How wealthy do you feel?

Written By: - Date published: 9:14 am, April 9th, 2012 - 112 comments
Categories: cost of living, wages - Tags:

If everyone earned the same amount (including babies) across the entire world, we’d each get about $USD10,000 each.  So a family of four anywhere in the world would get about $NZD49,000.  That figure makes world poverty pretty hard to stomach.  It’s not that there’s not enough in this world – only that some people haven’t learnt to share.

But past that bald statistic, the BBC has a whole set of new stats out from the ILO.

For the first time the ILO reveals what the average wage earner gets, with fair comparison between countries.  Using Purchasing-Power Parity USD they work out what people get for their money once cost of living etc is taken into account.  We can see that New Zealand doesn’t do as well as you’d hope – although more than 50% better than average.

There’s several things to be said about the stats – it’s those with a regular income only, so not the self-employed, nor people on benefits.  It misses a number of very poor countries, including some large ones like Nigeria.  It’s the average, not the median too, so could be skewed by high-earners: but still, the numbers are not that high.

It works out for those who are earning (not the old or young or their dependents), they’re bringing in about $USD18,000 each year.

That’s a bit under $NZD22,000, or noticeably below minimum wage but above basic benefit level in Aotearoa.

Just some hard statistics to ponder when you’re feeling poor.

112 comments on “How wealthy do you feel?”

  1. felix 1

    Steady stream of righties willfully misunderstanding the entire article and bleating that you can’t just give people money or they’ll spend it on the wrong thing in 3…2…1….

  2. alex 2

    The world would be a much better place if we abandoned the cult of individualism that dominates economic life, I’m not saying that the way to go is give everyone the same income, but the statistics on inequality are pretty clear. Societies with high levels of income inequality have lower life expectancy, higher crime rates, worse health and education outcomes etc.
    Would it be possible to mandate a system whereby the CEO of a company cannot earn more than (for example) 10 times as much as the lowest paid employee? Also the Greens have a policy of linking the minimum wage to the average wage (66% of average wage), meaning that inequality can’t get out of control. These are ideas that we should be looking at in NZ.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      Would it be possible to mandate a system whereby the CEO of a company cannot earn more than (for example) 10 times as much as the lowest paid employee?

      The CEO should be the lowest paid employee. Or, to be more precise, everyone in a business (which should be a cooperative) should be paid the same amount.

      • Colonial Viper 2.1.1

        everyone in a business (which should be a cooperative) should be paid the same amount.

        Actually its up to the owners of a co-operative how much different positions should be paid.

        And because they will be competing to keep good staff (and the worker-owners will decide on who that is), remuneration will still have to be fairly competitive.

        On a more general note, I would favour something like a 49% income tax which kicks in at 10x the median income, and a 79% income tax which kicks in at 20x the median income.

        • alex 2.1.1.1

          I like the principle behind your tax proposal, that rather than being based on an arbitrary number of dollars earned, it is based on earnings compared to everyone else. Dare I say it, it sounds like a fair tax system.

  3. Jimmie 3

    Right say we went down your scenario and we rounded up every $$ in the world from every person, company and other organisation, then doled up a even portion to every person weekly regardless of their age/skill level/need/employment or earning status.

    A few questions then arise:

    A kid leaves school at age 16: He has been earning his $10K US a year since he was born. He now leaves school still collecting his $10K. His parents tell him to go get a job. He goes to them “why’?

    So you can earn your $10K a year to live off is the reply. But I’m getting it any way why should I have to work – I’ll go surfing instead knowing that my $10K is coming in regardless.

    Think of a farmer planting a crop of wheat. He only gets $10K US a year. Out of this he has to live plus pay for his wheat seed, tractor costs, fertilizer, labour and other costs to plant his crop.

    At harvest time he sells his wheat but cannot make any profit as his proceeds all go to the government to pay everyone’s $10K

    So when he gets up at dawn the next day, he thinks to himself, why don’t I just go back to sleep – gonna get paid the same anyway.

    If this scenario did play out within a short time the productive and motivated members of society would give up and suddenly the $$$ to pay everyone disappears. People have to have a reward system in order to push themselves to peform and be productive.

    Just look at the USSR and other eastern European countries during the communist era as a prime example of how to run economies into the ground through an enforced socialist regime. Great in theory but crap in practice because people just dont work/think like idealist socialists.

    • burt 3.1

      Jimmie

      Great in theory but crap in practice because people just dont work/think like idealist socialists.

      The point that socialism always fails is neither here nor there when there are elections to be won. It’s a popular notion and people buy it – that’s why self serving power hungry losers pretend it works to get elected.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1

        It’s capitalism that always fails as we’ve just been reminded – again – and yet we have the rich pricks and economists trying to tell us that what we see isn’t what we’re seeing.

        • burt 3.1.1.1

          So…

          Are you saying that the motivation of US social policy to extend mortgages to people who couldn’t even save a 2% deposit creating the sub prime mortgage crisis was capitalism at work?

          Or are you saying the desire to own a house when you have been unable to afford to even pay rent is capitalism at work?

          • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1.1

            Are you saying that the motivation of US social policy to extend mortgages to people who couldn’t even save a 2% deposit creating the sub prime mortgage crisis was capitalism at work?

            Yep. The changes to regulations and policy were driven by the financial sector. The securitisation and financialisation of those new mortgage “assets” through RMBS occurred almost immediately.

            And over 90% of the fraud which occurred re “liars loans” and “NINJA” loans came from the side of staff and managers in the financial institutions, not from the side of the people borrowing money.

            The large banks and credit ratings agencies knew from the get-go that the mortgage portfolios they were creating and rating were toxic and false assets. But there was just so much money to be made palming them off to state pension funds and the like!

            *NINJA loan: “No Income, No Job or Assets” loan

            • burt 3.1.1.1.1.1

              Fixed that for you CV;

              The large banks and credit ratings agencies state lenders knew from the get-go that the mortgage portfolios they were creating and rating were toxic and false assets. But there was just so much money political capital in better home ownership social indicators to be made. palming them off to state pension funds and the like!

              It was socialist intervention at it’s finest CV ! Do anything to make the situation look better so you can stay in power rather than admit your policies are a fricken failure.

              • RedLogix

                So this was all a Big Socialist program under a Republican Administration?

                No private banks involved eh? No-one was in it for the money?

                burt would never retrospectively re-write history?

                • burt

                  Can you explain to me how big banks took over the state lenders and ‘forced’ them to improve social indicators for the government ?

                  [And yes there is an answer to that as well. Called ‘regulatory capture’ and the ‘revolving door’, where a combination of big money donations into the political system and the constant flow of people between the banks and the agencies meant to be monitoring and regulating them… essentially meant that for their purposes the banks did indeed ‘take over’ the state lenders. The ‘improved social indicator’ message was just some convenient flim-flam for the media….RL]

                  • RedLogix

                    Can you answer a single straight question with a straight answer?

                    • burt

                      It was socialist intervention at it’s finest CV ! Do anything to make the situation look better so you can stay in power rather than admit your policies are a fricken failure.

                      Answered !

                    • RedLogix

                      So no private banks were in it for the money or committed any fraud? Just innocent victims of a big socialist scam that the well-known communist GW Bush foisted on them?

                    • burt

                      I wouldn’t say that at all, but had the political desire not been there to improve social indicators for self serving “socialist ideals” then the banks wouldn’t have had anything to do with this.

                    • If it were all a socialist plot, why didn’t they just give the money away directly instead of loaning it? o_O

                      loans only make sense if someone wants to profit off them.

                  • RedLogix

                    So no banks demanding ‘de-regulation’ or pushing ‘innovating lending products’? No-one demanded the removal of the Glass-Steagall Act, it just got removed because the govt of the day felt like it?

                    I could go on but maybe you need to read some essential Steve Keen.

                    • burt

                      A link with “click on Marx’s image to download this post in PDF format” – that’s a real balanced view I so urgently need to re-educate myself with. Fark-in-hell !

                    • felix

                      Don’t worry burt, you can’t catch it from a click 😉

              • Colonial Viper

                The large banks and credit ratings agencies state lenders knew from the get-go that the mortgage portfolios they were creating and rating were toxic and false assets.

                Factually incorrect burt – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were amongst the last entrants into the subprime mortgage market. The private sector institutions were in there years before they entered that market.

                BTW socialist policies leave the wealthy capitalists screwed, not the ordinary people. That’s how you can tell that they are “socialist”.

          • mike e 3.1.1.1.2

            Burt so capitalism’s answer is to bulldoze excess housing or leave a million houses empty to dilapidate or be squatted in while people sleep under under passes and card board boxes.
            When it would make more sense to rent these house cheaply or have a lower mortgage and not cut off ones money supply to prove who has all the power.

          • Draco T Bastard 3.1.1.1.3

            Are you saying that the motivation of US social policy to extend mortgages to people who couldn’t even save a 2% deposit creating the sub prime mortgage crisis was capitalism at work?

            Yes, other wise known as pure sociopathic greed.

            • burt 3.1.1.1.3.1

              Pure sociopathic greed on the part of the politicians controlling the state lenders… left leaning sociopathic greed for validation of socialist clap-trap policies that were always going to fail. – Name one place where the state extending credit to poor people in an attempt to improve social indicators has worked out ?

              • muzza

                Burt you are just being obnoxious eh!

                You can’t seriously be that ill-informed right?

                Clinton’s Democratic govt were the initiators!

              • Bunji

                micro-credit in Bangladesh…

              • Draco T Bastard

                Tell me burt, why do you, and all other RWNJs, always ask if somethings been done before? The obvious answer is probably not but that’s no reason not to do it now.

                As Bunji points out, micro-credit has been done and it’s working fine (in fact the person who started it found out that the defaults were less than what he would have got loaning out to the well off) but it hasn’t been done by the government.

                • Jeremy Harris

                  Tell me burt, why do you, and all other RWNJs, always ask if somethings been done before? The obvious answer is probably not but that’s no reason not to do it now.

                  LOL! I’ll have to remember that quote the next time some communistic mental case starts talking about the precautionary principle…

          • Georgecom 3.1.1.1.4

            Burt, financialisation of the US economy. US state financial institutions certainly played the game, along with the US capitalist forces. The state house lending didn’t happen in a vacuum however. The financialisation of the US economy was a deliberate neo-liberal capitalist policy prescription. The rules were written and the US state house lending institutions were foolish enough to play along.

            The notion of owning your own home, the ‘political capital’ to be made from it. Burt, that is capitalist stuff through and through. Make people ‘owners’ within the capitalist society, cement them into the prevailing hegemony. One persons desire for home ownership is simply one persons desire. The system however is part of reproducing the capitalist hegemony. Unfortunately for the ‘one person’ and US home owners and the capitalist hegemony, neo-liberal capitalism created a financial house of cards which went toxic and quickly contaminated the global financial system.

      • Georgecom 3.1.2

        Burt, you’ll find that for the past 30 years such people have been promoting neo-liberal capitalism.

        The world needs better than that however. Neo-liberalism hasn’t been a big success to date and there is no reason it will succeed anytime shortly. It has left a toxic mess in the global economy. It has left some fairly major social messes for sovereign states to clean up. It has created and will continue to exacerbate some serious environmental challenges ahead of humanity.

        There isn’t an ‘ism’ yet which will address these issues or at least allow us to negotiate our way through them in reasonable condition. I can state however that it will involve some degree of social, it will be some form of social(ism). This type of social(ism) may be fairly dynamic and will mark a (at least partial) repudiation of neo-liberal capitalism and what it stands for.

    • Dylan 3.2

      The point of stats like these is not to say “the world should work like this, i.e. with everyone getting the same income”, it’s to say “look, clearly the way the world is is not how it HAS to be, because there’s enough to go around. So, it’s not impossible to have more fairness—now let’s try to make it happen, having demonstrated it’s not impossible”.

      The stats are about showing that people who say it’s impossible for things to be fairer are wrong. And now, let’s move on and do practical things to make more fairness happen, since it’s clearly not impossible.

      It’s disingenuous to read the stats (and article based on them) as saying “everyone should have the same income”. It’s deliberately missing the point, I would say.

    • RedLogix 3.3

      Way to ignore the fact that far too many people in the world have next to nothing, and a tiny minority have far too much.

      But I guess I’m just a socialist for noticing that.

      People have to have a reward system in order to push themselves to peform and be productive.

      That’s only an assumption you are making because you’ve grown up in a very narrow society which has presented you with no other alternative motivation.

      • Reagan Cline 3.3.1

        Carrot and stick. Some of the drive to make more money is fear of begging on the streets and getting poor quality health care. The US has beggars, Actually so did the Soviet Union in 1973 – I saw rhem at railway stations. There has to be a fundamental, almost unimagineable change in the way we think of ourselves as himan beings – it amounts to a religious movement.

        • RedLogix 3.3.1.1

          Actually so did the Soviet Union in 1973

          A young man with no legs… at all. On a crappy little wooden cart in the Ekaterinburg rail station. What you’d call a persistent memory.

          Oh and it was -20C below that day.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.4

      Standard RWNJ load of bollocks.

      Why should the person work? For a number of reasons:-

      1.) It serves a purpose
      2.) They find it interesting and a challenge (not everyone is so boring as to want to be a full time surfer)
      3.) Social interaction

      Really, all you’re actually complaining about is that the rich won’t be able to force people to work for them for minimum wage and thus keeping them rich. You’re complaining that the rich won’t be able to oppress everybody else.

      • alex 3.4.1

        Yep, personally I really enjoy working, and having been briefly unemployed I can safely say it sucks. You are often lonely and lose a lot of your sense of self worth. I think 99% of people currently unemployed would say they would rather be working than not. Completely agree that people would want to keep working if the pay scale wasn’t so extremely stratified.

    • alex 3.5

      @Jimmie – Perhaps some form of reward system has to exist, but surely you concede that the current reward system is extremely unequal, quite unfair in terms of who has access to it and creates vast wealth disparities?

    • Colonial Viper 3.6

      If this scenario did play out within a short time the productive and motivated members of society would give up and suddenly the $$$ to pay everyone disappears. People have to have a reward system in order to push themselves to peform and be productive.

      Grow up man, every management text book says that money makes up no more than about 30% of someone’s satisfaction with doing a job. For most people, money is an important, but not the dominant driver of their behaviour. Having a place in society, being recognised by your peers, a feeling of having being challenged and accomplished something, those are far more important drivers.

      Unless of course you are a neoliberal sociopath.

    • Bunji 3.7

      Actually Jimmie I wasn’t being so radical as to advocate just giving every soul $US10k, more saying there was plenty to go around. I’ll leave actually advocating a system to another day.

      But surely you must see a problem with a system that has 2 billion people – 1/3 of the world’s population – living on $2 or less per day, regardless of how hard they work? Particularly when there is plenty of money to go around if we found a way of redistributing it better?

      Getting $2 per day isn’t much of a reward system either…

    • Mike 3.8

      Obviously under our monetary and economic system everyone can’t just be paid the same, but you mentioned in your post – “If this scenario did play out within a short time the productive and motivated members of society would give up and suddenly the $$$ to pay everyone disappears.”

      So where would the $$$ to pay everyone suddenly disappear to??

  4. The average wage distorts the reality in each country because the wealthy distort the average and the greater the disparity in incomes, the greater the distortion.

    The average of the following five annual incomes is $50,000:
    $15,000
    $20,000
    $25,000
    $30,000
    $160,000
    The median income of the above list is $25,000, which more accurately represents what the most likely income would be (exactly half of the average).

    In New Zealand the average income is around $50,000 and yet the median income is only $27,000. I would imagine the median income in the US wouldn’t be much different from in New Zealand given the huge extremes in wealth in their country and the large number of illegal workers who earn very little.

    It would be interesting to see a table displaying a combination of the average income and the median as this would reveal the level of income disparity in each country.

    • Colonial Viper 4.1

      By the way, non-earning partners of those making >$150K pa do not usually think of themselves as being in a low income circumstance. An interesting psychological twist to consider.

      • burt 4.1.1

        Yeah, and that income spilt between two people pays less tax than that income in the hands of one. An interesting tax policy distortion to consider.

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.1

          The tax policy distorts the way it is meant to – it encourages workers to work a day or two less creating part time jobs allowing non workers to get to work.

          • RedLogix 4.1.1.1.1

            And a tax policy distortion that is one of many automatically eliminated by the UBI and Flat Tax proposal.

            • burt 4.1.1.1.1.1

              RedLogix

              It seems CV likes social engineering implemented via the tax system. God forbid families chose their own mix of work and life balance based on what works for them – much easier if the state just makes it punitive to not follow the way nanny wants you to live.

              The fun thing is though, CV will defend the distortion here then a few threads later agree with you about UBI… good luck getting him to give up the social engineering potential of progressive taxation though – I doubt as a socialist he would ever want to loose control of the definition of high earnings.

              • RedLogix

                good luck getting him to give up the social engineering potential of progressive taxation though

                The combination of a ‘negative tax’ UBI and a ‘positive tax’ PAYE is in fact nicely progressive.

                Toss in a moderate CGT and FTT… and it’s still redistributive alright.

                • burt

                  I have no argument with you RedLogix, I would support you all the way with this type of policy. Just don’t expect CV to give up his talking points but one at a time he will concede they are wrong… enjoy twisting his miniscule brain around the ‘red logic’ loops. 😉

  5. KeepOurAssetsDon'tSell. 5

    How Wealthy do you feel? :
    The Fruits of a Society which enshrines Inequality:

    The Banana States of America where 50,000,000 people exist on food handouts and the crooks in Wall Street are part of the government and get their CDS casino plays worth billions bailed out.The same country whose modus operandi Shonkey continues to follow: their rich shaft the poor idealogy:NeoLiberalism (Now selling off OUR ASSETS for his rich class mates benefit). Where inequality is celebrated as the Ayn Rand natural order of things. Where you have War Criminal Presidents: Bush the Iraq Invader.

    Work-place and college-campus slaughters have become a regular feature of America’s harsh economic landscape the past few decades, as Ayn Rand-style policies sharply divide the nation into a few heroic “winners” and many hapless “losers,” a factor Mark Ames examines in the latest college bloodbath.

    an inequality-ravaged America where opportunity and dignity are scarcer and scarcer.What’s with the Ayn Randian lack of empathy in this country among the non-oligarchy caste?

    The idea that you can reinvent yourself, that your fate is in your own hands, that you have the power inside of you to make yourself a winner (and if you fail, it’s all your own fault) — this may be America’s most toxic cultural snake-oil. And yet it never fails to find takers.

    link:http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/08-3

    • KeepOurAssetsDon'tSell. 5.1

      If I were a low paid working couple trying to save enough for a house deposit in a sellers’ market grossly overinflated by the get rich types who aren’t happy with 1 house and a bach but with easy fiat junk money from the banks buy up other houses so the wage slaves can pay the bank plus interest and give a capital gain to the landlord when he sells who votes for the party who refuses to pop this scam by a capital gains tax: (breathe) I would not feel wealthy in that land or wanted.

      As J. K Galbraith’s mordent remark highlights, “free-market” economics is based on a sentence:

      that the poor don’t work hard enough because they’re paid too much and the the rich don’t work hard enough because they’re are paid too little.(reminds me of the crazy executive salaries paid out in this country!)

      You see, when right libertarians are arguing against too much government or the state ( Through Privatization of Public services and Utilities) , they are arguing against a state that is accountable to the populace, that is democratically controlled by the populace, and what they in effect seek to do is create a privately controlled state, ( One that is only nominally democratic where all parties advocate shades of the same colour ) that bows only to owners of land and capital, with force being wielded by private armies that side only with those that can afford them, the already super rich.

  6. There is no ‘cult’ of the individual. Under capitalism the individual is the product of capitalist production where everything appears as an equal exchange of commodities. So capitalism produces individuals and such individuals will only end with capitalism.

    Before capitalism, there were no ‘individuals’ in the capitalist sense rather members of collective societies, or in the case of slave and tributary societies, classes. Capitalism revolutionised this by creating individuals who could own their own ‘private’ property, even though this ‘property’ owed its existence to the collective labour of the working class. 

    Thus while the workers formally ‘owned’ his/her labour power sold for a wage, this ‘worker/individual’ was very different from the ‘capitalist/individual’ because the latter expropriated the surplus value of the former.

    The idea that the individual is natural was projected back into history from the 17th century, notoriously as the “Robinson Crusoe” mythology where Man Friday was a barely human nobody living a ‘barbaric’ existence.

    In fact Friday was a member of a collective in which the individual did not exist other than as part of the group. Such groups produced and consumed for their own needs, and no individual was able to appropriate their own ‘private property’.

    This changed when the organisers of such collective societies, women, ensured that the social produced was distributed according to needs, were overthrown by their brothers who appropriated social wealth as the private property of the patriarchal family.

    You can see this ‘revolution’ taking place in the history of Ancient Greece where women resisted but were overcome by males bonded in military bands, expressed of course as the rise of the ‘winners’ the slave owners, over the ‘losers’ the slaves. This was rationalised in the patriarchal/slave mode of thinking where men are ‘naturally’ winners and woman losers.

    Not much has changed although the slave owners have become more civilised and abolished slavery in formal terms but maintained it under various international laws defending the rights of private property.

    Since the 16th century capitalism has taken over the world like a virus so that everybody thinks as capitalism thinks – that is its fair and equal and therefore poverty is a personal failure or a throwback to barbarism. 

    That includes demonising any attempt to try a socialist alternative as worse than capitalism.
    Calling the soviet union ‘communist’ is like calling Christ the Pope.

    The socialist revolution in Russia was overcome by global capitalism in much the same was as women in Ancient Greece were overthrown by slave owners. In the twisted logic of capitalism this is supposed to prove that the capitalist/patriarchy is the only viable form of society.

    Well there is one problem with this. As the figures on wealth distribution show. The vast majority in this world are exploited by the tiny minority. The ‘winners’ cannot win without constantly proving that their wealth derives from the labour of the ‘losers’.

    The most recent absurdity was the bailing out of failed banks and as a result countries. Only their sheer power to control and manipulate the state, law, media etc allows capitalists to maintain a system based on such transparent hypocrisy.

    Capitalism’s nemesis is in its genes however. To survive it has to empower each generation of youth with the knowledge to increase the productivity of labour (aka the rate of expropriation of surplus labour).

    When they are denied that opportunity by the collapse of the economy, and a huge generational wealth gap explodes, educated youth have the knowledge to recognise lies and to discover the truth about capitalism. 

    We live in exciting times.
     

    • RedLogix 6.1

      That’s a bit of a wander, but yes it’s much the same as my own thinking these days dave.

      There’s quite a lot of material around that more or less ties into this theme, often starting from quite divergent starting points yet all converging on the idea that it was the adoption of agriculture, the logical consequence of private property, the need for military force to defend it, the rise of hierarchy and patriarchy… was all a terrible mistake from which the human race may not yet recover.

      There’s scope for someone to pull a lot of these fascinating threads together. Jared Diamond has made a couple of great contributions.

      Yet the past 10,000 years were not wholly wasted. If nothing else we have learnt a great deal. The nub of the problem, one that remains unresolved, is how to restore the true pre-agricultural human heritage based on the principles of equality, altruism and community, retain the best of what we have developed through science and engineering, and attain an ecologic balance with the planet.

      I think we all have some intuitions and part-formed ideas around this challenge; and is a theme I remain insatiably curious about.

      • Vicky32 6.1.1

        often starting from quite divergent starting points yet all converging on the idea that it was the adoption of agriculture,

        I remember saying as much when I was studying sociology at University of Auckland in 1999, and getting a serve from the (RW) lecturer… what I actually said was “so agriculture can be regarded as the original sin, hey?” and she went off on a tear… 🙂

        • RedLogix 6.1.1.1

          What fascinates me is how far ‘civilisation’ takes us from our ‘evolved preferences’. There were after all some 500,000 generations of humans prior to agriculture, yet barely 500 since. And we wonder why this modern world discomforts us in so many ways. And on so many levels.

          Not for an instant do I imagine we could or should turn the clock back 10,000 years. But there are important lessons to be learnt if we open our minds to the idea that pre-agricultural human life was not at all the Hobbesian ‘short, brutal and nasty’ stereotype we have been taught to think it was.

          Or that everything pre-literate was necessarily barbaric. And that human nature as we know it solely from the written record, is the only form it can take.

    • Reagan Cline 6.2

      I disagree. The socialist revolution in Russia was overcome (I would say captured) by the Bolsheviks led by V I Lenin. I am still not sure where all the funding came from – quite a lot from Russian capitalists for sure. The failure of Leninism proves that the model he had of society was false. We need to search for a new understanding. Starting with a good look at what it means to be human.

    • M 6.3

      The Story of Your Enslavement

      • RedLogix 6.3.1

        Interestingly when you dig deep enough socialism and libertarianism fold back onto each other in one common theme…the intrinsic worth and rights of the individual.

        Unfortunately from there they march off in entirely opposed directions.

        • locus 6.3.1.1

          Individualism with consideration for others in society versus individualism in pursuit of your own selfish vision of happiness

      • locus 6.3.2

        Looks like a kind of crossover between anarchism and randism.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.3.3

        Libertarian propaganda. Yes, hierarchical systems equate to slavery but it’s the economic freedoms that they want that produce that slavery.

  7. Dr Terry 7

    A rather good debate here, with more than usual good points made. May discussion continue.

  8. Jenny 8

    It misses a number of very poor countries, including some large ones like Nigeria.

    BUNJI

    Actually Nigeria is not a “very poor country”. In fact, it is the opposite, being a very wealthy petro state. Nigeria is a terribly unequal society, where extreme inequality is maintained through force by a military dictatorship, which aids and assists the foreign oil companies exploiting that country’s mineral wealth to the detriment of the environment and the majority of the population.

    On a small scale, Nigeria proves Bunji’s argument. Indeed I would guess, that if just the oil profits of Nigeria were shared equally, despite being the most populous country in Africa Nigerians would probably have annual incomes greater than most Kiwis.

    In fact I would go further and say that Nigeria is a microcosm of the wider world, where instead of violence, government regulation and bureaucracy, plus tradition and inertia, serve to generally favour the elites over the rest of us. Maybe not in an openly and extremely violent way as in Nigeria, but never the less still preserving and even expanding inequality.

    Greenpeace have a saying: The world has enough for our need but not for our greed.

    As the bio-sphere degrades and peak oil passes, in the face of the resulting financial and economic and environmental collapse, it is quite likely that the established elites of the West will also revert to the more primitive means of preserving inequality.

    As the peril deepens, we may have to give the famous quote a harder edge to say: “The world has enough for our needy but not for our greedy.”

  9. Uturn 9

    I can see where the sentiment of the original original article is going, but it has unintentionally measured socialism by capitalism’s definition of socialism and come up with the “wrong” answer.

    It says money is a direct measure (1:1) of commodity and labour value. Which of course, it isn’t.

    It then carries that error forward and says that money redistributed equally will solve poverty. Which it won’t.

    For a rather extreme example, imagine a now starving child in North Africa, given US$10,000 this afternoon. Where would he spend it, considering his village, or the collection of rammed-earth huts that are called a village, has no running water, no transport, no tools and no food; no infrastructure at all. In fact the land is experiencing famine and war, which is why they people are dying. How does the $US10,000 help him?

    There are many undisclosed problems that have been taken for granted, as if an African village is just like the Auckland CBD without electricity; that if you hand ten random people from ten different points of the globe $10, they will automatically know what you are giving them, apply comfortable western importance to it, and please us with their choices. It is believed that the Inuit Hunter at the ice caps will use it to treat frostbite, just as a suburban housewife in Te Atatu would use it to wash her clothes. It is culturally offensive. This is not in the spirit of socialist movements.

    I will quickly say here that just because redistribution of a finite limit of dollars won’t solve poverty, it does not mean that capitalism is the only alternative or that nothing should be done.

    What it is, is bourgeois socialism.

    From The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Frederick Engels:

    “3.2 Conservative or Bourgeois Socialism.

    A part of the bourgeoisie is desirous of redressing social grievances, in order to secure the continued existence of bourgeois society. To this section belongs economists, philanthropists, humanitarians, improvers of the condition of the working class, organisers of charity, members of societies for the prevention of cruelty to animals, temperance fanatics, hole-and-corner reformers of every imaginable kind. This form of socialism has, moreover, been worked out into complete systems. We may cite Proudhon’s Philosophy of Poverty as an example of this form.

    The socialistic bourgeois want all the advantages of modern social conditions without the struggles and dangers necessarily resulting from them. They desire the existing state of society minus it;s revolutionary disintegrating elements. They wish for a bourgeoisie without a proletariat. The bourgeoisie naturally conceives the world in which it is supreme to be the best; and bourgeois socialism develops this comfortable conception into various more or less complex systems. In requiring the proletariat to carry out such a system, and thereby to march straightway into the new social Jerusalem. It but requires in reality, that the proletariat should remain within the bounds of existing society, but should cast away all its hateful ideas concerning the bourgeoisie.

    A second, and more practical, but less systematic, form of this socialism sought to depreciate every revolutionary movement in the eyes of the working class, by showing that no mere political reform, but only a change in the material conditions of existence, in economical relations, could be of any advantage to them. by changes in the material conditions of existence, this form of socialism, however, by no means understands abolition of the bourgeois relations of production, an abolition that can only be affected by revolution, but administrative reforms, based on continued existence of these relations; reforms therefore, that in no respect affect the relations between capital and labour,but, at best, lessen the cost, and simplify the administrative work of the bourgeoisie government.

    Bourgeois socialism attains adequate expression when, and only when, it becomes a mere figure of speech.

    Free trade: for the benefit of the working class.

    Protective duties: for the benefit of the working class.

    Prison reform: for the benefit of the working class.

    This is the last word and only seriously meant word of bourgeois socialism. It is summed up in the phrase: the bourgeois is a bourgeois – for the benefit of the working class…”

    So in general, this far out from any real NZ “revolution” it’s ok to be thinking like BUNJI – if he/she actually needed anyone’s permission – but let’s be certain we know what it is being proposed. It is a re-jig of the existing corrupted system, dressed nicely, to make it seem less corrupt for a few days months or minutes, until capitalism kicks in again. The way to reorganising society comes from the people, of each region or country, deciding from the bottom up with solutions relevent to them. When it is a top-down enforced system, we get castes and racism.

    The reason societal change is so unpalatable to people, is that they do not know what the middle classes really are, so they desperately defend them or attempt “compromises”. The middle classes are CAPITALISTS. Do you really want them running your socialism?

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      The middle classes are CAPITALISTS. Do you really want them running your socialism?

      Indeed. And they’re not even that “middle”, comprising roughly the top 15%-20% of income earners in this country.

  10. Uturn 10

    Ok for some reason I can’t post what I’ve just written with direct references, so here’s the executive summary:

    What you’re describing is bourgeois socialism – somewhat an oxymoron: the elevation of the middle classes for “the benefit of the working class”. The middle classes are capitalists by definition, why would you want them running your socialism? And as other posters have now discovered, $1 in North Africa is not the same as one dollar just out from a Inuit camp or inside a suburban mall. Different cultural values, different needs.

    • burt 10.1

      The middle classes are capitalists by definition, why would you want them running your socialism?

      That is a question all Labour voters need to be asked !

  11. tsmithfield 11

    The folly of absolute socialism can be easily demonstrated.

    Suppose we had a system where 50% of the citizens were producers. The other 50% were inactive. Yet the inactive get paid exactly the same as the producers who exert considerable effort for their income. What motivation is there then for the producers to keep producing? Why not become inactive and receive the same amount for doing nothing?

    • RedLogix 11.1

      1. Maybe no-one is suggesting your silly scenario?

      2. Maybe you can’t imagine any motivation other than monetary.

      3. Maybe you have a surplus of straw at your place and you’re trying to offload it here?

      • Reagan Cline 11.1.1

        Motivation other than monetary. Yes that could be part of the answer.
        Everyone feeling safe from poverty, without having to pay for that privilege.
        Money is a useful tool.
        The problem is many people who need it do not have enough and others have too much.
        Maybe money is allocated according to unsatisfactory criteria.
        How would we decide how much money each person needs ?
        Money allocated according to need (allocated by what or whom ?).
        I can see how greed and fear would hamper the changes that seem to be needed.

      • Anne 11.1.2

        You’re too polite RedLogix

        It would be hard to find a more mindless, totally illogical load of crap than that which has just emanated from tsmithfield. I really can’t think of the right words to describe it. Suffice to say, not even ‘you know who’ is guilty of such a lunatic comment.

    • TS, your education is lacking.
      Don’t you realise that with some adjustment to the proportions you suggest, 99%/1% is the one favoured at the moment, but probably 80/20 is closer to the mark, the working class produces the wealth which the capitalist class and its paid lackeys expropriates?
      Why don’t the workers refuse to work you ask? Because if they did they would starve since work is the only means of subsistence. Capitalism could only arise by forcing commoners off the commons and turning everything into private property forcing workers to work for a wage or die.
      We need a revolution to change this system so that work is allocated by a plan arrived at by a democratic process of identifying needs and allocating resources. Occupy kicked this off when the banks were targeted as crooks and public spaces places where the commoners could revive their politics. The revolutionary process has been set in motion.
       

    • Draco T Bastard 11.3

      Why are only 50% producing?

      • felix 11.3.1

        Because smitty is defining production as “the type of things that my friends and I like to do”.

  12. tsmithfield 12

    RL “1. Maybe no-one is suggesting your silly scenario?”

    Actually, so far as income distribution goes, that is what we were asked to imagine at the start of the article:

    “If everyone earned the same amount (including babies) across the entire world, we’d each get about $USD10,000 each…”

    The fact that some are producers and some are inactive goes without saying.

    In the scenario where everyone including babies gets exactly the same, the motivation would be to produce babies, rather than produce anything else. That is because, due to economies of scale, the more babies you have will increase wealth.

    “2. Maybe you can’t imagine any motivation other than monetary.”

    But maybe you need to study social loafing.

    As I remember it, social loafing is more likely in larger groups where there is less likelihood the loafing will be noticed than in small groups, where loafers tend to be despised.

    “3. Maybe you have a surplus of straw at your place and you’re trying to offload it here?”

    Actually, the scenario I proposed in my first post is closer to the truth than you think. In a scenario where producers see loafers getting similar amounts, and the producers therefore slacken the effort, income available to the group from production will decrease.

    Notice, in my scenario I didn’t say the individual income would therefore decrease. That is because the governing officials of the group incur increasingly high deficits to keep the income to individuals the same. Sound familiar?

    • RedLogix 12.1

      Actually, so far as income distribution goes, that is what we were asked to imagine at the start of the article:

      Way to absolutely miss the point. No-one is suggesting that babies get paid the same as adults.. that should have been a clue no? It was merely a way of expressing how much wealth there is in the world… put in terms that most people can grasp.

      PS.. Your link to social loafing includes some interesting notes:

      Reducing social loafing

      According to Dan J. Rothwell, it takes “the three C’s of motivation” to get a group moving: collaboration, content, and choice. Thus, the answer to social loafing may be motivation. A competitive environment may not necessarily get group members motivated.

      Collaboration is a way to get everyone involved in the group by assigning each member special, meaningful tasks. It is a way for the group members to share the knowledge and the tasks to be fulfilled unfailingly. For example, if Sally and Paul were loafing because they were not given specific tasks, then giving Paul the note taker duty and Sally the brainstorming duty will make them feel essential to the group. Sally and Paul will be less likely to want to let the group down, because they have specific obligations to complete.

      Content identifies the importance of the individual’s specific tasks within the group. If group members see their role as that involved in completing a worthy task, then they are more likely to fulfill it. For example, Sally may enjoy brainstorming, as she knows that she will bring a lot to the group if she fulfills this obligation. She feels that her obligation will be valued by the group.

      Choice gives the group members the opportunity to choose the task they want to fulfill. Assigning roles in a group causes complaints and frustration. Allowing group members the freedom to choose their role makes social loafing less significant, and encourages the members to work together as a team.

      All things that us socialists keep yammering on about…no?

      • tsmithfield 12.1.1

        Similarly, I wasn’t actually suggesting that weatlh could be distributed equally to every individual. However, the scenario was illustrating the effect of social loafing.

        Notice, I said above, that social loafing is more likely in bigger groups. Well, society is a big group. Notice also that I said that social loafing is less tolerated in small groups because it is obvious who is loafing. Well, that is also similar to society today because unemployment figures are well publicised, and examples of loafers are often pointed out in the media. Thus, producers are likely to feel highly pissed off by who they perceive to be loafers, and my well tend to decrease their effort because they feel they are supporting undeserving members of the group.

        I agree, some of this attitude from producers may well be due to perception rather than reality. But the effect could be the same.

        • RedLogix 12.1.1.1

          1. Imagine a world in which one individual owned everything.

          One consequence is that no-one else would bother doing anything because that one individual already has everything.

          2. Imagine a world in which all income was distributed absolutely equally.

          One consequence is that no-one would bother doing anything because of ‘social loafing’?

          Of course both are worthless arguments, but it’s still instructive to ask which one of these scenarios is closer to reality?

        • Reagan Cline 12.1.1.2

          What is “loafing” and does it ever reduce the sum of human suffering ?

          • RedLogix 12.1.1.2.1

            It’s something that offends ts because he feels that he’s a hard-working ‘productive’ member of society… while the rest of us are lounging about having far too much fun doing nothing.

        • just saying 12.1.1.3

          From the same link

          In 1989, Christopher P. Earley hypothesized that social loafing would be mitigated in collectivist cultures that focus more on achievement of the group than the individual. He conducted a study in the United States and China, two polar opposites in terms of culture (with the U.S. being individualistic and China being collectivist), in order to determine if a difference in social loafing was present between the two types of cultures. Earley formed groups from both countries similar in demographics and in time spent with each other (participants in each of the groups had known each other for three to five weeks). Each group was tasked with completing various forms of paperwork similar to work they would be required to do in their profession. The paperwork was designed to take two to five minutes for each item, and the items were turned in to an assistant when completed so that no one could judge their work compared to others. Each participant was given 60 minutes to complete as many items as possible and was separated into either the high-accountability group, where they were told they needed to achieve a group goal, or a low-accountability group, where they were told they were to achieve a goal alone. They were also separated into high and low shared responsibility groups. It was found that, consistent with other studies, highly individualistic people performed more poorly on the task when there was high shared responsibility and low accountability than when there was high accountability. The collectivists, however, performed somewhat better on the task when high shared responsibility was present, regardless of how accountable they were supposed to be as compared to when they were working alone. This evidence shows that collectivist thinking eliminates the social loafing effect, ….

          What sort of personality/behaviour is rewarded in the competitive and individualistic world you advocate TS? And isn’t neoliberalism all but a prescription for social loafing, where individuals can get away with it?

          I remember learning about pro-social vs pro-self personalities (about 70/30 in our society from memory). What interested me was the fact that pro-self individuals could be motivated to behave pro-socially, but only if things were set-up so that it was in their interest to do so.

          Sounds a bit like ah, socialism…

          If you are serious in your concern about the problem of social loafing…

    • locus 12.2

      Thanks for your loafing link TS – were you loafing or did you actually read it?! Let me quote from it:

      This evidence shows that collectivist thinking eliminates the social loafing effect, and further evidence done from a similar study showed the effect was related to the collectivist thinking rather than the country, as individualistic Chinese workers did indeed show a social loafing effect.

  13. tsmithfield 13

    RL “PS.. Your link to social loafing includes some interesting notes:”

    Yes, I am aware of that. However, that is nothing really to do with socialism or capitalism. An organisation that collaborates will be able to compete more effectively against those that don’t. So this would fit nicely within a capitalistic model.

    So far as society goes, using the analogy we have been discussing, producers would accept non-producing behaviour if it is providing other tangible benefits to the group. For instance, non-producers might run a creche so producers can produce more etc. So, in that case, producers wouldn’t perceive non-producers to be loafing.

    I agree that it is good for society and for the self-esteem of the individual members for all members to be contributing to society at the level that they are capable of doing so. However, there are a lot that aren’t doing that, would you agree?

    • felix 13.1

      “Producers”.

      Producing what, exactly?

    • RedLogix 13.2

      An organisation that collaborates will be able to compete more effectively against those that don’t. So this would fit nicely within a capitalistic model.

      Well in reality most capitalist, corporate workplaces fail dismally in terms of the ‘three C’s’ …collaboration, content and choice. But as you say that’s by the way.

      However, there are a lot that aren’t doing that, would you agree?

      I’m inclined to answer that in several, not necessarily consistent ways.

      One is …so what? Who said maximum labour utlilisation was the sine qua non of human existence? Why does it matter if some people choose not to ‘work’ or contribute in ways you find useful. Their lives may well be perfectly useful to them and who are we to question that?

      Secondly I’d ask you to imagine a world in which all people had their basic needs for food and shelter automatically met. Would they stop doing seeking to do meaningful and interesting things as a consequence? I doubt it. In fact it’s not hard to imagine that freed from the obligation to work, it might well allow for wholly new and creative endeavours to manifest.

      Thirdly I’d ask that even given the very lousy conditions of work most people experience… and how the average workplace is absolutely conducive to ‘social loafing’ the surprising thing is how motivated they are to keep turning up. This strongly suggests most people like to contribute, even when the odds are stacked against it.

      And fourthly… even if we narrowly allow that the only way to meaningfully contribute to the sum of human happiness is indeed to be in paid work… then where does the responsibility for ensuring that work is available lie?

      • Carol 13.2.1

        I wish those people who keep ringng lately trying to promote this or that, would loaf about more and stop making those calls. It’d contribute to my happiness.

      • tsmithfield 13.2.2

        “Why does it matter if some people choose not to ‘work’ or contribute in ways you find useful.”

        It doesn’t. If they aren’t relying on the “producers” to support them, they can do what ever they like. However, if they are perceived as loafing by the “producers” then the social loafing effects start kicking into gear.

        “Secondly I’d ask you to imagine a world in which all people had their basic needs for food and shelter automatically met. Would they stop doing seeking to do meaningful and interesting things as a consequence? I doubt it. In fact it’s not hard to imagine that freed from the obligation to work, it might well allow for wholly new and creative endeavours to manifest.”

        No problems there either. So long as their being “freed from the obligation to work” didn’t require others to work harder.

        “Thirdly I’d ask that even given the very lousy conditions of work most people experience… and how the average workplace is absolutely conducive to ‘social loafing’ the surprising thing is how motivated they are to keep turning up.”

        Agreed. I have qualifications in organisational psychology. So, this is of considerable interest to us in terms of increasing performance and effectiveness. e.g. Hackman and Oldham.

        “And fourthly… even if we narrowly allow that the only way to meaningfully contribute to the sum of human happiness is indeed to be in paid work… then where does the responsibility for ensuring that work is available lie?”

        I have not said everyone needs to be in paid work. Rather they need to be perceived as contributing something useful towards society. This may or may not be paid.

        • felix 13.2.2.1

          You keep saying “producers” but you haven’t defined production in any way shape or form. All we know for sure is that it doesn’t include early childhood education.

          So again I ask, producing what?

          I hope it’s something I consider useful.

          • tsmithfield 13.2.2.1.1

            A fairly broad term that encapsulates anyone who is generating income legally by the exercise of their skills, abilities, services, or provision of goods, that others are willing to pay for.

            Thus, voluntary workers would not be “producers” although, they may be seen as contributing value to society and thus not be perceived as loafing. If there were a co-operative to run a creche that was done on a voluntary basis to free producers to produce more, then they would not be considered loafing either. However, someone sitting on his arse all day playing playstation, and drawing a benefit when they have skills for which there are available jobs would be considered to be loafin.

            Hope that helps. 🙂

            • felix 13.2.2.1.1.1

              Sounds like it’d include quite a lot of useless bastards doing pointless things, and the more they’re extracting from society the more you value them as “productive”.

              And no value on education.

              All arse about face, smitty, it’ll never work because it’s built on false premises. Good thing no-one’s proposing it.

              • tsmithfield

                “Sounds like it’d include quite a lot of useless bastards doing pointless things, and the more they’re extracting from society the more you value them as “productive”.”

                If others are willing to pay, then it can hardly be called “extracting”.

                “And no value on education.”

                So long as that education has potential to contribute in the future, then it is an investment. However, if people become eternal students on the public teet, then it is close to becoming “loafing” in my opinion.

                • felix

                  If others are willing to pay, then it can hardly be called “extracting”.

                  So, a free market. That’s your outside-the-box thought experiment.

                  And one in which pre-school age children are eternal students and loafers. Good lord.

                  • tsmithfield

                    “And one in which pre-school age children are eternal students and loafers.”

                    I never meant that, and you know it.

                    But I have met people who have been at university for years doing endless courses with no apparent purpose to them, because, it seems to me, they don’t want to go out and face the real world.

                    • felix

                      The education we’ve been discussing is early childhood education, something you seem to regard as a hobby. I can’t be expected to anticipate your wild unannounced subject changes.

                      I think it’s time you faced the real world, the world of human beings as opposed to labour units.

            • Vicky32 13.2.2.1.1.2

              However, someone sitting on his arse all day playing playstation, and drawing a benefit when they have skills for which there are available jobs would be considered to be loafin.

              You can consider that loafing when and only when there’s something close to full employment!
              I have skills that I want to use. I spent this morning phoning language schools, including the one I worked for from October to December last year. I got 100% no responses, as every one of these schools is teetering on the brink and laying people off… What surprised me is how many of them were willing to admit as much to me, a comparative stranger!

          • Vicky32 13.2.2.1.2

            I hope it’s something I consider useful

            Making whim whams for gooses’ bridles! It’s bound to mean ‘making widgets’ of some description, or selling said widgets, which means that they must have built in obsolescence. Perhaps telemarketing for a widget company, or having 2 hours business lunches, for the purpose of widget-selling… 😀

        • RedLogix 13.2.2.2

          However, if they are perceived as loafing by the “producers” then the social loafing effects start kicking into gear.

          It’s not something that ever concerns me. Personally I never think about beneficiaries in those terms. On the contrary I consider myself deeply fortunate and privileged to have the health, the education and the skills to be well employed. Yet by sheer mis-chance of the seven adults in my immediate family I am the only one who is in that position.

          It never occurs to me to resent this. I see it as my responsibility not a burden. I’d argue that most people feel much the same as me.

          Where the effect does kick in is at the below median end of the pay scales… work that is so badly paid that at the end of the month families holding down two or more crappy jobs, tired and exhausted … look across their back fence to another family on a benefit and not a lot worse off for appearing to have done nothing. That is a recipe for resentment… but it’s more the consequence of our stupid distorted tax/welfare system than anything else.

          Rather they need to be perceived as contributing something useful towards society.

          On this we are on the same page. But this does hinge on is the question of what we ‘perceive to be useful to society’ does it not?

          • tsmithfield 13.2.2.2.1

            “Personally I never think about beneficiaries in those terms.”

            Neither do I when people lose their job, for instance, and can’t immediately get re-employed, or are sick, or disabled. Having said that, it is still quite surprising how people are able to find ways to contribute despite their circumstances. If you have ever seen the art produced by paraplegic artists, you would know what I mean. Or those who lose their jobs and can’t get re-employed might be able to find some voluntary work to do etc.

            However, where people refuse to work because it is easier to depend on the state, then that is different. I think this is where social loafing effects start to kick in, and producers, for instance, start to look for ways to avoid tax etc because they perceive that their money is being wasted on those who refuse to work; solo mothers who keep having more kids on a benefit etc, and it is perceived they are doing so to earn more in family support. As I said, this on occasions, could be due to perception rather than reality. But it is the effect we should be concerned about.

            “On this we are on the same page. But this does hinge on is the question of what we ‘perceive to be useful to society’ does it not?”

            I think that if the net effect is for society to be better off as a result, then that would satisfy me. Measuring that, of course, would be difficult, and we would probably have areas of disagreement.

            • RedLogix 13.2.2.2.1.1

              Has it ever occurred to you that all people are intrinsically of value?

              My perspective is that prior to the adoption of agriculture, industrialisation and the privatisation of all the means of support and production… most human beings could live quite happy long lives as hunter gatherers. Most ‘worked’ no more than 10 hours a week gathering enough food and other things to support themselves… because the means to do so were free and plentiful.

              Human beings lived and existed on their own terms for their own purposes… not someone else’s.

              With civilisation gradually this birthright has become private property. It means that the vast majority of people know of nothing other than to ‘work’ in an economic system …. they have traded in a ‘right to live’ on their own terms… for an ‘obligation to work’ on someone else’s.

              This is is where the notion that you ‘have to be useful’ to society is rooted. Yet ultimately you have to ask… who does this notion really serve? Is it the whole of society, or the tiny minority who gain the most benefit from our collective efforts?

              • tsmithfield

                “Has it ever occurred to you that all people are intrinsically of value?”

                Yes. But what is it about people that is of intrinsic value?

                “This is is where the notion that you ‘have to be useful’ to society is rooted. Yet ultimately you have to ask… who does this notion really serve? Is it the whole of society, or the tiny minority who gain the most benefit from our collective efforts?”

                If you look at the standards we live in now, I think you would agree they are somewhat different to what our “hunter gatherer” ancestors had. I guess you could argue whether they are better than what our ancestors had. However, I suspect objective measures such as life span etc would suggest “better”. Assuming that things are better today, then surely our collective efforts have benefited us, haven’t they?

                Anyway, interesting discussion, thanks. I’m off to bed now.

                • RedLogix

                  Assuming that things are better today, then surely our collective efforts have benefited us, haven’t they?

                  The main reason why life expectancy is longer in the modern world is simply because medical science keeps many of us alive in the face of accidents and acute illnesses that were fatal… even until just 100 years ago.

                  Yet in terms of chronic illnesses and degenerative diseases we are arguably worse off.

                  And then there is the point that most of us are working 40 hours plus a week to sustain this state of ‘better’. Better for who? A quick look about suggests that it isn’t the average bloke and blokette I meet.

                  But yes… an interest discussion. Thanks.

                • ak

                  Nigh nigh Smitty, and thanks to all for a most interesting discussion, especially Dave Brown and as always your good self RL.

                  I believe you’re nearly there, Smitto with that this on occasions, could be due to perception rather than reality, and just a teensy weensy bit of experience with the welfare system and how “easy” it is to “loaf” will bring you fully to the light. And indeed, it certainly is the effect we should be concerned about because it is that very effect that produces the immiseration of the victim of which Dave and Uturn so accurately predict the logical conclusion. The politics of envy in fact: in this case the envy of a non-existent horde luxuriating on welfare.

                  And felix – there’s a pointer to what constitutes a “useful product” in the minds of the envious: solo mothers who keep having more kids on a benefit etc Not human beings apparently.

                  Righto I’m off too, move over smitt

    • rosy 13.3

      Producing what, exactly?
      Societal value? – Like these producers…

      From the New Economics Foundation

      Elite City bankers (earning £1 million-plus bonuses) destroy £7 of value for every £1 they create.
      Hospital cleaners create over £10 in value for every £1 they receive in pay.
      Advertising executives destroy £11 of value for every £1 created.
      Child care workers generate between £7 and £9.50 for every £1 they are paid.
      Tax accountants destroy £47 for every £1 they create.
      Waste recycling workers generate £12 for every £1 spent on their wages.

      Pay levels often don’t reflect the true value that is being created. As a society, we need a pay structure which rewards those jobs that create most societal benefit, rather than those that generate profits at the expense of society and the environment.

      I strongly recommend taking a look at the NEF site for thoughts about revaluing the economy toward well-being.

  14. prism 14

    I have been reading Gareth Morgan and Susan Guthrie’s work on reorganising our economy and “The Big Kahuna” would give a guaranteed minimum income of, say, $10,000 whether you were working or not. I haven’t studied it in depth so at present can’t see how I as an old age pensioner would cope, without having to go out and sweep the streets etc. (I already do a considerable amount of volunteer work.)

    The Standard has some good information on it with a link at http://thestandard.org.nz/gareth-morgans-big-kahuna/.

    • RedLogix 14.1

      I haven’t studied it in depth so at present can’t see how I as an old age pensioner would cope,

      First of all the whole UBI concept rather makes the whole distinction between working and ‘not working’ rather mute. People would have more flexibility over their whole lifetimes about how and when they chose to be in paid employment, self-employed or whatever. The whole notion of a fixed ‘retirement age’ would vanish allowing people to choose according to their health and desires to keep working, slow down, volunteer or simply rest up. A whole lot more civilised than the ‘one size fits all’ approach at present.

      One might hope that after a lifetime of work however people might have enough assets (eg a mortgage free home) and/or retirement savings (eg kiwisaver) to fill in the gap between the UBI and a comfortable income.

      Or you might contemplate extending the collective housing/living concept that so many retirement villages are already moving towards; potentially offering a decent standard of living with a better economy of scale than an individual can ever match.

      Or you might extend the Gold Card concept to include fixing or reducing a wider range of essential costs, like electricity, rates and the like.

      But otherwise good on you for reading it… I’m a huge supporter of the Big Kahuna. Nothing’s perfect but I’d really believe it’s a rational step forward from the badly flawed and distorted system we have at present.

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    6 days ago
  • Chatham Islands pāua plan approved
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    2 weeks ago
  • Bill introduced for synthetics crackdown
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    2 weeks ago
  • Blasphemous libel law repealed
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    2 weeks ago
  • Coalition Government lassos livestock rustling
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    2 weeks ago
  • Medieval law axed
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    2 weeks ago
  • Further steps to combat tax evasion
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    2 weeks ago