The Spirit Level in New Zealand

Written By: - Date published: 12:08 pm, July 23rd, 2011 - 3 comments
Categories: equality - Tags:

We’ve written about The Spirit Level on several occasions. Here are the authors discussing the New Zealand situation.

3 comments on “The Spirit Level in New Zealand”

  1. red blooded 1

    This is a great discussion. It’s on the wrong website, though – preaching to the converted. What can be done to take the message onto a larger stage? 

    Of course, it has to be remembered that the levels of inequality in NZ rocketed up during the time of the Lange/Douglas Labour government. We’ve never really pulled back from the direction set by that regime, with its focus on ‘the market’, people as unconnected and self-interested individuals beetling around in pursuit of individual gain without any qualms about the effect on others, the false sense of ‘choice’ (which was only ever available to those who were already advantaged) and the aim of cutting back the state in the name of ‘efficiency’, and we’re reaping the results.

    One thing to note – our state school system does a great job within these circumstances. This is the one area where we are going against the expected trend and achieving strongly in international measures. So much for the constant criticisms and uninformed carping that comes via most of the media (and most of the political discourse). Within our strong overall results, there are worrying gaps in achievement linked to social status, and we need to address the issues that keep Maori (and students of Pacific Island origin) from achieving what they could, but the answer does not lie only within the schools – a whole of society approach is needed. School culture, classroom practice, curriculum, assessment methods and relationships within the school environment can all play a part, and each school needs to be brave enough to be self-reflective and open to change, but this discussion helps to illustrate the broader issues and remind us that we can’t keep on looking at these matters as if each school is an island.

    Societies are complicated structures, and our NZ society needs to re-evaluate some of our core assumptions, if we want the individuals who live and inter-relate here to have happy, healthy (and lengthy) lives. 

  2. Terry 2

    What more is there to say? The state of this country is deplorable. This message ought be shouted from the rooftops. Yet the polls go on raving in favour of virtual monsters. Note, for instance, that Bill English enjoys a 49% backing as Finance Minister – how can you beat that? This man brought us in to the highest ever financial deficit in NZ history, and recently at that!
    I have run out of words concerning tycoon John Key as no words bad enough have been dreamed up. The fiercely rich might have it so good in their extended years of life on earth, but there simply has to be an eternity where their time will be gone and impartial justice will be seen to be done.

    • seeker 2.1

      Great comment Terry and yet how sad you have to make it. “there simply has to be an eternity where their time will be gone and impartial justice will be seen to be done.” There is, and they will have a hell of a time like they have given others (link takes us beyond the internet tho’).
      Furthermore , their apparent inability to see beyond themselves ensures they have no idea of eternity and what awaits them because there are consequences for their amoral actions somewhere in time, as sure as night follows day.
      Won’t they be surprised when they are no longer called the “right” but the very, very wrong, in fact the wicked (in the original sense of the word!).

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