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Fairness and freedom

Written By: - Date published: 12:49 pm, June 4th, 2013 - 51 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, Ethics, labour - Tags: , , ,

If the left had to pick one word to describe the essence of its political philosophy, that word might be “fairness”. If the right had to do the same that word might be “freedom”. Which makes this article by Labour MP David Clark an interesting read. Here are some extracts, well worth clicking through to read the whole thing:

Fairness the hallmark of our country

Dunedin North MP David Clark considers the balance between fairness and freedom.

If you believe New Zealand’s egalitarian dream is dead, I want to argue that belief in its underlying principle of fairness is the single most important determinant of our country’s future.

I have just returned from an Eisenhower Fellowship exchange trip to the United States. What a remarkable opportunity. I’ve spoken with other Kiwi politicos who reckon such a study trip early in a political career pays dividends for a lifetime. I’ve a sense that’s true.

I learnt many things. One of the most important was a better understanding of why ”fairness” has been, and continues to be, such an important value for New Zealand.

New Zealand’s values system contrasts with the United States in that there ”freedom and liberty” dominate. Our greater emphasis on ”fairness” and the US’ belief in the primacy of ”freedom” have a lot to do with historic timing. British colonial history shaped our history. …

New Zealand was founded on a model of partnership. Freedom has been important in New Zealand, but freedom has been subject to a fairness test from the start. While we have often failed to live up to our own publicity, a test of fairness remains our culture’s most important measuring stick – at least for the silent majority. …

In New Zealand we want a fair go for all, but our weakness is that we are also a little too suspicious of those who have made the most of their opportunities.

Personally, I prefer the values set we have in New Zealand over that which dominates in the US. Citizens in other countries envy the lack of corruption, the valuing of justice and the happier overall population that result from the primacy of ”fairness” in our value system. …

If we wish to become a more prosperous nation, we need to strengthen our reputation for fairness, not undermine it. A growing gap between rich and poor makes New Zealand a less attractive destination for talent.

The research popularised by bestselling book The Spirit Level shows that wealth matters for happiness, but only up to a point. Beyond a certain income level, population happiness and wellbeing improve with a more even spread of wealth.

To make New Zealand a more attractive place for talent to live, to ensure we continue to have a privileged place at the table in trade negotiations, and because it fits with our national identity, our country needs to adopt policies that create a rising tide that really raises all of the boats, not just a privileged few.

51 comments on “Fairness and freedom ”

  1. Bill 1

    The concept of fairness within the context of an inherently unfair socio/political system? No. Doesn’t fly. Best you can attain in less unfairness and that’s a different kettle of fish.

    Same applies to freedom somehow existing within the same constraints. It doesn’t.

    To attain fairness and freedom would entail the complete removal of the our currently restrictive systems of economy and governance – and that ‘unthinkable’ option just isn’t on the table for social democrats. Better for them if we continue listening to their fine sounding words and continue to ignore the inherent rank hypocrisy of these social democrats who claim to be proponents of the ideals that are associated with the terms they use.

  2. xtasy 2

    I have a job for you, dear David Clark:

    Expose this man, who was actually appointed under the last Labour led government, to take over the role as Principal Health Advisor for MSD and WINZ, to start “training” supposedly “independent” designated doctors used for examining and re-assessing sickness and invalid’s beneficiaries, and to “mentor”, train, supervise, manage and liaise with his network of underlings, being Regional Health Advisors, Health and Disability Coordinators and to some degree also Regional Disability Advisors in the regional offices of MSD all over New Zealand.

    There have been some appalling decisions made by WINZ case managers, relying on the advice of Dr David Bratt and his subordinate staff. Also the fact, that Dr Bratt is well known to compare benefit dependence with drug dependence in the many “presentations” with questionable claims and info in them, gives reasons to ask many questions, how such a man could be appointed to such an important key role within MSD under Labour.

    One wonders equally how he has kept his job since, but given the harsh, draconian and unfair approach by this government on welfare, it may be less surprising to have the man kept employed under them.


    Once you have this sorted, raised and addressed the bias and unfairness of such persons working for WINZ and MSD, and perhaps challenged them to sack such a man, and stop such harassment and prejudice against sick and incapacitated beneficiaries in NZ, then I believe that Labour will stand for fairness.

    Thank You – X

    • Michael 2.1

      I agree. “Labour” started the ball rolling on one of the biggest social eugenics programmes ever to be unleashed on New Zealanders. it is based, almost entirely, on the UK DWP assessment regime where, AFAIR, Dr B learned his trade. One difference, though. In the UK, about two-thirds of the people shafted by the medical police manage to overturn decisions to stop their welfare benefits. In NZ, the law expressly prohibits them from accessing justice (a National party trick but one Labour has not promised to repeal). Unless and until the NZ Labour Party pledges to repeal this oppressive law, and sack the medical police, I won’t vote for it again.

      • xtasy 2.1.1


        “In NZ, the law expressly prohibits them from accessing justice (a National party trick but one Labour has not promised to repeal).”

        Well, to be precise, one can go and “appeal” a decision that is considered unfair or not correct that a WiNZ case manager makes, based on a designated doctor assessment and/or Regional Health or Disability Advisor’s recommendation, by going to a Medical Appeal Board.

        The problematic thing with that is, that usually at least 2 of the 3 panel members on such a board are also “designated doctors” from WINZ’s pool of assessors, so they always have more clout and are not quite that “independent” (as MSD selected and “trained”).

        According to the Social Security Act a decision by a MAB is “final” and binding though.

        Yet there is one legal redress possible, that to seek a judicial review, if a decision is considered in breach of the law (e.g. biased, following improper process and the likes).

        But to have a court accept and start such a proceeding, one would first usually need a lawyer, get proper, acceptable documents (statement of claim, notice of proceedings, possibly affidavit) drawn up, pay a hefty fee (if no waiver is possible) and face a long, arduous process before the High Court.

        As a beneficiary one will likely need legal aid, so first a lawyer must be found, who is willing to take it up, and that lawyer has to convince Legal Aid, that there is a prospect of success. Then the legal aid granted may barely cover costs, so few lawyers will bother anyway.

        Indeed, the chances to even get there, to see this through, and to succeed, is extremely slim, as the hurdles are very high, and prospect for success often stacked against the plaintiff.

        If one has a case and succeeds, then MSD are likely to appeal, and it goes to the next court. We know how this goes with other matters. They may even engage a claimant in settlement negotiations, trying to pay a person off, or find a discrete other solution. That would stop any precedent being set.

        “Fairness” does not exist under the present law for these very reasons, as the access to law is so restricted and made so damned difficult. We have a powerful ministry that can afford and use the top lawyers they have, and the beneficiary is a tiny little ant, trying to climb Mt Everest on its own, and get to the top. Laughable, really. So much for “fairness” and frivolous contemplations and reflections by those who have the time, money and leisure to spend their time on doing this!

        So I conclude again: “Fairness” in present day New Zealand is a farce in many respects, not much else.

  3. bad12 3

    In 2014 i am voting for Mene Mene, i don’t know if David Clark got to view the Campbell Live look into Mene Mene’s life,

    If not i would recommend He do so, the story of Mene Mene is the true human face on just how ‘unfair’ our little islands have become,

    Whichever Party at 2014 has the best mix of policies that will remove from the life of Mene Mene and His family the gross unfairness they daily suffer will be getting my vote….

  4. Pasupial 4

    So, my local MP; a former treasury official and one-time advisor to David Parker, went to the USA on a scholarship administered by Republicans, and named in honour of a Republican president, where he got to hobnob with Republicans such as Tom Friedman and Colin Powell, this is certainly “interesting”. It also explains why he has been so silent on the local issues recently (though even before this trip he was pretty quiet).

    Since I’ll be walking past there anyway this avo, I might drop into the local Green party office and see if the need volunteers to work towards getting Meteria Turei elected as Dunedin North electorate MP in 2014. The Labour party has become a sad joke in New Zealand – what a step down David Clark is for Dunedin North after Pete Hodgeson!

    • Peter 4.1

      That’s a bit harsh. I’ve found the adjustment from Pete to David hard too, and I don’t put the work in for the electorate like I once did, but that was a damned good values-based article from David Clark, and Labour generally hates running value arguments.

      • Michael 4.1.1

        It’s just spin until Clark matches his words with deeds.

        • Colonial Viper

          Well, it’s a bit difficult for “deeds” when you don’t have the power of the Treasury benches.

      • Pasupial 4.1.2

        Harsh, but not inaccurate? That pic in the ODT with General Powell (chairman of the Eisenhower Fellowships) was most angryfying. Especially after reading Clark’s breathless namedropping of Tom (flat earth) Friedman on his blog the other night.

        I’d rather you were right about Labour: They just seem like the Lite Right to me.

        • Peter

          Look, I know. I didn’t back David in the Dn North selection for a variety of reasons, but he’ll make a good Cabinet minister one day.

    • tamati 4.2

      Eisenhower is nothing like the Republicans of today, you’re being pretty harsh on the old guy.

    • Murray Olsen 4.3

      Personally, I’d ban anyone who went to the US on a political fellowship from participation in politics. The seppos just see these fellowships on a scale ranging from American tv programs through to military coups. There is very little about either fairness or freedom that we can learn from their political system.

      • Colonial Viper 4.3.1

        The seppos just see these fellowships on a scale ranging from American tv programs through to military coups.

        I suspect that there is no such co-ordinated viewpoint (unless you have a peer reviewed source) and I must say, the statement borders on being delusional akin to a paranoid conspiracy theory.

        • Murray Olsen

          Yeah, they obviously prepare those they see as future leaders out of the goodness of their hearts. If you’re from Latin America you get the School of the Americas, if you’re from an English speaking country you get a Fulbright or something similar. Peer reviewed source – nope, just stating my own view, however delusional that might be.

  5. Olwyn 5

    To echo Bill, the term “fairness” has been used frequently over the years to justify putting the squeeze on people who have so far managed to escape being utterly squeezed, as in “it is unfair that those on low incomes do not get much more than the dole, therefore, we should reduce the dole,” and so on and so on. It is only when “fairness” comes within a clearly articulated left-of-centre position that the word begins to take on a trustworthy air. Something similar applies to the “tide that raises all boats” – which is the point, the tide or the rising of all boats? If the former, there may be a lack of commitment to those boats that don’t rise with the tide.

    Things have gone too far David, for Labour to get away with giving commitment to the business class and some form of benign suggestion to the rest. Beleaguered people are very sensitive to the difference.

  6. fatty 6

    In New Zealand we want a fair go for all, but our weakness is that we are also a little too suspicious of those who have made the most of their opportunities.

    I disagree with this, in fact, I do not believe the ‘tall poppy syndrome’. Its a fantasy made up by greedy prats. It suggests jealously from the ‘lazy’, and also perpetuates the myth of the self-made person.
    Our so called tall poppy syndrome doesn’t exist, we only get told it does because it justifies the more oppressive myth of individual responsibility/failure.

    • karol 6.1

      I agree, fatty.

      I do think a lot of Kiwis historically don’t look too positively on anyone big-noting themselves. But that’s not the same as the whole tall poppy thing. And some people who are into major self-promotion are not that tall to start with.

      • Tim 6.1.1

        Indeed!. IF the ‘tall poppy syndrome ever did exist (and it may well have some time in the past), it’s now used by many as an excuse for disallowing any criticism or critique of bad behaviour.

        Look at how many business leaders see themselves (for example). For a start, if you couldn’t run a fucking brewery in a country like NZ successfully, then there’s something wrong – yet there’s a supposed example of good business acumen.
        I’ve just listened to Mike Williams YET AGAIN (twice in one day – give me a pill someone!) talking about Paul Holmes and how he felt entitled to a knighthood. He even managed to con the likes of Edwards into believing he was the ultimate broadcaster simply by being the foreskin of the leading question (a la asking the burgled, or the rape victim – “I suppose you’re feeling VIOLATED”) – give me a fucking break!
        Let’s just bury that “tall poppy” syndrome myth completely.

      • Rhinocrates 6.1.2

        Indeed, compare Sir Edmund Hillary, a great and honest person who was beloved, with other “Sirs” such as Douglas, Fay, Holmes and and ashpirashunul sirs such as Key, Hooton…

        We tend to be a dour, suspicious lot when it comes to titles, and demand self-effacement from those who have them. I often think that’s too much, but then when I consider how much the currency has been debased by handing out titles to such parasites and how there’s a never-ending stream of greedy, talentless hacks clamouring after them, I think we have good reason to be suspicious.

        One day even Armstrong and that oaf Plunkett will get some gong or other for “services to broadcasting”.

    • Bill 6.2

      I find it interesting that Clark buys into the ‘tall poppy’ politics of envy. I say it’s ‘interesting’ because ‘tall poppy’ in my culture was always taken to mean the bringing down to earth of somebody who was ‘up themselves’. So, okay, granted that somebody in a position to be brought back to earth is likely going to be a person in the spotlight – and that might mean they are wealthy or just good at whatever they do. But you can be wealthy or good at your shit without being ‘up yourself’. And if you ain’t ‘up yourself’ then you’re just another poppy in a field of poppies and people, by and large, just won’t notice you or dump any negatively slanted shit about your wealth or talents back onto you.

      edit: Gah – beaten to the draw…

    • Saarbo 6.3

      Agree F. I found the article interesting but Clark is talking utter bullshit on “we are also a little too suspicious of those who have made the most of their opportunities”.

      An important role of the Left is to keep an eye on these greedy, money hungry leeches:

      • xtasy 6.3.1

        A fair “fart in the wind” is the tax law of New Zealand, but then again, this is nothing new. It is all dependent on whether a good ol “solid” “Kiwi” entrepreneur and successful businessman or woman is a tax resident or not. Spending just over half the year in another place, preferably having a residence in a tax haven like Monaco, perhaps Bermuda, or some other place offering great “bargains” and perks, that all helps.

        If you are not a tax resident, and have your NZ passport, much is possible, while living and having your wealth overseas. You can even come back to Otara, and play the generous good old “uncle” visiting the poor of his own homeland, giving a bit of donations, to even earn accolades and perhaps a knighthood.

        “No sweat”, there are so many “loyal” “patriots”, and so many here look up to them and say, well done, mate, you are a mighty awesome buddy and hero!

        Owen Glenn is likely to belong to those “wealth” owners, who pay little tax in their own little, daydreaming country, Aotea New Zealand. He is quoted in the Otago Daily Times from 18.01.2012:

        “There are a number of other industries I’m interested in – tourism, media and property in the UK,” he said.

        “I’ve got a lot of things coming across my desk and have done for quite some time actually, and I’m just homing in on some of the ones I’m interested in.”

        However, the Monaco resident said he would enjoy a change of pace after leaving OTS and hopes to move to Sydney either this year or the next to spend more time with his family.”


        He does “good deeds”, also looking after himself, like this:

        All legal, and Peter Dunne has no problem with this. Assets are not taxable, income is, and wealthy can legally even claim the dole or certain other benefits, if they fulfill the other basic requirements. National Super aka “guaranteed minimum retirement income” also, of course!

        • Saarbo

          Spot on xtasy. Doug Myers, Alan Gibbs, Faye and Richwhite…….all very part-time kiwi’s for the reasons that you have explained. These are the real bludgers who have sucked the wealth out of our nation……….

    • tracey 6.4

      Here here

  7. just saying 7

    I’ve gone away and come back to this since I first read it, because my first reaction would have been offensive, the more so having Joe Baigent bouncing round in my head giving rise to all kinds of class-based anger, all over the place.

    A “rising tide lifting all boats” srsly? You quote Tony freaking Blair and George freaking Bush?

    And you speak of the need to make NZ more attractive to the “talented” rather than the need to nurture each person regardless of the kinds of gifts nature has bestowed. And in your rhetoric about fairness the issue that springs to your mind is “tall poppy syndrome” I realise you yourself probably feel you’ve suffered terribly from those who envy you your superiority and privilege, and your casual confidence that you and yours will always have bellies filled with nutritious food, will always be well-housed and cosy, will have your medical needs met, will almost always be treated respectfully, often obsequiously. It must be infuriating, and you must just wish everyone, particularly those less well-endowed wastrels appreciated how much you deserve everything. I feel your pain David, I really do.

    Little birds tell me your electorate vote will be down in the next election, David. Pity the working class is so ungrateful and disrespectful. We just don’t know how lucky we are, do we?

    • Tim 7.1

      …see there’s possibly the problem with Shearer too!…. given his UN work and sampling of the utterly dispossessed and unfortunate working in the 3rd World.
      IF that’s the comparison that drives him, then we don’t know how lucky we are!
      Roll out LiveAid – you hum it – I’ll strum it!
      But supposedly we are of the 1st World, whereas He that once did so much Good, bases his life’s experience on the 3rd World .
      So IF we profess to belong to that ‘1st World’, lets either just cut the crap, or admit that our aspirations are leading towards 3rd World status since the well off, and those that are of a mind to ignore their ‘cashed up’ status and “aren’t like THAT” (those others) will soon get a dose of reality if we carry on with the current neo-liberal programme.

  8. quartz 8

    Why is he shaking Colin Powell’s hand?

  9. tracey 9

    “we are also a little too suspicious of those who have made the most of their opportunities”

    If this were true Key wouldn’t be so popular.

    The “Tall Poppy Syndrome” and the envy of wealth is something most Kiwis don’t have the time or energy to consider. Most are trying to make a buck, pay the bills and spend time with their chidlren.

    If it exists it will be in part because of the sweded values we have in society.

    4 Knights and a dame.

    How many were honoured for something that wasn’t their job/career? How many honoured for tireless volunteer work? We reward the wrong things and hold up the wrong people as “success”. This is not about cutting down tall poppies its about understanding that money isn’t the measure of success. That having more money may be nive but as it is unattainable for most is a ridiculous and soul destroying way to base “success.”.

    David we value the wrong things and you are party to a set of machinery that carries it on. The fact that Labour stays silent on many issues and joins in on others (example Shearer;s story of the painting the house with a back injury) doesn’t suggest your party and leadership actually have any idea of its citizenship. We need to value and speak tot he quiet folks. The majority just trying to get a buck, that can’t afford your study on fairness, cos they are living inequality every day and having to find a way to make it work. That’s success.

  10. Ad 10

    Hope. Freedom. Security. Fairness. Love. Truth. Community.

    Only a politician could believe that writing composed entirely of abstract nouns would have meaning.

    It’s quite a presumption to describe national character. Certainly bold to compare to something so vast as the USA.

    He either belongs in a think tank full time, or needs to propose something real so that such vacuous silliness is anchored to the planet – like that Mondayising thing.

    • Tim 10.1

      Aye! +1.
      There goes a desperate politician who hasn’t yet realised he’s been sprung. (and there goes half the current Labour Party with him)
      should read: there goes half the parliamentary wing of the Labour Party (with him)

      • Tim 10.1.1

        Probably needs a lick up brand Cnut in fact

        genuinely – I meant K as in kick – it happens sometimes, but I spose a lick was what was expected in all that egotistical pomposity. No K -for KICK! Kick as in KICK a ball. K as in self-ascribed important polly, K as in KICK a polly in Komfort – you get the idea

        IrishBill: I do indeed. Similarly I’m sure you get the idea when I say take it easy on the abuse or take some time off.

        • Tim

          Time out is needed – I agree.
          Too much Williams
          Too much Ryan
          Too much ABC
          Too many polls
          Too much dosing from Mainstream TV
          Too much of encountering people that profess to be ‘of the left’ over this past weekend (many of whom are Kapiti Coast and Wairarapa aging hippies)

          I’ll refrain from further comment, but visit the site daily – since there are several that come here that pique my interest

          i.e. 1 week self-imposed ban Irish.
          PLEASE hold me to it (if you notice)

          • Tim

            Bugger! I don’t appear to have been delisted.
            I’d hoped that IRISH would be looking out for me and that I’d have been put on the IP sauce list at least.
            sauce for gooses is sauce for ganders, and maybe that’s the reason
            This whole thread though is pretty suss.
            The whole premise is fairness .v. freedom as though they were mutually exclusive.
            There goes a downer for an incredibly positive weekend (just past)

            I think the consensus from that experience was that Labour is royally f-u-c-k-e-d; nor can they hope to interest the disaffected 800K that didn’t vote, NO MATTER how hard some fella called Krus Hupkins tries to atone for past sins.

            Labour: should try harder (C-)

  11. Personally, I prefer the values set we have in New Zealand over that which dominates in the US. Citizens in other countries envy the lack of corruption, the valuing of justice and the happier overall population that result from the primacy of ”fairness” in our value system. …

    Well I would make exception to the ‘happier overall population in New Zealand’, but the rest sounds about right. New Zealand is doing a bit of a worse job than the United States in combating suicide, probably due to New Zealand’s terrible youth suicide rate. New Zealand is far behind Australia as well in its effectiveness in combating suicide.

    List of OECD countries by suicide rate:
    Rank | Country | Year | Per 100,000
    1. South Korea 2011 31.7
    […]14. New Zealand 2007 11.2
    15. Sweden 2008 11
    16. Chile 2007 11
    17. Norway 2009 10.9
    18. United States 2007 10.5
    […]26.Australia 2006 7.5

  12. feijoa 12

    Yeah , well, I agree about the tall poppy thing (nobody, sniff, appreciates me, sniff…)

    But I’ve noticed the right like to use the word ENVY when they are challenged about the rich getting richer.
    The left seriously need to debunk this envy thing- I don’t envy John Key his millions, ie, I don’t want his millions for myself thank you, I just want a “fair” go for everyone

    • kiwicommie 12.1

      National envy America, and the leaks about some of those supporting National being tied to American conservative groups kinda proves it. They would sell their souls to be American, but only the Republican vision of America.

  13. xtasy 13

    Any talk of supposed “fairness” in New Zealand is a total farce to me, especially since I and some others experienced how WINZ relies on biased designated doctors to get people thrown off sickness and invalid’s benefits, soon to be changed into other benefit categories.

    “An expert Health and Disability panel has been established to provide advice on ways to strengthen employment assessments and services for people who are sick or disabled.”

    That is a quote from the MSD website! The members on that secretive advisory “panel” have been meeting with, have been advised and apparently been fully convinced by Professor Mansel Aylward, former Chief Medical Officer of DWP in the UK (involved in developing the ATOS work capacity assessments there). Also has Dame Black, (another extreme proponent of the “health benefits of work” for sick and disabled) been meeting with that panel. That MSD panel is now determined to get NZ beneficiaries with health conditions firmly ushered into open employment.

    See the real agenda now, released (with whitened out parts in it) as Cabinet Papers to the media and public (paper C, first one, is most important):




    More info to be found here:

    Hardliner Professor Mansel Aylward will this months speak to at least one national GP conference here in New Zealand (Rotorua and/or Wellington). Doctors are being prepared to tighten up with issuing work capacity assessments by not signing people off unable to work too leniently already.

    This is all going to come into effect in just over a bloody month, and it will be brutal, the most radical reforms in decades. The media have reported nothing really – on the very major changes for sick and disabled.

    And today Jacinda Ardern comes and asks questions in Parliament about how many children had to be moved by CYF from homes of P using or manufacturing parents, which of course is very “media effective”. While that is a fair concern, what is Labour’s stand on these damned, brutal reforms, and why are you all so damned quiet on this?

    Fairness and equality does to me look something quite different to what I see and read here, and what I see is happening in New Zealand. This comment may not be quite appropriate to what is written in the head story above, but it raises issues re fairness to me, what David Clark has been going on in his publication.

    So again, talk about fairness, freedom and whatever, that to me seems to be a lot of hollow, insincere words coming from MPs of a party that started all this direction in welfare with hiring Dr David Bratt!

    • kiwicommie 13.1

      They convinced me that a welfare system no longer exists in New Zealand. By this I mean the following:

      * The WINZ process is designed to be overly complex, and to keep people from receiving benefits for long as possible. They like to create homelessness as homeless people aren’t measured in New Zealand, and therefore they can just remove them from their books. This is shadow unemployment.
      * The adult-training courses that really mattered have been eliminated, all that remains are basic courses that teach writing, maths, and how to appear towards employers. Unless you have qualifications employers are seeking (and the perfect smile or manner), you are stuffed.
      * Employers use WINZ. They take the special bonus they receive for employing someone, and thanks to the 90 day trial they can just sack the unemployed, plus force them to work longer hours, for less pay than other workers. When they get tired of someone, they just sack them and put up a new one for another special bonus.
      * There is little housing available, so even if you manage to get a job it is very likely that the cost of accommodation will leave you broke, and you will lose your job again.

      Unless you have family with the money to support you, or the qualifications employers want (which is either IT, farming, trades or customer service – retail), you might as well accept you are going to be homeless and poor for the rest of your life. Because WINZ and the government won’t help you.

    • Michael 13.2

      I couldn’t agree with you more. Aylward’s role in destroying the NZ welfare state (along with Dame Carol Black and our own dearly loved medical assessors) started under Labour. Until its caucus has the decency to acknowledge this, and pledge to remedy it, their not worth voting for. I reckon Labour MPs are at their most effective when, in opposition, they stand shoulder to shoulder with their constituents, helping them to resist oppression. I only saw Labour MPs do this between 1993-1999; after that, the baubles of office were too distracting.

  14. peterlepaysan 14

    Sigh! This reads so much like a Stage One (101) Political Science text book from the 1950’s.

    The book was titled “The Politics of Equality” author an US academic (Lipskey as I recall).

    Clearly not a text known to Douglas, Prebble et al way back in 1984.

    Back then Muldoon (National’s economic wizard) had left an imminent train wreck of a society and economy facing a a brand new Labour government.

    Douglas and Prebble solved that problem by bombing it.

    It took a while but (especially under Shipley and Richardson) but the Nats realised they could loot and burn to their hearts content.

    It has not stopped.

    Key and Lusk are soul mate scavengers and predators.

    Pick on the weak and kow tow to the powerful.

    Trouble is that Labour still appears to agree with this. Double sigh!!

  15. Furrball 15

    The concept of success leads me to consider so-called meritocracies and their implications.

    We have been taught that meritocratic institutions and societies are fair. Putting aside the reality that no system, including our own, is really entirely meritocratic, meritocracies may be fairer and more efficient than some alternatives. But fair in an absolute sense? Think about it.

    A meritocracy is a system in which the people who are the luckiest in their health and genetic endowment; luckiest in terms of family support, encouragement, and, probably, income; luckiest in their educational and career opportunities; and luckiest in so many other ways difficult to enumerate–these are the folks who reap the largest rewards.

    The only way for even a putative meritocracy to hope to pass ethical muster, to be considered fair, is if those who are the luckiest in all of those respects also have the greatest responsibility to work hard, to contribute to the betterment of the world, and to share their luck with others.

    As the Gospel of Luke says (and I am sure my rabbi will forgive me for quoting the New Testament in a good cause): “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded” (Luke 12:48, New Revised Standard Version Bible).

    Kind of grading on the curve, you might say.

    — Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve
    Baccalaureate Ceremony Speech at Princeton University
    2 June 2013

  16. Sosoo 16

    That article was complete nonsense as it does not define its central concept. How are we supposed to know whether to prefer fairness to other values if we don’t know what fairness is? Besides, different political philosophies have different conceptions of fairness, derived from what are considered to be more fundamental principles.

    To make fairness primary would likely be to adopt a Rawlsian conception of justice (or something like it), but that needs to be spelled out properly for the article to make sense.

  17. Rich the other 17

    Is this fair or just TREASON ?
    At what point should politicians be held to account for their actions.

    ((The Green Party is calling on Fonterra to stop taking milk from Taranaki landfarms where oil and fracking waste has been spread and covered in Taranaki.

    “People don’t want to drink milk from cows grazed on pasture with petroleum industry waste beneath it,” Green Party Co-leader Russel Norman said.

    But regional council spokesman Gary Bedford said the claims made in the TV3 coverage appeared to be either confused or deliberately misleading.

    “I’m not sure what technical competence Russel Norman has to challenge agricultural guidelines and say they are not up to it.” ))

    While the mental state of russel norman continues to give concern should this be ignored and his DELIBERATE attempts to DESTROY our economy be tolerated or are his actions simply UNFAIR ?

    We all deserve fairness.

  18. tracey 18

    Most NZers can’t afford fairness. Isn’t that the rea point?

    • Rich the other 18.1

      Are you suggesting that by destroying our economy as norman is trying to do that that will some how improve fairness.

      Destroying our economy as greens/labour seem intent on doing will only entrench injustice ,curtail freedom and fairness won’t exist.

      • Pasupial 18.1.1

        How about Fonterra package and market the milk from the offensive farms seperately from those without the fracked soil taint?

        That way the precious Market will have the freedom to choose fairly between the two products, without destroying the image of the majority of NZ milk products. Then Rich and his ilk can slurp down as much fracked-up milk as they want (I’ll bet it’d be cheaper too – and just think how extra limbs will enhance your offspring’s productivity! Those that survive, anyway).

        The Greens’ questioning of the relationship between; regional councils, toxic residue testing protocols, and Fonterra, in defense of (both the reality and perception) of a clean green Aotearoa; is not treason. But I’m sure National would love to make it so with retrospective legislation passed under urgency.

      • tracey 18.1.2

        How are they destroying our economy. This govt is employing failed policy from 30 years ago and you support it. Why?

  19. peterlepaysan 19

    Within “democratic ” society there is always a tension between “freedom” and “equality”.

    “Fairness” is a debatable issue used in discussions about the tensions.

    Capitalists always extol “freedom” (to do whatever they damn well like). Fairness to them is an agreed deal. ( It is not unknown for deals to be reneged). The resemblance to mediaeval robber barons and assorted modern day ethnic war lords irritating various governments is striking.

    Equality matters more to non capitalists, who lacking wealth and power say without us you would not exist. Non capitalists also say that because you have wealth and power does not make you better than us. We are equal.

    This worked pretty well for some 40 years in NZ between the 1930s and 1970s.

    Come 1984 Labour Douglas and Prebble destroyed utterly a rescuable disabled ship. Douglas and Prebble abandoned the crew and passengers to sharks, skuas

    The Scandinavian flotilla did well. The Australians are dithering, and drifting (like their cricket team, heh.)

    Fairness ought to matter all parties in a democracy. That is what democratic governance is (or should be) about.

    Fairness is not of any interest to National, ACT, Conservatives at any time.

    It figured in the Labour Party prior to 1984.

    Has anyone in the Labour Party figured out why san fairy ann turned out to vote at the last election?

    Clark had to go to the US to discover “freedom” and “fairness”? Does any Labour politician listen to their membership (what is left of it)?

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