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How Did We Come to This?

Written By: - Date published: 4:15 pm, June 2nd, 2015 - 140 comments
Categories: Politics - Tags:

How did we come to this? When did New Zealanders become convinced that the care of the most vulnerable in our society, and particularly of those suffering mental illness and disability, should be treated as an opportunity to make a profit rather than as a community responsibility?

Nothing more clearly demonstrates the mindset of the government we re-elected just a few months ago than this stark assertion that it is the quest for money that alone motivates us. We now know beyond doubt that our government is convinced that the only way to persuade people to care for others is to encourage them to make money from other people’s desperation.

There will, of course, be those who will respond immediately with the argument that – distasteful though it may be – it is simply a recognition of what really drives people, and that we should welcome anything that produce better outcomes, however they are motivated.

Those of us who still retain a belief in the inherent attachment of New Zealanders to this country’s traditional values will reject that argument. But even if we were to overlook the moral bankruptcy of such a contention, we would still be entitled to show that the basic premise that we will thereby get better provision has no foundation.

We are by now familiar with the consequences, in many areas of our public life, of entrusting important interests to the tender mercies of those whose sole interest is the search for profit. Is Sky City concerned about the damage to problem gamblers from more pokies and gaming tables? Is Petrobras worried about the impact on our marine environment of deep-sea drilling off our coast? Was Pike River alert to the need to look after the safety of their miners?

We know from experience that the first concerns to fly out the window when the profit motive is at stake are the well-being of others, service to the community, and the conservation of scarce resources.

That lack of interest, let alone concern, for wider community values becomes more marked, the further removed the profit-seekers are from the impact on the ground of their actions for other people. If the extent of the investor’s involvement is that he or she puts in some money and then waits for the regular and promised payments, but never has the need or even opportunity to see what activity in practice actually generates those payments, it is simply unrealistic to believe that there will be much interest in whether or not a particular service is properly delivered.

The only concern will be as to whether the conditions that are specified in order for the payment to be made have been met. And it is here that the government’s experimental model really breaks down.

The government’s case for taking this action, after all, depends on their claim that the current models, involving either their own staff in the Ministries of Social Development and Health or the purchase of services from approved voluntary bodies, does not adequately guarantee that the required services are fully delivered.

That is presumably because the government has trouble in accessing sufficiently reliable information as to the level at which those services are provided. They have presumably discovered that a comforting report that certain goals have been achieved does not always accord with the facts.

Yet, if that is the case, it is hard to see how removing the government even further from the action, and interposing a range of private investors with literally no interest other than their regular payments in the quality of those services, can be expected to improve matters.

If the public servants and voluntary bodies that are directly involved cannot be trusted to provide reliable information about the services that are provided, what makes ministers think that a certificate provided to authorise payment of interest on a bond to a virtually anonymous investor will be any more reliable?

If the government is so suspicious of the reports it receives about the quality of services being delivered, it is hard to see that changing the method of funding those services can address the problem. Indeed, it is likely to become worse, since the pressure will be on from investors to ensure that, whatever the level of service actually provided, the reports will show that the required outcomes have been met.

And if there is a real issue here, and there are proper safeguards to ensure that stipulated outcomes are in fact achieved, so that the regular payments are not always guaranteed, what makes the government think that investors would tolerate that uncertainty and would buy the bonds anyway?

The case for this experiment in other words has nothing to do with better services or even just better value for money. It has the great advantage that it gets another tranche of public spending off the government’s books and helps to reduce the deficit. And it rests on a visceral conviction – or, if you prefer, a gut feeling – that making a profit, whatever the context and the wider outcome, should always be supported and is always worthwhile. It has, the government seems to be saying, an intrinsic value all of its own, and trumps all other considerations.

Bryan Gould

2 June 2015.

140 comments on “How Did We Come to This?”

  1. shorts 1

    I see it simply as another means for the govt to transfer some of the nations money to its “mates”, as if it needed a new process for doing so

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    The National Party is a clear and present threat to the lives and safety of New Zealand citizens.

    • Macro 2.1

      The National Party is a clear and present threat to the lives and safety of New Zealand citizens.


      And as it has been for the past 6 years.

  3. Mike the Savage One 3

    “How did we come to this? When did New Zealanders become convinced that the care of the most vulnerable in our society, and particularly of those suffering mental illness and disability, should be treated as an opportunity to make a profit rather than as a community responsibility?”

    Years of conditioning, gradual, hardly noticeable conditioning or brain-washing, a relentless drive to divide and play off groups of people with their interests against others, that is the answer.

    They have been expert at it, the neoliberal forces, and their parties, and they have expert advisors, paid for very generously, by the vested interests, who want it to be as it is. It is based on ideology and greed, endless greed and hunger for power and dominance, that the powerful in society have as prime attributes.

    Most ordinary New Zealanders do not even think much anymore, they just react, they hear, read, notice and feel new initiatives, new actions, new moves, new laws and measures, and most are so damned busy with coping at work, in business, in looking after their kids, if they still can, to stay on top of things.

    So they constantly prioritise, and that means looking after the survival and progress of the interests of one self, then the partner and family, then perhaps mates and friends, and last the rest (of society).

    As the government brings in new measures of this kind, affecting small, hardly vocal, rather powerless groups, few bother even taking note, to be honest.

    So it goes on, and that is the environment we have now, that keeps them in power. It is a cunning strategy, but it works, and the Crosby and Textor spin masters and others do the rest, to discredit opponents, there are others that look after the media, to not dare ask too hard questions, then there is the pressure of the “market force”, for “growth” dominance and all very competitive, again encouraging the “survival instinct”, and not much else.

    Tomorrow this may also be water under the bridge, the technocrats at the Ministry of Health and MSD will see to it that the new “Social Bond” trial will be put into place, some verbal assurances will be presented, and it will all be sorted behind closed doors, and as we are dealing with commercial transactions, and outsourced, private providers, no OIA will lift the curtain much, so we will not even know what happens.

    Just another experiment, never mind the pawns in the game, the collateral damage, the affected are just another “commodity”, that is what we are increasingly all being treated as, a commodity. Compete at work, compete in business, compete on the market place, compete with political spin in elections and in Parliament. It is truly sickening, but nobody takes action, they are all held hostage, that is how it seems.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      As the government brings in new measures of this kind, affecting small, hardly vocal, rather powerless groups, few bother even taking note, to be honest.

      First they came…

  4. Bill 4

    If the NZ state provided care to aging people then, it being a major component of care in society, I’d suggest the outrage around all this would be deafening. But since that aspect of care is profit driven, and has been for quite some time, the ‘mere’ widening of the net will doubtless come to pass with a ‘less than desirable’ outpouring of anger and outrage.

    Maybe the Parliamentary left should undertake to remove the care of societies elder people from private entities as a first step? Or would that be too bold for the timorous wee beasties? I suspect so.

  5. “We now know beyond doubt that our government is convinced that the only way to persuade people to care for others is to encourage them to make money from other people’s desperation.”

    We know nothing of the sort. What bizarre leap of logic led you to this conclusion?

    • Paul 5.1

      Tory shill.

    • Paul 5.2

      People like you Mr Hooton are a key part of the problem.
      The ‘me’ people as opposed to the ‘we’ society.

      • Matthew Hooton 5.2.1

        Do you have anything to say?

        • Paul

          Yup. Please stop spinning your neo-liberal doctrine.

        • ankerawshark

          What do you have to say about this Matthew?

          Good mental health care should be driven by good evidence about what works clinically (and what treatment don’t work or are less effective).

          Mental Health services have been moving in this direction for some 20 years and improving as a result of it. Its about training clinicians in evidence based practice and paying clinicians well.

          Where is the evidence that these social bonds are going to produce better outcomes?????? There is none.

          Good evidence based practice, = better outcomes. End of story. Do this and you will have better outcomes for people with mental health issues. The story ends there.

        • whateva next?

          Do you listen?

        • emergency mike

          “Do you have anything to say?”

          Considering your brilliant contribution to this thread amounts to “Nah dat’s bollocks,” it’s a bit rich of you Matthew to demand any considered response to it.

          Paul’s comment is entirely accurate. Apart from propping up the shiny shirt market, self-serving bottom feeders like you contribute nothing.

          • tc

            Matty isn’t a bottom feeder, he’s a well connected and resourced shill for the neo liberal cause with many msm soapboxes to peddle his wares from.

            • emergency mike

              Yeah perhaps it’s not a truly accurate pejorative for Hooton. I was trying the emphasize the worthless, parasitic nature of his life and occupation. Making a living as a bullshit artist for the interests of those who need to bullshit people to further their exploitative objectives. In this way he is feeding on society in the lowest way possible.

              Shill is right.

        • tricledrown

          Yes we could have Stock Exchange listings for patient’s you could go to the TAB and place a bet on the outcome of a of the well being of our fellow humans.
          Natural selection back to prehistoric times prior to civilisation.
          Only the strongest survived
          Neo Liberalism’s end Goal!
          Neo Liberalism is just a softened version of fascism easier to sell to the masses.

        • North

          Matthew, you have no credibility, please. A shill. Who once in a while engages a disingenuous spill. So as to bolster the shill. Not kidding anyone. Boring dork.

      • Chooky 5.2.2

        +100 Paul

    • Draco T Bastard 5.3

      Probably the fact that they keep privatising everything.

    • Well, in one sense you’re right to be sceptical of this claim Matthew.

      After all, it’s been clear for a very long time that those on the right have a deep belief that the compassion of people (usually other than themselves) can be drawn upon to justify reduced state provision of services.

      The result has been a volunteer sector that is understaffed, underfunded and burnt out in most areas of service provision. The result has also been the active action of the government to oppose liability for those who care for people in need overnight (surely they should be doing it for ‘love’ – what’s wrong with their motivation if they want money for it??).

      Generally, it is also true that in the society that the last 30 years of reforms have produced in New Zealand we have some of our poorest paid workers in the ‘care’ sector, usually privately run rest homes and residential facilities.

      it’s debatable whether or not such workers are doing it for something other than money as opposed to those being the most numerous kinds of jobs created by said reforms and so they don’t have much choice.

      So in some ways you are correct.

      Policy decisions over the past 30 years do suggest that those proposing such policies at least hope that there are other motives in operation than making money.

      ‘Hope’ primarily because that will help reduce government costs (and, ultimately, taxes) or, for some individuals perhaps, belief in such motivation (i.e., other than money) will go some small (and largely unwarranted) way to assuage their consciences over the human effects of the policies they have advocated for decades.

    • Mike the Savage One 5.5

      Sigh, an attempted diversion, I guess.

      We look at the changes in social and labour laws, and see a trend there, dear Matthew!

      The message under this government seems to be –
      work and make money, if you are in business, tighten conditions, keep pay down, and get out of workers what you can, if you end up just working at the coal face, shut up and work, work and work, and dare not complain:

      Zero hour jobs increased under National’s rule:

      Radical welfare reforms, pressuring even sick and disabled to work:


      Welfare reforms, a relentless focus on work, one strike, or you are out:

      An emboldened, overpaid “Principal Health Advisor” for MSD and WINZ goes as far as calling beneficiaries being like “drug addicts”:

      Click to access C1%201515%20Bratt-Hawker.pdf

      High fees paid for contractors that sign up with WINZ to earn on placing sick and disabled into whatever work:

      They started by taking away the means of many, to get justice, that is just one other consequence of this government’s measures:

      Slash and burn social, labour and justice law policies and supposed “reforms”, it seems, and Mr Hooton tries to pretend otherwise. Making money on sick and vulnerable, which government has ever gone to this extreme before?

    • Macro 5.6

      Maybe you should learn and listen to what has happened with this sort of nonsense overseas Matthew.
      Private Contractors ripping off the Government (that is ordinary people who have to pay for this through their taxes) to the extent of billions of Pounds.

      We want none of this here. But your lot have no sense whatsoever.

      • tc 5.6.1

        They have plenty of sense….dollars and cents. As long as they get a cut/kickback/sinecure than all is well and bugger the losers as when there is profit on a social service then somebody paid too much.

    • jackp 5.7

      Live in the United States, Mathew. You will see first hand how “people who care for others is to encourage them to make money from other people’s desperation.” Try first looking at the HMO’s. Brian Gould is right. This whole thing makes me sick because I can see Key Americanising New Zealand.

    • Grace Miller 5.8

      The fact that the pigs at the trough have privatised everything else, and are in the process of selling off or privatising anything they can.

      Tory yesman.

  6. Barbara 6

    Isn’t there a a legal body in The Hague which deals with situations like this and could stop a country doing this , a Human Rights Court, to assist our most vulnerable from being exploited and left unprotected – what are our Mental Health medical experts going to do about this disgusting state of affairs , are they going to stop this? – we will have people who suffer geniune mental health issues being forced into work – no employers will want to take them on and these vulnerable people will further deteriorate in their health through fear and stress at having to struggle with being employed. . Families will have to take up the burden and will not have the expertise or knowledge to know how to look after them. Why are we, as a people, not protesting about this, each and every one of us is a heart beat away from suffering mental illness or having a child or sibling succumbing to a mental health disorder.

    Mr Gould, thank you for your Post. We as a nation are sinking back into the barbaric Dark Ages, its absolutely sickening what is happening. God knows what is happening to his country. we are most surely sinking into the slime of Hell. I am ashamed of this Government and everybody who keeps voting them into power.

  7. Colonial Rawshark 7

    It’s the logical continuation of an ethos which says that everything and everyone should be commercialised, financialised and commoditised – whether it is the conservation estate or whether it is disabled citizens.

    National is just being consistent.

    Where is the alternative left wing ethos in action?

  8. Rosemary McDonald 8

    “Years of conditioning, gradual, hardly noticeable conditioning or brain-washing, a relentless drive to divide and play off groups of people with their interests against others, that is the answer.”


    “They have been expert at it, the neoliberal forces, and their parties, and they have expert advisors, paid for very generously, by the vested interests, who want it to be as it is.”


    “As the government brings in new measures of this kind, affecting small, hardly vocal, rather powerless groups, few bother even taking note, to be honest.”

    Oh, yes.

    What an agreeable mood I’m in today.

  9. millsy 9

    private = good, public =bad.

  10. cogito 10

    “How Did We Come to This?”

    By voting for a Smiling Assassin. Pretty predictable when you think about it.

  11. Jan Rivers 11

    Alongside social impact bonds the government is keen to reduce overall government spending as a proportion of GDP to 26%. This would be an historic low and puts NZ below any other OECD country. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/10031743/Average-worker-to-earn-62K-English In addition the proposed changes to public services were described in general terms before the election. s http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11326924

    • maui 12.1

      Pretty sickening. Christchurch the place for architects, builders, developers and landlords to rort the system with Government backing. Human needs don’t exist.

  12. Rosemary McDonald 13

    Bryan, may I call you by your first name? You ask, “How Did We Come To This?”

    Well, mate, there’s a plan. Clearly set out by Bill “The Lizard” English back in 2010.


    Bill is dealing to, what he affectionately refers to as, “this big hard lump of long-term waste of human potential” and “large long-term liability.”

    He suggests using the same tactics as ACC…” if they were ACC customers, we would be spending a lot of money on trying to move them.”

    Lets face it, the disabled, the sick in mind and body, they’re just a burden…a waste of space, a waste of resources. Who needs ’em?

    But hang on a minute…they, like the poor, are always with us…we can hardly round ’em all up and send them off to….no that just wouldn’t be nice.

    BUT…there is a commercial opportunity here….for someone…

    Say, like this outfit….http://www.genevahealth.com/Staffing-Services/Geneva-Plus/What-is-Geneva-Plus/MSD-WINZ who are not only one of the Superproviders of disability and community care, but have a wee little contract with WINZ to take long term beneficiaries and turn them into caregivers for the disabled.

    A worthy, kill two birds with one stone initiative, which solves the “what to do with the unemployed” problem AND alleviates the chronic carer shortage.

    Wow. Such efficiency.

    We must not get hung up on the fact that if someone had a true vocation for caregiving (the sort of carer one needs when one needs a carer) they would have fronted up to an agency without having to be threatened by WINZ.

    Now, there is a whole new source of potential carers…those with mental health issues on sickness benefits…and money to be made in the process…

    Brilliant, just brilliant.

  13. whateva next? 14

    With JC barely out of the door, what a relief there has been attention paid to this today, despite being released over a long week end, (nice move )

    “It has, the government seems to be saying, an intrinsic value all of its own, and trumps all other considerations.”

    When will we reveal this governments true values, and agenda so that “the vast majority of nuzillanders” will wake up to the irreversible consequences of their actions?

  14. yabby 15

    The idea that the state is the only body capable of formulating and implementing ideas to advance care of the vulnerable in an efficient, effective and caring manner is wrong. The superb job done and the fulfillment of our elderly in the profit-driven private sector is proof of this. I am sure there are as many people within our communities with stellar care ideas who are as capable, skilful and professional as any government agency ever is. If people have solutions and they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is, why not give them a go?
    Individual effort and ideas guide and fuel societal advancement and I have no idea why this ‘social bonds’ concept shouldn’t be given a run in this arena. You can be sure that there will be performance targets, substantial restrictions and endless compliance needed.
    On the subject of money and the assertion it will be the only motivating factor, that’s insane. Anyone with half a brain would be far more inclined to play the share market, trade currency or just sit back and buy residential real estate in Auckland.

    • Gangnam Style 15.1

      ‘Give it a go’, why not, what could go wrong….

    • Rosemary McDonald 15.2

      “The idea that the state is the only body capable of formulating and implementing ideas to advance care of the vulnerable in an efficient, effective and caring manner is wrong. The superb job done and the fulfillment of our elderly in the profit-driven private sector is proof of this.”

      You are joking, right?

      Please, tell me you’re joking….

      • yabby 15.2.1

        Not at all Rosemary. You tell me what you think is wrong with the private elderly care model?

        • mickysavage

          How about this model relies completely on the greed of corporates and for less money we could employ dedicated people who have the the interests of the subject as their primary concern?

          • yabby

            We all know that the retirement industry is essentially in the business of real estate. However, the lifestyle afforded to the residents is pretty damned good and I feel a poll of most of the elderly ensconced in these places would call it a win/win.

            • Rosemary McDonald

              Hah! I know of a few who’ve bought in and are living to regret it.

              The ones that are still alive, that is.

              How can you dismiss the horror stories of elderly and disabled neglected (sometimes to death) in state funded care???

        • Rosemary McDonald

          see below

    • Chooky 15.3

      @ yabby …there are quite a few problems with your arguments..here are just a few

      1.) accountability/expertise …there will be none…eg try getting a schizophrenic back to work or cutting their benefit ….and you will have disastrous consequences (even fatalities) …both for the mentally ill person and society and their families ( once upon a time these people were kept in hospitals such are their disabilities)…even psychiatrists find it hard to evaluate these people….this is not a place for the untrained !

      2.) privatisation ie the imperative to make money at the most vulnerable people’s expense…lets face it people are not mentally or physically disabled and unable to work through choice…they literally can not do it

      …pressure put on them is cruel and inhumane…to make money out of this pressurising beggars belief…jonkey and Bill English and the National Party should hang their heads in SHAME!

      3.) ask anyone who has had an elderly relative go into private care and you will find out that the workers are often foreign ( cant speak English) and paid a pittance ….and they are overworked and understaffed….of course they are often women workers who are exploited( but jonkey nactional does not care about that ) ….private care for the elderly is also very expensive ….and the elderly’s life’s savings go out the door into foreign ownership

      • yabby 15.3.1

        (On Private Retirement facilities) My parents are quite vulnerable and live in assisted care apartment in a retirement village and I consider their care is stellar. The few so-called ‘foreign” ESOL workers I’ve met speak good English and more importantly they are compassionate, kind and chosen for these qualities. I realise that there are exceptions to the rule, and we can find examples of mistreatment, but stringent overall government supervision means that shonky operators are soon chased out of the industry.

        The manner in which “Social bonds” care could be provided has not been framed or alluded to in any way, shape or form as I see it, so how can we dismiss it out of hand. I feel certain that the oversight of any of these potential organisations will be subject to supervision and would be as stringently monitored as the retirement industry is.

        Why not at least open our minds to brainstorming, trailblazers and choice.

        • Rosemary McDonald

          Oh, for goodness sakes..,

          Those “ESOL” workers, probably the sisters of the ones that work in the Ryman village/hospital that a couple I know live in. I was telling them about the “Caring Counts” report mentioned by another commentator….here…http://www.hrc.co.nz/files/1214/2360/8576/Caring_Counts_Report.pdf…please read it.

          Anyway, the Old Person reckoned these girls were happy in their work, always smiling and laughing. When I pointed out to her the low pay and long hours…she said, and I kid you not…”but they’re used to living on nothing,”

          Read this….http://www.hdc.org.nz/media/213106/10hdc00356disabilityservice.pdf
          where a manager explains (after the death of a child in care)

          “44. In response to the provisional opinion, Spectrum Care added that “the identified expectations for documentation by staff as outlined in several parts of the report are unrealistic”. Spectrum Care noted that its staff often have low literacy levels, and English as a second language, and are challenged by written communication.”

        • North

          Ah yes, “……,brainstorming, trailblazers and choice.” You didn’t add the reality……’as long as there’s profit in it for them’. Fuck off ACT !

          • North

            If you’re gonna rely on one example Yabby, listen to this one example: some years ago I arrived at work one Friday morning to find an 89 year old man on the doorstep, crying, pleading for help. Turns out that his wife had been discharged from a public hospital into the care of a suburban Auckland elderly care place. She’d fallen ill on Christmas Day six weeks earlier.

            His tale to me was this – “If you take her out of here we’ll call the police. You’ll be arrested for kidnapping !” The woman was completely well. She’d shower herself, make her own bed, she’d go to the TV lounge where everyone else was unfortunately non-compos. All her protestations and those of the husband were in vain. Allegedly she was unwell “mentally”, and HAD to stay.

            The management even convened a family meeting from which she and the old man were EXPRESSLY excluded. Within an hour I was at that place, unannounced, with the old man. I satisfied myself that his wife was as compos as could be. I then told the ‘management’ that she was leaving, there and then, with her husband. I threw the police and kidnapping crap right back at them. The three of us left. Such joy in these old people ! No police, no kidnapping charges, no comeback.

            Here’s the guts of it Scabby – this couple lived in a state unit off Dominion Road, Mt Roskill. They didn’t have a cracker. The elderly care place was getting a grand a week for this lady’s ‘care’ – from the state. So the management bullshitted and bullied and threatened this old couple. To keep pulling the grand a week. I later found out that two local doctors were major shareholders in this place. I found this out from a client of mine who worked for Age Concern. Abuse like this is widespread.

            Money dazzles the eyes…….you think what I’ve described ain’t gonna happen time and time again ? Fuckwit !

            PS my undertaking then relied on payment of an hourly rate. Did I get a cracker ? No. Because I didn’t dream of belittling what I did by putting a $ value on it. I was fortunate actually in being asked to right a gross wrong and put some greedy, inhuman bastards in their place. That was ample payment.

    • Draco T Bastard 15.4

      The idea that the state is the only body capable of formulating and implementing ideas to advance care of the vulnerable in an efficient, effective and caring manner is wrong.

      Actually, the state is the only body capable of providing it and doing it efficiently as well. The idea that the private sector can do it better and make a profit from it is the lie that’s been told to us for the last 30+ years.

      The superb job done and the fulfillment of our elderly in the profit-driven private sector is proof of this.


      That’s the private sector for you – failing at providing the care that they’re supposed to be providing.

      If people have solutions and they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is, why not give them a go?

      Because they will inevitably fail and the state will have to step in. Just as the state had to step in to protect the banks and financial institutions.

      Individual effort and ideas guide and fuel societal advancement and I have no idea why this ‘social bonds’ concept shouldn’t be given a run in this arena.

      Because, like all other privatisations over the last 20+ years, it’ll make things worse.

      On the subject of money and the assertion it will be the only motivating factor, that’s insane.

      That’s the whole concept behind the issuing of bonds and profit.

  15. whateva next? 16

    Yabby, try reading the Human Rights Commission “Caring Counts” 2012, where Aged Care is described in black and white as a “modern day slave trade”.
    How could slaves do “superb job”

  16. In Vino 17

    Agree with all the above apart from spinner Hooten and yabby.. Bloody tragic that we have to thank Bryan for eloquently expressing what many of us had felt vaguely uneasy about.

  17. Charles 18

    “How did we come to this… etc etc…”

    That’s easy to answer: Because of everything you believe.

    How to fix it? You want the hard way or the easy way?

    Looking at your photo to this article, and your blog, and thinking about the two years between now and next election, and how fast someone goes from homed to homeless, and how long it takes to undo the effect of that transition without even factoring in the initial illness, you haven’t the time to go the hard road, so here’s the only painless fast way for you: Vote Greens 2017.

    Whatever you do don’t think about it anymore. Just vote Greens.

    Glad to have helped, best of luck with your next book.

  18. Rosemary McDonald 19

    The Mickey Mousery of Health strikes again…


    There was a plan that went spectacularly tits up.

  19. Steve Bradley 20

    Answer to your question Bryan? Almost certainly the same route as Rogernomics, Ruthanasia, or indeed the half-hearted social policies of the Clark/Cullen government – via a neo-liberal conduit from either the UK or the Good old USA. The NZ leadership elites, being now to lazy to think, prefer the glamour of pre-packaged foreign nostrums to the hard work of up-grading and re-inventing policies with a proven track record in this country – policies tested in the hard slog of wars and depression. The intellectual laziness of this current government will be seen in years to come as its outstanding feature.

  20. North 21

    Beaten babies, abused partners, starving, wimpering kids, little social time bombs, scabies…….’investment’ opportunities ? WHAT THE FUCK ??? And you can bet that the ‘outcome’ targets will be sweetly adjusted to ensure return to the ‘investors’. Being ShonKey people and all that……wonder where the blind trust will go ?

    Not being particularly into ‘God’ anyway I still have to say……this is a godless government ! Unless of course we’re talking some gauche GodKey fuck who pulls girls’ hair for ‘laffs’.

  21. Facetious 22

    A good article by Mr Gould. But it surprises me to read it has all happened in the last six and a half years, that we have become this greedy, this selfish, this bad over such short time.

    I can remember we were a country of saints between 2000 and 2009. Weren’t we?

    • mickysavage 22.1

      We were a lot better than we are now, at least until 2008. Cant you remember back that far?

      • Rosemary McDonald 22.1.1

        To be fair and true mickysavage, the outsourcing of disability care to private contractors flourished under Labour.

        The ‘outcomes’ were often not good.

        The ‘model’ most definitely did not suit all.

        So when a group of family carers went to the Human Rights Commission claiming discrimination because the Misery of Health seemed quite happy to fund shitloads to contracted disability support providers for often inadequate care (if the providers would actually provide the care…cherry picking was and is routine), but not allow famiy to be paid for providing the same care.

        You must remember…it went to the Tribunal in September 2008.

        I often wonder, had the election that year had gone the other way…what would Labour have done when the Miserly of Health lost, amd lost, and lost, and lost, and lost.

        Because they sure as hell could have sorted that little breach of NZBORA , before it went to the Tribunal.

        • mickysavage

          I hear you Rosemary. This is an issue I had only a vague understanding of at the time. Labour can always do better.

          Thanks for your comments over the past few days. These have provided a very human understanding of the issues.

          My response to facetious was of a more general nature.

          • Rosemary McDonald

            Thanks mickysavage, and in my humble opinion, after much reading on the issue, the contracted service providers stood to loose the most had the Miserly simply allowed those disabled with Individualised Funding to pay
            family carers if that was their choice.

            It boggles the mind that in 2013 when National did the dirty with the PHDAct(2), it was hot on the heels of reports of some of the most hideous abuses of disabled in the care of providers.

            The Disabilities Commissioner, Paul Gibson linked the two when he spoke at the Health and Disability conference in Wellington later that year.

            Once those businesses get their mitts on the taxpayer’s dollars, even killing their clients is not enough to have their contracts cancelled.

            From where does this power come from???

    • Saarbo 22.2

      We didn’t do shit like this between 2000 and 2008.

    • Draco T Bastard 22.3

      It’s taken longer than 6 years for sure but it’s really only in the last 6 years that it’s truly become apparent just how much this country has become focussed on greed and selfishness in the last thirty years.

  22. Facetious 23

    I am sorry Micky Savage, but who are you trying to fool? I must disagree with you.

    • mickysavage 23.1

      Well how about you back up your argument with some of those facty things?

  23. OMBE 24

    Well done Bryan, thats the most consise and brief comment in history.

  24. tc 25

    It’s all part of the master plan that ties up a progressive govt for years unwinding the rorts, cronyism, clearly failed policies and rebuilding up areas run down.

    Key and the wrecking crew know exactly what legacy they are leaving…..seen any progress on the leaky home legacy they foisted on NZ as one example.

  25. Saarbo 26

    Excellent post Bryan Gould.

    I sometimes feel sorry for people who feel so strongly for free market policies, they must live such cold heartless lives living solely for their possessions and bank balances.

    Michael Sandel (Used to be on the very much missed TV7)published a good book on this: What Money Cant Buy, The Moral Limits of Market Youtube footage attached: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GvDpYHyBlgc

  26. coaster 27

    how did we get to this state?,

    by slowly making incremental changes, its like when you reach a certain age, you become slighlty less active, you dont notice any immediate change to your body, but one day you look down and realise you cant see your feet anymore.

    im not a hater of the freemarket, but i hate the way its only freemarket when it suits these people. They are happy to be covered by the tax payers when finance companies collapse, but if you are made redundant through no fault of your own and have to gon on a benefit, your the scum of the earth.

    • Colonial Rawshark 27.1

      Allowing the money hungry free market to shape and configure our society is what is hateful

      • miravox 27.1.1

        That would be true enough if it was a free market… but it’s worse. It’s a bunch of sh*ts who prefer to ensure they well-being of their mates rather than the people they were elected to serve. We all know the contracts (oops bonds) will go eventually to the SERCOs / ATOS’ of this world.

        Crony Capitalism at its finest.

  27. Draco T Bastard 28

    Social Bond Trial Based on Dodgy Social Science.

    So… is it a good idea to be imposing an untried system on some of our most vulnerable citizens?

    My answer is No.

    And frankly for all the talk of the “innovative ” idea of treating social services as a profit commodity, in my view this Social Impact Bond scheme needs to be seen for what it is – namely just the latest neoliberal effort to avoid getting the wealthy to pay their fair share back to society through a progressive taxation system.

    That last bit is the answer as to why the government is doing this. It’s so it can cut taxes while also providing more profit for the rich.

    • weka 28.1

      It’s pretty mindblowing that they chose to start with mental health services and shows us the current extent of their stupid and sociopathy.

      • miravox 28.1.1

        Less political blowback, if it goes wrong, to experiment on the weakest or most ostracised first /sarc

        Thanks for that link Draco.

  28. venezia 29

    Yabby…….. I too have an elderly parent in a (Trust-owned) Retirement Village apartment. She chose it because it was Trust owned and had a good reputation over time. However, unknown to her, her arrival coincided with a change in the way it is run. Over the four years she has been there, costs have risen dramatically and staffing cut right back. The reasons seem to be because the Trust has decided to build an empire – run it as a profit making enterprise, build more apartments for sale, pay big fees to directors etc) Services originally included in her care package like laundry, morning and afternoon teas, weekly cleaning of her apartment, weighing once a month, are now expensive extras (eg laundry $20 per item, so one pair of knickers costs $20 to launder). The effects of such privatisation are plain to see, and its all downhill. Quite a number of the more independent residents have chosen to leave. My Mum is very anxious about what costs will increase next week. She does at least have family who visit regularly to keep an eye on what is going on, but for those who are more distant from their rellies, it must be very hard. It is not an option I will be choosing for myself.
    Ripping off the elderly is what I call it.

    • Colonial Rawshark 29.1

      We need to be setting up democratised, community owned, not for profit facilities. These capitalist empire builders can then fuck off into receivership.

      • john 29.1.1

        We already have those. And having had an elderly parent in several different rest homes in recent years, our local private rest homes were significantly better for a similar price – sometimes even cheaper than the not-for profit ones.

        Just because something is “not-for-profit” doesn’t automatically make it much better. You’d have to be a tunnel visioned blinkered idealog to believe that.

        The private rest homes owned by specialised rest home companies had better systems, better trained management, better properties, better equipment and facilities, better oversight of the elderly, and better inspection regimes to make sure everything was running as it should.

        The whole idea that something private must be bad, and something community based must be good, is brainless nonsense.

        • Colonial Rawshark

          The only brainless nonsense here is your fear of true competition, and care facilities which can invest every dollar back into residents and into the staff, instead of extracting the bulk of monies out of facilities to put into capitalist investors pockets like yours.

          • john

            Most private companies run at a 5-10% profit, so with an incentive to control costs, it’s pretty easy for them to make a profit AND STILL run a better facility than those who have little incentive to run efficiently.

            Which is exactly what is happening in our local rest homes. The ones with the best reputations are the ones run by national companies listed on the NZX.

            The ones with the worst reputations are the ones run by community charitable organisations.

        • Draco T Bastard

          The whole idea that something private must be bad, and something community based must be good, is brainless nonsense.

          And yet we’ve been told the exact opposite for the last 30 years and even though the evidence shows that the private supplied services are, on average, worse.

  29. venezia 30

    Thanks Bryan for putting into words what many of us have been thinking. This government knows no bounds in its quest to turn public services into profit opportunities. Last week it was abolishing funding for the excellent services provided by Relationship Services. Gobsmacking in its short sightedness! No planning for alternative services, (ie those identified in the days which followed announcement did not know these “Plans”) and no provision for transitioning existing clients. Now we have a ‘profit before care’ model for mental health services in general. And no noticeable scrutiny from the Fourth Estate, (and, of course, we have just got rid of Campbelllive!) I am still in shock as to how these changes can have happened without any debate and appear to be accepted by the general population.

  30. john 31

    Is it beyond the comprehension of Mr Gould (and others) that the “care of the most vulnerable in our society, and particularly of those suffering mental illness and disability” is ALREADY in the hands of private companies, and has been for decades.

    Funny he had no great outrage against private rest homes when Labour was in power.

    In which case he renders his own comments hollow.

    • Colonial Rawshark 31.1

      Don’t be an arsehole. Just because you don’t give a damn about the issue of government give aways, doesn’t mean other people are the same as you.

      Now address Bryan’s main point (if you can): that we have forgotten as a society how to do things for the common good, instead of for the almighty dollar.

      And of course, Labour’s neoliberalisation and privatisation of NZ society was just as damaging. But two wrongs don’t make a right, do they John. Maybe you would like to address that point as well, arsehole.

      • john 31.1.1

        I spend my life working hard for money, and paying lots of tax, which is really positive for society.

        You spend years of your life whinging on a website which contributes zip to the common good.

        Your idea of “the common good” is getting someone else to work so you don’t have to.

        As for your beloved govt institutions, NZ Railways was so badly run, that in the 1980s it took 1000% more staff to carry LESS freight, LESS reliably, MORE slowly, and MUCH MORE went missing.

        You need to take off your rose tinted glasses – they’re messing up the view from your blinkers.

        • Colonial Rawshark


          Your paying more tax, and taking more money from society to put into your own wallet, does not qualify you to act like an arsehole, despite what you think.

          Thank you also for making it so crystal clear what you think of the “common good” – that is, you do not think of the common good at all, only your own financial righteousness.

          Let me repeat for you – money does not make you a worthy or moral man. Do you really think that you will be able to pass through the eye of a needle?

          As for NZ Railways – at least they had managers who knew how to build rail stock which could last for 50 years and which didn’t break down on delivery.

          But the bottom line is: you’re a self centred arsehole who thinks a bit of cash makes you something other than that. Newsflash: you are wrong.

          Now, hurry up and answer Bryan’s main point if you can – that as a society we have forgotten how to act for the common good, and can remember only to act for the almighty dollar.

          Perhaps he was talking about you.

          • john

            Why should I address Brian’s point when he is talking utter nonsense?

            We’ve just had the first benefit rise in over 40 years. We have more maternity leave, working for families tax credits, free doctors visits for kids, food in schools, more vaccinations etc etc – ALL policys that do far more for the common good than the policies of 15 years ago.

            Just because someone works hard and makes some money, in your eyes that makes them evil. Which is patently stupid.

            All your talk of the common good is totally fake when all you ever harp on about is everybody ELSE paying more and everybody ELSE doing more.

            • Colonial Rawshark

              Thanks John, I think I understand where you are coming from now. It’s crystal clear.

              • john

                So hows spending you life whinging on websites working out for you?

              • miravox

                Amazing how the trolls can’t imagine some people who work hard and make some money still feel people who are unable to do the same should be well cared for, and think that their taxes should be used for the State, rather than private enterprise, to do just that.

            • Draco T Bastard

              We’ve just had the first benefit rise in over 40 years.

              Have you forgotten that National dropped it by more in 1990 under the auspices of the Mother of all Budgets?

              We have more maternity leave</

              No thanks to National who opposed it and only put in place a small adjustment once they realised that they were losing votes because of there stance.

              free doctors visits for kids

              Yes, we need to thank Winston for that.

              Just because someone works hard and makes some money, in your eyes that makes them evil.

              It’s not people working hard and getting a reasonable income that irritates but the bludging capitalists who reap all the benefits of others working hard who then complain about having to pay the people who are working hard.

              • john

                99% of how well you do in life comes from what you do.

                If you’re lucky, and wait another $40 years, you might get another $25 on a benefit – regardless of the flavour of government.

                Labour kept Nationals benefit cuts. National kept Labours WFF and Kiwisaver.

                So if you’re waiting for a government of any hue to make major improvements in your life, you’re delusional.

                Only you have the power to do that – they never will.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  99% of how well you do in life comes from what you do.

                  Nope. That’s just more of the capitalists lie. The way things are today most people work hard and go backwards while the capitalist bludgers soak up all the wealth for themselves.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  99% of how well you do in life comes from what you do.

                  What a fascinating creature.

                  …the self-serving bias may be stronger under certain conditions than others and for certain types of individuals.

                  • The lost sheep

                    What would you say the % effect of individual effort on outcomes is then OAB?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      That depends on what kind of society you live in. As I informed you the other day, constraints on social mobility (for example) include parental income, education level (also affected by parental income), cognitive ability, and so on.

                      ‘Hard work’ is a red herring, cf: nurses, coal-miners, etc.

                      Perhaps you can point to some examples where choice is a major factor. Please make the attempt to falsify your own arguments before commenting – it might save us some time.

                    • Hi The lost sheep,

                      I don’t think you really want to get quantitative if you wish to win this argument.

                      Structures constrain opportunities. Have you noticed that average incomes, for example, vary considerably from country to country?

                      At a global level, then, your material outcomes (such as income) are overwhelmingly determined by the country in which you happen to be born (yes, there are wealthy elites in some very low income countries but I’m not sure you would be advancing your case to claim that ordinary people should act like them in order to ‘get ahead’ in those countries).

                      The same applies to one degree or another within countries, as statistics clearly show. Outcomes are highly correlated with starting points – even in the most ‘socially mobile’ countries.

                      Then of course there’s the role of pure luck (i.e., contingent events).

                      Individual effort may be necessary to improve one’s conditions but it is by no means sufficient – and nothing like 99% determinative of outcomes.

                      And, of course, the opposite is also often true – some people ‘do well’ while making next to no effort (lottery winners, inheritors of wealth, those favoured by the wealthy and the elite, etc.).

                    • The lost sheep

                      Personal effort does make a positive difference to individual outcomes.
                      The extensive literature on the linkage between educational achievement and social mobility provides a fine example of this.

                      So quibbling about self serving bias % is totally irrelevant.
                      The point John is making holds.
                      An individual that chooses to make an effort is highly likely to have better outcomes than one who does not.

                      Therefore, the best strategy for any individual seeking better outcomes is to be putting 100% effort into achieving them

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Sheep, that’s a bad example, considering that the single most influential factor in educational achievement is household income.

                      Surely you can do better than that.

                    • Rosemary McDonald

                      An individual that chooses to make an effort is highly likely to have better outcomes than one who does not.

                      Define “better outcomes”.

                    • The lost sheep

                      Speaking of quantifying Puddlegum, you might be able to help with a couple of questions I’d really be interested in knowing the answer to in relation to the discussion on social mobility?

                      What % of people born in NZ today will be constrained from achieving social mobility regardless of any personal effort they make during their lifetime?

                      What % of people born into NZ today will be constrained in such a way that they are prevented from making a level of personal effort sufficient to achieve social mobility?

                    • Crashcart

                      For a person to be able to make an effort towards social mobility they have to have an understanding of where that effort nees to be applied. This is gained from a good education and imparted knowledge from those who have moved ahead.

                      Most of those who work their asses off in minimum wage jobs do so because they have been told that work is their way out of poverty. They work harder than you could ever imagine and only ever get minimum wage.

                      Explain where their lack of hard work and effort is.

                    • The lost sheep

                      @ Rosemary.

                      I would say that would be for the individual themselves to define?

                      But in the context of this discussion, we could crudely use the achievement of social mobility as a measure?

                    • The lost sheep

                      “that’s a bad example, considering that the single most influential factor in educational achievement is household income.”

                      On the contrary OAB.
                      Fergusson & Woodward make it very clear that the factors involved are far more complex than simple ‘income’, and that one of those highly significant factors does involve issues of attitude, choice and effort.

                      “The underlying processes that lead to this tendency for lower socioeconomic status students to underachieve in their school leaving examinations are not clear from the present study. However, previous research into the linkages between social class and educational achievement suggest the presence of a number of possible mechanisms centering around class related variations in how educational achievement and qualifications are viewed “

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Sheep, are your questions to Puddleglum deliberately meaningless or the consequence of a poor grasp on things?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Sheep, it’s a bad example because household income is the single most influential factor in educational achievement.

                      As the passage you cite says “this tendency for lower socioeconomic status students to underachieve in their school leaving examinations”.

                      Meanwhile, you’re quibbling over the precise meaning of the word “influential”. Get a life.

                    • The lost sheep

                      “As the passage you cite says “this tendency for lower socioeconomic status students to underachieve in their school leaving examinations”.

                      Yes. Because as Fergusson and Woodward and all the other researchers quote, the question is why this tendency occurs.
                      And attitude, choice, and effort is identified by researchers as a significant part of that
                      why . It makes a difference…..

                      “Sheep, are your questions to Puddleglum deliberately meaningless or the consequence of a poor grasp on things?”

                      It is because I have a poor grasp on things OAB.
                      Perhaps you can answer them for me?

                    • Rosemary McDonald

                      “social mobility”

                      “effect of individual effort ”

                      “An individual that chooses to make an effort is highly likely to have better outcomes than one who does not.”

                      referring to…http://www.nzlii.org/cgi-bin/sinodisp/nz/cases/NZHRRT/2010/1.html?query=Atkinson

                      specifically ….

                      “[111] The defence argued that the policy decision not to pay parents and spouses to care for family members can be supported on the grounds that a disabled person is in fact, free to choose a resident family member to provide their personal cares. The Tribunal can only speculate as to how many families have in fact felt not able to choose the option of care by resident family members for the reason that it was not financially viable.
                      The defence also stated that Ministry funded disability support services step in and enhance options available to a disabled person by providing other options but this seems to miss the point that the option of having close family members provide their care, is one option that is not available where funding support (if needed) is not available to them.”

                      “…how many families have not been able to choose the option of care by resident family for the reason that it is not financially viable.”

                      That would be me. So far, sixteen years providing unpaid care for someone who not only chooses me as his carer…but who is unable to find a contracted provider who can meet his specific, high care needs.

                      The cherry picking issue.

                      Now, I work damn hard. I have a huge amount of responsibility. I am performing tasks that the ‘professionals’ refuse to do. “Outcomes”…measured by the fact he is alive and well.

                      But…I am a lowly beneficiary. Scum. Socially immobile at the bottom of the heap with no chance whatsoever of rising above this.

                      Without making intolerable compromises.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Sheep, you’re almost there. Now, do these or any other researchers have anything to say about the effects of poverty upon attitude and choice?

                      As for effort, we covered that, and you weren’t listening, so why bother.

                    • The lost sheep

                      @ Rosemary

                      I am not saying that there are no people who are absolutely constrained in their ability to make choices, and I am sad to hear of the circumstances you face.
                      I grew up in a household in which my parents provided sole care for my profoundly handicapped Brother (Yes, the ‘H’ word my parents always used), so I have a small glimmering of the challenges. I also remember the joys. I hope you find those also.

                    • Hi The lost sheep,

                      What % of people born in NZ today will be constrained from achieving social mobility regardless of any personal effort they make during their lifetime?

                      What % of people born into NZ today will be constrained in such a way that they are prevented from making a level of personal effort sufficient to achieve social mobility?

                      I don’t think there’s any evidence to answer those questions, partly because they are imprecisely worded.

                      What does “achieving social mobility” amount to? A change in income over a person’s life? (If so, how much). A change in income between generations? (If so, how much?) A change in occupation? (If so, what kind of change – intergenerational or during one’s life?), etc..

                      Most research is correlational on any number of variables of ‘mobility’ (e.g., income (personal and family), education, occupation, class, etc.).

                      A 2007 OECD report nevertheless makes for interesting reading on intergenerational income and earnings mobility. Some of its conclusions are:

                      Intergenerational earnings mobility varies significantly across countries. It is higher in the Nordic countries, Canada and Australia but lower in Italy, the United States and the United Kingdom. The extent of intergenerational earnings mobility depends on individuals’ and households’ characteristics and varies over the income distribution (i.e. mobility is lower at both the top and the bottom of the distribution in many countries). Various studies also show that: (i) countries where both income inequality and rewards to education are higher, display lower intergenerational earnings mobility; and (ii) the degree of persistence of family income across generations is stronger than that of earnings.


                      Education is a major contributor to intergenerational income mobility and educational differences tend to persist across generations. The range of family characteristics that shape educational mobility across generations includes ethnic origin, the language spoken at home, family size and structure, and the socio-economic and cultural background of the parents. Moreover, some of the cross-country differences in the extent of intergenerational mobility of education are shaped by policies. For example, early streaming of students, based on their ability, seems to considerably reduce mobility across generations.


                      Evidence of intergenerational immobility extends to other outcomes. For example, occupations persist across generations and this persistence depends on factors such as education and also race or migrant status. Wealth also persists heavily across generations: as they are larger at the top of the income distribution, wealth transfers may deepen inequality. Welfare receipt is also transmitted across generations and this transmission appears to be influenced by specific aspects of programme design. Finally, personality traits also tend to persist across generations and affect both labour market outcomes and decisions about family formation: for example, children of divorced parents are more likely to divorce when they are adults.

                      They recommend “Early and sustained investment in children and families” as the best means to minimise income and earnings immobility.

                      Tracking individual changes over time is rarer than intergenerational differences (which tends to be father’s versus sons incomes rather than, for example, ‘family income’ which is probably more interesting).

                      In all studies I know of, the greatest predictor of one generation’s income (i.e., ‘sons”) is the income of the previous generation (i.e., ‘father’). Australia, in one report, is more mobile in these terms than the UK and US and NZ.

                      Finally, I think your comment/question to others about the role of ‘attitudes’ and the like ignores the question of what leads to particular attitudes, effort and choice?

                      There is now significant research, for example, on how ‘self-control’ is the best determiner of life success and adult healthat the individual level yet the causes kick in very early in life.

                      Here’s Richie Poulton’s presentation on self-control.

                      Note that he recommends early childhood skills intervention (like the OECD report).

                      For a more technical discussion see Moffitt et al. (2011).

                      Of course, the notion that self-control is the best predictor of life success tells us something very interesting about the ‘constraining structures’ of our society and how they determine life success. Competitive, individualistic societies, for example, would have a premium on individual self-control (in relation to life-success) because there are fewer institutionalised mechanisms to provide control (e.g., the evaluation of others in close-knit communities).

                      Paradoxically, we (as a society) encourage impulsiveness and indulgence rather than self-control – despite self-control being a good path to life success in the particular social structures and constraints that exist in our society.

                      That’s probably because self-control (e.g., saving rather than spending or getting into debt) would be a positive threat to current economic arrangements (shopping as patriotic duty – Bush and Prebble are two politicians I know have used this line).

                      There are huge vested interests opposing the uptake of self-control (e.g., liberalisation of gambling outlets, liquor outlets in poor neighbourhoods and, more generally, the libertarian ‘ethos’ and rhetoric that has some in its thrall, etc.).

                    • The lost sheep

                      Some excellent reading there Puddleglum!

                      In terms of the original point then, of whether or not individual achievement makes a difference to that individuals outcomes, the material you suggest supplies ample further evidence of that – if anyone seriously believes this is not the case!

                      But in terms of the question of whether or not any particular number of individuals in New Zealand are constrained from being able to make such an effort, you suggest there is no evidence available to quantify such a claim.
                      I would suggest that our 2nd placing in the Social Progress Index, and 7th in the Human Development Index does indicate that someone has quantified it to some degree.

                      The works you quote further reinforce that although the correlation between ‘wealth’ and ‘outcomes’ is well established, it is not through a simplistic causal linkage…
                      Correlations do not necessarily imply causality. …. to distinguish causal and non-causal mechanisms is crucial.

                      And the OECD report in particular once again indicates that many of the casual mechanisms are not financial and that in fact A great deal of social mobility is attributable to characteristics of families that cannot be measured simply by looking at their economic resources.

                      Again, much of the material in that report will be challenging to anyone who seeks to explain social mobility through the filter of ideology and dogma, rather than fronting up honestly to all the factors that effect real people in the real world.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      What “dogma”? Puddleglum does a fine job of dismantling your faith-based opinions.

                      I note most of it sailed right over your head, to the extent that you’re back blithering about achievement without considering the factors that affect it in any way.

                      Still, at least you unwittingly conceded the point by opining that the level of constraint can be measured.

                      In summation:

                      TLS: there are no constraints!
                      PG et al: yes, there are.
                      TLS: the constraints can be measured!
                      PG et al: QED.

                    • The lost sheep

                      You didn’t actually read the reports then OAB?

                      And yes, I did notice that as usual your contribution has been the usual ad hominem / false inference / red herring / bullshit, while all the time carefully avoiding ever addressing any point that might challenge your redundant socialist dogma.

                      Not an intellectually honest bone in your body, but a fine example of the kind of bigoted and hostile reactionary crap that is killing the far left.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      What dogma? All I’m saying is that there are constraints on social mobility.

                      Meanwhile, even though PG made the effort to ask you “..what leads to particular attitudes, effort and choice?”, you’re ignoring that. not to mention “In all studies I know of, the greatest predictor of one generation’s income (i.e., ‘sons”) is the income of the previous generation (i.e., ‘father’). ”

                      Ignoring these issues and calling me dogmatic – you really aren’t very good at this.

                      Can you conceive of an answer to Puddleglum’s question? I doubt it – you lack the cognitive ability.

                • Crashcart

                  Calling bullshit here. I do pretty bloody well but I don’t suffer from an overly inflated ego (although that in itself could sound egotistical). I understand that I wouldn’t be where I am if I hadn’t been lucky enough to have a decent middle class upbringing. If I hadn’t been lucky enough to find academic achievment pretty easy. If I hadn’t been lucky enough to move into a well paying career at the right time that allowed me to progress quickly.

                  I worked for minimum wage for a number of years before I found my feet. Guess what I worked far harder every day for that minimum wage than I do now for a wage that puts me in the top 10% of income earners.

                  Stop looking at your self like you are some special snow flake who got where you are off the sweat of your own brow. Yes it will take hard work at some stage to get ahead. However you also need to have a whole lot of luck go your way as well. Take away any of those things I got lucky on and I would still be earnign minimum wage to work my ass off.

                  I am more than happy to contribute through higher taxes to try and even the playing field so that it becomes less about luck and more about effort.

        • Draco T Bastard

          …getting someone else to work so you don’t have to.

          That is the heart of capitalism and what shareholders and bond holders do. That’s what interest and dividends are – people getting money from other peoples work.

          As for your beloved govt institutions, NZ Railways was so badly run, that in the 1980s it took 1000% more staff to carry LESS freight, LESS reliably, MORE slowly, and MUCH MORE went missing.

          And more lies from the RWNJs.

          You’re the one with the blinkers.

          • john

            Draco – you’ve just shown how ignorant you really are.

            I worked for the railways in the 1980s – diabolical would be an understatement.

            Other government departments were not much better. Clyde Dam cost 400% more to build that what it is actually worth, even today.

            You had to go on a waiting list just to get a new phone from the post office, which could take weeks or even months.

            And if you wanted to make a toll call to the other end of the country it could cost a days wages – and you just about had to be rich to call overseas.

            Yeah – those were the days. Bring em back.

            • Draco T Bastard

              Other government departments were not much better. Clyde Dam cost 400% more to build that what it is actually worth, even today.

              The building of the Clyde dam was a fuckup of epic proportions but it’s probably paid for itself since it was built. The thing about hydro dams is that they pay for themselves in money/resources not spent and so it’s difficult to put an actual figure on it.

              You had to go on a waiting list just to get a new phone from the post office, which could take weeks or even months.

              Yeah, I worked for the Post Office C&M branch in the 1980s and so I know the truth about those waiting times. They were pretty much non existent throughout most of the country and the longer waiting times were due to lack of phone lines – it is rather difficult to connect a phone when there’s no phone line. Same still happens to day. I can’t get a fibre connection because there’s no fibre in the street. Some people out in rural NZ still can’t even get a phone line never mind fibre.

              There really is no point in complaining about lack of infrastructure. The only thing you can do is wait for it to be installed.

              And if you wanted to make a toll call to the other end of the country it could cost a days wages – and you just about had to be rich to call overseas.

              More lies. It wasn’t as cheap as it is today but it was still only a few minutes work at minimum wage.

              Yeah – those were the days. Bring em back.

              Put it this way:

              BNZ Telecom Contact Energy Total Sale revenue
              $850 $4250 $2331 $7431

              Foregone dividends

              Total $6,001 $13,089 $1,657 $20,747

              So the amount we lost from the sales was ~$13 billion dollars and that was back in 2011. The added competition has increased that loss by another few billion.

              Were there mistakes made prior to the privatisations? Yep
              Were those mistakes enough to justify the loss caused by those privatisations? Nope.

              • john

                You figures are meaningless because you fail to factor the billions of ADDITIONAL dollars that investors put into the likes of Telecom, Contact etc. that was way in excess of the original sale price.

                For example Contact has invested several billion additional dollars in just the last few years.

                And according to the Encyclopedia of NZ, toll prices came down 60% with privatization.

                In 1987 a three minute call between Wellington and Auckland was $2.84, to Australia it was $4.20 – at a time when that was an hourly rate for many people.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  You figures are meaningless because you fail to factor the billions of ADDITIONAL dollars that investors put into the likes of Telecom, Contact etc. that was way in excess of the original sale price.

                  The figures I listed was the profit that the profiteers walked out with which was a direct loss to us.

                  For example Contact has invested several billion additional dollars in just the last few years.

                  And has walked off with even more profit.

                  And according to the Encyclopedia of NZ, toll prices came down 60% with privatization.

                  Which should tell you that it wasn’t due to privatisation but were about to come down anyway. Privatisation didn’t suddenly put new infrastructure in place – we at the Post Office had been installing it for years and without going into debt.

            • SMILIN

              Yeah and the 400% now would be 1000% and like so much round this country now will never get done .
              Just look at Asia the more people per square metre or Keys hun head the more you squeeze.

  31. Atiawa 32

    Capitalism is running out of ways to make an easy buck. The easy wealth creation is all tied up by the big boys. Now we got all these two bob Tories with degrees in Business Management & Economics searching for an easy earn and financial opportunities. They are NACT’s base and the rights up and comers with huge appetite’s for personal wealth creation. They don’t care how they make a buck or at whose expense.
    It’s all about their bottom line, which most of them don’t have.

  32. SMILIN 33

    Right on the mark Mr Gould and this applies to the way this govt models public spending in everything
    thats why the govt is going broke borrowing on the people who have no power to stop it
    We are just another monetarist commodity

  33. Here is my two cents on the bond issue:

    Not a lot of people know what happens with those “Social impact” bonds after they have been bought. Here is what happens with them and why it is an absolutely evil scheme thought up by the banksters to make ven more money than they already have!

    On Bonds And Casino Capitalism Or Why It Pays To Fail.

  34. Trevor Crosbie 35

    We came to this via a debt as money based economic system and until that is changed nothing else will.
    Monetary reformers have fought for change since the debt mechanism was entrenched in the 17th century but have always been decried by those who own and profit from that mechanism. However the times are indeed changing and the pace of change will accelerate as the debt as money mechanism is seen as the driver of the worsening economic issues every country in the world is confronting.
    The only common denominator in the global financial crisis is that the economy of every country was and still is, using a debt as money foundation for their economy.
    When an economy is saturated with interest bearing debt and politicians only solution is to expand that debt then it is inevitable and obvious that a tipping point has been reached. End of story!

  35. Ex Mental Health Client 36

    All I see is a group of wealthy, balding, wrinkled, and very pudgy, middle-aged men and women with too much power, and making decisions about other peoples safety and wellbeing with no idea of the world in which these people live.

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  • Protections for workers in triangular employment
    Protections for workers who are employees of one employer but working under the direction of another business or organisation have come into force, closing a gap in legislation that  made the personal grievance process inaccessible for some workers, says Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees-Galloway. “This Government is working hard to ...
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  • Government strengthens managed isolation system
    A range of improvements are already underway to address issues identified in the rapid review of the Managed Isolation and Quarantine system released today, Housing Minister Megan Woods said. The review was commissioned just over a week ago to identify and understand current and emerging risks to ensure the end-to-end ...
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    The important brown kiwi habitat around Whakatāne will receive added protection through an Iwi-led predator free project announced by Minister of Conservation Eugenie Sage and Under Secretary for Regional Economic Development Fletcher Tabuteau. “The Government is investing nearly $5 million into Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Awa’s environmental projects with $2.5 ...
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  • Scott Watson’s convictions to be referred to Court of Appeal
    The Governor-General has referred Scott Watson’s convictions for murder back to the Court of Appeal, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today. Mr Watson was convicted in 1999 of the murders of Ben Smart and Olivia Hope. His appeal to the Court of Appeal in 2000 was unsuccessful, as was his ...
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