New Zealand’s Neoliberal Drift

Written By: - Date published: 2:23 pm, May 20th, 2017 - 85 comments
Categories: Economy - Tags: , ,

This post by Auckland journalist Branko Marcetic was first published in Jacobin in March 2017. Written for a US audience, it’s an easy-read, long form piece on NZ’s descent into neoliberalism.

A few years ago, when the 2008 global financial crisis was just one or two years old, a coworker and I were talking about the increasingly common sight of homeless people in Auckland, New Zealand. While homelessness in Auckland was nothing new, we agreed that we were seeing more and more men and women curled up in doorways, draped in layers of old clothes and blankets, and holding up tattered signs asking passers-by for money on Queen Street, the city’s main commercial hub.

It was sad, I remarked, that while the problem seemed to be getting worse, the government seemed to be doing very little to help these people escape poverty. She too expressed sympathy for the poor and stressed the importance of giving them a leg up, but confessed she found it difficult to feel bad for homeless people. After all, New Zealand had a generous welfare state that made sure no one was left behind.

“I mean, if you can’t make it in New Zealand,” she said, “then there must be something really wrong with you.”

Her attitude is not particularly unusual — millions of New Zealanders share it. The image of New Zealand as a kind-hearted social democracy, a Scandinavia of the South Pacific, is deeply engrained in its culture.

In fact, this view extends far beyond the country’s borders. A Kiwi in the United States is likely to field three common queries: questions about the country’s natural beauty, about The Flight of the Conchords, and about how much more progressive New Zealand is than America. (There’s an occasional fourth that has something to do with Lord of the Rings.)

To be clear, New Zealand has earned this reputation. Its quality of life is consistently ranked among the highest in the world. In metric after metric — whether examining corruption or life expectancy — it rates well above average. Perhaps most significantly, New Zealanders themselves report extreme satisfaction with their lives.

All of these accolades cover up another truth, however: New Zealand hasn’t been a social-democratic paradise for a long time now. Often considered a “social laboratory,” New Zealand eagerly adopted radical neoliberal reforms in the 1980s like few countries before or since. Nevertheless, its kindly image persists, in and out of the country.

A Social-Democratic Laboratory

All countries have narratives. In the United States, it’s the “American Dream,” the idea that hard work makes millionaires. In New Zealand, it’s the idea that a benevolent, liberal state will look after its people.

This self-image can be traced back to the period between 1890 and 1920, when the country became known as the “social laboratory of the world.” By then, New Zealand already had a long egalitarian streak: it established government life insurance in 1869 to help those who couldn’t afford private plans, assisted new immigrants, and embarked on an expensive public works scheme to lay roads and railway lines. But in 1879, a severe depression dented New Zealanders’ widespread belief in the free market and individualism.

The Liberal governments of Richard Seddon and then Joseph Ward, which first took power in 1893, passed a flurry of social welfare reforms, including distributing free textbooks, improving workplace conditions, establishing food and drug standards, and breaking up large estates to provide land for settlers. The Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1894 instituted a guaranteed minimum wage and a system of compulsory arbitration for settling industrial disputes. The 1898 Old Age Pensions Act created one of the world’s earliest public pension schemes, even if it was small, means-tested, and only applied to “persons of good character.” (Much of this came at the expense of the indigenous Maori, who were dispossessed of more and more of their land to make way for English settlers and railroad lines).

Foreign visitors returned with tales of an egalitarian paradise and “a country without strikes.” American Progressives drew on New Zealand’s example to push for similar changes back home.

New Zealand’s reputation for progressive enlightenment continued into the twentieth century, even as consistent labor agitation undermined its popular image. The benefits of its burgeoning welfare state expanded over the years, particularly during World War I, when it began covering widows, the blind, influenza victims, and consumption-stricken miners.

Then, like the rest of the world, the Great Depression devastated New Zealand’s economy. The downturn hobbled the country’s labor movement. Widespread economic suffering — exacerbated by the country’s lack of unemployment relief — swept the Labour Party to power in 1935. Its leader, Michael Joseph Savage, promised New Zealanders a “reasonable standard of living in the days when they are unable to look after themselves.”

The country’s first Labour government gave unemployed workers an immediate Christmas bonus, launched a state housing program, established compulsory union membership, and started a Keynesian scheme of guaranteed prices for exports. The centerpiece of its stimulus package was the 1938 Social Security Act, which established universal superannuation for those sixty-five or older, universal free health care (at least in theory), and welfare payments for the poor and unemployed. Savage died trying to enact this bill, putting off cancer surgery to help get it passed and win that year’s election. (Once again, Maori were left out — the law’s language gave officials wiggle room to discriminate and pay them reduced benefits).

Perhaps most importantly, however, the government’s commitment to full employment would endure for decades to come. Successive Labour governments paired this policy with a gradually increasing family allowance, culminating in 1946, when a universal benefit for all families with children passed.

By 1949, the International Labor Organization (ILO) claimed the Social Security Act had “deeply influenced the course of legislation in other countries.” English prime-minister-to-be Clement Atlee praised New Zealand as “a laboratory of social experiment.” In 1944, Labour prime minister Walter Nash wrote that the country offered a “practical example” of what “may well become typical of most democracies tomorrow.”

While Labour’s time in power ended in 1949, its policies of government intervention New Zealand endured. The country remained a highly controlled economy with an extensive welfare state and widespread state ownership in various sectors through the 1970s. Government-guaranteed full employment enjoyed bipartisan support. Even Robert Muldoon, who served as the right-wing National Party’s prime minister from 1975 to 1984, once joked that he knew all seventy unemployed New Zealanders by name.

Weird Science

This all changed in the mid-1980s. As in the Depression years, a crisis sparked a political sea change. New Zealand lost a major trading partner with the United Kingdom’s turn to Europe in 1973, while a series of oil shocks through the 1970s plunged the country into recession. In 1965, New Zealand ranked as the sixth wealthiest country per capita; fifteen years later, it fell to nineteenth.

Again like in the 1930s, the Labour Party implemented a major political transformation, making New Zealand once again a “laboratory of social experiment.” But this time, Labour responded to the crisis by deregulating, selling off public assets, and slashing state investment.

The reforms came to be known, somewhat derisively, as “Rogernomics,” after the finance minister Roger Douglas, who would go on to found ACT, a radical free-market party that has recently embraced US Republican-style law-and-order policies. Prime Minister David Lange acted as an affable and charming salesman for the reforms but had little interest in either economics or policy more generally. For the most part, he allowed his team to experiment with the economy however they liked.

Through the 1980s and 1990s — first under Labour, then under National Party rule — New Zealand ushered in neoliberal reform on an unprecedented scale. Controls on wages, prices, rents, interest rates, and more were scrapped. Finance markets were deregulated, and restrictions on foreign investment were removed or relaxed. Based on the belief that welfare helped create unemployment by encouraging dependency, the system was overhauled in ways that the government’s own official encyclopedia describes as “particularly swift and severe.”

In 1986, Labour slashed the tax rate for high-income earners and introduced a goods-and-services tax. This change effectively hiked taxes on low- and middle-income earners, given that they spend a larger proportion of their earnings on consumption. (Douglas even tried to institute a flat tax, which turned out to be a step too far for Labour.) Legislation in 1991 eliminated hard-fought reforms like compulsory union membership, compulsory employer-employee bargaining, and unions’ special place in this process.

Most state-owned assets were fully or partially sold off, including three banks, the Tower insurance company, shipping companies, the national airline and the country’s main airport, and various energy companies, among many others. In some cases, the results were disastrous, as when National sold off the country’s highly profitable national rail network to a consortium of financial companies, who soon ran it into the ground, forcing a government buyback. It wasn’t the only privatized asset the government later had to rescue.

Government disinvestment from public services abandoned the most vulnerable citizens. Nearly all psychiatric hospitals closed down by the 1990s, their responsibilities passing on to nongovernmental organizations. University tuition fees shot up by nearly 1,000 percent in 1990 and have climbed steadily ever since. The price of attending college in New Zealand now ranks as the industrial world’s fourth highest. The abrupt end of farm subsidies and protectionist policies hit farmers hard, plunging them into debt and leading to a spate of suicides. One prominent Kiwi recalled seeing a beggar on the streets of New Zealand for the first time in his mid-fifties, an experience he described as “like being kicked in the stomach.”

All of this happened at a dizzying pace. And it had to because the reforms were hugely unpopular.

“It is uncertainty, not speed, that endangers the success of structural reform programs,” wrote Roger Douglas in 1993. “Speed is an essential ingredient in keeping uncertainty down to the lowest possible level.” Douglas would later reportedly advise foreign leaders to keep their equivalent programs hidden from the public and to implement them as quickly as possible to bypass opposition.

New Zealand once again became a global poster child for policy innovation, as Jane Kelsey outlines in The New Zealand Experiment. The New York Times gushed that a “heavily protected, over-regulated, high inflation economy” had been turned into “one of the most open in the world.” The Financial Times claimed New Zealand offered a “blueprint for a shrinking state.” The Wall Street Journal applauded that “this little Prometheus unchained itself from a rock of high taxes, high tariffs, heavy welfare burdens, and pro-union labor laws,” and celebrated that “anybody can follow New Zealand’s example to prosperity.” None praised New Zealand more than the Economist, however, which ran story after story on what it called a “free market experiment in socialist sheep’s clothing” that was “out-Thatchering Mrs Thatcher.”

New Zealand’s neoliberal employment reforms attracted policymakers’ attention internationally. In 1996, Newt Gingrich — then House Majority Leader — sent a congressional delegation to study the country as a “model” for industrial relations deregulation. Powerful neoliberal institutions like the IMF, the Asian Development Bank, and the World Bank exported New Zealand’s grand “experiment,” organizing and funding study trips, speaking tours, seminars, and reports that promoted the program.

Partly thanks to this, countries like Mongolia and Thailand copied New Zealand in their own reforms and worked closely with prominent architects of the experiment. In 1998, New Zealand’s minister of international trade boasted that the “success of New Zealand’s economic reforms” was now as internationally well known as its sheep, its rugby team, and its milk brand.

If you look narrowly at metrics like inflation and government debt, the reforms worked. If you look at more fundamental economic measures like employment, income levels, and economic growth — all of which free-market policies are supposed to boost — they were a miserable failure.

The economy shrank by 1 percent between 1985 and 1992, while other countries in the OECD saw 20 percent growth. Poverty skyrocketed, with one in six falling below the poverty line by 1992. Unemployment jumped, too, and even when it later fell, much of the recovery was in part-time work. Income inequality widened sharply, with the bulk of income gains going to the country’s wealthiest citizens.

Binging on Neoliberalism

While these reforms profoundly shifted New Zealand’s politics, citizens’ self-image hasn’t kept pace. There remains a prevailing view that their country is an idyllic paradise apart from the rest of the world’s ills that, if anything, is too generous to its less advantaged citizens.

Surprisingly, many business leaders believe that New Zealand is an over-regulated, antibusiness economy hostile to economic success. Complaints that companies are mired in “red tape” never seem to end. CEOs regularly report that fear of regulations keeps them up at night.

These beliefs stand at odds with reality. Three times since 2005, New Zealand has topped the World Bank’s annual “Ease of Doing Business” report, which measures regulations that, at least according to the World Bank, enhance and constrain business activity. Every other year, it’s come third or, more often, second. It ranked first twice during Helen Clark’s Labour government, which often faced accusations that its legislation was making it impossible for businesses to succeed.

Furthermore, Forbes has listed New Zealand in the top three “best countries for business” each year since 2010. It ranked first in 2012. Two years later, Forbes called it best in the world when it came to “red tape.”

Every year since 2009, the conservative Heritage Foundation has put New Zealand in the top five countries for its “Index of Economic Freedom.” Investment banker and right-wing commentator Peter Schiff said he would like to live in New Zealand because of its lack of governmental interference.

Resistance to “the nanny state,” a paternalistic government unreasonably worming its way into every little of detail of individuals’ lives, has also become widespread. This belief most commonly finds its expression in complaints about the welfare program, which many think discourages hard work and desperately needs to be cut back. This narrative took center stage from 1999 to 2008, when Clark’s Labour government went some way toward slowing, though not ultimately reversing, the march of neoliberalism.

New Zealanders would be shocked to find that since 2001 and throughout all of the Labour years, social spending as a percentage of GDP has been on or below the OECD average. New Zealand has consistently appeared in the lower half of OECD social spending, closer to the United States than to countries like Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and even France and Germany, which rank far above it.

Nonetheless, popular myths about New Zealand’s safety net persist. Tales abound of unscrupulous beneficiaries gaming the system and ripping off taxpayers, or of apparently sociopathic parents churning out children just to receive more paltry benefits. Much of this is based on anecdotal evidence and high-profile yet rare incidents that receive heavy publicity. As per usual, it is also heavily racialized — the “dole bludger” that exists in popular imagination is usually Polynesian — even though 44 percent of working-age welfare recipients are Pakeha, or white.

The dramatic changes to the welfare system made by John Key’s National Government, which took power in 2008, are founded on these myths. As of 2012, single parents who wanted to keep their benefits had to start looking for work as soon as their child turned five (previously, they could wait until the child was eighteen); parents who had children while on welfare had to start job-hunting after one year. These changes enjoyed wide approval, even among voters who identified as left-leaning. Two years later the government promised to cut welfare rolls by a further 25 percent.

Meanwhile, charities like the Salvation Army reported a massive strain on their resources as overwhelming demand for food and other assistance outstripped their ability to provide it. Poverty, a normalized, structural feature of the New Zealand economy since the 1980s, has reached shameful levels: a third of the country’s children now live in poverty, and an increasing number of families live out of their cars as rents in cities go up.

Meanwhile, attitudes have hardened. A 2013 bill that would have provided free breakfasts and lunches at schools in low-income neighborhoods failed after the opposition called it “an abdication of responsibility of parenting.” One influential right-wing blogger and pollster mocked the bill as a plan to “replace parents”:

[I]f a family is so incompetent that [it] can’t arrange breakfast or lunch for their kids, then surely we can’t trust them to do dinner also . . . So I think we also need huge state owned dining places where kids can get their dinners for free.

After businessman and one-time Trump prototype Bob Jones said beggars were “fat Maoris” and “a bloody disgrace,” an online poll found that 72 percent of the nearly forty thousand respondents thought begging should be outlawed.

Such views also spurred a recent crackdown on welfare fraud, which saw as many as one thousand people a year being prosecuted for costing the country around $30 million annually. By contrast, less than a tenth of that number are prosecuted for tax evasion, despite the fact that this problem cheats taxpayers of $1 billion annually.

Public services have been further hollowed out over the past nine years. In its quest for budget surpluses, no matter how small and meaningless, the Key government slashed health funding, relentlessly defunded the Department of Conservation, and cut support for education at all levels. It has ramped up privatization over public objections, ignoring the fact that selling profitable state-owned assets for a one-time payment makes little economic sense.

Workers’ rights have also been steadily undermined — a stunning fact for a country once viewed as an international model for its labor laws.

Shortly after coming to office, the National Party introduced a three-month probationary period for all new employees, during which they could be fired for any reason without appeal. A 2010 Department of Labor survey and a 2016 Treasury report found this extra flexibility had done nothing to help employment, but had simply cut “dismissal costs for firms” while creating uncertainty for workers, a fifth of whom had been fired under the provision.

In 2010, the government passed legislation that excluded film workers from the definition of employees. Warner Brothers had threatened to move the production of The Hobbit to Ireland if the change wasn’t made, and the measure had been both publicly urged and privately promoted to top policymakers by the film’s director, national treasure Peter Jackson.

Anti-union sentiment became so bad that a group of global unions issued a joint statement in 2012 calling for “an immediate end to concerted attacks on workers in New Zealand” and “an end to the union-busting measures.” More recently, the government narrowly succeeded in revoking workers’ long-held right to rest and meal breaks.

While the benefits once afforded to workers and the poor are slowly being eroded, it’s never been a better time to be wealthy. Inequality may not be as extreme as in other countries, but as journalist Max Rashbrooke notes, the wealth gap has widened more quickly than anywhere else in the developed world.

Certainly, the National Party’s tax policies have helped: in 2010, the Key government embarked on a series of reforms that gave the biggest cuts to high earners and further raised the goods-and-services tax — a stealthily regressive tax regime that undermined any gains for lower-paid workers.

While New Zealand has been hesitant to welcome Syrian refugees, its doors are open wide if the price is right. It offers the global rich two separate residency visas, one of which — the Investor Plus, introduced in 2009 — has only two conditions: émigrés must invest $10 million over three years and spend at least eighty-eight days in the country in the final two years.

Since then, there has been an uptick in ultra-wealthy individuals gaining residency. As Peter Thiel recently showed, citizenship appears to be easily available to those with a high enough net worth.

Indeed, a recent New Yorker article revealed that New Zealand has become a popular refuge for billionaires preparing for the breakdown of society. But this has been known for years, at least since Robert Johnson told the Davos World Economic Forum in 2015 that hedge-fund managers were buying farms as “boltholes” to escape increasing unrest over inequality. New Zealand’s absurdly loose rules around foreign property ownership make this strategy possible: buyers don’t need visas and pay no stamp duty. Until recently, it was one of the few developed countries to have no capital gains tax. (Even now, it only applies to houses sold within two years of their purchase.)

New Zealand’s laws benefit the rich in other ways. For years, it operated as a tax haven, allowing foreigners to stash income in anonymous trusts and pay no tax on it. John Key expressly requested this rule, which a top law firm said would put New Zealand on even footing with the Cayman Islands, Luxembourg, and Ireland — all world-famous tax havens. While some have denied this label, the Panama Papers heavily implicated New Zealand and showed that these trusts more than quintupled from two to eleven thousand over a decade.

Ironically, the politicians behind this continued neoliberal rollback all directly benefited from the programs they are now dismantling. The social development minister who cracked down on single parents on welfare was once a single parent on welfare. Former prime minister John Key, whose government sold off thousands of state houses, grew up in a state house. Virtually everyone involved in the reforms that have burdened generations of young people with student debt enjoyed the right of free education.

But a significant part of the population has long since internalized the idea that this is simply the way it has to be. Just prior to Donald Trump’s victory, the New Zealand Listener (the country’s equivalent to Time magazine) criticized Trump and Bernie Sanders for “their unimplementable and often mendacious policy prescriptions.” Some of Sanders’s signature policies included a public health-care system and free college — both of which once existed in New Zealand (and one of which, public health care, still does, albeit in a modified form).

The First Step

Despite adulation from people like Peter Schiff, New Zealand is hardly the libertarian promised land. It continues to have a robust government involved in many aspects of its citizens’ lives.

But neither is New Zealand the progressive paradise that foreign travelers once breathlessly described — or that many of its citizens still believe it is. Perhaps it never was, given that ideas about self-reliance and individualism have always been central to its culture and self-conceptions.

Still, decades of neoliberal reforms have not only hardened social attitudes and eroded some of the country’s greatest legislative accomplishments, but also rolled back many of the elements central to its self-image. A country once proud of its egalitarianism now has higher income inequality than much of the developed world. A country once known for its prosperity now suffers with shameful levels of poverty. A country that markets itself as “clean and green” now must face the reality of its environmental degradation.

For the vast majority of the population, much of this remains invisible, which explains why Kiwis continue to view their country through social-democratic-tinted glasses. Perhaps if they looked more honestly, they could start to solve these problems.

85 comments on “New Zealand’s Neoliberal Drift”

  1. millsy 1

    Good site, the Jacobin. I fully recommend it to anyone with a left wing persuasion.

  2. Red 2

    The. alternative is that attitudes have not hardened people have become more enlightened and no longer accept the left propaganda and failed socialist policy of the past Nz is by far a better place than the closed so called social paradise of the 50 60s and 70s

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 2.1

      You are absolutely right that the 50-70s had plenty of problems and faults. But I fail to see any benefit from high cost education, inequality, low pay and poverty. I think it is possible to move on from the problems of the 1970s without making NZ a millionaires paradise at the expense of everyone else and the environment.

      • weka 2.1.1

        “But I fail to see any benefit from high cost education, inequality, low pay and poverty.”

        Those things enable people like Red to live well, that’s the benefit 😉

        • KJT

          I doubt if Red lives well. Propagandists for the right wing are usually “wannabees” who have bought the bullshit that the “rich have earned their wealth”.

      • Red 2.1.2

        Education is high cost as there are now 200000 plus students 60s and 70s 17000 fully paid hence why it costs a bit more now, , if you want to be a student now yep you need to cover some of the cost yourself, tough reality, below tertiary I would argue the quality and resources now compared to the 70s 60s is real value for money even if you need to top it up with inconsequential fees compared to what the tax payer fund, likewise health and even poverty it’s all relative, just need to suck it up and don’t wallow in self pity or get lost in left wing whinging, doesn’t help More opportunity and diversity of opportunity today than ever if you want it

        • weka

          “Education is high cost as there are now 200000 plus students 60s and 70s 17000 fully paid hence why it costs a bit more now”

          There is no explanation there. You’ve just asserted something without explaining how or why. The rest of your comment is the same. So I will take your comment as ideological rather than being based on evidence or logic.

          (it would help if you paid a bit more attention to the grammar in your comments, they’re not that easy to read).

          • Red

            If grammar is all you got weka ( every one hates a corrector) I will leave it at that, barring if tax payer is funding 200k students vs 17000 I suggest this maybe a bit more expensive, 😀

            • In Vino

              Red, if language is truly the brain’s instrument of thought, your inadequacies are explained.
              Socialism never failed in any fair competition – the Capitalists always knee-cap Socialism and tilt the field. It MUST NOT succeed.
              Judging by your grammar and syntax, I suspect that you are not well-read in history.
              Your verdicts stem from unfair tests, and when it comes to self-pity, just listen to the well-off moaning about having to pay tax. Maybe that includes you.

        • Bill

          Roughly speaking, there are currently 200 000 students in Scottish universities. Scotland has a similar population to NZ. And tertiary education in Scotland is free.

          So is heath-care, including dentistry.

          Which…well are you full of shit Red, or are you full of shit? Take your time. Breath deeply and think about it.

          • Red

            You are the one who appears to be hyperventating billy boy, settle petal

            • WILD KATIPO

              Ha ! this guy…. he’d deny everything including his brain having gangrene if the doctors told him his neck was rotting from the neck up…

              It was a balanced factual article , Red.

              And the truth hurts. Its time we all acted on those truths and started the neo liberal purge. Its cancer.

          • Marco


            [see moderation note in your other comment. Pay particular attention to the warning re trolling. I see this shit again and I will give a lengthy ban – weka]

        • Foreign waka

          Red, “Suck it up” is the cry of those bereft of their own opinion.
          A society functions best when all participants are able to contribute. In one sentence, this is essentially what is missed right now.
          Some of it is historic, some of it is self inflicted, all of it is designed to have the majority of resources concentrated at a very small number of people.
          Being in the diminishing middle class fighting, trying not to sink to the lower end can distort the view what is right and what is wrong.
          One can see young children with preventable disease, older folks not cared for and suffering unnecessarily, people without homes, and I don’t even want to mention the rort that the ChCh Earthquake has become disguised as “caring”.
          All this should be a reminder that every child deserves a good start to THEIR live and part of this is education. It is the hope we have to better the circumstances I mentioned above. To leave this once more to the domain of the haves will further increase the division that NZlanders tried to escape when the came here 200 years ago.
          I see the behaviors of the up and downstairs creeping in everywhere and I do really hope that the younger and thinking people will see the situation for what it is.
          History is repeating itself and I doubt that I “will suck it up”.

        • Draco T Bastard

          if you want to be a student now yep you need to cover some of the cost yourself

          That’s physically impossible. It’s only society that can support people through education. An individual simply doesn’t have the wherewithal and it’s society that needs an educated populace. Without one innovation and skills decline – just as we’re seeing in fact.

          below tertiary I would argue the quality and resources now compared to the 70s 60s is real value for money even if you need to top it up with inconsequential fees compared to what the tax payer fund,

          If it’s inconsequential then the government should simply pay for it. But it’s not. many can’t afford the huge fees that schools more or less demand now.

          get lost in left wing whinging

          The only whinging I see comes from you RWNJs – just like that entire wall of text you just spewed forth there. It really was nothing but whinging.

          More opportunity and diversity of opportunity today than ever if you want it

          Nope, there’s far less because all the wealth is controlled by so few.

    • Grafton Gully 2.2

      Luke 21:26King James Version (KJV)

      26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.

  3. UncookedSelachimorpha 3

    Excellent post.

    We have been fools to move our society in this neoliberal direction.

  4. Marco 4

    A line in the post caught my eye. The admirable (noble?) bit about the Welfare State being there for those unable to look after themselves. What event, or series of events, turned that unable into unwilling? This is, IMHO, why the political left struggles to maintain support with the vast majority of voters who by working; paying tax; housing, feeding, educating and guiding their children are very satisfied with their lives. There is no acknowledgment that this is the reality, and that the Welfare State has become an unsustainable and debilitating crutch for far too many. I’ll wait for the howls of outrage and abuse…

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 4.1

      Yes, often the worst for beating down on the poorest, are those just one rung above. I think politicians and the media have actively encouraged this meanness.

      Remember that the poorest 50% of NZ has just 5% of the nation’s wealth – and you can expect that close to 100% of those you deem “unwilling” are in that bottom 50%. With only 5% of the nation’s wealth – they are hardly bleeding the rest of us dry.

      The same can’t be said of the top 1% who own 20% of the nation’s wealth (four times more wealth, divided among 1/50th the number of people) – and yet about them we hardly hear a peep of complaint!

      • Marco 4.1.1

        The % of wealth has little to do with “bleeding us dry” I think. What is bleeding us is the costs of the welfare, the housing, the costs of the justice system, social workers, emergency services etc etc. Yet you will somehow blame this on some abstract neo-liberalism. The premise of the left, it would seem, is that it is some grand plan to keep the poor poor and downtrodden, yet it’s pretty obvious that the free market and capitalism would rather avoid all these unnecessary costs, and have everyone consuming happily with excess to spend. It’s easy to surmise that it is the grand plan of the left to maintain an underclass whose votes are cheaply bought (free stuff, KFC) to enable the Chardonnay lifestyles of Union bosses and the Political class.

        • WILD KATIPO

          ‘ The premise of the left, it would seem, is that it is some grand plan to keep the poor poor and downtrodden’

          * Did you not pay attention to the article? – it was neo liberal policy that enabled your above statement.

          ‘ Chardonnay lifestyles of Union bosses and the Political class.’

          * Seriously ?… and the New Zealand Institute etc DOESN’T enjoy its own ‘ Chardonnay ‘ culture ?

          ‘ What is bleeding us is the costs of the welfare, the housing, the costs of the justice system, social workers, emergency services etc etc. ‘

          * L0L at this one, again – you didn’t read the article , did you ? Did you not read the bit about NZ being rated as around the ‘sixth wealthiest per capita in 1965 ? We had a social democracy with a KEYNESIAN based economy then – NOT a neo liberal one. AND a welfare state, AND free education , AND large amounts of state houses AND free health care. Not to mention SOES’we owned!

          ‘ yet it’s pretty obvious that the free market and capitalism would rather avoid all these unnecessary costs, and have everyone consuming happily with excess to spend..’

          * It just gets richer and richer ( no pun intended ) with you , doesn’t it? WHAT was the main article about other than NZ’s declining prosperity and rapidly rising rates of poverty again , Marco?. What was this article all about???

          You never read it , did you.

          • WILD KATIPO

            Oh – and we owned lots and lots of STATE OWNED ASSETS as well !

            ( EDIT : Not to mention SOES’ we owned! I meant SOA’s in above post .)

            Yes ! – we actually owned them ! – and previous generations build and paid for em ! And what did the neo liberals do ? – sold em off for bargain basement prices to thier overseas mates to ramp up the prices charged to New Zealanders.

            Which made things like power un- affordable for the elderly and young working family’s to be kept warm in winter . So now we have kids dying in run down state houses .

            And large numbers of homeless that are not warm and cant even afford to rent a home

            Nice one , eh mate..

            • millsy

              I dont think Marco gives a shit about any of that, when it all comes down to it. As long as he gets is dividends and rental income.

              • And yet the stupid thing is, – prior to 1984 , – we still had many very wealthy people in this country. Neo liberalism was just a cheap shot for removing wealth from the general public and into the already wealthy’s pockets.

                It was theft by stealth introduced by a small number of politicians on behalf of certain individuals in the finance and business sectors.

        • UncookedSelachimorpha

          “It’s easy to surmise that it is the grand plan of the left to maintain an underclass whose votes are cheaply bought (free stuff, KFC) to enable the Chardonnay lifestyles of Union bosses and the Political class.”


          Unfortunately the “underclass” often doesn’t vote, so your grand plan of the left seems to be in your own head I fear. Your whole spiel betrays some pretty unfortunate views.

      • greywarshark 4.1.2

        You are so self satisfied. The only people you care about are those close to you. I suggest before you offer any more or your ‘wisdom’ you go away from the television news at night and read and listen to some of the information gathered and put up here or other blogs. Then you can step down from your high horse and join the rest of the people who understand what life is about, not just carry dreams around in their head. Your dreams show simple prejudice.

        Or perhaps you have learned all you ever can in just getting the skills to hold down your job and have a family, and play sport, that is always a handy time-user.

    • Bill 4.2

      In this strange set-up you’re imagining of people simply being ‘unwilling’ to look after themselves, there are no solo parents, no working people claiming entitlements, no structural unemployment, no inadequate wage rates…and anything being done that isn’t for money doesn’t count.

      Also explain why you think the “Welfare State” is not sustainable? Haven’t governments cut taxes and privatised potential streams of revenue for one off payments? And even after doing that and impoverishing society (both materially and financially) how much money did western governments suddenly conjure up to throw at the banks again? I forget. Quite a wee few zeros in the dollar amount though, yes?

      • Red 4.2.1

        Bill even if they doubled welfare with the downside consequences of such it would not be enough for your ilk, you would argue then that its every one right to be driving in an Aldi Q7 funded by the state Re your ideology of envy

        [Making false assertions about authors =… come back next week. FYI – never owned a car, never wanted a car never suffered from or operated from a basis of material envy.] – Bill

        • Muttonbird

          Is a warm, dry house the same as an Aldi Q7 in your eyes?

          I suspect it is.

        • Marco

          Plus 1000 Red, or however the sycophantic mutual hate festers do it here…

          [This space isn’t provided for you to drop a bunch of unfounded assertions along with your nasty ideology and you’re too quick to jump over the trolling line. I suggest you have a think about how to make actual political arguments before you come back. One week – weka]

          • Muttonbird

            There a change come over you RWNJs recently. There’s an air of desperate defeat about you all. Hope you get through ok.

            • Red

              All good here muttonbrain but appreciate the concern 😀

              [I told a lie up above. You’re gone until the second of June. I’m about to scan your other comments on this thread, so I hope you’ll understand not to be surprised if come back on June 2nd to discover the ban’s been pushed out further] – Bill

              • In Vino

                Please find evidence to do so, Bill. I for one will be highly appreciative of your efforts. Red is a constant bore.

    • Craig H 4.3

      This was covered pretty thoroughly in the article – the statistics don’t back up the stereotypes.

      • WILD KATIPO 4.3.1

        Slanted statistics rarely ever do , Craig H ….

        • Craig H

          How are they slanted? It’s like drug testing beneficiaries – a tiny percentage of beneficiaries fail, yet it’s a major stereotype despite not being supported by the numbers.

          • WILD KATIPO

            Hehehe…I was meaning when these neo liberals slant data , statistics etc , which they’ve done for years creating sub groups to victimize for political purposes.

            Not so much those NGO’s for instance who submit reports that reveal the truth on say Nationals treatment of beneficiaries etc.

    • Foreign waka 4.4

      Marco, no outrage just a reality check.
      Can you please quantify how much of welfare fraud is going on and if so, break it down to taxpayer moneys kept – as in not paid and taxpayer money kept but not deserved?
      BTW, pensions are counted as social welfare, I hope you realise this? Would you then say that someone with an income from other sources, including trusts over 100K should not get a pension?
      I belief an analysis will be needed before making such sweeping statements.

  5. Ad 5

    I don’t like the meanness of the New Zealand public sector either, and in how it treats the weak and the poor. WE are indeed spectacularly unequal now.

    And I agree with him on the vastly unequal division of wealth, oppression of unions, and chronic low wages.

    But the questions persist:
    – Why are we so popular as an inbound migration destination? It’s not just our relativity.
    – Why does investment continue to pour in? It’s not just because our rules let it.
    – Why is our economy diversifying so well, over so long? It’s not just luck.
    – Why is it, ‘for the vast majority of our population, much of this remains invisible’ – why do most people not care about it, not even know the term, and consistently vote centrist strong-staters in? It’s not like there’s a nationwide amnesia.

    I would find him more convincing if he admitted what is going right.

    • Bill 5.1

      Social mythology (egalitarian etc) and nice weather plus English being the spoken language probably explain a fair portion of your first question.

      Dunno jack shit about investment.

      Is the economy diversifying? Seems to be stuck on primary production mode from what I see (milk, logs etc) and then some tourism thrown in.

      It’s been rendered invisible by media over years and people encouraged to avert their gaze by the propagation of memes such as ‘deserving poor’ and ‘undeserving poor’. And there’s maybe still the impact of that racist element – white people aren’t poor and them brown skinned people’s lazy, innit?

      Voting centrist – well, what options have there been? I mind back in 2002(?) sitting in a smoko room and people saying they wouldn’t vote Alliance because what they were offering was too good. I kid you not. I think there’s a certain attitude harboured by far too many in NZ that it’s somehow wrong to demand; that what’s deserved will be handed down…and riding shotgun with that a somewhat fearful culture insisting that people don’t upset the boss or ‘the betters’.

      That as may be, what would you say’s going right Ad?

      • Ad 5.1.1

        Check below for the 2016 MBIE report on where exactly New Zealand’s economic sectors are.
        Might surprise you.

        The dominant political options have been centrist and statist and liberal, and people have chosen them consistently for 20 years. Even so, those who oppose the centre-statist thing are tracking at about 20% (Greens + NZF). So it’s not like there’s no choice.

        As for what is going right, well, that’s easiest left to the current government, who will tell us all about it, at length, in the next three months.

        • weka

          NZF is centre-statist.

          “So it’s not like there’s no choice.”

          There isn’t if you want a good cultural fit.

        • Graeme

          That was an interesting read. But I think all the current government can lay claim to is standing on the shoulders of the governments before, particularly the preceding Labour government. And creating MBIE to have an overall view of the economy.

          In highlighting the growth in ICT and high value manufacturing the document also gives the current immigration policy a swift kick in the shins. Where’s the value to our economy bringing in “retail managers” when we need innovative, lateral thinking engineers. While MBIE have highlighted the things we are doing very well, the report also shows where we are putting it all at risk with a looming skill crunch.

          The report, while produced last year, is based on data from 2002 – 12, so again mainly relating to the efforts of the Clark government. Would be very interesting to see how the current lot have changed the trajectory.

          • Craig H

            We don’t really import retail managers, we import students who move into that field as a (not very viable) pathway to residency. It’s pretty clear from appeal decisions that the vast majority of retail management positions seen by immigration are more supervisory in nature, but that doesn’t stop unscrupulous overseas agents from selling the dream.

    • Craig H 5.2

      For most people, it’s not a problem, so they don’t care unless and until it affects them, at which point they become very indignant.

    • weka 5.3

      “I would find him more convincing if he admitted what is going right.”

      Despite Nationals general incompetency, I don’t think anyone is saying that neoliberalism has no successes. Obviously it does, or it wouldn’t have lasted. What people are saying is that the cost is too high. And we should be more honest about that.

      Then there’s the issue that even where one can say things are going right, they’re still not really. Yes, people want to live here (most of the immigrants I know are middle class Europeans and Americans, and they’re here because there’s less people and a better environment), but look at the way that diary worker imported labour is being treated. Investment happens because people can make money. Like Bill I was puzzled by the economic diversity one, we’re incredibly vulnerable to an oil shock (tourism) and a number of risks associated with industrial dairy.

      As for voting, 1 million people just don’t bother. Of those that do there’s the whole perception of Labour as not competent thing. It’s not like everyone is voting National and loving it. If it’s a choice between neoliberal and neoliberal lite, why not vote for one’s personal self interest?

      “It’s not like there’s a nationwide amnesia”

      Not, but still a fair amount of having not recovered from the 80s Labour betrayal.

      • Ad 5.3.1

        See below for the economic diversity point.
        I think it will surprise you.

        In terms of voting centrist and strong-statist, well, if people really didn’t like it, they’d make the effort to change it by voting. It really is a popularity contest.

        • weka

          that’s not how it works though. People vote and don’t vote for a wide range of reasons. You are referring to the reasons why you think people should vote, not what they actually do. Some people vote for the handsome candidate ffs.

          And if people didn’t want centrist but still wanted reliable and competent what would they vote for instead?

      • Craig H 5.3.2

        I wonder if macroeconomic theories/settings have a shelf life.

        Basically, given enough time, people will figure out how to game given macroeconomic settings (currently neoliberalism, previously Keynesian economics) and drive them to a point where minimising that gaming becomes hugely problematic, at which point it’s better just to scrap the whole thing and move to a new set of macroeconomic settings.

        Also, I think the ubiquity of computers accelerates this process, so changes need to be rung in more often than before.

        We did ~50 years of Keynes, and now 33 years of neoliberalism – time to change again. I like Modern Monetary Theory, but would be happy to go back to Keynes.

    • @ Ad

      But the questions persist:
      1) Why are we so popular as an inbound migration destination? It’s not just our relativity.
      2) Why does investment continue to pour in? It’s not just because our rules let it.
      3) Why is our economy diversifying so well, over so long? It’s not just luck.
      4) Why is it, ‘for the vast majority of our population, much of this remains invisible’ – why do most people not care about it, not even know the term, and consistently vote centrist strong-staters in? It’s not like there’s a nationwide amnesia.

      1) Several reasons. One is the rich – we know about the bolthole thing. The other are large numbers of people from country’s that have ingrained poverty and class systems such as India. Not all , but many seek to bring their elderly parents as well. And they still look at NZ citizenship as a back door to the Australian economy and lifestyle.

      2) A lot of investment is from Australia – who own most of our banks. We are a veritable gold mine for them. As is our housing bubble. But even they are getting wary of that now.

      3) It may or may not be ‘ diversifying ‘ . That depends on who you listen to. It may well be ‘ diversifying’ insofar as the FIRE industry’s are concerned – but cast your mind back to the decimation of NZ manufacturing with the removal of trade tariffs. Also , – we have an investors/ employers dream here – a low wage economy. Thanks to the Employment Contracts Act. And the NZ Institute for lobbying National to ram it through.AND Nationals latest unbridled immigration providing cheap labour.

      4) The generation that opposed Rogernomics are retiring off, there is a whole new generation that know nothing but neo liberalism. If they did know there was an alternative – they would be outraged, But 33 years of beating down the populace, lacing it with dogma and catchphrases, economic propaganda, teaching it in our University’s and edging out those hostile to it as well as in the media , have done a fine job of entrenching an ideology that works well for a minority – but dis-empowers and disenfranchises the majority – slowly but surely.

    • UncookedSelachimorpha 5.5

      Those are good questions Ad. Couple of my thoughts:

      – Inbound immigration. No denying, there are plenty of places much worse off than NZ, and when you look at where many current immigrants to NZ are coming from, you can imagine why they would want to come here. That doesn’t mean we should accept NZ being far worse for people than it could be.

      – Investment. Depends if it is doing any good for society whether that means anything positive. A lot of investment I have personally witnessed looks a lot like mere extraction of the wealth and ecology of NZ, or empire expansion by the very rich, with the lowest number of jobs with the pay closest to the minimum wage possible. There are plenty of loggers and miners “investing” in Africa and the Pacific as well, for example.

      – “invisible”…depends who you mix with. It is true that many people doing relatively badly have no clear idea why any of it is happening, and are much more likely to blame “immigrants and bludgers” than neoliberalism – even though the latter is the actual problem in my view. Many young people I talk to don’t actually know what a union is, while at the same time living on the bones of their arses with zero hour employment paid far below the living wage.

      • Ad 5.5.1

        Agree we should expect more for New Zealand.
        But then, so would Bill English and Andrew LIttle both.

        Agree that New Zealand in some parts is still a commodity-driven quarry-enclave economy. But it’s far better than it was even under Clark. I don’t think there was no alternative to Rogernomics in 1984, but Mouldoonist command-and-control statist was clearly rejected.

        There are definitely fewer nodes of resistance in this new society.
        I think the polls and the policy mixes of the main two parties accurately reflect what the public want. They are consistent over a long time.

        It’s suitably mild as a political response.
        As a society we consistently poll that we are happy and very content, and like it here.

        The author of the article wants more for us all, and suffers from a really bad case of Left Melancholy, but there ain’t no cure for love.

        • WILD KATIPO

          No . Just wrong.

          SOME people who are financially secure are content. Vast numbers are not. And I don’t think many are that convinced that neo liberal economics are that grand at all. In light of Brexit and Trump ,… I think the tides definitively turned and the public are starting to recover from reeling under it and are fighting.

  6. millsy 6

    I think we will have more luck in bashing our heads against a brick wall than getting Red and Marco to come round to our point of view.

    Probably why I dont bother wasting my time on people like them any more.

  7. Incognito 7

    New Zealand has experienced many social and economic changes of which neoliberalism is one the most recent ones. The pace seems to be accelerating although this might be an ‘optical’ illusion rather than real; modern technology allows for more direct (and personalised) ‘news’ reporting and quite possibly we’re also on the cusp of a transition. Anyhow, New Zealand is not unique; these changes are global.

    Yet at the same time our democratic system, our political system, and our incohesive (!) constitution have largely stayed the same. Perhaps it therefore is no surprise that we frequently hear that our democracy is under pressure, at risk or “dying” even (e.g. Heck, we might even start to believe these clarion calls but what for?

    I would argue that we cannot realistically expect to come up with solutions for our current social problems, for example, without a ‘rejuvenation’ of our governing institutions and their frameworks (in a literal sense). Our current and future social challenges are complex and require political solutions but if our political structures are antiquated, rigid and entrenched – they are all of these IMO – they will not be up to those challenges. In fact, one could go as far as to argue that they are or have become a hindrance to finding real solutions (e.g. /open-mike-20052017/#comment-1331251 HT to Robert Guyton).

    I strongly believe that major changes are needed and that they will occur and be underpinned by grassroots movements (plural) – I won’t dwell on this again here – but this might not be enough by itself. A change at ‘the top’, of the institutionalised power and its memory (/open-mike-20052017/#comment-1331329 HT to Bill) also needs to take place, hand in hand, so to speak; the ‘establishment’ needs to be toppled. [Yes, I am surprised by this new insight]

    This is our task and it might look like (a) mission impossible but is there any other way?

  8. In Vino 8

    I think that in the short term Rogernomics etc gave the impression that in certain ways our economy was better off. Some foolish dreamers still imagine so. The catch is that we were creating a hell-hole of a society. As the symptoms got and continue to get worse, these people fail to see that a hell-hole of a society is not a good price to pay. Society is more important than the economy, but they think it is the other way round. Even worse, they fail to see their own complicity in the emergence of that hell-hole that our society is becoming.
    Too narrow in focus, and a lack of broad social vision. Greedy careerists who should have been kept in control.
    Now we know why deregulation etc was not such a good thing.

    • ‘ Greedy careerists who should have been kept in control.

      Now we know why deregulation etc was not such a good thing.’

      Nailed it.

    • Grantoc 8.2

      In Vino

      IMO ‘Society’ and ‘Economy” are so mutually interdependent thats its not possible to say that one is more important that the other.

      A decent society is dependant on an economy that delivers wealth. A working economy is dependant on a society that produces talent, a market and social cohesiveness.

      When either ‘society’ or ‘economy’ breaks down, then the other is negatively affected.
      Venezuela provides a current example of this. The economy is breaking down and this is leading to societal break down.

      Actually one of the insights from Venezuela’s situation is that ‘Economy’ may be more important than ‘Society” when you think about it.

  9. Ed 9

    “All of this happened at a dizzying pace. And it had to because the reforms were hugely unpopular.”

    Read or watch Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein.
    It looks at the imposition of neoliberalism on a global scale.

  10. Ed 10

    The NZ Labour needs to follow Corbyn. He has disavowed Blair and what he did to the UK.
    When will Labour say sorry for Roger Douglas and move on?
    Labour is still a neoliberal party in NZ.

    • weka 10.1

      Problem there is that NZ Labour don’t have a Corbyn.

      • mauī 10.1.1

        No Corbyn, but we do have a Morgan. ( Just to shit stir 🙂 )

        Seriously though I am starting to think he’s going to cause a few surprises this election.

        • weka

          I’ve had a few interchanges with him and his offsider on twitter. Not impressed by either their policy or how they interact with punters. The latter can be forgiven given they are newbies, but not at the expense of wasted left wing votes. In any other election I’d agree that having a few surprises would be useful. In this one, the only thing that matter is changing the govt and it’s a concern that they might put that at risk. They’re *not left wing. In terms of the policy, they do have some good ideas, but it’s very much centred on business model thinking and as far as I can tell they’re not talking enough to the people who will be most affected.

          Their cannabis legalisation policy is centred around setting a minimum price so they can both raise health revenue and limit usage. So, good they want to legalise, and not so good that they want to do it through a model that ignores low income people and small expert growers and commercialises the weed at the expense of others. I see that pattern in their policy a lot. Interesting ideas, but the proposed implementation looks like it was designed by rich white dudes who think that everything can be corporate.

          • mauī

            From what I’ve seen it looks pretty left wing. His main focus is fair policies for New Zealanders albeit often framed in an economists point of view. Policies like a targetted UBI for the most vulnerable – families with under 3 year olds, taxing property and reinvesting that to bring down income tax, legalising marijuana, clean waterways, etc

            I didn’t get that take from the marijuana policy, he said people will be allowed to grow up to 2 plants for personal use. I also got the impression he wants to reinvest a lot of the tax that comes from it into education so the impact on young people’s health is reduced. He also wants an over 20 age restriction on using pot to reduce harm.

            I think his policy set is focused around people’s welfare.

            • weka

              Morgan isn’t left wing, he says that. Geoff Simmons has talked about working with National. Not in a Greens, we’ll work with anyone but really hell will freeze over before we support a NACT govt, kind of way, but in a hey that would be cool kind of way. They are not left wing, and the whole point about TOP is that they will work with either Labour or National.

              Their current UBI policy comes at the expense of elderly people who they want to remove universal entitlement to Super from above the dole level. That’s a benefit cut unless you can jump the hoops for means testing. Which sounds good until we look at how WINZ operates and think about what it would be like for elderly people to have to deal with that horrendous organisation. There are very good reasons for having and keeping Super universal. There are better ways to not pay Super to really well off people (e.g. via taxation), but they’re not after really wealthy people, they’re after people above the level of the dole and then people above $17,500/year.

              Current Super for a single person is $390/wk. TOP want that to be $200, with a means tested $144 top up. So even in the best scenario it’s still a benefit cut. Their policy says it’s not. Who to believe?

              They reference The Big Kahuna, which basically sets an actual universal UBI at the level of the dole and deliberately doesn’t do anything about the supplementary benefits other than remove them because welfare is wrong. So if you can’t work to top up your UBI, tough shit. That’s a benefit cut for some of the most vulnerable people in NZ. Women with young kids, people with disabilities, people with serious mental health issues. It also means no hardship grants.

              He has some vague idea that people with medical and disability needs can get them met via services provided by the Health system, which again tells me he is not really aware of how welfare works. He wants to take income off people with disabilities and replace it with services from a Health system that is probably in as bad a shape as welfare is. That would include things that aren’t service based but require actual income, so now people have to go to Health for that, and the govt will have to set up a new system of managing that now that WINZ is gone. Like I said, there are some good ideas until you start looking at the detail and then it starts to look alarming fast. The reason for that is because economists should *never be in charge of social policy. Ever.

              I tried to ask Morgan about this on twitter and was told I was trolling. Someone else tried to ask about the loss of accommodation supplement and got similar treatment. I honestly think that Morgan doesn’t understand how welfare works in NZ (Mainly because he hasn’t bothered talking to actual beneficiaries), but I also think that he believes that some vague but small number of people worse off is an ok trade for his big idea.

              As for cannabis, yes 2 plants for personal use. So if you can’t grow your own two plants, then you have to buy off the govt regulated supply (not your neighbour) and they intend to set a minimum price so it’s not too cheap because they want to raise revenue for Health and to limit use.

              They also want all growers to be regulated, so that will take out a swathe of existing growers for a start. The people that will be able to afford to do that will be medium growers not small growers. Someone growing extra in their backyard won’t be allowed to sell it. They haven’t said what the consequences would be only that the regulations would mean that growers had to fit into the business framework they have in mind. We’ve seen how much this doesn’t work with local food. And again, it’s a policy that looks superficially good, but once you get to the detail it starts to suck and that’s because they’re economists who believe that everything can be run that way.

              “I think his policy set is focused around people’s welfare.”

              Kind of. If I look at the Greens’ policies, what I see is people who have gone and talked to the people affected by the policy and then designed a policy around what those needs are. With TOP I get the impression they consulted with experts in the field and are too distance from those most affected (this is very obvious in their UBI work). So yes, they care but they are still designing from economics not social policy.

    • Nic the NZer 10.2

      Corbyn presently has a finance minister who needs to be kept well under control. If elected the tension there could well undermine most of the good proposals Corbyn has put forward.

  11. greywarshark 11

    This from Red:
    don’t wallow in self pity or get lost in left wing whinging, doesn’t help More opportunity and diversity of opportunity today than ever if you want it

    Yes young people are branching out in ever larger numbers as the normal practices of community life are lost, no jobs to learn and gain qualifications and seniority in etc. They are learning street theatre, some just chalking it up like Banksy and others playing it out in dairies for money showing skills with threatening words, baseball bats and other damaging devices.

    There is a sort of apprenticeship for this, their childhood in a careless home with parents who have succumbed to the hopeless, joyless life that is all around, and relieve their grief and anger with violence and drugs. They may be shifted from school to school, with parents’ constant new projects leading to a new better future, involving them shifting, changing in mood and location, even from day to day.

    Great opportunities for all? Only for some who are in a state that can recognise and work to gain them, who are in the right position when available, who know the right people, who are stable enough, determined and focussed and not dragged back by fractured relationships, who can be assisted by mentors with advice to manage in the right way etc.

    Most coming here aren’t wallowing, they are informing others here of what they have observed or learned, or what they are trying to overcome, and what the barriers are. These are thrown up by mean, self-centred people who have no feeling of concern for others in society, except for their immediate group who of course deserve the best treatment that is available. This is channelled to the people by the present government. Most of us believe that Labour will be trying to be 100% better which will put us above the 0 level on the graph for useful, positive policy and implementation as we are in negative territory going deeper under National.

    So enjoy sneering Red (white and blue), you are a boil on the body politic which shows up when it is unhealthy. We will kick you out and bring wellbeing and health back.

  12. red-blooded 12

    Hey, this article was published on The Spinoff, but the link seems to be blocked. I’ve tried under more than one IP, and friends are also blocked. Anyone able to get through? If not, what’s that all about?

  13. greywarshark 13

    Message when tried just now. The administrator has blocked your IP from accessing this website. (But only for the american neoliberal story.)

    I think there is too much beef in the above sandwich for the dainty fingers of the young and sprightly things that follow this site. They only tell it like it is when they are talking about their periods as in On the Rag. Or about making money from your driveway with Campable and Parkable – like AirBNB.

  14. hectorjones electrical 14

    A political leader, rather than follower as per how it’s done these days, is what has been lacking these decades. Witness UK and USA. The certainty and surety and unembarassment of our demo-cratic forefathers.

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    BP, Z and Mobil all insist that petrol price hikes are temporary, “in a very literal sense.” The nation’s major petrol providers are trying to allay customer fears over prices, promising that they’ll move to lower them again “immediately” when the Middle East is returned to its formerly peaceful state. ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    3 days ago
  • All Blacks unveil boat for Rugby World Cup 2019
    South African coach Rassie Erasmus says he has no idea what they’re going to do about the boat. In a highly anticipated press conference this afternoon, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has finally unveiled the team’s boat for its Rugby World Cup 2019 campaign. In a press conference that went ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    3 days ago
  • An increasingly shoddy coverup
    The Operation Burnham inquiry continued to question senior NZDF staff today, and their shoddy coverup over their knowledge of civilian casualties continue to fall apart. If you recall, first, we were asked to believe that it was all a series of "mistakes and errors": a senior officer with multiple degrees ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • If we are to avoid making the earth uninhabitable, we need to rapidly decarbonise our civilisation, and cut emissions to zero as quickly as possible. This seems like an impossible task, but its not. Pushing hard on a few technologies and trends will let us halve emissions in a decade:Greenhouse ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • A further attack on transparency
    The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2) had part of its committee stage yesterday. its a generally tedious bill about the nitty-gritty of local government reorganisation. But it includes a clause making the Local Government Commission subject to the Ombudsmen Act, and hence the OIA. Great! Except of ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Ihumātao and Treaty settlements
    Yesterday Ihumātao's mana whenua reached a consensus that they would like their land back, and asked the government to negotiate with Fletcher's for its return. The government's response? Try and undermine that consensus, while talking about how doing anything would undermine existing Treaty settlements. The first is just more bad ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Protecting our history
    Its Suffrage Day, the 126th anniversary of women winning the right to vote (but not stand in elections) in New Zealand. And to celebrate, the government has bought Kate Sheppard's house in Christchurch:The government has bought Kate Sheppard's former home in Christchurch for more than $4 million. The Ilam villa ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Climate Change: Ostracising the coal-burners
    The UN climate summit is happening in new York next week, and unlike previous years, coal-burners and denier-states are not being invited to speak:Leading economies such as Japan and Australia will not be invited to speak at next week’s crunch UN climate change summit, as their continued support for coal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Jojo Tamihere Salutes Herr Goff.
    Get Back Jojo! The elation in Mayor Phil Goff’s camp may be easily imagined as they watched social media light up in indignation at challenger John Tamihere’s "Sieg Heil to that" quip. Just when JT’s notoriously right-wing, sexist and homophobic stains were beginning to fade back into his ‘colourful’ past, ...
    4 days ago
  • Hard News: A fun but flawed weed documentary
    Patrick Gower is good value when he's high. Not that I've ever, you know, got stoned with him. But in the second part of his documentary Patrick Gower on Weed, he does what you'd expect in a modern weed documentary and immerses himself – first with a doctor, then a ...
    4 days ago
  • Candidate Survey: Western Bay of Plenty – Local Body Elections 2019
    We surveyed candidates on their attitudes to issues facing the Western Bay Region, find out what they think: “Closing the Gap” Tauranga, one of the area groups of Income Equality Aotearoa NZ Inc., has surveyed all candidates in the three local body elections to discover attitudes to some basic issues ...
    Closing the GapBy Tracey Sharp
    4 days ago
  • Project Nettie calls on scientists to defend biology
    Please spread widely, and sign, to support science and rationalism over the new irrationalism sweeping universities and institutions.  PROJECT NETTIE Sexual reproduction, the generation of offspring by fusion of genetic material from two different individuals, evolved over 1 billion years ago. It is the reproductive strategy of all higher animals ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • I’m glad I don’t live in Auckland
    Just when I was thinking that Palmerston North's mayoral race (which includes a convicted child molester / public wanker and a convicted child beater) was the worst in the country, Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere opened his mouth:Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere is being slammed for using the words "sieg ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Index of Power Update, 2018-19: China #2
    We reprint below an article from the excellent website the Economics of Imperialism by Tony Norfield This is an update of the statistics for my Index of Power, using data for 2018-19 and discussing what a country’s ranking reflects. The major change is that China’s rank has shifted up and ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Climate Change: A history lesson
    Why is New Zealand climate change policy so crap? The Herald this morning has a long article on the twists and turns of climate change policy in New Zealand [paywalled / depaywall script], which shows where we've been. The short version is that the government first began worrying about this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • What the All Blacks Mean to Us
    The All Blacks have been, for more than a century, arguably the most successful International sports team in the world. But they are more than that; even for those Kiwis who are immune to the charms of rugby (and there are more than a few), the All Blacks are ambassadors ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    5 days ago
  • No one is born into the wrong body
    A short and incredibly powerful speech from a young lesbian woman. No one is born in the wrong body. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Contempt
    Back in June, the UK Court of Appeal ruled that that country's continued arms sales to Saudi Arabia were unlawful. So you'd expect that the UK government stopped approving them, right?Of course not:The government has apologised for breaching a court ruling against the sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Covering up the cover-up
    Yesterday NZDF officials were put on the stand about the lies they had told over Operation Burnham, making implausible claims that it was all a big mistake. But along the way, we learned they had already been put on the spot about it by a previous Defence Minister, who had ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Not as important as they think they are
    Farmers have been whining a lot lately, about the methane targets in the Zero Carbon Bill, about Canterbury's proposed nitrogen limits, and about the government's new proposals to stop them from shitting in our lakes and rivers. These policies are "throwing farmers under the tractor", they will force farmers off ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Behind Every Good Woman Should Stand – Another Good Woman.
    Alone, Alone, All, All, Alone: To argue that the Prime Minister is the victim of her advisers’ failure to keep her informed may offer Jacinda some measure of exoneration – but only at the cost of casting her as a hopeless political ingénue. A star-dusted muppet, whose only purpose is to ...
    6 days ago
  • Poor quality, poorly educated kiddie ‘Journalists’ spreading fake news
    In times of hysteria about the “World coming to an end” and “rising sea levels” so-called ‘Journalists’ who can barely spell words longer than four letters are having a ball! Though the majority of the Public have worked out that manmade climate change is nothing short of pseudo-science, and the ...
    An average kiwiBy
    6 days ago
  • Chris Trotter on the BFD
    I don't want to give pblicity to certain parts of the internet that are better left to fester in their own irrelevance (I know, a bit like this place) but the listing of Chris Trotter as a 'author' on Cameron Slater's spinoff website, the BFD requires some explanation.Now, I don't ...
    6 days ago
  • Sex is not a spectrum
    The text below is a Twitter thread by Heather Heying that explains the essence of sexual reproduction and it long evolutionary history. She is an evolutionary biologist and a “professor-in-exile” after she and her husband, Bret Weinstein, stood up to supporters of an enforced “Day of Absence” for white staff and teachers ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: Trees, aviation, and offsets
    With crunch time for new Zealand climate policy approaching, most of the New Zealand media have got on board with a global reporting effort to cover the issue. There's one strand of stories today about polling and what it shows about changing public attitudes to the crisis, but the strand ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Pissing-Off The Israelis Is A High-Risk Strategy.
    Dangerous Foes: For those readers of Bowalley Road who feel disposed to dismiss any prospect of an Israeli destabilisation of New Zealand politics, the example of the United Kingdom repays close attention. Ever since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party, the Israelis have sanctioned, funded and ...
    7 days ago
  • Something to go to in Wellington
    Make It 16, the youth-led campaign to lower New Zealand's voting age, is holding an official campaign launch at Parliament this Friday from 16:30. If you'd like to attend, you can register using EventBrite here. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • A founding member responds to Peace Action Wellington
    by Don Franks It was a lovely sunny Wellington afternoon with blue skies above  the beaches.  In Courtenay Place, political activists packed out a stuffy upstairs room for an important meeting. The assembled pacifists, anarchists, communists and independent young radicals of Peace Action Wellington felt the need for a mission ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    7 days ago
  • “Mistakes and errors”
    Current and former NZDF top brass are being publicly grilled this week by the hit and run inquiry over their public responses to allegations of civilian casualties. Previously, they've claimed there were no casualties, a position which led them to lie to Ministers and to the public. Now, they're saying ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • “Homosexuality is same-sex attraction and relationships, not heterosexuals with delusions of gende...
    by Rafael D. Quiles (gender-critical gay man from Puerto Rico) The writing on the wall is right in people’s faces and people just don’t see it or don’t want to. What could actually possess a heterosexual male to want to feminize himself and claim that he is a lesbian? Because ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Trump: “Where’s my favourite dictator?”
    From the Wall Street Journal:Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in ...
    1 week ago
  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    1 week ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    1 week ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    2 weeks ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago

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