‘Neoliberalism’ versus New Zealand reality

Deborah Russell has circulated one attempt to describe neoliberalism, which shows how far from this New Zealand is, and hardly moving closer:

That’s quite different to reality in New Zealand

  1. Private enterprise is far from free of any Government restrictions here.
    There are a lot of regulatory, tax, safety and procedural restrictions – New Zealand is rated as a relatively easy place to do do business but try asking any property valuer how difficult and time consuming and costly it can be to work with the resource Management Act.
  2. Public expenditure in general continues to increase.
    There is some claims of real term cuts due to not keeping pace with inflation but the Government keeps spending more and more money.
  3. There have been some attempts to reduce regulations to help businesses provide goods and services and jobs and export earnings 9and make profits) but they have been far from comprehensive. The RMA has gradually become harder to work with, not easier.
  4. There was quite a bit of privatisation in the 80s and 90s but that has slowed right down.
    The current government in their last term sold minority shares only in a small number of power companies. There are a small number of partnership schools but most are run by trusts rather than profit seeking companies. There is some moving of state housing to social housing providers but again they are non-profit organisations.
  5. ‘Public good’ is far from eliminated, with beneficiaries having been recently given their first real increase in forty years. There have been recent increases in health subsidies (free up to age 13), and education, particularly through early childhood education subsidies.

While there may have been significant moves towards some neoliberalism, especially in the 1980s and 1990s, this has slowed down markedly and New Zealand is far from these descriptions of ‘neoliberalism’.

 

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32 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  5th January 2017

    I was under the impression that the govt was selling state houses to for profit entities.Lets remember they paid former FR man Neville Body $2.3mil to come up with a plan to dispose of them.My understanding is that certain people can purchase state houses for 38% of their valuation,so long as they agree to rent them back for 25years.Sounds like a marvellous retirement plan for….?

    Reply
  2. How does this differ from laissez-faire capitalism?

    Reply
    • Blazer

       /  5th January 2017

      just labels Kit,theories that are supposed to produce beneficial outcomes ,and invariably do ,for a tiny minority at everyone elses expense.

      Reply
    • It differs in that it is a word that self-ascribed “Progressives” have deigned they will misrepresent at every given opportunity. It is used to describe anything they hate about methods, systems and people who actually generate the money, through which taxes are demanded. That this productivity raises billions to address inequality, supports all government initiatives – the ones they’re apparently best qualified to lead, and run, quite escapes them.

      Reply
  3. Gezza

     /  5th January 2017

    “‘Public good’ is far from eliminated, with beneficiaries having been recently given their first real increase in forty years.”

    My understanding, from acquaintances, is that that has been accompanied by a W&I culture of not informing people of their full entitlements, paying people as little as they can get away with, requiring beneficiaries to accept loans instead of grants, that they can’t repay, for essential needs, running often-superficial work-readiness job-hunting seminars, pressuring job-seekers to irritate employers & recruitment agencies by applying for jobs they are not qualified for & won’t get, & creating havoc with beneficiary bill-paying & budgeting with weekly phone-in reporting requirements & benefit payment adjustments if they do manage to get intermittent & irregular part-time work.

    Reply
  4. Alan Wilkinson

     /  5th January 2017

    I don’t care whether it is neo or not. I just believe in maximum economic and social freedom within the constraint of not harming others. The last thing I want is Deborah Russell and PZ helping me.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  5th January 2017

      Ok, but that boils down to a question of what constitutes neoliberalism harming others. I don’t mind getting views from Debs Russell.

      If you had a gun to your head & had to choose either Debs or PZ to help you, which one would you pick? (Pull the trigger is not an option.)

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  5th January 2017

        I’d choose PZ because he could bore my assailant to death no problem.

        Reply
    • Blazer

       /  5th January 2017

      you are beyond help Al.You have a selfish,elitist view of the world.The result of a priveleged upbring…I guess.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  5th January 2017

        Very privileged, B, because I had intelligent and kind parents though certainly not rich. We made most things we needed ourselves and lived simply, biked three miles to school and kept busy with work and play.

        Reply
        • John Schmidt

           /  5th January 2017

          You lucky bastard. My parents were so poor we had to walk the streets looking for farthings, we had to make everything, had to live even more simply and had to crawl 15 miles on our hands and knees through blackberries then swim 2 miles through shark infested waters to get to school and kept busy digging the garden with a tea spoon.

          Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  5th January 2017

            I know, that’s why I said I was privileged, John. Even more so because my Dad’s family was from Yorkshire like yours.

            Reply
  5. Nice Pete….. NZ is very far from being some type of capitalists heaven. The social welfare net and the public health & education systems are being hugely funded by NZ taxpayers. We have a pretty equal society in terms of Opportunity – its all available if you plan a path to being well off or comfortable, and then work hard towards fulfilling the plan.

    Everything else that bubbles around from our “equal outcome” focused “friends” is just smoke and noise…

    Reply
  6. When talking in terms of broad socio-political & economic movements you Righties constantly refer to anything from Stalin’s gulags or Mao’s cultural revolution through to our First Labour Government’s ‘Social Security’ as “socialism” ….

    I rest my case …

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  5th January 2017

      Can you find a definition of socialism that does not encompass state ownership of the means of production and distribution? Or, like Humpty Dumpty does it just mean whatever you want it to mean?

      Reply
      • Blazer

         /  5th January 2017

        no thats the capitalist escape clause,laissez-faire capitalism,crony capitalism,new world order,neo liberal capitalism,chicago school,Keynsian economics,free market capitalism,user pays,trickle down,……etc,etc

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  5th January 2017

          All of which are the invectives you Lefties spray around like bird droppings but which are rarely if ever used by those you are criticising.

          Reply
      • @ Alan – “Can you find a definition of socialism that does not encompass state ownership of the means of production and distribution?”

        NO, I can’t! But I can find plenty of evidence, FACTS, that much and perhaps MOST production and distribution remained outside state ownership during NZ’s ‘Social Security’ era, say 1935 – 84 ….

        It was a mixed capitalist/social welfare polity … a beer or a shot?
        Today the ‘cocktail’ is mixed very differently … Would you like a ‘Screwdriver’ or a ‘Highball’?

        The word “socialism” does not describe what we had or even the broad political genre into which it fell. Communism and socialism both became synonymous with Totalitarian regimes. Their meaning is contaminated. I notice even elements of the Left call it “socialist” nowadays though, which I find misleading and regrettable …

        “Neoliberalism” on the other hand, broadly describes today’s orthodoxy quite accurately …

        You Righties REALLY don’t like being called it though, do you?
        WHY?
        Why the extreme defensiveness about this …?

        Reply
        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  5th January 2017

          If socialism doesn’t encompass public ownership of the means of production, why do its modern advocates scream like wounded bulls about the sale of government “assets”?

          I don’t care what you call sensible policies. I don’t recall ever complaining about your label, merely about your slagging off of good common sense.

          Reply
          • The “all or nothing” argument simply doesn’t wash Alan. There are many people across the political spectrum who believe some ‘universal’ infrastructural service industries should be government (communal) assets …

            More-or-less everyone, or leastwise enough people to absolutely ensure it, seem to agree about this in terms of hospitals, roads and schools for instance …

            Advocates of limited or targeted public ownership can’t all be socialists … or else we’d all be socialists …

            LOL Alan … derisory use of the words socialist and socialism is rampant on this blog … Can I recall ever being slagged off by you? … ABSOLUTELY … You regularly slag off what I call “good common decency” … but I do apologise if I’ve hurt your tender feelings today or brought you to the brink of breaking some New Year’s resolution …? [e.g. “I’m not going to engage with that socialist troll PZ this year”]

            Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  5th January 2017

            My feelings are in fine, robust health, thanks PZ. No, I don’t have any resolutions to break. Of course I slag off silly nonsense. I’m an equal opportunity nonsense slagger.

            JK: “NZers have a socialist streak” Yep, slowly getting weaned off a bit.

            Reply
    • Neoliberalism is the name of a broad consensus of so-called economic policy, also known as The Chicago School and The Washington Consensus. One of its main failings is that it pretends to be purely economic and NOT political when in fact it is powerfully Capitalist.

      It assumes that people are totally logical [or totally compliant] and hence ruled by numbers – balance sheet or bottom line – and fails to recognise the importance of ideology for human beings or realize that it too is an ideology.

      Indeed, even # 2 of Williamson’s 10 points, ostensibly “pro growth, pro poor” is couched in terms of redirection of government spending. It fails to recognise that the remainder of the policy points are ‘pro rich and poverty inducing’ … and fails utterly to acknowledge its own assumption that ‘class stratification’, rich and poor, is the natural lot of mankind …

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Consensus#Original_sense:_Williamson.27s_Ten_Points

      To exaggerate, it’s like saying “nothing collective, communal or mass can possibly grow out of human capacities like empathy and compassion” [if they even exist?] This is where the criticism of neoliberalism as being anti community, amoral and unethical arises from …

      “So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.”

      WHY?

      https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/apr/15/neoliberalism-ideology-problem-george-monbiot

      Reply
  7. David

     /  5th January 2017

    Define Neoliberalism = everything we don’t like!

    Reply
  8. David

     /  5th January 2017

    Actually that is a funny definition Russel has picked, because it clearly means there is no such thing as a neoliberal state in this world.

    Reply
    • What state meets every criteria of a political-economic descriptive name David?

      Are Stalin’s USSR and Mao’s China really “communist” and/or “socialist”? Really?

      North Korea? These can only adequately be described as Totalitarian states …

      Simple. Neoliberalism ‘adequately’ describes ‘reformed’ Western democracies.

      Reply

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