OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Dear Labour Caucus

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  • Paul Williams,

    Going back a little, Ben said:

    I didn't say Hooton arranged it. That's your concoction there. I'm just suggesting he could have known about it. If that's how it went down. If it did go that way, I'd actually be impressed by Labour, rather than depressed by them.

    I got lost in the variations of the grand stitch-up that never was. Honestly Ben, unless you've got a particular good reason to suspect this, I'm happy to drop it and move on.

    Lew said:

    But why on earth would anyone with a stressful job and a mortgage and a young family join such a dysfunctional movement, where you’re judged less on teh quality of ideas and more on the length of your tenure or the quality of your connections and extent of your agreement within the existing hierarchies?

    I think joining parties is a problem generally since it's not entirely clear what benefit you gain. That said, I'm unclear how Labour's dysfunctional specifically? I'm guessing you mean the disconnect that appears to have developed between the Parliamentary Party and some vocal union members?

    However, your second point, regarding tenure, seems a little awry given that the leadership team comprises single term MPs, including the Whip? Additionally, although Kelvin Davis has not been returned, a number of relatively new MPs have been. That said, I'd be happy to see the back of some of the three-termers who'll never be Cabinet material.

    And finally Sophie said:

    I tried 5 pages back Bart, but yes absolutely like and agree with your angle. So if I meet him at the pub I may just congratulate him. :)
    As slightly aside, in the past outside world, I could see David having to be very careful with words, at the same time trying to be helpful by standing by his word. Could be a reason to falter.

    I agree. I accept he could polish up a little but I'm also inclined to think the public are wise, and bored, with relentless speaking points. It's entirely inauthentic.

    And finally, Russell...

    On that score I think Key's declaration today that Shearer or anyone else from Labour won't be getting on the new "poverty committee" unless Labour promises confidence and supply to his government is a fairly damning illustration of Key's priorities. I'm quite appalled by it.

    It's also surprisingly inept. Make participation conditional upon something Labour could, but would rather not, do. Not something that fundamentally offends Westminister Parliamentary democracy. Key's response is stupid and makes Shearer's request, which was reaching a little, look even more reasonable.

    Round one for Shearer I think.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    He's got some time now to show us his mettle, and it will take some time. I hope he's a quick study. I'm going to turn my attention away from the Labour leadership, towards what I think should really be done to fix this country. Labour can listen or not, we're right here on the 'net.

    Currently the key problem I see is rising inequality and declining productivity. Mostly, I'm coming to the conclusion that this is a worldwide problem. Debt fueled capitalism's end game is that the banks own everything, and we are all debt slaves.

    Is there any policy that a nation can sensibly run in face of this crisis, that dwarfs our little country? Is it possible that we could actually reverse our own impoverishment? Is it possible for us to step on the capitalist accelerator and outcompete the rest of the world, without driving our middle class back to the barest essentials, the whip wielders to keep the working classes working, and perhaps the police to round up everyone else? Or will stepping on that accelerator accelerate our bankruptcy, as it has been doing for practically the whole time I've been walking this earth? I think that far more likely.

    Half of the problem is very basic to our way of seeing the purpose of work and production. When it's about providing for ourselves the things we need, then it's very obviously a good idea. But somehow we're in a situation that as an incredibly productive food producing nation we have some of the highest retail costs for food in the whole world. That's because mostly we make food to sell it, to get foreign currency. In fact, we've been going through a lengthy round of trying to work out how to do this for practically every kind of business we do. The end result is that we live in a very expensive country, and have to compete incredibly hard with far more established economies to get anything. Property can be purchased by any foreigner that cares to, so the cost of our property is such that it's utterly beyond most of the country to own. Anyone at all can stake up for a piece of the productive industry of this country, and in doing so, will eventually own it, and in the meantime will get a fantastic stream of overproduction from it, while the people actually producing the stuff can't afford it at all. Something's really buggered about this approach.

    I don't think full employment would fix anything. It's not just the unemployed feeling this bite. Everyone is getting poorer, except the rich. So jobs, jobs, jobs, might not actually be the answer we're looking for at all, even if it has been Labour's message since they represented even people doing the dirty jobs. It might be that we need an entirely gestalt switch away from seesawing socialist/capitalist thinking.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    If I’m not producing the goods then I would expect [to be rolled as leader], quite frankly. So I have to produce the goods.

    I tend to detect platitudes using the "negation test". If Shearer had said the inverse:

    I won't be rolled as leader if I don't produce the goods. So I won't bother

    it would be ridiculous. Which makes the original phrase a platitude.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    Is it possible that we could actually reverse our own impoverishment?

    It fucking better be. It's a concept that will be crudely fixed by a surge of dollars to the middle class and yes, full employment, do you really think the unemployed homosapiens dig their lives, they either rot or get employed in activities that don't get taxed.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    1000 posts.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • dc_red,

    It's one thing to say that a) poverty, b) climate change, or c) both are the big challenges facing the country. It's another thing entirely to convince other people that is the case and persuade them that it's something government can and should do something about.

    Both are easily put in the "too hard" and "someone else's problem" baskets. In the case of poverty there's also a strong victim-blaming mentality - i.e., it's seen as the result of indolence.

    Oil Patch, Alberta • Since Nov 2006 • 706 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade, in reply to dc_red,

    One day New York had to build a bridge to Brooklyn or they'd be fucked, these issues are compounding, let's have Simon Mercer wet his pants about his own future and not the idea that Labour lost the F.A Cup.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Having read Fran O'Sullivan's, ahem, admiring column on Steven Joyce's new status as a super minister -- across economic development, science and innovation, tertiary education, skills and employment -- I'm even more strongly of the belief that Labour needs to deploy Cunliffee across a similarly broad and influential policy span and make him the Opposition to Joyce. (Especially given John Armstrong's claim that Parker will still get finance.)

    It's not just a good idea for Labour, it's a good idea for the bloody country.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22849 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    It might be that we need an entirely gestalt switch away from seesawing socialist/capitalist thinking.

    You're not alone in thinking this. This IPPR paper on New Era Economics argues that we are "pre-paradigmatic" stage where the anomolies and failings of current arrangement are not sufficient and the alternatives not clear enough to lead to fundamental change. On the issue of employment, the authors say:

    Although economic developments have been bad, perhaps they have not been bad enough. Unemployment in most western economies rose sharply as a result of the recession that followed the financial crisis. In the US, it reached 10 per cent and has since fallen to 8.8 per cent, and in the UK it climbed to 8 per cent and is now 7.7 per cent. These are high figures in the context of recent experience, but they pale into insignificance compared to the Great Depression. Unemployment was in excess of 20 per cent in Britain in 1931–1933; in the US in 1932–1934 and in Germany in 1930–1933 (Stevenson and Cook 1979).

    They go on to argue that a new paradigm, based possibly on complexity economics that eschew the notion of competitive equilibria or zero growth ecological economics, will likely emerge only after the kind of decade-long zero growth that Japan has/is experiencing.

    Disclaimer: I'm not an economist (if that's not already obvious).

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Jeremy Eade,

    It fucking better be.

    Or what?

    do you really think the unemployed homosapiens dig their lives, they either rot or get employed in activities that don't get taxed.

    That's how it works now, yes. Could it work differently?

    1000 posts.

    Nearing a milestone myself.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Well Fran says hooey to you and bets the house on Super Vogon to rescue us all and restore the Right Order.
    Aotearoa Uber Alles!

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Paul Williams,

    Interesting. I think economics is all too complicated myself, needlessly so. The basic functioning of money is beyond most people to understand, and that in itself is incredibly pernicious. How can people really plan their lives when such things are complex beyond even the greatest minds?

    I think mostly this is because of debt. It is incredibly hard to get away from the fact that debt distorts everything about money. It creates amazingly complex scenarios out of things that are really simple. And it rewards an activity that produces nothing at all, beyond an extremely short term facilitation of economic activity, to an extraordinary degree. It is an idea that only humans could possibly fall prey to, and only our animalistic talent of falling upon one another in war once it gets stupid enough can clear it.*

    *ETA: Or we could do what we're trying to do here, work this shit out using our top 2 inches.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    Something's really buggered about this approach

    Neoliberalism has little to recommend it - and yet look how our governments still refuse to dismantle it. With no effective resistance.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    1000 posts.

    Nearing a milestone myself

    6000, I suddenly feel inadequate. Damn you Ben.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to BenWilson,

    So jobs, jobs, jobs, might not actually be the answer we're looking for

    It's probably the best fit for messaging purposes though. "Economic development" and suchlike are hard to get most people interested in.

    Labour needs to deploy Cunliffee across a similarly broad and influential policy span and make him the Opposition to Joyce.

    +1

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    Mr Key said the Government's plan to sell shares in state assets would be among the issues on the agenda for the first meeting.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10773135
    Don't get caught napping.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    I'm even more strongly of the belief that Labour needs to deploy Cunliffee across a similarly broad and influential policy span and make him the Opposition to Joyce.

    It's the approach first modelled by Bill Birch, later by Cullen. It does, however, require you to give up leadership ambitions something I don't know Cunliffe has yet done.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    Neoliberalism has little to recommend it - and yet look how our governments still refuse to dismantle it. With no effective resistance.

    I know, that's why I watch the Daily Show, because it's so bad it's pathetically funny. Politics is still Tolstoyian, the offices are wide open to the wealthy and the connected.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    Mr Key said the Government's plan to sell shares in state assets would be among the issues on the agenda for the first meeting.
    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10773135
    Don't get caught napping.

    The best plan is to put pressure on Peter Dunne, he has no mandate to sell what our citizens built in very trying times for us.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams, in reply to BenWilson,

    It is incredibly hard to get away from the fact that debt distorts everything about money.

    Indeed. The Germans have a notion of "patient capital" and regulate banks and finance markets much more strictly that most other OECD countries. This Prospect article is a useful overview, albeit from 2010 and I don't know how Germany is coping through the EU crisis. On the issue of pernicious credit :

    Take, for instance, the almost complete absence of credit cards. This is generally taken by American observers to be merely a reflection of an antiquated German economic culture. But Luigi Guiso, a Florence-based expert on economic culture, points out that there is probably more to it than this. As a matter of policy, the German banking system has hindered the rise of credit cards and has instead promoted debit cards. Credit cards reduce the savings rate whereas debit cards boost it, providing German banks an abundant source of funding to support their corporate clients.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Jeremy Eade,

    Dunne doesn't just look like a possum in headlights you know ;-)

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Fran O’Sullivan’s, ahem, admiring column on Steven Joyce’s new status as a super minister

    This snippet is not what I’d characterise as good news if our nation is to move beyond the flawed ‘thinking’ that has caused so much damage already:

    It is also important that business concentrates on New Zealand’s international competitiveness and takes a stronger leadership role. Business leadership has become too fragmented and too much of an echo chamber.

    So it is exciting to note that the NZ Business Roundtable and the New Zealand Institute are in active merger talks designed to launch a new organisation on April 1.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19743 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade, in reply to merc,

    Yeh , but figures are figures. You don't sell Wayne Rooney. You are going to miss him fast.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Sacha,

    Aw come on it is exciting, it's the NZ Biz Rountrouble afterall. What was awesome was reading how Fran got round the fact that most of the NZBR are offshore most of the time and probably don't either have a stake in nor pay tax in NZ.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    On that score I think Key’s declaration today that Shearer or anyone else from Labour won’t be getting on the new “poverty committee” unless Labour promises confidence and supply to his government is a fairly damning illustration of Key’s priorities. I’m quite appalled by it.

    Just as I predicted. Shearer re-frames the poverty debate, and Key just looks a bit... petty.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5442 posts Report Reply

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