Our zombie economy

Written By: - Date published: 7:04 am, June 22nd, 2016 - 149 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, economy, national, poverty - Tags: , , , , ,

This post could be read as following on from this one in 2010. Let’s add some recent observations…

It’s now clear that our recovery from the GFC has been slowest recovery from recession in more than 50 years.

Currently we have record debt both as a country and individually, and the Cullen / Super fund is $17 billion poorer because we foolishly stopped contributions.

NZ debt CLark Key comparison

In a recent piece on how poorly our economy is doing:

Some snippets on New Zealand’s continuing economic underperformance

Successful economies, building on a sustainable footing, do so by selling more and different stuff in competition with the best the rest of the world has to offer. That doesn’t describe New Zealand at all – under this government or its predecessor.

We have
• no productivity growth
• a continuing high unemployment rate
• ruinous house prices, and
• a tradables sector that has achieved no per capita growth for 15 years.

We currently have the worst productivity since 1996. We hardly have per-capita growth at all – the main reason our economy is “growing” is immigration:

New Zealand’s economic growth driven almost exclusively by rising population

New Zealand’s economic growth is barely keeping up with the speed at which the population is growing, amid a slowdown in the primary sector.

Official figures released on Thursday showed gross domestic product rose by 0.7 per cent in the first three months of the year, bringing annual growth to 2.8 per cent.

But while the construction industry is expanding at speed, economists said almost all of the growth was being driven by population growth, currently at a 40 year high, boosted by record immigration. …

We’re not doing anything better, we’re just have more people doing it. The only thing growing like mad is the housing bubble. In the immortal words of Bernard Hickey:

One of the most depressing aspects of all this is that it is largely self-inflicted. Decades of neoliberal policies dramatically increased inequality. This trend was somewhat softened by the last Labour government, but is back with a vengeance under National. The effects of inequality on our economy are disasterous:

How inequality made these Western countries poorer

Rising inequality holds back economic growth — according to a recent report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Here are the countries that missed out on most growth, according to the OECD:

1. New Zealand: New Zealand’s economy could have grown by 44 percent between 1990 and 2010, but the country did only achieve 28 percent growth due to inequality. Hence, it lost 15.5 percentage points — more than any other country. This is particularly surprising, given that New Zealand was once considered a paradise of equality, as Max Rashbrooke, the author of a book called Inequality: A New Zealand Crisis, pointed out in the Guardian newspaper.

“New Zealand halved its top tax rate, cut benefits by up to a quarter of their value, and dramatically reduced the bargaining power – and therefore the share of national income – of ordinary workers. Thousands of people lost their jobs as manufacturing work went overseas, and there was no significant response with increased trade training or skills programs, a policy failure that is ongoing,” Rashbrooke writes in the op-ed. He also blames New Zealand for a lack of affordable homes which led to higher rents and unpaid mortgages. …
inequality-damage-economy1
inequality-damage-economy2

I could go on but you get the picture. The National government has made mistake after mistake after mistake. What we have is more or less a zombie economy only partially animated by immigration and a housing bubble.

149 comments on “Our zombie economy”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Successful economies, building on a sustainable footing, do so by selling more and different stuff in competition with the best the rest of the world has to offer.

    No it doesn’t. A successful economy exists within the real physical limits of the nations geographical area, has an increasing diversity of products that are made for the local populace and has no one living in poverty.

    Trade between successful nations is minimal and is more likely to be in information than actual products.

    We hardly have per-capita growth at all – the main reason our economy is “growing” is immigration:

    Which is, of course, why National have been keeping immigration high and debt sky-rocketing through the housing bubble. Without either of those we’d still be in recession and, more likely, an actual depression.

    One of the most depressing aspects of all this is that it is largely self-inflicted.

    It was inflicted from the top down and against the wishes of the populace. I recall the 1980s as the 4th Labour government started dismantling our society for the benefit of the rich. That dismantling has continued under both Labour and National governments since.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      The National government has made mistake after mistake after mistake.

      In this it’s not just National. Labour are making the same mistakes as they follow the same failed neo-liberal ideology.

    • Stuart Munro 1.2

      Yup.

      Why does Switzerland enjoy the best standard of living? They have the highest proportion of locally manufactured products in the world.

      Other half is Auckland. Had Bill English actually been a workaholic genius and genuine economic rockstar and produced real growth of 20%, it wouldn’t have helped at all – it would only have accelerated the inflation of the Auckland property bubble.

      This government deserves to be put up against the wall and shot.

      [lprent: Advising violence even in ‘jest’ around here is liable to cause you to find yourself lined up and banned. Adding you to moderation until I can see that you have gotten and understand this message. ]

      • Stuart Munro 1.2.1

        I don’t want to get into a dispute – but punishment can and must be expected for certain crimes.

        Were I an employee, who stole from my employer, I might expect a substantial fine and loss of employment. A military officer who steals his ship and sells it commits the crime of barratry, which will lose him his rank and land him in jail for a lengthy period. A democratically elected representative – or someone who pretends to and benefits from that status – if they steal public assets, or deliberately wreck valuable enterprises such as Solid Energy, commits the most serious crime of all, which is treason.

        The punishment for treason is generally rather more than a strongly worded letter – but my post is no more than a strongly worded letter.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Gosh the GFC was good for the banks! Look at all that money we had to and borrow back from them.

  3. Nick K 3

    Michael Reddell, a former Treasury economist, believes that immigration could actually harm growth, rather than enable it. So I’m not sure your theory about immigration numbers holding up GDP growth is correct.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 3.1

      That may very well be so. The fact that he is an economist tends to reduce the likelihood, and so does his employment in Treasury, which indulges some pretty strange beliefs at times.

      I’d rather see a succinct explanation of his argument than his dubious bona fides.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      It’s holding up GDP growth. It’s not increasing productivity. IMO, it’s likely to be reducing productivity as the new immigrants then need to be integrated into the system that is NZ and that takes effort and resources that could be used for other things.

      Contrary to popular opinion and the delusional sayings of economists and politicians, the real physical economy really is a Zero Sum Game.

    • DH 3.3

      It’s really just common sense Nick. An immigrant is a blank canvas. They need a home, transport, infrastructure etc. If those are not already in existence then they get created and that creation is GDP. A new immigrant must contribute to GDP growth, at least in the short term.

      Only need to look at housing to see the picture. Typically they’re need one room per immigrant and if the cost of building one room is $100k then each immigrant will add up to $100k to GDP from housing alone.

      Immigration is an economic fraud and politicians know it. It loads all the benefits at the beginning and the costs are left to be borne by later generations.

    • Plan B 3.4

      Michael Rendell’s overall argument can be seen here:

      https://croakingcassandra.com/2016/06/21/underperformance-still-fossicking-in-the-the-gdp-numbers/

      He is focused on GDP per person rather than the headline GDP growth number. He explains how immigration is driving up the headline GDP figure while GDP per person continues to decline- ie makes us poorer

      • DH 3.4.1

        I don’t see him arguing that immigration harms growth though. He’s largely just saying that the ‘growth’ is fake which is my argument too.

        It is obvious when you think about it. New immigrants must contribute far more towards GDP than long term residents. As those immigrants turn into longer term residents the Govt needs yet more immigrants to keep GDP pumping.

        We do differ in that he appears to think it’s just people in power getting it wrong. I think National know exactly what they’re doing, their backers are doing very nicely out of it and that is no accident.

        • Draco T Bastard 3.4.1.1

          We do differ in that he appears to think it’s just people in power getting it wrong. I think National know exactly what they’re doing, their backers are doing very nicely out of it and that is no accident.

          QFT

  4. BM 4

    We’re not doing anything better, we’re just have more people doing it. The only thing growing like mad is the housing bubble. In the immortal words of Bernard Hickey

    Bernard Hickey sold up and moved to Wellington to cash in at the ‘Top’ of the Auckland housing boom around 2012 unfortunately for him he was completely wrong and prices have pretty much doubled again since then.

    http://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/62158/bernard-hickey-does-numbers-investing-residential-rental-property-and-amazed-sure

    I get the feeling Hickeys constant call for crashing the property market is probably more to do with him now being priced out of the Auckland property market thus leaving him trapped in that socialist hell hole which is Wellington and unable to return.

    • reason 4.1

      “Rt Hon Winston Peters: Does he agree with an infamous New Zealander who said: “We are facing a severe home affordability and ownership crisis. The crisis has reached dangerous levels in recent years and looks set to get worse.”; if not, why not?

      Rt Hon JOHN KEY: No.

      Rt Hon Winston Peters: Is the Prime Minister aware that he was the one who said that?

      Rt Hon JOHN KEY: Not when I was in Government, I did not.”

    • tricldrown 4.2

      Buggered Monopolist.
      Wellington has the highest per capita income.
      Auckland is an oversized distfunctional carpark.
      A Monopoly board for speculators.

  5. Nick 5

    Actually John key has not been briefed on the economy, doesn’t have the information so can’t really comment, probably not really a priority at the moment in his opinion, it’s really been a Labour problem that’s caused something (don’t know what but it vaguely rings a bell) anyway not really concerned about an issue that might need investigation at some future stage, possibly in 2020 or before…. Or after, not really important, the time line. Waiting for his officials to brief him…..Hosking, Hosking.

  6. Greg 6

    English is just doing his usually creative accounting, and re-arranging the deck chairs on NZS Titanic.
    Rubber stamping 170k work visa’s allow businesses to exploit cheaper workers, while they do little to enrich the economy, John Key admitted this just the other week in a nzradio story.

    And you can bet that the majority of these workers will be signed up to Kiwisaver so business can get the IRD grant for it.

    170K work visa’s allows National to crow about creating jobs, just not for kiwi’s.
    Lets see the evidence of John Keys own portfolio on Tourism, currently accounting for highest GDP factor. According to the latest wage growth STATISTIC from SEEK, the industry has seen a wonderful 0.6% growth in wages. If workers wages are not increasing under such huge economic spurt, then National are lying any trade deals will improve workers wages, and increase our standard of living.

    Its all downhill to Christmas now campers, one months holiday 🙂

    • Sorrwerdna 6.1

      What is this IRD grant that business get -am I missing out on something? Me thinks you is confused.

    • Craig H 6.2

      Kiwisaver is only open to residents and citizens, not people on work visas.

      • Greg 6.2.1

        i live in a hostel with temporary work visa students and tourists.
        Employers sign them up for kiwisaver,
        IRD numbers dont say they cant be.
        thats the scam and worth 300$ when they get signed up,
        ask IRD how many kiwisaver applications get rejected,
        n the employer keeps the 300 grant.

  7. M. Gray 7

    So we now have a Zombie economy led by Mr Zombie himself and all his fellow Zombies not a rock star economy

  8. Jack Ramaka 8

    Yeah but JK and Bill English have now got the NZ Economy into surplus after the mess Labour got us into.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1

      You’re missing a /sarc tag.

    • M. Gray 8.2

      So how much debt are we in now Jack and how much debt were we in under labour. I think you have it wrong. We now owe the IMF/World Bank somewhere in the vicinity of 120 billion might be more. However under Labour it was about 8-10 billion. Labour didn’t leave us in a mess this is the problem too many people need to do there home work and check on the facts. This reminds me of all the negative comments about the TOW from people who haven’t even read it both versions and haven’t even tried to research it

    • Draco T Bastard 8.3

      No they haven’t. That’s the point of the post really. It’s all smoke and mirrors. Our economy is, IMO, actually in a depression.

      And, IMO, you don’t get a surplus until you’ve got rid of the debt – both government and private.

  9. Colonial Viper 9

    Don’t get it. We’re now saying more economic growth is a good thing? That we are rating government competency by how big they can get economic growth? That we would like to be using 15.5% more fossil fuels, have 15.5% more commuters on the road, and increase consumption of goods both local and manufactured in China by 15.5%?

    Also we should have been feeding the global Wall St banking machine more because we would have then done our bit to make Wall St $17B than it is now, and even more hungry to seek “growth” from the huge corporations and countries that it buys up.

    The economic game the world is running will destroy the world in the next three or four decades, the process is already well underway, but the political message from the Left is that we need to be focussing on the game like everyone is and playing it better and bigger?

    Like I say I don’t get it. Humanity’s storm is coming and we are pretending the status quo isn’t already over.

    • r0b 9.1

      Not what the post says at all. Showing that the Nats have failed on their own terms (economic management) is a necessary part of the transition to something better / saner.

      • Colonial Viper 9.1.1

        I would disagree. Referencing the NAT’s own terms – which are the same as Labour’s terms (more economic growth, less government debt, putting money into the Cullen fund and Kiwi Saver) – does nothing but lend additional validity to those terms.

        In the counterfactual, had National had got the extra 15.5% of growth, had grown Wall St by another $17B, (and increased GHG emissions and corporate strength commensurately), would we be cheering – even though it would be taking NZ even deeper into the destructive economic status quo?

        is a necessary part of the transition to something better / saner

        But this cannot be done when we continually reassure the public on the validity of status quo KPI's. GDP, economic growth, debt, long term investment returns, etc.

        • r0b 9.1.1.1

          Until you’re in government, it’s the only way it can be done. Otherwise Mana (and even The Greens) would be doing a lot better than they are.

          • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.1.1

            How did you convince yourself of this? The logical end of this strategy is that when (if) you get into government you will be stuck in an ideological cage and chains of your own making, because you have constantly reinforced in the public mind the validity of the status quo economic framework.

            As for the low performance of Mana and Greens – is a simplistic line of causality really valid here. Mana and Greens offer real alternatives to the status quo – but the electorate doesn’t rate Mana and Greens – therefore the electorate doesn’t rate real alternatives to the status quo.

            Is that really the story, though?

            • Ad 9.1.1.1.1.1

              As long as it’s the objective of wealthy countries like ours with about six or seven per cent of the world’s total population to consume half of its resources, we’re in a bad trajectory.

              The objective itself would have to change to alter that.

              I don’t think we can change.
              I don’t think the objective is changeable.

              I don’t think it’s conceivable that we will come to a sense of ourselves and our collective place in the world in which we sign up to the prospect that our freedom, security and abundance is to be no more and no less than everybody else.

              And no superpower in the world would be willing to sign up to that either.

              Everyone’s entitled to ideals, but even the idealists have limits to their actual practice let alone the great swathes of normal people. You have to take into account the aspirations and interests and concerns of others.

              One of those accounts is the deepseated sense of exceptionalism of wealthier countries – including ours – which is very resistant to facts and to events (Leftie governments are as bad at this as rightie ones).

              The other account is that the critiques haven’t had an impact. The whole idea of public discourse is happening, but hasn’t made observable changes in either policy or corporate direction.

              I admire idealists like Bernie in so many ways. Heroic failures in the mold of Don Quixote. But he was so forlorn, there was nothing behind him.

              So in both the current economic development frameworks, and in the political frameworks that carry them out, there really are limits of what is possible.

              • Colonial Viper

                Not sure why you would bother to bring your personal views on Bernie into this. He is nothing more radical than a 60s/70s era social democrat. It points to the fact that it is not Bernie who is radical, it is the status quo.

                Also I wouldn’t consider exercising a sense of self preservation as being “idealistic.” Put another way, a civilisation which has lost its survival instinct is a civilisation which is not going to survive for more than a couple more decades.

                Like you, I do not expect that we will change in any significant way, in any useable timeframe.

                • Ad

                  Bernie was just an illustration of the narrowing boundaries of utopian thought.

                  There have been multiple closures to what we could conceive as possible, but the narrowings within my own scope are the period 1968-1984, the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1989, 9/11 and aftermath, and the 2006 GFC.

                  All have narrowed us, rather than expanded us.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  It points to the fact that it is not Bernie who is radical, it is the status quo.

                  Yep, it’s the status quo that’s massively out of sync with reality.

            • r0b 9.1.1.1.1.2

              How did you convince yourself of this?

              From watching how Mana (and to an extent The Greens) polls.

              The logical end of this strategy

              Disagree.

    • Pat 9.2

      “Don’t get it. We’re now saying more economic growth is a good thing? That we are rating government competency by how big they can get economic growth?”

      currently that is the only game in town and what the overwhelming majority of the electorate believe.

      • Colonial Viper 9.2.1

        That’s true. Is that why, like lemmings, we’re all acting like we believe it too?

        • Pat 9.2.1.1

          maybe because we are an underwhelming minority?

          • Colonial Viper 9.2.1.1.1

            An underwhelming minority that is so gutless/spineless that all it can think to do is try to fit in with the overwhelming majority and pretend that we’re not all that different?

            • Dennis Frank 9.2.1.1.1.1

              Hmm. I often feel that way myself, but a dissenting minority ought not to become fixated on any negative view, lest it lose the capacity for catalysing a shift away from the status quo.

              The upside of the post-gfc era is the collapse of economic growth in so many western countries. You could call it Gaia’s revenge, phase one. Nature gets harvested way less due to top capitalists losing the plot & crashing their own system. People lose touch with nature, they lose their grip on reality, end up together in cloud-cuckoo land juggling piles of imaginary money which fall over, all because the human psyche ain’t built to operate in mass psychosis. Gaia done it, via human nature.

              Dunno why Anthony Robins feels depressed by our zombie economy, unless he’s an unreconstructed socialist? I welcome it – signal of a healthy trend. Growth addicts are as much a blight on society as drug addicts. Suit-wearing dorks desperate to get another hit asap. Pathetic.

    • Richardrawshark 9.3

      I kind of agree, I think your time lines a bit drastic, but the gist of what your saying is right as far as I am concerned.

      I would add what we do with our lives , making crap should not be one of them.

      We got a short life to figure out what we are here for, why waste it getting wealthy beyond the average person..

    • Draco T Bastard 9.4

      That we are rating government competency by how big they can get economic growth?

      Well, I’m not. I don’t think making the economy any bigger is a viable option but I do think that we need to develop the economy, to diversify it.

      Then, of course, there’s the idea of measuring how National is doing on their own stated measures and even on that they’re failing.

      That we would like to be using 15.5% more fossil fuels, have 15.5% more commuters on the road, and increase consumption of goods both local and manufactured in China by 15.5%?

      You’re right. None of those things are economic at all. We have them because of the profit drive which, IMO, is proof that the profit drive brings about the worst possible uneconomic outcome for the nation. Apply it to the the world and we end up with degraded rivers/waterways, climate change and general destruction of the environment. Note that it’s the people who believe mostly in capitalism and profit (the worship of Mammon indeed) that always try to prevent society from protecting the environment?

      Like I say I don’t get it. Humanity’s storm is coming and we are pretending the status quo isn’t already over.

      The status quo won’t be over until we bury capitalism, in any form, for good.

  10. Lanthanide 10

    and we’ve lost $17 Billion by stopping contributions to the Cullen fund.

    That’s not what the article you linked to says. It says the value of the fund is $17B less than it would have been if we’d continued contributions.

    But the majority of that $17B would have been the capital contributions themselves – assuming it was $2B per year for 6 years, that’d mean we’ve lost out on only $5B in returns that we could have otherwise had.

    That $12B of money was spent elsewhere instead, and is not “lost”.

    It’s also unclear whether this calculation included the cost of borrowing or not. Assuming that the government would have spent that $2B where it did, it means that borrowing would have increased by $2B per year. So the actual “loss” we have incurred is the investment returns minus the interest cost that would have been incurred from that borrowing. I believe the superfund has out-performed the Government’s borrowing cost by 2% per annum, so we’re really looking at a loss of under $1B or so, not $5B and not $17B as claimed.

  11. Hayden 11

    Your Govt debt to GDP argument is a nonsense and you know it. Govt revenue plummeted due to the GDP. Unless you wished for a massive reduction in Govt spending, especially social spending, then Govt had to take on more debt. The Govt made a conscious decision to not slash spending and take on more debt to help alleviate the impact of the GDP on those who lost their jobs etc.

    The comparison between the Clark (no ‘e’) Govt and the Key Govt is not a fair one in this regard.

    • Colonial Viper 11.1

      I agree that English has done the right thing to take on more debt instead of slashing social spending.

      • Stuart Munro 11.1.1

        Yes, as a screaming incompetent borrowing was slightly better than defaulting on service provision – but any competent operator would have reversed the tax cuts.

        • Colonial Viper 11.1.1.1

          Reversing the tax cuts would have reduced the level of borrowing required by a few billion a year, max. So yes, that should have been done, but in the end the Govt would still have been borrowing hundreds of millions a week.

          Further this is still miles from where we need to be: interest free government issued credit.

          • Grant 11.1.1.1.1

            Social Credit?? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_credit

            “According to Douglas, money is merely an abstract representation of the real credit of the community, which is the ability of the community to deliver goods and services, when and where they are required.”

            • Colonial Viper 11.1.1.1.1.1

              Social credit had a point, for sure. If you look at the history of debt, credit and money, Douglas knew what he was talking about. What has happened in the modern day is that we have turned electronic digits in computerised spreadsheets into something to be hoarded for its own sake.

              • Grant

                So to be clear, when you say “interest free government issued credit”, you are effectively meaning Social Credit? Or are you talking about a hybrid system that borrows from that philosophy amongst others?

                • Colonial Viper

                  I’d hark back to what Labour did in the 1930s in order to finance social housing as guidance – issue the pounds required as a debit against the government’s financial position and use the assets created (houses) as a ledger entry to make the total effect on the government’s balance sheet neutral.

                  For a UBI I would simply have every citizen 18 years and over open a Kiwi Bank account, which once a week would have $95 credited into it tax free and ‘ex nihilo’ on top of all existing benefits and NZ super.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Grant seems to be trying to get you to say ‘yes’ so that he can then say that social credit doesn’t work. He would say this despite the fact that it always has done in the past.

                    • I actually voted social credit in ’81. Despite Beetham being such a dull fella. I didn’t agree with the debt-slavery strategy traditionally used by the patriarchy – that the left & right have always fronted a la `good cop, bad cop’.

                      Ironic that the recipients of government credit nowadays are capitalists (quantitative easing). Okay, the Fed is private, but the other issuers are public. Technical quibble.

                  • Grant

                    I found this: http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/opinion/5260027/Housing-on-the-state

                    “The reason why rents could be “reasonable” can by found in State Housing In New Zealand published by the Ministry of Works in 1949.

                    “To finance its . . . proposals the government adopted the . . unusual course of using Reserve Bank credit, thus recognising that the most important factor in housing costs is the price of money – interest is the heaviest portion in the composition of ordinary rent. The newly created department was able . . . to obtain the use of funds at the lowest possible rate of interest, the rate being 1 per cent for the first five million pounds advanced and 1 per cent on further advances. This showed . . . it was possible for the State to use the country’s credit in creating new assets for the country.” ”

                    So it appears that, as the reserve Bank is fully owned by the NZ Govt, the Government charged itself (through the Ministry of Works) 1 percent interest. Why?

                    I’m quizzing you (CV) about this because I am economically illiterate but I am curious about how such things work and I can’t really see a difference between “Social Credit” and what Labour did in the ’30’s with the “country’s credit.”

                    A) What is the difference between those two things?
                    B) If they are basically the same thing, why did Labour, like National, refer to Social Credit monetary policy as “funny money”?
                    C) If issuing a line of credit to itself or creating money is so easy and effective for the Government and has been shown to work previously, why is it not part of current economic orthodoxy?
                    D) While I’m at it. what’s the difference between creating credit through the reserve bank for projects like State Housing and the process of Quantitative Easing?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      A) Nothing really
                      B) It’s either a fundamental misunderstanding of how money is created or they were lying so as to maintain the present Ponzi Scheme
                      C) From what I can make out it’s because it would make having lots of money that you in no way can spend in your lifetime irrelevant
                      D) IMO, the QE process was made overly complicated so as to make it look like the government was borrowing the money rather than just creating it. A lot of things would change if the people realised that the government could just create the money that it needs rather than having to borrow it

                      Wrong

                      Glad to hear it.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      B) National and Labour were electioneering and trying to make Social Credit look less credible, economically. National of course uses the same tactic on Labour nowadays.

                      C) The current economic orthodoxy is designed to benefit a very few not the very many. So if you are a major investment bank like Goldman Sachs or JP Morgan Chase you can access the Fed Window and get freely printed money at less than 1% interest rates. A small power like NZ would be punished by the global powers that be for trying to do the same thing internally. In the 1940s the NZ Labour Govt was called to answer for its actions in using government credit by the Bank of England.

                      D) QE was a central bank programme designed to buy toxic financial assets (i.e. pit holes of liabilities) off private banks at full price in order to make the private banks balance sheets good again. The central bank (Federal Reserve) printed a shit load of new money which it then paid over to these private banks in order to buy these financial “assets.” In doing so the Fed “expanded its balance sheet” with these “assets.”

                      None of this was to do with helping ordinary people. Ordinary people were not permitted to access any of this new, free money.

                  • Richardrawshark

                    The point of having a UBI is to save billions in the welfare system, it’s kind of the crux of the argument for a UBI.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      No, that’s not my rationale for a UBI. For me the purpose of a UBI is to reduce the importance of paid employment while increasing income security for all.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      It wouldn’t save billions. Probably only a few million.

                      And. like CV, it’s not my reason for a UBI either. To me it, and other government spending, is the full funding for the economy. IMO, it along with sovereign money would actually get the market system working as described by the capitalists but it would remove the apparent need for capitalists.

          • Stuart Munro 11.1.1.1.2

            A few billion a year would’ve made the difference for a lot of people. Rightwing governments can perform economically – this one isn’t.

      • Richardrawshark 11.1.2

        I’d like to see what the tax take was during the growth we had under Helen and whether the short fall was not more due to his tax cuts for the rich, whether he needed to borrow so much and what he used the borrowing for? He borrowed and sold assets, it not one or the other either, so borrowing should be grouped with his dividends and totalled to show how much he had, then what he spent it on.

        The figures feel off.

        None of his policies ever made sense to me , unless that sense was the deliberate run down and ruination of NZ.

      • fisiani 11.1.3

        English could have slashed social spending but chose not to. People understand that in tough times you have to borrow if you want to be humane and caring. Now that borrowing is getting paid back. Our economy is growing at nearly 3% despite current low dairy prices. Wine export sales are booming. Tourism is flourishing and manufacturing is doing well. Virtually every sector of the economy bar dairy is doing well. The doom and gloom of this post flies in the face of reality.

        • Halfcrown 11.1.3.1

          Hey Zealot read what this guy has to say about this shower of shit running the country

          http://www.interest.co.nz/opinion/82115/kerry-mcdonald-analyses-many-challenges-country-faces-and-concludes-we-need-effective

          • Richardrawshark 11.1.3.1.1

            {It’s not a “housing crisis” but a comprehensive failure of policy crisis. The Minister of Finance acknowledged this, that policy was ill founded and unsustainable, (public comment, 7 June, 2016) when he stated that slowing immigration would put house prices at risk!}

            That stuck out amongst his other points, great link TY Halfcrown.

        • reason 11.1.3.2

          Yeah times are so tough the Govt puts poor people in motels and makes them borrow up to $1400 per week for this new form of social welfare…. motel owners love it.

          The real neat trick is this duress debt that the poorest in society rack up gets counted as an asset in the National governments accounts …….. in the sub-prime column.

        • Draco T Bastard 11.1.3.3

          People understand that in tough times you have to borrow if you want to be humane and caring.

          What they don’t understand, because they’ve been lied to, is that there was no need for the tough times if the government was the source of all money in circulation. Money which would be created and spent into the economy in such a way that the economy would never actually suffer a recession even if banks collapsed from their rather high-risk lending.

          Our economy is growing at nearly 3% despite current low dairy prices.

          No, it’s actually shrinking. That’s what a decline in per capita productivity means.

          The doom and gloom of this post flies in the face of reality.

          You wouldn’t know what reality was if you tripped over it.

        • Richardrawshark 11.1.3.4

          what the hell skewed report are you getting that from, and if so, pay workers more, or was trickle down the bullshit you deny it was.

          Yeah Fisiani, if we are doing so well, how come then wages are stagnant for most of us, jobs are scarce, we are not taking in enough tax to make a surplus to pay down borrowing, oh how come we are borrowing?

          Got to hear the answer to that, probably Labour.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 11.2

      …due to the GFC… (FIFY)

      …and fiscally reckless tax cuts. You forgot to mention them.

  12. Jack Ramaka 12

    Neoliberalism has wrecked NZ’s social infrastructure and the fabric of our society but it has made a number of individuals and families very wealthy.

  13. Jack Ramaka 13

    National don’t have a clue on how to run a sound functioning society, all they know about is running up debt (which is how Bankers make money) and selling off State Assets (neoliberalism), getting the economy growing and looking after its people are not important hence the sale of state housing and rent subsidies to foreign owners and property speculators.

  14. Keith 14

    Haven’t National done an amazing PR job of convincing it’s loyal voter base that the economy is a Rockstar. It’s why they clinging to power but it’s all bullshit.

    Hence they will not do anything meaningful to address the housing crisis, otherwise the façade will fall down exposing a hollow backdrop scene not dissimilar to a Hollywood movie set.

  15. Jack Ramaka 15

    NZers have been brainwashed by MSM and Crosby Textor thinking we have this magical Rockstar Economy, most people believe what they are told.

  16. save nz 16

    Great post. Love the graphs with Labour vs National.

    I actually think a lot of the public do know that the economy is all a giant ponzi scheme, but the thing is, they are worried about what happens when it is blown open and everything crashes. 67% of people are still home owners and Kiwis often have zero savings ( not helped by not having their bank deposits guaranteed).

    Last election we had Metiria talking about crashing the property market to lower prices but historically when that happens you get an American style GFC. It actually put the majority of the US population into homelessness, joblessness and poverty and the super rich that caused the crisis seemed to get off scott free and actually get richer.

    The trick of the opposition is to look at ways to soften the blow and avoid the carnage of a Kiwi GFC while diversifying the economy.

  17. Bill 17

    What National have done is fucking disgusting. But a reversal of the trend isn’t what anyone should be seeking.

    We can’t have growth. We don’t need growth. We need a comprehensive and radical shift away from current economic orthodoxy.

    A somewhat uncomfortable but grounded suggestion as to how thinking might approach current realities and prospects…

    When your kids, or whoever from an upcoming generation, ask why their world is so fucked and their prospects for life or in life so dire, then assuming honesty, what are you going to be able to say beyond something like – The world* died because crap heads wanted to make money?

    And when they then ask if you were one of the crap heads…?

    We can’t go on like this and you (dear reader)probably can’t keep doing the things that you’re doing. You up for changing?

    *the one utterly dependent on the climatic conditions of the holocene

    • r0b 17.1

      See discussion above with CV.

      • Bill 17.1.1

        You’ve written a post about chrematistic economics and partially compared governments that sing from the same economic handbook. One may pull different financial levers to a greater or lesser extent, but they both practice and impose a form of economics that, in very real terms, is going to mean countless deaths.

        I can’t see where you’ve indicated a break from that economic tradition, or even where you’ve offered up much in the way of criticism for that tradition. I’m not saying you should have by the way. You view things as you view things.

        My comment was merely an attempt to ‘push the envelope’ .

        • weka 17.1.1.1

          “chrematistic”

          What do you mean by that?

          • Bill 17.1.1.1.1

            Chrematistic economics is the idea that individual and collective behaviour (society) will be altered, shaped or changed as it reacts to financial stimuli. It’s also applied to ideas of production or services. Hence my example (maybe you don’t remember) of its absurdity when applied to the idea of me feeding my chooks.

            Chrematistic economics or market economics (the latter is predicated on the former or an expression of the former) dictate that a financial effect must come into being (eg – a financial transaction) before an act can be undertaken, or to make rational acts possible. (Yes, it’s fucking insane but there you go.)

            All political parties in the NZ parliament cleave to it as a central and over-riding economic “reality”. None question its validity as a way of doing things or as a way of getting things done – they just squabble over how to make it work ‘better’.

    • Colonial Viper 17.2

      Yeah it’s a bit all over really (the Holocene, I mean). Our CO2 levels are now the same as 3M+ years ago.

      We have 40-50 years more warming ahead based on what has been done to date (so we are going to sail past 2 deg C effortlessly on the way to 4 deg C or so.

    • and the only way to change the current system is revolution isn’t it? Incremental or evolutionary change doesn’t recognise the time limits we are under.

      • Colonial Viper 17.3.1

        On our trajectory, a revolution of one sort or another is going to occur, let’s not forget that. Will it be one we lead or one a Trump type figure leads.

      • weka 17.3.2

        Proactively preparing for tipping points is another option.

        • Bill 17.3.2.1

          Is that different to preparing for a revolution? If I understand you correctly, a ‘tipping point’ is exactly the same as a fundamental shift – ie, it’s the point in time and attitude when everything sits on the cusp of change – when potential is about to realised by way of rapid, deep seated shifts.

          • weka 17.3.2.1.1

            I’m not sure if it’s the same (don’t know a lot about revolutions). I think the thing about tipping points is that we can’t determine when they will happen, or how, but we can influence the direction in which things go once we are over the edge.

            For instance, I think we would be far better off with a L/G govt than a NACT one were we to face a crisis e.g. a very big earthquake, or an oil shock large enough to disrupt BAU. I’m not talking about a collapse so big there is no controlling it, but rather scenarios where we have more choices. If we have a left rather than right govt at that point, the ability and willingness of the govt to respond to the people is greater, more proactive things can happen rather than activism being predominantly reactive and defensive. The potential of the proactive is where we could have influence. We can prepare for that.

            edit, just looking back at marty’s response, I assume that revolutions also happen at tipping points, but we have tipping points irrespective of revolutionary action. And we can respond to tipping points in various ways including but not only revolution. Depends on what is being meant by revolution of course.

            • Colonial Viper 17.3.2.1.1.1

              No argument that a left leaning government would use the levers available to the Crown in a slightly more empathetic and socially responsive away.

              But that is going to happen within the context of protecting the existing system, the existing market driven status quo and the existing priorities around ‘economic growth’.

              Which leads us to ‘supporting the lesser evil’ yet again.

              • weka

                Except if at that point you have enough people demanding a shift to a steady state economy to give one example. If we spend the next year debating what that would look like in NZ, and putting the ideas out there, then we are in a better position if a tipping point occurs that allows such a direction.

                It’s not about a left wing govt being slightly more empathetic and socially responsive (although that’s worth a change for its own sake), it’s about us being in the best position to effect the right kind of change when we have the opportunity. We don’t need L/G to be revolutionaries (certainly not right now), we need them to work within the system we have now so that when the time comes we have people in power who give a shit and who are able to respond at a human level and who have the capacity to do the right thing.

                • Stuart Munro

                  We don’t actually need a steady state economy – growth has some validity as a metric, and many dinosaur sectors are going to retrench. We need growth in renewables, sustainables, and low impact replacements for our currently failing model. It’s a matter of stepping into a developing breach.

                  [lprent: Check your previous comments. ]

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    You’re not talking growth (getting bigger) there but development. A steady state economy remains the same size but it’s diversification increases as increasing productivity allows it to.

                • If we can’t operate a trading economy any more, then the shift to a resilient local economy becomes essential. First, no more crap cheap stuff from China, so tech that actually works soars in value. Second, luxury goods drop off folks’ priority lists. Back to basics.

                  More likely currently if we hit a financial tipping point & get system crash. Gaian tipping points are longer-term. But certainly political strategising on a Plan B or steady state economy is even more of a good idea now than it was 40+ years ago. So much so that people may even start doing it!

                  I agree that it’s pragmatic & sensible to maintain our standard of living from global trade while we still can. The trick is to get opinion-leaders oriented to the contingency plan, so that it drops into place when necessary. And, having become non-violent in defiance of social convention in 1964, I advocate the evolutionary path (not the revolutionary).

                  • weka

                    “The trick is to get opinion-leaders oriented to the contingency plan, so that it drops into place when necessary.”

                    Yep, which is why one of my primary positions is that we need to support the people who are already moving in the right direction rather than constantly criticising them for not moving fast enough. We really need those people to be at their best when the change comes. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be critiqued for their politics and actions, but that they also need acknowledgement and support when they get it right even where they are working within the constraints if systems that we might consider need to be overhauled or remade.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Second, luxury goods drop off folks’ priority lists. Back to basics.

                    An interesting movement that seems to be starting worldwide:

                    Fumio Sasaki’s one-room Tokyo apartment is so stark friends liken it to an interrogation room. He owns three shirts, four pairs of trousers, four pairs of socks and a meager scattering of various other items.

                    Money isn’t the issue. The 36-year-old editor has made a conscious lifestyle choice, joining a growing number of Japanese deciding that less is more.

                    Influenced by the spare aesthetic of Japan’s traditional Zen Buddhism, these minimalists buck the norm in a fervently consumerist society by dramatically paring back their possessions.

                    The article is actually very misleading and, IMO, is so on purpose. Although it focuses on Japanese it seems to do so in an essentially strange foreigners role and implies that it starts and ends there it also makes this point:

                    Inspiration for Japan’s minimalists came from the United States, where early adherents included Steve Jobs.

                    It asks a simple question: How much stuff do we need to live a good and healthy life?

            • marty mars 17.3.2.1.1.2

              I can’t think of too many, if any, successful revolutions tbh – they seem to end up pretty much where they started thus fulfilling the other definition. Evolution is what we have and what will be will be. Helping people power down and make changes is important and praise should be give for efforts made. There is no downside to changing now.

              And still I feel like non storming the barricades is cowardness, is the whole of the problem of why we have got to where we are and why a real revolution couldn’t happen.

        • Colonial Viper 17.3.2.2

          Having major plans in place ready to roll when things turn real bad and people finally realise that things need to be done?

          Yes that is a strategy. Unfortunately I think the corporate security surveillance state has the very same idea.

          • weka 17.3.2.2.1

            No that’s not quite what I meant but I agree that is another option. Who were you thinking should have plans in place?

            • Colonial Viper 17.3.2.2.1.1

              I look at how neoliberalism was implemented as a clue. An entire academic body of work as well as influential groups of ‘expert economists’ were ready to roll when an opening in society presented itself. Like it did in NZ in 1984.

              • weka

                That’s interesting. And begs the question of how much was intentional, how much opportunistic, and how much big, slow movement outside of control (I still don’t understand how Prebble and Douglas ended up in the Labour party).

                I think it also begs the question of whether people of conscience can effect that degree of social change or whether it will inevitably be the people with less ethics.

                I take the resurgence of ethical and actual journalism in NZ as a good sign. Not sure what is happening in academia.

                • Colonial Viper

                  When you look at how Chicago school economists were assigned from the USA to neoliberalise Chile, you can see that it was all intentional, and that it was all planned. This was part of a transnational agenda.

                  Bottom line is it is very likely that the true power elite (i.e. not the lowly 1% or the single digit millionaires) have another round of plans that they are readying for us.

                  • weka

                    Assuming that is true, what are our choices?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Not sure who you are speaking of as “our.”

                      Speaking of the US situation Chris Hedges says that mass civil resistance is the only way that they will have a chance against the growing tyranny of the corporate state.

                      In NZ I refuse to support any of the big political parties and I choose to point out that at this moment, not only is incremental or managerial change essentially futile, but that the Left/Right political paradigm of the second half of the 20th Century is utterly obsolete.

                    • weka

                      Our = NZ.

                      The problem I have with what you just explained of your approach is that it doesn’t take into account tipping points. It also doesn’t take into account the cultural shifts needed, which are already happening and may snowball. So the base idea that all incremental change is useless is not real IMO. It’s hard to know where to go after that because you can keep pushing the ideas you have but if you don’t offer an alternative what do you want to have happen? That’s not a rhetorical question, I’d really like to know how you see the next bit.

                      The L/R thing I just find ironic because the Greens have been on about that for a long time.

                    • Bill

                      If political parties are just going slower in the wrong direction than previously, rather than slowly in the right direction….

                    • Colonial Viper

                      I think the whole “tipping points” thing is a useless concept, good only for academics writing papers 20 years after all the stuff has already happened when they want to intellectually order and classify events.

                      I’m not in any position to say to NZ what its options are or are not.

                    • weka

                      Not sure what your point is there Bill, can you finish the sentence?

                    • To see the big picture, we shift our conventional dualist view to an holistic perspective: the hybrid capitalist/socialist system we’ve lived in since the mid-20th century gets ignored because of the habitual focus on either component.

                      The gfc bail-out of failed Wall St corporations enraged the political right in the USA because it was a blatant socialist use of taxpayer funds. The only political leader here to mention this was James Shaw in his victory speech a year ago, advising us to get real and understand that the control system is hybrid.

                      The globalist Bilderberger project will proceed regardless if it takes the Brexit hit. The controllers know it is lifting too many third-worlders out of poverty to be allowed to fail. Their traditional strategy of using puppets from the left concurrently with puppets from the right will retain support from the political establishment of most countries. The democracy sham captivates mainstreamers.

                      So for the cognoscenti, Weka, our choices hinge on identity politics – we are constrained by the culture of individualism to do our own thing, so the status quo will persist accordingly. To shift away from it to a better world requires collaboration, working together for the common good. Been there, done that. Hell is other people, right? Identify with the former path, we’re merely blog commentators, so we’re part of the problem. Even if we know we’re also part of the solution. Both/and logic applies.

                      So, if we identify with a small group of folk who are actively trying to catalyse the solution, then co-creating a better world gets more traction. Play a different game than the one the controllers have set up. Become a team player. That’s how the Bolsheviks did it.

                      The left/right democracy game uses the neoliberal agenda to recycle what worked in the 19th century – when the market prevailed over the bureaucrats. It’s a business-enabler system, in which both left & right have a common interest in creating wealth & jobs for mutual benefit. The controllers ensure that the right get most of the wealth, the left get barely enough, but leftist leaders get political careers as lapdogs of the capitalists & more wealth than their comrades (Clintons, Blair).

                      Now we’re living in a time when the masses are starting to lose faith in the system, thus the drift towards something different. But few see the alternative clearly yet, so inertia recycles business as usual. The more we agree on how to constitute the alternative, the more it will coalesce as an option in the public mind. Remember how many years the Bolsheviks took to develop consensus around their plan. Remember that bolshevik means minority!

                      Tipping points, CV, are really only useless in a predictive sense. The notion derives from chaos theory in the late ’80s, before Gladwell made it famous at the millennium. It’s germane because we’re all enmeshed in complex systems, which can enter rapid transitions into quite different states at different times. Some are gaian/natural systems, some social – some are political, some are economic systems. Holism isn’t so ephemeral really, and the notion of interlocking subsystems with cascading influences is conveyed in popular culture by the `turtles all the way down’ metaphor https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtles_all_the_way_down

                      The timing and outcome of such transitions are indeterminate, both in principle and practice. This view is now established in the science of complexity. The political relevance is that any status quo is vulnerable to being destabilised by unforeseen obscure factors. A good example: most historical accounts of WW1 cite the assassination of Arch-duke Franz Ferdinand as the trigger. A cascade of political shifts rapidly shifted various countries around Europe into war.

                    • Bill

                      Finishing the sentence…you don’t encourage them. (They’d take your support as vindication for their direction of travel)

                    • weka

                      Can you give an example?

                    • Bill

                      Helen Clark’s Labour government.

                      And arguably, all political parties currently in NZ’s parliament.

                    • weka

                      “If political parties are just going slower in the wrong direction than previously, rather than slowly in the right direction….you don’t encourage them. (They’d take your support as vindication for their direction of travel)”

                      “Helen Clark’s Labour government.

                      And arguably, all political parties currently in NZ’s parliament.”

                      Do you mean that you don’t support the things they are doing right because that gives them a mandate for everything else?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Tipping points, CV, are really only useless in a predictive sense. The notion derives from chaos theory in the late ’80s, before Gladwell made it famous at the millennium. It’s germane because we’re all enmeshed in complex systems, which can enter rapid transitions into quite different states at different times. Some are gaian/natural systems, some social – some are political, some are economic systems. Holism isn’t so ephemeral really, and the notion of interlocking subsystems with cascading influences is conveyed in popular culture by the `turtles all the way down’ metaphor https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtles_all_the_way_down

                      The chiropractic profession was founded upon the concepts of a perfect Universal Intelligence permeating the form, behaviour and interactions of all matter and energy in existence.

                      Western science cottoned on to similar ideas in the 50s and 60s.

                      What amuses me is that it is the self-styled sciency types who pooh-pooh what is so utterly obvious in favour of their reductionistic, mechanistic view of complex systems.

                    • Bill

                      I said that if they are going in the wrong direction that they are undeserving of support. I didn’t say that a single policy shouldn’t be deservedly (ie – proportionately) lauded.

                    • weka

                      “I said that if they are going in the wrong direction that they are undeserving of support.”

                      I would have thought that was obvious. But perhaps you could give an example because I still don’t know what your point is in the context of this subthread.

                      e.g. if you think that all parties are undeserving of support because they are going in the wrong direction, what does support mean (or withholding of support)? Esp then supporting them on things they are moving in the right direction on.

                      Not meaning to pick on you, because there are number of people doing this, but how hard is it for people to explain what they mean? I used the term ‘moving in the right direction’, you’ve responded to that and I still have no idea what you point is.

                      Here is what I said for reference,

                      Yep, which is why one of my primary positions is that we need to support the people who are already moving in the right direction rather than constantly criticising them for not moving fast enough. We really need those people to be at their best when the change comes. This doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be critiqued for their politics and actions, but that they also need acknowledgement and support when they get it right even where they are working within the constraints if systems that we might consider need to be overhauled or remade.

                • Bill

                  It’s a matter of perception Weka.

                  Where one person perceives a slow movement in the right direction, another might perceive the movement to be in the same old direction – albeit slower.

                  Helen Clark’s Labour government offers up a good example of that. Some people thought they were moving in a new direction. Others thought they were moving in the same old direction – but slower.

                  If you believe a party is moving slowly in the right direction, then you might support them and encourage others to do the same

                  If you believe the same party is moving slower in the old direction, you might not.

                  And if, regardless of your perception, a decent policy gets thrown out, then the policy can be offered relevant or qualified support.

                  I don’t believe that any political parties are moving in the right direction. And so I won’t support any of them. But I will throw a vote at the least of the evils.

      • Bill 17.3.3

        I’d say so. But for those who tend to quake in their bootees at such a prospect, I’d want to point out that revolution does not equate with violence. All it is is fundamental change (an aside – that being why I don’t view any of the political revolutions I know of as being any kind of revolution at all. They just swapped out ruling elites.)

        Anyway. We either make the fundamental change or physics will make it for us. I much prefer the prospect of former but suspect we’ll get slammed by the effects of the latter.

        And in that scenario, a lot of people reading this today will be fidgeting uncomfortably before many of today’s youngest as they try to offer up a justification for their present day, utterly destructive crap-headed scramble for money.

  18. JohnDoe 18

    I think it was someone else coined us a rockstar economy, not the caretakers of it. Arguably you could point to any economic malaise as the result of having a huge deadweight of citizens that cost us dis-proportionally in welfare, health, justice etc. The same people that somehow have been convinced that “The Govt” will pay for their bad luck, bad decisions, lack of life planning etc. Personally I don’t mind that we are importing people who will contribute more in many ways to our Society. If you want better outcomes for the small percentage of Kiwi’s who are not enjoying the benefits of our economic & social system your best bet is to let them know that they need to stand on their own feet. But I guess they won’t then vote Left…

    • One Anonymous Bloke 18.1

      How do you account for the fact that the number of people who make bad choices goes up under National?

      ~3% unemployment in 2007. ~6% today. What happened to cause all those people to suddenly become feckless and lazy?

      Come on trash, what’s your excuse?

      • tricldrown 18.1.1

        Yeah right fishy.
        Don Brash was given a $2+ budget to set up the productivity commission.
        By National in 2008 as part of the deal with ACT.
        His first finding was housing affordability being the biggest threat to increasing productivity Key didn’t like it’s findings so cut it’s funding.
        Funny that.
        Real wages continue to fall fishy.
        Doing more with less return is not good business.

    • Draco T Bastard 18.2

      The same people that somehow have been convinced that “The Govt” will pay for their bad luck, bad decisions, lack of life planning etc.

      The only people who fit that description is the rich.

    • johnm 19.1

      Above doco Mind the Gap begins with a woman and her children living in a tent.

      When mummy key and little johnny key first came to NZ as de facto refugees she was given a widow’s pension and both were given a lovely warm snug new little state house to live in. johnny received free University education when he got to Max’s age and later had a wonderful time helping to flog off our assets. His government have caused born and bred kiwis to be refugees in their own country by throwing them off survival benefits for technical infringements resulting in partly the 1 in 100 who are now homeless. You’d think little johnny key would have remembered and honoured the wonderful start he and mummy got when they first came here! 🙁 But it was not to be-ingrate.

  19. Jack Ramaka 20

    Unfortunately the people at the bottom of the ladder need help, they do not have the ability to get work for themselves, earn a living, feed, cloth and house themselves.

    We as a society need to better educate, train and assist these people into meaningful employment however the wealthy are getting wealthier and there is less money flowing around the middle and lower classes, the neoliberal economic experiment has worked just as planned.

    The Asian economies have decimated manufacturing and low skilled work in the Western World hence we have had a lowering of wages and employment in the middle and lower classes.

  20. Draco T Bastard 21

    Richard Moore: Mismanaged NZ is no paradise

    After moving to New Zealand 12 years ago I heard a lot from locals about what a great place it was to raise kids.

    But, as I took my children to school, I saw huge numbers of kids heading to class without shoes – in the middle of winter.

    That was a shock. Couldn’t their parents afford shoes, I wondered?

    To add to the picture many of the children didn’t have raincoats, others didn’t even have jumpers.

    I didn’t think about it then, but now I would expect many of the kids didn’t have lunches and hadn’t had food for breakfast.

    Nowadays when people say to me that New Zealand is the best country in the world to raise children I ask them why they think that?

    They cannot say exactly why, I guess most just parrot the myth of this paradise for children.

    Then I ask them if this is the best place to raise kids – why are there more than 270,000 children living in poverty right now?

    Ummm.

    Why do so many children go to school without being fed?

    Ummm.

    How well is our economy truly going when our children are going without?

  21. Reasonably informative article except for THIS:

    ” I could go on but you get the picture. The National government has made mistake after mistake after mistake. ”

    It was not a mistake.

    It was starve the beast economics and the very picture of textbook neo liberal gutting of all the sectors – unions, workers pay , welfare , health , education , deliberately constructing a housing bubble and slashing the top earners tax bracket by half.

    I don’t want to see any more talk of this being some sort of naive ‘ mistake’ on behalf of National anymore.

    The time for being soft on these treasonous bastards is now over. There are people hurting out there in the community … real kiwi’s just like you and I.

    And might I also add… there are a few children who have died as a result of cold , damp state houses , whereby working parents cant even afford the rent , medical costs or to put food on the table for their family’s.

    So we can also charge Nationals policy’s as having an indirect cause of the deaths of those kids.

    Not so nice when you view things in those terms ?….is it.

  22. Reasonably informative article except for THIS:

    ” I could go on but you get the picture. The National government has made mistake after mistake after mistake. ”

    It was not a mistake.

    It was starve the beast economics and the very picture of textbook neo liberal gutting of all the sectors – unions, workers pay , welfare , health , education , deliberately constructing a housing bubble and slashing the top earners tax bracket by half.

    I don’t want to see any more talk of this being some sort of naive ‘ mistake’ on behalf of National anymore.

    The time for being soft on these treasonous bastards is now over. There are people hurting out there in the community … real kiwi’s just like you and I.

    And might I also add… there are a few children who have died as a result of cold , damp state houses , whereby working parents cant even afford the rent , medical costs or to put food on the table for their family’s.

    So we can also charge Nationals policy’s as having an indirect cause of the deaths of those kids.

    Not so nice when you view things in those terms ?….is it.

    • Sabine 23.1

      this is so good it needs to be repeated:

      ” I could go on but you get the picture. The National government has made mistake after mistake after mistake. ”

      It was not a mistake.

      It was starve the beast economics and the very picture of textbook neo liberal gutting of all the sectors – unions, workers pay , welfare , health , education , deliberately constructing a housing bubble and slashing the top earners tax bracket by half.

      I don’t want to see any more talk of this being some sort of naive ‘ mistake’ on behalf of National anymore.

      It always was intentional, anticipated, planned and carefully executed. Fool me one twice thrice? What did the Poet say to that?

  23. fisiani 24

    The graph at the top also represents the amount of Government money spent on the poor. God Bless Bill English.

    • arkie 24.1

      Of course those ‘fiscally-neutral’ tax cuts were for the poor, how could I have been so stupid!

    • Stuart Munro 24.2

      Yes – poor people like the Christchurch construction magnates who’ve swallowed 19.5 million to turn a town hall into a carpark. Poor people like the insurance companies who’ve systematically underpaid people living in the aftermath of the quakes. Poor people like Saudi sheiks and Comalco and health sector insiders and the property speculators and the criminals who conspired to buy Crafar farms. Damn Bill English to Hell – but he should go to prison first.

    • Richardrawshark 24.3

      Administering the poor and the services the poor use, or actually ON the poor?

  24. Jack Ramaka 25

    The problem we have in NZ is we have created an underclass who can not get out of the poverty trap and they are reliant on state welfare. In a sustainable growing economy with educated people and equitable distribution of wealth you have a balanced economy with everybody having equal access to housing, education and health.

    • Greg 25.1

      the underclass is the workers whom dont want to work 24/7 n milk cows for below the minimum wage.
      🙂
      please get with the program,

  25. In Vino 26

    No mention of Interest Rates?

    It puzzles me how the Nats get away with it. They tell us our economy is strong and that is why our Dollar is high – international investors buy our dollar because of our rocket-ship economy..

    In the next breath they tell us that interest rates are at record-low levels (a half-truth) and that we can’t lower them further because it would provoke yet another rise in house-prices. And most of the sheep seem to believe it all without even bleating…

    Compared to other OECD countries our 2+% interest rates are bloody high. So they buy NZ dollars to get better rates than they can in their own countries. Our Dollar goes too high and damages our exporters.

    This has been status quo for years. Dollar far too high because Govt. here does not want to fix the problem by taking measures to reduce the bloody ridiculous, unproductive property bubble.

    How would our dollar fare if we dropped our interest rates to US levels? Why is this question never asked?

    • Greg 26.1

      be ready for a recession when Labour have to fix the economy,
      its going to be a long decade,
      n i retire in 12 years.
      hopefully to the Phillippines.

      • In Vino 26.1.1

        Yeah, I have heard about those revolting people. Philippines is a very poor country. Dirty old men use their superannuation from wherever to buy a little casa, and use their financial power to buy a pretty young Philippina as a wife and live a life of relative luxury… but they are rat-bags to my mind. Why did they sit back and allow their own country to become a place where they themselves could no longer live with respect of all?

        In the Philippines, their deluded self-respect is all they have.

        • Greg 26.1.1.1

          Kiwi women on dating sites want men to have a house in car, even when they have everything, or they have younger men, Its all a matter of prospective.
          It’l be much cheaper to live there, and get dentistry done, and get a maid.

  26. Liberal Realist 27

    The National government has made mistake after mistake after mistake.

    Have to disagree with this statement OP – I’m fairly confident that National were (and are) well aware of the consequences of their policies, they’re fine with inequality as long as their constituents reap the rewards of said policies.

    A low wage economy is their MO.. Blinglish said it himself back in 2011.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/4869938/Low-wages-advantage-for-NZ-English

  27. Jack Ramaka 28

    The National Party elite and the ruling class are just fine with 50-60% of the people in this country struggling to make a decent wage, most of these people are busy trying to pay the rent and put food on the table.

  28. Macro 29

    The whole question of whether or not the economy of NZ has tanked or not needs to be put into the perspective of just what the economy exists for in the first place. Just what is it we want from our economy?
    My desire for an economic model for NZ would be simply this: I want an economy that provides the greatest good, for the greatest number, over the longest time. That is economy that is sustainable and provides an equable distribution of goods and services to all.
    In such an economy the measure of GDP would be be meaningless. It was after all initially developed solely as a measure of a countries productive capacity in terms of their monetary value, and as its developer warned that it was never intended as a measure of a societies welfare or health (which is now its main purpose it would seem).
    As others have stated above, increasing consumption is not only unsustainable in a finite world, it is damaging to the health of the planet. We need to rapidly find a way to live within the limits of the planet and we need to do this in such a way that all may share equally. The current regime is an abject failure. Of that there can be no doubt.

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