“Rich”

Written By: - Date published: 12:17 pm, January 23rd, 2011 - 257 comments
Categories: class war, Deep stuff - Tags:

We have a national myth that everyone is in essence equal, yet we have a disparity of wealth where 10% own more than the other 90% put together and 50% have no net assets. How does one square away occupying a position of extreme privilege in a democratic society? Often, by convincing yourself that your privilege doesn’t exist.

I go thinking about this when I saw a doco on the telly earlier this week. An American teacher/civil rights activists took her race relations education exercise to the UK. A group of volunteers were invited and segregated into brown-eyed and non-brown-eyed. While not a strict racial division, meant the non-brown eye group was exclusively of European ethnicity while the brown-eyed group consisted of people from all ethnic groups. From the start, the teacher treated the groups differently – the brown-eyed group talked with her for two hours in a relaxed setting while the others were left in a room by themselves with no information. When the groups were brought together, the non-browned eyes had to conform to the group organisation that had already been established. If they objected, the teacher said ‘well, you know what those non-brown-eyed types are like, always complaining’. If they got upset, it was further evidence of the inherently uncivilised nature of non-brown-eyeds, which in turn justified treating them poorly and awarding privilege to the brown-eyeds.

It was remarkable how quickly the participants starting conforming to the roles of this little society. Keep it going for generations, bring up children in it, and they would automatically believe that non-brown-eyeds were disobedient troublemakers.

What was interesting was that, despite being in an exercise that showed how systematic discrimination becomes self-reinforcing, many of the people of European descent still refused to believe that this was an explanation for the ethnic divisions within their real-world society. Most said ‘well, I’m not a racist’. Fair enough. But they also had a problem with acknowledging that their ethnicity gave them a relative position of privilege in their society. Many refused to accept as valid the accounts of racism by the non-European participants. You have to, though, don’t you? We’re all raised to believe (and most of us do) that human beings are essentially equal. So acknowledging that you’re privileged means the system is wrong and ought to be changed, which means giving up your position of privilege. Easier not to acknowledge the privilege at all.

Which brings me back to the title – “Rich”.

How many times do we see rightwing columnists use inverted commas around the word rich? As if richness doesn’t really exist. Just a figment of everyone else’s imagination.

It’s the same mechanics at play. Once you acknowledge inequality, it’s a hell of a lot harder to justify benefiting from it. If you won’t acknowledge that you’re rich, you don’t really have to acknowledge that others are poor.

I’m not saying that people don’t acknowledge the ultra-rich. I’m talking about high incomes – the top 10%. That’s an income over $70,000. Those top 10% get 34% of the income, more than the bottom 70%. These are the people who have benefited most from the tax cuts – they pay $2.4 billion less income tax than they did three years ago. And that’s justified by saying ‘they’re not rich’.

Objectively, they – I should say ‘we’ because I’m in that top 10% and so are a high proportion of our readers – are rich. I acknowledge my privilege and am happy for it to be reduced – through higher tax, by giving to charity, and through better wages at the lower end etc – because I want to be part of a better society that more fully realises human potential. And that can’t occur when a tiny portion have most of the wealth.

But for many, too many, they can’t acknowledge they are “rich” because then they would have to question the system that has made them “rich” while so many are poor.

257 comments on ““Rich””

  1. the sprout 1

    Glad you’ve raised this point.
    What makes the myth even more of the crock is that fact that social mobilty declines as inequality increases.
    See here for the empirical evidence…

    http://www.equalitytrust.org.uk/why/evidence/social-mobility

    • Marty G 1.1

      that’s a very interesting link. I guess you get to a point where it’s basically impossible for a rich person to become poor or a poor person rich – like back in medieval times.

      I wonder if there’s a link between inequality and gambling. If the measure of success in your society is extreme wealth and there’s little hope of bettering your lot by hardwork then gambling becomes just as good an option as any other.

    • Puddleglum 1.2

      And then there’s this link to a report on economic mobility in the US.

      Stunningly, its provenance is partly from conservative think tanks and amounts to a pretty damning summary of the loss of both absolute and relative mobility over the last 30 years in the US.

      I imagine, however, that the subsequent analysis they keep referring to will blame it all on single parenting or some such.

      Nevertheless, interesting statistics (see the figures on the widening gap between productivity and median income).

  2. millsy 2

    I hope the rich enjoy their flash cars, boats and flat screen TVs.

    Everyone else, have had to make huge sacrifices, in the form of our public services and safety net, for them.

    And if they think that I am going to bow and scrape and doff my hat to them, ***THEY CAN GET FUCKED***

  3. tsmithfield 3

    I also believe in equality. But equality of opportunity rather than equality of assets.

    • That’s right mate.

      So being born into a wealthy family shouldn’t convey a young person any substantial advantages in economic opportunities correct? According to your beliefs we should structure our society in such a way that it does not, correct?

      Equality of economic opportunity for all young people, regardless of the wealth (or poverty) they are born into, that’s what you are keen on, correct?

    • millsy 3.2

      That’s why we have universal edcuation, social welfare, state housing, etc, to ensure EVERYONE has a decent start in life.

      • Marty G 3.2.1

        and a guaranteed minimum income.

        you need to abolish poverty if you’re going to have equality of opportunity.

        • tsmithfield 3.2.1.1

          I don’t think opportunities are exactly equal here. Obviously, the rich have greater opportunities due to their wealth. However, I believe that opportunities are near enough to being equal so that anyone with a bit of vision and motivation can substantially improve their circumstances.

          Very often whether someone is rich or poor comes down to the choices they have made with the opportunities they’ve had. For instance, my friend who made himself a multi-millionaire through commercial property. He started off in a family with a modest income. As a young adult he worked hard at the freezing works for several years to build up a deposit for his first commercial property. At the same time most others were busy getting pissed, partying, and generally wasting their money.

          Each made their choices and reaped the results. This is what annoys me about the welfare system. Others who make poor choices get a free ride from those who make good choices.

          • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.1.1

            So you don’t actually believe in equality of opportunity that much then?

            Or structuring a society where equality of opportunity is actually a reality?

          • millsy 3.2.1.1.2

            SO would you rather people live in the streets, like in the USA.

            Come one, tell the truth.

            And I suppose your friend begrudes EVERY CENT that goes to freezing workers today, like all people in his situation

          • Draco T Bastard 3.2.1.1.3

            However, I believe that opportunities are near enough to being equal so that anyone with a bit of vision and motivation can substantially improve their circumstances.

            Still living in delusion and denial. A poor person has nowhere near the same opportunity as someone who’s rich. This is because of a lack of resources to actually do anything with and which the National party promised it would make worse by lowering wages.

          • Puddleglum 3.2.1.1.4

            My problem with the ‘different choices, different outcomes’ justification for inequality is that it simply restates the phenomenon rather than explaining it.

            Why do some people make ‘good’ choices and others make ‘bad’ choices? Genes? Developmental environment? Sub-culture they’re born into? Note that all of these determinants of the different choices are out of the individual’s control so they’re hard to use as justifications for inequality – though they may help to explain inequality, given the structure of our economic system.

            Or maybe you’re thinking that it’s a difference in their respective ‘moral characters’ perhaps? That still wouldn’t help, however,as it raises the question of why people differ in ‘moral character’ and why should those particular differences necessarily lead to better economic outcomes?

            In fact these ‘moral character’ differences may actually not reflect well on your mate – he simply might just be more willing to put his own agenda first, tread on other people to get where he wants to go, neglect his personal relationships in pursuit of that agenda, etc. I’m not saying that he is like that but, hypothetically, he could be and he would still be rewarded by our economic system for making what we might call ‘bad’ choices -in a moral frame – in the way he treats other people.

            Because of the particular nature of its attempted explanation, the ‘choice theory’ of inequality is vacuous – but it might stroke the egos and soothe the consciences of those who ‘succeed’.

            • The Economic Illiteracy Support Group 3.2.1.1.4.1

              You probably need to read this article on the socioeconomics of parenting.

              For a paper in Psychological Science, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Virginia looked at 750 pairs of American twins who were given a test of mental ability at the age of 10 months and then again at the age of 2. By studying the performance of identical versus fraternal twins, the scientists could tease out the relative importance of factors such as genetics and the home environment. Because the infants came from households across the socioeconomic spectrum, it also was possible to see how wealth influenced test scores.

              The key point of the study is that a certain level of socioeconomic security is necessary in order for children to achieve their potential – i.e. the road is dramatically more difficult if you come from a poor background.

              The study also highlights the importance of early childhood education in helping level the playing field – which has been deliberately and cynically undermined by this National government. Given that the negative effects of decreasing access to early childhood education have been extensively documented in academic studies, one can only conclude that National is not even slightly interested in achieving equality in New Zealand … which is probably a statement of the blindingly obvious.

              • The key point of the study is that a certain level of socioeconomic security is necessary in order for children to achieve their potential

                The only things which perform well when cold, hungry and uncertain of where their next meal is going to come from (if it is going to come) are broken vicious attack dogs.

                Not a great model to base young NZ society on, surely.

          • Rich 3.2.1.1.5

            What you describe is part of the Ponzi scheme that capitalism uses to con suckers into thinking they have a fair chance to make money.

            Sure, you can scrimp and save to get into the property pyramid, and then it appears you’ve made money, because rampant property inflation is driving prices up. If you’re one of the few to be smart and lucky, you can get out and spend some real money. But if everyone did this, the whole edifice would collapse – as partly happened in 2008 – too much money was actually being realized to keep the con going.

            The only ones “really” making money are the super-rich at the top of the pyramid – oh, and all the capitalists who can dodge paying staff properly because the workers have the delusion of property wealth. Often these are the same people of course.

            The problem for capitalism is that peak oil, globalization and climate change are sucking up dollars and undermining this neat scheme. Eventually, crashes are going to become more and more common and people will come to the horrible realization that yup, they’re poor and there isn’t any way out of it.

        • SHG 3.2.1.2

          John Key, multimillionaire leader of the country, seems to have done OK having started from poverty.

          • tsmithfield 3.2.1.2.1

            CV “So you don’t actually believe in equality of opportunity that much then?

            Or structuring a society where equality of opportunity is actually a reality?”

            Thats not what I said. An equal opportunity society is and ideal. The practical reality is that we will probably never get that exactly.

            What I believe is that our welfare system etc should be directed towards encouraging and motivating people to make good choices, and providing them resources to improve their circumstances. Thus, the welfare system should foster and encourage lots of people to become rich through activities such as investment, starting their own business, higher education etc.

            However, our current welfare system is more like a poverty trap, consigning people to a second-class lifestyle. The system should actually provide the tools and opportunities for anyone to get rich if they are prepared to make good choices. However, the current system rewards people for making bad choices, which is the opposite to what it should be.

            Millsy: “SO would you rather people live in the streets, like in the USA.
            Come one, tell the truth.”

            If people prefer to make choices that lead to them living on the street when more positive choices are available, then who am I to stop them? When they are sick of living on the street, they might decide to start making good choices.

            “And I suppose your friend begrudes EVERY CENT that goes to freezing workers today, like all people in his situation”

            I think he begrudges giving his wealth to those from similar circumstances who wasted their opportunities when he has maximised his.

            SHG “John Key, multimillionaire leader of the country, seems to have done OK having started from poverty.”

            Exactly. A perfect illustration of my point.

            • QoT 3.2.1.2.1.1

              the current system rewards people for making bad choices

              Ooh yeah, give me some of that sweet, sweet below-subsistence level “reward”, baby!

              “Choice” is a wonderful thing, ts. When you have it. Many don’t (and before you try, no, taking mindless, hopeless, dead-end uncertain minimum-wage jobs is not a “choice” if the Government is starving your children.)

            • Pascal's bookie 3.2.1.2.1.2

              SHG “John Key, multimillionaire leader of the country, seems to have done OK having started from poverty.”

              Exactly. A perfect illustration of my point.

              What was the social system (broadly interpreted to include health, education, redistributive polices, housing policy, labour policy, et al) when Key was being brought up?

              Obviously you are both arguing that we go back to something like that, so what did it entail?

            • millsy 3.2.1.2.1.3

              So that means people should just work, work work and not have any fun or days off or holidays until they become rich?

            • millsy 3.2.1.2.1.4

              Do you think we should have a public health and education system?

            • lefty 3.2.1.2.1.5

              So what are ‘good choices’?
              The choices that people make that result in making them rich may be very poor choices in terms of their effect on other people, or the environment or the economy in general, whereas the choices that lead to poverty may be the exact opposite. Any choice that leads to success in an unjust society is likely to be morally and ethically unsound,leaving only options that lead to poverty for those who would do no harm. Certainly any choice which supports the status quo and allows capitalism to thrive is suspect.

              • tsmithfield

                I am not advocating that everyone should try to be a millionaire. Just that they can make better choices with better outcomes.

                • ZeeBop

                  Lefty says problem of commons interacting with elites conservatism bad, you reply better capitalism. I ask better capitalism by fighting the elites to change the rules, or you pulling your finger out and stop using the companies and financial underpinings of the elite conservatists! Stop using foreign banks, start using kiwi building mutual societies. Stop using big oil, big pharma, go local, eat local, buy a bike!
                  If enough people all were to then capitalism would quickly switch to better outcomes AND before we had an election the whole political landscape will have changed. Get out of your frigging car! Use a bus! Ride to work! Move closer to where you work! So yeah, I agree with you make better choices to produce better outcomes!! Its like talking to unionists who buy a Murdoch rag!

                • Colonial Viper

                  So give them better choices ts. Help them to make better choices.

                  We all know that people can screw up, and when you are young you don’t know the shit you know today. So as a society lets make sure that those screw ups don’t end unrecoverable and permanently damaging to both the individual, and the society.

                  So yeah people need to make better choices. But throw ’em a floatation device if they need one, and bring them in before they sink irretrievably, yeah?

            • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.2.1.6

              Thats not what I said. An equal opportunity society is and ideal. The practical reality is that we will probably never get that exactly.

              OK so its an ideal. You say you still believe in equal opportunity for all, and admit we are not there. And probably, we will never get perfect at it.

              What I want to know is what *you* want to change? To make our society closer to your ideal of equal opportunities for all.

          • Marty G 3.2.1.2.2

            Key’s experience is hardly the norm. You can’t say that poverty doesn’t breed poverty and wealth doesn’t breed wealth just because there are occasional exceptions to the rule

            • QoT 3.2.1.2.2.1

              We also literally cannot all be multi-millionaires because someone has to clean the toilets and pick up the trash and apparently paying those people a decent wage isn’t possible because their work has no value, So Sayeth The Market.

              • tsmithfield

                Agreed. We can’t all be millionaires. But a lot of people can be better off than they are now through better choices. We can also find more dignified things for people to do. Demeaning functions such as “cleaning the toilet” can be automated.

              • Not only do people need to make better choices, they need to be presented with better choices. Real choices, not pretend ones.

                Now you mention it, where is that wide selection of $20-25/hr jobs in the paper to choose from?

            • marco 3.2.1.2.2.2

              Your right poverty does breed poverty. However I agree with the opportunity of opportunity statement. There is no reason why a decile 1 high school cannot provide the same class of education as experienced at a private school. We should be wrapping social services around families that need help, and yes the rich should pay more taxes to provide those opportunities.

              If after having access to first rate a first rate health, education and a supportive welfare system someone makes bad choices we still need to make sure their children have the best start in life. It’s only fair as a child does not choose the circumstances into which they are born.

              However, we do need to ensure people who make good choices, work hard and improve their circumstances are encouraged to succeed. For it is these people who will potentially provide the jobs and opportunities for people to move out of poverty.

              • QoT

                Possibly trick question: if you, or any other rightie nearabouts, propose to stop “rewarding” people for their “poor choices”, how do you simultaneously intend to not visit that deprivation on their children? Ooh, how about investing in some awesome neo-Gothic architecture and reinventing Victorian workhouses/babyfarming?

                • marco

                  Agreed some would see ensuring children have the best start in life as some sort of ‘reward’. I don’t, I think it is a fundamental right when born in a country that can provide that opportunity.

                  If after 30 or 40 years of ensuring we provided children with the best start in life we still have significant numbers of people making bad choices then I’ll revisit that view.

                  • QoT

                    Wow, that’s a magnificent missing of the point.

                    Bluntly, marco: if you are going to stop giving welfare to people who have made “poor choices”, how will you ensure their children do not suffer as a result of withdrawing that welfare?

                    That welfare, that “reward” for their “poor choices”, is going on housing, feeding, and clothing their children. How will you house and feed and clothe those children so they are not punished, and are not used as weapons against their parents, as they currently are by below-subsistence benefits and discriminatory tax credits?

                    • marco

                      Hmmm, not sure where I said withdraw the welfare? You must be reading between the lines a little to much. Perhaps I need to break this down a bit….

                      What I’m saying is that – Whilst the current system is not perfect it does lay a blueprint from which to work with. For starters, more needs to be done for Invalids and Children.

                      We can support children with better education, healthcare and opportunities. We need to make sure that the children in the lower socioeconomic bracket have the same opportunities as those at the higher end of the scale.

                      There is no reason why we cannot raise the tax take and give kids at James Cook High and Aranui High the same level of education that is given to kids at Christ College and St Kents. It simply is not fair to deny our children an opportunity to be all they can be.

                      However, if after giving them that opportunity they decide to become a wife beating drug addict… I have no sympathy.

                      But please note….most people who end up in prison have grown up in poverty with little to no opportunities. I’m saying if we had provided those opportunities beforehand most would have chosen a different path.

                      I’m not saying cut welfare. I grew up in the welfare system, I believe in the welfare system. I’m saying we need to make children the focus of our welfare system. Annette King has started to do this, but she is not going far enough.

                    • marco

                      Oh, I do apologize for the appalling grammar in my last few posts, I’m not at my sharpest.

          • Lanthanide 3.2.1.2.3

            For every John Key, how many people don’t do well from starting in poverty, hmm?

            • tsmithfield 3.2.1.2.3.1

              Too many replies to answer each point, sorry.

              Let me answer the replies above with several points:

              1. People don’t always have choices. Agreed. In this case, the system needs to focus on teaching people how to make good choices, motivating them to do so, and give them a help up in the process.

              2. Children born to those similar to the drop-kicks who make the news should be removed at birth and given to families who can give these children the best opportunities. Afterall, there are plenty of couples longing to adopt a child.

              3. The system definitely needs to focus on giving a hand-up, rather than a hand-out. Simply allowing people to live indefinitely on state-support is not good for them or for tax-payers generally.

              If the system was doing these thing well, I would not have any complaint about paying taxes to support it.

              • QoT

                1. You seem to be missing a pretty obvious point. YOU CAN’T MAKE GOOD CHOICES

                WHEN
                THERE
                ARE
                NO
                CHOICES
                AVAILABLE.

                Pretending that poverty or need or “poor circumstances” is about “choice” may make a nice little fairytale to justify not being a compassionate human being, but it’s just that, a fairytale, and an offshoot of not being able to see how RIDICULOUSLY privileged you are to have the choices you have.

                2. No, ts. There are plenty of couples longing to adopt “healthy”, white and typically girl babies. There’s not much of a fucking “market” for needy / ill / traumatised / brown babies. And other people’s reproduction is none of your fucking business unless you’re also going to advocate for sex education, a end to patriarchy (which does really well out of forcing women to have babies they can’t support), and massively liberalised abortion laws.

                • tsmithfield

                  You didn’t seem to read point 1. of my previous post. Read it again.

                  So far as babies are concerned, I am very worried for children born into families that are just going to perpetuate a dysfunctional cycle. IMO all people should be required to earn a “warrant of fitness” to have a baby. If they don’t have one by the time of birth, then they don’t get to keep the baby, and it gets given to someone who can give positive opportunities. At least that way we will eventually solve societies ills.

                  • Pascal's bookie

                    1. People don’t always have choices. Agreed. In this case, the system needs to focus on teaching people how to make good choices, motivating them to do so, and give them a help up in the process.

                    1. People don’t always have legs. Agreed. In this case, the system needs to focus on teaching people how to make good use of their legs, motivating them to do so, and give them a help up in the process.

                    • tsmithfield

                      Your analogy falls down in that we don’t yet know how to grow new legs. However, we can teach people how to make good choices and empower them to do so.

                    • Puddleglum

                      TS has a point. Biographies of people who have made a decent job of their life against some pretty horrendous ‘odds’ have typically had at least one person in their early life who has taken time to support them, taken an interest in their decisions (not trying to make decisions for them or being completely uninterested).

                      But, at the macro level, there are fewer and fewer cases, proportionately, of this kind of ‘intervention’. Young people are increasingly severed from the adult world during an important part of their development (partly because of consumer capitalism’s creation of ‘youth culture’ as a separate and independent sub-culture). They also are increasingly dislocated from ‘place’ largely because of the mobility of their parents, often in pursuit of ‘economic opportunities’ and so have fewer and fewer stable, long-lasting relationships with neighbours, family, even peers.

                      Sadly, I don’t think the state has the resources to make up for this social dislocation. Even if it did, there’s still the debilitating effects of long-term poverty and economic stress on just about every aspect of human psychology (emotions, motivation, decision-making, planning).

                      Also, in order to cope or even survive in poverty-strticken circumstances and environments it is often best to adopt behaviours that are just the opposite to those which ensure success for middle-class youth. When you’re really doing it hard decision making, for example, becomes – of necessity – very short term in focus. If it wasn’t, your situation would deteriorate, and far too rapidly for any longer-term plans to kick in even if you had them.

                      Add to that malnourishment, more cold, more noise, more polluted environments experienced by poorer people, etc. and, at the macro level the poor may as well not have legs, as you suggest, for all the effective ‘assistance’ they and their children could be given in order to help them make ‘good choices’.

                      Far easier to change the prevailing economic conditions than be forced into a population-wide triage of the kind TS hangs his hopes on.

                  • QoT

                    IMO all people should be required to earn a “warrant of fitness” to have a baby. If they don’t have one by the time of birth, then they don’t get to keep the baby

                    Yeah, that doesn’t have some really clear, predictable, nasty consequences. Judging who’s fit to reproduce has always been a winning tactic in human history and has no obvious seriously-bad connotations.

                    • tsmithfield

                      So you don’t think we should have any expected standard of care for our children? I can’t understand lefties sometimes. Anyway, what I have proposed has nothing to do with who reproduces. It is all to do with who meets the standard to care for the resulting off-spring.

                    • tsmithfield

                      Puddlegum: “Far easier to change the prevailing economic conditions than be forced into a population-wide triage of the kind TS hangs his hopes on.”

                      Easier isn’t always best. What I am proposing would be more expensive in the short run, but would quickly pay off in terms of reduced social costs.

                    • QoT

                      TS, your ability to only see the points you wished your opponents made is truly inspiring.

              • Deadly_NZ

                @T Smith
                “2. Children born to those similar to the drop-kicks who make the news should be removed at birth and given to families who can give these children the best opportunities. Afterall, there are plenty of couples longing to adopt a child.”

                I think you will have a riot on your hands, and murder and mayhem, if you try to take children from their genetic parents, NO matter how bad they are. Because
                the upshot of a law like this will be the Cherry picking of the under privileged kids, aka madonna and co. Also you take someone’s children, then they have NOTHING to loose in trying to get their children back.

                Also this becomes like the removal of Children from England to Aus and NZ in the second world war, Children removed for their own safety ended up as slaves and physically , mentally and sexually abused.

                But you would have NO complaint about paying taxes to support this???
                Another RWFNJ who thinks children are commodities to be traded and bartered for election votes.

                • tsmithfield

                  Deadly NZ “I think you will have a riot on your hands, and murder and mayhem, if you try to take children from their genetic parents, NO matter how bad they are.”

                  Leaving helpless children in these sorts of environments is not acceptable IMO. We should be trying to ensure they have the best start in life, not the worst. I think my “warrant of fitness” idea is a good one. We should be ensuring our children have an acceptable standard of care.

                  Deadly NZ “Also this becomes like the removal of Children from England to Aus and NZ in the second world war, Children removed for their own safety ended up as slaves and physically , mentally and sexually abused”

                  So you would prefer to leave them in an environment where they probably are being physically, mentally, and sexually abused already? All I am proposing is that we improve and extend the current fostering system, and/or match children up with suitable adoptive parents. What I am proposing simply extends and improves what we do now to give our children the best opportunity in life.

                  • tsmithfield

                    QoT “TS, your ability to only see the points you wished your opponents made is truly inspiring.”

                    Problem is you didn’t actually suggest an alternative. You just dissed my suggestion. Therefore, you left me to infer what you believed should happen.

                    Anyway, its a bit of the “pot calling the kettle black” on your part. You were suggesting that I was promoting controlling fertility or something, when I clearly wasn’t.

                    • QoT

                      … Dude, I don’t have to suggest an alternative in order to point out that your idea is fucking fascist.

                      Not to mention that whole comment I already made to you:

                      And other people’s reproduction is none of your fucking business unless you’re also going to advocate for sex education, a end to patriarchy (which does really well out of forcing women to have babies they can’t support), and massively liberalised abortion laws.

                      OH LOOK, ALTERNATIVES. Just one question, ts: what if the people making the decisions as to who’s “appropriate” to raise children isn’t being made by people like you? You still happy with childrearing licences if they’re issued by people like me?

                    • tsmithfield

                      QoT “Dude, I don’t have to suggest an alternative in order to point out that your idea is fucking fascist.”

                      If you think what I have advocated is “facist”, then what happens now is also facist. It is common for CYFS to take children away from parents who abuse their children, or even take away children at birth if the children are considered at risk. I am only extending this concept.

                      QoT “ts: what if the people making the decisions as to who’s “appropriate” to raise children isn’t being made by people like you? You still happy with childrearing licences if they’re issued by people like me?”

                    • tsmithfield

                      Sorry, Qot the bottom of my comment seems to have been omitted in my last post.

                      What I said was that I would be happy for you to write the rules so long as you included minimum requirements such as meeting the necessities of life, freedom from physical, sexual or emotional abuse, freedom from an environment of crime or drugs, and access to education.

                    • QoT

                      Cool cool. Just FYI, I consider any and all religious education to be “emotional abuse”, and three hours of Xbox per day definitely comes under “necessities of life”. We’re still cool, right?

                  • Deadly_NZ

                    No we should not leave them in an environment to be physically, mentally, and sexually abused.
                    However that is where the government departments are supposed to step in ( oh that’s right they are Understaffed , Underfunded, and that leaves them all but Useless) Now we can all start in with the he said , she said, on who started the CUTS. BUT the fact that this government is so out of touch with the ‘normal’ Kiwi that I don’t doubt that there are more cuts on they way, from this caring, sharing, government. SO you now want to have yet another understaffed , underfunded govt dept in charge of taking peoples children??? This is NOT 1984.( and I don’t mean the year) Tho you would think so at some of the shit that’s going on.

                    • tsmithfield

                      QoT “Cool cool. Just FYI, I consider any and all religious education to be “emotional abuse”, and three hours of Xbox per day definitely comes under “necessities of life”. We’re still cool, right?”

                      LOL 🙂

                      Deadly NZ “However that is where the government departments are supposed to step in”

                      But thats all ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, isn’t it? What I am proposing will nip the problem in the bud.

          • Irascible 3.2.1.2.4

            Define “poverty” as used to describe Key’s back story. I always assumed that he was the recipient of a great deal of assistance to reach his present status as a poverty denier and privilege demander.

            • IrishBill 3.2.1.2.4.1

              Yep. One of the things that pisses me off is this idea that state housing was always about poverty. It wasn’t. It was part of a broader social welfare project that was about creating a healthy, well educated and productive middle class.

              Key is just one amongst tens of thousands of working class and lower middleclass kids who have done well in life thanks to the very state support he and his party would decry as middleclass welfare. He’s not a poor boy made good, he’s a middleclass boy turned bad.

              • M

                Yes IB was talking with an uncle and he said that when his family moved into a state house it was considered a step up and indeed many of the houses were better than whatever else was on offer.

              • just saying

                Absolutely!!!!!

          • Vicky32 3.2.1.2.5

            What poverty did he start from then?
            If you mean the old “state house” whine, then I would like to point out, once again, that back then, living in a state house was no indicator of relative or absolute poverty! We lived in an (inherited) house in a street that also contained State houses, and went to school with the State house kids, who were indistinguishable from us.
            Mum inherited a house from our long-dead grandfather – but that was where the wealth ended. At one point, we were actually much worse off than the State house kids – when our Dad got ill and we lived on his sickness benefit!
            Deb

          • Colonial Viper 3.2.1.2.6

            Hey SHG, Key makes one. What about the other 200,000 NZ children living in poverty today?

    • erentz 3.3

      So you would be a fan of a 100% inheritance tax in that case?

    • BLiP 3.4

      Heh!!

      Tell me, smithfield, which one is you?

      . . . you can watch the whole episode over at Maori Television where your mates all repeat the “equality of opportunity but not equality of outcome” mantra like brainwashed scientologists. Most amusing.

  4. Issue is that I don’t think that someone on $70K-$75K p.a. is rich per se. Its a value judgement. Yes they are in the top 10% of income earners and yes they are a lot better off than most, but that only tells me that even those on the border of the top 10% are still quite poorly paid.

    Marty, do you know what income level qualifies someone into the top 5% of income earners in this country and the top 1%?

    Of course these figures are about incomes, and you started your piece off quite correctly by focussing on net asset wealth. We have plenty of rich people around who have very little income – thanks to their accountants – even though they control millions in net assets.

    • Further, I would say that as a political message, if we are talking about extreme priviledge in society, we are necessarily talking about either the top 5% or the top 1% on the scale.

      The top 10% broadens it out too much IMO. Life on $75K p.a. is sweet if you are single no kids, but raising a family with one parent at home and an AKL mortgage to pay – comfortably doable but not that sweet. And probably not “extremely priviledged”.

      • Marty G 4.1.1

        I think we should concede that the top 10%, one in ten, is a small number. The top 5% are on over $90K and the top 1% on over $175K

        there’s a fair point about $70K being a lot or not so much depending on how many mouths you’re feeding.

        for what it’s worth, the top 10% of households are on over $147,000 (that’s from stats not the IRD series I used to get the figure I quoted in the post of $70K plus for the top 10% of individual incomes. According to stats, the top 10% of individuals are on $75K plus)

        • One danger I see is that there are a lot more people earning ~$60K. They fall outside of the top 10% and are not then considered “Rich” under that criteria. But they are also smart enough to know that an extra $10K p.a. on top of where they are now is still not going to make them extremely privileged.

          They will look at Labour and think – what, these guys want to label me as “Rich” (or “Almost Rich”) who on earth are they kidding?

          Thanks for the info. Personally I’d be more comfortable with the “Rich” line being drawn at the 5% mark for individuals, but that’s just me.

        • RedLogix 4.1.1.2

          Agree with CV here.. the top 10% is still very much within the range of ordinary people. My preference is to think in terms of the spread from the median wage/salaried income which Ifrom memory is somewhere in the mid -$40k’s is it not?) . Realistically I’d tend to define ‘rich’ as anything more than say 5 times this number, ie roughly above $200k.

          As more than a few people have pointed out, the world has never been wealthier, there never has been more money … but very large portions of it are captured by a very, very small elites who control hundreds of millions, if not billion and who arrange their affairs to pay no tax whatsoever.

        • NZGroover 4.1.1.3

          All the people you class as high income earners are more than likely the middle income earners. The high income earners are the business owners that have structured their affairs so they pay very little tax. A more correct description would be high wage & salary earners.

          • Colonial Viper 4.1.1.3.1

            All the people you class as high income earners are more than likely the middle income earners.

            Fair points, but remember that the middle income earner in NZ gets $27500 p.a.

      • Lanthanide 4.1.2

        I agree. I myself am on the cusp of the top tax bracket but not yet in it. I’ve got a partner and am living in Chch, but I have effectively $0 savings in the bank due to a bad relationship and still have ~$9k left to pay off my student loan. I don’t consider myself rich by any means. I might label myself wealthy, but I still don’t really feel it – apart from not having to worry about scraping money together to pay for food/rent/electricity, I also don’t really have money to save or spend on luxury items either.

        Similarly I can imagine someone earning $100k in Auckland with a family would consider themselves to be wealthy, but not rich, as while not having to worry about the basics probably couldn’t afford to splash out willy-nilly on luxuries either.

      • QoT 4.1.3

        I think the issue with this though is that sure, people on 75k may well not have hundreds in disposable income to through around every fortnight.

        But as soon as the conversation becomes about how hard it can be, even on 75k, to raise a family, we’re ignoring the fact that comparatively speaking a shit-tonne of people have it a hell of a lot harder.

        What we end up doing is privileging people who are on substantially-above-mean, hugely-above-median incomes. And while that might work for people who already have a left-wing perspective and appreciate that we’re talking about comparatively well-off people in order to make a point about how a lot of people have a lot less, what we end up doing is giving those people *on* 75 or 70 or 60k the impression that they are the grunt-work barely-getting-by “middle” of New Zealand society.

        No, 75k isn’t a ticket to an annual break in Hawaii. But it is hugely insulting to compare a “comfortably doable” income at that level to what a shit-tonne of people have to actually raise kids on.

        And politically, I don’t think talking about “extreme privilege” works politically – then the conversation becomes about how “you lefties just hate success”. If we can actually get New Zealanders on 60-70k to appreciate that, compared to a lot of their countrypeople, they are fucking well off then maybe we can start having a decent conversation about actual poverty and what real inequality we have.

        • Yeah, that’s very fair QoT.

          • QoT 4.1.3.1.1

            Thanks, CV. I just know *I*, as a raving lefty feminist, have to remind myself every now and then that my partner and I, on a 6-figure combined income with no kids, no car, no mortgage (yet), are sodding well off comparatively. And if I can forget that, or find it hard to believe people are raising families on a lot less than us … well, it’s even worse in “mainstream” discourse.

            • Lanthanide 4.1.3.1.1.1

              Definitely agree.

              I posted recently in another thread saying I have no idea how someone earning $35k/year can actually afford to buy healthy food, on top of their rent, clothing, transport and electricity costs. I have to conclude that they can’t afford it – they go into debt, or don’t eat healthy food.

              • QoT

                It’s also not just a matter of affording “healthy” food – one of the key hate-triggers I have for the likes of Jamie Oliver preaching about how people eat is the ignoring of the fact that when you’re working a 60 hour week for shit wages with an hour-long commute each way, you may just not want to spend another two hours in the kitchen when a hot, filling microwave meal is a few buttons away.

                (Which is not to go into even more complex issues like our disconnect from food and culture and taste and enjoyment of eating)

                • Cnr Joe

                  two hours in the kitchen qot?
                  Olivers point is that you don’t need to spend a ridiculous amount of time, 20 minutes for pasta and salad?
                  a shitty microwave plastic slop tray is just a pathetic…..fuck it, just get macDs on the way home then

                  • QoT

                    20 minutes for pasta and salad … when you’re a professional chef in a professional kitchen with all your ingredients pre-measured, pre-washed, and either pre-cut or cut by a professional chef, with no kids pestering you and no phone ringing and no actual distractions of real life.

                    Yeah, that’s applicable to normal people.

                    • Lanthanide

                      Yeah, no way I can make pasta and salad in 20 minutes. I think the fastest meal I can cook is spaghetti bolognase which I can manage in about 30-35 minutes from start to serving. Most of my meals probably take 40-60 minutes, salads take up a lot of time in particular. Maybe I’m just too slow/picky when chopping up my vegetables? If everything was pre-washed, peeled and cut then it’d go a lot faster.

                    • felix

                      Oliver never has to wash a pile of dishes so he can use the bench either.

              • Deadly_NZ

                Its called mince and Sausages. Frozen veges and potatoes, if you can afford them. Cheap bread, and the parents sometimes go hungry because there is not enough food to last until your next pittance day. The Children always come first. Well in my house they do.

                • M

                  I’m one of those beggars who earn less than 27.5k per year and get some meagre intermittent child support – yes it is hard to eat healthily but get by through having small servings of meat, vegetarian meals like making homemade oven wedges and eating them with sliced up tomatoes and being careful with the amount of fruit that I buy. Making a large quantity of something and freezing it also useful if it’s been a long day and I can’t be arsed, and thrift shopping for near-new clothes with the occasional new item helps.

                  Having a mortgage and the associated costs is hard and it only takes a big power bill or a root canal like I had to have in September to put you severely on the back foot. Being dental phobic I wanted to have sedation but when I found it would cost an extra $300 had to flag it and my dentist who is understanding gave me lots of anaesthetic but said I did have to pay the bill then and there to get the discounted rate of $660 – thank heavens for Visa.

                  No doubt to the John Keys of this world I’d be considered a loser but dress well for work, borrow books from the library and have my youngest in sporting activities and don’t get my jollies by trying to do another person down.

        • KJT 4.1.3.2

          The median family income is around 75 000, so I would hardly call that rich. It just shows how real incomes for most people in NZ have dropped while prices of necessities have gone up.
          Though on that income now there is not much room for luxuries. People on low incomes such as beneficiaries and those on the minimum wage are really having a hard time.
          As one of the 10%, I am quite happy to pay taxes to ensurer a fair and reasonable living standard for everyone, as I believe a more equal society benefits all of us. Although my parents were not well off I benefited from a taxpayer paid education, healthcare, opportunities to gain good qualifications and all the other advantages of an equal society. Every one should have the same opportunities I did.

          Those who do not want to return some of what our society has given them should just immigrate to their ideal society, Somalia has no Government interference and no taxes, and stop stuffing ours.

      • Puddleglum 4.1.4

        The Wealth Disparities in New Zealand report from Stats NZ is useful here, though a bit dated now.

        I mention it here in relation to John Key’s ‘ordinariness’ – and how, surprisingly, it doesn’t affect that evaluation.

  5. PC Brigadier 5

    Good point well articulated. In Michael Moore’s “Capitalism – A Love Story” he explains why so many American voters were prepared to endorse Bush’s tax cuts (which have been extended by Obama) on the basis that it would protect them should they make it to the top.
    I have a genuine fear that despite the negative effect of the $2.4b tax relief given to NZ’s top 10% by National, the majority of NZers see that as a good thing for EVERYONE. We get fooled, and few seem to be thinking.

    • infused 5.1

      You need to take Moore with a grain of salt. Apart from that one doco, he’s produced crap. I really don’t like him, as he manipulates the viewer, among other things. However, Capitalism – A Love Story was really good.

      • M 5.1.1

        ‘You need to take Moore with a grain of salt.’

        Agreed, but a pinch needs to be taken with Obama.

        Like most people, Michael Moore is going to slant things to make his premises seem better but I’ve enjoyed his efforts in getting Americans to look at their gun control laws, his efforts in trying to block Dumbarse’s re-election and his shaming of the US government re its discriminatory health care.

        It says a lot when three people travel to Cuba (in the film Sicko), the US’s arch enemy, and can get superior health care for a pittance compared with what they would be able to obtain in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

  6. Pepeketua 6

    “I have a genuine fear that despite the negative effect of the $2.4b tax relief given to NZ’s top 10% by National, the majority of NZers see that as a good thing for EVERYONE. We get fooled, and few seem to be thinking.”

    couldn’t have said it better myself. but i’d like to see the link being made between the inequality and our right to our environment being clean and well cared for.

    Front page of yesterday’s paper (http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/4569111/Ministers-step-in-on-DOC-lease) was all about a dairy farmer who wanted to extend his grazing lease on the nationally-recognised significant wetland habitat of Te Waihora lagoon. This wetland (we’ve lost 95% of them in 150 years) was public conservation land, that was subject to a joint management plan between DOC and Ngai Tahu to improve it, and the recommendation was to retire all grazing on the lake edge in an effort to restore it.

    Dairy farmer whinged to Amy Adams, she (doing her job) complained to David Carter and Kate Wilkinson (worst. conservation minister. ever), who had a cosy wee meeting with the poor old dairy farmer “As far as i’m concerned, it’s part of the farm” (<–uh, no it's PUBLIC land, a nationally important threatened habitat and you're reaping the benefits of polluting it) and the DOC area manager who was firmly put in his place by the Ministers (what choice did he have), and hey presto – instead of the 6 month extension to the lease the guy was asking for, he gets FIVE YEARS!!!!

    just to reiterate that land belongs to you and I. so too does the Canterbury water, the national parks that the mining industry wanted to mine in, the ocean that's being carved up for aquaculture… and we're told it's for the "GOOD OF THE COUNTRY". but it's not. it's for the good of the RICH private individual who feels he is more entitled than most.

    Have a look at what's going on in the Mackenzie Country for further depressing stats.

    why are we not questioning the public resource being carved up for the benefit of the private individual?

  7. SHG 7

    Equality of opportunity, equality of outcomes. Can’t have both.

    • Currently we have neither.

    • Anthony C 7.2

      Haha, we don’t even have equality of opportunity.

      • infused 7.2.1

        Yeah you do – just to blind to see it.

        • infused, what good are these so called opportunities if they are so hard to spot?

          Where are all these $20-25/hr jobs which people can actually live decently on?

          Why are all our young uni grads deciding to go help Australia’s economy instead of taking the 30% less pay we offer them and staying here?

    • Draco T Bastard 7.3

      Actually, if we had equality of opportunity we would have equality of outcomes.

      • Anthony C 7.3.1

        There is no way a poor kid raised in a poor family that doesn’t feed or educate them right has the same opportunities that I enjoyed.

      • SHG 7.3.2

        Actually, if we had equality of opportunity we would have equality of outcomes.

        Of course. If we had true equal opportunity then a blind quadriplegic would have exactly the same likelihood of becoming a professional basketballer as would a 7-foot black American.

        Either that, or equal opportunity means that the people who have natural advantages at certain things will excel at those things, thus creating unequal outcomes.

        • Colonial Viper 7.3.2.1

          Smart, but also missing the point completely.

          This is not about making everyone an All Black. Or saying that everyone is going to be good enough to be an All Black.

          But it is about making sure that everyone gets access to the coaching required, the support required, and fair time on the field in the junior grades, so that they can have a good shot at it should they wish.

          Or whatever else they want to do in life.

          And that their chance to get into the squad doesn’t depend on who their parents know and how much money they were born into.

          You deny the talent the chance, you deny the All Blacks their next potential star.

          • SHG 7.3.2.1.1

            And you know what? Some people don’t have the talent. Some guys, no matter how much attentive coaching they receive, will never make the All Blacks – and some will. That’s called an unequal outcome.

  8. seeker 8

    @PCB
    “… so many American voters were prepared to endorse Bush’s tax cuts (which have been extended by Obama) on the basis that it would protect them should they make it to the top ………
    ..despite the negative effect of the $2.4b tax relief given to NZ’s top 10% by National, the majority of N’.’ Zers see that as a good thing for EVERYONE. We get fooled, and few seem to be thinking.”

    This could be a reason:
    “Keep it going for generations, bring up children in it, and they would AUTOMATICALLY believe that non-brown-eyeds were disobedient trouble emakers.” ** (capitals mine )
    Interchange ‘National/right whingers’ for ‘non-brown-eyeds’ and ‘blue-eyed, can do no wrong, respectably rich/prosperous wealth for-me makers’ for ‘disobedient trouble makers’.

    I am sure the stubborn,unenlightened,blinkeredness, almost bordering on generational brainwashing to the point of ‘no critical thinking faculties’ left, of right wing people like big bruv, gordie, grumpy, swampy, monty and fisiani (sounds like six of the seven dwarves!) relates to this ** part of the original post. It possibly stems from a very old,”transported across the globe for 12000miles upstairs/downstairs mentality” which education has done much to dispel for many. It’s called post-formal thought.

    • Locus 8.1

      I don’t understand your comment, perhaps you could clarify…. Now that I’ve looked up ‘post-formal’ thought http://www.webster.edu/~woolflm/cognotes.html I’m wondering why you tossed the term in as a closing remark? Was it an attempt to be sarcastic towards PCB? Was it an attempt to show you have a better understanding of human cognition than PCB? If postformal thought focuses on having ‘awareness of multiple causality, multiple solutions, paradox and the need to be pragmatic’ then I assume you fully agree with Marty G’s observation that DESPITE THE EVIDENCE “many of the people of European descent had a problem with acknowledging that their ethnicity gave them a relative position of privilege in their society.” Do you really think that quoting the ideas posed by post-formal thought gives anyone a justification for not engaging in reasoned argument? Nor do I understand why you introduced the idea of “transported across the globe for 12000miles upstairs/downstairs mentality”. Most kiwis came here for the very reason that NZ offered an escape from that type of society and thinking.

  9. Pascal's bookie 9

    All them here speaking so righteously in favour of equality of opportunity:

    Y’all down with hefty (say 95% of everything over 150k) estate taxes and gift duties and a revamp of family trusts so that they can’t be used to avoid either?

    Thought so. Good lads.

    • QoT 9.1

      I am so making popcorn for this one. 😛

    • Well, I like the idea of estate taxes and CGT, but your regime is even harder-ass than what I could realistically support, Pb 😛

      25% estate tax on everything after the family home plus the first $1M or first $0.5M in assets might be more reasonable.

  10. Dismal Soyanz 10

    Aside from the statistical issues on how exactly one measures inequality, achieving greater equality through saying “you are rich, therefore we shall tax you until you are not” is hardly going to win the hearts and minds of those at the upper end of the socio-economic scale (including myself). A large chunk of the electorate vote (d) with their wallets – across the political spectrum. It might make some commentators feel good that they are having a whine at the middle class but does nothing to actually advance the cause of equality.

    True equality will only occur when it is embraced by all rather than imposed. That requires a huge change in mindset from extreme individualism to collective responsibility. This ranges across all types of behaviour e.g. away from the “f..k you, I can drink as much as I want and as a result kill other people” and the “So long as no-one threatens my property/rights, I don’t care what they do” attitudes. It is not an ideological shift – it is much bigger than that. The heart of such a society is not the state but the individual – more precisely it is the way in which we, as individuals, view each other and our community.

    • QoT 10.1

      You are so right, Dismal, we just want to tax the rich into poverty ’cause we hate them. OH WAIT, shit, I think it actually had something to do with the wealth of the rich being founded on the society they “made” it in, or maybe that whole wacky “from each according to their ability to each according to their need” principle.

    • Marty G 10.2

      it’s not going to win the hearts of all wealthy people, no. It wins my heart and I’m rich.

      It’s only natural that people with privilege will want to protect it, including by not acknowledging it.

      I agree that we need to have a far deeper concept of collective responsibility to make and equal and fair society sustainable but we don’t have to wait for all the rich to agree to give up their wealth – democracy works on majorities, not universal agreement.

  11. Dismal Soyanz 11

    @QoT
    That’s disingenuous and not really worthy of someone who writes as well as you can. I did not portray the position was to tax until the rich are in poverty but to tax until they are not considered rich. Unless you believe there is a razors edge in the middle, you have conveniently skipped over the concept of the middle.

    @Marty G
    Even some of those who are not rich can and do vote according to who is going to provide them with the best monetary (ETA: in terms of $$ in the pocket) policy outcome. That may well complicate an attempt to achieve this via our electoral system. By saying we can rely on a majority vote, the implication is that you are relying on the power of government and legislation to enforce this outcome. We are unlikely to ever agree on this but I really do not believe that such an outcome would be stable.

    • QoT 11.1

      to tax until they are not considered rich

      You’re welcome to provide any evidence of this point of view. Which would be interesting in the context of a discussion about what qualifies one as “rich” anyway.

      Otherwise, that kind of argument is just bog-standard rightwing narrative, and my ideology sadly has little effect on what the right choose to believe about the left and how mindlessly the media choose to parrot the right’s statements.

  12. infused 12

    What fucks me off is people calling me rich. I’d like to give you a heads up to how I started my business, just for a little reality check.

    I started my business back in 2003, while studying at a polytechnic (software engineering) I started fixing home computers on the side. My Father was earning too much for me to claim the free $200 or so dollars a week. So I had to max my student loan. My dad was broke, so I don’t quite understand how that worked. I ended up getting my student loan to #30k without even finishing the course.

    Anyway, my business was started with $100, a crusty old computer and an internet connection. For 3 years I built this business whilst not paying myself. So for 3 years, I had no income.

    I’ve been going for 6-7 years now – on a good salary and employee 3 people. I’m just about to buy my first house.

    You are attacking people like me. I had nothing, yet I created something out of nothing. Everyone has a chance to do something like this. Yeah it’s tough, but get off your ass and do something about it.

    • QoT 12.1

      Well, if you want to bring your personal history into it …

      My Father was earning too much

      So, not from a family on welfare, then. Not from a family living below the breadline? Managed to get through school with good enough marks and a good enough education to study software engineering. Didn’t get detached from society through constant racial profiling and join a gang to get some kind of social cohesion. Didn’t become a drug addict, didn’t get sucked into organised crime.

      Didn’t get raped and become pregnant and be refused education or the option to terminate because of cultural reasons or having an unprofessional morality-thumping shit of a doctor. Didn’t get a girl pregnant in high school and stand by her and have to start doing shitty labouring work just to feed your child. Didn’t have to drop out of school to get a job to support your parents and younger siblings.

      Don’t suffer from any disabilities which impair your ability to work or to study, didn’t get hospitalised for long periods as a child because your home was so overcrowded and damp that you have permanent scarring on your lungs. Didn’t miss school because you got tuberculosis, fucking tuberculosis in New Zealand.

      Had the sheer fucking luck to set up a surviving small business. Had sufficient funds or support to get through the first three years. Had the luck not to get wiped out by the recession when plenty of other good solid businesses “built up from nothing” failed.

      Oh yeah, infused, you’re absolutely from the bottom rung of the ladder, your life has been soooooo fucking hard compared to all those lazy poor bastards, I truly weep for you, being treated like you’re not the poorest of the poor and not getting your cock sucked for being such a miracle of Hard Work and Your Own Motivation.

      • infused 12.1.1

        * Never finished school, dropped out
        * Got in to software engineer because I read a lot of books and proved myself to them. They were not going to let me in.
        * Actually was involved a lot with the police regarding theft.
        * rape comment is retarded
        * Not disabilities, but I was suffering from manic depression through my teens. Took a very long time to get over that.
        * Had no support what so ever for my business. First year I only turned over 60k. Maybe I’m just better at running a business than other people?

        Everyone has the chance to do this. Quit with the bullshit.

        Lots of hate in your reply. I suggest you go outside for awhile.

        • QoT 12.1.1.1

          rape comment is retarded

          Yeah, no women ever end up in endemic poverty because of a lack of sex ed, a lack of support, being demonized by society, and being forced to raise a child on their own.

          Lots of privilege in your reply. I suggest you try to figure out that not everyone had your advantages for a while. (You could start with the radical notion that merely being literate enough to read all those clever books is a privilege not everyone gets in our society.)

          • infused 12.1.1.1.1

            Entirely different issue buddy, hence why I said it was retarded.

            • QoT 12.1.1.1.1.1

              … How is it a completely different issue? You’re the one who’s being all “EVERYONE can do this with absolutely no qualifiers”.

              Oh, right, I guess women don’t count as people or something.

              • infused

                Get off your high horse and quit shoving words in my mouth. Your blog reveals a lot about you.

                • QoT

                  I’m sorry, was that meant to be an insult? And where the fuck am I “shoving words into your mouth”? Do you realise that the bolded comments below are quotes FROM YOUR OWN COMMENT? I mean jeez, I realised you were utterly determined to ignore your own advantages but that takes the cake.

                  • infused

                    You’re pulling meaning from my comments that just isn’t there.

                    • QoT

                      … How?

                      “everyone can do this” = there is a level playing field and everyone has equal opportunity.

                      “get off your lazy ass” = people are only not successful business owners because they are lazy

                      Yeah, you’re right, that doesn’t have a direct implication that you’re better than others. At all. In your own head.

                    • infused

                      I said get off your ass and do something about it, you implied the lazy comment. IE, instead of posting about it here, actually go and seek opportunities.

                      Everyone CAN do this. It’s just harder for some than others.

                    • felix

                      Oh come on QoT, it was ages ago he typed all that stuff.

                      And no infused, “everyone” can’t do it or we’d all be successful small business entrepreneurs and the rubbish would pile up and the toilets would go uncleaned and all the shops would close because there’d be no-one to do the minimum wage work.

                      So to lift people out of poverty we must pay all of those people more money for the important work they do. Because if we all do it your way then we all die of typhoid.

                    • Lanthanide

                      Starting a business is a risk. A risk means that you may be successful, or you may not. It’s not always in your control.

                      My ex had to shut down his software consultancy business (cost $150/hr to hire him) where he employed 2 others due to the Chch earthquake. All of the companies that were giving him work put all their IT work on hold and he had to shut up shop.

                      So, while theoretically everyone might be able to take a risk, for those who take a risk lose out (for things that can be completely out of their control – ever have big competitor upon up opposite you on the other side of the street?), they can be royally stuffed. Also, being in polytech and starting a business on the side is very very different from working two jobs for a total of 60 hours a week while raising a family and starting a business.

                      So no, not EVERYONE can do what you’re saying.

                    • infused

                      Maybe they should have done that before starting a family? Hence why I did it early. I might eventually fail, who cares, I’ll try again.

                      Everyone can do it Felix. Yeah that might happen. The reason people don’t do it is because of fear. Fear they might fail.

                    • felix

                      infused,

                      Are you deliberately avoiding addressing my comments or do you not understand them?

                      Answer this one simple question: Who does the grunt work?

                      If your answer is “people getting minimum wage” then your “solution” is bullshit.

                    • QoT

                      Maybe they should have done that before starting a family?

                      I’d respond as to why being able to have certainty and choice in the timing of having children is another example of your massive privilege but you’d probably just say that was “retarded”.

        • Draco T Bastard 12.1.1.2

          Anyway, my business was started with $100, a crusty old computer and an internet connection. For 3 years I built this business whilst not paying myself. So for 3 years, I had no income.

          Had no support what so ever for my business.

          So, you lived how because the last time I looked it costs to buy food, pay the rent etc etc? I suspect that the reality is that you were very well supported which allowed you the time to devote to your business.

          • QoT 12.1.1.2.1

            Nonsense, Draco, anyone can live income-free for a year with no funds or other support. You see, being an Awesome Go-Getter Who Does It On Their Own allows you to draw nutrients from the air and sleep on clouds.

          • infused 12.1.1.2.2

            I lived on 2 minute noodles and slept on the couch in my office – plane to catch now.

            • felix 12.1.1.2.2.1

              Don’t worry, we’ll still be here when it lands.

              Perhaps then you’ll start addressing some of the questions put to you.

            • QoT 12.1.1.2.2.2

              … Were the 2-minute noodles free?

              (Oh, and see above “not having to support others is also a sign of privilege” comment)

          • Deadly_NZ 12.1.1.2.3

            Probably sat and bludged of off his hard working parents. No support for 3 years what a crock of shit. OR WAS he was LYING to WINZ about work and income made. NOW you will have to explain yourself now. BUT first please remove your foot from your mouth as your mouth will need room for the other foot soon.

    • infused 12.2

      In saying all that, I would actually support another tax rate at the $120k mark of %45 or so. I believe that’s fair.

    • millsy 12.3

      Perhaps if you stop thinking your better than others….

      Tell me..

      Do you support a public health and education system?

      • infused 12.3.1

        I don’t think I’m better than others. That’s the problem with you lot.

        And yes I do.

        • QoT 12.3.1.1

          Everyone has a chance to do something like this. Yeah it’s tough, but get off your ass and do something about it.

          Yes you do.

          • infused 12.3.1.1.1

            No, I don’t.

            • QoT 12.3.1.1.1.1

              Funny, that’s not what you said. Remember, that whole “I’m awesome and everyone could do this if they wanted but they’re just lazy and stupid” thing you said, like, 20 minutes ago?

              • infused

                Yes, please show me where I said I’m awesome and other people are lazy?

                You’re trying to pull something from my post that doesn’t exist. If that’s all you take from it, fine.

                You’re in charge of your own destiny, no one else.

                • QoT

                  Sorry, I forgot you can’t read text when it’s italicised for your benefit.

                  I had nothing, yet I created something out of nothing. Everyone has a chance to do something like this. Yeah it’s tough, but get off your ass and do something about it.

                  Everyone has the chance to do this.

                  The fact that you honestly think that we’re all born into tabula rasa lives full of infinite opportunity with no considerations for race, class, health, gender … I wish I was as amazingly privileged as you, dude.

                  But I forgot, your life sucks so much because the worst things you can think of are a few run-ins with the cops, depression, and not qualifying for a student allowance. (I’ve got two out of three of those, mate, but I can still acknowledge that being a white middle-class girl from an academic family was a fucking big leg up in life.)

                  • infused

                    Sounds like you’ve got more than that going on. Maybe you should get off here and actually go seek the help you need?

                    • QoT

                      Boy, that’s a mature way to deal with having your privilege called. Care to throw in a “fuck off you fat bitch you’ll die alone surrounded by cats” while you’re at it? I mean, as long as you’re still pretending to not have said what you clearly said.

                    • infused

                      Might as well. It’s not like anything else is going to get through to you.

                    • QoT

                      How is anything meant to “get through to me” when your argument is “no I’m not, no I’m not, no I didn’t say that, you’re a bitch”? I apologise for not finding that the most constructive discussion.

                    • Some wealthy types or wannabes really buy into the story line that it was them who made it all happen for themselves. Its the “Masters of the Universe” narrative. Happenchance, birth circumstances, societal inputs etc. all coveniently forgotten about.

    • felix 12.4

      Yeah everyone should just become rich and then there’d be no poverty.

      Was that the point of your little whinge, infused?

      • infused 12.4.1

        You don’t need to become rich. You can certainly become better off.

        • felix 12.4.1.1

          The key word is “everyone”, infused.

          Your solution is a solution for an individual, it doesn’t translate to society as a whole. Someone still has to dig the holes for your new house, make your coffee, stack your supermarket shelves for you, get rid of your rubbish.

          Unless you’re advocating that all these people be paid a lot more for their work, I don’t see that your little “how I escaped my middle class nightmare” story has any relevance to the issue of poverty at all.

          • Carol 12.4.1.1.1

            Also the individualistic, competitive forms of capitalism, like neoliberalism, are constructed so that there will be “winners” and “losers”. Neolberalism requires a certain level of unemployment. There just aren’t the jobs to go around, even if everyone was free, capable and knowledgable enough to try their best. There would still be people not earning enough, and many still would be unemployed. Many of the people at the top, through various institutions, organise things so that they will always have access to excessive wealth (eg financial speculators and bank bail-outs).

            So in this system there are many reasons why inequalities are increasing, and it’s not the fault of the people at the bottom of the system.

    • Rosy 12.5

      Infused, I know some-one who has so has more equality of opportunity than you. Parents have a multi-million dollar house and multi-million dollar investments and business, pay no tax (but justify it by saying they pay their employees who pay tax) yet he is in his 4th yr of university with no student loan AND receives a student allowance. I’m more into trying to understand why you pick on people who don’t get the opportunities you have instead of picking on ones who don’t pay tax and can take your money to fund their life choices.

    • KJT 12.6

      You had. Subsidised education to the tertiary level. Parents on a comfortable income. Student loan interest free. Free health care. Tax payer funded education for your employees so you did not have to pay for it. An educated population prosperous enough to buy your services. Infrastructure like roads, networks, etc. Regulation, safety rules and policing which defends your business and personal well being.

      I would say you, like me, owe the society you live in quit a lot.

  13. Dismal Soyanz 13

    @QoT

    It is not my intention to argue about definitions and I think you are jumping to conclusions if you consider me right wing.

    My point is that enforcing true equality (through a rapidly rising progressive tax system) is not likely to lead to a stable system unless you have a lot of support from those on higher incomes. And for what it’s worth, I think it would require a radically different form of taxation. Adopting an “us and them” attitude will likely only entrench your ideological left and right camps.

    • QoT 13.1

      … I’m not assuming anything about you, Dismal, just the rhetoric you’re buying into. The notion that we just need to convince rich people to start questioning the system that keeps them on top is a giggle, though.

      “There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

      • SHG 13.1.1

        The ironicalness, it burns us.

        If you read the interview from which that Buffett quote originates, questioning the system that keeps him on top is exactly what he was doing.

        In context:

        Not long ago, I had the pleasure of a lengthy meeting with one of the smartest men on the planet, Warren E. Buffett, the chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway, in his unpretentious offices in Omaha. We talked of many things that, I hope, will inspire me for years to come. But one of the main subjects was taxes. Mr. Buffett, who probably does not feel sick when he sees his MasterCard bill in his mailbox the way I do, is at least as exercised about the tax system as I am.

        Put simply, the rich pay a lot of taxes as a total percentage of taxes collected, but they don’t pay a lot of taxes as a percentage of what they can afford to pay, or as a percentage of what the government needs to close the deficit gap.

        Mr. Buffett compiled a data sheet of the men and women who work in his office. He had each of them make a fraction; the numerator was how much they paid in federal income tax and in payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, and the denominator was their taxable income. The people in his office were mostly secretaries and clerks, though not all.

        It turned out that Mr. Buffett, with immense income from dividends and capital gains, paid far, far less as a fraction of his income than the secretaries or the clerks or anyone else in his office. Further, in conversation it came up that Mr. Buffett doesn’t use any tax planning at all. He just pays as the Internal Revenue Code requires. “How can this be fair?” he asked of how little he pays relative to his employees. “How can this be right?”

        Even though I agreed with him, I warned that whenever someone tried to raise the issue, he or she was accused of fomenting class warfare.

        “There’s class warfare, all right,” Mr. Buffett said, “but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

        http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/26/business/yourmoney/26every.html

        • QoT 13.1.1.1

          Yes, SHG, Buffett is the contradiction that proves the rule. The point of the quote was to demonstrate that the idea of there being a class war on is not accepted only by “whinging lefties” or whatever the narrative of the day is.

    • Dismal Soyanz 13.2

      A giggle?

      Actually Marty’s noting of the Jane Elliot experiment is just that. Taking people of privilege and showing them exactly how privileged they are.

      Unless you are advocating revolution, how exactly do you expect the system to change if it is not organic? As someone who is privileged, I can see why and how hard some/many would resist enforcement of equality (however defined). Unless people believe (and can see) that they are improving the well-being of society, they will be reluctant to contribute more.

    • Colonial Viper 13.3

      My point is that enforcing true equality (through a rapidly rising progressive tax system) is not likely to lead to a stable system unless you have a lot of support from those on higher incomes.

      What is this stability you are talking about. I don’t see any problem.

      1956-1964 US top income tax rate was 91%. The 1950’s and 1960’s saw a huge expansion of US industry, technology companies and the wages of the brand new US middle class. Economic stability was sound.

      Of course today the wealthier are even smarter at avoiding taxes, so additional steps will meed to be taken. But the thought is there.

  14. BLiP 14

    Eat the fuckers.

    • ZeeBop 14.1

      The problem are the people who advocate and support the ideals that the rich should get tax cuts, are the wannabee rich who have yet to make the wealth. A large group of people believe in the false paradise of wealth, that the wealthy need defending or else the economy collapses, that when their wealthy they should not pay tax either, and then you have the gatekeepers who do get rich by preaching to this large mass of people that the rich need entitlements. But when you listen to many of the worlds actual richest they don’t want the world screwed over by too much wealth and are willing to give it up if done fairly (relative). Unfortuately the false paradise is still winning, and there are still too many people getting rich peddling the false paradise. The richest will lose because they are a minority, and the cheerleader wannabees will go down with them and take all us with them!!! That’s the absurdity, that the very belief that supposes to look after the rich will undo us all! Eat them. Eat them all! We got fat on oil, lots of fat rich thinking for the rich, now the tide is changing, we’re all eating thin now!

  15. AB 15

    Looks like Kiwis are worried by the growing grap between rich and poor too, judging by today’s Sunday Star Times lead story at http://www.horizonpoll.co.nz/page/96/wealth-gap-worries-kiwis

  16. ianmac 16

    I think that the argument should focus more on how we spend and not just how much we earn. Some one said to me yesterday that I must be very wealthy to be able to travel around the world as I have been doing recently. (I am a Superannuant with a tiny bit extra.) I choose to spend little on clothes (The Warehouse) or luxuries. The internet is probably my only luxury. Instead I save furiously to pay Emirates for my airfares.
    My point is that if we spent less on the wants and more on needs the poor like me would be better off. Then the debates above would be different.
    Maybe Infused and Ts Smithfield are saying that if you are prepared to go without then it is more likely that you can achieve more what-ever it is you aspire to: build a business, travel, wealth, fancy clothes, cigarettes or a fancy house.

    • ianmac 16.1

      The original point that the gap between rich and poor damages our society is strongly agreed!

  17. Vicky32 17

    What irked me about that programme however, was that the angry American woman simply assumed that all the blue-eyed group (I wondered what category she’d have put me in, as a green-eyed woman?) were racist, without allowing them a word in edgewise!
    For all the horrible old lady knew, she could have been assuming that someone who worked for the equivalent of HART/CARE was a foaming-at-the-mouth racist.
    The other thing I didn’t like, was the black British people making a complete meal of it all – the woman Pearl with her story about being ignored in shops while all the white people got served, was such a fantasy, I am amazed no one challenged her!
    In the end I couldn’t watcn any more…
    The most rigid anti-racist I ever knew, a guy who worked at Soc Wel when I did (before it became WINZ) and who had dreams about Maori people berating him for not doing enough for them, was a blue eyed blond man from Manchester, not 50 miles from where my red-haired blue eyed father was born.
    Deb

    • Dismal Soyanz 17.1

      Of course she didn’t allow dissenters a word in. Remember she was effectively “the state” (ETA: or institutions). If the state makes sweeping assumptions in the way it sets policy, you may say it is unfair but in the end, the chances of you actually winning a fight against the state is very low.

      I tuned in half-way – and yes, Jane Elliot was grating. But I could see the point she was trying to make and was interested to see whether it sunk in. There was a little of that at the end but I would have liked more. The white school teacher who refused to believe there was a problem and insisted that she was un-racist (having admitted earlier that she was surprised a black kid who scraped her face was “pink underneath”) was entertaining – if somewhat depressing at the same time.

      Remember this is TV. What you see is not necessarily all of what happened – just what the editors found fit to include.

    • QoT 17.2

      Pearl with her story about being ignored in shops while all the white people got served, was such a fantasy, I am amazed no one challenged her!

      I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume you’re white and have no fucking idea what kind of everyday oppression black people face in the UK or US.

      Try some old-school Michael Moore social experiment, or how about black kids getting kicked out of a swimming pool for being black?

      Protip: it’s not your fucking call to make to tell people of colour what their experiences are and it’s especially not your call to say their statements are “fantasy” just because you don’t want to believe them.

      • Deborah Kean 17.2.1

        First, seriously, enough with the swearing already!
        Second, the operative word is the USA, if she’d been an American, then I could have believed her story. But about the UK, no…
        Anti-spam word – backs… As in get off our – in this case, mine. QoT I have gathered that you’re a woman – if that’s so, then you ought to be realise that to use another Americanism, I “know from oppression”.
        If I ever had been a racist, and despite being bullied unmercifully at school for being white and working class, then I was amply punished for it, when I married a Maori and suffered years of domestic abuse. (Not because of my race per se, but because the guy’s an alkie, but try being white and being believed in certain circles that your Maori husband abused you – because after all, “you got white skin privilege and money, eh, and could have fought back…”)
        However, at least your sweary aggression is easier to take than IanMac’s patronising tone.

        • QoT 17.2.1.1

          But about the UK, no…

          Right, so you’re ignorant and refuse to educate yourself. Could’ve said that at the beginning.

          If I ever had been a racist, … then I was amply punished for it, when I married a Maori and suffered years of domestic abuse.

          WOW. Are you serious? You can’t admit you ARE racist, but that’s OK because the universe punished you with abuse? That is FUCKED UP SHIT right there.

          Repeat: you don’t get to tell people of colour what their experiences are. Your inability to believe them is based on racism and privilege.

          • Deborah Kean 17.2.1.1.1

            Having just seen this, the words silly and cow spring to mind… I never was a racist, but my experiences tempt me to be, seriously – however I am not. However I care a lot more about Afghani refugees and my Asian and Saudi students, these days.
            Your insults are quite OTT… if you think I’ve had a life of privilege you’re insane. I have little or no doubt you are a “middle-class kiddie” as Tom Robinson said, and money privilege trumps a lot///

            • infused 17.2.1.1.1.1

              She is yeah. After my words with her I checked out the rest of her posts and her blog. Explains it all really.

              • QoT

                Your insinuations are so fucking cute, I want to wrap them in ribbons and keep them in a little box.

                  • QoT

                    Oooooh, yeah, baby, keeping telling me how much you don’t care, oh you know I like it when you keep commenting about how much you don’t care.

                    • infused

                      gogo f5 key. yours must be worn out

                    • QoT

                      They’re called “comment subscriptions”, infused. I go about my business and your flattering abuse just keeps popping into my inbox. That’s how I like it, baby, now tell me again how you continuing to comment is all about not caring and you continuing to watch this thread just as closely is completely different. I love it when you play that double standard, baby.

                  • felix

                    Ah infused you’ve landed safely I see.

                    Just before take-off I was waiting for some responses to a few questions (well, all the same one really)

                    Think you could have a go now?

                    “Rich”

            • QoT 17.2.1.1.1.2

              Wow, Deborah. I’ll rustle up some brown folks immediately to thank you so much for being an awesome non-racist person. It must be so hard for you to be so amazing. Truly you are the King of Kings, etc.

              • Deborah Kean

                Wow, you really let rip with that one! You offensive nasty spiteful bitch.
                I suppose it means nothing to you, you rotten little Remmers blonde, that I have Maori children, Somali and Indian neighbours on one side and Samoan neighbours on the other?
                That each day I work, I spend in classrooms where mine is the only white face? Or do my students not count because they’re Chinese, Japanese, Saudi, Cambodian or Korean?
                I am sure you are truly loved – by someone. But I seriously doubt it – as hate such as yours can only attract more hate.
                Captcha – fully as in fully hacked off with trolls. Which you are QoT.

    • ZeeBop 17.3

      The earlier US program by the same Angry American women was much more polarized. The UK showed how, for me, that there is more power to gain for groups and so mainstream Britians were more willing to fight their corner. Was that not expected, that people who are better off realize they have to give something up. Why shouldn’t people fight their corner??? What I did not like is how hard it was to show how power is abused when everyone is more aware of it, was the angry american women too successful??? Did her message about power, merely mean mainstrem people don’t want to be on the other end of the stick. In educating people their racists has she shown us how we’d hate to be powerless like that. And that comes back to me about how the black man with the white daughter could not go to the school, because he believed it would harm his daughter. But that is a form of self imposed racism. Sure his fears may be well founded but if society is to be raceless then surely skin colour should never be used to make decisions like that. What he should of done is invest in some cosmetics and go into work every other day looking white. Change people’s prejudice, rather than reinforcing his own.

      • QoT 17.3.1

        What he should of done is invest in some cosmetics and go into work every other day looking white. Change people’s prejudice, rather than reinforcing his own.

        I am completely certain that African-Americans will be flocking to thank you for solving all their problems with this truly original, world-shaking idea. They will also be thrilled to know that after living their own lives every day, they simply cannot be better judges of what black people “should” do and how oppression “should” be fought than you.

        Recommended reading:

        theangryblackwoman.com
        racialicious.com

        • ZeeBop 17.3.1.1

          In context, the black individual would not go to his daughters all white school for fear his daughter would be seen as black. Of course as a believer in the idea that we prosper as a society by the individuals who have most to gain, are best able to change the perceptions of themselves, should probably do the most work. Humans make associations from what they see if they see a lot of poor minority all with darker skin then humans both black and white will associate poverty with darker skin colour. Why are white evil for doing so, and black people blameless when they do it to themselves. I merely offer up the game changer, simple disconnect the perceived. Show pictures of white people begging and black people getting out their wallet. Get a white and black person to change their skin colour for the day with cosmetics. What’s the harm? It will be fun. Seeing a Black President will do wonders to dislodging the racial association.

          • Colonial Viper 17.3.1.1.1

            Pretty sure that cosmetic change thing has been done before, Or was that with a skinny person going into a fat suit. Hmmmm.

          • QoT 17.3.1.1.2

            Why are white evil for doing so, and black people blameless when they do it to themselves.

            Um, because there’s this thing called “racism” and white people don’t have to experience it every day of their lives in places like the US. And telling black people that they have some kind of duty to educate their oppressors by spending time and resources they probably don’t have to pull a Wayans-Brothers-movie-derivative practical joke which merely reinforces perceptions of people of colour as deceitful or untrustworthy … well, then we’re just back to “thanks, white guy, for that completely unhelpful suggestion.”

            As for “it will be fun”? Guess what, you don’t get to tell oppressed people what to do to fix the society that oppresses them and then say it’ll be fun. Not to mention? Done before. A LOT. Engage the fucking Google and then ask yourself why the many, many instances of black people disguising themselves as white and vice versa (not to mention the entire phenomenon of “passing”) we still have racism. Protip: it’s because your incredibly original magic fix is bullshit.

            • ZeeBop 17.3.1.1.2.1

              …white people don’t have to experience it every day of their lives in places like the US.

              Um, people are the same, they make subliminal associations all the time. Associating skin colour with wealth, or sex with intelligence, or thin tall people with beauty. I don’t see you arguing that we need to state explicitly that fat dwarfs are not ugly, or women are smart, or clown hatred is a joke you didn’t get. I think you are loathsome because everyone has to experience some form of stigmatization (many are whie), yes even the beautiful rich who are envied to the extreme.

              My point is that reinforcing the stigmatization isn’t going to help us. Or staging some social trap whether people get to experienced being powerless to know how it feels, we’re all been children and know giant adults are very powerful threatening beings. The way I believe to move forward is as society has, to see women in positions of intelligence, to see black men as a leader of the free world, and so remove the association that all human beings, black, white, fat, large, small, tall, naturally seek to garner power and influence over each other and wrongly assess as in their interests to reinforce. Like you are doing being racist against whites.
              I don’t see how framing the debate in racial terms solves a problem when the solution, the outcome, is to not have racial differences, measures. If a group is wronged, then discuss how they are wronged, if black people are seen as second class, create opportunities to see them as first class, as President. If women are seen as dumber, then find intelligent women and find them a voice (sit them next to a male counterpart on the news), find a fat small ugly person and show them as beautiful. That’s how you change peoples prejudice, not telling them their wrong for doing something they naturally cannot help, make associations to help them survive.

  18. ianmac 18

    Vicky: The point was that a group of people with an eye colour that they were born with and couldn’t change (Skin colour?) were condemned regardless.
    The “angry American woman” was role-playing and the non-blue-eyed people were supposed to play the role as well. No-one was declared a real-life racist but to find out what it feels like to be condemned on sight was one point, and to find out what it feels like to do the condemning was another. (Imagine Vicky what it must be like to have people assume on sight that you are lesser because of your colour or race? Almost impossible to beat!)
    It was not the most successful performance/program because the participants did not play out their roles and the point was largely lost.

    • Deborah Kean 18.1

      “Vicky what it must be like to have people assume on sight that you are lesser because of your colour or race? Almost impossible to beat!)”
      Oh dear – my response to your remark, which seems very patronising, is to be rather cross with you. I grew up in Rotorua, in a Maori area, and I don’t have to imagine what that’s like. My sisters and I were told constantly “Get back where yer came from, whinging Pommy b*tch” My sister and I were waiting in a doorway for our Dad to pick us up and take us home from town, one Friday night. Along came a couple of big Maori girls, who commenced to enforce the “Pommy bitch” lesson with their fists. Because they could. So don’t shout spite about white skin privilege at me. It means nothing at all, to tiny white girls who are seriously out-numbered! Added to which, the other reason why I don’t have to imagine what it’s like to be judged on unchangeable criteria is because I am a woman.
      I’ve had a lifetime of being told I can’t do a particular job or study something because of my sex, starting back in the 60s when my Dad tried to get me an apprenticeship as a motor mechanic and all his Kiwi mates told him “don’t be silly Tom, girls can’t be mechanics”.
      In the 80s, I tried to explain to a man in the office where I was working, exactly why I at 33, didn’t like being called “that girl”.
      Now, because I am old, it’s pretty well irrelevant except for my sneaking position that if I were 30 years younger, I as a woman would be much more employable. After all, both potential bosses and employment agency minions have explained to me that (male) bosses like to see something pretty from their desks!
      And my suspicion that if I were male I would not be considered “old” at all, but “In my prime”…

      “It was not the most successful performance/program because the participants did not play out their roles and the point was largely lost.
      Which is where Angry American (Eliot?) should have realised (after all she’s a teacher, which argues some idea about human nature) that you can’t bully people into playing the role you want for them.
      The first participant to walk out was a brown eyed guy who took great exception to being forced into the bully role. (Mind you, he’s a legitimate target for your abuse – like my mother, he was a brown-eyed *white* person!)

      • QoT 18.1.1

        Oh, Vicky. As a white girl who went to a predominantly Maori/Polynesian school, I do understand the instinctive reaction to compare being called a “palagi” or a “white bitch” to actual racism.

        Unfortunately, it ain’t the same creature.

        You still have white privilege because cops won’t pull over your car based on it being “too good” a car for white people to drive. You won’t be turned down for a job, or have people assume you can’t speak English, or be treated as less sophisticated or educated because of your skin colour.

        Yes, you were hurt by individuals … who were probably venting a shitload of rage about the institutional, societal, widespread RACISM they face every single day. Or who were bullies who would’ve found some reason to be violent anyway.

        But you have not faced racism the way they have, and will, for their entire lives. You don’t have to search high and low for characters who look like you on the television (and aren’t playing “welfare queens” or gang members.) You don’t have to face verbal insults which imply you are less evolved, or should be the property of white people. You won’t get asked for your papers or “but where are you REALLY from?” You can find makeup in your skintone and don’t wince when people refer to a pale beige colour as “nude”.

        That’s because you have white privilege.

        • Deborah Kean 18.1.1.1

          “Oh, Vicky. As a white girl who went to a predominantly Maori/Polynesian school, I do understand the instinctive reaction to compare being called a “palagi” or a “white bitch” to actual racism.”
          Did you not read the whole of what I wrote? Had their abuse been merely verbal, I would not be so angry/upset about it all these years later! Because of a congenital blood disease, I was considerably smaller than girls my age. I wasn’t called a ‘palagi’, there were no Islanders there then, and from what I have heard from Island women, they would have also been bullied there..

          “Unfortunately, it ain’t the same creature.”
          Care to explain why it ain’t? Don’t give me that shite about how Maori can’t be racist because they don’t run society, that is just ridiculous. They can be and occasionally they are.

          “You still have white privilege because cops won’t pull over your car based on it being “too good” a car for white people to drive.”
          I wouldn’t know. Unlike my Island neighbours, I don’t drive – because I can’t afford a car.
          “You won’t be turned down for a job, or have people assume you can’t speak English, or be treated as less sophisticated or educated because of your skin colour.”
          No, but I have been turned down for jobs because I am a woman. I knew an Island woman at Soc Wel, who was turned down for a job because she wasn’t Maori, and at U of A a white woman refused a place in a social work course – you’ve guessed it, because she wasn’t Maori.
          My Asian students, and my son’s best friend (Korean) have suffered this : “be(ing) turned down for a job, or have people assume you can’t speak English, or be treated as less sophisticated or educated because of your facial features”. (Particularly stupid as my son’s Korean friend was adopted as a baby by a German couple who brought him up in New Zealand from when he was 8, and who spoke better English than those abusing him.)

          “Yes, you were hurt by individuals … who were probably venting a shitload of rage about the institutional, societal, widespread RACISM they face every single day. Or who were bullies who would’ve found some reason to be violent anyway.”
          So, make excuses for them, why not? I doubt very much that the young giantesses who attacked us in that doorway suffered RACISM in their every day lives – not in Ngongotaha! Get a grip.

          “But you have not faced racism the way they have, and will, for their entire lives. ”
          Wanna bet?
          “You don’t have to search high and low for characters who look like you on the television (and aren’t playing “welfare queens” or gang members.) ”
          No, but I do have to search for people who sound like me, and are as old as me, and wjo aren’t playing villains (American TV) or rich selfish bastards (NZ TV).
          “You don’t have to face verbal insults which imply you are less evolved, or should be the property of white people. You won’t get asked for your papers or “but where are you REALLY from?” You can find makeup in your skintone and don’t wince when people refer to a pale beige colour as “nude”.”
          Do get your head out of the USA! It ain’t paradise, dammit – but also, this ain’t Alabammy… I followed your links, both American of course…
          As for being asked where I am really from – that’s hilarious! A couple of insane people refused me a flat in my DPB days because nothing I said or did could convince them I wasn’t a white South African (apparently that’s what I, product of an English working class father and an upper class New Zealand mother of Scottish descent, sound like)

          “That’s because you have white privilege.”
          I hope you don’t mind my skipping that link – I don’t have a lot of time.

          • QoT 18.1.1.1.1

            Long comment for someone with not much time … and a pity you conveniently skipped the link that would answer all your “questions”.

            White privilege doesn’t mean your life is sunshine and rainbows. It means that on one spectrum, the spectrum of race, you get greased rails and advantages you never even have to think about.

            It means you don’t have to think about race, which is convenient for you since you just refuse to.

            • just saying 18.1.1.1.1.1

              Wow QoT

              Hat off, you’ve done excellent work here, and it hasn’t been easy going.

              Vicky, I grew up in south Auckland, and what you are talking about is not in any way equivalent, and yes there were fists as well as verbal abuse. You trot out your own life experiences on this board time and time and again and use them to authoritatively tell other people that their experiences aren’t valid, that you know their lives better than they do. And there is more than a little animosity towards Maori and Pacific people in your posts, zero understanding from what I’ve seen, and no apparent desire to learn or understand. Still when you already know all you need to know…

              Try reading the link provided, and start listening sometimes instead of knee-jerk reacting. I do understand you’ve had it hard at times, but that doesn’t qualify you to run roughshod over the lived experiences of others or excuse racism or ignorance.

              • QoT

                Thanks js. I’ve so been there with the “waaaa the kids at school called me a palagi why can’t I call them darkies” attitude myself I always feel the need to administer cluebats on the subject.

                • Rosy

                  I come from a background very similar to that of Vicky/Deborah and had similar experiences (bullying, physical abuse however all my friends were brown (as were my ‘enemies’), not because I sought out Maori, but because that’s who was in my neighbourhood. My nickname was ‘milky’, some would see that as racist, but it was simply an acknowledgment. I feel it’s really important to acknowledge the way that this sort of background might make working-class white resentful of efforts to improve the priviledge of working-class brown.

                  My take on this is that working class white can feel aggrieved because they struggle to improve their lot while at the same time they look across the street and perceive their brown neighbours get help with housing, health and welfare. The costs of improving outcomes for poor brown people come directly from the working class white, who see their taxes going to support lifestyles they don’t approve of (and directed as socially-minded governments who are increasing their taxes). It’s not directed at well-off people (whose lifestyles they aspire to). Those who have been victimised by poor brown people in their child/teen years are utterly resentful. This resentment is directed to those across the street rather than the rich who are increasingly never seen.

                  If racism at the working class level is to be combatted this needs to be acknowledged. Of course underpriviledged white have more opportunities of getting ahead and less racism directed toward them in general society, but this is pretty hard to see when you’re being bullied by people of another race, and feel you are losing out to the brown in terms of provision of social services. Losing out to the wealthy doesn’t come into it because the wealthy are generally not brown and because you simply don’t interact with them.

                  This, I feel, is also behind blue-collar conservatism and some white supremacist gangs (in as much as underlying disadvantage is behind Maori and Polynesian gangs). I don’t agree at all with these attitudes but have some sympathy for those who are in this position. This whole area is not explored well, I think because a lot of writing and policy around reducing institutional and personal racism is written either by the oppressed minorities and ethnicities or by middle-class university-educated white people without an under-priviledged background.

                  • just saying

                    I’m really tired and just about off to bed, but you raise some important points.

                    Firstly, I’m not sure what you mean by this:
                    “…working-class white resentful of efforts to improve the priviledge of working-class brown”.
                    What privilege is there in being working class brown?

                    My experience was of all kinds of bullying – brown on white was just one kind, and I don’t believe most Pakeha were anywhere near as traumatised by being bullied by Maori or Pacifika as they portray when they present these kinds of arguments. In my experience working class Pakeha felt vastly superior to Maori and Pacific neighbours and it was a kind of solace to them, having a sub-group to feel better than. The constant casual, even banal racism towards Maori that I grew up amongst seems looking back in some ways worse than the more overt vicious kinds.
                    My sister was disabled and the Maori kids took her under their collective wing because, I think, she too was outcast, unacceptable, universally derided. So I took a lot of notice of what was going on. It has affected me to this day, the way those Maori kids were treated like they were nothing by kids and teachers alike and I’m deeply offened to hear Pakeha talk of their experiences of being bullied in the same light. Having said that I know many sincerely believe it was equivalent (and there is a degree of justifying their own offensive racism in that too imo) and there are many working class people who are sincere in their belief that they get a raw deal compared to the “privileged” brown folks. When I return to my hometown it’s something I hear all the time. But to me it’s a bit like when we had a woman PM and GG and people were saying that NZ was being oeverrun by the feminzzzis and that men, particulary middle-class white men, had become as oppressed and disadvantaged as women had once been. Never mind that it was a mere statistical anomoly and the country was still being overwhelmingly run by men, the few high profile women led to all sorts of outrageous claims.

                    There’s considerably more menace in South Auckland nowadays and it’s not unknown to walk down the street and have groups of Maori or Pacific young people spit on the ground as I pass and say something like “honkey bitch”. I could make out from instances like that that Pakeha have become the victims that Maori once were, I could rail about treaty settlements and nurture resentment and bitterness, and many do. But it would be complete bollocks. Pakeha still have the same white privilege they’ve always had, and the same sense of superiority, and seem to feel aggrieved the “natural order” is no longer taken for granted by everyone, much like working class men are often aggrieved that they are no longer the completely unchallenged ‘kings’ of their own serf families.

                    I’m too tired to be passingly coherent, so if anyone is still interested in this conversation tomorrow, I’ll pick it up again then.

                    • Rosy

                      I understand what you’re saying, and I’m in agreement. My experience was that I was better off than the Maori I was friends with, and they would open their door to me far more readily than my family would to them. If I was bullied it was not because I was white and they were brown, it is simply what some kids do, and like some adults, they will use a point of difference as the spark for being nasty.

                      I’ve spent a lot of time trying to work out why I don’t feel resentful of what Maori apparently got compared to what my family apparently didn’t (when many others from this type of background do) and I still don’t have the answer. The above comment is actually the first time I’ve tried to write it down. Let me reiterate – I don’t agree with the attitudes that Maori/Pasifika get more than their share, or that pakeha are victims of reverse racism. I do agree that Maori/Pasifika are over-represented in poor socio-ec stats, and have fewer opportunities, because of their ethnicity (i.e. because pakeha make the rules) to improve their status.

                      What I do think is that we’re not going to get anywhere if blue collar resentments are not acknowledged and analysed. They should not be dismissed out of hand. I also think that until this is done the resentment will be directed towards ethnic and other minorites and toward any (left-wing) government that tries to reduce ethinic inequalities in housing, health, education and benefits, rather than being directed toward the economic and social system that privleges the few at the expense of the many.

                      I also think that blue collar pakeha see themselves, alongside rich pakeha, as paying for improvements in Maori/Pasifika equality, whereas they are probably paying instead of their rich, white compatriots.

                      And as for considerably more menace nowadays I think this is more to do with the almost complete physical separation of society that has gone along with the increasing economic divisions. One half now simply doesn’t see how ‘the other half lives’, nor do they understand how they think.

                  • Bill

                    @ js and rosy.

                    There is a kind of inverted heirarchy of oppression.

                    Some get a triple whammy of gender, race and class oppression. White working class males, although the least oppressed of the bunch, are oppressed nonetheless. But since their oppression isn’t recognised by any corrective government policies, their sense of greivance would seem justified if misplaced. There’s a nice blind spot on class oppression that’s explained away by ‘equality of opportunity’ tosh and such like

                    But rather than getting all resentful over programmes or policies designed to ameliorate racial or gender injustice, white working class males would be better served by getting on side with those programmes and demanding policies or programmes designed to ameliorate class injustice in addition to those race and gender programmes already in existence.

                    • Rosy

                      Exactly, but how does a left-wing, socially progressive government reach these people without reducing programmes aimed at improving conditions for Maori/Pasifika? Labour’s ‘closing the gaps’ fanfare was a perfect example of how they did not understand disadvantaged pakeha, and maybe even how big this group is. The hectoring chorus of disapproval and dropping the name of the programme was shameful. To Labour’s credit they did continue to attempt to ‘close the gaps’ and made some progress in terms of health outcomes, at least.

                    • just saying

                      Exactly Bill,

                      That’s good, and we need this and this and this….

                      Although often the least oppressed of the bunch, I have sympathy for working class men. The sexist culture that they were advantaged by when they were young has been partially whipped away leaving many exposed and vulnerable. Men in general would benefit form liberating themselves from a lot of the masculinist baggage that can be so destructive for them, but particularly working class men who may feel they have lost a lot of personal mana, and become alienated as their class has been increasingly oppressed, impoverished, and degraded.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Some good comments coming out here. Yes it would be nice if white working class, often mature men (>40) were not so invisible in our political and social discourse. Forget about material benefits and help they may need, just stop treating them politically as if they are invisible for a start.

                      Some have complained to me that they miss the Labour of old. That is, the old school Labour which paid at least some Ministerial attention to *them*, the blue collar working male, and not just gays, Maori, women, Pasifika, beneficiaries, the intellectual elite… the list goes on.

                    • Bill

                      …but how does a left-wing, socially progressive government reach these people

                      Both national and labour led governments have a principle interest in aiding the country’s elites to compete internationally against the elites of other countries. This involves a degree of abandonment being visited on the domestic population in order to offer domestic elites advantages over foreign elites. (Lower taxes, lower wages etc.)

                      A government can institute corrective measures on matters of gender or race without upsetting the apple cart because those corrective measures are only intended to level the playing field to the extent that ‘everyone is white, male and working class’.

                      Meanwhile, the working class as a whole loses ground economically and discriminations that affect the entire class base are left unmentioned and untouched.

                      In other words, there is a levelling beween the different groupings that constitute the working class, but that levelling is contained within an overall downward trajectory.

                    • just saying

                      I’m replying up here to your post at 9.11am

                      No pressure, but would you consider writing a post on this Bill. There is so much to discuss in what you are saying.

                      The last couple of years it’s picked up pace, but the working class have been experiencing that “downward trajectory” for some time. It was happening more slowly, but steadily throughout the last administration. But the blame has to date been firmly pinned on (god I hate this term) ‘special interest’ groups that Labour appeared to be investing in instead of broader working class interests. And starting to share the ‘speaking stick’ with these groups at the same time just made the false dichotomy seem all the more valid.

                      Nothing like getting everyone fighting over the crumbs for diverting attention away from why do we just get crumbs?

                    • Bill

                      I’ve been kind of working on and off on such a post.

                      My problem is that there are so many unquestioned assumptions to work through. The basic thrust concerns the myth that the domestic economy (as commonly understood) is a principle concern for government in the same way that it is for us (the domestic population). My take is that domestic economies are not in competition with one another in a manner where one seeks to be ‘better’ than the others (the myth). Rather, elite interests are aided and abetted by govenments to better advantage themselves in their international competition with one another. One way governments do this is by impoverishing the very domestic population they profess to seek material well being for. There are subtle differences in the way that National and Labour seek to tackle the potential for blow back from a domestic population that might realise it’s being taken for a ride. (Labour throw more ‘feel good’ crumbs to targetted sections of the domestic population [ while always being sure to mollify business concerns] and might be said to advance at 50km/hr down the same road that National would rather put the peddle to the metal on.)

                      It’s not a novel argument and something that was well understood by the left of old. Seems we’ve forgotten all about internationalism though. So these days, we waste time and energy critisising government for failing to implement policies that would comparitively enhance our domestic economic situation (as though that was something they were ever focussed on) instead of calling bullshit on the whole malarky.

            • Deborah Kean 18.1.1.1.1.2

              Make that triple teamed, you once again, silly cow!
              Your sneer about my comment about not having much time, which you clearly don’t believe, but which was true when I wrote it. But now I am in chat with a friend,(in a different language) and reading your abuse in the interstices.
              You are a bully, and a self-righteous one at that…
              Ironically, I used to bully people about their racism, even when they were actually racist and evil and weird only in *my head*! (You should have known me back then – I marched in Queen Street, I had all the Rock Against Racism albums, I was as big a pain in the keister as you all are.)
              Then I grew up… I recommend you do likewise.

              • QoT

                I am so sorry for “bullying” you with facts and shit. You’re so oppressed, your life is so hard, you’re a modern-day Nelson Mandela and it is definitely I who should grow up, not the woman still clinging to primary-school namecalling and pretending that eliminates her substantial privilege.

                See, having tried argument and links and substantiated evidence and being responded to only with “no I’m not shut up I’m not racist and you should be GRATEFUL for that” I am left only with contempt.

              • just saying

                I recommend, that some time when you are feeling calmer, you go back and read what you’ve written in this thread.

                For example:

                ..I marched in Queen Street, I had all the Rock Against Racism albums..

                You aren’t being “triple teamed”. I’m being very restrained, believe me.

                • just saying

                  I should say that the reason I make that recommendation is that it works for me when I’m making a total prat of myself.

              • Olwyn

                To Bill @ 9.10am: What you are saying is incredibly insightful; the hard part is how to realistically reverse this tendency to the required degree, or demand its reversal.

                One thing I have been thinking about is this: we always have right wingers bleating about what is being done with “our money.” Perhaps we can look to the opposite end of the procedure, placing limits on how “our money” is acquired, so that productive activity that employs people and pays them well is rewarded, and non-productive acquisition, like buying up rental properties, or developing land solely for mcmansions, is punished. I know this would not sit well with elevating elites at the expense of everyone else, but is may provide an alternative way of looking at social justice.

                A couple of points long these lines: why not demand that property developers include a proportion of affordable housing? Why not demand that food produced and sold in NZ match up with NZ wages rather than international markets?

                You are not allowed to make your fortune as a hit man or as an out and out thief, so why should you be allowed to make your fortune by exploitation rather than creative or useful action?

      • ianmac 18.1.2

        Hey Deborah. All you say may be so but the Blue eyed/brown eyed experiment was just meant to explore the terrible way in which something unchangeable like the colour of your skin causes many to judge people unfairly and sometimes drastically. The angry American woman feels so deeply about the injustice so caused that she pushes folk into examining the question. Somehow you and Vick have missed the purpose of the project as I see it. I do not think for a moment that it would work if she explained the purpose to all and gently introduced each to their roles.
        Perhaps Deborah explaining your recollections come close to the purpose of the experiment.

        • Deborah Kean 18.1.2.1

          I am Vick! Just having log in issues at the present… I do feel somewhat double-teamed what with you and QoT ..
          Deb

          • QoT 18.1.2.1.1

            Oh, it’s so hard being called on your privilege and racism by TWO WHOLE PEOPLE. You must totally know what it’s like to be institutionally oppressed.

            • just saying 18.1.2.1.1.1

              A reply to Rosy at 1.30am

              I know what a big problem this is, Pakeha working class choosing to identify with the wealthy white who are keeping them down, admire them even, while blaming poor brown people, as if the pathetic little that is being done to help them was the cause of Pakeha poverty. The words ‘soft targets’ springs to mind along with that amazingly successful con ‘aspiration’.

              The elites and their media lapdogs sure have done a number on the poor over the last few decades.

              Rosy: “What I do think is that we’re not going to get anywhere if blue collar resentments are not acknowledged and analysed. They should not be dismissed out of hand.”

              I know, the sorts of things Vicky says (and worse) I hear over and over when I’m in Auckland, (and sometimes at home) – although most who say them aren’t at pains to convince me that they’re not racist. The main source of the resentments, the hardships that Pakeha poor experience are real, and need to be acknowleged and respected. I do understand how it could seem that only Maori/Polynesian, hardship is taken seriously and matters. The invisibility of poverty outside of crime stories in the media is a very real problem.

              I don’t know how to get the poor to focus their anger at the powers causing them rather than their powerless neighbours. There is something to that old cliche about the man being abused at work, coming home and abusing his wife and kids, who abuse each other and the family pets etc., ie abuse passing from the top downwards. I think the invisibility of poverty in NZ is a big problem and it facilitates the shame and blame approach to it.

              • Rosy

                Thanks js, I think we’re in agreement and I like your analogy of the abused worker. IMO the invisibility of poverty has come about because of increased inequality resulting in suburbs becoming more homogenous.

                An assessment of the impact of social policy initiatives on different communities of interest at the the policy level may help identify who is actually bearing the brunt of said initiatives. I’m not sure that this is being done. Hopefully a change in emphasis in line with ‘the spirit level’ will eventually have some impact on mainstream political thinking. Otherwise divide and rule will remain the norm.

                • Olwyn

                  For pakeha working class, the shame factor is particularly acute, since they cannot claim to have landed on the wrong side of their tracks due to their race. Furthermore, with the reduction of union power they now lack a forceful public voice through which to air their grievances. The virtual disappearance of the productive economy has weakened both the working class of all hues and the authority of their representatives. Furthermore, as follows from a sharp division in wealth, those middle class people who claim to speak for the working class tend toward a top-down approach rather than a representative one – the infantilisation of the working class is assumed, and the argument turns to whether to improve them or exploit them – just like in nineteenth century England. The smacking debate showed this up clearly, where the people who were most unlikely to be falsely accused of smacking a child were all for enlightening the working class without being fully cognisant of what it might cost them.

                  Whenever this subject comes up, we all become like mice on a wheel, analysing ourselves round in circles, without arriving at a viable answer.

                  I think the answer may lie in two steps: (1) Defining human need realistically, and raising the bottom line in protecting people from exploitation (minimum wage, housing), (2) Revitalising the productive economy so as to shift investment from the scavenging model to the productive model.

  19. Graham 19

    Would most kiwis object to minimum wage $15, $10k tax free threshold, plus progressive tax rates up to $1000000 at 50%
    ???

    • Sounds good to me.

      Perhaps new income tax bands to be introduced at 4x, 20x and 40x the median wage i.e. at $110,000 p.a., $550,000 and $1.1M p.a.

      After all, the US top income tax rate 1956-1964 was 91%.

      • ZeeBop 19.1.1

        yeah, its silly for rich people to pay rates like everyone, if they are so stupid they can’t figure out how to grow wealth any other way. Tax them at 91% and lets grow rich people who grow businesses organically!!!!

  20. Bill 20

    Erm. 147 comments in and…well, can we cut to the chase? Maybe?

    Anybody care to point out to me how it is possible to generate mere equity (sod the impossibility of equality….we aren’t equal) in a market system that forces people into competition with one another? I understand that the peaks and troughs can be eliminated through progressive taxation and welfare provisions, but how can equity exist alongside the market?

    And failing an answer, is it acceptable to offer sticking plaster remedies ( inter-generational and never ending government policies of redistribution) to ameliorate the excesses of market relations? If so, why? And if not, then what?

    • Markets are not the problem, capitalism is: that is the ownership/control of almost all the financial capital in NZ by a few thousand people, who then have all the greatest say in how the economy (and consequently the society) is run, and why. Free markets for labour and capital are extremely damaging to society.

      Even in a more communally based society with a far greater degree of common wealth for all to enjoy, we would still want/need markets.

      • Bill 20.1.1

        CV

        We’ve had this discussion before and I genuinely wish you’d think about it. How does ownership and control account for ‘winning’ by beggering you neighbour? Ownership and control as sole driving factors would suggest a command economy.

        Competition doesn’t stem from control or ownership. Competition stems from the fact that the economy is a market economy. Whether it is regulated or not is neither here nor there as far as the basic premise of a market economy (competition) is concerned.

        Where there is trade there will be an economy. But it needn’t be an economy driven by competition, ie a market economy.

        If you mean by markets that we will need places to exchange goods etc then fair enough. But that’s got nothing to do with the word market as used to define the economy we have. I’ve provided links in the past that you could have accessed and that would have offered succinct explanations of what marks a market economy as opposed to (say) a command economy or a participatory economy.

        But I guess you couldn’t be bothered to link through. Which is fine. However it makes your insistent “markets are not the problem, capitalism is” knee-jerk reactions irritating and…well, tedious.

        • Colonial Viper 20.1.1.1

          OK so I just did a quick look around and briefed myself on the so-called parecon approach as a starting point.

          But I still don’t really get what your specific criticism of my comment is. And what is it which makes you think that my position is “knee jerk”? I’m also interested in why you do not appear to think that the useful aspects of competition can be harnessed for social good?

          Financial ownership and control – as exists in today’s capitalist (market?) economy – seems to me to explain very well the phenomenon of ‘winning’ by ‘beggaring your neighbour’. Capitalists seek maximum return on their financial capital. To achieve this, they seek to externalise costs away from themselves on to others (other companies, communities or countries). This at the same time that they seek to maximise revenue streams flowing towards themselves while minimising that going to others. They ‘compete’ for available dollars, if you like. If they can achieve these steps without being particularly competitive or innovative in the marketplace from the standpoint of products and services, they often will. (e.g. GM).

          Is this not sufficient to explain if not all, at least a large part of the ‘beggaring they neighbour’ phenomenon that you raised?

          I also recognise and respect that competition is a powerful driver for harnessing human ingenuity. When the race is for capital or power, that driver is not necessarily put to very productive use, or in very socially productive directions. Also, it is certainly not the only driver of human ingenuity.

          Nevertheless, in terms of both product and technological innovation, market competition has proved to be of great utility. The PC I use today runs at a clock speed of 3000 MHz, and displays dense million pixel pictures in millions of colours. The first PC I ever used ran at a clock speed of 8 MHz, and displayed pictures using orange X’s and *’s.

          These technological advancements can be traced back to Intel and AMD spending the last 20 years going head to head with each other in the technology marketplace.

          Finally, my main criticism of your focus on the market economy (instead of on capitalism) is that the (free) market economy is merely a tool used by wealthy asset owners to generate the returns on capital that they seek as investors.

          • MrSmith 20.1.1.1.1

            Ok CV : lets use computers as an example . Now let try and make a machine thats twice as fast as anything on the market, you get 100 technicians but have to split them up into groups of two for arguments sake but they are not allowed to communicate with each other and I get to keep all my technicians working together who do you think is more likely to come up with the machine first ?

            • Colonial Viper 20.1.1.1.1.1

              Well the point you are making is quite correct. At a certain point you want unit cohesion. You don’t want members of a single team taking random potshots at each another and you don’t want to fragment pieces of work into unmanageble bits.

              However even at the team level competition can be helpful. Whats the best microarchitecture concept we can use here to make sure that the computer processor we are designing always has the right instructions at the right time? Let different teams go away, compete to produce the best concept and then present their ideas back to the whole group for critique later on. Where they can work together to pull the best ideas out into a unity.

              Or determining who is fit enough to play on Saturday’s big game. That’s an internal competition which pushes individual players to excel against team mates. All with the objective of helping construct a better performing team at the end.

          • Bill 20.1.1.1.2

            Finally,my main criticism of your focus on the market economy (instead of on capitalism) is that the (free) market economy is merely a tool used by wealthy asset owners to generate the returns on capital that they seek as investors.

            Bang! You hit the nail on the head there CV. Almost. The power relationships inherent to capitalism ( or that arguably define capitalism) are predicted on and sustained and promoted by the competitive nature of the market economy.

            If capitalism was abolished today, but the market left intact, then capitalism would be re-asserted tomorrow because of the dynamics of the market…as the zero sum game of the market gradually concentrated wealth and power all over again.

            But if the tool of the capitalist was abolished today – the market economy- then capitalism would have no foundation to build on and so could not reassert itself.

            So then the question is ‘what type of economy could we develop that would promote and sustain behavioural characteristics or traits, such as solidarity and equity and that would similtaneously nullify acts of greed or selfishness’?

            Finally, it’s not the case that I’m focussed on the economy instead of on capitalism. I recognise capitalism as consisting of certain power relationships. And I also reognise that the root of the power is the dynamics of market economy.

            You want to leave that in place because it’s simply (in your words) a tool? Then let me ask you this question. ( I’m still one coffee short of a functioning brain, but I think the question suffices to illustrate the point) If for some reason it was determined that plumbing was to be abolished. How successful would the abolition of plumbing be if the tools of the trade were left lying around? Do you think the tools would rust with disuse, or do you think somebody would come along, pick them up and plumbing begin all over again?

            If you want capitalism and all its hienous characteristics and consequences to disappear, then the tool or platform or foundation of capitalism (the market economy) must be replaced with something else.

            • Colonial Viper 20.1.1.1.2.1

              OK, I can buy the strategy of dealing with capitalism by deconstructing the platforms it relies on. However its impossible to replace something as pervasive and thoroughly infrastructured as the market economy (and crucially the financial/banking system which supports it) in anything less than an extended timeframe and a stepwise fashion, IMO.

              And the capitalists will battle tooth and nail every step of the way.

              • Bill

                So the question becomes ‘Do you believe in fighting for something that is worthwhile, or are you content to sit back and do nothing in a room full of ‘too hard’ baskets’?

                And lets not forget that those ‘stepwise fashion’ developments can take place in parallel to the market economy and need not be a full frontal assault on it and its institutions.

                As I’ve commented before, this is arguably the case for what is happening in Venezuela and elsewhere at the moment. ( I say ‘arguably’ because it’s not so easy to get a clear picture of exactly what’s going on…different sympathetic leftist commentators offering sometimes inconsistent info) But, insofar as parallel institutions that empower ordinary people ( as opposed to the state bureaucracy) are being developed, the idea would be that those parallel institutions will (in time) supplant market institutions and negate any drift towards a bureacratic command economy.

                Meanwhile there are countless examples throughout the ‘western democracies’ of (admittedly, largely isolated) small scale non-market driven businesses existing within the context of an over-arching market economy. The extent that they interact with the market is driven by necessity only. (Internally, they are structured along non-capitalist and non-market lines). In the event that more such undertakings are developed, the necessity of using market driven terms of trade or production could lessen as the non-market initiatives are able to derive their resources and what not from one another.

    • MrSmith 20.2

      Exactly Bill, it starts before we even realize it the competition!. We haven’t yet worked out that we don’t have to compete like most of the other animals we have evolved into intelligent human beings, competition is unhealthy! so cooperation is what we want, but thats never going to happen with this bunch in power ‘they are not stupid’ and just want to “keep them down and give them a crown” to coin a phrase .

  21. clandestino 21

    I hope I can won’t be censored but man QoT is insufferable in this thread. How does abusing everyone trying to make a reasonable contribution by being a berating know-it-all help any conversation???

    To be honest I’m surprised the normally very strict mods on this site haven’t had a bracket by-word with you.

    • BLiP 21.1

      Oh, poor dear, naughty old QoT using facts and logics on you. There, there. Would you like your blanky?

      • jcuknz 21.1.1

        Maybe QOT thinks she is on her own site? 🙂

        • QoT 21.1.1.1

          jc, any time the mods here want to let me know I’ve crossed a line they will not be shy in doing so.

          Of course, it probably doesn’t help that my “victims” were throwing around hilarious lines like “spiteful little Remmers blonde”. I at least try to remain relevant and on-topic when piling on the scorn. 😛

      • QoT 21.1.2

        Don’t you love completely out-of-the-blue, screennames-never-seen-before white knighting? I could almost imagine we were on Livejournal.

  22. Bill 22

    Can I suggest that QoT be sent roses (they would seem to go with thorns) in recognition of the fact that she’s made this thread, not only one of the most entertaining I’ve read in a long time, but also one of the most thought provoking?

    Failing that, I’ll just say ‘Thankyou QoT’.

    • QoT 22.1

      Thank you! Though now I have Poison power-ballads stuck in my head. 😛

    • lprent 22.2

      It was certainly noisy, I’d have probably done some warning if I’d seen it during the weekend (I had other things to do so I didn’t read it until late last night), but it was definitely entertaining reading it. I had to drop out of moderation mode so I could read the threads in context.

      But for a weekend post it was ok. Most of the insults and abuse flying around was rather pointed on all sides.

  23. Veronica 24

    Some of you people are borderline insane.

    I’m a Labour supporter, I sit slightly left of centre, I would consider myself somewhere in between a social democrat and a capitalist (if those are the right words). The fact is capitalism has its problems, nothing’s perfect, that’s where a strong and supportive state comes in to lend a hand when the market fails. However, the vitriolic and far-left tone from the likes of Draco T. Bastard and Colonial Viper really makes me sick to my stomach.

    Out-and-out socialism is a monster 90% of the time, take a look at Greece, Portugal and the other socialist states that have failed economically recently. Don’t blame the market, the market held them up, and as soon as it does what it usually does periodically – here’s where the strong state comes in – collapse, they collapsed, far worse than Britain, Australia and the US, largely capitalist countries all. The people in Greece and Potugal, as evidenced by the protests, are mindless zombies dependent on the state, I don’t want that, and I don’t want that for my children. I want a country that supports us, but one we aren’t slaves to. I don’t even have to get into human rights and horrific mass murders abuses by the National Socialists and Marxist Socialists. It’s not much use hoping to suddenly become Oil-rich like Scandinavia, which is the only reason those socialists states survive, and what happens to them when the oil runs out? Venezuela is what happens.

    I want Key gone as much as any of you, but if you people are the answer, the future of the left, then this country is going to turn into one of those impoverished socialist tyrannies in South America.

    • QoT 24.1

      You’re cherry-picking your examples there, Veronica. Of course we can’t become oil-rich overnight but it would be helpful if you could provide some evidence as to why oil is the “only” reason those states are successful.

      You’ll probably also have better luck not trotting out the old “Nazis were socialist!!!” line because that’s like arguing democracy is bad because states with “Democratic” in their names (East Germany, Congo, North Korea) are invariably dysfunctional dictatorships.

    • Bill 24.2

      About that borderline….

    • Colonial Viper 24.3

      Out-and-out socialism is a monster 90% of the time, take a look at Greece, Portugal and the other socialist states that have failed economically recently.

      You know those Governments are failing due to massive levels of public debt, right?

      Have you ever asked, when one party is in debt, who are they in debt too? If there is a borrower, there also has to be a lender, yeah? I mean, when one party owes billions upon billions of debt, another party has leant them billions upon billions of credit, right?

      And any party which is wealthy and large enough to lend that amount of credit is obviously very big and very smart and thinks that they can make a lot of money out of the deal.

      So who lent Greece, Portugal etc those crushing huge sums, and who is now forcing the public in Greece and Portugal to pay back those crushing huge sums?

      Socialist organisations? Or capitalist organisations?

      Further, how genuinely socialist can any country be, if it relies completely on capitalists for financing? Do you not also find it odd that capitalist organisations like Goldman Sachs helped Greece evade their fiscal responsibilities to the EU? Why would capitalists do that to a country and its people?

      I want Key gone as much as any of you

      Really – please explain to us why you want Key gone. You never said and now I am interested. With Key gone, who is your preferred PM?

      However, the vitriolic and far-left tone from the likes of Draco T. Bastard and Colonial Viper really makes me sick to my stomach.

      Why thank you, what a compliment.

      • Bill 24.3.1

        You do know you’re engaging a troll there CV, don’t you?

        [lprent: I don’t know who it is – I haven’t seen that ip/email/handle ‘signature’ before. Does read a bit like a ‘concern’ troll. But that isn’t uncommon for first time comments. ]

  24. if i’d had equality of opportunity growing up, i don’t know that the outcomes would have been any different and not sure that i’d want them to be…

    …i’m glad i suffered so my kids don’t have to now. inspiring them to take advantage of the current “level” playing field still takes some doing though

    one more generation and we should be right. I can’t help but pity the Cactus Kate’s of the world…for all the rhetoric she doesn’t sound happy at all

    …does anyone know if DPF has kids ?

  25. Vicky32 26

    Despite all the shouting of spite against me on this thread, I shall not be driven away from the Standard…. I was here before some of those ‘psychoanalysing’ me – and no, QoT, self important lady (or so I assume – you may not actually be a woman) – I am not a racist, nor am I a RWNJ…
    What part of “I have (and love my) Maori children” did you not get? How can I be a racist when I treat my Maori children the same way I treat my white ones? (I am assuming that you have no children – that none of the Anti-racist club have children – which for some strange reason, is often the case.) I say that, because having children generally breeds empathy in the parents, and none of you show a skerrick of empathy.
    If all the middle class kiddies actually *had* been beaten up by brown kids twice their size, they’d know a bit more about it – and how terrifying it is, especially to a very young child, as I was at the time. Nevertheless, contrary to allegations, the experience did not make me racist – rather the reverse. I became one of those hectoring people just like those attacking me! But as I said, I grew up, and stopped judging people on their clothes, skin colour, accent, or state of health…
    One point I have to make is that the Maori in our street were on exactly the same socioeconomic level as we were (our neighbours on both sides were Maori.) In terms of income, opportunity etc, they had neither more nor less than we did, and as far as I know, the outcomes have been roughly equal.
    Hence my scepticism about racism, at least in New Zealand.
    Don’t bother working yourself up to a pitch of hysterical self-righteousness, QoT, because whatever else I have to say on the subject, I am keeping to myself. You will be (as I suspect you so often are) talking to your mirror… aside from anything else, everything I said yesterday has been re-interpreted and perverted out of any possible meaning.
    There’s a good rhyming couplet: “A man convinced against his will/Is of the same opinion still” and that goes double for women – the difference being that most women, especially most NZ ladies, simply keep quiet and let the bullies *think* they have won, which on reflection is what I ought to have done.
    All you’ve convinced me to do, is to avoid any discussion in which the blindly self-absorbed QoT, Just Saying and Rosy feature.
    Pity, I used to enjoy The Standard.. now, *still without being one*, I sympathise with some of the less obnoxious RWNJs, especially if they have tried to explain an injudicious statement, and have simply been picked on til they are screaming with frustration.. trying and failing to explain a statement taken out of context, or wilfully misinterpreted.
    Just as a bullying atheist on another site was (almost) enough to drive me (back to) fundamentalism, you gang of self righteous are almost enough to drive to being what you’ve labelled me – if not for the fact that I am a grown-up

    • QoT 26.1

      Cry me a river, Deborah.

      It has already been explained to you why your comments come from a position of privilege which you refuse to acknowledge.

      It has already been explained to you why “I have brown kids too!” does not indemnify you against being racist.

      It has already been explained to you why it’s just sad and childish to threaten to “become” racist just because people are disagreeing with you and pointing out that you have privilege.

      It has already been made very clear that you’re happy to deal out pathetic insults (“rotten little Remmers blonde” is going to keep me warm on cold nights, it’s hilarious) but can’t handle simple, stated, backed-up arguments which say you’re wrong.

      I’m sure based on this that your “contributions” will be terribly missed. Because I’m clearly the self-absorbed one here.

      • Rosy 26.1.1

        And here is the crux of the problem…
        “One point I have to make is that the Maori in our street were on exactly the same socioeconomic level as we were (our neighbours on both sides were Maori.) In terms of income, opportunity etc, they had neither more nor less than we did, and as far as I know, the outcomes have been roughly equal”.

        It’s pretty hard to for some white disadvantaged to see themselves as privileged when they are being opressed. It’s hard to see that while they might get a job interview for some minimum wage, non-skilled labour (but don’t get the job), the brown neighbour probably can’t even make it passed the phone-call – as soon as the non-european name is said, the job has vanished. Similarly for private rental accommodation.

        The white disadvantaged probably know more of the social/cultural cues that improve their prospects when dealing with, for example, health services and utility companies (less difference now maybe with so many being outsourced overseas).

        The income might have been the same, and the potential opportunity might have been the same, but the reality of that opportunity could well have been very different.

        (not aimed at you deb, just talking to myself)

      • clandestino 26.1.2

        This is what I was talking about. Wtf is wrong with you? Does making her ‘feel’ like a racist get you off somehow?
        Does telling everyone they come from a privileged position make it so? What do you know!
        She is trying to defend herself and her worldview (coming from a place you couldn’t know sh*t about) from your vicious and overstated attacks. I’ve never seen bows drawn so long.

        You sound exactly like someone with too much education and not enough life experience. THAT’S sad.

        • QoT 26.1.2.1

          “clandestino”, I’m certainly not demanding anyone accept their privilege “just because I say so”.

          That would be why I provide links and explanation.

          And yes, it totally gets me sexually aroused.

          You sound exactly like someone with too much education and not enough life experience.

          You are free to make whatever hilarious assumptions you like. After all, it would be hypocritical of me to be outraged by them given I’m quite happily assuming you are either Vicky32/Deborah herself or a close friend of hers playing the white knight.

  26. just saying 27

    “All you’ve convinced me to do, is to avoid any discussion in which the blindly self-absorbed QoT, Just Saying and Rosy feature”

    Ta Deb, appreciate it.

    Glad to see you were able to squeeze a couple more of your prejudices into this thread Deborah, and to continue to lash out on the offensive while hiding behind poor little picked-on me.

    You dish out a lot of shit Deborah. Most of the time you get a lot less back.

  27. M 28

    The comments on racism had me mulling over hierarchies re racism and sexism.

    From my observations it seems to go:
    1 White males
    2 White females
    3 Non-white males
    4 Non-white females

    although 2 and 3 could be interchangeable for different situations.

    I can only speak from experience but when visiting my dad in south of the US eighteen years ago the racism is very much alive and kicking although people try to cover it up. I remember stopping at a convenience store during the bus ride and I was about the only white person in the place (apart from the owner) and one of the last to be near the counter to be served. The owner beckoned me to come forward to be served first and I’m sure he almost needed smelling salts when I indicated and said that an African-American lady was waiting way before me. From my accent he probably thought I was from somewhere in Britain and therefore crazy.

    In the course of my work I collect information about ethnicity and again am aghast at how many Britons make sure that ‘White British’ is clearly stated on the form and have to wonder at the motivation.

    In the same way that I can never know what a non-white person goes through and feels when racism is visited on them, I can get more than a glimpse of their distress and lockout from our society merely because of skin colour. Realising that racism occurs against whites it must be tempered with the knowledge that being white still confers a valuable passport to jobs, accommodation and ‘respectability’.

  28. Veronica 29

    @ CV

    I want Key gone for his attack on worker’s rights with the 90 day laws, his cuts to early childhood education, and his reliance on prison as an all purpose solvent for crime. Amoung other things.

    You point to the public debt, which is why they failed I agree. But if they weren’t spending their money on holding up a completely mindless population those problems wouldn’t be as bad. Even if capitalist industries own the debt, it’s still debt being used to subsidies a completely unfordable national economic model.

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