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Open mike 24/06/2011

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, June 24th, 2011 - 35 comments
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35 comments on “Open mike 24/06/2011 ”

  1. RobM 1

    This article goes some way to explaining how many educated boomers seem blind to the failures of our “capitalist” system:


    The essence of any utopianism is: Conjure an ideal that makes an impossible demand on reality, then announce that, until the demand is met in full, your ideal can’t be fairly evaluated. Attribute any incidental successes to the halfway meeting of the demand, any failure to the halfway still to go.

    . . .

    At the same time the university boomed, marginal tax rates for high earners stood as high as 90 percent. This collapsed the so-called L-curve, the graphic depiction of wealth distribution in the United States. The L-curve lay at its flattest in 1970, just as Nozick was sitting down to write Anarchy. In 1970, there were nearly 500,000 employed academics, and their relative income stood at an all-time high. To the extent anyone could believe mental talent, human capital, and capital were indistinguishable, it was thanks to the greatest market distortion in the history of industrial capitalism; and because for 40 years, thanks to this distortion, talent had not been forced to compete with the old “captains of industry,” with the financiers and the CEOs.
    Buccaneering entrepreneurs, boom-and-bust markets, risk capital—these conveniently disappeared from Nozick’s argument because they’d all but disappeared from capitalism. In a world in which J.P. Morgan and Cornelius Vanderbilt have been rendered obsolete, reduced to historical curios, to a funny old-style man, imprisoned in gilt frames, the professionals—the scientists, engineers, professors, lawyers and doctors—correspondingly rise in both power and esteem. And in a world in which the professions are gatekept by universities, which in turn select students based on their measured intelligence, the idea that talent is mental talent, and mental talent is, not only capital, but the only capital, becomes easier and easier for a humanities professor to put across. Hence the terminal irony of Anarchy: Its author’s audible smugness in favor of libertarianism was underwritten by a most un-libertarian arrangement—i.e., the postwar social compact of high marginal taxation and massive transfers of private wealth in the name of the very “public good” Nozick decried as nonexistent.
    And the screw takes one last turn: By allowing for the enormous rise in (relative) income and prestige of the upper white collar professions, Keynesianism created the very blind spot by which professionals turned against Keynesianism. Charging high fees as defended by their cartels, cartels defended in turn by universities, universities in turn made powerful by the military state, many upper-white-collar professionals convinced themselves their pre-eminence was not an accident of history or the product of negotiated protections from the marketplace but the result of their own unique mental talents fetching high prices in a free market for labor. Just this cocktail of vanity and delusion helped Nozick edge out Rawls in the marketplace of ideas, making Anarchy a surprise best-seller, it helped make Ronald Reagan president five years later. So it was the public good that killed off the public good.
    Since 1970, the guild power of lawyers, doctors, engineers, and, yes, philosophy professors has nothing but attenuated. To take only the most pitiful example, medical doctors have evolved over this period from fee-for-service professionals totally in control of their own workplace to salaried body mechanics subject to the relentless cost-cutting mandate of a corporate employer. They’ve gone from being Marcus Welby—a living monument to public service through private practice—to being, as one comprehensive study put it, harried “middle management.” Who can argue with a straight face that a doctor in 2011 has more liberty than his counterpart in 1970? What any good liberal Democrat with an ounce of vestigial self-respect would have said to Nozick in 1970—”Sure, Bob, but we both know what your liberty means. It means power will once again mean money, and money will be at liberty to flow to the top”—in fact happened. The irony is that as capital once again concentrates as nothing more than capital (i.e., as the immense skim of the financiers), the Nozickian illusion (that capital is human capital and human capital is the only capital) gets harder and harder to sustain.
    Sustained it is, though. Just as Nozick would have us tax every dollar as if it were earned by a seven-foot demigod, apologists for laissez-faire would have us treat all outsize compensation as if it were earned by a tech revolutionary or the value-investing equivalent of Mozart (as opposed to, say, this guy, this guy, this guy, or this guy). It turns out the Wilt Chamberlain example is all but unkillable; only it might better be called the Steve Jobs example, or the Warren Buffett* example. The idea that supernormal compensation is fit reward for supernormal talent is the ideological superglue of neoliberalism, holding firm since the 1980s. It’s no wonder that in the aftermath of the housing bust, with the glue showing signs of decay—with Madoff and “Government Sachs” displacing Jobs and Buffett in the headlines—”liberty” made its comeback. When the facts go against you, resort to “values.” When values go against you, resort to the mother of all values. When the mother of all values swoons, reach deep into the public purse with one hand, and with the other beat the public senseless with your dog-eared copy of Atlas Shrugged.
    . . .

    When Hayek insists welfare is the road is to serfdom, when Nozick insists that progressive taxation is coercion, they take liberty hostage in order to prevent a reasoned discussion about public goods from ever taking place. “According to them, any intervention of the state in economic life,” a prominent conservative economist once observed of the early neoliberals, “would be likely to lead, and even lead inevitably to a completely collectivist Society, Gestapo and gas chamber included.” Thus we are hectored into silence, and by the very people who purport to leave us most alone.
    Thanks in no small part to that silence, we have passed through the looking glass. Large-scale, speculative risk, undertaken by already grossly overcompensated bankers, is now officially part of the framework, in the form of too-big-to-fail guarantees made, implicitly and explicitly, by the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, the “libertarian” right moves to take the risks of unemployment, disease, and, yes, accidents of birth, and devolve them entirely onto the responsibility of the individual. It is not just sad; it is repugnant.

    • Carol 1.1

      This indicates a mistake many make when talking about NZ Boomers. The article is about US Boomers. The extremely consumerist society took off a lot earlier in the US than in NZ, with the ethos that goes with it being far more dominant in the US than in NZ. There was far more focus on individual liberty in the US, and on captialism in the 1970s US than in the NZ welfare state.

      Uni lecturers have never been as highly regared in NZ as in the US. I started uni part time in 1970 in NZ. At that time only 1-3% of the population went to uni – the rest of bommers began their work lives in fairly low paid jobs. (Actually I had worked for 2 years before I went to teachers college. In my first job, the pay was minimal, and at the end of some weeks, me and my flatmates had no food in the cupoards & no money to buy more.)

      Those neoliberal values referred to in the egs were pretty alien to the ones held by me and my peers in the early 70s and were seen as US values that we didn’t like. In the 1980s the power elite in NZ began to adopt more and more of those US values, much to the disgust of many boomers.

      • RobM 1.1.1

        Thanks for that Carol but the larger point still holds, even if we were at least a decade behind and many of these attitudes are shared by Gen X and Yers.
        The relative comfort of the welfare state (in tandem with some very slick PR) helped inculcate libertarian values in large swathes of the middle-class. It has made the power elite’s demolition job all the easier.

        • Carol

          Well, I certainly know Kiwis now, of various generations, who have bought into the neoliberal line. I don’t think the welfare state is to blame per se, but that the neoliberal drivers found a way to turn the successes of the welfare state & its ethos to their advantage – their highly wide spread PR helped a lot with that.

          But many of us boomers have also been horrified at the shift towards US-based neoliberalism, and have fought it all the way.

          • joe90

            Quitting the Paint Factory

            In the lifetime that has passed since Calvin Coolidge gave his speech to the American Society of Newspaper Editors in which he famously pro­claimed that “the chief business of the American people is business,” the do­minion of the ants has grown enormously. Look about: The business of busi­ness is everywhere and inescapable; the song of the buyers and the sellers never stops; the term “workaholic” has been folded up and put away. We have no time for our friends or our families, no time to think or to make a meal. We’re moving product, while the soul drowns like a cat in a well. [“I think that there is far too much work done in the world,” Bertrand Russell observed in his famous 1932 essay “In Praise of Idleness,” adding that he hoped to “start a cam­paign to induce good young men to do nothing.” He failed. A year later, National So­cialism, with its cult of work (think of all those bronzed young men in Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will throwing cordwood to each other in the sun), flared in Germany.]

            • Draco T Bastard

              Since 1840, so the story goes, we’ve had 40 hour working weeks here in NZ. We’ve worked hard, increased our productivity and produce far more than we need. And yet we still work 40+ hours per week and the amount of poverty in our society is close to the worst it’s been since the Great Depression.

              Why are we required to work harder than ever, produce more than we will ever need and yet still live in poverty? Something doesn’t add up. Somewhere there is a massive drain on our society, something that takes and does not give, something that, quite simply, is killing us.

    • uke 1.2

      Thanks for article link.
      The US-NZ comparison holds well. The incoming 1984 Labour government represented a handover in governance from the children of the Depression to the university-educated baby boomer generation. (Universal student allowances came in around 1963, I think, just in time for the boomers.) Watching TV footage from 1984-1985 the Labour cabinet now appear as smug know-it-alls in service to an ideology they’d picked up in lecture theatres rather than the “university of life”. Governing NZ became like a big post-grad experiment.
      (Not that Muldoon’s way was necessarily any better.)

      • KJT 1.2.1

        Hardly any of the Neo-Liberal ACTIOD’s in1984 were boomers. In fact it was boomers who tried to clear them out of the Labour party.

        It seems to be younger people who have no knowledge of the gains in the 40’s to 70’s by people power and Unions who vote NACT.

        • uke

          True, not all were boomers (eg. Douglas, b.1937, and Lange and Palmer, b.1942, though close enough really), but among those that were are this ghastly trio:

          Mike Moore (b.1948)
          David Caygill (b.1948)
          Richard Prebble (b.1948)

  2. Lazy Susan 2

    AT doesn’t like the idea of gathering statistics about pay equity but on the other hand bases his own arguement on supposedly anecdotal tittle tattle around his office. Typical of of the right – never like anything that is evidence based if it contradicts their tightly held world view. Might is right!

    If his pay is performance based this plonker should be writing the EMA a big fat cheque today and crawling back into a deep dark hole never to be seen again. His interview with MF was a disgrace but gave a very honest peek into the world that these corporate sycophants inhabit. By the way I’m an employer and am appalled that the public might think that this turkey represents me.

  3. ianmac 3

    I’ve been thinking. What if the Sensible Sentencing Trust ceased the “lock ’em up” nonsense.
    Instead they put their energy into Victim Support seeking enlightened ways of getting the money from the state and full support systems in place. Some countries do this well.
    This would leave the Justice System to concentrate on their job without the baying of lynch mobs to confuse the issues.

    • jackal 3.1

      It would be beneficial to see some proper understanding built on good reporting re crime and punishment. Unfortunately the SST plays on peoples fears and hatred, which are strong motivators. In my opinion, the media gives this racist organisation far too much attention. Dehumanizing people with sound bytes is simply wrong! No matter what their crimes. It’s something the Nazi’s used to do to create hate for people they believed were impure.

      Filling people with anger by underexposing facts is simply not acceptable. When people were enlightened about Arie Smith-Vorkamp, they realized that the media had played them for fools by under reporting the alleged crime. The media and Government used the anger of the Christchurch Earthquake to build on that anger. People are often to quick to judge… the only remedy for this is to build more tolerance and less media sensationalism.

      Media7 just had a good piece on crime and punishment reporting. It’s being replayed at 1:05 PM. Or you can watch it online here:


      Hm! I seem to be in moderation?

  4. Colonial Viper 4

    Sony uses state power to bankrupt and put PS3 jailbreaker into prison, loses millions of confidential user details itself time and time again, and shrugs


    Sony initially launched the PS3 advertising that users could run different operating systems and software on it. Later on, Sony deliberately broke that advertised functionality via a firmware download.

    The hacker creates a way to reverse the block (i.e. he “jailbreaks” the PS3) so that it again does what it was advertised to do.

    And as a result, Sony uses the state’s powers to bankrupt and imprison him. The comments section at the bottom is extremely revealing.

    If all this pisses you off then I suggest:

    Do not buy another Sony product again whether it be TV, stereo, camera, notebook or whatever.

    Personally, I’ve also started to avoid film releases by Sony Pictures/Columbia Tristar.

    Screw these guys.

  5. Jenny 5

    Report back from The International Day of Action for a Financial Transactions Tax.

    Women again take the lead.

    US Nurses Join International Push for Financial Transaction Tax

    “We’ve heard that our wages, pensions, and health care are unsustainable,” said Hanley. “Their tax cuts are what’s unsustainable.”

    • Herodotus 5.1

      Still no commentary regarding how the transition period from one means of tax to this is to be managed, and what hapens in how to deal with say capital flight before such a tax becomes operative. Especially given that it will not be world wide encompasing, so there will be ability for fund manages to arbritage. And given that there are many countries out there who are atthe mercy to those who finance their countries I cannot see a lrge take up of this. And NZ has had more than its fair share of being a lab rate for others to experiment with and for the PAYE worker no attributable change in day to day living.

  6. Maui 6

    Off topic, but does anyone know anything about this ?

    Key and Groser’s entire China advisory board has just resigned in protest about
    the governments lack of policy towards developing opportunities in China.

    Link: http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/business/78463/china-trade-advisory-board-quits

    [lprent: too far off topic – moved to OpenMike. ]

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    Oil is a concern but there’s something far more precious and we’re using it up even faster – water.

    Blue Gold – World Water Wars
    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3
    Part 4
    Part 5
    Part 6

    And, thanks to NActs limited vision of more for the few, DoC is being cut.

  8. Colonial Viper 8

    Tower Insurance finding loopholes to gip Red Zoned Christchurch Policy Holders

    Charming and completely expected.

    This is why privatising our state insurers was a shitty shortsighted right wing move.


  9. vto 9

    Unexpected Earthquake Observation #2,135;

    Nobody enjoys experiencing unexpected earthquake observations.

  10. Reality Bytes 10

    The governing body of Auckland Council yesterday voted 13 to six to allow Watercare to severely restrict one of life’s essentials for people who are behind on their water bill. Water flow would be reduced from 1 litre per second to 1 litre per minute for those behind on payments, giving them just enough to drink, but impractical for most other essentials, such as washing clothes and showering. Filling the toilet cystern will take about 10 minutes. So basically they are increasing the dangers of disease and risking people’s health over a few dollars. This will of course affect the poorest and most vulnerable members of society the most.

    And what if someone with restricted water burns themselves and needs to run the burn under a decent flow of cold water? Health and safety should be having a field day on this moronic decision.


    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      Which is pretty much what people predicted would happen. It would be even worse if it was privatised.

      And every single one of those people in council and the upper echelons of Water Care should now be done for Crimes Against Humanity.

      Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, “are particularly odious offences in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings.

      Forcing people not to wash and to only wear dirty clothes would seem to fit the bill.

      • Reality Bytes 10.1.1

        Yeah, definitely agree about human rights violations. If water in any society is readily easily providable, and especially through a publicly owned entity, I consider it to be a human rights violation to withhold such an important critical resource. Of any essential, I believe water is by far and above the most critical of all resources, it needs to be given utterly essential priority. I mean really, the marginal cost to provide it must be so infinitesimal. Even if they charge $1 a 1k litre or whatever it is, it makes no sodding difference how much people use as long as the lakes still have plenty of water in reserve. Wear and tear on pipes is infinitesimal, and they are replaced on a cyclic basis regardless of usage so maintenance costs are a moot point.

        How is it fair for an 8 year old child to be collectively punished just because poor Mum can’t afford the water bill? Having to attend school in unwashed clothes, and not given the chance to wash. What has this child done to deserve this? In normal circumstances people that intentionally caused stuff like this to occur would get charged with child abuse.

        Or how is it fair on the poor kid just trying to be an angel and help prepare the dinner because both Mum and Dad are working so hard. She burns herself with hot oil and thanks to 13 fuckwits on the Auckland city council she is unable to cool and minimize the damage under the piss stream restricted water, so is now scarred for life. etc etc et-fucking-c

  11. jackal 11

    Friday Fun with Photos #6

    5 little monkey’s swinging in the tree
    teasing Mr. Alligator can’t catch me….can’t catch me
    along came Mr. Alligator quiet as can be
    and snapped that monkey out that tree…

  12. Draco T Bastard 12

    Well, after reading this arrogant, self-centred piece of crap from Hone, I can honestly say that I won’t be supporting Mana in any way, shape or form.

    • Reality Bytes 12.1

      You know what’s classic about Hone’s site, he has this twitter feed pumping away hard out about #Mana

      But it’s completely unrelated.

      It’s about Mana: A pop rock and latin rock band from Guadalajara, Jalisco whose career has spanned more than three decades.

      I was a bit confused at first, I was wondering why are all these south americans so interested in mana.

      lo fucking l.

    • Adele 12.2

      Teenaa koe, Draco

      What part of his speech is so offensive:

      a) That the Mana Party has been formally registered.

      b) Hone believing he will win tomorrow

      c) Hone as a party leader will have the same responsibilities and privileges as other party leaders

      d) Kelvin will return to Parliament as a backbencher in opposition

      c) Kelvin will have no responsibilities, no privileges and no authorities

      I find the most offensive aspect to be (c) and Goff ought to give Kelvin more responsibilities, more privileges and more authority.

      I certainly will vote for Mana.

      • Draco T Bastard 12.2.1

        The fact that Hone is skiting about the fact that he is a party leader and Kelvin isn’t. Totally disgraceful behaviour.

        • Adele

          Teenaa koe, Draco

          Why is it disgraceful behaviour. In the tradition of Marae debate – this exchange is relatively benign – and it shouldn’t perturb Kelvin as now he ought to be wearing big boy pants.

          However, Hone’s taiaha is aimed squarely at Labour’s head. Goff deserves to have his neo-colonial snout firmly rooted by tāngata whenua joie de vivre in victory.

          Gosh, Hone had better win tomorrow

  13. Morrissey 13


    Highlights of Alisdair Thompson’s TV3 interview, 23.6.2011
    “I’m moving it to a higher plane. …I did a good interview. It was a very good interview.”

    About two minutes into this excruciatingly embarrassing performance, Thompson gets angry with the young reporter Rachel Morton and threatens to walk out. “I’m moving it to a higher plane,” he gravely informs her.

    Then, all of a sudden, he turns on the cameraman: “I’m sorry, that shouldn’t be rolling, all through that stuff.” For a moment, the interview teeters on a knife-edge.

    Happily for aficionados of the comedy of embarrassment, however, he decides to continue digging. And digging.

    “I have two female woman working for me… You’ve got to look behind the STASTISICS*… Men and women are different. Women have babies. … Many men take time off to erase the children…”

    At about the ten minute mark, he sets off on a long, wandery, pointless story about his wife taking the day off to look after their sick grand-daughter.

    At the 13 minute mark, he gets even more wandery and confused: “I know I’m not sexist, but if I say something that’s a fact of life, it doesn’t make it untrue. … The people against me are socialists and communists…. Most of the callers to NewstalkZB this morning were in support of me…. My opponents are from the CTU and the Labour Party. It’s all political.”

    RACHEL MORTON: Have you got statistics to support what you’ve said?
    RACHEL MORTON: Roughly?
    THOMPSON: Nuh. I don’t do roughly.

    And he keeps on digging…

    “The truth is the truth is the truth. … I did a good interview. It was a very good interview. You’ve heard it.”

    It’s actually worth watching this performance right through to the end, when his perfect delivery of a one-word instruction to the cameraman provides what is possibly the funniest moment of the whole fiasco.

    * Thompson commits the mispronunciation “stastistics” half a dozen times during this interview.


  14. Morrissey 14



    Hopefully, students all over the world will follow her lead.


  15. North 15

    DTB……….WTF are you on about man ???

    What Hone says is so patently……..”blindingly obvious”(ly) true. Kia Ora Adele.

    Ya sound like you’re in a second childhood – “Mum……..he’s ‘skiting’……..he’s bloody ‘skiting’ Mum !”

    I reckon ya need a cuppa tea and a lie down.

    • Draco T Bastard 15.1

      It may be true but that doesn’t mean he has to rub the other persons face in it which is what he was doing.

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