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Paradigm shift

Written By: - Date published: 8:26 am, November 30th, 2011 - 79 comments
Categories: Economy, sustainability - Tags:

In the Budget, we were told to expect 4.2% growth in 2012, which would make getting back into surplus and creating jobs possible. The Pre-election Update reduced it to 3%. Now, the OECD says ‘2.5%, providing Europe doesn’t go to crap .. oh, and Europe’s going to crap’. We’ve got to accept that economic growth won’t fall on us like manna from heaven anymore and work out how to build an actual brighter future.

At the anemic rate of ‘recovery’ we’ve had since the economy reached its lowest ebb two years ago, it will take until 2018 to recover the level of GDP per capita we enjoyed in 2007. But even that is unlikely to happen – the outlook is getting worse, not better.

We keep on being told that a return to ‘normal service’, rapid growth with rising wages and more jobs, is just around the corner but that’s all reliant on external factors – higher commodity prices, low oil prices, reinsurers coming to the party in Christchurch, even foreigners wanting to buy our power companies for high prices but generously not gouging us once they have them.

The fact is, growth isn’t coming back. That’s the reason why European countries are having debt crises. They borrowed in the expectation that growth would mean a larger economy in the future to pay back the money and the interest. When growth ceased, the debt pile just grew and grew as a portion of the economy until it reached danger point.

When you think about it, lending is essentially a bet by the borrower that they will have the capacity to pay back the principal plus interest in the future (ideally, because the borrowed money has been used to create more productive capacity) and a bet by the lender that the borrower’s wealth will grow sufficiently for them to pay back the loan. In other words, the credit system is all predicated on the economy growing.

Now, it’s OK to borrow for a while in recessionary times to keep everything ticking over and stop an even deeper recession caused by lending and borrowing freezing up and people paying down debt rather than investing or consuming. But, if growth isn’t coming back, all you’ve done is dig yourself a deeper hole.

Labour, I think, got about this far in their economic thinking: if growth isn’t happening, debt is a major problem. When it became evident earlier this year that no rebound is coming, if anything another recession is coming, Labour turned its focus on to getting debt down while maintaining control of strategic, income-producing infrastructure.

But only the Greens have started to think beyond that to why growth isn’t coming back and what to do about it. Unfortunately, their policy in the area isn’t all that detailed. The Greens know that the economy is an energy system – it will grow when there is more net energy being used effectively (ie efficiently) after accounting for the energy needed to generate the energy in the first place. Peak oil means that the ‘surplus’ energy that powers the economy is starting to decrease. For a while, the fall can be countered by increased efficiency. And that’s essentially where we have been for the last five years – the net energy available, at least in terms of oil (which is by far our most important energy source because it powers transport) has been steady or falling, and only efficiency gains are allowing the weak growth we’ve seen.

As a crude measure of this, you can look at how oil imports have grown as a share of our national income, squeezing out other things. We’re paying more (ie devoting more of our productive capacity/energy) for basically the same amount of oil, and that leaves less for everything else.

So, where does that leave us? It means the growth paradigm, particularly the export-led growth paradigm is dead. Even if we had enough water and fertile land to produce a whole lot more milk powder (and we don’t), our trade partners won’t be able to pay enough for it and the costs of transport or low-value, high-bulk goods will become prohibitive.

If we’re not growing our exports, we can’t increase our imports without going into debt, which we can’t do. We need, then, to become more self-sufficient and decrease our needs for imports. The biggest import is oil, so investing in replacing oil and lessening our need for it should be a priority. This is old-fashioned import substitution for the peak oil age – public transport instead of highways to nowhere, more energy efficient housing (which also means lower health burdens from poverty and a more productive workforce in the long-run), encouraging domestic IT and manufacturing.

If this looks a lot like the Greens and Labour’s economic policies, it is. The difference is that both of them are still assuming that ‘normal service’ will resume. They both base their forecasts on Treasury’s (fair enough), which assumes that growth is just around the corner.

They need to go the step further and plan for a steady-state economy, and how to maintain a steady-state economy in a world of shrinking oil supplies. We can’t assume any more that growth will magically show up and solve our problems. A steady-state outlook needs to be at the heart of our tax system, our economic policy, and our ideas about how income is distributed within the economy.

We can no longer rely on getting paid more for the few things we export so that we can import everything else- we need to become more self-sufficient. We need to build a resilient and fair economy and society that ensures we are getting the most out of everyone (which means not consigning 20% of kids to the scrap-heap from birth by allowing them to live in poverty) and every resource.

We can actually build a better future within these constraints. We have incredible wealth as a country and nearly $45,000 of economic output for every man, woman, and child every year. We can build a New Zealand that works (and provides work) for everyone, if we choose to. But it means really planning for the future, not pulling a few economic levers and leaving it up to the ‘genius’ of the private sector to decide. It also means not allowing our wealth to be so concentrated in the hands of the few, and paying everyone else off with promises of growth to come.

Unfortunately, we’re going to waste 3 more years before we even get started because we have a government whose plan is: cross fingers, sell assets, and pray to the growth fairy.

79 comments on “Paradigm shift ”

  1. Colonial Viper 1

    The Greens sorta get it. But not really. ‘Green growth’? That’s pandering to the current paradigm by covering it in a layer of unachievable greenwash. If the Greens were serious about getting it, they would have a plan to reduce our transport use of fossil fuels by a nominal 50% within the next 10 years. But there’s nothing. No political party has come out and said “its the end of economic growth. Let’s do something very difficult but very different.”

    It takes 15-20 years to transform into a high tech high value economy. When I look at the export land model modified Hubbert curves I see that we have 5-10 years before things become very difficult to accomplish.

    As you have identified, the current debt based money system encourages a huge amount of hoarding, while making it impossible for the economic system to achieve any kind of steady state.

    Can we provide real, productive jobs for every New Zealander? Yes we can. If only we can let go of the paradigms of bank debt created money, maximum profit and maximum hoarding, and the paradigms of the market knows best and the invisible hand of the market will create the society we all want to live in.

  2. ianmac 2

    Key/English will relish the drop in growth as firstly not their fault as it comes from the World decline, and secondly an excuse to further cut State Services, increase pressure on Welfare and attack Education. “Austerity at last!”

    • Tombstone 2.1

      I couldn’t agree more.

      • seeker 2.1.1

        Exactly Ianmac. key/english have been working their little Rumplestiltskin socks off to spin austerity from the very reasonable economic position our country was in when they took over in Oct.2008, thus allowing them and their business buds.an excuse to plunder our assets.

        Just after the election William Joyce wrote about “living outside the matrix which is National”.
        http://thestandard.org.nz/election-night-roundup/ Comment 66@10.57pm (hope you don’t mind me quoting you W.J.?) I felt the same way.

        Perhaps we could extend this idea into ‘letting go of the paradigm that the market knows best’ and begin to build a new paradigm where we can flourish and grow in spite of the government, ie. “outside of the matrix which is national.” Maybe some of us have ideas on how we can provide productive jobs for every New Zealander, or ideas for how we can grow in a new paradigm; in other words how “we can build a New Zealand that works (and provides work) for everyone”.

        Previously, I had only thought selfishly of how to survive in spite of national.
        If they won I had decided to sell my house (at least I am fortunate enought to have one), return to the Coromandel and buy a small place with all things solar so I would not have to pay national’s privatised electricity companies one cent for my power. I would also try to become self sufficient by growing veggies, fruit etc (although I even have trouble growing mint for some unknown reason). I could tutor maybe and barter to survive. I would treat the election of this self serving, deceitful government as a national disaster and use my disaster plan and supplies accordingly.

        However, after years of being of the habit of thinking of others, I could not help but worry after the TV documentary the other night, about the terrible plight of the children living in poverty, their desperate mothers/fathers, and the ghastly diseases poverty has caused.
        We Have to think of some Brighter -than- Bright ideas to pull them out of this terrible hole now that Labour have lost the election, because national does not care and is only digging the hole deeper in its push for austerity and plunder.

        Perhaps we can pool our skills to see if they can be used or combined and made even more powerful

        My skill, that I have acquired over the years, is that I can teach anyone to read and am just trying to finish the four books that will give anyone the ‘tools’ and practice they need in order to read and spell. Only problem I have is that I am ill and unable to interact with people for long, so am also working on a computer programme that might get this reading programme out to people. I have also taught it over the phone to a twelve year old so it is quite robust and flexible ie reading by ear!

        If we all pool our ideas and skills we might just come up with a plan for a future for New Zealand which we can enact and thereby grow and flourish, in spite of selfishness.(On the other hand we may not be able to do this on The Standard, in which case I am sorry lprent.)

        *This comment may seem a little naive, but I thought it was worth an airing

        • dave brown

          Seeker I think that #occupy has overtaken you. We don’t need to retreat to the backblocks and become self-sufficient we can join forces and occupy, and outreach everybody with specialist skills into one big new society. Literacy is an absolute pre-requisite as you know. But we don’t have to do everything ourselves. As this new society gains momentum the old society dies and is replaced almost without us noticing. I say almost because the bastards who own it won’t go quietly. But that’s their problem. Bravo!

        • Colonial Viper

          Time to work together in a new socialist enterprise.

        • lprent

          Fine by me. I’ll even contribute a page with an ability to comment. In fact I suspect I could set one up that you can limit the participants…

          I’ll have a look after Lyn heads off to Shanghai this weekend.

          • seeker

            Cheers lprent, that would be brilliant. As Dave Brown and CV combined said maybe “we can join forces and occupy and outreach everybody with specialist skills into one big new society working and creating (my input) together in a new socialist enterprise”.

            And Ianmac, you are so right. I reckon from experience, that if reading was a pie – roughly a third of us will ‘pick it up’ naturally (decoding will just fall into place), a thirdish will read in spite of the way they have been taught (but often not too proficiently) and a third will just give up because it makes no sense to them- they just don’t get it.
            I say nor should they get it, the way they have been taught for the last 35 years. In fact I told one troubled fifteen year old lad ,who kept getting into trouble and who came to me for help, that he was too intelligent to have learned to read the way he had been taught.This was because it was too random to make sense and in fact ‘just guessing’ and hoping isn’t actually reading
            He was so pleased that he was considered intelligent, having been “Tolley Trampled” (love this term) all his school life and had thought he was “thick” poor kid. It was the reading scheme/method that was “thick”. He learned to read, and spell, from the four books I have and learned what “real'”reading was.
            In fact this reading programme is particularly good for boys, who generally do not decode as well as girls. The ability to decode is the only sex difference I was told at uni.in ’86, (apart from the obvious physical differences).

            Thanks LynW.

        • ianmac

          Good stuff seeker. Perhaps when you are well you could offer your services as Prime Minister?
          80% of kids will learn to read almost regardless of the method. There has always been those problems for 5-20% of those others who find it hard going. Thanks to the Tolley Trample we are even further from a solution.

          • LynW

            +1 to all above. Very encouraging to see. Seeker, not naive, but ever hopeful and empowered by brain storming!

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      …secondly an excuse to further cut State Services, increase pressure on Welfare and attack Education.

      And more tax cuts to the wealthy to encourage them to produce more jobs (even though such tax cuts so didn’t work last time, or the time before that or, in fact, ever).

    • mik e 2.3

      The typical National downward spiral

  3. vto 3

    Organisations to ignore due to heavy conflicted interests, lack of honesty and partisanship…..

    every central bank
    Federal Reserve
    every large government
    World Bank
    every ratings agency

    … add as appropriate ….

    (why would anyone believe these goons?)

  4. Anthony 4

    It’s not like they are going to do anything about it anyway, they want wages down.

    Weaken employment laws, let unemployment grow unabated, reform welfare. Sounds like a familiar method, Ruth Richardson must be nodding her head in agreement, and things like them holding on to WFF (for a little while) let them hide from people how they are in fact getting poorer.

    • Zaphod Beeblebrox 4.1

      Lower wages will be good for McDonalds but really bad for retailers.

      • gnomic 4.1.1

        Yes, well that just about sums it up. After the efficiency experts have stripped out all but McJobs, the working poor have trouble paying the rent let alone haunting the malls with open wallets. I’m trying but it’s hard to see that brighter future even when I remove the shades.

        Couple of articles I’ve seen lately.


        Beeb’s Robert Peston on keeping seatbelt fastened in 2012


        Charles Hugh Smith on the future of work in the US, but largely applicable here.

        I hear that closing eyes tight, sticking fingers in the ears, and singing lalala, is almost guaranteed to make problems go away.

  5. Craig Glen Eden 5

    “Unfortunately, we’re going to waste 3 more years before we even get started because we have a government whose plan is: cross fingers, sell assets, and pray to the growth fairy.”

    So smiling and waving talking magical job figures isnt going to improve our lot? Shit 48% of Kiwis who voted are in for a bloody big shock then!

    • gnomic 5.1

      Mate! The smirking weasel is going to create 170,000 jobs over the next 4 years. Count it as done.

      I don’t suppose you’d be interested in buying a bridge by any chance?

      Oh wait. That was a Treasury forecast. Perhaps better not break out the champagne just yet.

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      They never talked about a steady state economy in public, this campaign at least.

      • Shane Gallagher 6.1.1

        And how successful would that have been CV, do you reckon? That is so far out of the mainstream as to make talking about it in a tight election cycle little short of electoral suicide. It is a massive paradigm shift and the economics depts of the universities around the world have yet to seriously start to think about it.

        Reducing poverty and improving housing insulation standards, moving towards a renewable-energy based economy and cleaning up our rivers and lakes so that we have sufficient clean water are solid ideas that start leading the change in the way people think about the world. Once you start people along that track they start to understand the principles through the praxis.

        Interestingly it is a Catholic/Protestant world view difference – one of the reasons it was so difficult to resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland – the Protestants wanted all the principles laid out first and then implement the changes and the Catholics wanted the changes on the ground made first and then work out the principles. The Greens think you start out with the praxis and the principles emerge out of that (kind of thing – I am a bit brain dead at the moment).

        • Colonial Viper

          Well then shall we be honest about it. All those steps you mention are good – if this was 1970 and we had another 50-60 years to make the transition post oil and post industrial economy.

          We don’t, we have 15-20 years, the ‘praxis’ has been happening since Woodstock but its not in reality going to take hold in the mainstream in time.

          Yes, the Greens might score better than the other political parties in acting on the coming future but that’s talking 3/10 for them instead of 2/10 for everyone else. Limited meaningful difference in reality, just better feelings and PR about it.

        • Draco T Bastard

          …the economics depts of the universities around the world have yet to seriously start to think about it.

          The economics departments of the universities can’t think about it as it goes completely against their neo-liberal hogwash.

  6. Zaphod Beeblebrox 7

    You haven’t even mentioned the effect English’s planned austerity is going to have over the next 3 years. If they want to do something about their $18.5B deficit and not raise taxes, Bill and John will be needing to cut pretty hard into spending. What this will do to our GDP has not really been discussed.

  7. Olwyn 8

    “When you think about it, lending is essentially a bet by the borrower that they will have the capacity to pay back the principal plus interest in the future (ideally, because the borrowed money has been used to create more productive capacity) and a bet by the lender that the borrower’s wealth will grow sufficiently for them to pay back the loan.”

    In recent times, with the big industrial machine grinding to a halt, the borrower is persuaded to bet on their ability to pay back, while the lender is actually betting on their inability to do so, so as to gain concrete assets and in some cases control of whole countries. This is not new either: back in something like 500BC, Solon (Plato’s ancestor) banned people from lending money against land and then seizing it for non-payment and selling the original owners into slavery.

    • johnm 8.1

      Very insightful Olwyn.
      Take Ireland they’ve been sold into debt slavery and their assets seized by forced in effect privatization!

      • Colonial Viper 8.1.1

        Well actually more than debt slavery its indentured servitude which passes from generation to generation.

        In the old days, when someone in debt died, their debts died with them. No more baby, no more.

  8. johnm 9

    If Richard Heinberg is right we are at the end of gross GNP growth for ever! Refer http://www.Postcarbon.org for the following reasons:

    1. Cheap oil gone for ever, the current price is capping the World economy
    2. World supply poised for permanent year by year decline as many reports have warned pushing the price ever upwards.
    3. Climate change impacting food production and causing other economic disruption : Thailand Floods.
    4. Other resources getting scarcer such as minerals and topsoil.
    5. Overpopulation

    Our debt based money system depended on growth to assure those debts could be paid off, its collapsing because growth has collapsed. You can only inflate a balloon so much,then it goes POP!

    • johnm 9.1

      Very good post James Henderson, It certainly is one of the biggest Paradigm shifts in History not only has growth ended but due to the decline of oil supply and other resources including climate stability we probably have begun the era of economic contraction permanently: a reversal of the upward swing of the energy bonanza.

      Declining fossil fuel extraction——Declining available energy———Declining extraction of other resources, less production of food and other goods——–Population decline———Declining demand for energy——–Declining fossil fuel extraction. The debt based money system declines in tandem.

      I can understand Governments thinking if we just ignore this stuff hopefully it’ll go away! But if you care for your people except 200,000 children in poverty that is your well to do smug self satisfied kiwis then maybe the issue should be faced up to their lifestyles could be impacted by this!

  9. randal 10

    NZ only has growth of over 4% in exceptional years so the tories and the msm media have gotten away with it once again.
    Why dont fat boy garner and the rest of the parliament sausage roll munchers get off their bums and do some real reporting instead of sucking up and regurgitating.

  10. Oblimova 11

    I think the Greens do get it but they don’t want to ‘frighten the horses”. There can be limited “green growth” related to increasing energy and resource efficiency, but in the long run green growth is an oxymoron. Since the mere mention of ending growth gets you looked at like you’re mad, bad or sad (and quite possibly all three at once), I despair of convincing anyone of the necessity to get back to a truly sustainable existence degrowth is needed. (Such an outlandish concept that not even my spell checker recognises this word.)

  11. Galeandra 12

    We’re unlikely to persuade the Average Punter to accept the viewpoint about growth having limits because inevitably the limits are being met in a patchy intermittent random way, and mostly far away from here. NZ still has fat to burn and this good fortune reinforces the current ‘growth some time soon’ discourse.

    The cynically minded might wonder if the power elites in a number of western nations are fully aware of the impending brick wall and are therefore busily cementing in their advantage while they can.

    Given the corporate concentration of the media, and the focus in it on the self-obvious common-sense policies of ‘the conventional wisdom’ it is unlikely that the ideal of a ‘steady state economy’ will win much political support any time soon. When it is clear that we have sunk into a swamp of unpayable debt and that ‘temporary’ austerity has become permanent, no doubt that will change. It may be a bit late then.

    I tried to raise these issues with a few Labour people over this election cycle where I helped, though not a member. They looked at me blankly- their perceptions are still in the way things were, or else the problems are just too hard to solve. Maybe, like AGW, it’s a problem for someone else, somewhere else, you know, in the future……….

  12. Todd Ross 13

    This commentary has come just a little to late – I’m glad though this issue is progressing, just would have proffered the real issues were on the table within the last few weeks, as opposed to speculative polls & other pointless matters.

    End of growth or start of transition to a more meaningful existence?

    • Colonial Viper 13.1

      Problem is that the decision makers in the top 1% can continue to pretend and extend for quite a few years more, past the last date we can do anything meaningful about our predicament.

  13. exitlane 14

    You are on to it.  Check out this excellent presentation on “Peak Oil Recessions and the End of Growth” which pulls all these strands together
    If you wish to get involved with shaping a steady state economy check out
    The mission is to “seek contributions, energy and ideas to help generate a wave of consciousness that questions the validity of growth capitalism and positively advocates shared prosperity without growth.”
    As to the magnitude of the problem arising from our reliance on imported oil see

  14. johnm 15

    Where’s AFKTT? I am surprised he hasn’t got into this boots an all! Slow of the mark today!

  15. Richard 16

    Steady state economy + population growth = ???

    I think I’ll take my chances with the capitalists if it means we don’t have to sterilise people to deal with “overpopulation”, particularly since I suspect it wouldn’t be middle-class white women who end up being sterilised.

    • Bored 16.1

      Severe Richard…try this scenario….oil is basically what you eat by the time it makes ./ fuels agricultural production, produces fertiliser and insecticides, fuels the distribution networks….so far so good. Lots of grain, people eat and breed and voils lots more people.

      Now time for me to be severe….oil supply goes west, food supply follows, population starves………dont think you will need to sterilise anybody. Just go searching for a few crumbs instead.

      [Just to be on the safe side, could I ask you to choose a new handle / nickname please. Cheers – r0b]

      [lprent: He e-mailed with a request to change it – changed. ]

    • Draco T Bastard 16.2

      Don’t need to sterilise people – just make sure that they’re well educated, have an idea of what resources we actually have available and easy access to contraception and abortion.

  16. Bored 17

    Where indeed is AFKTT?????.We Cassandras are onto it. First up, James and most of the above Standardistas are onto it, diagnosis and prognosis correct. Hooray!!!!!

    What to do? Personally I have previously pointed out some strategies and places to look….if you are worried about your cash try this link…. http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/2008/11/debt-rattle-november-30-2008-how-to.html

    Get guerrilla and home gardening….this will only take you so far. Join Transition or build a community…no man is an island. Still only so far.

    Politically its more stark. I have decided to rejoin Labour and get very noisy internally about policies designed around steady state economics. Everyone in Labour needs a copy of Schumachers “Small is Beautiful.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_Is_Beautiful

    Until we get a mainstream political party advocating policies that are designed around managing the energy decline, food and income security, and economic contraction for the foreseeable we will be doomed to disappointment and strife. Alternatively we can get positive, embrace it and build a new fair society based upon sustainable values.

  17. Afewknowthetruth 18


    Congratulations on highlighting the need for paradigm shift. I have been talking about that for many years and produced a little booklet about 4 years ago with that title. Needless to say, there was almost no interest.

    Let’s get down to the nitty gritty here.

    Yesterday I spoke at length with someone involved in small business. He doesn’t read much because he suffers from dyslexia. However, when I showed him the ASPO oil extraction graph (which indicates accelerating descent from here on) he started to think.

    I do not know the exact figure but I suspect that by the time you add up all the immigrants from non-English-speaking countries, all the NZers who went through school without getting beyond the basics, all the people who only read motoring magazines, television guides and the sports pages of newspapers, all the people who are blind, too old to care or not capable of caring etc. you’d be looking at 60 or 70% of the population.

    Of the 30 or 40% left, you have the large sector who have a huge vested interest in denying there is any kind of problem -whether it is a fraudulent money system that is going down, an energy supply that is well past its peak, or an economic system that is wreaking havoc in the natural world.

    ow add to that mix of cultural inertia the devastating effect that city and district councils have on their communities they are supposed to serve: just look at any city/district council so-called community plan (99% of the populace don’t) and you will read dysfunctional nonsense that is full of buzz words, oxymorons and neuro-linguistic programming.

    Having tackled numerous councils over a period of nearly a decade I can tell you they will NOT mention reality in any of their so-called planning; not a mention of peak oil, unravelling of fiat currencies and environmental degradation (let alone collapse!). How could they? Council plans are all about ‘happy-clapping’, ‘aren’t we wonderful?’, ‘this is the place to be’, ‘this is the place to visit’ disaster-as-usual bullshit.

    ‘bursting at the seams with people who behave as though the short term interests of the industrial economy are much more important than protecting the natural systems that make life in the district possible. They behave as though the wants of present day adults are much more important than the needs of coming generations. They behave as though the lives of their children/grandchildren have a much lower value than their own, and apparently have no compunction in squandering what remains of rapidly depleting resources on their own selfish pursuits. In doing so they promote the generation of pollution which is rapidly the destroying the natural systems that make life on this planet possible. They hold close to their hearts numerous dysfunctional ideologies which are based on no empirical evidence, and promote them vigorously and on a continuous basis. When confronted with facts that challenge their irrational beliefs they ignore the facts and carry on regardless.’

    (full text here)


    So, yes, there will be a paradigm shift but it will be the kind of paradigm shift experienced by those who experimented with heavier-than-air flying machines by jumpimg off cliffs.

    Society has already been effectively ‘driven off the cliff’; it’s just that we at something akin to the Wile E Coyote stage of not looking down.

    Reiterating what I have stated many times before, the warnings we would reach this point were given through the 1950s to 1970s by people like M King Hubbert, Admiral Rickover, Rachel Carson, the Earlichs, the Meadows’ group etc.

    Guess what? We’ve reached the point we have been headed for.

    The ‘powers that be’ have lied to the masses for decades and will continue to lie to the masses for as long as they can. Indeed, the worse thngs get the bigger the lies are likely to be. Here is an example of TPTB lying about the prospcts for recovery while dropping big hints about the bad times to come.


    I will believe society can achive a paradigm shift when I read a report about the election of a new Labour leader who is not a scientifically illiterate accountant/ part time farmer/ lawyer, and who states before March of 2012 that we are past peak oil and that there is never going to be a recovery OF the system only a recovery FROM the system.

  18. Afewknowthetruth 19

    A couple of typos there. Sorry.


    ‘Where’s AFKTT? I am surprised he hasn’t got into this boots an all! Slow of the mark today!’

    As you will appreciate, to took a while to compose, select and link that lot.

  19. KJT 20

    For starters. Who knows how to start a Nation wide petition against asset sales?

    We are not going to get very far if our possible sustainable energy supplies are under the control of vested overseas interests sticking to the failed paradigm.

  20. James 111 21

    Yes its good that we are in safe hands now to manage through the looming financial crisis we are well placed

    [lprent: Please don’t keep jumping around pseudonyms. The moderators wind up checking each new pseudonym, which takes time and effort. If you do it often enough then they’ll start dropping you into the trash rather than letting the comment through because the presumption is that you’re merely astro-turfing. ]

  21. johnm 22

    New Report Forecasts “the End of the World in 35-40 Years”

    The world population will rise dramatically; every 13-15 years there will be one billion additional people: In 30-40 years the planet will no longer be able to sustain the population; this will have distressing effects for humankind.
    10 billion people are manageable only with dictatorship and military suppression; culture, individual development and life of free spirit will no longer be allowed, it will be impossible and definitely not open to discussion.
    Exorbitant spending on military, wars, large industries and state administration together with corruption do not allow for any solutions.
    The incredibly hyped up weapons and car industry will drain the earth of its resources and lead the planet to total collapse resulting in the complete destruction of life.
    Due to huge debts and speculation the next financial crisis will lead to a complete breakdown of the system and destroy with it entire countries and nations resulting in widespread anarchy and suffering.
    The unequal distribution of wealth and natural resources of the earth will mean the end of supra-millionaires and billionaires as well as their children’s future.
    Increasing and ever more unpredictable change in the climate will bring enormous destruction to continents resulting in incalculable damage and costs; not to mention hideous suffering.
    We have to expect more drought, floods, heat waves, fires, heavy rainfall, storms, tornadoes, cyclones with the worst imaginable aftermath for the environment and people.
    Sea levels will increase by 20-60 cm. in the next 20-60 years; some experts predict an increase of 90-150 cm. By 2100, all this will wreak havoc.
    Beaches, landscapes, entire islands and natural habitats will be completely destroyed or simply disappear; there will be overwhelmingly more contamination and pollution.
    Natural resources (e.g. fish, drinking water, natural food, water for agricultural productions, healthy farm land) will decrease spectacularly and become more and more contaminated.
    Mega-cities and widespread construction as well as pollution, littering, contamination and radiation of the earth, air, water, seas and food will increase.
    All variations of cancer and serious illnesses will increase dramatically as a result of pollution, poisoning, fine dust and radiation: What the chain reactions in the human body will be nobody knows. No one has been there before.
    1-2 billion people will fall into poverty in the coming 10 years; in 30-40 years this will be 80% of the population; completely without or at best with minimum medical provision.
    The sewage water (with poisonous substances) of 2.5 billion people flows directly into the oceans and seas today; this amount will double in the next 25 years and in 40 years will completely destroy nature.
    Several hundred million people will migrate in search of a new home as a result of unemployment, wars, climate change and natural catastrophes.
    All kinds of rubbish and waste, especially nuclear, electric and car waste, will take on gigantic dimensions and totally poison land, oceans and seas.
    The price of oil, wheat, corn, rice, coffee, sugar and soya will rise dramatically and thus become unattainable for 30% of the world’s population; 80% will have to live under the bread line.
    Most people in industrialized nations will have significantly less disposable wealth which will curtail holidays. Tourism around the globe will collapse.
    Unemployment statistics fail to reflect reality. Around the world today there are over half a billion people who have no work or too little work; this will result in massive social unrest.
    Crises, unrest, revolutions, wars, tax hikes and martial laws will completely choke the human experience; religious conflict will form part of everyday life.
    The explosive hotspots and conflicts will increase and totally change the world; WWIII is imminent, ongoing and can begin any moment; they are all ready.
    Humanity and all religions have lost the Archetypes of the Soul, also Love, the Truth, Trust, as well as genuine inner needs and the inner Spirit.
    The truth has no chance today. Lies, perversion, lunacy, religious psychosis, narcissism, arrogance, ignorance and stupidity have replaced the truth.
    Humanity is (nearly) completely brainwashed and manipulated, degenerated in its inner being. It has become soulless; therefore driven by illusions, greed and repression of guilt.
    The world will collapse beyond repair in 30-40 years with 9-10 billion people. The “end” is foreseeable and will become reality for those alive today and especially for the coming generation!

    How about that for a paradigm shift?!

    • Lanthanide 22.2

      I was interested in where this came from. Here are some other excepts from the document:

      The facts, figures, statistics and other data have been culled from various online and
      offline sources for dissemination for research, analysis, review and reference

      The author of this report reasonably believes such sources to be reliable, but does
      not make any representations, express or implied as to the accuracy or fitness of use
      of such information. The information or contents of the report do not constitute
      advice and should not be relied upon in making (or refraining from making) any


      Millennium Manifesto: Perestroika Humanity
      The state of most people around the globe, the societies around the world, is very
      bad: brainwashed, manipulated, narcissistic, arrogant, ignorant, superficial, neurotic,
      psychopathic, perverted, obsessed, infantile, stupid, stupefied, cowardly,
      hypocritical, gossipy, mendacious, stubborn, blinded, sightless, greedy, too lazy to
      learn, without discipline, lacking character, unable to think, self-opinionated and
      driven by consumption. Self-evidently there are exceptions.

      The elite in most countries, especially in the capitalist coalition (in essence the
      Jewish-American-Israeli Elite) has created a disfigured and deformed human
      biomass out of humanity, in order to use it for their lunatic and psychotic means. The
      Soul of humanity is seriously ill to the core.

      A massive global octopus, full of falseness, lies, misrepresentation, distortion, deadly
      poison, political and religious psychosis, perverse lust to kill of an indescribable and
      never before existing dimension and power, has got nearly the whole humanity in its
      iron grip. The global history since over 100 years is essentially very different from
      that what is portrayed in history books or taught in schools and universities.

      Up until today I have had approximately 12,000 dreams about the state and
      development of humanity and the earth. Since 2009 I began to thoroughly research
      online. It is indeed difficult to identify which sources transmit objective facts and what is more a conspiracy or qualifies more as blatant lies.

      There are no solutions for humanity without the complete disclosure of the truth
      about this global octopus! Humanity needs to be enlightened up to the minute
      details. This also means: the entire history since the Middle Ages up until today must
      be entirely re-written.

      Just to clarify upfront: Everything that is stated here is the absolute truth, free from
      any doubt, historically founded like never before, much better and more
      comprehensible than anything all the religions have ever provided. Your problem is
      therefore not what is written here, but the brainwashed pulp you have in your head,
      your ignorance and arrogance, your big mouth and your sick narcissistic Ego, your
      laziness to learn, your inability to think thoroughly and in networked constellations,
      your greed for power, your cowardice and hypocrisy, your ideological and religious or
      spiritual enslavement, your stubbornness and infantile infatuation, your neurotic
      distortion, your greed for having and lust, your obsession, your bad education and
      your blind cantankerousness paired with hate against the truth and the real love.
      That which you believe to be as “true”, is nothing more than a twisted and distorted
      lie. Nevertheless, partial relief from this is that you are the result since your pre-natal
      time of everything in your biography as well as the influences from your environment.
      Self-evidently there are also certain exceptions.

      I am the Primus inter Pares of all Kings in the spiritual world. Ordered by God and
      supported by all the Kings and Prophets in the spiritual world I am now here on
      Earth, commissioned to give humanity a chance for a new future.
      During the last 30 years I have fulfilled all Archetypes of the Soul. Those Archetypes
      of the Soul are the highest orientation for humanity and humaneness, for religion,
      spirituality, politics, economy, industry and education. With approximately 2,000-
      3,000 dreams about the Archetypal Processes of the Soul, I know what I am talking
      about here.

      The further I read, the crazier it gets. It’s like a car crash; I can’t stop looking.

  22. Richard Down South 23

    imagine if Oil hit $150 USD+ a barrel, and the NZD dropped to under 60c USD… ouch

  23. infused 24

    I love how you’re all experts on this – when in fact you’re wrong on so many points.

    • Lanthanide 24.1

      AFKTT is broadly correct, although I think his projections are a bit pessimistic and underestimate the sheer inertia and vested interests of humanity, both those at the top and throughout the lower ranks. He also ascribes attitudes and actions as coming from malice when really incompetence and ignorance are better explanations.

      If you’ve got any compelling evidence that he’s wrong, I’ve love to see it.

    • Draco T Bastard 24.2

      Well, if we’re so wrong you should be able to prove it with verifiable facts backing what you say.

  24. lefty 25

    Theres nothing like losing an election to focus minds on the real problems.

    Green capitalism isn’t going to cut it and, while perpetual growth is clearly impossible, a so called steady state economy could only work if the present ownership and control of the means of production, distribution and exchange is rolled back in favour of community ownership in some form.

    That power shift requires enforcing and the only force big enough is the state, which is controlled by governments who, regardless of whether they are supposedly left or right, are voted in on the basis of their promises to preserve the status quo in terms of property rights.

    This leads to the silly situation where, for example the Greens, who claim to be a party of the future, won’t speak truth to power because it might jeopardise their support among voters in the short term, which turn means they are not much use when it comes to ensuring we actually have a future.

    We are locked into a self perpetuating cycle of lies and deceit where even the supposedly politically aware will not admit the truth even to themselves.

    Occupy is one example of how we might attempt to break out of the political prison we now inhabit. It may or may not survive and grow but either way the left needs to continue to try new ways that people can connect with each other and start organising resistance.

    I don’t believe this means totally abandoning more traditional political activity, because we don’t know what will work to mobilise people in the long run, but we need to accept that politics as usual is not working here in New Zealand , or anywhere else, at the moment and time is running out.

    • Afewknowthetruth 25.1


      ‘We are locked into a self perpetuating cycle of lies and deceit where even the supposedly politically aware will not admit the truth even to themselves.’

      ‘[The Greens] are not much use when it comes to ensuring we actually have a future.’


    • Draco T Bastard 25.2

      a so called steady state economy could only work if the present ownership and control of the means of production, distribution and exchange is rolled back in favour of community ownership in some form.

      This. It’s the present ownership model (Capitalism) that is the problem. When a few own and control the communities wealth (directing most of it to themselves) then poverty is endemic and perpetual growth in consumerism is necessary.

      • Colonial Viper 25.2.1

        Capitalism without private interest bearing bank credit would be a lot more tolerable.

    • mike 25.3

      Well said lefty.

      My fear is that the guards of “the political prison we now inhabit” are making so much money that they will protect the status quo as long as possible. And should the whole thing fall apart it will be our problem, not theirs. And will the people blame them? I bet they will convince the people that they did their best, but it was beyond their control. “Nobody wanted this to happen,” they will say. And who will the people turn to to guide them through the resulting hardship and austerity measures? The people who own the resources – that would be them.

      It’s not inevitable of course, but I am worried when I see an ill-informed, dumbed-down populace ignorant of history. In volatile times people will accept government a long way from centre in exchange for stability.

  25. Tombstone 26

    I thought this was quite an interesting read – funny how all the measures taken by govt are aimed at the poor and middle classes while the rich are still being given almost free reign to rort the system any way they possibly can. How much are benefits costing us in comparison to the likes of the billions lost in tax avoidance, capital gains etc. If the poor are to be held accountable for costs to the country then why the hell should the same rule not apply to those at the other end, the rich? I think Labour mentioned the word over and over again – it was called ‘fairness’ – the one thing lacking in all of this.


  26. BLiP 27

    . . . When you think about it, lending is essentially a bet by the borrower that they will have the capacity to pay back the principal plus interest in the future (ideally, because the borrowed money has been used to create more productive capacity) and a bet by the lender that the borrower’s wealth will grow sufficiently for them to pay back the loan. In other words, the credit system is all predicated on the economy growing . . .

    And sometimes its a lender set-up in that they know beforehand the borrower will be unable to meet the obligations and, thus, will forfeit the capital.

  27. Afewknowthetruth 28


    I wonder where you got idea I think malice is the problem: I have consistently noted that ignorance, greed and stupidity* are the main reasons we are in this mess.

    The other major factor is the unwillingness of people to face difficult situations; this is partially because of denial and partially because of ‘the high discount rate for the future’.

    The predicament we are in now is a direct consequence of:

    1. most people being ignorant of the basic factors that make life on Earth possible and make industrial civilisation possible

    2. greedy people demanding more than their fair share of resources and [political] power.

    3. people being stupid enough to argue with or ignore those who DO know what is happening and why it is happening, and pretending none of it is going to affect them.

    * In Touch magazine (published in NZ) Feb/Mar 2003: ‘Complacency, Ignorance, Idiocy and Denial.’ Here we are almost 9 years later and still living in a society dominated by those very same aspects of the human condition. The difference between now and then is that we have hit the wall.

    I hope you all enjoyed the Wile E Coyote video.

    in case you missed it.

    • mike 28.1

      Do you think those at the top with real power who greedily and selfishly fight for the status quo see where it will take things, but believe they will emerge holding all the cards? Or are they just stupid and ignorant?

  28. Afewknowthetruth 29


    Several years ago many of us thought that oil would be $300 a barrel by now because the US would have ‘tanked’. In practice the US dollar still retains much of its value because other fiat currencies are ‘tanking’ faster and demand destruction [in the western world] has allowed the oiol market to meet demand.

    One reason I do not believe the rhetoric about an attack on Iran is because any further attempt by western nations to interfere in Iran’s affairs WOULD lead to $150 a barrrel oil.

    • Colonial Viper 29.1

      Oil also stays (relatively) low because both the global economy and consumer demand is sliding backwards.

  29. Afewknowthetruth 30

    On the matter of sustainability, it would be wise to consider that:

    1. The Stone Age was sustained for about 2 million years.

    2. The Bronze Age was sustained for about 2,000 years.

    3.The Roman Empire was sustained for about 400 years (though a remanant of it persisted somewhat longer).

    4. The British Empire was sustained for about 200 years.

    5. The American (US) Empire was sustained for about 100 years.

    8. The globalised money-lender industrial empire was sustained for about 40 years.

    Abandoning stone tools was obviously one of humanity’s biggest mistakes.

    That said, the people of Rapa Nui (Easter Isand) managed to almost completely annihilate themselves using stone tools.

    ‘When the Dutch explorer Roggeveen discovered Easter Island, a relatively small, remote island west of Chile, in 1722, he reported a population of two or three thousand people, and hundreds of unusual statues. Few ships called over the next 150 years, but by 1860 the population appears to have dropped to around two hundred, while few of the statues remained upright. It was not until the mid-twentieth century that serious attempts were made to discover the history of the island. We now believe it was a heavily wooded island which was settled around the ninth century by Polynesians arriving from the west. Over a period of a few centuries the inhabitants gradually denuded the island of trees, whilst at some stage becoming obsessed with building statues (there are nearly 900 of them). As deforestation took place, whatever edible plant and animal life the forest supported slowly vanished. Unaware of any long term consequences, the islanders continued to breed, to chop down trees and to build statues. It is estimated that the population peaked at more than 20,000, after which it collapsed via cannibalism to the kind of number witnessed by the first Dutch visitors.

    All the evidence indicates the Easter Islanders were the unwitting architects of their own population collapse, destroying their life support system through over-population and statue building, but seemingly totally oblivious of the consequences of their actions.

    In his brilliant lecture, ‘Arithmetic, Population and Energy’, emeritus professor Albert Bartlett pointed out that factors we think of as positives –better hygiene, improved safety, better medical care- cause the population to rise, whereas factors that we think of as negatives –war, accidents, disease- cause the population to fall. Without those ‘negative’ factors, the human population will rise until it ‘eats itself out of house and home’. But as Bartlett wryly noted: Who is going to vote for more war, more disease, or more suicide? In the same lecture Bartlett postulated that humanity’s biggest shortcoming is the failure to understand the mathematics of growth.’


    • Draco T Bastard 30.1

      That said, the people of Rapa Nui (Easter Isand) managed to almost completely annihilate themselves using stone tools.

      There appears to be some doubt about that.

      This was the cause of the death of the Rapa Nui culture, as it had been practised up till then— the removal and death of the entire leadership of the island and the rapaciousness of white European slavers and certainly not “ecocide” by the Rapanui people.

      • Afewknowthetruth 30.1.1


        Are we really expected to believe that rats caused the annihilation of the tree cover and the population collapse (which occured long before European slave traders arrived) ?

        That theory ignores the stong cultural stories of battles between Long Ears and Short Ears and the achaeological evidence of cannibalism. And why would ‘near extinction by rats’ have occured only on Rapa Nui and not on any other of the thousands of islands colonised by Polynesians?

        On the other hand, history is replete with examples of humans destroying the local environment via ‘technological improvements’ and various forms of statue building.

        There is a great tendency amongst humans to look for something/someone else to blame for their inadequecies.

        Anyway, it really doesn’t matter. We all know that present economic and social arrangements are completely unsustainable and are in the process of collapsing. And there is no ‘Plan B’.

        By the way, I forgot to mention in previous the word ‘discontinuity’.

        Industrial societies are at the inflexion point of the biggest discontinuity in human history. Having passed the peak of energy per capita (in the late 1970s), we have now passed the peak of absolute energy. This is the first time in all of humanity’s existence we have less and less energy every day that passes.

        Wasting less energy on absurdities (tourism, Rugby World Cup, Olympic Games, shopping malls etc.) could allow NZ society to achieve a hard landing (as opposed ot a super-hard landing) but when we have a government which is in total denial of reality and is primarily concerned with looting, and opposition parties that refuse to mention the major issues of the times, the chances of that are zero.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Are we really expected to believe that rats caused the annihilation of the tree cover and the population collapse (which occured long before European slave traders arrived) ?

          Possible if there was no predators to keep them in check and they ate the seeds. Personally, I’m still mulling the article over and believe that he does a lot speculating.

          Anyway, it really doesn’t matter. We all know that present economic and social arrangements are completely unsustainable and are in the process of collapsing. And there is no ‘Plan B’.

          Agreed. We’re in for a hard time over the next few decades and our governments inability to admit that is going to make it much worse than it should have been.

          This article asks a few pointed questions:

          The question is not so much whether COP17 will deliver an acceptable climate agreement, but whether the peoples’ uprisings in the world will echo in Durban. Are politicians prepared to listen to the demands of the people or will they only hear the polluters?

          Will this be a Conference of Parties, or will it be a Conference of Polluters? Will carbon trading and its accompanying array of market mechanisms run rampant? Will the so-called Clean Development Mechanisms (CDM) be finally seen as Corporate Development Mechanism, Corrupt Development Mechanism or Crimes Development Mechanism?

          I figure the politicians will only hear the polluters and that the whole talks will go downhill from there.

  30. Thanks James Henderson for ‘Paradigm Shift’

    “the economy is an energy system”

    I’ve been involved over the last year with the communities around New Zealand who are likely to be directly affected by – and those concerned about, the National Government’s approach to provision of transport infrastructure – which is at complete odds with the advice they’re paying for from authorities such as the International Energy Agency.
    I spent the 3 weeks leading up to the election trying to get these issues (see below) picked up by the media and by candidates in the opposition parties but was roundly ignored, denied and cut off at every attempt.
    We who are advocating for appropriate responses to the Paradigm Shift need to realise that ‘the media’ are either going to have to be bombarded relentlessly en-masse or avoided completely.
    The latter is more likely to be effective in the first instance as long as we can create our own forums ( such as The Standard is, and identify existing networks to reach individual New Zealanders to inform, encourage and enable them to demand appropriate responses from this government – and to start making our own lives more resilient.

    The Issue of National Significance

    The money NZ spends on importing oil has risen 22% this year to over $21 million per day, $7.7billion for the 2010 year and while the International Energy Agency is warning us to reduce our vulnerability to what are going to become increasingly expensive post 2006 peak oil prices, the National Government is diverting funding from social, health, education and welfare programs to benefit their benefactors in the Auto-Petro lobby by committing more than $11 billion on Roads of ‘ National’ Significance’ and threatening to close another 5 of our regional railway lines.
    Advocates for sustainable energy, sustainable transport, environmental health and Climate Change have a huge body of evidence that would support a complete review of National’s approach to the provision of Transport Infrastructure .
    We also have evidence that they are systematically covering up advice and covering up research that isn’t consistant with their desired outcomes.

    Is this the way forward for NZ ?
    Alan Preston
    http://www.thewayforward2011.org.nz & saveourrailnorthland.org.nz

  31. Afewknowthetruth 32


    Good on you for all your efforts. I’ve heard of your efforts via Robert Atak http://www.oilcrash.com

    I went down the ‘media’ pathway several years ago and soon realised what the ‘proles’ hear is what global corporations want them to hear.

    I’ve just watched ‘GrowthBusters’. As is pointed out in that [quite good] presentation, ideology always trumps the facts as far as politicians, beaurocrats, district and regional councils etc. are concerned.

    However, that is only in the short term. In the long term geochemisrty trumps everything, I’m afraid. Politicians and business leaders will sacrifice their own progeny on the altar of growth.

  32. Georgecom 33

    Within the general “end of growth – steady state economy – resource constrained limits of growth” issue I identify broadly 5 types of position.

    There are the deniers. Most usually (in my experience) fringe right wingers who think that leaving everything to the market will sort out all our ills and that any talk about environmental issues is the work of greenies lefties who want to force everyone into socialism and continue ‘legalised theft’ through new forms of taxation.

    Green tech variety A. Essentially a green retrofitted neo liberalism. The market knows best so leave it to the market to resolve. Growth will resume and business as usual for globalised neo-liberal capitalism will recommence. Technology will solve our problems. I classify Nick Smith and National in this genre. The example of Gerry Brownlee retrofiting homes with insulation vs the “Look Gerry, some coal. Lets dig it up”.

    Green tech variety B. I’d also use the term here ‘Green new deal’. It recognises problems with neo-liberalism and a greater role for the state to play in correcting the excesses of the free market. A GND is about restarting the global growth engine whilst achieveing some environmental and social objectives as well. I classify Labour broadly in this genre and the Green Party as well. At least the GP public narrative. When GP Mps talk to serious environment groups they may move beyond Green tech variety B but they maintain a public face of green growth and smart technology solving our futures.

    Energy descent. Broadly a future where we cope with less available energy and adapt to a more steady state or zero growth economy. The likes of Permaculture and Transition Towns fit in here somewhere. Green tech may form a part of this energy descent however so do simple technologies, localism and the world becoming a bigger place.

    Ecotastrophists. A sudden fall in available energy resources will cause severe and widespread economic and social dislocation. At its worst society will decay and we are thrown backward to some point in history. The prognosis for our future prosperity is not high.

    Exactly which position is most intune with the future reality I am not sure. Perhaps one of the 2 Green Tech positions may turn out to be most accurate. Maybe the ecotastrophy scenario will play out. An energy descent option seems most hopeful, if people are prepared to move as emerging problems demand that we do.

    As for the monent, our current smile and wave government doesn’t fill me with much hope at all. In the face of forecasts of rising oil prices and constraints on supply our S&W government will ‘leave it to the market’ to sort out and trust that kiwis will adapt to rising fuel prices by migrating to other transport options. Electric cars will be the future transport panacea and the S&W government is playing its part by investing billions in new highways that will facilitate incremental fuel efficiency.

    Never mind that as the global stagnation drags on fewer people are upgrading their cars to more fuel efficient models. Never mind that Kiwis are holding on to their existing motors for longer and getting more miles from them. Electric cars and more highways will see us through. Forget expanded public transport or a Central Auckland rail loop.

    So electric cars it will be. If so, surely our domestic power generation infrastructure will be key assets for our future transport needs. Why then does the Government have a policy to sell off 49% of these assets. Oil prices increasing so we can’t afford to drive our petrol car. Power prices increasing so the profits from the power used in our electric cars goes offshore. No one has said that the S&W Governments ‘plan’ has to be coherent. A ‘grab bag’ of ideas is sufficient, maybe until oil crashes through $120 a barrell and heads north anyway.

    My views on Cuba, oil and the NZ economy here cuba

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