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Rationality vs Electability

Written By: - Date published: 10:31 am, January 11th, 2011 - 37 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, Politics - Tags: , , , , ,

Been meaning to post about this for ages, but Campbell’s post finally gave me the push.

Trevor Mallard1 posted a very interesting Monbiot column a while back.  It in turn was inspired by an excellent 100-page report by Tom Crompton, Change Strategist at WWF-UK.

It’s about how buying into individualism and free market initiatives has made things worse for the left. Green consumerism, explaining how relieving poverty in the developing world will build a market for your country’s products, or suggesting that you can impress your friends and enhance your social status by buying a hybrid car has merely legitimised Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as society, only individuals” attitude.

Each time the Left (through Blair, Brown in the UK, along with all the major charities) has tried to use individualism to their advantage they have just entrenched those views further and made the next year’s effort harder.  This is shown up in the British Social Attitudes survey, that has Britain more Thatcherite now than in her heyday.  The legitimising of individualist attitudes over those considering community has become a self-fulfilling prophesy, and a previously quite socialist society is now anything but.

People in society tend to act as expected.  Cater for the lowest common denominator, get it.  Treat public like donkeys, get asses.  Expect everyone to be a criminal…

When the Left has not been trying to win by by accepting the Right’s premise, they’ve been making serious psychological mistakes.

They’ve been expecting everyone to consider policy rationally and realise that their solutions are best.  But most people are far too busy with everyday life to read every party’s manifesto and consider the economic and social benefits for them and society.

Oddly Right-wing economists make same mistake in “invisible hand of market” – expect us to be what Sunstein and Thaler in Nudge calls “Econs” – always making rational choices based on information around us.  It’s why the free market tends to work well for breakfast cereal and toilet paper, but not so great on insurance and healthcare.  Simple choices that you make regularly work well, complex ones you make every few years don’t.  Voting definitely falls into the second category of whether we can expect rational decisions.

And having allowed individualism to become the norm, the emotions those decisions will be made on are extrinsic ones – status, financial success and fear of strangers – rather than intrinsic ones – empathy, social justice and concern for the environment.

What we need is for people to showcase the intrinsic emotions, so that they are more valued again. You’re not born with your values, you learn them. A society can slowly move from more people with more extrinsic outlooks to one with more people with more intrinsic ones – and vice versa.  Through the 80s and 90s we saw a shift to individualism – it’s up to us ordinary lefties if we want to shift it back. We need to get out there, act communally and do good for others, and encourage others to do the same – and it can become the norm again.

Good ECE also helps – it means people learn self control and ability to understand emotions of others.  So you can see why Labour’s Putting Children First policy is so important, and why NAct with their individualist agenda are so keen to make cuts to the sector.

Thatcher got it that “economics are the method; the object is to change the heart and soul,” marketeers according to Guy Murphy “should see themselves as trying to manipulate culture; being social engineers, not brand managers; manipulating cultural forces, not brand impressions,” and the Left need to get it too.  It’s about values and emotions with which we need to sell ourselves.  We can (and should!) have all our wonderfully enlightened rational arguments sitting there waiting to back them up, but rhetoric needs fighting with rhetoric, not rationality.  We don’t need to play on the Right’s turf, but they’ve learned to use the weapon of emotion, and we do need to learn to use that – we must fight their appeal to Status with an appeal to Fairness and their Fear with Hope and Love of Humanity.

1 Trevor – if you reference someone (including us!) it’s nice to give a link…

37 comments on “Rationality vs Electability”

  1. ZeeBop 1

    Thatcher was a product of her time and place. The left had to go along with the underlying treads, what is Rogernomics!
    The times have changed, we’re not looking forward to expanding capacity for debt on the back of increasing heavy dense energy fuels – oil.
    We looking at a fight for a larger share when National have just seized a huge chunk of it. The right globally has failed and has got scare, so scared they’ve raided soveighn funds!
    The cartoon of kids playing monopoly, one with all the cahs and property, asking for a bail out is just so apt.

  2. alfa 2

    So very thoughtful bunji, if we’re going to win we need to change the game and the players!

  3. Bill 3

    As I pointed out in a previous post on the meaning of the British Attitudes Survey ( http://thestandard.org.nz/human-nature-and-propaganda/ ), the stated opinions of those questioned on specific matters doesn’t marry up with their general or intrinsic attitudes or values. And this (arguably) constitutes both a failure of the propaganda model from the past 30 years or so and an opportunity for the left.

    I concluded that post by suggesting that: “For the parliamentary left, at the very least, it’s time to jump away from the amoral, astro-turf territories that have been laid down by the neo-liberals. Nobody lives there.”

    But that doesn’t necessarily entail favouring ‘dog whistle’ or emotive rheoric over ratonal argument. Merely focussing debate on those areas where the propaganda model falls over rather than slavishly adhering to its parameters or points of debate would resonate with most people and put the ‘dog whistle’ right on the back foot.

    • Bunji 3.1

      It’s true that most people’s attitudes are contradictory – it takes a lot of time and self-examination to limit the contradictions. And it’s why surveys can often get the results they want (I’m not suggesting that about the very professionally done British Social Attitude Survey).

      And I’m not favouring dog-whistling to be clear: I don’t think the politics of nudge and wink is good – there needs to be honesty. But most people aren’t engaged in politics (oh that more were and saw its importance!) so we need to appeal to their gut. And that does mean appealing to their intrinsic values. From that attitude survey, as you correctly point out in your post, you appeal to limiting the gap between rich and poor and other values people espouse – rather than spending all your time trying to challenge the rational basis of why they don’t marry up with the policies they apparently don’t agree with.

      Fairness was buzz word of the UK 2010 election and it would be a good one for Labour to pick up for ours this year. It’s Fair to be for the Many, Not The Few. For National’s “We’ll make you Wealthy (as long as you’re one of the lucky few)”, Labour could have “We’ll make you Happy (with Equality and Fairness for All)”.

      • Bill 3.1.1

        My point was more that the apparent contradictions are the result of a certain engineering of attitudes. ie the elevated or apparently all encompassing attitudes are in fact merely the attitudes towards specific issues that come down to us in a miasma of propaganda. And importantly, that propaganda is entirely bound up in and limited by neo-liberal assumptions.

        The problem has arisen because the narrow ‘talking points’ are dwelled upon and treated in isolation. They then assume an unwarranted degree of importance and gain the potential to masquerade as the whole picture. Seems to me that’s illustrated by the claim that the British are now more Thatcherite than Thatcher. They’re not. That much is clear from the survey results.

        But (shall we call them the ‘establishment’ left?) takes it as read that there has been a rightwards drift of attitudes within the general population. And they take it as read because they are not allowing for the very limited and narrow origin of the supposed attitudinal shift. And then they (the left) go on to reinforce the prejudice by operating from their own mistaken assumptions. (ie, they posture around getting tougher on crime, disparaging beneficeries etc )

  4. just saying 4

    Which of the right’s premises do Labour no longer accept? In concrete terms.

  5. RedLogix 5

    A superb post Bunji. It was the kind of thing I was thinking about when I made a much shorter and lesser comment this morning.

    I’ve long held that the failure to eloquently and forcefully express her values was Helen Clark’s (and Dr Cullen’s) main short-coming. They allowed the right to set the agenda and the tone far too often, reacting to events rather than defining them.

    All civilised societies operate a balance between the mutually interdependent right and responsibilities of both the individual and society as a whole. Often, if not almost always, these themes are in tension with each other. For example: an individual has a responsibility to master some skill or art so that they might contribute in some way that society as a whole values; while in balance society as a whole has the responsibility to value and protect all it’s members however weak or vulnerable.

    Alternatively one could imagine the chaos if every person each morning exercised their individual right to determine which side of the road they might drive on. Of course the result of this is that the roads would instantly degenerate into an unusable mayhem….and no-one would get any utility from them. The idea that freedom means ‘doing anything you please to suit your own personal interests’ is a complete nonsense. It is poorly understood paradox that only when the individual abides by the rules of the collective that true freedom is possible.

    The right has set up a false dichotomy, setting the up a false choice between the rights of the individual against the rights of the collective. The right pretends to resolve the above paradox by protecting privilege wherever possible; in the above example by not only allowing people to choose whichever side of the road they felt inclined to pick … but to drive whatever sized Mad-Max armoured tank they might care to afford. Thus allowing a small minority of the wealthy to safely use the roads, at the cost of crushing whatever ordinary persons who are foolish enough to stray into their path.

    The left has focussed on denouncing this ‘unfairness’ while at the same time allowing the right to the denounce in return the left as envy driven collectivists. The equation has become:

    Right = Freedom of the Individual (and who cares if its a little ‘unfair at times, that’s life)

    versus:

    Left = Slavery to the Collective ( some faceless technocrat get’s to define ‘fair’, and it probably won’t be what you would have chosen for yourself)

    As long as we keep playing by this rulebook we keep loosing. A completely different expression of what ‘fairness and equity’ really means, of this balance between self and society, must be found before we will ever be heard by the masses of ordinary people.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.1

      while in balance society as a whole has the responsibility to value and protect all it’s members however weak or vulnerable.

      I hold that society has a responsibility to ensure that none of it’s members are weak and vulnerable.

    • marco 5.2

      I’m a fan of equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.

      Society should set rules that are good and just. It should then ensure that people who are disadvantaged have the opportunity to become whoever they wish to be.

      We have a duty as a society to ensure that children of all walks of life have access to the best education and healthcare that we can provide. We need to ensure social services are engaged to pick up families that need help. Labour’s Children First policy is a step in the right direction but I don’t think it goes far enough.

      I’d also like to see better help for people who are unable to contribute to society through no fault of their own.

      • Orangepeel 5.2.1

        “Society should set rules that are good and just. It should then ensure that people who are disadvantaged have the opportunity to become whoever they wish to be”
        Yes, but how would you achieve that?

        “I’d also like to see better help for people who are unable to contribute to society through no fault of their own.”
        How exactly could that be accomplished? While it is terribly tragic that someone will be put in that position, their misfortune does not give them the right to demand slave labour (slave labour being forced work) of others for their own benefit, no matter how much they didn’t deserve what happened to them.
        Would you donate to a charity that aided those in need of better opportunity? Of course you would, as would I. As would the average person. That is why the government must not leave it’s role of serving as a protector to becoming a charity as well, when we can make much more money to give to those under such misfortune without the government’s social programs gained through gun point.

      • mickysavage 5.2.2

        Marco

        I’m a fan of equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome

        I agree with the sentiment of your post but the above is a slogan that the nats also use. At their last conference it was a mantra that all of the MPs kept saying.

        It is cover for a continuation of the current system. If there was equality of opportunity then a kid growing up in Mangere would receive the same quality education as a kid growing up in Remuera but this clearly does not happen.

        Agree entirely with the rest of your comments.

        • Bunji 5.2.2.1

          equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome

          Is a National mantra. But it’s basically impossible to ever provide equality of opportunity. National mean providing school places for everybody (even if rich area schools are much better resourced), but you don’t just need to have the same quality of education in schools. Children First is a good start, with mucho free high quality ECE, and availability of Parenting classes, and trying to catch damaging families early for intervention. But still, if your parents are educated, they can help you much more with your school work. If they’re wealthy, they can get tutors. If you’re working all the hours of the day to make ends meet, you’re not getting to give the same level of help to your kids that wealthy professional who gets home at 5, or pays for tutoring if they’re home late.

          So we have to do as much as we can (and that investment in education in particular, and also preventative healthcare will lower costs on unemployment, crime, prisons, hospitals in the long run), but there’ll still be a need to help those less fortunate. In contrast to orangepeel I’d say we as individuals have a moral obligation to help our disadvantaged fellow citizens and the state is by far the most efficient way of doing that. When the state didn’t we had Victorian England (and revolutions across Europe in the 19th C). When the state doesn’t do enough we have the appalling poverty and health of many of the citizens of the US that orangepeel so loves.

  6. handle 6

    A question. If “empathy, social justice and concern for the environment” are values that depend on looking beyond ourselves, what makes them “intrinsic”?

    Would “selfish” vs “sharing” be useful terms to describe the distinction instead?

    • Bunji 6.1

      Extrinsic values aren’t good in themselves, only good in that they serve a purpose. Wealth, status, work, fear of strangers give you nothing, but they can have good consequences for you as an individual.
      Intrinsic values are good in themselves – happiness, love, virtue, empathy, fairness, flourishing of society…

      • handle 6.1.1

        Appealing to intrinsic values does not appear to be enough though. I have heard the right using “fairness” to justify not using “their” taxes to fund beneficiaries.

        • Bunji 6.1.1.1

          Well, okay, maybe I need to define fairness a bit better then 🙂
          Fairness such that it fits in with the other intrinsic values. You do need to say a fair society where everyone gets a go, no-one gets thrown on the scrap heap, all are rewarded for their work etc etc

  7. BLiP 7

    The Greens have been saying this all along. Nice to have Labour come aboard. Finally.

    • Herodotus 7.1

      BLiP just confused with “Nice to have Labour come aboard”. I have not seen anything that implies that Lab has changed from being part of the problem, or that ther eis a real problem. Sure David C has made a speach followed up by Phil yet there has been nothing remotely to confirm this rhetoric with any action.
      I see in todays paper there is something to follow Once the Election date is set. So we have a few months to see the headlines and if we are lucky some very small print.
      Finally BLiP as has been contuinually hammer=ed in this is NOT a Labour site, just very supportive, almost to a fault with no real deep review of Lab. Just the other side is bad so we must support Lab. Yet Lab have been and still are a major contributor to the cause. Digressing slightly !!! But again wher eis the evidence regarding lab comming on board??????

      • BLiP 7.1.1

        For sure. My comment was flippant. Unfortunately, the 2011 election is going to be like deciding between Coke or Pepsi. A part of me wonders whether or not it might be best if I support National Ltd™ from a strategic point of view. Perhaps the electorate needs another dose of rampant neo-liberal economics as a “booster shot” to assist with on-going inoculation. Another three years on the Opposition benches will allow Labour to avoid the blame and might even convince the Party of the need to change its . . . umm . . . stripes.

      • lprent 7.1.2

        Some authors are supportive of Labour and some aren’t. However it is hard to find one (apart from me*) who hasn’t had a swipe at Labour and the Greens and all of the leftist parties at various times for one reason or another.

        But the primary focus of the site isn’t towards hammering the left. Most of the authors are far more concerned with hammering the right.

        I fail to see your point because it is common for all political parties to launch their fine print policies closer to the election. This far out from an election all you ever get is non-detailed enunciation of direction – ie rhetoric. What was strange about the last election was that National (apart from taxcuts, taxcuts, taxcuts) didn’t even do that. I’d take you more seriously if I’d seen you laying into KiwiBlog for Nationals lack of policy 9 months out from the election or indeed even 9 weeks from the election).

        If you feel so strongly about it and would like to change the pattern – then set up your own blog.

        * That is because I seldom bother writing much about political parties.

        • Herodotus 7.1.2.1

          I still find less review of many of Labs policies/stances etc. For me (who does have tendancies to lean one way) that Lab and Nat are from and end user position much of a muchness, both base their economic policies on the same premise, just different window dressing. nat “appears” to favour those in business and the better off both in actions and words, Lab fovours the same group in actions but not in its rhetoric. Prime case Tax policy of the last govt. there were so many loop holes created and not fixed. Fueling the property boom more than any Nat govt would. Still have the idea that this was intentional to capture the middle class property owner, stuff the ramifications that this created and is still awaiting to be fixed, and with immigration policy 45k net immigrants p.a. for the 2 years in 04-05, creating about 50-60% demand for an unsubstainable housing market and building industry that geared up for 25+k consents, when the market requires approx 21k consents.
          Lprent- I have not ventured re KB for quite some time, it adds very little for me personnally and my time has some value attributed to it ;-), I have increased my knowledge/understanding from this site not sure re KB.
          Still find that there is a fair bit of cheerleading Lab and little re Greens (e.g. CERA- Greens got hammered yet Lab was untouched). e.g. Lab to protect the middle class(who are they??), what are their expectations now, and can we afford this at the opportunity cost of progressing NZ as a whole?
          Nat in 08 where similar to Lab in 99, why promise much when both parties were a certainity to win.
          With 9 mths to go, and if Lab can be relied upon for a radical (required)change in direction, then for me releasing some major macro stuff, and give time for the dicussions to emminiate and remove the short 6 week period of scare tactics that will evetuate from the other side that they will come up against, then the fear of the unknown will be reduced. That is if Lab has a radical change or if they intend to follow Nat (08) election and appear to promise much but deliver scant all (which is my fear no real change, or an inability for a change in direction)
          read Phils and David C’s speaches they are high on allowing each recipient of their messages to read all the wonderful things that are espoused; net savers, increase wages, producitivity, R&D, fairness, and the tokenism GST of food and saving a family approx $2/week. It is great for the inclusiveness wording, yet when reviewed more closely creates many unanswered questions, how are many of then compatiable with one another, time frames, what are the costs/pain associated and what are the benefits, who benefits and at whos expense. Remember the 39% tax bracket hitting $60k and all those valued professions teachers, nurses,warfies etc that were hit by their party that their unions are affiliated to.
          Yo the average punter Lab/Nat are a mirror image and indistinguishable from one another, and this left:right thing is lost on most, it is an academic thing for those studing politics at uni.

          • Bunji 7.1.2.1.1

            I’m not sure you were reading the same CERRA posts I was – Eddie ripped into Labour viciously over that.

            re: tax loop holes I think Cullen regrets how LAQCs were used – unintended consequences meant this was probably his biggest regret. And I’m pretty sure National would have encouraged the property boom every bit as much – it was very much emperor’s new clothes territory – worldwide it was believed a new era of no boom and bust had been entered.

            Inevitably there’s not going to be much new policy yet – the opposition just opens themselves up for damage releasing detail at this point. So we have a new direction, with details to be filled in in the final few months. As LP said: we didn’t even have direction from National at this point in ’08, just John ‘I don’t like negativity’ Key’s constant sniping.

            I should admit to being a Labour supporter but I see a huge (and growing) difference between Labour and National. I ask BLiP: would you really rather Shipley & English had the helm between ’99 and ’08? Can you imagine what damage would have been done? I like Labour’s new direction, but you do always have to take the public with you – and Clark and Cullen had an awful lot of damage to repair after the ’90s. It’s why it’s important to get National out as soon as possible – the less damage they do, the more we can move forward, rather than just repairing the country…

            • BLiP 7.1.2.1.1.1

              I ask BLiP: would you really rather Shipley & English had the helm between ’99 and ’08?

              That’s a strawman and you miss the point. By 1999, the electorate was sick of neo-lib economics and National Ltd™ had no chance in the first two elections, 2005 was a close run thing but, thankfully, Brash gave us a glimpse of the true “Iwi/Kiwi/Bretheren” nature of Tory politics in the lead up to polling day. I agree much of Labour’s work during those nine years was repairing New Zealand and I am in dismay as I watch all that hard work being dismantled and sold off.

              I am equally dismayed with Labour’s performance in Opposition. CERRA – F F S!! And Chris Carter. And Porno Man. And Goff “selling” his apartment. And Hawkins fucking up the South Side boundaries. And Labours “Open Government” position on the OIA and Parliamentary Services. And doddery Hodgson missing a point-blank broadside at Wodney. The list goes on and on but the sum total is: fucking hopeless.

              Goff/Cunliffe – “battle of the blands” – various statements about PPPs, “NZ Inc” and this talk about not selling state assets but “leveraging them,” which we all know means pumping them full of debt. How’s that different from selling them off? How’s that different from National Ltd™?

          • Marty G 7.1.2.1.2

            “Still find that there is a fair bit of cheerleading Lab and little re Greens (e.g. CERA- Greens got hammered yet Lab was untouched)”

            tell that to the Goffice because they sure go the message I was trying to send and they didn’t like it: http://thestandard.org.nz/do-i-stay-or-do-i-go/

            Maybe you think our coverage of polls focuses too much on Labour. Here’s how I see it. I want a leftwing government – that should include the Greens and will have to include Labour. So, when I look at the poll numbers I’m looking at Labour+X (the Greens and whoever else) to see if a majority can be made. If I’m cheerleading for a Labour-led government its because I want to see both labour and the greens in power, and I’m focusing on what labour’s doing to achieve that because a) the Greens are already polling very well and b) most of the extra votes that are needed will have to be supplied by Labour getting back voters it lost in 2008.

            I think you’ll find we’re actually far less critical of the Greens in general than we are of Labour and there are posts basically commending swathes of Green policy wholesale (eg Green New Deal here http://thestandard.org.nz/green-alternative-budget/ .

            You don’t find that kind of praise for Labour.

            • Deadly_NZ 7.1.2.1.2.1

              Maybe because Labour don’t seem to have any policy aat the moment. Everyone says that the NACTS policy comes from the Internet (usually old and non working(look at our schools)) . But they at least can spin it to sound palatable, until it;s implemented and theen crashes and burns. Labour at the MO is so silent I really am at a loss as to what they are going to campaign on, and time is running out. Surely they are back from their 2 month Xmas Hols.

            • Bunji 7.1.2.1.2.2

              Oop, yes, sorry, Marty G, it was you who ripped hardest and fastest into Labour over CERRA, although I don’t think Eddie was far behind…

  8. “The Labour Party now recognises that the neo-liberal economic model cannot provide the basis for navigating the economic, environmental and social challenges of our times.”

    What has been shown by speeches from people like David C is that Labour is doing some rethinking and re evaluation. At the ecological economics* conference Nick Smith was rather lack luster and looked tired and David did a great speech on a wide variety of subjects, referencing Transition Towns, peak oil and so on.

    To me that was a break through. If there is more talk about the kind of subjects that are talked about in the Spirit Level, and a willingness to look at new approaches like perhaps moving GST off (healthy) Food, a plan to tackle peak oil, reduce emissions and other important issues like inequality then there would be less in common between national and labour.

    People want policy and vision, if that can be done the discussion begins..

    * about David’s speech: http://pundit.co.nz/content/david-cunliffe-a-political-vision
    conference notes and videos: http://www.greens.org.nz/sustainableeconomics

    • handle 8.1

      People want confidence. If that was the same thing as policy then Labour would have romped in at the last election. It is good to see some of the discussion on Red Alert about new economic approaches, the Spirit Level, etc. The challenge is crafting simple and powerful messages from that which speak to enough voters, not just to politics enthusiasts or the already-persuaded.

  9. Puddleglum 9

    Here’s the definition given in Monbiot’s article:

    Extrinsic values concern status and self-advancement. People with a strong set of extrinsic values fixate on how others see them. They cherish financial success, image and fame. Intrinsic values concern relationships with friends, family and community, and self-acceptance.

    Wasn’t there a similar, NZ, survey reported in the Listener in the second half of last year (sorry can’t do better than that) on changing attitudes of New Zealanders? It was from some management or business school, I think, in a University in the North Island. The same ‘shift’ comes out very clearly as with the British survey.

    I agree with Bill, however, that these ‘shifts’ are not necessarily indicators of shifts in ‘deep’ attitudes or what we might call basic values. I think what happens is that people tend to go along with what they have heard said (e.g., in the media) so long as it can be aligned in some way with those deeper values.

    Take the socialist maxim (paraphrased) – ‘from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs’ (non-inclusive language and all). I remember Chomsky noting in at least one of his books that there was a survey in the US where some remarkably high percentage of Americans thought that maxim was in the US constitution. But, of course, the obligation of ‘from each according to his ability’ can, with the right rhetorical twist, quickly turn into resentment of ‘dole bludgers’ (‘scabs’ or ‘free riders’, anyone?).

    I pretty much agree with this post, otherwise. It reminds me of when I moved into a new house back in the mid 90s. The previous owners must have been a bit right-leaning as we received a free copy of Richard Prebble’s “I’ve been thinking” a couple of months after arriving. It was fascinating for many reasons – none of which were probably the reasons Richard would have hoped for. Anyway, I gained one simple insight from Richard’s book – politics is about values.

    It is, though not at some cerebral level of subtle and carefully chosen ones. They are about the values we all share and which political parties and activists try to tap. The same values can be tapped by either a Hitler or a Gandhi. The question is to what end that motivated behaviour is then directed.

    If anyone’s interested in some intellectual, ‘funk-inspired’, spiritual, progressive populism from America you might be interested in this interview with Cornell West with, believe it or not, Noelle McCarthy (who I don’t think quite realised what she had on the line, but she seemed suitably impressed by the end of it).

    I think he manages to balance emotional, motivational passion with clear thinking and some good personal morality and ethics. He also happens to be a “prominent member of the Democratic Socialists of America”.

  10. This is the kind of initiative that will advance the issues New Zealand needs to face:
    It looks like we are beginning to see the kind of leaders who can show the way too…

    International conference to bring Nobel Prize winner to Whakatane

    Professor Elinor Ostriom who won the Nobel prize for economics in 2009, has been confirmed as one of the key-note speakers at the Sharing Power conference which will be held in Whakatane:

    The conference will be hosted by Te Runanga o Ngati Awa and Te Whare Wananga o Awanuiarangi in conjunction with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy.

    Conference organiser Aroha Mead says that it is not everyday a Nobel Prize winner visits to Whakatane and her expertise in this field will be invaluable to the conference:

    “We are very honoured to have Professor Ostrom join the conference as she is travelling from another conference to be here for one day only – such is her commitment to this work. Professor Ostrom will bring clarity around the issues of ‘the commons’ and the public domain, as these terms are often used quite inaccurately within resource management discussions here in New Zealand. She wil also bring a very considered analysis of what conditions are necessary for collective management of resources to work best.” concludes Ms Mead.

    Considered one of the leading scholars in the study of common-pool resources, Professor Ostrom is one of a number of high powered national and international speakers and guests attending the conference. The goal of the conference is to find ways to improve the quality of heritage being passed on to future generations and to improve community and indigenous participation in the governance and management of biocultural resources.
    http://news.tangatawhenua.com/archives/8725

    The conference, which is set to take place from January 11 to January 15, will look to enable indigenous peoples and local communities to have greater rights and responsibilities in governance and management of the landscapes and ecosystems they live in. Scientists, economists, indigenous leaders, environmentalists, policy-makers and academics are expected to attend the conference:
    http://www.sharingpower.org/

    Also Len Brown’s words at his inaugural speech show a simple, clear message with vision:

    “We are the kaitiaki – the guardians, protectors, conservators – of
    our natural resources, and we must care for them so our children,
    grandchildren and great-grandchildren have the same opportunity to
    enjoy this beauty.

    We must be an eco city.”

  11. Orangepeel 11

    “It’s why the free market tends to work well for breakfast cereal and toilet paper, but not so great on insurance and healthcare.”
    I disagree with that statement to be perfectly frank: Free market health care has never been around long enough in any wealthy country besides the United States, which even now has better health care compared to ours despite the major problems it has.
    Looking at both nationalised and free market health care failures vs success’s; it does appear that the free market system has succeeded more when attempted (but lets not forget how nationalised health care has succeeded too: Nazi Germany, Cuba… ish, France – but France’s is quite privatised – Spain?).

    The norm of individualism should not be looked upon as ‘bad’ or ‘uncaring.’ Individualism is a very new idea: collective systems have dominated nations throughout history from tribes to monarchies, so it really does surprise me that young people are falling into the category of the traditional feudal system dressed up as ‘modern & new.’

    “…empathy, social justice and concern for the environment”
    Empathy isn’t part of collectivism. You cannot enforce morality. Taking someone’s money which they earned at gun point and giving it to the charity of your choice does not make that person moral, it makes you a thief. If people really were empathetic, wouldn’t they be FOR a system that allowed them to make a large amount of money for them to CHOOSE to give to charity of their choice?

    Social justice? How do you define that? Equality? Equal outcomes (at the expense of other peoples’ labour)? Everyone should be in favour of equal opportunity for all, but punishing those who succeed to reward those who didn’t is exchanging something of value for someone of smaller or no value: INjustice and INequality.

    Now tell me, is there ANY modern environmental movement that DOESN’T ask for your money, contradict itself, or damage the lives of people in third world countries? Patrick Moore left Greenpeace for a reason.
    Environmentalism is a great thing. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to protect and look after your natural surroundings, but at what cost? Why has it become more about moving society backwards and the denouncement of liberty due to the worries of ‘environmental catastrophe’? I always thought that the best solution to ‘Anthropogenic Global Warming’ (if it even exists, and it be wise to act as though it did just in case) would be MORE private property rights: that would mean if a big corporation was polluting even the smallest bit of land that one of us owned, we could take legal action against them due to property rights violations and would most likely win. My real problem with modern environmentalism is that it acts as though man is an unnatural phenomena; that it isn’t in our nature to manipulate our surroundings to create a suitable habitat.

    “We need to get out there, act communally and do good for others, and encourage others to do the same – and it can become the norm again.”
    And I totally agree! I would deem those who are only out for themselves immoral, but do you really think that FORCE is necessary? Shouldn’t it be by choice? Hasn’t forcing communal attitudes destroyed the lives of millions of people, not to mention entire nations?

  12. Re healthcare have you seen SICKO the documentary? America is not a good example on healthcare.

    “The Cuban health care system is respected around the world, and is literally decades more advanced than any system found in Latin America.” http://library.thinkquest.org/18355/health_care_in_cuba.html

    Carbon Trading gives polluting property rights to companies, it is not successful at reducing emissions. The commons is a collective property right that individuals are polluting, which effects others.

    Patrick Moore left Greenpeace because there is More money in working for corporates, not because he had a problem with eNGOs having funding (‘asking for money’).

    The kind of work people like Patrick Moore does these days is quite contentious:

    At a time when more than a third of the planet’s species are threatened with extinction, the resources that are needed for effective conservation far exceed the money available for the cause.

    As a result, large conservation groups have turned to corporate donors for more of their funding over the past decade. The financial support often compensates the groups for their help in lessening the environmental impact of a corporation and its supply chain.

    The strengthening of corporate ties, however, has fueled a debate within the environmental movement about the role of industry in conservation work.

    Yet at a time when more companies are trying to be “green,” several grassroots leaders say the relationships allow companies to “greenwash” their public images. Their concern is that the true benefactors of the partnerships are not imperiled species or ecosystems, but the corporations themselves. http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5934

    • Orangepeel 12.1

      “Carbon Trading gives polluting property rights to companies, it is not successful at reducing emissions. The commons is a collective property right that individuals are polluting, which effects others”
      If it’s affecting other’s it’s abusing their rights.

      “Patrick Moore left Greenpeace because there is More money in working for corporates, not because he had a problem with eNGOs having funding (‘asking for money’).”
      No, he left Greenpeace because it was hijacked by political activists.

      “At a time when more than a third of the planet’s species are threatened with extinction, the resources that are needed for effective conservation far exceed the money available for the cause”
      Then why would Greenpeace be against genetic engineering when it could feed Africa?

  13. because it is not a shortage of food but the distribution that fails:

    Half of US food goes to waste
    http://www.foodproductiondaily.com/Supply-Chain/Half-of-US-food-goes-to-waste

    There are better ways to feed Africa than with GM crops, Dulcie Krige
    http://www.sundaytimes.co.za/2003/03/02/insight/in10.asp

    GM won’t cure hunger in Africa
    http://www.foe.co.uk/campaigns/real_food/news/2003/january/tewolde_interview.html

    Organic farming in Africa wins over chemical methods
    A major study from the United Nations Environment Program reported that the use of organic practices in Africa produces higher yields than farming with pesticides and fertilizers.
    http://www.ucsusa.org/food_and_agriculture/feed/feed-november-2008.html#4

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_waste

    Waste – Uncovering the global food scandal – is a good book on the subject:

    Waste by Tristram Stuart (subtitled Uncovering The Global Food Scandal) takes a wide-ranging and balanced look at the food that is wasted around the world, practical steps to reduce this wastage and what it could mean not only for the starving people around the world but also for the environment as a whole.
    http://www.ecolivingadvice.com/waste-uncovering-the-global-food-scandal-by-tristram-stuart-review/

    In America, around 50 per cent of all food is wasted, while over here, we dump 20 million tons of food every year. Put all this together and – to make a wearisomely predictable but inescapable point – you could easily feed the world’s hungry several times over.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/5786024/Waste-Uncovering-the-Global-Food-Scandal-by-Tristram-Stuart-review.html

  14. I suggest reading this in depth look at the subject too:
    Focus on Hunger: Interview with Vandana Shiva
    http://foodfreedom.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/focus-on-hunger-interview-with-vandana-shiva/

    “there are nearly 1 billion people starving in the world right now speaks to the vast amounts of injustice that our global system is built on. That 1 out of 6 human beings goes to bed hungry every night while there is more than enough food to feed everyone”

    Free market neoliberal policy is failing the worlds majority.

    also see:
    12 Myths About Hunger
    http://www.foodfirst.org/pubs/backgrdrs/1998/s98v5n3.html

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