‘Progress will prevail’

Today’s Herald editorial talks of A year marked by backward steps – naming flag change and TPP failures as well as Brexit and Trump – but thinks that progress will prevail.


New Zealand, like all postcolonial countries, is on an inevitable trajectory of independence and even the most ardent traditionalists know it.

In time, the replacement of its flag will be one of the easier changes it makes. In time, the very name of the nation will probably change too.

Probably, but it may take some time. I’m not confident of all of flag change, name change and establishing a comprehensive constitution happening in my lifetime given the lack of maturity evident with the flag debate which was dominated by petty politics.


The US election, too, was a re-assertion of nationalism, not just in economics and trade but in culture and ethnicity. Many have taken fright at the scale of migration in the modern, more integrated world.

But threats from migration have been overstated and the benefits not acknowledged by demagogues who have succeeded in politics this year. Migration is needed by most developed countries with ageing populations and birth rates below replacement level.

More important, migration enriches the receiving countries economically and culturally. Life is more better for the variety of skills, tastes and interests migrants bring.

Democracies have succumbed to fear this year because of terrorism from the Muslim world. Even the US, facing a fraction of the numbers pressing on the EU’s borders, has been unnerved.

But fear is not humanity’s natural state. We are an optimistic species and progress will prevail.

The problems with immigration and Muslim terrorism and refugees won’t disappear by shutting borders (when has a country ever thrived by shutting itself off from the rest of the world?) and taking wide scale punitive action.

Overall in the world progress has prevailed for a long time so there’s good reason to be optimistic progress will continue.

So far this century has been far safer than the last for the majority of humans, and the overall standard of living has improved.

Take poverty (a much discussed topic this year in New Zealand):


Data source: World Poverty in absolute numbers (Max Roser based on World Bank and Bourguignon and Morrisson (2002))
OurWorldInData.org/a-history-of-global-living-conditions-in-5-charts/ CC BY-SA

We have to be optimistic that we can continue to progress. There will be setbacks but overall we have to hope and try for better.

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  1. “Life is more better”… extra plus, doublegood speak. Do they even proof read their editorials????

  2. “More important, migration enriches the receiving countries economically and culturally”

    Really? So the erosion of the cultures of Europe by importing millions of people is progress? Yeah Nah.

    If preservation of say Maori culture is important so is preservation of French, Dutch, German, English culture… But no – Europeans must paid for their wicked recent colonial past. And those who push that bs multicultural line conveniently ignore the old colonial past and in some cases present of countries like China, Iran, Egypt, Turkey. Europeans bad – others good regardless of the parallels in their past colonial endeavours…

    And were are the stats showing mass immigration improves things economically? Is German better off economically for a million odd refugees a large chunk who will never find anything better than menially and labouring jobs?

    Big bold statements not backed up by a heck of a lot of evidence.

    I note Michael Riddell asks about the economic benefits of NZ’s current migration policy settings and gets cricket noises instead in the absences of real hard data.

    Consider: We have a rising level of automation. Why therefore do we need more people in NZ? If anything we should be welcoming stablising or slightly declining populations here and especially abroad – it will take significant pressure off the environment if our population as a species winds back to say 4 billion form the present 6 plus billion and climbing

    But no – lets import people to boost GDP to pay for a hypothetical future of labour shortages, instead of embracing technological progress which will massive reduce many menial and labour intensive tasks and free the available workforce up to do work that is high value economically or higher value labour intensive work like caring for the elderly

    • Gezza

       /  26th December 2016

      “… free the available workforce up to do work that is high value economically or higher value labour intensive work like caring for the elderly”

      The high value intensive work caring for the elderly is mostly very low paid.

      • not in an automated world Gezza…. expand your mind. The kitchen is robotised, the laundry too plus many other menial tasks. Then the cost of aged care can be focused on person to person interaction at a reasonable price…

        • Gezza

           /  26th December 2016

          The reasonable price will always be the lowest the company or employer can get away with, and the work will appeal to few. It is exremely emotionally taxing.

          • OK Gez. You see no upside to automation and you see the downside of caring for people as a career. All good… I see automation as a key to unlocking some doors in traditionally low paying occupations by making the rest of the operation more efficient.

            A good Union would see the opportunity and drive better wage outcomes for its members…

            • Gezza

               /  26th December 2016

              Yes we all saw that future coming a few decades ago. And it’s been happening for quite some time in the rest home kitchens, laundries, etc. By now already the labour saving devices should be seeing the multitudes of dedicated low stressed careworkers on 6 figure salaries.

            • ah sarcasm – you’re morphing into someone else Gez

            • Gezza

               /  26th December 2016

              Soz, should’ve added the 😉 .

              I’ve checked out a few and spent quite a lot of time in “Rest Home & Hospital”s now dave. There’s no doubt scope for a bit more automation in the laundry area, the kitchen/food prep area, and in automated medication preparation & possibly even dispensing, but the human brain observation, reaction, assistance, shitty nappy changing element of caring for the elderly is an essential but likely to remain “low skill” job which is why we have so many immigrants doing the work.

              Communicating with people who can’t find the words to finish a short sentence, can’t remember their current married name only their first married name, can’t remember your name but remember & like you, don’t know what happened 5 minutes ago, have no idea where their room is when they’ve just left it, can’t see, can’t be safely left alone because they don’t know what they’re doing, but have to have some company & to get some exercise, and all sorts of odd combinations of physical and mental disabilities, no two having exactly the same combo – these things all only require getting to know the residents & having the fortitude & caring or forced necessity to do the job required – one that isn’t perceived to be worth very much in the way of pay. The staff to resident ratios are too low for quality constant oversight & care all day & night.

              Maybe that will change, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Maybe in the staff ratios for the very wealthy, although the employers will probably still want to pay the workers as little as poss – the companies/corporations & shareholdters aren’t in it for altruistic reasons are they – it’s a growth area money spinner area.

              You’d possibly be surprised that about half of the residents in dad’s rest home, mostly pakeha females, rarely see family members, even when they live in Welly. Dump & forget.

            • There’s only one way to attract people to occupations who genuinely want to be there and do the work wholeheartedly, meaningfully and creatively, which is to pay them better or well … commensurate with their ability, dedication, qualifications [although I believe we tend to stress them too much] and responsibility … Indeed, perhaps even commensurate [to some extent] with their own self-worth expectations …?

              Aged care is mostly only ‘menial’ because we make it so by atomising, compartmentalising and stratifying the ‘tasks’.

              The old ‘assembly line factory’ model of organisation still pervades most things, unless a ‘sweatshop’ model can be substituted …

              The downside of mechanisation is it creates occupations which are essentially ‘waiting-for-robots’ jobs, likely to be paid the minimum until the technology arrives to replace workers and lower-the-bar on the next ‘menial’ job up …

              While I agree the ‘potential’ exists for retraining and upskilling and added-value and all those things, I don’t believe the experience of being replaced by a machine is conjucive to it.

              Some “other peoples money” might need to be spent in the vague area of ‘encouragement’ …?

              And some human-intelligence might perhaps be applied to making paid employment more meaningful and creative, perhaps even indispensible, in addition to making much of it obsolete …?

  3. Blazer

     /  26th December 2016

    Fear is mans ‘natural state’ actually!Fight or flight, and govts promising citizens security from all sorts of threats,real,and imagined or contrived.

  4. dissent angle

     /  27th December 2016

    So someone who lives in a country slightly bigger than Britain, but with significantly less than one tenth of the population, is lecturing us on immigration. Love it. So when we joined the EEC (as was) New Zealanders, who depended on agricultural exports to Britain, felt betrayed; and that now that we are set to leave the EU and possibly the European Single Market, which will no longer disadvantage you in comparison, you are slagging us off. Well fine. If you think that ‘Brexit’, an issue which has dragged on for at least a quarter of a century, shares a commonality with Trump, then you really haven’t got a clue.

    • Dissent angle I concede your point about New Zealand’s petulance about the UK’s decision to align with Europe. Memories of sacrifices made in support of Great Britain in the Boer War, WW1, WW2, Korea and Malaya/Malaysia were still fresh in our minds, especially some like my family who willingly accepted rationing during the WW2 period to ensure foodstuff was available for the British People at home and Tommy and the ANZACS in the Middle East , North Africa and Italy and Yugoslavia.. But that is gone now, and few talk of home being anywhere else than the UK, and we are growing up now by ourselves so we will become a little bit more selfish (its natural) and want to know what is in for us. Thank you for the lesson, yes we needed to throw off the apron strings and make our own way in the world, giving priority to our needs and helping other as and when we can with our limited resources. And, look at the prosperity and quality of life measures being made by others with NZ now as the first amongst equals at present. Then we seem to be seeing a lot more Brits and US citizens arriving with work visas in hand this year. That is great, and you are all welcome, as long as you pay your taxes, and take time to learn about our funny little ways such as speaking softly and carrying a big stick. We don’t know everything and can listen to reason, but we don’t necessarily accept bigger is better especially when volumes of voices are concerned.


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