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Pepsi vs Coke

Written By: - Date published: 11:53 am, April 28th, 2008 - 79 comments
Categories: Media - Tags:

Last week, Campbell Live ran an article about the framing of Key as slippery. It could have been an excellent piece on the merits of such attacks, the wisdom of them, and their effectiveness. In parts it was, but then Campbell did this:

The shallow premise that politics is only identical brands competing for popularity, Pepsi vs Coke reporting, is the most common complaint you hear from people about political reporting. Not only does Campbell further this empty kind of analysis, he actually acts out the bloody metaphor used to deride it!

Let’s get this clear. Politics is not a game, it is not a popularity contest, it is not commodity branding. The parties fundamentally stand for very different views of society: Labour stands for a decent job with a fair wage for all those who want it, the Greens argue sustainability must come first, National stands for the protecting the wealth and power of those who have wealth and power, United Future stands for Peter Dunne’s ego. The election is most important decision that we as a society make: who has the best policies, the competence to carry them out as well as respond to emerging issues, and can be trusted to act in our interests? It’s such an important decision that all adults get to have their say.

Reporters do New Zealand a disservice when they portray this important process as a meaningless game.

79 comments on “Pepsi vs Coke”

  1. Macky 1

    It’s easy for someone getting a big income like Campbell and his coworkers to think that Labour and National are the same but I wonder if all those people who will lose their work rights under National’s 90-day Bill or all those people on the minimum wage who lost out in the 1990s think Labour or National is just coke or pepsi

  2. Lyn 2

    I have to say there is a limited understanding of the left/right spectrum amongst people I know who are educated enough to know better. Campbell’s analysis unhelpfully elides a few basic philosophical differences between Labour and National that could really make a difference to how people vote – collective vs individual wealth for example. I wish we had better debate in the MSM, and in general, about the essential differences between the two main parties.

  3. randal 3

    I never watch campbell and I find teevee1 to be too long and both are celebrity centred..how long will it be before petrie is the new mother of our nation…anyway the point is that neither of the chanels will air a decent programme on primetime where the issues can be debated. it goes against the grain for the meedia to believe that people can make up their own minds. they have to be told…over and over and over again by the talking heads that now dominate the airwaves what to think and even how to behave

  4. Tane 5

    Irish Bill just sent me an email complaining about link above, the whinging old bastard. To clear up any confusion, I agree with you Steve, the parties are different. I just appreciate a good photoshop job when I see it.

  5. Billy 6

    “Labour stands for a decent job with a fair wage for all those who want it … National stands for the protecting the wealth and power of those who have wealth and power…”

    Well, if you say so…

  6. Steve:

    I disagree with you, in what National stands for. I think they stand for less Government, Less tax and not telling people what to think or eat or drink. They stand for choice, they stand for people making their own decisions and taking responsibility for them.

    Labour stands for, the Government bailing you out, if you screw up, telling us how to pronounce words in the politically correct way and sticking their noses in business where it doesn’t belong.

    The Greens stand for bad science.

    You made a point about National standing for wealth and power. Does occur to anyone on the left that those that have wealth, deserve it because they worked hard for it?? I say good on them for having wealth and power.

    I had been a labour voter all my life, but I have now turned to the right, not because I have wealth and power, I’m middle/lower class, but because of how far to the left Labour has turned.

    For myself, the party that talks about personal responsibility the most has my vote, and that seems to be National.

  7. Steve Pierson 8

    Brett. Saying that people have wealth and power have it because they worked hard for it (and so ‘deserve’ it) logically means that people who don’t have wealth and power do not work hard (and so don’t ‘deserve it). That’s clearly false, try working minimum wage and see if those people are not working hard, then try and office job on three times the income and see if you have to work three times harder.

    Of course you don’t because wealth and power are not allocated by some smiling judge rewarding hard work, they are allocated by the market and by luck – if you are born into a wealthy and powerful family, chances are you will be as well – if you have a rare skill set, due to luck of birth, and having access to education that others didn’t, you will earn more because of tight supply for your skills.

  8. Thanks you, Brett. You said exactly what we were all thinking.

    Peirson complains and then perpetuates the very thing he criticises: poor political analysis

  9. Steve Pierson 10

    tane – i was going to hassle you too, but then I thought ‘must present illusion of solidarity’

    Hollian. Brett’s analysis is at 16 year old level and you can’t even spell a pseudonym correctly.

    captcha: hand diversion – Stephen Franks’ election ploy?

  10. James Kearney 11

    The Greens stand for bad science.

    Like how they’ve been right on climate change all along?

    because of how far to the left Labour has turned.

    NZ Labour is to the left of National but it’s not particularly left wing by international standards.

    the party that talks about personal responsibility the most has my vote, and that seems to be National

    So you base your vote on spin and focus grouped catchphrases employed by parties to fool people like you?

    Does occur to anyone on the left that those that have wealth, deserve it because they worked hard for it??

    According to your blog you work for a low wage in office admin. Does that mean you’ve been lazy and deserve what you get?

  11. Tane 12

    tane – i was going to hassle you too, but then I thought ‘must present illusion of solidarity’

    Someone should tell that to Helen Kelly…
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/sundaystartimes/4498150a6442.html

  12. mondograss 13

    The thing is, Campbell does know better. He seems to get sucked into this populist model of journalism too often though. He was better a few years ago when he was prepared to allow people to make up their minds and not badger the interviewee all the time.

    As for the difference between Labour and National, it would be fairer to say that Labour believes in collectivism while National believes in individualism. National tends to look at people as stand-alone individuals, while Labour considers the wider social context of family\whanau, community, national society, global society.

    The full-blown extension of the Nats perspective is that everyone does what suits themselves best individually and if that means that a powerful persons rights override a weak persons then so be it.

    To apply the same extension to Labour, everyone has to take responsibility for (and possibly suffer for) the behaviours of the minority.

    For my part, I believe the Nats are wrong. We do live in a wider society and it’s key to a govts role to protect people that cannot protect themselves (even if it’s themselves they’re being protected from) particularly from those that would deliberately take advantage for their own gain (i.e. tobacco companies, party pill manufacturers, ACT etc). Is society better off from banning party pills? Yes, probably. At the least I can’t see how we’re worse off as a collective group.

  13. Scribe 14

    Steve,

    National stands for the protecting the wealth and power of those who have wealth and power…

    Well, based on that astute (*cough*) political analysis, somewhere between 45% and 55% of New Zealanders are either wealthy and powerful or want the wealthy and powerful to remain wealthy and powerful.

    This is what we expect, though, when Steve starts a “Labour stands for” soliloquy.

    “Labour stands for X (that’ll be awesome), the Greens stand for Y (also awesome) and National stands for Z (hideous and disgraceful).”

  14. Most people who are wealthy aren’t born into it, so the silver spoon theme is wrong. They have chosen their career path and they have worked damn hard at it.

    Are you saying, people who are wealthy, don’t deserve it?

    People who work low income jobs, like myself work hard, but we have of our own free will, picked a career, that doesn’t have great financial rewards. Its the choice of the individual.

    Its shouldn’t be the Government’s role to look after people who take a career path that doesn’t pay a lot.

    There are always ways to better yourself, and it doesn’t involve the government.

  15. Steve Pierson 16

    The fact that there is any dispute that right wing parties stand for protecting wealth and power in the hands of those who have it shows just how politically illiterate many people are. Learn some political history, look at the power shifts over time, whose interests are the conservative power blocks protecting, whose interests are leftwing groups promoting?

    It is true that National stands for individualism rather than collectivism but that is just the same thing as saying wealth and power should stay with the wealthy and powerful

  16. But everybody has the change to be wealthy???, they just have to make the right choices.

    Where am I saying wealth and power should stay with the wealthy and powerful?

    If you want to be wealthy and powerful, choose a career path that will give you this.

    Wh

  17. r0b 18

    Most people who are wealthy aren’t born into it, so the silver spoon theme is wrong. They have chosen their career path and they have worked damn hard at it.

    Ahhh, no Brett, it’s a good deal more complicated than that. Check out this OECD study:

    Click to access 38335410.pdf

    Intergenerational earnings mobility varies significantly across countries. It is higher in the Nordic countries, Canada and Australia but lower in Italy, the United States and the United Kingdom. The extent of intergenerational earnings mobility depends on individuals’ and households’ characteristics and varies over the income distribution (i.e. mobility is lower at both the top and the bottom of the distribution in many countries). Various studies also show that: (i) countries where both income inequality and rewards to education are higher, display lower intergenerational earnings mobility; and (ii) the degree of persistence of family income across generations is stronger than that of earnings.

  18. randal 19

    wealth and power are about exploiting people and resources and as Adam Smith himself pointed out in the Theory of Moral Sentiments what people want most of all is to have command over labour so its psychological…all the rest is wallpaper and dont forget it!

  19. roger nome 20

    Just thought of another John Key song the other day. It’s called “Junk Bond Trader” by Elliott Smith:

    The imitation picks you up like a habit
    Writing in the glow of the TV’s static
    Taking out the trash to the man
    Give the people something they’d understand
    A stickman flashing a fine-lined smile
    Junk bond trader trying to sell a sucker a style
    Rich man in a poor man’s clothes
    The permanent installment of the daily dose

    It isn’t bad one either

  20. Steve Pierson 21

    “But everybody has the change [chance] to be wealthy???,”

    how naive are you, Brett?

  21. mondograss 22

    “It is true that National stands for individualism rather than collectivism but that is just the same thing as saying wealth and power should stay with the wealthy and powerful”

    No Steve, not to play semantics but it’s not saying wealth and power SHOULD stay with the wealthy and powerful, it’s just the practical effect of the notion because the wealthy and powerful use their wealth and power to protect their advantage, just as collectives use their power to protect their advantage. Of course you wont see me complaining when a Union is trying to protect its collective rights, but my point is that it’s engaging in similar behaviour. The key difference is that it’s doing so on behalf of a wider group and its actions are therefore more advantageous to society than an individuals. But the govt still needs to prevent even large collectives from abusing the rights of individuals.

    Try reading Blind Faith by Ben Elton, he depicts a society that is so hung up on individualism that it’s achieved a bizarre kind of collective group-think that is actually completely devoid of any individualistic traits at all. Of course he couches it in a form of religious fervour, but it’s still a good read.

  22. Steve: I don’t think I’m naive at all?

    I attended the poorest school in Christchurch, and I had people in my class that have gone on to become very successful.

    Nothing held them back, they studied hard, pick a career path that would earn the wage that they want, and are now reaping the rewards.

    What is to stop anyone, doing this?

  23. mondograss 24

    And as for the suggestion that people “just” need to choose a career path that leads them to wealth and power, I think you need to evaluate the choices people make against their capacity to attain their goals and the context in which they must attain them. The marginalised have severely limited life choices and the goal of a good government should be to expand those choices. Can anyone become a foreign exchange trader and earn millions? Yes sure, if you take them out of context. But where the Right would argue that it’s within everyones power regardless of circumstance, the Left argues (I think correctly), that coming from a family that is illiterate, dysfunctional etc and a community where so many families are in the same boat, will more severely limit your likelihood. It’s not impossible, it’s just highly improbable.

  24. James Kearney 25

    Brett why by your own argument have you failed so miserably in life?

    You say you’ve made a the choice to be a low paid office admin person. Why didn’t you aim higher? Where’s your aspiration?

    People like you are holding New Zealand back.

  25. Steve Pierson 26

    mondograss. Good points. I think it is a little chicken and the egg to argue whether conservatism’s focus on individualism is there so wealth and power can be protected or merely as a side-effect.

    I would point out that conservatives are not just pro-individualism. they also take collectivist, or at least authoritarian, stances to protect the position of the privileged elite too – repressing minorities, women, and homosexuals being the most obvious examples.

  26. James Kearney 27

    Brett- a video for you to watch.

    http://nz.youtube.com/watch?v=znQe9nUKzvQ

    Which are you?

  27. mondograss 28

    Yes, I’ll certainly grant you that Steve. It is something of a contradiction that conservatives are often the first to call for authoritarian rule in the name of the majority, but the first to complain of the unfairness when the govt regulates say, party pills for example, which lets face it the vast majority were in favour of banning.

  28. James:

    Yes Im on a low wage, but the money I do save, I invest and that is the choice I have made, and everybody else has that choice. There is nothing holding anybody back from doing this.

  29. James Kearney 30

    But why don’t you have more ambition in your career? Couldn’t you choose to have a higher paid job if you wanted or are you too lazy to try any harder?

    IrishBill says: James you can make your point without getting nasty. It would be in your interests to do so.

  30. they are also all for freedom of the individual except when it comes down to individuals wanting to marry people of the same gender or hold cultural/ethnic beliefs that do not fit with the majority of people. Likewise they want less state intervention but still want large defense forces and extremely large correctional facilities.

  31. roger nome 32

    Brett:

    Do you have a Dom? Because you sure do seem like a bit of a masochist .

    Yes socially-advantaged master, I know I was born poor and you had millions of factors in your favor in comparison to me, but won’t you whip me anyhow? Please?

  32. Hoolian 33

    Brett why by your own argument have you failed so miserably in life?…You say you’ve made a the choice to be a low paid office admin person. Why didn’t you aim higher? Where’s your aspiration?…People like you are holding New Zealand back.

    James Kearney, keep you claws to yourself. Brett’s argument is not miraculously made invalid due to your personal attack on his lifestyle, so please do make a realistic attempt to cut the crap so we don’t get sprayed with it when you speak.

    Personal choice is not about whether you are successful or not, nor is it about how your life ends up – it’s about what you choose to do. Just because you’re in a low-paid, admin job doesn’t mean that you haven’t made that choice for yourself, or are content with it. Not everyone wants to be rich or famous, some are happy just having a family etc. The point is (and JK misses this entirely) that there is very little (save the Labour-led Government) that is stopping people from going out and doing whatever it is they want to do.

    Brett’s argument is an age old one, and despite the spite of JK and the like, it still stands up to critique. Don’t assume that I agree with Brett’s stance just because I’m defending it I just cannot stand the weak, empty-headed attacks that some of you blurt out in a rabid attempt to sound clever.

    And sorry about the typo, Peirson, I mean Pierson try not to take it too personally.

  33. Tane 34

    I think the fundamental problem with Brett’s argument is that in a capitalist economy there’s a key distinction between “Anyone can make it” and “Everyone can make it”.

    After all, someone has to clean the toilets. The question is how we treat them.

  34. James:

    Your right, if I wanted, I could further my Admin career, but I want a balance between work and life outside work, that is my choice.

    I have now chosen to make extra money by investing, that is why I can have a balance life and its all my choice.

    If I fall flat on my face, its because of the decisions that I have made, if I become successful its because of the decisions I have made.

  35. “Labour stands for a decent job with a fair wage for all those who want it, the Greens argue sustainability must come first, National stands for the protecting the wealth and power of those who have wealth and power, United Future stands for Peter Dunne’s ego.”

    What a load of liberal bullshit. Can you actually provide any evidence to back up you’re statement that “Labour stands for a decent job with a fair wage for all those who want it”, or at least any practical application of that noble goal by a Labour government?

    If Labour supposedly supports worker’s rights to a decent job with decent wages, why have they maintained 90% of the anti-union laws put in place under National’s Employment Contracts Act (ECA) in their own Employment Relations Act (ERA).

    Most importantly, why have they not given workers and their trade union’s the unrestricted right to strike, the most basic requirement for allowing the working class to struggle for better wages and conditions?

    Last time I checked, under the ERA unions are still only allowed to take strike action during negotiations for a new collective agreement, which only comes round once every few years (annually at the most, but that’s rare), making workers powerless for the rest of that time.

    And also, unions are forbidden from taking strike action in solidarity with other striking workers. This hinders the development of class consciousness and solidarity amongst NZ workers, another necessary condition for fighting for a better deal.

    The facts show that under Labour, the gap between rich and poor and the wealth of the super-wealthy capitalists has grown enormously, and AT A GREATER RATE THAN IT DID UNDER NATIONAL. I quote from the introduction to “Labour – A Bosses Party”, published by by the Workers Party of New Zealand in 2006;

    “On July 22, 2005 the National Business Review (NBR) published its annual
    Rich List. This yearÕs list contains the richest 205 New Zealand individuals
    and families. This super-rich group have increased their wealth by a staggering
    $9 billion in the past year! 2 That increase is as much as the entire wealth of
    the entire Rich List back in 1998, the last full year of a National government
    (back then the super-rich had only $8.6 billion)! In 1999, when Labour came
    to power the wealth of people on the Rich List (167 individuals and families,
    each with over $15 million) was $9.8 billion.
    In other words in the last year of the last National government, the superrich
    increased their wealth from $8.6 billion to $9.8 billion, an increase of
    under 14 percent. In the 2004-2005 year, under Labour, the super-rich have
    increased their wealth from $22.32 billion to $31.4 billion, an increase of around
    40 percent!
    The graph of the rate of growth of wealth by these parasites is interesting
    Ê Under National in the 1990s it goes up relatively modestly and then, after
    Labour wins the 1999 election, it curves dramatically upward. The rise in the
    past year makes the upward curve especially pronounced.
    In fact, after six years of Labour in government, the several hundred
    wealthiest individuals and families on the Rich List have increased their wealth
    by just over 325 percent. And if you add in millionaires with less than $25
    million, the percentage would be even greater (before 2004, you only had to
    have $15 million to get on the List.)
    During the period that Labour has been in power since 1999, wage rises
    have averaged between 2 and 3 percent per annum, barely keeping up with
    inflation. Some years, real wages have actually fallen. The recent report by
    the Ministry of Social Development indicates that from 2001-2004 median
    household income grew by a mere 13 percent. In those same years, the
    super-rich saw their wealth increase by over 75 percent.”

    I apologise for all the boring statistics, but they do tend to destroy the bourgeois-liberal myth that Labour is some kind of pro-worker party that stands for equality and “social justice”.

    If National supposedly “protecting the wealth and power of those who have wealth and power” and Labour supposedly doesn’t, how come the wealthy and powerful do so well under Labour, and how come ordinary working people don’t?

    Real wages continue to fall, especially with the sky-rocketing cost of living (I work in a supermarket, so I’m well placed to observe people’s reaction to how much they’re paying for their groceries), and Labour not only does nothing about it (we can’t do anything that might adversely affect the “free market” now can we?), it hamstrings the ability of worker’s and their unions to fight back against this!

    If Labour is such a worker-friendly party, HOW COME IT WAS LABOUR THAN INTRODUCED GST IN 1986? It’s odd how people who see Labour as a pro-worker party gloos over the policies of the Fourth Labour Government and the effect they had on working people in New Zealand.

    And if Labour really cared about the lives of workers and their families, why doesn’t it scrap GST ENTIRELY (not just on fruit and veges, or food, but on EVERYTHING)? After all, GST is a flat tax that hits poor workers the hardest, while barely affecting the rich.

    But what’s this? Michael Cullen, our friendly Labour Party Finance Minister, is saying that “The Government will not change the GST system, as creating exemptions would add extra compliance costs for businesses which would be passed on to consumers.”

    What rubbish. It would do nothing more than give workers a bit more disposable income, and help them to deal with the sky-rocketing cost of living.

    This should prove to anyone with a brain that Labour is not a workers party, and it doesn’t give two shits about the lives of ordinary working people. Labour is a BOSSES party, a party of the “wealthy and powerful” just as much as National is, and is the ENEMY of New Zealand workers, not their friend.

    I’ds advise anybody who still clings to their pro-Labur illusions to follow this link to the Workers Party’s LP pamphlet.

    http://www.workersparty.org.nz/publications.php

    Incidentally, the Workers Party will be contesting the 2008 elections on a pro-worker, anti-capitalist platform, calling for the abolishment of all anti-union laws, the immediate scrapping of GST, open borders and full rights for immigrants and refugees, and an end to the capitalist system that is the ultimate source of all the world’s problems. So there is ONE political party to vote for the rights of the working class – however, it’s name isn’t “Labour”.

  36. mondograss 37

    *sigh* I know I’m not going to win this argument with Hoolian, but a Claytons choice is not a choice at all. Yes, one could theoretically go out and do whatever they want and succeed at it, but they’d have to leave behind everything to do so, and they’d have to realise that doing so is even an option.

    Brett ignores the fact that his desicions rest on the shoulders of decisions others have made, either directly and on his behalf as a child, or indirectly in the form of govt policy. Collectivism tends to give greater weight to the historical build up of decisions made rather than the immediacy of individualism.

  37. roger nome 38

    Brett’s argument is that the only factors that matter are on the individual level, no matter how much the rules of society favour one individual or group over another. He lack’s balance between the individualist and collectivist view of society. Focusing on the individual is good to some degree because of the productive incentives it creates (i.e. you get to keep wealth that you earn, so you work harder) and it seems ethically right that people be rewarded for their efforts.

    But this needs balancing this with a collectivist understanding of society because justice means everyone is treated equally/fairly, and some individuals and groups have much more opportunity than others because of the circumstances they’re born into – and so justice requires some re-balancing of those factors which are out of a person’s control.

    Focus solely on the collective and you get the irrationality that is communism. Focus solely on the individual and you get a Pinochet style neo-liberalism that tends towards plutocracy.

  38. Tane 39

    Alastair Reith: Good points, but far, far, far, far too long. If you want people to read your comments it’s best to keep them under 100 words. Links are your friend.

  39. Matthew Pilott 40

    Alastair Reith – while your goals are laudible, several of those aren’t actually under the purview of Prime Minister for New Zealand, and can’t be made to happen by NZ Government.

    And while you may have discontent with Labour’s policies, most on the left would see them as an improvement to the realistic alternative. I’m not sure if you’re so far over to the left that you see no difference between the left and right in New Zealand’s Parliament, but if so, don’t you think that a vote for you guys is effectively a vote for the right?

    Sorry for the defeatist pragmatism and all, but some of us look at governmental policy as a whole, and don’t just pick and choose the bits that illustrate our points and turn a blind eye to those that don’t.

    P.S are you of the Judean People’s Front, or the People’s Front of Judea?

  40. P.S are you of the Judean People’s Front, or the People’s Front of Judea?

    I think he’s pepsi.

  41. Billy 42

    I just followed Alastair’s link. And to think I used to think you guys were crazy…

  42. insider 43

    Mr Reith’s rant was a blast from the past. It’s a long time since I;ve heard anyone use the word ‘bourgeois’ in such a way.

  43. Scribe 44

    I would point out that conservatives are not just pro-individualism. they also take collectivist, or at least authoritarian, stances to protect the position of the privileged elite too – repressing minorities, women, and homosexuals being the most obvious examples.

    Yep, the Tories were so busy repressing minorities that our first female PM was from the National Party.

    But you’re right to say that there’s no repression of homosexuals under Labour. In fact, it’s tried to get enough in Parliament to make up for the lack of them for decades.

  44. Matthew Pilott 45

    Shut up ‘sod you splittist coke-roader.

    Scribe – you say that it’s a bad thing…

  45. Scribe 46

    Matthew,

    Well, I know it’s permissible to talk about there being an inadequate number of women or Maori or Asian MPs in Parliament, but it’s not OK to bring up the fact that Labour has five “out” MPs in its caucus of 50 (49?), which is certainly well above the proportion of the population.

    I’m not saying if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, simply stating facts.

  46. roger nome 47

    Scribe:

    “Yep, the Tories were so busy repressing minorities that our first female PM was from the National Party.”

    Women must be the first minority to make up 51% of the population then!

  47. Scribe 48

    roger,

    Was just quoting Steve’s comments (though I did forgot to attribute them).

  48. Spectator 49

    Scribe: “Yep, the Tories were so busy repressing minorities that our first female PM was from the National Party.”

    I wasn’t aware that women were in a minority in this country in the first place.

  49. Scribe 50

    Spectator,

    Once again, I was quoting Steve’s analysis of conservatives “repressing minorities, women, and homosexuals being the most obvious examples”.

    You and Roger have both astutely pointed out that women are not a minority (numerically speaking). I hope Steve will avoid such falsehoods in future.

  50. randal 51

    if you dont stop it at once I will cry…

  51. The Dumb Ox 52

    Political labels are a lazy and outdated way of arguing, and assessing the merits of a particular political party.

    The NZ left have come up with some good policies in their, but too often they want to take it one step too far into the world of socialist controls.

    Meanwhile the NZ right has come up with some excellent economic policies but too often they also take things one step too far and lurch into unbridled Capitalism as if that is the answer to all that ails us.

    We should be assessing policies, not personalities or political ideologies.

    But that would be the mature thing to do, and the NZ political scene, aided by the media here, is a very politically immature scene – probably due to the fact that generally speaking we have had it pretty good in NZ with no great oppressions or wars to remind us why political policies are merely expressions of deeper personal philosophies – not all of which are good, in fact some are downright nasty.

    I think we could all learn a thing or two from the Neo-Conservative movement in the US – which actually sprung out of the left wing Democratic party.

    They were labeled the Neo-Cons for trying to bring some balance back into the Democratic party, which had lurched into hard leftist policies, by incorporating good wing ideas with left wing policies.

    They proposed things such as welfare with accountability and genuine limits so as to promote a welfare system that wasn’t just about handouts, and that didn’t create welfare dependency or people abusing the system.

    Initially they were labeled and attacked, but now many of their policies are key planks of the Democratic party policy.

    Too bad the Democrats strayed far from their core constituents (as Labour did here) with their militant pro-abortion and pro-gay lobby policies.

  52. deemac 53

    how can you be militantly pro-gay? is it OK to be a little bit pro-gay? Seems to me you’re either in favour of equality or you aren’t…

  53. milo 54

    That’s right Steve, National are the devil, and Labour are salvation. And anybody who thinks differently should be burnt at the stake.

    (Now this is weird; captcha: his blaze)

    But seriously, if you think all opponents of Labour merely want to protect the wealth and power of those who have wealth and power, how do explain their 40% vote last time? Are 40% of NZ wealthy and powerful? Or are they just confused, needing re-education to learn to have correct thoughts?

  54. r0b 55

    how do explain their 40% vote last time?

    Huge advertising campaign and promises of tax cuts.

  55. milo 56

    Ah, so the electorate needs protection against being tricked, then? Because they are not competent to make the right choice?

  56. r0b 57

    Why would you think that Milo? You must have a very low opinion of the intelligence of the electorate.

  57. milo 58

    It’s poor form to seize on another’s irony to make a substantive point of your own. You’d better be careful rOb, or people will be saying you’re geTting past it ! 🙂

    (With apologies to Collen McCullough … )

  58. r0b 59

    It’s poor form to seize on another’s irony to make a substantive point of your own.

    Is it indeed. Is it also poor form to try and twist someone’s words into meanings that are obviously not intended?

    You’d better be careful rOb, or people will be saying you’re geTting past it !

    Ahh for the good old days when I was merely “getting” past it! Goodnight…

  59. The Dumb Ox 60

    How about that Vector asset sale aye?

    I could have sworn that Labour has been telling everyone over the past month that they were all about protecting NZ assets, and that National was foaming at the mouth to sell our assets to oversees interests and the Exclusive Brethren.

    I guess that Labour forgot to mention that it’s only the Chinese who are allowed to buy Assets under Labour rule.

  60. r0b 61

    You’d better be careful rOb, or people will be saying you’re geTting past it

    Ahh – I geddit! rOb getTing. My blog name is a tribute to the man who motivated me to become politically active (good old Muldoon eh). But the middle character is a 0 (zero) not an O. It facilitates what some of us once used to call “ego grepping”, the modern version of which would be “Googling myself”.

    Anyway, TDO: only the Chinese who are allowed to buy Assets under Labour rule

    I opposed the Auckland airport sale and got called a racist – racist re Canadians yet! So I feel entitled to ask you a somewhat milder question, why does it matter to you that the buyers in this case are Chinese?

  61. randal 62

    pepsi-coke…campbell-shrewsbrewery…can anyone actually tell the difference? if it is an either/or decision then I prefer neither. fire the both of them and get some poms in on 3 month contracts and then keep firing them till something arrives that can actually do the job without descending into xenophobic mawkishness

  62. milo 63

    Actually rOb, it was a typo. Anyway, fair question. Race doesn’t matter at all (maybe I was being a bit mischevious). But I will say that the reason offered for opposing the Auckland airport sale was public opinion and the strategic nature of the asset. This sensitive land schtick was not mentioned until now.

    But I do oppose private ownership of weakly regulated monopolies. Overseas private ownership is even worse, as it is harder to hold the owners to account through public sentiment and consumer complaints. The net effect will be the extraction of monopoly rents that will be sent overseas, contributing to the poverty of the NZ economy. No problem with a fair return, or even an excessive return if it was created from investment in new enterprises. But extracting rents from monopolies beggars us all.

    I have to give Labour credit here. Four weeks paid leave, and other employer-required benefits, help to erode the overseas transfer of these economic rents. But actually, what we really need is strict regulation and aggressive enforcement of natural monopolies like airports and power lines. Governments of all colours are too feeble on that front, regrettably. As a result, productivity drops and our trade balance worsens.

    Crikey, I almost sound like a labour voter! Nahhh ……..

  63. r0b 64

    Crikey, I almost sound like a labour voter! Nahhh ..

    That’s it Milo, come one, move towards the light side of the force!

  64. Ari 65

    Lyn- actually, left/right is a very oversimplistic way of describing politics itself. There’s economic freedoms, (confusing, this is referred to as left vs right) social freedoms, (authoritarian vs. libertarian) foreign policy approach, (political realists/nationalists vs. globalists vs. transnationalists) and timescale. (short term vs. long term)

    Oh, and that’s ignoring more finnicky issues that aren’t easily defined like policy priorities, respect for independent research, and how focused on policy a party/candidate is compared to how focused on publicity they are.

  65. Steve Pierson 66

    Ari. Left and right is the basic dichotomy, the essential dividing line between parties. It is the clearest, simplest way to describe what parties stand for and their positions relative to each other.

    In first year politics it seems very clever to rip up such a basic spectrum but the fact is it works.

  66. milo 67

    Hmmn. And if it wasn’t left/right, then it would have to be the blues and greens, or the Rangers and Celtics, or the Protestants and the Catholics.

  67. r0b 68

    It’s true, the need for “tribal” affiliations seems to be very deeply wired. Recognising the fact doesn’t mean that it’s right or wrong though, it just is.

  68. AncientGeek 69

    It is amazing when you read some of the material about the hardwiring we have. For instance the massive amount of attention (and hard wet-wiring) that our brain dedicates to reading faces

  69. AncientGeek 70

    Damn – hit the submit too early.

    We appear to have much of our brain dedicated to recognizing infinitesimal differences like faces. It is hardly surprising that it spills over into politics and everything else.

    Ah if only we weren’t such animals.

  70. milo 71

    It’s interesting isn’t it. Is the political blogsphere a safe outlet for such conflicts about difference; or is it a nasty way of encouraging them? … Oh dear, I suppose that’s another of those conflicts based on a false dichotomy ..

    I feel like Jonathan Swift – do you open your eggs from the fat end or the thin end? Careful now, or it could be WAR!

  71. AncientGeek 72

    One of the nice things about the blogs is that you can argue with people of different ‘faiths’. I tend to wind up having the same discussions with other people in the ‘real’ world. But you can seldom have them in such depth.

    It is a pity about the extremists – but they are always there

  72. milo 73

    D4J: It’s the thin end you fatheads.
    Sonic: Another fat-uous comment from D4J.
    Ian Wishart: Fat-end egg cracking was promoted by Kay Goodger in 1856.
    Tane: Thanks to the Torys, workers eggs are thin at both ends.

    … can we go on?

  73. r0b 74

    AG: Ah if only we weren’t such animals.

    Exactly. Of course in one sense it’s trivially obvious that we are all a product of our evolutionary history. But when it gets down to specifics I still find it fascinating to see just how much of our current brain, behaviour, and social organisation is so directly shaped by evolutionary forces.

    And therein lies the rub. Evolution has shaped us as small “tribal” groupings in a big world, dangerous, empty, with unlimited resources. So we are geared to reproduce and consume and expand. Which is not going to work so well now that the world is small, safer, full, and resource limited. I’m a “glass is half empty” kinda person on this. I think there’s a train wreck coming.

    Milo: Is the political blogsphere a safe outlet for such conflicts about difference; or is it a nasty way of encouraging them? Oh dear, I suppose that’s another of those conflicts based on a false dichotomy ..

    I’ll come down on the former there, safe outlet. I (optimistically) like to see if as a forum for the contest of ideas. A forum for mass participation. Something harking back to some of the original Greek concepts of Democracy, where it was incumbent on a Citizen to participate in debate (before everything got so big and clumsy that we needed American style Representative Democracy).

    I feel like Jonathan Swift – do you open your eggs from the fat end or the thin end? Careful now, or it could be WAR!

    Most of the superficial debate is like this, but I don’t think the fundamental left vs right split is. There really is a fundamental and important difference between a focus on society (left) and a focus on the individual (right).

    Now since I’m just talking to myself here, I’ll get speculative, and close the loop back to evolution. The evolution of social animals is driven by a balance of forces, the well known “survival of the fittest” / individual competition / simple Darwinian factors, vs the lesser known (but just as important) cooperative / kinship effects / selfish gene / Dawkins type forces. In today’s world, when the former aspect dominates psychological makeup I think you get a right winger, when the latter dominate, a left winger.

    Or maybe not.

  74. Tane 75

    Tane: Thanks to the Torys, workers eggs are thin at both ends.

    But Steve Pierson has a graph to prove it…

  75. milo 76

    Tane: Heh heh.

    Steve: Interesting speculations. I think the other aspect is environment. I’m convinced that external stimuli have a huge impact on us (not deterministic, but large nonetheless). Age, family and income are part of that environment, and can tend us towards different political beliefs. Hence the old saw about being a socialist in youth and a conservative in middle age. I don’t think that necessarily implies one is right and one is wrong, but it does suggest the powerful impact of environment interacting with genetics.

    That is the value of arguments (and the blogosphere), to be a crane that lifts us above our environment, gives us new input, and maybe leads to new conclusions. Maybe.

  76. milo 77

    Urk. Sorry rOb. Not sure why I wrote Steve. Got a graph to back up your genetic argument … 🙂

  77. r0b 78

    That is the value of arguments (and the blogosphere), to be a crane that lifts us above our environment, gives us new input, and maybe leads to new conclusions. Maybe.

    Maybe, like everything else it will be what we make it eh.

    Got a graph to back up your genetic argument

    Not until The Standard lets us put graphics in our comments! How about it Lynn? Nah just kidding. Goodnight all.

  78. milo 79

    Night rOb. And Tane.

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