The optics of the thing

Written By: - Date published: 10:04 am, August 18th, 2012 - 39 comments
Categories: Steven Joyce - Tags:

When he was Don Brash’s campaign manager, Steven Joyce used to talk about the ‘optics’ being what matters. Well, let’s consider the optics of a fat, bald old man personally insulting three good-looking young journalists every time they ask him sensible questions. If I were Joyce’s media minder, I would have had my head in my hands throughout Joyce’s appearance on The Nation this morning.

Beyond the optics, here’s some interesting facts that have come out:

The tradeable sector (that’s our exporters and our domestic companies that compete against importers), which National used to slam Labour on because it went into recession in 2005, has stayed in recession under National. Our high dollar means our exporters can’t compete overseas and our domestic businesses get undercut by importers. Joyce dismissed every option to fix the exchange rate.

Joyce thinks we need to import more capital to grow. Does he realise that we export more capital each year than we import? Our $10 billion of profits flows overseas each year. We import about $8 billion a year to finance our current account deficit. It’s often said that we ‘live beyond our means’ but, in truth, we earn more from exports than we spend on imports – the current account deficit isn’t caused by a trade imbalance, it’s caused by all the profits flowing offshore.

Our Economic Development Minister thinks there’s no over-investment in housing, no speculative housing bubble, in New Zealand. Madness. It’s like spending all your time tuning up your car’s engine (or, in Joyce’s case, talking about how the car’s engine needs to be tuned) and then driving with the handbrake on.

The one new idea Joyce has mentioned is a piece of spin. Replacing the ‘100% Pure’ brand with a much vaguer ‘New Zealand story’ brand. Yeah, that’ll fix the problem – which is what again? Oh yeah, too much foreign ownership of high profit New Zealand assets.

No wonder unemployment is at an 18-year high under these clowns.

39 comments on “The optics of the thing”

  1. alex 1

    I’m no fan of Joyce, but you diminish yourself significantly with your first paragraph. Shameful stuff.

    • RedLogix 1.1

      Eddie was merely turning the light of Joyce’s own logic upon himself. Yes that often turns out to be less flattering than hoped for. … optically that is.

    • Eddie 1.2

      I’m not saying it’s bad to be fat, old, or bald. I’m saying that the contrast between him and his questioners and his behaviour made for bad optics

      • OneTrack 1.2.1

        “I’m not saying it’s bad to be fat, old, or bald” – Dont use those words then.

    • Murray Olsen 1.3

      I was fat and I’m oldish. I’m not bald, but I have never had a problem with being called fat and old. I think sometimes we can get a bit precious about these things.

      • lprent 1.3.1

        Nor do I particularly. The old and balding is less of an issue than the damn weight. I hate carting around the extra kg’s. They make stairs look like mountains. But the mostly white beard peppered with grey and black looks a damn sight distinguished then the older versions in black. But how in the hell do I get Lyn to stop tugging on it?

  2. vto 2

    .
    If we New Zealanders owned everything in New Zealand the nation would be so much more wealthy. Sort of like National Party and right wing types in general like to own everything – because it leads to wealth.

    This is what National Party and right wing types like to call a no-brainer.

    So …… how do we do that? Pretty easy actually ….

    • Draco T Bastard 2.1

      If we New Zealanders owned everything in New Zealand the nation would be so much more wealthy. Sort of like National Party and right wing types in general like to own everything – because it leads to wealth.

      QFT

      And that is why this government is selling state assets. It makes NZ worse off while enriching the already rich. I truly am amazed that some people can’t seem to see that.

      So …… how do we do that? Pretty easy actually ….

      Have to drop the capitalist meme, have to show that, as a society, we’re not dependent for our wealth upon the capitalists. To show that the capitalists are the reason that we, as a country, are poor.

      • blue leopard 2.1.1

        DTB

        “Have to drop the capitalist meme, have to show that, as a society, we’re not dependent for our wealth upon the capitalists.”

        I think you would make a stronger argument if you put “unfettered” in front of “capitalist”.
        Unfettered capitalism leads to wealth amassing in fewer and fewer hands. Capitalism with “tempering” activities could work quite well.

        Numerous rules and regulations re finances and redistribution of wealth to the less fortunate tempered the negative effects of “pure” capitalism. What a pity such have been eroded by neo-liberalist/unfettered capitalists/etc.

        Democracy, also, is one of the ways of tempering the unhelpful consequences of pure capitalism, this requires informed voters. What a pity unfettered capitalists are capturing the main media outlets.

        In the way the direction that capitalism is going at present I agree the consequences are as you say, however still consider that putting qualifiers on words such as capitalism makes for a stronger argument.

        Perhaps its more relevant to say it makes for a CLEARER argument.

        I would be interested to hear your views on this.

        • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1.1

          Capitalism with “tempering” activities could work quite well.

          No because it always leads to the unfettered kind.

          Capitalism always goes for maximum production which results in falling prices and thus profits. When this happens the capitalists demand that government do something about it. In the 1970s we saw increasing subsidies to the farmers and then, once that proved that it wouldn’t work, the free-market got put in place with all the deregulation that comes with it.

          The drive for profit also results in an unsustainable economy. Due to falling prices as production ramps up in the local economy exports are pushed to keep up demand and thus maintain prices. This focus on exports will increase production which of course uses up more resources but it’s also a plan that is destined to fail as the places being exported to can always produce their own* and they can do it cheaper than by importing and will eventually do so. But, most importantly, we will run out of resources to maintain those exports and at that point we won’t be able to support ourselves at all.

          No, the only thing to do is to drop capitalism and go to a sustainable, stable state economy. There really is no other choice.

          * Food is a special case as not everywhere can produce enough food to feed their population. Egypt is a good example of this – they can only feed ~60% of their population. All the rest is imported. But exporting food is still not viable as it uses up more resources than we actually have available which means we need to import (feed for dairy and fertilisers for crops) and those imports will eventually dry up as well.

          • blue leopard 2.1.1.1.1

            DTB

            Very interesting, thank you.

            I can see that the drive toward the unfettered kind of capitalism is the most likely consequence, especially having had it explained in the way that you have.

            I still question whether this has to be the inevitable direction.
            I thought the tension between a central government, working with the intention toward the wellbeing of all, and capitalists, working for their own interests created an effective balance, yet this certainly is not what is occurring at present…..where the government players are more interested in “getting in” with the big boys.

            Clearly access to funds is a central issue of this phenomenon.

            I will have to read up more on the subject I guess.

            Any good links would be most appreciated.

              • blue leopard

                Cheers CV

                I would just like to see people with intelligent views spending more time offering positive alternatives, rather than solely criticising what we’ve got.

                I state this while totally acknowledging that criticising (leading to understanding of the problem) is a very important part of the process.

                It is, however, necessary for people to feel hopeful, that there is a positive way forward.

                Sadly I guess this is way “a brighter future” was so successful. (How sad that people look no further than misspelt slogans; it was really meant to be “blighted” wasn’t it?)

                Thanks for the links (although unable to watch youtube)

                • Colonial Viper

                  I would just like to see people with intelligent views spending more time offering positive alternatives, rather than solely criticising what we’ve got.

                  I reckon it starts with understanding what is good/bad with where things are currently going, and deciding what kind of future they want for NZ.

                  Alternative actions and policies will naturally flow from there.

                  • blue leopard

                    @ CV

                    “Alternative actions and policies will naturally flow from there.”

                    Yes, I sincerely hope so.

                    This is the way I was feeling, however, when one moves in relatively informed circles, and/or are informed, such as many on this website appear, it is perhaps difficult to see what level of information (or more pertinently lack of information) ordinary New Zealanders are exposed to.

                    I believe this is the challenge for politicians.

                    The dearth of information in the majority of lives here, leads to voters being horribly vulnerable to spin/PR tactics (such as “optics” mentioned on this thread).

                    This is the quick and easy method of getting votes and has a very poor effect on the general populations level of awareness.

                    I feel a great deal of concern over this.

                    I feel a great deal of concern over how every enlightened, promising piece of research or movement keeps getting twisted by those with interest opposed to genuine progress and that is all that gets shown in our main media outlets.

                    (Including what just happened with your comment and the Selling Snake Oil site…such hysteria wouldn’t be possible amongst more informed citizens…)

    • blue leopard 2.2

      @vto

      +1 well said

    • Colonial Viper 2.3

      +1

  3. BillODrees 3

    I saw Joyce grandstaning and trying to bully the younger journos. He is an ignorameous.  I switched the telly off.  It is a nice day outside and I didn’t want Joyce to spoil it! 

  4. Kotahi Tāne Huna 4

    Looks like somebody else was watching The Nation this morning. Great to see such a swift response from the Labour leadership team.

    • OneTrack 4.1

      Is he part of the labour leadership team?

    • xtasy 4.2

      Like him or not, he is at least doing something and responding as it should be done by the opposition! The more we see this happen, the better, and it will surely show in the polls. NO rewards without work and effort!

    • Carol 4.3

      And Cunliffe shows how to clearly and sharply articulate the issues, in an interesting and engaging way.

      Note also Cunliffe’s use of the word glossy.

      “Lifting exports as a share of GDP from 30 to 40 per cent would be a massive and admirable achievement,” David Cunliffe said. “The problem is that there is nothing in the Government’s thin ‘glossy’ issued this week, or today’s interview that would get us there.
      ..
      “Other than glossy PR, Steven Joyce’s only contribution was to exhort regions to ‘dig it and mine it’, despite the proper processes of local democracy and environmental protections.

      In Question Time this week, Lockwood-Smith disallowed that word as being negative and not objective:

      http://www.parliament.nz/en-NZ/PB/Business/QOA/2/4/8/50HansQ_20120816_00000001-1-Economy-Growth.htm

      Hon David Cunliffe: Given that ratings agencies Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s, and Fitch Ratings have all criticised New Zealand’s lack of export diversification and high-value exports, why does the export public relations glossy that he issued yesterday contain no quantitative target for export growth until the year 2025?

      Mr SPEAKER: Order! And, indeed, I would have responded directly myself, had I not listened to the question carefully and heard derogatory comment in the question. So if members include—well, the member referred to a publication that the Government put out yesterday as some glossy.

      Rt Hon Winston Peters: That’s not derogatory.

      Mr SPEAKER: It is not objective language. If members want Ministers to stick to objective language, questions should contain objective language.

      Hon Trevor Mallard: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Referring to a glossy publication as glossy is hardly subjective.

      Mr SPEAKER: The language was intentionally—[Interruption] Order! The Speaker might look stupid, but he is not that stupid. The language was intentionally derogatory about a publication. It is common language to refer to something as a glossy when it is considered not to have much content. The Minister therefore is at liberty to respond to that. And that is the end of the matter. I will not entertain any further points of order on that issue. Let me be very clear about that.

      Hon David Cunliffe: I seek leave to re-ask the supplementary question, omitting the word.

      Mr SPEAKER: Order! No, the member asked his question. The Minister is answering it.

      Good on Cunliffe on sticking to his language in the press release.

      Glossy (NAct & Joyce) is as Glossy does.

  5. OneTrack 5

    Confirmation bias is a wonderful thing.

    Watching the Nation this morning, I saw a professional politician reasonably explaining the issues the country is facing and the approach the government is taking and why. You can easily argue that they are taking the wrong approach but that is, surely, different ideologies.

    Those three young and pretty journolists (vto started it) seem to be coming with a biased viewpoint (all green and labour party gold members maybe?) but dont seem to be unsettling Joyce at all. Some of the questions were even getting a bit shrill. I do understand they want to win a pulizter prize but…. They quietened down towards the end ie maybe he boggled them with logic. And at the whistle, Joyce – 1, journolists – 0.

  6. aj 6

    Disregarding the looks, the message he was promoting, and what I thought was a very defensive tone shown by Joyce, what leapt out at me was the competence in language and strength of delivery.

    On Message.

    This led me to compare with Shearer, or Cunliffe.

    Shearer’s promotion to leadership is, regrettably, a mistake.

    • xtasy 6.1

      Sorry, I did think the same and made it known from the beginning, but so many disliked the realistic assessment and criticism. Now we can only hope for some wise realisations at Labour’s top, and the logical steps to be taken.

  7. georgecom 7

    The simple truth is that National, Joyce, English, Key etc are out of ideas to do anything about the economy. Their thinking is still 1990s and early-mid 2000s, with various levels of intensity of implementation. All they have left to play with is simply waiting to see what unfolds and try and react with tired out dated thinking.

    There is no ‘brighter future’ with National unless it somehow arrives under its own steam. There is no bright thinking within National, no future thinking within National.

    That is what Joyce is reflecting.

    • lprent 7.1

      Agreed. They really do seem to slowly rehashing every failed idea from the 90’s

    • Draco T Bastard 7.2

      Their thinking is still 1990s and early-mid 2000s,

      Nope, closer to 1890s through to mid 1920s thinking. The end result will be the same.

      • Colonial Viper 7.2.1

        I was going to say pre 1890’s…from 1893 the Liberal government under Richard Seddon (aka King Dick) actually did big things like land reform, to break up the concentration of wealth which had built up, and also introduced a system of old age pensions which greatly relieved poverty amongst the elderly.

  8. xtasy 8

    Sorry, but I disagree with the lead story above:

    Actually Joyce was in his element and at his best on the Nation this morning.

    I strongly dislike his ideas, his absolutely uncompromising laissez faire free market ideology, his arrogance and so forth, but he is a smart and dangerous operator. He is actually more of a handful to deal with than Key, English and others. Key and English may lead the bunch, but the organiser and schemer in main politics, which includes economics and business and education, that is Joyce.

    I was disappointed with the two young journos, who have been much better during other testing interviews. But today they again looked like school-boys.

    They were appalling when Phil Heatley was on the Nation two weeks or so ago, who was allowed to rant on endlessly about his great ideas for oil drilling, mining and so forth, even claiming deep sea drilling had been proved low risk internationally, but referring to the North Sea (shallow waters all over!) in Europe as an example.

    Then he rolled out his absurd, unsocial agenda on Housing NZ and so forth. He talked about “rorting” Housing NZ tenants having boarders claiming the accomodation supplement from WINZ and so forth, all being total nonsense, as Housing NZ tenants are NOT even allowed to sublet rooms to boarders.

    The two same journalists were just not asking any real questions then. They did not have a clue about housing policies and law either. It was embarrassing.

    Labour will do well to target and attack Joyce whereever they can. He is a hard nut to crack, but it can be done (remember his stupid comments re the admitted drink drive alcohol limits and so).

  9. rob 9

    Joyce needs intense scrutiny because he is so uncompromising
    He is quite evil because he thinks success comes with trading or buying and selling rather than growing the wealth of our nation and giving our community security

    • seeker 9.1

      Agreed . Joyce’s laconic persona epitomises National’s lazy, one dimensional, non creative, arrogant, incompetent approach to the economic and social needs of this country. In fact Joyce, along with the National leadership, appears almost indifferent to the country’s needs.
      That is why I am glad that David Cunliffe is Joyce’s opposite number. He is the one person who is rigorous and canny enough to be able to keep Joyce under intense scrutiny. I hope David Cunliffe will stalk the hell out of Joyce and prove to be his nemesis.

    • Lebleaux 9.2

      Please explain how you grow the wealth of anything without buying and/or selling and /or trading

  10. captain hook 10

    Joyces rationale for broadband internet was so that dweebs could download stuff faster nudge nudge wink wink.
    thats his style.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Time for a breather on immigration
    National has no idea how to house the record number of people entering New Zealand, let alone cope with the pressure on health, education, and transport from this record population growth, says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. ...
    1 day ago
  • Labour to invest $4 billion in education
    Labour’s Education Manifesto will bring positive change across the education sector and is backed by a massive investment, says Labour’s Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “Labour’s plan will see an extra $4 billion invested over the next four years. It’s organised ...
    1 day ago
  • National’s shame: worst homelessness in the OECD
    National’s legacy is a housing crisis that has given New Zealand the worst homeless rate in the developed world, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    1 day ago
  • Labour taking action on school donations
    Labour will end so-called voluntary school donations for the majority of parents across the country under its $4 billion plan to revitalise the education sector, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “Labour has always been committed to a world-class free education ...
    1 day ago
  • Labour to work with Queenstown to build more houses
    Labour will work with Queenstown-Lakes District Council, iwi, and the Community Housing Trust to build the modern, affordable housing Queenstown desperately needs, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    2 days ago
  • Nats blow the Budget on motels after bowling state houses
    National is spending $140,000 a day putting homeless families in motels, the legacy of nine years of selling off and knocking down state houses, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 days ago
  • New revelations in Joanne Harrison report
    The State Services Commission’s report into the treatment of whistle-blowers by Joanne Harrison has revealed new accusations against the convicted fraudster, says Labour MP Sue Moroney.  “The report found that four staff inside the Ministry of Transport who had raised ...
    2 days ago
  • Snafu at Princess Margaret
    Jonathan Coleman has to stop the stalling over a new building for mental health services in Christchurch to replace the quake damaged Princess Margaret Hospital, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark. “The Government must accept that Christchurch is still recovering ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour’s fiscal plan to build a fairer New Zealand
    Labour will re-build our housing, health and education while responsibly managing New Zealand’s finances, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.  “Under Labour’s Fiscal Plan we will deliver big investments in the services we all need and care about, invest ...
    3 days ago
  • Nats show they’re the tax dodgers’ best friends
    The government is taking the knife to IRD at a time when we need a highly skilled department to ensure that multinationals and speculators don’t get away with dodging tax, says Labour’s Revenue spokesperson Michael Wood. ...
    3 days ago
  • Labour secures the future for NZ Super
    A Labour Government will secure the future for New Zealand Superannuation so we can continue to provide superannuation to those retiring at age 65, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “One of the first things a Labour-led Government will ...
    4 days ago
  • Multinationals must pay fair share of tax
    A Labour Government will crack down on multinational companies that are dodging paying their fair share of tax, says Labour Leader Andrew Little. “New Zealanders are missing out by hundreds of millions according to the IRD because multinational companies can ...
    4 days ago
  • ACT’s approach to children backward and ill informed
    Act’s new deputy leader’s claim that Labour’s support for families could “extend the misery of child poverty and even child abuse” is ill informed and offensive, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. ...
    1 week ago
  • Canterbury hatchet job a disgrace
    The Government’s glib acceptance of advice that the Canterbury District Health Board doesn’t need more money is a hatchet job and a disgrace, says Labour’s Health Spokesperson David Clark. “To claim that the DHB was using tactics to leverage more ...
    1 week ago
  • Quality for Kiwi kids at ECE
    After more than a decade of rapid growth in the number of children participating in Early Childhood Education (ECE), it’s time to take stock and map out a clear plan for the future, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour to boost ECE quality
    Labour will ensure kids get the best start in life by boosting funding for Early Childhood Centres to employ 100 per cent qualified and registered teachers, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour will stump up a million dollars for Maniototo Hospital
    A Labour led Government will make a million dollars available to rebuild the Maniototo Base hospital in Ranfurly, says the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little.  “This will be a much needed boost for a long overdue rebuild that has ...
    1 week ago
  • No vision for the West Coast
    The West Coast welcomes any Government investment in our region but the lack of any real alternative vision for the West Coast’s economy is disappointing, says Damien O’Connor Labour’s West Coast-Tasman MP.  “The establishment of a Mining Research Unit will ...
    1 week ago
  • National’s youth work scheme too little too late
    After nine years, National’s belated attempt to provide work opportunities for unemployed youth should be seen for what it is, a half-hearted, election gimmick from a party that’s ignored the problem till now, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    1 week ago
  • Kiwis won’t fall for Joyce’s spin
    Steven Joyce’s embarrassingly obvious spin on Labour’s Families Package won’t fool anyone, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. ...
    1 week ago
  • Labour prioritises families and public services
    Labour’s Families Package delivers a bigger income boost to more than 70 per cent of families with children than Budget 2017. By not spending $1.5 billion a year on tax cuts, Labour is able to do more for lower and ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Kiwis can’t sleep in your ghost houses, Nick
    The Government’s housing infrastructure announcement is another Nick Smith special – over-promising with no detail on delivery, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour helps older New Zealanders and low income families with winter heating bills
    Labour will further boost its commitment to warm, healthy housing with a Winter Energy Payment for superannuitants and people receiving main benefits, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. “Everyone deserves a warm, healthy home to live in. But that’s ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National must rule out retrospective override for Ruataniwha
    National must categorically rule out using retrospective legislation to override the Supreme Court’s decision that the land swap of conservation land flooded by the proposed Ruataniwha Dam was illegal, says Labour’s Shadow Attorney General David Parker. “Having not got their ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Flavell’s failure a win for Māori landowners
    The Māori Development Minister’s admission that his unpopular Ture Whenua Māori Bill won’t pass into law prior to the election is a victory for Māori landowners, but only a change of government will keep the Bill gone for good, says ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Stats confirm growing housing shortfall
    National’s failure to fix the housing shortage has been starkly illustrated by new statistics, says Labour Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Systemic abuse of kids in state care
    After admitting there was systemic abuse of children in State care the Government must do the right thing and launch an independent inquiry, says Labour’s Deputy Leader Jacinda Ardern. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Migrant worker exploitation needs sharper focus
    The astonishing number of employers found guilty of exploiting migrants shows that migrant exploitation is a serious problem in New Zealand, says Labour Workplace Relations and Safety spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “A total of 53 companies have been banned from recruiting ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Minister faces questions over dam debacle
    Today’s Supreme Court ruling dismissing an appeal to allow a land swap for the controversial Ruataniwha Dam is a victory for our conservation estate and Hawke’s Bay ratepayers, but leaves the Conservation Minister with serious questions to answer, says Ikaroa-Rāwhiti ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Too little too late on Wellington housing
    The announcement today on social housing in Wellington by the National Government is a pitiful and cynical election ploy, says Labour’s Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson. “In 2012 Housing New Zealand emptied out the Gordon Wilson Flats, taking 130 places ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Foreign trusts wilt in the sunlight, but more transparency needed
    The fact that the numbers of foreign trusts registered in New Zealand has plummeted after the Government’s belated and reluctant imposition of a new reporting regime, in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal, shows the need for a transparent, ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Speech by Grant Robertson: The Future of Work and Labour’s Economic Vision
    At the election in September voters will face a choice between a government led by Andrew Little with a fresh approach to give every New Zealander a fair share in prosperity or the continuation of a tired government, out of ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Swimmable Rivers Tour: Waikato
    Last week, we rolled up to the mighty Waikato on the final day of our swimmable rivers tour. Co-Leader James Shaw, Denise Roche MP and I started our day in Horotiu where the primary school has been focussing on the ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    3 weeks ago
  • Nats’ failure to train young people contributes to housing stall
    Budget documents forecast that housing construction will stall in the coming year, despite the massive housing shortage, and National’s failure to train young people in building trades is partly to blame, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    3 weeks ago