I can’t believe it’s not satire!

Written By: - Date published: 12:44 pm, May 23rd, 2010 - 94 comments
Categories: budget 2010, class war, Media - Tags:

The other day, we had a satire guest post about ‘thank the rich day‘. Michael Laws appears determined to out do us:

Now well into a new century that social gap I observed as a child has grown into a gargantuan chasm. We have the super-rich and we have an underclass neither of which existed two generations ago.

The neoliberal experiment has created a new aristocracy who prey on the poor. Labour did manage to narrow the gap a little but not enough.

Successive governments have always attempted to find a bridge, or at least a dirigible to fly those left behind, across the divide. They have often used the taxation system to do this slamming upper income earners with their own tax brackets and denying them the universality applied elsewhere. As a consequence, higher earners have sought the dark arts of accountancy and the law to evade their punishments.

In nearly all the OECD countries that are wealthier than us, the well-off pay more tax and those on low incomes pay less. Those same countries have less poverty, higher standards of living, and lower crime rates.

On Thursday, this Key/English administration decided to abandon the pretence that we are an egalitarian society, or that we should ever attempt to be so. The wealthy are the wealthy because they merit that status, was the prime minister’s underlying message. And we need them way more than we need welfare beneficiaries in fact, without them the latter could not exist. We wouldn’t have the income to support them.

See, the Mark Hotchins and Paul Reynolds of this world deserve a tax cut because they contribute so much to the world, whereas a factory worker or a nurse or a retail worker doesn’t really merit anything.

For many New Zealanders, including the Labour Party, this is anathema. Government should be about evening the odds and redistributing income. Advancing the concept of noblesse oblige via the tax system. Although that’s the charitable interpretation. Getting the rich bastards to bail us battlers out is the subtext. But Key’s argument has one outstanding virtue. It is true. We need the wealthy and the talented more than they need us. Their skills are international, their enterprise is universal. They can make more money, live better lifestyles and generally advance their family’s prospects better in countries more developed than our own. Australia, North America, the UK and even the new Asia.

Yeah, Fay and Richwhite so much, aren’t you?

And you don’t have to be brilliant to know that. The annual migration of the middle-income, middle-aged across the Tasman is an annual export of our hard-working aspirational core. What’s left is why we have Whanau Ora. Now the young have joined that trend too. They leave and, sure, they come back. For a holiday.

It’s funny because these wealthy seemed perfectly content to stay in New Zealand. The stats actually show that it’s low income workers leaving for Australia for higher wages. A 1% increase in net wages from tax cuts is nothing compared to a 30% wage gap.

On that basis, National’s 2010 Budget stands as a sharp detour from the conventional wisdom that government is about playing Robin Hood. Even when the poor are undeserving. And it does represent a proper realignment of the political parties Labour has been gifted its territory back and, if it had a more human leader, would be feeling confident about 2011.

It’s true that National has passed the most rightwing budget since 1991. It’s for Labour to present an alternative.

One can make the criticism that the Nats could have, should have, been bolder. Not compensated welfare beneficiaries for the GST rise so as to create a greater incentive to take minimum-wage jobs. After all, we still have more than 300,000 adults dependent upon the tax largesse of others.

Yeah, let’s force all those sick and invalided people along with those who have lost their jobs in the recession into minimum wage jobs that don’t exist. Or are their 300,000 unfilled minimum wage jobs I missed?

But it is a step in the right direction, and in both senses of that adjective.

It is a recognition that the “wealthy” those working for an income of over $70,000 a year will pay more tax than anyone else, irrespective of whether they have their own tax bracket. That they don’t qualify for any of the lesser universalities from free healthcare to Working for Families’ subsidies. And that they often purchase their own health insurance and their own kids’ education at places like Collegiate and thus reduce the demand upon the public system.

In other words, the wealthy are more deserving than they are given credit for. And Bill English decided to acknowledge such in his Budget address.

Don’t you think that an average net worth of $650,000 and annual income over quarter of a million is already credit the wealthy deserve? Did they really need an 8% boost to their take-home earnings paid for out of other Kiwis’ pockets?  What about the credit that hardworking Kiwis deserve? Oh, yeah, they deserve higher GST and cuts to the social wage.

94 comments on “I can’t believe it’s not satire!”

  1. RedLogix 1

    I’m ploughing into my copy of “The Spirit Level” that I bought just yesterday. The information in this book proves Michael Laws completely wrong both on his facts and conclusions at almost every point.

    For instance he holds up the USA and UK as examples of succesful countries, yet by every measure of social dysfunction they are rapidly discohering hell-holes. I can think of three colleauges who’ve all arrived from the UK in the last few years; they’re all skilled technical professionals in high demand world-wide, yet all three of them have come to NZ because in their own words, “NZ isn’t perfect, but you should see what’s becoming of the home town I grew up in”… or to that effect.

    Now Laws is a vile man, we didn’t need to read more of this trash to know this… but the thing that gets me is that he’s paid to fill our newpapers with his sick perverted drivellings.

    • Rex Widerstrom 1.1

      …he’s paid to fill our newpapers with his sick perverted drivellings

      Indeed he is.

      He’s also paid around $250,000 a year to masturbate broadcast on Radio Dead (from the neck up).

      He has business interests including Darius Press (though goodness knows whether that’s in fact a tax write-off, given that it publishes mainly his own chaotic rambling).

      He has a Mayoral salary of around $80,000 a year which he claims to donate to “charity”, though won’t reveal the grateful recipients of his largesse, and nor have any ever come forward voluntarily. The only things he’s publicly admitted to funding are various events which promote his own interests such as the “Mayoral Mile”.

      And he desperately leaps at any other paying opportunity to remind people he exists, whether it’s while wearing enough lycra to generate sufficient static to power a small town, or getting hives on a desert island.

      Yet he writes:

      Getting the rich bastards to bail us battlers out is the subtext.

      Us battlers? Tosser.

    • john 1.2

      Yes redlogix. The USA has 500,000 preventable deaths per decade for treatable illnesses because those persons can’t afford medical Insurance or are not covered due to prior conditions. There are 40,000,000 Americans on food stamps. Millions have lost their homes because they can’t pay the mortgage. America is a Neo-:Liberal disaster zone. Tens of thousands of teachers are out of work because States,Particularly,California are bankrupt!!! Wall Street and the White House run the country with a revolving door between the two. I could go on and on about this failed state but that should be enough except to say if the Chinese and the Japanese took all their dosh out of US Bonds the dollar would collapse into the trash heap over night!

      UK, I am from there originally. All the Brits I meet are desperate to come here! The cost of living is impossible for most in the UK. Now their freeby North Sea Oil Fiesta is disappearing rapidly Brits are queuing up to get out. Child poverty is at Dickensian levels again.
      If Michael Laws had another brain it probably would feel very lonely! He is completely ideologically blinkered to reality. What the rich are trying successfully is the oldest trick in the World: Leveraging : Because my profession in another country get a lot more money, even though I wouldn’t want to live there I might move there if you don’t pay me more! This a form of blackmail lite which fits with the free market system which is in deep crisis now right round the World because of its Greedy overpayment to those with the most market power.

  2. Monty 2

    The left with their envy is just so sad. Instead of understand that success is a good thing, on the left you deem it as evil.In my experience successful people are usually happier, healthier and have a positive attitude to life – not because of the money – but because they have goals and aspitation and ambition in life.

    There are scum (such as the examples you give – but they are much more the exception than the rule. The real scum are those who prey on other members of society (such as drug dealers, murderers, gang scum and the like of Destiny Church).

    Success should be celebrated – your lot demonise success – yet are quite happy to live off the spoils of success.

    • RedLogix 2.1

      Monty,

      The left with their envy is just so sad.

      A tired old refrain that speaks volumes to your own inner anxieties and motives.

      Success should be celebrated your lot demonise success

      Nothing wrong with a sustainable, decently achieved prosperity….what we do challenge are the conventionally accepted definitions of ‘success’ and the hidden price so often paid for it.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      Success is a Good Thing, stealing from others, which is what capitalists do, isn’t.

      • big bruv 2.2.1

        ” stealing from others” is the foundation stone of socialism.

        What is “wealth transfer” if not theft?, you people want to steal money from those who have worked for it and give it to those who have not.

        • CAptain Rehab 2.2.1.1

          [Dinner over]

          • jcuknz 2.2.1.1.1

            What no editorial comment on that word? Of course it might have been missed … but I wonder if it simply was becuase of instead of being directed at left wingers it was a rightwingt writer being attacked?
            Both the item and the use of it separated by only a full stop. and the use started the comment.

            • Anita 2.2.1.1.1.1

              I decided there was no point responding to something that I expect will be removed as soon as an admin finishes dinner 🙂

              It was one of the reasons I responded to BB’s comment tho, he deserves better than that.

            • lprent 2.2.1.1.1.2

              jc: It sometimes seems like we’re watching all of the time. But it isn’t the case. Depends what people are doing. So whoever did do the post-dinner thing, thanks.

              Personally, I’m mildly zonked from flying around in an airborne cattle truck today, and I think that Lyn is trying to give me her cold

          • big bruv 2.2.1.1.2

            “What the fuck would you know?”

            Clearly far more than you.

          • big bruv 2.2.1.1.3

            Don’t edit it on my account, the author is a perfect example of the average socialist.

        • Anita 2.2.1.2

          big bruv,

          Is it theft if I, a high income earner, vote for a government knowing that they will tax me to support others?

          • big bruv 2.2.1.2.1

            Good Evening Anita

            You have no choice in the matter, irrespective of what colour you vote for (Red or Blue) they are still going to steal a percentage of your income every week.
            You may well be happy with that theft, some are, however, many of us are not.

            Tax is theft, it always has been and always will be.

            Having said that, I do accept that there are some things that we as a society must pay for, the issue I have is that there are so many things that the government (tax payer) has no place being involved in.

            • Anita 2.2.1.2.1.1

              If I give it willingly, and once every three years vote to give even more, how can it be theft?

              What do you think the tax payer should pay for?

              • big bruv

                Anita

                Of course it is theft, they never asked you if they could take it in the first place.

                You may well give it willingly, many people do, but the fact remains they still take it irrespective of how you feel about it.

                What do I think the tax payer should cough up for?

                Public safety (Police and Justice system)
                National safety (Armed forces)
                A limited and stringent welfare system (genuine cases to get much more, the vast majority to be forced to get off their sorry backsides and find work)

            • Lew 2.2.1.2.1.2

              Bruv, just supposing I accept that properly-mandated taxation can be theft in the general case (I don’t, but let’s pretend 🙂 — how can it be theft from her if she consents to the taxation levied?

              This is not to argue that voting for a party which pledges to tax necessarily constitutes consent for that taxation, nor that those who didn’t vote for a party but are nevertheless bound by its legislative agenda are tacitly consenting either, but surely the point is that the determination rests on a person’s own attitude toward a specific example of taxation, rather than a general blanket circumstance. In that case, how is it theft if she agrees that the amount levied is justified and does not consider it so?

              L

              • big bruv

                Lew

                Irrespective of who you vote for they will take money from you every week.

                I have a number of accounts, money comes in and out of those accounts, everything that goes out I approve of, it is done with my consent…apart from the payments to the government, not one of those I approve of and not one is done with my consent.

              • Anita

                big bruv,

                Everything Lew said!

                Plus…

                Of course it is theft, they never asked you if they could take it in the first place.

                They didn’t ask me, I offered it to them. From way before I ever paid tax I understood tax, and believed in tax, and wanted to pay my way. As soon as I could vote I voted for parties which will tax high income earners harder and have continued to do so as I have moved up through the tax brackets. I want to pay them this money, they take it from me because I ask them to (through the mechanism of voting for parties who will tax).

              • Carol

                Also, what about the person (of which I think there are many), who agree to do a job for a specific amount of money, even thought they believe they are being underpaid for that job? They do it because they don’t have the power to press for any more, and they need the money to live.

                How many employers pay what they think they can get away with paying their workers, to ensure a big profit margin?

                It’s not that simple to argue as though everyone gets paid what they deserve & so should have total rights over it.

                When I get a job, I expect that paying taxes will be part of the pay process, and that the amount of tax will vary overtime. I’m more in agreement with that than the fact that I have little say in what employers pay me.

              • RedLogix

                BB..Your consent is implicit in your continued residency in NZ as a citizen.

                If you really don’t want to consent to taxation please move to a place where they don’t.

              • Lew

                BB, you make my case for me. You say you don’t approve of or consent to taxation, and on those grounds it is theft. I disagree, but your argument is internally consistent for the specific case. But if I know that, agree to it happening, and approve of the means by which it is done, nobody’s taking anything which I have not freely given. So “tax is theft” is not consistent in the general case based on your position.

                ‘Course, you could argue that Anita (and me, and Carol, and …) aren’t just granting a mandate for our own money to be extracted in taxation, we’re granting a mandate for others’ to be taken as well, and there’s a moral hazard. But my point: to say “taxation is theft” you need to utterly repudiate all collective decision-making, by which one person is subject to the moral hazard of another’s decisions. But the trouble is that society as presently constituted requires this collective action and organisation — even you accept the collective premise of taxation for the public goods you list — so this is an inconsistent argument for you because it rests on the specifics of the given case. If you made an argument for pure voluntary taxation — such as what QtR often tries to argue — then you’d have a point. But your argument here basically amounts to “it’s theft because I don’t approve of the purpose it’s being put to (but identical extraction for other purposes which I agree to isn’t theft).

                L

              • big bruv

                Lew

                I have no idea where this post will show up but it is in response to your 8.24pm comment.

                As you say, I do not argue for the removal of all tax’s, my point is that anything taken from me without my consent is indeed theft, sure, you might want to dress it up a bit by calling it ‘collective action’ but the fact remains that nobody asked me for it in the first place.
                I am a bloody generous bloke, I have one or two causes that I donate time and money to (not as much money as I would like but I give what I can) when they ask for money I give as much as I can at that point in time, I also raise funds for those organisations, they money I get from people is money they have agreed to give to me or the organisation.
                The point here is that they agreed to donate it, nobody passed a piece of legislation, nobody held a gun to their head and nobody forced them to do it against their will.

              • Anita

                big bruv,

                I can follow your logic about why you being taxed more than you think you should be is theft, although I do disagree with it. (The logic for my disagreement: you choose to be part of a society which has a particular model of decision making, you take part in that decision making, you AFAIK have not tried to alter the model of decision making, thus the consequences of the decisions made in the model you choose and participate in are logically able to be attributed to you).

                I still can’t see, however, any logic in your claim that my willing payment of taxation is theft from me.

              • Lew

                Anita, that mixes “consent” with “acquiescence”. BB can quite legitimately object to taxation as theft, even if he votes, and regardless of whether he takes action to change the system — as long as he does not enjoy any of the goods, services or whatever paid for by that taxation. Ultimately the argument is that — knowing that the cost of consuming those benefits is taxation (of a clearly-specified amount, etc.)

                Since the canonical product paid for by taxation is the national defence, the iconic public good which you can neither opt out of nor transfer, and which is not reduced by your consumption of it — and given that he accepts taxation for this purpose as legitimate — then he’s really got nothing to quibble about other than the rate, now. And quibble he may, but it’s as RL says — this is the price of entry. It’s like a theme park: it doesn’t matter if you go on every ride or if you just want candy floss; you pays the same on the door, and how much you use is up to you. Your option, if you don’t like the entry fee, is to go to another theme park — or to start your own. With Patri Friedman or someone like him.

                L

              • RedLogix

                the fact remains that nobody asked me for it in the first place.

                Many things happen to people without their explicit consent. You don’t get to choose a lot of things about your life, what gender you are, what size or shape, who your parents and family are, your genetic heritage, what diseases or disabilities you might suffer, what accidents might befall you…indeed you cannot so much as guarantee you will be even alive in 30secs time.

                Mostly we only get to control how we react to the circumstances we are in, what choices we make, what we bring to the negotiation tables we sit at and what deals we agree to. None of these things are determined unilaterally, there are always other people involved and there is always give and take. We never get 100% what we might have wished to consent to.

                No-one acts in complete and perfect isolation. For this reason there is always an implicit social contract of some sort that you cannot opt out of cost-free.

              • Anita

                Lew,

                I’m not sure I agree.

                I think that when we take part in the decision making process of our society we more than acquiesce to the outcome of that process. As long as big bruv accepts and takes part in a majority rules one-person-one-vote democracy with a winner takes all mode of decision making then doesn’t he give consent to the decisions made through that process?

                If he was working to change that process (rather than change the decisions made by the process) I think he could argue that the actions of the government are done to him. As long as he gives his mandate to the process he also gives mandate to its outcomes.

                Big bruv, how do you think decisions should be made? As they are now, one person one vote and majority rules? Or something else?

              • Lew

                Anita, I agree that by participating in a process you tacitly agree to be bound by its outcomes — but it’s a catch-22 because the process to which you object is the process by which you change the process. So I think that because of the duress involved in being forced to use the master’s tools to dismantle his house, using them doesn’t on its own qualify as “consent”, but as “acquiescence”.

                Of course, in reality, most of those who claim to be participating in the system under duress do so far beyond the minimum necessary to prosecute their agenda, and will often use the system to their advantage rather than simply tolerating it — here I’m thinking about anarcho-libertarians who draw the benefit (which they don’t think the government should provide), or take advantage of the legal system (which they think illegitimate), etc. But the point is that bare participation is not in itself consent — and this is especially true when participation itself is coerced.

                L

              • Anita

                Lew,

                Hm… if big bruv says he thinks we shouldn’t have a one person one vote majority rules parliamentary democracy and that the only way he can see to get rid of it is to participate in it to vote against it, then perhaps he has a case. I might think it was pretty sad to have become trapped in thinking that he has to use the system he believes is wrong to get rid of the system  but that is exactly the problem you identify when you talk about using the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house.

                But, big bruv has never said he does have a problem with the decision making system. He is clearly a good enough thinker that if he had a problem with it he would have realised that and identified his preferred replacement.

              • Anita

                Before I go to bed, an analogy.

                A four person flat, since the friends started living together they have a Friday night ritual: they order pizza, then draw a card, if it’s a heart Helen pays, a diamond it’s Darshan, clubs for Ceri and spades for Sami.

                Last Friday as the card was being drawn Sami said “C’mon hearts!! It’s Helens turn! She never takes out the rubbish!!”, but a spade was drawn and Sami paid for pizza. Was that theft?

                The Friday before that Ceri said “How about we get fish and chips this week? It’s cheaper and I feel like grease and salt!” Helen and Darshan were dead set on pizza, and Sami was swayed by the rain outside and the fact pizza was delivered. Ceri said “well majority rules I guess, can we get some wedges instead of garlic bread anyway?” and they did. A club was drawn, and Ceri paid for pizza. Was that theft?

                My point, in case it’s not obvious, is that Sami and Ceri agreed to the _process_ even if they would have liked a different outcome in that particular decision.

          • jcuknz 2.2.1.2.2

            Of course not … you are just being a responsible citizen … though I wonder if you do earn the amount that most writers here consider obscene.

            • Anita 2.2.1.2.2.1

              I wonder what they consider obscene 🙂

            • big bruv 2.2.1.2.2.2

              RedLogix

              So my consent is implicit because I did not say “No”?

              Right, so if I pop around to your place, kick the door in, load your plasma TV onto the back of my truck and bugger off I will be fine because you did not say “No”.

              I am not arguing against Tax, as much as I hate it I do believe that there are some things that society must pay for, the issue I have is the amount they take and the obscene way in which they waste MY money.

              Funnily enough I voted for a party (constituency vote) who promised lower taxes, so far the bastards have done nothing but raise taxes.

              • RedLogix

                So my consent is implicit because I did not say “No’?

                Robbery is explictly illegal. There is no requirement for me to put a sign on my door stating “I do not consent to the unauthorised removal of chattels from these premises”. By collective action the legal/police/prison system achieves the same result on my behalf… and arguably more efficiently that I could on my own.

                I am not arguing against Tax

                OK…for a while there I thought we were extorting money from you wholly against your will, and it seemed to me quite wrong that this should be happening, so I thought that maybe moving to Somalia would be a good thing. On arrival there you could perhaps claim ‘economic refuge’ status because the NZ govt had been persucuting you by stealing your money.

                But I glad we’ve cleared this up. What we are really discussing is the amount of taxation. That’s a much more workaday debate.

              • big bruv

                “Robbery is explicitly illegal.”

                Not if you pass an act that validates your theft.

                But..perhaps that is a discussion for another time….

                On that note, I bid you all a very good evening, it is pouring down outside and I still have to walk the dogs again before they go to sleep….lucky me.

        • Name 2.2.1.3

          “What is “wealth transfer’ if not theft?”

          Perhaps the greatest wealth transfer in history has just occurred in the US, with the taxpayer bailout of the bankers who are using it to post huge profits and bonuses. Hmmm. Guess the obscenely rich executives of Goldman Sachs, JPSM etc. can be properly seen as foundation stones of socialism.

          However BB, I don’t think socialism is about ‘wealth transfer’. That’s that evil Robin Hood’s territory. What socialism is about is providing certain fundamentals of society such as education, health and a decent standard of living to everyone, paid for by everyone according to their means and abilities. You clearly see it as a transfer of wealth when your taxes are used to pay the salaries of doctors, nurses and teachers who don’t actually treat you when you’re sick or teach your children but who instead treat or teach others who can’t afford to make the same contribution to society as you.

    • millsy 2.3

      Monty,

      The left do not ‘hate’ success.

      They just feel that they shouldnt have to bow and scrape to the successfull, thats all. And if L(h)aws thinks that I should doff my cap to those wealthier than me, then he can take a running jump.

      ++++++++++++++++++++++

      He has a very short memory – the guy crossed the floor over the Richardson benefit cuts – someone really needs to help him remember.

    • Nee 2.4

      It’s not envy it is disgust at how right wingers justify building income on the lives of others and exploiting that advantage to make even more money. Nothing wrong with success AT ALL but how you become successful is everything.Financial success is a good thing but if someone suffers, or works in bad conditions or has appalling hours and their life is compromised to make yours better – sod off, get out of your monied fortress and go live on what someone who makes your life possible does. Open your eyes to what you are really condoning by supporting the rich to help the super rich at the expense of the less well off.. Right wing politics are selfish and put the individual before the greater good for all. it doesn’t work that way, the international economy collapsed and is starting to fall over again because of ego-centric right wing politics.

  3. Notice the similarity in thought here ?

    LHaws on Key :

    Key’s argument has one outstanding virtue. It is true. We need the wealthy and the talented more than they need us. Their skills are international, their enterprise is universal. They can make more money, live better lifestyles and generally advance their family’s prospects better in countries more developed than our own.

    Here he is Hitler in 1933 addressing a group of industrialists:

    Everything positive, good and valuable that has been achieved in the world in the field of economics or culture is solely attributable to the importance of personality…. All the worldly goods we possess we owe to the struggle of the select few.

    And here is Rand in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1967):

    The exceptional men, the innovators, the intellectual giants….It is the members of this exceptional minority who lift the whole of a free society to the level of their own achievements, while rising further and ever further.

    Garbage And Gravitas… Ayn Rand gets a new one ripped yet again….

    …and I get to Godwin Lhaws. 🙂

    • Quoth the Raven 3.1

      Are you really going to play the quote game. You can take any quotes and make it out to build any picture you want. From Mein Kampf

      “As things stand today, the trade unions in my opinion cannot be dispensed with. On the contrary, they are among the most important institutions of the nation’s economic life. Their significance lies not only in the social and political field, but even more in the general field of national politics. A people whose broad masses, through a sound trade-union movement, obtain the satisfaction of their living requirements and at the same time an education, will be tremendously strengthened in its power of resistance in the struggle for existence”.

      Another quote from him

      We are socialists, we are enemies of today’s capitalistic economic system for the exploitation of the economically weak, with its unfair salaries, with its unseemly evaluation of a human being according to wealth and property instead of responsibility and performance, and we are all determined to destroy this system under all conditions.

      Now here’s a quote from Rand:

      That idea of hardships being good for character and of talent always being able to break through is an old fallacy. Talent alone is helpless today. Any success requires both talent and luck. And the “luck’ has to be helped along and provided by someone. Talent does not survive all obstacles. In fact, in the face of hardships, talent is the first one to perish; the rarest plants are usually the most fragile. Our present-day struggle for existence is the coarsest and ugliest phenomenon that has ever appeared on earth. It takes a tough skin to face it, a very tough one. Are talented people born with tough skins? Hardly. In fact, the more talent one possesses the more sensitive one is, as a rule. And if there is a more tragic figure than a sensitive, worthwhile person facing life without money I don’t know where it can be found.

      Here’s the program of the NSDAP. Note the section Public Interest before Private Interest.

      • pollywog 3.1.1

        Are you really going to play the quote game.You can take any quotes and make it out to build any picture you want.

        I know!…the MSM do it all the time.

        Just thought it was synchronicitous that i read that link, saw those quotes and come here to read LHaws saying virtually the same thing…

        …everything happens for a reason, there are no coincidences

        as you were…

      • Puddleglum 3.1.2

        Yes, quotes need to be representative of someone’s overall position and be aligned with the actual behaviour of someone to be ‘fair’ to them, or to the ideology or cause they espouse. That doesn’t make the use of quotes a ‘game’ unless you want to make it one for certain (usually unspoken) purposes.

        For example, Pollywog’s quotation from Rand was largely representative of both her general philosophy and her behaviour (she thought Hayek was ‘soft’ for suggesting that there might be a – very limited – role for government in the economy and fell out with him on that basis). By contrast, your quotation from Rand is what I like to call preparatory or pre-emptive rhetoric for what one knows will be an unpopular position. That is, it does not represent her general position but simply demonstrates the rhetorical means she uses to support it.

        Similarly, the quotation from Mein Kampf does not align well with the elimination of both free trade unions and trade unionists under the Third Reich (i.e., it is inconsistent with actual behaviour). Nor does it align well with the collusion between industrialists and the regime.

        As for the programme of the NSDAP, I think we are all familiar with how either populists or parties whose primary aim is to acquire power will try to appeal to the populace by embracing a melange of whatever happen to be popular and well-supported policies at the time (e.g., the National Party campaigns in 1990 and 2008 stand out in this regard). Typically, they have neither the current intention nor the history of their own behaviour to suggest that they are committed to such policies. Further, in extreme instances they tend to disdain the ‘masses’ and so have little compunction in using one rhetorical form to ensure they gain the power required to enact quite another set of policies (i.e., they lie).

        Like most human behaviour, quoting others does require a certain ethical discipline. Nevertheless, quoting can be perfectly legitimate, which is why it is extensively used in scientific and intellectual, peer-reviewed discussion.

        • Quoth the Raven 3.1.2.1

          Yes, when it comes to politicians its best to look at their actions as opposed to their rhetoric. Obviously Mein Kampf was meant to appeal to a wide audience and the quotes from speeches including the one to the industrialists are meant to appeal to the particular audience in question. Just as John Key will say different things to different audiences. The action is what we know of – massive state social and economic control. In short dirigisme. Private enterprise was bent to serve in the national interest. Certainly not the Randian ideal of everyone pursuing their own self-interest.

          • Puddleglum 3.1.2.1.1

            Reconnecting with the post, I’d be fine about an economic system in which everyone pursued their own self-interest so long as the employer-employee relationship was banned, along with the vehicles in which it operates (this is one of my utopian ‘horizon’ concepts). As soon as more than one person was required for a productive task then collective, democratic processes should also be required. I believe that because, for me, all interactions and collective relationships between people need to be democratic if they are to have any moral basis. It is not enough that they are simply ‘legal’ or ‘contractual’.

            The ‘company’ and ‘corporation’ are simply legal structures constructed, realised, maintained and imposed by the State to ensure that the majority of people will end up acceding to the will of private indivduals in order that capital can more effectively reproduce itself. In other words, to ensure that most people will not be able to ‘pursue their self-interest’ but rather in order that the many will come to spend their lives pursuing the interests of some particular other(s).

            Of course, in my system there wouldn’t be any ‘Atlases’ to shrug – just everyone able to pursue their own self-interest either through individual or cooperative efforts.

            • RedLogix 3.1.2.1.1.1

              Nicely put. Most libertarians annoy me because at heart their high-faluting soliphisms are nothing more than a hypocritical excuses for cheating. Yet it is still true that the state is a complex, unwieldly, clumsy beast…it would be so much simpler and more effective if people could be trusted to regulate their own behaviour and negotiate their own social and economic contracts as equals.

              For me this is where politics ends and something else begins. Those of us with a religious kink are perhaps familiar with the idea of the sanctified individual. Ever wonder what the sanctified society might look like?

            • Quoth the Raven 3.1.2.1.1.2

              Puddle – My talk of Rand was not an endorsement of her thoughts. I’m totally agreeing with you except for one point. I wish for an end to the employer-employee relationship as well. However, banning is certainly not the way to go about it. The way which has been pointed out for long time now is to work towards a free and voluntary society. The employer-employee relation is as repulsive as any hierarchical relation. The same standards apply to the state. It would certainly be odd, if not hypocritical, for someone to argue against the employer-employee relation and not be anti-statist. For the state is a hierarchical and violent institution. See this article Why we fight the power.

              Of course, in my system there wouldn’t be any ‘Atlases’ to shrug just everyone able to pursue their own self-interest either through individual or cooperative efforts.

              You’re preaching to the choir. Welcome to the libertarian/anarchist club.

              • Puddleglum

                OK, you’ve got me curious. How would the “libertarian/anarchist club” have brought an end to slavery? Would it have ‘brought an end’ to it or simply “worked towards a free and voluntary society”? You see, I’m one of those who thinks that slavery is abhorrent and that coercion is fine to get rid of it – I am very grateful that, at least in many parts of the world it has been made illegal (i.e., it has been banned).

                Similarly, I think the employee-employer relationship is abhorrent (though not as abhorrent as full blown slavery). I would like to see it made illegal (i.e., banned). I’m enough of a pragmatist to realise that that couldn’t be done overnight given how difficult it is to extricate ourselves from oppressive forms of social/economic structures. On that score, however, I’m reminded of Adam Hochschild’s brilliant book “Bury the Chains”, a history of British abolitionism. In it, he points out that when activists began they faced something akin to trying to wean the modern world off the car. Slavery was deeply woven into the economy of Britain and its developing empire. It did, however, get banned (eventually).

                When I made the point about “pursue their own self-interest” I probably should have put scare quotes around the term ‘self-interest’. You see, in a democratic, non-hierarchical society the notion of ‘self-interest’ actually makes no sense. I was actually leaning, here, on some knowledge of how hunter gatherer collectives generally operate. Apparently there’s an African tribe that has a fairly blunt saying: “The selfish man will die alone under a tree.” Alone, because he would have been ostracised by other members of the collective exercising their freedom not to associate with him, as it were. He would, of course, still be ‘free’, but that freedom – in an environment that requires intimate and direct collective effort in order to survive – would lead to his death.

                People are fundamentally collective in orientation. The modern notion of ‘self-interest’ as a legitimate (even praiseworthy) phenomenon arose, historically, in lock-step with the rise of capitalism and was justified by Classical Liberal thinkers like Locke and Smith who were engaged in the political project of the enlightenment. The myth of the ‘self’ arose as a political expediency as part of that project. The self as social atom came to be seen as the core of the individual person. But there’s a problem here. The person (that thing we name and which has a – very social -biography) is actually a socio-cultural artefact. That is, it is not a biological but a social phenomenon. Because of that, it can’t be a ‘social atom’.

                To cut a very long story short, in a non-hierarchical, democratic society there are not the kinds of selves that have what we know today as ‘self-interest’ – that would be a developmental impossibility. Hence, there would not be the kinds of individuals that libertarians (of the right wing, market variety) want to have voluntarily associating with each other. (Have you ever noticed the perplexity of tribal peoples when confronted with modern individualism?? They think we’ve gone mad.)

                I guess the above is, ‘Why I am not a (right wing) Libertarian.’

              • Quoth the Raven

                Slavery is a fundamental abrogation of the right to self-ownership or individual sovereignty, whatever ones wants to call it, to which libertarians hold. That rights should be defended is not what’s being argued. It’s whether the state is necessary for that function (the state constantly infringes on people’s rights as well). Furthermore, a stateless society would not be a lawless society. There would still be laws. There would still be courts. On the issue of slavery why don’t you look to how the state’s role in slavery? Like the enforcement of the fugitive slave act in the America. Why don’t you look at the work of early anarchists like Thoreau in abolitionism? The libertarian/anarchist club would have brought about the end of slavery the same way anyone else would. You answered your own question when you said ‘activists’. Slavery wasn’t abolished because people’s better’s in the state one day decided it would be a good idea. It was a long struggle that brought pressure upon the state. Honestly your argument is absolutely ridiculous and in any event, clearly you hold to the anarchist ideal of a non-hierarchical society as such, you must be opposed to the state (unless you are grossly hypocritical).

                If people are as you say fundamentally collective in orientation. Then if people were voluntarily allowed to associate with each other than why wouldn’t they operate collectively? It seems to me that if you believe people are fundamentally collective in orientation then there should be nothing for you to fear from a free society.

                You may want to draw a picture of the market being right wing (and I normally don’t wish to argue about such vague, abused and now in mainstream discourse largely meaningless concepts as ‘left’ and ‘right’), but the market (here characterized by volunatry exchange, comparitive valuation, price signals etc) is as much a part of the left. In fact it was the free marketeers who sat on the left side of the french legislative assembly the very place we get the terms left and right from. Mutualism, free market socialism, voluntary socialism, left-libertarians, market syndicalism, etc is all of the ‘left’.

              • Puddleglum

                Hi QTR,

                I am fundamentally opposed to the state – so, hopefully, that means I’m not a hypocrite.

                So far as I can see, the state was an invention by the powerful to further leverage their power. To set the record even straighter, I don’t believe in the idea that the state can be ‘harnessed’ by the oppressed in order to eliminate oppression. I do believe, however, that the state can produce more or less harm. Less harmful states are to be preferred. There’s also the problem of how to dismantle the nation state system. If Cuba dismantled its state institutions how long would it remain outside the control of that closely neighbouring state? States are amazing vehicles for concentrating power.

                When it comes to slavery (and the employer-employee relationship) my saying it should be banned or made illegal does not imply that I meant ‘the state’ should make the laws. As you point out, there are other ways of doing that. For me, the touchstone of that possibility is that for most of human evolution and history libertarian anarchism, libertarian socialism, or however it might be labelled and nuanced, was THE form of governance – of necessity (partly because there were no markets to speak of which allow individuals to accumulate relatively large amounts of private wealth that others have no access to). Hierarchically flat societies where ‘chiefs’ depended almost entirely on the will of the group to receive and maintain that leadership role were as close to stratification as it got. (The shift from hunter-gatherer to semi-horticultural to horticultural to herding to agrarian, etc. involves a slow democratic decline and an increase in stratification.) We’re pretty much designed, psychologically, for that kind of system, if I can put it in those terms.

                I’m also well aware of ‘left’ versions of libertarianism/anarchism.

                My response was to your phrase “work towards a free and voluntary society” and the way you contrasted it with ‘banning’ the employer-employee relationship. I assumed that you could only mean something like “we don’t need to make it illegal, the market will sort it out”. With British abolitionism (which was my example and explains why I didn’t mention Thoreau who was American and, possibly, not even born when legal abolition of slavery and then the slave trade in the British Empire occurred), there certainly were what today we would call ‘consumer boycotts’ of slave produced sugar but, as you note, primarily this was resorted to as part of the activist attempts to get it banned in law – petitioning (a political not a market-related tactic) was one of the main weapons in that activism.

                Finally, I fear nothing from a free, voluntary society. I just don’t trust that one can be made in a world of material inequalities and concentration of wealth where the word ‘voluntary’ can become a hideous caricature. Such a world is one where people are unable to sustain themselves outside ‘the market’ and so become hostage to trading their labour. Such a world is one where children are immersed in media skillfully designed to influence developing minds and brains. Such a world is one where collective associations are undermined by ’employers’. I think the shortest route – and the route of least harm to those with little power – to a free and voluntary society is through working on those conditions. Those conditions diffuse power. Current conditions concentrate it.

  4. Carol 4

    Oh, for goodness sake. Not all of us measure success or ambition by earning exhorbitant amounts of money. I have had ambitions in my life, which I have pretty much achieved. These ambitions haven’t been to earn millions of dollars. I have continually earned enough to support myself with a bit left over, while achieving some things that have brought me satisfaction.

    To me an ambition to be super-rich is one that is ultimately quite barren and pretty poor way to spend the short life we have. There’s so much more to life than money.

    And what of the people whose ambition is to make the world a better place for the majority rather than some selfish acquisition of stuff?

    I don’t envy the rich. It’s never had any appeal to me. This envy talk is pure propaganda to divert attention from the limited frame of financial ambition and self-centredness.

  5. Carol 5

    There are scum (such as the examples you give but they are much more the exception than the rule. The real scum are those who prey on other members of society (such as drug dealers, murderers, gang scum and the like of Destiny Church).

    And yet, these people are motivated by the same “ambition” for loads of money, that you see as a marker of success to be celebrated. They are the product of the same ethos. If you set this up as an ambition that people should aim for, in a system where only a minority can achieve that level of success, and in which people don’t start on a level playing field, then it’s going to breed all kinds of “scum”, including those that exploited the sytem legally and caused the financial melt-down.

  6. I expected Laws to write an article like this. Didn’t think he’d say this after growing up as a child in the 1970s: “We have the super-rich and we have an underclass neither of which existed two generations ago.” But not that surprised. It’s that rose-coloured cosy view of the past some people like to have.

    • Rex Widerstrom 6.1

      I dunno…

      I gew up in the 70s too. Or at least I was aware of my surroundings by the time the 70s arrived… as little kids most of us have no idea what’s going on in the world.

      Yes, there were people who had vastly more money than my family. But they (or at least the ones I knew) weren’t determined to conspicuously demonstrate that fact. They didn’t see themselves as superior because of it. They didn’t think it needed to be made at the expense of the less well off. And they did a vast amount for the wider community without expecting government concessions or fawning media profiles in return. In fact you often had no idea what they were up to.

      I know a single example doesn’t serve to prove my argument, but growing up in Wainuiomata I got to know Frank Brugger. He was a Czech refugee, and engineer, who built the Bata shoe company, which at the time employed a large portion of the Wainuiomata population.

      He was a humble man who had no outward displays of his wealth (unless you count wearing a suit amongst people in overalls). AFAIK he paid fairly and offered good conditions – I never heard anyone complain, and there were always people looking for work at Bata or Brugger Industries, an engineering firm he added later, also in Wainuiomata.

      He had a nondescript office in the northern part of Wellington city. Inside there was no flashy art “investments” or anything else – it was very egalitarian, almost austere.

      Yet he could be relied upon to be quietly generous to good causes – he certainly helped a number of initiatives in which I was involved, from the Wainuiomata Development Board to the community radio station I established.

      Nowadays such a person would be likely to be funnelling money to his mistress, driving a Porsche, and campaigning for a reduction in the minimum wage while dining with Ministers. Any charitable doonations would be high profile and only given is publicity could be guaranteed. He’d be constantly battling the unions – that’s if he’d kept his factories in NZ at all, which would be unlikely. After all, why employ people in Wainuiomata, even on the minimum wage, when any number of Asian countries are begging to be exploited?

      In short, he’d be a very different breed to Frank Brugger. Or maybe I’m wearing rose-tinted glasses as well…

      • RedLogix 6.1.1

        He was a humble man who had no outward displays of his wealth

        Thanks for this Rex. Frank sounds just like the man I regard as a second father; possibly richer than John Key, but you’d never know from meeting him either. In fact I’d imagine that I’m only one of a handful of people who do know.

        But it was from this man that I learnt my socialism when I was young.

        • Rex Widerstrom 6.1.1.1

          Short version of both our comments: “In my day, the better off weren’t greedy selfish wankers”.

          Time to fetch the slippers and sherry and drape the tartan rug across our knees, RL 😀

          But they weren’t. Or if they were, they kept it hidden. It’s like I try to explain to Australians, whose country is overflowing with nouveau riche wankers made wealthy by what’s coming out of the ground.

          Here, if someone roars past in a Lamborghini or Aston Martin and nearly runs you over, you call them a wanker and yearn for the day when it’ll be your turn to nearly run down some peasant. And the driver would love the feelings of envy and anger he was generating – indeed it’d validate his self image.

          In NZ you’d keep the Lamborghini in the garage and drive a Hyundai because you wouldn’t want to be thought of as a wanker. And if you behaved like one, people would just smirk and shake their heads.

          NZ is still much more like that than Australia, but I despair it’s fast catching up 🙁

          • jcuknz 6.1.1.1.1

            When I was ‘invited’ to come to NZ on the ‘Captain Cook’ following the coronation of QEII one of the things I heard about ‘God’s Own Country’ was that you would be likely to find the boss alongside the ‘workers’ in the bar after work. Perhaps not ‘old man’ Todd et al.

            The liberation of the capitalists by Rogernomics, coupled with the weekly lottery for the ‘people’ started a little earlier, thankfully undid the harm of Muldonism, but like other changes of government the baby went out with the bathwater. It is also reasonable to suggest that Douglas was cut off before he could fully work through Rogernomics as he developed for the ACT party so we will never know if it was a really good idea or not … shortly afterwards we flipped to Ruth Richardson etc.

            It’s also worth while remembering that the ‘God’s Own Country’ I came to didn’t have the social welfare that we have today, and quite a bit of that was introduced by the National Party subsequently. So forget the silly ‘Labour good/National bad’ theme becuase both are socialistic parties, thank goodness!, and it is the lunatic fringe of each we need to watch and limit, becuase basically New Zealanders are responsible socialists. So that is why I was ambivilant to John Key and the National Party winning, it made a change to upset the Labour cliques which inevitably spring up after a couple of government terms …. something my mother who had been here since 1940 and connected to government told me. A committed tory she was happy to see labour get in every now and then for that basic reason. Mind you there were not so many people in the country in those days so everything was smaller and more inclined to scratch each other’s backs.

      • AlbatrossNZ 6.1.2

        Hey thanks for the reply. Super-rich in my view doesn’t always mean super bad to me. I know wealthy people have been and still are supporting communities. I think we all wear glasses of some kind too. But Michael Laws was selling a fake version of history where children played rugby games, everyone had decent clothes and could feed themselves. I thought it was pretty dishonest, especially considering the poverty problems Maori were having at the time. They’re Michael Laws’s favourite group to take a jab at.

  7. Blue 7

    There is that attitude now in NZ about the ‘deserving rich’ and the ‘undeserving poor’. NZ is not the fair, community-minded, egalitarian place that it used to pride itself on.

    Maybe I am just looking at the past with rose-coloured glasses but I don’t recall Kiwis ever before having this idea that poor people are scum who need a kick in the arse and that the rich are gods to be worshipped and appeased.

    • Anita 7.1

      I remember people who thought that 20 years ago, usually it was implicit that “poor” meant “poor and brown skinned” and that it was the “poor” who should be worshipping and appeasing (us) middle class pākehā.

      Do you think the overlay of racism has gone now and it’s pure have/have-not?

      • Rex Widerstrom 7.1.1

        Yes. In fact my thesis is that that change has done much to contribute to improved race relations in NZ.

        I was always asked how NZ First held together, being composed of primarily older pākehā and (relatively) younger Maori. Simple – both groups were, and are, finding it extremely difficult to survive in contemporary NZ, and are on the wrong side of the widening gap.

        The growing disparity has made people realise that they have more in common with one another than the things which separate them. So, ironically, it could be said to have had a positive effect, in that respect at least.

        (Nice to see you back commenting, Anita :-))

        • Lew 7.1.1.1

          Rex, so you think the blue collar red neck resurgence is a positive thing for race relations?

          The folks who reckon the bloody maaries have already gotten enough, should STFU and get on with fighting The Man like proper socialists because we’re all in it together now, and if they don’t — if they maintain their commitment to their own political goals — they’re nothing but dirty kupapa selling out their people to whoever provides the cushiest crown limos — you think they’re a good thing?

          I could name a dozen people, including some very prominent and well-regarded lefties, who have made these very arguments, almost word-for-word. It’s the worst mainstream development in NZ race relations since Winston Peters started with the Asians Go Home campaign.

          L

          • Rex Widerstrom 7.1.1.1.1

            Lew:

            My point is that where there’s a congruence of aims – in this case reducing disparity – groups who were previously conditioned to mistrust one another are now finding it easier to work together. Isee that as a positive development.

            Within the group of pākehā who see Maori as allies in that fight, there will be some who fit your definition of “rednecks” and some who don’t.

            My own experience of “rednecks”, through the prism of NZ First admittedly, is that working alongside Maori toward common goals would often serve to break down prejudice. That is a positive thing, surely?

            Fighting “The Man” doesn’t, of course, preclude Maori following their own political goals. But nor does it oblige their allies in that battle to support those other goals. FWIW I support the right of Maori to pursue those goals, but don’t support some of the goals themselves. Maybe that makes me a “redneck”… or perhaps just slightly roseate.

            I think it’s entirely possible, and reasonable, to hope we can move people to a point where they accept the absolute right of Maori to advocate their own political goals. That doesn’t mean we should expect them to support all those goals as there are entirely non-racist reasons not to do so.

            • Lew 7.1.1.1.1.1

              I see what you’re saying — more nuanced than the initial read. I still disagree — in particular, because a lot of the rhetoric around solidarity against “The Man” does very explicitly preclude Māori from fighting their own battles in the ways they choose. There are good non-racist reasons to oppose some of those ends and means, and refusing to support means or ends with which you disagree is perfectly legitimate and necessary for a functioning democracy. But it all so often tips over into vilification of one sort or another.

              I’m perhaps a little bit less optimistic than you are: I think it’s possible and reasonable to hope we can move to the point you discuss in your last paragraph as well, but I fear it can’t really happen on the left until those who form the core of that blue collar red neck movement — generally speaking, white men in their fifties and sixties who don’t “get” identity politics because as far as they’re concerned, class and nationality are the only sorts of identity which matter — are out of the picture. I wish it were otherwise, but I honestly despair sometimes.

              Cue howls of indignation, bot from those described above, and those who don’t fit that demographic but reckon those folks are right anyway.

              L

              • Lew

                I should also say that by “out of the picture” I don’t mean “dead of old age and good riddance” — rather, I mean once they’ve stepped aside and are no longer running the country or its left-wing political establishment, to the extent they are now. I’m also not calling for any sort of purge — there’s a genuine baby-and-bathwater risk, those guys have plenty of experience and wisdom the country desperately needs, and I generally think it wise to respect one’s elders and heed their advice. But not always.

                L

              • Rex Widerstrom

                Yeah I think partly it’s a difference of level of optimism. We’re drifting off-topic here (but since it’s the weekend hopefully the mods will be in an indulgent mood :-)) but I’ve found even the “white men in their fifties and sixties who don’t “get’ identity politics” can be worked with.

                Unfortunately you have to be pragmatic and accept that they probably never will “get” identity politics, but rather than waiting for them to move aside you win them over to the goals.

                To take an area I work in (and vastly simplifying the process) I don’t bother discussing hundreds of years of Maori or Aboriginal ill-treatment because I’ll get the inevitable (and understandable, from their perspective) answer that they don’t expect to be held responsible for the actions of their forebears, that the present cohort of Maori or Aboriginal people weren’t personally subject to such treatment, why can’t we forget the past and all just get along etc etc.

                I just go straight to the statistics that show both Maori and Aboriginal are represented in the prison population in proportions vastly greater than their sahre of the overall population, and ask why they think that is?

                None ever talk about “hundreds of years of opression”. Some go straight to practical things like education and health. Others fall back on stereotypes, at which time I drag out the statistics.

                The usual end result is that I convince them something needs to be done due to factors about which they feel no guilt or responsibility. So they get to live happily ever after and I get the resources to redress the imbalance.

                But sometimes there’s a glimmer of a deeper understanding too…

              • Lew

                Rex, absolutely agree — even where there exist practical or principled differences, it’s important to be able to work together, promote understanding and make progress where you can. Deep agreement is not necessary for practical cooperation.

                One might say the māori party are doing this with the white men in National who don’t “get” identity politics, and never will 😉

                L

              • Alexandra

                I agree with Lew except the characteristic being limited to white middle aged men, or blue collar red neck movement for that matter. My experience is the gender and gay politics are readily afforded analysis beyond that of class politics, by many on the left, and rightfully so. However, that is often not the case with race and indigenous politics. I believe the concern you express is a growing one. Those on the left who once were sympathic to maori issues but maintained that the answer lay within the class struggle, are far less sympathic today. The tolerance to maori issuses and concerns are subsumed as they increasingly struggle with the self imposed limits of class politics.

        • Anita 7.1.1.2

          So we’ve replaced Pākehā vs Māori and Pasifika with middle class vs poor. Is that an improvement? Isn’t it actually the same thing, in that it’s the pākehā middle class being anti about an implicitly brown skinned poor?

          It’s nice to be back, but it’s not gonna last 🙂 I’ll be here a little for a week or two, then gone again, then properly back 🙂

          • Rex Widerstrom 7.1.1.2.1

            Hi Anita. Yes, I think it’s an improvement (not an end point, and certainly not some sort of utopia).

            Say I’m a poor white racist. I hate people whith brown skin. But I’m made to realise that they face the same discrimination as do I (on the basis of poverty)… maybe I start to realise they face additional discrimination, from people like me.

            I start to work alongside them to address disparity, reluctantly at first perhaps… a process which would inevitably serve to break down prejudice in all but the most stupid, ingrained racist.

            I saw some genuine transformation amongst pākehā middle class people (some of whom I knew personally outside politics) when they became aware that Maori and Pasifika people were poor for many of the same reasons they were struggling… not because they were indolent or whaetever.

            Again, I’m not selling this as utopia, just an incremental improvement on what went before.

            • nzfp 7.1.1.2.1.1

              Hey Rex,
              You said “Maori and Pasifika people were poor for many of the same reasons they [Pakeha] were struggling “, I agree. Recently I have come to understand that the Maori vs Pakeha false dichotomy is being used as a distraction. Keep the great unwashed distracted with rugby, beer and racism so they don’t notice that they’re all being ripped off by the banks. What I’ve also come to understand is that many of the original “Pakeha” colonists were essentially economic refugees fleeing depressions and hopeless conditions throughout Europe (see Long Depression).

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    Yeah, let’s force all those sick and invalided people along with those who have lost their jobs in the recession into minimum wage jobs that don’t exist.

    You missed what he was saying. He was saying that people should be forced to work for less than it costs so that the rich can get richer.

    In reality we would be far better off if that wealth that is presently accumulated into the hands of a few was equably distributed. Basically, we’ll be far better off once we stop the psychopathic capitalists from stealing from us. Once we take control of our wealth back off them.

  9. uke 9

    We are really heading back into the high-Victorian laissez faire capitalism territory here:

    Egalitarianism is simply a childish thought. Even wicked, in its way. Defies the natural order of things: animals, human scum, great men.

    Being rich is sinful? No no, that’s NOT what Jesus preached.

    He associated with the poor? Shut up, you will be seen and not heard.

  10. Santi 10

    “The wealthy are the wealthy because they merit that status,”

    100% true. Now apply yourself and try to earn some wealth instead of advancing socialism, egalitarianism, and the policies of envy you seem to love so much.

    • Marty G 10.1

      I do earn plenty of wealth but I don’t believe those who earn less don’t work as hard as I do.

      In fact, the hardest I’ve worked was when I was getting paid about a third of what I get paid now.

      Pay isn’t linked to how hard you work.

    • RedLogix 10.2

      100% true?

      So you believe that ALL wealthy people have fully and decently earned their wealth?

      That’s 100% ?

      As for envy…that’s a projection of your inner anxieties…not mine.

    • uke 10.3

      Some of us have other goals in life and do not mind living a modest life.

      But the basic problem is that the richest, those who are especially addicted to wealth, have entrenched a system (legally, economically) whereby, even if you want only to live modestly you are forced to waste your life working day after day just to get enough to eat. So, it’s play the game or starve, a kind of structural violence done against society and individuals.

      The addiction to wealth may have originally arisen from virtuous motives – supporting a family, self-reliance – but like all addictions, has many negative side-effects.

      We really should recognise, as a society, that those addicted to wealth are as “sick” in their way as a heroin or gambling addict. That somebody who thinks you can never have enough money is really equivalent to the junkie who thinks you can never have enough “P”.

    • Nee 10.4

      Money is a tool Santi -I think you have mistaken it for something with meaning.

  11. dave brown 11

    Get used to it, this is the reality. The rich no longer bother to hide their wealth because after Roger they feel an entitlement to live off the working class. And that is the norm for NZ.
    We forget that the Labour Govt of the 1930s was the anomaly in equalising income slightly. This was only possible while profits could be made from full employment in the post-war boom, itself a huge aberration based on rising demand for farm products and a guaranteed market.
    Since the end of the boom in the early 60s NZ has been heading south back to the country it was a century ago to the default inequality based on the same old class sytem.
    The toffy nosed attitudes of today’s banksters are right out of the runholders hymnbook right down to the squatting on land and water rights and corporate welfare.
    Not until we get back to the understanding that is is all about capitalism and class, the us and them, will the ‘us’ be able to stand up to the ‘them’. This is that it is the ‘us’ working class that creates the wealth and the toffs who parasite off ‘us’ and can only get away with it while we remained fixated by their high beam.

  12. Jenny 12

    Yes indeed Marty I agree that this and other sorts of whacky right wing, Tea Party type nonsense blur the line between satire and serious comment. These sort of nutters are so out of touch with reality that it’s making it hard for comedians to lampoon them.

    Here in New Zealand, the Weekly Coitus, Which is an intentionally satirical blogsite. Really have to stretch to be more outlandish than Lhaws and barely achieve it.

  13. mike 13

    Laws just had it round the wrong way, the rich need the low paid to stay that way so they can have their much larger piece of the pie.

    • jcuknz 13.1

      Most people seem to get it the wrong way … to my shame I said I thought that workers were more important than bosses when once asked the question by my boss [ a few grades up the public service scale] c1962. But with maturity I appreciate that both need each other equally. The main question in my mind is do they deserve the pay scales they are on … I doubt it. I see the elevation of lucky lottery winners as being a side symptom of the problem, instead of the Art Union prizes which matched the sensible balance of earlier decades in NZ which now is completely and badly akilter.

      But perhaps this is a sympton of globalisation … we are not the isolated little country at the bottom of the south pacific benefiting from our produce being wanted but now having to fight for our existance while being invaded by the costly trinkets of the big world up north. .

  14. jcuknz 14

    Mazarati’s and Lamborgini’s don’t bother me, not sure I have ever seen one down here in the ‘South’, but boy racers accelerating off from picking up the milk and smokes from the dairy next door but one get me … just like I guess I enjoyed reving up my Ford 10 flatdeck in days gone by … but today enjoy the quiet automatic acceleration of my Suzuki Escudo which puts me ahead most time at the green light 🙂

  15. Name 15

    “The left with their envy is just so sad. Instead of understand that success is a good thing, on the left you deem it as evil.In my experience successful people are usually happier, healthier and have a positive attitude to life not because of the money but because they have goals and aspitation and ambition in life.”

    Monty, you clearly equate ‘success’ with having a $1.5m mansion in “upmarket Remuera” as TVNZ1 calls it, a $150k car and a trophy wife who’s probably shagging the gardener while you shag your PA. And if that’s not you, you clearly envy it.

    I actually share your description of successful people – except that for me (and for all the successful people I know) their goals, aspirations and ambitions have nothing whatever to do with money.

    • RedLogix 15.1

      Indeed if you look back to those people whom history generally recognise as ‘successful’, it is always for something other than just making money. We admire them for their insights, their courage, their tenancity, skills, leadership …their capacity to leave the world just a fraction better than they found it.

      If fate bequeathed them wealth, this was for the most part incidental and certainly not the yardstick by which their worthiness has been recorded.

      • moa 15.1.1

        Look at the mess Miss Clark left New Zealand in. What a social disaster.

        • bobo 15.1.1.1

          Yeah everything was just peachy before then…..

          • Jenny 15.1.1.1.1

            “I can’t believe it’s not satire”

            I know how you feel Marty. In difficult cases like this, where we are not sure whether the writer means to be ironic, or not. I think we have to look to science.

            Thanks to the hard work of individuals such as Professor Stuartt Stickmann I think a real breakthrough is imminent.

  16. vto 16

    “We need the rich more than they need us” is the most ignorant statement I have ever heard anyone who claims to have a brain say. On so very many levels.

    Laws sounds like the bloody farmers constant whine of the exact same nature.

    Actually it would be great if all the rich and all the farmers just fucked off…

  17. jcuknz 17

    “We need the rich more than they need us’
    and
    Actually it would be great if all the rich and all the farmers just f***ed off ”

    Two brilliant statements for long term survival for sure.
    I’ll bear the yak so long as they continue to pay 70%[?] of the costs of running society.

    • vto 17.1

      wake up there jukczn…

      Perhaps, if the rich and the farmers are right and we should be thankful for their existence, then the rest of us should just fuck off and leave them to it.

      Would be fun to watch their empires instantly crumble. And what’s that about 70%??

      Delusion on a grand scale are such statements about rich and farmers.

    • felix 17.2

      Hey jcuknz,

      Let’s say you and I chipped in and bought a pizza.

      I ate 90% of it.

      And then I told you “don’t worry, I’m going to pay for 70% of it”.

      Would you be so grateful to me then?

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    The fact that 9,500 Kiwis are waiting one and a half times longer than they should to get follow-up eye appointments is unacceptable and dangerous, says Labour’s Health Spokesperson David Clark. “These people are entitled to the reassurance that if ...
    3 days ago
  • National has serious questions to answer over Auckland fuel crisis
    Thousands of air travellers looking for answers to Auckland Airport’s fuel crisis should be demanding the National Government come clean over its failure to secure fuel supply for the airport, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “There are serious questions the ...
    4 days ago
  • Come clean on trade before the election
    In the two days before the election, New Zealand MFAT negotiators will attend a negotiations meeting in Japan on the successor to the failed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), now called the TPP-11. The negotiations are shrouded in secrecy but we ...
    GreensBy Barry Coates
    6 days ago
  • National unravels on transport
    The release of extraordinary information showing that the East-West link could be the most expensive road in the world, at $327 million per kilometre, shows that National is fiscally reckless and out of ideas on transport, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson ...
    6 days ago
  • Saudi cover-up a perversion of democracy
    The Government has been exposed as dishonest after it was revealed that  they were wrong to claim they paid out $11 million dollars to a Saudi businessmen after legal advice, says Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Parker.  “OIAs revealed on ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour supporting Te Reo Māori in schools
    Labour will support a future where New Zealanders from every background will have the ability to use Te Reo Māori in everyday conversations, says Labour’s Deputy Leader and Māori Development spokesperson Kelvin Davis. “Labour will commit to a target that ...
    1 week ago
  • Is National planning a secret fuel tax?
    Sources suggest National is considering a secret fuel tax to fund its controversial Roads of National Significance (RONS) programme, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Michael Wood. “While the Government keeps up its stream of lies about Labour’s tax policy, sources indicate ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s plan for West Coast prosperity
    Labour’s regional development plan for the West Coast will build on its strengths in engineering and tourism, while delivering a much-needed upgrade to the Buller Hospital, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “Labour’s vision is for a thriving regional New Zealand, ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour committed to fair and progressive tax system
    Labour is committed to a tax system where everyone pays their fair share and where we start to address the imbalances that have fuelled the housing crisis, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson and Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Michael Wood. "Today ...
    1 week ago
  • A challenge to Bill English
    ...
    1 week ago
  • Flavell’s fake news an insult to Māori voters
    A desperate Te Ururoa Flavell has resorted to fake news about Labour’s position on his unpopular Ture Whenua reforms, says Labour’s Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri. ...
    1 week ago
  • National’s tax cuts reckless and irresponsible
    It is time for Bill English and Steven Joyce to stop the scaremongering and lies, and front up to New Zealanders about the impact of their tax cuts, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “Bill English has no credibility on ...
    1 week ago
  • Calculator shows Labour’s Families Package delivers
    Labour has launched a new online calculator that show how much extra families with kids will get from Labour’s Families Package, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “Families can go to www.labour.org.nz/calculator and see how much better off they ...
    1 week ago
  • Strengthening New Zealand’s identity through Labour’s media and film policy
    Labour has today launched its media and film policy aimed at strengthening New Zealand’s identity and providing sustainability for the industry, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour to invest in parents and babies
    Labour will fund an additional 100 Plunket and Tamariki Ora nurses to increase the help available for vulnerable parents and babies, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “It’s so important that our children get the best start in life. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour to build affordable homes and state houses in Hawke’s Bay
    Labour will build a mix of 240 affordable KiwiBuild starter homes for first home buyers and state homes for families in need in Napier and Hastings, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “In 2016, the populations of Napier and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour pledges more for Whānau Ora
    Labour will strengthen the oversight of Whānau Ora and provide an extra $20 million over four years to improve outcomes for whānau and families, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Kelvin Davis.    “We’ve created a new position of Whānau Ora Reviewer ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National’s housing band aid
    Throwing subsidies at an under-supplied housing market is one last desperate bid by National to be seen to do something about the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “First home buyers have been the collateral damage of National’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing, families, education and environment top priorities in Labour’s first 100 days
    Labour will take urgent action in its first 100 days in office to expand support for families and students, make rental homes warm and dry, find solutions to the mental health crisis and accelerate efforts to clean up our waterways, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour pledges to unlock funding for Te Hiku sports hub project
    The Labour Government will inject nearly $3 million into the Te Hiku Sports Hub project, to help realise a much-needed health and recreational facility for the Far North, says Labour Deputy Leader and MP for Te Tai Tokerau Kelvin Davis. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s plan to get job seekers into better work
    Labour will provide real support for people looking for work by increasing the amount of money someone can earn before their benefit begins to reduce, reinstating training incentives, and putting a renewed focus on upskilling and training, says Labour’s Social ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour sets strong target and plan for climate action
    Labour will set a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and take the necessary steps to achieve it, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.  “Climate change is my generation’s nuclear-free moment. We have to take our place ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Are education cuts missing in National’s Fiscal Plan?
    National needs to explain why its plans for cuts to school transport have not been announced in its fiscal plan, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.   “Buried in the Pre-election Budget update is a $5m a year cut to ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Joyce must come clean on Health and Education funding
    Steven Joyce needs to front up to New Zealanders and tell them whether he will fund health and education to meet increasing cost pressures, or risk seeing services cut and costs increase for parents, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.  ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Housing crisis is National’s legacy
    Reports of tenants languishing in boarding houses for years because they cannot get a state house is yet more evidence National’s legacy is the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “We used to pride ourselves in this country ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour calls for release of report into civil defence flaws
    The National Government must stick by its word given to other political parties and release a technical report before the election addressing critical flaws in New Zealand’s civil defence capability, Labour Civil Defence spokesperson Clare Curran said today.  “Cross party ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Credibility shot as Government runs out of steam
    New Zealanders are witnessing the desperation of a government clinging to survival, evidenced by policy on-the-hoof, dodgy maths and dirty politics, says Labour MP Phil Twyford. “New Zealand had been hoping we’d seen the end of dirty politics, but what ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Steven Joyce must apologise to New Zealand
    Steven Joyce needs to front up to New Zealanders and apologise for his patently false and cynical attack on Labour’s Fiscal Plan, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Every respected economic commentator has come out and said that Labour’s Fiscal ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bill English didn’t answer because the Oreti is badly polluted
    Last night Bill English was asked by Paddy Gower in the Leader’s Debate: “Which river did he swim in as a kid, and is it now polluted?” Bill English named the Oreti River, but did not answer whether it is ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Nats put out dodgy numbers – again
    National’s promise to increase the number of elective surgeries to 200,000 is bizarre, given Jonathan Coleman has claimed 200,000 electives are already being performed, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prime Minister’s Award to encourage young people into trades training
    Labour will introduce a $2,000 award for the best pupil in vocational courses in each public secondary school, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “We know there’s huge demand for trades workers, particularly in the building sector, where construction ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not another Nick Smith wild goose chase
    Only the election on September 23 can save the country and the RMA from Nick Smith, say Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford and Environment spokesperson David Parker. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Government supresses Climate Change report
    The Government has deliberately sat on a critical Climate Change report for 5 months which they must now release, election or no election, says Labour’s Climate Change spokesperson Megan Woods.  “I want the report released immediately, so that New Zealanders ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Joyce gets it wrong on Labour’s Fiscal Plan
    Labour’s Fiscal Plan is robust, the numbers are correct and we stand by them despite the desperate and disingenuous digging from an out-the-door Finance Minister, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Steven Joyce has embarrassed himself. This is a desperate, ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Making renting secure and healthy
    Labour will move to make renting a more stable and healthy experience for families, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. ...
    3 weeks ago