The new economy: what do we want?

Written By: - Date published: 12:30 pm, November 15th, 2010 - 43 comments
Categories: Economy, Environment, Social issues - Tags:

We’ve seen that the current economic system isn’t working, even to achieve its own goals, let alone better ones. Now, it’s time to come up with real solutions. This first post in the series is about the framework for those solutions. I don’t have all the answers and, as always, welcome your ideas:

It’s obvious that the current economic system is broken. It delivers enormous wealth to a tiny elite whose privilege is maintained by the economic and legal systems, and comes at the cost of unsustainable environmental damage that will come back to hurt us all. So, what do we put in its place?

It seems to me that the first question we need to ask is what do we want an economy to do?

‘Grow’?

That’s essentially all the current systems demands – that the economy grow. That is seen as an end in itself.

I would suggest that we want an economy that does much more, and that involves reassessing what the economy is.

Currently, we almost worship the economy. It’s referred to as if it has an existence separate from us, rather than being a purely artificial concept that exists only in our heads. A lot like a modern-day God. It even have its own priesthood with one dominant sect.

I think we need to see the economy as one branch of human endeavor that exists within society. It is something that we choose to do, as a society, to provide us, as a society, with benefits. And we need to recognise that our society exists because of and within a biological system, the global environment.

Our society is hurt when the environment is degraded. Therefore, we have a starting point:

the economy must serve the interests of society within the constraints necessary to protect the environment that supports us.

That’s a pretty obvious statement, I know, but it is the reverse of how we live right now.

Growth doesn’t feature directly, only if it accomplishes the goals of serving society while not damaging the environment. And if that means that the economy cannot grow anymore, that may not be a bad thing. This little country already produces $45,000 worth of wealth per person (including children) per year and has built up capital many times that much.

An end to growth forces us to reassess how that wealth is distributed. Until now, we have attempted to grow our way out of our problems, alleviating poverty and injustice and worsening environments by lifting everyone’s incomes. Without growth, we will have to build a fairer society. Because there are only two stable systems for an economy that is not growing – equality or authoritarianism where privilege is maintained by violent suppression.

Increasingly, I think that we are going to have to learn to live with a post-growth economy whether we like it or not. We’ve gone on too long with the other model – growing at an cost – to the point where we have fundamentally undermined the environment that supports the economy. Peak oil, peak metals, climate change, water shortages, peak food, and the loss of natural services from falling biodiversity are all making growth nigh on impossible and a long period of economic retrenchment likely.

We should have always treated the economy as a tool to serve our collective needs within the environment’s constraints. Instead, we elevated it to the status of a god. Now, environmental degradation and resource exhaustion will leave us with no choice but to live within those limits. We need to build a system with two goals: fairness and sustainability.

Next up in the series: ideas on how to do it.

43 comments on “The new economy: what do we want?”

  1. Nicola 1

    Over on Pundit, Claire Browning sums up David Suzuki’s warning on Friday.http://pundit.co.nz/content/david-suzuki-an-elder%E2%80%99s-vision ‘Course, no-one’s listening, and we continue to worship ‘growth at all costs’.

    It’s sad really, only when we’ve used up every ounce of the natural resources, will we realise that we are part of that web.

    Looking forward to seeing some politicians grab this ‘new economy’ approach in the lead up to the elections. Who do you think will grab it?

    Interesting stuff coming out of TEEB as well (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – that grew from G8). The economic research, science, case studies, facts and models are all there – just no-one’s prepared to grasp them.

  2. Jenny 2

    .
    CTU Economic Strategy

    capcha – “recommend”
    .

  3. randal 3

    I wanna 500 acre estate upstate in the hamptons with a five car garage and a chopper to take me to work in manahattan in the mornings and a huge entouragfe of flynkeys to carry the money.
    and a whole bucnh of other stuff!

  4. Borred 4

    We worship the economy at the expense of the community. This is a deliberate result of the primacy of private property. If we were to worship community as the primary deity the economy would become a hand maiden to our needs as opposed to our private wants.

  5. Bill 5

    Nice to see fundamental questions being posed, rather than enquiry being limited through taking basic assumptions about the efficacy of the market for granted. Look forward to your upcoming posts Marty.

    Meanwhile, it seems to me that growth is integral to a market economy. It nurtures and promotes the conditions (competition) that insists growth occurs under pain of being ‘wiped out’ via a take-over or simply going bust. The companies that grow most aggressively accrue power in the market. That power allows them to tilt the market in their favour when considering their competitors…more ‘buying power’ allows them to buy at rates smaller companies can’t compete with or to monopolise the supply chain altogether (eg, supermarkets locking growers into sole supply arrangements) and to sell at rates smaller companies can’t compete with…loss leaders, and very low profit margins relying on profit to flow from large volumes of turnover… (Consider supermarkets versus small grocery retailers or hardware ‘mega stores’ versus small hardware stores…if they even still exist anywhere!)

    The long and the short of it, as I seem to be saying in thread after thread these days, is that a market economy cannot deliver equitable outcomes and will, no matter how it is constructed, reassert the need for competitive dominance with all the deleterious consequences that flow from the elevation of that basic principle.

    Anyway. As I said, glad to see that debate predicated on some previously unquestioned economic assumptions is finally taking place.

    • Colonial Viper 5.1

      I have to say that growth is not integral to a market economy. (I note you did not use the term ‘free market economy’). It is integral to a debt based economy geared to ever increasing supplies of money and interest payable however, but I suggest that is not quite the same thing.

      • Bill 5.1.1

        How do you compete successfully in a market economy (however and to whatever extent it’s regulated) if you don’t grow? Stand still and you will be consumed by bigger players.

        It happens to small family run businesses all of the time and is a art of the explanation as to why we no longer have a plethora of family butchers or bakers etc. And the small businesses that persist…that seek to merely survive, (corner dairies for example) do so in an economic environment that is tilted overwhelmingly against them by the economic muscle flexing of dominant, powerful ‘big players’.

        • ianmac 5.1.1.1

          Bill you wrote :”…..is that a market economy cannot deliver equitable outcomes….”
          It seems that those with the muscle do not want to create or deliver equitable outcomes. There is a belief amongst many that wealth equates to success and that success means that you are “better” than the “others”.
          I had a neighbour who looked down on others whose car was older than hers. (Us) She became very angry with another neighbour when they came home with a brand new car. This seems to be typical of those who believe that the market economy will deliver that advantage. Hence John Keys belief expressed as that the poor people are envious of us rich and successful folk.

          • Bill 5.1.1.1.1

            “It seems that those with the muscle do not want to create or deliver equitable outcomes.”

            Of course they don’t. Their power derives from not delivering equitable outcomes.

        • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.2

          Hi Bill, the kind of growth you are talking about is one company growing larger, not the whole economic system growing larger. Ex. a $1M p.a. market shared between 5 players, where one of them gets the upper and and eventually takes over the other 4 players means that yes, one player is now much bigger. But its still a $1M p.a market hence no growth to the economic system there, no extra use of resources or input of money needed.

          • Bill 5.1.1.2.1

            Satisfying the growth imperatives of a market economy involves expanding the market economy by creating new markets; not simply competing for dominance in the already existing market, no?

            • Colonial Viper 5.1.1.2.1.1

              If you are talking about a capitalist style market economy where shareholders are demanding % ROI year after year, then yes, that is a situation where the demand is for exponential growth. And of course that will not be sustainable.

              I guess your next question would be – is there any other kind of market economy?

    • M 5.2

      Nicely put Bill.

      I think peak everything will either render more equality or terrible inequality if elites are able to seize and maintain power. The Nero thread comments about how equlity will need to be enforced and will require watchdogs to make sure equality remains are true.

      As Heinberg put it: Future growth is not possible.

      Check out this re the mineral situation:

      http://gizmodo.com/5219598/how-long-will-our-world-last-yes-we-are-screwed

      For my money I want a steady state economy with most of the focus on the domestic market to keep our money circulating here and our people in work.

      • Bill 5.2.1

        As I tried to articulate and reason in that thread I simply don’t buy the argument that “equlity will need to be enforced and will require watchdogs to make sure equality remains…”

        Parecon is not an economy that can ever become implemented in any imposing way (eg at the point of a gun) and remain in any way meaningful . An overarching parecon ( and an accompanying participatory polity) will only ever eventuate when enough workplaces have adopted or developed pareconish structures and are numerous enough that parecon achieves a position of ‘natural’ or evolutionary ascendency over the market economy. For some time to come, parecon workplaces are going to have to accommodate to a greater or lesser degree, the reality of a dominant market economy.

        It is possible to construct an economy that nurtures and promotes solidarity, diversity, equity and self management (ie democracy)…a project that would seem to embody Marty’s sustainability and fairness. (The sustainability stems from the economy being under the direct control of producers and consumers ( we would presumably not support ourselves to make decisions that were utterly detrimental to our environment ), rather than as at present where market dynamics largely dictate the actions and choices of producers and consumers)

        • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.1

          rather than as at present where market dynamics largely dictate the actions and choices of producers and consumers.

          It’s not really “market dynamics” that do that though. It’s the profit motive and ownership processed through a market system designed specifically to benefit the rich that cause the massive imbalance that we presently have.

          • Bill 5.2.1.1.1

            I’d have thought private ownership and profit accumulation were necessary components of market economies. I can’t see how you can separate them out. Take out private ownership and you have taken out an avenue to, and platform from which to exercise power in the market. Take out the profit motive and you’ve taken out the competitive basis of the market.

            Are you then left with an economy that could be reasonably described as a market economy?

            • Draco T Bastard 5.2.1.1.1.1

              I’d have thought private ownership and profit accumulation were necessary components of market economies.

              I’d say that the most fundamental aspect of a market economy is the exchange of goods and services which are also instrumental to the operation of society. We cannot do without such exchanges. This makes even a democratic system of production and distribution such as parecon a market system. This is in stark contrast to the command economies of the USSR, China and the capitalist countries.

              The concept of ownership needs to be looked at as well. Me owning my computer is a viable form of ownership but me owning the land that my house sits upon isn’t as the land cannot be removed from the commons. Me poisoning weeds on my section could, and probably will, also poison the potatoes that my neighbour has growing for dinner. The most visible example we have of this in NZ is how much farming has poisoned and polluted our rivers and lakes.

              The point about ownership is that we’ve taken it too far and allowed the majority of resources to be owned and controlled by a small section of society which is good for them but not for society as a whole and certainly not for the majority of the population.

              Profit is theft. It is a process by which an individual can have more and more without actually producing any wealth or doing any work. You’ll note that workers tend not to have any profit and, in fact, tend to work at a loss. As I said, the rules that govern the market have been designed to benefit the rich.

              • Bill

                Trade is a reality that preceded the development of market economies by many millennia. Market economies simply dictate terms of trade.

                But market economies aren’t primarily about trading, but about deciding what is produced and how it’s distributed.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  No, the market rules dictate the terms of trade. If those rules dictate private ownership of resources, the means of production and profit then that is what you’ll have. If they dictate common ownership and fair distribution then you’ll get that instead.

                  But market economies aren’t primarily about trading, but about deciding what is produced and how it’s distributed.

                  That’s what you worker and consumer councils are for, Ergo, parecon is a market economy. It just has different rules than the ones promulgated by the capitalists.

                  • Bill

                    If you are going to maintain that all economies are markets, then no meaningful analysis of our current economy will be possible.

                    Production and distribution are at the heart of all economies. But not all economies are market driven.

                    What marks a market economy is that buyers are compelled by the innate competitive nature of the market to to buy cheap. Similarily, sellers are compelled to sell dear. In other words, in a market economy everyone seeks benefit or advantage by ripping everyone else off. Decisions of production and distribution are made with profit in mind because profits lead to power through the concentration of resources in private hands that profit makes possible. In other words, market competition fosters inequity and private ownership.

                    Meanwhile, would you say that a command economy is just a market run on different rules? I don’t think you would. I think you’d say it was an economy revolving around different tenets… eg, some might claim (rightly or wrongly) that whereas market economies have private profit as a principle concern command economies make decisions with social considerations to the fore.

                    And a parecon is an economy built around different tenets to those of market based economies. More, pareconists are quite explicit in rejecting markets because market mechanisms undermine and destroy the very things that a parecon seeks to foster…(solidarity, equity, diversity and democracy).

        • M 5.2.1.2

          Bill, whatever the outcomes are for economies given I think some form of collapse is inevitable within the decade, solidarity, diversity etc may be in short supply at least initially until people understand that working together rather than doing one another down or making wild grabs for resources is the best way forward.

          I did read the links you put up about parecon. I find it hard to imagine many people willingly giving up or changing their current mindset to a fairer system because for many that word does not exist given their fondness for status competition.

          If you dare utter how unfair the economy is at the moment for low paid workers, how inadequate benefits are for people experiencing hard times, how unfairly wealth is distributed and how the tax system is gamed in the favour of the more fortunate (like owners of rental properties), you’re likely to be met with looks from people suggesting you’ve lost your mind, to mention, even think of such things and that’s why I think an element of compulsion in the short term would be needed – should have clarified post with “initial”.

          • Bill 5.2.1.2.1

            So what about economic initiatives or experiments being undertaken by or taking root among the systemic market losers insofar as such people already know (if only instinctively) that “doing one another down” results in them being the ones done down? eg Women, minorities, the poor, the unemployed, single parents…

          • Colonial Viper 5.2.1.2.2

            you’re likely to be met with looks from people suggesting you’ve lost your mind, to mention, even think of such things

            Yeah thats why The Standard works so well. Some of us have already escaped from The Matrix, others of us are still trying. However the majority ‘out there’ are still cripplingly dependent on the system.

  6. Colonial Viper 6

    Moves towards democratic socialism would be helpful.

    Firstly, ensure that workers are paid enough to build up their own capital. Secondly, supplement that capital with low cost (possibly Government provided) venture capital. Thirdly, take any legislative and regulatory steps needed to promote the ease of use and robustness of communally owned, co-op and collective style entrepreneurial start ups.

    • Bill 6.1

      “Firstly, ensure that workers are paid enough to build up their own capital. Secondly, supplement that capital with low cost (possibly Government provided) venture capital.”

      So spread the possibility to indulge in market based competition wider? Why?

      “Thirdly, take any legislative and regulatory steps needed to promote the ease of use and robustness of communally owned, co-op and collective style entrepreneurial start ups.”

      The legislation already exists. The Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1908 is a much under utilised piece of legislation that allows for setting up well structured and empowered workers collectives and housing collectives.

      • Colonial Viper 6.1.1

        So spread the possibility to indulge in market based competition wider? Why?

        To enable workers to own the means of value added production for themselves, and to have democratic decision making power over their work.

  7. nzfp 7

    Thank you Marty for starting this thread. However, I think it is important to clarify some definitions before discussing economics.

    One of the greatest bones of contention is the definition of money, credit and debt. There are many who believe:

    1. That money is debt
    2. That money has an intrinsic value (such as the value of gold, silver or other commodities)
    3. That money and bank credit are identical
    4. That private bank credit and public bank credit are the same
    5. That FIAT money is good or bad
    6. That FIAT money is private bank credit
    7. That money is FIAT – defined by law and issued by the government on behalf of the public

    And so on …

    As you can see – without clearly defining the debate – or even central pillars of the debate – we can be left chasing our tails without achieving anything.

    While I agree with many who regularly post – on pretty much everything to do with economics, there are many who I agree partially with because we don’t agree on the definition of money.

    Why is the definition of money soo important to a debate on economics?

    Because the definition drives the resultant economic theories. For example, many economic schools define money as a function of the intrinsic value of scare commodities – while others define money as a creature of law who’s value is defined by it’s stamp completely devoid of any intrinsic value.

    These two definitions are polar opposites and represents the varied nature of economic thought that many of the posters subscribe to, Keynesian vs Austrian vs Libertarian vs Socialism vs Communism vs Free Market Capitalism vs Neo-Liberal vs Liberal and Neo-Classical vs Classical and so on.

    What most of us agree on is that the current economic model forces growth at the expense of the society we live in as well as the environment that supports us. However, how we define money also defines the framework of the problem.

    Many of us see the current monetary system as central to the problem. For example, I define our current monetary system as a private FIAT debt money system. Authors such as Michael Rowbotham – in his book “The Grip of Death: A Study of Modern Money, Debt Slavery, and Destructive Economics” have demonstrated that a function of private debt based economies (whether FIAT or not) is the requirement for growth to service the interest load on the debts incured – simply as a result of the type of money (debt based bank credit) the economy is using.

    As you can see – if we don’t agree to a clear definition of money, as well as a clear definition of the money systems currently employed – we could easily incorrectly frame the debate initially.

    Just some food for thought.

    • nzfp 7.1

      By the way – my definition of the ideal money supply is a publicly issued FIAT paper currency with a legal Government stamp defining it’s value – completely devoid of any intrinsic value, that can only be issued by the Government for the public good, that is legal tender for all debts public and private.

      This is almost what we have now – except that our Government has privatised the right to issue the currency to the foreign (Australian) private banks, as debt based bank credit – which incurs interest payments which require a growth in the economy to service the interest payments. currently our money supply is 98% debt based interest bearing private bank credit and only 2% interest free publicly issued Government money (as defined above).

      As you can see – merely changing the manner in which money is created in our country will have a profound effect on our behaviour to each other, our society and the environment.

  8. “Because the definition drives the resultant economic theories. For example, many economic schools define money as a function of the intrinsic value of scarce commodities – while others define money as a creature of law who’s value is defined by it’s stamp completely devoid of any intrinsic value.”

    Why is money the starting place for economic analysis”? It’s money that is worshipped and like all gods it stands in for something much more earthy. We need to start with the earth before we get to heaven, as someone nearly said.

    I would suggest that the reason that money is god, is that it is the universal commodity that stands in for all other commodities as having inherent exchange value in the market. Marx call this view of commodities as having inherent value the ‘fetishism of commodities’ because the real source of value was human labour and not commodities. They had value only insofar as the socially necessary labour time embodied in them. And once these commodities were exchanged for a univeral equivalent, money, the original connection back to human labour power was all but obscured. Starting with money, and not human labour, as exploited under capitalism, is symptomatic of commodity fetishism. Its an irony for someone opposed to the market to embody market-speak.

    • nzfp 8.1

      Cheers Dave,
      You prove my point … bear in mind that you will be debating a diverse range of people with a diverse range of ideas, such as Austrians who define money (simply put) as a commodity as well as people like myself who define money as a receipt for the exchange of goods and services and so on.

      Your definition colours your ideal economy. That’s not a bad thing – it just is what it is. However we will not reach a definition of an ideal economy without agreeing fundamental terms – and that is the point I am making above.

      • dave brown 8.1.1

        @nzfp
        Money can be many things. It is a commodity (or a universal commodity standing in for all commodities, i.e. a measure of value because it represents the value of commodities) a means of exchange (which is its particular use-value as the universal equivalent). It also takes on fantastic appearances as the poster boy for capitalism .
        Because of its centrality it comes to ‘stand in’ for the labour that creates the value in commodities. It inverts and abstracts the process of value production by seeming to represent the value of alienated labour in the commodities themselves. This is legitimated in politics and law which defines and defends the social relations that appear as market relations based on the ownership of commodities.
        Non-Marxist theories of money are trapped in the fantastical realm of commodity fetishism, seeing money as value itself, or facilitating exchange of commodities as embodying value. Or worse, neo-classical economics which has prevailed for the last century ignores the labour basis of value and attributes it to demand alone i.e. price. Hence knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing.
        But the point is that money reflects the shimmering surface of capitalist society because it is a necessary part of the real economy without which capital would not circulate and accumulate.
        When Marty talks about the economy as unreal or worshipped like a God he is picking up on the surface impression but failing to explain why we worship such figments in ignorance of their earthly origins.

        Captcha irony = nicest

    • nzfp 8.2

      Dave,
      Money is not God, I never defined it as God. I simply gave a definition of money as a creature of law – defined by law and issued by our Government on our behalf to facilitate trade, to equate goods and services. Money is not backed by anything – it simply equates services (such as labour) with goods (such as commodities). However, without understanding this, it is easy to confuse God with money, to assign some intrinsic value to money making it an object of worship.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.3

      The illusion of unlimited power, nourished by astonishing scientific and technological achievements, has produced the concurrent illusion of having solved the problem of production. The latter illusion is based on the failure to distinguish between income and capital where this distinction matters most. Every economist and businessman is familiar with the distinction, and applies it conscientiously and with considerable subtlety to all economic affairs – except where it really matters – namely, the irreplaceable capital which man had not made, but simply found, and without which he can do nothing.

      A businessman would not consider a firm to have solved its problems of production and to have achieved viability if he saw that it was rapidly consuming its capital. How, then, could we overlook this vital fact when it comes to that very big firm, the economy of Spaceship Earth and, in particular. the economies of its rich passengers?

      One reason for overlooking this vital fact is that we are estranged from reality and inclined to treat as valueless everything that we have not made ourselves. Even the great Dr Marx fell into this devastating error when he formulated the so-called ‘labour theory of value’.

      Small Is Beautiful, E. F. Schumacher
      Almost all value that exists isn’t created by human labour but by the environment that we live within and that we cannot live without.

      I would suggest that the reason that money is god, is that it is the universal commodity that stands in for all other commodities as having inherent exchange value in the market.

      As I keep saying, money is not a resource. The resources that we have are human knowledge, human skills and the physical resources such as metals, water and minerals etc all of which are limited to the renewable resource base. How much can be extracted and recycled without harming the natural ecosystem that we rely upon to live.

      • BLiP 8.3.1

        Yep. 38 years later and “Small Is Beautiful” is still speaking sense .

        . . . [Schumacher] faults conventional economic thinking for failing to consider the most appropriate scale for an activity, blasts notions that “growth is good,” and that “bigger is better,” and questions the appropriateness of using mass production in developing countries, promoting instead “production by the masses.” Schumacher was one of the first economists to question the appropriateness of using GNP to measure human well being, emphasizing that “the aim ought to be to obtain the maximum amount of well being with the minimum amount of consumption.”

  9. Jeremy Harris 9

    It is something that we choose to do, as a society, to provide us, as a society, with benefits.

    It’s not something we choose to do, it is something we must do or we die… Providing for oneself and one’s family is the essential building block of economies – think subsistence farm…

    So it’s not a choice, it’s not for society it’s for individuals and any economic activity comes at the expense of the environment – from clearing a forest and using the timber for heating and construction then using the land for argiculture, to drilling for oil to produce the fertiliser keeping half of the seven billion of us alive…

    Also there is no limit to economic growth as long as we increase our use of renewable power and increase efficiency…

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      Also there is no limit to economic growth as long as we increase our use of renewable power and increase efficiency…

      So said the bacterium on the petri dish.

      3 days of exponential growth later the entire microbial civilisation overcrowded and wiped itself out. Shows how smart and how forward thinking you are.

    • felix 9.2

      “Also there is no limit to economic growth as long as we increase our use of renewable power and increase efficiency…”

      Assuming we can do both of those things infinitely, yes.

      But we can’t. So no.

    • Jeremy Harris 9.3

      @CV, except we’re not bacterium on a petri dish are we, it is already clear that without any intervention the world’s population will be topping out in the 9 – 11 billion mark… We can reduce the ultimate number by increasing development in the third world via free trade, while also massively increasing living standards there, this is the best way to reduce (and eventually reverse) population growth…

      By then it is reasonable to assume (given current trends) that we should have, AI, fusion and wide spread nanotechnology…

      Of the two of us, CV I’m not the one who somehow thinks he is part of the special generation that is going to wreck the world, that it’s all coming to an end because of the evil rich pricks…

      So much for forward looking…

  10. KJT 10

    I’ve already put some thoughts here as to ways towards a sustainable economy. http://kjt-kt.blogspot.com/2010/10/prescription-for-new-zealand.html

  11. clandestino 12

    First of all the premise that ‘the Economy’ is something we ‘choose’ to do is ridiculous (see South Park for a representation of this dumbassedness). Second, while I agree there may be limits to growth in the sense that there is a limit to consumption of finite resources (oil, rare earths, water etc.), there is no limit to human ingenuity (ie. technology) that can help us use these resources more wisely. Remember that ‘growth’ as a concept doesn’t have to mean a higher rate of use of resources.
    Now, I’m not an expert at how that could be done but I’d rather let people (groups, corporates, NGOs, CRIs etc etc etc) do it the way they individually and collectively think is best rather than imposing arbitrary limits on the energy required to make this transition.
    The other problems are how do you provide for needs without the price signals in the market, and, I think most difficult, how do you provide a fair and just system of rewards for work (labour). Capitalism, at least, for the most part, aside from high financiers and bloody lawyers (and many other examples I’m sure someone will point out), gives in relative proportion to what you put in, physically and intellectually.

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    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    3 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    3 days ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    3 days ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    4 days ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    4 days ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    4 days ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    4 days ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    4 days ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    4 days ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    5 days ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    5 days ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    5 days ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    5 days ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    5 days ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    6 days ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    6 days ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    7 days ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    7 days ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    7 days ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    1 week ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    1 week ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    1 week ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Hard News: Time for a New Deal: 25 years on
    In 1994, I was editing an ambitious street mag called Planet, from a fabled office at at 309 Karangahape Road. The thirteenth issue of the magazine was published in the winter of that year and its cover embodied a particularly ambitious goal: the end of cannabis prohibition.I wanted to do ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Not impressed
    KiwiBuild was one of the Ardern government's core policies. The government would end the housing crisis and make housing affordable again by building 100,000 new homes. Of course, it didn't work out like that: targets weren't met, the houses they did build were in the wrong place, and the whole ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Solar beats coal
    As the climate crisis escalates, it is now obvious that we need to radically decarbonise our economy. The good news is that its looking easy and profitable for the energy sector. Wind is already cheaper than fossil fuels, and now solar is too:The levellised cost of solar PV has fallen ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • A Step Too Far.
    A Crown Asset? For reasons relating to its own political convenience, the Crown pretends to believe that “No one owns the water.” To say otherwise would re-vivify the promises contained in the Treaty of Waitangi – most particularly those pertaining to the power of the chiefs and their proprietary rights ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where Money Comes From
    Most people would say, no doubt, that they have a pretty good idea of what money is. They live with the reality of money every day. It is what is needed to buy the necessities of life and to maintain a decent standard of living. You get money, they would ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Banned by the Green Party leadership: Jill Abigail on women’s rights and trans rights
    The article below was an opinion piece that appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Te Awa (the NZ Green Party’s newsletter) and on the Greens website.  In keeping with their policy of hostility to women defending women’s right to female-only spaces, Green bureaucrats have since removed the opinion piece.  ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • The fallacy of the proximity argument.
    Longer term readers may remember my complaining that, as a political scientist, it is burdensome to have non-political scientists wanting to engage me about politics. No layperson would think to approach an astrophysicist and lecture him/her on the finer details of quarks and black holes, but everybody with an opinion ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    2 weeks ago
  • Where We Stood: Chris Trotter Replies To Stevan Eldred-Grigg.
    Joining The Fight: Stevan Eldred-Grigg's argument for New Zealand staying out of the Second World War fails not only on the hard-headed grounds of preserving the country’s strategic and economic interests; and not just on the soft-hearted grounds of duty and loyalty to the nation that had given New Zealand ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Universities back the climate strike
    On September 27, School Strike 4 Climate will be striking for a future to pressure the government for meaningful climate action. This time, they've asked adults to join them. And now, Lincoln University and Victoria University of Wellington have signed on:Victoria University of Wellington has joined Lincoln University in endorsing ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Another constitutional outrage
    Another day, another constitutional outrage in the UK. This time, the government is saying that if parliament passes a law to stop Brexit before being prorogued, they may just ignore it:A senior cabinet minister has suggested Boris Johnson could defy legislation to prevent a no-deal Brexit if it is forced ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ending dairy in Canterbury
    Environment Canterbury has finally proposed nitrogen limits to stop dairy farmers from poisoning Christchurch's water supply. And naturally, farmers are whining about it:A proposed move by Environment Canterbury (ECan) to protect Christchurch's drinking water by setting tough – some would say, draconian – nitrate reductions in the decades ahead and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Is National the party of climate arson?
    The Zero Carbon Bill is currently before select committee. While its targets are weak, its a generally sensible bill that promises to establish a long-term framework to guide emissions reductions. But National hasn't made up its mind on whether it will support it - and according to Andrea Vance in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Experts warn Harold the Giraffe “well past” typical giraffe life expectancy, may not have long
    Dum-de-doo. Children across New Zealand have known him for generations as the lovable giraffe who tells them to exercise, hydrate and not to shove lit cigarettes up their nostrils. But a world renowned giraffe expert says we shouldn’t be getting attached to Life Education’s Harold the Giraffe, as he is ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • August ’19 – NZ blogs sitemeter ranking
    Image credit: 22 BLOGGERS WITH ADVICE FOR RESEARCHERS AND EVALUATORS, ILLUSTRATED I notice a few regulars no longer allow public access to the site counters. This may happen accidentally when the blog format is altered. If your ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Bye, bye to the collusion lie
    Sums it up, really. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Opinion: Treat your car by buying extra petrol to snack on while you aren’t driving
    By Mike Hosking. Yesterday morning, I waltzed into work, and as I walked past the drones aggressively typing out news on the computers I’ve repeatedly asked to be moved further away from, I caught a glimpse of the words “climate change”, and noticed that suspiciously they weren’t in condescending quotation ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago

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