A philosophy and a political ideology which will take us into the 21st century

Tony Veitch posted “I want to pose a problem for a Sunday to commentators on the Standard.”

We need a philosophy and a political ideology which will take us into the 21st century and hopefully cope with the enormous problems facing mankind.

George Monboit hinted in a lecture that some sort of idea was being formulated and will be broadcast next year. Until that happens – some thoughts:

Neoliberalism is discredited and dead.

Socialism may be able to take its place, but we cannot have infinite growth in a finite world.

So any ideology will have to aim at equality without growth, economic justice without any skewering of the rewards. Such a philosophy must allow for human initiative and endeavour without the financial payment.

Such a philosophy must motivate people to make the potentially enormous sacrifices which will be required if we are to combat climate change; must eliminate greed at a motivating force, yet encourage entrepreneurship!

I can’t get my head round all the parameters of such a philosophy, except to be convinced that we are in desperate need of something political to believe in!

Your thoughts?

My thoughts are that we don’t need a philosophy or a political ideology to govern in the 21st century. There has been a big change away from being driven by ideology, and instead to address each issue pragmatically in the context of the current situation and needs.

Some political discussion, for example at The Standard or Kiwiblog, is driven by “how does this fit with my ideology and therefore what should my position be on it”.

But it’s far more sensible to simply use the approach “what’s the best way to deal with this”.

And that’s what has been happening to a large extent this century in New Zealand, first under Helen Clark’s leadership and now under John Key.

We have moved from governing by ideology to governing pragmatically.

There are a few remnant political dinosaurs who yearn for a set of rules by which they must think and act but that’s an extinct way of governing, in New Zealand at least.

Leave a comment

94 Comments

  1. Ad @ The Standard:

    I’m not trying to be annoying, but you would have to admit to current capitalism’s successes – as well as its failures – first off. Ain’t no refugee boats heading from Italy to Libya. Our current form of capitalisms’ capacity for wealth acceleration has been better for more of the world’s people than democracy.

    Capitalism also generates its own crises through its own accumulative speed and consuming volumes. Also, unemployment, pollution, extreme inequalities, and world environmental destruction.

    After that, a successor system theory would need a few things before you could really imagine something completely outside what we have:

    – It should be concrete enough to see how it might work in practice

    – It should be able to look back, learning from gains and errors of other earlier efforts

    – It should illuminate the features and limitations of current reform movements and party platforms

    – It should outline transitional strategies to get from ‘here’ to ‘there’.

    That’s not a philosophy. But it’s the jungle-gym you’d need to start something.

    Certainly some sensible starting points that ideologists seem to ignore.

    Reply
  2. Blazer

     /  31st July 2016

    Meaningless,fatuous theory, separates capitalism from its supposed ‘sunlight’/foundation- democracy.

    Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  31st July 2016

    We can have effectively infinite growth on a finite planet as I’ve pointed out previously, not that that is any salvation for socialism. The Left have the ignorant and confused trying to lead the blind.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  31st July 2016

      Describing non left voters as ‘blind’ is quite harsh…Al.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  31st July 2016

        They would need to be blind to follow the Left, Blazer.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  31st July 2016

          You realise you have just confirmed that right leaning voters are totally blind…I hope.

          Reply
  4. We have to educate our minds to distinguish between “needs” and “wants” and find an answer to the question of “how much is enough”? Can we contain humankind’s flaws such as “greed” to permit the distribution of resources to meet our “needs” in a “fair” manner? How do we define “fair”? Is it possible to get consensus for an acceptable definition? Labour NZ tried in the Clarke era to define “fair’ in relation to the distribution of the rewards of the means of production by excessive taxing of the 1%, but because they owned 60% of the resources, the 1% intervened and Labour lost political power in NZ to the extent, they still have not recovered.
    I don’t pretend to have the answers, if I did, I would be in control and decide on everything including what is fair. But Blazer et al would no doubt dissent, and we would have to start again. What is “neo-liberalism” anyway? What is “socialism”, can you distinguish between “communism” , “communilism”, “Marxism”, “Leninism” etc?
    Help, my head hurts!

    Reply
    • How do we define “fair”?

      A very good question.

      Particularly due to the age old fact that life is inherently ‘unfair’.

      And when one person’s fairness can be another person’s unfairness, eg someone may say it’s unfair that some people can’t have a warm dry home guaranteed for life, while someone else may feel that it’s unfair for others to provide that – which happens to be something that has never been about fairnessin the past.

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  31st July 2016

        The big change in accepting that ‘greed is good’ and ‘user pays,’I’m alright Jack’ occurred in the 80’s as ideological,self serving doctrines introduced by Reagan,Thatcher and Douglas here in NZ took hold,aided and abetted by a compliant media to condition people that this was the way to ‘success’!

        Reply
      • Firstly, life is inherently unfair for a Turtle, an Antelope or a Quail. For we Human Beings, life is inherently WHAT WE MAKE IT. If it wasn’t, why would we do things like fight disease? Why would we have improved life so much over so long?

        @ Beejay – “Labour … define[d] “fair’ in relation to the distribution of the rewards of the means of production by excessive taxing of the 1%, but because they owned 60% of the resources, the 1% intervened and Labour lost political power in NZ.”

        You’ve nailed it man!!! That’s a pretty good description of neoliberalism right there Beejay! It puts the lie to neoliberal capitalism’s ‘sunlight’ foundation democracy too, eh? “How much democracy would you like today, Sir? Special deal just for you!”

        And that was Labour BEING neoliberal !!!!!!! They ran a FIIRE economy in a sub-prime mortgage world leading up to the GFC …

        This crap about “governing by pragmatism not ideology” is a bit like saying modern New Zealand society isn’t Eurocentric; that it doesn’t favour Pakeha. Utter Bollocks!

        First, the pragmatism is derived from neoliberal ideology: and second, even if the ideology can’t be detected any longer, the “pragmatism” becomes the ideology. If I say something remotely ‘Leftie’ I’ll be instantly accused of being an ideologue. Whatever the political ideology or system or pragmatism of the future is, if it’s going to be communicated the words used are going to constitute an ideology. The questions become: Where to start? And: is a universal ideology possible?

        “The maximum of freedom for each, combined with the maximum regard for the life and freedom of every other” Frank E Warner.

        Reply
    • Blazer

       /  31st July 2016

      Easy Q for you Colonel is this …’fair’?’but because they owned 60% of the resources, the 1% intervened ‘.

      Reply
      • Blazer, one would never try and use “fair” to describe that situation, but that said is it “unfair” that those who have succeeded in a pursuit get to enjoy the fruits of their labours and products of wise investment choices. You can’t design a workable system that provides equal distribution of intellect and luck.

        Reply
        • Blazer

           /  31st July 2016

          maybe not Colonel,but you can stamp out,cronyism,old boy networks,blatant nepotism,and pretension.

          Reply
    • Gezza

       /  31st July 2016

      … because they owned 60% of the resources, the 1% intervened and Labour lost political power in NZ to the extent, they still have not recovered.

      Something is missing from this analysis. How could 1% vote Labour out of power?

      Reply
      • Gezza, look at what money id doing in the US Presidential Elections right now. The big money feeds National’s coffers now, and Labour is broke.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  31st July 2016

          @ Bj. Voters can read. Voters can watch tv & the internet – any private or MSM outlet they want to. Voters can think.

          No campaign ads influence my political views. So I don’t assume they do influence a lot of other voters. As far as I know nobody in NZ has done any research or surveys into whether & by how much they do.

          So … why do you think voters deserted Labour & they were voted out of power, and why are their coffers now empty?

          Reply
          • The bubble burst …?

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              Bubbles burst all the time. I even get that happening doing the dishes. It doesn’t result in a change of government anywhere.

            • You’re kidding, right? The bubble-popping that resulted in a GFC didn’t have a bearing on the change from Republican George W Bush to Democrat Barack Obama as US President? Then a swing to a Republican dominated Congress?

              Why are you minimizing the true nature and impact of the GFC? It is described at Wiki as a “Great Recession”?

            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              You comment required an explanation. I don’t read minds.

            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              * Your (comment) soz.
              And thank you for the explanation.

            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              @ Pz. And I’m still waiting for Bj’s answer to my question. Which your explanation does clearly answer.

            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              @ Pz. Oh dear. I’m not having a good day.
              * Which your explanation does not clearly answer.

          • The pace and radical nature of the policies adopted by the Left wing/Feminist clicque

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              Yes, I think so too Bj.

            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              Plus, also, I think there was general discontent with a number of things such as the rate of teenage pregnancies. I remember the anti-smacking bill, the shower heads, the defence of Winnie, Paintergate, Speedgate, the light bulbs. These all seem like unimportant, small, things but I think they all added up in the back of swing voters’ minds.

            • The pace and radical nature of the policies adopted by the Left Wing/Feminist clique of the last Labour Government alienated the centre and moderate left/conservative workers to either change their vote or abstain from voting. Hence the 2008 result. The lack of unity between the Political wing and the Union wing is now functionally the big problem, because Little’s political appeal is too narrow. The next election is for National to lose because lack of unity precludes a Labour coalition win.

            • @ Gezza – “These all seem like unimportant, small, things but I think they all added up in the back of swing voters’ minds.”

              Funny … well, strange really … that pony-tail gate, radio-soap-gate, Saudi Sheepgate, Chinese Steelgate and a host of others haven’t had the same cumulative effect on National and especially John Key’s popularity …?

              I agree though, “anti-smacking” is really RADICAL! Like taking guns off Americans that is!

              Good summation there Beejay. Concisely said. I don’t recall being offended by the Left Wing/Feminist clique – since I am one – but the rest of what you say is on the button IMHO.

            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              @ PZ

              Funny … well, strange really … that pony-tail gate, radio-soap-gate, Saudi Sheepgate, Chinese Steelgate and a host of others haven’t had the same cumulative effect on National and especially John Key’s popularity …?

              Yes. Iagree. I think it’s possibly partly because the Opposition Parties have lacked the political acumen to make them have that effect, and partly because they have been so eclipsed by the gross & widely advertised blunders of their own that they’ve sort of paled into insignificance in terms of their entertainment value & thus stick-ability in the public mind.

              I agree though, “anti-smacking” is really RADICAL!
              No, I don’t agree with that. I don’t think it was particularly radical. It doesn’t seem to have stopped children being murdered or badly beaten up because the people doing that aren’t the type to be overly bothered by such legal constraints until after the event. Open to being shown that it has reduced the rate of such offending though. Haven’t looked for any relevant stats.

              Like taking guns off Americans that is!
              Also must disagree with that as a relevant analogy, I’m afraid. Very little to directly compare between the two, imo.

            • @ Gezza – “The Government has released child abuse statistics for the year ending June 2014, reporting a decrease of 12% (2,306 children) of substantiated abuse from the previous year.”

              https://nzfvc.org.nz/news/child-abuse-statistics-and-policy-change

              But of “Substituted Section 59”, colloquially named “The Anti-Smacking Law”, one can really only ask, “What could possibly be more reasonable?”

              “(3) Subsection (2) prevails over subsection (1).
              (4) To avoid doubt, it is affirmed that the Police have the discretion not to prosecute complaints … in relation to an offence involving … force against a child, where the offence is considered to be so inconsequential that there is no public interest in proceeding with a prosecution.”

              Truly scary ‘Socialist’ Police-State ‘thought control’ stuff huh?

              Check it out – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimes_(Substituted_Section_59)_Amendment_Act_2007

              Okay, I may have exaggerated with “taking guns off Americans” … Perhaps I should have said “removing Americans’ right to own slaves” …?

              Seriously, I reckon the “anti-smacking law” debate was a major catalyst in bringing child abuse out into the open and changing long entrenched attitudes. The dividends may only be showing up 7 years later [2014] but that means 2,306 less children abused, and possibly 1 or 5 or 10 or 20 less murdered. Sue Bradford has done the nation proud!!!

            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              @ PZ
              Those stats are interesting & support your case. Thank you.

              Truly scary ‘Socialist’ Police-State ‘thought control’ stuff huh?
              No I disagree with that. It’s nothing of the sort. That’s a silly thing to say.

              Okay, I may have exaggerated with “taking guns off Americans” … Perhaps I should have said “removing Americans’ right to own slaves” …?
              Why? That’s an equally spurious comparision. Perhaps you were being sarcastic? Perhaps there is no need to be?

            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              @ PZ

              I also just noticed these caveats in the document you linked to above.
              However, Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills said in the media that while the decrease was encouraging, it coincided with a new strategy where children witness domestic violence. This sees doctors or police directly refer to a group that specialises in preventing domestic violence, rather than refer to Child, Youth and Family (CYF), accounting for the drop in referrals to CYF.

              The Clearinghouse has also highlighted that administrative data from agencies such as Child, Youth and Family can be affected by changes in organisations’ policies and procedures and as a result, cannot be considered a reliable source of data for monitoring trends in family violence in the community over time.

              I am also aware of claims being made from time to time that violent behaviour seems to be increasing among children & young people at schools and out of school. I’m not aware of any stats on this so I will be interested to see whether this is a real problem developing or just the occasional incident that hits the news from time to time because it can be sensationalised.

            • Good comments Gezza. Points taken about my spuriousness.

              Seems to me that statistics are always subject to the effect of “changes in organisations’ policies and procedures”, including possibly the statistics department itself …?

              I am feeling sarcastic tonight. I’m tempted to say things only hit the news nowadays because they can be sensationalised …?

            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              Thanks for that PZ, e hoa.

              I’m tempted to say things only hit the news nowadays because they can be sensationalised …?

              Yes, I think that’s certainly the case with some items. But most headline items hit the news because they are actually news & important, imo.

              Re stats – I am always highly cautious when looking at statistics from Government Departments. This is because I have been involved in my working life in preparing them for reply to Questions in The House, and to answer requests for statistics generally from ‘unfriendly’ or ‘suspect’ enquirers like some newspaper reporters.

              The trick with these is to ensure that the statistics you give are accurate, but they are often (sometimes of necessity) based on what limitations apply to your database query, or the manner in which the data is collected and categorised and the qualifier you therefore give with them, so look like they are the best you can do to answer the question posed, while not necessarily being exactly the information that was requested.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  31st July 2016

              I see far more caveats than that in the article cited as far as attributing the fall to the anti-smacking law. First, it is the first fall for ten years and this is seven years after the law was passed. Second, the fall was in sexual and emotional abuse. Physical abuse was almost unchanged. Finally, the authors of the article note that the data is unreliable in any case being subject to variations in policy and practice in the departments which report it.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  31st July 2016

          Actually BJ, the irony is that big money is failing in the US election right now. Clinton over the past couple of months has been spending many tens of millions to Trump’s nothing on advertising and her campaign and this is the outcome:

          http://i0.wp.com/espnfivethirtyeight.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/silver-postdnc-1.png?quality=90&strip=all&w=575&ssl=1

          http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/post-democratic-convention-2016-election/

          Reply
  5. Blazer

     /  31st July 2016

    Reply
  6. There’s no doubt in my mind that what we are striving towards is Toynbee’s “right synthesis of capitalism and socialism”. We are currently operating a mix of them where the capitalist side is exploitative, win-or-lose, stressful and unhealthy, while the socialist side is largely reserved for the losers; punitive, begrudging and austere.

    What’s required is a workable synthesis, “an economy which satisfies the demands of Natural Ethics …” Freedom WITH responsibility.

    Some fundamental considerations regarding this synthesis are – [aside from Man’s relationship to the Universe] –

    1) The relationship between labour and wage? Will we continue to treat labour as a commodity to be bought and sold? What might ‘synthesised’ forms of work look like? Example: A modest contribution to maintance of the community, obligatory or professional, along with greatly increased leisure time?

    2) Property in the soil? Problematic, questionable by definition and morally unjustifiable, but better than tyranny and slavery?

    3) The relationship between the citizen and the State? Between the individual and their community or ‘the collective’? Can democracy be improved?

    3)a] The relationship between States of the World? Some form of global governance to go along with global markets and ‘globalisation’? Global security …

    4) Money? To what extent do we want a “means of exchange” to be stored up as “capital”? We might “conceive of a new kind of money … allotted equally to all, but only current [‘currency’] for a certain time …”?

    5) Distribution of goods? After all, this is one of the principal objects of economics?

    “Work, instead of being forced labour, becomes a care-free service to humanity”

    “It may well baffle the liveliest imagination to picture the path humanity will take when it is free from anxiety and distress …” ???

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  31st July 2016

      “Work, instead of being forced labour, becomes a care-free service to humanity”

      “It may well baffle the liveliest imagination to picture the path humanity will take when it is free from anxiety and distress …” ???

      There will always be a segment of society in such a model whose path will be drugs & hedonism & no contribution to the society which is funding them.

      Even in the most primitive societies those who do not contribute in some way to the care of their own and the well-being of the village community are not welcome, and are not usually tolerated.

      Reply
      • Money Gezza. It is the problem of a freeloading minority which always fails to be answered by left of centre politicians…..

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  31st July 2016

          Agreed dave. The world / society owes nobody a living simply by virtue of their existing – with perhaps the exception of those who for some valid reason are unable to look after themselves & their own (their ‘own’, preferably not being progeny carelessly or deliberately produced in the knowledge somebody else will have to pay for their care and upbringing).

          Everybody’s money (or other reward, or sustenance) has to come from somebody’s exertions.

          But I do think good government must provide the opportunities for paid employment, either self-employment or working for someone else. Or it is not good government.

          Reply
        • Blazer

           /  1st August 2016

          ‘Everybody’s money (or other reward, or sustenance) has to come from somebody’s exertion’…unless you are a non productive parasite,=pvt banker digitalising money supply,running fiscal policy and manipulating markets.

          Reply
      • @ Gezza – Regarding my Utopia you say, “There will always be a segment of society … whose path will be drugs & hedonism & no contribution to the society which is funding them.”

        Okay: This is a very simplistic and superficial argument, endlessly trundled out. In simple response, we already have that situation now, so a better model of society where we still have that situation will be better, not worse.

        However, scratch the argument and you find under the surface:

        1) Drugs and hedonism are not “no contribution” to the society at all. They represent engagements in society’s recognised and acknowledged over-and-underbellies, including various black markets, some criminal and some more criminal than others.

        2) These things, which might be called vices, create both demand and justification for society’s legitimization, involvement, part-contribution, remedies and punishments for them? Alcohol is a good example of legitimization of ‘drugs and hedonism’ or vice, wickedness, frailty, shortcoming, need … whatever we want to call it.

        ‘Vice’ [or perhaps ‘Sin’] in the broadest sense forms the backbone of most of what we (loosely) call ‘entertainment’, from ‘Game of Thrones’ through ‘My Kitchen Rules’. How many of us engage in the marijuana underbelly but will never go deeper? We are part-time, part-contributors in drugs and hedonism.

        Then there’s whole industries based around education, treatment, medication, capture, prosecution, correction and punishment of a segment of society’s vices …?

        3) We all have one or more vices. This begs the question: Are vices okay and acceptable provided one is “paying one’s way” and making a financial contribution to society, which is actually what you mean by “contribution” I think? An extreme comparison would be: Is the sex tourist okay because they are working, paying tax, buying travel, food and accommodation?

        4) No account is ever taken for the ‘turnover’ or churning of people through “drugs and hedonism” or what might be called disempowering vice, such as addiction or mental illness. Many a ‘successful’ person has gone through a “no contribution” phase of their lives. Some will be successful in spite of it, some because of it. Some will be successful and still be doing drugs and hedonism ….

        dave1924 blames money and “a freeloading minority” in practically the same breath. What would you say though if, just theoretically, not one single person in today’s freeloading minority was a freeloader five years ago?

        I certainly agree that money is a root cause of modern drugs and hedonism, both having been turned into ‘commodities’, whereas “in primitive societies” they were either ceremonial mediums or cultural developments. I think there was considerably more tolerance for non-conformity in folk cultures than you give them credit for. This doesn’t excuse cultures where the menfolk did nothing while the women toiled. That in turn is assuming its possible for a Human Being to do nothing? The menfolk might only have “looked” like they were doing nothing?

        “No contribution” does not necessarily equal drugs and hedonism or “freeloading”. It can just as easily mean disempowerment, depression, disenchantment, apathy, illness and loss of hope … in fact I think these are more likely causes …?

        Another complex conundrum for the new political philosophy to contemplate …

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  1st August 2016

          Thanks for that PZ. Can you think of where I might have left my car keys?

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  1st August 2016

            PS, I’ll make what I meant a bit more simple. There will always be a certain number of plain, simple, lazy bastards who just want to stuff around lotus eating & piss everybody off if they can get away with it.

            Reply
            • How many such “lazy bastards” do you know personally Gezza?

              If there will always be a certain number of them, believe it or not, I want to live in an improved society that accommodates them somehow, although with a comprehensive, inclusive education and welfare system that minimizes their inception or genesis.

              Your keys will be right where you left them Gezza.

            • Gezza

               /  1st August 2016

              Two of them quite well at the moment PZ. I knew a few more of them when I was in my 20’s, of course. They came from all sectors of society.

              Some of them were easy to identify, they’d been to University & found it a bit harder going than they were used to. They liked to say they had ‘turned off, tuned in, and dropped out’. Most of them grew out of it fairly quickly when their families kicked them out, and they went back to Uni, or got jobs or started businesses n stuff and did something useful with their lives.

              At the time, we were all living “in an improved society that accommodated them somehow, although with a comprehensive, inclusive education and welfare system that minimized their inception or genesis”.

              Thanks for the other advice. I found my car keys.

            • Precisely my point Gezza, “freeloaders” or whatever you want to call them – along with other groups – are part of [what might be called] society’s economic ‘baggage’, although many such people may personally be treasures and socially, gems!

              A society that thinks it’ll be better off without them is neurotic and deranged.

  7. PZ, I think you are saying that ethical behaviour by the investors/capitalists is the principal need to get our socio/economic system back into balance so that laissez-faire is not the compelling driver. I can accept that, as long as the hours worked are consistent with a good life balance and the pay received is a real measure of the individual’s contribution and not tied to “a living wage” which is a code name for the lowest acceptable pay level.
    We also need to recognise that our economy has to be organised to take account of the unproductive groups in society such as prisoners, students, apprentices in training, the disabled, the handicapped, the retired elderly, the single parent, the orphans, our share of the refugees etc.
    Personally I would still prefer that private enterprise be the source of support to the disadvantaged rather than State Institutions but there is also a need to moderate (regulate) the profit motive, and the reward packages enjoyed by the private enterprise managers. It is a fine tuning need, rather than dismantling what is already in place and starting anew. The day when you could get educated, trained and then pickup a career/job for life has long passed. Retraining and expectation of change has to be the norm. Humanity and ethical conduct should be preeminent.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  31st July 2016

      ‘ the unproductive groups in society such as prisoners, students, apprentices in training, the disabled, the handicapped, the retired elderly, the single parent, the orphans, our share of the refugees etc.’…..add to the list, property speculators,banking parasites,beneficiaries of council cliques,and govt ‘consultants’.

      Reply
    • @ Beejay – I like the basic tenets of what you are saying, especially “humanity and ethical conduct”, but I wonder if our socio-economic system has ever been in a balanced condition it can “get back” to? When might this have been? The 50s? 60s? 70s?

      Laissez-faire is not the compelling driver IMHO. It is greed and the profit motive – which you note – placed ahead of human considerations like employment, community flow-on, health, safety and the environment, even in relatively regulated capitalist economies. An example is the production, advertising and sale of so-called ‘food’ which is actually bad for us; which isn’t food at all but more like poison. Sure, production facilities and packaging are regulated, ingredients listed, but we can’t stop it being advertised and sold, hence we can still buy a single sachet of food flavouring containing 175% of daily sodium intake requirements! Or a fizzy drink with toxic amounts of sugar in it.

      What is a good work-life balance nowadays, do you reckon? The 40 hour week is an early 20th century construct based on rapidly increasing mechanisation, unionisation and expanding consumerism. Neoliberalism has raised the stakes for many people to perhaps 50 or 60 hours per week despite revolutionary advances in technology? If it wasn’t intentional – a planned by-product of neoliberalism’s “productivity and efficiency” profit motive – one day we’d look back upon this situation as being plain stupid and we’d laugh!

      The working week should be shorter, by rights, plain as day, not longer!

      So I personally think its more than a fine tuning that’s required, but to extend your motoring analogy I think its an onboard computer transplant – one that gives control of the vehicle back to ethical humans – rather than a complete dismantle and rebuild.

      Very few if any civilisations have been completely dismantled? We hear about the sacking of Rome, overrun by so-called ‘Barbarians’, and yet here we are today living in an essentially Graeco-Roman civilisation?

      Reply
  8. “We have moved from governing by ideology to governing pragmatically.” None of which helps when NZ has no clear leadership and certainly no-one with a strong vision for more than the next election away.

    Reply
    • PDB

       /  31st July 2016

      “and certainly no-one with a strong vision for more than the next election away”.

      certainly not under MMP.

      Reply
  9. Kevin

     /  31st July 2016

    “Neoliberalism is discredited and dead.”

    Says who?

    “Socialism may be able to take its place, but we cannot have infinite growth in a finite world.”

    Hahahaha. Excuse me Tony but how’s Venezuela doing?

    Idiot.

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  31st July 2016

      Excuse me but how is Greece doing?Japan…bloody 1 trick pony.

      Reply
      • PDB

         /  31st July 2016

        Margaret Thatcher — “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money”.

        Reply
        • Catchy little aphorism that PDB, and essentially meaningless, since we’re not talking about State Socialism of the Stalinist kind, but of a healthier ‘socialised capitalism’ where people agree, democratically, to abide by principles such as (maybe?) –

          – There’s a ‘nation or place appropriate’ Standard-of-Living none should ever unwillingly fall below.

          – There’s a level of taxation none personally should ever unwillingly rise above!

          – There’s a level of funding, best organised by a democratically elected government’s bureaucratic service arm, which is required to maintain our uniquely Kiwi, Aotearoa-New Zealand Standard-of-Living. The one we’ve already agreed on.

          – Taxation must cover this required level of public spending. It must be found.

          – Private, trust and corporate beneficiaries of capitalist profits owe something more than ‘product & service’ to their customers, consumers, especially if they are profiting from those consumers also being underpaid or under-employed workers, or unemployed consumers. The greater the excess profits, the greater the ‘social debt’.

          – Company and corporate taxation might therefore be variable depending on performance, rather than fixed? This would encourage start-ups at one end of the growth cycle and provide an incentive to spread the profits of successful enterprises more evenly as pre-tax expenses? Things like Wages? And to balance sharehold expectations with social debt expectations?

          – Since its necessary for the State (democratically elected government) to regulate some activities, sometimes quite heavily, sometimes to the point of (virtually) controlling them, the State might as well own the activity on behalf of all the people. The activity of banking comes to mind here …

          – A standard must be set whereby a ‘taxable value’ is placed upon digital and robotic machines if they replace human labour.

          – Your thoughts?

          Tony Veitch – “… something political to believe in! Your thoughts?”

          The PartisanZ manifesto!!!

          Reply
        • Blazer

           /  31st July 2016

          oh gawd…another thoroughly worn out cliche….so ironic after the trillions to bail out the ‘efficient,disciplined ‘private corporations!

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  31st July 2016

            The bailout of the US private banks and other companies cost the taxpayer some $30B. However the bailout of the US government lenders cost $135B. The US GDP is $18T and Federal Government spending is $4T.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              However the bailout of the US government lenders cost $135B.
              Who were they, and why did it cost that?

              The US GDP is $18T and Federal Government spending is $4T.
              Meaning … what?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  1st August 2016

              @Gezza, Fannie and Freddie cost $135B to bail out. The GDP and budget figures put the net bailouts cost to the taxpayer in perspective. The private sector bailouts were less than 1% of one year’s govt spending.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  1st August 2016

              Fannie and Freddie cost that much because politicians had forced them to lend to people who couldn’t afford the loans. As soon as interest rates rose the loans went bad.

            • Blazer

               /  1st August 2016

              Als unique version of reinventing history…trots out the greedy ,incompetent bankers line…’politicians had forced them to lend to people who couldn’t afford the loans.’……sure Al ,they forced them to do teaser rates,liars loans,CMO’s ,robo signing,and forced them to pay themselves eyewatering bonus’,forced the rating agencies to rate CDO’s AAA….!As for your bailout figures understated and totally inaccurate,no surprise given your glaring ignorance about the GFC and its causes.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  1st August 2016

              Costs are here as I reported them – see US TARP case: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bailout

              Nothing unique about my interpretation. It is simply the case. There would have been no subprime disaster without the mandated issuing of subprime housing loans.

            • Blazer

               /  1st August 2016

              whats U.S indebtedness,and what is the total of derivatives held by the financial magicians?

            • Blazer

               /  1st August 2016

              ‘Costs are here as I reported them’…but they are not the true cost are they Al.Aside from the fact the figures are massaged and there are many ommissions ,what about the HUMAN cost?The lost jobs,homes,the misery of life savings wiped out!!!They never are a concern for the cold calculations of regimes bereft of human decency and dignity are they..Al?.Shame.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  1st August 2016

              Exactly those human costs would have been the cost of not underwriting the banks and car companies that you so hypocritically deprecate.

              And those that did occur in the housing market collapse and foreclosures were directly the consequence of the Lefty politicians demanding that Fannie and Freddie lend to people who could not afford the loans.

              If you had the brains to understand your delusions you would be ashamed of them.

    • Neoliberalism is discredited but unfortunately its not dead yet …

      Socialism may be able to merge with its healthy remnants, and there are many, and we might achieve finite growth in a finite world …

      But such a synthesis won’t fire the passion of heartless, soul-less minds totally addicted to dichtomy and polarisation. Its got to be either/or … Its got to be war …

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  31st July 2016

        What interests me is whether & when we might begin to see more examples of successful capitalist enterprises based on collective employees-as-management models with more euqitably distributed rewards.

        Reply
        • There are probably countless of them Gezza, as a simple question posed to Google will tell us – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_employee-owned_companies

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  31st July 2016

            Yep. It’s a trend I hope to see catch on & take off real soon.

            Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  31st July 2016

          Well, most startups begin that way, Gezza. But as they grow they require a much greater range of more specialist skills. The original owner/operators have to recognise their own limitations and skills and make sure they bring in the necessary additional talents to fill the gaps. But growth requires a lot of sacrifice of current rewards for the risky chance of future rewards. In my experience, almost all employees are never willing to make those sacrifices. One or two will be and can be taken on as an equity partner and perhaps director. Maybe others have other experiences but those are mine.

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  31st July 2016

            I think this is where our education systems fail Alan. These are skills that should be taught early and refreshed constantly. (I would like to talk to you more – privately – about this, sometime.)

            It is during the process of selecting and determining the appropriate level of reward for the ‘necessary additional talents’ to risk the businesses futures that are a key problem area in my opinion.

            The most extreme examples of this would be the arseholes in the US banks who having robbed the taxpayers to bail them out, then robbed them again to pay themselves huge bonuses.

            Reply
            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              Sorry – 2nd para is garbled. Please mentally replace it with:

              “It is the process of selecting and determining the appropriate level of reward for the ‘necessary additional talents’ to risk the businesses futures that is a key problem area in my opinion.”

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  31st July 2016

              Not sure I understand that, Gezza. I suspect you are talking about CEO renumeration packages for already large public companies whereas I am thinking about NZ-size startups not yet listed.

            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              Sorry Alan. Suppose it does look a bit arcane now. I might not have properly understood your response. What I am saying is that I think when specialist staff taken on to help expand a business are managers whose skills are deemed to be worth thousands more than the other employees of the company, they should look elsewhere for that talent, or develop it internally from someone amongst themselves.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  31st July 2016

              Not practical, Gezza. First, you don’t have time. Speed is of the essence. Second, there is no substitute for experience. Third, you cannot change personalities. We all have our strengths, interests and weaknesses. You cannot make a technical person into a people person, a backroom type into a sales person, an inventor into a bean counter or a perfectionist detail type into a strategic thinker.

              That said, you only pay for what you need and what gives you the value you are paying for. Sometimes there are other ways of getting the skills rather than taking them on as employees.

            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              @ Alan
              1. Not practical, Gezza. First, you don’t have time. Speed is of the essence.
              Why is speed always of the essence?

              2. You cannot make a technical person into a people person, a backroom type into a sales person, an inventor into a bean counter or a perfectionist detail type into a strategic thinker.
              Actually, sometimes you can. Many people are not so unipolar in their skillsets or abilities as you seem to think. IMO.

              3. That said, you only pay for what you need and what gives you the value you are paying for. Sometimes there are other ways of getting the skills rather than taking them on as employees.
              Sounds interesting. If you are talking about expanding a business – I could take a punt & guess what you might mean, but rather than me waste time and possibly get it wrong – what do you mean, how would you do this?

            • @ Alan – “But growth requires a lot of sacrifice of current rewards for the risky chance of future rewards. In my experience, almost all employees are never willing to make those sacrifices.”

              Begs a couple of questions Alan.

              1) Why should employees, possibly on fixed pay, sacrifice current rewards for possible future rewards? And, surely there are options incorporating performance and risk other than “equity partner or perhaps director”, such as variable payment? Base plus commission or bonuses?

              http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-08-17/news/33249481_1_sales-incentives-esops-companies

              2) How did companies grow in the olden days before the “equity partner or perhaps director” mentality set in? I suspect you’re really only talking about a relatively small number and tiny proportion of companies large enough to consider listing? Or perhaps you’re talking about “fast buck” style ‘growth’, ending in spectacular success like mega-profits and/or sale to a big corporate, or equally spectacular though dismal failure? FIIRE industries?

              This sort of thing, particularly an exaggerated focus on growth, often doesn’t apply to your local cafe, gift shop, superette, builder or motor mechanic, surely?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  31st July 2016

              @Gezza:
              1. Speed is essential because a) opportunities expire, b) it reduces costs, c) competitors threaten, d) customers want it now.

              2. We did personality profiles on ourselves and our staff. They were very important in allocating responsibilities. People simply won’t do things they are not suited to.

              3. You can hire trainers or temporary skills, outsource tasks, create a dealer network, create a foreign subsidiary, set up a franchise, attract a mentor, …

            • Gezza

               /  31st July 2016

              @ Alan
              It all depends what kind of business it is & whether it does actually face competition. I would pose more specific queries but PZ has just raised above some of the issues that ran through my mind. So, I won’t distract you from answering those with anything else I might want to ask.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  31st July 2016

              @PZ:

              1. Of course they don’t have to but someone has to decide if the business will invest in developing new product or pay bigger staff bonuses. If it is left to the staff to decide it will only ever go one way. We tried very hard to get one of our most valuable and earliest employees to become a shareholder but he wouldn’t. So when we sold the company we put $5M aside to reward our employees and he got a substantial sum but still less than he would have had as a shareholder.

              Yes, of course some managers and sales staff are on incentive base plus commission/bonus schemes. And we ran bonus schemes for the staff as a whole. But this has little to do with the bigger picture of longer term investment.

              2. Yes, I am thinking of the ambitious high growth big target startup. A static business would probably work fine with employee control – at least until technological disruption or new competition set in.

          • Blazer

             /  1st August 2016

            look at the sacrifices the Robinsons have made over the years…Bol….

            http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11685004

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  1st August 2016

              I think it makes my point that founders have to be realistic about matching responsibilities to talents and aptitudes. I don’t know anything about the company but it seems that a generational transfer from the original founder has gone amuck and destroyed a huge amount of value. Most likely the original founder did make sacrifices to create the company and get it listed but having sold off three quarters of the company he seems to have installed his family inappropriately.

        • Gezza – can’t reply to your question to Alan re what government related entities were bailed out… but have a look at this link…

          https://projects.propublica.org/bailout/

          paints an interesting picture of the GFC bailouts, how much it cost in the US, how much PROFIT the Feds have made out of it over the time since 2008 till now, how much of the bailout monies have been repaid etc… and answers your question re government related entities that needed bailing out

          It wasn’t doomsday for the US govt once the situation was stabilised. But those a-hole US bankers, the credit rating agencies and the stupid idiots who bought big chunks oc CDO’s without knowing what they were made up off all deserve so harsh treatment…

          Reply
  10. Gezza

     /  31st July 2016

    Cheers dave, I’ll have a read of this. Just had a quick scan and noted some amounts repaid to the Feds: hope to find some % rates in there too. I don’t have a problem with their profiting from the loan of bailout money – I am assuming the money lent was unavailable for other spending and came from either borrowings or taxes.

    One of the things I am interested in when being advised what Federal Spending amounts to in the US is how much of that spend is going to Private Contractors. The reason for my interest is I know from my own experience working in a government department that private contractors ripped my managers (and therefore taxpayers) off with regularity. Unfortunately they had no fucking idea – they weren’t recruited for their skills and knowledge of what it was they were paying for.

    And in the US I think it’s probably even worse. I recall some years ago reading a news item about some review of Military Spending that had been done and the gross overcharging being done by contractors who were just being given a blank cheque and being paid whatever they decided to charge. One item that stood out – given as an example (I am hazy on the actual figures now) – was the black plastic cube that fitted on the end of steel-framed four legged padded Mess and Meeting Room chairs. The Review found that they cost about 50c to produce & ship, & the Military was paying about $4 each for them.

    Reply
    • Don’t be fooled by some of the military overcharging. A fair chunk of it was to disguise weapons development programmes like the Skunk Works the aircraft builders ran that produce Blackbird and the Stealth Bomber and fighter….

      But yes value for money is an issue in Government and hence why a steady cycle of people with business experience need to rotate through the public sector in procurement and management roles to address the issue you highlighted…

      A steady procession of 3% cost savings drives in departments and agencies wouldn’t go amiss.

      Reply
      • Gezza

         /  1st August 2016

        Very good point.

        But yes value for money is an issue in Government and hence why a steady cycle of people with business experience need to rotate through the public sector in procurement and management roles to address the issue you highlighted…

        Absolutely. The problem is in some departments it probably shouldn’t be left up to the Muppet CEO’s and their next layer of appointees down to decide which person with business experience should be brought in for that role, and it shouldn’t be left up to Politicians either.

        I’d do it, but I’m busy doing nothing much for a while & I quite like it.

        Reply
  11. Blazer

     /  1st August 2016

    ‘ I am assuming the money lent was unavailable for other spending and came from either borrowings or taxes.’…..an erroneous assumption.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  1st August 2016

      Is it? Sorry about that. Where did the Feds get the money from – was this their printing of extra imaginary money you mean? It’s mostly imaginary money really, isn’t it? Apart from what’s tied up in real hard assets. Has been for some time. But for practical purposes, haven’t the Feds borrowed it from themselves?

      Reply
      • Another classic Blaze reply – full of pithy putdown and no fact base or coherent argument… love it!

        Reply
  1. People of different cultures, beliefs and political convictions fraternal together | From guestwriters

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