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Myths and moralising – the conservative trademark

Written By: - Date published: 2:17 pm, December 29th, 2011 - 36 comments
Categories: Economy, history - Tags: , ,

The Economist has a wonderful blog post from “Democracy in America” tearing apart an  argument by a conservative columnist for the New York Times

DAVID BROOKS argues that analogies between today’s America and that of the Progressive era are misplaced, and Progressive-era solutions ill-suited to modern times, because today’s America faces challenges it didn’t face back then. For example, today inequality is rising:

Moreover, the information economy widens inequality for deep and varied reasons that were unknown a century ago. Inequality is growing in nearly every developed country. According to a report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, over the past 30 years, inequality in Sweden, Germany, Israel, Finland and New Zealand has grown as fast or faster than inequality in the United States, even though these countries have very different welfare systems.

So, what was happening with inequality a century ago? In the 19th century, as basically everyone has always recognised, the budding industrial economy created very large increases in inequality.

The Gini coefficient on taxable wealth in Massachusetts increased from 0.734 in 1820 to 0.907 in 1900, and in Ohio it rose from 0.806 in 1830 to 0.864 in 1900 (Steckel 1994).

But maybe Mr Brooks meant to refer to the beginning of the 20th century? What was happening with income inequality from, say, the point when we can start consulting income-tax data, in 1913? Well, the share of pre-tax income earned by the top 1% of American households went from 18% in 1913 to 24% in 1928, pretty much exactly the same thing that happened again in America between 1993 and 2007.

Lovely – cutting with links, facts, and above all an understanding of the linkages between the multitudes of factors that make up modern societies that Brooks’s simplistic understanding clearly misses.

David Brooks tries to say that the recent increases in inequality are unique and are due to recent efficiency gains leading to changes in individual productivity. But as the DIA post points out that is complete bollocks (except he does it far more politely than that). Extreme improvements in efficiency and therefore individual productivity have been going on throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. We have been through the productivity increase cycle many times over the last 200 years.

Multi-factor productivity growth was highest between 1928-1950, and in general was much higher from 1890-1950 than from 1980 on, though it has picked up again since 1996.

Like most “progressives”, I think that rising inequality is a symptom of the inability of societies coping with the rapid changes in productivity rates. When we get rapid improvements in productivity there are more people thrown out of their jobs. Pretty much what we are seeing today.

In the past this has lead to rising inequalities and recessions rapidly falling into depressions as the wealthy hoover up surplus wealth without putting it into new enterprises. Meanwhile the jobless and underemployed tighten their belts and the economies stall through lack of customers apart from a small group of extremely wealthy – who start sliding backwards as their customers diappear. This is characterised by a rapid reduction in the velocity of money in the economy. It is a negative sum system that ultimately beggars everyone and leads to extremely frightening political consequences.

The general solution that evolved through the first half of the 20th  century was twofold. Firstly the state redistributed wealth from the wealthy back into the economy through taxation of various kinds. This redistribution was largely used to upskill the working population through government interventions in the market to form new industries by subsidies or infrastructure development of retraining. This has been shown to work at both reducing the crippling wealth inequalities, and to cause the formation of new industries and employment. But it does stick in the craw of conservatives and capitalists who have an emotional dislike for realising how dependent their prosperity is on the prosperity of others.

In the current ‘recession’ (which is looking more and more like a depression to me), the main response to date has been to simply prevent banks and financial institutions failing. That needed to be done. However very little has been done to deal with the consequences of changes in productivity. Instead what we get is standard response of conservatives everywhere when they don’t like ideas. It isn’t the lack of jobs, lack of investment capital for new industries,or the poor training – they blame the victims of productivity increases for “moral” issues.

The rest of Mr Brooks’s column criticises high rates of out-of-wedlock births and other vague indicators of moral malaise. “Bad habits have accumulated. Interest groups have emerged to protect the status quo,” he writes; apparently interest groups did not attempt to protect the status quo in 1911. “The job is to restore old disciplines, strip away decaying structures and reform the welfare state,” he finishes. This leaves him open to the riposte “no it’s not”, a rebuttal against which his column has failed to provide any evidence.

Even smart conservatives in my experience are generally idiots because they think far too short term, fail to look at history  and in the final analysis view everything from their own narrow short-term interests rather than those of society as whole. That is why despite my natural inclinations towards the right, I could never standing the sickening myth-remaking of history and the external moralising about other people that hypocritically concealed naked self-interest. David Brooks is just another example.

36 comments on “Myths and moralising – the conservative trademark”

  1. Georgecom 1

    One important aspect of the 20 century social welfare compromise was matching wage increases to productivity. In the US, for example, wage growth in the core heavy metal industries was linked to productivity. In NZ the state linked a ‘living wage’ and general wage orders to economic coditions, including productivity rises. In this manner rising productivity was shared with the workers and simply not captured by capital. Rising living standards were ensured for the many.

    The benefits of current rises in productivity are not flowing through the population but are being captured at the top of the socio-economic spectrum. A society ‘struggling’ to adjust to rising productivity must include meausres to spread the benefits around, not merely hope for some trickle down (in reality it’s trickle up).

    • Gosman 1.1

      Quite possibly you are correct however that doesn’t explain why some of the areas that had high productivity gains due to the deregulation of the economy starting in the 1980’s, (e.g. Telecommunication and Transportation for example), were generally the most Unionised and highly paid prior to the reforms. This would suggest that productivity was being inhibited rather than enhanced by the system.

      • RedLogix 1.1.1

        high productivity gains due to the deregulation of the economy starting in the 1980′s, (e.g. Telecommunication and Transportation for example), were generally the most Unionised and highly paid prior to the reforms.

        Absolutely nothing to do with de-regulation… and everything to do with the massive implementation of new automation technologies that was occuring at the exact same time.

        Indeed if we look at the consequences of de-regulation in the finance industry; it’s obvious that the consequences have been a stunning destruction of wealth and productivity; while at the same time highly unionised and very well paid industries like the German automakers have remained exceedingly successful.

        I’ve pretty much spent my entire adult life as tiny part of that revolution, and I can assure you the idea that somehow ‘market de-regulation’ was the principle drive of increased productivity in the last 30 years is a total… well myth.

      • Colonial Viper 1.1.2

        “Productivity gains” are weasel words. The gains didn’t go to the laid off workers, nor to their communities wracked by unemployment nor to the country which lost strategic assets from its balance sheet. The gains all got offshored, and now the Government is subsidising broadband infrastructure for Telecom. How productive is that.

        • grumpy 1.1.2.1

          I think we used to call it Marginal Revenue Product of Labour…………………..?????

          • Colonial Viper 1.1.2.1.1

            Firing workers tends to be more profitable than having them around.
            No company that I know makes management decisions based on the ‘marginal revenue product of labour’.

      • Draco T Bastard 1.1.3

        If there had been any productivity gains in telecommunications since deregulation then we would expect to see two things:-
        1.) Significant reductions in real prices
        2.) An improved, high bandwidth network capable of supporting modern needs, ie, 100mbps broadband

        We haven’t seen either of those things. We have seen Telecom rip ~$20b dollars out of the economy in profit, extra costs to the economy as multiple networks get built and the need for the government to step in and pay Telecom and others to bring the network up to speed. If deregulation and privatisation shows anything it’s that it’s very expensive and doesn’t achieve what all the people in favour of it say it will – Lines their pockets with our wealth though.

      • Georgecom 1.1.4

        You are correct that it doesn’t explain productivity increases in certain sectors of the economy, and nor is it intended to. It reflects that we previously had mechanisms for ensuring rising productivity levels were spread amongst the many, not simply trapped by the few as we presently have.

        But changing the subject, at least 2 answers have seemingly been provided. New technology has come about and in the 1980s anyway, thousands of state sector workers laid off which will show higher productivity per labour input.

  2. Gosman 2

    Interesting arguments from both sides. What I find especially fascinating about this subject is that I very much doubt that the amount of direct income transfers from wealthy to poor has changed much over the last few decades.

    For all the left’s bemoaning of a supposed cuts in support to the poorer sections of society I would argue that spending has been realitively consistent over the past few decades. Indeed if we have a look at the graphs in figures 2, 3, and 4 of this paper ,(http://ips.ac.nz/publications/files/99f91186d74.pdf), it should be obvious that the State’s expenditure on welfare as a percentage of GDP has been remarkable consistent over time.

    Even the infamous ‘Mother of all Budgets’ didn’t seem to make much of a dent in this percentage figure. Certainly it is clear that prior to the economic reforms of the mid 1980’s Social welfare spending looks to be about 11 to 12 percent of GDP and that was about the extent of the spending in the late 1990’s.

    What is also clear from those graphs is that the size of the State has been steadily rising over the last hundred odd years and it was only in the 1990’s that this started decreasing significantly. Yet the areas that led to this reduction weren’t obviously in one area and certainly not in cutting welfare. In fact it looks like a large part of the reduction is as a result in reduced financing costs.

    So why do we have such an inequality problem then if we are essentially spending the same amount on welfare that we did thirty odd years ago before we were meant to have such an inequality issue? Well perhaps the answer to that is related to where we are spending that welfare money. Instead of reaching the people it should be targetted at , i.e. the bottom sections of society, it is being skimmed off by those who are better off. In short we are providing welfare to the middle and upper income groups via welfare programmes such as Working for Families and Superannuation.

    This is why I am comfortable with Labour party policies such as increasing the age of entitlement to Syuperannuation and even imposing a Capital Gains tax. Coupled with more effective targetting of benefits to those who need them rather than those who don’t you might be able to reduce the social impacts for those on lower incomes.

    • lprent 2.1

      Yet the areas that led to this reduction weren’t obviously in one area and certainly not in cutting welfare. In fact it looks like a large part of the reduction is as a result in reduced financing costs.

      It was. I think at one point we were spending about a quarter of the governments revenue on interest – and this was on the governments interest rates. Fortunately the reduction in global interest rates helped a lot as did the reduction in inflation down to manageable levels. There may have been a impact from asset sales in the 80’s and 90’s. But is suspect when you looked at the nett costs of increased people on unemployment in areas without employment, I suspect it was minor and largely eaten up by middlemen.

      But I wasn’t talking about welfare. The vast bulk of that is superannuation or highly variable based on a lack of jobs during recessions. A few minutes of reading on the latter will show that the numbers of people on long term benefits is minimal when there are jobs available. The problem is how to get those jobs.

      The question is how do you get new industries created in times of depression to create jobs, when the wealth required to capitalize those industries is being held in a small population of increasingly risk adverse wealthy? We have been through this cycle numerous times in the last 200 years, and in the absence of new resources, it gets increasing more difficult for the “market” to it without a shove from the state.

      It is the indirect transfers from the wealthy to the whole of society via infrastructure, incentives, and direct training that pay the dividends.

      • Gosman 2.1.1

        That is fascinating. So in lieu of direct transfers from wealthy to poor via welfare you think there is some other method involving Governmental support of business do you? I therefore presume you support the reimposition of high tarriffs and import substitution as the solution to this issue do you? The alternative is direct subsidisation of industry. This would require the renegotiation or outright withdrawal of NZ from a number of international trade agreements, (many of which were negotiated and signed under the previous Labour led government it has to be stated). I have yet to see a political grouping in Parliament seriously argue for this. It is a valid policy to pursue though, just not one I subscribe to. Why do you think no political party is pushing for this?

        • Colonial Viper 2.1.1.1

          High import barriers, subsidies and other government protections were critical to the success of Japanese and South Korean auto, heavy machinery, ship building and high tech precision machining industries.

          The US Govt continues to subsidise their pharmaceutical and military-industrial complex to the tune of trillions per year.

          Government intervention and protection has also been critical to the success of the NZ ag/hort industry, including dairy.

          Other countries understand that close co-operation between a country’s industries and its government is absolutely necessary for global success. Germany, USA, Japan, Taiwan, China, Singapore, South Korea all get this implicitly.

          Why are we so slow.

    • McFlock 2.2

      Indeed if we have a look at the graphs in figures 2, 3, and 4 of this paper ,(http://ips.ac.nz/publications/files/99f91186d74.pdf), it should be obvious that the State’s expenditure on welfare as a percentage of GDP has been remarkable consistent over time

      Really? Of those charts, figure 3 is the only one that even mentions welfare. It seems to show around a 2 or 3% of GDP drop in welfare and GSF from 1994, which according to table 1 was 13.5% of GDP in 2008/9. So it would have been around 16% of GDP if it were “remarkabl[y] consistent”.
       
      Oh, and when comparing us to the 1970s you need to factor in unemployment rates, union membership keeping wages reasonable, the opportunities provided by the education system at the time, and demographic changes /  the entire gender politics thing. Plus, of course, the stuff we chose to ignore then like “domestic” violence.
       

      • KJT 2.2.1

        I would expect the total payments for welfare to be relatively constant. Recent Labour Governments may raise things such as the UB slightly, but NACT always causes has many more unemployed.
        Neither change the biggest welfare payments, super, by much.
        Most likely this largely cancels out.

  3. Georgecom 3

    One extra factor I neglected to mention in NZ was the Awards system and relativities. A wage increase struck in one of the core Awards, like the metal trades, was passed through the economy by the mechanism of relativities (pattern bargaining) that saw productivity dividends flow through the working class.

    Anything like that now?

    • Gosman 3.1

      If those productivity gains were truly being spread around the economy as you claim then there wouldn’t have been distortions requiring Government interventions to support productive sectors of the economy. This is the reason Farmers supported reforms that led to increased productivity in the transport sector as part of the Quid pro quo for removing direct subsidies such as SMP.

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        In a near zero growth environment, the more productivity gains we have, the higher unemployment will be.

        • grumpy 3.1.1.1

          Seems to me that higher relative incomes are more disproportionate in the non-productive sectors………………

          • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.1.1

            The ponzi-financial and banking sector, particularly. Also amongst the financial asset ownership class.
            Driving workers out of employment can be very profitable.
             

      • Georgecom 3.1.2

        The Awards and relativities framework allowed econom ic gains to be sp[read around the economy. One of the determinants for Awards and GWOs was productivity.

      • mik e 3.1.3

        Farmers didn’t support Roger Douglases reforms because all other farm export economies still haven’t reduced their subsidies.
        If they supported ACT they would have voted for Dinosaur Dons Nicholson.

      • mik e 3.1.4

        Gooseman road transport is still being subsidized heavily.

    • Mike 3.2

      Productivity has increased 90% in the last 30 years, whereas wages for those on lower incomes have remained stagnant or decreased in real terms. We used to share the gains from productivity increases by raising wages, etc. But in the last 30 years, the rewards have been mostly sucked out of the economy by way of profits.

  4. randal 4

    yeah like consultants, pr people, and general liggers and sausage roll abusers, all wrapped up in the sobriquet of nashnil gubmint parasites.

  5. ropata 5

    I don’t think the charge of propagating mass inequality is fairly laid against traditional “conservatives”, it is more the result of the neo-con / neo-lib movements who decided that the social contract was boring and getting super rich was much more exciting. Conservatism by definition puts great stock in history. The “Conservative” label has been greatly undermined by those with a (dominionist/evangelical/apocalyptic) religious agenda who forget the secular humanist foundations of democracy in the USA and elsewhere.

    Nowadays we all understand conservatism to mean the Brit “Conservative” party, US Republicans, or NZ NACToid corporate drones. Their moralising about identity politics was conservative in tone but their economic acts (and wars) were devastatingly radical.

    It’s the neocons, not the paleocons, who have screwed up the world.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      +1

      Its the neoliberals, and especially the neocons, who are the corrosive fuckers.

      Give me a ‘right wing conservative’ guy like Holyoake or Eisenhower any day.

      • Lostinsuburbia 5.1.1

        Yeah well Eisenhower wanted to tell the military-industrial complex where too go. That took some balls

  6. jcuknz 6

    I wonder if in the time being until people stop over copulating and over populating the world the solution would come from down skilling so that more people would be involved in less production to waste the worlds resources. Somehow, and I don’t have a clue how, we have to get away from the system that relies upon increased production and find an equilibrium … but first we need fewer humans … and spare me all the rude words such common sense seems to bring from short sighted un-thinkers.
    All the best for the New Year …..God help us all, or somebody ….something.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      A steady state economy powering a steady state society. Anything else and we will be screwed…soon too.

  7. One Anonymous Bloke 7

    The debunking handbook (pdf) discusses effective strategies for countering misinformation. Perfect for those wingnut moments.

  8. M 8

    ‘Even smart conservatives in my experience are generally idiots because they think far too short term, fail to look at history and in the final analysis view everything from their own narrow short-term interests rather than those of society as whole. That is why despite my natural inclinations towards the right, I could never standing the sickening myth-remaking of history and the external moralising about other people that hypocritically concealed naked self-interest. David Brooks is just another example.’

    Nice one Lynn – as you have said in the past you’re right leaning by heredity but left leaning intellectually (not exact words I know – forgive me) and thanks for having the balls to write this because for me right leaners in the main are short term thinkers who seem to operate on thinly disguised fear that by someone getting a slice of the pie too that they are somehow diminished.

    • lprent 8.1

      *grin*. It isn’t really by heredity – there are quite a few manual workers and unionists in the family tree along with the assortment of entrepreneurs, managers, shopkeepers and tradespeople. But I do have quite that strong tendency to have extremely individualistic tendencies and confidence in my own abilities verging on outright arrogance that shows up here frequently – usually when I’m tongue-lashing a fool. That tends to predispose you towards the ‘right’ way of thinking. I was particularly enamoured of it when I was doing the MBA in the mid-80’s.

      But there are different types of right leaners. The envy ones are almost the least of the problem. There are a lot of right leaners who intellectually see the issues but who have this interesting disassociation between understanding the issues, seeing how it will cause future problems, and feeling the responsibility for doing something about it in reasonable time frames. They tend to view everything as being someone else’s problem, usually the governments, while also decrying the government interfering in whatever they are doing. Kind of strange when they are the government….

      This shows up most clearly in the climate change debate. I just find it kind of weird.

  9. Mike 9

    “But maybe Mr Brooks meant to refer to the beginning of the 20th century? What was happening with income inequality from, say, the point when we can start consulting income-tax data, in 1913?”

    Interesting year 1913. Also the year the Federal Reserve Act was unconstitutionally enacted.

  10. randal 10

    Yes it is much easier to lean to the right. compound interest and all that, plus the psycholoigical satisfaction of bossing people around and last but not least professing to beleive in God so that it is all his fault.
    and they are all so smug and smarmy.
    so where are the f*cking jobs you nimnuls?

  11. Lostinsuburbia 11

    At the end of the day we exist in a modern quasi-feudal society. The majority of us devote our time to labour for the enrich of our boss/Corp aka The lord. Our spare time and capital is used to either rest or invest in our marginal scraps of the economy (I.e serfs got to farm thir own individual plots when not tendering their lordsfields).

    Then we have the modern equivalent of guilds, allowing the major companies to dominate and control their respective markets.

    And above it we have our modern version of the king and the royal court, which is place to make favours, give money for deals, and kid the lower classes that they might get a say.

    Things haven’t changed much – we just have more food, better teeth, and most can read.

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  • Things to know about Whakaari/White Island
    Brad Scott, GNS Science VolcanologistThis post was originally published by GeoNet. Following the 9 December devastating eruption at Whakaari/White Island we have put together some information about the island. New Zealand’s most active volcano Whakaari/White Island is currently New Zealand’s most active volcano, it has been since an eruptive episode ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    5 days ago
  • Status quo supports status quo
    The Justice Committee has reported back on its Inquiry into the 2017 General Election and 2016 Local Elections, with a host of recommendations about how to improve our electoral systems. Some of their recommendations are already incorporate din the Electoral Amendment Bill currently before Parliament, but there's also a recommendation ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • The Greens abandon NeoLiberalism
    Back in 2017, in order to make themselves "electable" in the eyes of rich people who oppose everything they stand for, the Greens signed up for NeoLiberalism, adopting a restrictive set of "Budget Responsibility Rules" which basicly prevented them from using government to make things better. Now, they're finally abandoning ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Lying about a failed war
    Since invading in 2001, the US has consistently claimed that their war in Afghanistan has been going well, even when it continued year after year after year. Of course, they were lying, and thanks to the Washington Post and the US Freedom of Information Act, we get to see just ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Artificial Intelligence and You
    How should we think about artificial intelligence and the implications that it has for our work and leisure? There are many articles on artificial intelligence and its potential impacts on jobs, and the ethics of applications. These are important topics, but I want to focus on some less discussed aspects, ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    6 days ago
  • Statistical manipulation to get publishable results
    I love data. It’s amazing the sort of “discoveries” I can make given a data set and computer statistical package. It’s just so easy to search for relationships and test their statistical significance. Maybe relationships which ...
    6 days ago
  • More lies on the Twitter (Dan Hodges edition)
    The other big story concerning Leeds Hospital is Boris Johnson's bizzare behaviour at Leeds Hospital, where he was confronted by a journalist and challenged about a four year old boy with suspected pneumonia who was left sleeping on the floor, rather than getting  abed like a sick kid would in ...
    6 days ago
  • LabourActivistPunchedMattHancock’sSPADGate
    So, for a brief period of history, it was alleged that a protester had punched Matt Hancock's SPAD (not a euphemism; special adviser) when Hancock visited Leeds Hospital.This was reported by the likes of Robert Peston and Laura Keunssberg, as well as the less credible Guido Fawkes.  It also quickly ...
    6 days ago
  • France’s anti-Zionism is anti-liberté
    by Daphna Whitmore Last week France passed a law that equates anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism. It is based on a definition of anti-Semitism that includes criticism of Israel such as: “Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Another bus lockout
    Over the past year we've seen major bus problems in Hamilton and Wellington, as drivers have sought better wages and an end to the bullshit of split shifts, which basicly see them "married to the job". And now its Auckland's turn. When NZBus's drivers planned low-level strike action of not ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: Showing us how its done
    The government has been congratulating itself over the passage of the Zero Carbon Act, which sets out long-term emissions targets. But those targets are insufficient. Meanwhile, Denmark is showing us how its done:Denmark’s parliament adopted a new climate law on Friday, committing to reach 70% below its 1990 emissions in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Public sector dysfunction should not be allowed to undermine freedom of information
    Another day, another piece of legislation with a secrecy clause. This time its the innocuous-seeming Mental Health and Wellbeing Commission Bill, which (after establishing a new body and making it subject to the OIA in three different ways) includes the rapidly-becoming-standard clauses enabling it to request information from other public ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • “This is England, this knife of Sheffield steel…”
    The state of the United Kingdom is fractured, torn up, shredded. The Empire is gone, it died a long time ago. And yet, the country is still tracking with a lead in favour of the ones who play to the ingrained, class-bound division for political gain. It is a disgrace ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    1 week ago
  • CORSIA, coming soon to an airport near you
    On 27 September, Greta Thunberg addressed a crowd of 500,000 at the School Strike for Climate in Montreal, saying: “You are a nation that is allegedly a climate leader. And Sweden is also a nation that is allegedly a climate leader. And in both cases, it means absolutely nothing. Because ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert McLachlan
    1 week ago
  • Cloaking hate speech and fake news in the right to free expression.
    It should be obvious by now but let’s be clear: The same folk who regularly traffic in disinformation, misinformation and “fake news” are also those who most strongly claim that their freedom of expression rights are being violated when moves are made to curb hate speech (as opposed to protected ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • The Physics (and Economics, and Politics) of Wheelchairs on Planes
    Michael Schulson When Shane Burcaw flies on an airplane, he brings along a customized gel cushion, a car seat, and about 10 pieces of memory foam. The whole arsenal costs around $1,000, but for Burcaw it’s a necessity. The 27-year-old author and speaker — who, alongside his fiancée, Hannah ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • To Advance Civil Rights, Oppose Transgender Extremism
    We are very pleased to publish this submission is from Lucinda Stoan. She is a social justice activist, mother, and educator, based in Washington State in the  US.   This detailed and comprehensive source-linked overview of trans issues and what is at stake will be useful for many people, especially in ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Faafoi should be fired
    Newshub last night reported that Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi had apparently promised to help out a mate with an immigration issue. While its normal for people to approach MPs for assistance in this area, when you're a Minister, the rules are different: as the Cabinet Manual says, Ministers must "at ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Adrian Orr – The Reserve Bank’s Revolutionary Governor?
    New Zealand's Underarm Banker: It bears recalling that the “independence” of the Reserve Bank Governor was for decades held up by neoliberal capitalists as the most compelling justification for passing the Reserve Bank Act. Interesting, is it not, how the ruling class’s support for the Bank’s independence lasted no longer than ...
    1 week ago
  • Driving Us Up The Poll.
    Rubbish In, Rubbish Out: Put all this together, and it’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that anyone who responds positively to a pollster’s request to “answer a few questions” is just ever-so-slightly weird. Desperately lonely? Some sort of psephological train-spotter? Political party member primed to skew the poll for or against ...
    1 week ago
  • Jordan Williams, Colin Craig podcast series announced
    “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.” ― Martin Luther King Jr. A long and bitter court feud between former Conservative Party leader Colin Craig and Jordan Williams has been settled, with an apology and compensation from Williams. On Tuesday, Craig sent out ...
    The PaepaeBy Peter Aranyi
    1 week ago
  • How plant-based meat is stretching New Zealand’s cultural and legal boundaries
    Samuel Becher, Victoria University of Wellington and Jessica C Lai, Victoria University of Wellington Earlier this year, the New Zealand-based pizza chain Hell Pizza offered a limited-edition “Burger Pizza”. Its customers weren’t told that the “meat” was plant-based. Some customers complained to the Commerce Commission, which enforces consumer law in ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    1 week ago
  • Scientific integrity requires critical investigation – not blind acceptance
    Some people seem to want to close down any critical discussion of the current research into the relationship between water fluoride and child IQ. They appear to argue that claims made by researchers should not be open to critical review and that the claims be accepted without proper consideration ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The shameful reality
    The government has been congratulating itself over the passage of the Zero Carbon Act, which sets out long-term emissions targets. Meanwhile, Climate Action Tracker has the shameful reality: those targets are insufficient:While New Zealand is showing leadership by having passed the world’s second-ever Zero Carbon Act in November 2019, under ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • More secrecy
    The government introduced a Racing Industry Bill today. As an urban who horse racing as pointless-to-cruel, and gambling as a tax on stupidity and/or hope, this isn't normally a bill which would interest me in the slightest, beyond grumpiness at more government money for a dying industry. But there is ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Unlikely online bully, Liam Hehir
    Check. Check. One, two, three, four. Is this thing ON? Hello readers, I logged in last night (yeah, it’s been a while) to mark THE END of the landmark legal case, Jordan Williams v Colin Craig, which (gulp) reached The Supreme Court, in which New Zealand’s most-defamed man was suing the politician he ...
    The PaepaeBy Peter Aranyi
    2 weeks ago
  • The Birth Of Israel: Wrong At The Right Time.
    Before The Birth: Israel’s most fervent supporters set their clocks ticking in Biblical times. They cite the kingdoms of David and Solomon as proof that, in the words of the Exodus movie’s theme-song: “This land is mine.” The majority of Israel’s backers, however, start their clocks in 1933 – the year Adolf ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Public Address Word of the Year 2019: Korero phase
    In an unreliable, strange and confusing world, Public Address is proud to present a measure of comfort and stability by annually asking everyone what words or phrases sum up the year that's been – and then giving some of them consumer goods as prizes for being clever or simply lucky.Well, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Generalist to specialist
    Both my parents are pretty handy – and they seem to have the right tools for most jobs in the garage and they know how to fix practically anything. A similar story could be told about their generation’s experience in the workforce – being a generalist was not unusual and ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • A “coincidence”
    When it was revealed that NZ First had tried to enrich itself from public office via the Provoncial Growth Fund, the Prime Minister assured us that everything was OK as Shane Jones, the Minister responsible for the fund, had recused himself. Except it seems that that recusal came very late ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day
    Today is a Member's Day, and probably the last one of the year. After the marathon of the End of Life Choice Act, most of the bills up for debate today are uncontentious. First up is the second reading of Chlöe Swarbrick's Election Access Fund Bill. This will be followed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Worse than I thought
    The Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee has reported back on the government's odious and tyrannical control orders bill. As expected, the fraudulent select committee process has made no significant changes (partly because they couldn't agree, but mostly because it was a stitch-up from the start, with no intention of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The cannabis bill and the referendum
    Yesterday, the government released its draft Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill, which will be put to a non-binding referendum at the next election. I'm not a drug policy expert, but Russell Brown is, and he thinks its pretty good. And pretty obviously, it will be a massive improvement on the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: The Cannabis Legalisation and Control Bill: pretty good so far
    As you're probably aware, the draft bill outlining the proposed legal cannabis regime to be put to a referendum late next year was published yesterday, and has already attracted a flurry of comment. It's notable that a good deal of the comment is about proposals that aren't actually new.A minimum ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Alignment
    One of the big problems in New Zealand climate change policy is the government working at cross-purposes with itself. It wants to reduce fossil fuel use, but encourages oil and gas exploration. It wants to reduce transport emissions, but then builds enormous new roads. The problem could be avoided if ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • How climate change will affect food production and security
    Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change. If you have a question you’d like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz According to the United Nations, food shortages are a threat ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • More bad faith
    Last year, the government announced it was ending offshore oil exploration by no longer issuing new permits. The idea was that the industry would then die off as permits expired. Except almost immediately the government revealed its bad faith, by saying they would extend permits and alter conditions to keep ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Banning foreign money from our elections
    The government has said it will ban foreign donations to political parties and candidates, and will be introducing legislation to be passed under all-stages urgency this afternoon. While I agree with the goal, I don't see a particular case for urgency, unless the government is concerned about a flood of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Reforming the Education Acts
    The government introduced the Education and Training Bill to Parliament yesterday. Its a massive bill, which replaces both existing Education Acts, as well as various other bits of legislation (including some which are still proceeding through the House). I'll leave the serious analysis to teachers and people who actually know ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Bite-sized learning
    Amelia SharmanThere’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to micro-credentials, those bits of bite-sized learning that can help workers stay on top of technological change.  What’s a micro-credential? While definitions vary, micro-credentials can be understood as short courses that allow people to learn new skills or have an existing competency recognised. ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • “Not The Labour Party We Once Knew.”
    All Smiles Now: Claire Szabo is taking up her presidential role after serving as the CEO of Habitat For Humanity. Which is absolutely perfect! After KiwiBuild was so comprehensively mismanaged by Phil Twyford, the party has not only elected a new president from a thoroughly respectable not-for-profit, but one who ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Marxist versus liberal methodology on transgender ideology/identity politics
    While much of the NZ left has transitioned to postmodern and identity politics in relation to transgender ideology, there are some very good articles about that deploy Marxist methodology in relation to this subject.  The one below is from the British marxist group Counterfire and appeared on their site here ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Book review: The Farm by Joanne Ramos
    by Daphna Whitmore At Golden Oaks, a luxurious country retreat in the Hudson Valley, pregnant women have the best care money can buy. From the organic food, personalised exercise programmes, private yoga instruction and daily massages Golden Oaks looks like a country lodge for the upper class. Set some time ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Loosening the purse strings
    When Labour was running for election in 2017, it felt it needed to demonstrate "fiscal responsibility" and signed itself up to masochistic "budget responsibility rules". It was a fool's errand: the sorts of voters who demand fiscal responsibility are also the sorts of voters who believe that labour can never ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: How to get there
    Writing in Stuff, Joel MacManus looks at what we need to do to meet the Zero Carbon Act's targets. The core of it:1. Convert 85 per cent of vehicles on the road to electric. 2. Eliminate fossil fuels from all industrial heating up to 300 degrees Celsius. 3. Double our ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • anti-vaxxers in a measles epidemic: so many ways to be untruthful
    “Anti-vaxers are a pro-death movement,” those comments from Dr Helen Petousis-Harris speaking about six more Measles related deaths in Samoa over the past twenty-four hours. “Anti-vaxers are a pro-death movement,” those comments from Dr Helen Petousis-Harris speaking about six more Measles related deaths in Samoa ...
    SciBlogsBy Alison Campbell
    2 weeks ago

  • Record export highs picked for primary sector
    Sustained high growth in primary industry exports looks set to continue over the next two years with strong prices predicted for farmers, fishers, growers and rural communities. Minister of Agriculture and Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor today released the latest Situation and Outlook report for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • New partnership to boost screen sector job opportunities
    Auckland’s growing screen sector is the catalyst for a new partnership between the Ministry of Social Development and Auckland’s economic development agency Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED). The launch today at FilmFX in Henderson, is to celebrate the partnership which looks to capitalise on the social and economic development opportunities ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • A minute’s silence for Whakaari White Island victims
    A minute’s silence will be observed at 2.11pm on Monday 16 December in honour of the victims of the Whakaari White Island eruption, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed. “Wherever you are in New Zealand, or around the world, this is a moment we can stand alongside those who have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • NZ to help fund fight against measles in the Pacific region
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced New Zealand will contribute NZ$1 million of funding towards the joint United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO) Pacific Regional Action Plan for Measles.   “Prevention through vaccination is the most effective way of avoiding illness and a costly health emergency. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand remembers Sir Peter Snell
    New Zealand is today remembering one of our true sporting heroes, triple Olympic gold medal winner Sir Peter Snell. “He was a legend, here and around the world,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “Our thoughts are with Sir Peter’s wife Miki and their family.” “Sir Peter is recognised as New ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • PM congratulates Boris Johnson on election victory
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has congratulated United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his election victory.  “New Zealand and the United Kingdom are close friends and despite our distance we are strongly connected by our history and people,” Jacinda Ardern said.  “I look forward to continuing to work with Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Building a platform for the future of rail
    The Government has released its long term vision for a sustainable 21st Century rail network that gets our cities moving, connects our regions and gets more freight off the roads.   Deputy Prime Minister and State Owned Enterprises Minister Winston Peters said the Government is committed to rebuilding New Zealand’s ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Prime Minister statement Whakaari White Island recovery operation
    I want to start by acknowledging the families who have experienced such grief and such loss since the extraordinary tragedy on Monday. Today was all about reuniting them with their loved ones. We've just come from the airport where many of them were gathered and in amongst what you can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • New Zealand medical specialists to provide further support to Samoa
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters today announced further support for Samoa’s longer term needs as it continues to respond to a devastating measles epidemic. “Samoa’s health system has experienced massive strain in the wake of the measles epidemic. The volume of patients needing care during this outbreak, and the number of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Discounted electric-bikes offered to public sector workers
    Discounted electric bikes will be offered up to public sector staff across the country as part of the Government’s work to reduce transport emissions and support healthier transport options.  Associate Minister of Transport Julie Anne Genter officially launched the new initiative at Wellington Hospital today.  “The Government has negotiated bulk-purchase ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Australia and New Zealand confirm joint bid for FIFA Women’s World Cup
    The Australian and New Zealand Governments today launch an historic joint bid to bring the FIFA Women’s World Cup to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time. Australian Minister for Youth and Sport, Richard Colbeck and New Zealand Minister for Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson will announce the bold campaign, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Blackwater gold mine gets PGF boost
    The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) has approved a $15 million loan to help re-establish a gold mining operation at Blackwater Gold Mine, near Reefton, Rural Communities Minister and local MP Damien O’Connor announced at an event on the West Coast today. “This is great news for the Coast that could ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Papakāinga model inspires whānau well-being
    Papakāinga model inspires whānau well-being A housing project by Kohupātiki whānau in Hastings is an outstanding example of a Māori-led housing initiative that can reduce financial pressure and reconnect whānau to their whakapapa says the Minister for Māori Development Hon Nanaia Mahuta.  Minister Mahuta officially opened the Aroha Te Rangi ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government provides more funding for major community wetland restoration project
    Restoration efforts for a significant wetland in the Hawke’s Bay are getting more support announced Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage. “Wetlands are vital to healthy landscapes and ecosystems. They function as nature’s ‘kidneys’, filtering and protecting water quality, acting as nature’s sponges after rain and are home to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Housing First to help Nelson Tasman homeless
    Nelson has today seen the launch of Housing First Nelson Tasman. Today’s launch marks the expansion of the Government’s homelessness programme, Housing First, to the top of the South Island. “Housing First is a proven programme that puts people who are experiencing homelessness and multiple, high and complex needs into ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New funding to support Environment Centres working for sustainable local solutions
    New Government funding announced today will help communities make a difference in tackling environmental issues Associate Minister for the Environment Eugenie Sage announced in Hawkes Bay today. The Ministry for the Environment’s Community Environment Fund is dedicating $243,101 to growing the capacity and capability of the Environment Hubs Aotearoa’s (EHA) ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Government takes bite out of loan sharks
    The days of vulnerable consumers falling victim to loan sharks, truck shops and other predatory lenders are numbered, following the Credit Contracts Legislation Amendment Bill passing its third reading tonight. “Too many Kiwis are being given loans that are unaffordable and unsuitable, trapping them in debt and leaving their families ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Zealand safer as Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders Bill) becomes law
    A Bill that prevents terrorism and supports the de-radicalisation of New Zealanders returning from overseas has passed its third reading, Justice Minister Andrew Little says. The Terrorism Suppression (Control Orders) Bill is a carefully targeted response to manage the risk posed by a small number of New Zealanders who have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Foreign Minister and Pacific Peoples Minister to visit Samoa
    Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio will travel to Samoa on Friday, where New Zealand medical teams are helping Samoa respond to an outbreak of measles. “New Zealand has been working closely with the Government of Samoa and offering our assistance from the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New Pastoral Care Code will support tertiary students in 2020
    The Government has changed the law to improve student safety and welfare in university halls of residence and other student accommodation. The Education (Pastoral Care) Amendment Bill passed its third reading this afternoon and details of an interim Code of Practice setting out the Government’s expectations of tertiary providers have also been released. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New infrastructure funding tool to build housing developments faster
    A new tool to help councils fund and finance infrastructure could mean some housing developments happen a decade earlier than currently planned, Urban Development Minister Phil Twyford said today. “This new tool, developed by the Government in partnership with industry and high-growth councils, will allow councils to access private debt ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Vision to unite the primary sector launched today
    Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has welcomed the release of a bold new vision for the country’s vital food and fibre sector. “I’m delighted that New Zealand’s major farmer and grower organisations are today supporting the Primary Sector Council’s vision – Fit for a Better World,” he said. “The international consumers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • NZ congratulates PNG and Autonomous Bougainville Government on referendum
    Foreign Minister Winston Peters has congratulated the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government for completing a well-conducted referendum on the future political status of Bougainville. “New Zealand supported the referendum process by providing technical advice through the New Zealand Electoral Commission and leading a Regional Police ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Next steps for Upper North Island logistics
    In light of Cabinet’s position that freight operations on prime land in downtown Auckland are no longer viable, the Government will now embark on a short work programme to enable decision-making in the first half of next year, Associate Transport Minister Shane Jones says. Minister Jones is today releasing the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Surgical mesh restorative justice report received
    Associate Health Minister Julie Anne Genter has received the report back from a surgical mesh restorative justice process undertaken by Victoria University. The process heard stories, either in person or online submission, from more than 600 people affected by surgical mesh. “The report made for heart-breaking and confronting reading,” says ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • The Water Services Regulator Bill – Taumata Arowai a milestone for drinking water safety
    The Water Services Regulator Bill – Taumata Arowai , introduced to Parliament today, is a milestone for drinking water safety in New Zealand and will help improve environmental outcomes for urban waterways, rivers and lakes.  “This is a breakthrough for New Zealanders in terms of providing safe drinking water throughout ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Speech to new direction for criminal justice reform announcement
    Kia ora koutouE ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā matā wakaTēnā koutou katoaHaere ngā, moe maiKoutou ma ngā Rangatira Ko Anaru ahauKo au te Minita mo ngā TureHe Honore tino nui kei roto I ahau No reira tena koutou katoa Today, we are releasing two reports that are the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New direction for criminal justice reform
    The Government is looking to turn around the long-term challenges of criminal justice by taking a new approach to break the cycle of offending to ensure there are fewer victims of crime. Justice Minister Andrew Little released two reports today, Turuki! Turuki! from Te Uepū Hāpai I te Ora, and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New law sets up $300m Venture Capital Fund
    New Zealand firms expanding beyond the start-up phase are set for more support after today’s passage of the Venture Capital Fund Bill, Associate Finance Minister David Parker said. The Bill, which establishes a $300 million Venture Capital Fund, puts in place a key initiative of the Wellbeing Budget’s economic package. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand’s National Statement to COP25
    E ngā mana, e ngā reo, e ngā iwi, e ngā rau rangatira mā. Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. Señora Presidenta, Excellencies, Delegates. International action A common thread that runs through the Paris Agreement is the commitment we have made to each other to do what we can to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • $12 billion in extra infrastructure investment
    The Government is lifting capital investment to the highest level in more than 20 years as it takes the next step to future-proof New Zealand. Finance Minister Grant Robertson has announced $12 billion of new investment, with $8 billion for specific capital projects and $4 billion to be added to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Strong economy, careful spending gives $12bn of surpluses
    The Government is forecast to run $12 billion worth of surpluses across the four years to 2023/24 as the economy continues to grow. The surpluses will help fund day-to-day capital requirements each year. These include fixing leaky hospitals, building new classrooms to cover population growth and take pressure off class ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Priorities for 2020 Wellbeing Budget outlined
    Budget 2020 will continue the Coalition Government’s focus on tackling the long-term challenges facing New Zealand while also investing to future-proof the economy. When the Government took office in 2017 it was left with crumbling infrastructure, severe underinvestment in public services, degraded rivers and lakes, a housing crisis and rising ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Minister welcomes data-rich coastline mapping tool
    The Minister responsible for the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act 2011 (te Takutai Moana Act 2011), Andrew Little has welcomed the launch of an online geospatial tool that provides data-rich, dynamic coastline maps that will significantly boost research and evidence-gathering under the Act. Te Kete Kōrero a Te ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
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  • Chief Victims Advisor reappointed for a further two years
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