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Open mike 13/03/2020

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, March 13th, 2020 - 134 comments
Categories: open mike - Tags:

Open mike is your post.

For announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.

The usual rules of good behaviour apply (see the Policy).

Step up to the mike …

134 comments on “Open mike 13/03/2020”

  1. Sacha 1

    Why to take action urgently. https://medium.com/@tomaspueyo/coronavirus-act-today-or-people-will-die-f4d3d9cd99ca

    Countries that act fast reduce the number of deaths at least by 10x

    • Rosemary McDonald 1.1

      I fear this advice will fall on stony ground.

      I guess it is up to us, individually.

      Stock up, self isolate.

      Look after whanau.

       

      • Sacha 1.1.1

        Fine if you are well-placed to do those things. Pandemics are a classic example of things we can tackle most successfully through collective measures, not individual ones. The US is about to show us that.

  2. Ad 2

    I'm liking our PM's measured approach.

    Ratcheting up only in response to our conditions here.

    Also Robertson synchronizing mesdures with Australian Treasurer with well timed talks.

    Goods heads team.

    • Rosemary McDonald 2.1

      It's all just fine and dandy…did I hear yesterday from the PM’s own mouth that she's listening to the business community?

      All good.

      Safe hands.

      Rolls eyes.

       

      • Ad 2.1.1

        We are sitting on 4% unemployed and there's a good risk this will double within 6 months. 

        Whereas we are 5 infections. 

        But actually what you heard from the PM's mouth in Parliament is that her focus is on the health of the New Zealand people. This was her clear response to Bridges. You can look it up.

        • Incognito 2.1.1.1

          The PM and the Government she leads are currently striking the right balance between health and economic issues, IMHO.

        • swordfish 2.1.1.2

           

          Whereas we are 5 infections

          ;
          Many more than that, I'd say.

          Silent spread from Pre-symptomatic, Asymptomatic & Mild cases … but like the US & various other Western nations … we're in the Don't Test / Don't Tell phase where the economy is prioritised over human life… as opposed to taking urgent & decisive action to slow it down & prevent overwhelmed hospitals & needless death.

          (Note: Pre-symptomatic (100% of those infected with COVID-19 go through Pre-Symptomatic incubation period of up to 2 weeks),
          Asymptomatic (around20% of infected)
          Mild cases (around 60% of those infected experience symptoms similar to a cold)

          • Macro 2.1.1.2.1

            https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/411572/no-more-cases-of-covid-19-in-nz-for-fifth-straight-day

            The number of tests being conducted every day was increasing, he said.

            "Yesterday around the country, at least 100 tests were being done, but all our tests yesterday were negative.

            "At the moment our labs can do over 500 tests in a day if they have to, and that capacity can be scaled up if needs be."

            I read somewhere – but can't find the link – that there had been around 1000 tests done in NZ at that time. That would be around 200 tests per 1,000,000 people which would place NZ around 10th on the list of testing for the virus, above France and just below Australia.

            https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/covid-19-testing/

            So while you maybe right that there are a few more out there, the fact that testing of suspected cases is occurring and coming back negative – does give some hope that we might dodge the full effect.

        • Sabine 2.1.1.3

          Are tests available? 

          No? then we have absolutly no idea how many are affected and will not know until they become very ill. 

          Might pay to keep that in mind. 

          • Macro 2.1.1.3.1

            But there are tests available and they are testing now over 100 a day and have capacity to be testing up to 500 a day and are working to expand that capacity. See my link above

            • Sabine 2.1.1.3.1.1

              yei. 

              how long for the test results to come back? 

              also, Mrs. Trudeau has the virus, and Mr. Trudeau is in 'self isolation'. 🙂 

              • Macro

                how long for the test results to come back? 

                The test results are known within a day. Of the over 100 test carried out on Wednesday all were negative. See the comment of Dr Bloomfield.

                • Sabine

                  good. 

                  at least there is that. Now hopefully they get the numbers of tests up to something a bit more then 500 a day. 

                   

            • McFlock 2.1.1.3.1.2

              The other thing is that testing might be the definitive diagnostic tool, but it's not the only diagnostic tool. Case history and symptom diagnosis provide the "probable" case count and suspected cases. Both are similarly sluggish in NZ, probably due to nation-of-origin traveller restrictions and screening.

               

    • AB 2.2

      Ironic/amusing that Robertson is actually flying to Australia for these talks. Because closing the border with Australia is the thing nobody will want to do, but has to happen soon to help prevent community spread here.
      And in a broader note – getting the PMC and the wider middle class off aeroplanes would be a good thing not only in this crisis but into the future.

  3. Adrian Thornton 3

    The left doesn't owe Joe Biden their vote

    The only thing I would add to this clip is that for the est Dems and the liberal media and all their billionaire and corporate master is this was and has never never been about beating Trump, it has always been about stopping Bernie and his progressive movement taking over the Democratic party.

    • AB 3.1

      Yeah pretty much. I still think that if you are a Sanders supporter you have a moral obligation not to vote for Trump – and if you are in a swing state to vote for Biden  however tightly you have to hold your nose doing so. 

      I have been pretty amused by the attempts on here and elsewhere to rehabilitate Biden, explain his popularity and disguise his weaknesses. They look to me like obfuscations of a pretty simple phenomenon:

      • objectively, democratic party voters prefer most of Sander's policy positions (M4A, etc.)  if they are discussed independently from the actual primary process
      • the same voters are less enamoured with some of Sanders rhetoric about democratic socialism and taking on the establishment, but could probably overlook it
      • the voters are desperate to beat Trump and are looking for guidance from party grandees on who can do this – the bullshit 'electability' myth pushed by the PMC-dominated corporate wing of the Democratic Party has been hugely successful and entirely to be expected as they move to protect their financial and class interests 
      • Biden is a weak candidate because his terrible record will allow Trump to outflank him on the left (e.g. on trade deals and job losses), because of the real or apparent corruption swirling round him (Burisma) and because he is clearly a step or two down in terms of electioneering performance and rhetorical fluency compared to 2016

      All up this promises to be the most grimly hilarious and simultaneously sickening US election in a long time. If Covid-19 overwhelms it and the administration proposes postponing it, that might be very interesting to watch too (for those of us who are still around at least) 

    • esoteric pineapples 3.2

      "Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost." President John Quincy Adams

    • Tiger Mountain 3.3

      The “lesser evil” argument in NZ general elections has been run forever, with some obvious merit re needed reforms of course, MMP, and the 30 year neo liberal consensus between National, Labour and later the Greens notwithstanding!

      However in the USA in 2020 as Krystal said in the vid–“shoot me or stab me” is the working class’ choice. Nothing will change for the millions without health care if Mr Biden is elected, or any of the other grim shit that currently goes down in the land of the free.

      Bernie should stay in the contest as long as he likes because he owes literally nothing to the US ruling class of which the Democratic elite is part, due to his working class funded campaign. He should use any platforms for the future development of the movements that have enabled him. The moderates have to own Biden now.

      • TootingPopularFront 3.3.1

        Bernie is definitely still in the race, he only trails by 148 delegates, Biden is on 800+, Bernie is on 700+, there are still 2000+ to fight for, don’t listen to the media, Bernie will fight the billionaires to the bitter end

    • Ad 3.4

      You're still in the first stage of grief.

      Give yourself the time to get to the next one.

    • Andre 3.5

      Lefties don't owe Biden their vote. It's merely in their very strong interest to give it him rather than put it anywhere else. To ensure the Turd Tornado doesn't get another completely unrestrained four years to trash the remnants of everything lefties value.

      The idea that things getting worse will bring the glorious revolution sooner is a craptacularly bad idea that has a historical success rate of zero.

      The situation we now have is a testament to the power of patient incrementalism, as practised by the right.

      • Macro 3.5.1

        Exactly!

        The damage that tRump, and the repugnants who provide him with the power base in the Senate, have done to the climate, the environment, the safe guards of a functioning society, the rights of people, and to the justice system and the courts, whilst enriching themselves at the public expense, is immense; and will not be undone in one or even two terms of office. 

        The only hope for America is a complete Blue wave in Nov and that realistically can only be achieved with a candidate who appeals to a large cross section of society.

        • adam 3.5.1.1

          We should put up the Christmas lights now. 

          Anyone who thinks Biden is different from trump is completely captured by fear. Both are of the same ilk, corporate lap dogs. trumps a complete dog f&**&^g muppet, but the reality is biden has voted for many things, which if your left wing you would oppose – but no doubt will make up some excuse. 

          No one wants a revolution, what anarchist are asking for is the left to actually be the bare minimum of left (social democrat) – rather than corporate lick spittles. 

          Too soon…

          • Macro 3.5.1.1.1

            FFS! Open your eyes to what is actually going on in the US right now. If you think that things will continue as they are now under the most corrupt, despotic, xenophobic, misogynistic, environmental vandal to have ever disgraced the White House you are very much mistaken, Even so the damage he has wrecked in the 3 long years he has been there is unbelievable – but just take a look a what he has done to the environment for a start:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_policy_of_the_Donald_Trump_administration  

            • adam 3.5.1.1.1.1

              Grow up, and look at what happened to america for the last 30 years. 

              trump is a more of an open arsehole than people like biden and co, but they are no different. They might be able to smile better or say all the right words like Obama did, but they still nothing more than hacks for the corporations. 

              The whole lesser evil argument is spent, the whole trump is the worst is bullshit – try reading how much of an arsehole  James Buchanan was, or my personal least favourite fuckwit to sit in the oval office Herbert Hoover. Stop burying you head in fubar rhetoric. Every president since Reagan has been a tool for corporate america. 

              Face the real world, the USA  has been taken over by the corporations and people no longer count. 

              • Adrian Thornton

                "The whole lesser evil argument is spent"…exactly right+1

              • Macro

                Obviously you have no understanding of how political action happens in the US nor any appreciation of where the power lies in terms of the implementation of policy. I totally agree with you that America is now a corporatocracy – but that is not just the fault of successive Presidents. If you really want to point the finger at the failure of successive American administrations to implement progressive policies look no further than the far right and the Republican party who have consistently opposed Bill after Bill passing either through the House or the Senate. Take for example the Bill proposed by Democrats to ensure that all persons in America can receive free Covid-19 testing and those without sick leave will receive at least 14 days paid leave. Mitch McConnell is on record as saying that sort of legislation will never be put to the Senate. Despite the fact that Pelosi has been in discussion with the Administration to put together this package. This just the latest example of Republicans sitting on proposed legislation that would be of benefit to all Americans were it to be passed. Gun Laws, Health Care, Environmental Protections, Work and Safety, Employment legislation, indeed dozens of Bills passed by the House this past year sit at McConnell's pleasure and will never see the light of day. As leader of the Senate he does not have to place these Acts to be voted on and he never will.

                To effect real change in America will require that the current democrat control of the House is maintained, the Democrats retake control of the Senate (easier said than done), and a Democratic President to ensure that progressive legislation is finally signed into law,

                But even that will not ensure the safety of progressive legislation, because the 3rd side of equation – the courts – will come into play. Right wing players opposed to anything that would jeapodise their wealth will sue and bring court actions to oppose anything they disagree with. For instance, we have seen these actions taken by civil rights groups to oppose some of the extreme measures instituted by the Trump administration. Now under a fair court system one would expect justice to prevail and the principles of fair dealings would be sacrosanct. However that can no longer be taken for granted after the past 3 years of Trump. You may not be aware that during this time the only thing that McConnell has been doing in the Senate is to introduce incompetent, unqualified, white, right wing men, to the task of lifetime judges. The courts are now stacked with right wing justices whose sole task is to support the right wing agenda, and this will be so for the next 30+ years.  This will be Trumps legacy, along with the destruction of the Constitution, the collapse of civil law and order, and the destruction of the environment. 

                Indeed just today a senior Judge has resigned from a Bar of the Supreme Court from what he perceives as the Courts being turned into "a junior partner to Trump's Republican Party".

                image

      • RedLogix 3.5.2

        The idea that things getting worse will bring the glorious revolution sooner is a craptacularly bad idea that has a historical success rate of zero.

        You've added a wonderful new word to my vocabulary! Along with a perfect usage context.

      • Adrian Thornton 3.5.3

        @ Andre, "The situation we now have is a testament to the power of patient incrementalism, as practised by the right"….you are quite right, however you forgot to add it is a trick they learnt from the liberal left who have perfected that very technique themselves over the past 25-30 years.

  4. esoteric pineapples 4

    This MPI document highlights just how severely the dairy industry is in debt. It looks like some sort of ponzi scheme. Here's a few quotes:

    On-farm bank debt has increased by $30.1 billion since 2003 and currently stands at $41.4 billion. a 267 percent increase since 2003

    In the 2017–2018 season dairy farms on average had a debt-to-asset ratio of 50.7 percent. However, many farms are holding high levels of debt: 24 percent have ratios over 70 percent; and 4 percent have ratios over 90 percent.

    Relative to production, farm debt levels have more than doubled from $9.48 per kilogram of milksolids in 2003 to $21.99 in 2019.

    The average level of bank debt held per hectare has more than tripled since 2003, rising from $7,700 to $23,600 in 2018.
    In addition, the number and proportion of farms Distribution of dairy sector debt per kg of milk solids 2014 and 2018 holding high levels of debt have also increased.
    In particular, the percentage of farms holding greater than $30 of debt per kilogram of milk solids produced annually has increased from 16 percent in 2014 to 30 percent in 2018.
    Despite falling interest rates over recent years, the burden of servicing this elevated debt has increased. Since 2014, the average annual cost of servicing this elevated debt has increased by 11 cents to $1.22 per kilogram of milk solids in 2018.
    Relative to production, farm debt levels have more than doubled from $9.48 per kilogram of milksolids in 2003 to $21.99 in 2019.

    The average level of bank debt held per hectare has more than tripled since 2003, rising from $7,700 to $23,600 in 2018.
    In addition, the number and proportion of farms Distribution of dairy sector debt per kg of milk solids 2014 and 2018 holding high levels of debt have also increased.
    In particular, the percentage of farms holding greater than $30 of debt per kilogram of milk solids produced annually has increased from 16 percent in 2014 to 30 percent in 2018.
    Despite falling interest rates over recent years, the burden of servicing this elevated debt has increased.
    Since 2014, the average annual cost of servicing this elevated debt has increased by 11 cents to $1.22 per kilogram of milk solids in 2018.

    https://www.mpi.govt.nz/dmsdocument/38930/direct

    • David Mac 4.1

      Yes, the trendlines in those stats are all ugly.

      To be that leveraged when interest rates are so low….Sitting ducks.

      None of the potential escape routes are flash: Extract even more milk solids from each hectare or surf the imaginary wave of ever increasing farm capital growth.

      If the figures in the report related to a rental property portfolio I think the banks would of said "No more money for now" a long time ago. Too risky.

      I wonder if there is a degree of faith from the banks with farm lending because of potential escape routes. eg: 'The govt won't let us fail en masse, we're too important to fail.'

      • Gabby 4.1.1

        I wonder if they're thinking Australia is running out of decent farmland.

      • KJT 4.1.2

        Waiting for 25 million Australian climate refugees to push land prices up?

        The house of cards that was farming for tax free Capital gains,, by borrowing to pay land prices way over the amount justified by farm incomes, depends on either bigger suckers, or continued exponential population increase.

        It is almost bound to burst at some stage.

        Unless we sell it all to billionaire refugees, from the mess they have made in their own countries.

        • Grafton Gully 4.1.2.1

          No freedom to roam, whoever owns it.  

          • KJT 4.1.2.1.1

            Yes. Rather strange when most New Zealanders were either escaping from the power of feudal style land ownership in the UK, or Māori, who had a more socialised model of land ownership.

            I suppose because the squattocracy very quickly grabbed land, and power, before the majority got the vote.

  5. AB 5

    Bolsonaro aide who met Trump tests positive for Covid-19. Possible double-whammy-maybe there is a non-malevolent God after all?

    • Cinny 5.1

      But, but, but……trump refuses to take one of the 'beautiful' Covid19 tests.

      It may sound cruel but I'm going to laugh my arse off if he get's it.

    • Gabby 5.2

      And PeedaDuddin – maybe nonmalevolent god has a sensa yuma?

  6. Is there an ethical case for Capitalism?

    Looking past the title, this is an intelligent and reasonably even-handed discussion. Quite a long read but usefully examines the characteristics of the three main systems we've tried to date; feudalism, capitalism and socialism.

    As we said at the start, it’s hard these days to find heartfelt support for capitalism. But it is relatively easy to find a reluctant, perhaps begrudging, endorsement of what passes for capitalist ways of running contemporary societies. Thus, it is sometimes said that socialism is a utopian but unrealistic body of ideas — one that simply assumes that people would be willing to work hard for the common good. Socialist theories, it is often said, simply go about describing how nice things would be if this were so.

    Of course, the begrudging defence of capitalism goes, such optimistic assumptions about human nature are false. The reality is that humans are selfish creatures, who seek to advance their own good over that of society, perhaps only seeking to help close family and a few friends. To get people to be productive in ways that benefit everyone, we need to set up society with the right incentives. This inevitably results in things like economic inequality, high levels of consumption, and pretty harsh enforcement of laws that protect private property. This state of affairs may be less desirable than a socialist utopia, but it’s the best we can hope for. After all, feudalism as a third alternative is horrible.

    Those who advance such an argument see it as an effective defence of capitalism — and it may be — but it’s not typically sold as an ethical defence. On this approach, capitalism simply has no “ethics,” in terms of having moral foundations. Instead, it’s a sort of remedial way of organising the economy, one that tries to save us from ourselves and from each other, without aspiring to any higher moral goal or justification. On this view, capitalism is, at best, second best. Socialism may have moral foundations, but it’s utopian — capitalism, on the other hand, is realistic.

    In this view, feudalism is unacceptably tyrannical and unjust, while pure socialism is utopian and unrealistic, leaving capitalism as we know it the compromise we can live with. Yet there isn’t much enthusiasm for capitalism either … which means we need fresh thinking about where to go from here, taking into account the known boundaries of what works.

    • KJT 6.1

      We did try socialism. 

      It worked.

      Capitalism, is going to end human civilisation.

      Expecting, pure, anything, is just delusional. Even with feudalism, the lord was expected to defend the peasants, and release his grain stores in time of famine. Those that didn’t tended to end up on a pitchfork.

      • RedLogix 6.1.1

        We did try socialism. It worked.

        If you care to read the article, it points out that all modern societies are some mixture of all three systems, and most developed nations exhibit elements of capitalism and socialism in particular.

        You can even point to feudalism and make the argument that it lasted a lot longer than all the other alternatives, even though nowadays we reject it because of it's innate injustice.

        And every marxist revolution, which is the 'purest' form of socialism we've tried so far, has ended in catastrophic failure. Only the truly self-deluding would argue otherwise.

        Capitalism (or commercialism as it might be more accurately named) carries by itself no expression of any ethical system to be palatable in it's pure form either, it contains no obvious incentives to do the right thing. Maybe there is the problem, we make a fundamental mistake when we expect economic systems, any economic system, to stand duty for personal ethics. 

        Maybe if we want people to do the right thing, we need to be looking in an entirely different domain, because humans have never been inspired to greatness by purely material interests alone.

        Capitalism, is going to end human civilisation.

        All human civilisations, including all those greatly pre-dating ‘capitalism’, have come and gone.

        • KJT 6.1.1.1

          Bull. The "purest form" of socialism, in history, occurred in New Zealand from the first Labour Government, and many other Western countries, until overtaken by the return of neo-liberal capitalism. Note that by all measures, they were the most successful societies, ever.

          If you consider an undemocratic totalitarian dictatorship, with a wealthy class of "nomenclatura" on top hogging most of the resources, "socialism," you have NFI. Taken in by the same bs, that has USA voting for billionaires, against their own best interests.

          The Soviet Union was "socialist" and "Democratic" for about two weeks,, before the Bolsheviks took over. The problem with any revolution, including our own Neo-liberal one, is that the most ruthless, self interested bastards, end up on top.

          You can hardly claim China, is a failure if you consider that a “Marxist revolution”. Rather a misinterpretation of Marx, BTW.
          I don’t like their Government or the methods. Almost as ruthless as the USA, but they have bailed out US, capitalism, several times, and our own economic dependence on the “communists” is becoming painfully obvious.

          • RedLogix 6.1.1.1.1

            This New Zealand you paint as a socialist utopia was entirely funded on the back of capitalist enterprise. Most people worked in entirely capitalist enterprises, personal property was still owned by almost everyone; it was at best a 'mixed economy' featuring large components of both capitalism (which appeals to individual self-interest) and socialism (which presumes most people are willing to be altruistic to at least some degree). 

            As it happens I too share a considerable nostalgia for this all too short era. It seems to me we hit a sweet spot for a few short decades, based largely on the experience of the war generations who had learned the value of sacrifice for the greater good. But that alone was never the basis for a stable ethical system, the trauma of depression and war always fades with time.

            But to describe it as the 'purest form of socialism' we have tried is bunk.

            If it were just the Bolsheviks you might have a point, but the same brutal failures happened everywhere else that marxism was tried. Besides you are talking with one of the very few kiwis who has stood at the place where the Revolution was actually born, in Sverdlovsk during the Czarist era. Revolutions are by their nature undertaken by people who are willing to pay any price for their victory; the brutality was baked in right from the outset.

            • KJT 6.1.1.1.1.1

              More crap. You are parroting the US right wing propaganda view of socialism.

              And you have certainly never bothered to read Marx, or Adam Smith for that matter.

              Hint. They were not that far apart.

              I never thought you would adopt the same self serving religious, and justification for fucking everyone else over, thinking the US, republicans, and our National party parrot.

              "The poor resent the rich" FFS.

               

               

              • RedLogix

                "The poor resent the rich" FFS.

                George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier characterised it more accurately as ' bitter middle class socialists who resented those more successful than them far more than any real concern they had for the poor'.

                • KJT

                  Yeah sure.

                  If you really want to see envy, which I have first hand, it is the rich parasite with the 40m yachts resentment of the rich parasite with the 100m yacht.

                  And yes correct, there seem to be way too many "chardonnay socialists" like our current Labour party, and right wing converts pretending to be “socialist” who given the opportunity to remove poverty, prefer to keep their own comfort.

                  • RedLogix

                    Sighs … you pretend not to be resentful, but then describe people more successful than yourself as 'parasites'. Twice in the same sentence. Terms of disgust and disease used to vilify whole groups of people is something you should ask a Jewish friend about; they know very well how that works.

                    The lack of self awareness is painful to watch.

                    • KJT

                      The parroting of US propaganda and right wing memes, from a formerly sensible commentator, is painful to read.

                      Why don't you just say it  "A rising tide lifts all boats". I.e. Trickle down. Which is what you are claiming with your bull.

                      If a young unemployed bloke, through no fault of his own,  on a measly $154 a week, is a "bludger" then someone getting thousands of times more money than their contribution to society justifies, is most definitely a "parasite". Existing on what they have taken off that young fellow, and many others.

                      "Parasite" is not being envious, just descriptive.

                      I am comfortable and well off enough in my own life, that I don't envy, anyone. I do however, think everyone should have the same chances I had.

                      Extremes of wealth and poverty, are what has destroyed civilisations in the past.

                      The dominance of political power by the "rich" and distressingly the support of other comfortable people, who have forgotten how society helped them get there,  is destroying my society. 

                       

                       

                      https://eand.co/this-is-how-a-society-dies-35bdc3c0b854

                    • RedLogix

                      "Parasite" is not being envious, just descriptive.

                      It's exactly the same language Hitler used to demonise the Jewish people. It's indefensible.

                      Extremes of wealth and poverty, are what has destroyed civilisations in the past.

                      I've lost count how many times I've expressed the identical sentiment here over the years. Probably at least twice a month for over a decade. So don't pretend to lecture me on this.

                      I've said this many times too, the paradoxical thing is that the modern post WW2 world has dramatically reduced absolute poverty to an extent never seen before in 10,000 years of human history. The left pretends it's all for the eradication of poverty, but much to our chagrin it was highly industrialised, financialised and commercialised economies that did it. Marxism by contrast was a bitter failure wherever it was tried. 

                      It's time we got honest about this, the denial indefensible.

                      Yet at the same time, these same incredibly productive economies have increased relative poverty dramatically. And it turns out that just throwing more money at this problem makes it worse. The underlying problem is that success creates opportunity and this in turn creates more success. This is a positive feedback loop that for some people drives extreme success.

                      Even though we can institutionally allocate everyone pretty much the same initial opportunities (and this is the other great achievement of the past few hundred years), humans are not all identical and we don't want to be. We do have different temperaments, different talents, capabilities, and sometimes fortune smiles and other times she doesn't. There is nothing we can do about this, you can have freedom of action, or equality of outcome, but not both. This means that the extremes of wealth is a much harder problem to address than everyone imagines.

                      To use a crude analogy, we could achieve equality of outcome in the 100m sprint if we cut Usain Bolt's legs off, but that wouldn't make anyone else run any faster, nor make anyone much happier except perhaps those who envied his natural talent.

                      This is the point I invite you to think about, please don't skip it. It's my sense that relative poverty (or gross inequality) is not best thought of as an economic problem. Certainly it's superficial manifestation can be measured in monetary terms, but the reason why gross disparity causes social instability is much less obvious. The underlying drivers have more to do with human psychology and moral values than anything in the monetary domain.

                      Wealth by itself is not the problem; it is how it is used that should concern us. This is and the temptation to fall into hubris and entitlement is the ethical or moral question.

                      At the other extreme, once you have gotten out of absolute poverty, the lack of wealth is not directly the problem either. It is the fact of being hopelessly wedged at the bottom of the social heap which can easily prompt responses of resentment and self sabotage is the underlying problem that traps people into bitterness.

                      In simple terms, the manifest symptoms of inequality are very different depending on your position in the economic hierarchy, but the moral nature of them lies in the same domain. And maybe reframing the debate this way we can find some fresh thinking toward actual solutions.

            • KJT 6.1.1.1.1.2

              We "hit a sweet spot" as a result of returning soldiers determination not to be an underclass, on their return from war.

              However returning to a Nation with poverty and an underclass, was the result of deliberate decisions, by two successive Governments, less than 60 people each time, to have poverty, to force people into low wage, exploitative jobs. It wasn't a necessity. Even Bolger had the grace to admit they went too far.

              Reversing it will simply take another Government decision, to raise welfare above starvation levels.

              The motivation was stated by Wayne Mapp, on this blog. He a lawyer, believed there was "too much equality" exemplified by wharfies "getting paid more than Lawyers". The arrogance and self interest is obvious. He never explained when asked, why, a lawyer should get more than a Wharfie.

              • RedLogix

                He never explained when asked, why, a lawyer should get more than a Wharfie.

                When the day comes you really need a good one, you don't care how much they get paid.

          • RedLogix 6.1.1.1.2

            You can hardly claim China, is a failure if you consider that a “Marxist revolution”.

            It was a monumental failure right up to the point where Nixon opened up the global economy to them and the CCP decided to stop being communist and make filthy capitalist money instead.

            • adam 6.1.1.1.2.1

              That's a pretty narrow view their Redlogix, one based on a whole lot of misconceptions. 

              It ignores the reality of the failed state that was China in the Warlord period, you double down on it by ignoring the damage done by Japan during the second world war. 

              No one would argue that Mao was a great economic mind, actually on that front he was bloody useless. But he did win two wars. 

              The CCP had a plan, and the did stick to it, to uplift the peasantry out of drudgery. They used a planned economy and some aspects of capitalism.  But they too have the problems of capitalism – namely the PLA which is   frightening corporation 

              But capitalism as a dominate economic system is deeply flawed for two main reason (actually many more) – monopoly and the concept of growth.  Monopoly is a fundamental problem we are stuck with at present. Growth is a problem because we live in a finite planet.  

               

               

              • KJT

                Redlogix, has had a "road to Damascus".

                And turned into "Gordon Gecko".

                If that's what being a landlord does to you, I'm pleased I decided not to add more petrol to our housing market.

                 

                 

                • RedLogix

                  Up until the end of WW2 the historic pattern of the world was always empire. From around 1000AD onward I recall an article that counted over 30 of them.

                  The simple idea was that in order to develop beyond the physical constraints of your existing territory (usually due to geography or the limits of photosynthesis) it was necessary to grab the resources of others. So you built an army and a navy and set about controlling as much trade and territory as possible. While white ethnicities dominated this game in the past 500 years, history quickly shows that everyone who could had a crack at it.

                  The process started out pretty crude and brutal, outright theft and tyranny was the norm for centuries. Over time however the process of empire became more sophisticated and the development that it generated were slowly extended to more and more groups. With industrialisation and the massive increase in productivity this process accelerated.

                  At the end of WW2 the Americans had the only military left standing, the same damage you rightly say happened to China, had left the British and Europeans equally devastated. Germany especially. But the Soviets remained a threat that didn't have a clear military solution to, the logistics of the Americans attempting a ground war into Russia was clearly impossible.

                  At Bretton Woods the Americans decided to try something different, unprecedented in human history. Instead of building yet another overt empire they cut a deal with the rest of the world that said "we will use our overwhelming naval power to protect trade routes everywhere in the world, and in return you have to be on our side in the Cold War". They essentially bribed up a global alliance. 

                  It also meant that trade routes everywhere were open and secure. The US Navy assured this. You could sent goods between any two nations, and the Americans provided the implicit security without any overt impost.  You were expected to use US dollars as the trading currency and support the US politically against Stalin's Soviet Union … but that was pretty much it. It was a hegemony, but not like any that came before it.

                  And in terms of human development, this innovation was wildly successful. Since the end of WW2 the gradual elimination of absolute poverty has accelerated to the point that in 2016 fully half the human race is now middle class by local standards. That is a stunning achievement, utterly unprecedented, that most lefties like to pretend hasn't happened.

                  As for China, it's geography means that it is utterly dependent on the freedom of the seas for almost all of it's development. It's trade routes to essential resources and exports are long and vulnerable; without US Naval protection, China would never have become 'the factory of the world' that is today (well it was until a few weeks ago). All the Americans have to do to collapse China is to go home.

                   

                  This isn't a moral narrative; it isn't a justification for all the obvious fuck ups the American's have made along the way, but it is a realistic description of the unique global order that we have flourished under since WW2.

            • KJT 6.1.1.1.2.2

              A convenient fiction from the Yanks.

              I could equally describe the myriads of failures in the US attempts to impose capitalist dictatorships around the world. Chile, Bolivia, Venezuela, Honduras, just being the latest. 

              Even the attempt to run Sears, in the States, as a competitive capitalist corporation within itself has been a dismal failure. Even capitalist corporations cannot exist without social cohesion and Co operation.

              https://eand.co/this-is-how-a-society-dies-35bdc3c0b854 The USA, and New Zealand if we keep allowing greedy thieves, power, is a failing society.

    • adam 6.2

      The reality is that humans are selfish creatures, who seek to advance their own good over that of society

       

      I'm sick and tired of social darwinist bullshit being peddled as some sort of universal "Truth".  Especially in economic discussions – it like some bad rerun of 80's tv. "Dallas" was a tv show, and in no way did it represent reality.  

      If this social darwin troup was true, then libertarian economics would work, and the social experiment of the last 30 odd years would make everyone a winner! Funny it's almost a complete failure. As this recession we are entering will be particular brutal on individuals. 

      Mutual aid, is a concept a lot on the left just don't get. It's what makes socialist economics work. The realisation that working together on somthing is beneficial for you and yours.  As an anarchist I'd argue that those thing are limited – health care, education, and housing all work better under a mutual aid model.  As for material  production and agriculture I'm for mix of co-operative and individualist approaches. Some planning is necessary.

      And to give Ad his due, we need trade, trade is a good.  But trade is not capitalism, nor is dependant on capitalism. Trade can exist without capitalism. 

      Capitalism is a broken model, as is Marxist economics. We have to look at more than just profit and the next growth cycle. 

      • KJT 6.2.1

        Capitalist ideas that people can only by motivated by greed, doesn't explain most Teachers, Doctors Aunties, Caregivers and the many other people who are certainly not motivated by greed, that make society function. 

        Those that are motivated purely by self interest, are totally unable to understand other motivations, though they are happy to profit from them. The main differential between the current left and right in New Zealand. Once we had economic right wingers who agreed that prosperity for all was a goal. We just differed on how to get there. That I could respect. I cannot respect the current self serving justification for what amounts to, theft.

        The scientist that gave away the rights to insulin to save lives, is a being beyond their limited comprehension.

        Thatcher's, "there is no such thing as society" is one of the most pernicious and dangerous, ideas of modern times. Adam Smith did not say "greed is good". In fact he wanted the people that Marx called, "rentiers" those who got paid from "owning" not "working" to pay the taxes.

  7. Fireblade 7

    The U.S. has just carried out multiple air strikes in Iraq targeting Iranian-backed Shia militia. The air strikes are retaliation for yesterday's rocket attack that killed and wounded American and British troops at camp Taji north of Baghdad.

    https://www.aljazeera.com/amp/news/2020/03/retaliatory-strikes-attack-troops-iraq-200312220946232.html?__twitter_impression=true

  8. observer 8

    Every idiot who says "photo op" or "show pony" about Ardern should really watch the media conference she just gave in ChCh.

    Anyone can read an autocue (except Trump) but it's the subsequent Q & A that really shows her quality. The key point is that she is saying what she thinks – not what some spin staffer has told her to say. The best fluency comes from sincerity.

    • Sacha 8.1

      The visiting Australian journalists seem to respect her.

    • AB 8.2

      Well-said. Her natural and unprocessed responses are inherently decent. Much respect and admiration due to her for that. 

    • Peter 8.3

      Every idiot who's down the "photo op" or "show pony" track could see the media conference, hear the media conference and come away with the same crap they usually parrot. 

      To compound the sad situation they're in, they would see Simon Bridges doing better, being better and stunning the gathering with his eloquence and presence.

  9. Andre 9

    About fkn time. The hero whistleblower who actually took the risks and paid the price and stood up for her principles is finally being released from prison. The assholes are still trying to squeeze her financially, though, by refusing to cancel fines that should never have been imposed.

    https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/world/us-judge-orders-wikileaks-source-chelsea-manning-released-from-prison/ar-BB1179bc?li=BBqdg4K&ocid=mailsignout

    • RedLogix 9.1

      Wow. I missed that.  An interesting and hopefully welcome development.

      • Andre 9.1.1

        Given that it's come right after a serious suicide attempt, I hope like hell she's got damn good wraparound support post-release.

    • SPC 9.2

      Not so good for Assange if it means the Americans are confident he is going to be extradited. 

      • Andre 9.2.1

        How do you figure that?

        They tossed her in the slammer because she wouldn't cough up new material to use against Assange (on the perfectly reasonable grounds she didn't have any new material to give them). So I don't really see how releasing her is in any way negative for Assange.

        • SPC 9.2.1.1

          It all depends on why they released her now it’s at the trial stage in the UK (too late to present anything obtained form her or they have reason to be confident about getting the extradition). 

          • Andre 9.2.1.1.1

            From wikipedia (source info is apparently NYT and WaPo):

            On March 12, 2020, U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga of the Eastern District of Virginia found that the business of the grand jury had concluded. Since Manning's testimony was no longer needed, the judge found that detention no longer served any coercive purpose, and ordered her released.[243] He denied a request by Manning's lawyers to vacate her accrued fines of $256,000, which he ordered due and payable immediately.[244]

            If the Grand Jury has wrapped up, then they've more or less finished putting together their case against Assange. Which would presumably include all of Manning's previous testimony, and she says she's already testified to everything she knows.

    • Sabine 9.3

      Yes. I saw that today. 

      There might be a go fund me page or something. 

  10. greywarshark 10

    TOP party talking UBI again.   In case anyone missed release around 10 March.   Maybe with inflation indexed safeguards, this inflation calculation to include rents and rise in house prices?

    https://thedailyblog.co.nz/2020/03/10/top-calls-for-ubi-stimulus-in-response-to-covid-19/#comment-494949

  11. joe90 11

    Doing the lord's work.

    /

    • To be fair, he's correct: holding mass religious gatherings during a pandemic would demonstrate quite clearly just how much power faith has to affect material reality, ie none. Pretty expensive demonstration if you value human life, though…

      • Wensleydale 11.1.1

        But a great way of disabusing people of the hilarious notion that the magical sky wizard will protect them from pestilence, famine, war and other interesting ways of dying.

        Part of me is in favour of it. A small, dark, bloody-minded part of me I do my best to keep suppressed most of the time.

    • joe90 11.2

      Darwin's theory at work.

      edit:

  12. SPC 12

    If you want to consider another threat, then there is bacteria resistant to antibiotics. 

    And yes we import pork from China. 

     

    • tc 12.1

      WHO reckon they'll be killing 4 times as many annually as cancer does within 20 years.

      Pork's in trouble from swine flu which's decimating the pig population. China faces an internal  shortfall so great it'll probably cease exporting.

      The fear is if it hits Germany (as it's in Poland now) there goes the global market as they're one of the biggest pork exporters.

       

       

      • SPC 12.1.1

        Yes that is a positive, as the pork export from China was another worldwide health threat. 

  13. joe90 13

    Authoritarian despot doing his thing.

    Turkey's control of coronavirus testing kits is fuelling concerns over a cover-up, a prominent surgeon wrote for The National Interest on Wednesday. 

    “To date, Turkey has done about 2,500 tests. The lack of any identified cases provoked suspicion because if the test is negative, there was no other way to prove that the test might be positive,” said Dr. Ergin Koçyıldırım, a paediatric cardiothoracic surgeon and an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburg’s School of Medicine.

    A source at a privately owned hospital in Istanbul told Ahval that the government was controlling the distribution of kits and not allowing hospitals to independently order alternatives.

    Turkey has said its own virus detection kits are the fastest and most accurate in the world. While most detection kits generally yield results in around 24 hours, the Turkish government said its kits – produced in Turkey by a private company and funded by the state – can produce results in 90 minutes. 

    Despite the Health Ministry’s claims that Turkish coronavirus detection kits have been exported to several countries, including the United States, Koçyıldırım said that – to his knowledge – there was not a single institution or lab in that country using the tests.

    Koçyıldırım also said that the Turkish government’s censorship of information was preventing people receiving reliable information on the coronavirus and was a disaster waiting to happen. 

    Turkey is the world’s biggest jailer of journalists and has threatened to take legal action against social media users or journalists who criticise its coronavirus detection approach, said Koçyıldırım.

     
    https://ahvalnews.com/coronavirus/turkeys-control-coronavirus-testing-kits-fuels-concerns-over-cover-surgeon

    • joe90 13.1

      Overly optimistic?

      The global coronavirus pandemic could be over by June if countries mobilize to fight it, a senior Chinese medical adviser said on Thursday, as China declared the peak had passed there and new cases in Hubei fell to single digits for the first time.

      Around two-thirds of global cases of the coronavirus have been recorded in China’s central Hubei province, where the virus first emerged in December. But in recent weeks the vast majority of new cases have been outside China.

      […]

      “Broadly speaking, the peak of the epidemic has passed for China,” said Mi Feng, a spokesman for the National Health Commission. “The increase of new cases is falling.”

      Zhong Nanshan, the Chinese government’s senior medical adviser, said at a news conference on Thursday that as long as countries take the outbreak seriously and are prepared to take firm measures, it could be over worldwide in a matter of months.

      “My advice is calling for all countries to follow WHO instructions and intervene on a national scale,” he said. “If all countries could get mobilized, it could be over by June.”

      Mr. Zhong, an 83-year-old epidemiologist renowned for helping combat the SARS outbreak in 2003, said viruses in the same family typically become less active in warm months, which could help slow the spread.

      “My estimate of June is based on scenarios that all countries take positive measures. But if some countries do not treat the infectiousness and harmfulness seriously, and intervene strongly, it would last longer.”

      https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-chinese-medical-official-says-coronavirus-pandemic-could-be-over-by/

      • SPC 13.1.1

        We'll find out if the Chinese approach works as they go back to work in the next few weeks. 

        If they do not go back to work soon the global supply chain is stuffed, if they do and there is a renewed spread of the virus … then that demonstrates there is no guarantees form harsh prolonged action. 

  14. Sabine 14

    oh well….sure thing, why not

    https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/national/411655/coronavirus-womad-organisers-ask-unwell-attendees-to-stay-home

    They insist that – beyond taking extra care with their personal hygiene – healthy festival-goers need only come prepared to have a good time.

    WOMAD is being held at Brooklands Park in New Plymouth for the 16th time this year and can attract up to 15,000 people on each of its three days.

    Festival director Emere Wano said its management had been monitoring health officials' advice and so far everything pointed to the event going ahead.

    Wano said WOMAD was following steps set out in its risk management plan.

    "It's common sense stuff really, when you look at the environment it's all about basic hygiene. If you're not well don't come to the festival, don't come and get amongst groups of people. Look after yourself.

    "Washing hands, we should all be doing those things anyway. They're not rocket science as we see it."

    insert many many face palm, head on desk and back to face palm

    • Adam Ash 14.1

      WOMAD.  So Sad.  Such utter ignorance and disregard for the health and safety of their workers and their patrons. 

      All public assembly should be banned forthwith. 

      Where is our leadership?  Everyday we delay taking simple, decisive action to contain spread of the virus will cause exponentially greater suffering at the peak.  

  15. AB 15

    The normally excellent Mehdi Hassan making the mistake of thinking it's a problem that Joe Biden lies a lot.  Sorry Mehdi, in a world where Sanders gets pilloried for NOT lying about Cuba, it matters not a jot.

  16. McFlock 16

    Apparently, Dolt45 fired the US pandemic response team in 2018. Sounds too stupid and timely to be true? Passes the Snopes test.

     

    The yanks are lucky he has a natural genetic talent for sciencing.

  17. Muttonbird 17

    Good article on the trials of the great Dr Jordan Peterson:

    Dependency goes against the core tenets of Peterson’s philosophical brand: stoicism, self-reliance, the power of the will over circumstance and environment.“No one gets away with anything, ever, so take responsibility for your own life, he admonished in his bestselling self-help book 12 Rules for Life. 

    https://newrepublic.com/article/156829/happened-jordan-peterson

  18. joe90 18

    Showing the way.

  19. joe90 20

    oh fuck

  20. joe90 21

    The Hyde amendment blocks the use of federal funds to pay for abortion.

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  • Speech to Labour Party Congress 2020
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  • Statement from the Minister of Health Dr David Clark
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