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Market forces

Written By: - Date published: 11:17 am, September 3rd, 2015 - 70 comments
Categories: business, capitalism, class war, im/migration, john key, Syria - Tags: , , ,

Rosemary McLeod has an excellent piece in stuff this morning. Partly it laments the travesty of the flag process, but it transitions into a general take on market forces:

We are sold market forces, and their friend branding, as rational things and therefore good. And with them comes that awesome thing, the printed business mission statement. You see it everywhere, stuck to the office wall while staff beneath it yawn and pick their noses.

Well, market forces made little kids chimney sweeps in the 19th century, because they’d work 15-hour days for next to nothing, and if they dropped dead it didn’t matter. Market forces had women crawling through mines half-naked to drag out the coal, and yet more tots employed to open and shut trap doors for the loaded coal carts.

Women were cheap labour. Even hookers earned peanuts, because there were so many desperate competitors. Starvation is a great motivator, as well as a great market force I dare say.

I’m on a roll now. Market forces had yet more small children crawling under giant looms in factories, untangling threads and gathering the falling lint while the machines whirred above them and they breathed in the dust that would eventually kill them. Kids were disposable. When they died there were lots of new ones.

Market forces had industrial cities swathed in toxic fog, and poisoned waterways with aniline dyes. They sent the poor from villages and countryside into cities to sell their labour, and die just as poor as they ever were. And this was all a fine thing, because it made a few people incredibly rich. That was a good idea, I can’t remember why. And then trade unions were invented. Briefly.

A pretty fair summary. In a searing piece at Dimpost today, Danyl Mclauchlan takes the refugee disaster and market forces straight to Key:

Key’s mother was a refugee from the Nazis though, and you’d think that if any politician could see the virtue of giving these families a new chance on the other side of the world and to sell that to the public it’d be him. But Key didn’t get to where he is today by empathising with and helping helpless people, even though he’s ultimately only here because someone else did that for his family. His instincts are to help those who can help him and then extract maximal benefits from the exchange. And this mentality works for him personally, obviously, but it points to the nihilism in the dark heart of the transactional politics Key is such a master of: impoverished refugees have nothing to offer him, so they get nothing.

Is this our New Zealand?

70 comments on “Market forces ”

  1. Ad 1

    One of Key’s rare fully tone-deaf moments, and it will cost him.

    Sometimes, even a grand planetary alignment between the Flag and the All Blacks can be undercut by events.

    Fully agree with you Anthony.

  2. Paul 2

    On the first referendum, I think people should draw a box below’ tick it and write
    ‘I believe that $26 million would be better spent on helping refugees.’

      • Ad 2.1.1

        Every uniform and document and website that is changed as a result will now be effectively colonized by this Key branding initiative. It’s a true viral marketing miracle for the government.

    • ankerawshark 2.2

      Or in the first ballot vote for the Koru flag to split the vote and stuff it up for Key who wants the fern.

      It is a very good point about Key’s background and not helping more refugees. Shows how truly heartless and without empathy he is.

    • It’s not like the government couldn’t just admit it’s not getting back into surplus soon and just do both, IMO.

  3. Ad 3

    When you add a few things together, John Key is truly altering the character of New Zealand:

    – Changing the flag. Once in a generation debate and effect.
    – Be colder to poor foreigners, but help rich foreigners with land, capital investment, and legislative alterations.
    – Accept that we are a bulk commodity economy and there is no changing it, no matter what the risk.
    – Actively attack unions and seek to get rid of them.
    – Love Rugby above all else.
    – The public sector can achieve so little that it should be privatized.
    – We are international leaders in the UN on nothing.
    – There is no need for public ownership of anything, and there’s need for only the slightest monopoly regulation

    Much as I admire his tactical skill, he has diminished New Zealand by making us smaller.

    • maui 3.1

      I thought the graphic yesterday showing that we’re one of the worst contributors in helping refugees in the western world, together with being one of the worst contributors to climate change in the western world is appalling.

    • Tracey 3.2

      agree. we got onto security council. thats the biggest joke right now

  4. maui 4

    Wow, what a column by Rosemary. Gets to the heart of the issue alright.

  5. Bill 5

    Would be nice to see the thoughts of Rosemary McLeod embedded in the political analysis of news pieces instead of being momentary flashes passing through the relative ghetto of ‘opinion columns’.

    Still nice to see such thoughts reproduced in mainstream print media though.

  6. Ralf Crown 6

    Refugee crisis: Prime Minister John Key stands firm, media write sob stories

    Maybe you should also write about the other side of the mass immigration in EU. It is estimated that only 10% of the migrants are genuine refugees. They arrive after having paid 10, 000 to 50,000 dollars in fees to human traffickers, they arrive in Adidas designer clothes with new iPhones. And write about the resulting gun battles in the street, the hate racist campaigns against Jews, the beatings and robbing of pensioners, the regular stone throwing mobs, the daily burning of cars, how they throw hand grenades at the police, how women out jogging are gang raped by African mobs, give kiwis the full story, not only the sob story. You can find it all in web media.

    Ralf Crown
    Freelance correspondent
    The Correspondents in China

    • Bill 6.1

      It is estimated that only 10% of the migrants are genuine refugees

      Not possible. See, refugees and migrants are two entirely different sets of people. I’ll give you an example. I’m a migrant. I wasn’t fleeing for my life and hadn’t been bombed out of my home or any such.

      As for the rest of your rant – pfft.

    • Gabby 6.2

      Do you call yourself a journalist? Is that a sample of your style?

    • greywarshark 6.3

      It’s unfortunate that there is a half crown who writes here and for a sec I thought you were he and was surprised. I’m not sure what your point is.

      Males who have paid large amounts of money to get over the water, and into Europe, and there are a lot of them, with nothing but Adidas shoes etc? and nothing to lose, I think leads to trouble. They are coming from lands where they haven’t been leading peaceful orderly lives for years – well there will be outbreaks of bad behaviour.

      Thank you for bringing it to our attention, as it is the numbers and officials dealing with them and the dead bods that have to be processed and buried that we hear most about.

    • half crown 6.4

      He’s not me and to prove it this is my take on his opinion.

      ” And write about the resulting gun battles in the street, the hate racist campaigns against Jews,”

      Yeah agree, give kiwis the full story LIke the way the Jews have stolen the Palestinians land and how they bombed a so called UN “safe house” school in that biggest concentration camp called Gaza with banned White Phosphor bombs.
      Remind me again When was the grenade thrown, and where was it thrown? Wasn’t in Kiev in the Ukraine was it ? suspected by an ultra right winger was it ?

  7. esoteric pineapples 7

    I see Rosemary McLeod as one of those once talented young liberal journalist/opiners who in later life has become dry and cynical for no good reason, with a generally conservative view of mainstream New Zealand society. Raging against the machine now feels like too little, too late. At the very least, she should have been complaining about this government seven years ago. I’m not sure she won’t fall back into a comfortable slumber, writing columns full of generalisations about sections of society she doesn’t have anything to do with, and towns she hasn’t lived in for 50 years. Hopefully, I will be pleasantly surprised by a permanent about-face.

  8. Byrnz 8

    Hell! Was Rosemary on holiday? Did her account get hijacked??

  9. Heather Grimwood 9

    Truly wonderful pick-me-up to read Rosemary’e writing and thanks Anthony for bringing it to my attention. I’ve been so desolated today by reading of Maurice Williamson’s atrocious actions ( so revealing his underlying unfitness for belonging to Government) that I needed this ‘cheer’ !

  10. rhinocrates 10

    But wait, what does Hosking have to say on refugees?!

  11. Heyegg 11

    Helping refugees and social housing are goods in themselves, you don’t need to be a recipient to work that out.

  12. Chooky 12

    +100 Good Post….and when Rosemary McLeod’s writing is good she can be very, very perceptive and thought provoking.

  13. Lloyd 13

    John is right. We must keep the Ruth Keys out of the country. If we let these refugees into the country and give them housing they will breed and take over the country and sell it off………

  14. sabine 14


  15. The lost sheep 15

    Rosemary attacks Market forces on the basis of conditions 100 years ago?
    So how does she explain the astonishing improvements in living standards, wealth, health, and general societal conditions in the meantime?
    It’s all been under Market forces hasn’t it?

    • vto 15.1

      ha ha ha ha, really? When in doubt fulla, don’t shout it out….

      Perhaps you could outline what has been the result of solely market forces ….. you might come up with plastic buckets but that would be about it.

      • The lost sheep 15.1.1

        Perhaps you could outline what has been the result of solely market forces

        Solely? You mean like Rosemary is stating above?
        That’s an extremely simplistic stance. It’s like saying that Communism was ‘solely’ responsible for the Russian Purges.

        I would think a more sophisticated view would be that market forces have been a central component of our economic system since the times Rosemary is talking about…and therefore have been a major component in ALL the changes that have occurred since.

        • vto

          so already dancing on the head of a pin ….

          but carry on … lets hear some example lost sheep

          • The lost sheep

            Well let’s take a single person like the inventor/entrepreneur Thomas Edison.
            Developed the electric Light, The phonograph, the motion picture camera, and rolled them all out using a purely commercial mass-production model in order to meet consumer demand for those products.
            Commercial developments that went on to spawn huge industries world wide that grew on and existed on a purely commercial basis to meet an insatiable demand for those products.
            How much wealth did those industries create that did not exist before VTO? And not just for those who got rich off them. How many JOBS for working class people have those market driven developments provided?
            And how much benefit do ALL of our lives gain from widely available inexpensive electricity, recorded sound, moving pictures?
            Just one man/one example…

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill.

              Thomas Edison comes out for printing money.

              This is not the champion of market forces you are looking for.

              • The lost sheep

                I must of made a good point. You are trying to obfuscate the discussion.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  You failed to establish that the price of goods fostered Edison’s genius. I suspect it may have been his education. Do go on.

                  • The lost sheep

                    No doubt his education was crucial.
                    And that very same education was responsible for the fact that he was a business entrepreneur from a very early age and developed all his inventions on a classic capitalist model through the commercial market?

                    What evidence is there that he would have committed the time and resources to develop those inventions if there had been no prospect of making money out them by meeting consumer demand for them?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      What evidence is there that he would have had customers at all were it not for the rule of law?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          market forces have been a central component of our economic system

          So you’re saying that the price of, demand for, and availability of commodities are important factors in economics. And that’s your political banality philosophy.


          • The lost sheep

            I’m going a bit further than that OAB. I’m saying that allowing those forces to play out to a large degree is a good thing.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Yes, you and Max Bradford can pay lip service to that, but why not buy a table at Cabinet Club anyway, just to be on the safe side.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 15.2

      Are you really so ignorant?

      • The lost sheep 15.2.1

        Have you got a point to make?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          explain the astonishing improvements in living standards, wealth, health, and general societal conditions

          Um, let’s see, how about democratic government interventions in the marketplace? Education, universal suffrage, the welfare state.

          You keep on making this tired old assertion over and over again, and each time you get schooled in history and fail to learn a damn thing.

          • The lost sheep

            As i point out above OAB, it would be simplistic to claim (as Rosemary does) that one factor explained the human situation.
            So I agree that all the other factors you mention, and many more, are essential components, as are market forces.

    • half crown 15.3

      The lost sheep wrote @ 7.52am #15

      “So how does she explain the astonishing improvements in living standards, wealth, health, and general societal conditions in the meantime?
      It’s all been under Market forces hasn’t it?”

      No it hasn’t

      A lot of the conditions my friend was brought in after the second world war. When the western world politicians, and I include New Zealand politicians, good people like Sir Keith Holyoak, conservatives as well as socialist’s had a social conscience and created the likes of the Marshall plan which went one hell of a long way to get Europe on it’s feet, and in the UK bankrupted through the second world war, in 45 introduced very good housing policies that re housed a lot from bombed out districts as well as slum clearance, the National Health Service that overnight fixed nearly all the nations dental health problems something the working class’s suffered along with other health issues from inadequate dental & health care. Eliminated Rickets (a disease returning to the north of England along with child poverty and homelessness) The return of these 1800 scourges has been caused by the likes of Thatcher, Camoron, and our own Fucking Spiv, because they worship at the alter of this neo classic dogma that believes “the” (fucking greed and sod you jack) market can do it better. Biggest bit of bullshit going for dismantling these systems and selling off to their Spiv mates. It was not a perfect system nothing is and there were some mighty problems, and some mighty big disasters like the Labour governments “Ground Nut Scheme”. But it was certainly lot better than what we have now and McLeod is pointing out the fact that was the conditions under the “market Forces” Something we are returning to with the conditions I have already outlined.

      • The lost sheep 15.3.1

        Correct me if I am wrong, but during the era’s you refer to as examples of ‘strong social conscience’, market forces were still retained as a fundamental part of our economic system?
        So ‘market forces’ alone do not make it inevitable that children work as chimney sweeps or that you cannot build social housing?
        Human society is a bit more complex than that?

        Rosemary’s implication is one you see quite frequently here and one worth pointing out for the nonsense it is.
        If you removed Market Forces completely then suddenly self interest would disappear as a key human motivation and all societies would become nirvana’s of equality and communal altruism….

        Well it’s been tried innit? And it turn’s out there are a couple of small flaws in that theory.
        First is human nature. Love it or loath it, there it is. Bugger of a thing to change as it turns out.
        Second is the limitations of human ability to control complex situations. And the human economy is very complex indeed.

        So you can let those very complex interactions play themselves out freely, or you can attempt to control them completely, or you can find a balance between those poles.

        Which is what we do. Because although letting Market forces run completely uncontrolled is a very bad thing, experience has taught us that there is one thing that is even worse.
        And that is letting a human bureaucracy try to completely control them.
        Just doesn’t work at all.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Of course, on Earth, extolling the virtues of ‘market forces’ is a euphemism for “the private sector is always more efficient”. It’s a lie, cf: SERCO, Max Bradford, Stephen Joyce, etc. etc.

        • McFlock

          Ok, you’re wrong.

          Market forces alone, by themselves, make it inevitable that children will work as chimney sweeps. Or, indeed, burn to death in a factory that makes cheap pants for high-end clothing brands, if you want a more recent example.

          Market forces accompanied by human decency stop that from happening.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            And the least efficient global manifestation of human decency apart from all the other ones that have been tried, is social democracy.

            • McFlock

              Although, back in the day, many pub hours were spent arguing the superiority of democratic socialism vs social democracy.

              I’d switch sides halfway through and see if anyone noticed 😉

          • The lost sheep

            Yeah, I believe I did say that leaving market forces completely uncontrolled would be a very bad thing, and that is why we control them as part of a complex system.
            So I think I got that bit right?

            But I did say that attempting to fully control them by a human bureaucracy was the worst option of all.
            Where do you stand on that point?

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              I’d like to see your evidence, and I’d like you to consider Stephen Pinker and Friedrich Schiller’s arguments in your response.

              • The lost sheep

                The absolute lack of successful economies that have tried to complete eliminate market forces?

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  The list of societies that have tried to eliminate the price of goods is null.

                  • The lost sheep

                    Yeah, so no one has ever silly enough to think that completely eliminating prices was a good idea, and that’s not the question I posed.
                    But the list of countries that have tried to tightly control the price of goods and other market forces such as supply is quite long, and well documented, so surely you can find plenty of success stories among them?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Yes, I can.

                      PHARMAC and ACC era New Zealand, for example. The relative success of the “New Deal”, for example. I already cited Schiller and Pinker, so let’s add Piketty.

                      And in the abject failure corner, Hayek Greenspan Sachs Trump Key and Rand.

                • McFlock

                  Juxtaposed against the absolute lack of economies that had both:
                  A) unrestricted (or barely restricted) markets; and

                  B) any regard for the safety, dignity and longevity of workers (of any age).

            • McFlock

              I’d say that slavery in Brazil was just as bad as any society where markets were attempted to be banned/”fully” controlled.

              But then Rosemary McLeod never advocated “fully” controlling market forces, so your dichotomy is false. As usual.

              • The lost sheep

                I had this same discussion yesterday McFlock.
                For all the evils Rosemary names, she categorically states that ‘Market forces made‘ them, and she does not mention any other factor at all as being involved.
                But you want me to accept that what she was actually saying was that market forces were a ‘contributing factor’ to those evils?
                She’s a bright lady with a great control of language…if that’s what she meant why didn’t she say so?

                In the meantime, I’ll continue to comment on what people actually say, not how you want to interpret it when the discussion starts to make their original statements look a bit silly.

                I agree about slavery in Brazil. But once again you are talking about a situation that has dramatically improved in a world that has market forces?
                And you didn’t say where you stood on attempting to control them completely?

                • McFlock

                  Brazil only (moderately) improved after the slave market was controlled then eliminated. Left to its own devices, markets turn people into disposable goods.

                  And no, it’s not an argument about “contributing factors” vs “sole causes”. This is an argument about whether A, by itself, necessarily leads to B. Not whether B was caused by A, C and D.

                  Unrestricted markets always lead to people being treated as disposable commodities, because markets provide an inherent advantage to sociopaths. In an unrestricted market, shit floats to the top more quickly than cream.

                  That is why workers die in factory fires. That is why corporations sell products that do not work, or even are dangerous (or, in the case of bomb detectors sold for checkpoint use in Iraq, both). That is why companies go into liquidation because it’s cheaper than cleaning up their own chemical waste. That is why lead paint is used in kids toys. All of those happen to this day because the cost-cutting for short term gain provides an advantage over companies that want to provide good, safe products and services in a safe and decent manner over the long term. And then the owners of the cost-cutters simply move on to the next short term profit.

                  And you didn’t say where you stood on attempting to control them completely?

                  Oh, it’s bad. But it’s also completely irrelevant to anything Rosemary said, or indeed anyone here except you has said.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  …which no-one has ever claimed is a goal, other than you. Mr. Strawman is on your dancecard, but he called in sick, and now you have no dancing partners.

          • half crown

            Thanks for that McFlock & OAB, I am a bit pissed off as I wanted to answer the lost sheep in depth. However you have said already said what I wanted to say in possibly better English and grammar than I could have said. Going off topic, I can now relax if you call it relaxing, and return to reading my book by Ayan Rand. What a heap of crap, the women was mental, she should have been locked up as a danger to society. I can only think how lucky we are that she was not an ambitious politician/dictator like Stalin, Hitler or Pinochet. If she was, Orwell’s 1984 would look like a paradise. These “libertarians” or right wing fuckwits who follow her preaching s should be sent to an island somewhere, where they can wank all day over her theorems whilst the rest of us try and get on and build a better society which will encompass everybody.

  16. les 16

    when will the Q.E money go round ,derivatives and ludicrous debt levels blow up?
    ‘ The Brown-Kaufman proposal to limit the size of banks was defeated, 60 to 31. Bank supervisors meeting in Switzerland did mandate minimum reserves that institutions will have to hold, with higher levels for the world’s largest banks, including the six biggest in the U.S. Those rules can be changed by individual countries.
    They take full effect in 2019.’

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