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Speaker: Why we need to stop talking about inequality

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  • SHG, in reply to BenWilson,

    This is what the intellectual left struggles with. On the one hand, it’s desperately important to all of us that we signal our brilliance to each other. Some of that’s ego, but also a lot of it is just to save wasting time – people don’t have to explain everything to you if you let on that you already have the background to get what they’re on about.

    That's not a trait unique to what you call "the intellectual left". It's characteristic of nerds in general.

    nup • Since Oct 2010 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    I'd say that his comment was tongue in cheek - it's pretty unlikely a person of such accomplishments would not have received some pretty mighty compliments in his life. But that one made him feel a whole lot better than he expected. Perhaps in that they both had unrealistic expectations about the other kind of person, and were pleasantly surprised to find a real person in place of a stereotype.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to SHG,

    That’s not a trait unique to what you call “the intellectual left”. It’s characteristic of nerds in general

    Absolutely. It's the bit that's "on the other hand" that I think the left suffers from more than the right, at the moment. It could be that the whole narrative surrounding the left is half the problem for them, though.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to BenWilson,

    I'd say that his comment was tongue in cheek

    You get a bit of that here too.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    The idea of framing (Lakoff = brillig) is way useful, but the cited study here is rubbish.

    The results were startling. When the virus metaphor was used, significantly more people offered systemic solutions – these responses were higher by 17%. Thanks to the power of one word!

    Wrong. Thanks to the power of the phrase “immune system ” over many decades. Amateur hour.

    Lefties have to do this stuff properly – insisting on smart thinking and competent governance rather than expensive polling and mystical foreign advisors. If people are simply not good enough for that then they need to get out of the way. Now.

    The results for all current and future New Zealanders are more important than any individual's ego.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    While I’m not disputing the importance of how language may be used to frame issues, leaving these kinds of gaping holes in your legacy lends an undeserved eloquence to even the meanest practical gestures.

    actions louder than words, yes.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Kirk Serpes,

    Labour during the Clark years was terrified about appearing to be too nice the poor and to Maori. They didn’t stick up for their own values

    If sticking by principles is not important to you, people notice that you can not be trusted. Who knew?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to linger,

    One example of unfortunate framing: using the word “strategy” for “acting in accordance with your stated principles”.

    snap

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    We may have to invent a whole lot of new words to effect change…because many of the existing words have been irretrievably corrupted.

    got any suggestions for "approach for the next ten to twenty years" vs "plan for next 3 years"?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Sacha,

    If sticking by principles is not important to you, people notice that you can not be trusted. Who knew?

    In the early days of the Lange Government there was a bit of impotent spluttering from the oppostion over Labour implementing National's policies. I think it was Denis Welch who noted that, despite years of Muldoonist interventionism, much of the Douglas 'reforms' was National's claimed policy, even if they'd only "kept it garaged and taken it out for the occasional Sunday drive".

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Kirk Serpes, in reply to Some Stats,

    Thanks for that link. Wasn't aware of that follow up study. I guess I should have been a bit more skeptical of such a simple example. It's actually consistent with a lot of what Lakoff has written about in his books. That frames run pretty deep in our brains, and you can't just change how people think like flipping a switch, especially when an issue is extremely salient and people have pre-existing knowledge and feelings about an issue. Here's a long but really good video of him talking about the deeper aspects of framing.

    Auckland • Since May 2015 • 20 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    Words matter, but it’s not just words that sell ideological product.

    Remember when we had a Social Welfare department, back when that sounded like a good thing? Then when the government felt the need to apologise for alleviating poverty and hardship, we had Income Support, and then the euphemistic Work and Income? The public is not fooled by the Unemployment Benefit being called Jobseeker Support. We all know it’s the handout of our precious money for layabouts and no-hopers.

    I think the cult of individual success has deep roots. It’s reinforced by the self-help and New Age movements, but it’s basically the class system in a new disguise. The greater the inequality, the greater the physical and psychic distance between rich and poor. The richer you are, the less you have to deal with the poor and unfortunate. The less you feel any common humanity or purpose.

    The cruelest aspect of our class system is that we don’t believe we have one. We scoff at the Upstairs, Downstairs notion of “having ideas above our station”. We believe everybody can aspire to material success, and that victims of poverty are to blame for their own situation. And so we are divided against ourselves.

    I think our consumption of mass media has a lot to do with the success of Neo-Liberalism, but I don’t think this is purely due to framing and spin: I think it’s also to do with our embedding within virtual media. We don’t have the time and opportunity to step outside that bubble and really observe what’s going on around us. Political hype is easily shrugged off if it’s contradicted by what’s physically in front of you. The growth in private transport and “sleeper” suburbs exacerbates this trend.

    Wow, when I started writing this I didn’t realise I’d end up sounding like I hate the internet. I don’t! It has tremendous power to connect and transform. But.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Sacha,

    got any suggestions for “approach for the next ten to twenty years” vs “plan for next 3 years”?

    Why not ask a really hard question, Sacha?

    You said....

    insisting on smart thinking and competent governance rather than expensive polling and mystical foreign advisors......The results for all current and future New Zealanders are more important than any individual’s ego.

    Chuck the polls...go and talk to people...out there, on the street, at the checkout at Pak n Spend, waiting at the hospital for your loved one to come out of surgery. On the beach, wharf, in the pub watching the rugby. Talk to New Zealand.

    People are sick to fucking death of this current 'government'...they see it for what it is.

    But often, other than grimacing and making retching noise when You Know Who is getting air time(again), they do not have the language to describe what is so wrong.

    Because, although 'intellectuals' abound, your average Kiwi has neither the time nor the patience for that...just give us the facts, explain the history, suggest solutions we can envisage working. Be fair, be honest. Kiwis are over bullshit. We have had truckloads of the stuff shoved at us...we know what it looks and smells like...we will switch off if we see more coming.

    So...in the next three years we need an Opposition that puts the dismay of the people into real language. Verbalizes, without hyperbole, the deep fear that is out there that things have gone very very wrong.

    The TPPA campaign has done this to a much greater extent than I thought...because the spokespeople for the campaign have been 'framing' appropriately? Prof Kelsey has done an incredible job of conveying the urgency of the situation(with grace and dignity in the face of extreme provocation!)...and the dreaded 'polls' would indicate that the general population has gone from ignorance to anti in a remarkably short time.

    So, something worked....identify what.

    'Cos so often we focus on what doesn't work...rather than what does.

    In the long term...groom the kids to take control. Baby boomers with consciences need to confess our sins..."this is where we went wrong guys, this is what we should have done, how can we help put it right?" We should be in the front line of activism while they plan. We should be the ones getting tasered. The world is theirs...we don't really have any right to lay claim to what we stood by and allowed to become so messed up. Remind the Young People, respectfully, when it looks like they are heading down the same path that got us here.

    That's my tuppence worth.

    (I have three Young People of my own. They are bright, and intelligent, and hard working and have well developed social consciences. I have hope.)

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • chris, in reply to andin,

    not just K1W1’s But we dont have the stomach to look ourselves squarely in the eye. We’d rather fluff ourselves.

    The other day I was reading Rob Salmond’s post Buying a fight with democracy when I stumbled over the following:

    But it becomes a big deal for people with low levels of formal education, or recent migrants, or those concerned about what else the State might do with their statutory declaration.

    People in those groups (surprise, surprise) don’t tend to vote National.

    At the time I thought to query it but didn’t. Days later I noticed the
    Visualisation of NZ voters and parties
    . Do those stats for unqualified and migrant voters adhere that closely to this narrative?

    I’ve been led to believe there was a time when Labour were the left wing party. As I’ve attempted to learn and unravel the history of this country there have been many occasions when I’ve felt buoyed by Labour’s enviable achievements; the Kirk, the Savage. But recently and not without difficulty, I’ve reluctantly acquiesced to facing the reality that this great party, it’s vaunted magnanimousness, it’s progressiveness, it’s egalitarian and charitable ideals, it’s socialist manifesto -

    Not so much in my lifetime.

    Given the choice between the two mainstream neoliberal parties – it’s not difficult to understand why many folk would prefer the no frills.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Attachment

    It's now two years since CTU President Helen Kelly welcomed the Warehouse's claimed intention to pay its workers the living wage. While nobody much likes a party pooper, it would appear that in this case the red sheds' social justice initiative was little more than window dressing.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Why not ask a really hard question

    I was only asking what to *name* those things.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • SHG, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    People are sick to fucking death of this current 'government'...they see it for what it is.

    And yet the National government is presently polling higher than it was the month after the election that brought it to power:

    http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/pollsjul15.png

    nup • Since Oct 2010 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to SHG,

    And yet the National government is presently polling higher than it was the month after the election that brought it to power:

    Indeed...a mystery.

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to Sacha,

    Sorry! :)

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    And yet the National government is presently polling higher than it was the month after the election that brought it to power:

    Poll results depend on how you ask what you ask and who you ask.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • SHG,

    Discussion point: We need to stop talking about inequality because...

    You haven't yet told me why I should care about it. What sort of inequality?

    nup • Since Oct 2010 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Angela Hart,

    Poll results depend on how you ask what you ask and who you ask.

    And nobody asked me ;)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to SHG,

    You haven’t yet told me why I should care about it. What sort of inequality?

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    That song's been on Easy Listening radio playlists for at least 15 years.

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

  • Lilith __,

    This song also goes back a few years, but still gives me the shivers. From the devastating film London to Brighton. From the album Who Needs Actions When You Got Words.

    [sorry, digression]

    Dunedin • Since Jul 2010 • 3894 posts Report Reply

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