game – in terms of share of total wealth and total income it is a zero sum game.

                      And we have seen over the last 30 years that income and assets have moved more and more towards the top few % of society.

                      Perhaps you think that future “economic growth” (‘growing the pie’ yeeuch) means that the economic is not a zero sum game.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      The local market is not saturated.

                      I remember one year during Muldoon’s term when local production of meat had been going up as per normal but exports had slowed. The excess suddenly had to be sold on the local market which meant that butchers around suddenly had a huge amount of meat to sell. Prices dropped like a stone with the meat being sold at a loss (a loss to the government due to the heavy subsidies that NZ farmers were getting at the time).

                      That is a saturated market and it always happens in a capitalist economy because productivity is so high the local market cannot take the full produce of the local society. To stop that from happening the capitalists have two options:
                      1.) Cut production to suit the local market or
                      2.) Export the excess
                      And they won’t do the first as profits will drop to zero and that’s before taking into account what happens when all the workers are made redundant and can’t buy the produce either.

                      A prime example of this is Christchurch builders importing cheap products because our internal manufacturing ability has been decimated.

                      Which is due to previous saturation and the open market policies introduced after the saturation became too much to support.

                      National favours growing our exports because it takes advantage of cheap labor in other countries.

                      Why then is that statement wrong?

                      Because there’s a difference between exports and exporting jobs.

                      The economy is absolutely not a zero sum game… Where the fuck do you come up with such things?

                      Yes it is and through logic. Logic that happens to be supported by the facts which the non-zero sum game theory, otherwise known as neo-liberalism and/or Chicago School free-market economics, isn’t. Poverty has increased over the years as the proportion of GDP going to the rich increased.

                      If you hadn’t noticed, I was replying to CV there.

                      Yeah, sorry about that. I realised after posting.

                    • Jackal

                      CV

                      OK suggest a way which has a good chance of working and lets do it.

                      If there was an easy solution, somebody would have done it by now.

                      As for the economy not being a zero sum game – in terms of share of total wealth and total income it is a zero sum game.

                      By zero sum game you’re implying that value and worth has no bearing on wealth. Economics is all about the wealth people place on things. Because each dollar fluctuates and is dependent on the value placed on it, the economy intrinsically cannot be zero sum game. Somebody doesn’t need to lose in order for someone else to gain, because money is not a static entity. What I’m promoting is economic exchanges of varying value to ensure comparative advantage for workers. Generally speaking this will mean further economic opportunities for the rich.

                      Perhaps you think that future “economic growth” (‘growing the pie’ yeeuch) means that the economic is not a zero sum game.

                      Not really… I think that economic growth being dependent on consumerism isn’t really a solution either… Just to contradict myself a bit there. But without completely starting from scratch I don’t see any other way out.

                      Draco

                      Which is due to previous saturation and the open market policies introduced after the saturation became too much to support.

                      Yep! It’s also because New Zealand has a natural niche market, and local companies often sell their products here for more than they do overseas. We don’t have a shortfall of 10,000 houses per year just because people aren’t earning enough.

                      Yes it is and through logic. Logic that happens to be supported by the facts which the non-zero sum game theory, otherwise known as neo-liberalism and/or Chicago School free-market economics, isn’t. Poverty has increased over the years as the proportion of GDP going to the rich increased.

                      That doesn’t make the economy a zero sum game… It just means the rich have gained a comparative advantage over the poor. The non-zero sum game theory as far as I’m concerned has nothing to do with neoliberalism. The number of jobs in the economy is not fixed and there simply doesn’t need to be an underclass to ensure the rich have wealth. Clearly increasing complexity can create greater rewards for cooperation, thus increasing overal wealth. The worlds resources are finite, but their current scarcity for many people is largely due problems with distribution and relying on outdated modes of thinking. Increasing the amount of beneficial economic exchanges increases wealth and there’s not much to limit the economic exchanges that can be made… It’s a luddite falicy to think otherwise.

          • weka 4.1.1.2.3

            It’s not just the well to do that hate beneficiaries, it’s many so-called middle class people and the working poor. It might be OK for leftwing intellectuals to argue that Labour doesn’t need to play the political divide and rule game, but unless there’s a huge change in public perception about beneficiaries, it’s game set and match against the welfare dependent.
             

            I don’t believe that most NZers are that hateful towards beneficiaries. Most people are fairly live and let live. Sure there are concerns about some beneficiary issues, but alot of that is bullshit whipped up in the media. The real problem here is that not enough people are speaking up intelligently in support of beneficiaries. If Labour won’t do it, then who will?
             
            I still can’t believe that Bennet got away with that complete shit about Accommodation Supplement the other week. It’s unbelievable to me that no-one took that opportunity to point out what a liar she is. It was the ideal opportunity to redress some of the prejudice against welfare, and no-one took it.
             
            If Labour think that letting benes be the scapegoats is going to help NZ, then we are all fucked. But that’s not what it’s about (helping NZ), it’s about Labour finding the best way to grab power. The number of people supporting this compromise in this thread is scarey.
             
             
             
             

          • Sunny 4.1.1.2.4

            “the human condition of needing a scapegoat”
            What?!

            • Jackal 4.1.1.2.4.1

              That part of the human condition has been proven countless times:

              The Nazi party thrived when things looked bad, because they offered ways out, although most of the time they couldn’t fullfil, and when times were good people would stay clear of the radical ideas of the Nazi party. When the treaty of Versailles was enabled, Germany lost its pride, and slid into a great depression, Hitler seized this momment, he blamed all the problems of Germany on the Jewish community, although the Jews had nothing to do with this, the people of Germany needed someone to blame and focus their hate on, Hitler gave them this.

              • QoT

                when things looked bad

                Jackal, I’m so proud. I’ve truly never seen such a massively fucked-up understatement of pre-WWII German history.

                • Jackal

                  Well you have the ability to improve it if you so wish QoT. Let me know how that goes?

                  • QoT

                    I could certainly improve the spelling, but seriously, dude, if you think the first thing to say about the Treaty of Versailles is that “Germany lost its pride” you’re a fucking laugh.

                    • Jackal

                      If you hadn’t noticed, I didn’t write that QoT. I used it as an example to show how a worsening situation causes people to need someone else to blame with disastrous consequences. I could have just as easily referenced something about the current Afghanistan war, and perhaps should have looked harder for a better example to satisfy your sensibilities… But honestly couldn’t be fucked.

                    • QoT

                      Or you could have picked something vaguely historically accurate, instead of jumping straight to the extreme example of Hitler, whose ascendancy simply cannot be put down to “things looked bad.”

                      That explanation which you chose to quote is incredibly misleading. You used it to back up your assertions about “the human condition”. Your argument was thus full of shit. Maybe you “could have just as easily referenced” something accurate. But then you wouldn’t have been able to say “LOOK! HITLER! Ergo humans are dicks!”

                    • Jackal

                      You haven’t even bothered to edit the article QoT, nor bothered to explain why it’s misleading, so save the righteous pontification. There’s a plethora of similar quotes concerning the same example that would take a considerable amount of time to trawl. Here’s another one for you to get high and mighty about:

                      Hitler’s rise to power was based upon long-term factors – resentment in the German people, the weakness of the Weimar system – which he exploited through propaganda (paid for by his rich, Communist-fearing backers), the terror of his stormtroopers, and the brilliance of his speeches.
                      During the ‘roaring twenties’ Germans ignored this vicious little man with his programme of hatred. But when the Great Depression ruined their lives, they voted for him in increasing numbers. Needing support, and thinking he could control Hitler, President Hindenburg made the mistake in January 1933 of giving Hitler the post of Chancellor.

                      I don’t think the inferior quality of these quotes detracts from the argument that it’s a human condition to need to blame others when things go wrong. Unless you can come up with a better argument than “I don’t like the quote you used,” and “if you mention Hitler you lose and are a dick,” your arrogant pointless contention that my argument is full of shit can go get flushed.

                    • QoT

                      Fine, Jackal, you win. My lack of interest in digging up ancient German history paper notes from varsity in an effort to spare lazy Googlers like you from over-simplifying complex historical points clearly makes me the sadsack in this case.

          • locus 4.1.1.2.5

            or swim against the tide and in the process lose votes

            And what would history be like if we hadn’t had a few people who could swim against the tide? How did slavery end up being abolished? How did women get the vote? How did we justify a welfare stae?

        • weka 4.1.1.3

          “Not “a party for beneficiaries”, with all due respect.”
           
          So who will speak for beneficiaries? Like I said, the problem isn’t that Labour is pro-beneficiary (they’re not) or the perception that they are, it’s the perception that being a beneficiary is immoral.
           
          “Labour needs to be the party of full employment, the 40 hour work week, part time jobs with material advantages, and a compassionate party who looks after those who can’t work or who have already done their share.”
           
          Sure, as spin, but you can’t get there by dumping beneficiaries off the agenda.

          • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.3.1

            Yes you “dump beneficiaries off the agenda”. You do it decisively and unapologetically. NOt just as spin, you do it as a reality. And I’ll tell you exactly how you do it:

            You create 150,000 new jobs for those unemployed. They’re dumped form the agenda.

            You improve income and conditions for a further 250,000 who work full time or part time but who are currently basically in extreme working poverty. So they’re dumped from the agenda.

            You create 10,000 positions of low demand, part time, elective rehabilitative work suitable for many sickness beneficiaries. You pay them for it and let them engage productively in the community. So they’re dumped from the agenda.

            Do you get what I am driving at yet. This is Red Flag Labour, not Pale Pink Flag Labour.

            • Policy Parrot 4.1.1.3.1.1

              +1 – In addition such a strategy will have an upward push on wages in general, as the lower paying employers have more difficulty attracting labour and are forced to increase wages and conditions.

            • weka 4.1.1.3.1.2

              I get what you are driving at but it’s a pipe dream, mate.
               
              It’s saying there IS actually something wrong with welfare and being on a benefit, so the solution is to get everyone off a benefit. The DPB and Invalid’s Benefit can’t be dumped. We need people to raise kids, and there will always be people who cannot work. 
               
              And even if your plan worked (I personally don’t think we will ever have full employment again in the way you mean, as we go into energy descent), it would still take time. And in the meantime, because the anti-bene thing hasn’t been addressed, the bashing continues.

              • rosy

                The other part to CVs vision, IMO, is a universal income. Then there are no beneficiaries.

                • weka

                  Universal income makes alot of sense. I’m not sure it solves the bene bashing issue so easily. For some people the bene bashing comes from a chip on their shoulder, and changing the structure of welfare won’t alter that.

                  • rosy

                    There are always haters in the world, but if all are picking up a universal income it’s at least one less discrimination they can make between themselves and the people they resent.

                    Beneficiaries also have an awful lot more dignity by having an income as of right… well, actually there are no beneficiaries to bash.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  /agreed

                  A Universal Income will help people find their own work and be entrepreneurial in a world where more and more work is being done by automatics. Give those people access to good libraries and networking so that people of similar interests can easily find each other and work together and we’ll actually get the progressive society that people want.

                  It’ll upset the capitalists though as people finally realise that the capitalists are unimportant and have actually been holding society back for their own selfish gain.

                  • weka

                    I love the idea of that. The hardest thing for me about being on a benefit has been the structural impediments to doing something meaningful with my life. I don’t need a job to do that, but I do need to not be hobbled by society. I know alot of people who are happy living on a low income and who do lots of very good things for the world.
                     
                    I’m not convinced that universal income would get rid of prejudice though. There is a very strong presbytarian work ethic here, and anyone who doesn’t go hard is seen by some as a malingerer or deficient. Doesn’t matter the source of their income. The people I know who express the most resentment about beneficiaries are people who appear to be working too hard and with a grudge about it. In some cases that grudge is legitimate (and Labour should be directing it at the rich, not at the poor), and in others it’s more a case of the person’s own philosophies about work and what’s a valid way to live one’s life.

              • Colonial Viper

                I get what you are driving at but it’s a pipe dream, mate.

                So full employment is achievable in 1960 but after 50 years of ‘advancement’ not now? I’d ask you to check your assumptions. Problems which are man made, can be solved by man.

                And as Rosy already mentioned, some of the building blocks we need for the future are already quite well understood.

              • Jackal

                I’ve often wondered why we don’t just fluctuate the amount of hours everybody worked. The less overall work and more people would mean less hours per week. Perhaps a four day working week could reduce unemployment… Clearly there are solutions and people who want to work should be able to.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  It was the penal rates that helped give us full employment up to the 1970s but then the Crisis of Capitalism set in with falling profits due to over production and, instead of looking for other things to do, the government looked for new markets through the delusional free-market policies initiating the race to the bottom for the many while a few got wealthy.

              • Colonial Viper

                (I personally don’t think we will ever have full employment again in the way you mean, as we go into energy descent)

                Energy descent means less fuel and energy available for complex technologies, less available for transport of goods made faraway to our shores, less available for running machines which replaced ordinary workers.

                Much, much, much more work for people.

                • weka

                  Of course, but work and employment are not the same thing.
                   
                  Besides, which group of people was predominantly unpaid in the 1960s for the work they did? Think they want to go back to that?
                   
                  I suggest you check your own assumptions 😉

                  • Colonial Viper

                    Men can take up the role of child rearing, and frequently do when their female partners are the higher earners.

                    I agree work and employment are not the same thing. We need a Government which understands that and focusses on both, not just employment.

                    btw with a livable universal income, a lot of people will chose to do volunteer work, work for non-profits, artistic and creative endeavours, and generally progress all the qualitative aspects of the society we live in. People will have living options apart from engaging with capitalist business systems.

                    Perhaps 100% employment is not the precise goal, but 100% engagement with society is.

                    • weka

                      Perhaps 100% employment is not the precise goal, but 100% engagement with society is.
                       

                      That’s certainly a more laudable goal. And of course right now while we do have  a benefit system, Labour could be both protecting beneficiaries from abuse, and enabling the system to let beneficiaries engage in society.
                       
                      WINZ, bene bashing, and the uncreative responses of society to illness, singleparenthood, and unemployment currently all make engagement very hard. That’s stupid, and why I have no tolerance for the Labour must tradeoff the benes here.

              • Galeandra

                Back in the day, we used to worry about preparing kids to cope with the age of leisure. Surely by disintentagling ourselves from the turmoils of a global economy ‘in descent’ and focussing on social justice at home we can create local mechanisms to ensure maximal employment, and increased leisure as a compensation for our inevitably reducing consumerism?

        • CnrJoe 4.1.1.4

          the system as we know it relies on unemployment(beneficiaries) to keep wages down doesn’t it?
          Its built in.

        • Bill 4.1.1.5

          If those jobs were of value to society and not ‘any piece of crap’ that might make somebody else some money; if they didn’t wastefully chew through natural resources; if they didn’t pointlessly contribute to AGW; and if they preserved the dignity of workers – then I’d probably go along with your position CV.

          But jobs don’t generally satisfy those criteria. And the further they are from those criteria, the closer they become to being crimes against humanity. (ie, apart from the individual worker’s life often being blighted and their human potential thwarted, the degradation inflicted on the biosphere is contributing to the ‘formation’ of a world that isn’t going to be working out too well for, as yet, unborn generations of humanity.)

          • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.5.1

            Hi Bill,

            There is plenty of work which needs to be done in society and in communities, as you know. Its just that our current damnable economic and monetary system does not often allow that work to be structured into paid jobs.

            If those jobs were of value to society and not ‘any piece of crap’ that might make somebody else some money; if they didn’t wastefully chew through natural resources; if they didn’t pointlessly contribute to AGW; and if they preserved the dignity of workers – then I’d probably go along with your position CV

            I see the jobs falling into two broad categories

            1) Infrastructure for society to proof us against shocks and energy decline. Everything from rail to coastal shipping to power generation to home and office energy efficiency. All very good, “real” jobs. Ones we generally ignore and only fund minimally now.

            2) Emotional labour. Rest home workers, art teachers, counsellors, coaches, carers, nurses, etc. We have a lot of people in our society who are damaged or hurt. A LOT. As you know. Looking after them, preventing further harm, helping people to achieve to their potential. All very good, “real” jobs. Ones we generally ignore and only fund minimally now.

      • Dr Terry 4.1.2

        ONE ASPECT of Labour is to stand by beneficiaries. While this is important, Labour surely stands for numerous policies.

    • Lanthanide 4.2

      “Regardless, of what I think of some of Pagani’s ideas, she is correct in pointing out that perception “Labour is a party for beneficiaries” does exist out there in the blue collar non political population. I know, I work in such an environment every day.”

      Not only in the blue collar population…

    • gobsmacked 4.3

      Last election, Labour proposed to extend WFF to beneficiaries. That was under Phil Goff and Annette King, and the election strategists were Trevor Mallard and Grant Robertson.

      Thank goodness they’ve gone, eh?

      Labour’s failure to reach the “blue collar non political” population is because their leaders can’t convincingly articulate an over-arching theme – in short, that “we’re all in this together”. They can’t do it, because their pitch sounds like a tactic, not a belief.

      If a leader can’t convince him/herself, then what chance the rest of us?

    • Olwyn 4.4

      It also fails to challenge that perception and helps to embed it. As well as helping to establish Labour as a party without courage or ideas, or any willingness to grasp the real nettle. Beneficiaries are not the reason that some of the middle class are suffering; they are suffering for the same reason as the beneficiaries are, because we don’t make stuff any more, and have yet to discover an alternative. Not to mention, beneficiaries are now unofficially persecuted, and it is disgraceful to buy into persecution for any reason whatsoever.

    • rosy 4.5

      Do I like it? No. Do I support it? No. Dead rats aren’t something intended for consumption, but in cases where they are required eating, then so be it.

      These people who create political messages are not stupid (I would have thought, although now I’m not so sure) and could easily counter the ‘Labour is for beneficiaries’ without building more resentment and discrimination toward them. The method they’re using would be ridiculous if it wasn’t so abhorrent.

      What about, for example, ‘we support workers who fall on hard times. If they are fooling us and fooling you, we support them not at all?’ – acknowledging the possibility that some people might cheat, but without the expectation that they will.

      Immediately assuming fraud says more about the person who assumes than it does about the person they’re making assumptions about. It makes me sick.

      • Policy Parrot 4.5.1

        It could be an idea here, in introducing such a policy platform, that while scrutiny of beneficiaries increased, those who actually comply with the spirit of the social bargain receive a fuller entitlement than they do currently.

        While benefits are so low, and living conditions for those who try to exist “correctly” under such a scheme are near impossible, then gaming becomes an incentive.

        Personally, I dont particularly understand how the example of the guy who paints his own house being that on the nose. Beneficiaries regularly cook their own dinner (and that of their families) and clean their houses, surely painting wouldn’t be much more labour intensive.

        It would be more pointed if the sickness beneficiary/ACC claimant was painting someone elses house for payment (cash or in kind).

        • gobsmacked 4.5.1.1

          Of course, what would really help would be a procession of guys in suits appearing in court after hundreds of millions of dollars have disappeared through fraud and other dodgy practices … oh wait, we’ve been seeing them on our TV screens practically every week.

          If Shearer is worked up about bludgers, he might at least make a passing mention of those finance companies, bailouts, bonuses, bankers of the GFC, etc, etc … it’s never been easier to rail against *that* kind of rip-off. A receptive audience has lost their life savings.

          But – nothing.

        • just saying 4.5.1.2

          Do you have any ide how much “scrutiny” is already imposed on benficiaries?

          On the upside, it could help unemployment if an SS style surveilance gang was instituted. We could pay some of the poor to actively spy on, and raid the homes of their poorer neighbours.

          win win.

          • Policy Parrot 4.5.1.2.1

            Yes. As someone who has been on the benefit, albeit briefly, I do have an idea of the scrutiny imposed. I have also had a partner with whom receiving a joint benefit, and the number of hoops with which we had to jump through were absolutely ridiculous.

            Not to mention the fact that measures to thwart abuse are very easily avoided and defeated, by a minority among a group who are supposedly at the bottom of the heap.

            Make it easier to comply, harder to defeat. A social bargain is a social bargain.

            • weka 4.5.1.2.1.1

              Were you on a medical benefit?
               
              Increasing hoop-jumping for people who are ill is stupid. Really stupid. It’s stupid for SB, who are temporarily ill and trying to get better, and it’s stupid for IB, who are permanently ill and where hoop-jumping increases their dependancy on the welfare and the health system.
               
              Fuck the social bargain. The state, and all the ignorant bene bashers, can get to talk about the social contract when (a) there are enough jobs to go around, and (b) welfare is delivered in a humane way instead of the demeaning, soul destroying way it is now.
               
               

      • Draco T Bastard 4.5.2

        +1

    • just saying 4.6

      There’s a good discussion of this issue happening at the DimPost. Salmond is (or was) participating.

      It’s true, and I hear it too, that blue collar communties have been manipulated to dump their frustrations about their hardships on beneficiaries. However, from what I hear, dog-whistles like those being used by Shearer et al aren’t changing those perceptions of Labour, in order to do that Labour would have to take it further into a full scale bidding war of punitive measures against beneficiaries, teachers, unions etc. However they are succeeding in further entrenching the right-wing rhetoric.

      I assume the problem is that Labour has nothing to offer blue collar workers, otherwise I don’t see why they wouldn’t be focusing on the positives they have to offer to lift up the working poor, rather than getting the boot into the even more unfortuanate.

      Policy Parrot, if you spend a lot of time in such communities you must be seeing how cynical they feel about Labour apparently empathising with the injustice they feel without backing up the bene-bashing with some defintive hardcore boot up the arse.

      • Policy Parrot 4.6.1

        It doesn’t even make it that far…

        Cynicism is resevered for politicians in general. And they don’t even consider the possibility therefore that government can actually be a good thing, something they can be part of and contribute to; Government is something seperate and out of their sphere.

        Therefore it is not surprising that they are anti. Turning them around and tuning them in, alone in itself a difficult step, remains only step one. It also requires actions that will keep the faith down the path.

        • gobsmacked 4.6.1.1

          “Cynicism is resevered for politicians in general.”

          Agree 100%. Hear it every day.

          So why in God’s name did Labour’s new non-politician leader clasp the old, discredited machine hacks to his bosom, and try and become one of them?

          If he wanted a populist issue, he could have gone on about credit cards and flights to Disneyland and golf clubs and all the things the public hate about MPs living off their taxes. Why didn’t he?

          Because some of the worst culprits are sitting in his caucus room, and gave him the job.

          • Policy Parrot 4.6.1.1.1

            Because it was not about policy per se, it was strategic. As I said above, it is about removing the weapon from the Government’s political armoury – so that when the Government has a bad week, Paula Benefit Basher can’t simply reissue a press release out of the mouth of another talk-back hack and distract.

            • just saying 4.6.1.1.1.1

              It’s not removing the weapon from National’ s armoury. It’s loading the gun and pointing it for them.

              And it’s not changing the bigots’ perception of Labour one jot.
              To do that they’d have to go much further.

              • Policy Parrot

                Just saying…

                I am not suggesting Labour get into a bidding war with National over beneficiaries,
                The goal is simply to make them and their policies look extreme, which they are.

                I am a principled person, and that is why it is not easy for me to support such a position that goes against too many of my personal values. But it is also important that our party in a position to help needy people as often as possible, and that requires tradeoffs.

                Not tradeoffs in terms of helping those in need, but tradeoffs in terms of political rhetoric and strategy. If that also succeeds in pushing those currently misusing the system towards not doing so, then there is more money for those who are more genuinely in need.

                There are very many problems with our society, especially about fairness. Once this issue is off the table politically, we can shift the fairness argument to areas that are of greater concern and which our supporters and our strategists are of one mind.

                • gobsmacked

                  It’s never going to be “off the table politically”.

                  Key/Bennett just have to say “Well, now there’s bipartisan support for our balanced and moderate reforms .. so we’re going to move to the next lot of balanced and moderate reforms.”

                  Then what does Labour do?

                • weka

                  Not tradeoffs in terms of helping those in need, but tradeoffs in terms of political rhetoric and strategy. If that also succeeds in pushing those currently misusing the system towards not doing so, then there is more money for those who are more genuinely in need.
                   

                  The thing that really concerns me about your statement is the total absence of concern for some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. 
                   
                  You talk about the need for political compromise.
                   
                  You talk about how that might help reduce benefit fraud, and thus free up money for people in need.
                   
                  But you fail to even mention the huge damage done to medical beneficiaries by supporting bashing culture. I suspect that this damage is invisible to you, and many others. Am I right, or can you at least acknowledge what that damage is?
                   
                   

    • Blue 4.7

      “Labour is a party for beneficiaries”

      It’s a mad old world sometimes. Labour is the party of the workers.

      And welfare was introduced for the benefit of working people, so that when job losses occurred they didn’t wipe a family out and they could get back on their feet and back to work.

      Now, welfare is hated and beneficiaries hammered by the very people whom the policy was designed to help.

      Despite many people having been, or knowing someone who is/has been legitimately on a benefit, they still imagine bludgers on every corner living the good life on a fraction of the minimum wage.

      It makes me despair sometimes at how it comes to this.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.7.1

        It makes me despair sometimes at how it comes to this.

        The workers party and others haven’t been loudly and clearly pointing out that National have been lying about beneficiaries. In fact, as we’ve just seen from Shearer, they’ve actually been using Nationals lies themselves.

  5. weka 5

    This is a really good post Mike, thanks. It will make it easier to point out the practice to others.

  6. gobsmacked 6

    The other aspect of “dog whistles” is that they tend to have short-term effects, and so you have to keep whistling. Shearer & co are seriously deluded if they think that they can keep it up for another two years, without tearing Labour apart, and hobbling any Labour/Green deal.

    Does Shearer think it’s 1996, and Winston’s polling 20%?

    It’s not just morally bankrupt, it’s a stupid strategy. There’s a Labour/Green base of 30 plus 10 even now, when Labour are incompetent. If they could only tie their shoelaces they’d be well ahead.

  7. gobsmacked 7

    Just to flesh out my comment above (for the benefit of any bone-headed Labour strategists reading) …

    You have a policy (message, whistle, whatever) for 2 reasons (preferably both):

    1) to attract votes before the election 2) to implement after the election.

    Still with me? Good. So Labour whistle away, and get votes (so they hope) and then … what?

    a) Do what they said
    b) Dump it

    If a), kill the coalition with the Greens. If b), lose the votes obtained under false pretences.

    Two different paths to a one-term government. Genius.

  8. QoT 8

    One must absolutely admire the straight face with which Salmond basically says, “Disagreeing with Shearer’s use of this anecdote = claiming no one never ever ever defrauds the welfare system.”

    Those aren’t the “facts” people are questioning, but of course someone who smarmily notes “a person who was, officially, too sick to work but, in fact, not too sick to paint his roof” was probably always going to miss the obvious point.

  9. just saying 9

    I have a feeling that those who are justifying this behaviour tend to agree with the rhetoric. Not as much as your hardcore NACT supporter, and with all the right amount of qualifications and mitigation. But deep down there is a place where the words beneficary and bludger fit together, and the blame for the shit that is hitting the fan right now is concentrating on the soft targets. Again with all the right amount of qualifications etc.

  10. newsense 10

    It doesnt have to be actively pro-beneficiaries CV, but joining in stereotyping and demeaning them to attempt to win political capital is not cool. Spot the difference?

  11. Mary 11

    “Shearer apparently didn’t think to ask whether perhaps the beneficiary may have been suffering from depression, painting the roof to save money as Kiwis do, and out in the sun because it is therapeutic.”

    Yes, absolutely. He should’ve asked, and it was a deliberate dog-whistle. What’s unclear, though, is whether Shearer would’ve taken advantage of this opportunity had he been aware of some of the nuances around receipt of a sickness benefit, that a person can of course be clearly entitled and in need of a sickness benefit despite on the face it appearing “well”. Given who Shearer is and his likely naivity on such matters I’m guessing he wouldn’t have. What’s most alarming, though, is that there are people, including in the Labour Party, who think it’s okay to sell beneficiaries, and those unable to particpate in employment, down the river by what is essentially lying, as Rob Salmond says: “This suggests there is real benefit to the left in trying to win the support of people to the right of Labour and the left of National, and that this benefit cannot be gained any other way.”

    (Apart from the bleedin’ obvious which is that of course it’s of benefit to Labour to win the support of anyone) Salmond’s saying it’s okay to sell the poorest of the poor out by what ever means available, in this case by lying. It’s interesting that it’s only those on the so-called Left who’re associated with Labour or to unions, our so-called friends, who hold these views.

  12. AmaKiwi 12

    National is the party of beneficiaries, it’s just their beneficiaries are already well off.

    $12 billion on unnecessary roads is for the beneficiary named Fulton Hogan. The tax cut for the rich. The rich are the beneficiary. Previous National government instituted a WINZ housing allowance, supposedly to help the poor pay their rent. But if you abolished it the rents would drop across the market place and the landlords, not the poor, would be the losers. The WINZ house allowance is for landlord beneficiaries.

    Follow the money. When the state spends money on anything, ask who gains. That’s who the beneficiaries are. National’s list of beneficiaries are the already wealthy.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      National is the party of beneficiaries, it’s just their beneficiaries are already well off.

      And do you notice how quickly the political party of those beneficiaries always serve their interests, and always leap to their defence?

  13. AmaKiwi 13

    Capitalism is their sacred cow.

    They conceal the fact that it’s not “free market” capitalism when the referee is always making rules that favor their side.

  14. Rob Salmond 14

    Mike said: “If Shearer wants to say that Labour’s policy on welfare should be based on a social contract or some other form of mutuality why not say so directly? Then we can have a mature debate.”

    He did exactly that, three paragraphs later:

    “We have a social contract in New Zealand. It works like this: if you need help because of something unexpected: an accident, a loss, or if misfortune befalls you, you will be supported.

    But once you’re back on your own feet, we expect you to pull your weight once again and contribute back to society.

    The Government’s role is to ensure that this transition happens – through up-skilling, education and a nudge behind those not meeting their side of the contract.”

    • IrishBill 14.1

      It appears you have missed the use of the phrase “dogwhistle” in Mike’s post, or perhaps failed to understand the concept. Perhaps you should read it again.

    • rosy 14.2

      He did exactly that, three paragraphs later:

      The problem is he prefaced it with a pejorative comment that shoved a whole group of perfectly ordinary people in with thieves and fraudsters (of which there are not nearly as many in the beneficiary world as his damaging anecdote suggests).

    • Pascal's bookie 14.3

      No go ahead and explain how that message differs from National’s, or even ACT’s, in any way whatsoever.

      Where is the differentiation? How can lab say National is getting it wrong when they frame the problem in exactly the same way, and use the same language to describe what they are going to do?

      There is a massive difference between swalling a dead rat, and deciding it’s actually beef bloody wellington.

    • weka 14.4

      What they all said, plus, the social contract got broken a long time ago, and it wasn’t by beneficiaries. 
       
      “if you need help because of something unexpected: an accident, a loss, or if misfortune befalls you, you will be supported.”
       
      That is no longer true. Benefit rates are too low for many people in the context of their real life situation. That is why the discourse runs that we (society) have to incentivise people to work. It’s a myth. Most beneficiaries I know want to contribute meaningfully to the world. It’s the structures within WINZ and society that prevent that from happening.
       
      Worse, the anti-beneficiary meme means that at an emotional and social level many beneficiaries are not only not supported, but are actively undermined. In some cases there is active discrimination with real life consequences. Discrimination that starts with the observation that that sickness beneficiary is painting his roof…

    • hush minx 14.5

      I realise I’m a bit behind on the debate here – but very interesting discussion! It is potentially even more relevant in terms of future direction if the news I’ve heard that Rob Salmond is starting work as part of the Labour Leaders staff is correct. My understanding is that he’s due to arrive in January. Has anyone else heard similar?

      • Carol 14.5.1

        No, but that would just mean more MOR centrism, don’t rock the boat kind of stuff. More of the same, but maybe with reasoning that’s a bit sharper.

  15. tracey 15

    What about this story… A man who has often slagged off beneficiaries as lazy bludgers is encouraging his son to max his student loan, invest it and use it to fund a home in three years time. Unlike a rare case of benefit fraud this is justified because his father pays too much tax. Sadly revealing this wld prolly result in a call to remove loans from those who really need them.

    The social contract includes full employment not a system of economic management which relies on a level of unemployment to “work”

  16. Carol 16

    Just read through all the posts above, and agree with those that say Labour needs to stop the right wing framing of the ‘undeserving’ beneficiary (and next it seems it’ll be teacher unions according to Mike Smith). Before long it’ll be YOU who they are coming for.

    Those who are defending the Labour approach as necessarily “strategic” seem to me to be unwilling to challenge the status quo with respect to dominant public discourses and perceptions. They just want a Labour government that doesn’t attempt to rock the boat, but will be a little bit nicer than that nasty NAct lot.

    This is a centrist, third way position, that ultimately supports the continuation of the destructive inequalities of the neolibs/neocons.

    The perceptions of bennie, and next it seems union -bashing didn’t come from nowhere. “People create scapegoats,” does not explain how these particular scapegoats have gained traction.They are perceptions that have been constructed and maintained by the powerful who want to maintain their relative privileges.

    Anyone on the side of fair play, social justice and want a society with a relatively small wealth/income gap, need to be working to build an alternative narrative. The occupy movement showed the way on that. How quickly did the 1% narrative take hold?

    I will never support a Labour Party that uses a strategy of pandering to destructive right wing narratives to attract votes.

    I’ll support and vote for any part that stands up and positively proclaims their principles of a fair and relatively equal society: one that is as for the poor and struggling as they are for the comfortable middleclasses and those that don’t want to rock the boat – a party that builds a narrative that exposes the true bludgers, the wealthy and powerful who are ripping us off, and undermining the social good, far more extensively than any of the minority of dole cheats.

    • Draco T Bastard 16.1

      They are perceptions that have been constructed and maintained by the powerful who want to maintain their relative privileges.

      That’s exactly what’s been happening and I would have expected Labour, if they were still a party of the left, to say that was what was happening. I certainly wouldn’t have expected them to join in the bene bashing. As they’re no longer a party of the left though, I find I’m not surprised.

  17. lefty 17

    When are we going to get away from this nonsensical idea that whether or not a person is a moral issue.

    The time has long since passed when there is a need for every person to work. Much of the work that is done is counterproductive producing environmental damage and/or greater inequality.

    Labour should be the party of the Universal Basic Income and the rational distribution of labour according to ability and need.

    • bad12 17.2

      Applause, yeah you have that right, Shearer when given the opportunity to broaden the debate to include how much employment there actually was or was not available in the New Zealand economy failed miserably,

      It’s a subject that the broad left still hasn’t quite come to grips with, ponder it for the moment,and ask yourself if the following is a true statement,

      There is not and has not been for quite some years enough employment in the New Zealand economy so as to enable all who are able to find work,

      Of course that’s simple isn’t it,we all KNOW that that statement is true, yet as that broad left we allow not only politicians of the right to spit upon and denigrate beneficiaries but have to further suffer the indignity of supposed left wing politicians doing the same,

      Under the auspices of Neo-liberal economics there is no such thing as full employment, the best employment out-come when that ism is applied to the economy is 2-6% unemployment with the number of unemployed increasing as a Government tool to hold down inflation, (a protection racket for middle class mortgage holders),

      Labour, instead of leading the Bene-bashing brigade need to be changing the political discourse to reflect the reality and truth of just how much employment there really is in the New Zeland economy…

  18. Tom Gould 18

    “Out in the sun because it’s therapeutic’? You must be joking, Mike. If you think the future for Labour is to stick up for bludgers who can paint a roof while on the benefit then you really are hopelessly out of touch. Besides, we all know that Michael Joseph Savage would have agreed with Shearer. So it’s you and your ilk who have corrupted the Labour ethos, not him.

    • bad12 18.1

      Ah a perfect example, SO do you believe that there is enough employment in the New Zealand economy to employ every worker able to work???

      If yes,where do you see that employment???…

    • KJT 18.2

      25 000 kids unemployed in Northland alone.

      How many training jobs were advertised for teenagers in NZ last month. 15.

      Even Mcjobs. 170 over the whole of Northland.

      Jobs in the WINZ list. 6. Most of which required skills and experience. For which you need a job first.

    • Roy 18.3

      I can think of conditions that could make a person capable of painting a roof but not fit to cope with holding down a job. How about poorly-controlled schizophrenia? How about reactive depression from severe workplace bullying?
      Remember also that we are talking about a sickness beneficiary, not a disability beneficiary. A person who gets a disability benefit has been assessed as never being able to work again. A sickness benefit, on the other hand, is of finite and stated length. Maybe the person went on a sickness benefit to recover from a major illness or injury, and the benefit is due to expire next week, but right now he is feeling spry enough to get up and paint the roof. What is wrong with that? Maybe he even has a job lined up to go to next week? I don’t know, but neither do you, and neither did Shearer!

      • just saying 18.3.1

        As I’ve said before, I know someone who completely relandscaped his section on crutches in the two weeks following a hip replacement, complete with new terracing and retaining walls. Does this mean he should have been made to go back to work the minute he got out of hospital? He’s a builder by the way.

        Also, a sickness benefit means a person is unable to work 40 hours at full capacity. There would be few sickness benficiaries who are completely unable to do anything at all. If a sickness beneficary is working 40 or more hours painting his roof, and managing to do so at with commercial-grade efficiency it might be more indicative of fraud. Yet still not definitive proof. Is he able to sustain that level of productvity week-in week-out?

        I love the way bene-bashers get it both ways – if beneficaries do what they can, somehow this magically means they can do much more, and if they watch tv all day it proves they are lazy, and that is why they are on a benefit. Can the pro dog-whistlers imagine what it might be like to be in the postion that no matter what you do or don’t do, it proves you are scum?

        • prism 18.3.1.1

          just saying
          Spot on. Really important points.

          • Anne 18.3.1.1.1

            Can the pro dog-whistlers imagine what it might be like to be in the postion that no matter what you do or don’t do, it proves you are scum?

            +1

            My story in a nutshell.

            A former public servant of many years made redundant in the 1990s. Couldn’t get another job because I was too well qualified and/or well into my forties and thus adjudged by the new, young johnny-come-lately manager- types as too old. Lived off my redundancy pay for about a year then went on to unemployment benefit. Physically ailing elderly parent was diagnosed with Alzeimers so transferred to a ‘Caring for elderly parent’ benefit which was about $10 per week more than the unemployment benefit in those days.

            In the late 1990s Christine Rankin’s carefully selected bunch of psychopathic acolytes decided I was a malingerer. I – and by association my mother who was in her mid-90s – were investigated and placed under surveillance by the “Benefit Fraud Squad” This squad was staffed mainly by ex-cops of both genders. I wrote a pithy letter to local WINZ chief advising him I knew exactly what was going on. No response, but ex-cops promptly disappeared from view and were never seen again.

            That happened under the last National government. Now its happening all over again only this time the psychopathic instigator is the Social Welfare minister, Paula Bennett.

            • Murray Olsen 18.3.1.1.1.1

              I’d bet that those ex cops had all PERFed their way out of being cops, at great cost to the taxpayer. This is one of the biggest rorts going, yet neither NActional nor Labour will ever touch it.

        • Colonial Viper 18.3.1.2

          Nice one Just Sayin.

          Someone feel free to clue up the sodding Labour Leaders office.

  19. KJT 19

    Instead of capitulating to the media and right wing memes, Labour should be telling the truth about welfare at every opportunity.

    Here is something to get them started.

    http://werewolf.co.nz/2011/02/ten-myths-about-welfare/

    “Looking across all forms of benefits, 61.4 % of recipients are benefit dependent for four years or less. Only 14.3 % are on benefits for more than ten years – and since those figures include people with chronic physical and mental disabilities, the ratio of those staying on benefits because it is a “lifetime, lifestyle choice’ is lower again. In an excellent piece last year, Tim Watkin made much the same point :

    Of the 28,701 people who have been on the sickness benefit for a year or more, 40% of them have psychological or psychiatric conditions. Given that we have to run ad campaigns to reassure New Zealanders that even people with depression, let alone more serious mental health issues, can be good workers, does that number seem outlandishly large to you?””

    Labour could start the attack by with the fact that the number on benefits always steeply rises during a right wing government.
    If they were really concerned about the number of people on benefits wouldn’t you think they would address that.

    The fact is that when work was available, and benefits were a lot more generous than now, most people chose to work.
    Didn’t the Prime Minister know every unemployed person, personally.

    • Colonial Viper 19.1

      Of the 28,701 people who have been on the sickness benefit for a year or more, 40% of them have psychological or psychiatric conditions.

      If they can paint a roof for a couple of hours then their “psychological” or “psychiatric” impairments are totally irrelevant to their work capacity. According to Labour, that is.

  20. bad12 20

    So the legend goes, Mouldoon was said to know all 5 people collecting the unemployment benefit in Wellington when He took office as the Prime Minister,

    I doubt He could name them all by the time he left office tho…

  21. Tracey 21

    Labour should be referring to beneficiaries as “former workers”. Victims of failed policies (theirs and National’s) and skewed priorities. Scratch a beneficiary and you find a person spending day after day trying to find a job. As for malingerers, keep countering by referring to recent sentencing of directors, and state Labour would never suggest all company directors are anything but hard working productive citizens of NZ, with a few bad apples. The same is true of the workers who have been laid off and cannot currently find work. There but for the grace of God goes I.

    • Colonial Viper 21.1

      Labour should be referring to beneficiaries as “former workers”.

      Or perhaps more correctly, “abandoned employees” or “discarded employees”.

  22. ak 22

    Nip back a few short decades and we can substitute slaves, women, jews, catholics, cripples you name it, for bennies, in the rhetoric of the dogwhistle “realpolitik” paganiesque apologists above.

    Nip back to 2004 and note the rebirth of modern Natz from the gutter of 2002 via deliberate, orchestrated maori-bashing.

    Now wake up today and see those groups standing up: and watch the latest maori-bash fail, like Don’s final fling last year.

    And ask ourselves why.

    Here’s a suggestion: because facts will always eventually prevail over bigotry and hatemongering.

    Facts such as KJT outlines above. And that every SB and IB recipient requires sign-off by a qualified medical professional. And that DWI employs armies of goons to chase cheats. And that amateur volunteer advocates recover millions per year illegally witheld from bennies by the state: millions more than is ever recovered by the goons.

    But facts rely on a few principled and privileged individuals relentlessly pushing them through a powerful and partisan media barrier: individuals now hanging on our walls – and leaders of progressive political parties.

    Now nip back to F&S and Hels to see what happens to such leaders who flinch, even once. Take a step off the high road and be buried by progression.

    Spinal weakness is the end of the road for most shearers: only the very best can adjust their style to recover.

    • gobsmacked 22.1

      ak +1

    • locus 22.2

      +1

      Up until now I’ve had a soft spot for the guy in the black singlet out in the shed shearing the sheep. It’s a shame to see him so easily driven by political ‘rationalism’ that he can assume it’s okay to whistle to the wolves.

    • Colonial Viper 22.3

      +2

    • Colonial Viper 22.4

      Spinal weakness is the end of the road for most shearers: only the very best can adjust their style to recover.

      Shit, ak, I reread this now wonder what you were trying to say 😈

  23. Galeandra 23

    +3.

    Evidentially there’s no genuine vision, just political calculation, and little sign of intelligent honesty in the Pagan Party as it currently projects itself, just whistling in the wind. Bullshit is no antidote to a truly scary future.

  24. Draco T Bastard 24

    Oh dear, it appears that we’ve upset one of the Paganis. She’s also using the they post anonymously and ban people who disagree with them excuse for not posting here. Obviously been listening too much to Whaleoil and Pete George.

    • Jackal 24.1

      Wow! My anonymity makes me like the KKK… Who would have thunk it. She does have a few good points though:

      I’ll tell you what beneficiary bashing is: Paula Bennett removing the ladder she used herself to get off a benefit.

      Ruth Richardson and Jenny Shipley cutting the benefit out of a spiteful ideology that believes life on a benefit is too easy.

      Act radicals who would say you should buy social insurance instead of having an entitlement to welfare in times of misfortune.

      […]

      All those people on The Standard who attack me anonymously are playing into the hands of those who want to see us lose the welfare debate, by avoiding talking about responsibilities.

      We cannot say we must never talk about these issues. We must. We must have decent answers.

      The reason for Labour getting into government is not to defend welfare – or anything else – against reform. It’s so that reform can be done our way – fairly, and in a way that produces a decent outcome that provides a fulfilling future for everyone. The welfare system doesn’t do that today. Everyone knows that, and that’s why it needs to be reformed.

      Voters won’t trust us to reform it if the only part of reform is to argue that we should just hand over more money and ignore ways to make the system work better.

      I have to disagree there… The answer to reduce poverty related harm is to increase benefits. How on earth somebody survives on $136 per week I will never know.

      • Colonial Viper 24.1.1

        Ah just great, Josie Pagani shilling for Labour to conduct “Welfare Reform”.

        Hey all you beneficiaries out there, its your lucky day!

        • QoT 24.1.1.1

          Quite a few people have said, ‘yes but the individual might have been mentally ill or had some other condition preventing them from holding a steady job.’ This certainly might be true and yet it is certainly not true in all cases.

          There are genuine cases where people claim benefits they shouldn’t. It’s intellectually and morally indefensible to defend those cases. Voters know that.

          Fuck me, she (and clearly we must hold Josie Pagani entirely to account for her own utterances, because she is her own person and not just an offshoot of the other J Pagani) is severely fucking desperate to defend beneficiary-bashing, isn’t she? Repeating over and over how sure, Shearer might have been talking about his ass about this one dude, but BLUDGERS ARE EVERYWHERE!!!!!

          Also, latest spin alert: equate people’s criticism of the roof-painting anecdote with saying that Labour should “defend” “real” bludgers.

      • bad12 24.1.2

        Pretty much pathetic bullshit right from the word go,

        Yeah right, Shiply and Richardson cut benefits, f**king ugly as i agree, but, the next question i have to ask is what did the next Labour Government do, restore the benefits to the level pre-cuts,

        Like f**k they did…

    • weka 24.2

      Pete didn’t get banned for disagreeing over politics. If TS banned disagreers why are there so many people here who argue about politics including regular right wingers? lol.
       
      Pete got banned because he couldn’t help being a troll and then told TS how it should function and caught Lprent on a bad day, or good day depending on how you look at it. In fact the opposite of what Pagani says is true – TS is extremely tolerant of people who shit stir. Lots of other places PG would have been banned a long time ago. 

      People who can’t tell the difference between moderating behaviour and censorship shouldn’t be commenting on the blogosphere.
       
      Pagani is pretty ignorant about both life online and life as a beneficiary. I can’t use my RL name and details because it puts me at risk. She might want to consider the privilege she has in her life that allows her to be public with her views. The irony of her making this statement about anonymity and beneficiaries today with the rights of benes to privacy being in the news , is probably lost on her.
       
      Can anyone point me to comments or posts on TS where people have said that it’s not ok to talk about benefit fraud, or people ripping off the system? I haven’t seen any posts saying that. Pagani’s whole argument seems to be based on that idea. 
       
      She obviously has completely missed the point that Shearer’s roof painter story was a problem because he is not qualified to assess entitlement to SB from across the street. No-one is. And that subjective mis-judgement that happens to medical beneficiaries all the time, has now been confirmed as acceptable behaviour by someone who wants to be Prime Minister. In the real world that translates into active bigotry and sometimes outright abuse of beneficiaries.
       
      [lprent: I think she may be talking about John Pagani. He caught a permanent ban for personally attacking authors on the site. He’d had previous warnings about it, as well as talking about a machine as if it has a personality and opinions. Josie appears to be doing the latter which I guess is what you do when demonising – avoid individuals and pump up a self designated strawman.

      For the record, she appears to talking about me for banning John for having bad behaviour. Some unspeciied commentators who said something she didn’t like about her, and Mike Smith for criticizing a political attitude.

      So far she is impressing me as being somewhat confused about the concept of individuals. Maybe she should read the policy. ]
       

      • Draco T Bastard 24.2.1

        She obviously has completely missed the point that Shearer’s roof painter story was a problem because he is not qualified to assess entitlement to SB from across the street. No-one is. And that subjective mis-judgement that happens to medical beneficiaries all the time, has now been confirmed as acceptable behaviour by someone who wants to be Prime Minister. In the real world that translates into active bigotry and sometimes outright abuse of beneficiaries.

        In the real world that usually translates into arbitrary laws not based upon fact.

    • just saying 24.3

      From the blog linked above:

      I’m also astonished at the sexism. Commenters repeatedly conflate my views with my husband’s, which will come as a surprise to anyone who has ever met us. One sexist thug reads chicken entrails from my husband’s tweets to get an insight into my views, another calls me a silly bitch, and despite calling themselves a progressive blog, no one objects. I’m not complaining about it – merely pointing out the hypocrisy and compromised morality of my critics.

      I’d reply at Pagani’s site but I don’t trust her with my details.

      I just want to pick up on this one theme of her post.

      It would be nice if Josie would answer the actual criticisms somewhere in her blog, or come here to do so. It appears she is suggesting that this site is not safe, and that part of the reason is that she has been subjected to sexist abuse.

      I didn’t say any of the quotes she has listed and I do resent unsubstantiated assumptions that wives share their husbands’ beliefs. However, I have used phrases like ‘team Pagani’, meaning the right, neoliberal flank of the parliamentary Labour Party, their advisors and general hanger’s-on. I also use the term ‘Paganiism’, and probably terms like ‘Planet Pagani’. Variations on her husband’s name have entered the lexicon in the left-wing political blogosphere. It may be unfair to single out one person to wear the title, but John Pagani’s recorded utterances have crystalised the concept as I see it, and obviously I’m not the only one.

      I didn’t include Josie in the phrase until I read and heard her articulating the same themes that I associate with team Pagani. If she wasn’t married to John she’d be a member of ‘Team Pagani’ according to my concept of it, anyway. I’m sure her view diverge from her husband’s in many areas. However, what I have read and heard has been in accord with the kinds of views and behaviours that I criticise when I use terms like ‘Paganiism’.

      I kind of resent Josie playing the victim because many arguments against her views defend those who have the least voice and the least power. I believe that, often in an indirect passive-aggressive way, Josie continues to attack these people from a position of much greater power and privilege than they can enjoy. And it hurts real people.

      But I’m sorry someone called you a silly bitch Josie.

  25. MrSmith 25

    One way to take the wind out of your opponents sails is to shadow them.

    In this case by appearing to adopt Nationals policies Labour then force National to come up with different possibly more extreme polices, hopefully turning the swing voters back to Labour.

    • weka 25.1

      At the expense of the some of the most vulnerable people in society. Is that what we really want?

      • MrSmith 25.1.1

        Weka, I don’t see it being at anyones expense, Labour’s best chance in 2014 is to let the Greens take care of the most vulnerable people and they will, I suspect without the greens support Labour won’t be able to govern after the next election. Later Labour can say we had to make some compromises to the Greens.

        • weka 25.1.1.1

          Here’s the cost Mr Smith. When Shearer tells his roof painter story, what he is doing is legitimising the subjective judging of the worth and behaviour of ill people (those are the most vulnerable ones). It’s one thing for the right to bash benes (a la Bennett). But when the leader of the Labour party does it, it sets a whole new agenda. It’s like painting a target on the backs of medical beneficiaries. It says to people, yes it is ok to look at that person across the road and judge what their illness is, how it affects them, and what their entitlement to social welfare is. The reason that this is a problem is that you cannot tell what someone’s level of need is by looking at them. WINZ have medical experts for that.
           
          Shearer could have told his story in a different way, that made it clear that prejudging ill people is not acceptable. He could have still connected with the neighbour and offered solidarity, without scapegoating another person. But he didn’t. He deemed it acceptable to validate a nasty, demeaning stereoptype with no care for how that would affect people in the real world.
           
          If Shearer is allowed to judge a sickness beneficiary’s entitlement from across the road, why isn’t everyone else?
           
          I suspect that many of the people here who are pro Shearer’s speech have little idea of the real world experience of medical beneficiaries, and how such prejudice negatively affects them.

          • rosy 25.1.1.1.1

            I think this comment should go directly to Mr Salmond and Mr Shearer, Weka. It explains why the dog whistle is wrong and the damage it does quite clearly.

            I have huge respect for you in your situation. If not for the sake of having an employed partner I’d be on an invalid’s benefit as well – with a serious, but ‘invisible from across the road on most days’ illness. I know I’ll never work in paid employment again and it’s been hard enough for us to come to terms with the implications and effects of that, but at least we haven’t had to endure all the hateful attitudes that the Shearer dog whistle encourages.

          • MrSmith 25.1.1.1.2

            Agreed Weka, but please don’t think I support Shearer’s speech, I was just speculating on why he made it.

    • Colonial Viper 25.2

      I think being National-lite is the root cause of loads of Labour supporters and activists going to the Greens.

      • MrSmith 25.2.1

        Yes that is probably true CV altho the Labour base will never leave them.

        The Greens have picked up there game over the last few years and they deserve some credit, they have some good young heads running there show now, as a Green supporter I am very comfortable with a Labour/Green government. Lets hope come next election enough people are comfortable with the idea as well.

        • Colonial Viper 25.2.1.1

          Yes that is probably true CV altho the Labour base will never leave them.

          Yep I can understand that as L stands for Loyalty. However, the “base” of supporters is not homogenous either. I am hearing plenty of reports of people who have voted Labour since the 1970’s onwards either giving up voting or going Greens. Or even Winston last election.

          If that’s not losing the base, maybe it could be considered eroding the base.

        • Macro 25.2.1.2

          “Although the labour base will never leave them……’

          Utter tosh! My Uncle was secretary to Sir Walter Nash, my father was Labour through and through, and a union president for 20 years. I followed the family tradition and was an active supporter until the 4th Labour Govt abandoned the working man and undid 100 years of Labour reform. I have waited for Labour to refind its soul – but it lost it years ago. The Clark Gov’t had the opportunity to return to it’s principles with a massive majority when taking office in 2000 but failed miserably to do so. This latest cabal is lukewarm in the extreme. There is no way this past supporter is having any bar of them until Labour returns to the principles its NAME implies it stands for!

          • bad12 25.2.1.2.1

            Well said…

          • MrSmith 25.2.1.2.2

            Macro: Last election after running the worse campaign in living memory Labour still managed 42 seats, this is the base I’m talking about.

            Your 1 vote won’t matter to Labour as I suspect your vote will go to the Greens anyway, who will most likely be in a coalition with Labour.

  26. Murray Olsen 26

    Labour should be first and foremost the party of those who have to sell their labour power to survive.  Those who, for whatever reason, don’t have a buyer should not be attacked for this. Finance capital, corporate dairy, bigotry and racism already have their parties, they neither need nor are likely to switch votes. If the best Labour can offer is Pagani, Mallard and Shearer, they should shuffle off in disgrace and leave room for people who are actually willing to fight for something worthwhile rather than just be cheerleaders for NAct prejudices. I can’t see them ever doing this, so as far as parliamentary politics go, the only options I can see are Mana and the Greens. And I really hope Shearer doesn’t trip on a mango skin on his way out, although I won’t extend this courtesy to either Pagani or Mallard.

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