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Fabian Seminars – New Zealand’s economy needs a rethink

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, November 15th, 2010 - 12 comments
Categories: Economy - Tags:

The next series of Fabian Seminars will feature financial journalist Bernard Hickey of interest.co.nz and Selwyn Pellett of the Productive Economy Council discussing the need for a complete rethink of our approach to economic policy. Bernard Hickey wrote recently in a post titled “The free market god doesn’t exist”:

“I think New Zealand needs to have a debate about capital controls, about foreign ownership of assets, about measures to control our currency and about being openly nationalistic rather than internationalistic about our economic policy.”

Selwyn Pellett had this to say recently on the PEC website:

“John Key has characterized Labour as having a “road-to-Stalin experience,” over its plan to restrict foreign ownership of assets. It’s another disappointing response from the Prime Minister, in what is becoming a track record of failure to enter debate on the economy. In cynically applying the ultimate in far-left labels to Labour’s shift in policy, Key is doing the country a disservice. This isn’t about ideologies of “left” and “right”, and it’s of greater significance than mere labels can convey. This is about finding policies that will allow our economy and thus our country to get back on track, and about accepting that the past two decades of policy have failed us dismally. Both Labour and National were compliant in creating the problem. It is important that both of them now become part of the solution”.

The Wellington seminar will be at Connolly Hall, 40 Hill Street, on Monday 22nd November from 5:30pm to 7:30pm; and the Auckland seminar in the Decima Glenn Room, Level 3, Auckland University Business School, on Friday 26th November from 6pm to 8pm. All are welcome and attendance is free. You can register on the Fabians website; it is helpful if you do.

12 comments on “Fabian Seminars – New Zealand’s economy needs a rethink ”

  1. ZeeBop 1

    Key said recently that we have to export to get rich, that we can’t get rich selling stuff to ourselves.

    The problem with this is how shifty the bastard is, obviously everyone agrees on exporting,
    yet if we want to retain wealth we need to be selling more stuff to ourselves. Classic Rovian
    switch, tell us we don’t agree where we do, and then make a blantant lie sound kosher.

    Without an internal economy of services, or startups, of local investment, we won’t build the
    seeds that gone to grow the new industries of the low energy world economy, rather we will
    continue to sow a backward entrenched economy that eats itself, selling assets, everytime
    global trade falls.

    What’s worse is predictions of a return to $100+ barral in the next 10-15 months, how exactly
    are we to grow food with large petrol energy imports, ship the food to the likes of Russia
    (probably one of the furtherest markets from us in carbon miles) and expect to out compete a
    dairy south of Moscow. Key thinks free trade with serve us, more than just good global
    policy, he is up a tree screaming with monkeys, that’s all he’s doing, just enough to look
    like he’s doing something.

    There is a real risk to our economy in the medium future from a collapse of global trade.

    The world is in crisis, its shameful that Key continues the extremist approach of politics
    to engage debate by open lying, distortion and claiming to be a moderate while in the
    same sentence decalring everyone ‘else’ is off their rocker. We all agree with exporting!
    Only a clueless National party could believe a free trade agreement with Russia, at the
    other end of the carbon miles trade routes, would be a stunning success! With the pending
    collapse of the petrol economy.

    • Bored 1.1

      “We have to export to get rich”….a little deconstruct needed here:

      * We have to export….do we: is the real issue that we need to trade to get what we need from the outside world?
      * get rich…who gets rich? Are we rich aleady (comparatively)? Have we not got sufficient? Is the price of ” wealth” worth our commitment to it? Who pays the price of our wealth?

      Seems to me that the paradigms we are stuck in really need regular challenge.

    • Bored 1.2

      Could perhaps National be proposing we sell off the Crusaders franchise to a Russian oligarch a la Chelsea? Foul deeds may be afoot.

  2. Jenny 2

    It all sounds like fiddling while Rome burns.

  3. Joachim's 3

    I have a lot of respect for the work the Fabian Society has been doing. It has certainly been showing up Key and English as clueless, planless and directionless. In a time of crisis these NATs are nothing but a list of lost opportunities.

  4. Bill 4

    All this talk of how to better manage markets reminds me of our approach to understanding the solar system. Was a time when we thought everything revolved around our planet and, to be fair, somewhat reasonable predictions of planet locations were possible using that view. (As far as I’m aware, calculating your location by the position of stars and planets still assumes the earth is central and is accurate enough to be useful).

    It took centuries for Copernicus’s observation or suggestion that the planets revolved around the sun to be accepted. In the interim, the ‘earth centric’ model underwent many adjustments. The adjustments never yielded accurate predictions and so even more adjustments and add ons were applied to the theoretical model until it became an impossible morass of orbits and counter cyclical orbit add ons and all types of convoluted nonsense. Point is, enormous amounts of energy and time were expended in order that the reality might finally be squeezed to fit the theory.

    Eventually the whole caboodle was dumped and a fundamentally different and radical model based on Copernicus’s notion that the planets orbited the sun developed instead.

    All this talk of managing market this way or that way seems to ride on the back of an inability to acknowledge that markets do not function according o our models. We can introduce all types of theoretical prescriptions but, just like the astronomers of old, we will find that ever more layers of complexity are required because market realities will stubbornly refuse to behave according to our theories.

    If we want a system that offers production and distribution capabilities sans the horrors that markets deliver ( ie, destructive levels of competition resulting in the collateral damage of blighted lifes, starvation, war, ecological catastrophe, etc), then we have to face up to the reality that such a system will never eventuate from market reforms; from any expressions of a market economy.

    We need a new paradigm that is not market based…a Copernican Revolution as it were.

  5. Fabian solutions in C21st? Fabianism was the intellectual grunt of the early C20th Labour Party.
    WP Reeves was a Fabian. State management of the economy was necessary in a young colony since the market was hardly formed. The land had to be converted into private property via state dispossession. The biggest theft of Maori land occurred under the watch of the Liberal Party Fabians. Workers had to be regulated into a labour market via the ICandA Act, WP Reeves baby. They were building better capitalist little Britains. The would-be colonial capitalists pork barrelled the state by electing themselves as legislators. Reeves got a road put into his farm inspiring FP Walsh labour leader who was the biggest dairy farmer 50 years later. The Reevesites used the state to establish a national capitalist class through protection and insulation a tradition picked up by the NZ Keynesian WB Sutch in the 30s depression and now the born again Reevesites facing another global capitalist meltdown.
    Today, the NZ state acts openly for international capitalism and no significant economic sovereignty survives. If you want a current model to revive economic nationalism look to the Bolivarian states in Latin America and see that none of these states can evade subservience to the big foreign powers. What we see in Latin America is not a contemporary Fabianism, or managed national capitalism, but a switch from US subservience to Chinese subservience.
    Economic independence will not come from belated attempts at economic nationalism by a fraction of the national bourgeoisie that exploits xenophobia, but the opposite. Instead of the race to the bottom where isolationism and protectionism leads inexorably to wars over diminishing resources, real independence from the dominance of the US or China today will only come by workers in every country uniting to overthrow their ruling classes and building international alliances to plan production on a global scale to provide for the needs of the masses without destroying the planet.

  6. deemac 6

    @dave brown if you live in the past you will find the present confusing. There is no relationship other than the name between the modern Fabians and those of a century and more ago.
    But these modern Fabian seminars have been excellent at exposing the lack of economic literacy in NZ in general and this govt in particular, so I can see why some people would like to try a diversionary tactic.

    • Well deemac it would help if you explained why the term Fabianism today doesnt mean what it did 100 years ago.
      Perhaps you need more historical understanding to realise that attempts to use the state to reform capitalism today are no different, despite superficial appearances, from attempts in the past. They all come down to using the state to regulate the market to produce some desired outcome – usually more equality and today sustainability. But since the state is part of the capitalist system these hopes are delusory.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    Still wish that they’d podcast them.

  8. deemac 8

    delusory! a Sarah Palin word if ever I read one – and makes about as much sense as the rest of your comment.

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