They just waste it on booze & smokes

Written By: - Date published: 7:40 am, April 6th, 2011 - 246 comments
Categories: class war, cost of living, food - Tags:

John Key says the thousands of Kiwi families turning to foodbanks to get by are made ‘poor choices’. Among the ‘poor choices’ that poor people allegedly make according to righties is spending all their money on alcohol and cigarettes, rather than on food. As with most ‘truths’ that underpin rightwing prejudice, the facts don’t back this up.

Here’s spending by household income decile on alcohol and tobacco, and food – both in numerical terms and as a percentage of total household spending:

[decile 1=lowest income, decile 10=highest income]

As you can see, poor households spend less on both food and alcohol and tobacco in numerical terms than rich households. As a percentage poor households spend about the same (3%) of their spending on ‘sin’ products as rich households, while they spend more (20%) on food compared to rich households (15%).

This data is from June 2010 before the current food price spike. One of the effects of poor families spending such a high portion of their budget on food is that a food price spike hits them harder in percentage terms. A 10% food price rise means that, if they’re to continue consuming the same amount of food, a poor family must knock 2.5% off their remaining spending, while a rich family only has to knock off 1.7%. And seeing as the typical poor family is spending already spending 46% of its budget on basics (housing, utilities, transport, and health), compared to 39% for a rich family, finding the money to pay for more expensive food from elsewhere is often impossible. No wonder that, in desperation, more and more families are turning to foodbanks as the twin oil and food price spikes (not to mention rent hikes and job losses) squeeze them hard.

Oh, and if any of the righties haven’t found the numbers give them a headache and are now quietly muttering to themselves ‘yeah, but they just waste all their food money on takeaways’, then consider the stats:

The typical poor family spends just $14 a week on restaurant, takeaway and ready to eat food vs $94 a week for a rich household. As a percentage of their total food budgets, poor families are spending half what the rich are on eating out.

So, still care to argue that poverty is the fault of the poor and that they’re making ‘poor choices’?Maybe you should listen to how it feels to have to turn to a foodbank when your country has abandoned you to line the pockets of the rich (8 minutes in):

246 comments on “They just waste it on booze & smokes”

  1. Peter Rabbit 1

    Thanks for the interesting post Marty.  I presume these stats were part of a wider study,  could you please advise the source please as I would like to read the whole thing?


    • Marty G 1.1

      source is household economic survey. I used the Stats NZ table builder

      *sorry the stats table builder data is actually from the NZ Income Survey

      • Tangled up in blue 1.1.1


        Hmm. Let us hope that these low income respondents who are under pressure about there spending habits; actually answer the questions honestly.

        • Marty G

          I haven’t seen any criticism of the robustness of the New Zealand Income Survey, which requires 17,000 families to keep budget diaries and involves extensive interviews by Stats staff.
          If you’ve got some criticism based in fact, let’s see it. Because at the moment you’re just assuming poor people are not only wasting all their money but lying about it because it fits your prejudices and lets you turn a blind eye to the data.

          • Tangled up in blue

            It’s been established that survey answers are subject to factors which result in response bias. For example respondents memory, motivation, honesty, and ability to respond. Overall the type of people who agree to do the survey may be different from those who don’t want to. Some people don’t have phone or internet, some people work at night etc etc etc
            I’m not saying the results of the survey don’t indicate what you’re saying, I’m merely pointing out that it’s a bit over eager to refer to a survey as “fact”.

            • Marty G

              so, you’re blowing smoke out your arse. If you have a problem with the NZIS, call stats and tell them. You’ll have your concerns answered (remember, drawing data from surveys is what stats does) and when you still refuse to accept the facts in front of your eyes, you’ll be laughed at.

              • BLiP

                Its not really his/her fault – its more a manifestation of the cognitive dissonance conservatives brew up in the mind when failing to accept that their belief sets result in real harm being caused to society’s most vulnerable.
                From here:

                Resistance to reversal of apparent fluctuating stimuli, the early selection and maintenance of one solution in a perceptually ambiguous situation, inability to allow for the possibility of various traits in the same person, acceptance of attitude statements representing a rigid, black-white view of life, seeking for certainty, a rigid dichotomizing into fixed categories, premature closure, and remaining closed to familiar characteristics of stimuli.

                So, yes. So far as our little friend is concerned, not only do the poor squander their money, they also lie about it.

                • Tangled up in blue

                  What’s with all the intellectually dishonest strawman shite here?
                  I’ve already agreed that the stats back what the OP is saying. I’m not saying the results are made up, I’m not saying StatsNZ isn’t reputable and I agree it’s pretty compelling.
                  However I disagree that a single survey of this nature can give us “facts”.
                  As for the “conservative” & “right-winger” labels – misrepresenting me based on your assumptions rather than what I actually said – is pretty weak to say the least.

                  • BLiP

                    Hmm. Let us hope that these low income respondents who are under  pressure about there (sic) spending habits; (sic) actually answer the questions  honestly.

                    Yeah – cos “being poor = being dishonest”, eh?

                    • Tangled up in blue

                      Again, I didn’t say that. Rather I’m saying that a psychological inferiority here would influence responses – rather than some generalisation about the dishonesty of poor people you claim I was inferring.

                    • BLiP

                      Actually, those *are* your words. Check your comment at 1.1.1 and you will see its a direct quote. But thanks for the clarification – in your brain “being poor = psychologically inferior”. Interesting.
                      Tangled up in blue? Tangled up in your own bullshit more like.

                    • lprent []

                      Surely not…

                      Tangled up in your own billshit more like.

                  • wtl

                    However I disagree that a single survey of this nature can give us “facts”.

                    This is the real strawman. The accuracy of a survey depends entirely on how the survey was conducted, not how many times it is repeated. As highlighted by other commenters, this StatsNZ survey is the highest quality data available, and is likely to far surpass any other surveys as it will not suffer from selection bias (due to it being compulsory). Unless there is any reason to doubt the methodology of the survey, saying that the data is not “facts” because it is only “a single survey” is complete bull.

                    • Tangled up in blue

                      I don’t think that you understand what I am saying. My criticism is ONLY of the terminology used here.
                      The amount people claim (by way of survey) to spend on alcohol & tobacco is not actually verified. It is not a fact. I think that the OP should have said “evidence that indicates” rather than “facts”.
                      That is all.

                    • BLiP

                      Bullshit. Your criticism extends to poor people. In your conservative brain “being poor = being dishonest or psychologically inferior”. Given your apparent inability to accept the data as having a factual validity and which undermines your percept in regard to poverty, your response is to attack both the data and the poor.
                      Whatta guy.

                  • Terry

                    Well it isn’t a ‘single survey’ though is it?  It is an ongoing continuous survey that we have used for many years to indicate just how people are managing in society.  Reported on quarterly and annually.

                    Would you prefer we didnt try to find these things out if you are unahhpy with the answers?

                    The latest rel contain tables on:

                    average weekly income (for those earning income from wage/salary jobs) by full-time and part-time status
                    time series of average weekly income for all people aged 15 years and over by sex, age group, ethnic group
                    average weekly income for people in paid employment, not in paid employment, and by labour force status
                    personal income distribution
                    average household income by household type
                    average and median hourly earnings for those earning income from wage/salary jobs.


            • George D

              Typical. When faced with the facts about poverty, a rightwinger blusters and tries to say it’s all made up.
              StatsNZ is hardly a partisan organisation, and is respected internationally for their methods and information gathering.
              It’s pretty compelling, and it can’t be waved away. It undermines the myths the right have created about NZ’s poor.

            • Wendy Collings

              It might help to know that participation in NZ Statistics surveys is compulsory once you’ve been chosen to participate; the department is quite flexible in dealing with people’s different time schedules, communication options, etc, but like the Census you can’t legally opt out. Their aim is to get data as accurate as possible.

            • Jum

              Tangled up in Blue
              It’s been established that John Key and Bill English lie.  I’m glad that’s sorted.

        • Puddleglum


          Hmmm. Let’s hope those high income respondents who are under pressure not to be too conspicuous with their consumption during one of the world’s worst recessions actually answer the questions honestly. 

          Rest assured Tuib that all your concerns are well known by social science researchers and have been allowed for in the methodology and the specific methods that follow from the methodology subscribed to. You’re obviously familiar with the work on ‘demand characteristics’ of research (including experiments, surveys and the like) given your comment about response bias? Well, that work was about fifty years ago and methods have been modified to take account of it.

  2. Good post MartyG and chilling clip.  Ruthenasia was one of our country’s darkest times.
    It is astounding that the barbarians currently in control have never learned the lessons of history.  Their approach has continuously failed.
    Only if they were that selfish and shallow that they do not care at the plight of their fellow kiwis and only wanted to enrich themselves and their mates would they again engage in this sort of behaviour.

    • Drakula 2.1

      Mickey; Absolutely yes they would repeat their behaviour because the now extreme right NAT/Act attract those sort of rapacious and avericious scoundrals.

      I don’t think they will ever learn apart from applied labotomies or dismantling the structures that encourage them !!!!

      Ruthenasia being our darkest times? there was no dirty dairying, there was no elinination of the democratically elected E-can, there was no dismantling of democracy in the Auckland reagional Council and the inaction over the rebuilding of an earthquake torn city

      They will reap what they sow!!!!!!

  3. PeteG 3

    Some poor people do make poor choices.  It can help keep them poor.
    For someone on $100k a booze and cigarette budget is an option they can probably afford. For someone with a family on $40k there should be other budget priorities, so any money spent on non-essentials is an extravagance. Tobacco in particular is an ongoing daily extravagance, money chosen to go up in smoke rather than on things other people may see as more important. So it can be a poor choice. And a choice that keeps them poor.

    • Marty G 3.1

      $13 a week. That’s what the average family on a decile 1 or 2 income (average $485) spends on booze and cigarettes. The $6 a week tobacco spend is less than a ciggie a day per household.
      If you think this is what keeps people back you’re fucken dreaming.
      The problem isn’t that a tiny slice of their budget is going on these things, it is that their budget is so tiny in the first place thanks to low wages and high unemployment.

      • PeteG 3.1.1

        That’s average family. Looking at the average for everyone is meaningless.

        But what about the famiies that drink and/or smoke? What is their average? They are the ones making poor choices. And some will be making poorer choices than others.

        • RobC

          Oh dear. Here I am trying to be nice but out comes another piss-in-the-wind unanswerable question.

          Or do you seriously believe data is collected and analysed in a way to answer it?

          Further, if “looking at the average for everyone is meaningless”, then can DonKey stop shoving down my throat every chance he gets that average after-tax returns have gone up 6.8% since 2008?

          • PeteG

            Ok Rob – do you seriously believe there are no people trapped in poverty becasue they spend too much on booze, drugs, gambling or cigarettes? Sorry about the question, but I think it’s pretty bloody obvious some people keep themselves poor by wasting money on things that are poor choices. Not everyone. Not the average poor person. But a significant number of poor people.
            That should not be a piss in the wind unfathomable concept.

            • Lanthanide

              Actually I don’t think poor people are “keeping themselves poor” by spending their money on bad choices. They’re poor because they earn a low income, and where they choose to spend their income has little impact on their actual take-home pay.

            • RobC

              It is not the concept that is pissing in the wind, it is the fruitless attempts to quantify the unquantifiable, over and over again.

              Of course some poor people piss (and smoke) their money away. How many? No-one can answer. At least the author has made some attempt to find out the size and scale of the problem and expressed some opinions, which of course can be debated.

              You, on the other hand, just continue to ask questions that can’t be answered as a rationale for your point of view. Let’s turn the tables. You have stated, above, that a significant number of poor people keep themselves poor by wasting money.

              What do you mean by significant? How many is that? What evidence do you have for your assertion?

              When you come back with something concrete to back up your words, I’ll stop referring to your posts as pissing in the wind.

              • PeteG

                What evidence does Marty have about his assertion “So, still care to argue that poverty is the fault of the poor and that they’re making ‘poor choices’?” You let him get away with that?
                It’s a hopelessly generalised argument using averages to ignore some real problems, if he had spent his time producing lots of data and nice graphs to highlight or disprove any problem he might not have been pissing in the wind. But nice to see some faithful friends standing beside him as he pisses.
                Marty is not dumb, he appears to be quite clever, I don’t believe he doesn’t understand what he’s trying to gloss over here. You too.

                • RobC

                  You let him get away with that?

                  What part of “At least the author has made some attempt … which of course can be debated” do you not understand?

                  Now how about you get back to providing some justification for your statements? I’ve asked you 3 questions. Do you intend to reply?

            • Deborah Kean

              “Ok Rob – do you seriously believe there are no people trapped in poverty becasue they spend too much on booze, drugs, gambling or cigarettes?”

              I am not Rob, but I will give you my answer… No, I don’t believe there are people “trapped in poverty” because of booze, drugs gambling or cigarettes. (Gambling possibly, but like alcoholism, that has bugger all to do with SES.) My son and I have both worked in alcohol and drug rehab, my son more than me, and the middle or upper class alkie is someone we’re both well familiar with, although the comfortably off man or woman who marinates themself every day before and after dinner, and occasionally instead of dinner, is much less visible, of course, especially if they live on rents and share profits and have no work to be adversely affected by their pickled brain!
              spam word MIND as in mind your prejudices, Pete!

        • wtl

          That’s average family. Looking at the average for everyone is meaningless.

          No, the average provides a way to summarise the spending of a large group of families as a simple figure. The number obtained argues against the idea that poor people as a whole are spending a large proportion of their income on drink/smoke compared to food.

          But what about the famiies that drink and/or smoke? What is their average? They are the ones making poor choices. And some will be making poorer choices than others.

          Since the number they spent is not zero, of course some of these these families could further reduce their spending on drink/smoke. However, you can not assume that these are families that do not have enough money for food and therefore are making poor choices (They may be spending on drink/smoke after they have spent what is necessary on food). Unless you have additional data to prove your case, you are being extremely dishonest by interpreting the data in a complex way that fits your beliefs rather than accepting what the data shows at face value.

          • PeteG

            I’m not the one interpreting data to be dishonest here. You cannot assume that because the average spend on certain non-essentials is quite low that no one keeps themselvs poor by spending too much.
            Smokers can easily spend $50-100 per week on their addiction. For a poor person, and particularly a poor family, that can make a hell of a big difference between staying poor or not. No amount of interpreting averages from data can hide from the bleeding obvious.

            • RobC

              I’m not the one interpreting data to be dishonest here

              No Pete, because you never use data as a basis for your opinions.

              • PeteG

                Are you? Or are you just saying that unless I produce lots of numbers and nice graphs then you are happy to ignore the obvious weakness in Marty’s claims.

                • RedLogix

                  You are arguing like the history teacher I once had who in response to one person in the class throwing an apple core behind his back… gave the whole class of 30 a caning of six each.

                • RobC

                  Haven’t expressed much of an opinion on this thread Pete, so it is yet another irrelevant question. I’m too busy pulling you up on making your own unsubstantiated ones.

            • Deborah Kean

              “Smokers can easily spend $50-100 per week on their addiction.”

              I am a smoker, and I struggle to believe that numbers like that are even possible! Do you have issues with smokers, do you? What about alcohol? What’s an allowable “spend” on booze? For me it’s $0.00… I choose not to drink alcohol at all. I have a problem with people who drink alcohol (especially the posher types) and yet who slam smokers. They seem to me to be at best, hypocrites.

              • lprent

                I’d agree.

                When I was smoking (way back in early February), I’d smoke a 50oz Port Royal in a month. With papers and filters that’d wind up as just being slightly more than $50 per month after the last sets of tax increases on tobacco and gst.

                I’ve never been a heavy smoker, but with the exception of a few chain smokers I’ve known, this would have been in a similar range to most smokers I’ve been around.

              • Deadly_NZ

                I used to smoke and Yes I can believe the 50 -100 a week on the gaspers I gave it up about a year ago when the first of the big price rises and also when I worked it out that me and my Partner were burning thru about $120.00 a week and that was 3 price rises ago.  So I dont even know what a single pack of them is now.  As for Booze well home made is okay but  don’t inbibe much now either.
                I remember that christmas well Ruth and Jenny screwed the beneficiaries over big time.

            • wtl

              It is dishonest:

              1) As noted above, the average figure argues against the idea that poor people as a whole are spending a large proportion of their income on drink/smoke compared to food.

              2) You are arguing that (1) is not the case, because you think the actual situation is being masked by the use of an average.

              3) Instead of obtaining data to support (2), you simple use it as a reason to discredit (1). In the absence of any data supporting (2), the honest position is to believe (1). If you do have doubts about (1), then the next step is to investigate the data in more detail or perform a new survey to better understand actual situation. Simple coming up with a possible explanation to discredit (1) based on your pre-existing beliefs but without actual evidence is not good enough.

              The average wage issue is a good example of a ‘honest’ argument. The government has been keen to point out that the ‘average’ wage in NZ has increased over the last few years. This is true in the sense that the mean wage has increased. However, previous posts have highlighted that this misrepresents the data, as the median has not increased, and the median provides a better idea of the average compared to the mean. This was done by showing the actual data and figures, not by simply saying “Well, I don’t think the mean wage is a good measure because I can think of situations where wages haven’t increased”.

              On a related note, I believe you are somewhat misrepresenting the argument of the post. No one is arguing that there are some cases in which families spend too much on smoke/drink when they should be spending on food. Instead, the argument being made is that this is not a widespread problem, as indicated by the average amount spent on food vs smoke/drink, and something needs to be done to deal with food insecurity, instead of just saying that it’s their own fault.

            • rosy

              Maybe you shouldn’t imply that a 1/3 of poor families are smoking and drinking [too much, or at all?] income poor and asset rich might define more than a few people in the lowest income groups, mightn’t it? – students living in flats, superannuitants, rich people hiding their incomes? it also defines a fair number of single unemployed, or low wage earners in particular, I would have thought. Just the people tobacco and alcohol manufacturers target – get them young and have hooked customers for years.

              You may also want to support Hone Harawira on this – you berate people for spending on what you acknowledge is an addiction, so what is the choice here – if an addiction they are compelled to spend, not choose, yet you denigrate them for their ‘choice’. Get rid of the pushers and then you can talk about choices.

              • Mac1
                Talking of wasting money on booze, how was that Scottish Scotch ale over the weekend, Rosy?
                • rosy

                  Not too bad at all Mac1. I recommend Old Blackfriars if you ever go to Aberdeen. Can’t call it wasted money, but – it was getting educated about how the forefathers lived 😉

            • Puddleglum

              Hi PeteG,

              Well, what is keeping all those non-smoking, non-drinking decile 1 people in decile 1?

              Of course, I’m assuming that a proportion of such people remain in decile 1. Alternatively, it could be argued that numerous people in decile 1 move out of that band. In that case, the question would have to be asked about how many smoking, drinking decile 1 people move upwards out of decile 1? Moving out of decile 1 I imagine has little to do with spending habits (since such marginal saving would take a lifetime to have any discernible effect). The likelier causes of people being lifted – or lifting themselves – out of poverty would be job advancement through seniority, actually getting a job (and getting off the dole) or, perhaps, retraining.

              I don’t see that quitting smoking and drinking would lift a person (or household) out of decile 1 or 2 in and of itself – no matter how the saved money was otherwise employed (unless it was used to buy lotto tickets but, oops, no doubt that’s a ‘poor choice’ too?) 

              What stopping spending on tobacco and alcohol may do is improve the quality of food bought, etc. which may improve conditions sufficiently for the person or household to do better at work, school, etc.. Fair enough. We could all live better lives which – in a just world – would lead to better consequences. It doesn’t seem to be the case, however, that the decile 10 crowd are undermining their chances of making lots of money by drinking and smoking even more than decile 1 people (‘on average’) (I always think of MadMen episodes with the omnipresent drink and smoke).

              Whichever way it’s cut, I can’t see how the smoking and drinking are significant causal factors in determining the degree of wealth a person or household enjoys.

              • PeteG

                Moving out of decile 1 I imagine has little to do with spending habits (since such marginal saving would take a lifetime to have any discernible effect).

                Marginal saving? An example was posted here citing a couple spending $120 per week on smoking before giving up (prices have gone up since then). Do you think $6240 per year is marginal? I’d expect there to be a fair number of similar examples, and the dats supports this.

                • felix

                  The low average tells us that there can only be a small amount of these “big spenders”.
                  So what’s your point? That a few poor people might spend too much but most of them don’t?
                  Whoop de fucking do, that’s what the post shows too.

                • Stop and think for a moment PeteG. We are talking about household income deciles – that’s income, not expenditure on ‘good things’ or overall nett worth. If my household earns $10000 pa then my household is probably in the lowest decile, irrespective of what we spend it on. To move to another income decile (i.e., ‘lift myself out of poverty’) I would have to save enough so that the interest (or return on investment) would lift my annual income sufficiently to move it into the next decile.

                  What income from interest or return on investment would even an additional $6240 per year provide me with? And, would that be enough to lift me out of poverty? (Remember, we’re not talking about nett worth here – it’s household income deciles). It is far more likely that a higher paying job would do the ‘lifting’ required. As I said initially, when it comes to raising my annual income the savings from not smoking or drinking are marginal.

                  I am not being kept poor because of ‘poor choices’ as to how I spend.

                  • PeteG

                    I was kept poor because of ‘poor choices’ as to how I spent, when I was young and single I spent most nights out drinking and spending my weekly pay packet. It’s quite easy to do that.
                    Most people grow sick of binge drinking and use their money more wisely, but some don’t. Not only can it keep them poor it’s compounded by making it harder for them to get a decent paying job, and sometimes it affects their ability to keep or get any job. Those that also smoke find it harder to rise above low decile.
                    It’s not rocket science, it’s simple economics.

          • grumpy

            No, the average provides a way to summarise the spending of a large group of families as a sim
            ple figure. The number obtained argues against the idea that poor people as a whole are spending a large proportion of their income on drink/smoke compared to food.

            No yourself, the “average” family on a benefit does not eat cockroaches, just like the “average” family on a benefit does not need foodbanks.  It would be more informative to look at the budget details of those eating cockroaches or using foodbanks.

            • Bright Red

              so, despite a compelte lack of data, you continue to hold a prejudice that all families who need foodbanks are in that situation because they waste their money.
              There’s actually no reasoning with you because your opinions aren’t based in reason.
              captcha: slow

              • grumpy

                That’s the thing about averages, if one person eats cockroaches and another eats steak, the average is probably sausages.

                • mcflock

                  however, if you’re looking at decile cuts of a sample of 4700 households, you’re probably not going to get quite the divergence from median that you get with larger one-off samples (e.g. “mean vs median NZ hourly income” vs “mean vs median decile 3 weekly expenditure on tobacco”).

              • Deadly_NZ

                @Bright Red
                Well John Key certainly does..

      • Dave S 3.1.2

        All you’ve proved is that there are three kinds of lies, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. $13.00 a week is as you’ve said an average so some will be spending much much more and some will be spending a lot less. to say that all 17K contributors to the survey are “only spending an average of $13 a week is a gross distortion of the reality. The extreme examples of spending will be much much higher.
        After 9 years of Blue Labour and a further 2-odd of red National, it’s plain to see that socialism simply isn’t working and this country is in the crapper because of it – you aren’t helping by perpetuating socialist clap trap and dogma in the face of facts – this country cannot afford it’s life style.
        It is also very interesting and indeed telling to see you descend into abuse of your critics while you hide behind the “statistics”.

        • felix

          The extreme examples of spending will be much much higher.

          If that’s true then it follows that the vast majority will be much much lower. That’s how averages work.
          Which means you’re supporting the main contention of the post. Goodo.

  4. Carol 4

    Interesting stats.  But a point on presentation, it’s not immediately obvious to me which is the groups is the highest earners & which is the lowest.

    • Marty G 4.1

      sorry. decile one is always the lowest (like schools) – it is the lowest 10% of incomes. Decile 10 is the top 10%.

      • Carol 4.1.1

        Thanks.  I worked that out by concentrating on the comments & graphs.  Actually, I always find the words explain more to me than the graphs.  I am never certain about the meaning of deciles re schools, either.  I was living overseas when NZ started using those labels.

  5. RobC 5

    Great post and research.

    One thing though, you should have added pet food spending into the mix 😀

  6. Raymond A Francis 6

    It would have been nice if you had entered the actual income of the various deciles so we could see why those at the bottom need food banks. And maybe the sort of rent/interest they need to put a roof over their heads because I feel that is what is really swallowing their income

    • Marty G 6.1

      I can’t overload graphs with data. If you want to know the decile’s average incomes and their housing expenses you can easily look it up on stats nz table builder.

  7. tsmithfield 7

    Marty, you forgot to include gambling.

    Anyway, your analysis misses the point, and unwittingly, confirms the argument you are trying to disprove.

    The point is that it is irresponsible to be spending anything on wasteful and/or harmful purchases  such as alcohol and cigarettes if it means depriving their family of the necessities of life.

    $40 out of a family income of $300 spent on wasteful purchasing is only 13%. However, it could be the difference between the children eating or not that week.

    • Marty G 7.1

      If there was one person who would still hate the poor even after being shown that they spend bugger all on ‘sin’ products and a higher portion of groceries than the rich, it would be you, ts.
      It’s only $12 a week out of $490. It’s not the difference between poverty or not. It’s a couple of beers a week and less than a cigarette a day. Considering that many people are addicted to these substances, I find that average very low.
      Imagine if the rich were subject to the same moralistic tutting over their spending as the poor. But no. Double standards as always.
      There’s no separate category of gambling expenditure. But lack of information won’t stop you holding your prejudices.

      • PeteG 7.1.1

        It’s not “only $12 a week out of $490.”
        For some poor people its $0 a week out of $490.
        For the avearge poor person its $12 a week out of $490.
        For some poor people its $50 a week out of $490.
        For some poor people its $100 a week out of $490.

        • RedLogix

          Yeah some days you make 2 dumbarse comments, other days it’s 20…. and today you look to be on track for a new record.
          But so what?

          • grumpy

            the “so what” is that averages tell you nothing.

            • RedLogix

              The so what is that when you are dealing with large numbers of people, the averages are indeed everything

              Let’s say you are in charge of planning schools. You know (very simplistically) that there are 10,000 households in the target areas with an average of 1.5 children each. Therefore you know you have about 15,000 children to plan for.

              Now of course no-one has 1.5 children. It’s always a whole integer number, ie 0, 1, 2, 3.. and so on. But this does not mean that the average ‘means nothing’.

              If you said that because most households have either 1 or 2 children that you should therefore plan for 10,000 or 20,000 children at school…. either way you have cocked up by providing either too few or too many classrooms.

              • grumpy

                Fair enough on the macro level but this argument seems to want to justify the “micro” by explaining the “macro”.  I find PeteG’s statistics at 12 (below) to be more relevant.

              • PeteG

                The so what is that when you are dealing with large numbers of people, the averages are indeed everything

                For some things yes, for other things, no, they are meaningless.
                If I hear that average life expectancy is 80 years then should I not care about wearing a seat belt, eating too much fat, smoking, and walking down the middle of the motorway on my way home from the pub etc?
                If the average person votes National does that mean we should ignore Labour?

                • RedLogix

                  No it means you are confusing two totally different things.
                  If I handed you a hunk of Fukushima molten core and told you that the actual decay of the isotopes in it was totally random… and that was therefore perfectly safe to carry it around in your pocket for a month…. would you believe me? Of course not because you also know that statistically the chances of me being right are vanishingly small…there are such a vast number of atoms in that hunk of core.  Suddenly the statistics you so despise would matter.
                  Marty’s post isn’t talking about one person, no one individual case. He’s talking about all the people in NZ and how they spend their money. A large number of people. In this case the statistics matter. To pretend they don’t by trying to  divert the argument to the circumstances of an individual is meaningless.

        • Bright Red

          If John Key spent his entire $20K+ a year tax cut on whisky and high class hookers would you then oppose or support the tax cuts?
          a) when we’re talking about incomes for large groups, averages matter, not individuals’ choices
          b) you don’t apply the same moralising to the rich that you do to the poor.

          • grumpy

            Well, if talking about “averages”, if the “average” recipient of $20k tax cuts spent it entirely on high classhookers and whisky, I would say:-

                      BEWARE OF THE TRICKLE DOWN EFFECT  🙂

      • tsmithfield 7.1.2

        Since I’m such a right-wing arsehole, I guess I could also make the point that methylated spirits probably isn’t included in alcohol purchases. 🙂

        However, I do understand that people have addictions and that people from all incomes make poor choices. However, the point I made is valid. If people are spending money on things such as cigarettes or alcohol that is affecting the ability of their family to access the necessities of life, then they are making very poor choices that have the resultant affect of them having to access NGOs such as food banks etc. Your analysis confirms this is happening to at least some extent. So the righties have an argument.

        • Bright Red

          “Since I’m such a right-wing arsehole, I guess I could also make the point that methylated spirits probably isn’t included in alcohol purchases.”
          well, don’t go trying to change our opinion of you, eh?
          It’s interesting that giving money to the rich is a good thing because they’ll spend it on luxuries which create some jobs but money for the poor is bad because they’ll spend a tiny fraction of it (the same fraction as the rich) on booze and cigarettes, and actually more of it on groceries.
          there’s something of a moral double standard here, eh?

        • bbfloyd

          T.S..the only thing you have ts is a total lack of sensitivity and common sense… that remark about metholated spirits would have got you beaten very badly if you were ever foolish enough to wander into a pub full of “ordinary, average” people.
          even for you that was totally obnoxious.  no doubt you thought it was funny(even witty), but it was nothing more than the vitriolic vomit we’ve come to expect from the worst examples of  reactionary bigotry..  you should be ashamed of yourself…

      • Deborah Kean 7.1.3

        I am reminded of the fact that years ago, Jenny Shipley (or Jenny Fatley as my son, then a child, used to call her) opined that people on benefits ought to have limits on their spending enshrined in law.
        She was particularly exercised about beneficiaries being allowed to make donations. Why, I can’t quite fathom.

    • RedLogix 7.2

      That’s really not a lot removed from the old ‘deserving poor’ evasion, long used by conservatives to justify their miserly, pinch-gutted support for the poorest.
      “No point in giving them more money, they’ll only waste it”.
      Like money doesn’t get wasted by everyone else? Why do you demand a standard of probity and responsibility from the very poorest, most stressed and least capable people… that you don’t from everyone else?
      Why is it that you are all for the freedom and rights of the individual, but when it comes to beneficiaries…suddenly you are the expert on how they should spend their money?  So what if they spend it in ways that you don’t approve of? It’s their right to fuck up just like the rest of us… you can’t strip that last dignity from them.

    • RobC 7.3

      Where does the $40 come from?

      In the excel tables, “Games of Chance” is a sub-category under Recreational and Cultural Services. Unable to be analysed by decile.

      Average spending on games of chance is $4.90 a week. Next …

  8. JS 8

    On deprivation index scales 10 is the most deprived – it is the opposite to schools where 10 is the wealthiest decile.

  9. Olwyn 9

    Thanks for the graphs Marty, which put things into perspective. However, what I find disturbing are the presuppositions that underpin the claim you are refuting: there is a large group of people who either do not have the wealth to start businesses of their own or who have tried that on a small scale and lost out badly (I have heard a few scary franchise stories of this sort), and who must rely on either low paid work or government benefits. Others who are not in this position then feel fully entitled to demand that these people adhere to some sort of rational survival mode of living, with no end in sight. “So you’re poor are you? Then how come you can buy your kids ice blocks?” seems a reasonable question from that point-of-view, when it is in fact a question that a free person might ask of a slave: the person asking the question feels fully entitled to personal priorities while denying them to the other. It would be more fruitful to question whether the tax cuts of the rich are being invested in the economy or “wasted on overseas trips and imported cars” since in the latter case there really is a free choice involved.

    • Marty G 9.1

      “So you’re poor are you? Then how come you can buy your kids ice blocks?” seems a reasonable question from that point-of-view, when it is in fact a question that a free person might ask of a slave: the person asking the question feels fully entitled to personal priorities while denying them to the other. It would be more fruitful to question whether the tax cuts of the rich are being invested in the economy or “wasted on overseas trips and imported cars” since in the latter case there really is a free choice involved.

      bloody well put.
      The right is all like ‘it’s my money, i’ll do what I want with it, how dare you tax me’ but when it comes to the poor, even the working poor, they rush to judge, on false facts.

      • Sean 9.1.1

        Agreed.  Even when statistical evidence is presented, showing spending for the population as a whole, based on a sample of 17,000, is still not good enough.  You are dealing with people who will allow nothing to change their prejudice.

        It reminded me of the reaction to Gordon Campbell’s “Ten Myths about Welfare” article .  In it Campbell pointed out that the story  “Most of the people on welfare are unmarried mothers – many of them teenagers – who have extra children so that they can get more money”, just wasn’t true and there was no statistical evidence to support the idea of hordes of women keeping on the DPB “as a business” theory of some.  Campbell got the same sort of response.  People not allowing statistics to change their opinion of the poor.

        Thanks for confronting this prejudice directly Marty, it needs to be done, no matter how unlikely it is that some of your audience will ever change their views.

        • RedLogix

          A very close parallel indeed Sean.
          Of course sex is just another ‘sin’ to these judgemental tut-tutters… and lesser people than them shouldn’t be allowed you know.

          • Sean

            Of course sex is just another ‘sin’ to these judgemental tut-tutters

            Yes, there is that undercurrent too Redlogix, and where it gets weird for me is when it is used as an excuse for brutal conclusions.  Where by, the sins of the parents are to be visited on the children.  When the argument is advanced that the DPB simply encourages foolish behaviour, and should be done away with to stop generational welfare dependency, the vision I get is of children starving because their mothers are penniless owing to being refused support, yet unemployable owing to their child-rearing commitments.

            And back to the gutters of Dickensian London the society of New Zealand goes.

      • Deborah Kean 9.1.2

        In my case, the question I got asked was “how come you get your son nice clothes? You should buy all his clothes at thrift shops.. Yeah, that wouldn’t  have made him stand out at school, not one little bit!
        That being said, I clothed myself from The Warehouse and thrift shops, because I hate shopping.

        • Blondie

          I remember those days.  I think I just kept wearing all the same clothes I owned from back when I was working.  My daughter mostly wore second hand (thankfully, she got some really nice handmedowns from wealthier friends and family) but I used to fantasise about buying nice clothes for us both.
          I guess I should reflect on those times more – I often forget how good we have it nowadays.

  10. Craig Glen Eden 10

    But its ok if your a investor at SCF according to shonkey they deserve their money because otherwise they might go broke. Yup no dole for the rich just self entitlement to the max.

  11. Lindsey 11

    I have a friend who will probably be going to a foodbank this week. Six weeks ago she had a stroke. She knew she felt ill and got the bus to her doctor. He called an ambulance and sent her straight to hospital. She was there for 3 days. Now she has a bill for $75 for the ambulance. She is on the pension and most of the time manages well. However, she has no financial freeboard and any large and unexpected bills remove her food budget. WINZ may or may not help with the ambulance cost, but that takes time and she has to eat in the meantime.

    This is the reality for people who exist from one benefit payment or one small salary cheque to amother. There are no choices involved.

  12. PeteG 12

    According to Ash:
    Adult daily smoking prevalence: 18.7%
    Prevalence in least depriced neighbourhoods: 11.8%
    Prevalence in most deprived neighbourhoods: 33.1%
    So in poorer areas 1 in 3 adults smoke daily, that may be one or two people per family.
    The price of a packet of cigarettes (25) is about $14. A packet a day habit costs about $100. It’s safe to assume that many smokers will spend somewhere between those two amounts. One figure I have seen is $3000 per year is commonly spent, about $57 per week.
    That’s a lot of money being spent by a lot of poor people. Poor choice.
    And that’s not even considering alcohol and gambling.

    • PeteG you are taking the piss.
      Have you read any of the comments above?
      Do you think that poor people should not be allowed to have any vices, that they should be forced to endure grinding poverty with the benefit of any sort of release?
      Benefit levels are set to provide only 80% of a basic diet.  Argue with that.
      I bet you also complain about nanny state.  Fancy that, someone who wants to control what people eat and what vices they have but would complain about fecking light bulbs.
      You really are trolling hard.  Perhaps the moderators should look at you because apart from raising the ire of a number of commentators I do not see what use you serve.

      • PeteG 12.1.1

        Yes I read a comment from Rob asking me to use some data to prove the bleeding obvious. And yes, it already seems like targeted moderation, you make all sorts of baseless claims (“I bet you….”) and get a free pass. Where’s your data?

        MS, have you read any of the comments above? Have you understood any? Of course everyone has vices. But spending too much money on a vice is a poor choice. Argue with that.
        If, for example, a mother spent $50 per week on fags, and it was found her kids were resorting to eating cockroaches, what would you think? I know, blame it on the evil government, and on me.

      • grumpy 12.1.2

        I think you are being a bit harsh on PeteG, anyway, the current benefit levels are as set by the last Labour Government and have been constantly updated by the level of inflation (in fact it was National who introduced the legislation that required them to be inflation adjusted), so what is it that now makes benefit levels inadequate – is it just that National are in power?

        • mickysavage

          I agree with some of what you say Grumpy.
          The formula for benefits was actually set by Ruth Richardson in the mother of all budgets.
          Labour did not change it although many in the party thought they should.
          Labour instead focussed on creation of employment and greater assistance in health, education and in the provision of housing.  Working poor were helped considerably by working for families and the level of superannuation was increased relative to the average wage but those on other benefits did not see an increase in the formula.
          The current hardship is caused in part by staple diet items going up in price at a level much greater than inflation and any formula increase will not properly compensate.
          As for my comments about PeteG he continues to pose these very provocative simplistic questions which hint darkly at the cesspit that must be his mind but when you put to him what his beliefs almost inevitably are he denies it.  He is taking the piss.  He also keeps coming up with these supposedly factual scenarios that he obviously has absolutely no proof of or he perhaps deliberately confuses or misreads statistics.
          An example above is his quoting figures for daily smoking, then conflates this to daily smoking of at least a packet and he then draws a conclusion from that.  His calculations are that way out that they appear to be deliberately misleading.

          • grumpy

            Surely that is the consequence of being too free with the interpretation of “averages”.

          • PeteG

            Where’s your data to back up your assertions?
            I didn’t conflate “daily smoking of at least a packet “, I suggested many smokers would smoke from a packet a week to a packet a day, $14-$100.

            • mickysavage

              I suggested many smokers would smoke from a packet a week to a packet a day, $14-$100.
              Er no you did not.  Read your post again.
              I accept that your statement is somewhat ambiguous and confusing but you sort of although maybe did not say that poor smokers were spending $100 a week on smokes.  It is the effect  of your statement that is important, not a detailed analysis of what you said in different parts of your comment.
              You are blowing hard on the dog whistle, implying that poor beneficiaries are weak bludging chain smokers that get more than what they need and breed for a business.  You are just trying to apply sufficient syrup to your comments to give you plausible denial that this is what you meant.

              • PeteG

                Wow MS, has felix been giving you lessons? I haven’t implied that at all. You’re blowing hard on the dog whistle implying things I have never mentined let alone implied. The trick is to learn over time what people are about, unless of course you just want to jump to an immediate conclusion and perpetually try and discredit based on your own prejudices (or follow some other nong who thinks they should decide who should be chased out). You seem to be a follower.

                • RedLogix

                  I haven’t implied that at all.
                  Oh yes you have been. Your whole line is totally predictable… it’s just a variation on an old theme we’ve seen here over and over. That’s why you keep getting such an ass-kicking whenever you try it on.
                  An yes, plausible deniability is the very definition of dog-whistling.

                  • PeteG

                    RL, some of you jump to conclusions far too easily. You admit to totally predicting me, yet you know fuck all about me. Many of your guesses are a long way off the mark.
                    The arrogance of assumption is a problem Labour still haven’t gotten over either.

                    • RedLogix

                      I know nothing about you personally….never for an instant claimed that I do.
                      But the argument you make is very, very familiar.
                      Can you spot the difference?

                    • PeteG

                      I spot you making assumptions based on experiences that have nothing to do with me. I’m not the same as everyone else. So I guess you’ll keep guessing wrong – or continue with an agenda.

                    • RedLogix

                      I repeat.  I know nothing about you personally. I don’t even want to. Who you are is irrelevant.
                      I am only interested in your argument.
                      If you cannot tell the difference between the two then I do suggest you have a long hard think about it….because until you work this out you are going to continue making this same mistake over and over.

                    • PeteG

                      You seem to be more interested in trying to frame my arguments based on your prejudices and pre-conceptions rather than on what I am actually saying. You dismiss what I’m saying because you think you know better.
                      If you cannot tell the difference between what I say and what you want to portray me as believing then I’ll just shrug and laugh. I know it’s bullshit, I’m just not sure if you know it.

                    • RedLogix

                      You really don’t get this do you.
                      You arrive here and make statements. Other people read them and intepret them, and because it is impossible to fully encapsulate everything a person believes in a few paras… inevitably what other people understand of what you have said is only a subset of what is going on in your head.
                      At this point other people will challenge you based on what they think you said… and inevitably this too involves a fair bit of assumption. Sometimes those assumptions are wrong, but often as not…. especially when the argument being made is a old and familiar looking as the one you are making… they will be pretty good aproximations. Experienced debaters who’ve seen them run many times before, and will have a fair idea of where they are going even before you do.
                      You then get to defend your argument. If someone has gotten something completely wrong it’s usually quite easy to point out where they’ve gone wrong. On the other hand they may well point out an internal inconsistency in what you are saying, introduce new or competing referrences, or raise an alternate line of reasoning you may have never thought about before…. these are called a learning opportunities.
                      How people respond to them is quite instructive of their real character and agenda.
                      In your case you repeatedly resort to saying that others are making wrong assumptions about YOU personally. That’s irrelevant… we are not interested in YOU… just the argument you make. They are two different things…moreover even the argument you write is only a subset of what you believe… and what you believe changes from day to day and over a lifetime.  Look forward to it.
                      But the problem you keep creating for yourself is that you keep disowning your original argument.. if you want to say that we misrepresent you that’s fine. Either clearly restate your line of thought, ie own it… or point out where it is being misrepresented.  By failing to clearly do either your claimed position vanishes under waves of prevarication and you end up spending a lot of time saying nothing of substance.
                      Which the rest of us find annoying/amusing depending on which drugs we are on at the time.

      • RedLogix 12.1.3

        And if you go to Ash’s source document you find on page 66 the interesting result that the very highest smoking rates … peaking during one period at greater than 50% … to be among Maori women.
        So it’s not just deprived poor people making bad choices, but that deprived poor, brown and female people seem to be very prone to making ‘poor choices’. mmmm I wonder what could going on here?
        Ever wonder why people smoke?

    • RobC 12.2

      Brilliant Pete. Thanks, and appreciated. Numbers are higher than I thought, have to admit.

      But I will pull you up on one smallish point. Your conclusion 1 in 3 smoke daily is not correct I believe, given:
      The current smoking prevalence is based on the definition of World Health Organization. A current smoker is someone who has smoked more than 100 cigarettes in their lifetime and currently smokes

      The figures will include light and occasional smokers … when I have the time I’ll go and trawl thru the MoH data the factsheets are based upon.

    • Puddleglum 12.3

      PeteG, in a previous comment your argument was:

      You cannot assume that because the average spend on certain non-essentials is quite low that no one keeps themselvs poor by spending too much.

      Smokers can easily spend $50-100 per week on their addiction. For a poor person, and particularly a poor family, that can make a hell of a big difference between staying poor or not”

      That’s the comment I’ve been arguing against (above). I’m not sure how you define ‘staying poor’, but my definition is ‘staying at a very low income’.  By that definition, what someone spends (or doesn’t spend) their money on is largely beside the point – it has no effect on income apart from interest earned on savings or return on the savings invested in some productive activity. If every decile 1 household stopped smoking, gambling and drinking tomorrow and, instead, spent the money on ‘good’ food that won’t prevent them from being poor. They stay poor no matter what they spend their income on.

      You are now using the phrase “poor choice” not in relation to lifting someone out of poverty but simply in relation to whether or not a particular purchase should or should not be considered a vice, good for them, etc.. It’s bait and switch argumentation. Which is not surprising because your first line of argument is very weak.

      Not spending money on smokes, etc. can, indeed, “make a hell of a big difference” – but not on whether one is poor or not. (It can make a hell of a big difference for anyone and any family in terms of health prospects, enjoyment of life (perhaps), etc.).

  13. Bright Red 13

    evidence, please, that only people who smoke, drink, and gamble go to foodbanks. Remember, according to your stats two thirds of people in the msot deprived neighbourhoods don’t smoke.

  14. tsmithfield 14

    Anyway, talking in averages doesn’t help very much.

    What would be a lot more interesting would be a multivariate linear analysis of income, expenditure, and visits to the food bank.

    I think this sort of study would show a fairly strong positive relationship between low incomes and visits to the food bank as expenditure on smokes, booze, dope, gambling etc increases. This would prove the point that righties have been arguing.

    • grumpy 14.1

      More helpful is tagetting the areas of concern.  If our concern is people visiting food banks, eating cockroaches or cat food, then target those families to find out what the exact problem is – they are the only statistics that are worth while.

    • lprent 14.2

      Anyway, talking in averages doesn’t help very much.
      I think this sort of study would show a fairly strong positive relationship between low incomes and visits to the food bank as expenditure on smokes, booze, dope, gambling etc increases.

      Lets assume you’re right (not that I think that you probably are), and look at the implications

      The averages show in that case that almost all of the people in low decile incomes are using their money extremely wisely. So using a broad brush statement like John Key did (and targeted to moronic righties) is in fact totally insulting to the vast majority of the people on low deciles incomes.

      Wouldn’t you agree with that? Just based on what you’ve said… That is really the question

      • PeteG 14.2.1

        The averages show in that case that almost all of the people in low decile incomes are using their money extremely wisely.

        They don’t do that at all, they show on average people on low decile incomes don’t spend heaps on booze and ciggies.
        Using averages could mean:
        60,000 people spend relatively modest amounts of money on vices
        20,000 people spend nothing
        20,000 are alcoholics dying of cancer

        • RedLogix

          Again… what’s your argument here?
          The whole of NZ would be arguably better off if none of us smoked, drank, ate fast foods and never wasted money on makeup. We’d probably be happier, healthier and would likely make better decisions all around.
          But these things are a part of life, for better or for worse. And while govt can rightly attempt to persuade or price these things to make them less attractive… it’s not an argument to just say therefore they don’t happen. It’s a bit like saying road accidents shouldn’t happen therefore we’ll close all these hospitals. Or murder is wrong therefore we’ll have no prisons.
          The fact is that poor, deprived people struggle with all the same ‘vices’ the rest of us do… arguably even more so.  Arguing that just because some of them waste money on dumb things doesn’t allow us to draw conclusions that apply to all of them.
          Poor people have the same right to make dumb decisions as you do.

          • tsmithfield

            The argument is that if people are consuming these things at the cost of providing their family with the necessities of life, then it is not surprising these bad choices will lead to them seeking help from food banks to make up the shortfall. Not rocket science really.

        • lprent

          Your suggested figures are too far far high for usage for the observed values.

          As an exercise in helping your very poor numerical literacy skills, what you should do is to figure out the possible mixes for something simple like cigarettes. Look at it this way….

          If there is a population of 10k people who spend on average $10 per week on cigarettes, and a cigarette costs about $0.50 each. You know that some people smoke 140 per week, some smoke 20 per week, and some smoke 0 per week. What are the possible sets that could fufil the conditions.

          I’ll tell you roughly what you will find. That having even a very small number of chain smokers will mean that virtually no-one else smokes very much at all. But it isn’t that hard to put it into a excel spreadsheet and then graph it.

          At the levels of expenditure we’re talking about here, the same thing applies all the way down the line.

          The evil buggers here are ignorant numerically illiterate people like yourself that will prefer to demonize very many others based on small minorities.

          • PeteG

            Where is your data (observed values if you like) to back up your assertion that there are only a very few chain smokers who are making poor choices, and that “will mean that virtually no-one else smokes very much at all”?

            I’m not trying to demonise anyone, I’m highlighting some flawed analysis.

          • higherstandard

            This debate continues to go round in circles, I still come back to what is fairly obvious

            Some people budget and spend there benefits very wisely and don’t have enough they should be given more assistance.
            Some people spend their benefits unwisely and would have enough if they spent it correctly.
            Some people don’t need a benefit but it is available so they take it.
            Some people are rorting the system – they can get fucked.

            Open mike 04/04/2011

  15. randal 15

    as far as I know beer and smokes are addictive substances and the government takes a huge rakeoff in tx to boot. clawback!
    if the plebs re addicted then the government, i.e. key and his cronies could ban alchohol and tobacco and we would all be better off except for the capitlaist fat cats who make thier profits off others addictions.

  16. Great article, Marty. It does a good job of tackling poor stereotypes.

    There seems to be a theme running in some of the comments that are seeking to debunk the article that claim that some people are poor because of bad choices in their spend on non-essentials and that this somehow counters the point of the post. It is true, some people are poor and remain so because of bad choices that are blatantly obvious as being bad choices – that is true just as a stereotypical view of the rich as being privileged pricks who don’t actually work that hard is true of some. But that’s the problem with stereotypes, it is often true of some, but not all and usually not the majority.

    Poverty is a complex issue and choices made by those struggling are part of that complexity. Every person comes with a certain capacity for life – part of that capacity is the information and presuppositions that feed into our decision making and one’s knowledge and assumptions when approaching a decision. Another part of that capacity is one’s ability to see beyond present circumstances and envision a healthier existence and to then put in place the necessary steps to move beyond one’s present circumstances. It becomes very easy to condemn choices as bad when one’s capacity in all these areas is greater than the person making the decisions we disagree with. It was easy for John Key to say what he said in his circumstances without really thinking about it.

    If one’s sole focus is hand to mouth on a daily basis and the stress of just surviving then the ability to see and act towards something better becomes very limited if not non-existent. In that situation, often highly stressful, people still look for release and ways to cope – a calming cigarette and bottle of alcohol act as modes of relief – decisions to spend on such things then become entirely understandable and it also becomes a bit sanctimonious to outright condemn that – the destructive end of that is when it becomes an addiction and starts to take a large percentage of one’s income.

    The same goes for long term welfare beneficiaries – they are easy to condemn from the outside and then use as a stick to beat all other beneficiaries by painting them with a stereotype built on that minority – but once again, if one’s capacity is so small that they cannot see anything different then decisions made become understandable.

    As people who have the capacity to see another path – it is our responsibility and the responsibility of our government if it truly wishes to address poverty, to help build the capacity of those struggling to move beyond their present circumstances, to help them see another way and move towards it – not simply remove the financial capacity they have in the hope that throwing them in the deep end will make them swim – that’s just wishful pie in the sky thinking – their response will be whatever their capacity allows.

    This is why our budgeting services are currently overrun – people are looking to increase their capacity in financial management – find another way to see and manage their present circumstances.
    Hopefully that all makes sense 😉

  17. joe90 17

    Anecdotal, of course, but I reckon the situation of my brother’s mate who’s on the bones of his arse is typical. TC is in his early forties, has week on week off shared custody of his two kids, a four and a six year old, and has an awful and at times hateful relationship with their mother.

    After half a lifetime at sea he was retraining as an early childhood teacher and working part time but his functional illiteracy, lack of resources and, in the end, the dropping of registration requirements and the withdrawal of the assistance that he needed, meant he was unable to complete his course. And that was the end of his training allowance too.
    So he now works full time in early childhood education as an unregistered assistant on not much more than minimum wage and with a WFF credit for the weeks he has his two kids his monthly income is about $2200.

    His monthly outgoings are $1100 in mortgage, rates and insurance for a modest house that he’s built himself but is unable to complete or sell. 
    He cant afford to install a wood burner or any other sort of low cost heating so the house is like a fridge when he’s on his own and all electric when the kids are there so his power costs average $150 a month.
    Being slightly rural his vehicle costs are around $200 a month.  
    Child care is about $200 a month.
    So that leaves TC with less than $200 a week to feed and clothe himself and every second week the kids arrive with nothing and their mother makes them change into the clothes their father buys. As I said, hateful sums up the relationship. 

    If the car breaks down or when the wof or rego come around TC has to rely on the local mission food bank and he’s already used up the years worth of WINZ special grants.
    Nearly every month we, me, my brother and other friends, have to front up with food and bits and pieces to help TC and his kids.

    Our drinking school meets on Wednesdays and every second week TC will turn up with his fortnightly allowance of drink, an $18 box of independent liquor’s god awful beer that’s got to last all week. He smokes OPs.(other peoples) 

    A working man who loves his kids and has a long upwards slog ahead of him is hardly creaming it is he?.

    • vto 17.1

      I see similar too joe. There is something fundamentally flawed when having a full-time occupation is unable to support the necessities of life (especially when working with our most precious ffs). Our society has this flaw, and it is easily hidden or avoided due to the larger nature of society today – everyone simply does not know everyone.

      Whereas, if you compare that to perhaps olden days, or other parts of the globe today, where society was much smaller and every participant personally knew all the other participants and their position and situation. A great deal more compassion existed, I would surmise, simply because you knew your cleaner for example was struggling to put shoes on their child’s feet. And the cleaner knew the doctor knew the cart repairer knew the farmer and his wife knew the pastor knew the banker even. Each would act if someone was failing, in the big picture simply to keep that society operational and on an even keel. Now we don’t. Because we don;t know. This is it.

      This does not happen today simply because of the scale of our society and the disconnect between participants. 2c.

    • Deadly_NZ 17.2

      And Pete G and others of his ilk will still begrudge him his one little luxury.  And everyone deserves a little extra.  And it’s good to see that at least someone cares enough to help him a little well done.

  18. vto 18

    Hands up who wastes money on these things…….


    • PeteG 18.1

      I put my hand up, I waste money on some things.
      But when I was on the bones of my arse, I worked days while my wife worked nights, three kids (3 years, 20 months and 3 months), I made sure I wasted stuff all. I didn’t drink much alcohol right through as my kids grew up. Other things were more of a priority.

      • RedLogix 18.1.1

        So what.
        Everyone would be better off not wasting money on dumb things. That’s obvious.
        But that’s not the same as saying that only the poor should not spend money on these things…
        The problem you face is that this argument is a very, very old evil that the left has fought for a very long time. It goes right back to Victorian poor houses, or earlier, when in order to receive the barest essentials to live.. the desperate and destitute had to beg and grovel before their ‘betters’ in order to convince them they were of ‘sound moral character’ and that they ‘deserved’ the miserly charity dribbled out to them. It was well-known as a profound humiliation and the cause of deep, lasting and bitter resentment.
        All you are arguing is really nothing more than a somewhat sugary-coated version of the same thing.

        PS. No I rarely drink, never smoked and in real life I’m a pretty boring abstemious citizen. Which will come as no surprise to most of you 🙂 But much of this is a result of who my parents are, my age, gender and race. Of which country and class I was born into. All these things are accidents of birth.

        Moreover my choices speak nothing to the autonomy of others to make their own choices. Yes society as a whole has conventions, ethics and laws that proscribe our personal behaviour… but it is not my right to attempt the same.

    • lprent 18.2

      Less so these days. I had to give up smoking after the heart attack. We drink at most about 2 bottles of cheapish wine a week between the two of us. The largest ‘sin’ expense is either that or Lyn’s makeup.

    • Deborah Kean 18.3

      Me, cigarettes only! (No alcohol or gambling. Oh and in defiance of Shipley, regular donations to UNICEF).

      • Sookie 18.3.1

        Yes. Fags, wine, uneccessary clothes, books, travel…but when I was poor, I had not the money for today’s level of extravagance. As a student/on the dole, I managed limited amounts of sin on what I had without going to a foodbank, but then again I lived very cheap and had no kids. The people who are doing it tough out there are families. I don’t begrudge them a beer to take their mind of the stress of trying to keep their kids clothed and fed and housed in South Auckland.

      • grumpy 18.3.2

        Money to UNICEF???  You should take up drinking!

    • Deadly_NZ 18.4

      yep me too my temptation is lollies lol  ex smoker.

  19. PeteG 19

    But that’s not the same as saying that only the poor should not spend money on these things…

    I didn\’t see anyone claim that. What Marty did say:

    So, still care to argue that poverty is the fault of the poor and that they’re making ‘poor choices’

    Poverty isn’t the fault of “the poor”, but some poverty can be the fault of some poor people. I know from experience – my poorest times were a result of poor business decisions. I learnt from that and recovered.

    This post has not really proven anything – many people are poor because they simple don\’t have enough money to manage on (obvious), some poor people make things harder for themselves and family by making poor spending decisions on things like smoking, drinking,  gambling, committing to capital expenses they can do without (obvious), and we don’t know to what degree and how many are significantly affected.

    There’s no point in generalising, “people are poor because they make bad spending choices” is as absurd as “people are rich because they make evil tax avoidance choices”.

    • There’s no point in generalising, “people are poor because they make bad  spending choices” is as absurd as “people are rich because they make  evil tax avoidance choices”
      So let’s not draw any conclusions about anything.  Let’s not even bother to research or collect statistics.  Let’s just exercise a little bit of good old Peter Dunne’s reasonableness.
      After all this is successfully dealing with our current problems.  Isn’t it?

    • RedLogix 19.2

      At this point you have so totally disowned your own original line of thought that I’ve no idea any more what you are trying to say.
      By contrast I know exactly what Marty was saying. He is saying that John Key’s statement about people needing to use foodbanks is the result of their ‘poor choices’ is a facile and shallow argument.
      1. It isn’t obviously true that poor people mis-spend more money than the rest of us… some of them obviously do, people from all walks of life waste money on useless detrimental things… but overall the data doesn’t support the idea that the poorest kiwis are hugely more guilty of this than any of the rest of us.
      2. We do know that all people are better off if they spend money wisely.  But many do not…and there is no moral or political mandate anywhere for the state to impose wisdom on those who eschew it. So on what grounds are you going to impose a different criteria onto poor people that you do not apply to the rest of us? Just because they are relatively powerless and you think you can get away with it?
      3. We are talking about large groups of people. Such conversations are always couched in terms of generalisations, averages, statistics and numbers. Otherwise as mickey above neatly points out, it is impossible to reach any conclusions, understanding or form a coherent plan. Which I’m tempted to think is your actual agenda… but you can colour that an assumption if you want.

  20. PeteG 20

    Annual number of tobacco products available for consumption in New Zealand per capita (15+ years), 1999–2009$File/tobacco-use-nz-key-findings-2009-survey.doc

    A graph shows it has been around 1000 cigarette equivalents per capita per year since 2003. Per smoking population (20%-ish) that would make it about:
    – 5000 each per year
    – 13 per day, half a packet a day on average across all smokers
    – three and a half packets a week
    – $49 per week (although loose tobaco will bring that down).
    – $2500 per year.
    That’s average. Some will be much less, some will be much more. Not alcohol, not gambling, just one vice, smoking.

    33% of low decile smoke. That’s a lot of poor choice dollars going up in smoke each year.
    It doesn’t consider losses in health or productivity.

    I’m not suggesting there is anything more that can be done about it. Ring fenced benefits (for those not earning their own income) seems to be in the too hard basket here.

    But it’s a big waste if you’re hard up. It’s possible to reach that conclusion. Is it?

    • RedLogix 20.1

      That’s:half a packet a day on average across all smokers three and a hald packets a week
      Nah … that’s a meaningless average. Is it not? Or have they suddenly come into fashion now it suits your argument?

      Besides it’s just a re-run of the comment you made at 12.0 above.

      In which case I get to re-run 12.1.3

      But it’s a big waste if you’re hard up. It’s not hard to reach that conclusion. Is it?

      It’s a big waste regardless of who you are. That’s an even more obvious conclusion.

    • r0b 20.2

      33% of low decile smoke. That’s a lot of poor choice dollars going up in smoke each year.
      It doesn’t consider losses in health or productivity.

      I’ve been too busy today to take part in this debate, and I’m still too busy – but I do have to ask. PeteG is desperate to point our that some low income earners smoke – 33% of them. OK fine, now what? What action do you propose, PeteG, based on this observation? Is it an excuse to cut back on welfare to all 100% of low income earners? Is it an excuse to chuck smokers out of welfare all together? If not these, then what? What do you want to do with your astounding fact?

      • PeteG 20.2.1

        When you’ve got time read. Or ask the other Rob.

        And you could ask Marty what point he was really trying to make with the post. I think he was trying to say poor people don’t make poor choices, using smoking and other costs as an example.

        • r0b

          No PeteG I’m asking you. It’s your point. 33% of low income earners smoke. So now what do you want to do? How should this shape welfare policy?

          • PeteG

            The 33% was only leading to my point – that there are a lot of poor people (could be low income or on a benefit), some who may be classed as in poverty, who make poor choices that contribute to them staying poor. I was asked to back up my assertion with data, the 33% was a part of that. Claims were then made that there were very few people spending a lot on smoking, and I have shown data that proves that to be almost certainly incorrect.
            So the topic is moving on to different stuff. What to do about it – that’s difficult to answer. Different governments have done quite a bit to try and reduce smoking rates. It’s work in progress, and working, but only gradually. It’s hard to know if much more can be done about it wothout unreasonable impositions.
            Two other major expenditures, including for some poor people, are drinking and gambling. Not much is done about reducing those – alcohol in particular has adverse effects across the whole income range, gambling cabn and does keep some poor people poor. Very difficult to know how to deal with these issues, especially without imposing on people who aren’t a problem.

            • r0b

              So your argument is that some poor people make bad choices, and that it is difficult to know what to do about that. I don’t think anyone here would disagree.

              You aren’t suggesting that we use the minority making bad choices to cut social welfare to all.

              You aren’t suggesting that we kick the minority making bad choices out of social welfare all together.

              So I guess you must agree that we should just accept the fact that some poor people make bad choices as an unfortunate given, and get the hell on with helping poor people as best we can. Right?

              • PeteG

                Right. Except not everyone here were agreeing.

                • Pascal's bookie

                  I guess they were assuming you had a point in blathering on it about it all day. Silly them I guess.

                  BTW, and off topic,  did you get around to actually reading that poll data you completely misrepresented yesterday when smearing the Greens?

                  Open mike 05/04/2011

            • fermionic_interference

              No damnit whilst you are close to making a valid point PG, I take issue with your statement
              some who may be classed as in poverty, who make poor choices that contribute to them staying poor.”

              I have a problem with your use of “staying poor” or a contribution thereof.
              There is no way that they would stop being poor just because they deprived themselves of a luxury item, the person/family would still be poor and struggling and in poverty unless the spend on the luxury item was large.

              The only difference would be that they hadn’t had the release / respite from their poverty that, the aforementioned luxury may provide.

              I am in no way making an argument to condone or endorse Tobacco or alcohol, I am just stating that most people need a release or some respite from that which oppresses them.
              Many smokers find/feel that the time spent having a “ciggy” helps them to relax and detach from the stresses of their lives. A similar argument can be made for those whom enjoy a beer when they get home following the same reasoning.

              Reiterating these people would still be poor they just wouldn’t have had any respite (I hope they do find some respite) from their poverty.

              • My point exactly. If your income is the same, you’re still poor – whatever you spend your income on.

                • PeteG

                  But there is a difference between:
                  – on the bones of your arse can’t keep up with the bills kids going hungry poor
                  – poor but managing to get by ok-ish por
                  even though the income may be exactly the same, as it will be for many beneficiaries.

                  • So you agree with me after all that smoking and drinking is not keeping them poor? They’re still poor if they stop smoking and drinking but, now, they’re “ok-ish poor”? 

                    I think I can live with your modified position.

                    I do remember, however, reading something by Eric Crampton to the effect that talking about the ‘costs’ of alcohol consumption (and, by extension, tobacco consumption) – e.g., health costs – without also talking about the benefits might overstate the nett effect. If he’s right, then being “ok-ish poor” might not actually be producing the overall benefits to the individuals concerned that ‘third parties’ might focus upon. (i.e., NOT smoking and drinking, for people in that setting and who are the ones best positioned to make their choices ‘on the ground’, might be a worse option – you see, I can think like an ‘orthodox’ economist too!). 🙂

    • wtl 20.3

      While it is good that you have made some effort to find some data on smoking, I would argue that your data adds nothing of value to the discussion. The amount of money spent on cigarettes per decile is already covered in the above survey. Attempting to do some extrapolation based on the average number of people who smoke and the average cost of smoking per smoker does not provide any additional detail – the average amount per decile is already covered in the survey.
      The data you would need to argue your cases is the distribution of the amount spent on cigarettes/drink within each decile (as you argued that the average is masking the real trend) and the correlation of this with some measure of food insecurity. After some number crunching, you would then be able to say that x% of those who experience food insecurity spend $y on cigarettes/drink, which will provide some support or lack of support for your arguments.
      In the absence of such data, the best that can be done is going by the averages, as done by Marty here.

      • Pascal's bookie 20.3.1

        Would be also useful to work out the effects of increased sin taxes on the numbers, and read up on how effective ‘increasing stress on the already stressed’ is as an anti-addiction method.

        Would be interesting to see if the effectiveness of increasing the cost of tobacco in reducing use is spread evenly, or if it clusters.

        I don’t think it’s an accident that addiction treatment centers aim for ‘calm’ in their settings.

      • PeteG 20.3.2

        I didn’t argue “that the average is masking the real trend”, the average does nothing to show how much non-average poor people spend on things like alcohol and tobacco. I was arguing that Marty’s attempt failed to rule out that some of the poor make poor choices that can affect poverty levels, all he showed is that average poor people seem to make reasonable choices on such expenditure.

        • wtl

          Wtf is an average person as opposed to a non-average person? That’s not how statistics works. Of course some poor people have not enough food entirely due to their own poor choices. This whole argument is about how common that is. The average numbers suggest it is not common. It is possible to come up with a better measure to determine how common it is, as I suggested above. Unless you can come up with such a measure, there is no point in continually pointing out the obvious.

          • sean

            Ok, I’ll spell it out simply for you, seeing as you don’t get what he is saying:
            Only a subset of each of the income groups smokes and/or drinks.  However, Marty’s figures are averaged out for 100% of people in each group, meaning that there are some people in each group spending a large percentage of their income on smoking and/or drinking.
            Look at the lowest income group who spend about 20% of the amount they spend on food on smoking/drinking.  If Marty took into consideration the smoking and drinking rates of that group, it would prove John Key to be exactly right – because it indicates there are a decent subset of that group who are smoking/drinking a huge amount of their income (more than the 20% of the amount they spend on food as Marty shows).
            What Marty has done is actually prove John Key as being correct in his haste to average everything out across the entire population – when he has ignored one of the most important figures in what his graphs should have been.
            Marty probably needs to go back to Uni and do a decent stats course and rethink things a bit.

            • felix

              If it’s true that there are, as you say, “some people in each group spending a large percentage of their income on smoking and/or drinking” …
              Then the bulk of the rest of them must be spending very little or none, that’s the only way to get such a low average percentage. You can’t have it both ways.
              And that was kinda the point of the post. When Key (and you) try to characterise the poor as spending their money on bad “lifestyle choices” you are, for the most part, talking out of your arses and your own comment unwittingly supports this contention.

              • sean

                The lowest income group is spending about 20% of the amount they spend on food on smoking and drinking.  What planet are you on where that is a low average percentage?  Your-anus?

  21. BLiP 21

    The “poor make wrong choices” is generally a part of the conservative meme to assist in their blocking out consideration of the causes of poverty and their assistance in that work. I don’t blame them, really. Its not like don’t  they have their own intellectual disabilities to deal with, and this thread is a reflection of that sad reality.

    What’s of concern to me is that this “blame the victim” mentality is being reinforced by our own government; a government ostensibly elected to represent the best interests of *all* of us. What we have here with John Key’s idiocy is a deliberate wedge to allow the disgruntled an opportunity to let off a little steam with some nice, good ole fashioned beneficiary / poor people bashing. And don’t they just love it?

    Pity they can’t see it for what it is.

  22. Jum 22

    The rich bastards who control and own the alcohol and tobacco companies are the very same people (Key being one) that are saying New Zealanders are using their products to excess.
    I suggest the bastards stop selling their products.
    But, considering the billions of dollars spent, worldwide, to market these killer products, especially to new and younger by the day smokers and drinkers, that is never going to happen.
    This could be resolved very easily.  A tax on all companies, which cannot be on-charged – a contracted term of pricing would stop increases going through to the customer – which would go to health care.
    Any person gaining a profit from this selling of alcohol and tobacco must never be allowed to hold official office which is paid by the taxpayer or is a position which impacts on the reputation of New Zealand.  That gets rid of Key, for all sorts of reasons, McKay and no more risk of Owen Glenn getting his nasty little pudgies on a foreign office job – McCully’s loosening up of foreign office jobs to the outside will find Glenn in one soon – Owen Glenn, one of the biggest tobacco lobbyists of them all – and possibly payback for a job well done on Winston Peters.

  23. Tangled up in blue 23

    Actually, those *are* your words. Check your comment at 1.1.1 and you will see its a direct quote.

    You quoted me as this “being poor = being dishonest”. This is not at all a “direct quote” of what I said.

    “being poor = psychologically inferior”. Interesting.

    No, I’m not saying poor people are psychologically inferior. I’m saying that the importance a capitalist society places on ‘status’ results in people ‘feeling’ inferior.

    Bullshit. Your criticism extends to poor people. In your conservative brain “being poor = being dishonest”

    Believe what you will. I’ve a feeling I’m being trolled by the resident jester. Goodbye.
    [lprent: Try using the ‘Reply’ rather than starting a new thread each time. Makes it easier for everyone to read. ]

    • fraser 23.1

      “Hmm. Let us hope that these low income respondents who are under pressure about there spending habits; actually answer the questions honestly.”

      its right there in 0s and 1s  

      let us hope… …low income respondents… …actually answer questions honestly 

      • BLiP 23.1.1

        Like shooting fish in a barrel.

      • higherstandard 23.1.2

        Actually all respondents under report spend on alcohol and ciggys in these surveys.

        • Deborah Kean

          Actually all respondents under report spend on alcohol and ciggys in these surveys.

          You know this how? I for one, wouldn’t. Honesty is something I am fanatical about, QoT’s opinion notwithstanding… 🙂

          • higherstandard

            Actually I should have said some  respondents under report spend – It’s stated in the notes regarding the reliability of the survey estimates

            “Under-reporting of expenditure
            For some types of expenditure, the estimated amount for all private households is less than that
            reported from other data sources.

            The main reasons for this are:
             expenditure by residents of non-private households or by those ineligible for the survey
            (for example, overseas visitors) is excluded from this survey
             respondents to the survey forget or omit some types of purchases – known items
            susceptible to under-reporting are clothing, cigarettes, restaurant meals, alcoholic drinks,
            confectionery, newspapers, and public transport fares
             expenditure by children aged under 15 is not recorded in the survey
             there is a bias associated with non-response that affects some statistics.

        • Mac1

          HS, FFS, how can you underreport on a nil return?

          I do not smoke. How can I underreport that?

          As me old dad said, at the height of exasperation, “God save Ireland!”

          • Descendant Of Smith

            If placed on a fire, such as for instance burnt at the stake, all human beings smoke.

            This happens whether you are clothed or naked and is not gender specific.

            You are a human being therefore you smoke.

            If you say you don’t smoke you are a liar.

            • RedLogix

              I once saw a questionnaire that asked if I smoked after sex… but hell I’ve never really looked.

            • Mac1

              I am happy to say that at the moment I am not smoking and if I were to be I have at hand the means of extinguishing the flames.
              I am after all named after St Lawrence who was burned to death over a fire. Midway through the process, he asked to be turned over as he was “quite done enough on that side”. That’s what I call ‘sang froid’!

          • higherstandard

            “HS, FFS, how can you underreport on a nil return?”

            I suggest you forward that question to iRD it’s a common issue in their department.

            Vive la Khazikstan !

      • Tangled up in blue 23.1.3

        Yes . . . not because they’re low life lying scum, but because it’s a natural human behaviour to hide things that they feel shame about. I though the part where I said “who are under pressure about their spending habits” gave the context. Too subtle for some I guess.
        And in case you missed it, this from HS:

        respondents to the survey forget or omit some types of purchases – known items
        susceptible to under-reporting are clothing, cigarettes, restaurant meals, alcoholic drinks,


        • BLiP

          Heh! The quote from HS says *all* respondents. This is now your fourth attempt to change your story. First it was the poor are dishonest, then it was the poor were psychologically inferior, then it was the capitalist system’s inherent favouritism of status, then it was just the wording of the post, and now its the data is invalid because the poor are under so much pressure.
          HANDY HINT: If you flounce out of a thread after making a dick of yourself, stay flounced.

          • higherstandard

            BLiP the data are not invalid just underreported in relation to certain items this doesn’t make the survey any more or less relevant.

            Let me once again repeat my position. 

            Some people on benefits budget and spend their benefits very wisely and don’t have enough they should be given more assistance.
            Some people spend their benefits unwisely and would have enough if they spent it correctly.
            Some people don’t need a benefit but it is available so they take it.
            Some people are rorting the system – they can get fucked.

  24. sean 24

    Just trying to point out something here – but spending 20 odd percent of the amount you spend on food on cigarettes and booze when you are in low income deciles actually means you’ve proven John Key’s claims to be right.  (Looking at income group 1 – the poorest of the poor)
    And thats before you work out that only a subset of the acutal families surveyed smoke and/or drink, meaning John Key becomes even more correct in his statements that there are a lot of people making bad choices.
    Marty – probably a good idea to think about the big picture before posting and assuming that 100% of families drink and smoke – now your whole post and all the work you did is irrelevant as a result.  ooops!
    ps: I also don’t see the point in including mid-higher income groups because they won’t be on benefits, so its completely irrelevant to what you are trying to disprove (and failing spectacularly at).

    • rosy 24.1

      And you wouldn’t be criticising the poor if they gave up smoking and drinking and spent the money on the gym or running gear to provide distraction from their constrained lives… yeah right.

  25. Jum 25

    Let me see, if you are a beneficiary or on a low wage, which is what this country is now advertised to investors as being, you are not allowed to smoke or drink.  But the biggest beneficiaries of all – the rich, the powerful, the government are all beneficiaries of the taxpayer largesse, half of them selling the tobacco and alcohol and smoking and drinking what they like.  That’s discriminatory.  If they smoke, I’d like to know what is in their cigars or cigarettes – the same poisons they shove in 10 year olds as they seek to hook ’em.  No; I thought not.
    Don’t insult my intelligence by saying the rich pay more tax.  They do not.  They live on the state, but they peddle freemarket.  They are selfish and greedy.  It is agreed by several people I know that if the greedy creeps left NZ and stopped interfering in it like the BusRotundtable do while their money is in overseas bank accounts, our state of finances would be a lot healthier.

    • Deadly_NZ 25.1

      Well Said!!!!   Finally someone who gets it!

    • sean 25.2

      Jum, I earnt $125,000 this recent financial year and have paid $27,000 in income tax, and about $1,500 in GST on contracting work I did in NZ (the majority of my income is zero-rated for GST as it is overseas).  On top of that I paid $2,700 in ACC fees.

      On top of that I have paid thousands in GST on local spending, hundreds of dollars in petrol tax, vehicle registration tax, and tax on all the alcohol I buy. I also paid $3,200 in council rates (i.e. city council/local tax) on two rentals I have in Wellington.

      All up, maybe somewhere between $40k-$50k in tax.  Does this make me greedy and selfish?

      • higherstandard 25.2.1

        if you vote national or Act or MP Yes, if you vote Labour or Green no.

        If you vote Winston first it makes you the Arch Duke of Spokane.

        Now if you were to make a similar sort of comment on Kiwibog please reverse the positions in relation to all but Winston First. 

        Ps Belch and parp !

      • The Voice of Reason 25.2.2

        Seems a bit light to me Sean. If you’d just paid income tax on the 125k you’d owe 37000, not 27000. As you say, you pay GST and other fees, but then so does everyone. I guess you also pay income tax overseas or just have a good accountant?
        As to whether you are greedy or selfish, the answer bears no relation to the tax you pay anyway. It’s not optional, so it’s not indicative.

    • sean 25.3

      Jum, if I left NZ it would be worse off, as 120k of my income is from Europe, and that 120k would be spent overseas.  I have private medical insurance and my son goes to a private school.  I also provide two rental properties in Wellington.
      If I left, and people like me or richer than me left NZ would be a better place off financially?  Can you please clarify how instead of saying people you know told you that?

      • BLiP 25.3.1

        . . . I also provide two rental properties in Wellington . . .

        Yeah, like you’re doing us a favour by buying three times the amount of housing you require so as to assist in the unnecessary escalation of housing costs. We need more people like you just like a fish needs a bicycle.

        • felix

          O noez what if sean fucks off and takes his houses with him?

          • Daveo

            Yep. Fuck of sean. Go be a parasite somewhere else.

            • sean

              At least learn to spell you douche bag.  Part of why you are a low income fuck isn’t it?

              [lprent: That fell into the pointless insult level. Make a points that relate to the insult or do not make the comment. The latter can be enforced if required. ]

        • higherstandard

          Sounds a bit like Redlogix

          • RedLogix

            Yes he does.
            I don’t know if it makes any difference or not to my ‘parasite’ status… but I did actually develop and build (and I mean hands on) the six units I own. I deliberately set out to create warm, energy efficient and modern looking units that were purpose built as rentals.
            I’ve consistently argued that there is a legitimate demand for rentals, from younger people in their 20’s who have yet to settle into a career/relationship and have not yet accumulated enough equity… or those who for one reason or another the banks will not lend to.  I’ve consistently argued that current state social housing provision is woefully inadequate forcing far too many people into crummy ‘end of life’ private rentals that should be bulldozed.

            Landlords and tenants are much like employers and employees; their interests can be in tension… but overall they need each other.
            I also work full-time in a role that makes a valued contribution to the city I live in. Nothing special … just useful.
            By most people’s standards I guess you’d categorise me as ‘rich’.  Equally from my perspective I am constantly appalled at how miserably paid most New Zealanders are…. it’s not so much that I’m rich… but that so many of us are so poor.  With the median income around $27k and the median working income at $39k, fully half of New Zealand households need some form of re-distributive tax subsidy simply to survive.
            Most of us in the top half are the ones who pay the tax. Personally I’ve always believed that was right… we are the ones benefitting most from society, therefore we are the ones who owe it most in return. You can call us ‘rich’ if you like, but I don’t think the term ‘parasite’ is fair.
            Unfortunately there is also a slice of rich at the very top 1% or so who have enough wealth and connections to find ways of hugely avoiding their fair share of tax. Not just small things at the margins here and there… but massive rorts and rip-offs from the public purse… like the SCF debacle.  You can call them ‘rich prick parasites’ if you like… cos I’m right with you in the chorus.

        • sean

          Wow, jealous much?  I rent myself in a place in Auckland I could not otherwise afford.
          The two properties I provide have been completely remodeled with brand new ktichens, bathrooms, heat pumps, and fully insulated.  I also rent them out for below market value and have not raised the rent in 4 years of owning them, even though the property management company I use keeps imploring me to.
          By the way, I’m 32 – not a baby-boomer – so if you are young also, its just as easy for you to get to the same situation.  Try not being so jealous and bitter about stuff and you might actually get ahead in life.

          • Marty G

            would the houses not exist if not for you?
            You don’t ‘provide’ them, you own them and rent them out as a business. If you didn’t own them someone else would – maybe someone who is currently squeezed out of the market by the higher prices that landlords can afford to pay.

    • higherstandard 25.4

      Who are these rich you keep frothing about ?

    • PeteG 25.5

      Don’t insult my intelligence by saying the rich pay more tax.  They do not.  They live on the state, but they peddle freemarket.

      Don’t insult mine by claiming all sorts of shit without any data or evidence. And is blatantly false – but I don’t have to prove that, you should prove your claims, if you can.

      This is the same sort of blanket bullshit Marty may have been getting at, that not all poor people are stuck in poverty because they waste their money despite what a few blanket bullshitters say.

      • mickysavage 25.5.1

        So PeteG

        If a party comes out with a proposal for a capital gains tax will you support it?

        And do you support a capital gains tax?  This will mean that the wealthy that do not pay much tax will pay more.  And I do not understand your last sentence.  What do you mean by it?

        • PeteG

          You’ll have to be more specific. Do you mean on property? It would depend on the details, I’m not against some CGT in principle. We already tax some capital gains.

          • mickysavage



            Be specific.  If you think that the  rich are pimples on the arse of humanity and should be taxed within an inch of their lives say so.

            If you think the poor are just feigning it and are actually quite well off and are eating cockroaches just to embarass your mate John Travolta Key just say so.

            But this wimpish lets see how we can fcuk up the thread posting by you is driving many of us to drink.  You see we sense no intellectual honesty in what you say.  You appear to want to engage in the debate but then say crap that is designed to confuse.  You appear to be blowing really hard on the right wing dog whistle but when challenged you appear to be hurt.

            I smell a rat, a right wing, astroturfing trolling rat …

            • PeteG

              FFS MS, pull your head in, calm down, read this –  then come back and you be specific.
              Was that supposed to be a trick question? Or are you just showing your ignorance?

              • I read it and …

                So I think you may support a CGT.

                And what about my other questions?

                I smell a rat, a CT Behive junior staffer based rat …

            • PeteG

              And do you support a capital gains tax?

              I repeat, what sort of CGT in addition to what we already have? Specifics make quite a difference on this – or don’t you understand?
              CGT on all share transactions (as opposed to some as we have now)?
              CGT on all property – or just on more than we have it on now?
              How much?
              Will it be offset by other tax changes?

              This will mean that the wealthy that do not pay much tax will pay more.

              It could just as easily mean that the poor that do not pay much tax (or no tax) will pay more too. It could mean all sorts of things. I don’t say Yes or No on impulse to hopelessly vague questions. Do you?

              • The Voice of Reason

                It’s not the question that’s hopelessly vague, it’s you, Pete. Any more waffle and you’d be Homer Simpson’s breakfast.

      • Blondie 25.5.2

        There are those of us who know perfectly well that some rich people pay very little tax. For example, some very wealthy people rort the system by earning absolute SHITLOADS under the guise of family trusts and so on – yet still claim WFF.

        For example, is it equitable when a family who own a freehold home can claim WFF, while another family – perhaps with one less child, but exactly the same income, and paying full market rent, can’t?  Who do you think is finding it harder to make ends meet? And who do you think is paying more net tax?

        • sean

          WFF and government support isn’t an entitlement – I’m having a bubba with my gf in August and we have chosen to do it only when we know we can afford it.  If people are struggling out there, they should either not have children, move to a cheaper place, or upskill themselves – this is how it has worked since time began.
          People expecting to get WFF or moaning about others getting it not being fair need to make their own way.  You are crazy if you think a government can afford to pay for huge social nets while maintaining its other responsibilities.

          • RobC

            You’re having a bubba only when you can afford it. Very responsible of you. Congratulations.

            But I’m sure you said earlier you already have a son in a private school …

          • Blondie

            Oh good for you Sean.  Guess what, I have a child too, and I don’t get any WFF either.

            “People expecting to get WFF or moaning about others getting it not being fair need to make their own way.  You are crazy if you think a government can afford to pay for huge social nets while maintaining its other responsibilities.”

            Duh, I do make my own way.  But I still have a problem with people earning shitloads through family trusts, but very little in their personal names – so that they can then claim WFF etc.  Just quietly, I think such people are parasites. Explain to me, please, why you think differently?

  26. felix 26

    These fullas are usually complaining that the poor don’t pay enough tax.
    But they also complain about the poor buying the most heavily excised products on the market.
    These romans are crazy!

  27. Sanctuary 27

    Reading the right wing response to the inconvenient truthes of the statistics presented in this post certainly opens a fetid window into their rigid and cluttered minds. It also makes comprehensible a whole range of irrational right wing behaviour. WIshful thinking, lack of ordered thinking and near religious dogmatic denial shapes their every response to every issue.

  28. Pascal's bookie 28

    The poorest people have got too much of the nation’s wealth. I saw one eating a pie. Could of bought half a bag of potatoes with that money, but chose not to.

    • rosy 28.1

      Hell better take some more money off them, what to do, what to do?…. I know! lets take a van of sweatshop manufactured products right to the door and sell them the stuff on credit – don’t tell them the interest rate is skyhigh though, and when they can’t pay we’ll have a nice little loan shop operating on an interest per day rate. That’ll do it.

  29. Blondie 29

    A few years back, I was on the DPB; and during that time I never smoked, seldom drank (about 5 drinks in 5 years; hardly extravagent).  I cooked my own food, and the “entertainment budget” allowed for a weekly video rental on $1 Tuesdays.

    However during that time, in spite of my frugality, I did on one occasion, get a food parcel from the local food bank.

    I didn’t go down there myself – I was too ashamed and I starved for 3 weeks instead – lived on coffee.  However I was friends with people from the church who ran the local foodbank, who realised the state of my affairs, and they scrounged together a small parcel for me.  I have never felt so embarrassed in my life.  And yet I needed it.  I’d still managed to feed my daughter throughout that time but I was beginning to worry how I’d feed her the next week.

    What caused my finances to get to that point? It wasn’t drinking, or smoking, or drugs or any other vice – it was an unexpected bill, like so many people experience. I was coming down the hill in my car – and my brakes failed.  With my daughter in the car.  Thank god there wasn’t any other traffic cos we could’ve had a fatality.  I took my car straight in to the garage to get the brakes fixed – and got a bill for $800, and no way to pay it.  So I starved myself, trying to save a few extra dollars ANY WAY I COULD to pay that bill.

    What amazed me, since I got back into the workforce, is the absolute fortune that so many of my peers spend on alcohol.  It’s not low-income earners who throw their money away – it’s the high-income earners.  The young professionals.  And that’s fine; they earn it, they can spend it however they want.  Heck, set it on fire and burn it if they choose – I don’t care.  

    But it DOES seem a little unfair when people who happily spend several hundred each week on alcohol begrudge the low-income earners $15?  Or worse yet, think that EVERY beneficiary or low-income earner is broke cos they’re an alkie – when that just isn’t true?

    • On ya Blondie

      26 years ago I spent three or four weeks on the dole.  I hated it.  I could not understand how you could survive on it.

      I have known many good decent women who have gone through painful separations and relied on the DPB to get by.  The vast majority of them get into work as soon as they can.  They then juggle work and home and do their best but do not live in luxury.

      And I read crap posts from idiots who think that living on the dole or on the DPB provides some sort of luxury.

      I despise their lack of understanding or humanity.

      I hope they have to one day have to rely on a benefit to see what it is really like.

      • RedLogix 29.1.1

        +1 mickey.
        That’s my experience too. It really upsets me, and that’s nothing to how the women feel, when unthinking, unfeeling idiots characterise single mums as ‘breeding for a business’ just because they are on the DPB.
        Invariably they know nothing of our social history before we had the DPB, of the endless pain and heartbreak women endured for lifetimes.
        In my case my biological grandmother, was forced to give up her child (and only child as it turned out) at birth. Unknown to all of us until just a few years after she died in the late 90’s … she moved from town to town, house to house… just so as she could be near the son she never actually spoke to. My father unknowingly lived for years within a few hundred meters of a mother who loved him with all her life.. and he never ever knew until it was too late.
        Yet stories like this, and worse, were a commonplace. Young vulnerable women who were cast out from families… literally onto streets. Young wives forced to endure brutal hateful marriages because there was no alternative. The ones who risked and lost all in desperate abortions…. and on and on. All this misery because the patriarchy deemed these women, who for the most part were having babies as nature intended, to be disgraced and fallen.
        Instead of celebrating their fertility, the bringing of new life, it was hidden, shunned and shamed…. just because it fell outside the narrow bounds of formal marriage and the property covenant at it’s foundation.
        The advent of the Pill and the DPB has changed a lot in recent times, but threads like this one remind us of how the old meaness and shame lingers on.

        • Descendant Of Smith

          Invariably they know nothing of our social history before we had the DPB, of the endless pain and heartbreak women endured for lifetimes.

          Sadly some of them do and wish for the good old times to return. The days when you could beat your wife and children, and control the income, where even on benefit the husband got all the money leaving the wife to try and survive on family benefit, where women didn’t wear trousers, where super was the first time many women had an income and could finally leave their rapist husbands, and so on.
          Of course poverty was a choice then too – choose to leave your husband you got what you deserved.
          It’s no coincidence the strong relationship between religious fundamentalists and the male dominated business world. They share much in common.

          • sean

            Lol, what a load of absolute shit.  The business world being dominated by males?  Is that similar to how our political world is dominated by females?
            You have a serious chip on your shoulder – I’m guessing a lot of bitterness at some sort of epic failing in your life somewhere.  Most likely your career.

            • The Voice of Reason

              Jeez, Sean do you seriously think the business world isn’t dominated by men? It’s only been for every day there’s ever been a business world so far. It might change in the future though … oh, did anyone see that pig? Flew right outta Sean’s arse.

              • RobC

                the only thing flying out of Sean’s arse is the “runs” when he visits South Akld as described in 29.1.3 below

      • Jum 29.1.2

        ‘I hope they have to one day have to rely on a benefit to see what it is really like’
        Some more very well dressed people laid off from the Press Association – is that what’s it’s called?  Over a century old and Fairfax have dumped it and the people in New Zealand.  Those two women on the tv didn’t look as if they were used to being thought of as castoffs.  I wonder how they’ll manage.
        Mind you – media – maybe they’ll start up a new press model and bring ethical reporting back, objective, investigative – that’d be a great thing to happen – the ethical NZ media.  Could happen…

      • sean 29.1.3

        Mickey, your little anecdotes mean nothing when you can take a stroll around South Auckland (I go running there every day) and see literally hundreds of people who should be out working, just bumming around – want to take a guess how many teenage mums there are on the DPB who are doing it as a lifestyle choice?

    • ianmac 29.2

      Great post and great effort Blondie. Sounds credible to me.

  30. Descendant Of Smith 30

    Pete’s certainly bored me to tears.

    I’m interested however where he sees the place of those who have disabilities – physical, intellectual or psychiatric and where he sees their ability to you know just improve their lot.

    The private sector is just forever willing to give these people well paid meaningful work. what about those who were sexually abused as children and aren’t quite coping out in the real world, or those with post natal depression, or say the women I knew who ran a successful import export business and ruptured her bowel while gardening ( she fell accidentally on a garden stake) and suffered brain damage from the toxins released, or my mate who was stopped at a give-way sign on his bike and got hit by a drunk driver and has a moderate brain injury, or the man who was laid off by his employer because the accountant stole the money from the firm and he can no longer keep him on and he can’t get a job because despite having applied for over 200 jobs since, when and if he does get to an interview he is too old, or the young lad down the street who got shafted by his employer and took him to court and won his case but he is now on the local businessman’s blacklist and no-one will touch him even though he was in the right, and so on.

    Everyone single one of these is someone I am familiar with and their desire to work is there but they all now live in poverty on a benefit.

    Are these the deserving or the undeserving poor in your eyes?

    I mean what the fuck is wrong with them that they can’t just fix their attitude and get their shit together. You don’t need that wheelchair throw it away, those voices in your head – just tell them to piss off, too old for a job don’t be silly just start your own business the nice friendly bank will give you some venture capital even though you are 63.

    It’s all about free will and choice – yeah you choose to be poor all right.

    • But PeteG will be worried that a third of them may or may not smoke …

      • Descendant Of Smith 30.1.1

        Yeah but if he says that again he’ll have to change his name to RePete.

        • felix

          He could change his name to Petard. As in “hoist by his own”.
          ‘Cos that’s what he does here day in, day out.

          • Mac1

            Or change it to Petomaine, the 19th Century French music hall artiste, who played the Marseillaise by blowing through his arseiste. That’s how he sounds here day in, day out but without the same sense of timing, or taste.

  31. HC 32

    This is an interesting post. I can confirm that the prejudice of this government is without limits.

    There is the Prime Minister and his poodle Paula Pudding Bennett, who basically does all he says. The truth is probably that a fair share of beneficiaries do spend a bit more than is good on alcohol, but who would bloody well blame them? Losing your job and ending up at WINZ, where you get interrogated like a criminal before a single dollar gets paid into your account, is that encouraging and uplifting? does that make you proud to be a NZ’er? Do you feel the solidarity of others is there to support you? Just read the blogs and comments on mainstream media, where the workers and small business owners that are struggling to survive look for a kind of “jew” to blame their misery on. What has this country come to? It is in a great, great mess, and this dumb and indifferent government has NO answers!

    So J.K. thinks that people that go to food banks make poor decisions, because they cannot budget on the morsels provided by WINZ? He lives in another world, that is the truth.

    He has probably never spent a day without food, because his mother was as a sole parent in a Housing NZ accommodation at least able to put enough food on the table for him. That was long ago though, does he care to remember those days?

    WINZ has over recent months cut down harshly on special needs grants for food and else. They are also forced to “save” and “live within their budget”. So you end up having to “apply” for a simple letter stating that you have no more entitlement and are expected to take this to a food-bank. That is what thousands do every week. So at the food-bank they are also struggling and ask many questions and try to “prioritise”. One parcel a week may be the story. I have been there! I have done all to avoid the embarrasment to get there. But in the end there is the choice between Salvation Army or similar, or to starve or to commit a crime.
    I understand why J. Collins is happy with more prisons. We may end up like Mainland China and have thousands in there for a work force producing cheap products for the rest of us. That is called “modern day slavery”. We are getting there slowly, day by day. Some realise, but many keep dreaming and distracting. You may be next!

    By the way I have received some very interesting info under the Official Information Act, namely that WINZ have NO psychologists on their books as so-called “designated doctors”. That means they have no qualified doctors able to expertly and appropriately assess people with psychological or mental health conditions. 10 psychiatrists are designated doctors though. That is for the whole of NZ. They are not psychologists though.
    Section 44 (1) of the Social Security Act 1964 gives the Chief Executive or his staff the right to force a beneficiary on the Invalid’s Benefit to undergo an exam by a medical practitioner or a “PSYCHOLOGIST”!
    So where is the legally entitled choice a client has (under other provisions of that section and the Act) when trying to agree with WINZ about who should examine her or him? The choice is NOT offered!

    You will end up with a GP making a probably unprofessional assessment and stuffing you up!

    This is what goes on. There is more to come! All people having had their benefits cut or changed should take some heart and challenge every step WINZ takes. We are being cheated and hood winked on a bloody large scale.

  32. Olwyn 33

    This piece from today’s (Thursday’s) Herald is to me quite sinister. Not only is this lady, who is in difficult circumstances, being denied further help, but no one seems to see anything wrong with parading her weekly budget through the public forum. This to me is an affront to human dignity, and I cannot imagine it being tolerated if the person involved was not already on the back foot.

    • grumpy 33.1

      $827 a week, FFS – that more than most working families get! Take out the rent arrears, repayment of “loans” and fines and she could live pretty well – and what’s with the huge electricity bill???

      This poses more questions than it answers.

      • Blondie 33.1.1

        This one? 

        I must admit, Grumpy, I thought the same thing on seeing that article.  What, does she use her OVEN to heat her house or something?  $80 a week for power is rather steep – that’s like my monthly power bill (admittedly, I’m a scrooge).

        But that’s not a typical benefit, however – the standard DPB is $288.47 per week

        It’s the three lots of disability allowances that make her benefit so high.  Granted we don’t know what her kids have been diagnosed with, but fibromyalgia…. well, is it really even a disease?  After all a lot of doctors think it’s just in the patient’s mind, and there’s no diagnostic test. 

        Quite frankly I’m not surprised the case manager turned down her food grant application.  Most likely this woman is getting more than he is.

        I really wish the Herald wouldn’t make examples of women like this – all it does is to perpetuate the myth that all beneficiaries are riding high at the taxpayers expense.  Whereas the majority are struggling and would love to have this woman’s income.  Heck, so would a lot of working people.

        • Olwyn

          I do not want to go into the ins and outs of the woman’s income, although you must remember that it will be made up in part by a rental supplement, and that she will not get WFF, as working people do. What concerned me is that her budget, along with her life, is laid open for public scrutiny, which I cannot imagine anyone enjoying. It goes with what I alluded to yesterday; the tendency to treat beneficiaries (and sometimes too low-income earners) as beings for whom the normal rules of respect do not apply.

          • Blondie

            It seems to me, Olwyn, that this woman approached the Herald, and gave them the details of her budget herself. 

            If she chooses to make her personal finances public knowledge, then that’s her prerogative. But she can’t then complain about it if the public don’t feel as much empathy towards her as she might’ve liked.

            Seriously, did she really think she was going to get public sympathy?  FFS, my weekly income was less than half that when I received the DPB.  $827 a week would have been a bloody wet dream to me back then!

          • PeteG

            The Herald interviewed her, presumably she volunteered the details, that’s the only way they could have got that amount of detailed information.
            I was surprised by the power bill too.
            WINZ have a difficult job trying to ensure those in real need get help they deserve, but to avoid dishing out time and again to those who need a different sort of help. Some people can be slack and just expect to be continually bailed out, and some simply know how to work the system. I’m not doing a general bene bash, the serial abusers make it more difficult for genuinely needy and honest beneficiaries.

  33. Reuben Dunn 34

    What is more sad than the statistics that have been presented here is the wasted energy on condemning the poor and judging the rich – and the barrage of emotional baggage. 

    I fail to see that a bad decision made by a “poor” person can be a good one when made by a “rich” person, just as I fail to see that all rich people are “parasites”. This would mean that everyone who has won lotto is now “rich” and at the same time classed a parasite/prick/[Insert your slander here…]

    What we need here people are solutions. And please don’t tell me it’s someone else’s job (Government, NGO’s etc) to solve this problem.  It’s everyone’s job to think of solutions. Solutions that are sustainable and empower people out of their situation. Poverty is a complex issue and at this stage out of the 245 comments made only one seems to address the real issue (16 – Frank).

    We could all debate/argue/slander comments, but we do nothing to solve the issue, and poverty wins.

    I sometimes think that future generations will look back and ask why did we allow poverty to continue for so long – with as much anger as we have of those that commit horrific crimes.

    and we reply
    – statistics/surveys/averages are not true representations of a trend. I didn’t know it existed?
    – the poor only have themselves to blame for poor decisions. It’s not my fault surely?
    – its those rich pricks and “their” mates in Government. They didn’t leave the country…

    [I admit a gross paraphrase, but there is truly no acceptable answer]


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    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
    5 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
    5 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
    5 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
    5 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
    5 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
    5 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 ...
    5 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 ...
    6 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 ...
    6 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
    6 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
    6 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 ...
    6 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
    6 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
    6 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
    6 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
    6 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
    6 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
    7 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
    7 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
    7 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
    7 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
    7 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
    7 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
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
    1 week 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 ...
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
    1 week 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 ...
    1 week 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
    1 week 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 ...
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks 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
    2 weeks 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 ...
    2 weeks 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

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