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.