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What is Socialism – a primer for idiots

Written By: - Date published: 9:09 am, April 5th, 2021 - 163 comments
Categories: capital gains, capitalism, Economy, Media, socialism, tax, tenants' rights, uncategorized - Tags:

I know I should not take the bait but occasionally I bite at the Herald’s click bait masquerading as opinion pieces.

One recent example was this dumpster fire of an opinion piece by Merchant Banker Troy Bowker.

He is the Executive director of Caniwi Capital, a privately owned investment firm involved in private equity, commercial property and farming.

The Herald gave him space to vent against the Government’s response to the Housing Crisis.

He came up with some pearlers.  Like this about Robertson changing his mind about extending the bright line test:

The excuse? The facts have changed. That simply does not wash. The facts are going to constantly change in the world we live … “

So politicians should never ever change their minds even if changed circumstances demand it?

And this:

Since the CGT fail, Labour have made a series of attempts to inflict financial pain on landlords across the residential and the commercial property sectors in New Zealand.”

If the intent was to inflict pain on landlords as well as merchant bankers then surely they would have passed a real CGT and not mucked around with the bright line test and interest deductibility.

His stand out piece is his claim that the Government is, dear reader, a socialist Government.

A pattern is emerging of a Labour government with a major chip on its shoulder against property investors in New Zealand.

One could be excused for reaching the conclusion these sustained attacks on property investors are driven by socialist wealth redistribution ideology rather than genuine, well-intentioned, well thought out and properly considered reforms.

A standard definition of socialism is that it is a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

Note community or state ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange is required. What Bowker thinks is socialism, wealth redistribution, is nothing of the sort. It presupposes that capitalism continues but that the extremely wealthy have to give up some of their wealth. And there are some examples to suggest this is a good idea.

Eion Musk and Jeff Bezos for instance have way more than they need and own more than the bottom 40% of the American population combined.

From Yahoo Finance:

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has responded to criticism of his huge wealth by Senator Bernie Sanders, saying he would use his money to help humankind.

“I am accumulating resources to help make life multiplanetary & extend the light of consciousness to the stars,” Musk said on Twitter.

Musk has become one of the world’s wealthiest people, alongside Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Liberal lawmakers have called for higher taxes on billionaires, saying they’re not paying their fair share.

“We are in a moment in American history where two guys – Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos – own more wealth than the bottom 40% of people in this country,” Senator Bernie Sanders said on Twitter on Thursday.

The Vermont senator added: “That level of greed and inequality is not only immoral. It is unsustainable.”

Wanting to make life multiplanetary does not cut it as excuse. You know how this will work out, the only people going interplanetary will be the wealthy, escaping Earth after having wrecked it.

Of course National also engages in this sort of overblown mindless rhetoric. For instance recently Scott Simpson said this in Parliament:

They want to be like most socialist Governments all around the world, who seem to relish the opportunity to tell people how to live their lives, how to spend their money, and how to make decisions, and they want that to be done from here centrally, from Parliament, issuing proclamations and decrees from Parliament, from the Beehive, and a State-run agency to do the job that, actually, the private sector, given half the chance and the right kind of regulatory and legislative framework, can do very, very well indeed.

The arguments are rhetorically lazy and factually incorrect. And the corollary is the “slippery slope” argument that suggests that any slightly progressive move by the Government is the first step towards full blown socialism.

Of course business does not necessarily think that Socialism is bad. Bowker complained that the Government did not include landlords when it declined to include them in the Business Finance Guarantee Scheme.

One gets the strong impression that capitalists do not think Socialism is a bad thing as long as they can profit from it. And their cries of Socialism are no more than an attempt to tilt public discourse in their favor.

163 comments on “What is Socialism – a primer for idiots ”

  1. Chris T 1

    "If the intent was to inflict pain on landlords as well as merchant bankers then surely they would have passed a real CGT and not mucked around with the bright line test and interest deductibility."

    They couldn't

    Ardern ruled it out while she was leader.

    Just say'in

    • mickysavage 1.1

      My comment was in response to Bowler’s suggestion that the Government wished to inflict financial pain on landlords. Clearly this was not the intent.

      • Chris T 1.1.1

        If it wasn't, they probably should have said that first, because that is kind of what it looks like.

        • Incognito 1.1.1.1

          Nope, Jacinda is trying to scare the ‘Mum & Dad’ other kids her age who are playing with fire that they will be wiped out in 10 years. It’s just her. She’s just prancing on the stage of publicity and since this is no real achievement, it will have zero effect 😉

      • Andre 1.1.2

        My comment was in response to Bowler’s suggestion that the Government wished to inflict financial pain on landlords. Clearly this was not the intent.

        Well, it seems very clear to me that the government's intent was to make it very unattractive to borrow money to become a landlord. Given that there are very few people in a position to be able to become landlords without borrowing money, it seems to me like semantic quibbling to say the intent wasn't to inflict pain on landlords.

        To be sure, I'm not anti the government's moves. The housing situation has gone so far out of kilter that something effective had to be done. In the current situation, there really aren't options for effective actions that don't involve inflicting pain on one group or another. Given that up until this move, rental housing was in the privileged position of being about the only "investment" regular people could borrow money from a bank to invest in, that point of privilege is an obvious target to have a go at.

        • Incognito 1.1.2.1

          Well, it seems very clear to me that the government's intent was to make it very unattractive to borrow money to become a landlord. [my emphasis]

          They surely made it less attractive, but most existing landlords are still sitting very pretty, at least on paper.

          I suspect that the howls of outrage and despair from the investor class have taken the Government by surprise but they’re already dying down and the Opposition has not gained any meaningful traction in this area, at least not yet.

          Something had to be done and only time will tell if it will have a desired effect or not. My feeling is that removing the interest deductibility was ill-conceived but created the most angst. One thing is for sure, it won’t be enough on its own to deal with the housing crisis.

    • mikesh 1.2

      CGT doesn't affect merchant bankers since it is not levied until the property is sold. At that point the mortgage will have been paid off, or any balance paid off from the proceeds of the sale, and the merchant bankers would be no longer part of the picture.

  2. Chris T 2

    Apologies. Probably a link for that required.

    "The Prime Minister has shocked New Zealand by ruling out a capital gains tax not just before the next election, but while she is Prime Minister."

    https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/pm-jacinda-ardern-has-ruled-out-implementing-a-capital-gains-tax-while-she-is-at-the-helm-of-labour/IQ4FD7CLYKKLU6YAH2H2S4MDSE/

    Edit:

    Should add Bezos and Musk are bad examples.

    Bezos is a sadistic arsehole and Musk is just a greedy nutter

    Gates and Buffet seem pretty good and sharing the love money wise.

    • RedLogix 2.1

      Bezos is indeed very weird, he's riding very much for a fall. Credit is due to Biden for taking him on.

      Part of the problem here is that the US Anti-Trust laws that for decades were so effective at preventing monopolies from appearing in the commercial/industrial world – just haven’t had the same teeth in the cyber world.

  3. AB 3

    Been collecting the Herald for a neighbour who's away over Easter. This morning it's a few meagre pages, a featherweight curiosity. I flicked through a few pages, experienced for a moment the incredible lightness of inanity, and placed it on the pile with the other junk mail.

    • woodart 3.1

      coming into autumn, the herald CAN be useful to light the fire, but not for much else. with no birdcage to line and flies moving nth for winter , any newspaper is pretty much redundant. I personally find it hilarious that the herald needs to constantly advertise on farcebook , and even more hilarious that most of the herald links take you to articles hidden behind a paywall.For a media service that constantly finds fault with the current gov's handling of anything , there own business setup and mismanagement is a brilliant example of "dont do what I do, do what I preach".

      • Stuart Munro 3.1.1

        The weightier dailies make splendid barrier mulch – it keeps the weeds down for about two years, and then biodegrades into the soil. Substitute for cardboard for spud growing.

        • woodart 3.1.1.1

          I use old carpet . even the worst, most articial carpet is less toxic than the herald.

  4. Sabine 4

    Who cares about the merchant banker? Seriously. Or is it easier to write about the fuck ups of people that have been denied a penny by the government?

    This is the article worth reading and discussing….

    https://e-tangata.co.nz/comment-and-analysis/the-housing-hand-wringing-is-bunk/

    Our housing crisis is a result of political gutlessness and self-interest.

    The hand-wringing about the housing affordability is all bunk. We used to believe the Kiwi dream was to own our home. But, over the decades, it’s become, instead, a scheme where those fortunate to own a property have been offered cheap loans to buy rental properties for no money down.

    In the not-too-distant past, stamp duty for property was abolished, owners got to write off their property expenses against their own taxes, and capital gains were tax free.

    As a consequence, money poured into property and prices went through the roof. This outcome now makes it impossible for working class people to get a home. Yet current property owners can just borrow more cheap money to buy multiple rental properties.

    The simple truth is the well-heeled middle classes are delighted with how things are going. Property owners can make more money off their renters and their capital gains without doing a scrap of work.

    The average house in New Zealand is now $815,000. In Auckland it’s $1.2 million. And rising spectacularly.

    and Labour has become part of the problem. Not only on the housing crisis, but the Parents in poverty crisis, the children in poverty crisis, and all the other jazz that is not Covid.

    • Incognito 4.1

      and Labour has become part of the problem. [sic]

      Most political terms, less than 10% or 12 of our 120 MPs in Parliament are part of the problem. Now, pray tell what you’re going to change about this and how 😉

      • Sabine 4.1.1

        you want to know what i am going to do about this?

        well the last two election i did not vote for labour.

        i will tell people why i will not vote for labour and why i vote for this or that party.

        i will also tell people that no one bought the house pictured in the e-tangata article, but rather the land, and then i will ask people to take a good hard look at the picture and realise that this property is currently inhabited by people who are paying rent or who have rent paid or by the government. And then i will remind people that they are the ones funding the government – inclusive the accommodation supplement – via the taxes, the GST and all the other levies government and regional councils etc charge them.

        We can play this game all day long Incognito, and if your comment was in jest or snark, sorry, when it comes to housing i am way beyond snark. I am simply gutted, disgusted and you can not imagen the contempt i have for every labour fan who does not want to admit the plainest, that we are where we are because of the people we vote in. And these guys, all good moderate conservative have killed Auckland, and are now killing the rest of the towns in NZ.

        You can not buy or rent anywhere without assistance unless you have two incomes and sometimes even that is not enough. We speak of children in poverty without the slightest sense of shame, we look at people pulling boats paid for with loans on so called equity and we have no sense of shame, and our motels are charging up to a million bucks a night to the government – us the taxpayer in fact – to house those that are homeless, because our children are homeless.

        So tell me why i should support labour and no, the 25 bucks Covid increase, the heating allowance and the Gender ID bill and the maternity leave for people who still have a full time job is not gonna cut it.

        • Incognito 4.1.1.1

          We can play this game all day long Incognito, and if your comment was in jest or snark, sorry, when it comes to housing i am way beyond snark.

          It is a real game and we have been playing it for years and will be for years to come, it seems. A similar game is being played by the same players with regard to Climate Change.

          Much energy is wasted on going around in circles. So, you did not vote for Labour and you tell others that you did vote for Labour and why. It is a start. Unfortunately, many people will not vote for Labour and make the problem worse by voting one of the other parties that are part of the problem or, worse, add fuel to the problem.

          The finger pointing and blame game is a mug’s game. In 2020, it was the first time in a long time that one political party gained an absolute majority in NZ Parliament. These are the political realities and ignoring these is wishful thinking and wilful ignorance, at best.

          Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best. [my emphasis]

          ― Otto von Bismarck

          So, how do we put pressure on NZ politics and politicians to make the changes that we deem necessary and even critical? What tools do we available and how do we wield them most efficiently and effectively? I’d suggest wasting millions of words in comments repeating the same stuff over and over again, day in, day out is not the smartest way 😉

          For the record, I’m also extremely disappointed that this Government is tilting in favour of getting FHBs on the first rung and doing not nearly enough for renters – BTW, I don’t think that all renters should be(come) FHBs one day and there is or should be a place in (our) society for life-ling renting/renters. Maybe Government believes that these new conditions will miraculously trickle down positively to tenants but it must do much better than wishy-washy wishful thinking, IMO. That said, the Healthy Homes Standards will come into full effect for private rentals on 1 July 2021. This is a good thing, of course, but the tenants will wear some (…) of the costs and I think that makes a lot of sense. Legal protection for tenants is slowly improving but financially they are still fair game and only buffered for 12 months at a time unless they change tenancy.

          • RedLogix 4.1.1.1.1

            That's pretty much how see it as well. While there is a real value in owning your own home, there are also real downsides that are easy to gloss over.

            The eight years we've been in Australia we've not owned property here and I have to say it's been rather liberating. It's given us a flexibility to move to wherever and whenever we like and discover opportunities we'd never encountered otherwise.

            I realise this doesn't translate to everyone's experience – but the point is that renting (or other forms of non-traditional housing) is a perfectly good option in the right circumstances. And yes this govt has done nothing for these people other than increase their uncertainty.

            There are plenty of reasons to be unhappy about the state of the NZ housing game – on all sides. It would be great if we could set aside the divisive animosity and talk more about solutions that work for everyone.

            • Incognito 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Yup, I have rented here in NZ and overseas and it has been mostly a positive experience or at least not negative. I do enjoy the relative lack of responsibility of not owning my home but I’ve always tried to take care of the rentals as if they were my own. I do acknowledge that clearly not all renters (in NZ) have similar experiences.

              Indeed, the housing crisis is a collective problem that affects the whole economy and all of us, directly and/or indirectly, which is why it can only be tackled in a collective non-partisan way, but some folks insist and keep insisting on drawing political and ideological battle lines. That said, the power balance is tilted towards the ones who are well capitalised and at the expense of the ones who have little, in the material sense, and part of the solution, or ‘correction’, if you like, will be the need to address that imbalance. Unfortunately (!), the former also are a formidable political power and they constitute a segment of the electorate that is strategically crucial, politically speaking.

              I wonder whether the conundrum of private investment in residential property as a business in relation to housing being a social good is a contradiction or a paradox. The way forward will depend on the answer or, at least, on how we collectively view this, I believe.

            • Drowsy M. Kram 4.1.1.1.1.2

              Except for holidays, renting is not something I'd ever choose to do again. While not wanting to gloss over the downsides of owning your own home, the financial security that goes with owning property pretty much makes the world your oyster – at least that's how I see/live it. Some of the (1 in 6) NZers for whom a precariat ‘lifestyle‘ is reality might prefer to have other options.

              Who are New Zealand's precariat?

              For New Zealand's 'precariat', life is a daily struggle. They live in barely adequate insecure housing and are in constant fear of losing their income, which is often derived from working more than one job.

              A new book Precarity: Uncertain, insecure and unequal lives in Aotearoa New Zealand looks at the day-to-day reality of life for such people.

              Have the majority of renters in NZ made a genuine choice to rent?

              What changes to the rental market in NZ would make renting a more appealing option – something that more people might genuinely choose to do?

              Keeping that roof over your head
              https://www.rentersunited.org.nz/

              http://www.mtu.org.nz/

              https://www.tpa.org.nz/

              Why people prefer to rent

              Home ownership is in reach for more people, but may not always be worth it. Why do people still prefer to rent, rather than buy their own property? Here are just a few reasons why renting is still popular and why the rental market is flourishing:

              One of the biggest reasons that people prefer to rent is not having to scrape together for a deposit, that most people struggle to save. There are fewer upfront costs making this more achievable for people to afford.

              Rental rates generally stay the same, there is some variation, but it's not as drastic as housing costs. The housing market is forever changing.

              The responsibility of maintenance and repairs lies with the landlord in most cases, relieving tenant's of extra costs and stress.

              Work demands mean that people can move around the country as required. Renting allows you to pack up your things and leave with shorter notice than waiting for your property to sell.

      • woodart 4.1.2

        at a guess,I would say that sabine is going to have a (and another, etc,etc,etc) whinge, without providing us with any workable plans on how to improve things. I would really like to change the setup, as to avoid these endless whinges coming onto my laptop. they do absolutley no good at all, and apart from learning to speedscroll, have no useful purpose.

        • Incognito 4.1.2.1

          I hear you, but what, if anything, do you suggest? This forum is a collective effort.

          Be the change you want to see.

          • woodart 4.1.2.1.1

            hard to be positive, when this site swims in a cesspool of negativity. attempts at humour and positivity seem to fly straight over the heads of too many on here , who would rather drag everybody down to their levels of gloom and doom. we live in the best country on the planet, with most of the good things in life, and waaaaay more positives than negatives, but you wouldnt think that after scrolling through many of the regular contibutors(a possible oxymoron, if you are constantly negative, are you a contributor?) incessant whinges. possibly need to set up a wailing wall, where all of gloom and doom merhants can congregate and drag each other down, and let the rest of us look for solutions NOT problems.

            • RedLogix 4.1.2.1.1.1

              yes

            • Incognito 4.1.2.1.1.2

              I recognise and empathise with much in your comment.

              I suspect that some of the negativity is worse and due to Covid-19. I believe this is having a much greater impact than we realise and a negative one for that; it has certainly affected me in a negative way.

              IIRC, it is human nature to focus on the negatives. If true, we need to overcome the energy barrier to turn things around, and it does feel like the Evergreen wedged in the Suez Canal.

              You are dead right that humour and laughter is hugely important. Laughing with rather than at (the expense of) people gives that necessary relief and burst of energy that we all need. It is all also good (for) bonding.

              I’m afraid I don’t have many ideas and/or suggestions on how to turn the commentary towards a more constructive one. As I said before, this forum is a collective effort and one single person can only achieve so much at a time.

              Maybe we should do Caption Contest more often, what do you think?

              • woodart

                caption contest, maybe . a few photos of people REALLY doing it tough maybe. as for blaming covid for some having sour outlooks, maybe everybody needs to talk to friends and whanau in the u.k. nearly constant yr long lockdown, uncertainty over brexit. I have distant whanau just moved here from wales, they are so positive and grateful to be here and thankful to their dad who put them on kiwi citizenship yrs ago. people need to be more outward looking and be thankful for where we are. when I was on executive committee of nz drivers union 30 yrs ago, the secretary, jackson smith had a saying that maybe should go on the masthead.."there are no such thing as problems, only solutions"

                • Incognito

                  Yup, talking with positive people creates positive experiences; hurt people hurt people.

        • Sabine 4.1.2.2

          So calling out the inactivity of the current government is whinging? Well honey, i pay for the useless suits as much as anyone else in this country that pays taxes so i have the paid for the right to whinge about these useless eaters.

          Funnily enough i am saying now exactly the same as i said when it was key, bennet and the double dipper running the shit show and the current crew was in the opposition benches crowing about how they would save the day, feed the children, house the homeless, and so on and so forth.

          You want to know what needs to be changed? People like you shutting down people like me because it makes you unhappy as to what i have to say.

          Let me repeat it again, so you understand

          WE – you, me, incognito, mickey savage, j.a. and all the others of this country we are collectively guilty as to the mess that this country has become over the last 20 odd years. We have voted for people not because they are any good, but chances are they won't ruffle 'out' feathers, but those of the others. We vote for people because we know they won't change a thing. Because we don't want to change. We are not homeless, we are not hungry, our children as of today can still hold up – by a little and when it comes to our grand children and beyond we will be dead and not care one iota.

          So yeah, i do, NOT vote for Labour or National and i am throwing the current lot of the Greens into that heep of the history pile. I will vote for someone who reprensents me better.

          You want change? Demand better polititians, and Jacinda Ardern ain't it. She is going to be very much NZ Obama, a nice to have someone who is so stifled by their own pretentiousness they can't help even if they wanted to. And J. A and her knights and dames in dull fineries are useless. Down, out useless other then going please be kind, please be gentle….to me. While the kids go hungry, people are shooting at each others, people pile thirty into one house sleeping in shifts and in effect do what they did under National but even more so now. Kinder Gentler, bullshit. Vote Labour!

          The difference between Labour/National and the rest of the country is simple. When push comes to shove and you and i hit a tight spot we will tighten our belt, the ones currently running when they hit a tight spot they will open the belt another notch for a waver thin mint.

          • bwaghorn 4.1.2.2.1

            The thing is this government is truly trying to fix housing, its proving to be a very tricky beast to corner,(that's why populist douche bags like the nats wont touch it)

            Trying to solve it with out collapsing the economy is a nightmare because I can gaurentee you as bad as it is if house prices collapse by 50% it will be alot worse.

          • Incognito 4.1.2.2.2

            Let’s see, there’s quite a bit to unpack here.

            Because you pay tax, “as much as anyone else in this country” you “have the paid for the right to whinge about these useless eaters” [sic] here on this site? I think we need to increase our TS subscription fee 😉

            You want to know what needs to be changed? People like you shutting down people like me because it makes you unhappy as to what i have to say. [sic]

            The objection was against the negativity, the doom and gloom, the whingeing and wailing. Nobody is trying to shut you down. At most, they would like a change of tune and criticism that is a little more constructive wouldn’t go astray either.

            I will vote for someone who reprensents me better. [sic]

            That begs the question which candidate or politician might that be.

            We should “[d]emand better polititians” [sic] because they’re all “[d]own, out useless”? Even if you’re correct, which is highly debatable, how would we do this?

            Again, high on negativity, low on solutions 🙁

    • Treetop 4.2

      It is going to take guts to say to landlords, unless the profit is reduced the problem could not be halted. To out rule any new tax is not an option when there is a poverty crisis which the housing market is fuelling.

    • RedLogix 4.3

      owners got to write off their property expenses against their own taxes,

      That's rather misleading. The LAQC scheme, and it's more recent cousin the LTC, simply allowed the tax loss to be claimed in the year it was incurred, instead of it being stored up in the company books against future profits.

      A lot of people liked to call this tax avoidance, when it was really just a cash flow smoothing scheme. That of course was very helpful when interest rates were north of 8% so I'm not discounting that – but it was never a 'write off' in the sense that it reduced the total tax paid over time.

  5. Pat 5

    'Reds under the bed' 2.0

  6. Adrian Thornton 6

    That is all nice there MS, except sadly in the west, the biggest hurdle in the way for any serious socialist project is not the right or big business, but from within what is left of the traditional western ‘left wing’ political parties themselves, and their supporting media outlets..just witness Corbyn.. the Tories barely even had to raise a finger against him ( though their media arm went hard!), he was mainly destroyed and dismantled by the free market liberals within Labour and their so called left media, the Guardian in particular were extremely ruthless.

    To understand how effective their campaign was, just go back to TS standard during that period…here we had an actual real live socialist leader in control of the UK Labour party, who was experiencing incredible on the ground momentum, mainly through the distribution of his excellent first manifesto …cut to TS, at least half (I would say more) of the so called lefties on this very site just parroted the negative media lines feed to them by the Guardian etc…I used to say to friends who were of this persuasion… exactly what western Socialist/left progressive project are you going to support? …only the one that comes along and is perfect in every, that has no flaws..is of immaculate conception?

    But now that time has passed, Berine, Corbyn both destroyed from within by the bourgeois liberal class..as predicted.

    I completely agree with you that business love socialism when it (as it does for landlord class here in NZ) works in complete harmony with their interests… as the saying goes “capitalism is socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the rest”

    I would usually say ‘Turn labour Left!” about now, but that is looking more and more like a lost cause…probably better to abandon that sinking ship.

    But I competely

    • mickysavage 6.1

      Thanks Adrian. I take it you agree with the premise of my argument. The last Socialist Parliamentary party was the Labour Party in its first couple of terms.

      I thought overall the site was pro Corbyn.

      Certainly my posts were … https://thestandard.org.nz/search/Mickysavage+Corbyn/?search_posts=true&search_sortby=date

      • Pierre 6.1.1

        Sidestepping the whole criticism of Corbyn as a figure, one of the failings of the Labour left was their inability to properly set out what they meant by socialism.

        The party has manifestos, but it does not have a long-term programme with a clear vision of a future society and how to get there. Most Labour activists can describe socialism in terms of heartfelt appeals to kindness and social welfare, which is fine, but that's not the basis of a socialist project. Nobody can point to any foundational party document which lays out a cohesive set of ideas. There is the constitution and rule book, and a lot of discussion is directed around these, but they're procedural documents, not fit for purpose as statements of political principle.

        British Labour was, and is, lacking a comprehensive programme of political education. And this is astonishing for a party which has historically produced so many important political theorists from its own ranks.

        Momentum worked hard on that problem with TWT, along with a series of explicitly political conferences (eg. the interventions of Mark Perryman). This as well as think tanks like the Centre for Labour and Social Studies or the Institute of Employment Rights, all the discussion which flourished in Labour-supporting publications like Tribune, Labour Briefing, Chartist, the Morning Star, Progressive Review, Novara, Red Pepper, Renewal, etc.

        All of that in service of turning Labour from Benn's idea of "a party with socialists in it" into a Socialist Party, or "an instrument of the working class for achieving socialism." In hindsight, the Labour left were not entirely successful in transforming the party, but at least they made a valuable attempt. Most of the left (including Adrian) understand that it's not enough to just elect a left-wing leader or a left-wing government and hope that magically fixes things.

        And in my experience this problem is also glaringly present in the NZ Labour Party, which maintains no discussion journal, no think tank or independent research department, no political education, and no comprehensive political programme. NZ Labour does not have its own publishing arm for printing books or pamphlets, it does not produce any literature whatsoever. Go on the party website, they sell branded t-shirts. If socialism is poorly understood in New Zealand, this is why.

    • Tiger Mountain 6.2

      LPrent savaged me on one occasion for supporting Jeremy Corbyn in a post, but hey that is allowed. The NZ Labour Party was well below luke warm about support for Mr Corbyn in most utterances I saw, and seemed to pretty much ignore the incredibly obvious slogan “for the many not the few”.

      Non socialist, centrists at best, debating over what constitutes socialism is beyond irony.

      • Incognito 6.2.1

        LPrent savaged me on one occasion for supporting Jeremy Corbyn in a post …

        That doesn’t sound like anything Lprent would ever do!? What was the context, if I may ask? Surely you remember and perhaps you can even link to it?

        • Siobhan 6.2.1.1

          I'm not sure which comment Adrian is talking about…and generally its best to let sleeping dogs lie, but this is quite special…Adrians comment is no.10…..Iprent is quite the poet when he sets his mind to it…….a fine example of the hurley burley of "moderation" on The Standard

          https://thestandard.org.nz/a-uk-labour-split/#comment-1219324

          [link fixed]

          • Incognito 6.2.1.1.1

            It wasn’t Adrian, it was TM who was referring to a savaging comment, but without any context with have little to go on.

            Lprent is the Master of Moderation 😉

        • Tiger Mountain 6.2.1.2

          Searched and cannot find it…yet, but it was in the context of Jeremy Corbyn’s first election campaign, and Labour’s inner party struggles…

          What I did notice in my search of old comments though, is that I am a 99% LPrent supporter and have praised his approach and dedication to The Standard on many occasions.

          My old friend (in the non digital realm) writer TRP, used to savage me on occasion too. But it is all give and take when you get centrists and leftists in the same place.

          • Incognito 6.2.1.2.1

            Ok, thanks for trying, at least. I get a bit tetchy when it comes to unsubstantiated allegations, especially aimed at past and/or present Authors and/or Moderators of this site.

            FWIW, I’d like to see less ‘savaging’ around here but maybe that’s just me.

            • Tiger Mountain 6.2.1.2.1.1

              Here tis Incognito…
              TIger Mountain7

              8 May 2017 at 8:36 am

              well put, it remains rather telling that no senior people in NZ Labour including President Haworth, seem to be able to bring themselves to support Jeremy Corbyn

              [TheStandard: A moderator moved this comment to Open Mike as being off topic or irrelevant in the post it was made in. Be more careful in future.]

              [lprent: I am getting tired of having these kinds of personal attacks with no actual argument. Guess where it is going. BTW: I left my carefully framed observation as a comment in an expanded version of your own style. Enjoy. ]

              lprent7.1

              8 May 2017 at 8:53 am

              Personally I’m finding it hard to find anything much to support with Jeremy Corbyn either.

              Quite simply having deranged lefties ranting at me with no visible intelligence saying that I should support him for unspecified reasons out of some kind of faith based religiosity isn’t exactly a way to convince me. In fact it seems to be doing exactly the opposite.

              After looking at the results on the local election in the UK this morning, I suspect that much of the Labour support seems to be reacting in a similar fashion.

              I noticed exactly the same thing when I looked at Saunders. I suspect that the supporters of such candidates are their oppositions best weapon against them.

              • Incognito

                Ta

                Hardly a “savaging”, IMO; I expected something really bad 🙂

                Both the Moderation note and the comment contain a lot of nuance. The take-home message seems to be that simple slogans and hand waving don’t cut it, only well-argued reasons, for or against. This sums up Lprent, if he ever could be summed up in a few words wink

                To expand on this thread, the kaupapa of this site is robust debate, but many commenters here seem not to understand what this means. For example, there are a few here who just dump a comment or two and walk away without ever checking let alone engaging with replies or Moderation notes for that matter. For example, a few here think we’re mind readers and we can and should find links and supporting info ourselves. For example, a few here think that disagreeing with somebody else’s opinion or view gives them a licence to attack the person. Et cetera.

                Anyway, thank you again for following up, which has been edifying and clarifying.

      • gsays 6.2.2

        I've got to agree with you, TM and Adrian, I felt round these parts it was anti-Corbyn.

        The 'anti-semitism' slurs were repeated and served proof positive Corbyn should be gone. The passion with which 'Guardianesque' allegations were taken as gospel was disheartening.

        Akin to being vax-wary, having dissenting view on abortion or euthanasia, it was better to shut up and not engage.

      • Incognito 6.2.3

        It seems that some here have a selective memory, perhaps because it suits their narrative.

        Here’s a comment by Lprent (https://thestandard.org.nz/pop-media-bullshit-another-example/#comment-1672549) that appears to be inconsistent with yours. Just saying, but without the context, we cannot judge for ourselves.

  7. Incognito 7

    From what is quoted in the OP, Bowker’s piece seems to be more than rhetoric and opinion; it is propaganda, pure and simple.

    Although residential landlords have been and still are squirming and squealing about the Government’s recent housing announcements, the simple fact is that the vast majority of them can still expect to profit immensely from their property investments over the long-term (i.e. CG). The simple fact is that there is currently no other attractive low-risk high-return investment category that they could move to and expect the same almost-guaranteed windfalls. Ironically, that could include investing in Mr Bowker’s portfolio. However, one issue is that residential property investment is likely to return positive cash flows to only the cashed-up investors with low debt levels. There are no annual dividends and in fact, there might be negative cash flows (i.e. losses) for many years.

    I know this deliberately provocative comment will be challenged, and so it should be, but take your challenge to those so-called ‘Mum & Dad investors’ and challenge them instead by showing them the alternative options they do have (i.e. don’t take aim at the messenger but at the message).

    I also know that the OP is about the misconceptions of Socialism and not to initiate another round of pseudo-technical arguments for or against CGT and the BLT, for example. The one and major (main?) misconception is that profit is not allowed or possible under Socialism. This is the greatest bunk myth around, for years …

    • Chris T 7.1

      Your so called mum and dad investors with one or 2 properties invested for retirement are also the same people who had no Kiwisaver, got told they had to mostly pay for their own retirement and got reamed when the govt at the time pushed investing in shares over houses in the 80s and then it all turned to shit and they got screwed over.

      They were getting mortgage interest rates over 20%

      They are basically the generation that missed out on all the nice things we take for granted these days.

      Apart from the chance to buy an extra house.

      I get there is a lot of jealousy, but not everything is "they had it so much easier!! It's not fair!!!" when you actually compare it.

      • Incognito 7.1.1

        That was a beautiful violin solo. Now what?

        • Chris T 7.1.1.1

          Not really. I am not part of the generation I was talking about.

          But know what my mother was paying as a solo parent.

          That comment mirrors Genter's a little bit on her twitter.

          "Cry me a river" I think she said with the violin cartoon.

          She owns 2 properties.

          She must hate herself.

          • Incognito 7.1.1.1.1

            So, which generation are you part of and how do you want to shape yours so that your children/grandchildren can talk about it, in future? Don’t hold back with your vision for the future unless you are one of those lazy moaners who blame everything on politicians and/or others but stubbornly refuse to make a constructive contribution even on a free forum such as this, a forum with the perfect kaupapa for this sort of stuff. Or do you rather criticise kids?

            • Chris T 7.1.1.1.1.1

              I am one that mostly missed kiwisaver, as it wasn't around as a kid, the house prices were already through the roof, we had to qualify properly for uni, there was no workiing for families, and youdidn't get the massive student loans handed out like confetti.

              On the upside we realised getting a massive student loan to get a pointless BA which means jack was bit stupid, when you could just get a job.

              • Incognito

                Still looking behind you and moaning a lot how tough you’ve had it and how unfair life is or has been to you but no jealousy, of course, that’s for losers. From what you’re saying it appears you got a pointless BA with massive study loan, no KS, and you’re still renting, but there’s no blame, of course, that’s for losers. FYI, you don’t have to take NZ Super, which is also “handed out like confetti” to those who are eligible.

                I look forward to your forward-looking statement about your views for the future. Does socialism come into it, somewhere, anywhere?

                • Chris T

                  I have never mentioned what I grew up with till you asked me directly.

                  If you consider that still looking behind me and moaning then I am beginning to understand how the newer generations get their rep' for being a bit whingey.

                  • Incognito

                    Thank you for sharing your personal background. It can help to understand where commenters come from and how this shapes their views for the future as well. If you can step out of your groove for a moment and share your views for the future and how we might achieve these then we’ll have actually achieved something positive today 🙂

              • woodart

                "mostly missed kiwisaver" bollocks! as a beneficiary I joined kiwisaver staightaway and found a scheme where I could put in $5 a week(all I could afford) and topped it up on the odd occasion that I had an earn. now, there is $20,000 there. not a huge amount, but more than I payed for my first and only house (and I payed 16% interest on the mortgage). cry somebody else a river christy, because your sob story doesnt work for me.

                • Chris T

                  It only started properly in 2007.

                  frown

                • Incognito

                  At the year ending 31 March 2020, the average member balance was $20,474. In total, there were 3,026,064 members, with 287,831 aged 17 and under and 169 aged 86 and over (and 564 of unknown age).

                  https://www.fma.govt.nz/assets/Reports/Kiwisaver-Annual-Report-2020.pdf

                  Good on you!

                • Foreign waka

                  Kiwi saver was not available in the 80's and early 90's. Many of the then 50 to 60 year old's lost a lot of money in the share market. I have seen them cry, literally. It was encouraged to invest in shares after Rodgernomics took hold. Bank interest rates were close to 20% and in the 90's 14-15%. An average house was around the 160K mark.

              • millsy

                "I am one that mostly missed kiwisaver, as it wasn't around as a kid, the house prices were already through the roof, we had to qualify properly for uni, there was no workiing for families, and youdidn't get the massive student loans handed out like confetti."

                You had –

                1) Cheap power and gas, as the power and gas boards were publicly owned

                2) Gauranteed jobs for those that wanted one

                3) +5% payrises every few months

                4) Family benefit capitalisation and housing corp mortages, also the government would build houses for people to buy, and they would be cheap

                5) State houses for anyone that wanted one

                6) truly free education, no 'donations' camp fees, activity fees, etc

                • Chris T

                  3,4,5 no we didn't. Slightly too young

                  Power prices I have no idea. They were included in my first rent, so probably yes, or they would have made us pay it.

                  Edit: I am in between the people you envy and you, presumably

                  • In Vino

                    Truly cheap shot, Chris T. I don't get the impression that Millsy envies anybody at all. I think he is recalling times in which he enjoyed, as I did, certain social goods.

                    Pretending not to understand how power prices have gone wrong since the 80s – 90s "reforms" does not impress me: I see you as a transparent right-wing troll.

                    • Chris T

                      I just wasn't living in NZ in the 90's.

                      There is a thing called an OE.

                      I had a long one

                    • Chris T

                      But feel free to accuse me of being whatever you want with no evidence.

                      It is funny, some people would call accusations like that bullying these days, as you have no knowledge of my mental state.

                      I could be fragile and you could be harrassing me, while verbally assaulting me.

                    • Muttonbird

                      ChrisT, commenters do have to make a judgement on your mental state before posting but I don't think anyone has got it wrong.

                      It's also not fair for you to hide behind people with genuine mental health problems for political purposes, as you have just done.

                    • Incognito []

                      Awesome comment! Well said!

                    • In Vino

                      Chris T: Ha ha. I spent nearly 5 years in Europe, but managed to keep things in perspective.

                      If you are so fragile yourself, stop making malicious assumptions about people like Millsy.

                    • Chris T

                      OK

                      Admittedly the envy vomment was probably harsh to Millsy. I apologise.

                      Your other speil I don't get.

                      Why would I keep track of prices while not living here?

                    • In Vino

                      Chris T

                      While living in Cologne (Germany) I regularly went to the British Council library, where I could read informative articles in the quality papers about what was happening in NZ, as well as critiques of economic policies in most European countries. I could do the same while living in Lyon (France). When I came back home, I was well-equipped to see that reforms of Rogernomics and Ruth Richardson were probably the worst policies we could have copied.

                      Where did you spend your OE? With a colony of ostriches with their heads stuck under the sand?

                      You lost all interest in your home country while overseas?

                      You ring totally false to me.

                    • Chris T

                      In Vino

                      Good for you. But not everyone does this.

                      In my 10 ears overseas in Europe I didn't really give a shit about NZ power bills

                    • Chris T

                      And yes

                      Most interest when it came to politics.

                    • Chris T

                      In fact your diligently trapsing your way to a library to read about NZ sounds a shit load more bollocks than me just not living here.

                    • In Vino

                      Not just about NZ – about the world and our place in it.

                      You seem to have buried your own head in sand without any ostriches around.

                      Learned a lot from your OE, did you? Or did you just waste your time as you now waste ours?

                    • Drowsy M. Kram

                      In my 10 ears overseas in Europe I didn't really give a shit about NZ power bills

                      Chris T @ 9:14 pm, I hear yah – 10 ears in Europe in the 90s eh? A nice round number, and overseas no less! Did you vote in the four NZ general elections during your "10 ears overseas in Europe", or just in the first two MMP elections?

                      …your diligently trapsing your way to a library to read about NZ sounds a shit load more bollocks than me just not living here.

                      An intriguing opinion. I agree with In Vino @8:55 pm – "You ring totally false to me." Until now your comments have been notably free of personal info – best not to give too much away if you want to maintain this persona. Remember, I said 'if' laugh

                • Treetop

                  Home ownership accounts worked in the early 1980s. I recall two methods, one you got 9% interest, the other gave dollar for dollar. At one point close to having a 20% deposit for a Wellington home both accounts got combined. Only one signature to withdraw. The biggest mistake I made was not having two signatures. The account was reduced to $13. That ended the marriage for me and I became a single mum.

                  I could afford the rent on the benefit and there was a short wait for a HNZ home, I could also run a car, have a yearly holiday and purchase furniture and not go hungry.

                  A lot has changed for the worse.

      • Adrian Thornton 7.1.2

        I will say this from my own bitter experiences and that of many of my friends.."mum and dad investors" are the absolute worst landlords that any renter has to deal with (not all of course…but most fo sure)…they are generally fucking awful, mean hearted and worse.

        • Treetop 7.1.2.1

          What is it that makes many “mum and dad investors” that way?

          • Incognito 7.1.2.1.1

            Many? How many? Or “most fo sure” [sic] as Adrian will have you believe?

            • Treetop 7.1.2.1.1.1

              To me a mum or dad investor owns one or two properties. Many for me is two thirds to three quarters.

              I find most mum and dad investors to be arrogant and most would not put up with what they expect a tenant to put up with.

              • Incognito

                Without marginalising Adrian’s or your personal and anecdotal experiences, this is not my own experience with NZ landlords.

                It is important to keep a perspective that goes beyond one’s personal experience and not to extrapolate these to the wider world (i.e. don’t generalise and/or stereotype).

                For example, in Q4 2020, the Tenancy Services received 1,133 applications from tenants for dispute resolution. https://www.tenancy.govt.nz/about-tenancy-services/data-and-statistics/ This is based on a total number of active bonds of 385,434 (as per 01-01-2021). Even if this is the tip of a much larger ‘iceberg’ and it doesn’t tell the ‘whole story’, it still seems a relatively low number (0.294%).

                • Treetop

                  When it comes to generalising and stereotyping my view has not always been so biased as in the last 3 years.

                  The latest round of the bright-line test and losing the tax break on interest has brought out the whingers and I have no time for landlord whingers.

                  • Incognito

                    Understood, which just shows how well the media megaphone can magnify the voice of a vocal minority.

              • gsays

                I understood Mum and Dad investors to be a term that was used when you wanted to paint a positive picture of landlording.

                Popularised by that Knight of the Realm, Slippery John. No-one could oppose the sale of our assets when it was Mum and Dad investers buying them.

                • Treetop

                  Mickey has written two good posts over the Easter break, this one and the Thunberg one. The Thunberg one got me thinking about the publicity an activist gets on climate and ecological change and this post what I actually think about how well landlords have done in the last 3 years and the state of housing for those who can least afford the rent.

                  How well the sale of government assets that Key sold has gone for mum and dad investors is something I would like seen reviewed?

        • RedLogix 7.1.2.2

          Ask any professional manager and they will tell you that most tenants will go from one place to another with no problems at all. Or they're happy where they are and never move at all. (In our experience over 20 years this accounts for about 93%.)

          And then there are those who always seems to run into issues. It may be just a matter of luck as to which one of these you are.

          • Treetop 7.1.2.2.1

            I have never had a property manager. Maybe a yearly inspection for 14 years when I was housed by HNZ in two properties. Dealing face to face with the landlord is different than dealing with a property manager.

      • bwaghorn 7.1.3

        "They are basically the generation that missed out on all the nice things we take for granted these days."

        You do understand that a bunch of them voted for muldoon the very fucker who killed off nzs first go at a super scheme.

        • Foreign waka 7.1.3.1

          Didn't he build a large power station with the retirement fund?

          • Craig H 7.1.3.1.1

            He closed the scheme, returned everyone's contributions and committed NZ to pay as we go Super.

      • greywarshark 7.1.4

        Who is 'the generation that missed out on all the nice things we take for granted these days.'?

        There are not a lot of nice things being granted these days, and not many to take for granted. Those who went through the Depression and WW1 and WW2 have had rising living standards, up until Labour of last century got sick of the dominant Unions, and while walking through the woods with a basket of goodies for the old and deprived, were met by foxy loxy Douglas with a golden report from Treasury showing how to get rich quick. And we know how those schemes turn out don't we – there was a cautionary tale on Kathryn's show this morning of how people at a loss for how to climb out of a seemingly hopeless hole, are being taken to the cleaners by sharpies. Deja vu all over again!

        Because you personally Chris T, apparently, are doing well along with whomever you care about, that is not sufficient grounds for your message quoted above.

  8. Reality 8

    Curious though that the capitalists who want no government interference in how they go about amassing their wealth, are very much front of the queue when things get a bit tough and they demand government assistance (in other words, socialism).

    • Chris T 8.1

      Do you have some examples?

      • Stuart Munro 8.1.1

        The "Taxpayers Union" claiming Covid relief must rate fairly high.

        • Chris T 8.1.1.1

          Fair point.

          But will reserve judgment till I know no other unions did.

          • Stuart Munro 8.1.1.1.1

            Unions, excluding the self-styled "Taxpayers Union" contact large numbers of people, and visit larger employers. As such they experienced actual constraint on their activities during Covid. The TU is donation and subscription based and produces puff pieces without any need for physical contact. Nice pretense of even-handedness though.

            • Chris T 8.1.1.1.1.1

              Sorry

              But a union is a union.

              I take it that will be an others did, while still taking money from people about to lose their jobs.

              • arkie

                It’s two years since the launch of the Taxpayers’ Union, which was the realisation of “an ambition that burned hot and hard in the minds of Jordan Williams and David Farrar”, as chairman John Bishop (father of National MP Chris Bishop) said at the recent annual meeting.

                Isn’t calling it a ‘union’ a bit cheeky? “Yeah,” says Bishop snr. “David Farrar said he liked it because it annoyed the left. Union is not a term which is owned by the trade union movement.”

                https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/the-big-read-so-whats-this-taxpayers-union-which-purports-to-represent-us-all/

                A union is an organisation that supports employees in the workplace by acting as an advocate for them collectively (and with the consent of the employee, individually). Unions bargain for collective employment agreements with employers and help employees with information and advice about work-related issues. You have to pay a fee to be a union member.

                There are unions for different kinds of workplaces and jobs so if you’re thinking about joining or setting up a union, you should find out about the ones that cover the type of work you do. For more information about unions, visit NZCTU.(external link)

                A registered union has to: have at least 15 members, become an incorporated society and register as a union.

                https://www.employment.govt.nz/starting-employment/unions-and-bargaining/unions/

                • Chris T

                  "A union is an organisation that supports employees in the workplace by acting as an advocate for them collectively (and with the consent of the employee,"

                  No it isn't

                  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/union

                  • Incognito

                    Yes, it is, as per example 2e in your own link.

                    Do you really want to play the diversion game of semantic skulduggery?

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    "A union is an organisation that supports employees in the workplace by acting as an advocate for them collectively (and with the consent of the employee,"

                    In my experience that’s what a workplace union is, and I was very glad of it. Individual experiences may differ and/or depend on one’s worldview wink

              • Stuart Munro

                Just because you make a claim to be something, doesn't mean you are that thing – the claims of an alleged very stable genius should make that very clear.

                As for unions, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, The Union Steamship Company, the European Union and Western Union are all rather different things.

                Just because a group of tax evaders get together with the Penguin and claim to be a union of tax payers does not make them that.

                But you are digressing – the point was the alacrity with which the champions of RW thought put their hands out for government funds. The Taxpayers Union were merely a particularly egregious example of the hypocrisy.

                Sky City scored a cool thirty million for example, and given the subsidy was really to support businesses made marginal by events, their glomming it was inappropriate – though scarcely atypical.

          • McFlock 8.1.1.1.2

            I don't know of any other "union" that took a government subsidy so it could continue complaining about government subsidies.

          • Craig H 8.1.1.1.3

            What do you mean by other unions? Union has a specific legal definition in NZ as explained in other replies to you, but then you linked to a dictionary, so presumably you were attempting to refer to other entities besides registered unions?

      • Foreign waka 8.1.2

        Chris – 16 Billion later, which makes me still very upset as this could have been better managed, to businesses that paid dividends making extraordinary profits. All those tax deductions that allow for lavish living whilst the ones on minimum income do not get a break, quite gulling actually.

    • Treetop 8.2

      The capitalists can scream about making less quick money off housing than they anticipated.

      I gave it a thought that if interest rates were kept at say 10% that the housing mess would never have come to what it is. People would have made money off their savings and not in tenanted housing due to the margin before the rapid increase in house prices.

      Crazy that a house can sit unoccupied because of the profit margin. When the government made the latest changes they needed to sort this out and increase the bright-line test by how long the property was vacant. E.g. 10 years plus vacancy.

      • Incognito 8.2.1

        Crazy that a house can sit unoccupied because of the profit margin. When the government made the latest changes they needed to sort this out and increase the bright-line test by how long the property was vacant. E.g. 10 years plus vacancy.

        Good point.

        A vacant property and undeveloped land (e.g. land banking) are telltale signs for IRD to look into it more and request a ‘please explain’. Please note that a BLT is just a test.

    • Pierre 8.3

      Socialism is when the government does stuff, and it's more socialism the more stuff it does.

      I was reading through this thread knowing with dread that I'd find this argument eventually, and here it is!

      It is not at all curious to observe that the capitalist state supports capitalist enterprise. You see it happening everywhere, and most of all in the EU and USA. Government subsidies for the large corporations are not some kind of contradictory 'socialism for the rich', it's just the normal response of the capitalist class using the state to protect their interests.

  9. Stuart Munro 9

    The ignorance of socialism is a concern, and of course it has been cultivated, particularly in the US, but here as well. While we don't get quite as many plonkers whining about Venezuela as we used to, we are obliged to shame Bowker's ignorance (and I imagine it is a cultivated ignorance, and therefore doubly shameful) if even modest progress is to be made.

    The neoliberals hiding under the skirts of the civil service and the party of the workers have not delivered anything of value, and they ought, even by their own paradigm, to be made to account for that.

    There are other divisive forces at work however, and the workers have little or no representation in parliament. The answer is probably a revivified union movement, which could lead the fight against the ongoing slave worker issues (ie the scumbags who bring them in), and traditionally developed credible left MPs.

  10. Andre 10

    Bernie couple of years ago:

    "I didn't know that it was a crime to write a good book which turns out to be a bestseller,"

    "I wrote a best-selling book," Sanders said then. "If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too."

    https://edition.cnn.com/2019/04/13/politics/bernie-sanders-millionaire-book-sales-tax-returns/index.html

    That he's now having a crack at Bezos and Musk for earning themselves into massive wealth just shows Bernie's shallowness. Bezos and Musk earned their wealth in exactly the same way Bernie did: by creating things (or services in Bezos' case) that lots of other people want enough that they are willing to spend their money to get, except that Bezos and Musk were many orders of magnitude better at it. They are not examples of the kind of grossly overpaid useless parasitism such as Romney, Mnuchin, Ross, Blankfein, Buffett etc that unrestrained neoliberalism has barfed up over the last few decades.

    To be sure, there's plenty to criticise in the laws and regulations that allowed Bezos and Musk to get away with some pretty shitty things along their way to wealth, and there's plenty to criticise in the tax laws that have failed to require Bezos and Musk to fairly contribute back to the society that enabled their wealth. Those lax laws and regulations should be the target of attacks, but Bernie's totally missing the boat on that.

    But by indulging in personal attacks on some of the most prominent examples of what capitalism does well, incentivising driven individuals to come up with products and services that other people want to make their lives better, Bernie really discredits himself and what he stands for.

    • arkie 10.1

      A million seconds takes 12 days; a billion seconds takes 32 years.

      Bezos and Musk aren't millionaires, they are multibillionaires.

      The equivalency is false.

      • Andre 10.1.1

        Well, yes, there's millions of people keen to spend tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands or millions on the products Musk is responsible for, and there's hundreds of millions of people keen to spend hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands through the services Bezos is responsible for.

        But there's only a few hundred thousand of people willing to spend tens of dollars on the products Bernie created. * sad trombone *

        https://www.forbes.com/sites/chasewithorn/2019/04/12/how-bernie-sanders-the-socialist-senator-amassed-a-25-million-fortune/?sh=7070f6a236bf

        Qualitatively they're the same, it's merely the order of magnitude of success that's different. And they're all so far outside the lived experience of the vast majority of Americans that from that perspective, they're equivalent.

        • arkie 10.1.1.1

          'Responsible for' in that they had investment capital that paid for others to research, design and manufacture the 'products'.

          Still a false equivalency.

          The problem people have with billionaires is no one earns that amount of money. It's not 'success' when the vast majority of Americans are materially deprived as a result of companies, like Musk's and Bezos' not paying their share of tax or letting their workers unionise.

          Totally different kettle of fish.

          • Andre 10.1.1.1.1

            They had the vision and commitment to things that could be different, as well as access to resources.

            Musk started from a few thousand bucks and a couple of rellies and friends and small investors to building a business worth tens of millions. He then took his cashed-up funds and found a new team and built a business worth hundreds of millions. He then cashed up and put it into new ventures that grew to be worth billions. And repeated the cycle to where he is now, in the hundreds of billions. Complete failure and it all crashing down back to nothing was a real live risk for Musk at a number of points in his career. He's put more effort and risk into earning his success than the vast majority of the rest of the population, along with a good helping of government and general societal assistance and plain good luck.

            The vision and commitment is the key part that seems to get suppressed or get channeled into really ugly pathways or otherwise go AWOL under systems that profess to be socialist. What did people with that kind of drive and commitment do in the old USSR or China or North Korea or any other socialist heaven you want to name?

            The problem of material deprivation is at worst only a tiny bit related to the vast fortunes Musk, et al have created for themselves and others. Attacking them personally for it is a really counterproductive approach, since it seeks merely to tear them down. Creating wealth as Musk, Jobs * et al have done really does lift all around them. Where things have fallen down is in setting systems and structures so they contribute fairly back to the society that made that wealth creation possible.

            That's where Bernie completely misses the target in having a go at them personally, in that he fails to acknowledge the key role those people play in making their nations wealthy. Nor does he seem to have put any effort into thinking through the likely result if he actually does succeed in tearing them down. And if Bernie really feels the need to go after people personally, there really are pure parasites that are much better targets. Most of Wall Street, for instance, produces nothing but is pure parasitism.

            * Yes, there is a shift from Bezos to Jobs. In my opinion, Bezos doesn't really create wealth, he simply set up a system for getting stuff from creators to consumers that consumers liked better than other ways, which means Bezos gets to clip the ticket rather than other people. At best, Bezos just reduces the wealth destruction caused by myriad ticket clippers all taking big bites.

    • RedLogix 10.2

      Good comment. The left really does tend to have a paradoxical attitude toward prosperity. On the one hand we rightly condemn poverty while at the same time we attack the proven means of alleviating it.

      Personally I do think we could begin by accepting that there will always be significant difference between people, and that innately any system that rewards innovation and investment will by it's nature tend toward a Pareto Power law distribution of outcomes. (That is, the top 1% will control 50% of the wealth.) From this empirical observation, perhaps we might build a more nuanced and effective means of bending this undeniable engine of material wealth, towards more complex ends promoting social and spiritual health.

      But this defense of the capitalist economy as it's evolved so far, is emphatically not an argument that it's neo-liberal form of the past 50 years should never change. Right now I'm reading Why Liberalism Failed (Patrick Deenan) which eloquently explores why the neo-liberal idea of the individual being not only sovereign, but the only thing that mattered, contains – despite it's undeniable successes – it's own pathological seeds of failure. Skipping to the end of the book:

      I conclude by taking three of those initial steps.

      First, the achievements of liberalism must be acknowledged, and the desire to “return” to a preliberal age must be eschewed. We must build upon those achievements while abandoning the foundational reasons for its failures. There can be no going back, only forward.

      Second, we must outgrow the age of ideology. Of the three great modern ideologies, only the oldest and most resilient remains, but liberals mistook the fall of its competitors for the end of history rather than the pyrrhic victory it really was. The gap between liberalism’s claims about itself and the lived reality of the citizenry widens to the point that the lie can no longer be accepted. Instead of trying to conceive a replacement ideology (or returning to some updated version of an alternative, such as a renascent Marxism), we should focus on developing practices that foster new forms of culture, household economics, and polis life.

      Third, from the cauldron of such experience and practice, a better theory of politics and society might ultimately emerge. Such a theory must eschew liberalism’s ideological dimensions yet be cognizant of its achievements and the rightful demands it makes—particularly for justice and dignity. The outlines of such a theory are already discernible, guided by liberalism’s own retention of essential concepts from a preliberal age—especially that of liberty—and reinforced by experience and practice essential for a humane life. This first step toward a new theory is the most tentative, but it faces in a confident direction, given the perpetual appeal of certain basic political ideals that have been present in the Western tradition since antiquity.

      Deneen, Patrick J.. Why Liberalism Failed (Politics and Culture) (pp. 183-184). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.

      • arkie 10.2.1

        The left really does tend to have a paradoxical attitude toward prosperity. On the one hand we rightly condemn poverty while at the same time we attack the proven means of alleviating it.

        The 'proven means of alleviating' poverty is continuing to allow incredible concentration of wealth to a smaller and smaller group of individuals?

        Bizarre.

        The recession ushered in by the novel coronavirus has not meant economic catastrophe for everyone, however. In fact, in the months since the virus reached the United States, many of the nation’s wealthiest citizens have actually profited handsomely. Over a roughly seven-month period starting in mid-March – a week after President Donald Trump declared a national emergency – America’s 614 billionaires grew their net worth by a collective $931 billion.

        https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/12/01/american-billionaires-that-got-richer-during-covid/43205617/

        • RedLogix 10.2.1.1

          Selectively quoting only part of my comment and then ignoring my next paragraph which explicitly goes on to acknowledge the inequality the system is generating isn't in the least helpful.

          It's the kind of dishonest trick that doesn't generate anything constructive.

          • arkie 10.2.1.1.1

            In your second paragraph you say we should 'accept' that '1% will control 50% of the wealth'.

            Your comment stands above, readers can determine for themselves whether I have been dishonest or constructive.

            You could also choose to explain how you think we might build a more nuanced and effective means of bending this undeniable engine of material wealth, towards more complex ends promoting social and spiritual health.

            • RedLogix 10.2.1.1.1.1

              Again twisting my words will take us nowhere. My exact claim is:

              Personally I do think we could begin by accepting that there will always be significant difference between people, and that innately any system that rewards innovation and investment will by it's nature tend toward a Pareto Power law distribution of outcomes.

              That's not the same as saying that we should accept the negative consequences of this. It's been clearly established that beyond a certain threshold, the gross extremes of wealth and poverty are hugely detrimental and undermine social cohesion. In the modern era of unprecedented wealth generation, it remains one of the great unsolved social and moral challenges.

              Liberalism's answer is to rightly point out that if we allow the wealth generators unfettered freedom to create – the resulting 'rising tide would lift all boats'.

              The Conservatives answer is to rightly point to the reality that much of the reason why people fall to the bottom of the heap is the result of their own choices – and that encouraging personal responsibility would help.

              The Socialist answer is to rightly point out that no person lives in isolation from all others and that we all bear a collective responsibility for our total welfare – therefore redistributing ‘from each according to their capacity, to those according to their needs’ is justified without limit.

              It's my view that each of these answers is partially right and wrong at the same time. Worse still as purist ideologies they're demonstrably disastrous.

              At the same time it's not unreasonable to suggest that a society that can combine the positive aspects of each, wealth generation, personal responsibility and collective welfare has to be heading in a good direction.

              • Muttonbird

                Arkie is not twisting your words. Arkie is quoting you directly.

                • Incognito

                  Why don’t you leave it to Arkie and RL to sort out their differences of opinion?

                  Start your own thread under this OP or on OM, if you wish, but leave your personal views of RL at the door, as they might get you in trouble.

                  • Muttonbird

                    Ok, not great if we all comment in a bubble, unable to respond to others but you do make the rules.

                    My feeling is that RL's claims are being protected, which is unfortunate.

                    • Incognito

                      My feeling is that Arkie doesn’t need your ‘help’ and that you have better things to do here.

                      As I said, start your own thread here or on OM.

                      BTW, I don’t make up the rules; they are in the site’s Policy, which I did not write. But you know that.

                      This is not a moderation; you were given your final warning last night @ 8:25 pm, in case you missed it (again). Please don’t trigger it and the best you can do to avoid this is to stay away from RL 🙂

                      HTH

              • Drowsy M. Kram

                Liberalism's answer is to rightly point out that if we allow the wealth generators unfettered freedom to create – the resulting 'rising tide would lift all boats'.

                The Socialist answer is to rightly point out that no person lives in isolation from all others and that we all bear a collective responsibility for out total welfare – therefore redistributing from those with the ability to those with the need is justified without limit.

                Neat summary RL. The liberal "rising tide that lifts all boats" seems very attractive (although that particular rising tide does come at a price), whereas the socialist redistribution of wealth "without limit" sounds a bit scary.

                As you point out, globally wealth has never been more abundant, super-abundant in fact, albeit unevenly distributed. Imho it's past time to give greater priority to wealth redistribution that stabilises the crumbling foundations of those facing a life in debt, i.e. those that have, remarkably, 'missed the wave'.

                Imho, one 'problem' facing a fairly sizable minority of NZ citizens is paying for the necessities of life. Maybe inequality in NZ has gone a little too far…

                Why poverty in New Zealand is everyone's concern
                Liang describes poverty as a "heritable condition" that perpetuates and amplifies through generations: "It is also not hard to see how individual poverty flows into communities and society, with downstream effects on economics, crime and health, as well as many other systems. Loosen one strand and everything else unravels."

                A Kete Half Empty
                Poverty is your problem, it is everyone's problem, not just those who are in poverty. – Rebecca, a child from Te Puru

                • RedLogix

                  As you point out, globally wealth has never been more abundant, super-abundant in fact, albeit unevenly distributed.

                  Agreed. And yet I think it's helpful to stop thinking that the reasons for this are entirely nefarious, or purely the result human greed and corruption. I would argue that while these factors do exist, and do make matters worse, I still think any economic system based on rewarding investment and innovation (both essential to ensure a better future than today) – will tend toward a Pareto Power law of outcomes over time.

                  For this reason just yelling at some arbitrary percentage – the top 1% for example – for being the cause of all our ills is misplaced.

                  I'm going to be a little provocative here, but it's worth asking this question. Why do we think inequality matters? After all even the poorest 10% of New Zealanders still enjoy a material life far better than the bottom 40% globally, and dramatically better than anything their ancestors 200 yrs ago enjoyed. Why does the fact of the top 1% controlling so much wealth actually matter?

                  Only some of the answer lies in the material dimension – I'd love to see a UBI or GMI that worked. It's quite clear we need to lift the social net a fair bit further off the ground. There are some basic things this govt can and should be doing to help – even a little bit.

                  But beyond this, on reading The Spirit Level it's clear that most of the negative consequences of inequality arise in the psychological and social domains – not just the material.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Agreed. And yet I think it's helpful to stop thinking that the reasons for this are entirely nefarious, or purely the result human greed and corruption.

                    Couldn't agree more RL; socioeconomic inequality (and poverty) is not due to “entirely nefarious” actions, or “purely the result human greed and corruption” – these are merely contributing factors over which we can exercise some personal and/or collective agency, if we so choose.

                    And, if we accept the inexorable nature of the Pareto principle, then imho it is still within 'our' power to ameliorate its less desirable outcomes. Indeed, a concerted and continual commitment to redistribution of wealth could, over time, reset the outcomes of this principle – in matters of human society, the agency is (collectively) ours.

                    Some might be uncomfortable with such socioeconomic engineering, but it's unlikely that many of would be significantly less comfortable in a material sense, although I have previously acknowledged the deep psychological wounds that might accompany the sacrifice of 2% of one's wealth on a regular basis, or at least until such time as wealth portfolios could be 'rearranged' (think "greed and corruption"). Tbh, I prefer a simple life.

                    And, as you helpfully point out with your reference to The Spirit Level, inequality is damaging to societies and individuals on multiple levels, from the material through to "the psychological and social domains" – I think you have gone most of the way to answering your own (provocative) question – "Why do we think inequality matters?"

                    A more interesting, if provocative question might be to ask what makes some people ask "Why do we think inequality matters?" wink

                    https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/surprise/202005/are-you-greedy

                    • RedLogix

                      If we accept the inexorable nature of the Pareto principle, imho it is still within 'our' power to ameliorate its less desirable outcomes. Indeed, a concerted and continual commitment to redistribution of wealth could, over time, reset the outcomes of this principle – in matters of human society, the agency is (collectively) ours.

                      Good – I'd hope we can both firmly agree and move forward on this basis.

                      Keep in mind we already do quite a lot of redistribution. Virtually every physical and social service provided by local and central govt, from roads and sewerage, to education, health and security are redistributive in nature. Plus pretty much any family earning less than the median income is paying close to zero net tax even in our present system. It's useful not to lose sight of these things.

                      The question I would ask is, if you want to ask for more redistribution, what would you ask for that delivered the best bang for the buck? Otherwise we likely run into the old law of diminishing returns.

                      My answer to this question has been a UBI, because as I've outlined elsewhere, I believe the most potent aspect is it's ability to give people an unconditional of a sense of their own agency.

                      The other area I'd look at very hard if I was 'King of Aoteaoroa' for a few years, would be our education system and to see what lessons we can take from the Finnish experience and translate them to NZ. More than anything else we should be teaching our young people to seek excellence, to expect the best from themselves. And the best way to do this is to have teachers who model this in their own lives, because they're part of system which both rewards and respects them for it.

                      We need to crush the culture of low expectations in NZ, celebrate the AB's, TMNZ and any number of people who are doing incredibly well at things they love doing – and collectively insist that we want this opportunity for everyone. Get that right and a lot of the policy details will naturally flow from it.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    Yep, NZ already does a fair bit of wealth redistribution via general taxation – how do we compare with, say, Finland?

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_tax_rates

                    What are we doing wrong?

                    And, while we're on the topic of Finland, I couldn't hardly agree more regarding investment in education to make teaching in NZ a more desirable and respected profession, but how much more redistribution might be required to get to that level again?

                    We're up against it, but at least we can still laugh.

                • Andre

                  "wealth redistribution" as framing immediately puts off the huge majority of those that aspire to ever have wealth, that then might be taken off them for redistribution.

                  Seems to me the better framing is ensuring opportunity for all, so that poverty is less of a heritable condition. Part of that goes to topics such as estate tax, so that the spawn of the wealthy don't also have a heritable unearned position at the top of the pile, where their incompetence is a drag on the rest of us.

                  • RedLogix

                    Yes. A lot of this comes down to positive constructions.

                    My personal view – and it is personal – is that a society which measures value in terms of service and duty to each other is going to a lot more psychologically healthy than we enjoy at present.

                    Consider how well Ardern did this with COVID around the 'team of 5m' framing. So how does this translate the much wider problem of inequality?

                    Well components of the answer lie pretty much to hand. We know how harness individual creativity and interest to build economic systems that generate wealth. We know that personal discipline and sacrifice tend toward good outcomes. We know that people are happiest when they feel they have some control over the choices in their lives. We know that being able to give back to the community can be incredibly rewarding when it's something you care about. We know that most people are highly rewarded when they experience excellence, meaning and connection in their lives.

                    These are all psychological drivers – and all of them can feed into a society that's both prosperous and content with that prosperity at the same time.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    "wealth redistribution" as framing immediately puts off the huge majority of those that aspire to ever have wealth, that then might be taken off them for redistribution.

                    If a "wealth redistibution" framing is off-putting to "the huge majority of those that aspire to ever have wealth", then I reckon it's even more off-putting to those who would be the immediate targets of a wealth tax, even though such a tax would have a negligible impact on their material comfort. It's the psychological impact, the very thought of a 'wealth grab', that gnaws at them.

                    Of course I'm only speculating. Although not particularly wealthy, I'm fortunate to be wealthy enough, and since I don't aspire to have (more) wealth, I can focus on more satisfying enterprises.

                    https://www.thefbcg.com/resource/managing-the-psychological-impact-of-inherited-wealth/

                    https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2018/sep/18/kate-pickett-richard-wilkinson-mental-wellbeing-inequality-the-spirit-level

                    • Andre

                      Y'know, if you're confident that a particular tax is never going to affect you, then your opining on its design strikes me as akin to a fish opining on bicycle design.

                    • Muttonbird

                      Andre. It could be moral conscience. Ever heard of it?

                    • Andre

                      Muttonbird, if you ever paid attention to what other people actually say instead of being entirely self-absorbed in your own public political masturbation, you might have noticed me advocating loudly and strongly over many years here for capital gains taxes, gift taxes, estate taxes among others. All of which I have paid at some point, and would expect to pay again if they were introduced into New Zealand.

                    • Muttonbird

                      Andre. Clearly I pay a lot of attention to what other people actually say. I'm being threatened with excommunication because of it.

                      That I haven't noticed you advocating for redistribution taxes might mean your other political views run counter to that. At least from this view point.

                  • Drowsy M. Kram

                    It’s not all about me – taxation is a general good, imho. Those who might benefit (directly or indirectly) from proposed/typothetical taxation changes are as entitled to express an opinion as those who might pay increased tax, imho.

                    Presumably you're only critiquing my opinion because I'm in favour of a wealth tax – it seems unlikely that you would have much to say if I was expressing dismay at the prospect of a wealth tax, regardless of how it might (or might not) affect me.

      • Incognito 10.2.2

        The word “theory” sounds very academic and not like something that could or would help guide us getting there. As mentioned, it has to encompass much more than just economic theory, which makes it even less likely it can and will be used as a trailblazer. Indeed, some of the outlines are starting to emerge and quite possibly all the necessary components are already present for alignment and integration into a whole. As with complex systems, and paradoxically, emergence can create something completely new and unexpected that might feel counterintuitive; it is not magic but close to it.

        I was reminded of a very good book I read a few years back, which can be accessed online: http://cognet.mit.edu/book/complementary-nature [HT to Anne Salmond]

        Rather than a ‘theory’, we need a new narrative that we all can understand and incorporate into our lives and thinking.

        • Tiger Mountain 10.2.2.1

          hey Incognito, my LPrent quotes are at…
          6.2.1.2.1.1

        • RedLogix 10.2.2.2

          Thanks. I like that comment a lot.

          You're spot on in that I think we have a lot of the components lying about, but we need a fresh view on how to put them together correctly.

          Lot's of good minds – way better than mine – are grappling with this and I'd love to see the 'left' let go of the stale old paradigms and open up to a broader discussion.

          If nothing else I've deliberately set about pointing to where I think the three political traditions of conservatism, liberalism and socialism each do get it right – and that a whole of society solution is just damn well going to have to admit everyone to the table. Even people we've been so set against for so long.

          • Incognito 10.2.2.2.1

            smiley

            I strongly believe, actually, I’m convinced that something will grow/crystallise from the apparent mess/chaos that we’re in. Transition periods are confusing (and painful, especially when we resist) but once looking back, things may start to appear simple(r) and sensible, somewhat …

  11. Obtrectator 11

    "Wanting to make life multiplanetary does not cut it as excuse. You know how this will work out, the only people going interplanetary will be the wealthy, escaping Earth after having wrecked it."

    Read Ben Elton's "Stark" to see how that will play out. And even if all the escapees do manage to get along together, they'll soon start to realise what a horrible existence they'll have to drag out without the supporting ecosystem they originated from. It's all interlinked, folks. Remove any one element from it, that element's got no hope of ultimate survival on its own. Not, at any rate, without adaptation by evolution for which there wouldn't be enough time.

  12. Muttonbird 12

    The claim capitalism is a proven means of alleviating poverty is demonstrably false because poverty, both material and relative still exist, and in countries which have a long history with the system, while they are rich, relative poverty is an increasing presence.

    The right wing do love to use historical measures in defence of capitalism. You've seen it before, 'in 1920 no one had refrigerators, now we all have them so unrestrained capitalism must be good'. Doesn't matter if some people have nothing to put in that refrigerator.

    Scott Morrison used a similar relativity when he compared a 10,000 strong women's march on parliament with protests in Myanmar and suggested the same protest would be met with bullets.

    Such thinking by the reactionary right is designed to distract from the clear failings of capitalism (or whatever else they might be defending) by citing unrelated reference points. The thinking is that this system, heir system, is glorious and anyone who can't live in it shall just have to suffer.

    Life's not fair, etc.

  13. greywarshark 13

    The post is about a stodgy dirge of all the usual suspect rhetoric from a I'm-doing-nicely-leave-our-sector alone loudmouth. Some of us in NZ are trying to face up to some of our now structural economic problems, one being that landlords are being subsidised by government to provide high cost, often low quality rental properties. One name comes to mind 'Peter Rachman' – all should know about this foreigner who entered the UK and dug his way into their financial system and made big quids out of combining housing and corruption.

    We are trying to improve a bad system in NZ, which is very largely the cause of the number of poor people here who have been caught up in the housing cobweb being eaten alive by landlords being nursed by the government. This is not a socialist government by the way. This is about doing a little to help the poor, who mostly rent. Will our new landlord and renting measures help our poor? Something must be done but are we likely to be distracted to concentrate on the huge matter of concern about race, and Maori structural disadvantage?

    A study made on the poor in the UK places social class at the top of the difficulties that the poor face. Lack of social mobility in other words.

    We have followed Giddens' Middle Way trying to balance on the narrow gym beam of less government and more self-reliance which requires great concentration by government on one narrow goal. Gymnasts can't afford to let their attention wander. We can, we are supposed to be a sensible, commonsense caring community. Look what the UK has found about their poor.

    In one of those ironies with which history abounds, the Report, [Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (CRED)] commissioned by Boris Johnson’s Conservative Government in the aftermath of the world-wide “Black Lives Matter” protests of 2020, and which highlights the critical role played by social class in generating inequality, has “disappointed” Sir Keir Starmer, leader of the British Labour Party. Starmer’s namesake, Keir Hardie (1856-1915) a pioneer of working-class representation in the British parliament, would have found Starmer’s response ideologically incomprehensible.

    According to a BBC news report (2/4/21), the CRED Report found evidence that “factors such as geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion had ‘more significant impact on life chances than the existence of racism’.”

    It is difficult to think of a statement more calculated to upset those for whom white racism – personal and institutional – constitutes the key explanation for the negative experiences and life outcomes of people living in Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities. The only information likely to prove more “triggering” is the CRED Report’s finding that, in terms of raw numbers, there are more white families living in poverty in Britain than black families….

    The same socio-economic dynamics are, of course, at work in New Zealand. Indeed, those with good memories will recall a very similar debate which erupted over the “Closing the Gaps” policy promoted, and then abandoned, by the Helen Clark-led coalition governments of 1999-2008. Exactly as has occurred in Britain, the research undertaken in what appeared to be a race issue came back with the unwelcome news that the “gaps” in New Zealand society were generated overwhelmingly by socio-economic factors.

    from Bowalley Road – https://bowalleyroad.blogspot.com/2021/04/a-bigger-impact-class-still-trumps-race.html

    I feel that in NZ while we were making a stand on nuclear deterrence, the basis of our economic and social lives and hopes was undermined and the sly action of a Gang of Four or so of Labour elite coupled with Treasury blandishments, took us so far and so fast from our familiar scenario, that we were befuddled.

    I wouldn't want us to concentrate just on Maori issues, but the whole matter of lack of steady jobs with livable wages, and enough to make small regular savings for a deposit, and have social mobility must be to the fore with small provisions to enable people to plan for a secure future and work towards it with government behind them, offering opportunities and incentives. Put some of the swingeing welfare costs into assisting personal development at people's own pace, not with sour, pursed lips, but encouragement to those wanting to help themselves, given a chance. Maori would form their own style of advancement, with tikanga, and perhaps less pakeha individuality and either pan-whanau objectives, or small groups with similar objectives working together harmoniously. Let us all move upwards as needed, some more than others.

  14. The herald, as is usual, bringing in a dog whistler. This person might just shunt advertising dollars towards the herald while he brays his ignorant propaganda to his board and shareholders. It saves their own employees doing it.

  15. McFlock 15

    Capitalism is the scorpion, society is the frog.

    We all know that capitalists prioritise their own wealth over everything else. We praise millionaires and billionaires. But even its earliest describers talked about capitalists inevitably discussing a "conspiracy against the public".

    The hypocrisy of the capitalist is to decry the very subsidies and regulatory assistance for which they promptly apply, while blaming the hardships of others on "personal choices".

    The people who demand enthusiastic and capable service (from hospo staff who don't get a living wage) couldn't make a decent cup of coffee if their life depended on it, let alone get the orders right.

    And all the while, the crumbs they throw to others are regarded as "job creation" – the job being to put more money into their purse.

    Is there an alternative to brutalist capitalism? Probably, but the point of this comment is that asking a banker about options to fix the housing problem is like asking a fox to make recommendations on the security of the henhouse.

    • Muttonbird 15.1

      One of the things wrong with capitalism is the false premise that anyone can make it. Not all people are able to operate in the world we have created. What of them? Capitalists don't care.

      Another is exponentialism. That is profit makers use profit generators, exponentially. The profit employers realise is exponentially larger than that which workers and their families see. They should not be surprised when asked for wealth redistribution, exponentially.

      This sits in an economic structure in which profit generators (workers) have no say. They are asked to operate silently in an increasingly unfair system. Proof that the current wealth redistribution model does not work is that vulnerable people continue to grow in numbers.

      • greywarshark 15.1.1

        Capitalism makes sure that not all can 'make it'. Because – competition, as soon as someone wants to make it by starting up a business and working hard, the capitalist will work at stealing their customers, complaining about something they should have done, copying their innovations, undercutting them by selling below cost which the big business can bear by cross-subsidy in their store, and the other business looks like scammers to the unthinking.

        All the cliches and slogans that the wealthy mouth they pass around, doesn't matter about the quality of them just keep up the quantity and don't pay attention to aggrieved squawks – these days more and more are seen in 'humorous' little digs on the internet.

  16. zee 16

    He is the Executive director of Caniwi Capital, a privately owned investment firm involved in private equity, commercial property and farming.

    • Incognito 16.1

      That’s an exact quote of text in the OP!?

      What’s your point?

      • peter sim 16.1.1

        Bowkers ignorance and arrogance calls into question his competence in charge of anything, let alone a company board.

        Oh, I forgot he is a banker.

  17. Jackel 17

    A long overdue little dose of reality for the housing market from the Labour government and suddenly the tories start exhibiting symptoms of reds under the bed paranoia. Would you rather a stronger dose of reality like the Reserve Bank raising interests rates to say 5%? I'm sure you wouldn't argue with that, after all what a bold move by the bank to take the heat out of the housing market. What's that? Not even a murmur.

  18. vto 18

    Humans are intensely social. Socialism is the coming together of people to achieve an end. It isn't that 'owning the means of production' nonsense – it is a description of how we go about the world. Everything humans have achieved is a result of socialist undertakings. Everything. Humans who are not social shrivel up and die.

    Business is intensely social. NZ's two biggest businesses, Foodstuffs and Fonterra, are coops ffs. A limited liability company is a socialist organisation, being a group of shareholders coming together to achieve an end – there is nothing more socialist than a limited liability company.

    I don't understand the brainless vilification of socialist undertakings by the 'right' and by business when they use those very structures each and every single day.

    There is nothing but socialist undertaking for humans.

    This understanding should drive everything.

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