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Slack on Dagg and English

Written By: - Date published: 10:35 am, April 18th, 2017 - 21 comments
Categories: bill english, history, humour - Tags: , , ,

There was (among the usual dross) some great stuff in the papers over the Easter break. Here’s David Slack with some observations on Fred Dagg, NZ, and Bill English:

Fred Dagg left and took the old ways with him

Two things seemed to happen on TV in the 1970s at more or less the same time: there was John Clarke being brilliant, and there was the rise of Robert Muldoon. It was a time of middle-aged white men deciding what was good for all of us. They would look at the rest of us in a way that said we amused them and one day we might understand, now be quiet.

But here was Clarke with something new, something you wouldn’t hear on the radio or the TV or at a civic ceremony, but would actually hear wherever you went. Tom Scott says he and Clarke would swap lines they heard in shearing gangs and at the freezing works, and they would be on the floor laughing and then they would put it into their writing, and it was funny, and knowing, and genius.

It was the sound of us, it was also the sound of irreverence. It saw through the foolishness of people who knew what was best for us. You might be the boss, you might also be an idiot.

Bill English has that look. You can talk to him and it can feel as though he’s listening, but when you look back, you remember an amused grin fixed to his face.

Some people call him a policy genius. His big idea is “social investment”: you treat social welfare spending as an investment. That is: you ask how you can get a better return on it. You crunch the data, and work out which people need mending, like they’re Uber drivers ready to pop up on your app so you can give them a good sorting out.

Good old neo-liberalism! Always finding a simple solution to a complex problem. Pity there’s no such thing.

This is essentially how our economy works – Fonterra earns a huge wodge of money that it spends with big law firms and accountants and consultants and bankers. All those people spend a fortune on their beautiful homes in St Mary’s Bay and Parnell, and all the tradespeople and middlemen charge them top dollar and silly money. They all go out to dinner and spray loads of cash around and we call this a buoyant economy.

Next thing you know, you want to do some renovations and you call a guy for a quote and he arrives in a brand new Touareg and he tells you it’ll be $80K to renovate a couple of bathrooms.

The whole thing’s a lolly scramble. Everyone is borrowing enough money to pay for 80k bathrooms and million-dollar brick and tile houses, because we’ve all pretended that makes sense. It looks like foolishness.

But no doubt the Government knows best.

No doubt.

21 comments on “Slack on Dagg and English”

  1. Incognito 1

    Expect a major ‘social investment’ hijack when National replaces the school decile system with a system based on Predictive Risk Modelling Index AKA Future Risk Index.

    • bearded git 1.1

      That policy is all about stopping kids in poor schools getting more $$….its one of the few redistributive policies that has survived….and so under this lot it must go

  2. red-blooded 2

    Yeah, I’m not a big fan of the current decile system – it certainly has faults and limitation – but I have to admit I’m frightened by the spectre of whatever the Nat-appointed working party is going to reveal as their cunning new plan.

    We do still have comedians providing commentary on politics (I’m thinking of the one-minute segment on Q+A, for example), but it’s very much “once-over-lightly” and doesn’t do much to provoke thought. John Clarke did some wonderful work in Australia – I think he really grew as a comedian and commentator, but he did leave a gap here in NZ. For a while we had shows like “A Week of It”, but now the best we get is “7 Days”, and that’s usually drivel. Sigh…

    • Incognito 2.1

      The decile system is a dog, true, but paradoxically its demise might be worse.

      When comedians are the last or only barrier of defence we’re in big trouble; it’s called “symptomatic healing” by philosopher Slavoj Žižek.

      https://qz.com/896463/is-it-ok-to-punch-a-nazi-philosopher-slavoj-zizek-talks-richard-spencer-nazis-and-donald-trump/

      (HT to greywarshark /open-mike-16042017/#comment-1320966)

      • simbit 2.1.1

        The correlation with the efflorescense of Clarke’s talent is a rise in neoliberalism (more material?). He and others (Jon Stewart et al.) are like a safety valve for defeated liberals.

        As a footnote, the Trevs’ would have absolutely snotted any Nazis.

    • mpledger 2.2

      The decile system was at least reasonably transparent.

      The future risk index stuff isn’t and it’s easy to tweak. For example, it could be that kids with family incomes less than $50,000 generate more money for the school but then the govt can change it to $40,000 or $30,000, etc.

      Each year the funding will change just as the kids with the “wrong” characteristics start school or move to high school/intermediate. But in high turnover schools, the funding will be changing all the time as kids come and go. I remember watching a tv snippet and a teacher saying something like by the end of the year half her class was different from the start of the year.

      • I think the criticism of the decile system as too simplistic is valid. I also (ironically) think that another issue was that it was too transparent. Any well-intentioned method of catchup funding can become a PR millstone around a school’s neck if it’s publicly available. There’s a good argument that some level of opaqueness to catchup funding is necessary to avoid the league tables problem.

        I think part of the solution is absolutely to incorporate more data into the metric and to make it the most common way for a teacher to get promoted to be by serving at a school where students face additional challenges. You would also need to let the data get reasonably out of date though, so that school funding whiplash doesn’t happen as people try to adjust to get their kids into the best-funded schools.

        I went to an underfunded Decile 10 school for my secondary education, as almost all the wealthy donors sent their kids to other, better Decile 10 schools, so the few households who could afford generous donations only sent their kids there because they valued public education. We got plenty of “problem kids” there because the decile system didn’t actually address overall risk factors. (I met more kids from wealthy backgrounds in intermediate than I did in college, too, so the decile system probably makes a lot more sense in terms of primary education than it does in terms of secondary schools)

        It’s not just a bad system because it stigmatised low-decile schools, it also selectively underfunded schools that underperformed relative to their zoning, and didn’t differentiate between private and public schools sufficiently, disadvantaging public education in wealthy areas, which probably held back a lot of parents from enrolling their priveleged kids in an environment that would have taught them some very valuable life skills, like say, humility and resourcefulness.

        That said, I don’t want National naively running school funding based purely on Big Data. Big Data is a starting point that should be used to tell us what to research next, and if we’re replacing school deciles, it should be based on well-founded research, so that we get it much closer to right this time. If a secondary school student can articulate the best arguments against educational policy, it’s definitely poorly thought out. Honestly, I hope any changing to school funding get held up until the government changes.

  3. ropata 3

    McPhail and Gadsby were peers of John Clarke and their satire was right up there, with a more direct political angle. McPhail’s iconic Muldoon impressions remain my strongest memory of his exploits in the late 70s/early 80s

    • Anne 3.1

      McPhail, Gadsby, Scott and Clarke have never been replaced…

      I blame it on neo liberalism. It’s taken the humour out of the people and left them with nothing but baubles, bangles and beads.

      • Incognito 3.1.1

        🙂

        Don’t forget the bubbly.

      • bearded git 3.1.2

        I was listening to Dagg’s real estate agent diatribe on rnz while driving into Dunedin yesterday arvo and cracking up so much that I was a menace to other traffic

        • Anne 3.1.2.1

          This will have you choking for air:

          Fred Dagg on Country Calendar

          • greywarshark 3.1.2.1.1

            Anne
            Wonderful. But that throwing himself across the porch wall in a light hearted manner that is misjudged and shows him falling on his shoulder, that’s very funny and part of his role of the enthusiastic man on the land. First I laughed and then I thought that looks like devoting yourself to your art beyond reason. Did he really do this, which could have broken his arm, or was it camera trickery somehow?

      • Gosman 3.1.3

        McPhail , Gadsby , Clarke and to a lesser extent Scott were screwed over by the State run media.

        • Skeptic 3.1.3.1

          And lets not forget Murray Ball – his cartoons were the icing on the cake – so many great memories of all these characters. Anyone else got the Fred Dagg LP?

      • greywarshark 3.1.4

        Funny that, funny strange that is. Baubles, bangles and beads by the truckload under neo liberalism hypnotising us with pretty things waved back and forward in front of women’s eyes, and also truckloads of fairly well made clothes, and fashion shoes mesmerising the free feminists. Or that should be free. It’s like the cliche of western colonisers bringing their manufactures to the natives. Now we are part of the natives, and the visitors from overseas want our farmland and houses, deja vu all over again wot!

        • SpaceMonkey 3.1.4.1

          Yup… NZ has been undergoing a second wave of colonisation by foreign corporations. Non-Maori NZ is going to understand what it felt like for Maori to be robbed the way they were. We will all be poorer for it in the long run.

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    Some people call him a policy genius. His big idea is “social investment”: you treat social welfare spending as an investment.

    Otherwise known as Social Engineering.

    • ropata 4.1

      Nanny State! Big Brother! Social Engineering! Attack on Democracy!

      Waiting for the MSM campaign against Blinglish in 3…2…1…

    • ropata 4.2

      More context:

      Some people call him a policy genius. His big idea is “social investment”: you treat social welfare spending as an investment. That is: you ask how you can get a better return on it. You crunch the data, and work out which people need mending, like they’re Uber drivers ready to pop up on your app so you can give them a good sorting out.

      If the Nats were honest about being data driven they wouldn’t be janking the stats for unemployment, crime, and homelessness. They have all the goddamn evidence in the world that state intervention is necessary from the earliest stage of life to help at risk kids, that proper healthcare actually advances an economy, that inequality is a huge drag on the economy and a waste of human potential, that free education is the best possible “social investment”.

      RWNJ’s don’t see public services as an investment, Blinglish is a penny pinching Scrooge who only sees human beings as a cost to be minimised on his goddamn spreadsheets.

  5. peterlepaysan 5

    bill english is and always will be a treasury policy wonker.
    Nothing matters except the Treasury dogma. Business knows best, give business all the advantages ( and national party coffers).
    english is a cold blooded ruthless economist from the same family as gordon gecko.
    Humans only exist to “prove” his economics.
    He did have enough wit to belatedly recognise greed can be a “bad look” but not a wrong (that might be sinful). I refer to residential /accommodation allowances in double dipton.
    Actually Dipton is a bloody good name for his electorate.

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