‘Extreme poverty’ declined by 78% in last forty years

Poverty is a big issue these days, but it depends on what sort of or degree of poverty.

‘Neoliberalism’ is blamed for poverty (and many other things), but it hasn’t been all bad.

Neoliberalism is often used as a dirty word in political discussions in New Zealand, but it has coincided with significant progress on poverty around the world.

In fact, the economic liberalization and globalization that started in the late 1970s and accelerated in the 1980s, has led to a massive and historically unprecedented decline in global poverty.

Let us look at the global picture first. In 1981, the year Ronald Reagan became America’s 40th President, 44.3 percent of the world lived in extreme poverty (i.e., less than $1.90 per person per day). Last year, it was 9.6 percent. That’s a decline of 78 percent. In East Asia, a region of the world that includes China, 80.6 percent of people lived in extreme poverty. Today, 4.1 percent do—a 95 percent reduction. Even in sub-Saharan Africa, a relatively under-performing region, the share of the population living on less than $1.9 per day dropped by 38 percent.

Economic and social changes in the last forty years have certainly seen some adverse effects, but there have also been benefits for many people – billions of people.

We have negligible extreme poverty in New Zealand. There are significant numbers of people who find things economically and socially tough, but political arguments here about poverty tend more towards and get confused with seeking equality.

Peters and a handsome horse called Neoliberalism

This week’s budget highlights a big contrast between what Winston Peters has said and what he does. Talking the bucking the system bronco talk in opposition, but trotting along with the establishment for a dividend of baubles.

In past years Peters speeches has condemned National, capitalism and ‘neoliberalism’, but this week’s budget has been described as business as usual, National-lite and a continuation of neo-liberalism.

Not that this sort of duplicity will bother Peters – he has a history of talking a big change talk, but is walking a same old walk.

Winston promised radical change but is helping to deliver more of the same old. He campaigns as an anti-establishment politician, but props up the establishment given half a chance.

Peters has a history of cosying up to whoever will give him a share of power. He worked a coalition with National from 1996-1999, and did it again with Labour in 2005-2008. Neither of those Governments wavered from the same old capitalist approach alongside some state assistance. All Governments since the 1980s have been bitterly described as ‘neo-liberal’ by some on the left.

Peters in a speech in 2010:

New Zealand First was born from those who rejected the radical reforms of National and Labour and who wanted a party that represented ordinary New Zealanders – not overseas interests or those of a few ever mighty subjects.

So, after the blitzkrieg neo-liberal policy destruction of Labour between 1984 and 1990 – and National until 1996, New Zealanders decided they wanted change.

In less than two years Jim Bolger was rolled by Jenny Shipley whose mission was to smash the centre-right coalition and to continue the neo-liberal experiment supported by the Business Round Table and any other stragglers they could cobble together.

We saw some of this recently in the economic prescription of a failed politician who simply could not see that pure neo-liberal economics is a pathway to economic servitude for all but a small privileged elite.

Or maybe he does know this – which makes he, and his ilk, even more dangerous.

Dripping with irony. Peters enabled both the Bolger government and the Clark government prior to making that speech.

In 2016 Government a ‘bum with five cheeks’ – Peters

“Unless we get a dramatic economic and social change as a result of our efforts at the next election, we would have failed. That’s our objective. We know that unless we’ve got a dramatic change from this neoliberal failure that every other country seems to understand now but us, then we as a party would have failed.”

There is scant sign of anything like a dramatic economic and social change in the current Government or in the budget, apart from vague assurances it will be ‘transformational’ at some time in the future.

Also from 2016 – Winston Peters: ‘Most Kiwis are struggling’

“Everyone in New Zealand First knows that our duty, our responsibility and our mission statement is to get an economic and social change at the next election. Otherwise we will have all failed. It was a challenge to my caucus members, my party delegates and everybody else.”

He said there was no use in pursuing the major parties’ neo-liberal economic policies, which he described as being like “Pepsi and Coca-Cola”.

Peters provided the froth for both, and continues to do so.

Leading in to the 2017 election campaign: Winston Peters dismisses ‘irresponsible capitalism’ of other parties with new economic policy

Winston Peters is positioning NZ First as the party of difference and says his policy announcements today will steer away from the “irresponsible capitalism” that every other political party is selling.

The neo-liberal policy adopted by New Zealand politicians in the 1980s is a “failed economic experiment”.

“We want to confront what’s going on and set it right,” Peters said.

“I look at Parliament today and the National party, the Labour party and now the Greens are all accepting of that with a little bit of tweaking. That is astonishing, particularly in the case of the Greens – they’ve done it to try and look respectable – it’s totally disrespectable economic policy.”

Peters has enabled a Labour led Government whose first budget is little more than a bit of tweaking, with the Greens getting a  modest modest bit money for tweaking environmental policies.

Once negotiating power with Labour and the Greens Peters was already talking less radically.

October 2017: Winston Peters wants ‘today’s capitalism’ to regain its ‘human face’

“Far too many New Zealanders have come to view today’s capitalism, not as their friend, but as their foe. And they are not all wrong.

“That is why we believe that capitalism must regain its responsible – its human face. That perception has influenced our negotiations.”

So he moved from radical change to supporting a tweak to capitalism.

And this weeks budget has been barely a tweak. Guyon Espiner calls it a A ‘triumph of neoliberalism’

It turns out you can’t judge a book by its colour either. Labour’s first Budget in nearly a decade came with a bold red trim, rather than the royal blue Treasury uses to present the documents when National is in power.

But inside this was a blue budget not a red one. It’s a description neither Labour nor National would like bestowed on Budget 2018 but this was a triumph of neoliberalism or at least a continuation of it.

A continuation of neoliberalism enabled by and supported by Peters, with a bit of crony capitalism for him and NZ First.

This looked like National’s tenth Budget rather than Labour’s first.

It is the seventh National/Labour budget that NZ First has played a hand in.

Much more largesse has been lavished on the New Zealand First relationship with $1 billion for foreign aid and diplomats and another $1 billion for the Shane Jones provincial growth fund.

Even Winston Peters’ racing portfolio gets a giddy up. The government will spend nearly $5 million on tax deductions “for the costs of high quality horses acquired with the intention to breed”.

It has to be a handsome horse though. The rules say it will be tax deductible if it is a standout yearling “that commands attention by virtue of its bloodlines, looks and racing potential”.

What next? A handsome horse called Neoliberalism? Peters is probably a bit old to ride it, but he is providing the hay.

NZ First’s colours are black and white, and Peters campaigns with black and white rhetoric, but when he gets the chance to get some power he is a kaleidoscope of collusion, whether it be with National, Labour, capitalists or neoliberalists.

Perhaps like Grant Robertson he has a few transformational tricks up his sleeve, holding them back for next year, or next term.

Or maybe his the same old political charlatan, talking a maverick talk in opposition but given half a chance walking the same old establishment walk.

Neoliberalism, 1999, and ‘brat pack’ revisited

I don’t remember neoliberalism being a thing until the last few years, but it was talked about last century (when I only had a superficial interest in politics).

In 1999 Colin James wrote about how New Zealand had “energetically espoused neoliberalism” in the 1980s but bu the late nineties was “still far short of neoliberals’ high-wage, high-performing ideal”.

Here are exerts from an address to the University of Maryland in 1999 – The New Zealand economy and politics: the revolution and the future” (edited):


Just as a vigorous flowering of the arts in the 1980s signalled New Zealand’s true emergence as an independent (decolonialised) nation, it energetically espoused neoliberalism, the third radical policy shift in its 160 years of Anglo-Celtic rule.

This third “New Zealand model”, which attracted considerable international interest from economists, businesspeople and such diverse politicians as the government of Mongolia, the Japanese House of Councillors and Vice-President Al Gore, is now embedded in policy.

But, while the economy is undoubtedly more flexible and robust, it is (for various historical and contemporary reasons) still far short of neoliberals’ high-wage, high-performing ideal and it has left most citizens political “outsiders”, at odds with the “insiders” in the business, bureaucratic and political establishments and this has destabilised politics.

Indeed, the story of New Zealand’s century can be written as one of models we think the world might envy and emulate: the social policy innovations of the 1890s, the world’s first comprehensive welfare state in the 1930s and 1940s and the world’s most determined application of the neoliberal economic model in the 1980s and 1990s.

We then embraced neoliberalism. The pre-1984 administration (an awkward marriage of conservatism and populism) had tiptoed into these waters with some minor liberalisations in the late 1970s.

But after the second oil shock in 1979 it retreated into controls on wages, prices, rents, directors’ fees and interest rates in a desperate attempt to plug the gaping holes in the dyke through which the tides of international economic change were by then pouring.

The incoming Labour administration of 1984 did not have an option of more regulation. The limits had been reached and there was a financial crisis. It had no option but to pick up the 1970s deregulatory ideas.

This was clearly evident to any halfway attentive observer of the party’s public pronouncements and internal debates before the 1984 election. But no one guessed beforehand how far and how fast these heirs to welfarism would drive deregulation.

In seven years this administration and the National party government which replaced it in 1990 transformed the economic policy framework from one of the most regulated in the OECD to one of the most deregulated.

The main objectives of this radical economic policy shift were to lay bare price signals and so shift investment and labour from low-yielding to high-yielding, internationally competitive activities, to make economic governance “transparent” and thus reduce transaction costs. The ultimate aim was to enhance consumer choice and welfare.

This became the third “New Zealand model”. It attracted great interest from economists (and the august London Economist magazine), business leaders, bureaucrats and politicians all the way up to the government of Mongolia, the Japanese House of Councillors and Vice-president Al Gore. Special interest was shown in the innovative and largely home-grown state sector management reforms. Former politicians (including two of the main architects of the reform, Sir Roger Douglas and Ruth Richardson) and senior public servants travelled the globe, running seminars and advising governments. We were the showcase of the new neoliberal orthodoxy – and, for two years in the mid-1990s when growth was 5%-6% we were touted as the living proof of the merits of the free market and rational policymaking.

This new orthodoxy is now embedded in policy. The argument in this month’s election is about refining the new policy environment, not rejecting it.

But far more than economic policy was changed. Every other policy area came under radical assault.

• Environment and resources policy was re-based on “sustainability”. New Zealand is still the only country to have done this.

• Foreign policy was shaken free of its client status to the United States. New Zealand adopted a “nuclear-free” policy against nuclear weapons and nuclear power. Applied to warships and warplanes, this effectively ditched the Anzus (Australia, New Zealand and United States) treaty.

• The Treaty of Waitangi, under which sovereignty was ceded to the British Crown in 1840, was rescued from the legal “nullity” to which a colonial court had consigned it in 1877, elevated in rhetoric to “the founding document of the nation” and given some legislative recognition, including the establishment of a process for redress of breaches of the treaty by successive governments. Nearly 800 claims are before the tribunal.

• The electoral system was changed and parliamentary processes reformed. Freedom of information legislation passed in the early 1980s was given very liberal interpretation, such that the New Zealand government is now perhaps the most open in the world.

• Targeting to need and user part-charges were introduced into social policy, together with some decentralisation of education administration and part-commercialisation of the publicly-funded health system.

Taken with the economic policy reform, this amounted a policy revolution, almost all of it carried out very rapidly between 1984 and 1992.

Why such an upheaval? To some extent New Zealand was simply doing what everybody else was doing: the neoliberal tide was flowing throughout the Anglo-Celtic world, green values were gaining ground, the cold war was loosening the bloc mentality, indigenous peoples were demanding recognition and redress in many countries and winning it in some, electoral systems were in contempt and/or turmoil and the welfare state everywhere was in review.

Also, in common with other Anglo-Celtic countries, New Zealand had been through a values revolution in the 1960s as young people won moral and social freedoms and these people were moving into positions of influence by the 1980s.

But why so far and so fast in New Zealand?

  • In the economy we started from farther behind, with an economy more tightly controlled than any other in the OECD. Just to match early-1970s orthodoxy, let alone join the move to the emerging neoliberal orthodoxy, required a giant leap. In 1982, for example, the Minister of Finance could and did freeze or set all prices, wages, fees, rents and interest rates by decree.

One of the first points most New Zealanders make is that the economy has failed to live up to the neoliberals’ star billing. We do not have a high-wage, high-energy economy.

We are constantly reminded that Australia has done far better during the 1990s: with the exception of the two New Zealand boom years in the mid-1990s, Australian economic growth was consistently higher than New Zealand’s; notably, while New Zealand reeled from the Asian crisis and drought, Australia sustained 4%-plus growth.

If pain is supposed to lead to gain, most New Zealanders feel they are still waiting.

Even so, New Zealand did not ride through the crisis as comfortably as Australia, which awarded itself the accolade of miracle economy. Even though, according to a widespread consensus among economists, we are now heading into a period of firm growth of between 3% and 4% over the next three years, there are some serious structural issues.

If the pain has not yet led to the gain neoliberal reformers promised, it is at least partly, and arguably mostly, because of these structural issues.

  • New Zealand is still largely a “quarry” economy, living off the land and the sea.
  • The trade and services deficits are contributing to a dangerously high balance of payments deficit, likely to exceed 8% of GDP sometime in 2000 and put us at serious risk of being dumped by foreign portfolio and fixed interest investors.
  • We are becoming a “branch” economy and a “nursery” economy. An increasing number of foreign companies run the operation in New Zealand as a branch from Australia or Singapore.
  • We have not adjusted to our diminished economic status.
  • And there is a political and social fallout from the new economy. As in all countries which have adopted the neoliberal reforms, incomes have become more unequal: a “significant” increase in inequality of after-tax disposable income was confirmed in a Statistics Department report in February on income changes in the 15 years since economic reforms began in 1984.

We may be on the verge of passing political power to this next generation. The National party has promoted four young ministers aged 34-40 to high prominence in its cabinet: the most prominent, Bill English (38), is the Treasurer and the acknowledged heir to the leadership.

These four ministers, known colloquially as the “brat pack”, take the economic policy framework as given, not as something that must constantly be fought for and protected as do longer-lived ministers who went through the revolutionary phase. They have therefore a less doctrinal attitude to policy – an appropriate attitude as the neoliberal intellectual wave breaks and the debate moves on.

For the “brat pack” deregulation and asset sales are deemed desirable but not, as with the revolutionaries, because they conform to the “right” doctrine. The “brat pack” judges policy initiatives case by case by whether they will produce desirable outcomes (lower costs to business and greater international competitiveness).

Social policy reform is deemed necessary not just to hold spending but to improve the quality of delivery of social services to a public that demands the same quality from its public services as from its private sector services.

Moreover, the “brat pack” accepts that substantial cuts in the 25% of GDP that goes on social services and social security are politically impossible and in any case are necessary for social order.


One of those brats is now Prime Minister leading us into the 2017 election.

Bill English delivered the first real increase in benefit payments since before the neo-liberal changes in starting in the 1980s.

And his Government has just agreed to a substantial increase in wages for mainly female rest home workers.

It seems that a neoliberal revolution has never been fully happened, and adjustments tend to be moving further towards social necessities and away from economic ideals.

Probably stuck with the current system

A fascinating and very perceptive analysis by Danyl Mclauchlan at The Spinoff: The New Zealand Project offers a bold, urgent, idealistic vision. I found it deeply depressing

It covers neoliberalism, the failure of the left to sell their ideals and have a revolution, and looks at what can be done to fix New Zealand’s problems. It’s lengthy by there are many things worth discussing.

Politics is technocratic because modern societies are complex: many things could be better, but almost everything could be much, much worse, and all the high-minded values in the world are worthless if you can’t keep the lights on.

It is compromised because pluralism – the challenge of different groups in society holding different and conflicting but reasonable and valid views – is the central problem in politics, and cannot be fixed by re-educating everyone.

Political reform should be cautious, because outcomes are uncertain, and overconfidence bias is real, especially among groups of intelligent experts who reinforce each other’s assumptions, a dynamic that often leads to catastrophic failure despite the best of intentions.

Maybe the current system’s inability to address the housing bubble, inequality and environmental issues means we’re hitting the limits of a political system based on caution and compromise, and that will eventually provoke a wider crisis similar to the near economic collapse of the early 1980s, which led to the neoliberal reforms.

It’s a fairly common fantasy – especially on the radical left – that there will be a crisis followed by a left-wing rebirth.

It’s also common to see this on the radical right – there will be a revolution taking us back to some mythical ‘good old days’.

I think it’s dangerous to assume that the left would be the beneficiaries of any kind of crisis or collapse.

Same for the right.

We’re probably stuck with the current system, and trying to make change within it.

That’s almost certainly correct. Incremental change trying to improve what we have, rather than changing things entirely and replacing it all with some vague ideal.

We are probably stuck with the current system.

But it is a lot easier to tweak things to try to improve problems rather than a total replacement of something that generally works fairly well with something vague that would have unpredictable and less perfect.

‘Neoliberalism’ debate continues

The economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s in New Zealand rescued the country from the extreme interventions of Robert Muldoon, which were misguided attempts to re-invent New Zealand’s economy after Britain dumped us as one of it’s primary producers and to deal with the oil shocks of the late 80s.

I don’t recall those reforms ever being described as the introduction of a new ideology, nor them being called neoliberalism. (But I didn’t follow politics closely in those days).

I’ve followed politics a lot more over the last decade and even then it seems to be increasingly in more recent years that people from the left have lamented the advent of neoliberalism and expressed a yearning to how things once were (while never saying how that was supposed to have been).

Certainly how we manage our economy and social services and public services has changed markedly over the last half century. Margaret Thatcher changed things in Britain, and Ronald changed things in the USA. But it was hardly a massive shift from capitalism to neo-liberalism as if it was as drastic as a move in the other direct to communism would have been.

Then this week Jim Bolger, New Zealand Prime Minister in much of the 1990s, seemed to denounce neoliberalism in an interview for RNZ: The Negotiator – Jim Bolger: Prime Minister 1990-97

Bolger says neo-liberal economic policies have absolutely failed. It’s not uncommon to hear that now; even the IMF says so. But to hear it from a former National Prime Minister who pursued privatisation, labour market deregulation, welfare cuts and tax reductions – well, that’s pretty interesting.

“They have failed to produce economic growth and what growth there has been has gone to the few at the top,” Bolger says, not of his own policies specifically but of neo-liberalism the world over. He laments the levels of inequality and concludes “that model needs to change.”

That’s kind of remarkable. Certainly there has some problems that have emerged from how the country is managed over the last three decades.

A discussion was sparked on Twitter today.

Bryce Edwards:

Jim Bolger recants neoliberalism, & now on Michelle Boag graciously acknowledges Laila Harre’s good work in industrial relations!

Liam Hehir:

Can you point to an instance of him explicitly praising “neoliberalism” at any point?

Bryce Edwards:

He’s widely accepted to have overseen the implementation of a version of a neoliberal programme, no? He was fairly praiseworthy of that.

Liam Hehir:

Yeah – and he really expressed no regret for that in the podcast. He also didn’t suggest his reforms were neoliberal – that was Guyon’s word

Bryce Edwards:

All true. Yet David Farrar suggests that Bolger is now “to the left of Helen Clark”. I look forward to your column on this.

Rob Hosking:

There’s a huge amount of oversimplification & revisionism going on about this (and related matters) at the moment. It’s very misleading.

Phillip Matthews:

I’d be interested to know if the word “neoliberalism” was used much in NZ in the 1990s. People talked about market forces or Rogernomics.

I’ve only heard “neoliberalism” being used over the last few years. It’s a retrospective label that most people have no understanding or even knowledge of.

Greg Jackson:

I wrote about economics and politics in the 80’s and 90’s. Never heard “neoliberalism” bandied about in popular or private usage.

Liam Hehir:

Whatever you call it, it was never promoted as an ideological agenda. It was sold as a necessary, if bitter, medicine.

(By prime ministers, I should add).

In the interview, Espiner asks Bolger about neoliberalism. Bolger is non-committal about the term. He then goes on to express some dissatisfaction about current economic circumstances. So what happens, “OMG Jim Bolger has denounced neoliberalism you guys!!!!”

Ben Thomas:

Re revisionism: Guyon suggested Douglas’s economic plan happened under cover of “popular social reform” like homosexual law reform.

I mean, we all pretend on Twitter we’ve always been woke, but that’s a helluva way to misremember 1980s NZ (& the courage of the reformers)

Yeah, the BWB crowd’s window into the 1980s is via Kelsey’s books and Alistair Barry’s documentaries. It gives a skewed picture.

I was sorta relieved when Moore pointed out actually there weren’t thousands protesting in the streets each day, or complete social collapse.

I think generally people knew things had to change and quite drastically.

Matthew Hooton:

The craziest is the idea the “unpopular” economic reforms were possible because of the “popular” anti-nuke & homosexual law reform moves.

For many, anti-nukes was tolerated cos of economic reforms & the homosexual law reform bill was extremely controversial at the time.

How things were economically in the early to mid 80s was untenable, and we can’t undo what has happened.

 

 

  1. How the heck do you change the model from neo-liberalism?
  2. Why don’t we address the problems, deal with them and move forward?

From what I’ve seen most people who say “we must reverse neoliberalism” actually mean “we need to change to socialism”. We can’t go back.

Why don’t we just do what we can to fix the problems we have now and not worry about labels and revolutionary changes.

 

‘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’.

 

Social insecurity

PartisanZ posted this as a comment, it’s worth being a post.


I found this article ‘Social insecurity’ by Maxim Institute’s Kieran Madden interesting when it appeared as an occasional column in The Northland Age.

Here’s my response, with a link to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs at Wikipedia.

Intentional, intrinsic insecurity

I fear that people might swallow Maxim Institute’s conservative Christian ‘think tank’ stuff without question, so must respond to Kieran Madden’s ‘Social Insecurity’ column (28 July).

Madden creates an attention-grabbing headline-introduction using “Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs”, spiced up with “terrorism” and a “disturbingly powerful force driving revolutionary politics in the West”. Popular theory meets shadowy allusion.

To suggest this “revolutionary” threat is the result of “declines in personal savings and fertility rates” and “immigration … to plug the growth gap”; and they in turn symptoms of “the real problem … the scarce virtues of temperament, patience and discipline” is extrapolating things one or two fallacies too far I reckon.

Caution, watch the trees closely, there are reputedly forests about …

All of the occurrences mentioned – declining savings and fertility, increasing terrorism, immigration and “revolutionary politics”, along with woeful productivity and “longer working hours” – are merely the progeny (or spawn) of our current neoliberal political system, which measures people as financial ‘Human Resource’ or “units of production and consumption” and where economics dominate and dictate social policy, foreign affairs and trade, including international security, or more correctly, international insecurity or “terrorism”.

Globalisation cuts both ways. Global supply chains, products and services go hand-in-hand with looser immigration policies and a mobile global workforce. We are ideologically committed to it and, lo-and-behold, it miraculously maintains depressed wages and engenders fear as well. Uncertainty paradigm perfect.

Neoliberalism generates and depends upon social insecurity; intentional and inbuilt, like a perverse form of planned obsolescence; anxiety and danger its leavening.

The ‘Chicago’ and ‘Austrian’ Schools of Economics formulated neoliberalism and anarcho-capitalism to be the very antitheses of New Deal Social Liberalism and the Welfare State, commonly called Social Security.

The whole Reagan-Thatcher-Douglas ethos of ‘individual’, competitive, de-regulated free market, non-unionised, employee contracted, labour ‘optimised’, cost-reduced, tech-mechanised “productivity and efficiency” with welfare austerity is designed to disrupt security, promote uncertainty and “risk taking” innovation, to intensify a kind of Darwinian ‘capitalist conformity’ to the rules of the jungle. People aren’t “losing their country” so much as their sense of belonging to what’s left of their country?

This traps even ‘First World’ people at the second-tier ‘security’ level of Maslow’s needs hierarchy. Work, work, work dictates that Love and Belonging, Esteem and Self-Actualisation are purposely neglected. People are “spending more and saving less” increasingly because of either simple necessity or grotesque opulence.

Maxim’s recipe to counter this “politics of fear” is frankly pathetic, considering they actually support it. After 32 years of neoliberal insecurity, “me, me, me” rampant consumerism and soul-less instant gratification, we’re supposed to suddenly “promote a culture of patience, discipline and sacrifice”? Yeah, right!

What we need to do is promote is a culture of social security.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs

From 90% extreme poverty to 10%

The Communist Party took over China in 1949.

  • In 1981 90% of Chinese lived in ‘extreme poverty’.
  • In 1976 Mao Tse Tung died.
  • In 1978 Deng Xiaoping took power and started major economic reforms.
  • In the 1990s China’s economic performance pulled an estimated 150 million peasants out of poverty.
  • In 2010 10% of Chinese lived in ‘extreme poverty’.

This has changed as China has rapidly transitioned between socialism to a capitalist/market driven economy, just about entirely in the era of ‘neoliberalism’.

10% of 1.3 billion people is still a lot of people in extreme poverty, over 100 million people, but it is a huge improvement in living standards for Chinese people overall.

 

ChinaPoverty

Source – Share of the population living in extreme poverty, 1981 to 2010

Extreme poverty is defined as living with an income of less than 1.90$ per day. All incomes are adjusted for inflation over time and for price differences between countries and expressed in 2011 PPP international dollars.

Change has been less dramatic elsewhere but the move out of poverty has also been significant.

  • India – from 53% to 21%
  • Bangladesh from 70% to 44%
  • Uganda from 95% (1988) to 33%
  • Vietnam from 49% (1992) to 4%

 

Neoliberalism for dummies

Graphic illustrations of structure of society, and of neoliberalism.

The best 10 minutes of free education you can get from a white guy in a white coat using a blackboard, a pump, a balloon and a wood contraption to explain neoliberalism.

See Neoliberalism for dummies

Some interesting concepts in there.

 

“Flags will be waved, and kisses freely exchanged”

Chris Trotter seems very optimistic about what a Jeremy Corbyn win the the UK Labour leadership will mean for the world, going by his patest post Leaving Babylon: The Effect Of A Jeremy Corbyn Victory

ON 12 SEPTEMBER, the world will learn if the British Labour Party has opted to move sharply to the left. If that is the result, and, as the polls suggest, Jeremy Corbyn is decisively elected Leader of the Opposition, then the impact of the Labour membership’s decision will reverberate around the English-speaking world.

The reverberations of a Corbyn win will be especially loud here, in New Zealand.

Really? That seems to be overestimating Kiwi interest in a lurch to the left in the UK.

It is, however, a common feature of both the British and the New Zealand labour parties that, for the duration of their Babylonian captivity, by the waters of Neoliberalism, neither of their respective memberships ever forgot, or gave up hope of returning to, the Zion of democratic socialism, from which they’d been so ruthlessly uprooted.

If Corbyn wins on 12 September, many political commentators are convinced that the reaction of left-wing voters, across the English-speaking world, will mirror the reaction of the French to their liberation by the Allies in 1944. Flags will be waved, and kisses freely exchanged, as the people welcome themselves back home.

Perhaps in the inner circles of Auckland Labour left dreamers there might be a bit of joy and hope, but I’m more tha a bit dubious about how widesprad the waving and kissing will be.

The Socialists’ last hope of Nivana?