“Care for people rather than the economy”

There was an interesting line up on Q & A this morning, with a repeated theme of people versus corporations and the economy.

First Tim Groser was interviewed on the Government view on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.

Then Labour leader Andrew Little was interviewed, also about the TPPA. He said things like “our moral duty is to protect the interests of New Zealand citizens”, “we will legislate to protect New Zealanders” and “I’ve got to make judgement calls on what’s the best interests of New Zealand and New Zealanders”.

On the panel were two who were pro-TPPA – international relations specialist from Auckland Uni Dr Stephen Hoadley and Government Relations Consultant Charles Finney.

Also on the panel was Helen Kelly, President of Council of Trade Unions, who was against the TPPA, seeing it as corporations versus people/workers.

If you think the economy is just existing for corporations and they should be able to do whatever they like  without Governments actually being able to put in restrictions or make laws that are in the the interests of New Zealand people then you might say that these sorts of deals are ok.

Curiously, following this, there was an interview of someone also pushing people versus the economy lines. Greg Presland has posted about this at The Standard.

Anat Shenker-Osorio on the creation of left metaphors

Communications Anat Shenker-Osorio has some simple messages for Labour in its quest for Government.  The left’s strongest advantage is its care for people rather than the economy and the message that will resonate is a positive one emphasising the care of people and the environment.

For unions she proposed that it should be emphasised that they are not somewhat dated third parties but a collection of people.

“We have a better brand.

“Our brand is that we love people and we are on the side of people and we are on the side of the nation and we just need to stop having the argument about who loves the economy best.”

If you want a flavour of her approach to politics and her scathing critique of the current infatuation of some with “middle ground” or “third way” politics then the video below provides this. Basically her message is that the left should engage the base, persuade the middle rather than cater to them and if it is not alienating the right it is not doing things properly.

Shenker-Osorio is in New Zealand to give a talk to the CTU Conference.

So Q & A had a triple hit on people versus the economy:

  • A staunch Unionist
  • A Unionist who has become leader of the Labour Party
  • A communications expert, researcher and political pundit 

Anat Shenker-Osorio is a communications expert, researcher and political pundit whose one-of-a-kind work is challenging the way dozens of organizations and political figures talk about the most pressing issues of our time.  She’s the author of the acclaimed book“Don’t Buy It: The Trouble with Talking Nonsense About the Economy.”


What Little, Kelly and Shenker-Osorio all failed to acknowledge (and possibly understand) is that a healthy economy is good for workers and for people in general. There is a very close relationship between the health of the economy and the well being of and opportunities for people.

Playing the economy versus people line might fools some of the people some of the time but most of those people may be the ideological players rather than the voters.

Incidentally I wasn’t very impressed with Shenker-Osorio but you can make up your own mind if you missed her this morning on Q & A:

Video: Expert advice for the political left (7:54) 

Anat Shenker Osorio, an expert in the science of linguistics who helps left wing or progressive organisations to help them target their political conmunication.


Leave a comment


  1. + or -

     /  11th October 2015

    On the RT channel’s Keiser Report last week, there was a discussion on ‘negative and falling interest rates’ …..

    Max opined, ” …that when a country’s money becomes worthless, so do its people”

  2. Kevin

     /  11th October 2015

    “The left’s strongest advantage is its care for people rather than the economy and the message that will resonate is a positive one emphasising the care of people and the environment.”

    That is one of the biggest lies, if not the biggest lie, of the Left. Did Stalin care about the people? Did Mao? Did Castro? Did Pol Pot?

    Generally both Right and Left care about the people and want the fairest deal for everyone. The disagreement is on how to get there.

    • traveller

       /  11th October 2015

      The thing is how do the Left successfully frame political language? How do they tell the people who they are, where they stand, what they believe in and how they’re going to make a difference to their lives?

      I can’t see it myself. Care for the people? Only their base buy that one. The chop and change leaders, the negativity of the Parliamentary wing, the extreme nastiness of the Standard writers/contributors and the twitterati say the polar opposite of caring to me. They scream contempt for the aspirational, they decry attempts to better literacy and youth outcomes through specialised Iwi based charter schools and worst of all they’ve stolen a good word in Progressive. Progressive!!! Call me a curmudgeon but for decades the left in the West have shown us nothing new except how to spend ever more redistributed money on ambulances at the bottom of cliffs.

    • kittycatkin

       /  11th October 2015

      Caring for people and not the economy is meaningless. It’s like parents saying that they won’t bother to earn money or pay the bills, they’ll just love their children and the rest will take care of itself. Without an economy, there are no people, they’ll starve to death.

      • Kitty – but that is exactly what people like Sue Bradford and Hone push. Its do what you want, don’t worry about money the Government will provide and they will get the money from those “rich pricks”… Rich pricks a nice strawman to represent the unknown, grasping, exploitative other – classic hate politics

        • kittycatkin

           /  11th October 2015

          One of the richest (and most generous) men I have ever met unabashedly refers to himself as a rich prick 😀

  3. Mike C

     /  11th October 2015

    The good news is that most New Zealanders want to feel like they are part of the “Team” and Country that has a thriving economy 🙂

    Most New Zealanders are proud to be Kiwis, and like knowing that our little country is punching above its weight in comparison to the rest of the World.

    People like Little with his long-term Union background, and Ardern with her sheltered beltway career, and Robertson also having a very similar history to her, with the added “bonus” of being a member of the Rainbow Community, says only one thing, which is that the three of them, and most of their Caucus Colleagues, basically live in a plastic bubble … and their mindset is very narrow, and they don’t have a clue as to how the Joe and Joanna Bloggs New Zealanders feel.

    They are out of touch with normal everyday New Zealanders, which is ironic, given that one of the first things Little said when he became Labour Leader was that the first thing on his to do list, was that he was going to talk to centre-left middle New Zealanders about what Labour needed and had to do to woo and win their votes back. LOL.

  4. I guess most Kiwis at heart are people persons. Add to that a pragmatic and commonsense way of looking at the whole situation before making judgements. In my experience, Academics, particularly those who are based in tertiary institutions, lack life experience, under-value honesty and integrity in the pursuit of their ideologies. The Kiwi voter will look at who is saying things, as well as what is being said and attach a value to both. The principal actors, both foreign educated, are lacking in at least one of those areas. The end does not justify the means, Look at who represents Labour right now, and make your own judgements in the light of the UK experience as well.

  5. Geoffrey Monks

     /  11th October 2015

    “What Little, Kelly and Shenker-Osorio all failed to…. understand is that a healthy economy is good for workers and for people in general.” Who said? where is the evidence? How much more benefit might be dreived by “the people in general” from a balanced co-operative? This attack on the wit of the commentators is no more than a shabby distraction. Arguably, a healthy ‘economy’ is seldom more than a fertile trough for the ever hungrier Corporate predators to feast from: there is very little in it for the working person to enjoy.

    • Geoffrey – a balanced co-operative… cool let us know when you have set one up and its trading successfully. Nothing stops workers forming co-operatives and making their own way in the world..

      Unionists have had decades to take some RISK, establish their own businesses as workers co-operatives and break free from the bonds of Capitalism featuring Bosses and workers….

      Where are these co-operatives? I have asked a few over on the standard about this before – they never respond. Why? Is it because they don’t want to take RISK and make something of their own, but instead want to appropriate others property for their benefit at no risk via ever escalating demands for higher wages and benefits? We have seen where that takes industries – see the Aussie car manufacturing industry, as soon as the boom times end the business collapses under the escalated worker costs and who loses the most – Workers who lose their livelihoods…

      Corporate business structures in and off themselves are not a problem. Rapacious business practices are and should be resisted by Governments… and on that front I note the OECD countries are finally tackling multi-nationals tax evasion schemes…

      The left should put its MONEY where its mouth is and start co-operatives. they have access to the capital via Union dues and doubtless workers desperate to escape their bondage will push in a few more dollars to make a co-operative business start up possible….. I look forward to seeing workers co-operatives emerge…

      • artcroft

         /  11th October 2015

        An excellent response.

      • Mike C

         /  11th October 2015


        Most of the Maori Tribes have gotten their shit together when it comes to sorting out grievances with whichever Government was in at the time.

        So how come the Leftie-Unions and dis-enfranchised folks haven’t got the ability to sort their shit out ???

        Is it because the Unions are wanting a pay-out like what all the Maori Tribes have had 🙂

      • Geoffrey Monks

         /  11th October 2015

        Thank you for engaging with me as I feel my way along an unfamiliar path. I have owned and operated a small business that employed a number of staff and have to concede that from time to time I did feel rather exploited by the cavalier and risk-free attitude of some of those employees. On reflection, it seems entirely possible that had they enjoyed a vested interest in the businesses, things might have been different. We will never know.

        Perhaps it would be useful to look at the other end of the scale, where cause and effect are rather more evident – the corporate sphere. You have queried if the workers are averse to making “something of their own, but instead want to appropriate others’ property for their benefit at no risk” . Surely it is against the corporate enterprise that such a charge is more appropriately leveled? Are they not exploiting the nation’s resources for their exclusive (if they can get away with it) benefit? That would count as other peoples’ property wouldn’t it?

        Are you sure that when the boom time ends and business collapse that it is the workers who are to blame? I suggest that it is much more the case that it is the corporate reluctance to reduce its profit that leads to industrial collapse. By far the majority of industrial job losses can be attributed not to worker greed but to corporate greed. The wholly unconscionable process of out-sourcing manufacture shows no mercy to even the most loyal of work forces.

        When the bail-out of the six US “banks that cannot be allowed to fail” took place a few years back, who owned the $30T that was coughed up? Where did it go? What sort of risk was that to the respective Boards? There must certainly have been some risk or they would not have reaped a new record run of bonuses – would they?

        Let me suggest that now is a very good time to look very carefully at why many/most co-operatives fail and to seek to put in place measures to overcome past deficiencies. Of course it is not in the interests of corporations to find solutions to problems encountered by a source of competition so potent that it could conceivably see them off. So, we have to do that. You and me and all of the other John Citizens whose globe is being plundered by a handful of immensely wealthy folk who do nothing but suck.

        Let me begin by suggesting that, while we are thinking about that, we abolish the institution of the wholly amoral corporation whose sole function is to make profit. Let it be returned to its original form which was an entity with a finite term and finite task with a requirement to operate within the same framework of social intercourse as everybody else.

        • Mike C

           /  11th October 2015


          That was a very very very long comment. LOL.

          I read it all … but the one word that stood out like dogs balls … was “Cavalier” 🙂

        • @Geoffery – I have set my stall out re corporations particularly multi nationals – governments need to regulate them properly….

          The bail out money in the US for the banks as I understand it has been mainly repaid… what was the alternative? Allow them all to fail and then ride the whirlwind of the unwinding of all the inter-bank lending and obligations both in the US and around the globe? I have seen up close how hard it is to unwind one banking failure [namely DFC here in NZ as I was low level employee there when it when went bust and I worked through the first 18 months of the unwind – it was difficult]

          The answer to the banking industry is rolling back the regulatory framework to the point where Merchant/investment banking activities are not part of large retail banks – it encourages too much risk taking…i would also put in place escrow arrangements around profit shares and bonuses – tying such monies to the deals generating the bonuses. Deal flops no bonus… the current deal signed bonus paid model leads to some very bad outcomes and encourages excessive risk taking

          Abolishing the corporation legal entity structure? No don’t agree – it operates fine. it enables risk to be taken in a controlled manner. What needs changing is regulation and enforcement thereof so immoral activities like the Pinto scandal, or the unethical way corporates avoid taxation in the countries they operate in, are dealt with quickly and harshly including liability on executives and boards for these types of problems…

          I also think that company collapse often have multiple causes…. but ultimately the risk taker deserves the reward . No risks taken means no progress..

          I don’t have a problem with outsourcing etc – it provides you and me with low cost goods…

          Also re “Are they not exploiting the nation’s resources for their exclusive (if they can get away with it) benefit?” Firstly – employees benefit as they get a job and an income. Secondly most raw materials attract taxes either upfront [royalties on oil, minerals], or at the end manufactured goods attract taxes via consumption taxes and also income taxes both of the corporates profit and also on salaries/wages…. So the exploitation for their exclusive benefit is a red herring. Again regulation controls this via a variety of means…

          As you can tell I am a middle pather on these matters – I believe in a market place where competition can take place, but that that competition happens within a regulatory framework that both incentivises innovation and competition but also protects the environment, protects workers rights and also ensures monopolies/oligopolies do not get overly dominant anti competitive positions

          Governments have been shown to be pretty poor resource allocations overtime particularly in one party states as the inevitable corruption occurs, so I prefer a market based model with a robust regulation framework to control excesses and abuses

          I don’t envy the wealthy their wealth – I know its a common meme promoted on the left at the moment to generate anger which left wing politicos are seeking to harness to gain power. If someone or a family have created a business which generates wealth then all power to them…

          Think taht addresses most of your post?

          Now you haven’t address my question: Why do the Left/unionist not form co-operatives if they find company structures so abhorrent?

        • Goldie

           /  12th October 2015

          Monks: “By far the majority of industrial job losses can be attributed not to worker greed but to corporate greed.”
          Ummm No. The majority of job losses can be attirbuted to the fact that the business is making a LOSS. If a business is making a loss, then it goes bust.

          So if you are genuine about not wanting workers to lose their jobs, then you have to think about how businesses do not make losses.

  6. We should be focussed on what is best for NZ in the long run. The USSR, Cuba, the East European States and others who have experimented with “Ownership of the means of Production by the State” have failed to provide a long term solution to a living philosophy for a Nation-State. So the “Cooperative” concept is also doomed. Look at what happened with Fonterra – is it or not a cot case? Ask a farmer.
    New Zealand can feed, clothe and shelter all without recourse to overseas investment but we can’t have the so-called luxuries of life without trading. Trade depends on demand and supply, so we have to sell things which are wanted for a profit which allows for the luxuries of life. Think about it?
    Finally, have a look at the most recent Constitution of the NZ Labour Party to see what they say about State ownership of the means of production.

  7. Geoffrey Monks

     /  12th October 2015

    I think that it is not the role of the Labour Party, or any other party, to form the co-operative. That is the role of those owning the assets – we, the people, leaving the government to administer.. I accept unreservedly that we have not got the process right so far but believe that to be inadaquate reason to stop trying and to accept the myth that the present accumulation of wealth by a very few is ‘the only way’.
    I do not oppose the concept of incorporation per se. I am unhappy with the way that the original concept has been corrupted. Who’s interest does the present distorted arrangement serve? Guess where the pressure to accept that there is no other way originates.
    It is insane to accept without question that when the offshore milk price twitches the first, and sometime only, Fonterra response is a reduction in gate payments to farmers. It is totally arseyboo. First hit should be the so-called risk-takers (that is what actual risk is all about) with a drop in dividends to shareholders, second corporate bonuses, third corporate salaries, fourth (and last of all) those doing the grafting – farmers.
    Fonterra has well mastered the ‘too big to fail’ concept. On which subject – you “think most of the $30T” has been repaid? How? By whom? Did the banks work very hard for a couple of years or did someone somewhere pull a lever and roll some presses? Answer of course is effectively the latter – there is no way those incurring the debt ever repaid it, it was dumped on those owning the resource by way of increased costs, job losses, cancelled mortgages and disappointment.

    • Ahhh Geoffrey – Fonterra did cut its dividend to farmers and to those who invested in FSF. Hence the FSF unit price dropped. Have a look at the http://www.nzx.com code FSF to see how risk was sucked up by investors in Fonterra…

      As to milk prices, farmers know exactly what they are getting into as milk is a commodity input with a variable price – google milk price and have a look at a long run chart to see what I am talking about.

      Farmers are businessmen and woman managing riska nd price volatility, guaranteed prices end up with perverse outcomes – see SMPs in the 1980’s and the bad things that supported happening like marginal land being brought in to production which should have been left as bush land and wetlands

      Re the bailouts in the US here is the scorecard…


      You’re right it hasn’t all been repaid. But a lot of it has and the US Treasury has reaped a big wad of dividends and interest as well, leaving the US Government currently in a Nett Profit situation with more to come…. where has you trillions of dollars come from?

      If you’re talking about QE then that is new cash issue for assets purchased from Banks etc…. and yes its some what of a problem because unwinding it will be tricky.

      No one mention the Labour Party re co-operatives. I specifically mentioned Unions. You are are dancing around the question and diverting to other topics, which I have found is a typical left wing tactic when they don’t have an answer to a straight forward question

      You said: “How much more benefit might be dreived by “the people in general” from a balanced co-operative?”

      I asked why can’t the left organise on that principle then – tried and failed at a state level in the CCCP et al, why not on a business basis??

      I will restate the question for you and make it easier for you to answer:

      Unions are huge CO-OPERATIVES already … members join to get strength in numbers for pay and conditions negotiations incl. safety matters over and above legislation requirements… I am very much in support of that approach particularly for workers in low skill jobs as it is an economically rationale approach to a perceived bargaining weakness.

      So why have these large organisations called Unions not taken the logical step and formed up some capital from their members and started co-operatively owned businesses of their own?????

      • Geoffrey Monks

         /  12th October 2015

        Thank you Dave, I could have been more specific. I think I am bothered by the contemplation of farmers suiciding because they are broken, helpless and hopeless versus folk with spare funds who have been inconvenienced by the temporary need to accept a reduced profit. The relative risk seems to me to be disproportionate and in need of balancing.

        Concerning the US debt repayment – I think you will find that the debt repayment to which you refer was not achieved by the miraculous discovery of a mountain of gold, or by bankers working Wednesday afternoons, or any other process by which mere mortals satisfy their debts. A man printed some money, gave it to the banks who gave it back to the man who (because he had kept some in reserve) then declared that he had a profit. Another way of framing this is that the debt was transferred to those least able to accommodate it – the workforce, the unemployed and the homeless. I don’t see this as repayment.

        I am tending to the view that governments of either hue should be kept well away from the creation and management of the co-operatives. This is the function of the owners of the assets. Why they (the owners) have not managed to successfully create and sustain co-operative enterprises is a question worth pondering. I suspect that the answer lies somewhere in the relationship between corporate interests and the futile expectation that a political party (ie govt -in-waiting) will screw its chances of securing power by sponsoring an enterprise in direct competition with those corporate interests. It is becoming clearer that political and corporate interests are inseparable and a fundamental obstacle to the very concept of a successful co-operative.

        Lastly, it is unhelpful in this context to define any organisation that functions with some degree of co-operation among its members as a “Co-operative”. A trade/labour union is far from being a co-operative enterprise; it does not produce anything. Neither was the former USSR, or is the present CCCP, truely a co-operative enterprise.

    • Goldie

       /  12th October 2015

      Monks: “It is insane to accept without question that when the offshore milk price twitches the first, and sometime only, Fonterra response is a reduction in gate payments to farmers. It is totally arseyboo. First hit should be the so-called risk-takers (that is what actual risk is all about) with a drop in dividends to shareholders, second corporate bonuses, third corporate salaries, fourth (and last of all) those doing the grafting – farmers.”

      O dear.
      Geoffrey – Fonterra is a cooperative. The farmers are the shareholders.

      You really need to stop.

      • Geoffrey Monks

         /  12th October 2015

        Thank you Goldie, I yield to your superior knowledge. You clearly have a greater depth of understanding as to why Fonterra should not be considered primarily as a corporation trading on the NZX. In my ignorance, I rather thought that its entry into strategic alliances in China, the US, Latin America and Europe served to rather dilute the direct control of its NZ farmer shareholders and grant directorial power to off-shore corporate interests. This, I felt disqualified Fonterra to be seriously considered as just a local farmer’s co-operative. But then, as I stated at the outset, this is a new journey for me, so perhaps I can be forgiven for not getting it quite right.

  8. Geoffrey Monks

     /  12th October 2015

    Close it if you will Dave. But please do actually read my response; unions are not Co-operative Enterprises and have not created successful Co-operative Enterprises because that is/was not their function. Unions do not own the assets nor produce any tangible goods. Why the OWNERS of the resources have so far failed to develop such enterprises is the question that needs to be addressed.
    I suspect that our blinkered approach that unions=co-operative=fail=keep the statu quo is at least a start point for explaining why almost all of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of so few. 🙂


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