OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Dear Labour Caucus

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  • Rich Lock, in reply to Damian Christie,

    does anyone here not consider themselves to be middle class?

    One's Earldom presumably excludes one?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew E, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    It's called networking and is consists of being told (quietly) that so-and-so is about to announce X and now would be a good time to by shares in ... Or being told that a certain council is about to change it's zoning and now would be a good time to ... Or being invited to dinner with Y so you can convince them that changing that law would be good for ...

    This is precisely why I guffaw with cynical laughter every year when the Transparency International Corruptions Perceptions Index is published and the New Zealand political and media establishment pats itself on the back about how little corruption there is here. I'd never heard the phrase 'shoulder tap' until I got here. In the UK it's called nepotism.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Classic = Class IC = Class of 99(%)…

    I am now, though I certainly
    wasn’t raised that way.

    ditto – raised Working Class in Sydenham, not sure if we ‘lifted our game’ to become Middle Class or whether the Middle Class expanded to absorb us – I never had much time for the distinctions, (though one could hardly not be aware of them), my criteria was always respect and whether people were due it for deserving reasons, not just birth or perceived position – and as DCBC says above it all boiled down to what was on all my exercise books at Sydenham School – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – always seemed like the only logical way for a society to get on with each other – prince and proletarian alike…

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7948 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Given our household income I doubt I fit into middle class and if I were to have children they would by that starting point not be middle class either.

    Knowing nothing about your circumstances, are you saying you and your kids are upper class? Or underclass? Or working class? Or mind-your-own-business?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    I thought he kept shifting the goal-posts and was being deliberately obtuse. However, this was my failing, not his.

    You're a more generous and patient man than me, clearly.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Upper middle class. No kids though which helps.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Damian Christie,

    You’re a more generous and patient man than me, clearly.

    Two word answer: Tui billboard.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    However, if your aim is to promote a vigorous discussion that includes variant and unconventional (some would even say deviant) points of view, then you cannot worry too much about people getting their feelings hurt. Nor can participants be overly concerned with how they appear to others. What matters is the exchange of ideas, not self-serving posturing. The participants put their self-image to one side.

    I, too, have been doing this for a while and I see it more as:

    1. Attack the argument, not the person, although the line between the two might be blurry and people might be quite hurt by having their arguments mocked or torn up.

    2. Do try and bear in mind that there is a person behind that screen name.

    3. Argue positively and in good faith. i.e.: don't write something purely to wind up someone else. (nb: unless it's some wing nut blog and you're bored)

    4. It's just a discussion thread on the internet. There'll be another one tomorrow.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew E,

    Except this one’s run for four days. Hurry up and write a new post, Keith.

    ETA: ;-)

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Out of interest, does anyone here (including the obvious candidates) not consider themselves to be middle class?

    I thought of myself (when I considered it at all) as working class for many years because, y'know, I worked for a living, lived payday to payday, had no assets beyond my clothes, books and records that got moved from flat to flat. I was disabused of this fantasy by a couple of siblings who pointed out that, though Dad had worked in the Patea freezing works when young and clawed his way up the educational ladder to become a very senior public servant, our generation hadn't really wanted for the necessaries and was definitely middle-class.

    I'm still not sure about that. As steven says, the bank considers me middle-classified by mortgage, though I appear to have little more actual spending money than I did in my footloose days, but I doubt that I was ever working class either. I'm really not sure those labels fit NZ anyway.

    You can have an underclass, without the lower middle and upper ones - as Bart mentions, you can have several of them. We used to call them ghettos, before that became unfashionable.

    I think people who want class warfare have no real idea what they'd do if they won. Except be part of an academic class chattering about labels because, really, some pigs simply must be more equal than other pigs.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Andrew E,

    Vanguard pigs, I think they're called.

    174.77 x 41.28 • Since Sep 2008 • 200 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming,

    Also, I can't believe we've come 26 pages without someone posting this:

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    I posited a while ago that to be "traditional working class" you need to:
    - have been brought up by parents that weren't middle class
    - have a limited (non-degree) education
    - if in work, work (for a employer or as a casual) in a manual job

    If any of these don't apply, you're middle class, at least as far as old Karl would recognise.

    Now, there's a new less-affluent middle class in existence. This group might have middle class parents, might have a degree and might have a non-manual job. What they don't have is any appreciable net capital or any prospect of making any. They've got all the financial troubles of the working class but not the cultural underpinnings.

    BTW, this is a debating point in good faith and isn't meant to diss anyone. If you are a PhD'd university lecturer with parents who were lawyers and assert yourself to be working class, then that's fine. We deal in broad strokes and you may be an outlier.

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

  • James Butler, in reply to Russell Brown,

    3. Argue positively and in good faith. i.e.: don’t write something purely to wind up someone else. (nb: unless it’s some wing nut blog and you’re bored)

    Can we call this Brown's Law (by analogy with Wheaton's Law)? "Don't be a dick, but it's OK to pretend to be one on TrueBlueNZ"

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to James Butler,

    Can we call this Brown's Law (by analogy with Wheaton's Law)? "Don't be a dick, but it's OK to pretend to be one on TrueBlueNZ"

    Precisely.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22843 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    Now, there's a new less-affluent middle class in existence. This group might have middle class parents, might have a degree and might have a non-manual job. What they don't have is any appreciable net capital or any prospect of making any. They've got all the financial troubles of the working class but not the cultural underpinnings.

    And I didn't think we'd met...

    This is an inevitable part of capitalist industrialisation, right? There's less and less manual work to do, more and more people with the education to do non-manual work, but the bulk of the capital still accrues to the owners of stuff.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 856 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia,

    As the 65-year old daughter of a wharfie who left school at 11 I still feel working class even though I've been a teacher all my working life and have three sons with degrees, one a PhD. I was the first of my generation to go to university but I still felt different from my more privileged peers. I've always gravitated to cheaper suburbs and I've been pretty bad, or maybe overcautious with money. I've had low expectations of my living standard, I guess.Moreover, I speak with a broad kiwi accent. I couldn't vote National if Jesus himself was leading it.
    Maybe it's just me; maybe it's a feature of my generation ...I know that I really should get over it!

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 559 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to James Butler,

    For the last hundred years or so, capitalism has responded (partly unconsciously) with a very effective make-work scheme to fill the gaps.

    Increasingly advanced technology could have created a better, more leisured life for everyone. Instead, we've created a whole bunch of jobs and even organisations that are essentially pointless. How many people spend their days creating attractive and complex tender proposals with associated powerpoints for what in 1970 would be covered by a few pages of typescript? Or work for companies like Powershop, who only exist because, instead of setting a fair price for electricity based on cost, the government has created an elaborate pseudo-market for a monopoly service.

    A lot of our problems stem from the way the supply of resources that has enabled this is no longer limitless.

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

  • BenWilson, in reply to Isaac Freeman,

    Being born rich or poor doesn't mean you have to stay that way, but it sure is easier to be rich if you were born rich.

    It's also extremely easy to become poor. One of the least challenging things one could ever do, followed closely by time spent being challenged beyond much that one would have experienced ever before. Whether you are made unhappier by it is not inevitable in any way.

    Out of interest, does anyone here (including the obvious candidates) not consider themselves to be middle class?

    I've never hidden it. I'd go so far as to say I'm upper middle class, more privileged even than most of the middle classes. This is by virtue of my upper middle class mother, and working class father, and the free education he availed himself off to become a well-paid professional, and considerable luck with property investment. To me it's one of the endearing stories of the culture of NZ that my mother would marry so far "below her station" simply out of love, and that the only resistance was from my mother's mother, who I now see being profoundly upper class.

    Apparently my mother's father, a self-made millionaire, was very much approving of my father, when he learned that he had saved up almost enough money for the deposit on a house (Dad told me he had actually saved it up to buy a car) off the back of working class wages, and gifted them with the difference, helped them to purchase wisely (he was a property developer), and felt very vindicated by my father's tireless work at improving his plot, even if he was disapproving of the occasional vulgarity displayed. I fondly remember his cliff-top mansion overlooking Castor Bay, and days spent playing on that beach (with only my older brother as guardian! Different times).

    Not such fond memories of the vast Westie clan, though. They were still working class, although mostly on trajectories to the middle class and beyond (more self-made millionaires there). We simply didn't have values in common, although they were all immensely proud of my father, for reasons I'm slowly appreciating. In short, he was the golden-haired boy, a constant center of attention having been forced to learn the piano, and the patriarchs all being keen singers. But also by virtue of the neverending generosity of his mother, whose young life in that clan resembled that of a domestic servant, something her sisters only lately came to admit bordered on abuse, and his father, a classic hardworking bloke who was later discovered by the government to have a very powerful mind as he dug trenches for roads, and rapidly became a well paid and respected civil servant in the MoT.

    It's only as an adult that I was able to see a huge part of my personal alienation from these fantastic humans was on account of the shadow of one of the other classes of people mentioned by many here, the disabled. My father's sister suffered profound brain damage and this changed their lives forever. My grandfather I remember as perpetually angry, my grandmother as relentlessly self-pitying. My father's 35-odd years of dedication to the disabled has obvious origins. My own misery when my son developed a brain injury when he was born came in part because I had some inkling of what to expect, and is only reducing as it becomes slowly apparent that we had a very lucky escape thanks to the fantastic people at NICU, and the ACC system, and my luck in my father's profession, and the Great Wonder known as the school system, and well, just luck.

    I'm incredibly lucky to be a middle class NZer. I'm lucky in coming from a happy home. I'm lucky in being healthy and intelligent. Yet still, one big misfortune can upend everything. So I'm also lucky to have discovered this community, lucky to know people like Russell and Gio and the rest of you. I do not want to see it torn apart by violent disagreement, nor by creeping conformism. It's very important to me. It helped me get through hard times, and I hope it will continue to.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Not middle class.
    Working class roots.
    No degree. Manual labour was a constant for the first 16 byears of my working life (started working in a ruler/coathanger factory when I was 14, after school.) Then worked as a postal assistant inside a PO until I struck a jackpot.
    I think I am working class, but because I mainly work with my brain, a lot of other working class people would disagree.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    No-one should be made to feel bad for circumstances out of their control, but by the same token privilege (especially economic privilege) comes at other people’s expense.

    (Note that this is not directed at any particular individual or group of individuals:) Not acknowledging that expense while insisting on your entitlement to that privilege is not very nice. Those who have to pay the price resent it.

    Agreed, though the issue is often not seeing our advantages rather than 'insisting' on them.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19735 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    A lot of our problems stem from the way the supply of resources that has enabled this is no longer limitless.

    I've discovered only recently that both sides of my family were Social Credit advocates. The Westies, urban and working class, but also with elements bordering on the criminal, clearly did not feel great solidarity with Labour. My mother's side, originally rural, were the same, people who essentially believed in property, either to develop for housing, or for produce.

    It's curious that that movement in NZ died. One analysis I've seen said that it was soaked up by NZF, but I don't think that's the whole story. Certainly as an international movement it was plagued by racism, particularly antisemitism, because it was deeply anti-banking, and that kind of thinking was simply common at the time Douglas thought of his theories, the Holocaust had not yet happened to show where such stupidity ends. But ultimately it was a theory that was entirely economic, like Marxism, but democratic, unlike Marxism. So it didn't have policies that reached out to hearts of targeted groups. It didn't promise rights to women, or Maori, or anyone, really, other than that they should receive enough of the goods of society to give them the freedom to partake of it as they saw fit. It was quasi-religious (I think that's the main source of the antisemitism, really), and the people who loved it were usually quite socially conservative.

    What I think happened was that it split along the Green - NZF axis, that those for whom racism was a powerful motivator liked Winston Peters, and those for whom the appeal was the economics, the rejection of capitalism and the more leftist neoliberalism floated Greenwards. The fact that these groups dislike each other quite a lot makes me think they must once have been unhappy lovers, since their economics is quite similar in some respects. Rather like the factions within ACT, ironically.

    Thoughts welcome, this could all be my own prejudices talking.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10655 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Random associative blithering:

    I, too, have been doing this for a while and I see it more as:

    Yeah, lots of people have, and not very many of them agree on even the basics. It’s only been 20 years, so no one person can claim any depth of experience, especially when the bloody thing changes so fast. All our conclusions are tentative at best. It’s reasonable to assume that everything we think is wrong.

    In a sense, a 13-year-old kid fresh to it all has more relevant experience than someone with 20 years’ history. They don’t have to unlearn things, nor do they have inappropriate assumptions developed for circumstances that no longer hold. Some bloody kid is going to come along one of these days and demonstrate just how wrong we are. About everything.

    To bring it back full circle, human beings have been living in cities for about 6000 years. We still haven’t worked out how to organise that very well yet. Churchill (‘the baddest punk of them all’) had something to say about liberal democracy as a solution to that problem.

    Speaking personally, I have spent my life deeply shocked that here we are living in an advanced technological society of marvels, living in the future, and billions of people are still starving or living in grinding miserable poverty just so a few people can live like kings. It’s a bullshit future. And most of the supposed marvels are bullshit as well.

    Cliche time: It takes all sorts of people to make a world. And there is nothing wrong with any of them.

    Class is a categoriser. Take all these billions of unique individuals, with hugely different values and ways of living, and sort them into (very rough) categories based on some (even rougher) similarities between those values and/or ways of living. Then assign those categories roles. Billions of square pegs! Jammed into three different round holes!

    The problem with small isolated societies such as NZ is that social cohesion becomes the paramount virtue, including on the internet. Small isolated societies tend to be highly conservative and conformist. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t stick your head up. Otherwise you’ll sink us all!

    Any deviance must be punished!

    ‘Be pure! Be vigilant! Behave!’

    Ho ho.

    Merry Xmas one and all.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Cecelia, in reply to Sacha,

    Not middle class.
    Working class roots.

    Maybe you can take the person out of the working class but you can't take the working class out of the person?

    Hibiscus Coast • Since Apr 2008 • 559 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Cecelia,

    You're right - because that would mean, for me, being deracinated...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

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