Roger Douglas attacks economic privilege and inequality

Written By: - Date published: 10:18 am, May 5th, 2020 - 261 comments
Categories: act, labour, political parties, roger douglas, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

The Act party will probably be reviewing his membership. Because Roger Douglas has gone back on his pro market mantra that he has stuck to for the past 35 years and has criticised the economic privilege and inequality that he helped create.

From Thomas Coughlan at Stuff:

Former Labour Finance Minister Sir Roger Douglas says the Government should use the coronavirus crisis to attack economic privilege and reduce inequality.

But, unlike his contemporary Labour colleagues, Douglas said this should be achieved by reducing stimulus spending, including on things like the wage subsidy and infrastructure building.

The Government’s current policies, in particular the wage subsidy were “unfairly advantaging big business and the professional elite”, he said.

Douglas said this money would be better directed “towards assisting the newly unemployed – namely workers, their families, and small business owners”.

He has with Professor Robert MacCulloch published a paper on what the Government should be doing, and its emphasis is on reducing handouts to big businesses and dealing with entrenched inequality and poverty.

The paper includes a number of proposals including this one:

The most radical proposal was to “identify, and eliminate, unnecessary spending, privilege, and waste” from the Government budget totaling $15 billion.

This would mean cutting or reprioritising 18 per cent of the last budget. That’s roughly the amount spent of superannuation each year. 

Douglas was particularly critical of the way that large businesses with healthy balance sheets had been claiming the wage subsidy, which has now paid out more than $10b.

He singled out The Warehouse and large law firms Simpson Grierson, Bell Gully and MinterEllison in particular. 

“Why haven’t they been required to fend for themselves and their businesses?

“Why, when the good times suddenly come to an end, have they gone cap in hand to the Government?”

Douglas said it was an example of “the old maxim rendered true — there is never someone more socialist than a wealthy capitalist in a time of crisis”.

To be frank I believe he misrepresents the goal of the wage subsidy. It was to stop mass redundancies occurring. Without it potentially hundreds of thousands of kiwis would have been thrown out of jobs as firm after firm retrenched. With it people have been retained and the plan and hope is that things revert to some sort of normality within three months so their jobs are preserved.

And the amount paid does not cover the full wages bill but there is the obligation to use best endeavours to keep all employees in jobs. For many firms the subsidy will run out well before the 12 week period finishes.

Douglas proposes that the employee should be furloughed and the payment made directly to them. But the job is then gone. And the temptation will be that some of those jobs will not reappear as employers take advantage of the opportunity to get rid of their “worst performers”. After all, never waste a crisis.

I am pleased that for the first time in nearly 40 years Roger Douglas is on the left of me on an issue. Welcome back to the collective comrade.

261 comments on “Roger Douglas attacks economic privilege and inequality ”

  1. Gosman 1

    Umm… this has ALWAYS been Roger Douglas' position. He hasn't changed his views. There are speeches of his from 20 – 30 plus years ago stating EXACTLY the same thing.

    • weka 1.1

      Pity he fucked that up then. Although I guess the lack of concern for workers/citizens has been consistent.

      • Gosman 1.1.1

        He didn't. His reforms have stood the test of time. It is why even after the election of two progressive left wing governments the core of his reforms are still in place. That is what gets many of the hard left quite annoyed.

        • weka

          If his reforms were so successful, why does he have to make the proposals he is now?

          We haven't had a progressive left wing govt since Rogernomics. We have had centre left governments (hint: NZF and the neolibs in Labour), some of which have been progressive and some regressive.

          • bill

            If his reforms were so successful…

            lol – they were! But only insofar as they were implemented. Sadly, reactionary forces meant that the market was never truly freed, and that's why things are a bit of a mess.

            A bit like baking a sponge but holding back on the eggs, or maybe more accurately like the patient dying from anemia because not enough leeches were applied. 🙂

            Scarily, in spite of the seemingly obvious madness of it all, we have in NZ today a PM who thinks that 'neo-liberalism' is "just what happens to people"…

            • sumsuch

              I'm determined on a strong govt for the people that ever trumps your market and rich fellas. Everything else passes the cost of plenty onto the future, or your fkn descendants, me having none.

        • Adrian Thornton

          @Gosman, What the hell are you talking about?…here in the Hawkes Bay his disgusting ideology has destroyed the orchard industry/meat industry/canning industry for workers….20-25 years ago these industries used to provide good paying jobs for huge parts of our communities,,,not now, all gone,no the only result of his now debunked ideology locally is the end of owner operated orchards, masses of imported labour and the rise of ghetto's…fuck Douglas.

          Of course luxury car sales in the Bay have gone through the roof over this same period..enough said.

          • Gosman

            The Hawkes Bay economy was booming pre Covid-19. This includes a very successful manufacturing sector. I have no idea what you are basing your views on


            • Adrian Thornton

              I base my views on living here…

              • Gosman

                So on anecdotal not actual scientific evidence then

                • Adrian Thornton

                  Yep just the actual evidence that I see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears while living in the actual area where these things are actually happening to real humans that actually exist…..It is called reality, something you are obviously not familiar with.

                  • Gosman

                    Yeah I prefer to base my views on more than just the experience of hard core lefties. Data is king.

                    • Descendant Of Smith

                      So looking at that graph I see coming off a low base of below average growth from 2009 to 2017. 9 years of poor growth compared to the rest of NZ. Some of that growth driven presumably by increased incarceration rates of Maori as more were imprisoned and the cost to keep them there also lifted.

                      In 2015 Winston Peters won Northland and suddenly some neglected regions became important and money was pumped into them in 2017 after developing REDS plans – Hawkes Bay, Northland. This helped lift GDP in those regions. Growth went into negative again as National's bribe resulted them in not being in power.

                      So one year of above average growth since 2009 is somehow a boom. I'd love to see how you view the rest of the country.

                      Over the same period:

                      Auckland 9/10 years of above average growth now that's booming.

                    • Adrian Thornton

                      Yeah well I guess that helps explain why when people like you have kind any power you make such awful decision all the damn time…

                    • Descendant Of Smith

                      Adrian: I assume that comment is aimed at Gosman and it's just fallen below my post.

                      For one who wants facts he is quite quiet when they don't indicate what he tries to say they do.

        • bwaghorn

          Whatever. they were a fuck up . Go to murupara and see what his reforms caused!

          The ongoing cost of destroying small town nz would far outweigh the money saved .

          The only thing that makes you be able to spout your bs is that those costs would be impossible to calculate.

          • weka

            Yep. Economics divorced from the real lives of actual people is a terrible thing.

          • Gosman

            What in particular did they do that lead to Murupara's problems? Please be specific.

            • bwaghorn

              Turning forestry employment into a dog eat dog race to the bottom where scum companies like fletcher forestry would pit contractor against contractor to fuck each other for scraps while sending as much raw product offshore as they could .

              • Gosman

                Are we selling more or less forestry products now than we were in 1984?

                • left_forward

                  What do you mean 'we' whiteman?

                • bwaghorn

                  Wtf does that have to do with the gutting of small town nz and the shafting of plain old kiwi guys who just want a job a life and not be always under threat of layoffs and being fucked over by companies who's only driver is margins.

                • Tricledrown

                  But making bigger all out of it.

        • sumsuch

          If his reforms hadn't been installed we would be entirely prepared for climate change and resource finitude. Let alone the cost entirely laid on the neediest during 'his' decades. But all I could say to him if I encountered was 'you've kept the snuffly moustache'. Don't rate him as a devil.

    • mickysavage 1.2

      So why did he oversee Rogernomics and form the ACT party?

      • Gosman 1.2.1

        For the very reasons mentioned in his recent speech. ACT does not support corporate welfare or State support for the privileged class.

        • Peter

          ACT does not support corporate welfare or state support for the privileged class?

          Is that all of ACT or just some of them? Their Parliamentary team?

        • KJT

          Apart from the army and police to help them stay priviledged.

          Oh, and tax cuts, so they don't pay for the resources they use.

        • Tricledrown

          Gosman except for its sycophants

        • Tricledrown

          Yet the ACT party rely on corporate welfare and Tax payer welfare .

    • Tricledrown 1.3

      You are joking sycophants can't see the truth just keep repeating the failed mantra.

      Yet he is now saying successful businesses should be subsidising failing businesses.

  2. weka 2

    Yeah, nah, he can get fucked. I don't care if he comes out with the most progressive, green plan of all time, until he apologises and makes amends for his role in the damage of the last 40 years, his words are meaningless and hubristic. He can get behind the many other people with far better opinions and perspectives than his, including ones that the business and political classes want to listen to.

  3. Sanctuary 3

    Actually, if you read what he has in mind it is basically the same old Roger Douglas – claiming the opposite effect of what a common sense appraisal for his policies would indicate, hinting anyone who comes to that common sense conclusion simply isn’t clever enough to grasp the genius of his insights then using that to cry crocodile tears for the little guy.

    He is a loony old man. He was always never quite there, but these days he adds a certain boiled cabbage smell to his utterances. Whenever I hear he is still alive and not dead with a stake through his heart and a stone in his mouth I am first startled, then disappointed. he is one of a handful of people whose demise will occasion the popping of corks in my household.

    • greywarshark 3.1

      sanctuary – Agree +100 (plus inflation and interest)

      • roblogic 3.1.1

        plus 10 % gst that mysteriously ratchets up another few % when national is in power

    • sumsuch 3.2

      Despite him being half-rate my main solemn galvanance is NOT to piss on his grave.

      Roge is Labour to his boots so he always tries to justify everything in those terms, but his father and grandfather wait up there for him. They were both quiet men so they'll have to call in the old fighting Labourites to deal out righteous justice.

  4. Dennis Frank 4

    Yeah, I fully concur, give credit where due. He has learned from experience, huh? "Douglas said it was an example of “the old maxim rendered true — there is never someone more socialist than a wealthy capitalist in a time of crisis”."

    I think you're right to point out that the govt was bailing out the capitalists to provide the most effective rescue of the workers. So the left & right can stroll hand in hand into the sunset, may the illusion of comfort provided by business as usual never end…

    • bill 4.1

      So the left & right can stroll hand in hand into the sunset, may the illusion of comfort provided by business as usual never end…

      lol – somewhere in the world, someone has opened a book on that. Y'know, different time periods with various odds attached 😉

      • Dennis Frank 4.1.1

        The old `surely the penny must drop soon'. It's been rolling around in my head since the '80s. frown

        • bill

          Aye. It's been a long wait. Maybe worth an epitaph on that there hunk of head stone – Still Waiting. 🙂

  5. Jonnie'sjnr 5

    So…austerity then. Sigh.

    • Gosman 5.1

      Austerity for wealthy people. Do you not support that?

      • Incognito 5.1.1

        You, of all people, should know what austerity means. In any case, austerity for wealthy people is an oxymoron.

      • Tricledrown 5.1.2

        That would be called Tax Gosman which rich rarely pay

        • Enough is Enough

          Douglas is advocating for large companies to pay back the wage subsidies. That's the austerity.

          There is a lot of merit to that. Why the hell should young New Zealanders be saddled with a generation of debt, to repay the cash that places like Belly Gully and Simpson Grierson have taken. Its a disgrace.

          • Tricledrown

            Enough is Enough you do not know how economies work you are making a claim that debt is bad for economies.

            Then the govt buying it's own debt/ debt swap is a way of printing money it will be written off, minus interest at •25% interest to be paid to the govt.

          • Tricledrown

            Enough is Enough getting liquidity into the economy quickly requires a universal non bureaucratic response ,Sorting out the chaff from the hay would take months.The patient is dying he needs a transfusion now not in 3 months time.

            That Money goes into the economy keeping the economy ticking over modern economics.

            Your thinking Thatcherism pretending the economy is like household budget,extremely naive but makes for good scaremongering.

            • Enough is Enough

              That money does not always go into the economy. Big law firms were never at risk of being unable to pay their employees. The money was called on to preserve the profitability of the firms and the 7 figures incomes the partners take.

              Public pressure has worked in this instance and they are paying it back.

  6. bill 6

    Douglas proposes that the employee should be furloughed and the payment made directly to them. But the job is then gone.

    How so? The worker is given time off (not fired) and they get payment from the public purse…which is basically what's happening, except "middle man" (some of whom have been trying to line their own pockets).

    And there may soon be enough unemployment to go around anyway if or as businesses discover they have zero viability in a 'covid world'.

    • Sanctuary 6.1

      It is typical Douglas, propose a wild experiment in a crisis where we'll just have a suck on the sav and then see if his fantastical insights were true or not. The trouble is, a crisis is seldom a good time for the untested brain farts of an aging fanatic to be put to the test.

      • Gosman 6.1.1

        This is especially funny. However I do agree with you. Now is not the time to try and change things radically. Wait until after the next election. However try and tell that to the people advocating for a full blown socialist takeover of the economy right now.

      • sumsuch 6.1.2

        I wonder why the Labour establishment like The Standard bring up
        Douglas. Since modern Labour is founded on him, never been broken off from. The anger here rarks up the coals. Supporting Labour is machiavellianism or ignorance. Isn't Labour just professional operatives now. A questionmark would be rhetorical.

        • Tricledrown

          Sumsuch the World has bought into the luxuries of the free market.Those advocating for a Socialist paradise are as rare as those who advocate for a pure capitalist state ie Gosman.Those on the fringes gain very little support.

          Pragmatism is the winning formula a balance between the 2 extreme ideologies with tinkering around the edges.

    • mickysavage 6.2

      Right you are I interpreted “furlough” as down the road. The policy is a mix and it is a high trust model. I suspect the test will be what unemployment trends look like at the end of the 12 week period.

      • bill 6.2.1

        The piece in "stuff" mentions furloughs and lay-offs, but I hadn't read that before responding to your post.

        I'm less concerned about unemployment rates than I am about what happens to unemployed people. The WINZ system of these past decades is basically a punitive regime that's used as a stick to 'encourage' people to take whatever the market will offer.

        That cultural trash which has people believe they are less than they might be if they aren't holding down a job has to go.

        Maybe (and I'm being serious here) launch classes or some-such for people so they can begin to learn how to not have a job. (How many people you known who have become either deeply depressed or killed themselves in the early days of retirement?)

        Post Covid, and putting global warming front stage, there is a lot of nonsense shit we did before that we need to not do any more. And there's a steep learning curve for some around not doing some stuff and still feeling whole.

        But people won't be encouraged to value themselves by measures that don't include "job" in the mix, and physics will still be ignored in the rush to 'fix' the foundations of the shaky tower that's liberal capitalism.

        It's over.

        A virus from an anteater gifted us our best last chance to avoid wrack and ruin and we're about to squander it "because gross domestic product" and other such tosh that insists we rush up some scaffolding…any scaffolding…something. ~shrug~

  7. Reality 7

    Maybe this was some sort of satire. Or he had a knock to the head some time recently. Or has been in hospital and been cared for by public hospital staff and realised the benefit of the state having a role in our lives. Goodness, next he will be volunteering at a local food bank.

    • Gosman 7.1

      He hasn't changed his position on this one iota. This is what he has been saying for around 50 years.

      • left_forward 7.1.1

        Is this what you admire about him Gosman? a person who sticks to his guns despite the outcome being widespread suffering all around him.

        I suspect you will argue either 1) there wasn't any suffering (it was fake news) or 2) if there was, the good outweighed the bad under a skewed utilitarian justification (ignoring of course that the people who benefited from Rogerednomics, were not the same people who suffered from it).

        • Gosman

          Except NZ doesn't have widespread suffering. That is just overblown hype fprom leftists. If you want to see a place with widespread suffering visit Venezuela or Zimbabwe.

          • left_forward

            So, its fake news – I was curious which it would be… that’s all.

          • KJT

            You forget. Columbia, Honduras, Haiti, Appalachia, Detroit, Syria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mexico, Bolivia and other triumphs of gangster capitalism.

            Or we can visit Venezuela, which by your own definition is less "Socialist" than the USA. And a result of US economic warfare, not socialism.

            The people put out of work by your hero in the 80’s, suffered by any definition.

          • sumsuch

            You haven't lived in the poor suburbs nor understand the NZ Idea of carrying everyone along with us. We left the neediest people behind and made most of us desperate for a solid surface.

          • Tricledrown

            Gosman we are not living in Zimbabwe where the free market is in free fall or Venezuela where the socialist paradise is also in free fall.Both are military Dictatorships and not free democracies like NZ or Australia.We get to choose our govt fanatical f/wits like you Gosman get pushed into irrelevance because 99% of people want pragmatic reasonable solutions from pragmatic reasonable politicians.

            The 1% who advocate extremist unworkable ideologies have mental health issues ,They Stubbornly promote their fanatical ideas and refuse to see the other 99% point of view.psycophants in Silos.

            • KJT


              Venezuela's Government was democratically elected.

              By a higher proportion of the total country vote than Trump, I might add.

              • Tricledrown

                Yeah Venezuela has been run by murderous dictators ever since the US began meddling in South Americas policy.The US has been propping up fascist Dictators.Maduro is a left wing dictator .

                • KJT

                  Dictators are not elected by a majority at frequent intervals.

                  Guido is the Dictator the USA wants in Venezuela.

                  Whatever Maduro's faults, his Government has popular support and in no way fits the definition of a Dictatorship, except in the propaganda of those who want to remove the Chavista Government.

  8. Anne 8

    I am pleased that for the first time in nearly 40 years Roger Douglas is on the left of me on an issue. Welcome back to the collective comrade.

    He never completely left it mickeysavage.

    Back in the early to mid 1990s, I had a couple of conversations with Roger Douglas and formed the opinion that underneath the noise and bluster of his newly held radical ideas there still beat the socially conscious heart he inherited from his father, Norman Douglas.

    Someone I knew witnessed an argument he had with the chief bank-roller of the ACT Party, Alan Gibbs who accused him of… still being a socialist. Roger vehemently denied it but in truth I think it was always there albeit in a much weakened form.

    He was, and still is, an enigma of a man who I think tried to marry what came to be known as neo-liberalism with some of the old socialist ideals he grew up with. He came a right cropper.

    • Gosman 8.1

      Except you misrepresent the point of his policies because you don't like them ideologically. Gibbs himself agrees with Roger Douglas on the attacks on privilege. He makes that clear in his writings on the topic.

      • Dean Reynolds 8.1.1

        Gosman, the reason Social Democrats despise Douglas & his cronies is because when they inherited NZ's full employment economy, which had given us wide spread prosperity & opportunity over the previous 50 years, they deliberately set out to smash it. In doing this, they returned us to a pre-1935 society disfigured by entrenched poverty, homelessness & unemployment. This is Douglas's legacy & for him to suggest that he's 'concerned' about inequality, is absurd. Douglas & his neo liberal mates are unprincipled shits.

        • Gosman

          It was a "make work" full employment economy rather than one based on productivity. It was also not a full employment economy as unemployment had been steadily rising since the early 1970's.

          • Dean Reynolds

            Gosman, one of Douglas's many lies was that his neo lib policies would boost productivity by shrinking the role of the State & allowing 'free enterprise' to flower – except it didn't. After 35 years of mostly neo lib policies, our productivity is pathetically low, with idle resources a permanent economic feature.

            But here's the good bit – Covoid 19 will destroy neo liberalism. On 'Politik', Richard Harman, a respected political journalist, has an excellent article, 'Robertson's Revival Plan', stating that Robertson, to avoid the looming recession, will be implementing policies, 'that (will) challenge the past 35 years of market driven economic orthodoxy.' What's just up ahead, Gosman, is full blown Social Democracy, because nothing else will cope with the impending recession. Neo libs like you, who are still gibbering about tax cuts for the wealthy & shrinking the size of the State are yesterday's men on the wrong side of history – get used to it.

            • left_forward

              Yes, yes!

            • Ad

              There's no sign that Robertson's upcoming policies are going to make us any more productive than Douglas's were. At best they'll soak up the unemployed. If he thinks carpenters are going to turn into Kiwifruit pickers he's mistaken.

            • RedLogix

              After 35 years of mostly neo lib policies, our productivity is pathetically low, with idle resources a permanent economic feature.

              I find myself constantly irked by the lazy demonisation of 'neo-liberalism' as if Roger Douglas was the only thing that ever happened to this country.

              It's not obvious that New Zealand's economy might have performed all that differently under a different 'social democratic' setting either. The critical factors which determine productivity are geography, demography, security, continuity and governance.

              Without drilling into each of these factors in depth I'd make the case that while the relative competence of government does matter, and like everyone else here I too believe that if we'd spent the last 35 yrs with monetary and fiscal settings that had optimised for social cohesion, we would still have been hard up against the other constraints.

              It's like, yes I get it, neo-lib bad. We've been saying this for 35 yrs. And if as you claim COVID 19 really has smashed it, then well and good. Now lets stop fighting yesterday's battles and get on with a plan that takes account of the other even more important productivity issues NZ faces.

              A plan as Ad says.

              • Nic the NZer

                First define productivity. Productivity by and reasonable measure has grown in New Zealand right through the neo-liberal period, what has not consistently grown in line with productivity is wage rates.

                Also consider the neo-liberal govt policy of holding a pool of unemployed as an inflation discipline measure is wasting (at minimum) all the potential work outputs of this pool of workers. Its no wonder that aggregate (real) output is lowered so far when so much potential output is wasted.

                • Incognito

                  Productivity and profitability are almost synonymous to some people.

                  • Descendant Of Smith

                    The meat industry is a good example where productivity has lifted significantly but workers have not shared in the productivity gains. Some of those productivity gains have come from increased kiils per hour, some have come from operating multiple shifts, some have come from more effective breeding and science e.g. the weight of lambs is now about 20% greater than it used to be meaning less need to be killed for the same amount of meat, some has come from much improved technology and systems. The most gains in productivity most likely do not come from making people work harder and for less wages.

                    Our orchardists have won awards for being the most cost effective in the world with the lowest productions costs per apple grown yet pay rates have barely grown and in some cases are similar to the 80's.

                    Latetst OECD rankings of productivity based on GDP per hour worked have us above the OECD average and at 24th out of 47 countries.

                    Lifting productivity of course means less jobs and higher unemployment which then means suppressed wages unless one of three things happens:

                    1. Sales increase sufficiently requiring enough extra workers to compensate for not only those not needed here but also those who may lose their jobs at displaced competitors. If 100 people were needed to make 100 widgets across an industry and now only 80 are needed then 20 workers are no longer required. To keep 100 people employed then you need to make more widgets which you would only do if you could have an increased demand for them. The fact that you now have 20 surplus people means you don't have a skill shortage, workers know they can be replaced and so the incentive is to use that mechanism to suppress wages as quarter of your (now 80) workplace could be replaced tomorrow.
                    2. The gains in productivity means the workers can now have more leisure time as they only have to work 80% of the time to produce the required output. This was the idealised sci-fi solution as technology evolved. We would all have much more time. In fact what has happened is that many people now work longer hours/hold down multiple jobs while many other people have no work at all. Productivity gains have not been shared with workers through more time or improved incomes. That was part of the rationale behind the 40 hour week and time and a half/double time. You could pay more to the same workers or you could employ another if you had surplus work – it pushed you towards employing another.
                    3. New businesses and and services and products are developed that – and this is important – have a higher productivity outcome that the current average in New Zealand. This is important as if the new job created is less productive than the existingjobs then the country's overall productivity per person decreases. This is what Paul Callaghan was getting at in his Mapping Our Future speech in 2011 (below). New Zealand to be successful had to stop investing in low productivity industries like tourism. Fonterra is an example of how a state company making a range of quality products was stripped back to making pretty much the one product (milk powder) that was the most profitable based on production cost to sale price. (ignoring externalities like pollution).

                    Selling raw timber is another example where we are selling a low cost product. All jobs are not equal in a productivity sense and we really need to consider the types of jobs that are being created. Lifting the countries GDP though good job creation (which means better investment in skills, knowledge and plant) means we can afford to do more – less poverty, we can easily afford NZS and hospitals, etc.

                    A fourth factor that New Zealand has to deal with and that is the inherent racism in the labour market that results in poorer outcomes for Maori. Young Maori are the future in this country as our older European workforce declines and our young Maori workforce increases. This is a demographic change which is happening now and cannot be avoided.

                    The fifth is job distribution. We need to improve the distribution of jobs across the country so communities are not left behind – tourism as a low productivity job was never the answer. The other option of improved urbanisation creates it's own issues. Many high productive jobs eg software development, planning and analysis can be done from anywhere.

                    As a matter of interest the most highly productive country in the OECD is now Romania who were the lowest in 2001. This has significantly been achieved due to labour shortages as 3.5 million people have left the country and few have immigrated in. This is in contrast to New Zealand who was 15th in 2001 who have had quite an increase in migration and how now slipped to 24th. It shows that low waged migration isn't a solution. Keeping wages low i.e. workers not benefiting from productivity growth suppresses investment in better jobs and better plant.

                    And so that's the challenge before us – much of the low paid, low G.D.P work has just been demolished – how do we invest now in better jobs, better plant, in Maori, in sharing the spoils more evenly with workers through better pay and or more leisure so we all benefit moving forward?

                    • RedLogix

                      Excellent comment.

                      You touch on the big things that really matter.

                      Geography. We have some factors that hurt us like isolation, and lots of hills and mountains that make transport and infrastructure expensive. We have decent rainfall, yet our soils are not naturally fertile. Major earthquakes are a constant risk, yet the tectonic uplift that causes them also creates attractive landscapes that tourists enjoy.

                      Demography. This is indeed one of our big strong points; we are one of the few OECD nations that does NOT have a terminally aging demography. Yet fully 25% of people born in NZ do not live here anymore, many of our most productive people left, and took their growing families with them. And it turns out that replacing them with low-skilled migration has it's downsides.

                      You are also on point with Romania as an example, but don't drill into the reasons why.

                      In Romania’s case, the productivity boom was due in part to labour shortages created by millions of workers leaving the country in search of higher pay. The lack of new workers put pressure on companies to boost the productivity of existing labour.

                      As for security and continuity NZ enjoys a truly enviable position, our isolation and relative obscurity means we've not had to spend much on defense. And our stable form of govt gives us predictable, low risk, rule of law based governance. This is a critical strength we should not be taking for granted, and is one area I would actively add into the mix.

                    • Descendant Of Smith

                      "This has significantly been achieved due to labour shortages as 3.5 million people have left the country and few have immigrated in."

                      I sort of figured the why was pretty well known.

                • RedLogix

                  Productivity by and reasonable measure has grown in New Zealand right through the neo-liberal period, what has not consistently grown in line with productivity is wage rates.

                  Yes I agree NZ productivity has moved in that period, but relatively we have fallen in the pack. I forget when I first commented here on NZ's unusually low Wages Share of GDP compared to the rest of the OECD, but it's one structural factor that begs for more open discussion.

                  Our labour policy settings are one obvious place to start.

                  I'm ambivalent on the 'holding a pool of unemployed' aspect. It's true that combating wages inflation was the purpose it was touted for, but unemployment is a complex creature with many aspects. Not all of them bearing much direct relationship to an also complex labour market. And it entirely neglected to the question of asset price inflation. It was always a weak self-serving argument even on it's own terms.

                  But it has to be said that the productivity contribution of many of the chronically unemployed is scarcely missed.

                  • Nic the NZer

                    The underlying reason for supporting productivity focused reforms across the economy is to share the benefits of our higher productivity in the form of higher real wages. On the other hand many of the measures suggested to increase productivity appear to actively restrict worker shares. There is a more direct way to increase the worker share and so distribute the benefits of the on going productivity increases is to increase worker bargaining power and wages in a range of ways.

                    “But it has to be said that the productivity contribution of many of the chronically unemployed is scarcely missed.” – RedLogix is particularly foolish in this regard because its the output of the productivity you want to distribute, the productivity rate at which that output was produced is obviously beside the point here.

                    There is also the issue that productivity is actually a rather nebulous term. Even if we agreed that GDP per hour worked (the macro definition of productivity) should be increased that does not mean that the impacts of doing this look like productivity increases as we may recognize them at the micro level.

                    There is also the issue that mainstream economic theory completely suppresses the existence of power relations in influencing the wage/capital share. Even in Keynes the concept is that workers and capital are paid what they are worth (due to flexible wages and pricing) and so the most efficient outcome suggested completely ignores the power relations in play here. Its obvious to anybody who looks at the real world that this is nonsense and not fit as a model in which to understand policy choices. This is the underlying reason why various productivity reforms will have a negative influence on wages.

          • Descendant Of Smith

            Well yes it was because the public sector employed the people that the private sector could not – in particular those with disabilities, youth and given the racist nature of the private sector Maori and Pacific peoples – with a fair amount of Irish Catholics thrown in.

            You call it "make work" as if it is a bad thing.

            I call it welfare with a purpose.

            A monkey could have laid off all those people in the name of efficiency. It'd didn't take a modicum of intelligence. All it took was a reversion back to the conservative laissez faire business practices prior to the welfare state where workers were just a production unit.

            It's clearly been much better to have our vulnerable living in poverty and without homes than working for the government, learning skills, doing apprenticeships and so on.

            It's clearly been much better to shift the costs to employers such as holiday and sick pay and providing your own gear and vehicles onto workers – many of whom now are classed as self-employed and all the stress that goes with that.

            And the promised productivity improvements haven't flowed to the workers incomes – they flowed to the pockets of the elite through capital theft by salary. Millions and millions and millions of dollars that they have pocketed.

          • Tricledrown

            Gosman since 1984 NZ's productivity has stagnated

          • Tricledrown

            Gosman it's what young economies do look at China it subsidises vast swathes of its economy underming other economies who don't .

            So once the subsidized business has enough size and profit to monopolize the majority of manufacturing in that industry.They either by competitors or dump much cheaper product to destroy competition .

            That's China's modus operandi snuff out all competition every major trading block has a version of this.

            Your Freemarket ideology is just a myth that doesn't exist.

            Except for those countries who embraced it damaging vast swathes of manufacturing especially.while everyone else carried on with massive subsidies looking after their industries.

            • Gosman

              You don't really undertsand the point of international trade. If another country subsidises exports then thay are essentially helping consumers in another country.

              • Tricledrown

                Goosestepper the consumers in other countries are borrowing money to buy cheaper chinese subsidized goods because they don't have a decent job that pays well enough . This country ends up having a worse balance of payments.importing debt to pay for imports.NZ's private debt has continued to rise because of the lowest median income in the developed world. Like I said Chinese dumping highly subsidized products on world markets is destroying competition.

                Debt has risen exponentially as productivity continues to stagnate.selling houses and farms to each other for non taxed profits.

                New Zealand is still a commodity based economy. Most other areas are low wage expendable jobs.

                Value added is rare orminiscule

          • Tricledrown

            Gosman Since the Mid 1970's 1976 was the first time in 20 years unemployment hit NZ.because we abandoned the idea of QE because the big Vulture Banks didn't want competition.So Muldooon had to go cap in hand to borrow to keep the economy a float.Unlike Savage who was able to print mainly for infrastructure projects . State advances helped farmer to buy land ,families buy and build houses at a guaranteed 31/4 % giving certainy for their families.

            Prior to 1936 we had widespread poverty and masses of people living in filthy dirty freezing substandard homes.On a much larger scale than today.We could fix that problem now with printed money solong as it's going into areas of the economy that doesn't create inflation.

            The Banks in NZ print 33% of their loans without deposits backing those loans.

            Banks will be reluctant to loan now the govt will step.

        • mikesh

          I think the "writing had been on the wall" as far as NZ was concerned since Britain joined the EEC. Marshall realized this, which was why he was able to depose Holyoake and assume leadership of the National Party. One of the things that contributed to Kirk's win in 1972 was the fact that many who would normally have supported National feared that they would lose their jobs, if Marshall was elected and started dismantling border controls, and therefor voted Labour that year. Later, NZ's problems were exacerbated by the fuel price rises in the seventies. Douglas set about effecting a long delayed sorting out of these problems; though perhaps in a too doctrinaire fashion.

          • left_forward

            Yet he didn't sort anything out did he? …and lots of jobs were lost, the rich got richer, production dropped, and hardship for workers and people who depended on state support followed for over 35 years… and the doctrine became to be known as rogernomics locally, and neo liberalism internationally.

            • mikesh

              He didn't manage to get inflation under control, though no doubt the devaluation of the dollar didn't help.

          • Ad

            Kirk needed to die before his replacement Rowling and new Finance Minister Tizard could actually work on a decent plan to respond to the oil crisis brought on by Egypt and Syria attacking Israel in October 1973.

            It was Kirk's failure to form a plan with Rowling his Minister of Finance to respond to this crisis, that enabled Muldoon to sweep to power for 9 years.

            It was all too late.

            • Anne

              He died less than a year after that attack Ad and he was already a sick man but nobody knew it.

              Muldoon swept to power on the back of a massive superannuation bribe. It doesn't sound to me like you know all that much about the 1972 -75 Labour government. Correct me if I'm wrong but I'm picking you were a young child around that time.

              • Gosman

                A Superannuation bribe that most left wing people support to this day

                • Marcus Morris

                  You must be joking. As I have already claimed on this thread, Sir Michael Cullen campaigned for years on Super reform and was finally able to institute "Kiwi Saver" as a compromise. You right wingers would have obstructed any return to the original Labour scheme in the same way Muldoon did in such a dastardly way in 1975. Lange's government introduced the surcharge because they realised that Muldoon's scheme (eligible at 60 remember – the only time my Dad voted National in his life) was unsustainable and how the wealthy elderly objected-they established Grey Power to fight it – then Bolger asked us to "watch my lips" when he told us he would abolish it – yeah right. I suggest that you get hold of a copy of Hugh Templeton's book "All Honourable Men" and read his account of how the dishonourable bribe was put in place – a very dark moment in the National Party history. Oh, and can I remind you again of the Cullen Fund and its reasons for being.

                  • Gosman

                    The Labour superannuation scheme that was the brain child of one R Douglas do you mean?

                    • Marcus Morris

                      Of course – so why did he not revive it – I do wonder if you have used the link I referred to elsewhere which summarises Roger Douglas's contribution to NZ politics and the impact it had. Further, I am sure Hugh Templeton's book is available in any good library. Mind you, I understand that the Party faithful did not like it, with good reason.

          • Marcus Morris

            As one who reached the voting age (21 in those far of days) in 1962 I have taken an active interest in NZ politics ever since, (actually I had become politically aware some years before that) I lived through the Holyoake years of laissez faire government and it was the wool price slump of 1967 that shook us out of our lethargy. Holyoake hung to power for one more election after that and it was clear that by 1972 Norman Kirk, with his slogan "Time for a change" that really turned the tide. It was his presence that made the difference. "Gentleman" Jack Marshall couldn't match him and I don't think that the average voter had thought too much about the impact of Britain's joining the EEC. I think to claim otherwise is to downplay the huge impact of Kirk's energy and charisma on the electorate. We can only speculate on the consequences of his untimely death for the nation and there is no doubt that the country as a whole did go into mourning.

            • Gosman

              LOL! You think Holyoake's government was a laissez faire government.

              • Marcus Morris

                You are telling me he was a progressive. Pray elaborate. It was "Steady as she goes" or, as Harold McMillan would have said "You have never had it so good. The farmers were happy (until the wool crises) but, oh yes, he did drag us into the dreadful conflict in Vietnam (which we were told later he did with extreme reluctance and much soul searching) although he seemed pretty gung ho at the time. I suppose he had to be to sell it. Anyway, we have strayed a long way from Roger Douglas.

      • Anne 8.1.2

        Gibbs himself agrees with Roger Douglas on the attacks on privilege. He makes that clear in his writings on the topic.

        Ptttf…don't believe it. All his actions at the time and since suggest the opposite no matter what he might say in his writings.

        The argument I referred to was over Douglas' planned Social Welfare policy for the up-coming 1996 General Election. Don't recall the details, but Gibbs regarded it as "socialist dogma" and demanded Douglas change it. Since Gibbs was the chief financial donor, he got his way. The policy was radically altered.

        Sounds like Gibbs is partial to rewriting history.

    • weka 8.2

      the merging of neoliberalism with the left (or the capture of the left by neoliberalism) is the great damage that was done to NZ. Had it been a right wing govt we might have fared better at recovering. Maybe.

      • Anne 8.2.1

        Agree weka. Neoliberalism has been an almighty failure. Its easy to see that with the benefit of hindsight but at the time few knew what the hell was going on.

        As far as I could tell, Roger genuinely believed it would be beneficial to the country and there was at least one aspect of Rogernomics that did stand the test of time. I refer to GST of course. But as you succinctly put it @1.1:

        “He fucked up”.

        • Gosman

          You keep stating that yet not one significant element of the neoliberal reforms has been changed even with this government. There have been but mere tinkering around some of the policies.

          • Enough is Enough

            It annoys me no end that when National is in government, we on the left decry rogernomics and call for the end of it.

            Then when we win government, we forget about that, and continue to support the status quo economic system, simply because the 'left' is in power.

            • Gosman

              You are right on that front. Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased that is the reality but I am sure people like you get disillusioned after a while.

          • Marcus Morris

            I would have thought the re-nationalisation of the railway network might have counted as an example. I am sure that Sir Michael Cullen would have preferred to bring back Norman Kirk's Super scheme but he compromised to blunt right wing reaction. It is interesting to recall that in nine years National failed to contribute to the so called "Cullen" fund. Politics is the art of the possible and I think that the damage of years of neo-liberal economics is gradually being rolled back. I would love to see a return of the Ministry of Works!!.

            • Gosman

              The railways was sold by the Bolger government not by Douglas. It is still an SOE though which was a key part of the Rogernomic reforms

              • Marcus Morris

                I stand corrected. It was Telecom of course. Another tragedy.

              • Tricledrown

                Gosman it's what young economies do look at China it subsidises vast swathes of its economy underming other economies who don't .

                So once the subsidized business has enough size and profit to monopolize the majority of manufacturing in that industry.They either bu competitors or dump much cheaper product to destroy competition .

                That's China's modus operandi snuff out all competition every major trading block has a version of this.

                Your Freemarket ideology is just a myth that doesn't exist.

                Except for those countries who embraced it damaging vast swathes of manufacturing especially.while everyone else carried on with massive subsidies looking after their industries.

                • Gosman

                  Your understanding (or lack thereof) about economics is coming through in your recent comments. When a country subsidises exports it is essentially giving consumers in the foreign nation a discount. The other nation is better off as a result.

              • Tricledrown

                Railways was sold to Alan Gibbs who asset stripped NZR.then sold to Wisconsin rail who sold of the rest of the surplus land they couldn't make a profit after their asset strip, The govt bought it back after that it was sold to Toll Road they sold it back to the govt again they couldn't make a profit.Both Wisconson Rail and Toll wanted the same subsidy as Road Transport gets from Motorist's who subsidise Road Transport.Both Private operators couldn't compete on an uneven playing field.

          • KJT

            One of the more pernicious effects of the Neo-liberal "unfortunate experiment" inflicted on us, is that it is so hard, and costly, to reverse.

            Even sorting out the destruction of rail has cost hundreds of millions.

            Now, we are buying back Air New Zealand, yet again!

          • Descendant Of Smith

            Roger Douglas outlined his methodology for getting the changes through some years ago. He understood these processes well.

            He didn't do this stuff by himself – that's why it's been hard for Labour to move away from it.


            "Another important factor was the almost 100 per cent agreement between the members of the finance team of Caygill, Prebble and myself on what needed to be done and how best to achieve it. This proved to be the case on an ongoing basis during our first term in government.

            Add the active involvement of Lange and Palmer on some important issues (e.g. SOE legislation) also de Cleene (on tax) and you had a formidable team. The importance of the process cannot be underestimated – most issues had been thoroughly tested before they went to Cabinet and then Caucus.

            My practice of having members of my staff, including my Press Officer, Bevan Burgess, sit in on the decision making process also helped in that they understood not only what we were doing but why, including why we favoured one particular option over another. This helped immeasurably with presentational aspects of the policy changes.

            Undoubtedly Lange's ability to communicate with Labour voters was at times vital – his work at the summit also proved invaluable in setting the scene for my first budget in November 1984."

    • bill 8.3

      He never completely left it mickeysavage

      It seems that when a person believes the market is neutral, then the possibility to form a lot of really weird and ideas and run with truly bizarre notions becomes kind of overwhelming.

      There are plenty of very right wing types who I'd have no problem entering into political discussions with and who I have common ground with on a number of issues..

      But then that cognitive fail around the nature of the market sucks at their reasoning like a black hole and their thoughts become a scattered trail of contradictions and inconsistencies …

      • Gosman 8.3.1

        In your opinion.

        • bill

          lol Yes Gosman. "In my opinion" – not something I just pulled out of my arse, out of the air or from any magic hat. "In my opinion" – as formed from discussion and engagement with views and analysis of ideas.

    • Blazer 8.4

      It can be said that Roger Douglas made Gibbs one of NZ's richest men at the expense of the NZ taxpayer.

      Gibbs and Fay were allocated the 'kiwi share' 10% of Telecom when state assets were put on the block.

      For an outlay of around $NZ 50,000,his stake realised over $200 million.

      Not bad work if you can get it…and he certainly has lead the charge for more privatisation.

      The NZ rich list is full of beneficiaries of NZ state asset sales….at gift prices..including NZ's richest man.

      • Anne 8.4.1

        "It can be said that Roger Douglas made Gibbs one of NZ's richest men at the expense of the NZ taxpayer."

        Umm… wasn't that Richard Prebble? Yep, they rewarded him at a later date my making him leader of the ACT Party.

        The setting up of the ACT Party was essentially a set-up by NZ's richest men to be a suitable coalition party for National under MMP. Douglas and Quigley were pretty much the willing puppets.

        • Blazer

          If you wish to change 'Rogernomics' to 'Prebblenomics'….you may have a case.

          ACT is primarily a dumping ground for politicians past their use by date…Douglas,Prebble,Banks,.

          Lets face it they are unelectable without a leg up from the Natz.

  9. barry 9

    "The most radical proposal was to “identify, and eliminate, unnecessary spending, privilege, and waste” from the Government budget totaling $15 billion."

    This is a tired old trope. Every time it has been tried it has resulted in millions of money spent for no saving. If he was serious he would already have identified the waste.

  10. Tricledrown 10

    Roger Douglas speaks with forked tongue.The flat tax flat playing field is the ideology.

    Corporates paying tax to subsidise SME's as he is saying in his media release goes directly against the flat playing field.

    Douglas is just parroting National Party policy.

  11. Observer Tokoroa 11

    Bravo – but so pale and so little Sir Roger !

    " Former Labour Finance Minister Sir Roger Douglas says the Government should use the coronavirus crisis to attack economic privilege and reduce inequality. "

    Good words.

    The Wealthy always know they can walk allover the Common Man. It is the main aim in their putrid lives.

    But the struggling many, did not rise up against the Wealthy. Not then nor now. Grant Robertson will feed and barrack for the Wealthy. I wager.

  12. Wensleydale 12

    I don't still understand why anyone gives a toss about anything Roger Douglas violently expels from his diseased maw. He's a hideous old vampire who has caused untold hurt to this nation through his ideological fanaticism. He needs to shuffle quietly off into the night, never to be heard from again.

  13. roy cartland 13

    I tend to agree with Gos – he has been saying that "corporate welfare is an abomination" for ever, and so has the ACT party.

      • In Vino 13.1.1

        I clearly remember him explaining on the radio that we needed to develop a high-wage economy back in those early days… a low-wage economy would not be good…

        In practical terms, his government then did everything it could to destroy the power of Unions, and lower wages to save costs for the sacred share-holders.

        • weka

          that kind of double talk is evident in what he's saying this week too. Wanker.

        • Gosman

          What did Roger Douglas or the 4th Labour Government do to destroy the power of the Unions?

          • mikesh

            Exposing NZ industry to overseas competition by reducing border controls would have reduced bargaining power.

            • In Vino

              Not only that – some unions were depleted simply by the destruction of jobs involved with privatisation. eg, jobs in the Railways – guards' vans gone, etc. Unions were weakened by privatisation as much as legislation.

          • Tricledrown

            Douglas legacy creating a continuing increase in poverty since 1984.

            He threw out the baby with the bath water.

            Rather than a well planned managed organized change Douglas just willy nilly destroyed vast swathes of destruction of existing businesses.

            In Economics destroying industries on average it takes up to 30 years to bring that level of economic activity back.

            Other countries took a far more measured approach planning the future like a business would do.

            Keeping the cash flow while redirecting the economy.Douglas pulled the rug without notice .Farmers and manufacturers were decimated no chance to change just widespread carnage.

            • In Vino

              He didn't only throw out the baby with the bath water – he privatised the bath and sold that off as well.

        • Anne

          In practical terms, his government then did everything it could to destroy the power of Unions,…

          Muldoon started that ball rolling In Vino and iirc it was the 1990s government under the stewardship of Bolger/Shipley who did most of the finishing off. But certainly the Douglas and co. ideology wouldn’t have helped the state of the unions.

          • Tricledrown

            Muldoon didn't destroy Unions .Unions got way to bolshy and were the architect of their own downfall.Unions were belligerent and sabotaged the gains they made by pissing off to many average NZers.Overseas agitators were pushing ordinary kiwiworkers to shut down industries for a power grab rather than the benefit for workers.because of the backlash they were willing to give the far right wing of the Labour party a go at fixing the problem.But they went way to far and threw out the baby with the bath water.Labour MP's of the 1970's were largely second Generation of Labour party members moving from cloth cap shop floor factory workers laboures etc to highly educated professionals removed from the every day struggle to put food on the table.The result no empathy for the working class.

            • Descendant Of Smith

              Nah. If they were self-destructing then there was no need to make legislative change. The fact is is that the state dismantled them e.g. their ability to with-hold labour which can now only be done at the expiry of an agreement their ability to have wage agreements across a sector and so on.

              The forcing of people onto individual contracts which for most was not a choice – it was take it or no job.

              • KJT

                The really strong unions, the Doctors, Lawyers, Accountants, Teachers, Managers, Employers and Manufacturers Association, Chambers of Commerce, the PSA, are still there.

                Professionals know the value of Unions.

                Even while they stood by and let blue collar Unions be destroyed.

            • Anne

              A lot of that is bullshit Tricledrown. Sure, there were a few "bolshy" unions like the Cooks and Stewards Union and the Maritime Union but the vast bulk were reasonable in the way they operated.

              I was a member of the PSA (Public Service Association) which was far from belligerent yet Muldoon had an obsession with them and did his damndest to destroy them.

              Part of the problem was the media of the day who used to talk up the Unions are bad meme ad infinitum. And every time the Cooks and Stewards Union removed their workers on the Cook Strait Ferries – which was often – Muldoon would embark on a prolonged session of union bashing per se. A large section of the public went along with him because – like their modern day counterparts in Trump's America – they were too red-necked and ignorant to appreciate what he was doing… and that was using one bolshy union to bring all of them into disrepute.

              • KJT

                Like today, a lot of the bad publicity about Unions was BS.
                Trickledown. Your characterisation was mostly inaccurate.

                We never heard about the seaman's union offers to sail the ferries, without pay, for passengers and private cars, during strikes, and railways reply, " no rail, no sail" for example.

                Or the management deliberately provoking strikes, when project materials hadn't arrived, to cover up delays.

                A very few union members were their own worst enemies, I know, I used to have to work with some of them, and i’m still pissed off with them for giving the RW, ammunition, but on the whole they kept money local and in workers hands.

                A lot better than it haemorrhaging, to overseas shareholders, banks and overpaid excess management.

    • solkta 13.2

      "Just saying", as they say.

  14. Enough is Enough 14

    Roger is advocating for reduced government spending, and is against corporate welfare.

    That's the position he has held forever.

    • Tricledrown 14.1

      Lower govt spending when the market fails has failed in every economy it has been tried

      • Enough is Enough 14.1.1

        I agree with you.

        I'm just pointing that Roger today is the same Roger he has always been. He didn't say anything in his report that he hasn't said before.

      • Gosman 14.1.2

        Umm… the market hasn't failed here.

        • Descendant Of Smith

          Explain to me how the market was prepared for this pandemic – something that has been forecast to happen for a long time and has had quite a few early indicators e.g. SARS, Ebola, Swine flu and plenty of scientists warning about it.

          Seems to me if the "market" was prepared the government wouldn't have been needed to step in.

          • KJT

            Elsewhere I've talked about religious believers resistance to reality, and stubborn adherence to beliefs, even when conclusively proven wrong.

            Gosman, and Douglas, are prime examples.

            • Gosman

              Where has someone conclusively proven me wrong here?

              • weka

                Proved you wrong about what? You mostly write RW talking points that assert opinion as fact. Various commenters routinely address both the issues with your facts and your thinking, but it's pretty hard to conclusively prove something about faith one way or the other.

                • Gosman

                  I am quite willing to back my views up with facts. I don't think anything I've stated anyone has actually disproven or even substantially disagreed with (at least on the main points).

          • Gosman

            Ummm… public health is not a market issue in NZ.

        • Dean Reynolds

          Gosman, the market in NZ has failed in the following areas: Affordable housing, whether to rent or to buy; full employment; affordable tertiary education; affordable primary health care; secure, well paid career paths which reward skill, etc. Market- driven neoliberalism has been a failure, except for the parasites at the top of the food chain.

          In an earlier Covid related post you referred to 'people advocating for a full blown Socialist takeover of the economy' – you bet! If your market solutions had worked, there'd be no need for any change, but be assured, left wing change is coming because right wing policies represent market failure.

          • Gosman

            Umm… Most of the areas you listed are not free markets at all.

            Affordable housing – Market supply heavily constrained by regulation

            Full employment – Government mandated minimum wage rates

            Affordable tertiary education – Attendance heavily subsidised by the State

            Affordable primary health care – Subsidised by the State

            Can you name me a SINGLE country that satisfies all of your criteria? I am especially interested in your last one "secure, well paid career paths which reward skill". Please tell me a country on the planet that offers that.

            • Descendant Of Smith

              So by your definition it's a 100% theoretical then. No one in the world has had a completely market driven economy. There has always been some sort of regulation or external control. In your market driven world there would be no patents, no copyright, no regulation or health and safety. All that gone and somehow you think it would be successful.

              Anyway you didn't really address the point – the knowledge of a potential pandemic has been around for a long time. Which businesses were prepared for this – cash reserves, PPE, systems and processes to adapt to different delivery methods – all raring and ready to go. How many had it as part of their planning processes? Nothing the government has done has stopped any business to be not taken by surprise by this. That so many weren't is not a state failure.

              • Gosman

                If noone has had a completely market driven economy why are you going on about the failure of such policies? You are stating something has failed that hasn't even been tried.

                • Descendant Of Smith

                  Why are you suggesting that something would work that hasn't been tried yet?

                • Dean Reynolds

                  Gosman, the neo libs' favourite saying is, 'just because it doesn't work in practice, doesn't mean it won't work in theory.'

              • Gosman

                Ummm… the problem businesses are facing are not related to the pandemic. They are related to the governments RESPONSE to the pandemic. Businesses can't really plan effectively for the government shutting down the economy. I'm not sure if business disruption insurance even covers such an eventuality.

                • Drowsy M. Kram

                  Umm…” @1. "Ummm…" @8:24 pm.
                  "Umm…" @14.1.2. "Ummm…" @ "Umm…" @

                  Um… Little Words Can Signal Big Lies… You Know

                  Um and uh signal impending delays is speech. Liars need time to evaluate their answers to ensure their lie will be believed. Liars also need additional time to choose the right words to camouflage the truth. Truthful people do not need extra time to convey information. Truthful people narrate information in a smooth logical fashion. Increased um and uh usage indicates an increased cognitive load. Since liars need additional time to process information, they typically use um and uh more frequently. Um predicts a longer impending speech delay than does uh. Therefore, um may be a better predictor of deception than uh.

                  • RedLogix

                    It may be more complicated than that.

                    Stephen D. Cohen, of the Harvard Extension School, sufficiently shares his view on the subject when he states, "The simplest answer is that we have been conditioned to answer questions immediately from an early age." Cohen further points out that we use "um" most often at the beginning of an answer, and when we're transitioning to a new idea.

                    People use speech fillers for a variety of reasons. When we use it in the written form, where the need to manage 'cognitive load' is irrelevant, it may well be used to signal a polite pivot to an alternate view, in other words disagreement without confrontation.

                • Descendant Of Smith

                  I go back to this point.

                  Explain to me how the market was prepared for this pandemic – something that has been forecast to happen for a long time and has had quite a few early indicators e.g. SARS, Ebola, Swine flu and plenty of scientists warning about it.

                  Seems to me if the "market" was prepared the government wouldn't have been needed to step in.

                  Pandemic planning and the government response has been set out in writing for many years. So the information was freely available, the risk, likelihood and consequence were pretty well established. How could the market not understand and prepare for this?

                  The planning and been out and reviewed and updated for many years.


                  The market was pretty piss poor at preparing for it. The government it seems was pretty good.

                  • Gosman

                    The market WAS prepared for a pandemic. It would have reacted in a way that ensured goods and services were still being transacted as it did during the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1919-20. What it is not able to plan for is the State shutting down economic activity. Noone can effectively plan for that.

                    • Descendant Of Smith

                      Pfffft Those exact scenarios were discussed with business leaders ten years ago. I know people who were involved including a chemist shop owner friend of mine who was concerned about the drop in income due to his ability to only sell prescriptions etc and not shampoos and those items where he made more profit.

                      Not known my arse.

                      Ostriches with heads in the sand.

                    • Descendant Of Smith

                      Next you'll be telling me that people make rational decisions in the marketplace.

                    • left_forward

                      The market is not a person Gosman.

                    • Descendant Of Smith

                      Evidence suggests otherwise.


                      Donald Trump’s misguided hopes of reopening the economy by Easter, since dashed by the reality of a worsening health pandemic whose global epicenter is now the United States, set off a debate about trade-offs between public health and the economy.

                      The assumption that health and prosperity might be in conflict defies common sense for a reason: it’s not rational, or based on fact.

                      In fact, the opposite is true: There can be no thriving economic life until families and individuals feel comfortable returning to their normal daily lives, including in many cases their place of work, without undue fear of death and disease.

                      A new paper led by two Fed economists looks at the varying policy responses to the flu pandemic of 1918 for some insights into the current policies of physical distancing and forced retrenchment.

                      They find that it was the pandemic itself, not the policy responses, that hurt economic growth.

                      “Areas that were more severely affected by the 1918 Flu Pandemic saw a sharp and persistent decline in real economic activity,” wrote Fed board economist Sergio Correa, New York Fed researcher Stephan Luck and Emil Verner of the MIT Sloan School of Management, in a blog about their findings. Their conclusion:

                      “Cities that implemented early and extensive non-pharmaceutical interventions (like physical distancing and forbidding large gatherings) suffered no adverse economic effects over the medium term. On the contrary, cities that intervened earlier and more aggressively experienced a relative increase in real economic activity after the pandemic subsided.

                      Altogether, our findings suggest that pandemics can have substantial economic costs, and non-pharmaceutical interventions can lead to both better economic outcomes and lower mortality rates.”

                    • Tricledrown

                      Gosman Taiwan has done it without shutting are joking international trade was miniscual compared to today's economy NZ was more independent.Shut downs didn't happen because returning soldiers came in large numbers in confined ships ensuring a quick widespread pandemic across the world with much higher death rates.Comparing Oranges Valencia oranges with apples.Your outlandish rewriting of history is par for your pathetic propaganda

            • Dean Reynolds

              Gosman, I was contrasting the operation of Social Democracy, (SD) in NZ, (by both Labour & National Govts) from 1936 – 1984, with the 'free market deforms,' (FMD) of the Douglas, Richardson, Shipley, Key years since 1984. I don't know how much NZ history you actually understand, but let's begin a journey of discovery:

              Affordable housing- SD cured the post war housing shortage with ongoing State house building & 3% mortgages thru the State Advances Corporation, (with a capitalised family benefit as a deposit) for those who wished to buy. FMD sold off State houses, scrapped the family benefit & the 3% mortgages & gave us the leaky building disaster.

              Full employment- SD established full employment as a key Reserve Bank policy. FMD scrapped this & introduced permanent unemployment to reduce wages & working conditions, which gave us 29 dead miners at Pike River.

              Affordable Tertiary Education – SD made all forms of tertiary education free. As an Accounting student at Ak Polytech, all I paid was the Student Union fee. FMD scrapped this & introduced crippling student loans. When my daughter graduates at age 32 with a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology, she'll have to choose between buying a house or having children.

              Affordable Primary Health care – SD made Doctors' visits free as from 1941. Over the years, Doctors stated charging a co-payment which had risen to c $60 under FMD. Jacinda has now reduced this to $19.50 for CSC holders.

              Regarding 'secure well paid career paths which reward skill,' NZ from 1936 to 1984 was such a place. I know because I was in the work force from 1966 – 2017 & remember the contrast under SD &then FMD.

              How long have you actually lived in NZ? If you've been here since 1970, then you must have spent the last 50 years with your eyes closed.

        • roblogic

          capitalism fails every 7 to 10 years but somehow its proponents always deflect the blame to some exogenous cause.

          no, the free market always craps out because it’s an inherently unstable system that should be strongly regulated to prevent the inevitable crashes and irrationality

        • Nic181

          If the market has not failed, why do we have leaky, understaffed hospitals and hundreds, if not thousands homeless? You can keep your market, it is an ideological wet dream!

          • Gosman

            We don't have leaky hospitals. That is a myth perpetuated by the left.


            Regardless Public Hospitals are largely funded by the State. This is not a failure of the market but of the State bureaucracy. You are essentially stating the State is not very good at meeting the demand for health services. That funnily enough is what proponents of a more market based approach also argue.

            • KJT

              Right wing Governments running State provision down to the point of failure, to force privatisation, is one of the marks of Neo-liberal, "disaster capitalism".

              • Gosman

                There is no indication that ANY political party in NZ has advocated the privatisation of the health system. Again you are making up fact to suit your political viewpoints.

                • Tricledrown

                  Gosman you are right the National Party has privatised by Stealth. ie Vaccine Distrubution which has been a disaster.

                  Continually cutting Health funding when health costs are rising at 3 to more than 10 times inflation a doubling down on deep cuts to healthcare.

                  We now have shortages of 1,000's of Medical specialists 10's of thousands of nurses.

                  Private health care costs 3 times the cost to provide compared to public healthcare.

                  In the US to get full healthcare it effectively means you are paying 66% tax on the average wage.

                  [Fixed errors in user handle]

                  • Incognito

                    Please check and correct your user handle before you submit a comment, thanks.

                • KJT

                  Of course they wouldn't publicly State it.

                  In reality, National has privitised large swaths of our healthcare system.

                • left_forward

                  Umm…, you are either ignorant or trolling (or both) – either way you are unconvincing.

                  After the war, the medical association supported by RW politicians undermined the Labour Government's ambitions for a fully State funded primary health care service ( the forerunner of the NHS). The result – health inequities ever since.

                  It was a deliberate policy, first through Labour / Rogernomics and then National to introduce market forces into our public health services. It failed miserably, after the obvious was discovered – human beings are not the same as factory widgets. Incredibly, right wing politicians still believe in the commodification of health.

        • sumsuch

          Economics must come 2nd to the people's decisions. Douglas's ideas determined that for me. It's the rich or the people! 10 years to nothing more to do about climate change — do you trust the short-term powerful or … us.

    • Tricledrown 14.2

      Yet When Douglas was finance Minister the govt debt ballooned out 16 times more debt in 6 years of his economic management than Muldoon managed in 9 years.

  15. Tricledrown 15

    Gosman you are joking ,sycophants can't see the truth just keep repeating the failed mantra.

    Yet he is now saying successful businesses should be subsidising failing businesses.

  16. greywarshark 16

    Time for the repeat of the old tried and true fable of Sir Brian, a cautionary tale for his mate Sir Roger:

    Sir Brian woke one morning and he couldn’t find his battleaxe.
    He walked into the village in his second pair of boots.
    He had gone a hundred paces
    When the street was full of faces
    And the villagers were round him with ironical salutes.

    “You are Sir Brian? My, my.
    “You are Sir Brian? Dear, dear.
    “You are Sir Brian
    “As bold as a lion?
    “Delighted to meet you here!”

    Sir Brian went a journey and he found a lot of duckweed.
    They pulled him out and dried him and they blipped him on the head.
    They took him by the breeches
    And they hurled him into ditches
    And they pushed him under waterfalls and this is what they said:

    And you can read all about what they said and other relevant satire from AA Milne here.

  17. AB 17

    Be careful with anything Douglas says – words are very flexible signifiers in the mind of the Roger, and the economic tools he advocates tend to have the opposite outcome from what the words appear to recommend. I'd suspect that his attack on 'privilege' is probably a desire to make the currently middle class as insecure as the poor, and usher in a fully regressive feudalism.

  18. bwaghorn 18

    If ones boss was claiming the wage subsidy would the worker always be made aware of it?

      • Descendant Of Smith 18.1.1

        I'm pleased with the public transparency. It's getting good media and public scrutiny.

        Now if only we had a similar one for South Canterbury Finance payouts which should also be a matter of public record.

    • The Al1en 18.2

      Well my boss told me this week she only has two weeks of the wage subsidy money left as she's spent the rest.

      With seven or eight payments to come, the first day I don't get paid the right amount, I'll be making a call to the dob in line.

      • Bazza64 18.2.1

        Bloody hell ET, sounds like your boss used the wages subsidy to pay other bills, I would be definitely doing a dob in on that one.

        Can’t believe these funds aren’t put aside to cover the commitment to employees.

        • The Al1en

          Exactly what they said they'd done with the money – Paid off debt and ordered stock for the level 3 reopening. I wasn't shocked, I knew the temptation would be too much for her, I had a bet with a former employee how many weeks from applying for the subsidy until it was all gone.

          • Bazza64

            That is so dodgy – they can't use wage subsidy money to pay off debt. Yep dob them in & buy her a Donald Trump T-shirt.

          • Obtrectator

            You mean it wasn't ring-fenced? Unbelievable.

            • Tricledrown

              Obtrectator you can't ring fence a Capital injection when the economy needs a blood transfusion Now.

              Every company single trader has to sign a caveat that they use the money correctly and provide the correct information as they will be personally liable.

    • Craig H 18.3

      They are supposed to be asked for their permission to be included in the application.

  19. Tiger Mountain 19

    So Sir Rog is all wanked out eh…as I recall he was not content with seriously doing over the New Zealand working class, with his wrecking ball through provincial NZ and manufacturing and public infrastructure, he also stuck his beak into the former Soviet Union as a consultant to help ensure that the peoples huge assets were handed over to oligarchs and international Finance Capital.

    His comments should be taken way less seriously than Jim Bolger’s later life mild recants. I am with Sanctuary on this traitor.

  20. Marcus Morris 20

    Didn't he coin the phrase "trickle down". Yeah right.

  21. Sacha 21

    Unfortunately for arseholes like Douglas, most people pay way more attention to what he actually did than what he claims. Yesterday's man, full of wind.

  22. Tricledrown 22

    That would be called Tax Gosman which rich rarely pay

      • KJT 22.1.1

        So. The IRD was wrong when they said many of New Zealand's wealthiest people, pay tax as if their income was less than 70k. Eh?

        Note: As usual, they are only quoting, income tax, in your link. Anyone that doesn’t include taxes apart from income tax, in a net tax calculation, is lying.

        We already know that median to upper earning PAYE tax payers, pay the bulk of tax.

        • Gosman

          I'm just providing the actual data as opposed to uninformed opinion.

          • KJT

            By putting up an uninformed opinion from a "journalist" who cannot add.

          • Tricledrown

            Gosman cherry picked Data income tax makes up less than 1/3 of govt revenue.Poor people pay GST on just about all of their income.wealthy people only pay an average of 17% income tax even though the rate is 33%.Capital gain no tax.

            If all the Well off paid their tax the tax rate would be lower for everyone.Then Google ,Twitter,Facebook the big 4 Aussie banks paid no tax in NZ. Our taxes would be lower or we would have enough for our infrastructure and not have to borrow from the big banks.Freeing up more money to go into the economy.

            • The Lone Haranguer

              So how much $$ do I need to have to go from "tax paying peasant paying 33%" to "wealthy person paying only 17% average"? Im quite keen to change to the latter group, you know.

              Now if you are arguing that the "average wealthy person" is dropping below the 33% rate by virtue of their Auckland/Tauranga/Queenstown mansions increasing in value, but not being taxed via CGT, then I would argue that all houses which have increased in value have served their owners well – be they the average wealthy, or the average poor.

              The CGT should be on all property or on no property. Personally, I think it should be on ALL property, but it seems like a massive "blind spot" for all politicians here in New Zealand.

              With the possible exception of Sir Roger…..who was (and still is) driven by his doctrines rather than by looking for votes.

      • Descendant Of Smith 22.1.2


        "The IRD was wrong when they said many of New Zealand's wealthiest people, pay tax as if their income was less than 70k."

        These two things are not in conflict with each other. If B was true then it would reduce the number of people paying high taxes and ipso facto would make A true.

  23. Ad 23

    Every economist and their dog is going to push the commentariat one way and the other until this government in particular Minister Robertson forms a framework for people to put their collective ideas into.

    This government had better get that framework gong in short order.

    • Tricledrown 23.1

      The reserve Bank ie Adrian Orr is the best governor we have had for some time .He is doing and saying the right things.

      Thank God we don't have Dinosaur Don Brash in Charge .another blinkered ideologue.

    • Sanctuary 23.2

      The idea that the current iteration of the Labour party has vision to inform a framework is IMHO a forlorn hope.

      The modern Labour party is a collection of special interests and technocrats, the former firmly focused on horse trading for identity quotas in the PLP (and if you turn out to be a decent politician – win, other wise you get Deborah Russell) and the latter mainly interested in managing the economy strictly within the constraints of the status quo.

  24. Byd0nz 24

    A candidate to be buried face down beside muldoon

  25. pat 25

    Where would you place Roger (and ACT)?

  26. Marcus Morris 26

    In all the comment above no one has mentioned "Tomorrow's Schools" – remember, when schools were supposed to adopt a business model. If ever there was a case of fixing something that " ain't broke" that was it. We had a world renowned system which was based on cooperation and expert oversight. Much as I admired David Lange, and especially his ability to "best" that other arch socialist, Sir Robert Muldoon, he will always be remembered for his promotion of that awful piece of educational reform when schools were forced to compete, at huge cost, for clientele.

    • Grafton Gully 26.1

      Muldoon was on the way out when the fat doctors son with the glib tongue was put in the LP pulpit. He never faced serious opposition – except from his retinue – remember the lily livered "cup of tea" moment ?

    • Descendant Of Smith 26.2

      And DHB's competing instead of co-operating and power companies with their fake competition and SOE's with their fake "hands off by government" bullshit – explain to me again how Solid Energy buying Pike River Mine was a government hands off commercial decision? and having to pay dividends to government e.g. poor peoples rents going into the consolidated fund instead of building new stock and maintaining homes.

      So many of those changes were just smoke and mirrors and crap.

      • greywarshark 26.2.1

        DoS To himself he is like Jesus. Jesus in the bible story took a small number of loaves and fish, and caused them to divinely replicate to enable each person to have a share. (The moral is that there should always be something for each person through sharing and caring.)

        NZ's small economy could be expanded Douglas and Treasury thought, and set out to do this using money and finance, the magical riches, and then he looked for his disciples and masters and set aside most of the money for them. For the masses they got watery fish soup and bits of bread, which even if it might have gone mouldy, had to be accepted as their share.

        And he learned all this from the USA and pockets of wealth-worship in the world, but mostly from the USA that god-believing, god-bothering location in the world that practices the opposite of Jesus' message. However it erects such proud buildings, religious rhetoric and imaginative outpourings of public relations, that people are entirely diverted from the truth of the simple but profound Christian beliefs.

  27. Shove him in drag and give him a handbag and you pass him off as Maggie

  28. Nic181 28

    what a complete load of bollocks!! Here is the original architect of economic privilege for a few and inequality for the many, trying to sound as if he cares! X@&:(;-!?

  29. Marcus Morris 29

    Probably too late for this but suggest that all those who have contributed to the above thread might like to visit for an excellent overview of the political career of Roger Douglas, the why and wherefore of his policies, and their legacies. It does not make pretty reading. If he bothers to read it I will be interested to read Gosman's take on it.

    • I Feel Love 29.1

      Especially the "immediate results" tab, unemployment and suicide, negative growth, predator financiers, good times for the one percenters.

    • roblogic 29.2

      Roger and his ACT buddies tore the labour party apart, wrecked unions, sold out NZ for their far right Randian ideology. A few dodgy scumbags went from fairly rich to obscenely wealthy. As a result, Labour has been widely hated and distrusted for the last 35 years.

      • Max Thomas 29.2.1

        Except by 21st century folk who can't read history, or are 'professionals' who view ordinary workers with disdain. Yes Labour deserted ordinary workers in 1984 but somehow covers that up with 'fairy dust'/'free' shit to retain a voter base.

        • roblogic

          They threw thousands of people who had jobs with dignity (in rail, forestry, roading, etc) onto the dole, sold off our public assets, and ignored the cries of the new underclass they had just created. A betrayal of the workers whom they were elected to serve.

  30. Sacha 30

    Property sector cheerleader promotes Rogernomics as the answer to current woes (and keeps a straight face):

  31. Barfly 31

    "I am pleased that for the first time in nearly 40 years Roger Douglas is on the left of me on an issue. Welcome back to the collective comrade."

    Ah no

    "Douglas proposes that the employee should be furloughed and the payment made directly to them."

    $585.80 (gross) per week for full-time employees will likely be much less than 80% of their full-time wage.

    • Gosman 31.1

      Why is that a problem?

      • Incognito 31.1.1

        That equates to working a 31-hour week at the minimum hourly rate. That is the problem and only a wholly ignorant person would ask such a question.

      • Tricledrown 31.1.2

        Douglas only venture into private enterprise pig farming he went bankrupt .Under today's animal welfare laws he would have been prosecuted for neglecting animals and most likely spent time behind bars given the number of animals that had to be destroyed.

        Animal Farm is a good example of how libertarianism plays out.

        Don Brash bankrupted the kiwifruit growers organisation.

        John Key BT funds bankrupt,Elders financebankrupt,Merrill Lynch bankrupt.ANZ the Australian banking enquiry found out ANZ corrupt practices having to pay more than $ 1 billion in fines.

        The 4 major Aussie Banks are not in as good order as they claim and will need bailing out if unemployment exceeds 13% in Australia.The big 4 have been printing to much money just like Merrill Lynch etc.Adrian Orr our reserve bank Gov was trying to make the big 4 keep double the reserve capital they have now to save us taxpayers having to bail them out.The Aussie govt have been to scared to reign in the big 4 printing of loans without reserves.

  32. millsy 32

    The article says that he is "worried about superannuation".

    Worried means that is is worried that too many people arent working till they drop, as such the case in the USA, and that slashing the level of super to the same as the dole, as well as raising the age, will make people think twice about retirement.

    The agenda, plain as day, is to reduce the living standards of the bottom 50% of the population. Wage cuts, reduction of avaliblilty of social services, etc

  33. Ken 33

    Is this treacherous rat pretending to care?

  34. sumsuch 34

    Freemarket v. socialism above is irrelevant in terms of crisis govt re covid and climate change. Love the bullshit about the freemarket in light of finite resources and climate change. War govt is required in these crises. And that is socialism if you haven't noticed. Always thought neoliberalism was cooking the books. Or, Gosman, putting off the bills to the far off for the present pleasure. Which I know well as a gray-ethic borderer. Roger will go to the heaven for the deluded. That's all that can be offered.

    • Tricledrown 34.1

      Gosman The free market needs bailing out every 8 to 10 years.

      Large Trading Blocks protect their economies at the expense of small trading countries.

      Their is no such thing as a level playing field and it will never eventuate .

      • Gosman 34.1.1

        You REALLY don't understand how trade works.

        You probably think the point of foreign trade is to increase export receipts.

        • left_forward

          I admire your stamina with your incessant sniping against impossible odds – but you are showing signs of tiredness now with this little outburst – time for a nap?

        • Tricledrown

          Goosestepper who are you addressing.China has done exactly what you are saying getting as big a slice of the export dollar it can get its mits on.

          Why once you destroy competition you become the price maker instead of taker.

          So countries who stick with the pure fair flat playing field get screwed

          • Gosman

            Except that isn't how it has worked out. Show me a country that jacks up the price of a product AFTER they have spent billions to create an export market for it?

  35. Max Thomas 35

    Consider the rot that contributed to finishing off union power was social policy like no-fault divorce and 'daddy state' benefits with a feminist movement co-opted by neo-liberalism. The aim was to weaken men both in the home and on the paid work front. What was wanted was a more compliant work force and the work place to be moved from full-time to part-time, contract and casual. The 'home front war'/disintegration of family/loss of cohesive community also meant little notice was taken of the steady increase to the export of 'our' work.

    Consider that this 'left' ideology is still to the fore when globalists like Key failed to bother setting up a massive apprenticeship scheme in the wake of the 2011 Chch earthquake because neither neo-liberalism or the 'left' wants a strong potentially independent male based worker block arising again.

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