Use of weapons

Written By: - Date published: 1:00 pm, July 31st, 2009 - 88 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, john key, labour, national, phil goff - Tags:

I’ve been thinking about the different ways ministers from the Left and the Right approach governing. I think it goes back to where they come from, where their ideological roots are.

Ministers from Labour and other leftwing parties tend to have backgrounds in serving a wider community. Teachers, professors, union officials, public servants. Those roles are about using ones talents and skills in the service of a greater whole.

I think you see that attitude come through in government. Look at Phil Goff. Why is he in politics? Because, as he often cites, when his grandmother and her children fell on hard times and faced destitution the First Labour Government was there for them. Phil believes that government ought to be there for people when they need help and that’s why he’s in politics. I think if you look at the ex-Labour ministers it’s hard to credibly claim that any of them are in it for the glory or saw it as something they deserved by dint of their virtue. Sure they occasionally abused their power, I’m not saying they didn’t, but why their aim is use use that power is to aid a greater good and they understand that with power comes responsibility.

National ministers are mostly former businessmen or farmers. Those are professions where you lead, rather than serve. And if you are good at it you get rich and powerful. I think that same attitude comes through in the way they govern. The lack of care they show for people who are getting hurt in this recession. Their casual attitude to ignoring and breaking the rules and conventions of government in this country. It’s explained if one sees being a minister as a prize, a reward; what they deserve for their hard work and skill.

The problem with the Right’s attitude is that they don’t tend to care too much about the the rules. Being a minister is their prize and they’ll use it how they choose.

FABRICALJS06001Look at Bennett. I wouldn’t be surprised if it genuinely never occurred to her that she might be doing something wrong or illegal in releasing those womens’ personal information. As minister, her power could be a weapon if she chose to use it so, and it may not have even entered her frame of reference that she had a responsibility not to use it so if the fancy took her.

Key, of course, is the other prime example. If revealing why he fired a minister doesn’t work for him, he does not feel in anyway bound by the conventions that have evolved to ensure good governance. If he plucks a number out of thin air and promises to build a cycleway with it, then he’ll get exactly that amount, without any justification and he’ll simply ignore the people who are meant to serve as checks against such arbitrary use of power.

One final example, that’s quite chilling. Matthew Hooton on Nine to Noon this week said ministers should cover their arses by doing what Murray McCully did when he was Minister of Housing. If a person rang with a complaint, he said ‘I’ll help you but first you have to sign a privacy waiver’. So, to get the minister’s help you had to give him the power to splash your personal information over the front page. Effectively, you would then be blackmailed not go public against him. No sense of responsibility. Just the raw, uncompromising exercise of power. Power that he deserved because he was minister.

88 comments on “Use of weapons”

  1. Pat 1

    Note to self-employed self: You’re just in it for the power and the glory you uncaring bastard. I better enrol at Teacher’s College.

    • snoozer 1.1

      I’m not sure that’s what the post says. It doesn’t say you’re bad for being self-employed. Don’t be so overly sensitive.

      It says that it’s a different approach to life than those who go into careers that are about working for a community. If you take a job like a teacher or say being a lawyer at a union, you’re often giving up the opportunity to take a higher paid job in the private sector but that’s because the pay is just one factor and you’re willing to trade off on that for the sense of contributing to a larger whole.

      Others find it more important to maximise their income or run a business, nothing wrong with that, probably gets a better standard of living for your family but it’s different isn’t it? A different set of priorities?

      • Tigger 1.1.1

        Many of this crowd think they’re ‘leaders’ but they’re confusing leading with bullying…

    • BLiP 1.2

      Never mind teachers’ college – why not fill out your next tax return with other people in mind rather than just yourself. You might need to start small before you move up to that level of community mindedness. One good way is to practise random acts of kindness – next time you see a car parked at an expired meter, why not chuck in a couple of dollars? If that concept brings up your bile you could just start really simple by saying thank you and please and excuse me – but actually mean it.

  2. sweetd 2

    It took you 574 words to say that when you could have used four. Labour good, National bad.

  3. insider 3

    OR it could be that Labour people tend to like being in authoritarian positions, are self important and like the sounds of their own voices and requiring the compliance of others with little accountability for their decisions.

    • Boris Klarkov 3.1

      Exactly.

      Ascribing a sense of altruism to the Labour oppressors of freedom is pure propaganda.

    • Interesting comment.

      I agree with your comments about the left. They tend to be community minded, open to new ideas and interested in a lifestyle rather than wealth.

      IMHO the right through the “religion of the self” do not care about community or the environment as much and instead believe intensly in the maximisation of self worth.

      This may shock some but the really wealthy in New Zealand would turn their nose up at the PM’s salary, especially when the hours involved are considered. To be a lowly backbencher would be way beyond their comprehension.

      So the representatives of the right tend to be the occasional self made man like Key plus a number of others who could not cut it in private enterprise. Their really talented tend to not be in parliament. The people there are not their brightest and most talented.

      For the left it is different. That sense of commitment that you talk about is strong in many of them and the money does not matter. For instance David Cunliffe earns probably one third what he would have been earning if he remained a consultant with Boston Consultancy Group.

      Hence the difference in the parties.

      Labour should work to ensure that it’s approach in parliament is consistent with its approach in life. More relaxed, more upbeat and positive, and more of a contribution to rather than the ruling of New Zealand.

      • insider 3.2.1

        One swallow does not make a spring. Frankly I don’t care about individuals’ financial or other motivations which are for me essentially unknowable but for you to put up Cunliffe’s self sacrifice as an examplar of Labour I’d have to point out the unlikelihood of much of the rest of the Labour MPs making anything like what an MP makes.

        I suspect here are plenty more Nats than Key who have better financial opportunities than parliament – whether they are the best/brightest is debateable but same goes for Labour to be fair. Some are good some not so.

  4. If only LP would set up the auto-filter to cut out this type of self-serving, judgmental crap. Mind you, it does highlight the arrogant born-to-rule mentality within Labour that we all know should be the sole domain of the right!

    • lprent 4.1

      I put auto-filters on mainly for the benefit of the people who over-use words or phrases – ie behavioural traits that are bloody annoying to read. They aren’t there for opinions.

  5. Ray 5

    Interesting theory
    But I have to say that there are not many farmer MPs in national anymore
    And while you make think farmers lead, their lives are actually spent serving firstly the Bank who usually has their balls tightly held in their hands and then 100s or 1000s of animals who need to be helped all through their lives to stop them from dropping dead
    Trust me on this,

  6. SHG 6

    Two examples that prove your rules:

    A Cabinet Minister exercising “raw, uncompromising” power to squash a member of the public: Trevor Mallard destroying the career and reputation of Erin Leigh using parliamentary privilege

    A leader coming from a family environment of “destitution and hard times”: Prime Minister John Key

    • Craig Glen Eden 6.1

      Keys extended family I believe were, are quite rich. I think it was his Mums side that were/are rich.The whole I lived in a state home blah blah all sounds great but I am not convinced the Keys were destitute?

  7. Nick 7

    The theory is debunked when you consider Bennett was neither a farmer nor a businesswoman prior to entering parliament. And McCully’s privacy waiver was probably an authority by the constituent concerned that McCully could access housing information of that person held the the department. It’s very sensible s without it McCully’s job is impossible. I think Hooton got the terminology wrong.

    • snoozer 7.1

      I think the words ‘tend’ and ‘often’ are used. One exception doesn’t break the point being made.

  8. Ari 8

    I see SOMEBODY is a fan of Ian (M.) Banks. I’m glad there was no mention of the Chairmaker though, that would have been very inappropriate for this situation.

    • lprent 8.1

      Yeah the chairmaker is a bit gruesome. Use of weapons was quite a nasty wee book at many levels.

      One nice thing about moving in a month or so is that I’ll have room to pull the library out of storage.

      • Boris Klarkov 8.1.1

        If you don’t already, do yourself a favour and pick up some of Banks’ protege’s books – Ken MacLeod.

        “The Fall Revolution” is startlingly good near future dystopian SF.

        • lprent 8.1.1.1

          I have all of his stuff as well. I like science fiction, history and science so they are what stocks the library. I don’t know how I’ve survived the last 5 months on only a couple of hundred books. I’ve had to start reading some of Lyn’s books *sigh*.

          Of course the by-election helped in reducing the time to read, as did the last month or so of 80+ hour weeks for a code rush.

      • Ari 8.1.2

        I was more thinking along the lines of it crossing a sort of “Godwin’s Law” line, rather than the gruesomeness.

        I didn’t find Use of Weapons nasty overall, just the revelation at the end.

        And Boris- I have too many authors to collect already, stop it. 😉 Also, is there really such a thing as “good” dystopian stories? Must have twisted the archetype up really nicely.

  9. Matthew Hooton 9

    Exactly Nick. Mr McCully’s system was put in place so that it would be possible for his staff to get the information to establish whether the person was getting all the support entitled to them. They needed therefore to access information about that person. This happened, as I understand it, hundreds if not thousands of times. No one ever “splash … personal information over the front page”. Since then IT systems have become more advanced and I understand the previous Labour Government set up online systems between the Beehive and departments so that staff could access personal information without first getting the permission of the person requesting help.

    • snoozer 9.1

      bollocks. I heard you in that interview. You were saying Bennett should have used McCully’s system. What relationship did that have to this case? You admit that it’s no longer necessary for giving legitimate help (if it ever was).

      There’s only one reason Bennett would have needed privacy waivers from these women – so that she could have had cover to release the women’s info to the media if she wanted.

      captchaL relevance

    • So Bored 9.2

      Matthew, thats a pretty lame excuse for what was a deplorable little diatribe, pretty “big brother” in its implications,very Machiavellian and amoral.

      On your point about the IT systems, how does the free access for ministers to individual information fit with current privacy legislation etc? That is definitely “big brother” and should be a very non partisan concern.

  10. Ianmac 10

    Personalities are attracted to jobs that fit. I think that soldiers and policemen and lawyers and accountants are attracted to the routines and the rules which would not suit those attracted to say art or music or beachcombing. Obvious I suppose but where does that leave MP’s? Status? Money? Power (Simon)? What does it show about a person when many kids aim to be truck drivers, or a pilots, or firemen when another has the aim to be a Prime Minister. A bit odd actually.

  11. Gosman 11

    My wife trained and worked as a nurse and hates the fact that we have to pay a lot of our income in taxes. Does that mean she needs re-education?

    • Relic 11.1

      Definitely, if she cannot see the link between taxation and healthcare provision.

      • TightyRighty 11.1.1

        or the link between the better quality of care in the private sector that is funded through private income by those who are then net contributors rather than burdens on the state

        • Ari 11.1.1.1

          The private sector has no incentive to provide better quality of essential services such as health without the public sector, however, as it’s not really a very meaningful choice whether to look after your health or not. We see that in all-private insurance markets, which is the whole reason we have ACC in the first place.

          • Nick C 11.1.1.1.1

            “The private sector has no incentive to provide better quality of essential services such as health without the public sector”

            Ummmm… Have you never heard of private competition??

            • Clarke 11.1.1.1.1.1

              Have you never heard of private competition??

              Not only have we heard of it, we’ve seen its spectacular failures in action in the US. How else could they have achieved a heath care cost that’s three times higher than Europe and a worse infant mortality rate than Costa Rica?

        • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1.2

          The US health care system isn’t as good as ours, costs 3 times as much and only reaches 5/6ths of the population.

          • TightyRighty 11.1.1.2.1

            Who said anything of the US healthcare market. Im not saying we need a totally privatised healthcare market, as those who are unable to afford private healthcare will then miss out. those who can afford though, should. Also, the existence of a public health system providing competition to the private health care sector increases the quality of care provided by private health care. who would pay for something that’s worse than what they could get for free?

            • Ari 11.1.1.2.1.1

              Well, I certainly have no problem with the existence of private health care, so long as it doesn’t steal funding from public health. 🙂

            • Draco T Bastard 11.1.1.2.1.2

              I was just pointing out the reality of private health care. It’s more expensive.

              who would pay for something that’s worse than what they could get for free?

              So, why is there a need for private health care in NZ?

            • TightyRighty 11.1.1.2.1.3

              this is for draco below.

              The need is there so that those who can afford to, don’t have to wait wait in line for an operation, and can access a better quality of care. and they can also take responsibility for their own state of being, generally, not something considered to be important on this site.

              and for Ari.

              The whole idea of private health care is that it pays for it self.

    • Craig Glen Eden 11.2

      If she is a nurse in the public sector she probably needs to realize where her wages come from!

      • Draco T Bastard 11.2.1

        That will probably be true in the private sector as well if ACT gets its way.

  12. JustRight 12

    Marty

    “The lack of care they show for people who are getting hurt in this recession” On whose authority can you state this with so much certainty? To be frank, I think you don’t have the slightest idea of the depth of care shown or the hand wring that goes inot hard decisions they know will affect some people. Being able to do something meaningful about it is another story given the fiscal contraints and legacy issues they inherited.

    I do not recall the specifics of the study, but the gist was that in the US there was a study completed on the amounts donated to charity versus voting preference. By a massive percentage, right wing voters gave far more the charity. The Left wing voters talked a good fight, but did not front with the cash… Now I know what you are thinking – it was the average they took as the measure, hence was influenced by outliers. Nope – it was the median… Very easy you talk charity, more difficult to front with the cash!

    Your comments, while well meant are nothing short of propaganda. For you do not know the motives people have for doing things. Hell, people become Teachers because it fits their balance of pay versus lifestyle – not because they ‘want to serve’ Who am I to judge them for that choice? Who am I to canonise them & make up a story about that choice?

    I have no doubt that there are people on the left who are in it for the greater good. I equally have no doubt that there are people on the right who are in it for the greater good – and who are you to judge them and their motives all the while assuming everyone is a good guy because they have left leaning ideals.

    • Ianmac 12.1

      Just right: Are you sure that you have that the right way round? I do remember reading that survey some time ago and thought it showed that the right were tight. I do know that in NZ when collecting door to door for charity, the big tidy expensive houses usually respond badly (I mean the people in them) while it was very common for the “poor” house with many kids charging around barefooted, to come up with something and cheerfully at that. Ask collectors.

      • Draco T Bastard 12.1.1

        I was going to ask which study he was talking about because it wasn’t any of the ones I’ve read that show that 90% of charity comes from the poor.

    • snoozer 12.2

      How much care are they showing for people hurt by the recession?

      If they cared there would be a proper policy reaction.

      If they cared, they wouldn’t be talking about Kiwis losing their livelihoods as a ‘lagging indicator’

      I agree completely with Marty. They don’t give a crap.

      • JustRight 12.2.1

        What makes you so right about that? Consider that their policy response choices are limited due to fantastic ideas like buying rail systems for grossly over inflated prices. Hell, if Labour had resisted that one just think of the stuff that wouldn’t have been cut.

        You and I both have no idea if they care or not. I happen to believe that they care a whole lot. Why on earth would people like John Key or Craig Foss give up high earning jobs to get into politics? I would they want to go through the sacrifice it involves?

        Why? I believe it is because they want to make a difference. They love this country and believe in the rightness of their cause.

        • felix 12.2.1.1

          Hell, if Labour had resisted that one just think of the stuff that wouldn’t have been cut.

          Actually if Labour hadn’t bought back the trains we’d still be paying Toll to own them for us.

          That’s right, my taxes paying Australian companies to own our trains. Thanks, national. What an awesome deal that was eh?

          Labour’s only mistake there was in not simply nationalising them as they should have. Too bloody subservient to the market dogma.

  13. Zaphod Beeblebrox 13

    Its so dangerous to generalise, especially when ascribing motives.

    For what its worth the argument could be turned on its head. Wealthy businesspeople, doctors, lawyers and farmers give up a lot more financially by going into what is for them a low paying uncertain career. They also stand to gain a lot more by moving back to the boardroom, the court, the surgery etc.. Teachers, union officials, professional political advisors conversely receive a status and wage increase. they have very little incentive to return to their former positions. Being a professional politician does not qualify you to be much else. So much for the left/right empathy argument.

    Of course it is wrong to assume that parties source all their members from their traditional areas any more, safe to say nearly all parliamentarians come from the tertiary educated these days. So whats the difference?

  14. Ron 14

    It’s not a conversation that can really go that far but when JR says:”Very easy you talk charity, more difficult to front with the cash!” he’s being just as shallow..
    Another explanation copuld be voters of the left tend to want to work to change soiety so that the donations aren’t so necessary – they put time in instead of money.

  15. Brett 15

    Is this a joke thread?

    • Sting 15.1

      Yes another Standard sick joke.Somebody wipe up all the spittle please.

      [lprent: umm spittle. There do seem to be too many of the spittle generating outraged talkback crowd here at present.

      All noise and no signal because they don’t appear to use the intelligence they were born with.

      Perhaps I should start culling some of them. If they can’t contribute then they shouldn’t be here. ]

  16. J 16

    seriously, stop thinking, its embarrasing! As already noted, Bennet was neither a farmer or a businesswoman and Key came from an improvished background. Those facts alone destroy your argument.

    And which of National’s farmers are you rallying against? Shane Ardern? David Carter? You think farmers are rich and powerful? You obviously have no idea about the agricultural industry at all do you. Farmers were amongst the hardest hit during the 80s and 90s and many families really struggled to make it through. Farmers are amongst the hardest working and noble people in this country. They rarely complain, give years of back breaking labour to provide for their families and for the nation and what thanks do they get – an unjustified attack on their integrity by some blogger.

    And yes, farmers and businessmen lead – but so do teachers, and union officials etc. It is the role of a teacher to be a leader.

  17. Pat 17

    Since this post is generally a load of horseshit I’d like to apply a World War 2 analogy to it:

    The Left view the Right as being like the Germans, with their leader like the big H. A not so secret agenda to rule the world with might and power, and a complete disregard for the weak and vulnerable.

    The Right view the Left as being like the Russians, with their (former) leader like the big S. A not so secret agenda to rule the world with might and power, and a complete disregard for the weak and vulnerable.

    The Left see themselves as being like the British. Standing up to oppression, fighting the good fight. Monty is their General – a meticulous planner not prone to rash decisions (Market-Garden aside).

    The Right see themselves as being like the Americans. Standing up to oppression, fighting the good fight. Patton is their General – charging forward at lightning speed (until supply lines are exhausted).

  18. Clarke 18

    This seems to be a roundabout way of saying there are two kinds of belief systems; YOYOs and WITTs.

    YOYO = You’re On Your Own
    WITT = We’re In This Together

    YOYOs and WITTs seems to spend most of their time talking past one another, as the world-views are conceptually difficult to reconcile. Which party best characterises which world-view is left as an exercise for the reader.

    • Nick C 18.1

      I disagree. I have no problem with people grouping and declaring that they are all in this togeather. I have no problem with people forming workers communes and communities where they all share their own wealth.

      Where i draw the line is where cohersion is involved. What the left stands for is essentially WITT as you say. The difference from the way you paint it is that they want to force this arangement onto people. Rather than letting me decide whether i want to be part of your WITT group you force me to be a part of it through taxation and regulation which I cannot opt out of, taking away my choice, because you believe it is in my best interests. The right believe that individuals know what is in their own best interests, and if that involves joining a commune where resourses are shared then go ahead. But dont take me with you.

      • felix 18.1.1

        But you can opt out anytime you like.

        Go for it. I won’t stand in your way.

        Just don’t expect to keep using all our shit.

        • Nickc 18.1.1.1

          Really Felix??

          Can I opt out of tax?

          Can I opt out of government regulations?

          I dont think so

      • Clarke 18.1.2

        Clearly this statement:

        The right believe that individuals know what is in their own best interests, and if that involves joining a commune where resourses are shared then go ahead. But dont take me with you.

        … classifies you as a YOYO. I don’t have a problem with that, because people are different. What I take issue with is that YOYO-ism is so clearly delusional; there is simply no way that society can function without a bunch of WITTs holding it together. In effect, within the highly connected society that we live in, YOYO-ism is a luxury that only exists because we’re prepared to let YOYOs free-load on the rest of us.

        As evidence I present the YOYO lifestyle statement that is the Hummer.

  19. richgraham 19

    In my experience (60 years), it is the left who are after the money.
    John Key can make more money working in the real world, but Phil Goff could not.
    Socialists always measure everything in money terms, that is why they go on about it all the time.
    You say “Teachers, professors, union officials, public servants. Those roles are about using ones talents and skills in the service of a greater whole.”.
    So Bill Smith managing a private company which employs people is not using his talents and skills in the service of a greater whole ? Your view of people and their motivations is childish.

    • snoozer 19.1

      Of course Phil Goff could earn more in the private sector if he had chosen that course. He’s got 12 years of cabinet experience behind him, he could CEO a large company, or sit on half a dozen boards. Plenty of ways he could make more money in the private sector.

      Look at the way senior Labour MPs live. Not in fancy houses. They live in ordinary houses. They’re not living the high lfie on their good incomes. They give most of it away, and they don’t skite about it.

      Bill Smith’s role obviously contributes to wider society but the point of being in that role is not to serve a greater good – the primary purpose is personal enrichment, contrast taht with a union official or a public servant, for the same role in the private sector, they would get better pay, they choose to give some of that up to work for a cause that they care about.

      • JustRight 19.1.1

        Are you for real? What makes you think Phil Goff would know the first thing about leading a company? You really have no idea about the skills required to drive a business forward. Phil Goff would be the kiss of death as a CEO!

      • JustRight 19.1.2

        Snoozer – sorry can’t let this one alone:

        I am an entrepreneur. I run a small but successful tech company. It is belief that the best thing I can do for my country given my talents is to create employment opportunities. Given I am taking the risk, there is also a reward.

        I have yet to meet an entrepreneur who is in it for the $$$. The sacrifice is way too big jsu to have a flash car.

        Nope, it is more often than not the higher purpose changing an industry, doing somethign unheard of or some other creative act.

        Now for your dribble about unions & public sector getting better pay in private sector. Public Sector salaries eclipse private by 22% in the last stats. What is creates is a whole bunch of trapped people. You are wrong people can earn more in private sector.

        How old are you? You sound 17 or something…

        • snoozer 19.1.2.1

          “Public Sector salaries eclipse private by 22% in the last stats. What is creates is a whole bunch of trapped people. You are wrong people can earn more in private sector. ”

          Only if you don’t compare apples with applies.

          Who makes more? Public sector lawyer or private sector? Public sector doctor or private sector? Public sector accountant or private sector? And so on.

          If you compare all public sector workers and all private sector workers, of course the average is higher in the public sector – there aren’t many supermarket workers, cleaners, labourers, fruit pickers, and taxi drivers in the public sector. But when you compare pay for the same work, you take a pay cut going in to the public sector.

    • Armchair Critic 19.2

      John Key was a currency speculator, which is not much different to being a professional gambler. He never made anything, and the distance between currency speculation and the real world you refer to is immense.

    • Clarke 19.3

      John Key can make more money working in the real world, but Phil Goff could not.

      And let’s not forget that paragon of right-wing “stand on your own two feet” boosterism, the inimitable Sir Roger Douglas, champion of the self-employed business elite everywhere, valiantly standing up for the rights of the oppressed oligarch, and always ready to pay his own way in the world!

      Despite the plethora of earning opportunities that a man of his skills apparently possesses, he chooses to let the taxpayer pick up the tab for his holidays in the UK.

      Douglas. Snout. Trough. And he’s the champion of the Right.

      • Armchair Critic 19.3.1

        Saw him on TV tonight saying “I’m entitled to it”, which made me think about snouts in troughs too. For the record I don’t doubt he is correct in saying he is entitled to what he received, either.
        Perhaps the difference between the whole TIA/DPB/breach of privacy issue and Sir Roger’s travel is that it is easy enough to do without an overseas holiday. Oh, and that the outcry about his entitlement will be much more muted.

  20. Mark M 20

    having had many years of dealings with local body politicians in my business I have a slightly different take.
    The politicians of the left get more done as they seem more driven , spend more time scheming,
    Say something to your face then do the opposite.

    The politicians on the right are frankly to nice to succeed as are to inherently honest.

    I have had local body labour politicians tell me they support me and ask for funding for electoral campaigns then actively campaign behind my back against me.

    I have had late night calls asking for money and being reminded of the consequences if I dont contribute.

    I have attended electoral celebration parties for the left and been a little taken aback at who they take money from.

    After ten years of this I have a very uncharitable veiw of the left except for one local Green poltician who I generally disagreed with but she was one of the few that stuck to her veiws and what she said to your face was what she did.

  21. sausage fingers 21

    I think if you look at the ex-Labour ministers it’s hard to credibly claim that any of them are in it for the glory or saw it as something they deserved by dint of their virtue.

    Are you on drugs?

    They are all in it for their personal aggrandisement. Michael Cullen was the very embodiment of someone who thought he was so damn clever he had to be running the country so the little people could have the benefit of his genius.

    You cannot credibly claim otherwise.

  22. Ianmac 22

    Armchair Critic:”John Key was a currency speculator”.
    Aha. Then he must have been very good at productivity. He must have produced ummmm and you could measure his dollars to show just how productive he is, um was. True?

    • Armchair Critic 22.1

      So true. And he seems to have carried over into being PM, too. I’m still waiting for him to do something useful, surely it will be top of the news.

  23. Rex Widerstrom 23

    I’d posit an alternate explanation. More and more, parties (especially the larger ones) are nominating “professional politicians”. Oh sure they might have been, say, a teacher, but that was with a view to joining a union, getting elected to some position there, getting on an LEC… etc. Or – so we don’t leave the other side out – they might , for example, have had their own media company but always saw themselves as superior and cut out for better things.

    Many use, as an intermediate step, a post in a Minister’s office as a policy or media advisor.

    It comes back to the old adage about the desire to rule others being the primary disqualification for suitability to the role. As we’ve moved more to a professional class of politicians and away from people who took a few years out from their actual profession to make their contribution and move on, we’ve had more and more people who are prepared to misuse the power accorded them by their positions in the belief that they belong in the role and certainly no one could do it better.

    As others have said above, Bennett wasn’t a corporate executive. On the other hand, the Garrotte was a barrister — and one specialising in employment law, at that. It’s not some sort of inherent heartlessness brought about by ideology. Nor is it ignorance.

    Our problem is that, increasingly, Michael Cullen’s description of one MP as an “arrogant, born to rule prick” is applicable to a large number of those who seek public office under any banner.

    • RedLogix 23.1

      Well Rex, we could eliminate political parties and electoral nominations altogether.

      How about annual elections at a local community based level? With indirect elections to regional and national administrations?

      With strict term limits.

      • Rex Widerstrom 23.1.1

        I’d be happy with that RedLogix. I think simply eliminating parties and List MPs from Parliament would vastly improve the quality of candidates and the responsiveness of those elected.

        Annual elections would be fine, but if we did that I think it’d need to be on a partial rotation model like the Australian or US Senates, where only a portion of MPs were up for election. I’d suggest a third at a time, giving each MP a 3 year term but refreshing Parliament each year.

        I’m of two minds about term limits. I look at the Garrotte, Bennett et al, not to mention some utterly useless time servers like Dianne Yates or Peter Brown and say Yay. Then I look at some intelligent, effective MPs (names withheld lest they screw up in future and it gets held against me 😛 ) and say Nay.

        I think if we rid ourselves of parties and List MPs, we could withhold judgment on term limits and revisit the topic in a deacde or so.

        Recall might also be worth considering. I wonder how a petition to recall Bennett would go amongst the Westies who supported her?

    • Clarke 23.2

      This is true, IMHO. Given the trend of professionalisation in every other occupation, it’s reasonable to expect that we will increasingly breed politicians whose specific career objective is to attain public office, and that intermediate occupations are simply a stepping-stone to that goal.

      And this afflicts all parties. I’ve certainly met some particularly slimy political graspers who aspire to the National Party benches, but I’ve also met some Green Party types who have progressed from University to Parliamentary Services without a single useful day’s work in their lives.

      ‘Tis a problem.

  24. mike 24

    “Ministers from Labour and other leftwing parties tend to have backgrounds in serving a wider community”

    “National ministers are mostly former businessmen or farmers. Those are professions where you lead, rather than serve”

    Utter bullshit Marty

    Funny how labour turned into a bunch of control freaks and the new National Govt is all ears.

    • felix 24.1

      Interesting comments, as usual. You make a very well reasoned case opposing the post.

      It’s good to see you taking the time to address the points in an intelligent and thoughtful manner.

      • mike 24.1.1

        If the post was “intelligent and thoughtful” it be easier to reply in kind.
        Absolute partisan rubbish deserves slightly different treatment

        • felix 24.1.1.1

          That being the case, why on earth do you come here?

          You never, ever manage more of a response than you did above, so I can only gather that you never find anything here of any value at all.

          So why bother visiting at all?

          I think it’s fairly safe to say no-one else derives any value from your visits. If you’re getting nothing from them either, why bother?

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 24.1.2

        Yeah but the post is like a straw man- so obviously desperate to draw stereotypes that it falls back on 1970s divisions of politicians.

        Everybody knows that the way to get into parliament is to ingratiate yourself to the party heirarchy preferably by working for a minister or the party. Then you work at getting the numbers for yourself. Its got nothing to do with your beliefs, intellect or usefulness once you become a parliamentarian.

        By the time they reach the parliamentary level the political professionals of Labour and National are virtually indistinguishable- they say what they are told to say, act like they’re told to act and believe what they’re told to believe- a lot like certain bloggers.

  25. ak 25

    To the smiling snake and his smirking worms

    Pray thanks, kind sirs,

    For thine care and affection

    and do spare, gentle masters

    this base grub’s misdirection

    if she fain can perceive

    thy divine gilt intentions

    in the studs of thine heels

    as they grind in our teeth.

    And faith to your fanfare

    for the low and depraved

    as you bathe in our nectar

    while children crave.

    For so plain to all

    is the sense of your call

    that to prosper the lowly

    from blackamoor to witch

    is to take from the poor

    and give to the rich.

    Sleep now, kind sirs

    as we rark ‘mong our own:

    for ere creeps the day

    when the ox eats the clown.

  26. vto 26

    Havent read any of the posts above but the main thread pulls out what might be termed the less savoury aspects of the right and tries to compare them to the more favourable aspects of the left. How about, for balance Marty, which going by your graphs re GDP etc a few days ago (and which you have still not answered!) is nigh impossible, compare more favourable aspects of the right with less savoury aspects of the left.

    Or, heaven forbid, compare more favourable aspects of the right with more favourable aspects of the left.

    And vice versa, less than savoury aspects of the right with less than savoury aspects of the left.

    But then balance has never been something the standard has achieved.

    • lprent 26.1

      ‘Balance’ has never been something the authors have attempted to achieve. Try reading the about rather than trying to tell us what we should do.

      Look carefully at the top left of the page and see what the name of recent posts is. For that matter look at the top right where your comments are listed.

      Nowhere do you see that we make a claim to be ‘balanced’. It is the view of all of the people who I’ve talked to who write posts for us that this is just bullshit used to cover hypocrisy.

      If you want a ‘balanced’ site – write your own ‘unbalanced’ views on your own site. I prefer something more like The Economist where the bias is clear and stated even when I disagree with it. Then you can read with the required grains of salt rather than trying to figure out what the bozo’s like teh Herald have up their sleeves today.

      • vto 26.1.1

        well you are right. but my point started off being about the uselessness of the argument when you compare apples and oranges.

  27. Swampy 27

    Like a lot of things at this blog, this post makes gross generalisations (stereotypes?) and in doing so glosses over a lot of fact. Politicians of the Left are motivated by power just like any other politician, however the socialists have the extra motivation that for most of them it the only way they will get up in the sort of power strata that businessmen get to. Does anyone really believe that politicians of the left are solely there to serve, they could do a lot of service outside politics, think of all the teachers and nurses and etc who don’t go into politics. Think of all the doctors and professors and all the high offices outside politics in society that aren’t political.

    You see, when we look deeper into it, politics and political office in general is a very Left thing. The biggest amount of political manoeuvring and activism happens on the Left side of the divide. It happens there because the Left see politics as the primary vehicle of power for people in their ideology.

    Now over on the Left they want to cement that power by building a big State and getting it to control everyone and everything, as far as possible in the direction of Communism. It gets to more than just the fact that Lefties want political power through becoming an MP or a Minister or the PM, they want to lord it over everyone and tell them what to do and control and regulate everything. This goes a lot further than the welfare safety net that you refer to when you mentioned Phil Goff’s experience. The Electoral Finance Act was a chilling example of how far Labour could go, trying to stifle independent groups like the Exclusive Brethren while giving the nod to their own union affiliates. It shows that Labour hasn’t really gone very far from their hard left ideology that founded them and they would still be willing to push as far as possible in that direction if the mechanisms of democracy could be subverted.

    • lprent 27.1

      You really are a strident and very shallow thinker. Most people on the left in my experience get into politics because they have an issue or issues that they think needs more resources or legislative change. They have usually exhausted most usual channels. I’ve been observing them for years while avoiding getting into politics myself (it would interfere with programming).

      Typically you find that they have been involved in school boards, community boards, various voluntary groups, activism for fellow employees, unions, etc. Mostly they drift into politics because people like me (who don’t want to do it) push them into it.

      It isn’t that different from most of the political people on the right. There is a slightly different set of groups that they join but with a lot of overlap. The only real difference is that on the right you get a lot more of the wingnuts (see KB comments section) who are usually noticeable by having strong opinions about what other people should do and seldom are seen to do much that is effective. Most of those concentrate in Act of course.

      • Zaphod Beeblebrox 27.1.1

        I’d say more come through trade unions, the party organisation and the electoral office than school boards and voluntary groups. Thats the problem when these political professionals hit parliament, many of them have never dealt with those outside the political mainstream.

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