New generation government ending failed ‘neo-liberalism’?

‘Neo-liberalism’ has become a commonly used term meaning ‘everything that was wrong with politics and society’. Was the last three decades as bad as some make out? And are we going to see a sudden solution?

Newsroom has re-published and opinion piece first published prior to the election – Dame Anne Salmond: A final, brief election thought

This election has not been a contest between left and right, but between different generations and philosophies.

For the past 33 years, New Zealand has been gripped by neo-liberalism – a cult of naked self-interest, of the cost-benefit calculating individual, in which the only aim is success.

It’s completely amoral – the ends justify the means. It’s a brutal philosophy that has given New Zealand the highest rate of youth suicide, the worst rate of child poverty in the developed world; people living in cars or on the streets, babies dying of third world diseases.

That’s a fairly extreme description, with some questionable claims.

A new generation is emerging that has lived through the neo-liberal experiment, and regards it as an abject failure – environmentally, socially and economically.

Jacindamania isn’t about personality at all – it’s a collective sigh of relief that we might finally have a kind of leadership that reflects our core values as New Zealanders. A chance for a country that’s truly ‘clean and green;’ for honesty, decency and kindness in our public as well as our private lives.

And that’s another extreme, this time idealistic, and also inaccurate.

Inferring that ‘Jacindamania’ regards the recent past as “an abject failure – environmentally, socially and economically” is quite misleading.

Ardern agreed with Jim Bolger’s assertion that neo-liberalism in new Zealand had failed, but she has failed to convince.

Stuff in September – Jacinda Ardern says neoliberalism has failed:

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern says neoliberalism has failed and New Zealand has always been served well by interventionist government.

The opposition leader, outlining her economic ideology to RNZ in a lengthy interview, was asked if she agreed with former Prime Minister Jim Bolger’s assessment of neoliberalism in New Zealand: that it had failed.

“Yes,” she replied.

“New Zealand has been served well by interventionist governments. That actually it’s about making sure that your market serves your people – it’s a poor master but a good servant”.

“Any expectation that we just simply allow that the market to dictate our outcomes for people is where I would want to make sure that we were more interventionist.”

‘The market’ has not simply dictated outcomes. There have been varying degrees of intervention by successive governments, but there has still been considerable intervention. Changes like ‘Working for Families’ subsidies, student loan changes and the first increase in benefits for decades are all examples.

And one of the biggest current problems, large rises in property values, has been at least partly caused by too much intervention in housing supply via the resource Management Act.

Ardern however ruled out major changes to the legislation that sets out New Zealand’s monetary policy.

“For me the neoliberal agenda is what does it mean for people? What did it mean for people’s outcomes around employment, around poverty, around their ability to get a house? And on that front I stand by all our commitments to say that none of that should exist in a wealthy society. And there are mechanisms we can use that are beyond just our economic instruments and acts, to turn that around”.

Past governments have acting in a range of ways, not always successfully. All governments have tried to make improvements, and that’s what Ardern’s government aspires to, but incrementally more than radically. And they have already wound back some of their election promises.

Dr Toby Boraman from Massey University – Opinion: NZ politics’ soft neoliberal underbelly

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern has asserted that ‘neoliberalism has failed’. Instead, she claims, government intervention is necessary so the market will not dictate matters. 

While such a claim signals the beginning of an important shift in parliamentary politics, in almost the same breath she supported the free trade Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, keeping government spending within limits, and maintaining government surpluses. All are examples of neoliberal policies.

Ardern’s comments highlight how virtually all political parties – and not just Labour – have yet to fully break with the strong neoliberal consensus that has dominated New Zealand parliamentary politics since 1984. This is despite a groundswell of disquiet about the effects of neoliberalism.

New Zealand needed a quick break from the highly interventionist style of Robert Muldoon in 1984 to avert an economic crisis. That was largely successfully thanks to David Lange’s Labour government and Roger Douglas. Things have been tweaked since then, and ongoing adjustments will be required, but there is no sign of any major departures in the current term of government.

Although the causes of growing inequality, the housing crisis, poverty, low-wages, casualisation and unemployment are multi-faceted and complex, neoliberal policies and economic restructuring have undoubtedly played a major role in exacerbating these problems since the 1980s. Neoliberalism has not led to a trickling down of wealth to the poor, but instead a torrent upwards.

A tad overstated.

Yet New Zealand parliamentary politics, it appears, is still dominated by an incredible shift to the ‘centre’. This ‘neoliberal extreme centre’, as Tariq Ali calls it, is so clogged it is virtually impossible to see any fundamental differences between almost all parties.

Practically every party subscribes to neoliberal policies of:

  • keeping inflation low and unemployment high
  • keeping government expenditure within fiscal limits (witness the ‘fiscal responsibility deal’ between Labour and the Greens)
  • keeping business and financial speculation largely free from regulatory control;
  • free trade (with a few exceptions)
  • low taxes (especially on the wealthy and companies, and no significant taxes on property speculation)

There’s some straight out bullshit in that.

All parties want to keep inflation low, for good reasons, but no party subscribes to ‘keeping unemployment high’.

A National party press release in August promotes Unemployment at lowest rate since GFC

“The unemployment rate has fallen to 4.8 per cent in the June 2017 quarter, the lowest rate since December 2008. Our strong economy continues to deliver for New Zealanders,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“The number of people unemployed has dropped by 3,000 this quarter, reflecting a robust labour market and increasing employment opportunities.

“Strong job growth continues, with 76,000 new jobs over the past year and 181,000 new jobs over the past two years.”

There is a fairly good reason for supporting ‘fiscal responsibility’, which means not borrowing more and more to pay for things the country cannot afford.

Business and financial speculation is far from “largely free from regulatory control”. There are clear rules on taxation on earning profits from ‘speculation’, which the last government toughened up on and the new government promises to take further.

And the over-regulation of the RMA has caused major problems in the housing market.

There is no ‘free trade’ – all trade is governed by a variety of trade agreements with various countries.

“Low taxes (especially on the wealthy and companies)” is highly inaccurate. New Zealand has a progressive tax system that taxes more the higher the income.

“No significant taxes on property speculation” is an alarming statement from a lecturer in politics.

Inland Revenue (June 2017): Property compliance at Inland Revenue

Property remains the principle investment choice for many New Zealanders, with trade in residential property averaging over $40 billion a year. For this reason, Inland Revenue has an increased focus on this area to improve compliance. In 2008 a team was established to address any compliance risks with property development and speculation and associated tax obligations.

In 2015 the Government introduced new legislation and provided additional funding for Inland Revenue to put further focus on residential property speculation of $6.65 million each year for 5 years.

This amounted to an effective doubling of resources reviewing property compliance. We now have around 95 staff focusing on risks in the residential property market to make sure customers meet their obligations in relation to returning any applicable tax on property gains.

Speculation on the share market – in fact any profits earned – are also taxable, as anyone who checks their Kiwisaver statements will know.

Boraman continues:

However, we don’t now live in the neoliberal ‘shock doctrine’ era of the 1980s and 1990s. This was when business and government – both Labour and National – imposed violent neoliberal cutbacks and economic restructuring on society.

More extreme language that misrepresents the changes that saved the country from going broke.

Today most parties have pulled back from those extremes of neoliberalism – including National and Labour – and now subscribe to a mild ‘pragmatic’ neoliberal politics. This involves a limited degree of government intervention in the economy, and of government spending.

More nonsense. Government spending has kept increasing through most of the last thirty years. It increased through the nine years of the last Labour Government, and jumped up when National took over in 2008 when trying to alleviate the effects of the Global Financial Crisis.

Overall the differences between the parties remain minor: the choice is between soft neoliberalism (National) and softer neoliberalism (Labour).

This current soft neoliberal – or ‘neoliberal lite’ or ‘third way’ – consensus shared by almost all parties contends that all that is required to deal with fundamental issues like housing is some tinkering around the edges, such as building thousands of state houses or offering subsidies for better insulation. These policies will take some heat out of the housing crisis, and will help many people.

Yet they will not, however, solve that crisis when tens of thousands of homes owned by speculators remain empty, and the economy has become increasingly reliant on property and financial speculation for economic growth, as Jane Kelsey explores in her book The FIRE Economy (2015).

Lifting the levels of the minimum wage, working for families’ tax credits (which is effectively a government subsidy for the low wages paid by employers) and the accommodation supplement (effectively a government subsidy for private landlords) will not reverse the historically high levels of income and wealth inequality, and will not address the interrelated issues of low wages, insecure work, and high underemployment and unemployment.

This gets to the nub of why pragmatic centrist politics don’t work: while ‘pragmatism’ is often seen as a virtue in New Zealand, such tinkering around the edges of problems will not solve deep-seated issues such as inequality, housing, low wages, casualisation, unemployment and climate change. These are all systematic problems that require creative, systematic and far-reaching solutions.

Overseas we have seen the rise of various social and protest movements against the increasing concentration of wealth under globalised capitalism today – indeed the late 2000s to the early 2010s witnessed, according to some academics, the largest popular protest wave in human history so far.

It eventually reached our shores with the large-scale mobilisations against the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement during 2014-16, which rivalled in size some of the nationwide ‘mobes’ against the Vietnam War in the early 1970s.

I think it is from this extraordinary upsurge in popular discontent that solutions to the fundamental problems in society we face can be found.

Is there really an “extraordinary upsurge in popular discontent”? There was little sign of that in the last election, with National maintaining extraordinary levels of support after three terms in government, and the radicalism of the Greens coming close to failing to survive.

And I don’t think it will require a revival of Jeremy Corbyn-style social democracy, or nationalism, but instead needs to venture into territory not often discussed today: questioning the nature of capitalism.

I often see the nature of capitalism questioned – in part here, and it’s commonn at The Standard and The Daily Blog.

At the very least it will – of necessity – involve breaking from the shackles of the neoliberal straightjacket, instead of gnawing around its edges. It will mean we stop pandering towards a mythical ‘centre’ in an era of extreme inequality, and start to talk openly about the incredible concentration of wealth in the hands of the few, and loudly about the needs of the many.

That sounds more like a fringe activist at The Standard or The Daily Blog or Frog Blog rather than a political lecturer at a New Zealand University.

The country is hardly in “the shackles of the neoliberal straightjacket”, and Boraman contradicts himself, having also claimed we had moved to “a mild ‘pragmatic’ neoliberal politics”.

Inequality is a valid issue that should be addressed better, but ‘extreme’?

Saying “It will mean we stop pandering towards a mythical ‘centre’” is remarkable, given that most people are closer to the centre than the extremely poor or rich. The centre is a bit vague but it is far from a myth.

Like John Key and Bill English, Ardern will no doubt try to improve on what we currently have, and will no doubt have some successes and failures.

There’s a good reason why governments don’t make major untested changes unless they are forced into drastic action.

There are signs the the new government will represent a new generation of politics, but there is no sign that the new generation (apart from a few on the fringes) wants to throw out capitalism.

New Zealand politics doesn’t lurch from left to right. Just as we didn’t suddenly get a distinct ‘neoliberalism’ that has continued virtually unchanged for three decades, we are unlikely to suddenly acquire a new form of governance.

Under Ardern we may have taken a bigger step than normal but it remains in a similar direction, albeit more carefully tread.

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71 Comments

  1. robertguyton

     /  December 30, 2017

    “It’s completely amoral – the ends justify the means.”

    The dame is correct. Brash and Key represent that ammorality perfectly.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  December 30, 2017

      Yes, it’s entirely amoral to allow people to freely trade with each other in order to serve their own best interests. Instead half-witted academics and politicians should be allowed to control their lives.

    • David

       /  December 30, 2017

      People making their own decisions about their own lives? Shocking stuff, this neo-liberalism must be stopped before it is too late! Follow the lead of Venezuela in crushing this!

      • robertguyton

         /  December 30, 2017

        The amoral “bit” is where “the end justifies the means” is the core behaviour/excuser.

        • David

           /  December 30, 2017

          So it’s moral if the means are just, but the outcome is complete shit?

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  December 30, 2017

          Trite and thoughtless drivel as usual, Robert. All Government interventions for which you, Salmond and the Left are cheerleaders are justified on the basis that the ends justify the means.

          Do you ever spend a microsecond actually thinking about what you are writing?

  2. Trevors_elbow

     /  December 30, 2017

    What utterly idiotic posturing about the state of NZ. We already live in a socialist country…. no one who needs goes without. The Lefts leadership in NZ know this and see the true reality as a threat to their privilege… so they have been busy inventing a sham reality to rail against to retain support.

    If Chardonnay Socialists like Boraman really think we are shackled in a competitive dog eat dog society then I suggest they are either 1) gullible, 2) willfully blind, 3) dedicated communists who despise any system that is not completely state controlled, 4) hopelessly incompetent in their analysis… or 5) a combination if all of the above.

    Public education including stupidly free tertiary education
    Public healthcare
    No fault ACC
    Welfare system for unemployed, sick and retired
    Soft Justice system… looking to go softer under Labour
    Property rights continuously under mined so people have to dance through red tape to develop their own assets

    Yip dog eat dog capitalism…

  3. Corky

     /  December 30, 2017

    Dame Anne Salmond is again skewering the truth. She did that with her revisionist history of New Zealand. Now she’s doing a repeat with her perspective on our current political situation:

    **This election has not been a contest between left and right, but between different generations and philosophies.**

    Well, election results have shown that to be a fallacy. Nationals vote share revealed many folk happy with the status quo. In fact our last election was a simple contest of wooing Winston’s affections. Nothing inter generational or philosophical about it.

    Dame Anne doesn’t seem cognisant of the fact her ideology was put to bed in the 90’s.

    **It’s completely amoral – the ends justify the means( re-neo liberalism)**

    Well, that could also apply to the Left, SJW, universities,media and feminists. So what Dame Ann is doing is ” projecting,” and in the process doing a great job of self parody.

    I think Pete has nailed some salient points.

  4. George

     /  December 30, 2017

    The moment an academic comes to the argument i consider it as a loss to both sides.
    Living in an ivory tower is not a life skill

  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  December 30, 2017

    Anne Salmond has no hesitation in publicly demonstrating the limits of her expertise. Likewise Boraman. No doubt they are busy turning out the next generation of wannabe Labour politicians who if they ever gain power will have to be introduced to reality by our bureaucracy just as the present crew is experiencing.

  6. David

     /  December 30, 2017

    If there is a generational change I dont see it, my two in their 20s and their mates are very similar in thinking to me so I think its a class thing, they hate the free tertiary education policy.
    I think the split we have seen is between the priviliged university educated people swinging far left and being very prominent in industries like media, teaching and the public sector. Ardern on campuses, Corbyn and Sanders with the same cohort. They have reaped the benefits of capitalism, have never known tough times and or really poor government they are steeped in identity politics and sometimes one wishes for a good dose of the sort of society they wish for and let them suffer in it.
    If National were in the US they would be to the left of the Democrats, if Labour were in France they would be labelled far right… Neo liberal is no more a slur than calling Labour socialists.

    • David

       /  December 30, 2017

      This generational change thing is just highlighting that many young people don’t know about the true evil that heading down the road to true Socialism creates.

      What is happening in Venezuela isn’t a failure of Socialism, it is it’s success.

    • PDB

       /  December 30, 2017

      The ‘generational change’ last election was a 72.5 year old man who first entered parliament in 1978 deciding who the next govt would be…

  7. David

     /  December 30, 2017

    ‘The Market’ is a democracy in it’s purest form. It is the revealed preferences of the entire population.

    • David

       /  December 30, 2017

      Don’t just down vote, let’s hear an actual argument. Markets are the free exchange of ideas and goods, explain how this is bad.

      • Gezza

         /  December 30, 2017

        The downticker wasn’t me but calling The Market democracy in its purest form is pretty daft imo. It’s Business in it’s purest form, but unregulated it also leads to global Corporatisation, that drives the price of everything down including employee wages in countries whose industries can’t compete with the compartively pitiful wages Corporations pay to manufacture goods in poor countries.

        And to the offshoring of service jobs for the same reason. I’ve got no choice but to talk to foreign accented call centre helpdesk workers who’re nearly always useless, reading from scripts, if I have a problem with Spark. Waiting waiting waiting for responses from Call Centres when calling some companies or Departments.

        These aren’t the preferences of the entire population as you say. They’re the end result of Markets operating. Financial bubbles & crashes that screw individuals & countries are another feature.

        • Alan Wilkinson

           /  December 30, 2017

          I’ve got no choice but to talk to foreign accented call centre helpdesk workers who’re nearly always useless, reading from scripts, if I have a problem with Spark.

          Exactly wrong. Because of the market and free competition you have the choice of moving to a better service provider:
          https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/76523436/telco-call-centres-leaving-customers-waiting–consumer-nz-survey

          If the Government ran it you would not have that choice. Global corporatisation has lifted billions out of abject poverty. If you object to that, say so but don’t pretend it is the moral high ground.

          • Gezza

             /  December 30, 2017

            Where have I claimed any kind of moral high ground?

            I am simply disputing David’s claim that the Market is democracy in its purest form.

            It’s Business in its purest form. Ultimately it leads to globalism which leads to offshoring & loss of local jobs – the drive to the pricing bottom. It has downsides that I’ve listed a couple of.

            I am not disputing it has lifted people out of poverty in other countries. That has come at the expense of others in previously more wealthy developed countries.

            How did Trump get elected? Appealing to the jobless by threatening to interfere in the Market (to penalise corporates who offshored factories & jobs).

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  December 30, 2017

              That’s the fallacy of believing international trade is a zero sum game. It isn’t. Trade benefits both countries. The billions lifted out of poverty have not been at the expense of the wealthy countries over all. Yes, individuals have been impacted in the transition but the wealthy countries have continued to grow and provide jobs except where regulation and welfarism have been destructive. Customers vote with their dollar. That is why it is pure democracy – until Governments control where and how that dollar can be spent.

            • David

               /  December 30, 2017

              “How did Trump get elected? Appealing to the jobless by threatening to interfere in the Market (to penalise corporates who offshored factories & jobs).”

              Correct, he is not, and never has been, a neo-liberal.

              His business was built entirely on government regulation, and his ability to sway governments to give him special treatment.

            • Gezza

               /  December 30, 2017

              Still waiting for you to identify where I claimed any moral high ground?
              Or concede that I didn’t. Which would be my recommended option. 👍🏼

            • Gezza

               /  December 30, 2017

              Above is @ Sir Alan, not you David.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  December 30, 2017

              Merely a pre-emptive strike, Sir Gerald. Where did I say you had claimed the moral high ground? You are free to concede I didn’t – or not. I don’t care.

            • Gezza

               /  December 30, 2017

              I accept your obvious miserably abject surrender on that one, whilst pretending you haven’t, in the seasonal spirit in which you have just capitulated, Sir Alan.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  December 30, 2017

              No wonder Elvira prefers a rock to a conversation with you, Sir Gerald. Both are pointless but the rock is more agreeable.

            • Gezza

               /  December 30, 2017

              Pointless response, Sir Alan. Never even read that. 😐

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  December 30, 2017

              Your irrelevance shows that is your usual practise, Sir G.

            • Gezza

               /  December 30, 2017

              I forgive you Sir Alan.

        • David

           /  December 30, 2017

          “. It’s Business in it’s purest form, but unregulated it also leads to global Corporatisation,”

          Your wrong. Markets have existed for as long as there have been humans. Businesses are a new idea and have very little to do with markets. I

          “that drives the price of everything down including employee wages in countries whose industries can’t compete with the compartively pitiful wages Corporations pay to manufacture goods in poor countries.”

          Prices going down is a good thing, that means we can have more stuff for less work. Corporations paying low wages to manufacture goods in poor countries has made those countries, and those people vastly richer than they have ever been. The figures for people moving out of poverty in the last 30 years are just staggering, the largest reduction in poverty in the history of the world.

          “And to the offshoring of service jobs for the same reason. I’ve got no choice but to talk to foreign accented call centre helpdesk workers who’re nearly always useless, reading from scripts, if I have a problem with Spark. Waiting waiting waiting for responses from Call Centres when calling some companies or Departments.”

          You had to talk to someone with a foreign accent? I can feel your pain. How much more do you wish to pay for a non-foreign accent? Why do you want someone to lose their job just because they have a foreign accent?

          “These aren’t the preferences of the entire population as you say. They’re the end result of Markets operating. ”

          They are the preferences of an entire population. Revealed preference is just that, revealing.

          “Financial bubbles & crashes that screw individuals & countries are another feature.”

          Is there any indication that this can be prevented? The only long periods of financial stability where those when everyone was piss poor, scratching out a subsistence existence. In 1890 the average wage in the western world was $1/day, inflation adjusted. Poverty was the norm, everywhere.

          • robertguyton

             /  December 30, 2017

            With the demise of your “feed the greedy” National-led Government, you folk are suffering, really suffering. Comments like those made by Dame Anne cut you to the quick and it stings, doesn’t it!

        • David

           /  December 30, 2017

          You got an up vote for at least having a go at justifying the destruction of the single best mechanic for the ongoing prosperity for people the world has ever known.

          • Gezza

             /  December 30, 2017

            I’m not advocating the destruction of the Market david. Nor am I advocating pure Socialism. I’m supporting limited goverment intervention – regulation of some Markets. What counts in a democracy is not what happens in other countries but what happens in yours.

            Trade at its most basic is based on mutual benefit for each individual & if there’s no benefit for enough individuals who’ve lost well-paid jobs, can’t get one, or had pay cuts due to globalisation then they’ll ultimately exercise their democratic right to vote for a government that will intervene in the Market to redress that. As Trump’s election shows.

            • David

               /  December 30, 2017

              ” I’m supporting limited goverment intervention – regulation of some Markets.”

              “What counts in a democracy is not what happens in other countries but what happens in yours.”

              Very Nationalist of you.

              “Trade at its most basic is based on mutual benefit for each individual & if there’s no benefit for enough individuals who’ve lost well-paid jobs, can’t get one, or had pay cuts due to globalisation then they’ll ultimately exercise their democratic right to vote for a government that will intervene in the Market to redress that. As Trump’s election shows.”

              This is not true. The trade will only occur if both parties benefit. The government intervention is only ever going to be to the benefit of a special interest group.

              There is no evidence you can stop job loses without massive costs elsewhere. Back in the 70’s NZ’ers paid a fortune for a TV in order to protect jobs. TV’s where made in Japan, stripped back down to a kitset, then shipped to NZ for someone here to re-assemble them. That job was protected, but how many jobs where lost because of the extra costs? Do we return to this?

            • Gezza

               /  December 30, 2017

              Very Nationalist of you.
              Too right mate. Proud of it too.

            • Gezza

               /  December 30, 2017

              Back in the 70’s NZ’ers paid a fortune for a TV in order to protect jobs. TV’s were made in Japan, stripped back down to a kitset, then shipped to NZ for someone here to re-assemble them. That job was protected, but how many jobs were lost because of the extra costs?

              In NZ? None, as far as I know. Manufacturing jobs were lost when they stopped this. Do you have a number of jobs that were lost when they were assembled here?

              It’s news to me that things were built then disassembled so they could be sent here then reassembled. That would be stupid. Nobody would do that surely? I doubt they do this with DIY kitsets. And I very much doubt anybody would do that these days.

              Do we return to this?
              No. It’s too daft.

            • David

               /  December 30, 2017

              “In NZ? None, as far as I know.”

              That’s the problem, you can’t see the impact it had. Many jobs simply never get created in a economy where a small number of jobs are protected. This is known as the parable of the broken window, or that which is seen and that which is not seen.

              “Do you have a number of jobs that were lost when they were assembled here?”

              The jobs where never created because of the cost of TV’s. All the extra money that would have created new jobs instead got spent on protecting a small number of jobs putting TV’s back together.

              If the economics of that worked, the logical place to go is to remove all technology from manufacturing so we will have many more jobs and be wealthier. It is, of course, complete nonsense. The purpose of manufacturing is not to create jobs, but to allow consumption.

              “It’s news to me that things were built then disassembled so they could be sent here then reassembled. That would be stupid. Nobody would do that surely?”

              That is EXACTLY what they did. The CDK car industry, on average, meant a car purchased in NZ cost twice as much as just importing it direction. That kept a small number of people employed in mostly unskilled jobs.

              A final note, I’m deeply surprised to find you shocked that Governments, when messing around with markets, do really stupid things. That’s what they always do.

            • Gezza

               /  December 30, 2017

              “Do you have a number of jobs that were lost when they were assembled here?”

              The jobs where never created because of the cost of TV’s. All the extra money that would have created new jobs instead got spent on protecting a small number of jobs putting TV’s back together.

              Ok. So you don’t have the number of jobs that were lost when they were assembled here.

              Do you have the number of jobs that weren’t created when they were assembled here?

            • David

               /  December 30, 2017

              A number cannot be calculated for a future that never happened. Like I said, if it was a wise policy, we would all be rich by using spoons to dig ditches.

              Bastiat explains it very well if you wish to take the time;

              http://bastiat.org/en/twisatwins.html

            • Gezza

               /  December 30, 2017

              A final note, I’m deeply surprised to find you shocked that Governments, when messing around with markets, do really stupid things. That’s what they always do.

              I’m deeply surprised to find you unconcerned that unregulated free markets often lead to dreadful disasters (requiring regulation, oversight & enforcement) & unpredictable long term economic outcomes, which is why the pendulums swing in democracies between liberalised economies & more managed ones.

              People vote for their own self interest, sometimes in the guise of the interest of their children & grandchildren, & are motivated by improving, or at least not losing, their standard of living.

              We have the balance about right in NZ as far as I’m concerned. When it swings too far either way we get more, or less, government intervention.

              If pay rates are too low, governments that tax the wealthy & transfer to the less wealthy are the ones who get elected. I don’t see that as a problem.

              The wealthy are still here & still getting rich – they still want to live in our society because they don’t want to live in a place with slums or excess poverty & crime, nor do they want to live in gated communities.

  8. Gezza

     /  December 30, 2017

    I just hope they hurry up with taxing online purchases made overseas.

  9. robertguyton

     /  December 30, 2017

    Dame Anne certainly got you ACToids frothed up! Shows how right she is in her assertions!!

    • David

       /  December 30, 2017

      That’s all the are, assertions. There is no logic behind them, this ‘neo-liberal’ BS is just a universal, multipurpose straw man for those who wish NZ to become Venezuela.

      • robertguyton

         /  December 30, 2017

        Dame Anne Salmond makes illogical assertions, David?
        You claim lacks substance and you lack credibility, by comparison with, say, Dame Anne Salmond, imo. The Dame has it right.

        • David

           /  December 30, 2017

          “Dame Anne Salmond makes illogical assertions, David?”

          Illogical, profoundly wrong, many of which are simply lies.

          “You claim lacks substance and you lack credibility, by comparison with, say, Dame Anne Salmond, imo. ”

          Dame Anne Salmond has no credibility, she is “anthropologist, environmentalis” writing about economics, in which she demonstrability has zero knowledge.

          • robertguyton

             /  December 30, 2017

            So you claim, but don’t show. Slinging mud isn’t debate, nor does it evidence a logical thinker.

            • David

               /  December 30, 2017

              How about we start at the most basic level then;

              In what way is the new Labour government any less ‘neo-liberal’ than National? What trade barriers are they putting up, where is their huge tax increase on the rich, where are the Socialist policies that you,and Anne, are crying out for?

              Anne claims ‘Neo-liberalism has failed.’, yet what does the non-Neo-liberal NZ look like? All she has is fuzzy feelings and not a word on what policies would actually be enacted.

            • robertguyton

               /  December 30, 2017

              Is the Dame arguing that the present Government is less “neoliberal” than the past? I certainly hope it is; in fact I pray it will be the start of the Great Unraveling, but am not brimming with excitement at the thought; it’ll take more than a change at the head. I do though, live in hope for eucatrastrophe.

            • “it’ll take more than a change at the head”

              It would need a massive change in voting habits, and there’s no sign of that happening to any significant extent.

  10. Gerrit

     /  December 30, 2017

    One of the saddest parts of the the Salmon and Boraman essays is the lack of vision on how, and to what, they would like to see New Zealand society reform.

    Lots of “this is wrong” but not a notion of what they consider a final outcome of their perfect society should look like.

    All very well to be at the “we are here” stage but without a “where do we want to go to” picture, it is meaningless positioning.

    But as their state funded salaries are on the line, they would not want to present their picture of the utopian dream for New Zealand society.

    For once we reached their nirvana, they would be unemployed.

    I for one would like to see their picture of their capitalist free society and how the tax paying trade able sector will operate.

    I suppose we could all become non tax paying (except for GST) state servants?

    Can well remember an economist (long tousled haired guy whose name escaped me – Prof Geirnger?) during the Muldoon years explaining the facts of voters preferences. He likened it to a pendulum, it swings left, it swings right but it always settles in the centre.

    • robertguyton

       /  December 30, 2017

      Why, Gerrit, do you assume the “pendulum” will “settle”?

      • Gerrit

         /  December 30, 2017

        Laws of Physics, A pendulum cannot swing one way or the other forever. Even Cuba has taking a limited capitalist road towards the centre. Baby steps for sure but steps never the less.

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/aug/02/raul-castro-cubans-private-working

        • robertguyton

           /  December 30, 2017

          Yeah, well, Gerrit, it’s kinda dumb to be using a physical analogy to describe something that’s not a physical reality. So, pendulum, coming to rest, nah.

      • Gerrit

         /  December 30, 2017

        It will always swing in a democracy. Only tyrants can prevent it’s democratic swing and then only for a short period of time.

        • phantom snowflake

           /  December 30, 2017

          Even I, an economic ignoramus, know that the “Laws of Physics” have no relevance to the economy. Your pendulum analogy fails in that it involves only 2, or at the most 3 dimensions, whereas the economy is arguably multidimensional.

          • Gerrit

             /  December 30, 2017

            I would suggest that the right V left and the centering of the voters resolve is two dimensional. You only need to read a left blog or a right blog to see this two dimensional diaspora.

            The economy might be multidimensional but how that economy is governed is pretty much right V left and a swinging centre. The pendulum shows the voters intent and the economy is but the vehicle for that intent.

            You could ague a NEWS (North, East West and South) diaspora but the pendulum will always swing back to the centre. It might be a NE to SW swing, or any direction you choose, but centre itself it will.

            Off course where the fulcrum of the pendulum resides is the third axis and if this is further right it will form a centre right voter base, if the fulcrum is left of centre it will form a centre left voter base.

            The various government (left or right) all ways try and move the fulcrum by introducing policies and legislation that makes it hard for the next government to change the fulcrum position back again.

            Working for Families is a classic case of this, where it is hard to change back to the right. National could not work that out of the benefit system over 9 years of government.

            Same as the compulsion of union membership. Labour could not work that out of the system after 9 years of Helen Clark rule.

            The whole point of being in government is to bring about policies to alter the fulcrum position so that the next government cannot change the fulcrum position easily.

            • phantom snowflake

               /  December 30, 2017

              My pseudophilosophical point is simply that when an analogy is employed that is several or more orders of dimension lesser than the phenomenon it represents, knowledge/understanding/insight is subtracted rather than added.
              *INHALE* The map is not the territory, the symbol is not the reality maaaan… *EXHALE*

            • Blazer

               /  December 31, 2017

              Legislation changes the position easily. It’s the political ramifications that put a brake on. ..that.

          • Trevors_elbow

             /  December 31, 2017

            Ah no…. A pendulum is an apt simplification of the concept of market equilibrium…. the whole concept is a return to balance i.e. a centre point.

            But yes you are right that you are an economic ignoramus… keep up the self appraisals you will benefit in the long run….

  11. PDB

     /  December 30, 2017

    “the free trade Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, keeping government spending within limits, and maintaining government surpluses. All are examples of neoliberal policies.”

    Signing up to international trade agreements to further encourage business and job growth, keeping govt spending affordable and creating surpluses to pay down our debt & put back into the economy where required……………….this ‘neo-liberalism’ thing sounds truly awful!

    • robertguyton

       /  December 30, 2017

      Truly!

    • Gezza

       /  December 30, 2017

      That’s the point of PG’s post. We don’t actually have neo-liberalism.

    • Blazer

       /  December 31, 2017

      Why isn’t it called a free trade agreement. ..yes because it’s. ..not.

  12. Mefrostate

     /  December 30, 2017

    ‘Neoliberalism’ is too often used as a pejorative for “politics I dislike because it’s to the right of my ideals”, in the same way that ‘socialism’ is a handy way to attack “politics I dislike because it’s to the left of my ideals”.

    Neither approach is particularly valuable to me, and I think Salmond’s column attacks the baby instead of the bathwater.

    • PDB

       /  December 30, 2017

      The real difference is that most right-leaning people are happy with a NZ govt that is around the centre of the political divide whilst a vocal minority of left-leaning people are wanting a major far-left wing shift. To these people (and some post on here) the most recent centralist govts this country have had they wrongly accuse of being an extreme right-wing movement forcing neoliberalism down our throats.

      The fact we are a mixed economy with a slight socialist bent escapes these people so extreme their political views are. In reality NZ does not have much of a far-right wing movement – most people are around the centre.