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Growing Inequality Can Be Seen As Clever Politics

Written By: - Date published: 11:36 am, July 21st, 2014 - 160 comments
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Voter turnout has been falling steadily across the western world in recent decades, and not least in New Zealand. We have a proud record of high turnouts in general elections, but even here, we dipped below 80% in 2008 and fell further to a post-war low of 74.21% in 2011.

The problem is even more acute with young voters; opinion polls show a growing number of those under 25 with no interest in voting. And turnout at local elections is much lower again.

These figures are of real concern to the older generation who still retain a folk memory of what things were like before we achieved democracy and of the sacrifices our forbears made to do so. They are also a puzzle to politicians and activists who have difficulty in understanding that, to many people, politics is a sideshow that impinges on their lives only briefly – and even then, not very much – at election time.

Short of following the Australian example by making voting compulsory, it is, though, hard to know what could be done to improve matters. We know very little about what makes people not only vote but vote the way they do – thankfully it may be thought, since if we knew more, even more would be spent on trying to sell them personalities and policies as though they were products on the supermarket shelf.

What we do know is, not surprisingly, that people’s views and motivations vary greatly. Some are entirely settled in their preferences, others change their minds according to their perceptions at the time, while yet others make a random choice on the day or do not vote at all.

It is no doubt broadly the case that the electorate comprises two groups of voters with consistent voting intentions at either end of the political spectrum, and in the middle, perhaps an even larger group of undecideds, swing voters and those who do not vote at all.

I don’t think I am revealing any secrets of the polling booth when I recall that my own dear parents, and most of their respective families, voted National all their lives. For them, it required no actual decision; it was just what we – and “people like us” did. It was rather like being a lifelong supporter of, say, Manchester United.

For many voters, in other words, voting – particularly in a broadly right-wing direction – is often seen as a badge of identity, of respectability and difference. It means being part of the successful people in society, those who are a cut above the common herd.

Even if the facts of the voter’s situation may not actually bear that out, to vote in that direction is to express an aspiration that it should be so. And as so often, it is not just a matter of making common cause with the better off but with establishing an identity clearly differentiated from that of the less successful.

There is also, of course, the belief that the “top” people know what they are doing and that the country can safely be entrusted to them. People who have had success in their own lives, particularly in financial terms, are thought to be best suited to run the country – though whether the kind of self-interest that produces personal fortunes is evidence of the breadth of vision needed to run the country is a question rarely asked.

At the other end of the political spectrum, there is an equally committed group of voters who, either as a matter of self-interest or of social conscience, vote in solidarity with those who are struggling and who want to see the power of a democratic government used to offset the economic power of those who would otherwise dominate the marketplace.

It is the composition of this group that is of most interest in terms of explaining falling voter turnout. It is a reasonable interpretation of the opinion polling figures that significant numbers of those who might once have voted in the hope of a government that would give them a better deal have now migrated to the group that despairs of or has no interest in politics and who do not, therefore, show up in the polls.

These are the people – found disproportionately amongst the poorly educated, the badly housed, the ethnic minorities, the unemployed, those in poor health – who have concluded that “the system” has nothing to offer them. Many of them are on benefits or low incomes, and are in debt, with no foreseeable means of improving their situations. As my former colleague in the House of Commons, Tony Benn, once said, “people without hope do not vote”.

The electoral message is clear but unwelcome. A government that puts the interests of the well-off first can relax. As a significant proportion of the population becomes increasingly voiceless and invisible – in other words, devoid of hope – their absence from the polling booths on election day means they can safely be ignored.

Growing inequality can be seen, in other words, as clever politics. It allows a government that is so inclined to deliver to its supporters, but discourages the losers to such an extent that they are in effect disenfranchised.

Bryan Gould

21 July 2014

160 comments on “Growing Inequality Can Be Seen As Clever Politics ”

  1. One Anonymous Bloke 1

    Destroying public education also helps.

  2. karol 2

    Thanks for this analysis, Bryan.

    Great to see you posting here.

    I also think inequality as an issue has been gaining momentum. The issue for the left is, how to engage the disengaged, and to develop momentum for parties that truly support the least well off in our societies.

  3. KJT 3

    Why turn out when nothing changes for you, but the names of those in Parliament.

    When both the parties that dominate parliament are almost copies of each other.

    When the dialogue is not whether we should have inhuman neo-liberal policies, but just the degree of pain applied during the amputation. (Nod To David Cunliffe.)

    • blue leopard 3.1

      There really is no such excuse here in New Zealand with MMP.

      We need to ask the question: How come those people are not voting for Mana??

      • greywarbler 3.1.1

        @ blueleopard
        But MMP is not a system of delivery of needs to voters, it is just a better opportunity to get someone closer to the smorgasbord. Ever been to a function where the goodies are laid out on a table, and then as a smaller person tried to get past the taller and wider participants to get some oysters? Then you look again and see one bigger boy with a whole dish in his hand taking them back for his table to enjoy on their own.

        With MMP you get your chance to be at the table, but you have to be determined to get there speedily, using a planned strategy, and grab a dollop of what’s going before some greedy s.d purloins most, leaving you the dregs if you are lucky.

        MMP is better than nothing, it increases the likelihood of minority representation and therefore citizens’ interest in supporting their representatives in the elections, but in the contest for development money for their interests, their reps have to work hard and be savvy or they can end up wallpaper.

        • blue leopard

          I think I understand what you are putting forward and it is a good point if I am understanding correctly. There is an issue re how much influence a small party can achieve especially if the larger parties are hostile.

          However it pays to take note of the influences that have occurred due to smaller parties. I don’t think we would have got the ‘warmer houses’ that the Greens progressed, nor the ‘feeding the kids’ that Mana pushed for had it not been for the voice of the smaller parties. So it is not the case that the smaller parties have no effect just because they don’t always get credited with the ideas.

          The other thing is that if people don’t see the strengths of this system – those strengths will be less likely to be experienced. I still do not know how only 24, 000 people voted for Mana after that world-wide catastrophe of the financial system and increasing awareness re the top 1% vs the 99%. . I think it must be due to that very idea that ‘the smaller parties can’t affect big change’ (which I think you are putting forward). This type of thinking leads to a self fulfilling prophecy more than anything; they certainly can’t change things if people don’t vote for them!

          But I really do think that the smaller parties have already caused change in the status quo. For example I really think having the Mana Party in government has made it much easier for the other larger parties to start talking openly about inequality and the negative effects of wealth disparity. I think Harawira’s straight shooting manner/talent put the larger parties to shame and this caused a shift in the narrative. Also the Green’s (although a larger party now) long-suffering and good solid work has allowed environmental issues to be taken more seriously and become a central issue of discussion – only a few years ago the most common response to the Greens and the environmental issue they raise in parliament was one of being scoffed at – this is not the case now.

          • Tracey

            I am in a position of feeling i need to vote for one of the most right wing members of the national caucus to try and get what i hope is a better future for those vulnerable in NZ.

            • Wayne


              • felix

                Easily confused, Wayne doesn’t believe anyone in National is particularly right-wing.

              • karol

                Epsom: the tail that’s wagging the dog of the whole country and its government.

                • KJT

                  Really shows the lack of democracy. Asset sales, and having a right wing instead of a mildly less right wing dictatorship, depended entirely on National gaming the system in a single electorate.

                  • blue leopard

                    I think it is irresponsible to refer to Labour as ‘mildly less right wing’ without ‘having the time’ to substantiate your comment.

                    It may be that you wish to entice people to vote further left – however I question your methods here. Leaving people with the view that Labour are right-wing is more likely to get people feeling entirely defeated and not vote rather than doing what you perhaps hope – that of voting for IMP or Greens. IMO

                    We are currently completely saturated with negativity toward Labour – which is the most likely party to lead a left-wing government.

                    It is truly depressing to see that brainwashing saturation of propaganda leeching onto these pages.

                    How about being positive about the parties you want people to vote for rather that criticizing Labour?

                    People are much more inclined to be motivated to move toward something positive. People are unlikely to be inspired by negativity.

                    By criticising Labour you have no idea how that will mobilize people – it could leave them voting further left, it could leave them voting National, it could leave them immobilized and not voting at all.

          • greywarbler

            @ble leopard
            Very true.
            The other thing is that if people don’t see the strengths of this system – those strengths will be less likely to be experienced.

            The political system shapes our lives and we should be able to shape it to bring us what we need. But we haven’t been able to for years. Some good things happen but usually someone has to be road-kill before anything gets done. Things that people want don’t get passed by our slack politicians and it takes sacrifice to press for social things that will aid our lives and economic things are explained away so we don’t know what to do for the best. When the economy is discussed it sounds as convoluted as reading a prayer book in Latin.

            The voters have seen Nz rolled and much of it sold off and then somehow jobs have gone because the firms couldn’t make a profit because of import competition. I don’t know if the average voter actually can see the whole picture. I feel it is easier for the AV to sit grumbling a bit numb, unhappy but taking a pot shot at the Greens, or the feminists or whoever comes within their sights. They see them as people agitating for something they don’t know about more like a row of tin cans that they’ll fire their potato gun at. Annoying buggers who are full of talk but nothing good ever happens. And they have lost what seemed a likely job for the third time and can’t see their way clear.

            This stuff is incremental and saps hope, and enthusiasm. Turns us into carping, criticising, narrow-minded, self-centred shadows of our once vital fairly happy selves who had plans to do this and that. Now it all is on the card and buy whatever is the latest import and just do the best you can manage for yourself. And I think someone has thought that and stolen my garden wheelie bin. That’s life these days.

          • karol

            The Greens have also been long pushing for something to be done about poverty and income/wealth inequalities. I think Mana helped by joining with a strong focus on that as their main issue.

            I always have liked a lot of things about Mana. But I also have continued to have some reservations about it, which is why I continue to vote Green.

            The Greens have developed a track record of being strong on various left wing areas of concern.

            One of my reservations about Mana has being in the realm of it seeming to be fairly male/masculine dominated, even though it has some excellent women candidates. And I continue to have reservations about KDC and his role in IMP.

            I think it takes a while for a party/movement to develop and show whether or not they have longevity, and as to how good they are at getting/putting their policies into practice.

            • Colonial Viper

              The lifespan of most new minor parties is 2-3 terms Parliament, after which the decline into a 1MP rump is the usual outcome.

              One of my reservations about Mana has being in the realm of it seeming to be fairly male/masculine dominated

              and who do you see the fault for that residing with?

              • karol

                For all their good points – Hone, and probably a little from Minto, too.

                And I have major reservations on that for KDC.

                PS: I really don’t want to go too far down that line at this stage of the electoral cycle. I have been trying to focus on the positives.

                The IMP may deliver some positives in this election – eg, getting a couple of good people into the House, and engaging some of the dis-engaged voters.

                Suffice to say, I continue to give my vote to the Greens, because they cover a lot of important bases: policy, track record, values, style of politicking.

    • blue leopard 3.2

      I think there is a problem with the lack of discernment going on when people say Labour and National are ‘almost copies of one another’.

      I guess National are copying Labour but it is always in a watered down manner.

      There have been a lot of things going on that National do differently from Labour. Some examples:

      Labour are clearly offering more intervention in the markets such as by introducing measures to ‘encourage’ investment into productive enterprises – if successful this would lead to more jobs and less unemployment. Take that and include the push for better working conditions and wages that Labour are pushing for and I consider it very wrong to say National and Labour are offering similar things.

      National partially privatized our assets in the name of market efficiency (which doesn’t exist in reality)

      National are severely endangering our education system – the one I am personally most concerned about is the tertiary education. Joyce will make that system much more open to manipulation if he gets his way. People over 40 have been barred from retraining (if they had any previous education), those who are unemployed have had a lot of assistance removed since National have been in government and they have had opportunities for social mobility removed at the same time.

      I really don’t think Labour would be sitting on their hands in the way National have regarding the mining and forestry deaths either.

      Please consider the facts before you say that these two parties are veritable copies. It is simply not true.

      • KJT 3.2.1


        labour was the first to privatise assets.

        Labour was the one who carried on refusing WFF to welfare recipients.

        Labour, in the form of David Parker has policies which look very similar to National’s. A continuation of neo-liberalism with a little more intervention.

        Do you really think they look any different to someone on the dole.

        As one management type said to me. “Perception is reality”.

        • blue leopard

          Your most powerful arguments against Labour are regarding past policies that Labour pursued. The further into the past you go the more powerful the argument is. Doesn’t this at the very least show you of an improvement in Labour’s stance. (yes a huge improvement was required!). This is actually a matter of trust you speak of – not current policies. If it is a matter of trust (and clearly there is an issue of trust for some/many with regard to Labour) then state that. This would be more constructive than conflating the matter of trust based on past behaviour with what they are offering this time around.

          I have been considering writing a post on what Neo-liberalism is because I really think that many lefties are confusing the issue – and in a manner that really isn’t helpful for gaining a left-wing government. Neo-liberalism is all about not intervening – the more intervention the less neo-liberal it is. Put it this way: intervening is like adding salt to a glass of water – you don’t need much and then the water is no longer something that would be considered pure [drinkable] water anymore. It would be considered salt-water. Likewise it may not require intervention in every part of the system we have in order for the political approach to not be neo-liberal anymore. I have already provided examples of where I consider Labour would intervene more than National.

          “Do you really think they look any different to someone on the dole.”

          I have been unemployed and a number of times over the shift between Labour to National. (or National to Labour) I don’t know how anyone who was ‘on the dole’ could miss the difference between the two parties. (I do know people who do hold that view, by the way – just don’t know how they don’t see the difference) It is actually this very experience while unemployed that has lead me to be more politically active. It bothered me how people not so beholden to government departments think that ‘it doesn’t make a difference’ it actually does except people may not see what is going on ‘behind the scenes’ so they think nothing chages. Political activities and their consequences certainly aren’t reported well (not just re WINZ also other changes) and again this issue starts being more around the level of New Zealanders’ awareness than about what is really going on. Hence my objection re anyone spreading memes that are not accurate – it just adds more confusion onto an already confused populace.

          Please realise that there have been more changes to unemployed peoples’ circumstances than have been announced via the main-stream media. The worst one I experienced was the amount of time it started taking to navigate what the hell was required from me from WINZ under National – seriously I ended up feeling I was completely distracted from fixing my difficult unemployed situation by the number of bloody hoops that was required from me from WINZ under National. That report that was covered by mainstream News recently was very accurate in relation to my experience. (I fully acknowledge I am only speaking of one person’s experience)

          I am utterly certain that I spent longer on a benefit due to this issue re ‘hoops’ alone.

          They also took away a lot of financial support. They also took away a lot of health support. The also took away a lot of educational support. One wouldn’t be warned of the changes – one day one would discover that suddenly you were no longer entitled to some form of assistance that you used to be.

          Historically neither National nor Labour have focused as much on creating jobs as it Cunliffe’s Labour clearly plan to (another shift away from the neo-liberal meme), however I have to note that jobs were becoming a hell of a lot more abundant under the last Labour government than at any other in my adult lifetime – granted National were at the helm during a global recession – however at such a time they removed the ability for one in circumstances such as myself to go back and retrain. I can’t tell you how pleased I am that I started University the year that they changed that rule – this allowed me to study this year under the last rules. Had I not gone back when I did the option of going back would have become that much more of an option – at the very least $20 000 more expensive. Labour simply wouldn’t have done that.

          As I said – this is solely my experience, however you asked ‘what would someone on the dole think’ therefore I thought that I might share my experience in that regard.

          Yes sadly it is all about ‘perceptions’ Perceptions need to be challenged. I have a lot of respect for what you write KJT – seriously – yet in this particular conversation I am asking you to question your own perceptions re how similar Labour are to National.


          • blue leopard

            Some errors in my writing sorry – the worse being: going back to retrain “would have been that much less of an option” due to National’s outrageous and contemptuous policy of taking away study assistance for older people.

            • KJT

              While I agree with you, I am not talking about “my perceptions”.

              I am talking about the many young and disenfranchised people that I have conversations with, as well as the working class types who I work with. Labour’s history of “betrayal” and the super policy means many will never vote Labour again. They tend to either vote for Winston or not at all, because they do not see any party representing them.

              Many still feel totally betrayed by Labour, and rightly or wrongly, the aura of incompetence and dis-unity, and the many faces from the 80’s, attached to Labours caucus doesn’t help.

              Of course countering the media narrative is difficult when the media is owned..
              “The loony left Greens” for a party which could have fitted easily with Holyoak’s National.
              The constant personal attacks on Cunliffe that passes for political analysis.
              The outright lies and mis-use of statistics that comes from National and is regurgitated by an unthinking media.

              • Colonial Viper

                I am talking about the many young and disenfranchised people that I have conversations with, as well as the working class types who I work with. Labour’s history of “betrayal” and the super policy means many will never vote Labour again.

                Yes. This is a major disconnect. Evidenced by people like TRP arguing that the Rogernomics of the 1980s doesn’t still turn off potential Labour voters today. Of course it does – just not the comfortable home owning middle class ones he hangs with.

                The other one is around identity politics. Women far prefer to vote National than Labour. They even prefer to vote for a National Party whose Cabinet is 70% men, rather than a Labour Party whose list is fastidiously gender balanced.

                • blue leopard

                  ‘Women far prefer to vote National than Labour. ‘
                  Where do you get your stats from CV?

                  • Colonial Viper

                    did I not answer you the other day? The study which shows that in 2011 there was no major gender preference weighting votes for either National or Labour; with NZF having more male support than female support.

                    • blue leopard

                      Yes you did, however I found your answer inadequate and you didn’t answer my last question [ http://thestandard.org.nz/polity-new-polls/#comment-851199 ]

                      I was also hoping you weren’t relying on that same study because it didn’t say what you are positing.

                      How does a study that proves there is no major weighting in preference for either National or Labour prove that women ‘far prefer’ National?

                    • Colonial Viper
                      • I didn’t use a Right vs Left framing for this. I used a National vs Labour framing. Partly because the party by party approach is what the study also used.
                      • The study showed that neither National or Labour had any real advantage (or disadvantage) with either gender.
                      • Far more people voted National last time around, therefore I simply concluded that far more women voted National last time around.
                      • As for the gender split at the 2014 ballot box. I don’t know how exactly that is going to work out. But I’m very comfortable that National will get at least 100,000 more female votes more than Labour will.

                      (btw that may not hold true if we have another record low turnout).

                      As for how meaningful the statement is that both men and women are more likely to vote National…well, it says that National will get a lot more votes than Labour. Both male votes and female votes. Take that how you will.

                      It sounds like you are suggesting ‘because women (or men) were statistically more likely to vote National last time around then they are most likely to vote National in this year’?

                      Yeah nah to that.

                      I do predict that women will once again prefer National over Labour on Sept 20, as I stated above, and prob by at least 100,000 votes.

                    • blue leopard


                      Why frame women in that light? – when based on those last election results and that study it would be both women and men who favoured National.

                      Also it is a bit unfair to put it that way when the left had more credible options than the right had last election – therefore the vote was more split on the left.

                      One thing that I did derive from that conversation is it would appear that women are voting for parties that don’t represent the political approaches they believe in. I get that from the categorical statement the researcher relayed about women preferring more intervention – a larger government role.

                      We really need more easy to access information regarding policies and the overall agendas of each party. (I mean easy to absorb).

                      I do know one woman who admitted to voting National last time. She relayed that she did so because he thought it fair for a party to have more than one term. This is only one person’s view – yet I have wondered since whether this type of thought pattern had something to do with National scraping across the line in the last election….

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Why frame women in that light? – when based on those last election results and that study it would be both women and men who favoured National.

                      To make the point that Labour should never expect to win any net votes from women through pursuing issues of gender or identity politics.

                      To argue this case by making it clear that women do not prefer Labour over National. And that far more Kiwi women will vote National, not Labour, even though National cannot even pretend to offer a gender balanced Cabinet or Party List.

                      And to state that it is my belief that at least 100K more women will again vote National this year than Labour.

                    • blue leopard

                      Finally I have found some data.

                      Pg 327-8 of this book linked to (hopefully it is on that page when the link opens) provides a table of the amount of women who voted for each party in 1996, 1999 and 2002 elections. More women were voting for Labour in those years than men although the trend of support was downward.

                • Te Reo Putake

                  Jeez, you’re a pompous git, CV. You know nothing about me or my life, other than what little I’ve chosen to share here. Remember, you’re the one who claims to be bludging off the family wealth of your lover. Like it or not, I’m a lot closer to the lives of working class kiwis than could ever hope to be.

                  And my point about events 30 years ago stands. Most young voters (or should be voters) wouldn’t have a clue what you’re banging on about if you mentioned Rogernomics. It’s ye olde aincient history. Those old enough to remember have long moved on, as is proved by Labour winning all those elections from 1999. Time for you to stop bleating about the irrelevant, pal.

                • KJT

                  “the comfortable home owning middle class ones”.
                  Like me you mean.

                  Most of us are very aware that business is better under left wing Governments.

                  And we do remember the 80’s and 90’s. Well.

                  I suspect he is hanging around wannabee “comfortable home owning middle class”,.
                  We used to have a lot around us when we lived in Auckland. The ones with mortgages, lifestyles and leased cars, way beyound their earnings.

          • KJT

            What is Neo-liberalism.

            “Neo-Liberalism. Like all religions, is a way for the already wealthy to delude everyone else from rebelling, so they can keep their “winning ticket”.
            While many followers of religions have the best of intentions, their leaders have no such illusions. The intent is to keep wealth and/or power.
            The overall effect of Neo-Liberal economics is to “privatise profits while socialising the losses”.
            Hugely increasing inequality and economic and social dysfunction.
            Country after country adopts Neo-Liberal economics and rapidly goes downhill even by Neo-Liberalism’s own measures such as GDP. And we still believe it is the solution!”

            “You have to convince your fellow citizens that any attempt to restrict or redistribute your wealth will not only put their jobs at risk, but that society as a whole will become poorer.
            If you can convince people of these things, then they will, perfectly democratically, eliminate wealth taxes, truncate workers’ rights, and reconfigure their entire political system to favour the tiny minority fortunate enough to hold the multi-million-dollar winning tickets”

            • Gosman

              Essentially you are using the term neo – liberal as a grab bag for any policies you dislike.

              • Draco T Bastard

                No, he’s not. He’s using it to describe the psychopathic policies that you support.

            • blue leopard

              @ KJT,

              Long response sorry….

              Yes neo-liberalism is a tricky subject to discuss because there are a number of conflicting things things going on when it comes to neo-liberalism. There is the neo-liberal propaganda, then there is the neo-liberalist mind set – which may be quite covered by the propaganda. I agree is a good thing to focus on the mindset (agenda) because it is the most consistent thing one can point to when it comes to the shape-shifting style of neo-liberal political approaches. Finally there are the methods in which they use to achieve their real agenda – which, again, may be quite different from their propaganda.

              With regard to ideology – the mindset – Cunliffe gave this message to business people:

              Sometimes good things can fall into our lap, like periods of high commodity prices.

              But it’s not a serious long-term strategy to tie our economic well-being to forces that are largely beyond our control.

              Yes, New Zealand floats like a small boat on the ocean of the global economy. But I refuse to accept we can’t influence our own destiny. Together, we can achieve sustainable long-term growth.

              Small states like Sweden, Norway and Singapore prove it is possible. It’s time we woke up to what has been happening in these economies, rather than staying locked in a 1990s time warp.

              I’m sure there will be some in the room who disagree. But it is the view of the Labour Party that a disproportionate and growing share of the value of the New Zealand economy is accruing to the top few percent.

              Labour supports positive business, but trickle-down economics and its neoliberal parentage have failed New Zealanders and left many of our emerging businesses starved of investment capital and skills.

              The opportunity gaps have widened and there is no clear, shared strategy to a high value, high income future.

              That’s something Labour will change. We want an economy that works for all New Zealanders.


              So that is Mr Cunliffe challenging the mindset of neo-liberalists and also the propaganda.

              Then there is the question of method – I have already put forward some of the many methods in which Labour go against strict adherence to non-intervention in the markets – I didn’t mention the bit where neo-liberalism denies community spirit and how Labour are consistently encouraging more community minded views but I did provide a link that conveys this aspect in its definition of neo-liberalism.

              The aspect of method (as opposed to mindset or propaganda) is where the trust issue comes in. The question clearly rises for some “is what Labour say they will do and be supportive of really what they intend?”.

              Bottom-line I would just suggest that people vote for Greens, Mana or Internet if they really don’t trust Labour – yet I think an important discussion needs to be had over how neo-liberal Labour’s policies in this election actually are – or are not. (Not last election , 6 years or 30 years ago – this year’s policies) because I believe they are not as neo-liberal as some people here on the Standard and elsewhere are perceiving them to be – and this discussion requires from the outset an understanding of what neo-liberalism is before it can proceed.

              • Draco T Bastard

                So that is Mr Cunliffe challenging the mindset of neo-liberalists and also the propaganda.

                And then he promised only to raise the top tax rate 3% instead of the 50% needed. Labour is trying very hard to keep the near flat taxes that we have now.

                • blue leopard

                  It is pretty clear that it doesn’t matter what the top tax rate is if evasion isn’t addressed. Labour have said there will be a focus on cooperate tax evasion.

                  I just find those of you who are criticising Labour on the grounds of being neo-liberalist are being quite dishonest – in the way you are picking on details and not looking at the overall collection of policies that have already been announced that show that a Labour government will be pivoting the economy in rather a strongly ‘non-neoliberalist’ way; getting the economy working for all rather than simply a few. They are doing so on a number of fronts and not all policies have been announced yet either.

                  • karol

                    Neoliberalism preaches non-ntervention, but they actually do practice quite a bit of intervention. It takes a lot of intervention to siphon profits and wealth to the already wealthy and powerful.

                    The non-intervention, small government mantra is a cover for the real changes that are happening.

                    Government has been in the process of being out-sourced to the private sector.

                    Neoliberalism is about consumer capitalism in the interests of transnational corporates.

                    • blue leopard

                      But no neo-liberalist would want a government that would have the economy pivoted towards working for many (‘sharing the wealth’) such as promoting higher wages and focusing on job creation by forcing money into productivity and away from speculation.

                      I guess that is why those who own the media are so focused on getting their pet prize possessions to attack Cunliffe so badly. Why else would they be so threatened do you think?

            • blue leopard

              @ KJT

              ‘This purpose for centuries has been fulfilled by religion.
              We still see echo’s of the religious attitudes. The idea that the poor are poor because of personal defects, American exceptionalism, the banker who reckons, “God wanted me to be rich”, Ayn Rands “wealth creators”.’


              I view neo-liberalism as a backlash to certain Christian views:

              “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” -Mark 10:25

              Again, one has to be accurate. There are two things that I can see going on with religion – one is very challenging of the status quo – it is either self and/or community empowering and very compassionate. The other aspect of religion is the one you refer to – the controlling aspect, where the powerful capture the religion and use it to shift the ideas of that religion for their own purposes. Very contradictory I know – however you have chosen to miss the first aspect – which I believe to be the true kernel of religion and therefore your definition from the outset becomes inaccurate and alienating to those people in our community who relate with religion in a positive way.

              Why should we be accurate in this way? One of the ways the neo-liberal approach has captured the narrative is how it divides the community into small and manageable groups. It makes us see differences rather than what we have in common. “we are all individuals – there is no such thing as community” A divided group is an easier people to overcome. If we wish to overcome the tactics of neo-liberalism we have to take care not to alienate the diversity of beliefs/lifestyles that our community consists of. We have to find ways to unite – see our common goals and rather than putting forward ideas that alienate.

              • Clemgeopin

                Interesting you say that. I have a personal view that one cannot be Christan or a follower of Christ and his teachings and not be a socialist. Of course it does not follow that a socialist necessarily has to be Christian.

                • blue leopard

                  Yes it is requires a stretch of the imagination to understand how someone sold on Christ’s message could in all sincerity and alignment with their faith vote for the Right. (I couldn’t work it out and ended up asking someone – also read a book about it!)

                  • KJT

                    Looking back at the History of Christianity, it has been all about who has the wealth and power, and keeping the under-classes quiet, with promises of rewards in heaven, since Constantine.

                    Have look at why Priests were not allowed to marry. It has nothing to do with purity.

                    Having said that, I have a lot of time for the new Pope, who seems to take the teachings of Christianity to heart.
                    As I have for a lot of genuine and decent followers of religions.
                    Even Neo-liberals include decent people who genuinely believe that “trickle down” works.

                    Unfortunately, the common characteristics of all religions, including the current anti-science meme, include, belief without evidence, and the belief that a God, a person or an ideology will fix everything. An avoidance of adult responsibility.

                    • blue leopard

                      It depends whether you focus simply on the power-elites or the genuine leaders of and the masses of people who have followed Christianity and derived insight and empowerment from having a genuine understanding/faith.

                      “Unfortunately, the common characteristics of all religions, including the current anti-science meme, include, belief without evidence, and the belief that a God, a person or an ideology will fix everything. An avoidance of adult responsibility.”

                      “If scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.”

                      ― Dalai Lama XIV, The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality

                      I am of the understanding that we wouldn’t even have science if it wasn’t for Islamic scholars preserving and extending knowledge in the Middle Ages.

                      I suggest that you take more care about having some understanding/knowledge on a subject prior to making sweeping statements about a vast swathe of beliefs.

          • Tracey

            Past behaviour is as good an indicator for future performance as there is… The opposition, including labour need to focus on nationals past performance so peoplecget the opposition perspective of what the nation is in for. You dribble out your policies so you have an answer when asked “so what would YOU do differently?”… But focus on them, they have lied and this happened, they lied and then that happened… So what are they lying about now to get back in and make some suggestions BUT you have to state the prove lie first. Wanted to pay foreign investors in scf so said labour made it happen.. But english reneed the guarantee and key told the lie. No tax increases and up went gst… Taking $xx dollars out of half of kiwis pockets a year…

          • Draco T Bastard

            Neo-liberalism is all about not intervening – the more intervention the less neo-liberal it is.

            Yep, it is. So why is Labour still going on about R&D tax credits that don’t work (The Entrepreneurial State)? You want blue sky R&D then you have the state doing it and it’s only through that that our economy can be developed. That’s why we need so many students and graduates to go into R&D.

            They also took away a lot of financial support. They also took away a lot of health support. The also took away a lot of educational support.

            Yep, National took a lot away – Labour hasn’t said anything about putting it back and they certainly haven’t said anything about returning benefit levels to what they were prior to Ruth Richardson’s Mother of all Budgets where they were cut from being just enough to live onto being 20% below enough to live on. Benefit levels need to be raised by about 30% minimum.

            Had I not gone back when I did the option of going back would have become that much more of an option – at the very least $20 000 more expensive. Labour simply wouldn’t have done that.

            And Labour still haven’t said anything about changing it back or making it even better than it was.

            • blue leopard

              Cool are you mentioning one policy that intervenes in the market – that you happen to think won’t work – as assertion of a neo-liberalist Labour?

              Just because a policy hasn’t been announced doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I would be very surprised if Labour didn’t reverse the student rip-offs that have occurred under National.

              Is that all you’ve got?

              • Draco T Bastard

                Cool are you mentioning one policy that intervenes in the market

                But it’s not just one – there are many more.

                Just because a policy hasn’t been announced doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

                A policy on education would have been announced along with the rest of the policies.

                • blue leopard

                  “But it’s not just one – there are many more.”

                  More that intervene in the market?

                  And you are arguing that Labour are neo-liberalist?

                  “A policy on education would have been announced along with the rest of the policies.”

                  Says DTB

                  So far the announcements have been about childhood education – tertiary education is a separate issue that hasn’t been spoken of yet.

              • Ergo Robertina

                Do you disagree with Cunliffe’s New Lynn branch speech in 2012 that National and Labour subscribed to the same economic framework, which he deemed to be neoliberal?
                If so, how has Labour in 2014 moved away from this, given in key areas it has moved to the right of the 2011 manifesto? Not the least of which is a lower top tax rate than in 2011.

                • blue leopard

                  @ Ergo Robertina

                  I have already described policies that I consider are moving away from the ‘same old same old’ – and how the two differ (scroll up).

                  I have also asked sincere questions to people pushing the view re Labour and neo-liberalim and have only received one example of a neo-liberalist approach Labour are taking – which isn’t neo-liberalist at all. I have also received comments saying the proof is in Labour not having said something – and this when we have a whole election campaign to go.

                  I think those who are pushing the meme that Labour are the same as National – and/or they are neo-liberalist really need to start substantiating their comments.

                  You never know – I might actually end up agreeing with such ideas if they were explained – but to date it is looking like such comments are arising from the great brainwashed rather than people who are providing sincere and informed ideas to the discussion. If people wish to assert something – surely they should be happy to substantiate and explain their claim to someone asking?

                  It should be pretty clear I am not just playing games by now – I am, however, starting to think those pushing the view that Labour are the same as National are.

                  Would you provide a link to that speech?

                  • Ergo Robertina

                    No, you have pointed to different rhetoric, small-scale spending initiatives, and your personal experience of the two parties, not to any evidence of the structural change Cunliffe said was needed back in 2012.
                    Intervening in the market sometimes does not equate to a move away from neoliberal policies.
                    And you used right-wing framing (it’s about tax evasion, not tax rates) to rationalise Labour’s soft tax policy.
                    It’s very hard to shift a paradigm, and I have some sympathy for Labour. But it’s dangerous when we spin something as progressive (like Labour has with its 36c tax rate) when it’s actually the same old.
                    Dimpost reproduced the speech in full: http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2012/04/30/cunliffe-shores-up-the-base/

                    • blue leopard

                      Thanks for the link I’ll have a read.

                      I am unclear what you are meaning re rhetoric small spending? The job/speculation one? I really do think the whole push toward more jobs through pushing money toward productivity and away from speculation combined with promises to raise wages and conditions is actually a big shift from what we have.

                      Yes I have certainly heard righties say that about evasion – yet it is a fair point. I also heard Labour members (Little or Morony can’t remember) speak of how unemployed people were targeted for fraud because it was so darned hard to catch the highly paid fraudsters and governments like to be seen to be doing something so they target the poor ones who are easy targets. (This was in parliament I think it was a Bill it was around the time that benefit fraud was being targeted by Bennett a few months ago). It was what they said that made me agree with that particular issue re tax revenue gathering.

                      I wouldn’t argue that there are other parties that are more assertive over some of the most important matters (such as poverty, wealth disparity or environmental issues) however I genuinely do question this meme that National and Labour are similar… it is all those hideous things National have been doing behind the scenes too – like with RMA. There is so much National have been degenerating – both openly and behind the scenes I fear many have forgotten just how busy National have been when it comes to degenerating our country. (I know I’ve forgotten a lot of them!) There are a lot of things Labour simply wouldn’t have been party to that National have conducted over the last 6 years. There may be similarities between the two parties – there may be people whose conditions don’t improve under either government – but I really disagree that a Labour government is similar to the point of being the same to a National one.

                      You are actually the first person who have offered something reasonably substantial to what I have been questioning, thanks.

                    • Ergo Robertina

                      Labour is much more respectful of democratic process, no argument there, and it should be emphasised, because people do forget.
                      There is a very different tone set by each of the two parties in office, and the cavalier example of the delinquent John Key is particularly disgraceful.
                      But the point is every administration since 1984 has either held the line or shifted the goal posts further right economically.
                      Regarding rhetoric and small scale spending, these were separate based on what I thought you had pointed to (rhetoric being what Labour promises and emphasises; spending initiatives the education funding streams you mentioned that were axed by National).

                    • karol

                      I don’t think Labour and National are the same. I think Labour, under Clark, was soft neoliberal (some say “thrid way”). Basically, they introduced some measures to soften the impact of neoliberalsim without actually dismantling it and take a truly left wing direction.

                      eg Working For Families, made life somewhat easier for low-middle income households. But Labour continued tightening the screws on beneficiaries – pressuring them to get jobs, etc, even if there weren’t a lot of jobs. They weren’t as harsh as under Nat governments, but nevertheless still heading in the same direction.

                      They put in place a holding pattern, which didn’t see major increases in the income/wealth gap, but didn’t take it back to pre-late 1980s level.

                      Labour still enabled the speculative economy and the housing bubble to continue.

                      This meant, that when the Nats got back into government, they could continue with the callous neoliberal measures from where they left off last time in government. This has enabled a gradual rightward shift of NZ governance and economy since the late 1980s.

                      NZ can’t take any more of this. Third Way, soft liberalism just won’t cut it with the next Labour-led government. It needs a total new left wing direction, or the damage will be way too hard to reverse in the next few decades.

                    • blue leopard

                      @ Karol and Ergo Robertina

                      I have some sympathy with the view that Labour have ‘held the line’ rather than made drastic changes, although this isn’t entirely fair because they brought in Working For Families and I take this to be in direct response to the appalling inequality issues that were worsening at the time. Poverty in NZ would be even worse than it is a now had they not done that.

                      I get the impression that Labour get into government and the first thing they always have to do is spend a hell of a lot on fixing up the mess made by National prior to being able to achieve anything adventurous. I believe National have come to depend on this – they allow certain things to degenerate under their watch fairly well knowing Labour will come in and fix them up. It will be no different – in fact probably worse – this time – and I suspect Cunliffe & co fairly well know this – hence a bit of caution on the promises.

                      Labour however have already shown they are going to provide more financial support to the health and education system, to families (direct and via schools), address the greedy power provider’s prices by direct intervention, also applying direct intervention in the housing crisis and I just looked on their site and note other things have appeared like corporate manslaughter, compensating Pike River families, and reversing TICS and GCSB Law changes since last time I looked (or just didn’t find them last time).


                      Thanks both Ergo and Karol for your comments you provide food for thought -I note this topic gets increasingly hard to discuss because it requires a rather large amount of knowledge – (ideologies, history, partys’ policies, their ramifications) I suspect that is why more people don’t discuss this subject so I am attempting it despite lacking some areas of knowledge because I think it needs to be had and I hope others join in too over the coming weeks to.

                      I just hope those that put forward Labour being as bad as National put some thought into why it is they say that because I think some of the problem is that we don’t question our assumptions enough.

                  • KJT

                    David Cunliffe says the right words but I haven’t heard them reflected in many actions over the last few years, or policies. (Tinkering around the edges rather than reversing the 30 year decline).

                    For example.
                    Voting with National on the “bennie bashing” criminalising partners policy.
                    Voting, along with the Greens, a I am ashamed to say, for the Brownlee dictatorship.

                    A 3% rise in the top tax rate FFS. We could at least match Australia with 45% over 250k.
                    No tax free threshold.
                    The real dooly. Raising the super age.
                    Retaining the reserve bank act.

                    I could go on, but I have other things to do.

            • KJT

              It is one of the propaganda fictions that Neo-liberalism is not about intervention and State control..

              Intervention to get rid of the power of social collectives, to bail out private loses and artificial restrict inflation to keep capital in the hands of wealthy monetary speculators is fine. State control, restriction of civil liberties and surveillance to protect the few, who are stealing the wealth from the rest of us, is also perfectly fine.

              In fact the only really consistent principal of neo-liberalism is privatising the profits and socialising the loses”.

              • blue leopard

                @ KJT

                Good points – I should have qualified my comment with ‘intervention in the market -mechanism‘.

                However many different forms of intervention end up ‘ intervening in the markets’ – whether it is regulation or helping those out who are struggling orbailing out those who are wealthy.

                A strong state, however is something that the monopolists do not want – have you read this?


                • KJT

                  I would argue that what the monopolists don’t want is a “Democratic” State.

                  Monopolists and corporatists have co-existed happily with many repressive and authoritarian regimes.

                  • blue leopard

                    They don’t want a strong state that they can’t influence. Whether that be a democratic one or a dictatorship (e.g. Saddam Hussein’s fate).

                    I agree, though, a sound expression of democracy – certainly would be something they would put a lot of effort into degenerating – as can be seen here in New Zealand currently.

                    It is like what was said in that article you linked to – the elite would have the ‘opponents’ to capitalism remove – yet in doing that they destroy the system that they are most advantaged by. That article was largely relating that to communism – yet democracy is also the same.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      And if your country doesn’t have a central bank tied into their global system, you’re also on the list to be fucked over.

                      • Libya
                      • Syria
                      • Iraq
                      • Afghanistan
                      • Iran
                    • blue leopard

                      +1 CV

                      It is horrible how that is occurring. 🙁

        • Draco T Bastard

          Do you really think they look any different to someone on the dole.

          Not from where I’m sitting.

          • blue leopard

            Why? What is similar about them DTB?

            • Colonial Viper

              Smash you with endless requirements to look for jobs which don’t exist, medical reviews with ongoing threats of losing your benefits, multiple courses to do up your CVs for jobs which don’t exist, dock your benefit at any excuse (whether through abatement regimes or any other number of mechanisms), and lots of fines, GST and other regressive measures (increasing the retirement age) which just smash at the lowest income earners.

              • blue leopard

                “Smash you with endless requirements to look for jobs which don’t exist, medical reviews with ongoing threats of losing your benefits”,

                This is what National have done

                “multiple courses to do up your CVs for jobs which don’t exist,”

                Job opportunities were increasing under the last Labour government. Those courses are a life-saver for those on unemployment long-term an opportunity not simply to learn new things, one meets new people and boosts confidence levels.

                National have removed these courses big-time and during the recession when jobs were completely non-existent.

                “dock your benefit at any excuse (whether through abatement regimes or any other number of mechanisms)”

                This is what National have done

                “GST and other regressive measures (increasing the retirement age) which just smash at the lowest income earners.”

                Labour may have started GST 30 years ago, yet they have done far more re work conditions, raising minimum wages, more assistance for students, more assistance for unemployed people, Working for Families since then than National ever have or ever will.

                Whereas National lifted GST recently – in the last 6 years – after saying they wouldn’t, they have also introduced other regressive measures like putting up petrol tax and cutting the highest taxes that have really smashed at the lowest income earners.

                I conclude that your list of similarities is a load of nonsense. Basically all you are offering as criticism for Labour is something they put in 30 years ago and one policy that they have now – raising the retirement age – all the rest is National’s activity.

                Why conflate the two parties like this when you can’t find a big list of similarities better than the garbled and confused one you have provided?

                Do you want people to give up on voting?

    • Vicky32 3.3

      “Why turn out when nothing changes for you, but the names of those in Parliament.”
      I am one of those at the bottom (high education, but no permanent work for 6 years) – but I still vote for the sake of a little bit of hope…

  4. Gosman 4

    Then the left is failing these people by not getting out there to motivate them to vote. Surely you lot can come up with a campaign to target these non voters and confront the reason why they don’t vote.

    • fender 4.1

      Surely you lot can come up with a campaign to target these non voters and confront the reason why they don’t vote, so us far-right freaks can label you loonier than the loony..

      FIFY Loose Goose

    • Tracey 4.2

      confirming that the right dont see the sense of disenfranchisement of a significant group of kiwis as anything to do with them


      • Gosman 4.2.1

        I don’t respect people who don’t vote from either the left or the right if the reason given is a variation on I can’t be bothered or don’t have time and the politicians are all the same anyway. If you don’t vote for those reasons, especially in an MMP environment, you can have no recourse to complaints.

        • fender

          I suspect you have no understanding of the disenfranchised, downtrodden sense of helplessness many beaten to the brink of suicide are feeling.

          • Tracey

            if you read gosman in this thread you see he basically asks a variation of two things

            No excuse to not vote
            Why dont they form or join a political group to change things

            Both indicate he posts, buthe doesnt read posts because people have attempted to answer BUT because he wont challenge his own viewpoint he carries on posting variations of the two questions.

            He is the poster boy for those who live in comfort, view the world from that perspective and think everyone is in the world as they are.

            I stop responding to him because of this pattern. Other than to say FOG.

            • fender

              Yeah that sums up the waste of bandwidth that is gosman.

              To me (at least) FOG= fuck off gosman. Excellent!

              • Tracey

                FOG thinking 😉

                You might think it stands for fuck off gosman but i cant possibly say

          • KJT

            Hard to be interested in politics when you have no hope.

          • Gosman

            Has the rate of suicide and other mental health issues increased dramatically over the past 6 years?

  5. blue leopard 5

    Brilliant Brian Gould, I think you nail it and like Karol I thank you for the analysis and for posting here .

    So much for ‘clever politics’ when it turns out to be degenerating democratic behaviour.

    “There is also, of course, the belief that the “top” people know what they are doing and that the country can safely be entrusted to them. People who have had success in their own lives, particularly in financial terms, are thought to be best suited to run the country – though whether the kind of self-interest that produces personal fortunes is evidence of the breadth of vision needed to run the country is a question rarely asked.

    Brilliant. It has come to my attention in my own locale that if someone with money comes up with a profit making idea for themselves there are members of my community that automatically assume it is a good business idea for the community. If the same idea was presented by someone with less money it would have been laughed out of town by the same group. I would like to see a shift in attitudes in this regard and your above paragraph quoted explains why. The sycophancy and ensuing lack of critique shown toward the ideas of those with money is appalling in this country. We should know better but we don’t.

    • Molly 5.1

      Had copied to paste exactly the same sentence in my comment, and found that not only had you beaten me to it but your comment is spookily similar to the one I had in mind to write.

      I think of several (very well-off) family and acquaintances that I know that have become markedly successful by following a financial plan that pays little or no attention to ethical, moral or environmental costs.

      I remember vividly reading a feature article in a magazine while at the dentist, which detailed the inception, progression and promotion of Red Bull to NZ. This article was written is such glowing terms about a product that has arguably negative health impacts on its customers, that it was a good example of the unthinking praise of the financially successful. The rise of the use of RTD’s in our younger drinking population is another.

    • ianmac 5.2

      Hear hear Blue and Bryan. +100

  6. Kat 6

    After reviewing the utter garbage called ‘journalism’ aimed at David Cunliffe in the MSM this past weekend is it any wonder certain sectors of the electorate are turned off. The right hold all the media cards at the moment. David Cunliffe can’t even do a ‘Truman’ as the right long ago choked the rail. Perhaps Chris Trotter is right and the only options left are the town halls and street corners.

    Labour could ‘borrow’ the ‘party’ idea from Dotcom and have a few good gatherings around the country. Whats to lose?

  7. greywarbler 7

    Brilliant ‘Bryan’ Gould. I think you nail it and we thank you for posting. FIFY
    ‘Why’ shouldn’t we win the election! We’ve got the brains, we’ve got the technology, we’ve got the skills and ideas and desire and expertise and business and financial sense.

    But are we canny enough? 67 and up for superannuitants?? What the hell Labour. Is that your utmost priority? What about finding ways to increase jobs, getting Task Force Green going for a start. Not robbing Peter to pay Paul. What jobs are most people going to do till they end up fagged out and reaching up for the water bottle at the end of their marathon?

    And what benefit will be available to keep them going so they can go to their ill-paid, low hours, underemployment. Their place in the benefit queue is not going to vanish, as they will need top-ups and medical help. And the jobs they do will be taken from a youthful person.

    Let the oldies do volunteer work will you and not hang the sword of Damocles over another group, making them uncertain unhappy people. Getting them to do a variety of suitable volunteer work for say 5 hours a week minimum may mean they are doing more useful stuff for the country than when they were working full time. And getting stuff done that needs to be done.

    There could even be A team volunteers paid up to 50% more (for organiser/manager task) than their regular benefit. The A teams would include the skilled and reliable beneficiaries prepared to be trained, to learn and refresh, and take on responsible tasks and do them well (Super Age volunteers are all equal, but some of them are more equal than others.)

    • Kiwiri 7.1

      To be charitable, Labour still has some deep thinking to do and to connect that with their heart and their ears. Then the Labour Caucus can see a bit better to know which foot to put forward for their campaign.

      “67 and up for superannuitants??”

      Yeah, and the multiple gentle small lacerations with some anaesthetic. Not the big chop, of course, not from Labour. National can finish off the job further down the track.

      Can’t afford super for 65+, not “sustainable”, boohoo (Winston will argue convincingly that THAT is not true) – typical neo-lib framing of “unsustainability” to set the scene to cut and slash, so as to enable fund managers to play with the money for longer and clip the ticket for their commissions.

      Btw, Parker wants to increase the retirement age because NZ can’t afford it, but signals a second-term tax cut ?!?

      • KJT 7.1.1

        We cannot afford super, but we can afford to gift up to 9% of wages to the finance industry to play with.
        Straight from the neo-lib playbook.

        Someone else put this up already, but I strongly suggest we all take the time to read it.

        Another article suggests that capitalism is now lacking competition.
        Without the competition with the Soviet system, to give a better life for their people, capitalists no longer care.

        • Colonial Viper

          We cannot afford super, but we can afford to gift up to 9% of wages to the finance industry to play with.
          Straight from the neo-lib playbook.

          This is a continuing, self destructive madness, an injurious political economics which must be ended.

    • just saying 7.2

      There could even be A team volunteers paid up to 50% more (for organiser/manager task) than their regular benefit. The A teams would include the skilled and reliable beneficiaries prepared to be trained, to learn and refresh, and take on responsible tasks and do them well (Super Age volunteers are all equal, but some of them are more equal than others.)

      Many would-be volunteers are currently turned away by the usual agencies which can afford to pick and choose and not even bother ringing back those offering their help for free.

      • Vicky32 7.2.1

        “Many would-be volunteers are currently turned away by the usual agencies which can afford to pick and choose and not even bother ringing back those offering their help for free.”
        That’s what I found until I finally ended up at Literacy Aotearoa and ended up getting a Level 5 certificate qualification out of it! I even ended up being paid $19 an hour for 4 hours a month, tutoring an intellectually handicapped man… But to all those who didn’t even ring me back, ta for nowt.

      • greywarbler 7.2.2

        @just saying
        Thanks for that. I didn’t know it was that difficult.

        I can think of reasons why agencies mightn’t want volunteers. They could be going to the ones that offer the nicest working conditions. So there will be a higher supply than demand. Applications could be turned down as being known incompetents, unreliable, or troublemakers. They could be unwilling or unable to learn so they can be retrained. But all prospective employers non-profit or profit should reply to applicants.

        They might only be willing to work for a few hours once a fortnight which can create training difficulties, and agencies don’t like large numbers of only partly committed people to keep informed. Added to the fact that many will not read notices, keep themselves up to date, follow even simple procedures, observe the working system and inform themselves on their workplace, etc.

        Volunteers can be wonderful, or they can be okay, can be reliable and keen but never remember to get repetitive things right. There is a saying that volunteers don’t get paid because they are priceless. Some people get excited about their own generosity. But then they may need to have someone who rights things after their shift. Often they think they know it all, then there are those who don’t want to know anything new, or won’t learn new technology. Then there are those who won’t stop working, or are incipient alzheimers but insist on turning up, and no-one can stop them even when they can hardly stand because of some ailment, or hip etc.

        • just saying

          Poor, non-pakeha, english as a second language, not having the “right” skills, even if they are eager to learn them, not having tertiary qualifications, not having the right clothes or their own transport, disabled, past criminal record…….. All reasons for being rejected by nice middle class NGO people. These people don’t get the chance to get over the first barrier, so whether they are unreliable or trouble-makers or not is moot. And many people are desperate to get a foot in the door, to feel like they are a part of their community, to participate.

          There is no excuse for not even answering people who offer to help.

          There isn’t even enough voluntary work for people who wish to contribute, let alone paid jobs.

          The government needs to create jobs at a living wage for all those that want them. People aren’t throw-away commodities. We all deserve opportunties and we all deserve to be able to participate if we want to.

          • greywarbler

            @just saying 21/7 10.57
            You are on to it saying that the government needs to create jobs. There is plenty to do, it just needs intelligent, compassionate, responsible and practical people.

            Local councils need things done. Working at things that create events for tourism. DOC etc Something that can be reached perhaps in a small bus that takes workers round and then home. Most of the prisons money can go into justice that works not just rough justice.

            And then options for training after a certain amount of organised work, when the person can acquire skills useful for their abilities and personal wishes.

            The volunteer system can do its thing but young people just can’t be left without a future as now. And older people can pass on their skills and experience.

  8. srylands 8

    You are taking a short term view on retirement incomes policy (and even that is wrong). We should be encouraging older, skilled people to remain in the workforce as long as possible as the population ages. So, inevitably NZ will be harmonising with Australia with a pension age of 70.

    On voting turnout, there are many brilliant, high achieving young people who don’t vote. They simply see politics as irrelevant to their successful lives.

    • Once was Tim 8.1

      Funny as a very smelly fart @ srylands, chastising others for taking a short term view of things considering you represent the Natzis.
      (Oh! Silly me! I forgot you don’t shit, or fart, or sweat – or at least not to the extent that excessive quantities of cosmetic solutions can’t fix – btw – I’d check the labels if I were you)
      The Natzis ‘policy’ (if you call it that, as opposed to making it up as you go along under the guidance of a god-loik icon – currently called Jonky) rests on a solid foundation of bullshit and jellybeans.

      How was Jamie Lee this morning at morning prayers btw? Did you get your lines straightened out?

      Ohhh, ohhh, ohhhh! How very rude of me! It’s just that you do have a very smelly footprint

      [lprent: That classes as pointless abuse. If I see you do it again, it will class as bannable pointless abuse. Read the policy. ]

    • deep throat 8.2

      Well lets see john keys come out and support that.
      you will be waiting for a long time.

  9. Michael 9

    I think Mr Gould is right: people have stopped participating in our political process because it is an empty and meaningless charade. The only issue that may concern the elite is that of legitimacy: in whose name do they rule and what right do they have to compel our obedience?

    • Gosman 9.1

      You may well be correct but let’s put that to the test.

      A significant section of society is felt let down by the current political offerings. What is stopping them from either joining an existing political party in significant numbers to change their position to one they like or starting up a new political movement to promote the policies they like?

      • Michael 9.1.1

        I think the reason people will not commit to a new political party (and it may be different with Internet-Mana) is because they aren’t convinced that anything will change if they do. The same elite will still be in control and calling the shots, regardless of which bunch of political actors occupy the Beehive. Eventually, things will change, when enough people get fed up with the elite; of course, the longer it takes for that change to happen, the more violent it will be. The Labour Party used to understand this stuff but seems to have totally forgotten it now.

      • deep throat 9.1.2

        I’ll take a raincheck and get back to you on that one.
        you better have some answers.

        • Michael

          OK sure. I’ll wait with baited breath for your considered views. I’m not sure whether I have the “answers” you demand, but I do have some ideas on how we might repair the democratic deficit we have within our polity. For a start, it seems to me that the deficit occupies the space in the political spectrum vacated by the Labour Party when it moved away from its traditional place. I’d like to see it return to that place, as I think it would be useful there. However, if those at the helm do not want to steer it back to its mooring place, I suppose someone else will eventually occupy it. I’m buggered if I know what that occupant will look like, and more importantly act like, though.

          • KJT

            Have a look at the Greens policies.

            Entirely consistent with Labour as it was, apart from the environmental issues.

            And. Greens democratically crowd source polices.

            Mana and Social credit are not that far away either.

            There are choices on the left.

      • Jeremy 9.1.3

        OK, I’ll bite.
        I will also offer you the respect of assuming you are genuinely concerned for your fellow man, and not some paid troll. (Yes, you can call me delusional if you like).
        What was the first thing done in New Zealand, after Neo-Liberals stole the reins?
        They killed collectivization, be it in the Workplace, the Community, in Education, Health, in fact the entire State. Everywhere.
        30ish years later it is no wonder people do not know how to gather to combine their strength.

        • Michael

          I agree with you. I’m not sure why you think I’m a “paid troll”? I think your post is perfectly consistent with mine.

          • fender

            Hi Michael, both Jeremy and deep throat were replying to Gosman. Follow the numbers in the top right hand side of the comment box.

            i.e. your 9.1.1 is a reply to gosman at 9.1, deep throat 9.1.2 is the 2nd reply to 9.1, Jeremy 9.1.3 is the 3rd reply.

            Hope this clears up the confusion. Gosman is the “paid tr0ll” 🙂

  10. Olwyn 10

    This is a very insightful piece of writing, and the effective disenfranchisement of the losers seems to be the plan – almost, but not yet wholly, achieved. What is interesting and scary is how very little deviation from the script they will allow – I mean Mayor Brown is hardly New Zealand’s answer to Che Guevara, and David Cunliffe seems to have felt forced to modify the ” real red” message with which he began.

    However, even if hope is thin on the ground, fear is also a motivator, and we have good reason to fear this government getting a third term. On our side we have a sense of urgency among activists and the unexpected turn of a rich German who has taken our side rather than theirs. On their side is almost the entire media and some very deep pockets. It is an unequal contest but I refuse to write off our chances until the last vote is counted.

    • Kiwiri 10.1

      “David Cunliffe seems to have felt forced to modify the ” real red” message with which he began.”

      Next up, the Herald will report that an insider said the ABCs left a big supply of local anaesthetic at Cunliffe’s office, with a threat that he should use it for policy-making or they will create more caucus disunity.

      The colourless liquid was confirmed to be anaesthetic and not lube, as confirmed after personal knowledge gained in a hotel room by a recently departed caucus member.

  11. Once was Tim 11

    “A government that puts the interests of the well-off first can relax. As a significant proportion of the population becomes increasingly voiceless and invisible – in other words, devoid of hope – their absence from the polling booths on election day means they can safely be ignored.”

    Very true! That is of course until it reaches a tipping point and when the natives start to revolt.
    That’s what really worries me. The longer it is allowed to continue, the greater the number of disenfranchised, the wider the ‘gap’ – the uglier (and probably more violent) the outcome.

    • Gosman 11.1

      The question I have then is why in an MMP environment people cannot form a political party that will cater for the needs of these so called disenfranchised?

      • Once was Tim 11.1.1

        Because they actually also FEEL disenfranchised (obviously not something that you will have ever encountered – having ticked all the boxes of academic achievement, never having been on the bones of your flabby arse, unconcerned for the future of you chillun or whether or not there’ll be a flat screen in the master bedroom, etc); they’re not part of a social system that’s ‘mainstream’; they often/usually don’t have the means (financial or otherwise), and perhaps because they’d rather opt out and wait for it all to self destruct than they would to push shit uphill.
        But hey Gos – I defer to you, on the basis that you’re just so fucking gorgeous I could hardly do otherwise
        But …. Hence my concern for the potential of a violent outcome (and I’m not normally a pessimist).
        Full marks tho’ Gos – that was a pretty quick response!

        (Sorry if mine can’t be as kwik – things to do – places to be – RWtrolls and others to watch and amuse over their potential future)

      • deep throat 11.1.2

        you are full of questions goose.
        so what is your answer.
        I’mnot going to hold my breath.

      • Michael 11.1.3

        Because it’s not as simple as that. Forming and running a political party takes a lot of skill, effort and money – the very things disempowered people don’t have. Representing people disempowered by industrial age capitalism was the job of the Labour movement – of which the Party caucus was only a small part and didn’t call all the shots. Times have changed, capitalism has mutated, people have become consumers, and civil society has largely disappeared. FWIW, I think the Labour movement remains highly relevant and necessary in today’s world but it seems to me that most people do not.

  12. philj 12

    Good article Bryan. Carried to its logical conclusion we will end up with

  13. Skinny 13

    Bryan has given plenty to think about with this post. Very true the perceived view of voting for successful people, this probably known as the 2 bob Tory syndrome. Just look at the shift in voter patterns from the babyboomer generation, many would have voted Labour while they struggled early on in their working lives. As they gather wealth, assets like a home and inturn for many a bach and or a rental property or two, the struggle is over and they become comfortable in life. So naturally a feeling of being successful comes into play and after having previously worked hard for what they have accumulated, they will vote for a party that best allows them to hold on to that wealth. This was never more evident to me when I attended a Labour Party gathering where big hitters within the party were guests. Anyway one of the MP guests speech contained the intention of introducing a capital gains tax, even though many there were well heeled long time supporters, you could literally visibly see half the room bristle at the very notion of taking some of their wealth off them. Remember these are LP people, imagine what this policy alone is doing too hundreds of thousand of voters.

    • KJT 13.1

      Except it is more young people than boomers that vote National.
      Boomers remember the 60’s and 70’s.

  14. freedom 14


    Seems there is a Live Chat with David Cunliffe today at 4:30 , Questions open from 3:30

  15. Sable 15

    If a governmental system is perceived as illegitimate in the eyes of enough of its people sooner or later its replaced, typically by coercion or force. Just look at the US arming its police force with ex-military equipment and undertaking extensive studies to determine how best to deal with civil unrest.

  16. Ennui 16

    When I was at primary school in the 60s every child in my class knew that they had a future, what all depended on what you wanted and were good at. In the 70s whilst I was at Uni this concept started to crack. The mass unemployment of the free market days finally finished it off, any cohesive massed concept of future responsibilities disappeared with the end of the policies of “full employment”.

    Now we have multi generation unemployment where whole families have lost any concept of an inclusive future where the opportunity to prosper is real. The state is seen as an adversary, not a friend when you need one. Until a major opposition party has the balls to announce something realistic that includes the people at the margins they wont vote: more likely they will join some form of race based supremacy group or criminal gang (both of which at least stand for a tangible and deliverable reality).

    • Kat 16.1

      Good comments Ennui, full employment with dignity is paramount. Labour needs to introduce a revamped version of the old Ministry Of Works. Not ‘schemes’ but real work. There is plenty to do in this country and the Govt has to get involved.

    • karol 16.2

      When I was at primary school in the 60s every child in my class knew that they had a future, what all depended on what you wanted and were good at.

      I was at primary school in the 50s, and secondary school in the 60s. It is certainly true that there were a lot more jobs for young people back then.

      But, for many, especially women, Maori and Pasifika people, LGBTI people, and many from middle to lower working class families, the future did not hold much promise.

      It certainly wasn’t true for most women generally that they “knew that they had a future, what all depended on what you wanted and were good at”. There were very few opportunities for women when I was at secondary school in the 60s, compared with opportunities now available to a lot of middle and upper class women.

      And the prejudices and discrimination against those not part of the dominant, largely white male, demographic was pretty demoralising and depressing, and destroyed many lives.

      • Ennui 16.2.1

        Karol, I clearly hear you, it was far more “sexist”. I might have been better to add that a clear future was evident if you conformed to the “present paradigm” of the times. Women off course got married, stayed at home and had babies…..thank God for the way feminism challenged that assumption. I don’t think we have managed to resolve the issues around work, life and fertility to any degree, we men are still expected to be the bread winners and women to look after home and children. I would quite happily have taken the home / child raising role but the economics of it, and the social pressures went contrary. How to resolve? I dont know.

        • karol

          Well, part of the answer is to acknowledge the real value of domestic labour, including child care to society.

          There was also a more narrow view of acceptable behaviour and lifestyles back in the 50s and 60s – though started to be challenged as the 60s developed.

          Also, my memory is that many of the least well off were demonised, although not as viciously as today. Unskilled factory workers, people working earth moving machines, wharfies, etc, definitely were seen as incapable of doing anything different – often seen as less morally upright as well by the middle classes.

          I knew one or two gay people who committed suicide because they found the society unbearable – lots of LGBT people left NZ.

          Maori started to mobilise against the way they were seen and marginlaised in NZ society.

          There needs to be a whole attitude and cultural change to value all members of society.

          • Colonial Viper

            Different times, different challenges. But the bottom 10% of NZ society, whether men or women, white or brown, are not clearly better off today in their lives, than 50 years ago. I don’t buy into the myth of inevitable societal progress.

            The only gains have been if you were able to get yourself some of the new evolving privilege which has come about since then – to become one of the managerial/executive class, to get a property portfolio etc. But if you are in the bottom 10% you are arguably worse off now.

            • karol


              There have been adjustments to various societal changes – shift to new technologies (including various domestic and workplace technologies), increasing role of formal education, on-going crises in capitalism and resource depletion, etc.

          • Ennui

            I often wonder if attitudes have really changed, we scratch the surface and all the old stereotypes and prejudices appear, some in different forms. I have always been reasonably libertarian socially but I still watch what I say in company which seems odd given the changes of the last 50 years. Still some things have evolved: I remember walking into an event in the early eighties with my then lady, a fabulous Maori girl. We got looked at sideways, for her it was awkward so we left. I suspect that is more rare today, but like I said scratch the surface, what are they really thinking?

            • karol

              Yes. I cam e across many such attitudes and stereotypes – among my whanau and in the wider society.

              There wasn’t the big inequality gap that we have today, but it was far from some utopian socialist paradise.

              • Ennui

                Just as well that I don’t believe in Utopian socialism….all I can say is that we are all creatures of our own times and respond accordingly. I preferred the economics of “then” if not the social conservatism, I don’t like the economics of today. Over the years my viewpoint has become based on ever increasing timeframes….I think of most events in the last thousand years as just “yesterday”…I find it gives a better reference and perspective.

  17. deep throat 17

    and you have to be awake to your own blog being hijacked by nutbars.

    [lprent: Is that Bryan’s blog? ]

  18. Chooky 18

    +100 good post

    …i think the media is a part of the problem…it fudges the issues ( deliberately?)

    ….what is needed is a nationwide New Zealand newspaper that is clearly identified as being Left Wing and by the people, for the people, of the people etc….( i dont mean a doctrinaire communist or socialist paper)…i mean a broad spectrum multi-faceted , argumentative, dialectical Left Wing newspaper ( but I suppose with newspaper advertising in decline this would be difficult in such a small country )

    ….we also need similar in a television channel….something that cuts through the crap….and gives a good Left view on every issue ….current and historical, economic and social ( i guess Maori tv comes closest)

    In the past one’s political party was almost tribal ..( ones parents or grandparents may have been National Party supporters but it was a badge of honour that one could think differently and be respected for ones new allegiance). .the tribalism of ones political party gave social cohesion , a sense of identity, cultural history, a sense of something worth fighting for in the future

    …imo the infotainment media has destroyed this serious focus….encouraging a culture of trivia, short sound and visual bites, sensationalism, competition ratings, silly one-up-man-ship games, shallow thinking , futility, apathy….etc …

    ‘the standard’ blog site , the ‘daily blog’ ….and other Left blog sites are probably the best option…for those with computers

    • blue leopard 18.1

      +100 Chooky good points

      • Chooky 18.1.1

        yes and not only is the msm culture of infotainment the new opiate of the people…there is a very serious propaganda war being waged…to either confuse people or spin them and brainwash them into a right wing agenda

        have just been watching DVD ‘War is a Sell – The History, Tactics & Culture of War Propaganda’ by Brian Standing

        ….think ‘war on terrorism’ and multi -national spin, lies and even staged events for multi-national media consumption

  19. Lloyd 19

    So to get those that feel disenfranchised to take note of left leaning parties what do you do?

    1. You tell it like it really is. “You have been ripped off. The rich have stolen your money. GST taxes the poor. Any tax system that doesn’t tax the top 5% richest people at a rate of at least 50% will continue to rip off the poor. Trickle down economics will never work. There are much better alternatives than neo-liberalism. Socialist policies don’t mean we all have to wear the same type of shirt”
    2. You have policies that will solve the problems of the poor, and you really scare the rich.
    3. Sue the Herald for mis-reporting
    4. You tell those lovely gnats what incompetent idiots they are and you keep repeating it, loudly.
  20. philj 20

    Crap government, crap msm. What do you expect? One feeds the other and self perpetuates.
    Their needs to be huge changes to Public Broadcasting in NZ. It has become rubbish, with the odd exception.

  21. Saarbo 21

    Good article, certainly backs up my experience last week when I was telephoning around for support for a Labour Party Public Meeting.

    It must be on the mark as it has upset Hooten who has sent a nasty Tweet about this Post.

  22. Chauncey Gardiner 22

    Mr Gould I would like to thank you for writing “Growing Inequality Can Be Seen As Clever Politics” post.

    Every now and again you read posts that resonate, enlighten, and bring sense out of the fog, yours does this.

    In addition to this its quite appealing to try and bring opinions and writings from the past and bring them together, hopefully like old friends.

    If you knew him I feel Mr David Foster Wallace may have been an old friend (I could be wrong). Here is a review his work Up Simba (I am not clever enough to write this, hence the cut and paste)


    “In this essay, Wallace revisits his thoughts on cynicism in postmodern America, or in other words, what place politics has in today’s world. Much like his essay E Unibus Pluram: Television and U.S. Fiction, Wallace questions effects of irony on the American political landscape. This theme can be seen particularly at the end of the essay in the section entitled “Suck it Up,” where Wallace muses on the possibility of there ever being President who is also a great leader again.

    He in fact discusses how our generation, the MTV generation may not even be able to think about what the word “leader” means outside of the cynical, eye-rolling cliche. For a summary of Wallace’s exact feelings on the paradox in believing in a political “leader,” note the quote on page 226 that proceeds a claim that John F Kennedy was America’s last leader:

    “It’s worth thinking hard about why when John McCain says he wants to be president in order to inspire a generation of young Americans to devote themselves to causes greater than the own self-interest (which means he’s saying he wants to be a real leader), a great many of those young Americans will yawn or roll their eyes or make some ironic joke instead of feeling inspired the way they did with Kennedy. True, JFK’s audience was in some ways more innocent than we are:

    Vietnam hadn’t happened yet, or Watergate, or the S&L scandals, etc. But there’s also something else. The science of sales and marketing was still in its drooling infancy in 1961 when Kennedy was saying “Ask not…” The young people he inspired had not been skillfully marketed to all their lives. They knew nothing of spin. They were not totally, terribly familiar with salesman.” (Consider the Lobster 226).

    In this quote, it becomes visible that Wallace believes that America is now too entrenched in the irony of the commercial America to ever really believe in anything again. That today’s six-hours-of-television-per-day culture is too familiar with being sold to and with the media trying to pretend like they aren’t trying to sell anything when the fact remains that their only motive is to sell, that the cynicism will always be there and, consequently, Americans can no longer believe in anything larger than their own self interests.

    The inspiring thing about Wallace’s analysis of this truth about American culture is that he is not saying that the cynicism can’t be silenced, he just simply encourages Americans to acknowledge this cynicism and to truly consider if what they want in their president is a true leader.

    This essay also deals with Wallace’s perspective on McCain’s Appearance. The essay discusses how McCain has been packaged by his campaign leaders in order to be sold to the American public, and brings into question if the Republican Party’s packaging of McCain makes him any less genuine” End Quote

    The scary thing Mr Gould, is that people do know that marketing is influencing them. The ones who are aspirational cannot be associated with the ” losers of our society ” and hence readily grasp onto the Halo Effect http://www.economist.com/node/14299211. Statistically, if they knew the truth, they would be running the other way politically. They, however, are probably not doing well (and as studies have shown are more likely to want to be associated with the “winning team”)

    The disenfranchised as you have mentioned have given up and rot on the sidelines….. to them I would quote David Foster Wallace again:

    “If you are bored and disgusted by politics and don’t bother to vote, you are in effect voting for the entrenched Establishments of the two major parties, who please rest assured are not dumb, and who are keenly aware that it is in their interests to keep you disgusted and bored and cynical and to give you every possible reason to stay at home doing one-hitters and watching MTV on primary day.

    By all means stay home if you want, but don’t bullshit yourself that you’re not voting. In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.” END QUOTE

    I would also ask you to consider this:

    The people who suffer the most cuts and losses in our society do not seem to be fighting back the most as would have been outlined in Prospect Theory by Daniel Khanineman. Somehow the losses are being masked, transformed and manipulated by the media and political groups such as National.

    1.Is it as you have stated Mr Gould that that the lower socio economic groups have lost so much they have no longer anything to lose, and therefore have given up

    2.More insipidly, it is now the wealthy who are conforming to Daniel Khaninemans Prospect theory…. in other words they fear losing their wealth (aka power) and cannot ideologically reconcile this with a fair and just society?

    3.How is it that people have lost this feeling of entitlement, is it the Halo effect? We all think we may just strike it Rich like J. Keys and we better not share with the competition (this is perpetuated through the spread of US style programming and news that promotes quietly the Ayn Randian philosophy of the self over others. Again a weird form of prospect theory utilised by the media (aka JKs spin machine) to promote the right wing politics of National?

    Why has our society lost desire to fight for good social outcomes, we are entitled to:
    • healthy and affordable housing
    • to a world class education that is affordable
    • to the best health care.
    • to world class public transport
    • to a healthy environment

    Yet these aspirations seem to be marketed as being weak, poor people’s needs? If they win, we lose?

    Actually Mr Gould, I think you have answered my questions.

    Some insights to my above rant maybe gained from the below (is it just a matter of framing losses and wins to manipulate opinion?):

    “What Messrs Kahneman and Tversky claim to have found is that people are “loss averse”: they have an asymmetric attitude to gains and losses, getting less utility from gaining, say, $100 than they would lose if they lost $100. This is not the same as “risk aversion”, any particular level of which can be rational if consistently applied. But those suffering from loss aversion do not measure risk consistently. They take fewer risks that might result in suffering losses than if they were acting as rational utility maximisers.”

  23. Saarbo 23

    Thanks Chauncey Gardiner

    This whole post is nailing it, this is the sort of thinking that needs to go into Labour’s strategy in the future…compare this to Josie Pagani’s light weight effort on Pundit, which is the same out dated stuff she normally produces.

  24. Ad 24

    Chauncey Gardiner asks above why society appears no longer able to fight for entitlements to:
    • healthy and affordable housing
    • to a world class education that is affordable
    • to the best health care.
    • to world class public transport
    • to a healthy environment

    Those are laudable goals and indeed most of them in the UN Human Rights Charter. They are also fundamentally wrong for the left as an interpretation of what will get people to vote more. Only those over 45 can now recall a New Zealand in which we had such a redistributive society. It’s never coming back. Sorry. We have endured 35 years of structural adjustment policies, and that is the norm that the great majority of New Zealanders assume will never change. Why should they? They have planned their lives around these expectations.

    I believe Labour should reverse the framing from “redistribution” and “entitlement” to “mobility”. The Princeton labour economist Alan B. Krueger called attention to an especially worrisome implication of the growing body of standard research on mobility: countries with wider inequality tend to have lower mobility—which undercuts the defense of wide inequality, where it’s found, on the grounds that anyone can get ahead. Krueger labeled this deeply troubling relationship “the Great Gatsby Curve,” and economists and the popular press quickly picked up on the idea.

    We are a deeply unequal country, and getting moreso, as we can see from the GINI coefficient. People want to aspire to what is possible, not to what is impossible. Most people can plan no more than three major steps ahead of where they are now. Indeed within the current labour environment, three steps is at the outer edge of one’s capacity to control.

    Labour’s messaging to non-voters is that their kind of government can stabilise the next three steps in their lives. They have a clear career path straight from school into earning good money. The job won’t be taken from them. And they can save hard somehow with lots of state help. Yup, it’s about money and their interests.

    It takes several generations for whole families to pull up to the next stage of society. The next stage of deprivation and towards wealth. The non-voter cannot just be fobbed off by saying “all they need is hope”. Nor is it enough anymore in New Zealand to say we just have to go back to the time when we had all those lovely social things. The three steps for their lives are the first three steps they take to the polls.

  25. Chauncey Gardiner 25

    Ad, great points, you said:

    “Those are laudable goals and indeed most of them in the UN Human Rights Charter. They are also fundamentally wrong for the left as an interpretation of what will get people to vote more.”


    “I believe Labour should reverse the framing from “redistribution” and “entitlement” to “mobility”

    So, what I think your saying is Labour needs to be solution focused, a strong helping hand that enables, rather than a hand out that cripples (i.e. they are not Robbin Hood)?

    This way you don’t take from the people who ‘have’ (then reduce the loss aversion of those voters so they can vote labour) and provide hope and the means to those who need to be enabled to succeed.

    The question then Ad I put to you is, how do you create mobility?….. it costs. Economics is a balancing of conflicts on interest no?

    You can hear JK asking the question how ya gonna pay for it (note he would be smugly smiling knowing the catch 22). JK is the queen of the double bind.

    Ad you mentioned ‘The last 35 years”. The last 35 years have been about framing JKs argument and entrenching people to think in this politically self serving way.

    Thats why I like your point Ad:

    “Labour’s messaging to non-voters is that their kind of government can stabilise the next three steps in their lives”

    Go well.

    • Ad 25.1

      I think I should have said “Labour’s message to non-voters should be …” Because so far people are hearing Labour policies, not personal motivations that excite broad cohorts of population.

      You are right I am saying opt out of trying to persuade people from John Key’s framing of the economic argument. The NZ left broadly have lost the framing argument – certainly there was no new economic paradigm emerging out of the GFC that has altered the discourse, and that was the moment for that to happen if it ever was. So there is no retail framing to counter Key’s.

      As for the question “how you gonna pay for it”, exactly as John Key shot Phil Goff down in the2008 debate: “show me the money”. I do believe in taxed redistribution. But the framing must no longer be about redistribution. Redistribution is the set of instruments with which lefties achieve policy. I think focussing on the redistribution end of education, health, police, and even housing is not sufficiently motivating.

      The framing must be about a closer instrumentality between the “me” and where I can get to next. Not a ‘quest for security’, more a policy set that people should expect more for their own developing lives. That’s different to expecting more from the state.

      I believe that neither the family or the state will be the primary forces of societal cohesion in New Zealand within in four parliamentary terms – the primary cohesion for newer voters will be held in their phones. They want to see how each of their close network is having their lives advanced. So the framing that helps them understand the three next steps for their own lives, and stated like that, is I believe the three steps that get them off their chair to the polls.

  26. Chauncey Gardiner 26

    Ad, I like your point:

    “They want to see how each of their close network is having their lives advanced. So the framing that helps them understand the three next steps for their own lives, and stated like that, is I believe the three steps that get them off their chair to the polls”

    It has merits, maybe it will help us get out the what Adam Curtis describes in his documentary: The Trap

    Consider this:

    I think Bryan Gould has summarised what is going in a past post on the Herald web site, its called the Ratchet Effect. He describes how the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) is just the second phase of the now defunct Negotiations for this Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) that began in the OECD in 1995. Please read below:

    Exert from Bryan Gould: Speak up – we can resist the powerful (NZ Herald)
    Dec 6, 2013,

    “It was proposed, for example, to establish a compliance regime under which “liberalisation” would always move forward, with no power to wind it back – the so-called “ratchet” effect. This would be enforced by “rollback” and “standstill” provisions, requiring nations to eliminate regulations that were contrary to MAI provisions, and to refrain from passing any such laws in the future.” End Quote

    So, is this what has been going on, the NZ public are being groomed to think in a particular fashion. It’s a slow insidious technique cleverly designed to trap via a multi generational approach.

    Perversely one would could view this, the NZ public as being intellectually kidnapped, they fall in love with the “beneficent handsome” abductor who becomes their world. The abductor trapping them, using words that are underpinned by the Rachet Effect, such as show me the money, how are you going to pay for it, mum and dad investor, I will not apologise etc.

    Effectively it is abuse, a double bind, an economic psychological trap. Giving a little with one hand, taking considerably more with the other, over time the benefactor gets fat while the victim looking lovingly up at him whiling fading grey (its really clever) . There is a way out just see Platos cave allegory. Or like you Ad, you give an alternative world that did not exist before.

    The National party leader has entered the grey zone, he has phalanxes of special commandos who will do his bidding. They are actually the worst, the nobodies, or wanna bes, the ones who think they will become part of the elite and of course will not be sacrificed to the cause.

    Has a perceived shift gone on in the media driven free maket. It is not just the unemployed who are the enemy of the state and free market, its the under employed, the low skilled, low paid and of course, don’t forget, its the victims as well, you can’t be one of those, now can you (harden up, remind you of some diplomatic event perchance).

    Charles Bukowski (poet now dead) for me satirises what is going on, the final insult to mum and dad (note I did not use the word inventors) under our benevolent handsome National PM.

    “And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.

    As a young man I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can’t believe it. What do they do it for? Sex? TV? An automobile on monthly payments? Or children? Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?”
    End quote

    I’m not saying that sitting on your jaxey is the thing, there is meaningful employment out there but just not much of it.

    The Last line: Children who are just going to do the same things that they did?

    See the documentary Who gets the best jobs by the BBC on Horizon

    Any guesses?

    • KJT 26.1

      The ratchet effect. A good description.

      What has been happening is a slowdown, under Labour for 9 years.

      If it is not totally turned around then National will just continue with the ratchet next time they are in.

      Note how patiently they waited for the political climate to turn for more asset thefts.

  27. Chauncey Gardiner 27


    Bryan Gould has great insights…. what a clever chap.

    KJT you said:

    “Note how patiently they waited for the political climate to turn for more asset thefts”

    Your point is well taken

    Its kinda of creepy/insipid isn’t it?

    Odd how we as country were one of the best to weather the Global Financial Crisis, yet we still had to sell the silver.

    What do you think they will sell next?

    I guess they have not mentioned it this time round…. ACC first up maybe, or something more succulent, that goes nicely with a little Chianti………..

    Sweep stake anyone

  28. small thing 28

    It was stated about 5yrs ago by a Wall St trader that elections and democracy could be done away with because all that was needed was the market to control the govt of any western nation
    So if its common in that racket we are in serious trouble look at what Key has done, thats enough to let you know just how much power these people have.
    Key has almost created a ”you cant affect me state of govt” now, and can leave his mess with impunity

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