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The mantra of ‘Poor Choices’

Written By: - Date published: 1:45 pm, December 12th, 2015 - 195 comments
Categories: capitalism, class, class war, employment, jobs, poverty, Social issues, welfare, workers' rights - Tags:

It is that time of year when poor people realise just how poor they really are – the season for giving, the season to be jolly. Well that may be so for some of us, but some people will be working on Christmas day instead of spending time with loved ones. These will probably be the workers on minimum wage such as rest home workers, caregivers, McDonalds and other fast food workers. That is okay though, because there will always be a faction who will maintain that these workers are in the position they are in because of choice. Some will even accuse them of being in that position because of their “poor choices”. Others will hold these workers up as an example of how hard work and dedication is the way to get ahead. At least that is what some would like us to believe, but that ideology is no longer sufficient to blind those who are the victims of such propaganda.

Linda Tirado provides an explanation of poverty from the ‘poor’ person’s perspective and has captured the attention of thousands of people who can relate to her experiences. Essentially she explains why ‘poor’ people make seemingly ‘poor’ decisions, an explanation that anyone living the reality can relate to. She has also written a book on her experience of poverty, explaining how companies take advantage of those least able to be choosy, less able to turn down crap work and crap working conditions. Poor people simply don’t have choices about these things. Meanwhile, those who do have choices vilify and blame the ‘poor’ for being poor. Those better off justify this situation by accusing the poor of making ‘poor decisions’ (John Key’s tirade against those needing food banks is a classic example). Linda Tirado takes such ideology and blows it apart in her article. In a step further, her book explores how those with choices take advantage of those who don’t have choices. While she writes from the American context, it mirrors our own diminishing working conditions and explains how employers exploit their most vulnerable workers.

Recent rules and sanctions placed on beneficiaries is a classic example of how Government policy is used to prop up greedy employers who are now favouring Zero Hour contracts, or as is the case of multinational corporations like McDondalds who dip into the taxpayer’s pocket to subsidise beneficiaries into the work force, only to reduce their hours and get rid of them when the subsidies run out.

Meanwhile welfare to work policies are making it harder and harder for those on the lowest incomes to have any real ‘choice’ about the types of employers/contracts/hours they take. Beneficiaries are being treated like second class citizens and are subject to systemic abuse at the hands of Work and Income. As highlighted by the McDonalds situation above, beneficiaries are being forced into working conditions that do not guarantee them or their families a stable income.

It is one thing to have employers taking advantage of vulnerable workers, but an entirely different matter when Government introduces policy that makes it easier for them to do so. And that is exactly what has happened in New Zealand. With unemployment now heading for 7 percent, onerous welfare to work policies and diminishing employment conditions, the scene has been set to ensure that the reserve work force of beneficiaries creates the necessary competition for employers to have even more control and power over employees; enabling said employers to keep wages low and treat their employees like crap.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Kōrero Pono

195 comments on “The mantra of ‘Poor Choices’”

  1. Detrie 1

    This is the best summary I’ve seen and thanks for the links. And remember ‘the poor’ not only includes those in work, be it ‘permanent’ or temp, but many self-employed small businesses of 1-3 people. Every day is a struggle to pay the bills.

    Some beneficiaries are often in that position through no fault of their own. I have a friend who lost her home in the Chch quake with barely enough to pay back the bank and could only find temp work. The way she is now treated by WINs, especially following her stroke earlier this year is disgusting. I can see why many without close family or friends resort to suicide. Thank God for the food banks, churches and charities. Nice to know there are still some caring people out there. Certainly none in Government.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    It is one thing to have employers taking advantage of vulnerable workers, but an entirely different matter when Government introduces policy that makes it easier for them to do so.

    The only way that capitalism works is when the many can be exploited by the few and so government makes it that way and have been doing so for thousands of years. The short period after WWII when government worked for the many rather than the few was an anomaly as has been pointed out by Piketty.

    We on the Left need to work to make that anomaly the normal state of affairs but that can’t be done under a capitalist system.

    • acrophobic 2.1

      “The only way that capitalism works is when the many can be exploited by the few…”

      Rubbish. Capitalism only works when the many can purchase goods and services, and therefore the producers of those goods and services have vested interest in ensuring the many are NT exploited. This idea that workers are exploited in NZ and beneficiaries treated like second class citizens is one of the great myths of the left. Thankfully hardly anyone believes anymore.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.1.1

        When was the last time you had to justify your relationship status to the gummint? If people aren’t being exploited, how would you characterise the demographic shift in wealth over the last thirty years?

        • acrophobic

          The gap between the wealthy and the less wealthy in NZ has widened, but yet the less wealthy have still got richer. And globally, inequality is actually declining. You don;t make the poor rich by making the rich poor.

          • One Anonymous Bloke

            In fact, as the OECD points out, high levels of inequality destroy wealth. Why are you putting up this string of ridiculous feeble strawmen? Critical faculty challenged?

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.2

        Capitalism only works when the many can purchase goods and services, and therefore the producers of those goods and services have vested interest in ensuring the many are NT exploited.

        Nope because capitalism is all about personal private capital accumulation and everyone being able to buy is contrary to that. It would put everyone on the same level rather than having a few well above everyone else.

        This idea that workers are exploited in NZ and beneficiaries treated like second class citizens is one of the great myths of the left

        It’s not a myth:

        Beneficiaries that commit fraud get jail terms and have to pay back whereas the white collar criminals go free and don’t.
        Workers that beat up their spouses get jail time whereas All Blacks and other rugby players get a warning and no conviction.

        There are numerous other examples around.

        • Craig H

          All Blacks and other international sportspeople often get a discharge without conviction in these circumstances because a conviction could easily cost them an international career (difficulties travelling), which would cost them millions of dollars in lost earnings.

          That’s usually disproportionate to the offence, hence the discharge. The offenders usually still pay reparations and do community service – often the only thing waived is the conviction itself.

          • Draco T Bastard

            which would cost them millions of dollars in lost earnings.

            So, it’s all about the money?
            Besides, they haven’t lost anything as they haven’t earned that money yet.

            Then there’s the fact that the worker would also lose that international career. Just because they haven’t started it yet doesn’t mean that they won’t. But possible lost earnings don’t seem to count for workers.

            No, if All Blacks assault their spouses then they should actually be treated the same as everyone else. The possible lost earnings are their fault and if they were worried about them then perhaps they shouldn’t have assaulted anybody.

            • Craig H

              They are treated the same as others – anyone whose career depends on international travel or a clear criminal record for other reasons will get the same consideration, and likely the same outcome.

              The major difference is we hear about them because they are famous, or nearly so. Some corporate executive or a doctor getting the same treatment doesn’t get the same attention, but it still happens.

              • Draco T Bastard

                There’s two points that I’m getting at.

                One is that the law cannot rule on what may happen. It can only rule on what has happened.
                The second is that it must treat everyone the same and it’s obvious that it doesn’t and that it doesn’t do so because of the wealth of the people. It is clearly saying that some people are more important and so don’t have the same rules applied to them. That is an injustice.

                And, no, I don’t think either doctors or corporate executives should have exemptions either. If they need to travel to another country then they can apply to that country for an exemption.

          • Kevin

            Too. Fucking. Bad.

            Your position in the community is irrelevant. Do the crime, do the time. I thought those on the right would be all in favour of that.

        • acrophobic

          “…capitalism is all about personal private capital accumulation…”

          Which is achieved when people purchase the gods and services of those with capital.

          “…and everyone being able to buy is contrary to that. ”

          Rubbish. Part of accumulating wealth is having something to trade in. You can’t live on non-cash wealth, only on the product of that wealth.

          “There are numerous other examples around.”

          None of which are relevant to this discussion.

      • gnomic 2.1.3

        Clownhat of the Year award for 2015. Outstanding stupidity.

    • acrophobic 2.2

      “The only way that capitalism works is when the many can be exploited by the few…”

      Rubbish. Capitalism only works when the many can purchase goods and services, and therefore the producers of those goods and services have vested interest in ensuring the many are NT exploited. This idea that workers are exploited in NZ and beneficiaries treated like second class citizens is one of the great myths of the left. Thankfully hardly anyone believes anymore.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.2.1

        No-one knows whether Capitalism works or not because there has never been a Capitalist system: we have mixed economies, which have served us best when the State has played a conscious and unashamed role – whether by encouraging positive actions or discouraging negative ones.

  3. One Anonymous Bloke 3

    Don’t forget those other pernicious lies that right wingers love to tell: “personal responsibility” and the self-made man who worships his creator.

  4. Ad 4

    Lovely work there.

  5. TeWhareWhero 5

    If people are poor because of bad choices then logic demands us to accept that affluent people are affluent because of good choices. Neither is universally – or even broadly – true.

    Affluence may come about through pure luck such as being born into a wealthy family and receiving all the social and educational advantages of that. It may be achieved as a result of having a set of attributes or skills which are in high demand and are highly valued in the labour market at a given point. It may be achieved and maintained by making choices that are deemed by some to be ‘good’ choices but which impact adversely on other people and the wider environment and which have a massive social cost that is passed onto others. it may be achieved and maintained as the result of one’s own hard work but equally it may be the result of doing nothing but exploit the labour of others.

    Being affluent makes it easier to remain affluent and to increase affluence – for all sorts of structural, legal, psychological and physical reasons.

    Poverty may come about through pure luck – such as being born into a poor family and receiving all the social, educational and physical disadvantages of that. It may come about as a result of one’s attributes and skills not being needed or being given a low value in the labour market. it may come about as a result of accident or illness – sometimes caused or exacerbated by decisions made by other people in pursuit / protection of their own affluence.

    Being poor makes it much harder to break out of poverty and achieve even a modest affluence – for all sorts of structural, legal, psychological and physical reasons.

    The ‘poor choices’ mantra is the product of a shallow, brittle and noxious philosophy that seeks to prove the value of a socio-economic system that has put the planet at risk in order to protect the considerable privileges of a tiny minority of the world’s population. it is always thrown into stark relief at times when consumption goes into hyper-drive.

    • Tautuhi 5.1

      Access to capital is one of the main advantages/disadvantages which differ between different socio economic groups, having access to capital helps climbing the socio economic ladder here in NZ especially with property inflation.

      However I believe society should be looking after all members of society and a society should be measured on hoe well our lower socio economic groups are faring, however here in NZ we hero worship the wealthy and put them on pedistals like demi gods ie our leader.

      • keith ross 5.1.1

        Access to capital is one of the main things holding many poorer people back. I recently brought my first house and at first I only had 15%. This was apparently enough except that I needed to commission a number of reports at 500$ at a time.
        After spending the money and still being told that I needed to spend more to get approved in what was a never ending cycle of “we want to give you the loan but you need to do this first … ” . Once I realized that this was nothing but a ruse to have me spend money without getting the house I borrowed the extra money to have 20%. The change was immediate, “no problem sir, we need no reports or anything else, here is the money.” Before I had enough to easily service the loan that I was applying for and a steady income that was above average. The barriers that were put in front of me were all unnecessary and merely a way of filtering out poorer people who needed to live in the house that they were purchasing from the people who were buying there 3rd or 4th house and had money .At 15% the access to capital was at a much higher interest rate as well, just another roadblock to stop the poor from breaking out.
        Perhaps providing poor people with access to funding /capital at similar rates to rich people through a govt bank system would help a lot.
        Year right, why would National want to help the poor out of poverty ?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.2

      Affluence is delivered by pure luck, period. They don’t like that cold hard fact up ’em.

      • The lost sheep 5.2.1

        If affluence and poverty are delivered by pure luck, all of you who were born into a situation of poverty, and are trying to move to a situation of affluence can stop trying right now.
        It is not possible. You are wasting your time. No one who was born into poverty can climb out of it by their own actions.
        What a dismal defeatist world view. Lucky that it is utter bollocks!

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          That’s the moral of the story according to your feeble interpretation is it? Fuck you’re a dullard.

          Nothing in my statement means that social mobility is impossible. Nothing in my statement says that poverty is inevitable. When you’ve figured it out, go boil your head.

        • marty mars

          sheep – delivered by pure luck cannot be argued against. “No one who was born into poverty can climb out of it by their own actions.” has nothing to do with the pure luck delivery. I’d also say that our society heroises lots of money so it seems like it would be really cool to be born into it – quite a few of the life stories of those born into wealth seem to say otherwise – also being born poor is not a demon curse and shunning material. Life and people are much more interesting and colourful.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          choices made early can have a hugely significant influence on the number and quality of choices available to those in poverty later in life.

          Let’s say your failure to address Puddleglum’s rebuttal is insignificant, and what you say is a well thought out thesis 😆

          We’re told kids being born today will have a lower standard of living than their parents. How does that fit into your mantra?

          The word “can” in your notion indicates that there are other factors at play: chance, for example. Did you forget the meaning of the word “can” in your rush to find a straw to clutch at? And why are you shifting the goalposts?

      • vto 5.2.2

        “Affluence is delivered by pure luck, period. ”


        Either luck, hard work or inheritance.

        Usually a combo.

        • marty mars

          hmmm I took the delivery as being literal, as in you have no control over being born into affluence or poverty. What happens if you work hard and don’t become affluent – imo hard work is relative, subjective and a red herring in terms of becoming affluent. Most often it is a myth.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Inheritance is a matter of chance. Many many people work hard. Why don’t they all accumulate great wealth? Answer: because wealth is a matter of chance, not merit.

          • vto

            oab and mm, it doesn’t mean that if you work hard you will become affluent, it means that of all those who have become affluent, other than luck or inheritance, it is always achieved by hard work.

            And inheritance as luck?? Sure, it can be argued but it can also be argued that that affluence is a family effort and goes through the generations – thus the affluence is not singular to the individual but rather to the the family over generations.

            But re the post and the ‘poor choices’ mantra – completely agree it is disgusting. It is appalling that Key put that out there and has then continued that, with the consequence that the idea has permeated the consciousness of those without the wisdom/knowledge/experience of being knocked.

            The ‘poor choices’ mantra is 100% pure ugly.

            • weka

              luck, hard work or inheritance.

              Usually a combo.

              I largely agree with this, although I would add that societal structures enable some people’s luck, hard work and inheritance and disable others.

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                not chance alone.

                Pretty much.

                I was thinking wealth in material terms

                Me too.

                I don’t think worth or value – when it comes to people – are best measured in material terms. The value of work – becoming skilled – is rewarding in and of itself.

                Wingnuts love to pretend that wealth equals merit, and that lack of it signals character flaws. It’s self-serving nonsense.

                • weka

                  Just as well I’m not arguing that it’s best to value people in material terms then. Nor am I a wingnut, so not sure what that comment is about.

                  As far as I can’t tell you are saying that it’s all down to luck because you believe it to be so. Fair enough, and I believe differently, but unless we take the conversation further it’s all a bit of a waste of time.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Well, in fact it’s very hard to believe it: it flies very much against what I want to believe.

                    I just don’t see any evidence to contradict it.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Where work is involved, wealth is achieved by being in the right place at the right time with the right idea or skill-set – by chance.

              It has implications for the way society views value and worth, and far from being the amygdala-driven terror of poor Sheep, is just another argument for investment in people rather than capital.

              • weka

                “Where work is involved, wealth is achieved by being in the right place at the right time with the right idea or skill-set – by chance.”

                Very true, and likewise one can be in the right place at the right time and not act and therefore not achieve the change one wants (doesn’t just apply to wealth). So chance alone isn’t necessarily the single determining factor (which is what you appear to be saying).

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Being in a position* to act, another matter of chance.

                  *the requisite temperament or circumstance…

                  • weka

                    yes, and as I said, one can have good luck (or be in the right position by chance) and still not acrue wealth if one doesn’t work (I’m using wealth in a more general sense here btw).

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      …one can have good luck (or be in the right position by chance) and still not accrue wealth if one does work…

                      Another matter of chance.

                      As for the definition of wealth, the wingnut false assertion concerns material wealth (they seem to have an unhealthy fixation on it) so that’s what’s relevant in this context.

                      If society employed sane definitions of wealth worth and value we wouldn’t be having the discussion.

                    • weka

                      “Another matter of chance.”

                      But not chance alone. I can’t tell if you don’t get my point or are deliberately ignoring it.

                      I was thinking wealth in material terms, just not monetary, and wealth across the spectrum, so my middle class family of origin as much as people in the NZ 1%. Anyone who owns property that isn’t in debt to its eyeballs seems wealthy to me.

            • Draco T Bastard

              it means that of all those who have become affluent, other than luck or inheritance, it is always achieved by hard work.

              Even then it’s often due to luck. Being in the right place at the right time or simply knowing the right person.

              Sure, it can be argued but it can also be argued that that affluence is a family effort and goes through the generations – thus the affluence is not singular to the individual but rather to the the family over generations.

              So, you’re arguing that poor people are born into lazy families?

              • weka

                I wouldn’t interpret it that way. I’d say that some families have privilege and luck that others don’t, so their hard work pays off. Other families work hard, but don’t have the luck of privilege to benefit from that so much. Plus societal structures.

                But it is also true that if I don’t go out and weed my garden, I’m way less likely to have to edible food in time. So work is sometimes also a precondition for increasing wealth.

                Of course having the skills to weed, or the ability to do the work might also be luck, inheritance or hard work. And society may block all those things.

                It’s a bit reductionist to say it’s all chance. Lots of factors at play.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  All the factors are a matter of chance. My arguments are evidently inadequate. Read Warren Buffet and George Monbiot on the subject. Or Kahneman on cognitive illusions.

                  • weka

                    You haven’t really made much of an argument, just a lot of repeated assertion. I don’t need to read anyone in particular, because I feel pretty well informed on the subject. If you point to something specific and succinct I’ll take a look but as far as I can tell you are not actually addressing my points.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Your personal anecdote? If I don’t go out and weed my garden I have more time to earn in some other way, and then I can buy food and pay a gardener.

                      That relates to income, not wealth.

                    • weka

                      No, not my personal anecdote (and you’ve misinterpreted that as well), and I know you’re not that dimwitted, so I’m out of here.

            • marty mars

              ” it is always achieved by hard work.”

              imo that just isn’t true – it is just another way of putting it that rich people work harder – they don’t – not to get it, not to keep it. It is a myth.

              • weka

                You have misquoted vto, marty.

                He said,

                oab and mm, it doesn’t mean that if you work hard you will become affluent, it means that of all those who have become affluent, other than luck or inheritance, it is always achieved by hard work.

                If you don’t inherit wealth, or come on it by chance, how else do you get it other than working for it? Genuinely curious. One could be gifted it I guess.

                • Wainwright

                  If you aren’t born to it, hard work doesn’t matter. It’ll still be down to luck. The proof of this is all the people living in poverty who work 80 hour weeks and still can’t feed their kids. Anyone who says they got where they are through hard work are ignoring that somewhere along the way, they got lucky.

                  • Pat

                    the link between hard work and wealth is very easily demonstrated by the answer you give to the question….who do i work for?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Who you work for is a matter of chance. Timing, temperament, etc: you were the right fit for that crew at that time. Oh, and happened to be looking for work.

                      The facts really push people’s buttons eh. Too much personal investment in self-aggrandising bullshit, if you ask me.

                  • weka

                    “Anyone who says they got where they are through hard work are ignoring that somewhere along the way, they got lucky.”

                    I’m certainly not saying that so I suggest you go back and reread what I did say, thanks.

                • No I didn’t misquote, I quoted the relevant bit.

                  Working for it isn’t ‘hard work’ is it? My point is that thinking ‘hard work’ is always a contributer to affluence (after inheritance or luck) is an addendum to meme of progress which I do not agree with. OAB is correct and luck it is for me.

                  • weka

                    Neither vto nor myself have said that hard work is ALWAYS a contributer, or that it comes after inheritance of luck. From what I can tell, you and OAB are arguing that luck is the main and/or sole and determining factor, and vto and I are arguing that there are multiple determining factors depending on the situation.

                    And you did misquote him, you took his words completely out of context and gave them a different meaning.

                    • “other than luck or inheritance, it is always achieved by hard work.”

                      note the word always

                      I did not misquote him and the quote I used was in context and didn’t give any additional meaning other than what he said. You are wrong.

                    • I also note this quote from below from vto “Other than luck or inheritance, wealth is NEVER achieved without hard work.” I can’t see any misunderstanding there apart from your interpretation.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      @Weka, chance is the sole determining factor when it comes to material wealth. You’re effectively arguing that hard work increases your chances of attaining great wealth. I can’t see any supporting evidence for this: hard work manifestly does not correlate to great wealth, and I defy you to demonstrate otherwise with reference to real world data as opposed to personal anecdotes and thought experiments.

                    • weka

                      “You’re effectively arguing that hard work increases your chances of attaining great wealth.”

                      Actually I don’t think that is quite what I am arguing.

                • Molly

                  …. “how else do you get it other than working for it?”….

                  You could learn how to game the system?

                  Some may put all their “hard work” into self-promotion and lies and achieve very high levels of financial success and societal approval.

                  This is especially true of those who already hold a place in society that is privileged in term of opportunity.

                  It does not necessarily mean that that effort is admirable when it is so self-involved.

                  • weka

                    very true Molly, and we might get past the rhetoric if we saw work as having different value and quality depending on how it is done (and the motivations).

                • If you don’t inherit wealth, or come on it by chance, how else do you get it other than working for it? Genuinely curious.

                  Your curiosity is wasted. The view that anyone with money is a loathsome parasite who society would be better off without is held by quite a few commenters here. They’re like the flip side of your typical Kiwiblog commenter, just the target of the irrational hatred is different.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    …anyone with money is a loathsome parasite…

                    Nope, just lucky.

                  • tinfoilhat

                    Well said.

                    • The lost sheep

                      So lets say we have a sample of 100 young people from similar low decile socioeconomic backgrounds.

                      50 of them follow a similar educational pattern to their parents, move into employment at a similar level to their parents, settle into that pattern, make no attempts to achieve upward mobility.

                      50 of them make a conscious choice to move to a higher socioeconomic status than the one they were born into.
                      According to that desire, they achieve higher educational status than their parents, and then move into careers that offer the opportunity for much greater economic mobility than the ‘jobs’ of their parents.

                      Throughout their careers they keep making choices that they believe will maximize their opportunities for upward mobility.
                      No doubt, luck, circumstance and level of effort will be significant factors in the level of success they achieve.

                      But, by the age of 60, by any research I have ever seen on the effect of educational achievement on economic outcomes, the second group will have achieved an average level of affluence that is significantly higher than the first group. (Unless anyone has evidence that suggests that would not be the case?).

                      So in what way would the difference in affluence between the two groups be attributable to ‘pure luck’, as opposed to ‘the choice to achieve higher affluence than their parents’?

                      (And don’t try tell me kids from those backgrounds don’t make such choices. I’m working with such kids all the time.)

                    • tinfoilhat

                      @the lost sheep – my ‘well said’ was in response to psycho milt.

                      As a teacher I find AOBs attitude destructive and self defeating.

                    • Pat

                      @ lost sheep

                      a “choice to achieve higher affluence than their parents’?” may not necessarily involve higher education…..you may be describing any number of drug dealers.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      destructive and self defeating.

                      Which indicates your lack of imagination on the issue, or perhaps that you do not understand the meaning in the phrase “sane definitions of wealth worth and value”.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Note the subtle shift in goalposts from “wealth” to “better economic circumstances than my parents”.

                      You gotta love Sheep’s self-reverencing* “thought” experiments. There are actual, y’know, statistics** available on social and economic mobility. Let’s ignore them in favour of some reckons.

                      *no, this isn’t a typo.

                      **not to mention Epidemiology.

                    • Reddelusion []

                      OAB likes to quote a lot of big words and display his huge intellect, to bad most of it is wasted on BS. I am starting to wonder if it really more about him, ie Educated to the hilt in meaningless arts or social science degrees but he is not revered or as successful as he thinks he should be, so let’s just externalise the problem shall we

                    • The lost sheep


                      Apologies if it looked like I was responding to you. I was addressing the whole thread.
                      I agree with you completely.
                      For many years I have been privileged to give some small support to kids striving to achieve a different story to their parents, and so I know the fantastic things those kids can achieve. It makes me furious that anyone should deny those kids their right to positive free will and self-determination.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Well then, your fury is misplaced: nothing I said justifies it. You simply aren’t thinking about the issue very well. I (charitably) gave you a big hint when I mentioned sane definitions of wealth worth and value.

                      Let’s see if you can unpick that while I put the water on the stove.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Reddelusion you mistake optimism about the human condition for envy, my degree is more practical – and useful in the private not state sector – than academic.

                      Is it possible that you could be wrong about more than your opinion of me? I note you have not made any substantive contribution to this discussion.

                    • Reddelusion []

                      Irrespective of education I think my overall points are pretty closee to the mark

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Show me someone who isn’t as successful as they would like to be and I’ll show you someone lacking ambition and imagination. I note you are clutching at ad hominem arguments like a drowning monkey.

                    • The lost sheep

                      Let’s see if you can unpick that while I put the water on the stove.

                      No problem.
                      The questions the original post and the links it provided was whether ‘poor’ people are poor because of the choices they make and whether or not they are free to make alternative choices.
                      They are the contentions that most commenters on this post have spoken to.

                      You seem to have got caught up in a semantic tangle and left us all under the impression that you were asserting that even the ability to make choices that would avoid or lift you out of poverty was a matter of ‘pure chance’.

                      So to clear up the confusion.
                      Is that what you are implying?
                      Or do you accept that individuals can make choices that do make a difference to whether or not they are ‘poor’?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Yes Sheep, I know you want to believe that very much. Apart from your deeply held thinks, where’s your evidence?

                      You are the one postulating the phenomenon: choice makes you wealthy. You are the one who has to establish it. Mine is merely the null hypothesis.

                    • The lost sheep

                      My evidence is above OAB.

                      I am asserting that there is a huge body of research that suggests that educational achievement is linked to a higher socioeconomic status.
                      To quote just one source of the many I could reference, in NZ “Average earnings are 24% higher for those with a tertiary education compared to those with only upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education”.

                      On that basis I am asserting that people born into a situation of poverty who choose to achieve a tertiary qualification will be be significantly less likely to be in poverty than those who do not.

                      Your ‘null hypothesis’ is that there would be no difference between 2 such groups.
                      Please provide evidence to back that contention?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Sheep, you’re ignoring the huge body of research that demonstrates the fact that household income is the most important factor in educational achievement.

                    • The lost sheep

                      Do you really think you have fooled the good readers of this blog into thinking you have answered my point OAB?
                      You must have a very low opinion of their average intelligence!

                      Could you please address my point directly?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      I already did: it’s part of your goalpost shift.

                    • The lost sheep

                      There is only one reason people refuse to give a direct honest answer a simple question that is well within their intellectual power to comprehend, and that is because they know that to give an honest answer would compromise a position they don’t want challenged.

                      So as you won’t answer, I am going to take that as evidence the point has been established.

                      People born into a situation of poverty who choose to achieve a tertiary qualification will be be significantly less likely to be in poverty than those who do not.

                      Moving on, the important message that comes out of that is that we should do everything in our power to support young people in poverty to chose that path if they show the slightest inclination to do so.

                      As the OPs link demonstrate, there is no doubt that choices made early can have a hugely significant influence on the number and quality of choices available to those in poverty later in life.

                    • Hi the lost sheep,

                      Why do some people ‘choose’ to achieve educationally while others do not? (Do you even think that question should be asked?)

                      Are there no influences on that ‘free’ choice?

                      More generally – in relation to the topic of this thread – why do some people ‘choose’ to work hard while others do not ‘choose’ to work hard?

                      I’m trying to work out whether or not you think there are causes and reasons why people make different choices.

                      If you dothink there are causes and reasons for different choices then you don’t need to talk about free will – you just need to arrange things for others (and yourself, presumably) to make it more likely that those effectual causes and reasons influence them into doing (in your language ‘choosing’) what will be good for their wellbeing.

                      If you don’t think there are causes and reasons for why people make different choices then is it really possible to hold people to account for the strangely cosmic, ‘uncaused’ ‘roll of the dice’ that has left them making a particular choice? (e.g., not to educate themselves)

                      I fully get the desire to allow for the fact that people’s lives can be made better than they are, but I don’t see what ‘free will’ has to do with that project. People can learn ‘self-determination’ without having to claim that that somehow involves this odd notion of ‘free will’.

                      They can learn self-determination and self-control in the way that we learn everything – and learning is known to occur better in certain circumstances than others. That is to say, learning can be determined (probabilistically, at least).

                      And, surely, one’s ‘will’ (free or otherwise) and its quality or ‘strength’ comes from somewhere and was produced by some forces that pre-date it?

                      You mention the small way you contribute to helping kids achieve. Aren’t you then assuming that you will be a cause that will ‘sway’ their ‘choices’? So their choices aren’t expressions of ‘free will’ but straightforward outcomes of the influence of your presence in their lives? (Which is great.)

                      I’m not a materialist determinist, but neither do I believe that people have free will.

                      I’ve always assumed that I don’t have free will – and that assumption hasn’t harmed my life prospects, mood, motivation, curiosity, enjoyment of life, relationships, ability to do what I want or anything else.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Sheep, speaking of avoidance – I wonder if you will pause to consider a response to Puddleglum’s argument this time it’s presented to you.

                      If individuals have the agency you suggest, how come neo-liberalism destroys so much wealth? Why does unemployment go up under National governments?

                      And why are you trying to shift the goal-posts from “great wealth” to “better than the conditions I was born into”?

                    • If you dothink there are causes and reasons for different choices then you don’t need to talk about free will – you just need to arrange things for others (and yourself, presumably) to make it more likely that those effectual causes and reasons influence them into doing (in your language ‘choosing’) what will be good for their wellbeing.

                      If effectual causes and reasons “influence” choices, that nevertheless means people have a choice. You seem to be more in line with Draco’s structuralist bullshit that these causes and reasons “control” choices and that people have no free will to choose between one course of action and another.

                      If you don’t think there are causes and reasons for why people make different choices then is it really possible to hold people to account for the strangely cosmic, ‘uncaused’ ‘roll of the dice’ that has left them making a particular choice?

                      Likewise, if you believe there’s no such thing as free will, is it really possible to hold people to account for something they have no control over?

                    • The lost sheep

                      PG, I agree completely that we are all largely the product of antecedent events and conditions, our environment, ‘luck’, casual factors we are exposed to during our lives, etc.
                      But within that complex interplay I do also believe that we have a degree of ‘Free Will’ that is sufficient to allow us to make deliberate and calculated choices that do have significant effects on the lives of ourselves and others.

                      I am not alone in this view of course. My understanding Is every society on Earth has a consensus that individuals do have a degree of free will, and therefore they will be held responsible for their actions in accordance with the degree of free will they were able to exercise in choosing their actions.

                      You and OAB can philosophise all you like about the non existence of free will, but should either of you transgress accepted societal limits of behavior, you will find yourselves being held accountable for your exercise of it.
                      ‘Casual determinism fired the gun M’Lord’ ain’t going to cut it.
                      The accepted reality trumps the philosophy I’m happy to point out.

                      Why do some people ‘choose’ to achieve educationally while others do not? (Do you even think that question should be asked?)
                      And all the other questions you pose….

                      How many pages would it take to answer those questions! Given the interplay I note above, and the complexity of the individual brain and human society, I would think there might be 4 billion + answers.

                      The point in contention here is that either there is some point at which an individual has the opportunity to consciously think through factors/options/possibilities/probabilities/outcomes/etc, and make a deliberate choice on the action they will take…
                      Or there is not.
                      As above. Abstract philosophers can tottle off the the corner and amuse themselves with academic speculations, while the real world ploughs ahead on the concrete understanding they do (Unless you’d like to disprove that is the case?).

                      In the cases I have a small involvement in providing a little ‘influence’, there is always one qualification necessary before a specific individual is ‘offered’ any support.
                      They must have shown a determined and sustained effort to achieve a goal that their immediate environment is not able to fully support. We long ago realised that ‘influence’ can only succeed where an individual is fully committed to a personal goal, and actively seeking assistance in achieving it. What you might call an aspect of free will and deliberate choice is necessary for influence to be beneficial.

                      Why do those individuals make those choices? (And there are lots of such kids). In my experience there are 2 main drivers.
                      First is a passionate interest in some particular area. ‘I’m fascinated by the workings of the human body so I want to become a Doctor’.
                      Second is a desire to live at a higher standard. ‘I don’t want my kids to go without the things i did’.
                      In both these cases the individuals I have been lucky enough to know are always perfectly conscious of their ability to exercise a degree of free will, and exercising calculated choices to achieve the goals they have chosen.

                      Why do some chose to do so and some don’t?
                      Once again. There are a few billion answers.
                      In all that complexity, and all that causation, there are moments at which the individual finds themself in a space with a little freedom to assert some control over the universe.

                      And so they take it. Kia kaha to them!

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      You and OAB can philosophise all you like about the non existence of free will, but should either of you transgress accepted societal limits of behavior, you will find yourselves being held accountable for your exercise of it.

                      Sheep, are you reading or paying attention to anything on this thread?

                      Neurolaw – look it up.

                    • [I tried to post a ‘lengthy’ comment earlier this afternoon but it seems to have got lost in the cyber-ether. So I’ll try to do it in two parts – this comment and a following one. I’ve had to rewrite it from memory – but I’m not afraid of hard work 🙂 ]

                      This is a really interesting thread (well, at least to me).

                      Thanks to the lost sheep and Psycho Milt for your comments.

                      If effectual causes and reasons “influence” choices, that nevertheless means people have a choice. You seem to be more in line with Draco’s structuralist bullshit that these causes and reasons “control” choices and that people have no free will to choose between one course of action and another.

                      A good part of what this thread is about seems to be the remarkable ability humans have to be aware of ‘possibility’ (e.g., alternative courses of action or ways the world could be) and using that ability to become autonomous individuals and exercise some control over their lives.

                      My view is that people can indeed come to exert control over their lives and can learn to do this to a greater or lesser extent. How they become able to do this is really interesting. But I don’t think this ability arises from some – and I’ll use the phrase again – strangely uncaused roll of the metaphysical dice (i.e., by the ‘gift’ of free will).

                      I think this amazing human capacity arises instead from a combination of developmental, neurodevelopmental, cognitive, affective and interpersonal processes. Fortunately, to some degree or another these processes are part of most individuals’ development.

                      And, importantly, these processes are becoming better and better understood – as are the circumstances in which they are best achieved and the circumstances that tend to undermine them.

                      Lev Vygotsky’s approach detailed one way to understand how – through the convergence of speech and what he called ‘practical intelligence’ – young infants can come to internalise abilities with language to the point that they provide our capacities for ‘forethought’, ‘planning’, etc. (what Vygotsky called the ‘higher psychological processes’).

                      If you’ve ever heard a child guide its own actions by referring to itself in the third person then you get the basic idea (that’s the transition process to internalising the ability to ’plan’, be self-aware, etc.).

                      These are, of course, just the kinds of abilities that are probably meant by the philosophically fraught notion of ‘free will’. To be able to ‘plan’, for example, allows a sense of control over one’s destiny. (I’d really recommend Vygotsky’s translated book ‘Mind in Society’ to anyone interested in all of this.)

                      I should also point out that this view isn’t “structuralist bullshit”.

                      By that term I presume you mean the notion that broad social and economic processes determine individuals’ behaviour completely.

                      That (parody of a) structural analysis is clearly not what I’m talking about. If everything was structural where would there be room in the causal story for the developmental, neurodevelopmental, cognitive, affective and interpersonal processes just mentioned?

                      And it is differences in those subtle processes that give rise to much of our ‘individuality’ and, at the same time, to the kinds and extent of ‘planning’ or ‘forethought’ that each one of us exercises or fails to exercise.

                      To summarise, I think that even our ability to be autonomous agents is dependent upon ‘circumstances’ – not on our ‘free will’.

                      So why does the idea of ‘free will’ matter so much to us and to society?

                      TBC …

                    • Part 2

                      Likewise, if you believe there’s no such thing as free will, is it really possible to hold people to account for something they have no control over?

                      Yes, it’s obviously possible to hold people to account in this way. As both the lost sheep and yourself (Psycho Milt) agree, in just about every society (maybe every society) that’s exactly what humans do and have always done – they hold each other to account. So it’s definitely possible to do so.

                      But that holding to account is simply part of our sociality and therefore there is no need to say that it is justified because people possess something called ‘free will’.

                      It is simply what human sociality is like (and how it has evolved to operate).

                      Bluntly, humans regulate each other by ‘taking’ each other as responsible for the actions each individual carries out – that’s why humans experience shame, embarrassment, guilt, pride, etc. and why we long for praise, respect and acknowledgment from others.

                      In evolutionary terms that ‘holding each other to account’ has been a remarkably successful approach to organising ourselves.

                      But evolution, of course, did not need to justify that process of holding each other to account by making the claim that it is morally ok because humans have free will..

                      Yet – for these same reasons – we are very much into justification of our actions. In fact, that might be one reason why we have to claim that humans possess free will – we notice that we are, in fact, holding each other to account and so we look for some reason to justify it. We claim that the reason we do that is because we know that all people have free will.

                      But here’s where it gets interesting.

                      My view is that people are indeed ‘autonomous cooperators’. There’s a lot of research in support of the predisposition to cooperate and that this predisposition is fundamental to the kind of sociality humans have.

                      But it’s the ‘autonomous’ part that is related to this discussion. ‘Autonomy’ just means ‘self-government’.

                      For human sociality, that capacity for individual autonomy is what human society and culture has used to organise and coordinate their individual members.

                      We’re quite lucky in that regard – it doesn’t depend on strict dominance hierarchies, as with chimpanzees, or genetic ‘wiring’ for division of labour as in the social insects.

                      Individual autonomy is how human groups, in effect, ‘control’ their members.

                      I know that sounds counterintuitive but you can see that it’s the case because the ‘ideal’ autonomous person is always one whose ‘decisions’ about how to govern themselves happen to be ones that are usually ‘acceptable’, ‘compatible’, ’appropriate’ and ‘constructive’ in the context of the group and, importantly, are understood to maintain the group’s viability.

                      What makes this pretty esoteric discussion relevant to politics is this notion of autonomy.

                      First, unlike ‘free will’ this kind of autonomy is a naturally produced ability and there’s quite a lot that is known about it and the conditions that encourage it to be produced (i.e., what determines it).

                      Second, I’d say that personally one of the reasons I see myself as on ‘the left’ is that I think the political project is to organise a society to maximise the likelihood that it will generate as many ’autonomous cooperators’ as possible.

                      By contrast, I think to be right wing is to assume that social and economic arrangements are already pretty optimal for producing such people (or are roughly ‘good enough’) and therefore all that policy should do is target the recalcitrant people who, through acts of ‘free will’, abuse such an optimal social and economic arrangement (e.g., through acting criminally, not ‘working hard’, ’social loafing’, etc.).

                      Because of that understanding, policy on the right is often about ‘disincentivising’ troublesome behaviour at the level of individuals.

                      In other words, the left tries to ‘engineer’ society to produce ‘autonomous cooperators’ while the right tries to ‘engineer’ individual behaviour to make sure ‘autonomous’ individuals stay in line and ‘cooperate’.

                      Or something like that.

                    • The lost sheep

                      All I ask from a blog or any other discussion PG,.. enjoyed that intensely, and given my lack of a formal education, i will need to think it over closely before reply…

                    • Incognito

                      @ Puddleglum

                      ”Do not pull at the difficult head, this teetering bulb of dread and dream …”

                      From The Floor – Poem by Russell Edson

                    • @the lost sheep

                      Much appreciated.

                      I learn a lot from these kinds of discussions and, in particular, am forced to think more deeply when people counter my arguments. That’s a big reason why I’m here.

                      I’ll try to keep track of the thread – the ‘day job’ does take top priority, of course.

                    • The lost sheep

                      PG, fascinating though your discussion of ‘the philosophically fraught notion of free will’ is, I think we drifted away from the original post, which addressed the availability of ‘choice’ in the real world.

                      Post getting a bit stale, but at least we have agreed that people do in fact have choices, and to some extent can ‘become autonomous individuals and exercise some control over their lives.’

                      Lets just put a marker in the sand on that one, and when the inevitable next edition of the debate arises, we can start from that point without running back over the same old ground?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Lets just put a marker in the sand on that one

                      An entirely dishonest and self-serving interpretation of Puddleglum’s considered response, translated as “In future, for Sheep, it will be as though this discussion didn’t occur”.

                    • The lost sheep

                      According to my Oxford, ‘Choice’ is defined as…
                      ‘An act of choosing between two or more possibilities’.

                      PG puts it…
                      ‘the remarkable ability humans have to be aware of ‘possibility’ (e.g., alternative courses of action or ways the world could be) and using that ability to become autonomous individuals and exercise some control over their lives.’

                      Although he does seem to share your aversion for the ‘c’ word, he is clearly agreeing with the contention that people can and do make choices between possibilities.

                      He does also go on to agree that…
                      ‘just about every society (maybe every society) that’s exactly what humans do and have always done – they hold each other to account. (for things they have ‘control’ over).’

                      So we agree, on this at least…
                      Choice exists, and the human collective expects individuals to be personally accountable for it.

                      As this is an oft argued subject, I suggest we now take this as a given, and next time a suitable topic comes up we can go directly to consideration of ‘free will’, ‘autonomy’, ‘control’, ‘influence’ and other themes on which we obviously still have significant differences.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      @Puddleglum, so,

                      People can attain a degree of autonomy and self-control (within externally defined parameters) under certain outside influences, which affect individuals to one degree or another.

                      If, by chance, an individual attains this autonomy, does that predict material wealth? For one thing people with autonomy often conclude that material wealth is irrelevant to their satisfaction.

                      the left tries to ‘engineer’ society to produce ‘autonomous cooperators’ while the right tries to ‘engineer’ individual behaviour to make sure ‘autonomous’ individuals stay in line and ‘cooperate’.

                      It’s clear which of these strategies is the more successful: the Right always manages to reduce autonomy, driving wages down and unemployment up.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Sheep, no, your interpretation is simply the position you started with: you haven’t taken any of PG’s points on board, particularly the extent to which external factors are responsible for character development.

                      Not to mention that, as child poverty statistics show, in your own terms, the National Party is a poor choices factory.

                    • The lost sheep

                      Agree there are many constraints that play on the individuals ability to make choices OAB, but as indicated above, lets consider those on a fresher thread.

                      How do you ‘engineer autonomous cooperation’ without reducing individual autonomy?

                      Is it a voluntary cooperation, with no constraint on the individual who chooses not to be ‘engineered’ in a specific manner?

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      Let’s also not forget how Puddleglums’ contributions to this issue began:

                      I would really like someone – of left or right persuasion – to tell me how people make ‘choices’ in any sense that is useful in the context of a political discussion.

                      And yet you keep on trying as hard as you can to misinterpret, re-define, anything that means your opinion hasn’t moved an inch.

                      Real world data show that since 2007, according to you, tens of thousands of people have become poor choice makers (and that’s just counting unemployment statistics). It’s fucking ridiculous and you might feel ashamed by it.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    “irrational hatred” is a thing, certainly. Is that what’s going on here?

                    Nope. This discussion relates to victim-blaming and the self-attribution fallacy, both sides of the same coin, which distort public economic and social discourse.

                    There are acknowledged consequences for the justice system, for example, so while it may suit you and the denizens of Kiwiblog to characterise the discussion as hate speech, in fact it is precisely the opposite.

        • Gangnam Style

          “Either luck, hard work or inheritance.
          Usually a combo.” – ahem Max Key cough cough

        • vto

          J P Getty on how to strike oil:

          “Get up early and work hard every day. One day strike oil”

          This is the combo approach, which is the most common imo. Kinda fits with oab’s dogma above… but is not the sole way as some people simply grind out years of hard work to get there (that hard work including placing themselves carefully within the system)

          Other than luck or inheritance, wealth is NEVER achieved without hard work.

          • One Anonymous Bloke


            Actually it’s optimism: material wealth is never achieved without luck, and this being so, people might be free to apply themselves to something worthwhile instead.

            • vto

              I think your understanding of the “luck” element is so wide as to be of little use.

              All of life would be luck in that case. Maybe it is, but then it doesn’t help in trying to understand how wealth is achieved by people.

              Perhaps you mean more fate than luck, which would lead to the hoary old debate about the nature of said fate and whether we create our own or not…

              • One Anonymous Bloke

                It’s part of the same argument – longitudinal studies of twins undermine belief in free will and fate.

                I think it’s the question that makes no sense – wealth and capital is a lens through which to see the world, and it distorts much of our thinks.

                Progress – achievement, mastery of a subject or discipline is its own reward. We may not have free will or choice – and look what we made all the same. In this context, vast income inequalities make no sense, and once they get out of control – as the OECD points out, actively destroy wealth, the only measure that moves some of their acolytes, if their rhetoric is anything to go by.

                Anyway I’ve a garden to enjoy and a cold beer in the fridge. Cheers.

                • vto

                  hmmmmm, will have to think on it some more…. very big subject

                  Enjoy the beer and garden, our tomatoes and peppers planted this morning have just been nailed by the hailstorm..

      • starboard 5.2.3

        Pure bollocks. Im not from an affluent family but I’ve done very well for myself these past 40 years. Its called hard work, no ciggies, no lotto tickets, no alcohol. Prioritise.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          Um, yes, if no-one ever became wealthy I’d say that the chance of it happening is zero.

          That’s not what I’m saying. Do you know what the self-attribution fallacy is?

          • Draco T Bastard

            The Self-Attribution Fallacy

            If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire. The claims that the ultra-rich 1% make for themselves – that they are possessed of unique intelligence or creativity or drive – are examples of the self-attribution fallacy. This means crediting yourself with outcomes for which you weren’t responsible. Many of those who are rich today got there because they were able to capture certain jobs. This capture owes less to talent and intelligence than to a combination of the ruthless exploitation of others and accidents of birth, as such jobs are taken disproportionately by people born in certain places and into certain classes.

        • Puddleglum

          Hi starboard,

          Why do some people ‘prioritise’ in that way and others don’t? What causes the difference?

          And for the sake of making progress in the discussion, please don’t say ‘Because some people choose to prioritise in that way’.

          I want to know why some people choose ‘X’ and some people choose ‘Y’ in their lives.

  6. The Fairy Godmother 6

    The ‘bad choices’ mantra is awful. In fact the ‘choices’ mantra is as well. It is really pernicious and I have heard it said by early childhood teachers. Ie. you can either choose to do (whatever the teacher wants sit on the mat wash your hands etc) or (teacher’s name) will help you. Awful and a straight out lie and we are teaching this to young children. The choices are always what the person in power offers. I think it blocks out other choices people may have such as collectively organise and strike for better conditions etc.

  7. Tracey 7

    Great post and links. Thanks.

  8. srylands 8

    Poor life outcomes are a combination of poor choices, bad luck, and genes. That is not controversial.

    But poor choices make a major contribution. All this is very well understood, even in New Zealand going back more than a decade.

    I suggest that the author of this post could benefit from reading this seminal analysis by Treasury in 2002. “Investing in Wellbeing”. Rather than simply hand wringing it provides a framework for policy choices to improve life outcomes. It is also the antecedent for the Living Standards Framework employed by the Treasury to guide policy thinking on living standards.

    Click to access twp02-23.pdf

    • Korero Pono 8.1

      Srylands – I suggest you could benefit from reading the links to which the article refers.

      Regardless of what you claim to be the cause of ‘poor life outcomes’, one thing is certain, there are those in our society who benefit from those outcomes. ‘poor life outcomes’ are not inevitable, but it certainly does not help when people such as yourself justify these outcomes and blame those most affected, rather than looking how the system/policies and indeed the systemic violence perpetuated against the most vulnerable are implicated in the situation.

      Inequality and poverty have increased significantly in New Zealand since the neo-liberal reforms of the 80s and 90s, alongside that so have various social problems, there is a direct correlation between growing inequality and poverty and ‘poor life outcomes’.

      Regardless of what Treasury are using for a ‘framework for policy choices to improve life outcomes’, it appears, given it was published in 2002, they are not doing a very good job at it, are they? If they were, then social problems would not be on the increase, inequality would not be on the increase, child poverty would not be on the increase…need I go on?

    • Unfortunately, that report doesn’t consider the ways in which broad economic policy settings provide the structural framework within which ‘poor outcomes’ are either multiplied or reduced.

      The authors seem rather focused on individual differences rather than population level ‘epidemiological’ analyses of the effect of broad policy settings on population wellbeing.

      It’s as if they only think ‘policy’ operates in some ‘targeted’ way for ‘at risk’ individuals. Hence the focus on ‘risks’, etc.. And it’s almost as if they think the less attention focused on the broad economic settings as causal factors, the better.

      When they do dip their toes into broader issues such as income inequality or social capital (page 28) they very quickly attempt to downplay the correlations reported and revert to lower-level factors as predictors (such as “high school educational attainment” and “individual family characteristics”) and try to assuage any worries that society-wide economic outcomes play any role.

      It’s a classic way to finesse societal-level analysis.

      Family’, ‘school’ and ‘community’ is about as social-level as their analysis gets.

      Overall, far too much reliance on theory in developmental psychology and a focus on individual differences to provide a comprehensive overview of likely policy options.

      Very constrained and limited analysis and thinking.

  9. srylands 9


    “the scene has been set to ensure that the reserve work force of beneficiaries creates the necessary competition for employers to have even more control and power over employees”


    … is bullshit. For skilled and experienced workers most employers face significant shortages in labour.

    Most immigrants with skills on the attached list can apply for and most likely receive a work visa.


    All you have to do is walk into any workplace in Wellington and Auckland and hear the Canadian, American, British and increasingly Australian ascents to see this in action.

    So please ditch your 1970s mantra “the pool of unemployed keeps wages down”. It belongs in the tabloids from 40 years ago.

    Even the readers of The Standard deserve better than such crap.

    • Korero Pono 9.1

      Srylands, what an interesting reply, almost angry, certainly antagonistic. I can understand your angst, it is disconcerting when those who benefit from right wing propaganda see the illusion that benefits them slipping. God forbid the masses actually start to see the system for what it really is.

      Unlike the 70’s, neo-liberalism has become so entrenched into the psyches of the general populace that the consequence of capitalism is accepted to the point that even those who are the victims of such ideology believe that they are to blame or just not good enough.

      Regardless of what I write Syrlands, one has to question why someone who appears to hold the Standard in contempt would come here to read this ‘crap’, while contributing their own brand of crap to the mix? Maybe that is something you might like to think about and enlighten us, without resorting to attacks and angry outbursts.

      • Anne 9.1.1

        It is good to have srylands here Korero Pono – a reminder to all of us there is a sad subset of individuals whose minds are twisted and full of hate. They are people who are severely fragile with their own securities – or to be more correct the lack of them – so they have to look to the perceived vulnerable among us for verification of their presumed superior status.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 9.1.2

        S Rylands personally profits by concocting policy arguments in favour of the indefensible. He feels threatened because when enough people realise what you say is true he’ll be unemployable.

      • Tautuhi 9.1.3

        Interesting most people working at McDonalds these days are University graduates the shortage of skilled workers in NZ is BS, most qualified people in NZ struggle to get a job because there is no work out there, that is a fact.

        • Psycho Milt

          Most university graduates are educated, not skilled. Only a few degree programmes are for job qualifications – almost all science, social science and arts/humanities degrees confer no job qualification. Educated people may be less likely to be unemployed and taking whatever work they can find than uneducated people, but it’s not that much less.

    • The Fairy Godmother 9.2

      mmm have you been involved in union negotiations lately? Workers have no rights and employers can just walk away and say like it or lump it. Very frustrating and it seems like like it or lump it is actually the choice that workers have. Not in my book any sort of good choice at all. Also I think that the person who cleans the toilets is just as valuable to an organisation than say the doctor who does the operations. So perhaps we need to stop saying the cleaner just made poor choices. How would it be if somehow we could all choose what we wanted to do and everyone in the hospital was a surgeon and there were no orderlies or cleaners? Also if employers want people with skills they should do some forward planning and train people and not expect state handouts to solve their problems.

      • Korero Pono 9.2.1


      • acrophobic 9.2.2

        “Workers have no rights and employers can just walk away and say like it or lump it.”

        Nonsense. If you ran a business you would achieve some understanding of the real position that exists. There are many and varied safeguards protecting workers rights (and rightly so), and there are a fairly equal number of ratbag employees and employers.

        “Also I think that the person who cleans the toilets is just as valuable to an organisation than say the doctor who does the operations. ”

        The person is, of course. But the job certainly isn’t. And that’s the point. If you want everyone to be paid the same, I can recommend some delightful totalitarian regimes you could and live in.

        • The Fairy Godmother

          Really. The job isnt. Ok lets see the rise in hepatitis and other illneses coming out of hospitals if the toilets arent cleaned. The safeguards are fast going. Employers no longer legally have to negotiate with uniohs. Look at zero hour contracts. I could go on.

          • acrophobic

            If you’re arguing that a cleaner should be paid the same as a surgeon, despite the vast differences in responsibility, education, training, then you’re insane.

            On negotiations, most employees and employers negotiate in good faith. In some situations the employer holds the stronger cards, in some the employee. The market sets the rate of pay, and that’s the way it should be.

        • Korero Pono

          Acrophobic, I understand that there are “many and varied safeguards protecting workers rights”, however and based on my scant knowledge of such things, I wonder how many employers weigh up the cost benefits of not adhering to these ‘safeguards’ and any punitive action that may result from that. From what I have read, it appears that remedies for breaching employment conditions/contracts and the like are met with nothing more than a wet bus ticket, which does not appear to compensate the affected employees sufficiently to negate the harm caused. I am aware of cases personally (as I am sure many of us are) where harm caused by the employer’s overt and often covert behaviour has not been compensated sufficiently. Moreover, whilst these ‘safeguards’ exist, so does the unequal power relations, in which employers can and often do force employees to accept lesser conditions at the employer’s whim (the Talley’s debacle is an example of this). I wonder how much protection these ‘safeguards’ actually provide workers, particularly those desperate for every hour of work they can get and chained to every measly hour of pay. It is amazing how much abuse someone will tolerate when they know their livelihood and that of their family is at risk.

          • acrophobic

            Hi Korero…there are employers who abuse their position, just as there are employees. I’ve had the misfortune to meet both over the years, and a fair few ratbag unionists along the way. But after nearly 40 years of being both employer and employee, I wouldn’t change the system we have now for anything I’ve seen in the past. The current power balance is about right.

            • Korero Pono

              At acro – are you serious? From whose perspective are you making that statement, an employee or an employer?

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          A classic example of low quality “thinking” on the topic: on Planet Acrophobic, the only alternative to low wages and conditions is that everyone is paid the same.

          Do you suppose the sub-standard imaginative qualities are a consequence of the distended amygdala?

          • acrophobic

            Who is arguing for low wages? NZ certainly doesn’t have a low wage economy, and I certainly have never advocated for one.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              If you want everyone to be paid the same, I can recommend some delightful totalitarian regimes you could and live in.

              Why did you bring it up then? No-one is arguing that everyone be paid the same.

              You may not feel as though you support low wages and conditions, and yet here you are, doing your own little bit to enable them.

    • RedBaronCV 9.3

      We have a long term skills shortage list, and an immediate skills shortage list. Both of these are fairly restricted and about what you’d expect.
      We also have the list Srylands has referred to which is the list of skilled occupations which also require migrants to have the required points in other areas.
      This list is far far wider than the first two lists and covers plenty of occupations that there are no shortage of applicants and there never has been.
      Why the various lists don’t marry up is anyone’s guess but leaving this list wide open keeps wages down.

      • Craig H 9.3.1

        They are different lists because they meet different purposes. The Essentials Skills In Demand lists (aka Shortage Lists) are maintained to create a streamlined work visa process, and a streamlined residence process for the Long Term Skill Shortage List (LTSSL).

        The skilled occupation list is the foundation of the residence category known as the Skilled Migrant Category (SMC). It is all skill level 1-3 occupations on the Australia New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations (ANZSCO), and is there to increase capacity and access to skills.

        We could certainly change the skilled occupation list for SMC to be more reflective of required skills, but that’s basically what the LTSSL is.

        • RedBaronCV

          Thanks Craig.
          Srylands is trying to say that the SMC list means that employers can’t find staff for the jobs on the list and this means that there is no wages bid down associated with these jobs.
          Any quick glance at this list shows lots of jobs where there are plenty of local contenders so essentially Srylands is talking rubbish – no surprise there.

          But how do we go about getting jobs off the SMC list and make it closer to the shortage lists.
          If Bill English ever wants to get a smaller deficit then having a large chunk of people on the unemployed list is mega expensive – and a massive taxpayer subsidy towards employers for keeping their wages bills down. At a rough calculation the subsidy is around 10% for the bulk of the payroll jobs in the country (leaving out the upper executive type remuneration )

          If he’s so keen on the “investment approach” why doesn’t he apply it here – basic unemployment costs must be over $1.6billion a year. The cost of unchecked migration when there is underemployment is huge.

          • Craig H

            The Operations Manual aka Immigration Instructions are maintained by Immigration NZ based on direction from the Minister of Immigration, which may, in turn, be based on Cabinet decisions/policy. In principle, the mechanism of updating/amending Immigration Instructions is straightforward, so the government/Minister could easily change them if they so wished.

            That said, that level of change to the Skilled Migrant Category would probably be Cabinet-level since it’s a fundamental change in policy. It’s also worth noting that while National brought in the new Immigration Act 2009, it was mostly designed by Labour and the concepts of Shortage Lists and SMC were in place well before National were elected – indeed, the objectives of SMC have not changed since 17/12/2003.

            http://www.immigration.govt.nz/migrant/general/generalinformation/review.htm is also relevant here.

            • RedBaronCV

              Yep got that but wouldn’t it make sense to lower SMC points when we have large unemployment ( maybe giving a few points to the skilled shortage category) and raising the total number of points to qualify – which is a cutoff change but not a policy change.
              I understand that we did the original immigration revamp when he queue was about $05.m long which is ridiculous for a country this size. But even now I see people gaining residency in categories where there is no shortage of skilled labour already and we are not bring our own graduates through into the workforce.

              • Craig H

                It’s much easier to move the points total required to attain SMC than to tinker with the point values of various areas, as the selection point (points total) for SMC is set every 6 months (it hasn’t changed for years, but the mechanism is there) but either way, that could be an option. Some care is required because currently, if someone has skilled employment, or an offer of skilled employment (i.e. in an occupation on the list of skilled occupations), they will usually qualify for SMC with points to spare e.g. a 25 year old accountant with a Bachelor degree, 4 years work experience and a job offer will qualify for:

                job = 50 points
                degree = 50 points
                work experience = 15 points
                age = 30 points
                Total = 145 points (currently require 100 points to qualify)

                If she studied and currently works in NZ, she will qualify for up to another 35 points (10 for the NZ study, 15 for the NZ work experience, 10 for 12 months in the current job). If her job is outside Auckland, that’s currently another 30 points (it used to be 10).

                The selection point would have to move substantially to have any significant impact on that type of scenario, so there is merit in adjusting how many points are awarded for different features. IMO, we over-value skilled employment as it’s effectively worth 90-100 points at the current selection points, and a number of categories of bonus points are only available if someone has skilled employment. This is a major cause of contention, not to mention immigration fraud, and changing the selection points and/or the values of skilled employment would help alleviate this.

                Increasing the selection point and the points awarded based on features of the LTSSL would be one way to push SMC towards areas of skills shortage.

                Adding or removing occupations from the list of skilled occupations according to current and projected demand would be another option – the Aussies do this already.

                All that said, SMC is about increasing NZ capacity permanently – a skill shortage is not necessarily permanent (the LTSSL changes from time to time), but residence is, so even if SMC is based more around current supply and demand issues, there is still the potential for issues later on regardless.

  10. Olwyn 10

    What Sanctuary said at 23 in the Flagpole Sitta thread is pertinent here:

    The way in which the John Key fanbois/National supporters are pushing this flag debate… is symptomatic of their divisive approach to our society and of their blithe delegitimisation of any opposition beyond the 50% + 1 they think they need to further their agenda.

    We do have austerity in NZ, but since it doesn’t affect 50% + 1 it is largely excluded from public debate, and is certainly lent no urgency. John Key has in fact done everything that Don Brash threatened, incrementally, but only to those who fall outside of the 50% +1. Moreover, where poverty is concerned he follows the same sort of two-track system as was described in DP: get a minister to release something to indicate that these people are vile and stupid, then say or do something to show that he is nice to them, perhaps even too nice. But one thing is certain – he will not voluntarily give an inch to those outside of the 50% +1 that he needs on his side, give or take a percentage point.

  11. keith ross 11

    “Poor life outcomes are a combination of poor choices, bad luck, and genes. That is not controversial. ” I would have to say that genes in this sentence is very controversial. It is easy for the uneducated to misunderstand that ” born in the right family” has in this context nothing to do with “genes”. While genes can have some trait that may cause abnormality in health or physical forms they have no more relationship to “poor life outcomes” than if you drink tea or coffee for most people.
    When your snouts in the trough it is easy to feel justified in blaming others for their own lack of troughing ability .

    • Korero Pono 11.1


    • Tautuhi 11.2

      Interesting most people working at McDonalds these days are University graduates the shortage of skilled workers in NZ is BS, most qualified people in NZ struggle to get a job because there is no work out there, that is a fact.

    • Tautuhi 11.3

      Troughing is the name of the game and has been around since the 1980’s when the pigs got their noses into the selling off of State Assets, it was the easiest money in town.

    • Wainwright 11.4

      People like sylands have to convince themselves they got their success thru hard work. If they had to acknowledge how much just got handed to them on a plate they’d have nothing to feel proud of.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 11.4.1


        Alternatively, they could feel proud of things that have some value. Or decide that pride is a mistake (cf: seven deadly sins).

  12. Richard Christie 12


    Women’s work fear: Done at 50

    Middle-aged females struggling to land job need to create their own luck, say experts.

    The subliminal message here is that if you are over 50s and remain unemployed it is because you don’t make the proper effort.

    It’s your fault.

    • Wainwright 12.1

      Menawhile our govt makes it impossible for older wokrers to retrain and upskill by slashing student loan entitlements. Create your own luck by leaving the country, more like.

  13. Pat 13


    not as bleak as Linda’s story but the theme resonates and the causes are the same

  14. NZJester 14

    Don’t forget those people in the National party that are where they are now thanks to a lot of the same benefits they received themselves that they have denied other from obtaining as a government.
    The very work scheme that helped Paula Bennett get to where she is was ones that got scrapped under National and who was it that announced the scrapping of that scheme. The very person who had benefited from it in the past.
    John key as a young kid had the luxury of having a state house over his head, something his government has denied to a large number of people on the housing waiting list. They try to claim people are turning down state hoses for trivial reasons, but I would hardly take their word for it as they have been know to obfuscate the truth.
    The real reason some have turned down the houses in reality I’m told is some are just not actually in a live in condition.
    Then there is the fact that they would have enjoyed a nice free education, something a lot of people these days now saddled with a huge dept did not get. Then there are those who did not seek higher education due to the fear of that debt hanging over their heads.
    Some of the higher qualifications also seam out of reach of the poor due to the large amounts of money needed to obtain them.

    • Hami Shearlie 14.1

      Exactly! If the National Party that Paula Bennett loves so much, had been in power when she was a solo mum with a small child (one of her bad choices according to Srylands I would imagine), she would have had no training allowances and other help for her higher education – Where would she be now if she hadn’t had all that help to succeed? It’s rather funny she’s such a fan of the National Party, considering that under them, her future would have been a far cry from what she has now, and it sure wouldn’t have been pretty!

      • left for deadshark 14.1.1

        Nah ..yeh.

        it sure wouldn’t have been pretty!
        She’d be a security guard at the Mall.
        Paula Bennett as leader of our country,she can fuck right off.

  15. Wensleydale 15

    Linda Tirado knows how it is. This is how we live. Hand to mouth, day by day, pay packet to pay packet. You simply cannot plan anything because you lack the resources. You either have enough money to pay for things, or you don’t. More often than not, you don’t. When your kids are living on toast and two minute noodles, you feel like a wretched failure, and it wears you down and tires you out. Actually, that’s probably the defining characteristic of living in poverty. You’re just so fucking tired all the time.

    • Detrie 15.1

      Knowing many in this situation, this is the defining characteristic. Living day to day for years on end just leaves you broken, tired and depressed. Certainly no nice holidays or even a meal at a good restaurant on your birthday. And we’re talking about those lucky ones employed on min wages, supporting a family. Our working poor. Help for those in this dire situation will often only come from the various charities or churches.

  16. RedBaronCV 16

    Look at the poor choice to award the Seco Mt Eden prison contract made by your rich Nact mates.
    Plenty of people make poor choices so a poor choice does not equal being a financially poor person. Otherwise your mates should now be broke .

  17. gsays 17

    i reckon the poorest choices in the article are the ones that choose to dine in the mcdonalds on christmas day.

    the corporations will cease to function in the way they do when we stop spending money with them.

    it is getting a little tiresome waiting for folk to Wake Up.

    • Molly 17.1

      “i reckon the poorest choices in the article are the ones that choose to dine in the mcdonalds “

      Yes, although they may look after elderly relations and managed to scrape through another year without taking the kids to any outings, including the beach because of the cost of getting there – a family that choose McDonalds as a treat because it costs less than a traditional ham dinner, is the poorest choice that a family can make. Really?

      The diverse nature of people means that they will identify their own wake up calls in their own times. You don’t get to prescribe the correct nature or sequence of their actions, and should not pass judgement on them for that reason.

      • gsays 17.1.1

        hi molly,
        yes, i suppose my comment may have come across as a little pious.

        to give context i work in hospitality and can be a touch cynical when it comes to peoples political dining choices. (gluten free french toast anyone?)
        in my wafer thin defence i am working towards providing food for everyone to share (community gardens and school gardening).

        the larger point remains- the powers that be will cease to hold sway when We move, act and be as one.
        and that occurs when we wake up.

        • Molly

          gsays, well done on the community gardens and school gardening. I think the opportunity for sharing more than food and produce is one of the true benefits of these kinds of projects.

          I have similar moments myself, when I feel like shaking up those around me, but it usually passes when I realise that the effect would be short-term astonishment and immediate defence rather than a sea-change.

          … and I worked in hospitality for a few years in my misbegotten youth, and my tales are less the gluten-free toasts, but more customer trysts under the floor length tabletops and new brides and best man tangles in the dark corners of the reception hall, along with the old businessmen bluster and half pounds of garlic butter on 750g T-bones. A strange introduction to adult life for someone still at school…

          • gsays

            “I have similar moments myself, when I feel like shaking up those around me, but it usually passes when I realise that the effect would be short-term astonishment and immediate defence rather than a sea-change.”

            i have shared this before- when i first got a bit clued up re fractional reserve banking, monasanto and their ilk wanting to control the food supply etc etc, i went round like chicken little, “the sky is falling, the sky is falling..”
            after a wee while the little red hen emerged “who will help me plant the seed, who will break bread with me?”. far more attractive and productive.

            that and a bit of work on understanding the truth of my nature (who am i?)

  18. I eventually made it back into the middle class because, back then, going to university hardly cost anything, all waged jobs were union jobs with a lot of legislative protection backing them up, and there was a state housing commission that helped low-income people buy a house by lending them money at low interest rates and not requiring a big deposit. Those things were all wiped out by 4th Labour and the National government that followed it. So government policy definitely plays a big part in who gets to have the PM sneer at them for “poor choices.”

    Luck also plays a part. I was already a cultural fit with the middle class because that’s where I came from, and I have a high IQ, which meant I could go to university (back then a high IQ was required – these days it’s an optional extra). There’s no choice about those.

    But choice was also a factor. I didn’t smoke because it was a waste of money. I used contraception so I didn’t get anyone pregnant. I rejected the offer to participate in robbing a dairy. I didn’t use the fact I was drunk as an excuse for being a violent shithead. People may not like hearing it, but choices are a part of this.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 18.1

      Rather than make shaky assertions of emotional attachment, can you please provide evidence that “choice” exists in any meaningful way, and explain why the neurobiologists are wrong.

      Decision making is driven by unconscious emotion – choice has nothing to do with it.

      • Psycho Milt 18.1.1

        Oh great, a structuralist. If you think there’s no such thing as choice, I lack interest in further interaction with you. Debating structuralists is worthless.

        Also: neurobiologists aren’t wrong to point out that decision-making is influenced by emotions, because it is.

        • One Anonymous Bloke


          Nope. Controlled.

          from the link:

          neurobiological evidence points to an automatic, emotionally- mediated moral network

          My emphasis.

          • weka

            “If you think there’s no such thing as choice, I lack interest in further interaction with you.”

            Me too.

            And it’s not like neuroscience is God, so let’s take their views (pl) on the matter as useful but not omnipotently definitive.

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              Multiple threads of evidence Weka, from multiple disciplines, many of whom I have cited in this discussion.

              • weka

                sorry, but saying repeatedly “I’m right and here’s a neuroscientist who agrees with me” doesn’t count. If you can’t explain your argument in the face of counter argument I’m not going to go off and follow your research trail.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  I’ve in fact said quite a lot more than that, but hey whatever: I’ve no investment in your beliefs.

                  • weka

                    OAB, I’ve just gone back and reread most of your comments in this thread (the ones in subthreads I’ve been involved in), and pretty much all of them are variations on “it’s all down to chance, read Monbiot or this article on neuroscience”, and “I see no evidence for this being wrong”. It’s not really a strong argument.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      I see no evidence that you are right, Weka, and like Sheep, you are the one who is stating the existence of something, not me.

                      All you have provided in return is your belief that you are right, which funnily enough is the accusation you’ve leveled at me.

                • The lost sheep

                  I had a brief look at it Weka and it’s just another bullshit red herring diversion from the points in hand.

                  i think we all understand OAB’s conundrum.
                  He cannot concede a point, and he must have the last word. (These are no doubt features of his nature that were determined by external factors that he has no free will to overcome).
                  So when a discussion logically moves in a direction that would require him to alter his position, or to allow someone else to draw a natural conclusion, he must say something, and that must be something that both diverts from the path that threatens his position, and opens up grounds for him to make another comment.

                  FFS. The last thing on earth we will ever see him do is approach an argument directly, honestly, and in good faith. He is simply not capable of it.

                  • One Anonymous Bloke

                    Bereft of a substantive retort, you rush to ad hominem attack. Why would I concede a point you have not convinced me of?

                    As I have already pointed out to you, these issues are being taken seriously in legal circles so, whether you like it or not, my viewpoint is coming to a courtroom near you.

                    I note you have made zero attempt to engage with any of the points I’ve made, from the Tory track record on unemployment, to the self-attribution fallacy, nothing from you whatsoever.

                    And let’s face it, my basic argument is that since great wealth is delivered by chance, people are far better advised to ignore Tory myths and pursue something worthwhile instead.

                    Oddly enough, this reminds me of something Bob Jones said (to the effect of): ‘don’t chase money, pursue success, and let the rewards take care of themselves’, not to mention various bits of advice I’ve had from my accountant over the years.

                    You don’t like it? Sob sob.

                    • The lost sheep

                      my basic argument is that since great wealth is delivered by chance,

                      Yes that is YOUR argument OAB, that YOU introduced into a post that was discussing a completely different proposition.
                      In other words, it was a diversionary tactic, and an attempt to shift the discussion to ground of your own choosing, so that you could avoid addressing the points others were raising in response to the OP.

                      Which was about whether or not the poor are capable of making choices that will prevent them heading into, or lift them out of poverty. Maybe you could look back over this post and actually answer a few of the points people addressed to you regarding that proposition. But I don’t think you will eh.

                      Oh by the way, YOU are complaining I am making an ad hominem attack? Is that a bad thing then?
                      If so, I look forward to you dropping that from your future discussion. Ha Ha.

                    • One Anonymous Bloke

                      No it isn’t. It’s about dishonest self-serving right wing rhetoric, whereby instead of acknowledging your own shit economic management skills, you blame victims with lies about choice and ‘hard work’.

                      The OP rejects your lies utterly, and so do I, and your only retort is to re-iterate them while ignoring both demands for evidence and substantive rebuttals.

                      If you can’t see how the self-attribution fallacy is central to the topic you’re an idiot. Ditto neurobiology and the law, Monbiot, Buffet etc.

                      Stop flailing around: wear your incompetence and imagination deficit like a badge for all I care, just stop trying to pin it on me.

          • Reddelusion

            Quantum physics tells you their is no choice, everything is random and simply a probability. Quantum physics also tells us that time is an illusion every thing that was, is or will be, has happened ( thus no determinism ) All good stuff but if we where to live our lives by these principals life would be pretty meaningless and there would be no point in getting out of bed in the morning Here is the crux OAB is obvisouly well read, synthesised a whole lot of science to come up with a logically consistent ( not necessarily correct) view on wealth and luck. The problem is that it has no practical benefit in getting on in life, as would using the principals of quantum physics as your bedrock in managing your decisions through your life. Thus OAB views may make for good intellectual debate but barring that a complete waste of time

            • One Anonymous Bloke

              The practical consequence of the fact that great wealth is delivered by chance is that no merit or worth can be attached to individuals on that basis: the negative associations that right wingers like to attach to low income similarly have no foundation.

              I can see why you’d want to avoid the subject.

              • Reddelusion

                And all we get is more impractical, self reasoning sophistry, sigh!

                If it serves a purpose in giving you meaning OAB. Go for it 😀

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  The legal implications of these findings are currently wending their way into legal debate and will end up as argument in court and amongst lawyers and thence to precedent and policy decisions.

                  No practical consequences whatsoever 🙄

                  • Reddelusion

                    No debate socieities views change and over time and this is represented in our evolving law, but to argue that your propositions around wealth simply predicated on luck is some how going to be reflected in our future laws is simply a disguised argument for communism ( or progressiveness , another word the far left use to hide their true motive) over capitalism. Why not simply state as such rather than trying to bamboozle and impress everybody with big words and a pot puri of theories across the sciences 😀

    • b waghorn 18.2

      But the choices you make are largely effected by where you come from, and that is the thing that most people who sit in judgement miss out.
      The people I know who had good stable homes have done better than the people who came up rougher tracks to adult hood.

      • Psycho Milt 18.2.1

        The people I know who had good stable homes have done better than the people who came up rougher tracks to adult hood.

        You bet. Just a pity that we’ve had 40 years of government policy that assumes no qualitative difference between family types.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 18.3

      From your comment in the long unwieldy thread above:

      Likewise, if you believe there’s no such thing as free will, is it really possible to hold people to account for something they have no control over?

      It even has a name: Neurolaw.

  19. Saarbo 19

    Excellent article.

  20. TheBlackKitten 20

    Do you know what the solution is? Jobs, enough jobs for everyone so if an employer starts trying to impose crap conditions like zero contracts on a worker they can tell them to stick it up their backsides and move on elsewhere. Until we have that then the law of supply and demand will always see desperate people looking for work being taken advantage off. And I think the rich know that and like unemployment.

  21. Tautuhi 21

    In NZ at present there is a pool of skilled educated unemployed people hence employers can afford to pay the minimum wage and if employees don’t like it or don’t like the work conditions they can lump it as there are plenty of replacements out there.

    • Reddelusion 21.1

      Educated, possibly not skilled, there is a difference in regard to ensuring the value of that individual exceeds the cost of employment

  22. Steve Withers 22

    The scan in this was “labor market reform”. The market only works one way. If workers get an edge and employers need people, do they increase wages and improve conditions to make the jobs more attractive?


    They get the government to dive people to work at any price and import cheap temporary foreign labour.

    With the government constantly tipping the posting field, it’s a wonder there aren’t vigilante crews “thanking” notoriously bad employers.

  23. Craig H 23

    Cracked.com has some great articles on the subject – being poor not only sucks, it costs more than being well-off, so poverty is a trap in more than just the obvious.

    Speaking of wealth and business success – I looked into starting a business (franchise retail food), and far and away the hardest thing about the process was access to start-up capital. I’m not from a wealthy background – I don’t have access to friends or family with that kind of money, nor do I own enough of a house to mortgage it for business purposes, so in the end, I couldn’t get anywhere, and it never got off the ground.

    As part of that, I did substantial reading on the subject of starting a business, and one of the books was stories of people who made it big. The common theme in all the stories, was a big break that they had no control over because it just dropped in their lap i.e. luck. It was very discouraging…

  24. Reddelusion 24

    No frothing on my part OAB just trying help you out by bringing your true meaning to the surface using plain English ( for the working man), Some gratitude would be appreciated, you are very difficult comprehend or to translate, I suspect purposely 😀

    • One Anonymous Bloke 24.1

      Then you are failing. My ‘true meaning’ is what I have said – no more. Stop projecting your suspicions and fears onto me.

      • Reddelusion 24.1.1

        Then tell me “in plain English “what is your “practical ” political, social and economic solution to overcome the inequality diven by wealth been simply a causation of luck

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          That’s a separate debate. What I’m concerned with here is undermining self-serving right wing bullshit – the deserving and undeserving poor, the self-made man, and so-forth.

          If you really want to know my views on good economic systems, I’m not exactly shy about expressing them – do an author search. Here’s a little cluebat – they aren’t anything close to Communism.

  25. gnomic 25

    ‘Reddelusion 24.1.1
    13 December 2015 at 5:06 pm

    Then tell me “in plain English “what is your “practical ” political, social and economic solution to overcome the inequality diven by wealth been simply a causation of luck’

    Good grief. Are you not at all embarrassed by exposing your deep fundamental idiocy to the public at large?

    Sod off and stop wasting our time. Look up nincompoop in a dictionary.

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