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Halting Dynamics and Shifting Inertias

Written By: - Date published: 5:20 pm, January 7th, 2013 - 43 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, Economy - Tags: , ,

Like many, I’ve been somewhat bemused and not a little angered that austerity is touted as a pathway to economic recovery. Like many, I’ve come to view both austerity and bail outs simply as means to put public monies and the control of public institutions into private hands – all the while diminishing the power of citizens on both an individual and collective basis. And I’ve been particularly irked that the National led government has tried to hitch NZ to the austerity bandwagon.

But anyway,  why consciously destroy or abandon real economic activity in a quest for power or/and wealth? Why not continue to build on whatever ‘real economy’ bases of power you posses? Idle speculation might suggest a lust for power, y’know… power for power’s sake. Or a reaction to, or recognition of impending peak resources in a world of growing population.

Following that reasoning, if the real economy was deliberately shrunk to postpone resource peak dates, and if that was done in conjunction with shifting the basis for the accumulation of money (and power) to more abstract realms, then current elites could do more than simply hold on to their power – they could augment it.

Shrinking the total size of the ‘real economy’ would obviously require excluding increasing numbers of people from access to resources and productive goods. But that wouldn’t be an issue. The goal would be the retention of power – of market share. And market share, rather than total market size, is what determines levels of influence and power.

And exploring this scenario further – where  market participation recedes from people – social safety nets could be diminished and destroyed because such things are an unnecessary drain on the accumulation of power and wealth that corporations and financial institutions desire.

Too cruel? Too unimaginable?

Think of Africa then, and the recurring situations where people have died while the resources to save them (food, drugs) have sat all around yet out of reach due to a lack of purchasing power. And then cast an eye on Greece where people are increasingly unable to afford food (it’s being sold at prices determined by global market rates that put it increasingly out of reach); where 1/3rd of the population have no access to health care and where cancer sufferers are being given cortisone injections (if they can get anything at all) because hospitals have no drugs any more.

And look at the effects of austerity spreading across Spain or the UK and Italy, the US and elsewhere….increasing levels of homelessness, poverty, joblessness and suicide. And manufacturing continues to be closed down, unions attacked and social safety nets torn away. Meanwhile, financial and corporate entities are posting record profits on the back of speculative ‘investments’ and trading strange and wonderful financial abstractions amongst themselves. And when hic-ups and crashes occur, in rushes our increasingly ‘enabling’ governments…some, like Italy run by unelected technocrats… with injections of  public monies to bouy them up. And then social welfare provisions and real economic activity are wound down further as a consequence in a self reinforcing downward spiral.

And in the interests of finding some reason behind all this lop sided pain and gain maybe a certain philanthropy shot through with a dash of pragmatism could be considered.

Classical economists are pretty insistent that it isn’t possible to reduce CO2 emissions at rates science demands to avoid “dangerous” or “extremely dangerous” levels of global warming. At least, not without crashing the market.  So, in the interests of preserving power, saving the world and (of course) the economy, the idea might be to exclude ever growing numbers of people from market participation in the hope that the denuded real economy ( presided over by the lords of the new abstract economy) will then deliver big enough CO2 reductions.

And everyone gets to live.

Just some live a bit better than others. But that’s always been the way. However, just to make sure – maybe fall back on all those ‘war against terror’ inspired restrictions of political freedoms and the increased scope and power of repressive agencies to contain potential reactions. And maybe let all of this unfold at a fast-ish yet still ‘boiling frog’ pace, so that any realisation that might fuel a reaction arrives too late. Maybe pick off sections of the population one at a time – an incremental process of demonising and ostracising should do the trick.

Okay,  I’ll confess to not believing what I’ve written…well, not with regards the volition. There is no cabal or committee of shadowy bankers or whatever thinking their way through all of this and working hand in hand with governments to enact policies to further some devious master plan for world domination.

The principle of  Occams Razor demands we opt for the simple explanation. And that is simply that the institutions of the bankers and financiers and government encourage a certain degree of ineptitude, defensiveness and stupidity. It’s not that bankers, financiers and government personnel are necessarily cruel and stupid individuals – though I’ve no doubt that some are. But when you work or are involved with an institution, you become subject to ‘institutional capture’ – meaning that you put your personal sensibilities aside and behave and act on institutional sensibilities.

So for example, there can be no peak in resources from a market driven institutional standpoint – there are only resources and profits to be derived from them. And when there are no resources well, there will be no profits. And that’s the real loss from an institutional perspective. The same applies to global warming. Even when global warming is knocking us all for six, institutional foci will still be on profit and economic performance only. And this institutional blindness is something that any and all personnel must adopt as their own if they are to maintain their position.

Banking institutions and corporations accumulate and have no sentience; no moral compass. They are just market driven institutions. Meanwhile, governments are just further institutions that manage the market economy such that it enables banking institutions and corporations to accumulate. And that’s something that must be preserved. And to reiterate;- people within those institutions have to behave accordingly.

The effect is more or less the same as some cabal devising a grand conspiracy and acting out on it. But it’s not a conspiracy. That would be far too easy to counter and deal with.

So the banking bailouts and the austerity measures and the ‘national security’ measures alongside the denial of both peak resources and global warming : these things are going to continue. And they’ll continue, not because of bad or stupid people, but because that’s the inevitable trajectory of both market driven financial institutions and the government institutions whose task it is to manage and protect that same market economy.

And it seems we have few options should we wish to successfully challenge both detrimental  institutional dynamics and detrimental institutional inertias. Keeping within the bounds of orthodoxy, our only option is to pile pressure on government. And historically that has meant bringing government to the realisation that it has more to lose by not acceding to social demands than it has by continuing to defend the socially unacceptable status quo.

43 comments on “Halting Dynamics and Shifting Inertias”

  1. Andre 1

    To paraphrase. More selfishness ?….

  2. karol 2

    Excellent reflections, Bill.

    And I agree that it’s no so much a carefully orchestrated campaign by the elites. It’s more what they do to maintain their power and privilege, given the resources and systems they have access to. They will then use whatever arguments they can get away with, to justify their moves.

    This has been happening since the 70s/80s & the (so-called) “neoliberal” shift. The philosophy was “free-market” and “small government”, but they use regulation and government control whenever it’s needed to maintain their power and position. Those that care, probably really do believe the PR of things like “trickle-down” and “lifting all the boats”. Others just care about their own self-interest, and if such PR terms work to keep the masses quiet, they’ll use them.

    Then they resort to the use of the term “pragmatic” which makes them sound in touch with realities. But the realities are to do with whatever works for them. They need to resort to such “pragmatic” solutions, because they are trying to work with dwindling resources and various unknown results.

    So, beware of any politician or leader who says they are being “pragmatic”. It means they are not considering what is best for all, and planning accordingly. It means they are doing whatever it is easiest to do, without upsetting the powerful and wealthy elites.

    I agree we need to pile on pressure on the government. But we also need to develop an alternative set of policies and an approach that works for the many – as IrishBill aims to do.

    • Bill 2.1

      But we also need to develop an alternative set of policies…

      This is true. And why I think Irish’s initiative is a good one. If a parliamentary party breaks with the neo-liberal consensus, and offers up genuine and solid social democratic policies, it would be a good thing. Just not sure it would be enough given the massive ‘either/or’ issues that are building up around any and all market bound orthodoxies* and demanding our attention (like AGW and/or resource depletion).

      * (ie, not just neo-classical or neo-liberal economic approaches)

  3. Rogue Trooper 3

    Wow! great solid writing Bill

  4. Colonial Viper 5

    Nice one Bill.

    The elite wealthy 0.1% of the world appear to have minimal vision and strategy beyond trying to game the economic system to increase electronic numbers in their virtual bank accounts.

    The concept of trying to build a civilisation to be proud of, a civilisation worthy of surviving? Way beyond most of these people.

    And it seems we have few options should we wish to successfully challenge both detrimental institutional dynamics and detrimental institutional inertias. Keeping within the bounds of orthodoxy, our only option is to pile pressure on government.

    Keeping within the bounds of orthodoxy…I don’t think that’s going to work, even in the best case scenario. John Michael Greer recommends instead focussing time and energy on yourself, on your family and on your local communities to build resilience. The gap between what can probably be achieved electorally and politically, and what is required in terms of socio-economic movement over the next 15 years is just too huge.

    What would it take to reduce by 80% the number of vehicles on the road by 2028? To reduce the extraction of fossil fuels in NZ by 80% by 2028? To nationalise all key economic infrastructure by 2028? To achieve full employment by 2028?

    When you drill down into it, none of this is possible in this timeframe particuarly “within the bounds of orthodoxy”.

    The Roman, Assyrian, Hittite, Egyptian, Parthian, Babylonian civilisations all came and went, as did the Caliphates. Almost nothing but echoes of their knowledge and culture exist today. We’re basically headed the same way, at breakneck speed.

    World population of c.1B-2B by 2100. And listening to Guy McPherson’s presentation in Petone earlier this year, that could be optimistic.

    • Colonial Weka 5.1

      I largely agree, although I would note that Greer is commenting from a culture with very different political and social systems than ours.

      We also need to keep any eye out for the wild cards within the orthodoxy that may appear from time to time and prove useful tipping points.

    • weka 5.2

      I largely agree, although I would note that Greer is commenting from a culture with very different political and social systems than ours.

      We also need to keep any eye out for the wild cards within the orthodoxy that may appear from time to time and prove useful tipping points.

    • Bill 5.3

      Keeping within the bounds of orthodoxy…

      Maybe I should have phrased that along the lines of – “Keeping within the bounds of orthodoxy for the sake of this post…”

      I agree that we need to essentially crash (or crash land) the market economy and halt the burning of all fossil fuels in about 17 years from now. Or much sooner if we are in any way intelligent. But ‘we’ aren’t going to do that and so will have it crashed for us by climatic impacts. By which time run-away global warming may well have set in, if it hasn’t already, meaning temperatures are headed for…well, anybody’s guess really.

      I do have my doubts as to whether there will be any echoes of anything to do with us in the future. 400ppm CO2 hasn’t been seen for about 15 – 20 million years. And I just can’t imagine things being that flash…or even holding at that state given feedback loops.

      Meanwhile, I really do wish McPherson would present something a bit more informative than just a list of conclusions. But hey.

      • Colonial Viper 5.3.1

        Maybe I should have phrased that along the lines of – “Keeping within the bounds of orthodoxy for the sake of this post…”

        Ahh, thanks for the clarification, Bill.

      • Are you kidding? Four hundred essays at Nature Bats Last, about half of which deal with pragmatic aspects of relocalization, and you want “something a bit more informative than just a list of conclusions.” Will you be a little more specific, please?

        • Bill 5.3.2.1

          I’m referring to your presentation style as seen on a couple of youtube vids – not your website.

          For me, your presentations lack supportive background information.

          For example – You say that comparisons with Thoreau’s notes on plants from 1840 tell us that temperatures have increased by 2.5 degrees C (I noticed that in your Petone presentation you do offer a caveat that was absent from a previous presentation I watched on-line). Anyway, effectively you are saying plants are telling us something different to what direct scientific measurements are telling us. But you offer no explanation as to why that should or might be. And I’m curious.

          You also present the conclusions of various reports without presentiing anything of the argument contained in them or pointing to where various reports are or may be flawed. And again, I’d like some indication of what’s what.

          Y’know, why does one report conclude that temperature rise will be around 1 degree C by 2100 (IPCC) and within four years other reports range from that to 6 degrees C by 2035 (IEA)?

          And on the IEA report, I’m sure Kevin Anderson, from the same report, quotes the IEA’s chief economist (Birol) as concluding a 4.2 degrees above pre-industrial levels by 2040. Now Birol may be interpreting his own agency’s report incorrectly. But in that case, surely an indication of where and why he got it wrong is in order…simply making a bold counter statement and attributing it to the IEA anyway isn’t really helpful. (And given that 4.2 degees C is catastophic, I wonder as to why anyone would bother contradicting him rather than [as Anderson does] being simply quite clear on who is saying what.)

          http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cabot/events/2012/194.html

          As for essays dealing with pragmatic aspects of relocalisation – I’ll definately go and have a read since firstly, I have my own fairly well informed opinions on that front and secondly, am keen to reappraise assumptions and fill any ‘gaps’ in my knowledge/understanding.

          A broad take on that front /if/ And a desciptive post seeking to reform a previous community based living arrangement written before I became aware of the full extent of current AGW (so obvious modifications in light of new info apply) /trading-futures/

          • Guy McPherson 5.3.2.1.1

            Bill, I don’t have time or interest in walking through every projection and assessment. I’m hoping my presentations and writing will lead people to read the articles.

            However, as I often explain, more-recent assessments have access to more data and, importantly, increased computational power relative to older assessments. The IPCC Fourth Assessment from 2007 is irrelevant largely because of the latter factor.

            • Bill 5.3.2.1.1.1

              Hmm. Either the IPCC report and others (Hanson, Stern etc) resulted from a lack of computational power or (and it could be a combination of both) they quite conciously did not use available data.

              And I’ll come back to Anderson who unequivocably demonstrates that :-

              1 – they used very low p.a. increases of emission growth in their models in spite of having the actual data available. (1 – 1.5% p.a. instead of the 2.7% for the 20C and approx 3.5% for this century).

              2. they complied with the demands of classical economists to model for no more than a 4% p.a. reduction in emissions. (Larger reductions would, according to them, crash the market economy – no bad thing in my mind, but hey)

              3. (which follows on from 2) they employed unrealistic dates for the year of peak emissions in spite of knowing how infeasible they were being in setting down the years they did.

              4. they extrapolated from (unrealistic) ‘western’ emission scenarios and applied them globally ie, they ignored the (then) current emissions of China and the likely future emissions of China, India etc.

              And so on.

              Having said that, I’m aware that you attempt to cover much more ground than Anderson does in his Cabot presentation and so can’t do as thorough a ‘fisking’ as he did. And I can appreciate having neither the interest nor the time to go through every assessment in detail, but to better or more informatively signpost how unrealistuc assessments have come about would take a sentence or two – a moment.

              But in the meantime, thanks for taking the time out to comment on a relatively inconsequential blog from ‘the bottom’ of the world.

              • I’ve no doubt the IPCC willingly ignores abundant information. In addition. Moore’s Law indicates more than an eight-fold increase in computing power in five years.

                Thanks for your excellent point about adding a sentence or two about how unrealistic assessments come into the world. IPCC’s Fifth Assessment, already leaked, is another one that ignores important self-reinforcing feedback loops, as I indicate in my latest essay.

        • Colonial Viper 5.3.2.2

          Thanks as always for visiting NZ, Dr McPherson (and also The Standard!).

  5. Neoleftie 6

    Oh well said Bill.
    What I see is govt hamstrung by being caught up or simple a large actor within the embeddness of the current dogmatic economic system and it’s powerful and connected self focused influencers.
    What we need is a broadly connected social democratic entity guided by the left coalition with participants from organisation and individuals within society all focused on providing power and support to the left coalitions New Direction, it’s Next Way.
    CC opengovt on steroids.
    NZhui The Next Way. Open source, open involvement, creative, powerful inspirational that provides a build block, a focus and powerful connection across all streams of societial influencers.
    We need to counter the Tory imbeddness within society, the gradual creep to the dark side of this post investment capitalism. Time for labour to anti up.
    Time is now and ticking.

    • Bill 7.1

      You do know that was basically a critique of state communism, don’t you? Not saying some of the sentiments don’t apply, but she, great worshiper of the ‘free market economy’ wouldn’t have intended them to apply to our neo-classical market economy.

  6. Rusty Shackleford 8

    “And I’ve been particularly irked that the National led government has tried to hitch NZ to the austerity bandwagon.”
    How much did they cut the budget by?

    • Bill 8.1

      What area are you referring to? Public schools perhaps? Funding cut by $114 million.

      What non-austerity measures did or have the government released as policy?

      • Rusty Shackleford 8.1.1

        It’s a simple question. How much has the govt budget (ie. total govt spending) been cut by? “Austerity” would imply it has been cut by a lot.

  7. Rusty Shackleford 9

    “Classical economists are pretty insistent that it isn’t possible to reduce CO2 emissions at rates science demands to avoid “dangerous” or “extremely dangerous” levels of global warming.”
    Which ones? And why would you listen to an economist on climate science? That makes as much sense as listening to old Bill here talk about economics.

    • Bill 9.1

      Which one’s? Oh just all of the neo-classical school. They say that max reductions in CO2 emissions can’t be more than 4% p.a. without sending the economy into a tailspin. And that is why the compilers of major reports picked unrealistic peak years for emissions from out of someboy’s arse….to accomodate a 4% p.a. decrease in emissions. ( Apparently the only time country has had above 5% year on year reductions was the Soviet Union when it’s economy collapsed) And we need 40% before the end of 2015….according to the optimistic end of the science.

      Why were they listened to? Because the scientists they were talking at/to work on the cusp between scientists who collect data and government policy makers. And they felt they had to keep the policy guys (their pay masters) happy to keep the funding rolling and hold on to their positions. Or at least, that’s what some in the scientific community claim.

      • Rusty Shackleford 9.1.1

        Not a single name nor reference. Good to know.

        • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.1

          But what actual difference does it make to you Rusty if the top World Bank or IMF or OECD economist swore it were so?

  8. MrSmith 10

    Great piece Bill.

    And I wish I could share your hope, but lately see little hope, looking at our own behavior over the last 2000 years or so, then that should be enough to convince anyone we are are a nasty, selfish, conceited, hypercritical, greedy animal, and yes we can be kind, loving, charitable, forgiving, etc but deep down we mostly only want to protect and propagate our genes, like most other animals, but sadly we mostly still don’t even understand why we want to reproduce, let alone we are one of the animals.

    This doesn’t make me sad at all tho, in-fact I’m quiet happy watching it unfold, watching people dancing around praying for rain can be great fun and is cheaper than most other forms of entertainment.

    • Colonial Viper 10.1

      This doesn’t make me sad at all tho, in-fact I’m quiet happy watching it unfold, watching people dancing around praying for rain can be great fun and is cheaper than most other forms of entertainment.

      Especially if you have a comfy couch to perch from and beer in hand.

  9. Mike 11

    “There is no cabal or committee of shadowy bankers or whatever thinking their way through all of this and working hand in hand with governments to enact policies to further some devious master plan for world domination.”

    I’m not completely sure about that. For example:

    “Capital must protect itself in every possible way, both by combination and legislation. Debts must be collected, mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible. When, through process of law, the common people lose their homes, they will become more docile and more easily governed through the strong arm of the government applied by a central power of wealth under leading financiers.

    These truths are well known among our principal men, who are now engaged in forming an imperialism to govern the world. By dividing the voter through the political party system, we can get them to expend their energies in fighting for questions of no importance. It is thus, by discrete action, we can secure for ourselves that which has been so well planned and so successfully accomplished.”

    – Montagu Norman, Governor of The Bank Of England, addressing the United States Bankers’ Association, New York, 1924.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      😯

    • rosy 11.2

      Whoa. That’s wicked. Do you have a reputable source for that quote?

    • SHG (not Colonial Viper) 11.3

      That quote, or variations of it, has been bouncing around the nutty conspiracy circles since at least 1892. (“The Bankers’ Manifesto”). It popped up again in the thirties, and it has recently seen a resurgence thanks to rise of the Tea Party movement. BECAUSE IT’S ALL TRUE OF COURSE AND THE JEW-CONTROLLED MEDIA HAVE BEEN TRYING TO SUPPRESS IT.

      Seriously, if you believe that sort of thing you’re just the type of gullible moron who shouldn’t be voting anyway.

  10. venezia 12

    Good piece Bill. I clicked on the link for Spain in your article and discovered the action taken by the Locksmiths of Pamplona – not to cooperate in evicting people from their homes when banks foreclose on them. A small action which needs to be built on to stand up to the greed of these institutions.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      The entire machine stops when even a few of the small cogs decide to seize and jam. One of the messages of Fight Club.

  11. SHG (not Colonial Viper) 13

    I like the innovative way the thumbnail image for this story portrays a Jewish banker as a vampire, that’s a visual device that has never been used before, anywhere, ever.

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    4 days ago
  • A “new Society” post-COVID19 will definitely emerge. The question is: on what path?
    Society-wise, aside from the specific morbidity shall we say of the medically-oriented aspects of this COVID-19 crisis, what is unfolding before the world is in more than one way an instructive study of humanity and reactions to a high intensity, high stress environment in real time. Friends, we are at ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    4 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: Everything you need to know about the wage subsidy
    Right now low waged and insecure workers are feeling the economic brunt of the looming #Covid19 Recession. In response legal advocate Toby Cooper* and hospitality and worker’s rights advocate Chloe Ann-King, are putting together a series of legal blogs about your employment rights: In this legal blog we outline some ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    5 days ago
  • The massacre of prisoners in Modelo jail, Bogota, March 21
    by Equipo Jurídico Pueblos and Gearóid Ó Loingsigh (25/03/2020) An escape plan in question On the night of March 21st and the early morning of the 22nd, the forces of the Colombian state stormed into the Modelo prison in Bogotá, murdering 23 prisoners and injuring 83, in response to the ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • We are not America
    When the government banned semi-automatic weapons in response to a terrorist atrocity, gun-nuts were outraged. Mired in toxic American gun culture, they thought owning weapons whose sole purpose was killing people was some sort of "constitutional right", a necessity for "defending themselves" against the government. Now, the Court of Appeal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • When will we know the lockdown is working?
    Just before midnight on Wednesday March 25, Aotearoa New Zealand entered a countrywide alert level four lockdown. For at least the next four weeks, everyone who isn’t an essential worker is confined to their bubble. We are doing this to stop the explosive growth in people contracting and dying from ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    5 days ago
  • Lock Down: Day 1
    . . Lock Down: Day 1 – A photo essay with observations . Day one of the Level 4 nationwide lock-down (or, DefCon 4 as I sometimes cheekily call it) started at 11.59PM on 25 March. For a moment, most of the nation held it’s collective breath. In that brief ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • A Compelling Recollection.
    Broad, Sunlit Uplands: How those words fired my young imagination! Or, perhaps, it is more accurate to say: how those words fused, in my young mind, with the image printed on every packet of Fielder’s Cornflour. Always fascinated by history, especially modern history, I cannot hear Churchill’s wonderfully evocative words, even ...
    5 days ago
  • The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus
    . . 24 March 2020 9.46AM Number of covid19 cases in Aotearoa New Zealand: 102 . As of 11.59 on Thursday, most of New Zealand will go into “lock down”. People will be expected not to travel to work; not to socialise; and to stay home. I will not be ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Aggressive action to address climate change could save the world $145 trillion
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs. The new 2020 Drawdown ...
    5 days ago
  • After the Pandemic
    It will pass. What happens next? Not immediately, but longer term. There are many opinions, fewer certainties. Will it “change everything!” as many confidently, and contradictorily predict? In this post I look at how foresight can help bound some of the uncertainties so you can more objectively consider the future. ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    6 days ago
  • Coronavirus – Cuba shows the way
    We’ve been meaning t write something on Cuba and the coronavirus but have just discovered a very good article on the subject in the US left publication Jacobin.  The article looks at how Cuba, a poor country but one where capitalism has been done away with, is leading the way ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    6 days ago
  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    6 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    6 days ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
    Associate Prof George Thomson, Louise Delany, Prof Nick Wilson While it is possible that New Zealand can use intense public health controls to eradicate COVID-19 from the country – we must also plan for other scenarios where thousands of New Zealanders are sick – including many urgently hospitalised.1 Better resilience ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    7 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    7 days ago
  • An equitable way to support business
    The Herald reports that the government is planning to lend billions of dollars to large businesses to keep them operating during the pandemic. As with mortgage relief, this is necessary: we need companies to stay in business, to reduce the economic damage and help things get restarted again when this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Hard News: Together Alone
    We're about to do something unprecedented as a nation. We hope that by taking this extraordinary action before a single life in New Zealand has been lost to the deadly novel virus we will save tens of thousands of lives. Our  lives. We'll do it together, in households, in isolation ...
    7 days ago
  • Why timing is everything: ‘A time to refrain from embracing’ starts today
    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    7 days ago
  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    1 week ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    1 week ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
    PunditBy Phil Vine
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters The likelihood of extreme events ...
    1 week ago
  • We are all socialists now
    Last week, the government announced a $12 billion initial package to support people during the pandemic. Today, the Reserve Bank is buying government bonds - effectively printing money - to keep up the money supply during the crisis. Normally such moves would have the right apoplectic. Instead, the National Party ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A plea to experts: safeguard your role in public life
    I am a pundit, somebody who opines and comments on the news. There are no real qualifications to punditry though having a rudimentary way with words and good general knowledge helps. That is one reason there is a constant oversupply of would-be pundits and why it is quite hard to ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Enlightenment when?
    I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    1 week ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Hammering home measures to stop COVID-19
    COVID-19 has plunged Aotearoa New Zealand (indeed, the world) into territory that, while maybe not totally unprecedented, certainly hasn’t been seen during the lifetimes of most of us here today. Our borders are closed to non-citizens, we’re being told not to gather in groups of more than 500 outside/100 inside, ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • What does ‘level two’ mean – and why does it matter?
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been urging you to prepare yourself, your family, business, and community for Covid-19. Now it’s time for real action.  Yesterday the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced another 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing our total to date to 52. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020 Editor's Pick Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts   Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed ...
    1 week ago
  • Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?
    by Jan Rivers The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist and not Luke Harding who travelled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Life asserts itself regardless
    by Cultural Worker Late March 2020 amidst the virus. With gigs crashing and burning all around it was without much hope that I called a long standing rest home booking: “ Hi, I’m supposed to be entertaining at your place this afternoon – is it still on?” “”If you don’t ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics, the possible, and the pandemic
    Whenever people demand real change from their politicians, we're told that "politics is the art of the possible". The implication is that change isn't possible, so we'd better just get used to the sucky status quo. But now that there's a pandemic, a lot of things we were previously told ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The Only Way Through This Crisis Is Together.
    Together: In leading New Zealand through the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Prime Minister could do a lot worse than allow herself to be guided by the spirit of collective sacrifice and co-operation that animated the New Zealanders of 80 years ago. Most Kiwis alive today have had no opportunity to prove their ...
    2 weeks ago
  • GFC vs Covid-19
    It is said that generals fight the last war. In the case of the early stages of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) they had learned from the Great Depression of the 1930s and they fought intelligently and successfully. Later their advice would be ignored in favour of the Austerians who ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 weeks ago
  • Nobody Left Behind.
    Solidarity Forever: All over the world, the arrival of the Covid-19 virus has exposed the fragility of the walls we erect around ourselves and our loved ones. It has shattered our illusions of autonomy and revealed to us how utterly dependent we all are on other human-beings. Finally, we see ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rebuilding a truly “Democratic” counter, or a “moderate Republican” bolt-hol...
    Looking across the various arguments for/against the leading candidates to take the Democratic Nomination, you might honestly be very hard pressed to tell. There are a number of things that have now started happening since Amy Klobuchar and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg both threw the towel in and immediately (and ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • Abortion law reform a win for women
    by Daphna Whitmore Abortion is no longer in the Crimes Act in New Zealand. The law reform passed yesterday and now abortion is a medical matter between a woman and her doctor. Many women’s groups and progressive people have campaigned for reform for decades. The women’s liberation movement and some ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • How to spot bogus science stories and read the news like a scientist
    Doug Specht, University of Westminster and Julio Gimenez, University of Westminster When fake news, misreporting and alternative facts are everywhere, reading the news can be a challenge. Not only is there plenty of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other scientific topics floating around social media, you also ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Why New Zealand needs to continue decisive action to contain coronavirus
    Michael Baker, University of Otago and Nick Wilson, University of Otago With some of the toughest border restrictions and a newly-announced NZ$500 million boost to health services, New Zealand is among a small number of countries with a strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand is also fortunate in ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Parliament and the pandemic II
    As expected, the government has introduced a sessional order to allow Parliament to operate during the pandemic. You can read it on the Order Paper here, but the short version is that questions and motions can be filed electronicly, select committees can work remotely, and the the Business Committee can ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • When a virus goes viral: pros and cons to the coronavirus spread on social media
    Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology; Daniel Angus, Queensland University of Technology; Timothy Graham, Queensland University of Technology, and Tobias R. Keller, Queensland University of Technology News and views about coronavirus has spread via social media in a way that no health emergency has done before. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago

  • Advance payments to support contractors
    Advance payments will be made to transport construction industry contractors to retain the workforce and ensure it is ready to quickly gear up to build projects which will be vital to New Zealand’s COVID-19 economic recovery, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. He said keeping the workforce required to build ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 hours ago
  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
    The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say. The Infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    13 hours ago
  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    20 hours ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
    New Zealand’s ability to go hard and go early in the fight against COVID-19 has been underpinned by strong Government finances and the growing economy heading into this global pandemic, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown financial statements for the eight months to the end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    22 hours ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
    New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare  Level 3, from tomorrow Non-essential businesses must close All events and gatherings must be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
    Good afternoon  The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.  Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt takes significant economic decisions as NZ readies for Alert Level 4 in COVID-19 fight
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