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Losing the class war

Written By: - Date published: 12:32 pm, October 7th, 2011 - 73 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, cost of living, wages - Tags:

The median (‘typical’) Kiwi income has fallen 6% under National after inflation. It’s worse if you’re Maori – 16%. And if you’re PI? 21%. That’s more than a hundred dollars a week. It’s a disgrace. In fact, ordinary people’s incomes have shrunk faster than the economy under National. Their policies have driven more of what’s left to the rich.

New Zealand Income Survey measures incomes every June Quarter. Median in 2008 was $536. Add 9% inflation, that’s $586 in today’s dollars. 2011 median is $550. That’s $36 a week worse off in buying power terms.

Have you felt it? Know I have. I’m actually luckier than most. Had a 5% increase since 2008. But I’m feeling that 4% real loss, eh? Can’t afford another three years of this.

It’s the poorest who are really getting it though. PI median in 2008 was $455, or $496 after inflation. Now, it’s $390 (unless you believe Bill English, who cries the survey must be broken). A hundred bucks a week less! How the hell do you get by with one out of every five dollars in your wallet gone? No wonder Parliament’s cleaners want a rise.

But their bosses and their class are sitting pretty. See GDP per person ‘only’ shrank by 3.6% from June 2008 to June 2011. If the typical Kiwi got 6% worse off and poor communities like PI got 21% worse off, that means someone else got better off.

Well, what do you know? NBR Rich List 2011 – NZ’s wealthy doing just fine–  “After dipping slightly in 2010, the country’s wealthiest 151 individuals and families now have a combined wealth of a whopping $45.2 billion, up $7 billion on last year.”

You’re getting poorer not just because of this muddling government or peak oil. You’re getting poorer because, on top of those factors, you’re on the losing side in a class war. And the winning side’s party is the government, which is making sure to cut ever larger slices of the shrinking pie for their class. The only question is how long you will put up with it.

73 comments on “Losing the class war ”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    The economy is a zero sum game. Give some people more and others will have less.

    Throw in the fact that we treat the economy as if it’s infinite and are using up as much of the available resources as fast as possible due to the profit motive and things are about to get real bad for a lot of people now that we’ve hit Peak Resource.

    • Thomas 1.1

      In other words, you assert that GDP is constant.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1

        Nope, I assert that the renewable resources we have is constant. But even that doesn’t change the simple fact that, in any given year, GDP is constant. Give some people more of that constant and others will have less.

    • Ari 1.2

      The economy is only a zero-sum game in a non-growth economy.

      We do not yet have a non-growth economy, and even if we assume constant resource use at the rate of renewal, there will sometimes be growth due to efficiency gains.

      • Colonial Viper 1.2.1

        You’re not looking at the right measures.

        You better look at economic growth per capita. And economic growth adjuted for real inflation.

        and even if we assume constant resource use at the rate of renewal, there will sometimes be growth due to efficiency gains.

        The elephant in the room you are ignoring you is energy. Energy costs are going to eat up more and more of the pie. Faster than any efficiency gains can compensate for, I wager.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.2.2

        The “growth economy” has led us to massive over population and a possible anthropogenic Extinction Level Event. The only sustainable economy is a non-growth economy unfortunately we didn’t pick up on that two centuries ago – oh wait, yes we did.

        …there will sometimes be growth due to efficiency gains.

        Up to a point. The problem being that we’ve already passed that point without oil.

  2. Rijab 2

    When will the majority of our population wake up from their debt fueled fantasy?

    Will it be when everything they take for granted collapses?

    What will the consequences be then?

    … I fear the consequences of our continued collective ignorance … more and more each day.

    • TightyRighty 2.1

      I only fear for your offspring if they get to inherit your stupidity. You bemoan the rules of the game because they don’t suit you but continue to play. Classic symptoms of an idiot

      • Blighty 2.1.1

        how do you ‘opt not to play?’

      • Jum 2.1.2

        tightyrighty said: ‘the rules of the game’

        You think that the policies this government, led by Key and Joyce, bully-boy’ed by Brownlee and Collins, have put in place that have led to such wretched hopelessness as the man trying to kill himself in front of Key and Bennett because of their treatment of him is a ‘game’.

        You poor excuse for a human being.

      • JT 2.1.3

        Is it just me or does The Standard deserve a higher level of troll? Gosh, the ones I’ve read can’t see the irony of their posts.

        The silliest thing about class is that if you remove any of the players the whole system falls apart, sometimes spectacularly violently. So to adjust one troll’s words today: “You rich people should be grateful us poor people let you grind us under your heel.”

        What are the Richees of NZ getting for “their” funding of welfare?

        Relatively civilised comfortable society. Low(er) crime rates. Reducing the cost of home security. Reduction in Life Insurance premiums. (It’s not South Africa yet is it? Stop your moaning!).
        You rich people aren’t paying the realistic cost of anything in NZ. Not by global standards, not by a long way.

        What else? Oh yeah you don’t have to pay for therapy for the advanced stages of psychosis – you can just project everything you are onto an easily labelled sub-section of society you’ll never meet. The richer you get, the less likely you are to have to face reality at all. You can go from birth to death without ever knowing anything about yourself or life. They say ignorance is bliss, but riches are a permanent wet-nurse who fills the bottle with opiates.

        Yes rich people, your “stress” is nothing. Your outrage is melodramatic. Your popping and wheezing about bludger this and bad choices that and higher education will sort it etc etc is just laughable.

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.3.1

          You’re spot on.

        • prism 2.1.3.2

          JT

          Is it just me or does The Standard deserve a higher level of troll? Gosh, the ones I’ve read can’t see the irony of their posts.

          Agree. But one way to disenfranchise them is not to reply to their provocative silly BS. They won’t go away but will end up huddling together in a RWNJ knife-sharpening group swopping their own gossip.

          • TightyRighty 2.1.3.2.1

            silly questions deserve silly answers. There is nothing of any intelligence on this site to deserve a better class of troll. I don’t even know why i demean myself coming here. I suppose it’s like jersey shore, i need to be reminded where the poor, dirty trashy idiots dwell on the internets

            • Jum 2.1.3.2.1.1

              tightyrighty,

              LOL, so piss off creeper.

            • Reality Bytes 2.1.3.2.1.2

              “…it’s like jersey shore, i need to be reminded where the poor, dirty trashy idiots dwell on the internets”

              That’s a strange way of looking at it. The Internet is a big place and there are bound to be several thousand lifetimes worth of browsing to be ‘reminded’ of all the places people dwell whom you consider inferior and unworthy.

              I’ve heard Jersey Shore is crap, and I have never bothered to ever watch it, the whole concept is stupid to me, as I feel most ‘reality shows’ generally are, so I would not invest one iota of time into such crap. I realize it has no value to offer me and my interests, and if it did, I could waste a significant portion of my life on that and similar junk.

              So what’s your objective here? To try and avoid mistyping a URL and landing in such a place as The Standard? Surely there are so many similar places to identify, that you wouldn’t have time to post here, let alone come back to provide a follow-up response.

              I think the truth of the matter is you actually love The Standard, as you have invested your time and energy into it. Maybe it’s because you enjoy confrontation or perhaps a bit of trolling, or perhaps you actually appreciate the views raised here, but don’t want to admit it or are in denial 🙂

            • Puddleglum 2.1.3.2.1.3

              There is nothing of any intelligence on this site

              TightyRighty, that hurt. I try really hard. Please don’t tell me that, after all my hard work, I’m still an ignoramus. 🙂

            • mik e 2.1.3.2.1.4

              your redneck unresearched economics pathetic tea party act poster crap is the worst. You end up losing every argument here any way because your following and wallowing in bean brained bean counting and I can’t believe you are studying economics read Rod Oram who has lived in for different economies and has a life time of experience and Knows his economics you are just following a paint by numbers Dogma.

            • mike 2.1.3.2.1.5

              “There is nothing of any intelligence on this site to deserve a better class of troll.”

              So… you accept then that you are a lower class of troll? A troll trolling himself. A masochistic troll.

              Dude that’s messed up.

          • Jum 2.1.3.2.2

            Prism,

            Better still, all their answers should be transferred to one thread and read through like that children’s game where you write something, fold over the page and pass it to the next person who writes something, folds it over, etc.

            Remembering that two negatives make a positive – they might even start making sense, but given the superiority of the theory of the speed of light is now under suspicion, who knows. They may just continue to be the rightwing neanderthals they always have been, but joined together like crazy paving.

            • prism 2.1.3.2.2.1

              Jum Yes good children’s roundrobin party plan. It is noticeable how the RWNJs often combine to pass the ball around to each other.

              It is strange to hear a recent talk about neutrinos and to know there is so much knowledge in the world yet we haven’t the vital education or skill on how to assess, analyse, and form decisions with feedback loops so we can be more effective in decision-making. I don’t like the idea of being ruled by referendum for this reason.

              • Colonial Viper

                It is strange to hear a recent talk about neutrinos and to know there is so much knowledge in the world yet we haven’t the vital education or skill on how to assess, analyse, and form decisions with feedback loops so we can be more effective in decision-making.

                http://www.titanic-lore.info/Capt-Arthur-Rostron.htm

                If I may gently disagree. The issue is that we don’t make them like we used to.

      • mik e 2.1.4

        tightarse almightyYour sort of misogynistic superiority complex is whats wrong with this country after ww2 every body in New Zealand worked together paid their fair share of taxes and were provided good housing good healthcare and free education including one shonkey,your anal retentive garbage is about to be disposed of like a 1930s meltdown

    • Misanthropic Curmudgeon 2.2

      Then you’ll not be vouting Labour, then. Labour want to borrow and spend even more than we do now!

      • mik e 2.2.1

        Labour wants to borrow to hold on to 4 of the most profitable companies in NEW thats NEW Zealand Bills English has said NEW Zealand s balance of payments is going to get worse because so many companies are overseas owned and we are not saving enough[National are selling everything they can dumb National have reduced saving schemes of Bills English and shonkey]Bills english is saying kiwis are saving more thats utter BS we are only paying 2% more on reducing debt .That because the banks are not lending as much so people have no choice but to pay debt the US by contrast has paid 25% of its debt down in the same time .Real savings have reduced because National have cut contributions

        • Colonial Viper 2.2.1.1

          These RWNJs seem to know fuck all on economics.

          • mik e 2.2.1.1.1

            CV Thats why we are in such a mess they sure know how to manipulate the media though

        • Misanthropic Curmudgeon 2.2.1.2

          To suggest that some SOEs are “4 of the most profitable companies in NEW thats NEW Zealand” companies is absurd, and shows that the proponent of such a claim has no idea about ‘return on investment’.

          The simple fact is that the taxpayer is a finite resource, and cant be plundered ad infinitum to pay for every basket weaving course and community building programme that comes to mind.

          It makes sound sense to allow NZers to own a peice of SOEs while keeping majority shareholding in government hands, and sue the freed-up capital to build schools, fund research and other infrastructure.

      • fmacskasy 2.2.2

        Funny how right wingers always justify their massive borrowings by saying “Labour will borrow even more”.

        Kinda like saying, it’s ok to drive at 120kph – the guy behind me will probably drive even faster!

        • Misanthropic Curmudgeon 2.2.2.1

          Its not a justification, ists and observation that the complainst from Labour about National’s borrowing are hypcritical, as labour want to borrow even more than National are borrowing.

          Personally, I reckon that the government ought to be borrowing less, taxing less, and spending far less, but its going to take time to wein people of the taxpayers teat, lest we have them emulatingthe Greeks response to the Germans not giving them even more.

  3. Rijab 3

    Exactly.

    Those with (significant) wealth often treat life as a game, cause shit, what else is there to do?

    The rest of humanity knows better, but they’re forced ‘to play by the rules’, becase you can’t have a game where everyone wins.

    A twisted insight into the psyche of a sociopath.

  4. Herodotus 4

    Z from my understanding the survey reports on Gross wages. So should there be a shift in tax rates up or down esulting in an increase/decrease of disposable incomes would not be reported in this survey?
    Have a look at household income table there is even greater concern there for families with 3 or more dependant children this sector hasd had medium incomes go from $1,343 in 07 ,$1470, $1407,$1401 and now @ $1,375 in 11. How can a family exist.
    http://www.stats.govt.nz/~/media/Statistics/Browse%20for%20stats/NZIncomeSurvey/HOTPJun11qtr/nzis-june2011qtr-supp-tables.xls

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      It’s not taxes that are the problem but the low wages.

      • Misanthropic Curmudgeon 4.1.1

        Wow. Lets just trip everyones wages/salary, then.

        Let’s quadruple the minimum wage and banish ‘poverty’ forever!

        • Blighty 4.1.1.1

          just getting back to what we were earning for doing the same work 3 years ago would be a nice start, MisC

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.2

          No you moronic psychopath, what we need to do is a proper distribution of the wealth that NZ has rather than giving it all to the few.

        • McFlock 4.1.1.3

          Just because you can reduce it to absurdity doesn’t mean that it needs to be applied that way in the real world. Idiot.

        • KJT 4.1.1.4

          Good idea. The economy grew by 83% and wages have gone up only 15% since 1978, so there is plenty of headroom.

          Just bring wages to the share of GDP they had back then.

          • Misanthropic Curmudgeon 4.1.1.4.1

            Since 1978, huh? Back when NZ was living on overseas borrowings, artifically increasing wages and salaries beyond any relationship with productivity?

            Yeah, lets go back to 1978, and bend over for the IMF in a few years time.

            • lprent 4.1.1.4.1.1

              You mean under a National government pushing us into excessive debt for no reason other than winning an election and hope that our terms of trade will magically change ….

              Ummm isn’t that what we have now? Again? Who were the short-term thinking morons seeking a taxcut paid for out of government debt who voted them in?

              • Misanthropic Curmudgeon

                The name of the government is not the issue: the statist, borrow-and-spend, controlling, intervening, permit-and-concession to do anything, nature of said government was.

                And its the same founding principles that the last Labour was trying, and many in Labour still want to do: It was not just for the nastiness that Clark was compared to Muldoon, but the same values that were held.

                Quite why ‘modern’ Labour wants to emulate Muldoonist policies is facinating. And bonkers.

            • fmacskasy 4.1.1.4.1.2

              You mean this $70+ billion debt?

              http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/5106876/Government-debt-rises-to-71-6-billion?

              And “breaking news” on the Stuff website: Govt accounts show record $18.4 billion deficit

              You were saying, MC?

              (Waiting for Default Cop-out #1 to be supplied.)

      • Herodotus 4.1.2

        That will never change. Even if NZ hit oil – it would be foreign owned with something like a 2% royality or such going to the govt, then we would have to clean up any residual mess. Like the RWC there would be no 1st Division lotto winner here.
        As stated previously a family of 3 dependants is living on $32 more (no inflation/CPI adjustments) as they were in 07.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.2.1

          Yes, capitalism takes the communities wealth and puts it in the control of a few in such a way so that they benefit and everyone else suffers.

        • Colonial Viper 4.1.2.2

          That will never change. Even if NZ hit oil – it would be foreign owned with something like a 2% royality or such going to the govt

          Nationalised oil industry, thanks.

  5. Blighty 5

    on the median income, the tax cuts were a 3% increase in net income. So, not enough.

    And that one trick pony is dead.

    There’s no more tax cuts coming. In fact, even National would be raising taxes – to refill the EQC – even though they won’t admit it yet.

    • Jim Nald 5.1

      They keep playing that sweet refrain about aspiration
      while you keep playing the rules of the game and losing.

  6. Galeandra 6

    Now come on you lot, you know all about the politics of envy, don’t you? All you need now is for BB, QSF and a few others to join you at play. Probably they’ll stay home this time. I wonder why.

  7. randal 7

    Hey Jum. you know they getting worried when they resort to personal abuse. The word must have gone out from headquarters. Bye bye national.

  8. johnm 8

    We’re in the decline phase of Industrial Civilisation. As we progress we need a much more equitable society with minimum inequality so we may stay cohesive and together. One class grabbing an unfair slice of the now contracting pie is greedy and immoral.
    Heinberg’s message to the Wall Street protestors applies to us as well:

    “Memo To The #Occupied Movement (A Post-Growth Economy)

    By Richard Heinberg

    06 October, 2011
    Post Carbon Institute

    Here’s a fact that’s hard for most Americans to swallow: economic growth is over. Given the finite nature of our planet and its resources, the recent trend of global economic expansion was destined to end. No stimulus package or slashing of social programs is going to flip the economy back to an expansionary trajectory. We’ve hit the proverbial wall, and this will be the defining reality of our lives from now on.

    The growth-seeking political-economic system has failed us. Today that system is dominated by Wall Street. “Goldman Sachs rules the world,” trader Alessio Rastani told us in a now-viral BBC interview. I met people like Rastani in researching my book, The End of Growth.

    At one lavish conference, 800 global investors packed a hotel ballroom to consider climate change. There was no talk of how to avert or mitigate floods and droughts. Instead, the discussion focused on profiting from warming with — no joke — weather derivatives. These folks were just doing their job, despite any private feelings of concern, remorse, or dread. And each was getting paid enough to single-handedly fund a midsize school district.

    Both Wall Street and Washington are trying to do something impossible: grow human consumption forever in a world of limited energy, minerals, water, topsoil, and biodiversity, all while protecting and expanding the riches of the top one percent. If economic growth is over, that means we can no longer count on a rising tide to lift all boats. Under these conditions, extreme income inequality is not just unfair, it is socially unsustainable.

    It’s strategic to bring protest to Wall Street rather than Washington. We must go directly to the crime scene — not with a request for reforms, but with an arrest warrant from the people.

    You courageous people in the #occupy movement are absolutely right in saying the system is broken, greedy, and unfair. But when our discussion turns to replacing the current system, we’ve got to embrace a bigger view of reality than the one held by stock traders and politicians. It’s not just our wealth they want to control, it’s our vision for what is both possible and necessary. We need a post-growth economy that works both for people (all of them) and for the rest of nature: a localized economy based on renewable resources harvested at nature’s rates of replenishment, not a fossil-fueled global economy driven by the imperative of ever-higher returns on investment.

    There will be life after growth — and it can be a better life if our nation’s priority is the quality of life of our people and the integrity of the biosphere, rather than stock prices and corporate profits.”

    The Public need to wake up to the new reality as constantly mentioned by AFEWKNOWTHETRUTH on this blog.

  9. Dave 9

    It would be fairer to do the Rich List comparison in the same way, that is since 2008 allowing for 9% inflation. The 2008 Rich List total was $44.4 billion, which is $48.4 billion in 2011 dollars. The 2011 Rich List is worth $45.2 billion so in 2011 the Rich Listers are $3.2 billion worse off than they were in 2008. Their wealth has fallen more than the real median income in percentage terms.

  10. Bob Stanforth 10

    So, a question then, and its an honest question, looking for honest answers.

    Lets say that the stats quoted are true, that they are a given. That the mythical ‘median, typical’ kiwi is in fact worse off.

    Why then are National so popular?

    And dont bother with RWNJ, or MSM bias, or fickle voter bollocks. Tell me. Why? Because if those figures are true, people would be leaving their national support behind in stereotypical droves, and turning back to labour, but we do not see that.

    So, come on, why?

    • AndrewK 10.1

      “Why then are National so popular?”

      This has me utterly perplexed, after all National have demonstrably tended to the welfare of the wealthiest 1-5% to the detriment of practically everybody else.

      I expect some of the blame could be laid at the door of the perceived arrogance and right leaning tendencies of the Labour Party while they ruled the roost: The paramilitary style police assault on Tuhoe; the rounding up of activists under the most spurious of pretexts; participating in the onslaught against the people of Afghanistan; providing moral (and it turns out military) support for the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq.

      I think I could carry on for a while if I really put my mind to it. Not that any of the things in those items I listed feature high on the public consciousness, but, taken as a whole they would make a significant dent in Labour’s core support . Personally, I have not voted Labour since ’87 and their great leap to the right.

      “And dont bother with RWNJ, or MSM bias, or fickle voter bollocks.”

      The trouble here is the attempt to define the parameters in which the response can be framed, there is an obvious right-wing bias in the established media institutions as there is in the Labour party hierarchy. The people who inhabit the upper echelons of the mainstream media, the Labour Party, the public service, the National party and any private corporation operate under a system of beliefs which allows them the delusion that they know what’s best for the subordinate classes.

      What New Zealand, and the ‘West’ generally, suffers from is a disconnect between those who are responsible for public policy decisions and the ability of the public to have a meaningful impact on those decisions. Democracy needs to become a system that exists in all facets of society, rather than three seconds every three years in a polling booth.

      To participate in the economy in any meaningful way the general population needs to realise control of the capital infrastructure that underpins our modern society (which is why it has been so important for the neo-liberals in Labour and National to concentrate state owned assets in the hands of private concentrations of capital.)

      The best that can be said for Labour is that it is the lesser of two evils, but going into an election campaign with the slogan, “Vote for us, at least we’re not as evil as them.” doesn’t seem to be working so well.

      • Jum 10.1.1

        AndrewK, said ‘Democracy needs to become a system that exists in all facets of society, rather than three seconds every three years in a polling booth.’

        The closest I can get to democratic behaviour without the binding referendum, which given our current voting intelligence would deliver us into penury even faster, is the simple premise:

        – each policy asking for a mandate at election must be signed off by 75% of the voting population
        – be subject to the oversight of a Youth Upper House; (the future belongs to Youth)

        So, the mandate for Key to sell SOE assets which may get through now because voters are so hung up on his slimy charm, would only happen if people deliberately voted for that mandate on one individual policy. Then, 75% of New Zealanders would be held responsible for any future financial and sovereign damage to New Zealand.

        There must be a safeguard against the tyranny of the majority.

        • AndrewK 10.1.1.1

           “There must be a safeguard against the tyranny of the majority.” 

           There is, it is called totalitarianism and it can be found in fascist systems, in what the Chinese, Russian and North Korean  hierarchies euphemistically described as socialism and more subtly in contemporary western style ‘democracies’.

           The obvious rejoinder to the claim, “…the mandate for Key to sell SOE assets which may get through now because voters are so hung up on his slimy charm…” , is to point out that state owned asset sales happened with a mandate of less than 75% under the current system by both major political parties. The only time Labour stepped in to buy back any assets was when those assets had been either completely run into the ground as a consequence of ruthless foreign profiteering (New Zealand Rail) or bankrupted as a consequence of incompetent management, a la Air New Zealand.

           The point I was attempting to make about a more democratic society was that communities- ordinary people- need to participate in all forms of economic activity. To sell a major  component of the national infrastructure (like Telecom) into private ownership must surely be seen as an intensely undemocratic activity. Allowing private concentrations of capital control over such a strategic asset was to move in the direction of corporate totalitarianism. There are few forms of tyranny worse than the private tyranny exercised by the corporate elite on behalf of those who own a majority share in the corporate entities they manage.    
           
          And considering  the statement, “…– each policy asking for a mandate at election must be signed off by 75% of the voting population.”, suffers under the assumption that the general population is not capable of participating in formulating policy in the first place and needs to be maintained in some sort of passive role where they assent to or decline decisions developed within in a rigid framework, a framework designed to maintain a position of privilege and authority for a largely unelected coordinator class acting in the interests of a completely unelected ruling elite.

           Pretty much what we have now. No thanks Jum, there has to be a better way. 

          • Jum 10.1.1.1.1

            AndrewK,

            Safeguarding us from the tyranny of the majority is not totalitarianism; you’re leaping tall buildings to reach that conclusion. There are many forms of controlling runaway government like National and its legislating under urgency – Upper houses, etc. My idea, as I said was a simple one, perhaps even simplistic – I’m no expert, although I enjoy listening to everyone else’s ideas. The 75% was just a figure.

            As I have been fighting for a better public transport system for some time, I do know what the various political parties did and didn’t do about safeguarding New Zealanders’ interests. I also know that the public needs the right to instigate change, but often governments attempt to manipulate that public change e.g. Joyce trying to massage the figures of improving rail transport as opposed to roading.

            Perhaps even a system whereby a policy is proposed by CIR, the current government seeks a mandate for that one policy. Then they cannot pretend a vote for law and order is also a mandate to sell as this government is trying to do.

            We know various governments sold off assets; we are attempting to stop that happening so you would naturally vote for the party that says they would not, because that may be your priority.

            Or, each mp in parliament seeks a mandate from their electorate and the result becomes the law in that electorate. Or, or, or any number of ideas. To me the journey is far more interesting than the arrival which often disappoints!

            Civics in Schools and a Youth Upper House are another two suggestions. Until we have a clued up populace it is definitely not a good idea to bind government that in some cases has far more information at its fingertips for not legislating referenda e.g. where it may disadvantage other areas of the economy or other sections of the community that the binding referenda organisers have no information on or have a bias against or towards. The parliament would certainly have to, after a successful petition reaching the signature number before the certain date, then give full info to all New Zealanders to debate. Likewise any legislation NAct put through under urgency would be reversed or annulled and due process of seeking submissions would then continue.

            If Local Government areas took in taxes and made their own laws then we might end up with tinpot nazi sheriffs like John Banks and the smoking gun Brash.

            I will continue to think about it.

            Your second paragraph – I remember Labour having huge debts to pay down from National and helping the resulting unemployed. If anything that would take time before then paying out for assets they hadn’t sold off. It’s a wonderful lesson of course for New Zealanders to see what happens when you allow private enterprise to have control over public assets.

            I get the distinct impression you are trying to lead me towards binding referenda – no thanks, Andrew K, there has to be a better way. We’ll keep thinking, eh.

            • AndrewK 10.1.1.1.1.1

              Jum,

               Originally I was responding to Bob Stanforth’s query: “Why then are National so popular?” 

               The only reason I could come up with is the general population has become so alienated from the political system that participation in the decision making process appears little more than mindless cheering for participants in a personality contest. 

               Don’t get me wrong, I think John Key is a slippery little mercenary whose primary goal is to deliver the people of New Zealand into a form of debt peonage, prostrate before predominantly foreign corporate masters. The immediate problem being the electorally successful “…slimy charm…” being exuded by John Key and the inability of Phil Goff or Labour to counter Key’s media presence (there is the other problem of the probable tens of millions of dollars being spent on National’s re-election campaign over the last three years.)
               
               If Labour is really a party for the people it must start championing greater participation of those people in the decision making process. Although Labour set the ball in motion to change the electoral system to MMP, since its adoption both Labour and National have been pretty antagonistic towards the new system and the dissenting voices from minor parties which that system has allowed.

               A political party that genuinely sympathised with ‘the people’ would advocate greater representation, to accommodate a greater number of representatives that same party could advocate for their pay to be capped at the average wage. Representatives earning the average wage would be more likely to make decisions which reflect the reality of the average person. To help with your fight for better public transport the only form of transport for representatives the tax-payer should be coughing up for should be free access to public transport and no representative should be allowed to travel on any class other than economy on any airline.  ( I know some of this may seem a little ‘out there’, but we are quickly approaching a confluence of ominous environmental, economic and social conditions with which the current system will not cope. 

                   
              “I get the distinct impression you are trying to lead me towards binding referenda – no thanks, … ”

               Politically speaking, I tend to lean toward the Libertarian Socialist flavour of the political spectrum. As such I think anyone with anarchist inclinations would be wary of the rigid dogma that seems to be implied by a ‘…binding referenda…’. Although, returning to the concept of the ‘tyranny of the majority’, that majority should be allowed the opportunity to make policy mistakes and through those mistakes grow into a self sustaining, self governing entity.

               In spite of the inexplicable support for National exhibited by the general electorate, I don’t think the vast majority of New Zealanders are the reactionary self absorbed red-necks the mainstream media and sections of the elitist authoritarian left likes to pretend they are.

               I think, probably most importantly, the dissemination of information on which people are reliant to make decisions affecting the lives of them and their children must be kept out of the hands of private interests. Private control over information by media corporations is the greatest threat to the democratic process anywhere, democratising media institutions is probably as important as democratising the policy implementing process.

               I got carried away, sorry Jum- didn’t mean to prattle on so much. I understand a lot of where you are coming from and the limitations the current system imposes on policy objectives. I do, however, believe there is scope to continually expand the political mindset to accommodate and normalise more radical policies.          

              • KJT

                Anyone opposed to the “tyranny of the majority” is giving implicit support to a “tyranny of a minority”.

                What they are really saying is they are happy to have a tyranny of a minority, so long as it is their minority.

                It takes a particular arrogance to say, “I have a right to make a decision on behalf of a great many other people against their wishes”.

                So many people are uninterested in politics in NZ because their votes actually make no difference. No matter who you vote for, you get fuck us up quickly, or fuck us up a bit slower.

                In fact research shows that, on the whole, majority binding referendums tend to make for better decisions than a small number of “group thinkers” in Government.

                People become much more interested in learning about politics or the issues when they know they can actually make a difference.

                Politicians actually have to think about and justify their ideas when they know they may be overturned by referenda.

                Switzerland is about the only example in the world at the moment. A stable successful democracy for much longer than any of the Anglo Saxon countries.

                And at the end of the day, even if we get it wrong, if it is about our lives, it should be our discussion to make.

                • Jum

                  KJT said:
                  ‘Anyone opposed to the “tyranny of the majority” is giving implicit support to a “tyranny of a minority”.’

                  Is the same as George Bush saying ‘if you’re not for us, you’re agin us’.

                  There are many levels of agreement or disagreement with both those extremes and it is insulting to me for you to suggest I only care about my own needs. You obviously do not know me at all well, KJT.

                  I can tell you are angry about government behaviour, huge ‘urgency’ railroading through of policy without any recourse to public submissions.

                  You will still not get my agreement to majority binding referenda within this current society of greed and selfishness and in many cases misogynistic thinking.

                  I quite like what AndrewK said in his final sentence at 2.31:
                  ‘I do, however, believe there is scope to continually expand the political mindset to accommodate and normalise more radical policies. ‘

                  I certainly remember the democracy march of Colin Craig, pretending to be about democracy but actually about trying to reverse the S59 and negate the added safety for children, and also about his candidature first as Mayor of Auckland, then as a conservative for Rodney in this election under a very conservative banner which will mean even less democracy for New Zealanders, especially for women and children.

                  It is not yet safe in New Zealand to have majority binding referenda until many safeguards are in place e.g. the minorities have double the vote and be the only ones able to make the decisions which only affect them as two possible suggestions to consider. Otherwise we just move from one extreme to the other; neither will be successful.

                  Trotting out the examples of far more historically advanced countries than New Zealand to give a view on binding referenda won’t wash either. Oh dear that sounds arrogant but wasn’t meant to be. I was thinking of our drinking culture in New Zealand when I typed that comment.

                  The worst thing we can do is try to cut and paste from other countries before analysing our own issues; we’re still in denial.

                • Misanthropic Curmudgeon

                  Saying “Anyone opposed to the “tyranny of the majority” is giving implicit support to a “tyranny of a minority”.” is false.

                  You could just leave others alone and stope people from imposing their will on others.

                  Freedom as a default situation. What is so horrible about that?

    • Colonial Viper 10.2

      Why then are National so popular?

      People are drinking the Kool-Aid.

      And they are waiting for Labour to come forwards with real gutsy, gut wrenching alternatives, not just new flavours of the same old same old.

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