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Social Democratic Economy: Part 2

Written By: - Date published: 4:25 pm, September 27th, 2012 - 30 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, Economy - Tags:

When I first started studying economics at Uni the tutor told us that:-

Economics is the study of the distribution of scarce resources

This seems reasonable but then we started studying the distribution of money and how to make a profit which didn’t. Resources are limited and proper distribution is needed but the drive for profit has left us with massive inequality, overuse of resources and Anthropogenic Climate Change that has us heading for the first (and possibly the last) Anthropogenic Extinction Level Event. The only possible conclusion from these facts is that the present socio-economic system that we use, namely Free Market Capitalism, is a failure.

When thinking about the economy and how it works I realised I had to go back to basics as almost everything that’s taught about economics in the mainstream theories is bollocks – most of its assumptions aren’t even close to being realistic. This led me to two questions:

  1. What is the economy and
  2. What is the purpose of the economy

The Economy

Absolute Resource Base: The resources the nation has in it’s borders and EEZ such as minerals, water, fish, land etc. These numbers will change over time as better methods of counting are developed and resources are used.

Renewable Resource Base: The resources that the nation has in it’s borders that it can use indefinitely. This is the amount that can be used year on year as it’s replaced by the natural cycles of the ecosystem (i.e. limited to what the environment can clean up, the limited amount of water available etc), what can be recycled and electrical power through renewable generation. ATM we have no idea as to what this is in respect to NZ but we know that, in many places, we’ve gone beyond it as the pollution of our streams, rivers and lakes by farm run-off proves.

These are broad categories and each would probably break down into dozens of individual items which I’m not even speculating about ATM. The most important consideration here is the Renewable Resource Base as it’s limited within any time period (the most likely measure would be a year). Contrary to what economists have been telling us for the last couple of centuries the economy really is a Zero Sum Game as what we are able to do is dependent upon the resources available to us and what’s available to us is the Renewable Resource Base. Going beyond that will, inevitably, force a collapse upon society when resources run dry.

Now, what we can do with the Renewable Resource Base is the economy and can change due to increased knowledge and better processes. A good example of such a change would be changing the cold houses that make up most of NZ housing stock by improving their insulation or replacing them with houses that meet or exceed the Passive House Standard. Such a change would, effectively, increase the amount of power available to us without having to build more generating capacity by decreasing the amount of power used and thus allow us to do other things with that power such as power trains or run more factories. It is this point that seems to confuse economists and others into thinking that the economy isn’t a Zero Sum Game but this is wrong as we’re still limited to the Renewable Resource Base as such efficiency gains aren’t infinite, at some point increasing efficiency costs more than the resources saved from that efficiency.

These limits are an inescapable physical constraint.

Purpose

The purpose of a societies economy is simply to provide everyone within that society with the resources necessary to maintain a good living standard, to engage with their society and with rich and rewarding work. Simply stated, not so simple to address in what it actually means. Here’s some thoughts on the matter:

Living Standard:

  1. A healthy place to live in, a home
  2. A healthy and safe environment to live in
  3. A healthy and active community with the resources to be active within that community
  4. Healthy and diverse food on the table
  5. A fast and reliable internet connection
  6. At least one computer in the house and possibly as many as one per individual (In fact I like the idea of giving school kids in year 5 a pad)
  7. Plenty of leisure time

Some will question the need for the internet and PC but it is this technology that will help people to have more say in the governance of their community and country and help to connect with other people of like mind so I see both as essential. This is a minimum standard and so even those who aren’t working (preferably nobody) will have these available to them.

Work:

Work is the hardest one to define. It really needs to be of interest to the person doing it else they tend not to engage with what they’re doing and so aren’t creative within that sphere. Some will complain What if they just want to be surfers? But that brings up two points:

  1. Apparently some people make a good living surfing because a lot more people like to watch thus meaning that surfing is, as a matter of fact, of value to society and
  2. There’s the story of the unemployed surfer out at Piha (IIRC, It was in the Western Leader in the early 1990s, possibly before Ruth Richardson’s MOAB) who couldn’t afford a new board and so he made his own – and then got orders to make more and became a successful board maker

The story of the board maker is the story of why the basic income of people needs to be higher than what is presently paid on the unemployment benefit. ATM, the unemployment benefit is slightly less than enough to support a subsistence level living standard actively preventing the entrepreneurialism that we see in the board maker -€“ the entrepreneurialism that we want to encourage and that can only come about if people have access to resources.

Some things though, need more than a single person and the resources that that person has to create and so we also need to encourage and broaden peoples networking which is another use for having a PC and internet connection in every house that will allow people of the same interests to connect with each other and thus take a cooperative and creative approach to researching and producing what they want to produce.

The first part of the economy’s purpose provides enough so that people are free to choose the work that they want to do. That they are not forced through poverty and deprivation to do that which they don’t want to do. It also provides them with enough, either individually or as a cooperative, so that they can create their own work.

Draco T Bastard

Also see Part One

30 comments on “Social Democratic Economy: Part 2”

  1. karol 1

    I’m not very knowledgeable about economics, especially when it gets down to finer details.

    But it has always seemed to me that economic policies should first serve the kind of society you want, and not start with “wealth creation” and “growth”. So, I do like this principle:

    The purpose of a societies economy is simply to provide everyone within that society with the resources necessary to maintain a good living standard, to engage with their society and with rich and rewarding work.

    What about some resources being community based, rather than necessarily household based? e.g. computers and internet connections?

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      What about some resources being community based, rather than necessarily household based?

      I suspect it would be a combination of the two. Larger capital expenditure such as research facilities/libraries would be community based.

  2. johnm 2

    Neoliberalism completely ignores, hoping it will disappear, a concept that’ll die in the outer cold, the public taught that it doesn’t exist, the fundamental basis of happy and sustainable societies, The Common Good. Rather it clings to competition which leads to an ever increasing Income and Wealth disparity, exploiting the environment mercilessly along the way, which leads to social instability and collapse eventually. This is now happening where ordinary people are having their living standards destroyed by the financial greed machine determined to extract as much fiat interest garbage out of the people it can get away with. But The Common Good hasn’t really gone away and if we want a decent future instead of neofeudalism we must enshrine this economic, social, political concept again! Or Else! 🙂

  3. Bored 3

    Bloody hell Draco, where to start? I love the quote “Economics is the study of the distribution of scarce resources”….on which basis you have a paragraph saying that over use of resources is heading us towards an anthropogenic extinction event. You then go to condemn free market capitalism as a failure.

    Before the RWNJs do it for us I will point out that burning oil, over using resources etc is our modern industrial equivalent of Easter Island tree burning, we would do it whatever the industrial system was (socialist or capitalist). The Aral Sea springs to mind….Soviet factories were fueled by fossil fuels.

    With the free market….yes it is very good at doing the scarce resource use, and excellent at distributing it to those who claim ownership. It works very well for those few people. It does not fail them. Just fails the rest of us……..

    All good otherwise except I am not so sure the internet and computing have as long a shelf life as others assume.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      You then go to condemn free market capitalism as a failure.

      Of course I do as free-market capitalism is the major cause of the over use of resources.

      Before the RWNJs do it for us I will point out that burning oil, over using resources etc is our modern industrial equivalent of Easter Island tree burning, we would do it whatever the industrial system was (socialist or capitalist).

      I don’t think so if we knew the limits of the resource base available to us which is why I defined the Renewable Resource Base. One we know the physical limits that the we need to live within then we can make rational decisions about how to use those resources. Both capitalism and nineteenth century socialism have always looked to more resource us to make society richer which really is just a euphemism for having more money which always seems to end up in the hands of the few.

      The Aral Sea springs to mind….Soviet factories were fueled by fossil fuels.

      The Aral Sea is a great example of doing something without knowing its full effect. In fact, I’d say that it’s an example along the same lines as anthropogenic climate change. Factories don’t have to be fuelled by fossil fuels – renewable power generation works just fine.

      All good otherwise except I am not so sure the internet and computing have as long a shelf life as others assume.

      They’ll continue as long as we have the resources and skills to make them and they’re not about to disappear.

      • Bored 3.1.1

        I think we are on the same wavelength Draco, I really wanted to make the point that resources being used unwisely is as much part of the human condition as a result of a particular “ism”. You quite rightly point out that once the problem is known you should stop: which as you say neo libs are incapable of doing.

        I think the interesting (and brave) thing about what you are trying to write is that you are doing it, well done. I myself are unsure that social democracy will get us there but for want of a better alternative (and in the face of worse scenarios) I will come along for the ride.

        On the longer term general availability of computers and internet I want to be wrong: I will be disappointed and deeply distressed when I am right,

        • Jokerman 3.1.1.1

          bet ya not “bored” now?

          🙂

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.2

          Bored:

          On the longer term general availability of computers and internet I want to be wrong: I will be disappointed and deeply distressed when I am right,

          There is going to be a huge trade in fixing up old computers and canabalising others for parts, in the future.

          The internet will be around in some form for a very long time I believe, but the massive amounts of bandwidth and cloud storage many are used to or are expecting may not be.

          And remember, the internet is quite a different thing from the world wide web.

          The internet can run quite happily on much less resources and energy input than is needed today to support the web.

          Can’t wait for John Michael Greer to come back from holiday haha.

      • karol 3.1.2

        They’ll continue as long as we have the resources and skills to make them and they’re not about to disappear.

        I think the future will involve some mix of old, low tech, low-resourced technologies mixed with digital capabilities and recycled waste. Kind of what I was thinking of with my latest gravatar. First I was looking at images of steam punk keyboards. But they are too dark, fiddly and indistinct for a small avatar. And steam technology isn’t great for the environment and resource base.

        In the end I just opted for a clear image of an old fashioned typewriter – back to the future. New technologies meet old tech.

    • Lou 3.2

      If we collectively ‘let go’ of our consumerist ideals forced on us by higher powers and stopped feeling the pressure to own our own overinflated houses and cars, we could see clearer and possible shift our voting power to a shared (MMP) govt that was more thoughtful about environmental and people issues before money making issues – eventually we’d all use less resources.

  4. BloodyOrphan 4

    Why haven’t we regulated ?
    (I’m fairly sure it’s cause they are being told not too, and old spineless can’t say no)

  5. Richard 5

    This treatise on how to construct a better society is such a laugh, keep it coming!

    P.s. your argument for higher benefits on the basis that this would free up capital for entrepreneurship is possibly the best joke I’ve heard all day. 1) It disincentivses entrepreneurship by decreasing the relative benefit of working for a living 2) It ignores the fact that in the majority of circumstances an entrepreneur with a good idea could simply needs to convince someone to fund them – if you make good surf boards, just ask for payment of material costs in advance. If you have a demonstrably quality product, this is not hard. 3) Most of the additional money will actually be spent on consumption, making this policy ridiculously indirect 4) If you want to encourage entrepreneurship, why not have the government make available small low interest loans? Oh that’s right, because this is actually just a lame excuse for increasing welfare.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      NZ lenders and investors are exceedingly conservative. It is far far easier to get a $500K loan for a non-productive asset like a house than it is to start a new business.

      I’m afraid there are a lot of real world realities you glossed over.

    • Draco T Bastard 5.2

      1) Actually, it does the exact opposite. A Universal Income, which is what I’m specifically talking about, is far better than the ~70% marginal tax rate that we have going from a benefit to work now.
      2.) Convincing someone to fund them requires being able to pay interest which is a prime cause of present the failing of the economy, need to know the hoops and loops of getting your way through the laws and, quite often, you also need the social connections.
      3.) Oh noes, people might have money enough to spend and so encourage people to look for ways to make the spending happen in their direction. What was your problem again?
      4.) Actually, I’d have the government make 0% interest loans available. As to you’re whinge, no, really, it isn’t. It really is about giving people the resources needed to be creative.

      • xtasy 5.2.1

        Warming for Gareth Morgan’s ideas, are you? I cannot agree with a fair bit he suggess, but with a minimum community wage and so, he has some “revolutionary” ideas, the present polticians appear to be unable to cope with.

        • Lou 5.2.1.1

          Redistribution of ‘tax’ (esp to address rich/poor gaps) is not ‘revolutionary’, it founded our country and earliest governments.

    • xtasy 5.3

      Richard: I admit the examples here may appear to be a bit “simplistic” and unconvincing to you. It may also not have been welll explained what the issues are. Really what my and other person’s concern is to find a healthy, fair balance, between people’s need to work, contribute, to be part of enterprising activity, and at the same time get the income, housing, welfare, health service and what else is needed in a decent, modern, humane society.

      Now if I may just refer to history a bit, it was after the last great war, that most “developed” and also less “developed” countries all over the world experienced sound economic activity and growth. There was construction, industrial output, increased transport and trade, more consumption and the works. This happened in ALL societies, east and west, capitalist, semi capitalist and socialist.

      You also had a country like the USSR send space ships into the sphere up there.

      Of course there were differences, of course the “east” and pseudo “communist” or “socialist” countries were technoligically struggling. But bear in mind the fact, that they were never allowed free exchange of trade and other values, they were also treated as the big enemy, so their dictatorial ruleers decided to spend more on defence than anything else, neglecting other development. It was maybe more the not truly labour focused and corrupt elites that ran the Eastern European countries, that sabotaged the economic development. It was not necessarily so much the “social system” problem.

      Hence things went as they did, and hence the wall came down, but what came after?

      The US, UK, France, Germany and so loved it, the governments betrayed their own workers and forced them to compete with low demand labour from the east, dismantled industries, services and introduced a ruthless capitalist system benefitting the elite already in power.

      In the end worker’s and social standards in the west were compromised, for the excuses, that this was needed to make workers competitive with the new low wage workers from the east. So it all went on and on, in cycles, led to rigid welfare cuts and margianalisation, more divide between haves and have-nots, thus dividing workers and society beyond repair as it is now in Europe.

      Look forward for real radicalisation, unrest, violence and more, and I suggest, in moderate forms, this will happen here too. We know who is responsible and wants this.

    • Polish Pride 5.4

      Well then Richard get rid of the money and thus the profit motive and you will solve these problems. Entreprenuers will be replaced by inventors, you know those people that find new and better ways of doing things because they have a very strong drive and paassion to do so. Those People that have been responsible for arguably the greatest technological advances throughout human history. This is vs your entreprenuers that have money as their primary motivation. No money no advancements with entreprenuers. Inventors on the other hand, supplied with the resources they need will be responsble for new advances with or without money.

      I agree with everything Draco says except the need to continue with money in the long term and the need for people to have to work. The goal of a well designed system should be to provide the resources that society needs and wants in a sustainable manner and to free people wherever possible from having to work.

    • Lou 5.5

      “entrepreneurship” thats ultimately how society ended up in the pile o shit we call present, often has signified greed at the cost of crawling over someone else to get it.

      • Colonial Viper 5.5.1

        Entrepreneurship and SME activity is generally fine. One reason being that those business owners live in the very same communities that they operate in and affect the most.

        Multi-national corporations, banksterism and corporate ticket clipping is what has really torn things. A chemical plant owner is not going to dump waste into the water table of a town that he and his own family live in and use the tap water of. A Board of Directors on the other side of the world is likely to care much less.

  6. Herodotus 6

    Interesting post, but keep you opinions commi g.
    Regarding resources I notice that you did not mention the pop. And the carrying ability of the planet. We in NZ are fortunate that our carrying ability is inxs of our pop., but at some stage the world will be unable to cope with the pressure which IMO there will be a major rebalancing with some pandemic/ WWIII?
    Problem for me is those who control the resources also control the politicians

    • Draco T Bastard 6.1

      Carrying capacity would be a function of the renewable resource base. Once we know that then we will know the carrying capacity.

      Problem for me is those who control the resources also control the politicians

      yep, that is the big problem with capitalism.

    • Polish Pride 6.2

      Pop = Population???
      What this means is that we need to change the methods by which we currently do things in order to still meet the needs of the population. Because of ‘Capitalism and Corporatism we still use intensive ‘modern’ farming methods where permaculture has been shown to be able to produce far greater yields 2 – 10 times greater. Then we could look at options such as vertical farming especially in more densely populated areas of the world. That is not to say that both of these methods will not come with their own set of unique problems to overcome but they will get us closer to ensuring that population does not pose an insurmountable problem when it comes to creation and distribution of resources.
      Additionaly increases in the use of sustainable design and recycling will also help ensure that this isn’t an insurmountable problem in areas other than food supply.

  7. xtasy 7

    You can maximise the use of available resources by using them in a way of getting the most use and output out of them. You can apply a minimum use approach, and use resources by getting out of the limited resource available, what you need. There are other aspects and considerations to be applied.

    Fact is: Resources are limited by natural realities (only so many minerals available, only so much arable land and water is available), yet demand tends to increase with growing populations, and also with higher living standard expectations.

    Supply and demand are going to determine the price of commodities, resources and services, which is of course all based on the above limitations.

    So nobody will wonder that a growing world population will increase demand, and thus lead to higher prices. Same will a reduction in availability of resources and/or services.

    As limits to resources and services based on access to them exist, that demand may be controlled and reduced, creating a sort of balance.

    From region to region, country to country, there are differing circumstances, different resources and services available, and populations, economic activity and resulting demand also differ.

    Hence “wealthy” countries with high living standards can “demand” a lot, and this is usually only based on them having technologically advanced economic activites, or core resources, the rest of the world needs more, than these countries may need the rest of the world for.

    Economic realities are also largely dictated by wealth (as a consequence of advantageous trading conditions, or exploitation) being accumulated and available to the participating members of societies able to “enjoy” these.

    Hence Europe, North America, Japan and a few other countries are where they are now.

    Free trade is a farce for a start, it exists NOWHERE. It is only a phrase used to accommodate the preferred practices of certain trading economies gaining some advantages by applying some degrees of “freer” trade and exchanges. If there was true free trade, the EU, US, Japan, even Mainland China would collapse as economic powers within a short period.

    We are all sold a farcical system of free trade, which is merely a propaganda instrument by those supposed free market” and “right wing neo con” supporters and stake holders, who want to force certain other countries and economies to lower access restrictions, so they (the stronger economic operators) can get access to their markets.

    Social Democracy has appeal. The purely ‘socialist” economic system was not tried properly anywhere, but where it was attempted in rudimentary ways, it failed badly. Regulating and managing in very minute details production to meet demand seems to be almost unworkeable.

    So some incentivised mechanisms appear to be necessary, for motivation workers, enterprises, managers, inventors and other participants, to make the best effort to improve, keep running well and maintain production and service delivery. That means some wage and salary structures may well be justified.

    At the same time there must be sufficient controls for avoiding exploitation, unfair trading, monopoly creation, inefficiencies, lagging efforts to improve processes and the likes, so that negative social, environmental and economic damage is avoided.

    It is a fundamental belief of Social Democracy, that the worker and citizen have a right to participate in every aspect of economic and social activity in society. Participation in the work place, by worker’s councils and the likes meets this.

    This also means that capitalism in its present form is not an option. I do therefore support this debate about an alternative, fairer, more workable, sically just and responsible economic system, which may lead to nations trading some commodities and services, but otherwise focusing also more on the local economy and social needs.

  8. Ben 8

    For my two cents: People need to wake up to the fact that our economic system will not survive as it stands today, and it’s important people realise that there are alternatives. You present some good ones. Thank you for that.

    One small thing, though: Is it really so hard to write “at the moment”?

  9. xtasy 9

    My hope is limited. Nationalists “create” their own economies, same as “liberals” and other f-wits to their pleasure, it is just a f-you game:

    So it s a bit of “spirit”, the economic game is more complicated. The needed solutions also willl mean to be paid, which no petrol heaeded Kiwi wants, so there is a challenge! Brain is not a strentht in NZ. Most will carry on to go to the last gasp of petrol and oil and die at the front of no-hopers. Nothing new, Gallipoli repeated.

  10. fatty 10

    I consider a computer and the internet as a requirement for social inclusion. Its at the point now where access to information requires it. Just as the radio was before the TV

  11. Colonial Viper 11

    Good job DTB.

  12. MrSmith 12

    Good stuff Draco, the saying goes something like: some people talk about other people, others talk about things and other people, great people talk about ideas.

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    Society-wise, aside from the specific morbidity shall we say of the medically-oriented aspects of this COVID-19 crisis, what is unfolding before the world is in more than one way an instructive study of humanity and reactions to a high intensity, high stress environment in real time. Friends, we are at ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    4 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: Everything you need to know about the wage subsidy
    Right now low waged and insecure workers are feeling the economic brunt of the looming #Covid19 Recession. In response legal advocate Toby Cooper* and hospitality and worker’s rights advocate Chloe Ann-King, are putting together a series of legal blogs about your employment rights: In this legal blog we outline some ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    4 days ago
  • The massacre of prisoners in Modelo jail, Bogota, March 21
    by Equipo Jurídico Pueblos and Gearóid Ó Loingsigh (25/03/2020) An escape plan in question On the night of March 21st and the early morning of the 22nd, the forces of the Colombian state stormed into the Modelo prison in Bogotá, murdering 23 prisoners and injuring 83, in response to the ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • We are not America
    When the government banned semi-automatic weapons in response to a terrorist atrocity, gun-nuts were outraged. Mired in toxic American gun culture, they thought owning weapons whose sole purpose was killing people was some sort of "constitutional right", a necessity for "defending themselves" against the government. Now, the Court of Appeal ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • When will we know the lockdown is working?
    Just before midnight on Wednesday March 25, Aotearoa New Zealand entered a countrywide alert level four lockdown. For at least the next four weeks, everyone who isn’t an essential worker is confined to their bubble. We are doing this to stop the explosive growth in people contracting and dying from ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    4 days ago
  • Lock Down: Day 1
    . . Lock Down: Day 1 – A photo essay with observations . Day one of the Level 4 nationwide lock-down (or, DefCon 4 as I sometimes cheekily call it) started at 11.59PM on 25 March. For a moment, most of the nation held it’s collective breath. In that brief ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    4 days ago
  • A Compelling Recollection.
    Broad, Sunlit Uplands: How those words fired my young imagination! Or, perhaps, it is more accurate to say: how those words fused, in my young mind, with the image printed on every packet of Fielder’s Cornflour. Always fascinated by history, especially modern history, I cannot hear Churchill’s wonderfully evocative words, even ...
    4 days ago
  • The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus
    . . 24 March 2020 9.46AM Number of covid19 cases in Aotearoa New Zealand: 102 . As of 11.59 on Thursday, most of New Zealand will go into “lock down”. People will be expected not to travel to work; not to socialise; and to stay home. I will not be ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Aggressive action to address climate change could save the world $145 trillion
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs. The new 2020 Drawdown ...
    5 days ago
  • After the Pandemic
    It will pass. What happens next? Not immediately, but longer term. There are many opinions, fewer certainties. Will it “change everything!” as many confidently, and contradictorily predict? In this post I look at how foresight can help bound some of the uncertainties so you can more objectively consider the future. ...
    SciBlogsBy Robert Hickson
    5 days ago
  • Coronavirus – Cuba shows the way
    We’ve been meaning t write something on Cuba and the coronavirus but have just discovered a very good article on the subject in the US left publication Jacobin.  The article looks at how Cuba, a poor country but one where capitalism has been done away with, is leading the way ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • Using privacy law to prevent the death penalty
    In 2018, El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Kotey - two British citizens who had purportedly been stripped of their citizenship by the British government - were captured while fighting for Isis in Syria. The British government then conspired to hand them over to the US, and agreed to provide evidence ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • It’s Time For Disaster Socialism.
    Transformers: The disaster of the Great Depression was transformed into a new and fairer society by the democratic socialism of the First Labour Government. The disaster of the Covid-19 Pandemic offers a similar transformative possibility to the Labour-NZ First-Green Government. Seize the time, Jacinda! You will never have a better ...
    5 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #12, 2020
    Tamper with The System? Well, we already are. But there's a difference between accidentally trickling sand into a precision gearbox versus formulating a plan to alter it on the fly with improvements in mind. One action is more or less innocently unscrupulous, the other amenable to earning an easy ...
    6 days ago
  • Avoidable hospitalisations: Helping our health system get through COVID-19
    Associate Prof George Thomson, Louise Delany, Prof Nick Wilson While it is possible that New Zealand can use intense public health controls to eradicate COVID-19 from the country – we must also plan for other scenarios where thousands of New Zealanders are sick – including many urgently hospitalised.1 Better resilience ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    6 days ago
  • Raise the Bar: 10 questions to ask your employer proposing redundancy
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or being ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    6 days ago
  • An equitable way to support business
    The Herald reports that the government is planning to lend billions of dollars to large businesses to keep them operating during the pandemic. As with mortgage relief, this is necessary: we need companies to stay in business, to reduce the economic damage and help things get restarted again when this ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Hard News: Together Alone
    We're about to do something unprecedented as a nation. We hope that by taking this extraordinary action before a single life in New Zealand has been lost to the deadly novel virus we will save tens of thousands of lives. Our  lives. We'll do it together, in households, in isolation ...
    6 days ago
  • Why timing is everything: ‘A time to refrain from embracing’ starts today
    “There is a time for everything,    and a season for every activity under the heavens.”So writes the author of Ecclesiastes, a book in the Old Testament that’s counted as a ‘wisdom’ book and written as if by an unnamed king of Jerusalem. But who would have thought there would be a time ...
    PunditBy Tim Watkin
    6 days ago
  • Dealing with the Covid-19 Tsunami.
    I was surprised when the prime minister described the Economic Response to Covid-19 package as the ‘largest peacetime government spend in New Zealand's history’. Reflecting – checking through history – I realised that the term ‘spend’ was crucial and the package had no income tax cuts. Even so, it has ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    7 days ago
  • What about renters?
    The government today announced the latest part of its pandemic relief package: a six-month mortgage holiday for people whose incomes have been affected by the pandemic. Which is great, because these people are going to need help, and that's what the government should be doing. At the same time, it ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Living within our means.
    Years ago the Argentine sociologist Carlos Weisman wrote a book titled “Living within our Means.” It was a critique of Argentine society that focused on the paradoxical question of why, in a land of plenty, there was so much economic instability, inequality, corruption and political turmoil. His conclusion was basically ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Transparency and the pandemic
    Parliament will be leading by example and adjourning tomorrow after a special sitting to consider an epidemic notice and state of emergency. Day-to-day oversight of the government will be delegated to a select committee. But that's not the only overight mechanism. The OIA will still be law, and (so far) ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • ‘Overjoyed’: a leading health expert on New Zealand’s coronavirus shutdown, and the challengin...
    Michael Baker, University of Otago Overjoyed. That’s not a word epidemiologists normally use, but that’s how I felt after hearing Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s announcement about New Zealand’s COVID-19 shutdown of everything except essential services for at least four weeks from midnight on Wednesday. More than anything, I just ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • One way to solve the housing crisis
    How much homelessness is caused by house hoarding? We're about to find out. The pandemic has destroyed tourism, which means that house hoarders who put their hoarded properties up as short-term tourist rentals are now offering them on the ordinary rental market:Property investors are pulling properties from Airbnb to offer ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • The pros and cons of planting trees to address global warming
    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Bruce Lieberman It seems like such a simple, straightforward, empowering idea: plant trees – a lot of trees – all over the world, and watch the planet’s temperature fall. Who doesn’t love a tree or two, even far more – the right ...
    1 week ago
  • Not a grand coalition, but a government of national salvation
    According to Newshub, Simon Bridges is open to joining a “grand coalition” with Labour as we hunker down to go into a month long lockdown. The idea is sound. Before now, the role of the opposition was to scrutinise and oppose. In the context of what almost amounts to a ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Raise the Bar: hospitality workers & wage subsidy entitlements
    Kia ora my name is Chloe Ann-King* and I am the founder of Raise the Bar, a campaign and non-profit that gives free legal aid, advocacy and tautoko to hospitality workers in Aotearoa. Right now all over our country hospo workers are being fired at will, having shifts cut or ...
    PosseBy chloeanneking
    1 week ago
  • Lifting our game against COVID-19
    We need to be lifting our game against COVID-19. You and I need to help those working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while they’re trying to lift the testing and treatment efforts. We don’t want to be playing this game running backwards. Best to play it solidly forward, from ...
    SciBlogsBy Grant Jacobs
    1 week ago
  • The maths and ethics of minimising COVID-19 deaths in NZ
    Prof Tony Blakely, Prof Michael Baker, and Prof Nick Wilson The NZ Government must do more to clearly articulate its COVID-19 strategy: eradication or ‘flattening the curve’ mitigation. But to do so means understanding the maths and ethics of both these strategies. In this blog, we adapt our work for ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    1 week ago
  • All aboard the Covid Train
    A few days ago I was starting to write something about the pandemic, which now seems unconscionable. It took the form of a letter to an agony aunt:“Dear Deidre, I have an ugly confession. I am quite excited by Covid-19.”This is how the piece went:“I’m not a psychopath, honest. Although the ...
    PunditBy Phil Vine
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming Digest #12
    Story of the Week... Toon of the Week... Climate Feedback Article Review... Coming Soon on SkS... Climate Feedback Claim Reviews... SkS Week in Review... Poster of the Week... Story of the Week... In Just 10 Years, Warming Has Increased the Odds of Disasters The likelihood of extreme events ...
    1 week ago
  • We are all socialists now
    Last week, the government announced a $12 billion initial package to support people during the pandemic. Today, the Reserve Bank is buying government bonds - effectively printing money - to keep up the money supply during the crisis. Normally such moves would have the right apoplectic. Instead, the National Party ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • A plea to experts: safeguard your role in public life
    I am a pundit, somebody who opines and comments on the news. There are no real qualifications to punditry though having a rudimentary way with words and good general knowledge helps. That is one reason there is a constant oversupply of would-be pundits and why it is quite hard to ...
    PunditBy Liam Hehir
    1 week ago
  • Enlightenment when?
    I recently encountered the following prescription from a Faculty of Education at a leading New Zealand University. At first I wondered if it was another product of the postmodern generator (http://www.elsewhere.org/journal/pomo/), designed to create gibberish in the postmodern form, but I’m told it is real: The “schooled” society: Towards the ...
    SciBlogsBy Michael Corballis
    1 week ago
  • What the Crisis Can teach Us
    The coronavirus pandemic has of course had a major impact on individual lives and on societies as a whole. But, long after the crisis has passed (assuming it does), we will begin to realise that its real and lasting significance lies in the lessons it has taught us, if only ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • Hammering home measures to stop COVID-19
    COVID-19 has plunged Aotearoa New Zealand (indeed, the world) into territory that, while maybe not totally unprecedented, certainly hasn’t been seen during the lifetimes of most of us here today. Our borders are closed to non-citizens, we’re being told not to gather in groups of more than 500 outside/100 inside, ...
    PunditBy Andrew Geddis
    1 week ago
  • What does ‘level two’ mean – and why does it matter?
    For the last few weeks, I’ve been urging you to prepare yourself, your family, business, and community for Covid-19. Now it’s time for real action.  Yesterday the director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield announced another 13 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in New Zealand, bringing our total to date to 52. ...
    SciBlogsBy Siouxsie Wiles
    1 week ago
  • 2020 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #12
    A chronological listing of news articles linked to on the Skeptical Science Facebook Page during the past week, i.e., Sun, Mar 15, 2020 through Sat, Mar 21, 2020 Editor's Pick Now Isn’t the Time to Forget About Our Climate Change Efforts   Tasha Tilberg, Lindsey Wixson, and Liu Wen photographed ...
    1 week ago
  • Is the Guardian becoming  a real newspaper again?
    by Jan Rivers The article has been corrected to show that it was Ewen MacAskill, former Guardian journalist and not Luke Harding who travelled to meet Edward Snowden with journalist Glenn Greenwald and filmmaker Laura Poitras.  Some of the Guardian’s well-known journalists who did not sign the protest letter are ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Life asserts itself regardless
    by Cultural Worker Late March 2020 amidst the virus. With gigs crashing and burning all around it was without much hope that I called a long standing rest home booking: “ Hi, I’m supposed to be entertaining at your place this afternoon – is it still on?” “”If you don’t ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • Politics, the possible, and the pandemic
    Whenever people demand real change from their politicians, we're told that "politics is the art of the possible". The implication is that change isn't possible, so we'd better just get used to the sucky status quo. But now that there's a pandemic, a lot of things we were previously told ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • The Only Way Through This Crisis Is Together.
    Together: In leading New Zealand through the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Prime Minister could do a lot worse than allow herself to be guided by the spirit of collective sacrifice and co-operation that animated the New Zealanders of 80 years ago. Most Kiwis alive today have had no opportunity to prove their ...
    2 weeks ago
  • GFC vs Covid-19
    It is said that generals fight the last war. In the case of the early stages of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) they had learned from the Great Depression of the 1930s and they fought intelligently and successfully. Later their advice would be ignored in favour of the Austerians who ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 weeks ago
  • Nobody Left Behind.
    Solidarity Forever: All over the world, the arrival of the Covid-19 virus has exposed the fragility of the walls we erect around ourselves and our loved ones. It has shattered our illusions of autonomy and revealed to us how utterly dependent we all are on other human-beings. Finally, we see ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Rebuilding a truly “Democratic” counter, or a “moderate Republican” bolt-hol...
    Looking across the various arguments for/against the leading candidates to take the Democratic Nomination, you might honestly be very hard pressed to tell. There are a number of things that have now started happening since Amy Klobuchar and “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg both threw the towel in and immediately (and ...
    exhALANtBy exhalantblog
    2 weeks ago
  • Abortion law reform a win for women
    by Daphna Whitmore Abortion is no longer in the Crimes Act in New Zealand. The law reform passed yesterday and now abortion is a medical matter between a woman and her doctor. Many women’s groups and progressive people have campaigned for reform for decades. The women’s liberation movement and some ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    2 weeks ago
  • How to spot bogus science stories and read the news like a scientist
    Doug Specht, University of Westminster and Julio Gimenez, University of Westminster When fake news, misreporting and alternative facts are everywhere, reading the news can be a challenge. Not only is there plenty of misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and other scientific topics floating around social media, you also ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • Why New Zealand needs to continue decisive action to contain coronavirus
    Michael Baker, University of Otago and Nick Wilson, University of Otago With some of the toughest border restrictions and a newly-announced NZ$500 million boost to health services, New Zealand is among a small number of countries with a strategy to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand is also fortunate in ...
    SciBlogsBy Public Health Expert
    2 weeks ago
  • Parliament and the pandemic II
    As expected, the government has introduced a sessional order to allow Parliament to operate during the pandemic. You can read it on the Order Paper here, but the short version is that questions and motions can be filed electronicly, select committees can work remotely, and the the Business Committee can ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • When a virus goes viral: pros and cons to the coronavirus spread on social media
    Axel Bruns, Queensland University of Technology; Daniel Angus, Queensland University of Technology; Timothy Graham, Queensland University of Technology, and Tobias R. Keller, Queensland University of Technology News and views about coronavirus has spread via social media in a way that no health emergency has done before. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook, ...
    SciBlogsBy Guest Author
    2 weeks ago
  • How to survive 14 days of self-isolation
    So you’ve recently returned from overseas, come into contact with someone who tested positive, got a bit of a dry cough yourself or perhaps just want to self isolate for 14 days to avoid other people who might have COVID-19. Here are a few tips and tricks to help get ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Abortion Legislation Bill passes third reading
    Some fave speeches:     ...
    Boots TheoryBy Stephanie Rodgers
    2 weeks ago

  • Government seeks infrastructure projects
    The Government has tasked a group of industry leaders to seek out infrastructure projects that are ready to start as soon as the construction industry returns to normal to reduce the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Economic Development Minister Phil Twyford and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones say. The Infrastructure ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 hour ago
  • Essential media COVID-19 guidelines refined
    The Government is refining its COVID-19 essential business guidance to include the distribution of news publications for communities which are hard to reach. The Minister of Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media, Kris Faafoi, said the move was in recognition of the importance for New Zealanders who might be harder to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 hours ago
  • New Zealand defence personnel conclude mission at Taji
    Following the successful conclusion of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) mission at Taji, New Zealand defence personnel are returning to New Zealand from Iraq, in accordance with the Cabinet decision made in June 2019, Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark announced today. “New Zealand is very ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • State of National Emergency extended
    The State of National Emergency to help stop the spread of COVID-19 has been extended for a further seven days, Minister of Civil Defence Peeni Henare said. The initial declaration on March 25 lasted seven days and can be extended as many times as necessary. “Since we went into isolation ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    8 hours ago
  • Strong Govt books support ‘go hard, go early’ response
    New Zealand’s ability to go hard and go early in the fight against COVID-19 has been underpinned by strong Government finances and the growing economy heading into this global pandemic, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. The Treasury today released the Crown financial statements for the eight months to the end ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    10 hours ago
  • Christchurch Hospital Hagley ICU to open to support COVID-19 response
    Health Minister Dr David Clark says 36 new intensive care beds at Christchurch Hospital’s new Hagley building are being fast tracked so they are available for treatment of COVID-19 patients.   The Ministry of Health is working with contractor CPB and Canterbury DHB to enable access to the hospital’s ICU, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Government supports Air NZ freight flights
    The Government has fast-tracked up to $1 million to help Air New Zealand move urgent freight to and from New Zealand, with the first flight to Shanghai leaving tonight, Transport Minister Phil Twyford announced today. Phil Twyford says it’s crucial that trade in vital goods such as medical supplies and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 day ago
  • Tariff concessions on COVID-19 related products
    New Zealand will temporarily remove tariffs on all medical and hygiene imports needed for the COVID-19 response. Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker and Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Kris Faafoi said today that the New Zealand Customs Service will apply tariff concessions to all diagnostic reagents and testing ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Clarification of modification to wage subsidy scheme
    Minister of Finance Grant Robertson has clarified that the changes to the wage subsidy scheme announced yesterday mean that employers should be passing on the full subsidy to workers, except in the case where the person’s normal income is less than the level of the subsidy. “We still want employers ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Face masks flowing to DHBs
    Medical face masks from the national reserve supply are now being distributed to District Health Boards, while at the same time local production is being ramped up. Yesterday more than 640,000 masks were sent to DHBS – that is an immediate two week supply, with more to follow in coming ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • COVID-19: Further steps to protect New Zealanders’ jobs
    The Government has made modifications to the wage subsidy scheme to ensure people don’t lose their jobs during the national lockdown. These changes will soften the impact of COVID-19 on workers, families and businesses, and position them to exit the lockdown and look to recovery, Finance Minister Grant Robertson says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Tax relief for Mycoplasma Bovis farmers
    Farmers whose herds were culled in response to the outbreak of Mycoplasma bovis will be able to minimise the tax treatment of their income in some circumstances. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash says Cabinet has agreed to change the law. It means farmers may be eligible to spread their income over ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • $27 million for NGOs and community groups to continue providing essential services
    A $27 million dollar package, effective immediately, is being provided to social sector services and community groups to ensure they can continue to provide essential support to communities as we stay at home as a nation to stop the spread of COVID-19, Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced. “At ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Statement on guilty plea of March 15 terrorist
    “The guilty plea today will provide some relief to the many people whose lives were shattered by what happened on March 15,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said. “These guilty pleas and conviction bring accountability for what happened and also save the families who lost loved ones, those who were injured, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • COVID-19 updates
    The Prime Minister is holding daily press conferences to update New Zealanders on the Government's response to COVID-19. Links to videos and transcripts of these updates below. These transcripts also include All of Government press conferences led by Director Ministry of Health's Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield. 25 March: Live update from the Prime ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Police numbers break through 10,000 mark
    Frontline Police numbers have broken through the 10,000 mark for the first time in history as officers step forward to keep the community safe during the COVID19 lockdown. “Two Police graduations in Auckland and Wellington in the past week have been conducted in unprecedented circumstances,” Police Minister Stuart Nash said. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Urgent tax measures for economic recovery
    Urgent legislation has been passed to support the package of economic and social measures needed to recover from the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. “The COVID-19 Response (Taxation and Social Assistance Urgent Measures) Bill will cushion New Zealanders from the worst economic impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Revenue Minister ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Further support for farmers and growers as drought persists
    From tomorrow, Government support for farmers and growers affected by drought will be expanded and extended across the country, with access to Rural Assistance Payments (RAPS) available throughout the North Island, parts of the South Island and the Chatham Islands, Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni announced. “These challenging conditions have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19: Temporary changes to Education Act
    Parliament has passed amendments to legislation that give the Secretary of Education stronger powers to act in the fight to limit the spread of COVID-19, Education Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “They are part of a suite of changes passed under the COVID-19 Response (Urgent Management Measures) Legislation Bill,” Chris ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar join NZ and Singapore in committing to keeping supply a...
    Canada, Australia, Chile, Brunei and Myanmar have joined forces with New Zealand and Singapore by committing to keep supply chains open and remove any existing trade restrictive measures on essential goods, especially medical supplies, in the face of the Covid-19 crisis.  Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker today welcomed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • COVID-19: Rent increase freeze and more protection for tenants
    Immediate freeze on rent increases Tenancies will not be terminated during the lock-down period, unless the parties agree, or in limited circumstances Tenants who had previously given notice can stay in their if they need to stay in the tenancy during the lock-down period Tenants will still be able to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Working together to protect businesses and workers
    As New Zealand unites to lock-down in the fight against COVID-19, the Finance Minister is urging all businesses and workers to stay connected over the next four weeks. “We understand the extreme pressure many businesses are under right now. I know most business owners think of their workers as family ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • State of National Emergency declared to fight COVID-19
    A State of National Emergency has been declared across the country as the Government pulls out all the stops to curtail the spread of COVID-19. “Today we put in place our country’s second ever State of National Emergency as we fight a global pandemic, save New Zealanders’ lives and prevent ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Prime Minister’s statement on State of National Emergency and Epidemic Notice
    Mr Speaker I wish to make a Ministerial Statement under Standing Order 347 in relation to the recent declaration of a State of National Emergency. Having considered the advice of the Director Civil Defence Emergency Management, the Minister of Civil Defence declared a State of National Emergency for the whole of ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Deadline for domestic travel extended
    People needing to travel on domestic flights, trains and Cook Strait ferries to get home before the country moves into level 4 lock-down tomorrow night will be able to continue using the passenger services until midnight on Friday, Transport Minister Phil Twyford said today. Domestic passenger services, particularly ferries, have ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Mortgage holiday and business finance support schemes to cushion COVID impacts
    The Government, retail banks and the Reserve Bank are today announcing a major financial support package for home owners and businesses affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19. The package will include a six month principal and interest payment holiday for mortgage holders and SME customers whose incomes have been ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Government working to keep air freight moving
    Minister of Transport Phil Twyford has today announced details of the Government’s support package to keep key air freight moving and ensure New Zealanders retain access to essential goods during the four-week level 4 lockdown. “The Government is working with airlines and air freight operators to ensure New Zealand’s key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand moves to COVID-19 Alert Level 3, then Level 4 in 48 hours
    New Zealand moved up to COVID-19 Alert Level 3 – Restrict New Zealand to move up to COVID-19 Alert Level 4 – Eliminate, in 48 hours Two-staged approach to give people and businesses time to prepare  Level 3, from tomorrow Non-essential businesses must close All events and gatherings must be ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Prime Minister: COVID-19 Alert Level increased
    Good afternoon  The Cabinet met this morning to discuss our next actions in the fight against COVID-19.  Like the rest of the world, we are facing the potential for devastating impacts from this virus. But, through decisive action, and through working together, do we have a small window to get ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt takes significant economic decisions as NZ readies for Alert Level 4 in COVID-19 fight
    The Government is announcing significant further support for the economy, workers and businesses as the country unites to prepare for Alert Level 4 in the fight against COVID-19. Cabinet today agreed to remove the cap on the Government’s wage subsidy scheme, which will inject a further $4 billion into the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Govt backs RBNZ move to support economy with lower interest rates
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