Is this the impossibility turning point?

Written By: - Date published: 8:11 am, February 14th, 2017 - 49 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, democratic participation, Economy, Globalisation, labour, national, poverty, workers' rights - Tags:

There’s a wonderful fiction still propelling the world that the 21st century will bring an ever-expanding arc of freedom and prosperity to the vast majority of humanity. Can we stay liberal, rich, and democratic?

As during the oil crisis of the 1970s, we appear to be entering a great questioning of this inevitability. But where that great surge of questioning progress built on liberative movements from a decade earlier, this decade of questioning is arising from governments propelled by hard-headed democratic initiatives.

Liberalism and democracy are fuzzy words. Modern liberalism is a product of the 19th century. And it is hardly a clear concept with an accepted definition. Does it mean individual rights? If so, which? Does it mean a set of social mores that defines and contains that power of government? If so, what are they?

Does it mean religious tolerance and a society open to all ideas, no matter how challenging? My thumbsuck is this: liberalism means that the state should be strong and reflexive enough to defend and expand the realm of personal freedom, where freedom is defined both against the constraints of want and harm, and towards a generous, generative and thoughtful life.

But the critical factor is this: the argument for liberalism and democracy has rested on economic success. More wealth for more people has been generated in societies calling themselves liberal, democratic, and capitalist. The fusion of economic prowess and national strength have seemed to make an iron-clad case for the unique machine of democracy, liberalism, and capitalism.

Since World War Two, more bodies have demanded more stuff. Since democratic societies loosely organized around the fuzzy idea of liberalism practicing what came to be known as market capitalism were actually pretty good at making more stuff (food, clothing, shelter), the idea crystalized that history had reached its apogee. In other words, it doesn’t get any better than this; no system is better at providing for basic needs and wants the Western liberal democracy. And thus all countries should inevitably move toward this form of governance.

But we can all see the picking away at this knot of political, social and economic promise. Maybe it’s going to be as big as the 1970s, or as big as the 1989-1995 waves of reform after the fall of communism. Lots of maybe’s.

On the left we have become accustomed to prophecies about the unravelling of our modern order through resource exhaustion and climate change. But we haven’t heard such revolts against the myth of the ever-expanding arc from the hard right. We have now. Those revolts are the most successful movements around.

It’s almost banal to compare how close traditional left melancholy now is to the right’s own populist melancholy in sensibility and effect. The revolt is against the great ever-expanding arc of the inevitability of freedom and prosperity to the vast majority of humanity: they want those benefits limited to themselves. But I’m not proposing simple categorical collapse. I’m signalling that kinds of revolt could have similar signals.
In the next decade there will be no increase in pan-regional cooperation. The first moment to breaking the old arc is to see retreat to nation-state borders. Given the current turn to protectionism and currency wars, lights are going out.

So in the retreat to the remaining functions of the state, New Zealanders can re-state useful lessons to tell the world. Before any leader proposes yet another great set of structural economic reforms such as massive tax breaks and spectacular deregulation, check out New Zealand. We were the most courageous experiment in structural reform. It led to large spending and tax cuts, the sale of state-owned enterprises, cuts in subsidies and tariffs, and deregulation of industries. There were plans for a flat, low tax rate. After a wave of business collapses and bank failures, however, the program was quickly wound back. The government was rejected at the ballot box and took more than a decade to return to power. Today’s reformers won’t fare much better.

The second lesson we can offer is the results. After all that reform, all that promise, thirty years later we are not paying our way.

Decades after the promises of greatness were made – from Prime Minister Lange, we are not a country of spectacular weightless innovation. Nor are we prepared for a world of retreating globalisation. I don’t need to tell you gentle reader about our distribution of wealth and poverty, jails, child poverty, and suicide either.

Much of the democratic world is ushering in governments from an intuition that the sustained exclusion of common people from common benefits, and their lowered expectations, are lowering still further.

Is this heading towards the wheels coming off the great machine of liberal, democratic, capitalism society as a self-replicating machine? Nothing is inevitable, but the old machine seems in fast decline. Both left and right can now see it. Is this the impossibility turning point?

49 comments on “Is this the impossibility turning point?”

  1. Tamati Tautuhi 1

    We are nearly at the bottom of the barrell, many countries have reverted back to feudal societies with the wealthy and the corporates controlling Governments and Government policies. People in NZ living in cars, caravans and tents while working full time jobs, NZ has definitely gone backwards under neoliberalism in the past 30-40 years, trickle down economics was a con job, which transferred State Owned Assets to the Private Sector?

    Question: Are we going to turn the corner?

    Answer: If we don’t change the way we think and act NO, we are not going to turn the corner.

    NZ needs fresh thinking and new ideas, doing the same thing over and over again trying to get a different result is the definition of insanity?

  2. garibaldi 2

    Thank you advantage. A very good post. My answer to your final question leans more towards probably rather than possibly.

  3. greywarshark 3

    There could be a slight change to the image for the post that would demonstrate your theme. One sign could point to the bright new future’s Turning Point Just Ahead and the other sign say Tipping Point Are we nearly there? and that sign would be hanging from one nail pointing diagonally downwards.

  4. Pat 4

    and to have any hope of dealing with this impossibility, co-operation and commonality of purpose is critical….factionalism is the antithesis.Any solution is going to require a recognition that there will be less overall and somehow that less needs to be shared…..history has recorded how human beings of all races, cultures, genders behave when such pressures are applied and it makes for unpleasant reading.

    NZ is possibly the best placed both geographically and in terms of size/density to achieve the impossible….but without a massive shift of focus from the individual goals to a societal outlook it will remain impossible.

    This is not about human rights, freedom, justice or even democracy… is existential.

  5. Tamati Tautuhi 5

    New Zealand was once a sharing and caring society which valued and looked after it’s people, under neoliberal economics that all changed and it became dog eat dog, and I’m alright Jack. The them and us philosophy?

    Ideology which came out of the US Universities in the 1970’s-1980’s from the likes of Milton Friedman which was eagerly picked up by the likes of Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson. Our current National Government operates under the same modus operandi.

  6. McFlock 6

    Well, there’s a pendulum, but in general I’d say that things are progressing generally well over the last 2 or 3 millenia.

    The Greeks and Romans came up with some interesting ideas, but kept slavery.
    The Barons’ self interest paved the way for Wat Tyler.
    Henry VIII and Martin Luther broke the supremacy of the Church.
    The English Civil War and the Glorious Revolution created constitutional monarchy, and a variety of wonderful documents proclaimed freedom for all people (although it took them a while to realise that People” included all people).
    Now we have an internationa court of justice.

    It’s not going too badly, in the greater scheme of things

    • Ad 6.1

      Turn your mind to the current century.

      • Tamati Tautuhi 6.1.1

        Look to the positive, things could improve in a century or two once we realise neoliberalism was a failure and the wealth acquired by the Rothschilds and the One Percenters (1%) is redistributed back to the common people?

      • McFlock 6.1.2

        Why? It’s but a three frame cut from the filmreel of human existence. No point in worrying about “turning points” at this stage. A pothole, I grant you, but who knows whether it’s a longer term direction?

    • adam 6.2

      McFlock – this wee video about the glorious revolution is a real eye opener. Actually the whole series is rather good.

      • McFlock 6.2.1

        lol I’m not going to watch an hour of tv just for a throwaway line when the main advantage of GR I was thinking of was the codification of a set of basic rights that is valid to this day, is more comprehensive than the Magna Carta, and predates the US Declaration of Independence and some of the promising bits from the french Revolution before they went all stabbychoppydrowny.

        Maybe it’ll come on telly when I’m watching.

        • adam

          NO! It was for your fun and enjoyment, not to win an argument. Actually supports your point, just really good viewing.

          Just somthing to watch in the background whilst cooking.

    • Peter ChCh 6.3

      Your analysis is confined soleley to the west, where only a small portion of humans live or have lived.

      Sadly the progress you mention ignores China, Africa, Arab countries and so on. New China has made huge economic progress but social progress has really been confined to the last 20 to 30 years (rememeber Tianamen Square and its associated massacres is less the 30 years ago).

      And slavery is now, according to the UN, more numerous than ever before. And if you live in many Islamic countries and are a women, freedom is somewhat restricted. Even more so if you are gay.

      McFlock, whilst what you say is true, i personally beleive the progress is realtively local in nature: the west predominantly.

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    Since World War Two, more bodies have demanded more stuff. Since democratic societies loosely organized around the fuzzy idea of liberalism practicing what came to be known as market capitalism were actually pretty good at making more stuff (food, clothing, shelter), the idea crystalized that history had reached its apogee.

    As Piketty pointed out, the Good Times between 1945 and the early 1970s was an aberration and was brought about by the highly socialist laws in force at the time. All other times capitalism just creates vast inequality and, inevitably, the collapse of society.

    That short aberration came to an end because capitalism, even with all those socialist support laws, still doesn’t work.

    Both left and right can now see it. Is this the impossibility turning point?


    Of course, the right-wing vote in demagogues that promise one thing and then deliver even more inequality and higher rates of poverty.

  8. Tamati Tautuhi 8

    It is interesting how Trump operates very similar to National and JK, promise things like the Brighter Future, however do the opposite, tax cuts for the wealthy and GST increases for the poor. Say the right things to get voted into Government then do as you please.

  9. adam 9

    Austerity is a hurtful thing. Indeed after a life time of it, ( I agree that the 1970’s are the turning point) it has done nothing to improve anyone’s lot. No wait, the top 5%, have done rather well, thank you very much.

    I’d argue we at a point of two options – more democracy or less. I’m on the side for more. Authoritarianism has always been a lose, lose for the majority. Look no further than the Soviet Union or Chile.

    Also I think materially we have passed the golden age, especially in the West. We need to look at what we do well, and replicate that. Rather than cheap consumer goods with built in obsolescence, we need to make stuff which lasts.

    • Peter ChCh 9.1

      Or how about we let the consumer choose for themselves? If they want cheap consumer goods with built in obsolescence, that is their choice.

      Afterall, you did in that very post you support more democracy, and the freedom to choose for oneself is part of that.

      • stever 9.1.1

        “Choice” is a word that needs unpacking.

        It was used a lot first in the Thatcher years and was used to promote many things (privatised shares in industry, schools, health care…) because it sounds good to say “you have a choice”.

        But, it needs unpacking since “choice” is actually meaningless and empty unless you have both components: opportunity and means. Opportunity to decide between alternatives (which once there are alternatives on offer we clearly have) and then (the crunch) the means to put our decision into effect, and that usually means money to buy something. And that, of course, is what most people do not have freedom over.

        So, to say “let the consumer choose for themselves” is using the same distraction as the Thatcherites did: put an array on show to give opportunity, but ignore the fact that most people don’t have the means for a meaningful, full choice.

        A lot of people don’t chose (in the full, truthful sense of the word) cheap consumer goods…they cannot merely afford otherwise.

        • Peter ChCh

          Goodd points Steve, as usual things not black.and white.

          Nevertheless, if someone has constrained set of choices due to income and so on, and cheap poor quality is all they can afford, then it is great that such cheap goods are available. The alternative would be totally going without otherwise. Its a trade off between quality and price. If price is a factor, accepting lower quality is necessary.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            The alternative would be to ensure that everyone can earn enough, using employment legislation, just like other successful countries do.

            Oh, except the people at Cabinet Club might whine a lot, and you wouldn’t like that.

            • Peter ChCh

              Which successful countries?

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                Ones with effective minimum wages – whether legislated for, or protected by the freedoms of speech and association (aka unions). It helps if they have lower inequality too.

                The OECD compiles the data, so I’m sure you’ll be able to find it.

                And then you won’t be able to pretend there is no alternative anymore. It’s best you don’t hear it from me because that will make you reflexively deny it and cling even harder to your false beliefs.

              • Craig H


                To name a few.

                • Peter ChCh

                  You seriously believe these countries do not have poverty? I have worked 12 months in Germany and many of the process workers were incredibly poor. Its a little dangerous to be sitting in NZ and reading some stats off the web without first hand experience of what goes behind them. Germany has incredible inequality.

                  Same with France. Ever been to Marseille and seen the incredible poverty (and assocuated crime, graffiti and vandalism)?

                  The inequality ofbtge countries you mention is one of he drivers of Islamic terrosim and terroism support in theae countries, as the immigrants are at the bottom. Living in poverty.

                  It always amazes mr the sheer ignorance, arrogance and racist condescention of many posters on here. It takes more than undergrad uni study to truly understand the world. Try experiencing it first hand and then make you bigoted judgements.

                  • In Vino

                    Get off your own high horse, PeterChCh. I worked in West Germany for nearly 2 years (1978, 79) then did 2 in France (80, 81). You are not the only one to have lived elsewhere. But you do have that eager “let me tell you what I have learnt’ thing that so many travelling NZers display upon returning here. Now that Germany is a unified country, there is poverty there, (more than when the poverty was mostly in the East), and France has always been a country of amazing contrast.
                    But you are young. When I first saw queues of largely black unemployed in London in 1977 with such hopelessness in their eyes, I was proud that we had nothing so strikingly obvious as that here in NZ back then. Now we do, and the skin colour thing applies. That is our problem.
                    We went wrong? My perception is that you think we should accept it rather than fight for social justice. Do you really believe the right wing theory that if we make the pie bigger everyone will get a bigger share? That theory has already signally failed here in NZ. As a society I believe we are now less healthy than we were in 1970.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Germany GINI: 30*. “incredible” says Peter.
                      NZ GINI: 36*. “Way to go NZ! In your face Germany!” says Peter.

                      *source: World Bank.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Berates people for relying on peer-reviewed research (ie: the OECD stats mentioned above).

                    Promotes personal anecdata as far more reliable.

                    Isn’t it time right wingers were automatically eligible for a disability allowance?

      • adam 9.1.2

        Sorry Peter ChCh you said choice not me. (thanks stever for good analysis there) Also democracy does not equal shopping. What a odd world view, do you really think that?

        And anyway if goods are reasonable and last longer does that not make more economic sense?

  10. Peter ChCh 10

    And Adam, I would say that authoritarianism has achieved incredible things for the likes of Singapore and New China. Maybe authoritarianism is good for some cultures and societies at certain parts of their development cycle.

    • In Vino 10.1

      How patronising – or are you subtly suggesting that we also need to regress to a more primitive societal form and benefit from the authorities you favour?

      • Peter ChCh 10.1.1

        You are so arrogant you think our way is the only way? No doubt you supported the evangalist invasion of Iraq. Afterall, that was the ideological motivation behind it. An incredible ignorance and arrogance that our way is the only way, the best way, for all socieities no matter what their history or culture is.

        Countries with no history of democracy and that consider personal freedom to be well and truly of less value than the group or nation just cannot be force fed our views.

        • McFlock

          wow, nice false dichotomy: we need to choose between authoritarianism and evangelicism?

          See, the funny thing is that the PRC actually tried democracy, listening to the people. They called it the Hundred Flowers campaign. Then they started shooting people when the people’s wishes proved to be incompatible with those of the leadership.

        • In Vino

          Not at all. the kind of Authoritarianism you appear to support with tongue in cheek is what I see as causing the stupid ‘evangelistic’ invasion of Iraq. It lives with us. Maybe we have both leapt a conclusion too far?

        • stever

          I’ve just realised….authoritarianism over democracy….and a Peter….are we in the presence of riches? 🙂

    • Ad 10.2

      Let’s not go meaninglessly Godwin please.
      Address the post.

    • adam 10.3

      Sheesh Peter ChCh work on your trolling. Singapore, where police beat up LBGTI people on regular basis. Where they hang people out to dry for a joint. Or cane you for being disrespectful of the leader. I also think maybe you need to talk to some Chinese about life in China.

      The liberal democracies for all their faults, are way more preferable to any authoritarian regime – not matter it’s ideological position.

      • Peter ChCh 10.3.1

        Agree. But what i am saying is that, like it or not, no country could develop as quickly as New China has without authoritarianism. Now China is and will continue to move away from that and towards an increasingly liberalism.

        And without any doubt whatsoever i know a hell of a lot more about China and its people tgan yiu woukd. Studied it. Lived and worked there tor 6 years. Married now to Chinese person i met there. Run a business now that 8s NZ based but sells to China.

        • adam

          The United States from 1941 to 1945. No one has matched them for what they did in production or development – no one.

          • In Vino

            Not that simple. The Russians started with far less, moved most of their industry east, then massed produced tanks and aircraft to defeat 80% of Hitler’s war effort. Japan’s output was a doddle compared to Germany’s, and the USA dealt with less than 20% of Germany’s war effort. The Russians did the hard work. Their tanks were good enough to cope with the superior but fewer German tanks – the Sherman tank was not. Sure, the Americans, starting with a huge advantage, did out-produce everyone, and out-developed them in air power and nuclear research, but in terms of quality production combined with actual fighting, I am inclined to give the gold medal to the Russians. We hear much about Monte Cassino and Bastogne, but that was simply commonplace for what was quite often happening on the Eastern Front .

            • adam

              Not going to argue on the effort that the Russians put in, in military terms. They did have help with production from the liberal democracies. Both technical and materially.

              My point was about production, and development. The USA just ramped it all up in the time frame I suggested.

              They could produce a Destroyer in a week by 1945. They could build and outfit a aircraft carry in a few months. The expansion of roads, and other infrastructure has never been matched. My point is a liberal democracy can, and has produced fundamental economic structural change in a very short amount of time. One does not need a totalitarian state to do it.

              • In Vino

                All true… but we have always assumed that capitalism is best because no advanced industrialised country has ever tried socialism. Russia has always been a poor country. It performed a miracle by becoming a superpower inferior only to the USA. Unfortunately the socialism was contaminated by totalitarianism, and we have been propagandised into believing that socialism is totalitarianism.
                A rich, industrialised country like the USA was always capable of doing what you describe. I am still inclined to give more credit in WW2 to the poorer country that achieved more.

        • In Vino

          Your optimism is refreshing. I would love to see China become more liberal in our terms, but I don’t see it happening very quickly. More likely a crisis of some kind will provoke reversion. I respect your connections with China, and hope you are right…

  11. Steve Alfreds 11

    Part of the problem is the lack of change in mainstream economic and political thought after 2008 and the GFC. Where’s the next Keynes,F.D.R or Michael Joseph Savage who came to prominence because of Black Friday in 1929 and the effects of unregulated capitalism?

    • Ad 11.1

      In the absence of widely quoted theorists or economists in common discourse, we have the rise of statism and the elected leaders who defend strong states. It’s taken since the late 1980s for people to get elected and tell the world: the state is back.

      And that message keeps coming not from the left, but from the hard right.

  12. Skeptic 12

    On reading this article I could see an inevitability of argument – autocracy vs meritocracy (or democracy as we call it) appearing. What I did not expect – given the orientation of this paper – is a craven blind acceptance of the current financial regime as espoused by Peter Chch. Either he’s a right-wing troll – or he’s too young and too uneducated to know there’s far, far more economic systems than that proposed by Adam Smith/Milton Friedman. Never is the saying “we are all pygmies standing on the shoulders of giants” more true than this article suggests. Anyone with a vague sense of history and a basic knowledge of politics will know how Plato, Aristotle and Augustine shaped the medieval political world of aristocrats and peasants. They will also know how Hobbs, Rousseau, Mill, etc shaped early modern Europe. They will know of the 3000 year struggle of the ordinary man to achieve UDHR, government by the freely elected representatives and rule of law. Really, it is a simple choice between autocracy in its many guises, and meritocracy/democracy. Economically, the choice is far wider, free market capitalism, command economy, co-operatism, managed economy (Keynsianism). and a mix of some of these. I probably share the same generational outlook as the author, grew up in the 60s, started work in the 70s, was horrified at the 80s, survived the 90s, was a bit optimistic in the 00s, and now am appalled by the 10s. No – I don’t think the outlook is what was envisaged for the 21st century. For that I blame the greedy and the selfish of my generation who could not see beyond their own back pocket – the spoiled little bastards. In short I think we’ve left an appalling legacy to our children and grandchildren – a wasteful economic system, a polluted earth, poverty (both relative and absolute), and worst of all – misplaced idealism without a necessary healthy skepticism resulting from a rounded education. in order for the next generation to make good, they first have to know the alternatives. Peter Chch is an obvious example of someone who does not, so I’m pessimistic about the future.

    • In Vino 12.1

      Well said, Skeptic. I suspect that the only reason for PeterChCh’s presence is the troll one.

  13. Bill 13

    @ maybe mostly for Ad And Peter ChCh, but for anyone else wanting to have a broader think about the subject of the post.

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    Its our futureBy Stephen Parry
    1 day ago
  • National Increased and Introduced 18 New Taxes, How Many More to Come?
    While National have been the failed Government of New Zealand they have increased or introduced 18 taxes on the ever suffering New Zealand public!   These included an increase in GST, taxing your Kiwisaver contributions, increased your Prescription ...
    2 days ago
  • Bugger
    Still, the Greens look safe. That's SOMETHING.And if NZ First don't get back in (assuming Winston loses Northland and they slip 0.1% more ... Well, I'll try very hard to lament the undemocratic wasted vote while punching the air and ...
    2 days ago
  • It takes just 4 years to detect human warming of the oceans
    We’ve known for decades that the Earth is warming, but a key question is, how fast? Another key question is whether the warming is primarily caused by human activities. If we can more precisely measure the rate of warming and ...
    2 days ago
  • Why I was an idiot for not voting last election
    Three years is a long time.   Image: The Wireless/Luke McPake   I have a flatmate who probably won’t vote. He says he might, but it’s not looking good. A capital gains tax could persuade him, but Labour’s ...
    2 days ago
  • Not That Kind of Voting
    As is customary in the run-up to an election, there is some hand-wringing going on about what turnout is going to be more ...
    PunditBy Leonid Sirota
    2 days ago
  • Bill English is incompetent
    When John Key handed Bill English the poisoned chalice of a third term, it was pretty clear that the smiling assassin was getting out while the getting was good. After all, English had been largely left out of most of ...
    2 days ago
  • Pre-emptively poking holes in the land tax bucket
    Land taxes have – unexpectedly – become a hot policy topic in the run-up to the election. Land taxes were originally suggested by the economist and social reformer Henry George as a fairer alternative to income or business tax. The ...
    Transport BlogBy Peter Nunns
    2 days ago
  • Kiwis support a water tax
    The prospect of making farmers and water bottlers pay for their use of public water has been a big issue this election campaign. Irrigation-dependent dairy farmers hate the idea, of course - they're freeloaders who don't want to pay their ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • National censors NZTA
    Last month, when the National Party announced ten expensive new roads as the core of its election campaign, the Greater Auckland blog noticed something interesting: the business case for one of them, Whangarei to Wellsford, had disappeared from NZTA's website. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Follow the Leader: Winston Peters – NZ First
    2 days ago
  • Access: Disabled floater voters 3: Education and Justice
    This is the third of a series of blogs from the Disabled Persons Assembly (DPA).   We have used DPA’s strategic areas of focus, as identified by our members, as a guide to examine key areas of each party’s policies. We ...
    2 days ago
  • Observations on the 2017 Election campaign thus far… (ono)
    . . You show me yours, I’ll show you mine… . Perhaps the most ill-considered public statement from NZ First leader, Winston Peters, was his recent (11 September) demand that Labour disclose it’s full tax plan as a pre-condition for ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    2 days ago
  • The mystery of the Wellsford-Whangarei business case solved
    Exactly a month ago, the National Party announced the biggest element of their transport policy for this election, $10.5 billion on 10 new Roads of National Significance. These are: Wellsford to Whangarei East West Link in Auckland Cambridge to Tirau Piarere ...
    2 days ago
  • Which New Zealand are you voting for?
    I was walking out of a meeting with two fine people the other day, one a National Party supporter and one a Labour Party supporter. The centre-right man reckons his team has lost it, but he sighed, "the economy's going ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    2 days ago
  • Farmers blame absence of Bill English for failure to summon Cow God
    Farmers were deeply disappointed when an incantation meant to summon the Cow God instead summoned Winston Peters. Dairy farmers have spent the better part of today blaming Prime Minister Bill English for their failure to summon the Cow God beneath ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 days ago
  • Trust women to decide: Greens
    The Green party has renewed its calls for abortion law reform, after a woman who was declined a termination considered suicide.    Under the Crimes Act, an abortion must be approved by two licenced specialist doctors.  Photo: RNZ / Diego Opatowski ...
    3 days ago
  • Suffrage Day is now about equal pay for many women
    The fight goes on.   Merinda Jackson. Photo: The Wireless/Max Towle Women wearing suffragist dress gathered outside Wellington’s central library this afternoon. They periodically broke off into small groups and disappeared inside for a few minutes at ...
    3 days ago
  • How WINZ got social housing costs so wrong
    Last year, National bowed to public pressure over homelessness and replaced emergency housing loans - under which the homeless were saddled with odious debt to be put up in price-gouging motels - with a grant. Their initial budget for these ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Narcissistic men are more likely to troll on Facebook – study
    “Aggression, manipulativeness, low agreeableness.” Sound familiar? Illustration: 123RF A new study analysing people’s motivations for trolling has found men are more likely to bully others on Facebook because they’re more narcissistic. Researchers from Brunel and Goldsmiths universities ...
    3 days ago
  • Climate change: This is going to cost us
    For the past six months, National have been suppressing Ministry for the Environment guidance on coastal hazards, which show that sea level rise and the resulting storm surges threaten $19 billion of coastal property. This government malfeasance isn't just bad ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • National has failed our health system
    Along with a number of other worsening sectors in New Zealand, the public health system has become increasingly degraded under a National led government. The statistics clearly show a complete failure to meet growing demand for services, especially in peak ...
    3 days ago
  • Suffrage Day
    Today, September 19th, is Suffrage Day. 124 years ago today, women gained the right to vote in New Zealand. Its one of our greatest achievements as a nation, and yet its not one we publicly mark. That needs to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Collins and the swamp kauri petrol crisis
    The ruptured fuel pipe that runs to Auckland Airport looks set to cause more chaos as fuel shortages start to impede people trying to fill up at the pump.Already a number of international flights have been diverted or cancelled due ...
    3 days ago
  • Facts about fluorosis – not a worry in New Zealand
    This sort of serious dental fluorosis does not occur in New Zealand A recent issue of the Fluoride Exposed Newsletter gives us the facts about dental fluorosis – a subject very often misrepresented by opponents of community water fluoridation. Ever ...
    3 days ago
  • PT Ridership around New Zealand
    Auckland had a pretty good year for public transport ridership in the last financial year (to the end of June). Overall, compared to the 2016 ridership increased by 5.5 million (7%) to 88.44 million trips, the highest point since 1955. ...
    3 days ago
  • Australia tries to deport Rohingya to persecution
    Myanmar is currently waging a campaign of ethnic cleansing against its Rohingya minority. So naturally, the racist Australian government is trying to force Rohingya detained in its concentration camps to return to persecution:Australia is promising thousands of dollars to Rohingya ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Chevron’s Amazon Chernobyl Case moves to Canada
    After perpetrating what is probably the worst oil-related catastrophe on Earth - a 20,000 hectare death zone in Ecuador, known as the “Amazon Chernobyl” - the Chevron Corporation has spent two decades and over a billion dollars trying to avoid ...
    3 days ago
  • 5 reasons the car industry needs to change its ways now
    Today the world’s biggest motor show gets underway in Germany. The Frankfurt Motorshow is the moment many of the world’s best known car manufacturers get together for a grand display of vehicles that have been polished so hard it’s a ...
    3 days ago
  • Access Granted: Kat Greenbrook – From insight to action
    Kat Greenbrook (@katgreenbrook) is on a mission to increase the number of data insights actioned as she sees a growing gap between analytics teams and decision makers, stemming from a breakdown in communication.  Kat, through her own company Rogue Penguin, works across ...
    3 days ago
  • When The Country Goes To Town.
    Pretty Ugly, Pretty Quickly: That the demographic and cultural divide between rural and urban New Zealand remains a source of deep unease to farmers cannot be doubted. Equally indisputable, historically-speaking, has been the militant, even violent, character of rural New ...
    3 days ago
  • More on Kiwi Rail De-electrification
    *This is a guest post by Roger Blakeley, Bob Norman, Alex Gray and Keith Flinders KIWIRAIL’S NIMT DECISION EXPOSED IN LEAKED DOCUMENTS Roger Blakeley, Bob Norman, Alex Gray and Keith Flinders1 Leaked documents show that KiwiRail’s decision in December 2016, to ...
    Transport BlogBy Guest Post
    3 days ago
  • Limits to growth?
    Mounting concern with housing, transport and diversity issues in Auckland point to a consensus that growth trends are exceeding our ability to readily cope. This is aggravated by reports that portions of our wilderness tourism areas are being hammered by ...
    Briefing PapersBy Charles Crothers
    3 days ago
  • Winston Peters hijacks National’s protest
    There was a lot of anticipation surrounding a farmer’s protest in Morrinsville yesterday, a protest over Labour’s proposed levy of 1 to 2 cents per 1000 litres of water used for irrigation.Federated Farmers and Dairy NZ in particular have been ...
    3 days ago
  • Just when will the fat lady start singing this election?
    Now we’ve entered the last week of the election campaign, Saturday’s finishing post is in sight. Once the polls close at 7pm on that day, no further ballots may be more ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    3 days ago
  • Prediction
    There's nothing stupider on the internet than putting down your thoughts in an indisputable form.  So that, of course is what I am going to do:NAT – 42%LAB – 39%NZF – 8%GRE – 6%TOP – 2%MAO – 1.5% (With electorate ...
    4 days ago
  • The evidence says TOP have no hope
      The Opportunities Party leader Gareth Morgan has come out swinging against the polls, which unanimously report his party polling nowhere near the 5% threshold. He basically says they’re fake news because they (mostly) only poll landlines. He predicts TOP will ...
    Cut your hairBy calebmorgan
    4 days ago
  • If you support Labour, Green, TOP, Māori, or Mana: Party vote Green
    I wrote this post on Facebook and it’s got a bit of traction so I thought I’d put it here as well. (These thoughts aren’t unique to me: other people are making similar points.) Most people intending to vote Labour, Green, ...
    Cut your hairBy calebmorgan
    4 days ago
  • An Alternative to Neoliberalism?
    Are we at a turning point in our politics? I don’t mean whether we have a new government. That is a matter for the voters; the polls say that either they are very volatile or that the polls are very ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    4 days ago
  • 1969: The “Nearly-But-Not-Quite” Election.
    Labour Nearly Did This: It didn’t really seem possible that Labour could have lost. Its 1969 campaign had broken new ground in terms of media sophistication. Labour’s theme-song “Make Things Happen” had topped the local charts, and its television commercial, ...
    4 days ago
  • Why is Matthew Hooton SO UPSET at efforts to increase voter turnout? (AUDIO)
    Here’s some commentary from PR professional Matthew Hooton, owner of the ‘Exceltium’ PR agency*, on how he sees efforts by New Zealand’s Electoral Commission to increase voter turnout. “I think the way the Electoral Commission has behaved, taking upon itself ...
    The PaepaeBy Peter Aranyi
    4 days ago
  • Its going to be a short election night
    Advance voting has really taken off this year, with enormous numbers exercising their right to vote early, parties campaigning specifically for advance votes, and queues at some advance polling booths. As of Sunday, 445,000 people had advance voted - more ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • We need more post-publication peer review
    We often tout peer review as the reason for accepting the veracity of published scientific studies? But how good is it really? Does it ever match the ideal picture people have of it? And what about peer review before and ...
    4 days ago
  • No choice
    The decision to have a child can be life changing. But Kate* says she didn’t have a choice.  Illustration: Lucy Han / The Wireless A woman who was denied a second trimester abortion through North Shore Hospital says ...
    4 days ago
  • Too many cows
    Waikato's dairy farmers - the dirtiest in the country - are protesting in Morrinsville today to defend their "right" to keep pumping their shit into our rivers and their piss into our wells. Meanwhile, to get an idea of how ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Upgrading Takapuna’s heart
    While the beach may be the soul of Takapuna, Hurstmere Road is perhaps it’s commercial heart. Working in Takapuna, it’s a heart I know well (in fact at the time this post is published I’m probably walking along it to ...
    4 days ago
  • Cameras on boats will wreck ‘way of life’ – fisherman
    Push back against plans for surveillance on the high seas.       Fishing boats lined up along Bluff wharf. Photo: The Wireless/John Lake For Bluff cray fisherman Jayce Fisher, working the ocean is a way of ...
    4 days ago
  • 2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #37
    Story of the Week... El Niño/La Niña Update... Toon of the Week... Quote of the Week... SkS in the News... Coming Soon on SkS... Poster of the Week... Climate Feedback Reviews... SkS Week in Review... 97 Hours of Consensus... ...
    4 days ago

  • Housing report earns Nats the red card
    National’s failure to acknowledge and fix the housing crisis will be their legacy. Labour will tackle the housing crisis head-on, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    16 hours ago
  • Sluggish growth reflects nine years of drift from National
    Today’s GDP figures reflect an economy that the National Government has allowed to drift along on the basis of growing population rather than improving productivity and adding value, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “It is important to recognise that ...
    19 hours ago
  • National’s campaign of deception an affront to democracy
    Voters this week have a clear choice between Labour’s optimism and honesty, or rewarding National’s campaign of relentless lies, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Day after day National has been deliberately spreading lies about Labour, our intentions and what ...
    2 days ago
  • National’s economy scorecard: D for drift
    New Zealand’s economy is failing the very people it is supposed to uplift, characterised by stalled productivity, exports going backwards and a Government content to let it drift, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern. “Voters have a clear choice ...
    2 days ago
  • Another day – another health crisis
    News today that the emergency department at Waikato has turned 180 patients away is another crisis for the Government and its besieged health system, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “It’s astonishing that the Government has had to rely on ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour will get tough on loan sharks
      Labour will take a tough stance on loan sharks and make sure that the Commerce Commission is properly resourced to protect Kiwi consumers, says Labour’s Consumer Affairs spokesperson Michael Wood.   “People on low incomes must be protected from ...
    2 days ago
  • GP letter more evidence of failure in mental health
      A letter of complaint by medical practitioners to the Ministry of Health and Capital and Coast District Health Board underlines how badly patients are being let down by mental health services in Wellington, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “The ...
    3 days ago
  • GP letter more evidence of failure in mental health
      A letter of complaint by medical practitioners to the Ministry of Health and Capital and Coast District Health Board underlines how badly patients are being let down by mental health services in Wellington, says Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.  “The ...
    3 days ago
  • Tax cuts when kids go hungry shows National’s lack of moral compass
    National’s campaign of tax cuts that give $400 million to the top 10 per cent of earners, at a time when 120 Kiwi kids every year are being hospitalised for malnutrition, shows they have lost their moral compass, says Labour’s ...
    3 days ago
  • Freight being shifted off planes as fuel crisis worsens
    Export freight is being shifted off flights because of the Government’s failure to manage the risk of disruption to jet fuel supplies, says Labour’s Economic Development spokesperson Stuart Nash. “It has been revealed to Labour that non-perishable export freight is ...
    3 days ago
  • Apologise now Jonathan
    Health Minister Jonathan Coleman must apologise for his part in a $2.3 billion shortfall that has contributed to delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “All the Minister could say in an interview this morning ...
    3 days ago
  • National’s health report card shows need for new plan
    From increased GP fees, to kids getting sick from cold homes, to denial of important surgeries, National’s underfunding of health has hurt Kiwi families, says Leader of the Opposition Jacinda Ardern.   “It’s time to invest in the health of ...
    3 days ago
  • Eye clinic wait downright dangerous
    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 ...
    7 days 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 ...
    7 days 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 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