Trickledown has failed

Written By: - Date published: 9:00 am, April 15th, 2016 - 118 comments
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trickle-down

A couple of recent Guardian posts sum up how current economic settings are doomed to fail, unless the only goal is to preserve privilege for the 1%.

The first suggests that wealth does not trickle down, it floods offshore into tax havens.  The estimate is that between US$21 trillion and $32 trillion has been sent out of countries to tax havens.  About US$10 trillion is owned by just over 90,000 individuals.  This is US$11 million each.  This is their loose change.

From the article:

These estimates reveal a staggering failure,” says John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. “Inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people.

“This new data shows the exact opposite has happened: for three decades extraordinary wealth has been cascading into the offshore accounts of a tiny number of super-rich.”

In total, 10 million individuals around the world hold assets offshore, according to Henry’s analysis; but almost half of the minimum estimate of $21tn – $9.8tn – is owned by just 92,000 people. And that does not include the non-financial assets – art, yachts, mansions in Kensington – that many of the world’s movers and shakers like to use as homes for their immense riches.

“If we could figure out how to tax all this offshore wealth without killing the proverbial golden goose, or at least entice its owners to reinvest it back home, this sector of the global underground is easily large enough to make a significant contribution to tax justice, investment and paying the costs of global problems like climate change,” Henry says.

So not only do tax cuts for the wealthy not work, it almost certainly makes things worse for the tax cutting country.

The second is this fascinating article that collates data and analysis from throughout the world about the effect of a universal basic income.  You know the idea that dear leader thought, and the media dutifully reported, was barking mad?

It has a number of links and a great deal of information.  The essence is:

Welcome to the world of a unconditional basic income, or UBI, otherwise known as citizens’ income or social wage. It might look like the stuff of insane utopianism, but the idea is now spreading at speed, from the fringes of the left into mainstream politics – and being tried out around the world. The UK Green party has supported the notion for decades: staunch backing for a version of UBI was one of its key themes at the last election. At its spring conference last month, the Scottish National party passed a motion supporting the idea that “a basic or universal income can potentially provide a foundation to eradicate poverty, make work pay and ensure all our citizens can live in dignity”. A handful of Labour MPs have started to come round to the idea – and serious work is being done among thinktanks and pressure groups, looking at how it might work in the here and now.

Meanwhile, there have been UBI-type policies and experiments in India and Brazil. These have suggested that, contrary to modern stereotypes about “welfare” sapping people’s initiative, a basic income might actually increase people’s appetite for work, by adding to their sense of stability, and making things such as childcare and transport more accessible. A pilot of a UBI-ish policy whereby people on benefits are paid unconditionally is happening in Utrecht, in the Netherlands; other Dutch towns and cities look set to follow its example, and there are plans to pilot a more ambitious kind of basic income in Finland. On 5 June, the Swiss will vote in a referendum on a plan that would see all adults receive about £1,700 a month, with an extra £400 for each child.

And then there is the rising noise from Silicon Valley. The California-based startup incubator Y Combinator has announced that it wants to fund research into UBI’s viability. Its president, Sam Altman, says: “It is impossible to truly have equality of opportunity without some version of guaranteed income.” In New York, the influential venture capitalist Albert Wenger has been sounding off about a basic income for at least three years, claiming it offers an answer to a very modern question. If, as he says, “we are at the beginning of the time where machines will do a lot of the things humans have traditionally done”, how do you avoid “a massive bifurcation of society into those who have wealth and those who don’t”?

These two articles cover issues that need to be addressed and even in sleepy New Zealand represent the cutting edge of current political debate.  Should we allow the uber wealthy to avoid tax or should we insist that everyone pays their fair share so that each of us can enjoy the benefit of a universal basic income?

118 comments on “Trickledown has failed”

  1. Sabine 1

    Was that not the intended outcome?

    Who ever thought that giving the already rich more money would translate into the already rich with now more money giving some of that money to the poor and down trotten.

    I hear there are still 9 bridges to sell up Northland. It said so yesterday at the NZ Herald.

    • Olwyn 1.1

      People have a tendency to assume that the stuff they rely on will stay in place while cheerfully dismantling the conditions that make that stuff possible – like cutting off the branch on which you are sitting. E.g. Get rid of those nasty unions and there will be no bus strikes, but I will still mysteriously retain my wages and job security. Get schools to rely on volunteers, while ensuring that households need two incomes, leaving no one to volunteer. The list goes on.

      • aerobubble 1.1.1

        Yes, all true, but. Cheap energy fuelled growth, this allowed the reptile right to frame growth as their achievement, their policy of getting givt out of the way, etc. Growing the fnacial sector off the wealth rather than using it to build a better world. i.e we got pummeled by a version of capitalism that not only polluted politics, economics, but the planet, taking attention away from the consequences of producing and using all that cheap fuel less we also discovered it wasnt the conservative revolution or Tory Thatcherites. Take people out and nought happens, take finance or machines and people get on and do. People create wealth, not .1 of .1 o the super super rich, they can be remved and nobody would notice much.

        • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1

          People create wealth, not .1 of .1 o the super super rich, they can be remved and nobody would notice much.

          Oh, I’m pretty sure that the other 99% would notice that they’re far better off once we’ve gotten rid of the rich.

          • aerobubble 1.1.1.1.1

            Argument sake. Lets assume that the economy is a set of queues, as more actors in the economy grow queues result. Now communism would argue the queues need to be controlled and result in fewer slower and all feeding out at the same rate. Socialism wants everyone to be in queues and the queues to be flow at a reasonable rate. Capitalism does not care, or cares to not care. Now we live in peak neo-con where the queues are rigged to flow faster if the super ruch have an interest, and slower if the super rich are hurt. So i would argue that removing the individuals would be meaningless since the system is still rigged to replace them with new .1 of .1 ers. We’d only be better off if the new .1 of .1 ers were smarter and did not wished to be toppled from the top of the pile and realized that the rigged system was how a class of neolib private sector bureaucrat parasitically fed off them, sure they become bloated with money but not the good kind, no, the pus kind that bursts in their face.

            • Draco T Bastard 1.1.1.1.1.1

              Now communism would argue the queues need to be controlled and result in fewer slower and all feeding out at the same rate.

              WTF do you mean?

              So i would argue that removing the individuals would be meaningless since the system is still rigged to replace them with new .1 of .1 ers.

              Wouldn’t be removing the individuals – just getting rid of the rich.

              We’d only be better off if the new .1 of .1 ers

              We wouldn’t have them as we got rid of them.

              • aerobubble

                Communism fails because?

                We need to value resources as a community, since no one individual can have the expertise to see both their perochial needs and the bigger picture, we need mechanism.

                Since communism makes each individual a mountain, like fascism, it fails as to maintain value it requires acceptance that the individual alone can never see all risks. No supermen, no Stalin, no Mao, etc no supreme leader whose recognized for their superior expertise when everyone realizes we are not all of equal expertise.

                Now value of valuing must also be valued. Now in order to share any resource we setup queues where those who want a resource arrange themselves to negotiate access. Capitalism succeeds where communism and fascism fail, it letting go of control.

                Now the second part, removing wealth without removing the processes that made a few very rich wont change anything. High progressive taxes over time will.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  We need to value resources as a community, since no one individual can have the expertise to see both their perochial needs and the bigger picture, we need mechanism.

                  Yes.

                  Since communism makes each individual a mountain…

                  Completely meaningless drivel.

                  Now value of valuing must also be valued. Now in order to share any resource we setup queues where those who want a resource arrange themselves to negotiate access.

                  Not even fucken close. There’s a reason why Marx said that everyone would be paid the same for their labour. It’s because he still figured on a market mechanism for actual distribution of resources.

                  Now the second part, removing wealth without removing the processes that made a few very rich wont change anything. High progressive taxes over time will.

                  The second sentence doesn’t follow from the first. In fact, it’s simply an unsupported assertion and evidence shows that it doesn’t really work anyway. Far better not to need progressive taxes by ensuring that no one has a high income.

                  The first sentence is correct – we need to get rid of the processes that allow a few to become rich and replace them with something else:
                  Real Monetary Reform: Ensures that income can’t come from having money
                  Demurrage: Ensures that people won’t be too keen to accumulate excessive amounts of money.
                  A UBI: ensures that everyone has a base income that will ensure a reasonable living standard via a market system.
                  Stopping private ownership of land/factories/houses: Ensures that people can’t accumulate non-monetary wealth.

          • TC 1.1.1.1.2

            Ben eltons ‘stark’ reached the same conclusion. Once total toxic overload was reached, the uber wealthy retreated into their eco domes.

            The planet recovered as all the polluters and greedy sorts were locked in their eco domes

            • aerobubble 1.1.1.1.2.1

              So removing the top predator makes the herd better off. Ecology says no. It makes for over population as weak are not removed.

              The global problem is not capitalism, is lazy stupid people like Murdoch who make money parasitically support the richest rich and those richest rich not having the experts to explian why wealth has obligations that invariable benefit all. Is the class war Murdoch and Thaterites waged agaunst society that creates and maintains this crisis. The vulture reptilian class.

              • Draco T Bastard

                So removing the top predator makes the herd better off. Ecology says no. It makes for over population as weak are not removed.

                Ecologically we’ve already moved into that position. The only option we have to fix the issues that it brings is to use our intelligence.

                Also, capitalists may be predators but they actually rely upon having lots of poor people around.

                The global problem is not capitalism

                Yes it is.

                • Colonial Viper

                  I have to shake my head sometimes.

                  Capitalism has been the problem since Washington helped exterminate the Indians for their land, and before.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Capitalism has been the problem for 5000 years of recorded history.

                    • aerobubble

                      Capitalismis just wat naturally occurs when there is no government and people need to share resources. It occurs after people realize religionous control stops providing for the people. We will always need to negotiate resource use.

                • aerobubble

                  Rich people need poor people. Tautology. People will always have more than each other. Some better skilled, other with access to land, its a nonsense to conclude that because we are different it means something and so we should not be different, or as you reason.

                  Sure intelligence require arguments hat are not tautologies.

                  • Draco T Bastard

                    Rich people need poor people. Tautology. People will always have more than each other.

                    It’s got nothing to do with people having different amounts but the fact that the rich live on the work of the poor.

                    Some better skilled, other with access to land, its a nonsense to conclude that because we are different it means something and so we should not be different, or as you reason.

                    That’s your words, not mine. In fact, I don’t reason that way at all. In fact I go on the maxim of:
                    We are all different but equal in our differences.

                    • aerobubble

                      . Civilisations require that we all live off each other so it more nonsense to say people who have too much wealth are atypical inliving off the poor, since they are, we all live off the externalities of each other, good and bad. The problem aint that there are rich people, the problem is they are anti-society and we need to change the selection pressure to pick better fix so the richest serve us all again. Otherwise we should not value money and find some other glue to trade with.

            • sabine 1.1.1.1.2.2

              i did love that book and i think it might be time for a re-read.

          • gsays 1.1.1.1.3

            absolutely draco,
            “they can be remved and nobody would notice much.”
            kings need subjects, subjects don’t need kings.

            or managers need workers, workers don’t need managers.

    • Colonial Viper 1.2

      Was that not the intended outcome?

      That was my first thought, too. Trickle down has accomplished exactly what was intended – a PR meme providing political cover for the extreme neoliberal theft engineered by the 0.1% and 0.01%.

    • whateva next? 1.3

      I wish we could use that one picture at election time, BIG BILLBOARDS around the country, it says all we need to say about it. Perfect.

  2. Brigid 2

    MINCOME, a Canadian Guaranteed Annual Income field experiment ran in the province of Manitoba between 1974 and 1979.
    This is the report Evelyn Forget in February 2011 wrote.
    http://public.econ.duke.edu/~erw/197/forget-cea%20%282%29.pdf

    There doesn’t seem to be anything but good come of a UBI

    This report was written 5 years ago. There really doesn’t need to be any more wittering on about whether or not the UBI is good for all mankind.

  3. ianmac 3

    I do think that NZ’s super rich probably laugh in the same way. “We very rich folk look down on you poor folk. We attend elegant exclusive venues and you peasants are excluded. Meanwhile we act indignant at news of those who cheat the taxpayers out of hundreds by abuse of welfare. Our accountants of course make sure our tax bills are minimal.”

    Of course some of us have no envy at all of the super rich.

    • mac1 3.1

      “Of course some of us have no envy at all of the super rich.”

      And the apologists for the rich, the wannabes, the Tory trolls just don’t get that, eh ianmac?

      Anger, yes. A sense of injustice, yes. Pity even…………. but never envy.

      Who wants this said of them? “Look here, you rich people: Weep and groan with anguish because of all the terrible troubles ahead of you.”

      • ianmac 3.1.1

        I have met the children of the very rich. Often they have a sense of elitism which is often encouraged by the elitist school that they attend. But they already have the trimmings and trinkets which some believe show status. So where do they go from there?
        In the Arab Emirates the families are often very very rich. The teens often say why should I do well at school when my life is already bought and paid for?

        • whateva next? 3.1.1.1

          …and I work in care of older people, and I can tell you money makes NO difference to how we age, it is how we feel about those around us, and how we feel about who we are as a person, that makes a huge difference!

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2

        And the apologists for the rich, the wannabes, the Tory trolls just don’t get that

        The wannabes are the ones that are envious. They then project that envy onto everyone else to excuse and hide their own.

        So, when someone says that others are just envious of the rich know that they’re only talking about their own envy.

        • mac1 3.1.2.1

          “So, when someone says that others are just envious of the rich know that they’re only talking about their own envy.”

          QFT

          ianmac “In the Arab Emirates the families are often very very rich. The teens often say why should I do well at school when my life is already bought and paid for?”

          Another burden for the rich. How to make life meaningful for oneself and one’s children. How to avoid “affluenza” with which one Ethan Couch now residing in jail has to deal. How to deal with anomie. Terrible troubles, indeed.

    • Jono 3.2

      Yeah Ian, these super rich are laughing at all of us. They have had the deck stacked in there favour for so long… we need to bring back some egalitarian values in NZ.

  4. Bill 4

    Well, ideologues sold the idea of ‘trickle down’ quite successfully. It’d be nice to say it’s run its course, but austerity and privatisation seem to be jogging along quite nicely.

    On UBI, the dynamic that statists (parliamentary ‘leftists’) don’t seem to have picked up on, is that without compulsion, the whole exploitative core of capitalism crumples. That’s a good thing to my mind, but those who benefit from it, well…that’s their battleground and those interested in UBI could do worse than strategise around the point of exploitation ahead of time.

    We’ve already had the ‘but people are work-shy’ nonsense kicked onto the slates by empirical evidence, but that won’t be the end of it. Also, are statists prepared to stand on platforms of anti-capitalism as opposed to platforms advocating for reform? What percentage of statists are even aware that a UBI is a fundamentally anti-capitalist concept?

    And when UBI is introduced, will statists insist that the resulting economy (because there can be no market economy without exploitation) is in no way shape or form a command economy? I ask that because the easy next step from market economy is to command economy, but that wouldn’t constitute any kind of forward step.

    • How is a UBI a step towards a command economy? A command economy requires centralised decisions on supply.

      A UBI, instead, supports decentralised decisions on demand and has no net impact on supply. If anything, it’s a more decentralised system than social-democratic capitalism is, as the direct support to citizens will remove some of the need to interfere with the supply side of non-monopoly businesses.

      There absolutely can be a market economy without exploitation, as all a market economy explicitly requires is relatively strong competition of supply and dynamic demand. The question is whether there can be a growing market economy without exploitation as opposed to a sustainable and resilient economy. I’d be willing to bet the answer is “only at the expense of other nations.”

      • Bill 4.1.1

        It isn’t necessarily a step towards a command economy. But since most people view production and distribution only in terms of either market or command, then it could become an accidental default due to an inability to imagine anything else.

        I disagree with your assertion that a market economy is possible in the absence of exploitation; it’s a (the?) central tenet of a market economy.

        Another foundation of a market economy is growth. There is absolutely no way that an economy can be geared to steady state or no growth, and still by any sensible standard or measure, be said to be market economy.

        I’ll put it this way. All economies concern themselves with supply and demand (production and distribution) – it’s not a special feature of market economies. What is a special feature of a market economy is the drivers or incentives it places around production and distribution.

        Production must only be profitable. And so exploitation and compulsion to enter into exploitative labour relationships become the norm. That happened, if history teaches us anything, after periods of brutal coercion… enclosure, colonisation etc.

        Take those aforementioned market economy drivers away and production will have to be driven by other criteria. One way, and like I say, I fear this will happen by default, is produce by diktat (a command economy).

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1

          I disagree with your assertion that a market economy is possible in the absence of exploitation; it’s a (the?) central tenet of a market economy.

          No it’s not. It’s the central tenet of capitalism. A UBI would improve the market system while destroying capitalism.

          Another foundation of a market economy is growth.

          Nope. The market system is about distribution of scarce resources. It should automatically adjust to the limited resources available and thus doesn’t require growth.

          Growth is something that capitalism needs to cover the Ponzi Scheme that is our monetary system that has private banks creating interest bearing money.

          What is a special feature of a market economy is the drivers or incentives it places around production and distribution.

          That’s not ‘market-economy’ but capitalism as it seeks to accumulate all the wealth into the hands of the few.

          • Bill 4.1.1.1.1

            No interest in running down a rabbit hole of semantics.

            So I’ll just state that capitalism can survive without a market economy (eg -Lenin’s state capitalism), but that there is no historical example of a market economy surviving without the political underpinnings and over-archings of capitalism (ie – the enabling institutional framework).

            • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1.1.1

              but that there is no historical example of a market economy surviving without the political underpinnings and over-archings of capitalism

              That doesn’t mean that we can’t create one as we seem to be stuck with a market system for now.

              • Bill

                No market economy would survive without institutional heft acting as ‘enforcer’.

                Why else would people voluntarily enter into work arrangements predicated on their exploitation in an economy geared towards maximum profit for the exploiters?

                More to the point, why the fuck would you want such an economy to be able to exist ‘on its own two feet’?

                And Draco. Even the market fundamentalists understand that they need the coercive capability of the state to stand over their ‘free market’. You know why? Because no fucker is going to participate in that state of affairs unless they’re compelled, or unless there’s an implicit threat accompanying any idea of non-participation.

                And I know that’s all too nuanced for you; that for you, capitalism is just economic arrangements and the market economy exists in some big blind spot hung over with neon flashing signs that spell out the word ‘capitalism’.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  Why else would people voluntarily enter into work arrangements predicated on their exploitation in an economy geared towards maximum profit for the exploiters?

                  They wouldn’t and we wouldn’t want them to.

                  More to the point, why the fuck would you want such an economy to be able to exist ‘on its own two feet’?

                  I don’t.

                  You’re the one stating that a market economy must have compulsion. I’m saying that it doesn’t need to – if you get rid of the private ownership that is capitalism.

                  • Add to that the necessity borne by the climate crisis that we significantly sacrifice two or three of the following four:

                    * Inflationary capitalism
                    * High population
                    * Carbon emission to enable development
                    * Eating meat

                    …and you better HOPE me and Draco are right, or you’re potentially stuck advocating some sort of government programs to reduce birthrates internationally, zero industrial carbon internationally within the next few decades, and everyone going mostly vegan, at least if you want the next generation to have a decent rate of survival.

                    • Bill

                      Abolish the market.
                      Bring emissions from fossil down to zero really fast. (We get two for the price of one with that one, since plummeting emissions kills the market anyway).

                      Over population is a secondary problem, and one that we won’t have to deal with if we don’t crash carbon emissions.

                      Depending on how and where meat is sourced, it can have a lower impact on resources and the climate than many vegan foodstuffs.

                    • Plummeting emissions for industry doesn’t kill the market, as there are already practical electrical solutions for most industrial equipment. (heavy duty and long-distance transport are about the only things that haven’t been solved AFAIK) It tanks the market for fossil fuels and creates a much more competitive market for things like lithium and photovoltaic panels. It takes a crisis of confidence to actually tank the market.

                      Overpopulation is part of carbon emissions, especially when combined with animal agriculture.

                      Estimates that put vegan foodstuffs as higher-impact than meat generally rely on either comparable usage of processed foodstuffs (which are unnecessary luxuries that are an unbalancing part of any diet they’re in) or not costing the externalities for animal products and vegetables the same way. (eg. not costing the impact of feed for animals, or costing clearing space for vegetables but not clearing space for grass for animals) Vegetarian and vegan diets both make significant impacts on the climate, moreso than abandoning personal vehicle use or buying an EV.

                      If we go zero-carbon from everything except agriculture at the fastest pace possible but still eat meat at current rates and don’t arrest population growth, we will still be in trouble again eventually.

                    • Bill

                      I didn’t say “zero fossil in industry”. I said zero fossil.

                      That’s no electricity from coal or gas, meaning no lights, lap-tops, phones or fridges running from energy derived from fossil. It means no cars, planes, ships or trains running on energy derived from fossil.

                      That’s not me being extreme; it’s what the science is telling us. (From memory), ‘the west’ must be at zero fossil by 2030 to give the world a 50/50 chance of avoiding 2 degrees of warming.

                      I’ve done posts on it if you want to check the years and reduction rates, but I think it currently sits at something approaching a 15% reduction in fossil related CO2 per year until zero. (And no, there is no time available to ‘swap out’ through laying in alternative infrastructure…the building and commissioning takes far too long))

                      The kicker is that since the economy is so hugely reliant on fossil, it can’t sustain that rate of reduction; the market economy tanks which, arguably, is why no-one in a position of power and influence is suggesting doing very much.

                      On population, we could eliminate all the peasants in the world’s poorest countries today (some billions of people) and it wouldn’t make much of a dent in fossil related CO2 emissions. On the other hand, take out something like the richest 5% of humanity and their lifestyle, and fossil related CO2 emissions half.

                      On meat and veganism – and I’m not being ideological on this – I was vegan for about 10 years. Wild meat versus (say) unprocessed soy? Backyard meat versus (say) fields of beans/lentils? I’d agree that industrial farm meat is an arse, but that’s why I said ‘depending’.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      There’s still a chance of less than 2 degrees warming? I reckon that ship has long sailed.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      That’s no electricity from coal or gas, meaning no lights, lap-tops, phones or fridges running from energy derived from fossil. It means no cars, planes, ships or trains running on energy derived from fossil.

                      We can do that and still have PC, laptops, phones etc.

                      The kicker is that since the economy is so hugely reliant on fossil, it can’t sustain that rate of reduction; the market economy tanks which, arguably, is why no-one in a position of power and influence is suggesting doing very much.

                      That bit is purely wrong. Market economies have been around for better than 2500 years and they didn’t use fossil fuels for better than 90% of it.

                      It really isn’t the market that’s the problem. It’s capitalism that encourages and incentivises private ownership of everything from raw resources through to housing and factories that produces a rentier class. Get rid of that and the market will probably work as well as the economists say it will.

                    • pat

                      “That bit is purely wrong. Market economies have been around for better than 2500 years and they didn’t use fossil fuels for better than 90% of it.”

                      Whether that is true or not what is true is that whatever system was in place didn’t, and couldn’t support 7 plus billion pre industrial revolution and without the carbon rich dense energy we cannot further use and without some miraculous advancement in energy production right now NO system will support 7 plus billion in the near future

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Whether that is true or not what is true is that whatever system was in place didn’t, and couldn’t support 7 plus billion pre industrial revolution…

                      While that is true it doesn’t mean that the decline of the use of fossil fuels automatically gets rid of the market system.

                    • pat

                      you missed the relevant bit….NO system will support 7 plus billion.

                    • Bill

                      @ CV. I could agree with you that the ship is past the breakwater, but since the breakwater is obscuring our view…

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      NO system will support 7 plus billion.

                      I didn’t miss that bit at all. It’s just irrelevant.

                    • Bill, you can’t have a zero carbon economy with significant consumption of meat since animal agriculture emits so much carbon. (Technically any agriculture at all isn’t carbon neutral, but any solution where we still have a population that needs to eat is going to require at least the emissions from plant-based diets) Zero carbon usually means zero net carbon with most industrial emissions eliminated, agricultural emissions reduced as practical, and the rest offset. I agree that we’d need no emissions from electricity generation and to have industry powered either by electricity, by hand, or (maybe) by animal labour in the long term, just as I don’t think we’ll successfully be able to offset emissions from animal agriculture in the long-term.

                      And yeah, I was comparing meat agriculture (at the high-intensity that would likely be necessary given the assumed 2°-ish rise from our insufficient agreement in Paris and the limits on appropriate farmland that would entail) to vegetable agriculture. Wild meat may be a slightly different deal, I haven’t looked into analysis on that, (presumably the farting and belching still occurs to some degree, so I wouldn’t expect them to be hugely efficient) but it’s certainly not a practical for everyone to feed themselves that way.

                    • pat

                      Irrelevant?…..you mean like holding a committee meeting for millions of angry, starving drowning animals……and expecting them to ignore their immediate position to engage constructively…..what form of animal does that pray tell?

                  • Bill

                    Yeah. What you’re doing is blithely dispensing with all of those things that mark a market economy as distinct from other economies (private property, exploitation, profit, compulsion etc etc) and then insisting that what’s left is a ‘market economy’. It makes coherent discussion well nigh impossible.

                    What I’m referring to as ‘the market’ , you want to call ‘capitalism’. That underestimates the reach and scope of capitalism (it’s political with an economic dimension) and renders the economic and political analysis of both, murky.

                    • The lost sheep

                      Well said Bill.
                      In a world comprised entirely of gradients, a discussion based on the premise there is only black and white is simply nonsense.

                    • I’m sorry Bill, but you really need to look at a dictionary or encyclopaedia for this.

                      You’re using a term that is best used in contrast to terms like “gift economy” or “bartering system” (both of which, btw, still exist in places- hell, arguably the system of international debt among developed nations resembles a gift economy using numbers, as there is an implicit understanding those debts won’t be called in) as shorthand to encompass all of the political-economic implications of a fiat money social-democratic inflationary capitalist system, which from the length of that description you can tell has way more moving parts than just the presence of a dynamic economic market.

                      Just because existing market economies in the modern world have, with rare exceptions, tended to work that way, doesn’t mean it’s a universal rule or the way politics and economics will always work out- hence the rare exceptions. This is like someone in medieval Europe arguing that government and monarchy are synonyms, because arguably the Pope is a King and those countries run by councils don’t count, because (to break with the analogy) non-extractive countries without significant capital like Nauru are importing things.

                    • Bill

                      Just because existing market economies in the modern world have, with rare exceptions, tended to work that way, doesn’t mean it’s a universal rule or the way politics and economics will always work out- hence the rare exceptions

                      Please point me to just one of those rare exceptions where a market economy (and btw, it’s a thoroughly modern phenomenon that simply hasn’t existed at other points in history) – but anyway, point me to a market economy that didn’t operate as a market economy that had all the characteristic hall-marks of a market economy. I don’t for a second think that such an example exists.

                      See, what you’re saying sounds to me like “just because all existing elephants have trunks and always have had trucks, doesn’t mean that all elephants need to have trunks…there are exceptions.”

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      In a world comprised entirely of gradients, a discussion based on the premise there is only black and white is simply nonsense.

                      Bill’s the one arguing in black and white.

                      and btw, it’s a thoroughly modern phenomenon that simply hasn’t existed at other points in history

                      Now that is absolute fucken bullshit.

                      Ancient Egypt? Market economy
                      Ancient Greece? Market economy
                      Ancient Sumer? Birthplace of modern civilisation? Market economy using, of all things, fiat currency (it’s the first recorded instance of it but that’s probably because it’s the earliest known writing).

                      That’s 5000 fucken years of market economics. Still going to call it a “modern phenomenon”?

                      Sure, they were also capitalist but that still doesn’t mean that a market economy has to be capitalist.

                      See, what you’re saying sounds to me like “just because all existing elephants have trunks and always have had trucks, doesn’t mean that all elephants need to have trunks…there are exceptions.”

                      We’re not talking elephants but social constructs that are defined by the ideas that we have. This means that we most definitely can produce a market economy that doesn’t have capitalism. I think it would be the necessary step along the way to not using money at all.

                    • Bill

                      Read through your stuff about Egypt and capitalism etc and decided that rather than waste my breath, I’d just cut to the chase. Sorry Draco, but this is the truth of it. You say
                      (All that went before is)

                      social constructs that are defined by the ideas that we have

                      And you have none. No idea at all.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      And you have none. No idea at all.

                      No Bill, it’s you who have no idea and refuse to listen.

                    • Bill

                      …from the guy who seems to be indicating that all trade is capitalist and that all economies (frameworks for trade) are or were capitalist and/or essentially market economies. sheesh

                    • Bill I literally gave you an example in your last post which you haven’t addressed, so I feel under no onus to drag up every example of a system that’s not a strict fiat money inflationary capitalist example of a market economy for you to just ignore it.

            • Matthew Whitehead 4.1.1.1.1.2

              But we’ve been running high-scarcity economies until last century. This is the first occasion we’ve had where we’ve run into a political necessity to adapt our economic systems and are globally generating a low-scarcity amount of resources. (ie. if we worked out distribution and profitability issues, we could definitely feed everyone and probably lift everyone out of poverty, or maybe at least out of extreme poverty)

              We’ve had two economic systems experimented with so far: inflationary capitalism, which has caused climate change, inter-generational theft and poverty, wealth inequality, and is extracting wealth from all but the most politically powerful nations, largely back into the USA and Europe, although largely to the elite. We’ve also tried authoritarian command economies masquerading as communism, which lost the cold war and caused mass poverty. Both experiments have objectively failed and we are in a time when we will need to transition to something new. The question is what exactly it is.

              That’s not semantics.

              • Bill

                Have both production and distribution determined democratically. If we did that, we’d have no profit, no authoritarianism, no exploitation, no elites….

                • The lost sheep

                  Have both production and distribution determined democratically.

                  What would you propose as the specific democratic structure that supports that Bill?

                  • Bill

                    You’re essentially trolling with that comment tls.

                    You don’t want to attempt to apply democratic principles to decision making and would rather insist on having some (presumably) monolithic blue print laid out before you – a blue print that would obviously, in and of itself, preclude any attempt at developing democratic procedures or systems – then fine….fuck off and be a minion.

                    For the answer to your trolling, go back and re-read the exchange from yesterday or the day before. Nothing has changed on that front.

                    • The lost sheep

                      I’m presuming nothing Bill.
                      Just waiting for someone to give a straight forward answer to a straightforward question.

                      As far as I can tell, no one here, yourself included, has put up a concrete, specific, and workable alternative to the current system.
                      All i see is smoke and mirrors.

                      So when you say ‘yesterday, or the day before’, sorry if i missed it, but give me a link to something specific?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      As far as I can tell, no one here, yourself included, has put up a concrete, specific, and workable alternative to the current system.

                      I have and it’s even still a market system. It just gets rid of capitalism.

                    • The lost sheep

                      You’ve gone as far as a vague concept of ‘participatory democracy’ Draco, but I’ve now asked you for specific details on how that works 3 times, and you have not answered.

                      So exactly how would your participatory democracy make decisions on the elements of the rule of law? Use of land or water for instance?

                      How would your system assure compliance with the laws?

                    • Bill

                      I’m referring to the exchange (can’t remember the thread) where you asked if there would be consequences if you and your mates formed some bureaucratic form of governance.

                      My answer to that applies to rules around trade too.

                      But to signpost possible procedures for production and distribution…if a community from within society needs x amount of product y, and production of that product is being undertaken, then the community communicates with those producing product y, and from that dialogue, it’s determined whether (among other things) their need outstrips total production capacity. If it does, then options are explored by all the communities wanting given amounts of product y, and working alongside the producers, and perhaps producers of other compatible or alternative products, solutions are found.

                      If you want the unconvoluted version – society talks to itself and figures out what it needs and what it can provide.

                    • The lost sheep

                      @ Draco

                      Not going to answer again eh Draco?

                      That will be because ‘participatory democracy’ rolls nicely off the
                      tongue as a warm and fuzzy concept, but when you get beyond the good vibes, there are some problems.

                      Lets assume that even in your utopian workers state, there are some matters that effect us all, and we must find a social consensus on.
                      Something like whether or not we place limits on the right to fish, and what those limits might be.
                      Lets leave aside the questions of how we frame the discussion and present it to ‘the people’, and gather the ‘result’ of the participatory conversation (some big difficulties even there when you think it through…)

                      But presuming we’ve had the discussion and come down to a set of defined issues and potential solutions, how do we as a society decide exactly what we are going to implement as our laws around fishing rights?

                      If ALL of us unanimously agree on the proposed measures, then no problem. But what if 1% of us don’t agree? What if 20% don’t agree? What if 20% strongly disagree? What if 51% strongly agree and 49% violently disagree?
                      (Lets leave aside the further difficulty of whether or not we expect those who disagree to abide by the law we decide, and If so, how do we ensure compliance?)

                      So the options are,
                      We all agree. But that’s an impossibility?
                      We do nothing unless we do all agree. But that’s not viable?
                      Or we have some form of rule by majority. But doesn’t that put us well back on the path to what we currently do?

                      I haven’t yet seen anyone who advocates participatory democracy resolve this conundrum?

                    • The lost sheep

                      @Bill
                      If you want the unconvoluted version – society talks to itself and figures out what it needs and what it can provide

                      But isn’t the convoluted process you describe above a real issue Bill? It’s an extremely inefficient use of the resources it would take to get all the talking done that would allow for the complexity of need and production within a large scale society?

                      That’s where the idea of using a universally exchangeable symbol for the value of your production came in? ‘Money’ in fact?
                      It is hard to think of a more efficient way of having that conversation?

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      Not going to answer again eh Draco?

                      This is one example

                      * Policies are set by the people rather than by government. In fact, I see ‘government’ being removed from use. The people govern
                      * Parliaments role would be to bring issues and the research to the people and then the people would decide. They would be responsible for the day to day running of the country and set out the wording of the policies and changes to the wording of existing policies. If the people don’t like a change that parliament does then it can be taken to referendum
                      * Voting would be compulsory. Voting is a duty, not a right
                      * Constitution to become supreme law but one that can be changed by the people but even they wouldn’t be able to change the constitution to trample over human or environmental rights
                      * Cities and regions would have their own form of this

                    • The lost sheep

                      Thinking it through a bit further Bill, there is just no way co-ordination of production and need on a micro scale would ever work on anything but a micro scale. A hunter gatherer society for instance.

                      In a society as large and complex as ours, with the unbelievable diversity of need and production across a global scale, the level of co-ordination involved would require a huge amount of planning and effort.
                      If you were going to do that without an abstract mechanism like money, you would require an organisational body of a size and complexity to match. A fucking big Bureaucracy no less.

                    • The lost sheep

                      @ Draco.
                      As I said, you are well back down the path towards what we have already?
                      When you say ‘The People’ will govern…it is actually the majority of the people who would govern?

                      So if you lived in a country where 51 % were Right Wing and 49% Left, it would be the right wing that was governing?

                    • Bill

                      @tls

                      There’s too many potentially expansive points that have been made in intervening comments to go into here. I’ll just limit myself to saying two things.

                      There is nothing wrong with money as a mark of exchange. Problems arise when the mark of exchange takes on a value though. What if money merely signified a that social interaction around exchange had taken place?

                      Second point is to do with complexity. Look around you. All of the worlds complexities, and they work out kind of perfectly, arise from fairly simply initial conditions, ie – complexity is never enforced, but rather, generates naturally from below and seems to be determined by initial, simpler, configurations.

                      We, humans, seem to be stupidly hung up on imposing order or managing complexity, and if we’re going to look at that dispassionately, we’d have to concede that what we achieve at the end of all our pain, is disorder and disharmony – somewhat ‘managed’ chaos.

                    • The lost sheep

                      @Bill

                      There is nothing wrong with money as a mark of exchange. Problems arise when the mark of exchange takes on a value though. What if money merely signified a that social interaction around exchange had taken place?
                      Not sure I fully understand you here – are you saying that any interchange would be of an equal value to any other interchange?

                      We, humans, seem to be stupidly hung up on imposing order or managing complexity, and if we’re going to look at that dispassionately, we’d have to concede that what we achieve at the end of all our pain, is disorder and disharmony – somewhat ‘managed’ chaos.
                      I wouldn’t put it like that at all Bill!
                      The degree to which we have managed to create order out of chaos is truly remarkable. Not saying there is no chaos or even that there is more order than chaos. But starting with the person who first took a rock from ‘chaos’ into a knife, or fire from ‘chaos’ into warmth and protection, we have ‘organized’ our world with a degree of complexity and diversity that way exceeds ‘somewhat’!

                      And we do it not because we are ‘stupid’, but because we want to improve our lives. Having all the food you need and being well housed and having all your children survive and living to 80 are not things that would have happened without order and complexity.
                      The cave sucked, and we wanted out of the chaos.

                      So here we are discussing through the internet our visions for our future.
                      How much order and complexity does it require just to make that happen Bill?
                      This computer I’m using for instance. The long continuum of technology that led to it’s development, the obtaining of the raw materials to build it, the construction of the many various parts, the shipping of it around the world through planes and ships, the infrastructure required for people everywhere to use them and connect….etc bloody etc.

                      To make all that line up and enable my ability to type this comment requires a level of complexity and management that is absolutely mind blowing! And every single step in that process is a step away from chaos.

                      So how far could you degrade that complexity before we could not do this Bill?
                      How far towards this ability do you think we could get by ‘societies talking to each other?’
                      And do you imagine that people want to live without the benefits a very complex and managed society brings us?

                      I don’t, and for that reason, I believe that realistically, any new society you propose will need to be capable of sustaining at least our current level of complexity and organisation. If it doesn’t, you are only going to gather a very small amount of support for introducing it.

                    • Bill

                      Obviously (or at least I thought it was obvious) I was referring to non-material complexities. Silicon needs to be manipulated to give us computers. That’s a no-brainer. Clay needs to have processes applied to it to get bricks and so on.

                      But things like social complexity are a completely different beast. Immense levels of complexity arise from pretty simple initial conditions…just look at the world, both in terms of single species and interaction between species or between species and environments. There is no imposition of order from above. In human terms, when attempts are made to dictate a given social order from above, not only is humanity’s vitality diminished through political processes that essentially deny free will, but unexpected and deleterious consequences occur that hit at an individual and societal level.

                      Musical sound provides a non-living example that has been demonstrated in instances where simple initial sound components have been overlaid and looped, producing unexpected harmonics and what not.

                    • Draco T Bastard

                      As I said, you are well back down the path towards what we have already?

                      Nope because the power is taken from a few and distributed over the entire population equally.

                      So if you lived in a country where 51 % were Right Wing and 49% Left, it would be the right wing that was governing?

                      It would be the majority voting for the policies that get the policies into legislation. It wouldn’t really be left/right at that point because we, as a single people, agree more with each other than our present political system indicates.

                      How many people would vote for 0% interest loans? I’d say a fairly large majority because most people don’t benefit from getting interest payments but they do suffer having to pay them.

                      IMO, our present political system creates more division than is healthy and is actually there.

                      If you were going to do that without an abstract mechanism like money, you would require an organisational body of a size and complexity to match. A fucking big Bureaucracy no less.

                      No we wouldn’t. In fact I think we could with a hell of a lot less bureaucracy than we have now because we would no longer be competing with each other. Competition increases bureaucracy.
                      Or, as you put it: And do you imagine that people want to live without the benefits a very complex and managed society brings us?
                      We already have a fucken big bureaucracy.

                      We don’t need a bureaucracy, we need a machine that takes into account the actual real availability of resources and shows us the effect of using those resources.

                      Not sure I fully understand you here – are you saying that any interchange would be of an equal value to any other interchange?

                      No, he’s saying that money is a tool that, in and of itself, it has no value. We’ve tried to give it a value by charging interest or by associating it with a valuable commodity (gold etc) but that has, invariably, failed.

                    • The lost sheep

                      It would be the majority voting for the policies that get the policies into legislation.

                      Yes Draco. So if you brought that plan in tomorrow in NZ, and you introduced a policy to say, massively increase tax on the top 20% of earners in order to provide a generous UBI to everyone….
                      the same 57% people who currently vote NAT/ACT/NZ FIRST/ would vote it down.

                      But you’d be happy, because the majority would have had their say?

                    • The lost sheep

                      Clay needs to have processes applied to it to get bricks and so on.
                      But things like social complexity are a completely different beast.

                      Are they Bill?
                      Can you give me an example of a society with a simple unstructured free form association of individuals that has produced very complex technological innovation and production?

                    • Bill

                      Define ‘free’. No-one is completely free. We have physical limitations and psychological limitations. And who mentioned unstructured by the way? I certainly didn’t.

                      We have limitations placed around us by political or cultural factors. When those cultural or political limitations impose themselves – when they are a remote, top down blunt insistence on compliance, then we get widespread dysfunction…just look around you…the prevalence of mental illnesses, addiction, people behaving shit to others (violences of various sorts) or people just being behaviourly fucked up…and that’s because the would be gods always create fucked up environments.

                      But when we’re regularily and meaningfully engaged with the on-going development of the culture or political environment we live in; when our environment results from an on-going process that is part and parcel of our daily, individually empowered, lives…

                    • The lost sheep

                      You can’t give me an example then.
                      That doesn’t mean of course that you are wrong and that your vision might not be viable.

                      But for me, unless you can show me where it has actually worked, or give me a far more detailed outline of how such a society would organise and sustain something as complex as our modern technological society, I’m going to consider the concept as purely theoretical.

                      Until you have a compelling argument, I think you’ll find most people will also.

                    • McFlock

                      There’s something slightly off-kilter about dismissing something as “purely theoretical” when discussing the origins of technological advancement.

                    • Bill

                      I’ve essentially claimed that everyone has a capacity to make meaningful contributions to how their society is ordered/configured. Now, if that’s theoretical, then it’s no less theoretical than to continue endorsing a particular social configuration, on the implied or presumed basis that there’s ‘somes that knows better’ (our betters) and we is all a bit stoopid or dumb to have or exercise a meaningful say in how we live.

                      And the difference between the two positions?

                      One is elitist, dismissive and a tad misanthropic. The other affirms or suggests peoples’ capabilities and worth.

                      An initial condition I’ve suggested, that would act as a determinant on whatever systems or processes people develop, is that no-one has a right to unilaterally impose a decision (or its effects) on another. Think of that in terms of consent around sex, and then simply extend that basic concept and apply it to all human interactions. Not so difficult to envisage, is it? And not too difficult to understand how that would affect or guide the characteristics of various decision making processes pertaining to an economy or a polity either.

                    • The lost sheep

                      systems or processes people develop, is that no-one has a right to unilaterally impose a decision (or its effects) on another

                      So if the majority had developed a ‘system’ for regulating the amount of fish you could take from a particular resource….any individual who did not agree with that decision could ignore it?

          • Matthew Whitehead 4.1.1.1.2

            +1 to Draco. A resiliency/sustainability market economy based on growth-through-efficiency-only is still a market economy, as I said, being a market economy doesn’t explicitly require a growth trend. (as in inflationary capitalism) The question of how viable non-inflationary economies are would be interesting, if it weren’t a necessity to move away from them within the next couple decades to prevent catastrophic levels of climate change.

            All market economies require is dynamic regulation by supply and demand, and a free price system. (ie. no price-setting by government, prices are determined by suppliers and then paid or not paid by consumers) Anything extra is political or business ideology.

            Hell, you could have a “communist” market economy where people choose which industries they want to work in and sell the results of their labour by free price, either directly or to market intermediaries whose labour would then be selling things effectively with the maximum practical markup, with nobody actually owning any capital, (ie. any actual factories, markets, etc… would be public goods accessible to all) and people still exchanging personal money as a way to value labour and goods. That’s still a market economy, it’s just not a capitalistic one.

    • aerobubble 4.2

      Work shy nonsense. The reason Philippines and Scots seek work in our diary sector isn’t because kiwis are unwilling. Housing costs are lower, and the working pop is larger so more motivated, coupled to our higher dollar and you get demand to work here. Where your s.auckland work shy, has no experience of farming, no desire to lock themselves inti a huge debt, and no means of motivating themselves to work for the group most anti them. Sorry but any fool, English, can find the two most opposed and at the opposite ends of the country and the economy and make a cheap margunally racist but obviously class comment. Its not that they are work shy, its that they are screwed over without option and choice. Build public transport, build homes, build motivation building choices and they will come.

      • Michael 4.2.1

        I had no idea New Zealand’s diary sector even existed, let alone that it was propped up by Filipino and Scottish wordsmiths. You really can learn something new every day.

  5. Wayne 5

    I read the article cited. I note the graphic shows that tax havens include Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, Singapore, the US and the UK, as well as the usual suspects. Presumably Switzerland is also a tax haven. But the graphic did not include Australia or New Zealand.

    I understand that is because these jurisdictions (the major nations) allow a non-resident to have an entity in the jurisdiction (a company or a trust) but they do not tax the income of the entity provided it is not sourced within the jurisdiction. Conceptually this is the same as the NZ non resident trust system.

    I also noted that the graphic showed that the greatest users were Eastern Europe, the old Soviet Union states, China and various third world countries.

    As I have noted previously, this is less about avoiding tax (many of these countries have low tax rates, typically much lower than in western countries) and much more about getting assets out beyond the reach of the government.

    Think of Russian oligarchs and Chinese millionaires/billionaires.

    So the question remains, how easy is it for people who are resident in western countries to actually evade/avoid tax. Most western jurisdictions have pretty robust rules around residents accounting for their income, whether it is sourced locally or from overseas. Of course some industries are naturals for tax avoidance/evasion.

    Traditionally this was international shipping, commodity trading, international insurance and finance. I presume these days it also covers various providers of IT services. The common theme being that it was often hard to say that the service was provided in a particular country.

    To take an old fashioned example of an international shipping company. If the company is registered in Panama, and the ships registered in Panama, where is the shipping revenue derived? Presumably it would be in Panama.

    However, the shareholders of the shipping company are rarely Panamanians, but would be citizens of an OECD nation. They would typically set up up additional shelf companies in Panama that would effectively convert revenue into capital. Thus the shareholders would avoid paying tax in their own state, since capital is rarely taxed. The secrecy laws of Panama would make it hard for the tax authorities of the relevant OECD nation to know what had occurred.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1

      You forgot money laundering for organised crime and terrorism, Wayne. Did they slip your mind? Were you personally involved in the 2011 legislative changes by any chance?

  6. Steve Wrathall 6

    So an economic non-theory that exists only in your minds has “failed”? Who knew?

  7. Ad 7

    A really basic problem about poverty is consciousness of its existence.

    I’ll confess my comments below are self-descriptive.

    We can’t see it because of the degree of stratification that exists that stops people of the precariat class.

    We can’t see it because we drive cars. This is the most basic reality-prophylactic. People with salaries have car parks, so they never have to encounter the public realm between home and office. The lived reality of faces and hustle on the street is rare to touch.

    We can’t see it because our cities are divided up into large blocks of housing, retail, and business. Only those who come into town and dare to rattle their cups outside Queen Street Louis Vuitton get noticed. Most poverty is within the grind of the middle and outer suburbs, in the suburban grind.

    Even our open-air markets have massive class bias. There ain’t too much intersection between the Otara markets and the Titirangi markets, or – even closer – between Wellington Nosh and the soup kitchen the nuns run just one road over.

    We may see it in the media and in graphs, but we very rarely touch and feel it, so it’s hard to make it feel important. There’s a lot that actively assists our blindness.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      +1

    • Bill 7.2

      Not so sure it’s that important that you (we) break out of our various prophylactics (car as johnny bag – love it 🙂 )and see or understand specific instances of poverty so much as realise that there is absolutely no way we can eradicate poverty while living the life we do insofar as that life supports an economic framework that makes poverty inevitable.

      Reforms and various policies of redistribution can round the edges of it, but leaving basic market mechanisms and incentives in place means that poverty will always be a reality for some number of people.

  8. gsays 8

    Well from one neo-lib fallacy to another.
    The rising tide analogy.
    Ironically a ubi may be the tool to lift all boats.

  9. Henry Filth 9

    Trickle up worked quite well in the 1950s and 1960s. People still got rich, but a h*ll of a lot more got better off.

    Trouble is, it’s quite difficult to replicate that situation – stability after decades of turmoil, the satisfaction of huge pent-up demand.

    Maybe a clever economist at Treasury could help.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 9.1

      quite difficult

      Oh well, better give up then 🙄

      • Henry Filth 9.1.1

        Why give up? Because it’s difficult? What sort of attitude is that? Happy with the way things are? It sounds like it.

        The world is a much better place when wealth trickles up, rather than trickles down.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 9.1.1.1

          The premise – that better conditions are difficult to replicate – is false: there are so many current real world examples and help is at hand.

          Certainly it appears difficult for the National Party, and what a low benchmark that is.

  10. Colonial Viper 10

    The thing which staggers me is that it was obvious by the 1990s in the UK and the USA that trickledown was a failure.

    And in the 2000s NZ covered up the failure of trickledown with huge levels of private indebtedness.

    Why is the Left fighting the last war.

    • Craig H 10.1

      Trickle down has been known to be a failure for hundreds of years, not just since the 1990s.

      • Colonial Viper 10.1.1

        not quite; in the past the elites never promised that any of their wealth would go to the commoners.

  11. Michael 11

    It’s all the more disappointing then that Andrew Little blamed his dire poll ratings (and Labour’s) on the tepid discussion of Universal Basic Income at last month’s Future of Work conference. Unless and until Labour reconnects with its base it might as well stay in Opposition; it is certainly of no benefit to us in Government.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 11.1

      “No benefit” is still better than the National Party’s incompetence and hostility.

      • Colonial Viper 11.1.1

        Will voters see “not as shit” as being motivating enough a story to turn out for on election day. Dont think so.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 11.1.1.1

          That presupposes Michael’s characterisation is accurate. My point is that even if it were, a Labour government is a vast improvement on the slow civil war that National pursues.

          Edit: unless, for example, you think the difference between 2.7% unemployment and 5.7% is immaterial. Maybe you want the Labour Party to die in a ditch: that justifies inflicting the National Party upon the country?* Yeah nah.

          *let’s face it, the petit bourgeois won’t bear the brunt, eh.

          • Colonial Viper 11.1.1.1.1

            the characterisation that Labour needs to reconnect with its base in order to be relevant?

            That’s not an unreasonable proposition. I havent seen much better with regards to why Labour continues to struggle quarter after quarter.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 11.1.1.1.1.1

              No, the characterisation that states there’s no benefit to NZ from Labour helping form a government.

              But you knew that. Toodles.

              • Colonial Viper

                Michael talked about Labour reconnecting with its base. Or not as the case may be.

                That’s what I am referring to.

                • Michael

                  OAB makes a serious point: is it better to have a National-lite government, headed up by “Labour”, rather than an authentic version, on the grounds that the “lite” version is likely (hopefully, possibly) to be less beastly than the other? That was, effectively, the state of play during the Clark government years and I voted for that government every time, in spite of my misgivings (that grew every year that government was in office, BTW). Today, I don’t think it is worth letting a National-lite government back. Our problems have grown in their magnitude, while our political class (in general, but Labour in particular) grows even more remote from the people and more disdainful and contemptuous of their needs (some honourable exceptions to this, notably within the Greens but one or two within Labour, still).

                  • Kiwiri

                    Cheers, Michael, for that thought-stirring comment.

                  • ianmac

                    Read somewhere this week that the Left was winning. The Right has to maintain credibility as voters demand more Leftish solutions. Thus our Right has to toss the odd crumb and have to avoid heavy-handed Right solutions.
                    Wonder if after the next election, the National will split into Far Right and Middle Right?

  12. The Other Mike 12

    Another test coming up – this time in Kenya – http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2016/04/14/universal_basic_income_this_nonprofit_is_about_to_test_it_in_a_big_way.html

    ‘In the old days of policymaking by aphorism—give a man a fish, feed him for a day!—simply handing money to the poor was considered an obviously bad idea. How naïve—you can’t just give people money. They’ll stop trying! They’ll just get drunk! The underlying assumption was that the poor weren’t good at making decisions for themselves: Experts had to make the decisions for them.

    As it turns out, that assumption was wrong. Across many contexts and continents, experimental tests show that the poor don’t stop trying when they are given money, and they don’t get drunk. Instead, they make productive use of the funds, feeding their families, sending their children to school, and investing in businesses and their own futures. Even a short-term infusion of capital has been shown to significantly improve long-term living standards, improve psychological well-being, and even add one year of life.

    On the other hand, well-intentioned social programs have often fallen short. A recent World Bank study concludes that “skills training and microfinance have shown little impact on poverty or stability, especially relative to program cost.” Moreover, this paternalistic approach is often for naught: Jesse Cunha, for example, finds no differences in health and nutritional outcomes between providing basic foods and providing an equally sized cash program. Most importantly, though, the poor prefer the freedom, dignity, and flexibility of cash transfers—more than 80 percent of the poor in a study in Bihar, India, were willing to sell their food vouchers for cash, many at a 25 to 75 percent discount.

    As a result of this evidence, the winds are shifting in the world of development policy: The European Commission recently suggested that policymakers “always ask the question, ‘Why not cash?’” UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon has argued that “cash-based programming should be the preferred and default method of support.” In other words, the hard evidence behind cash has provoked a healthy debate about how to reform the infrastructure of anti-poverty programming and foreign aid. ‘

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  • Safety focus in improved drug driver testing
    Improving the safety of all road users is the focus of a new public consultation document on the issue of drug driver testing. Plans for public consultation on options to improve the drug driver testing process have been announced by ...
    5 days ago
  • Making it easier to get help from Police
    Police Minister Stuart Nash says calling a cop suddenly got a whole lot easier with the launch of a ground-breaking new service for non-emergency calls. “The single non-emergency number ‘ten-five’ is designed to provide better service for the public and ...
    1 week ago
  • More Police deployed to the regions
    Frontline Police numbers have been boosted with today’s deployment of 77 new officers to the regions. Police Minister Stuart Nash today congratulated the recruits of Wing 325 who graduated at a formal ceremony at the Royal New Zealand Police College. ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Taxpayers get a smarter and fairer system
    One of the biggest IT projects ever undertaken in the state sector has successfully passed its latest hurdle with the transition of more than 19.7 million taxpayer accounts from one Inland Revenue computer system to another. Revenue Minister Stuart Nash ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Early insights into use of restricted drugs
    The first nationwide snapshot of the consumption of restricted drugs indicates the prevalence of methamphetamine use in New Zealand, says Police Minister Stuart Nash. “The first quarterly analysis of the nationwide wastewater testing programme reinforces the coalition government’s determination to ...
    3 weeks ago