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The problem is not in the schools

Written By: - Date published: 7:29 am, July 20th, 2011 - 90 comments
Categories: class war, economy, education, employment - Tags: ,

The New Zealand Institute is “a privately funded think-tank” which attracted a fair bit of attention recently with its report “A goal is not a strategy”. It has just released another report which is also likely to be controversial. The Herald reports:

Disadvantaged NZ youth bottom of OECD league

A leading think tank has slammed New Zealand’s education system for producing disadvantaged youth who are worse off than in any other developed country.

A shocking indictment of our schools? That certainly seems to be the framing:

The business-backed New Zealand Institute, which has focused until now on economic policy, says the education system has lost sight of the need to keep young people engaged in school and transition successfully into work.

It recommends radical reforms including widespread use of computer-based e-learning, putting students on to pathways to work from the first year of intermediate school (Year 7), giving employers more input into what schools teach and giving all students career advice through school years and support after leaving school. …

A business-backed think tank arguing for businesses to have “more input” into schools – fancy that. But we already know that our schools do a great job on international measures of learning outcomes. So what’s really going on here?

The NZ Institute report finds that “disadvantaged youth in New Zealand are more disadvantaged than youth in other OECD countries, that poor youth outcomes are concentrated in Maori and Pacific groups, and that the situation is not improving”.

However, New Zealand is fourth-best in the 30-nation OECD group for reading, numeracy and scientific reasoning of 15-year-olds. But we are the worst in the OECD for the number of young people who drop out of school early and become unemployed. By age 16, 36 per cent of students say they are usually or always bored with school, and a quarter have either left school or want to leave as soon as possible.

What this tells us is that the underlying problem is not in the schools, it is in our society. The visible problems are worst where the poverty is worst, in our Maori and Pacific Island populations. The desire of so many to leave school is not (for the most part) a reflection on schools themselves, it is a reflection on a society which offers (for so many) no compelling reason to attend. The summary at the end of the article makes all this abundantly clear:

HOW WE FARE WITH OTHER NATIONS

4th BEST in OECD, reading and maths scores
7th WORST Teen birth rate
4th WORST Death rate aged 15-24
WORST Youth share of unemployment
WORST Cannabis use
WORST Youth suicide

Schools are doing well on their core business of education. The other (negative) indicators are all symptoms of much broader failures. Consequently the report’s proposed solutions are narrow and misdirected:

Proposed solutions:

* E-learning to engage bored students.
* Pathways to work starting in Year 7.
* Match education to economy’s needs.
* Connect schools with employers.
* Career guidance and transition support for all students.

Some good ideas in that list, and some actively harmful ones. But, as above, these “solutions” miss the point. The real problems are poverty, the obvious lack of viable jobs and futures for the young, the consequent break down of family and social support structures, and the loss of hope. Our current rates of teen cannabis use, suicide rates, and pregnancy rates and so on are all children born of two parents: (1) the neoliberal economic revolution of the 90’s, and (2) our persistent failure to address the social and economic disadvantages of the “underclass” (notably in Maori and PI communities). We won’t solve these problems until we stop blaming the schools, and take a long hard look at ourselves.

90 comments on “The problem is not in the schools ”

  1. TightyRighty 1

    everything is the 90’s neo liberal reforms fault according to a leftie. that same old tired line, despite the fact it set the nations economy up to be the mobile, flexible, resilient beast it is. god i hate to have taxed and spent like the euro nations, aussies or the yanks like commentators on this site and others on the left wanted us to do. they are looking pretty sick right now. How about the welfare state antony? encouraging parents to sit around on state handouts, drink and smoke dope all day, and passing those values on to their kids? equally plausible

    • r0b 1.1

      everything is the 90′s neo liberal reforms fault according to a leftie.

      Not everything – but a lot.

      that same old tired line, despite the fact it set the nations economy up to be the mobile, flexible, resilient beast it is.

      Is that deliberate irony?  I can’t tell.  Just FYI – our mobile flexible resilient beast of an economy spent much longer staggering about in the recession doldrums than most others.

      god i hate to have taxed and spent like the euro nations, aussies

      You’d hate to have the economic performance of Australia 1990 – today?  You need to read the odd newspaper TR.

      How about the welfare state antony?

      A vital safety net for those in need.  Even your hero Key can see that.  Do you propose that we try and do without it?

      equally plausible

      Except that we’ve had a welfare state since the 1930s of course. 

    • mik e 1.2

      National must be adopting those policies with DPB receipients up 20,000 the first time in 20 yrs. obviously Anne Tolley is not up to the job especially when right through the nineties National claimed there was to much paper work bureaucracy etc but soon as they get into power they institute another layer of needless teacher time wasting . The answer is obvious more teacher time in front of pupils . Stable housing so poor parents that aren,t drifting from school to school. the unemployment figures would look worse if you take the record numbers that are leaving for Australia. Then look at the long term unemployment its gone up three fold under National same as last time they were in power .and when they were in power last time they had many reports commissioned on poverty it came down to long term unemployment and housing affordability.This flexible labour market you talk about may be alright for someone on a reasonable income but those on the bottom it means moving and up rooting a family with very little resources n who can,t afford baby sitters in their new town or city let alone find a deposit for a new rental ,find the money to move furniture and then when it gets to much they split up and become more itinerant so schooling keeps being fragmented and thats one of the biggest problems we have with poverty . It would be nice if they could all have a state house to grow up in like that nice Mr Key

    • Vicky32 1.3

      parents to sit around on state handouts, drink and smoke dope all day, and passing those values on to their kids? equally plausible

      Have you ever met any parents like that? Because in my very long life, I never have…

    • Gordon 1.4

      You cannot drink and smoke weed all day on a benefit, and you’ll be lucky to eat anything that won’t kill you by 50…
      … but don’t let that kill ur hate TightyRighty, keep up the gross generalisations. Maybe the ‘bludgers’ will ‘pull their heads in’ and get a job washing dishes in an average restaurant you think is top notch… or they’ll just say ‘nah’ and keep some sense of liberty.

  2. “We won’t solve these problems until we stop blaming the schools, and take a long hard look at ourselves.”

    Yes, definitely. And as well as not blaming schols an important step is to stop blaming everyone and everything else. It’s our problem, out family’s problem, our community’s problem, our town or city’s problem.

    The biggest problem is finding and implementing solutions.

    One thing we all can do better is to show by example, and own responsibility for our own problems. In a place like this that means not automatically blaming the government for everything.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      It’s our problem, out family’s problem, our community’s problem, our town or city’s problem.

      Ah more socialist wisdom from the Squirrel. I understand, we are in this together, let’s act together! I believe this is true.

      One thing we all can do better is to show by example, and own responsibility for our own problems. In a place like this that means not automatically blaming the government for everything.

      Except here you say we’re not in this together, we have to take responsibiity separately, not as a wider community…or as a nation…WTF didn’t you just say we were in this all together a second ago…?

      In a place like this that means not automatically blaming the government for everything.

      No we should not blame the Government for everything, it is the largest most powerful, largest spending agent which represents our communities and towns as a whole after all…wait I thought you said we were in this together but you want to leave Government out of the equation and place the responsibility on the little one on one relatively powerless individuals…?

      Bottom line is that individuals have to pull their weight but Government is a massive enabler and leader, both sides need to do their part. And whereas individuals aren’t accountable to any one but themselves and their mum, Government is accountable to us and better get on to it ASAP.

    • r0b 2.2

      In a place like this that means not automatically blaming the government for everything.

      Glad I didn’t do that then eh?

      We need to take a long hard look at ourselves. That includes governments, yes, but it also includes the media who shape opinions, and we the people who keep electing governments.

      • I know, I’m supporting what you’e saying in this post.

        Part of the problem is highlighted by CV, relying on the government to be “a massive enabler and leader” – real societal change works from the bottom up, not “enabled” from the top.

        Leadership is important, but only works if the base is ready and willing to do something about it and not just leave all the “enabling” to government. Good leadership means enabling grass roots groups and organisations to deal with things directly, different approaches for different areas and issues, and not by applying one fix fits all from the top.

        • r0b 2.2.1.1

          I know, I’m supporting what you’e saying in this post.

          Apologies, I misinterpreted your comment.

    • In a place like this that means not automatically blaming the government for everything.
       
      Well this current government can be blamed for its appalling handling of education.
       
      Did you know that the briefing to the incoming Minister for Education provided after the 2008 election told the Minister about “notable improvements in student learning as a result of teacher professional development programmes in key areas such as literacy, numeracy, ICT and assessment.” (page 17).
      To quote:

      “The Numeracy Development Project was established in 2000.  This ministry-led professional development programme has been introduced into 95 percent of primary, intermediate and composite schools (including 85 percent of Maori-medium schools) and 40 percent of secondary schools.  
      Between 2002 and 2007: 

      the percentage of Year 6 students achieving at or above the expected level in mathematics increased from 40 percent to 61 percent.
      the percentage classified as at risk decreased from 30 percent to 13 percent.”

      There was also a thing called the Literacy Strategy which Labour also set up in 2000.  According to the report:

      “Over the first three years, this ministry-led professional development programme focused on literacy leadership and involved approximately 4,000 principals and literacy teachers from almost 2,000 primary and intermediate schools.  From 2004 onwards, the focus has incorporated both literacy leadership and professional development for teachers.  Around 44 percent of primary and intermediate schools have participated to date. 
      A 2008 evaluation shows that 

      after taking into account expected growth and maturation, students’ gains in reading and writing were twice those that could be expected without the intervention 
      schools accelerated the rate of progress for the majority of the at-risk students by four times the expected rate.”

      Further,

      “Teachers also need ongoing opportunities to update and improve their practice.  Research shows that high-quality in-school professional development is a cost-effective way to improve student achievement in areas such as literacy and numeracy.  Ongoing professional development that is focused on everyday classroom practice has the most impact on teacher behaviour and learner outcomes.  As evidence grows about which programmes or approaches work best to enhance teaching and learning for all learners, the next step is to embed effective professional development across the sector.”

      So what did Tolley and the Nats do?  They decreased funding for what looks like the Numeracy program by $8m in 2009 and by further amounts increasing from $24m to $34m over the following three years.

      Go figure.  A very successful program is gutted so that the Minister can score political brownie points.  Of course the Government and Tolley can be blamed.  That mixture of doctrinare stupidity is potent and very destructive.
       
       

      • And what do you achieve with that?

        Parenting and early childhood issues (and not specifically ECE as that doesn’t address the worst at risk kids who don’t get ECE) are something that needs far more attention and effort for the long term good of the country. It impacts on wellbeing, health, education, education and crime.

        Youth unemployment and pooer education statnards (of the bottom end) is a shorter term major problem that also needs more attention. Longer term solutions include looking back to early childhood.

        Collectively I think this is one of the most important community inclusive things we should be working on.

        After my wee experiment ends in November, no matter what the result, I intend to work on promoting action on this in Dunedin, and I’ll work with the expected MP on it if he’s willing.

  3. Shona 3

    The jobs aren’t there. I know this from my own offspring’s experience. And they didn’t drop out. There is unskilled work, stable permanent jobs with a career path and skills training are virtually non-existent. The steady exodus across the Tasman will keep on happening.. We will continue to be a society of the very old and the very young with a middle class consisting mainly of migrants for whom english is a second language and whose skills by and large are not that good.We have only ourselves to blame. Greedy , greedy shortsighted kiwis.

  4. millsy 4

    Mind you, it doesnt help that Tomorrow’s Schools has turned the focus of BOT’s and principals from ensuring every child at their school gets a decent education to ensuring a school’s ‘brand’ is attractive to lucrative fee paying international students.

    Put in a permanent moratorium on international students and take more power from schools and give it back to the MoE (and fund schools more) and youll be suprised at the improvements in a generation.

    • higherstandrad 4.1

      “Put in a permanent moratorium on international students and take more power from schools and give it back to the MoE (and fund schools more) and youll be suprised at the improvements in a generation.”

      I can see where you’re coming from Millsy, but there is a perverse situation that with decile based funding for schools that many require the extra income from international students to have sufficient funding to enable them to continue to offer the students an acceptable education and schooling environment – this occurs particularly in the primary and intermediate settings but also at some high schools.

      and in relation to the proposed solutions

      Proposed solutions:

      * E-learning to engage bored students – yep if carefully introduced and manage.
      * Pathways to work starting in Year 7 – seems very early to me.
      * Match education to economy’s needs – bit of silly jargon.
      * Connect schools with employers – yep via the career guidance function in highschools.
      * Career guidance and transition support for all students – eh doesn’t this happen now at high school level ?

      • millsy 4.1.1

        Yes, I realise that. That’s why I think that the goverment needs to start pouring more money into state schools than it already is, and we are going to have to adopt some innovative ideas, such as schools staying open after 3 to allow students to do assignments, etc on site.

    • Vicky32 4.2

      Put in a permanent moratorium on international students

      Not such a good idea, as many schools rely for funding on international students! (Not to mention that I still hope to get a teacher aide or ESOL job on their account.. 😀 )

      and take more power from schools and give it back to the MoE (and fund schools more) and youll be suprised at the improvements in a generation.

      I do agree about this, however…

  5. Craig Glen Eden 5

    This is just bullshit, another right wing lobby group pushing its agenda. so now they want year seven students (11 year olds) set on a path/ career to be the woodgit maker for the said business.

    These clowns and thats what they are, have no idea. I would suggest that before they spout any more shit, that is one step away from stuffing small children down chimney stacks that they take some time to watch Ken Robinson at http://www.ted.com/ . Then they might get some idea that NZ education is on the right tract and in many ways leads the world.

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      Personally I think some sort of ‘pathways to work’ programme for younger students is a good idea.

      My school made half-hearted attempts in 5th form and didn’t really kick into gear until 6th and 7th form. For some people (who dropped out in 3rd or 4th form) this is far too late.

    • Gosman 5.2

      You mean like how Germany manages their education system? Yeah I can see why you wouldn’t want us to follow that. I mean it hasn’t worked out for them at all.

      • Craig Glen Eden 5.2.1

        No I didnt mention Germany did I Gosman, so watch Ken Robinson, specifically have a look at his presentation at TED in 2010. Maybe you don’t know what you don’t know Gosman?

      • freedom 5.2.2

        Gosman, the german situation is not all milk & honey. I have family that live there, with a Niece and nephew who have done all their schooling there. Once the system has decided what path you are to embark on it is very hard to change tack. Asking kids when they are ten and eleven to decide on the future of their education is highly restrictive. Do you really want to force a twelve year old to decide if they want to go to University? There are massively complex processes a kid must go through if they, for example, decide a science future is not their thing and want to try Arts. Vice-versa is even harder as the testing is based on early reaults and the types of schooling children are exposed to are highly specialised from an early age. Our system is a lot more flexible allowing for diverse and natural alterations in a persons character to develop within an education system that adapts to their needs. It just requires Governments that refrain from cutting it to its bones, and instead start feeding it the healthy diet of funds it so richly deserves.

  6. Craig Glen Eden 6

    Sorry, forgot to say I would recommend this to all reg standard posters both left and right wing, not only is Ken Robinson very informative he is very clever and funny if you do nothing else this week have a look and have a laugh I am sure you wont be disappointed. See what you think

  7. Gosman 7

    So even though our unemployment rate over the past two decades has been consistently under those from many other OECD nation suddenly our youth have no hope? Ummmmm… how does that work out?

    BTW when did it become the primary responsibility for Government to ensure employment for young people? That is mainly the role of the private sector in a mixed economy. Oh that’s right, you Socialists don’t think that way and hold on to this fantasy land view of the world where Governments can give everyone a meaningful job.

    • millsy 7.1

      Well Gosman, your beloved private sector is not doing to well at the moment.

    • mik e 7.2

      Where the private sector fails in modern small economies like ours, its more important for govts to step in to keep our economy strong ie R&D Innovation, good education,good healthcare, good housing etc . their is no laissez fair economy in this world that exists or has worked in the past same with communism, the best economies know what works and implement those policies in other words they harness the wild bull/ bear free market to provide them with a consistently performing economy .Look at Singapore its lucky that it does have an out of control totalitarian in charge .It does have much better educated treasury advisors than us, they know where to put the peoples taxes to make the economy grow they do provide good quality cheap housing for 80% of their population . Thats maybe why they get 17.4% growth per annum as opposed to our 1.7% growth .Anyone like Gosman obviously hasn,t studied economics beyond the party political broadcast commonly known as PROPAGANDA

    • Draco T Bastard 7.3

      BTW when did it become the primary responsibility for Government to ensure employment for young people?

      I don’t put the responsibility onto the government, I put it on to the people of the government is the administrative arm.

      That is mainly the role of the private sector in a mixed economy.

      Now that’s total BS. The private sector should be a minor part of society. Have it as the driving part, as the neo-liberals do, and what you end up with is an unsustainable economy that shifts the communities wealth to a few rich people while going through boom/bust cycles that entrench poverty for the majority.

  8. NickC 8

    No the problem is with our school system which gives huge advantages to wealthy families. If you live in Parnell your sons get to go to Auckland Grammer, which has some of the highest educational achievement in the country. If you live in South Auckland, god knows where your kids will go to school but I wouldn’t send my kids there. This is true regardless of how bright your kids are, what their spesific educational needs are and even how much you might be prepared to pay to send them to a better school (unless of course you can afford Kings).

    One solution would be a school choice system, where the money for a childs education goes where the child chooses to go to school. We could still give more funding to the education of poor children (as we currently do with decile funding, with nothing to show for it). The system has been most notably successful in New Orleans: http://www.showmedaily.org/2011/06/school-choice-continues-to-succeed.html

    • millsy 8.1

      Or we could just give ALL schools more money, and make them good schools. But of course, people would have no reason to send their kids to your beloved Auckland Grammar so they can learn to be snobs, would they?

      School choice just an excuse to close down schools in poorer area after bleeding them dry.

      • NickC 8.1.1

        Well of course being a decile 10 school, Grammer recieves less government money at the moment than most other public schools. Doesn’t seem to effect their grades though. Pumping more money into the education budget has been our approach for the last 10 years and it hasnt improved educational achievement for maori, the gap has increased.

        As for schools in poor areas: Who chooses whether they get closed down or not under school choice? Seems to me that if parents in those areas want to send their children to those schools the schools will have no problem at all.

        • Craig Glen Eden 8.1.1.1

          While Grammer might get less funding per student now they have a shit load of very good resources at their disposal and a very well off old boys net work.So they don’t have less resources at their disposal than a low decile school!

          Secondly who says that going to Grammer gives your child a better education, its my understanding that these boys often don’t do a s well as kids from what would be considered a normal public school when they get to varsity.

          Thirdly kids in South Auckland who want a similar education to Grammer would probably go to Kings, just thought you should no heavens forbid you might end up living in South Auckland and I would hate you not to know where to send your kids..

          • Nick C 8.1.1.1.1

            Yeah good luck to the average South Auckland parent finding the money to fully fund their kids education at Kings! And it’s hardly fair is it, that if you live in South Auckland and you want your kid to go to a school with high educational success and low levels of violence (and lets face it most south Auckland schools aren’t in that catagory) you have to pay unaffordable fees, but if you live in Parnell you get to go to Auckland Grammer for free/a ‘donation’.

        • Vicky32 8.1.1.2

          Well of course being a decile 10 school, Grammer

          Well, if you’re going to praise it, at least spell it right!
          G R A M M A R
          Please?

    • The New Orleans school choice system is not quite the ‘notable success’ you imply. It’s a lot more complicated and the ‘endgame’ is unknown. Also, it’s not always the child’s (or parents’) choice that determines where the child ends up. It’s sometimes parents’ ability to navigate the application process.

      In a society besotted – in knee-jerk fashion – with the idea of ‘choice’, it’s interesting that there is by no means universal acclaim for such a scheme. 

      • NickC 8.2.1

        No system is perfect and I would never argue that school choice is. But even the article you have cited accepts that school choice is better than the alternatives and has improved educational outcomes in New Orleans.

        • Puddleglum 8.2.1.1

          But even the article you have cited accepts that school choice is better than the alternatives and has improved educational outcomes in New Orleans”  

          Indeed, I chose the article because it was ‘local’ and showed a range of perspectives, including praise, caution, positive and negative commentary. Personally, I saw the article as canvassing those views rather than definitively ‘accepting’ or ‘rejecting’ the approach.

          One interesting point comes out clearly in the first graphic box, that while parents thought it a very good thing to have choice, a majority disagreed with the proposition that they got their first choice of school (35% ‘strongly disagreed’ – perhaps suggesting some may not have even got their second choice?).

          In fact, the main point of the article (expressed in its title) was that the means of expressing the ‘choice’ may be systematically disadvantaging parents without the resources or what I would call ‘middle-class capital’ to navigate the application process (perhaps those with that capital were the 37% who agreed that they got their first choice). In other words, the rhetoric may not match the reality: Parents/children don’t get to choose what school the child goes to.

          Another interesting point was that those schools which still retained a geographic/ neighbourhood catchment were the most sought-after schools. Which I interpret as suggesting that the ideal is a good local school. Perhaps that’s what we should aim for directly in every neighbourhood in New Zealand? But, as the post points out, perhaps the biggest obstacle to that goal is well beyond the school gate.

  9. Afewknowthetruth 9

    Schools are elaborate babysitting and regimentation enterprises. Intelligent and motivated children manage to get something out of schooling, despite the system.

    Present social and economic arrangements are in the process of collapsing, due to peak oil, the unravelling of fiat currencies (NZ dollar at 85.cents US today) and environmental collapse.

    We will soon be living in a completely different world. Work, in the conventional sense, is almost over, and schools are unlikely to exist in their present form 5 years from now. The school system is a product of industrial living and must collapse with it (as is already happening in the US).

    Most people remain ignorant of the facts or locked into denial of reality.

  10. randal 10

    I wanna:
    motorbike
    car
    girlfriend
    cell phone
    flatscreen dvd
    anything and everything I can get my hands on.
    of course the problem is in society. New Zealand is an aquisitive, unaesthetic collection of people who’se only gratification seems to be making shop people beg for their money, bribing grandchildren for affection or going somehwere and coming back and telling everyone else all about it.
    now focus group that!

  11. George.com 11

    Schools are achieving in the area they have most control over – teaching and learning. Our high international education rankings show this. There are a range of very bad statistics as well however much of this falls outside the direct control of schools. They are familial and societal issues.

    This report seems to suffer from a commonly repeated mistake, lay the blame and responsibility at the door of schools whilst abrogating responsibility for any other sector. It identifies the problems but fails to focus on the areas where change can be made.

    Moreover some of the ‘soultions’ have been the focus of work in schools over the past decade – more vocational based education, a greater emphasis on trades and apprenticeships, raising the leaving age. Those are not startling new discoveries but are things identified some years ago and steadily worked on ever since.

    Does the report (1) add anything new that is not already known? (2) offer any significant solution for the actual outside school problems?

  12. Draco T Bastard 12

    Match education to economy’s needs

    I get really pissed off with narrow minded, authoritarian BS like this. How about we match the economy to the needs of the people instead? That’s the economies purpose – to support the people. The people aren’t there, no matter what the capitalists think, to support the economy.

    (1) the neoliberal economic revolution of the 90′s,

    The neo-liberal revolution happened in the 1980s under the 4th Labour government. The 4th National government in the 1990s merely continued that course and so have following governments.

  13. Colonial Viper 13

    How did we do on the alcohol use stats compared to other countries?

    • freedom 13.1

      gold stars for all in the highly contested ‘most drunken youth’ and ‘most violent offences by drunken youth’ and two highly commended awards for ability to fashion a bong from household detritus

      or was that just a flashback of highschool in the 80’s

  14. Rusty Shackleford 14

    It’s weird how the most dysfunctional areas of the economy are those with the most most top down state control.

    • Colonial Viper 14.1

      Yeah like Enron or SCF or AMI or Blue Chip or Lehman Bros or Telecom

      Oh yeah that’s right in most of those cases the Private Sector came crying to the Public Sector to save their sorry lying cheating inefficient or invidious asses

      • Rusty Shackleford 14.1.1

        Insurance, energy, finance; all highly regulated industries.

        • Colonial Viper 14.1.1.1

          Hey Rusty you notice how in terms of INSURANCE the NZ Govt is having to step up to the plate because the PRIVATE SECTOR refuses to help out? How AMI thought it would make an extra buck by critically under re-insuring then requiring a public bail-out?

          A time honoured tradition. When there is money to be made the privateers are all warm words and handshakes and “huzzah for the free market!”. When there isn’t and the risk is too high for their shareholders, you can hear the crickets chirp.

          Also you must be a fool to think that Enron was operating in a highly regulated environment. Or Lehman. Or Madoff.

          For gawdsakes don’t you know that the appearance of regulation is not the same thing as actual regulation???

          Pitiful and naive mate.

        • Puddleglum 14.1.1.2

          Finance is ‘highly regulated’? Compared to when? Prior to the 1990s I think most would claim that the finance sector was far more regulated than it is presently.

          Of course, it still may be far too regulated for your tastes but, comparatively, it was less regulated during the period it facilitated the current problems than it was prior to creating such problems – wasn’t it? (I’m happy to learn.)

          • Rusty Shackleford 14.1.1.2.1

            The “deregulation caused the financial crisis” meme is just that. A meme. Some regulations were repealed but many, many more were enacted. Try to guess who wrote those new regulations? The major players in the given industry.

            The big players in any market hate deregulation. It stops them from raising barriers to entry against new firms.

            So, yes. I would like to move away from regulations that are written by the regulated.

            • Puddleglum 14.1.1.2.1.1

              So, yes. I would like to move away from regulations that are written by the regulated.

              Completely agree. 

              The big players in any market hate deregulation. It stops them from raising barriers to entry against new firms.

              I can see the logic in this comment. and realise that – e.g., highly expensive H&S – regulations could be a problem for small firms. The problem, however – at least from the public’s (and, often, workers’) perspective – is that small, new, ‘entry level’ firms one day become big firms anyway (if they are allowed to ‘enter’ the market).

              I’d love markets to be always made up of lots of little firms but how many markets are (or would be) like that (even in an ‘ideal’ world)? Isn’t this a problem with markets? Big players become big players initially by ‘giving people what they want’ and, then, when they get big they can rig the market? It’s like a fundamental flaw in market theory – once economic power is gained it is used to manipulate and undermine the market (if not through ‘regulation’ then it will be through some other clever means or even violent means – it’s only ‘rational’, after all, to try to rig markets given the big rewards that inevitably accrue especially in the monstrously large markets we have today.).

              And, I’m sorry, I don’t think any ‘law enforcement’ could ever stop it – humans respond to those with power and money and give them what they want (e.g., the ‘revelations’ emerging from the Murdoch fiasco). Call it ‘human nature’ if you like – the one thing that ensures that market economies will never be as you hope they will/can be. Hence, the need for regulation – as imperfect and rationally ‘sub-optimal’ as it is. Life’s a messy business.

              In a nutshell that’s why I can’t go along with a right wing libertarian viewpoint – it ignores what, for convenience, I’ll call ‘human nature’. Those propensities burst out of the confines of a notional ‘free market’.

              • Rusty Shackleford

                In a free market the only way to become big is to offer a good product at a good price. If you do that well enough you become big. The size of the firm is irrelevant. Whether it is one big firm or 50,000 little ones. The price and the product (or service) is all that should matter.

                “when they get big they can rig the market? It’s like a fundamental flaw in market theory – once economic power is gained it is used to manipulate and undermine the market”
                Can you give an example? And why was it worse than the environment we have now?

                • rosy

                  “The price and the product (or service) is all that should matter.”

                  Should, but isn’t. Advertising, inducements to buy and substandard inputs that aren’t discovered until after the $$ have been made, buying up the best locations to sell from, negative marketing against your competitor…. Just for a start. Even small firms can engage freely in these distortions of the market.

                  • Rusty Shackleford

                    Advertising- Freedom of speech. Of which all the ads and freedom of speech in the world can’t save rubbish products.

                    inducements to buy – like what?

                    “substandard inputs that aren’t discovered until after the $$ have been made”- I can see how this would be a problem for a space shuttle or a new type of tank, but for things people use day to day how is it an issue? If the phone I bought is sub standard, I either take it back to the store, or if that isn’t an option I buy from a different manufacturer. The company making rubbish phones isn’t going to last long with thousands of people doing this.

                    “buying up the best locations to sell from”- This isn’t going to help if your product sucks.

                    “negative marketing against your competitor”- I’m pretty sure there are studies that say this actually works against the firms engaging in it. Anyway, freedom of speech.

                    • felix

                      Except that in the real world there are rubbish products being consumed in vast quantities.

                      Shouldn’t, but is.

                    • rosy

                      inducements to buy – like what? – ‘free’ gifts. Also interest-free loans, deferred payment. and all with unfathomable extra costs. Where have you been Rusty?

                      If two products are rubbish, the one with the best location will sell more of the rubbish, likewise if one product is rubbish and the other good, the one with the best location will still sell more. Take for example a drinks seller with the right to sell at a rugby match whereas another seller has to sell at the gate, or a similar scenario for ice-cream sellers on a beach in summer – the one with ‘rights’ to the best location will sell more. Econ101 example, that one.

                      “anyway freedom of speech” I love how you think the right to tell lies is an absolute. Not.

                      Negative marketing doesn’t work?? I think there are a few political campaigns were negative marketing has worked quite well. Al Gore and John Kerry will attest to that. Similarly health promotion campaigns with negative marketing get quite a bit of traction. Cadburys also lost big time over the cocoa content, as did Ribena over Vitamin C. The competitors had a point in these cases but I betcha boots if there was no regulation on negative marketing there will be plenty of companies that would fall due to baseless allegations of competitors.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      All TV advertising should be in black and white, no music and only allowed to play between 5am and 8am

                      😉

                • In a free market the only way to become big is to offer a good product at a good price. If you do that well enough you become big. The size of the firm is irrelevant. Whether it is one big firm or 50,000 little ones. The price and the product (or service) is all that should matter.” (emphasis added by me)

                  Ermm … yes, as I conceded for the sake of argument, it is possible that “Big players become big players initially by ‘giving people what they want’

                  “when they get big they can rig the market? It’s like a fundamental flaw in market theory – once economic power is gained it is used to manipulate and undermine the market”

                  “Can you give an example?”

                  Ermm … that was your argument I was paraphrasing in that question. Examples include lobbying for – and backing – regulations; ‘influencing’ politicians (Murdoch springs to mind at the moment).

                  And why was it worse than the environment we have now?

                  Ermm … the point was that it is the environment we have now. But, more to the point, big players (i.e., big companies) will always try to manipulate markets and undermine competition with the resources they accumulate through market transactions and cease to have ‘good products’ as their main strategy – e.g., Starbucks’ strategy of establishing multiple stores in a very small area even though they cannibalise each other – in order to ‘starve out’ small, local cafes. I thought strategies like this were well known? (Please don’t say ‘And, what’s wrong with a company acting like that?’)

                  I was also saying that some such ‘rigging’ will always happen – whether through ‘regulation’ or some other means – because ‘big players’ will always be tempted to use whatever means available (inside and outside of ‘the market’) to distort the market and market arrangements to favour them. That includes corrupting players in the market as well as players outside the market (politicians, enforcers, etc.).

                  It’s inevitable that the wealth at the disposal of the ‘big companies’ will be used in ways to ensure that a ‘free market’ will no longer exist – even if we permit, for the sake of argument, that one might at some time get established somewhere. Short of forbidding the accumulation of massive wealth (and market dominance) that very human process won’t be stopped (and certainly not by removing all regulation of businesses and industry).

                  Hence, the very notion of a ‘free market’ is simply a convenient discourse and can never be a reality. Apart from the ideologically pure (and, I’d add, naive), talk of ‘free markets’ is simply discursive cover for various forms of rigging. That’s my argument. 

                  Call me cynical, if you like.

    • lprent 14.2

      Telecom? Or the power companies? They have a regulatory control but it has a rather light application for semi monopolies

      A few years ago it was probably the finance companies which were just pyramid schemes waiting to fall.

      What does that have to do with this topic?

      • Rusty Shackleford 14.2.1

        They are semi-monopolies because of monopoly.

        They are related because education is another monopoly.

        • Colonial Viper 14.2.1.1

          You’re living in your own fantasy world. Go back to your SimCity economy.

          • Rusty Shackleford 14.2.1.1.1

            Sim City? You are the one advocating central planning.

            • Rusty Shackleford 14.2.1.1.1.1

              Here is a quote from the guy who built the “perfect city” in Sim City. It sounds exactly like what a top down, centrally planned state looks like in real life.

              “Technically, no one is leaving or coming into the city. Population growth is stagnant. Sims don’t need to travel long distances, because their workplace is just within walking distance. In fact they do not even need to leave their own block. Wherever they go it’s like going to the same place. There are a lot of other problems in the city hidden under the illusion of order and greatness: Suffocating air pollution, high unemployment, no fire stations, schools, or hospitals, a regimented lifestyle – this is the price that these sims pay for living in the city with the highest population. It’s a sick and twisted goal to strive towards. The ironic thing about it is the sims in Magnasanti tolerate it. They don’t rebel, or cause revolutions and social chaos. No one considers challenging the system by physical means since a hyper-efficient police state keeps them in line. They have all been successfully dumbed down, sickened with poor health, enslaved and mind-controlled just enough to keep this system going for thousands of years. 50,000 years to be exact. They are all imprisoned in space and time.”

        • Rusty Shackleford 14.2.1.2

          “They are semi-monopolies because of monopoly.”

          Whoops. I cocked that up. Why did no one jump on me for writing nonsense? I guess it goes un-noticed considering some of the stuff that passes for fact around here.

          It should say “They are semi-monopolies because of regulation.”

          • mickysavage 14.2.1.2.1

            Why did no one jump on me for writing nonsense? 

            Because we would be doing it all the time …

            ; ) 

          • lprent 14.2.1.2.2

            Well I’ve been off shopping and fixing another website with a cache problem. I usually only scan through every three or four hours on moderation sweeps. Sometimes like the last weekend I even sleep (pesky winter flus).. 

             

          • felix 14.2.1.2.3

            CV has been jumping on you for writing nonsense.

            Trouble is it only seems to encourage you.

            • Rusty Shackleford 14.2.1.2.3.1

              CV just shouts the same two things over and over. He seems to have added Sim City to his repertoire of late.

              • Colonial Viper

                yeah its the classic broken record approach. I’m not actually trying to convince you of anything these days because you already know what you believe in and doing so would be a waste of time and energy.

                At the moment I’ve ascertained that TPTB will never let any of your ideas reach actual fruition or implementation so they’re all sort of irrelevant. Probably even as thought experiments.

                The bloody NATs on the other hand, they need stopping. Their ideas are real and being put into damaging practice now.

          • Draco T Bastard 14.2.1.2.4

            No, it went uncommented because everything you write is nonsense.

  15. McFlock 15

    Source? Because finance companies and property developers don’t seem to be all that functional, and I think get put under statutory management more often than schools.

    • Colonial Viper 15.1

      He’s just repeating the Republican meme of more government bad, less government + more private sector control =- good

      And he’ll keep repeating it without recognising that throughout the OECD there is no distinguishing line between government, banks and corporations any more, much to the detriment of citizens.

      Hey Rusty you implemented your perfect free market economy in SimCity yet?

      • McFlock 15.1.1

        Yeah – he called it Mogadishu. He can’t figure out why it so closely models the real world, though. It’s not a problem he’s encountered with Randian economics before.

  16. Rusty Shackleford 16

    Nice strawman CV.

    “And he’ll keep repeating it without recognising that throughout the OECD there is no distinguishing line between government, banks and corporations”
    A quick look at my browsing history will show that I indeed understand this fully. Yet you are the one who advocates for warfare and inflation. Corrupting factors that those three entities crave. Weird.

    • Colonial Viper 16.1

      How can you accuse me of raising a strawman when you raise an entire strawcountry?

      No economy in the world uses the kind of Austrian/free market model that you use yet you say its clearly so much better than everything else.

      As i have said to you before – TPTB don’t care for a level playing field. its not profitable enough; they want corporate welfare and if not true monopolies then duopolies and shadow cartels.

      Your ideas will never see the light of day.

      • ChrisH 16.1.1

        These public utility sectors have to be regulated because they are monopolies, or semi-monopolies. That’s also why the most worthless and wretched finance-capitalists want to get exclusive control of them.

      • Rusty Shackleford 16.1.2

        How does that make my ideas wrong?

        • Colonial Viper 16.1.2.1

          ideas aren’t right or wrong mate, its just that yours will never see the light of day.

          TPTB won’t allow it. Especially if you kneecap government the way you want to, no one will be able to stand up to corporate power to set up the changes needed for what you want to see.

          • Rusty Shackleford 16.1.2.1.1

            Corporates derive their power from big govt.

            • rosy 16.1.2.1.1.1

              No. I’m not sure that corporates under Stalin would agree, nor those under Castro or Chavez – very big government, very little corporate power.

              Corrupt corporates and corrupt government have a symbiotic relationship. Corporates would gain power and probably misuse that power even if there was no big (democratic) government.

            • Colonial Viper 16.1.2.1.1.2

              That’s because all businesses need societal systems and infrastructure (including law and order) to conduct commerce.

              Also you keep talking as if corporates and governments are two separate entities.

              They ain’t, not any more.

            • lprent 16.1.2.1.1.3

              Think it through by looking at alternatives – not I’d admit one of your stronger traits. For instance…

              So do small companies benefit immensely from the state. In just one example of many…

              They rely really heavily on the legal structure that is set in place by the state to operate a business at low costs. It means that their collection costs are lower and that they do not require as much starting capital. This is why countries that have lousy legal frameworks and enforcement are always so damn expensive to operate in. Legal structures are one of those common services that operate in a collective fashion and benefits immensely from scaling upwards in effectiveness and efficiency.

  17. Reality Bytes 17

    4th BEST in OECD, reading and maths scores
    and
    WORST Cannabis use

    Well clearly weed doesn’t turn you into a moron then. I’m not endorsing that youth smoke weed, I don’t think it’s good at all, and many of the other stats are also very sad and extremely concerning.

    But I just found these two particular statistics quite contrary to the standard ‘smoke a bit of weed and you will become brain damaged moron’ mantra that the anti weed hysteria brigade are continually badgering us with and on their high horses about.

    If any young people are reading this, please don’t take that as an endorsement that drugs are harmless (including alchol). Focus on your studies, you only get this chance once in your life. Do your bit to get us up to 1st BEST in OECD! You won’t regret it.

  18. Dr. X 18

    FAO Mr. Bytes. It may be true that many, perhaps even a large majority of those who smoke cannabis suffer no long-term consequences as a result. It appears to be the case, however, that there is a certain percentage of any given population who happen to be at risk of adverse short-term and long-term consequences as a result of cannabis usage.

    Having seen someone suffer a cannabis-related psychotic episode, I would not wish that fate on a dog.

    On the more general point about education – isn’t it fair to say that the NZ education system has been fully neoliberalised for nearly twenty years now?

    • Colonial Viper 18.1

      Bring back the teaching of NZ history to the classroom.

      Confiscation and break up of farms in the 1890’s, universal suffrage, Great Depression, Waterfront strike, Vietnam War, Springbok tour,…many other things…including all the great things NZ achieved and how it achieved them

    • Reality Bytes 18.2

      It may be true that many, perhaps even a large majority of those who suffer no long-term consequences as a result. It appears to be the case, however, that there is a certain percentage of any given population who happen to be at risk of adverse short-term and long-term consequences as a result of cannabis usage.

      Yeah fair enough, can’t disagree.

      Not meaning to sound a hypocrite, because of course each of us will find our own way etc… I’m just saying don’t be so eager to get wasted on whatever drug, legal or otherwise, especially if you are young. Youth is an awesome buzz as it is, coming from someone that’s been there.

      • Draco T Bastard 18.2.1

        Youth is an awesome buzz as it is…

        That would depend upon the circumstances of the youth. We’re presently talking about 1 in 5 children living in poverty. I don’t know what proportion of youth are but that statistic doesn’t bode well for them.

        • Reality Bytes 18.2.1.1

          Of course stats like that suck, I’m just trying to be positive, and personally discourage any youth whom may be reading this to resort to any sort of drugs whilst they are still young and learning, plenty of time dabble in it later once you’ve thought it through. Bear in mind one of the greatest harms from smoking a bit of weed is getting a black mark on your police/criminal record, and when you’re young you tend to take risks, so perhaps the chance of that is greater.

          Don’t get me wrong I’m not judging anyone who does try it. Hence my original post that I find it curious that we have the highest amount of pot smokers, and yet still have the 4th best academic results.

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