The Dim-Post

February 8, 2012

Purity of essence

Filed under: economics — danylmc @ 2:52 pm

DPF approvingly links to a post from the rather bitter and unhappy mind of Cactus Kate, arguing that a couple cited by the Herald series on inequality who are living on a low income and struggling to support their family have only themselves to blame, because it was their choice to have a family in the first place.

Most people chose to have children. DPF and Kate haven’t, which is fine, but little things like the long-term viability of the economy and perpetuation of the species are dependent on those of us who do. Kate writes:

The conclusion is that inequality is created by bad personal choices. No one forced these two to have three children of their own in addition to a SOCK. They didn’t accidentally have three children. The only thing the taxpayer should be paying for is Craig to have the snip.

Am I picking on Craig and Carla? Yes. But only because they have been silly enough to be used for this story. They are not the only family living like this. Will this be a permanent or temporary state for these people? Hard to tell. They have chosen to make life as difficult as possible for themselves that is for sure.

But the point here is that having a couple of children shouldn’t be a ‘bad personal choice’ for everyone not earning a high income. This used to be a country in which a family could be comfortably supported on a single, average income; we’re currently a country in which a family can be tenuously supported on two average incomes.  That’s because our median wages remain stagnant while our living costs continue to rise. People aren’t leaving for Australia simply because ‘wages are higher’, but because that lets them do things like have children or own their own home, which many people just can’t afford to do in New Zealand. It’s all very well to sneer at those who have kids here as having made, ‘poor personal choices’, but it reflects terrible problems with our socio-economic model, and hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders are responding to it rationally by leaving the country.

About these ads

140 Comments »

  1. And as Julie points out in a response to the Can’t Feed Don’t Breed Brigade, there are many assumptions underlying this line of reasoning:
    * People’s financial situations don’t change over time – or at least they don’t get worse.
    * Someone can totally foresee how much more each child will add to their outgoings.
    * Contraception is fool-proof and freely available and widely used and not socially, religiously or culturally discouraged for anyone.
    * Abortion for economic reasons is legal and accessible.

    Yeah, right.

    List quoted from:

    http://thehandmirror.blogspot.co.nz/2012/02/response-to-cant-feed-dont-breed.html

    Comment by MeToo — February 8, 2012 @ 2:57 pm

  2. Malthus would be proud.

    Comment by Simon Poole — February 8, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

  3. No, they’re right. When the population elects National governments, adults should be prevented from having children.

    It’s not like they’re going to be able to afford them while wages stagnate, prices increase, and healthcare and other tax-funded essential goods are transferred to the for-profit sector.

    Comment by George D — February 8, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

  4. So how many children should people be allowed to have without a capacity to support them then? As many as they want? They do that in Africa and its worked blazes for their economy.
    The world is overpopulated as it is. People are hardly a scarce resource presently.
    If you hadn’t noticed.

    Comment by Cactus Kate — February 8, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

  5. Good work, now explain why it’s our socio-economic model’s fault that they spend 280 dollars a week on cars.

    Comment by Richard D — February 8, 2012 @ 3:05 pm

  6. But the point here is that having a couple of children

    In this case there are four children involved.

    The issue is not just about poor choices involving family planning, it’s also poor choices with budgeting, spending and borrowing which are all common problems. I’ve been hard up supporting three kids and have made poor choices with money – but it was my own earned money so no one else cares about that.

    Just increasing benefits or WFF for everyone will do nothing to address the fundamental problems that many families have.

    Comment by Pete George — February 8, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

  7. Cactus – people in poor countries often have lots of kids because child mortality is high and there is no government suppotr for the elderly – children are a valuable resource.

    Comment by MeToo — February 8, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

  8. Both sides raise relevant points, and I would sit somewhere in the middle with my views. However, there are a few things I’d comment on here:

    “Most people chose to have children. DPF and Kate haven’t, which is fine, but little things like the long-term viability of the economy and perpetuation of the species are dependent on those of us who do”

    I actually don’t think this is policy relevant in the slightest – the fact that we have children, and that without children the species (and thereby the trade that makes up the economy) would die out is completely true, but I’m not sure its a matter of state.

    At the very most we could make an argument for subsidising kids, like with working for families – but I would say that even that isn’t clear.

    “But the point here is that having a couple of children shouldn’t be a ‘bad personal choice’ for everyone not earning a high income. This used to be a country in which a family could be comfortably supported on a single, average income, we’re currently a country in which a family can be tenuously supported on two average incomes.”

    A point some would disagree with, but in my opinion a good point.

    Ultimately the rearing of a child isn’t just the responsibility of a family, it is the responsibility of the community. And its part of our social contract to ensure that the kid has a certain minimum standard of upbringing. Now the difficult issues are the ones which are not about income poverty persee, but when there is dysfunction in the family unit – it doesn’t matter how much money you throw at a family if they are not willing to invest in the child.

    I would say that it isn’t clear that society isn’t spending an inappropriate amount, its more about where the investment is. We can’t just bemoan poverty from single anecdotes, no matter how appealing it is to do so.

    “That’s because our medium wages remain stagnant while our living costs continue to rise.”

    Ahh, but this is wrong. If you were talking about the US you would be right, but this is factually wrong about NZ. Median wages have climbed, significantly, and the increases in the cost of living in recent years come off the back of a significant reduction in the real cost of living during the decade prior. Overall, the real income situation for households in NZ is pretty good relative to history, and hopefully once we are out of this recession matters will be easier.

    On top of this, we obviously need much better data on (real) income distributions before we can truly determine how to improve outcomes.

    “It’s all very well to sneer at those who have kids here as having made, ‘poor personal choices’, but it reflects terrible problems with our socio-economic model, and hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders are responding to it rationally by leaving the country.”

    Thousands of people are leaving a very wealthy country with a weak labour market for one of the most wealthy countries in the world with a strong labour market. There is no doubt that a lot of people want to move to Australia because their higher wealth makes it more attractive – note that they are leaving even though they can’t get ANY support from the state!!!

    Bemoaning New Zealander’s leaving for Australia is like bemoaning people moving from Hamilton to Auckland – there are reasons for them to do that as individuals, and it does not mean that there are specific policies attracting them, or forcing them to leave. They are just going over to try and make more money next door, and if it fails they’ll come back – I don’t see what the problem is with that. They are not fleeing an impoverished country or a totalitarian regime – which is almost how you are making this sound.

    Comment by Matt Nolan — February 8, 2012 @ 3:09 pm

  9. Each time I read comments from those who love nothing more than pissing from a great hight on those below them I long for a return to more civilised times.

    A time when when a man at the top, Justice Higgins in the Harvester Judgement, saw the need for workers to be paid a fair and reasonable wage “a human being in a civilised community”.

    Justice Higgins outlined civilised habits, frugal comforts, decent shelter, partitioned rooms, fresh air, water to wash in, enough wholesome food, and provision for ‘rainy days as essential for a decent standard of living.

    The Prickly One and the National Shill would no dounbt see this as an assault on their right to claim more and more for themselves, all the time lamenting bourgening petty crime.

    Comment by leftrightout — February 8, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  10. Poor choices – I challenge all who haven’t lived on a benefit or a low wage to see if they could balance their budget on one. Not just for one week, but for 12 months (so, you know, pesky things like school “donations”, getting a tooth filled, and fixing the broken washing machine crop up).

    Comment by MeToo — February 8, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  11. This used to be a country in which a family could be comfortably supported on a single, average income; we’re currently a country in which a family can be tenuously supported on two average incomes.

    The problem in a nutshell.

    The issue is understanding the causes. It’s not quite as simple as median wage stagnation.
    I see that somewhat more as a consequence rather than a cause.

    The causes are multifarious; huge structural changes in employment since the 70s (i.e. large numbers of women in the paid workforce, casualisation of labour, erosion of collective bargaining), transition to a service based economy, lack of central planning convergence of Govt and business, abandonment of the social contract….the list goes on.

    It’s a lot of shit to fix with very little appetite to address it.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 8, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

  12. “why it’s our socio-economic model’s fault that they spend 280 dollars a week on cars.”

    If you’re rich, like me, you can live in the inner suburbs and not need a car. Or buy a nearly-new vehicle that doesn’t need repairs very often.

    The poor have to live in outer urban-sprawl suburbs with limited public transport, work shifts at odd hours. So they need cars, and they can only afford cheap ones which break the whole time.

    Also, I think the reason certain people (disproportionately represented in ACT) don’t have kids is that in order to breed, you need two people who aren’t utterly repulsive.

    Comment by Rich — February 8, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

  13. There are going to be too many old people for NZ to support in the future. this is bad decision making (allowing people to grow old). We should do something about it…

    Comment by Sam — February 8, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

  14. Metoo – I would dispute that. They have many children because they make a personal choice to. And like New Zealand’s poor, they don’t think for one minute they may not be able to afford to and it is dragging everyone else down who wishes to have a child or two having to pay for their choice to have three, four or five children.

    Danyl wishes us to return to the glory days before freely availale credit cards and EFTPOS where women stayed at home in the kitchen and men went to work. These glory days are well gone and most families in the first world now have to at least contemplate both partners going to work.

    Comment by Cactus Kate — February 8, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

  15. You’re right, Cactus. We should be relying on rich folk like yourself to maintain the pool of taxpayers to a level which can support our aging population. Doing your bit?

    I mean if the poor shouldn’t be allowed to have kids it seems right that the rich should be forced to offset this, and since the rich make up such a small proportion of the population they’ll need to have proportionately more kids. Follow Bill English’s example and do your bit for the future of NZ have 10 kids…

    Comment by nommopilot — February 8, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

  16. If the ‘rich’ are the only ones who can afford to breed, but they don’t, otherwise they couldn’t afford to get ‘rich’ in the first place, then who breeds?

    I’m sure CK would be ecstatic if we relied solely on immigration to grow our population, knowing full well where we attract most of our current immigrants from…

    (it is all about growth, isn’t it…?!)

    Comment by Sam — February 8, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  17. It’s a lot of shit to fix with very little appetite to address it.

    In part because there’s easy recipe for success.

    Comment by Pete George — February 8, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

  18. These glory days are well gone and most families in the first world now have to at least contemplate both partners going to work.

    @ CK

    I think the operative question here is, in an era of unprecedented material prosperity, “Why”?

    Comment by Gregor W — February 8, 2012 @ 3:22 pm

  19. Oh dear, a supply-side economist.

    Median wages have climbed, significantly

    No. They climbed significantly under Labour, which engineered the labour market to increase wages as a share of the economy, primarily through increases in the minimum wage. They’ve tailed off significantly since then, and are expected to stagnate.

    increases in the cost of living in recent years come off the back of a significant reduction in the real cost of living during the decade prior.

    You’re joking. The largest single cost of living item, housing, is still massively more expensive than in the past. Necessary items inflated in line with wage growth during the 2000s, and have inflated beyond it in the last few years. Consumer items have been driven down, but this benefit accrues most to those with discretionary income. Not families on average or below-average incomes.

    Comment by George D — February 8, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

  20. nompilot: if the poor shouldn’t be allowed to have kids

    No one’s suggesting that here are they?

    Most people make a conscious decision how many kids to have. There are obvioulsy accidents, but most kids are the result of choices made.

    It’s not a big think to suggest that poorer people think about how many kids it is practical for them to have (financially and otherwise), and to make sensible choices on expenditure and debt so they can live within their means.

    Sure, shit can happen and some people need helped out for a while by the state (a small minority need helped out much more).

    But better education – general and family planning, parenting and budgeting – and learning to deal with a substantially less active lifestyle and incessant consumerism that keeps pushing many people to spend much more than they need to will do more than simply increasing benefits and WFF assisstance.

    Comment by Pete George — February 8, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

  21. For completeness, a graph of CPI inflation over the last 15 years.

    Comment by George D — February 8, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

  22. Actually the people who don’t have children are parasitic, they will expect the children of those that do have them to support them in their dotage and to wipe their wrinkly old bottoms so as they don’t have to spend their declining years sitting in their own excrement.

    Comment by Andrei — February 8, 2012 @ 3:27 pm

  23. Matt, median wage stats only tell part of the story. My parents had 4 children – not all planned (I was an example of contraception failure, so was my younger brother). My parents both had the opportunity to pick up overtime in their jobs (yes, both worked, even in the 1960s – we were working class and working class women have always worked) – they were paid overtime wages for this extra work and this made a big impact on weekly income. They capitalised their family benefit to get together a deposit on their first house. My grandmother was young (50 when I was born, her 5th grandchild) and still had the health and energy to help us out. My parents expected that their financial position would improve, not decline, over time. And they were right. They worked hard but were rewarded.

    Compare this to today. Lots of my generation are no better off than they were 20 years ago or who are even worse off. My ex has been made redundant 3 times in the last 10 years and each time his new job has had worse working conditions and lower pay. He never foresaw this and certainly didn’t anticipate his financial position being so weak into his middle age. When we had our children together we thought we would muddle through, like our parents, and our financial situation would get better with time.

    Comment by MeToo — February 8, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

  24. Yes – Middle-class families are guilty of making traditional middle class family planning decisions, when clearly the goalposts have been shifted in terms of maintaining the standard nuclear family, and the only people who can reach those goal posts have no desire to do so. That’s all.

    Traditional decisions are now bad ones, of course, but societal values take quite some time to shift.

    We want lots of middle-class babies, because, on the whole get better opportunities and higher education as a result, and importantly, fit better into ‘mainstream’ NZ. But now middle-classes cannot afford to maintain a nuclear family. The ‘rich’ can, but they get rich by “good” rational economic decision making. Having a family cannot fit into that category (unless you sell your kids online or something I guess), or unless you wait until you are rich. For many families who have waited until late 30s and early 40s for these very reasons, they find they are no longer able to do this.

    So now that middle classes are being wiped as the main source of population growth (or even population stability, given the flight to Aus), who will take its place? Cue migration?

    ??

    Comment by Sam — February 8, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

  25. “This used to be a country in which a family could be comfortably supported on a single, average income; we’re currently a country in which a family can be tenuously supported on two average incomes.”

    True, but even back then, having children was still a financial sacrifice. Wages were generally more generous in relation to expenses, but if you chose not to have children you could keep an even greater share of your high-relative-to-the-present-day wage! You could argue it was a lesser expense because it didn’t bring you as close to the poverty line as it does now, but…

    I sit somewhere in the middle on this, too. On the one hand I am not convinced by “continuation of the species” arguments, or that having children is a heroic duty that deserves heroic compensation. I don’t think it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that the lifestyles of parents are equally easy as the lifestyles of non-parents.

    On the other hand, I also don’t feel that saying “You made the choice to have four kids, tough shit” is supportable. Even if we accept that having four kids is usually just a stupid decision the people who suffer from that poor decision are as much the kids as the parents, possibly more so. Letting the parents suffer the consequences of their ‘mistake’ might be defensible but it’s kind of hard to do so without also making the kids suffer too.

    Comment by Hugh — February 8, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

  26. Gregor W there was no colour TVs, Japanese imported cars and computers back then as well. Welcome to go back there if you wish. And double digit interest rates as well.

    Andrei – charming. Problem is NZ is importing labour to do that as if youve visited a rest home or hospital lately you will find the nurses dont all have K1W1 accents anymore. As I’ve said their is no shortage of people in the world.

    Poor people can have as many children as they like if they adjust their lifestyles accordingly and pay for it themselves, which does happen. The Herald should find families on low incomes coping with large families without state assistance. The Sun in the UK did a series a few months ago. I shall try and find it. That would be more positive than the Herald obsession with letting us know how so many of NZs working poor are net beneficiaries.

    Comment by Cactus Kate — February 8, 2012 @ 3:39 pm

  27. “nompilot: if the poor shouldn’t be allowed to have kids

    No one’s suggesting that here are they?”

    Yes PG @19, that’s exactly what they are suggesting. If you can’t afford kids don’t have them. It’s a pretty clear message.

    Comment by MeToo — February 8, 2012 @ 3:40 pm

  28. I love the way the CK engages in despicable character assassination of the family in question. Right wing bullying at its best.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 8, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

  29. “Oh dear, a supply-side economist.”

    Ahh, someone who knows nothing about economics ;)

    Merely wanting to talk about the data and try and describe what is going on doesn’t make me a supply side economist – a “supply side economist” was the term for the initial set of real business cycle theorists who posited that all recessions were the result of negative technological shocks (sort of). Later on it was used to discuss people who always thought we were on the “wrong side of the Laffer curver” all the time. I am doing nothing of the sort – and I know it is the sort of snide insult people use when they don’t actually want to discuss issues in a straightforward way with an economist.

    “No. They climbed significantly under Labour, which engineered the labour market to increase wages as a share of the economy, primarily through increases in the minimum wage. They’ve tailed off significantly since then, and are expected to stagnate. ”

    Now real median incomes rose weakly during the recession (but did rise), but this was after a significant increase during the prior period (can get this by comparing the 2011 and 2001 HES figures, and deflating by the CPI – adjusting for the change in GST, since that was compensated by a change in income tax while the HES uses gross data).

    http://www.tvhe.co.nz/2011/09/14/nz-fact-of-the-day/ for the recent figures – but not the longer term stuff

    Even in 2011, the median household was a lot lot more wealthy then they were in 2011 – when at the same time the US median household had made no income gains.

    Furthermore, we are talking about the “socio-economic environment” – we are talking about medium-long run issues here. We know that median wages rose significantly over the last decade, as a result it seems like a weak argument to bring up in this specific context.

    “You’re joking. The largest single cost of living item, housing, is still massively more expensive than in the past. Necessary items inflated in line with wage growth during the 2000s, and have inflated beyond it in the last few years. Consumer items have been driven down, but this benefit accrues most to those with discretionary income. Not families on average or below-average incomes.”

    Ok. We know that rental growth was significantly below house price growth – so the actual lift in housing costs for a family was significantly lower than house price data suggests. That is a big part of the reason why we believe there was a “bubble” in house prices.

    Furthermore, imported good prices – especially durables – collapsed. On top of that the “gap” in price between “high” and “low” quality items rose. This seems to suggest that the cost of durable goods for poorer households has fallen even more sharply. Now I think its an area where we need more research before we can talk about true inequality – but the statement I made was consistent.

    Comment by Matt Nolan — February 8, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

  30. Gregor W there was no colour TVs, Japanese imported cars and computers back then as well. Welcome to go back there if you wish. And double digit interest rates as well.

    Agreed CK but none of these sustain the basics of family life.

    They are trivial and also comparatively cheap – the proportion of family income today spend on a car or TV is miniscule compared to the 70s.

    So my question still stands – Why do 2 people need to earn to pay for housing, food, power, clothing?

    It’s absurd.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 8, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

  31. Sam define “middle class” because you have used it here with the term “rich”. If middle class is an income status defined by the expectation of being average, I dispute a family with 3 kids plus 1 on 45k per annum is average.

    I would consider them “poor” amolified by the man of the house being 51 yo and hence at the peak of his earning power in an unskilled manual job.

    Therefore they are not middle class and they should not be able to cope on that income with that many children without making a lifetime of sacrifices.

    Comment by Cactus Kate — February 8, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

  32. Sanctuary for heavens sake they volunteered their details to a repeater from the Herald who then proceeded to use them as inequality pin ups.
    To engage in a debate which the Herald wants you then have to examine precisely those details.
    They volunteered to be examined.

    Comment by Cactus Kate — February 8, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

  33. @Meetoo

    “Matt, median wage stats only tell part of the story. ”

    Yes I agree. And part of any debate should be about how the “worst off” in society fair – that is why I believe in a guaranteed minimum income.

    But the median gives us a picture where people are getting better off in society. On top of that, measured income inequality hasn’t been rising in the last decade so most people are getting better off.

    I’m more than willing to have someone say our social contract should offer more to the worst off – but this should be based on true analysis and evidence rather than anecdote. MSD and/or DOL should be commissioned to discuss whether minimum income standards are sufficient – and this would be clearer if we made things as issue of minimum income directly, rather than fighting on whether this specific family spends too much on their car, or whether too many people are going to Australia.

    Comment by Matt Nolan — February 8, 2012 @ 3:49 pm


  34. Gregor W there was no colour TVs, Japanese imported cars and computers back then as well. Welcome to go back there if you wish. And double digit interest rates as well.

    There weren’t mobile phones either, and you couldn’t buy tempeh in the shops. Nobody’s suggesting that certain things haven’t changed or improved. Simply that cost of living pressures on non-discretionary and non-substitutable items are significant.

    Neither am I suggesting that all who are currently suffering couldn’t push themselves down the value chain and substitute $280 per week for cycling across the city to work on a cheap bicycle, and having the kids walk themselves to school; as was done in previous decades. Yes, these are possible. But this isn’t the social contract the population signed with National on the way to the voting booth. They want their phones, cars, and occasional latte from McDonalds. And they’re starting to feel a little shortchanged that this isn’t being delivered.

    Comment by George D — February 8, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

  35. hehe, a “repeater” from the Herald. Nice.

    Comment by MeToo — February 8, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

  36. @MeToo – that’s not saying the poor are not allowed to have kids. It’s saying if you don’t have much money go easy on the number of kids you have or expect to find it tougher to manage financially.

    Choosing to have one kid compared to choosing to continue with none is a major lifestyle choice, it’s not just a financial decision.

    I had three kids and struggled financially at times but still managed to buy three successive houses while they lived at home, then I remarried and helped support another two kids for several more years. On a strictly financial basis that was quite costly, and it significantly dicated how much spare time I had for myself – but I don’t regret any of it, the five kids/steps and now six grandkids/steps have been a fantastic investment – for me. My choices, some bad but the kids ones all great.

    Comment by Pete George — February 8, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

  37. I would consider them “poor” amolified by the man of the house being 51 yo and hence at the peak of his earning power in an unskilled manual job.

    Leaving aside the dripping contempt throughout your post for those who have unskilled manual jobs, it’s reasonable to expect that the proletariat should be paid sufficiently well that it can afford to reproduce itself, or a certain rather obvious problem eventually ensues. Paying such people enough to live on is of course the antithesis of what you and DPF stand for, hence the number of people who find your pronouncements on how other people should spend their money objectionable.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — February 8, 2012 @ 3:58 pm

  38. This used to be a country in which a family could be comfortably supported on a single, average income;

    I call bullshit on this. This hasn’t been the case at any point in the last 50/60 years … or did you just assume those on-the-bones-of-their-arse recipies, passed down through generations of kiwi families, just came from nowhere?

    Comment by Phil — February 8, 2012 @ 4:11 pm

  39. The issue is not just about poor choices involving family planning, it’s also poor choices with budgeting, spending and borrowing which are all common problems.

    From a Darwinian perspective, it actually makes more sense to have more children at a younger age if you are poor, particularly in the Third World. To wit, biologists distinguish between r-strategists and K-strategists when it comes to reproduction. r-strategists enjoy shorter lifespans and consequently reproduce more and sooner, knowing that fewer will prosper because among the number produced, at least some will, whereas K-strategists produce fewer and invest more effort in fewer offspring with the expectation that they are more likely to prosper. r-strategists are more likely to succeed when conditions cause rapid die-back because they can recover quickly and adapt quickly while K-strategists are more likely to persist, but recover more slowly from catastrophes and run the greater risk of dropping below the level of viability in the event of catastrophe.

    We might instead consider reproductive rights as fundamental as human rights as the right to life itself – be it the right to live or die according to choice or reproduce or not on one’s own terms… and if there are no personal or family terms, then we have to ask, what terms are there? The state’s or the market’s?

    I we’re going to be honest, are we going to talk about the right to reproduce according to economic status as a form of eugenics? Is eugenics justifiable? If that’s what you’re talking about, then let us be open about it. As far as I can tell, David Farrar and Cactus Kate are saying “wealthy people have proven their right to reproduce according to the judgement of by market forces, ergo their genes are proven to be superior and worthy of propagation and those of the poor are not. Market forces decide genetic fitness.”

    You see, I really wish Social Darwinists (of whom Darwin himself was not one) like Catctus Kate and David Farrar would really consider the implications of their ideology. Their pronouncements about “you shouldn’t have children because you aren’t rich” don’t actually make sense according to their own pseudo-Darwinian ideology (and it’s certainly not science).

    I’d really like to seem them be honest and consistent and take this into talk about preserving the optimal genetic quality of the species as they happen to define it.

    Pete George, as ever, is ready with the glib and irrelevant commentary and vague on commitment as to what United Figleaf would actually DO.

    But better education – general and family planning, parenting and budgeting – and learning to deal with a substantially less active lifestyle and incessant consumerism that keeps pushing many people to spend much more than they need to will do more than simply increasing benefits and WFF assistance. [sic]

    Blah blah, blah blah blah. You present yourself as a political candidate for a party in coalition with the leading party of government, so the obvious question is, WHAT is United Figleaf’s policy and what will you do? A hypothetical circle jerk of committees that you might form at some unspecified future date and which might include some people who have perhaps known some poor people is not quite enough.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

  40. CK is coming from such a different mindset on this that there’s really no value in arguing. She places no social value on children, and feels that there is no social obligation to prevent them from living in poverty. I simply reject this and that’s all there is to it, from my point of view.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 8, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

  41. On a strictly financial basis that was quite costly, and it significantly dicated how much spare time I had for myself – but I don’t regret any of it,

    And there is the illustration by example, from someone comfortably middle-class, as to why having children is not a simple economic decision. Yet somehow, some people demand that it be an economic decision.

    Are only the middle class and wealthy permitted to make decisions about their families that are not based on economics? Is that therefore a privilege of the well-off and not a human right?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 4:16 pm

  42. @Phil

    >I call bullshit on this. This hasn’t been the case at any point in the last 50/60 years

    I call bullshit on your calling bullshit. My parents spoke of being able to not only pay a mortgage, but raising two children, on income my father made working on weekends in a bottle store, while he studied at university. Nowadays that will not pay for the rent on a bedsit, let alone one single other bill.

    >did you just assume those on-the-bones-of-their-arse recipies, passed down through generations of kiwi families, just came from nowhere?

    That proves absolutely nothing.

    @Pete George

    >My choices, some bad but the kids ones all great.

    Bully for you man, but your story is past history now. Things are much harder. I put it to you that you have never been in the situation that young people are in now, so preaching discipline on them isn’t something you’re doing from a position of having had to actually face the choices. If you were young now, you would not be able to have that “investment” of all those children and grandchildren, which aren’t an “investment” at all, but a bunch of important human beings which society helped a great deal to raise, and very much should continue to do so, if it wants to call itself a society.

    Furthermore, no one can really see the future. Children might have been perfectly affordable at the time they were conceived, but become less so when one loses their job, or the economy goes pear shaped, as it is right now. What possible sense does it make to impose retrospective discipline on people, which is inevitably on the kids themselves?

    @Rhinocrates

    Snap

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 8, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

  43. And in anticipation, thank you William, I recommend Clearsil,

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

  44. Clearasil, that is.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

  45. …what will you do? A hypothetical circle jerk of committees that you might form at some unspecified future date and which might include some people who have perhaps known some poor people is not quite enough.

    Do you mean what am I doing? I’ve had positive communication with two MPs today regarding one policy. I have good connections locally with people from six parties and a variety of organisations and we’re working on initiatives here – but not by committee.

    But I didn’t realise everyone had to try and prove their efforts here before they could comment.

    And there is the illustration by example, from someone comfortably middle-class

    I’m comfortable enough now – albeit more family rich than asset rich (kids are a worthwhile investment). But I’ve been on the bones of my arse with a young family and little government support. And I grew up in at times worse financial and living conditions than most families currently regarded as being in ‘poverty’. My father worked long hours, a second job at times, my mother worked, and all the kids in the family worked. Most clothes hand-me-downs or home knitted, often repaired. Lucky to have a grandmother buy our first fridge. I don’t remember the only family holiday we had because I was a baby. Always had an unreliable car, I actually remember leaving home for a second family holiday, the car broke down part way so we got a bus back home. So I know a bit about being hard up.

    What are your qualifications for criticising commenters here?

    Comment by Pete George — February 8, 2012 @ 4:38 pm

  46. Of course, if more Craig and Carla’s did move to Australia or elsewhere it would be easier for other people to afford to have children and buy houses as there be a lesser welfare burden on those remaining. Admittedly it’d mean a job or two less at Enterprise Cars and their associated finance company.

    I would note that C&C didn’t appear to be complaining about their situation, so I’m a bit bemused by some of the venom being spat at them.

    Comment by Richard — February 8, 2012 @ 4:39 pm

  47. This reminds me of when Campbell Live ran a story on the record long queues at the foodbank, and then got numerous responses pointing out how many of the queue were smoking. “Maybe if these so-called ‘poor’ didn’t waste their money on smokes, alcohol and gambling they wouldn’t have to go to a foodbank/be on welfare/etc.” (Campbell pointed out only two in the queue were smoking). What happened to some damn empathy? If you can’t be bothered researching why this has occurred, how about just being horrified some people in this country can’t afford to eat and stop searching for an excuse why it’s not your problem? Conservatives love to trot out this “choice, choice, choice” mantra, but what they’re really saying is “I don’t want to feel responsible for you.”

    Comment by James W — February 8, 2012 @ 4:40 pm

  48. We are all responiable for our fate i droped out of uni because i drank too much and didnt work hard enough should i complain now that i am 40 i dont have a degree and somehow the world owes me?

    Comment by graham lowe — February 8, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

  49. Ben Wilson: Things are much harder.

    Like fuck they are. My stepson has three kids like I did, modest income, but with WFF he’s far better off than I was. When my third kid was three months old I worked full time days and my wife worked full time nights to get over a job loss and financial crunch.

    Comment by Pete George — February 8, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

  50. Hi Ben,

    What possible sense does it make to impose retrospective discipline on people, which is inevitably on the kids themselves?

    @Rhinocrates

    Snap

    I’ve always been rather disturbed by those who blather on about irresponsible parents and yet advocate policies that will in effect punish their children more – and those children have done nothing wrong. They talk about “caring” in the abstract, but they seem to have no empathy. The urge to inflict pain with the justification that it is “punishment” always seems stronger than their avowed care for children or families. It implies an inherent sadism.

    OK I pay taxes, and those taxes go to support the child of a drunk, P-addicted mother of twelve… but if one of those children does well, then that’s better spent than a dollar expended on the bailout South Canterbury Finance as far as I’m concerned.

    Let’s see, wasn’t Saint John the son of a solo mother? Wasn’t the other Saint John – Banks that is?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

  51. OK I pay taxes, and those taxes go to support the child of a drunk, P-addicted mother of twelve…

    That highlights a significant problem. Taxes don’t go to support the child, they go to the mother to do as she chooses with the money. That’s why solutions are difficult to put in place without wasting money and making no difference to the most vulnerable kids.

    Most people don’t mind paying taxes that support those in real need. Most criticism is due to tax money wasted on supporting crap lifestyles of wasteful and wasted parents. No easy solution.

    Comment by Pete George — February 8, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

  52. But I’ve been on the bones of my arse

    So, if that’s a virtue, should you be? Should everyone be? I thought that the whole point of this contrivance we call “civilisation” is to avoid that implicit form of “justice”

    Do you mean what am I doing? I’ve had positive communication with two MPs today regarding one policy.

    Thank you for proving my point. You are really so far gone in your solipsism that you think that a couple of phone calls or emails justifies your… doings. I think that I’ll ignore you from now on. You have had no contact with people except at a several removes. I appreciate your intent, but you really need to speak to people who have experienced poverty, not just demagogues aspiring to serve on committees and corporate boards.

    What are your qualifications for criticising commenters here?

    Do you think you’re privileged? Really? Of course I could tell you a story. I could do the full Four Yorkshiremen sketch (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe1a1wHxTyo) about how many toilets I had to clean… instead, you want to shut down criticism by questioning my “credentials” – so then, what are yours? What is the pass that allows people to comment here? Who would you ban? On what grounds? Please outline the criteria. I’d really like to know.

    Again, YOU want my vote. What are your qualifications to advertise for United Figleaf? Why do you deserve this platform? Say why, because you don’t deserve it as of right as far as I can tell.

    I worked full time days

    Oh God…

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

  53. We are all responiable for our fate i droped out of uni because i drank too much and didnt work hard enough should i complain now that i am 40 i dont have a degree and somehow the world owes me?

    You should have stayed at University and worked on your spelling, punctuation and syntax.

    You express yourself like a drunken chimp.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 8, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

  54. @Rhinocrates: agreed. The born-to-rule Social Darwinists among us should be very, very careful what they wish for. Alberto Fujimori thought he could get away with sterilising Peru’s mostly rural and native underclass – until the Peruvian judiciary started taking an interest. And we haven’t yet gotten to the corruption and mass-murder charges against him.

    @James W: It’s utterly hypocritical of Social Darwinists to belittle those below them as ‘lazy’ and ‘unambitious’ for opting out of the rat race, only to then belittle the same people for ‘making poor choices’ if they kowtow to the advertisers and try to keep up with the Joneses to avoid looking backward. And if the Social Darwinists come unstuck? They’ll probably preserve their born-to-rule-ism at any cost, even if it means retreating behind razor wires, concrete barriers and security personnel. Like in Joburg or Lima.

    Comment by DeepRed — February 8, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

  55. >When my third kid was three months old I worked full time days and my wife worked full time nights to get over a job loss and financial crunch.

    Well I can’t even contemplate having a third kid, because I can’t get a job at all that isn’t minimum wage, and that won’t even cover the mortgage. If I sell, rents aren’t much different as an outgoing.

    Essentially, your only real problem in this argument is that you don’t actually have a clue because you’re not living it and your mind is in the past. I don’t think you’re a bad person, just someone who can’t believe things have changed, because it’s still all sweet for you and yours.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 8, 2012 @ 5:07 pm

  56. @ Phil: Take my family as the exception then: In the 60s/70s/early 80s my parents raised seven children on my dad’s blue-collar salary. My mother was a stringent budgeter.

    Comment by Ataahua — February 8, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

  57. Taxes don’t go to support the child,

    No actually they do.

    Outline a means by which that tax money can go directly to the child alone. Food, house, bed, school, care – everything to the exclusion of everything that the parent does. Now admittedly the hypothetical parent is bad, but tell me, how does every benefit go solely to the child, bypassing the parent so as to ensure that they are punished?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

  58. you really need to speak to people who have experienced poverty

    Do you mean speak to myself?

    I think that I’ll ignore you from now on.

    Sounds like a good idea. You’re already ignoring what I say when it doesn’t fit your attempts at personal and party attacks, and making up your own fictions.

    Again, YOU want my vote.

    No I don’t. The election was a few months ago. And I learnt long ago to not care about the votes of arrogant blog commenters whose only intention is to try and win wee intellectual battles. That won’t feed the starving.

    You have had no contact with people except at a several removes.

    That’s an odd claim to make. I presume you actually have no idea what contact I have with people.

    Comment by Pete George — February 8, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

  59. Imagine what would happen if David Farrar and Cactus Kate created offspring.

    Comment by MikeyKitty — February 8, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

  60. Peter George, practice this: “You must forego support because your father or mother is inadequate according to my judgement. I know nothing about you, or your potential. For all I know, you might be the next [insert name ideologically acceptable genius here], but it is more important that your parent(s) be discouraged from having more “unsustainable” children” than that you succeed and contribute to that abstraction that some call “civilisation”. I personally do not believe that parents have a role in the upbringing of their children, they do not need any help in doing so and therefore this should not be of any inconvenience anyway. I offer my lukewarm apologies for wasting your time. By the way, by blood temperature is exactly equal to the ambient temperature”

    You’ll need to, really.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 5:20 pm

  61. Ben Wilson: your only real problem in this argument is that you don’t actually have a clue because you’re not living it

    Rhinocrates: Now admittedly the hypothetical parent is bad

    Comment by Pete George — February 8, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

  62. Ben, I am living in the present and I’m well aware of difficult situations many people are in. And I’ve lived in the past, experiencing and seeing tough times – that were nowhere near as bad as my parents and grandparents faced through two world wars and the Great Depression – those who survived.

    What experience do you base your assertion on that times are tougher now?

    Comment by Pete George — February 8, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

  63. OK, I lied, I won’t ignore you, because your hypocrisies are so worthy of ridicule.

    party attacks… The election was a few months ago. . And I learnt long ago to not care about the votes of arrogant blog commenters whose only intention is to try and win wee intellectual battles. That won’t feed the starving.

    Ah, thank you for that unguarded display of arrogance. “We’re in government now, so suck on that, losers!” What variety of cake should I eat?

    It’s interesting that you consider poverty a “wee intellectual battle”. Thank you for reminding me of your real priorities.

    And what will feed the starving, pray tell?

    Really. If that’s a priority, what is United Figleaf’s policy on feeding the starving – assuming that you admit that there are starving?

    I presume you actually have no idea what contact I have with people.

    You’ve boasted of such. Committees and suchlike. I must confess that I’ve been unimpressed.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

  64. And I’ve lived in the past

    Yes, that’s obvious… and you still are.

    What experience do you base your assertion on that times are tougher now?

    OK, is it more important to win the “Wee intellectual battle” to prove that things aren’t so bad as they were nowadays and by implication, nothing need be done, or should you actually present United Figleaf’s policy on alleviating these not-quite-so-bad conditions? Or, because they’re not quite as bad, nothing need be done? Where is the line, exactly? What precisely quantifiable point of badness needs to be met before some unspecified action (apart from forming a cross-party committee) needs to be done, and what is it that needs to be done?

    Things were bad during the Plague in Europe. Are we to assume that if things are not now as bad as they were then, then we needn’t make efforts to improve our lot now, using the mechanisms of representative government?

    Really, I amazed, this is someone who presents himself as a political candidate and at every opportunity aggressively avoids the question as to what he would do as if it were some affront to his dignity.

    Let me make this clear: You want to be a representative, you’ve campaigned as such on this forum… and yet you never say why anyone should consider you as such. You actually find the question offensive.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 5:36 pm

  65. You’ve boasted of such. Committees and suchlike.

    No I haven’t. Your fictional accusations again. Do you deliberately make things up to derail threads?

    I’m not presenting myself here as a political candidate, I’m just a commenter like anyone else. I told you the election was over, did you ignore that too?

    I think that I’ll ignore you from now on.

    Bullshit too? You’re even responding to questions to someone else. I think it’s time to give someone else a turn here

    Comment by Pete George — February 8, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

  66. @pete george

    >What experience do you base your assertion on that times are tougher now?

    The experience of having heard for my whole life all of the advice of my parents generation about how to get started, what they had to do, and how it was great because they all just toughed out and worked through it. Then the subsequent experience of attempting to follow this advice and falling flat because it was based on a totally different economic world, one of high employment, low prices for essentials, extensive penal rates, worker solidarity, free education, high valued exports, rare and valuable skills internationally, far fewer people with tertiary training, guaranteed entry to the UK where very high wages could be earned, where petrol cost very little, and the city had half as many people in it (I’m in Auckland). Personally I did OK, was one of the best earning of my generation until only recently, and yet I was barely able to afford a below median value property after many years of saving. Most people in my generation are keeping their heads above water on two incomes, lucky if we can afford property, and very unlikely to have any savings at all despite being middle aged.

    I’m sorry if this breaks your narrative that things are sweet and that you had it hard. We actually are facing times much more like the Great Depression, except this time around there is a welfare state to soften the blow, on which, at the moment, it is possible to subsist at best. There is no way I want it to get so bad as those times got, but nothing about sitting by preaching the discipline of your own times, while children in your own country are steadily becoming more impoverished does anything to head them off.

    If you don’t believe me, how about you actually attempt to live on the minimum wage for a month? If you own property, charge yourself fair rent and deduct that out of what you have. Now tell me it’s all sweet and kids don’t know how good they have it. Tell me how long, at what you have left over, it would take you to save up enough money for a deposit on your property (go for 10%). Then add in 3 kids to look after, feed, clothe and school, and tell me it’s all sweet. Do the numbers by actually living it. It’s not going to be strictly accurate unless you also work your arse off at a dead-end job the whole time too, so I don’t expect to see you online during the day, ever.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 8, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

  67. Most likely there are people on low incomes who make bad choices. Probably the most negative consequence of that is they make life harder for themselves.

    It may mean that social welfare costs are more than they other wise would be but that amount must be a miniscule fraction of the cost to NZ of the bad choices made by wealthy people in charge of finanace companies.

    Comment by NeilM — February 8, 2012 @ 6:53 pm

  68. Your fictional accusations again.

    No. When challenged, you pointed out that you intended to join various committees at some unspecified point in future time that may or may not include members that may or may not deal with poor people. Since you claim that you actually have relevant experience. would you care to elaborate?

    I’m not presenting myself here as a political candidate,

    To be polite, I will say “conveniently inconsistent” instead of “disingenuous” or “dishonest” (or, stripped of euphemism, “self-deluding idiot” or even “liar”). Before the election, someone using the handle “Peter George” campaigned for “United Future” on this forum. Someone using the same avatar continues to “contribute” here using the same name and avatar towards the same end. Please clarify the difference. While I am of that much-disparaged class of “intellectuals”, I’m afraid that the distinction is so subtle as to elude me.

    I told you the election was over, did you ignore that too?

    Even if the election is over, politics is not. See above.

    I think it’s time to give someone else a turn here

    Ah, is the Internet a system of “tubes”?, so that if make a post, someone else is blocked? Look, just be honest, say “Shut the fuck up!”, OK?

    Now, do you care to answer any of my questions, Candidate and Campaigner for for United Future, Peter George? If you want to attack me personally, I can let you know that I am overweight, balding, that I drink too much, that I never iron my shirts and that I do not own a lifestyle block.

    What is your party’s policy in this “wee intellectual debate”?

    For starters, should “bad” parents be discouraged from having children, and if so, by what means and to what end? As a corollary, what defines a “bad” parent” and as a further corollary, is it to be assumed that their children are worthless and should not be given support?

    If you offer an opinion on this issue, are you speaking as “Peter George, Private Citizen” or “Peter George, former (and prospective) United Future Candidate”?

    Moreover, what will your committees actually achieve and what markers of success will they use?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  69. Powerful post Ben. You can also factor in student loan repayments for those in their 30s who had tertiary education and now have kids. Yes, we did have things easier in the old days: Housing Corp mortgages, family benefit, free uni education … However our living standard and expectations were far lower I think. No electronic devices, no TVs even! Uninsulated housing, such strict import controls that shopping was very limited. I grew up in Auckland in the 50s and we had an outside loo and a chip heater for baths.

    Comment by Maura — February 8, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

  70. And now the poisonous Peters is trying to stir up resentment over a maori family with problems getting $3000 to so they can try and get themselves sorted out.

    That $3000 might just save more than that in CYFS, WINZ etc costs.

    Comment by NeilM — February 8, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

  71. @Maura I won’t deny that the modern world is fantastic at making luxuries, but it’s fallen down badly in our country on the basics of survival – food, shelter, heating. These things, after the amazing technological revolution we’ve been having for hundreds of years, should not be costing us most of our income, when at the same time a smartphone of incredible complexity is affordable even to a third world peasant. We live in a food producing nation of tremendous efficiency, with no shortage of housing, and power that literally falls from the sky, and yet these things cost us most of our wages. The poorest people can’t afford them at all.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 8, 2012 @ 7:17 pm

  72. The Herald should find families on low incomes coping with large families without state assistance.

    While they’re at it they might as well find the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot.

    Comment by questlovenz — February 8, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  73. The poorest people can’t afford them at all.

    Hi Ben,

    true.. alas, and to add to what you say, it is so easy to characterise these things as “luxuries”, and yet it is taken for granted in applying for a job or even social services that one has routine access to the Internet. Now it’s all very well to say that libraries provide these things, but first, the neoliberal right want to reduce funding to libraries because they serve the “middle class” and their “hobbies” and should not be funded and yet if the poor try to gain access to the Internet to apply for a job in a library in a town far from their rural residence where there does not happen to be a library, it is somehow a “luxury”.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 7:27 pm

  74. Ben’s experience is hardly unique. I was at a friend’s before Christmas, and among the half dozen or so there, we all had master’s or PhD degrees. Despite this, we were all struggling. Those with jobs were the lucky ones, although underwater with mortgages. The rest of us were searching or underemployed. Not scruffy ratbags or P addicts, but the kind of people you’d usually demand. I put in about 100 applications in 2010 and got as far as two interviews. It’s a flat employment market out there.

    Now, life has always been a struggle. I look at my parents and see what it took them to get us through the 80s and 90s, and my grandparents who pulled through the depression and a world war. But there’s more than an inkling that it hasn’t always been this way, and nor does it have to. We’ve seen policy settings which lessen these pressures, and others which increase them. Maybe our golden decades between engineered recessions and wild policy swings are an aberration. I don’t think so.

    Me? After a few months back in Australia I’ve taken a position in Asia. It doesn’t pay well, but it does good in the world. I’m also hoping that the world’s largest economies are a ticket to future stable income.

    Comment by George D — February 8, 2012 @ 7:34 pm

  75. The Herald should find families on low incomes coping with large families without state assistance.

    I know of one, living rurally near Nelson. But they’re also being harassed by the state for living in uncertified housing.

    Comment by George D — February 8, 2012 @ 7:39 pm

  76. Responding to Nolan, above:


    Even in 2011, the median household was a lot lot more wealthy then they were in 2011 – when at the same time the US median household had made no income gains.

    Furthermore, we are talking about the “socio-economic environment” – we are talking about medium-long run issues here. We know that median wages rose significantly over the last decade, as a result it seems like a weak argument to bring up in this specific context.

    I’m sure you’ve heard of a movement called “Occupy Wall Street”, and its complaints about how their policies favoured a small elite at the cost of the rest of society.


    Ok. We know that rental growth was significantly below house price growth – so the actual lift in housing costs for a family was significantly lower than house price data suggests.

    The HES states that between 2009 and 2011 the proportion of renting households spending more than 30% of income on housing rose from 33% to 39%. If that isn’t a rise, I’m not sure what is. Because wage growth is static, but rental prices continue to rise as owners deleverage by increasing rents and because of restricted sales supply in a static environment.


    Furthermore, imported good prices – especially durables – collapsed. On top of that the “gap” in price between “high” and “low” quality items rose. This seems to suggest that the cost of durable goods for poorer households has fallen even more sharply.

    Now, there are some durables which are necessary: fridges, washing machines, etc. You can’t easily delay purchase of these, and second-hand markets are only so large (if more efficient now with TradeMe). But the rest of this class of expenditure is largely discretionary, and purchases can be put off. Food, which has experienced sustained inflation, not so much.

    Comment by George D — February 8, 2012 @ 7:54 pm

  77. @George D: too true. Up until recently a good friend of mine was underemployed for years, despite holding a PhD in biochemistry. He’s just gotten his dream job as a pharmaceutical researcher in Auckland, but it still goes to show that the prevailing economic orthodoxy is skewed towards turning NZ into some kind of mini-Vegas or a South Seas Cayman Islands, rather than as a Santa Clara of the South.

    @NeilM: “It may mean that social welfare costs are more than they other wise would be but that amount must be a miniscule fraction of the cost to NZ of the bad choices made by wealthy people in charge of finanace companies.”
    It may also mean that the costs of social welfare are a miniscule fraction of the costs to NZ of a Joburg-on-the-Waitemata – or even a Mogadishu-on-the-Waitemata. To many, social welfare is a necessary evil, but I see little point in a zero-tax, zero-regulation society if one’s hard-earned gains are eaten by bodyguards and razor wire installers.

    Comment by DeepRed — February 8, 2012 @ 7:59 pm

  78. Ben. Yes, and we had free milk too back in the 50s! Your points are very compelling; certainly make me think.

    Comment by Maura — February 8, 2012 @ 8:05 pm

  79. @Ben Wilson I’m sorry if this breaks your narrative that things are sweet and that you had it hard. We actually are facing times much more like the Great Depression

    I repeat what I’ve already said, I know times are tough for many people, very tough for too many. But what we face now is nothing like the Great Depression.

    I was talking to a relative a while ago who lived through the depression. They recalled being given an egg for their birthday, and they could choose how it was cooked. That standard of living wasn’t uncommon. No welfare, so people had to go where work was available, if they could get it. Like:

    The tunnel and the associated Milford Road were built by relief workers during the Depression, initially just starting with five men using picks and wheelbarrows. The men had to live in tents in a mountainous area where there might be no direct sunlight for half of the year.

    New Zealand National income fell by 40 per cent in three years. The unemployment rate was 30%. The last three years have been nothing like that, with the added benefit of now having a welfare state and a substantially improved health system..

    Comment by Pete George — February 8, 2012 @ 8:12 pm

  80. George D said “I was at a friend’s before Christmas, and among the half dozen or so there, we all had master’s or PhD degrees. Despite this, we were all struggling.”

    Er, why do you automatically consider yourselves more employable, marketable because you have a master’s or PhD?

    Comment by will — February 8, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

  81. @ Ben, you’re obviously a union or labour spin troll. keep up the obvious work yar.

    Comment by will — February 8, 2012 @ 8:15 pm

  82. Peter George, look at the stories above, look at what you’ve said. You’ve shown exactly where your priorities lie. You could never have been so eloquent deliberately.

    William, tell me about your life experience, since so many have been sharing here. I’m sure that you have nothing to say.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

  83. No Rhino, you tell us about your life experience (where do you get your self righteous twatiness from?).

    Comment by will — February 8, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

  84. @will #79: obviously you haven’t read this earlier post by Ben.

    And #78:

    Comment by DeepRed — February 8, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

  85. Er, why do you automatically consider yourselves more employable, marketable because you have a master’s or PhD?

    Well, it indicates that you have trained for a number of years and you have advanced skills and knowledge in a particular area. In previous decades that would have been enough to get you a job. We’re fairly resigned to the fact that in this decade, it isn’t.

    I also meant to write 2011 above (obviously job applications are checked more thoroughly than blog comments).

    Comment by George D — February 8, 2012 @ 8:33 pm

  86. I already have William. I never pretended to be nice, but I have years as a cleaner wiping toilets, years teaching people with learning and social difficulties. Now I repeat: what is your life experience? Why won’t you answer? Peter George has at least told us that he has great understanding of human life and experience because he worked in IT, owns a lifestyle block and intends to be on some committees. What about you?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 8:36 pm

  87. Rhinocrates: You’ve shown exactly where your priorities lie.

    I haven’t shown anything like that, you’re making things up again, you could never have been so eloquently illinformed. You have no idea what my priorities are.

    Comment by Pete George — February 8, 2012 @ 8:37 pm

  88. Pete’s right. This is nothing like the Great Depression. It’s also nothing like the experience of most living developing countries which make up the majority of the world’s population. I do think twice about complaining in that context.

    It doesn’t change that we don’t think that our current experience is inevitable. And if it isn’t inevitable, it’s not right.

    Comment by George D — February 8, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

  89. @ Rhino – yeah, you challenge me and I’ll roll over. who the fuck do you think you are buddy.

    Comment by will — February 8, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

  90. @ Deep Red – that’s called background story.

    Comment by will — February 8, 2012 @ 8:42 pm

  91. Well, forgive me, I have no idea what your priorities are despite you previous boasts of having a wonderful lifestyle block and working in IT. Would you care to inform me?

    Also, would those be the priorities of Peter George, Private Citizen, or VOTE FOR ME, UNITED FUTURE CANDIDATE?

    And by the way, what is United Figleaf’s policies on the children of the poor, and eugenics in general, as I have asked repeatedly now, and only received diversionary statements?

    Are the children of poor people deserving of support, is it necessary – or should they suffer because it is more important that their parents be punished?

    Surely that is a simple question?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

  92. Thank you William. I think that I’m me. Clearasil it is for you. Get some life experience, try to make sense of it, articulate it then come back again. Yes, I’m a patronising, condescending bastard. I also don’t iron my shirts, as I’ve said. Good night.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

  93. @ Rhino, you keep peddling your stories (lies) and spin, or perhaps it’s the mind at your age.

    Comment by will — February 8, 2012 @ 8:48 pm

  94. Ah, good night at 2050, *glug glug glug* ….

    Comment by will — February 8, 2012 @ 8:50 pm

  95. Oh William, please, please try harder. There was a troll called “(Son of) L’ll P” on Public Address who at least offered some amusement and even “Little Stevie” here… but not only are you banal, you’re lazy .

    Now Mr George, at least you’re earnest… I don’t mean to be mean, since I honestly think that you’re a good person who means well (and really, no sarcasm), but I do think that you’re being very naive… If I met you, I’d probably like you (I wouldn’t presume that the opposite would be true).

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  96. Speaking of banal vacuous commentary Rhino, welcome back!!!!!

    Comment by will — February 8, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

  97. Rhinocrates, don’t assume too much from some occasionally jousting on one blog. if you searched back far and wide enough you’d find I’ve said this before, I do naive well. It’s quite a good approach sometimes, you should try it. Usually much better than pretending I know it all.

    Comment by Pete George — February 8, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

  98. I don’t know it all – that’s why I ask so many questions. I can’t do naive – it’s my job to be a knowall and that tends to spill over into my personal life. Now, an answer as to the basic question, “Why should I vote for United Future?” would be most welcome.

    “if you searched back far and wide enough” Sorry, I don’t have the time for that – as Harry Plinkett says, I don’t want to read the [multiple expletives] novels.

    (In reference to that, since you’re a person of such good taste, your reaction to the studied bad taste of Red Letter Media might be interesting.)

    William, again, what you say is irrelevant – you must try harder. Formulate a specific, clear question please. You could try some wit, satire even. Parody might do as a starter. Can you manage that? Think of me wearing a monocle – now what accent would I have? What choice of words might I use? Would I be wearing a top hat? Well, maybe, but that’s too easy and really, I used that as a diversion – instead, think of me wearing a mortarboard and black gown over tweed in a room with ivy-encircled windows. I’m slouched in an overstuffed armchair, nursing a glass of port. Does that help?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 9:32 pm

  99. Jesus. Back to will pissing in the pool.

    Let him shadow box, Rhino.
    Engaging only encourages the little turd.

    Comment by Gregor W — February 8, 2012 @ 9:32 pm

  100. What can you do with dull food except play with it?

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

  101. Said disparagingly, I know it all.

    By the way, why is ignorance a virtue? It’s like saying, “Let me attend to your root canal – I know nothing about dentistry at all, so I’ve no ego invested, nothing to prove, no expertise, no interest… but I’ve got a Black and Decker, and I’m sincere!”

    Would you let a someone who assured you that they were not a dentist deal with a toothache because they were “unpretentious”? I really don’t understand or sympathise with that anti-intellectual aspect of the New Zealand character at all.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 10:04 pm

  102. Rhino: “Would you let a someone who assured you that they were not a dentist deal with a toothache because they were “unpretentious”? I really don’t understand or sympathise with that anti-intellectual aspect of the New Zealand character at all.”

    Seconded. Technologist Paul Graham’s essay Why Nerds Are Unpopular springs to mind.

    Comment by DeepRed — February 8, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

  103. Jesus you guys are tools. Let me spell this out for you special cases, *I have a life and things to do*, you burn your free time pontificating why I am not as special as you.

    Comment by will — February 8, 2012 @ 10:14 pm

  104. “*I have a life and things to do*”

    a hahhahahaha which is why you’re typing banal blog comments late at night and accusing other people of being trolls. What value do you add to any discussion, will?

    Comment by nommopilot — February 8, 2012 @ 10:31 pm

  105. I’ve gotta say, I earn way more than $42K, and have one, am not particularly extravagant, and still have trouble not spending all our money.

    Comment by brouhaha — February 8, 2012 @ 10:39 pm

  106. *one kid*

    Comment by brouhaha — February 8, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

  107. What value do you add to any discussion, will?

    Ah well, I suspect that William wants to prove something deeper. He doesn’t know what it is yet, but he wants to do more than just fit in, prove himself a member of a gang.

    You see, if he is just an oaf, he’d deliver his jibes and be gone – he wouldn’t hang around. He wants validation, he’s constantly looking for it. Granted, his means are entirely negative, but look at the fact that he keeps coming back: he wants something. He wants recognition from a group he’s defined as “elite.”

    Look at this, for example: pontificating why I am not as special as you.

    Even if he can’t admit to it, he can’t let go; he wants to keep coming back to get a reaction, to receive the acknowledgement that he so desperately craves. You see, the essence of every troll is their neediness.

    Call me an optimist, but with that persistence, William might develop into something in a few years, once he learns to focus himself.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 8, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

  108. CK…Give it up. Wallowing in the swamp with these losers is beneath you. You have earned the right to an opinion…these blow-hards haven’t. They haven’t yet clued up that they and their expansive bleeding heart welfare and big Government is the very cause of the low paid jobs and desperation they wail against now….

    Its the same old socialist shit “Whaaaaah! How dare you be rich and self supporting while others have to live with the consequences of their own stupidity and poor choices combined with an overbearing state that keeps them in that situation?”!”

    You guys want Government in everything…? Well then accept the results…good and hard…you deserve it.

    Comment by James — February 8, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

  109. @petegeorge

    >But what we face now is nothing like the Great Depression.

    The big difference is we have a welfare system that is keeping people from actually starving, and pointless luxury is incredibly cheap. Without that, we’d be in very much the same situation, and furthermore, things are not improving, they’re worsening.

    This is one of the things that shits me off, often raised by people who never lived through the Depression themselves, but instead through the hugely long, powerful growth period after WW2. They knew the stories of their parents and that is the only context that they can possibly accept as a ridiculous and unnecessary level of societally imposed suffering. So long as things aren’t as bad as the actual Great Depression, which culminated in WW2, then we don’t know struggling and should stop whining. It’s like that’s their benchmark about whether or not the country is fucked up enough to do something about it. Then there’s the terrible suffering they endured, because video machines and cellphones weren’t invented.

    That shit washed when I was a kid, and consumer luxuries were my world because I was not responsible for anything else, but when you contextualize their true wealth and opportunity against my generation’s, you’ll see that they lived rich lives, mostly doing work they liked, purchasing property and having children young (which their parents encouraged and supported), studying freely if they had the inclination, with high levels of security and social mobility. There was a cultural boom for them too, exciting times of change and optimism, a genuine belief that the world was getting better all round.

    Essentially, it’s cheap to say it’s not like the Great Depression, because having an egg was a luxury. That means it can never be like the Great Depression, no matter how bad it gets, short of total societal collapse. That also means the Great Depression itself was a pretty soft time, really, not worth even worrying about, because living in the ancient world was really, really shit, and prior to that, we were stone age primates with nasty, brutish, short lives. It’s a cop out. If it’s even trending to be like the Depression, then it’s fucking serious, whether or not I’ve got a Playstation.

    I am not entirely bitter on the older generation, though, they made some very important changes in the world. Their hearts were in the right place. They created amazing things, lived amazing lives. I even agree with a great many of their ideals. I just wish they could realize that all this happened in spite of their management of the economy in the last 40 years, rather than because of it. Many of them do realize, some have even been saying so forever, but they’ve been worn down by their peers into not saying anything any more. Speak up! Maybe kids won’t listen, but your mates might, if you have the guts to tell them. Amaze us, one last time.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 8, 2012 @ 11:52 pm

  110. @ CK and DPF. “always blame the victim” First rule of the sociopath.

    Comment by sunny — February 9, 2012 @ 6:56 am

  111. Rhinocrates @105: Even if he can’t admit to it, he can’t let go; he wants to keep coming back to get a reaction, to receive the acknowledgement that he so desperately craves. You see, the essence of every troll is their neediness.

    I suspect that if you counted his number of ‘coming back’ posts compared to, say, yours, your statement could be seen as a bit of a self portrait?

    @Ben Wilson – it’s not clear what you want the older generation to speak up about. That things aren’t fair for younger people today because of mismanagement of the economy in the last 40 years? Are you after sympathy for your situation?

    What do you think the solutions are? Speaking up is not enough.

    Comment by Pete George — February 9, 2012 @ 7:17 am

  112. @Ben Wilson
    Personally I did OK, was one of the best earning of my generation until only recently

    because I can’t get a job at all that isn’t minimum wage,

    Holy crap. I recall from several years of blog debate, that you are or were an IT developer, possibly dealing with the likes of C++ and Java? Given your background I’m astounded that you cannot get a job paying more than minimum wage. If it’s not too personal to ask – what gives?

    Comment by Tom Hunter — February 9, 2012 @ 7:30 am

  113. Jesus Pete George and Rhino, can you guys just stop the public flirting and fuck already? Like I get it, PG is a massive hypocrite, but fight on twitter or something.

    Comment by Chris Bull — February 9, 2012 @ 8:06 am

  114. Good old Pete George. A silly old man with nothing better to do with his time than troll the internet. You know, I am sure he is sincere in his belief he is engaging in good faith on matters of great moment to the nation. Unfortunately, he is also clearly a terminally stupid fusspot, so his good faith arguing is insufficient reason for me to be bothered engaging with him, and I would advise others to follow likewise.

    As Ben Wilson notes above, this thread – at a rapid 109+ posts – marks a clear philosophical dividing line between certain radical elements of the right wing (I say “certain elements” because the God botherers like Andrei are clearly not in the same designer handbag as Cactus Kate) and the reality based community. The revolutionary zeal with which the likes of DPF and CK wish to see the restoration of kind of capitalist pre-1789 absolutist state has no time for empathy for their victims.

    I haven’t commented to much because I am not sure to what extent the marked lack of empathy – together with other common traits they display – of DPF and CK amounts to a genuine form of narcissistic personality disorder. If we are dealing with people suffering from a personality disorder, then the best approach would be to treat them with sympathy and seek to help them through their marked social problems rather than take their patently absurd beliefs as evidence of being bitter and nasty individuals.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 9, 2012 @ 8:32 am

  115. > As Ben Wilson notes above, this thread – at a rapid 109+ posts – marks a clear philosophical dividing line between certain radical elements of the right wing (I say “certain elements” because the God botherers like Andrei are clearly not in the same designer handbag as Cactus Kate) and the reality based community.

    A more objective way of putting it is that these “middle class family would like to be able to afford more stuff” stories (which crop up in the media now and then) spark a lot of debate, but none of it seems to change anybody’s mind about anything.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — February 9, 2012 @ 8:44 am

  116. @Sanctuary: I would advise others to follow likewise.

    Perhaps you could have a chat to Rhino then, he doesn’t seem to listen to himself. I’m sure he like everyone else will be only too happy to follow your advice.

    I’m so devastated you can’t be bothered engaging with me. I don’t dare try and guess what I’m missing out on – although Rhino seems to have psychoanalysis covered.

    Comment by Pete George — February 9, 2012 @ 8:48 am

  117. Antoine – if only postulating pixels could be converted into world problem solutions.

    I wonder who qualifies for Sanctuary’s ‘reality based community’.

    Comment by Pete George — February 9, 2012 @ 9:04 am

  118. “these “middle class family would like to be able to afford more stuff” stories”

    Sure, that’s what the story is about. not “overstretched family working multiple jobs and just making ends meet would like to be able to have more time to spend with their family and maybe a life where they don’t spend every available minute working, commuting or stressing about how to afford to feed their family. can’t afford the petrol for a 20 minute drive to the beach – that sounds like they’re worried about stuff.

    The reason no one’s minds change is that the people with all the power to do anything about it are all earning 6 figures and don’t actually give a f**k about those poor nobodies who are poor because they didn’t buy the right stocks in the 80s. which is their own fault. because the poor are stupid. all of them.

    Comment by nommopilot — February 9, 2012 @ 9:11 am

  119. “if only postulating pixels could be converted into world problem solutions”

    Well PG you have been asked about your ideas for solutions but all you seem to have a re personal anecdotes about how hard your life has been and how the young should just harden up and take it. no actual ideas forthcoming… or even the policies of the party you supposedly represent…

    I guess you’re saving it for United Future’s triumphal 2014 common sense (TM) resurgence

    Comment by nommopilot — February 9, 2012 @ 9:15 am

  120. “CK…Give it up. Wallowing in the swamp with these losers is beneath you. You have earned the right to an opinion…these blow-hards haven’t. They haven’t yet clued up that they and their expansive bleeding heart welfare and big Government is the very cause of the low paid jobs and desperation they wail against now….

    Its the same old socialist shit “Whaaaaah! How dare you be rich and self supporting while others have to live with the consequences of their own stupidity and poor choices combined with an overbearing state that keeps them in that situation?”!”

    You guys want Government in everything…? Well then accept the results…good and hard…you deserve it.

    Comment by James — February 8, 2012 @ 11:19 pm”
    <3 James is back! <3 <3 <3

    Comment by Trouble Man — February 9, 2012 @ 9:18 am

  121. Dear god please can we get rid of that ‘will’ imbecile. His contributions are completely worthless.

    Comment by Aztec — February 9, 2012 @ 9:25 am

  122. nommopilot – like everyone else I don’t have any solutions, if it was as simple as someone coming up with a good idea it would have been done and all fixed by now. ven if you buy the nonsense that National are only for the money grubbers at the expense of the poor surely Labour would have eliminated poverty in 2000 and made everyone and everything equal in 2001.

    Some of my ideas:
    – to help people and groups to work together more from a community level up, to jointly look at how to improve things
    – to connect people with politicians and politicians with people more effectively
    – to promote more positive politics

    The irony doesn’t go unnoticed that promoting things like better respect, cooperation and positive politics in blogs seems to attract a lot of personal attacks and nagativity, but I suspect that most visible inhabitants of political blogs don’t actually want other people’s ideas, they just want their own accepted without modification or criticism.

    Political blogs seem to be more used as an opportunity to air futile ideals and to vent political frustrations rather than actually work together on practical solutions, which is a bit of a shame considering the theoretical potential.

    Perhaps people working together more and not bawling each other out is just a futile ideal.

    Comment by Pete George — February 9, 2012 @ 9:33 am

  123. @Tom Hunter

    >If it’s not too personal to ask – what gives?

    It’s not too personal. Essentially, I became very highly specialized on a very long contract (over 7 years), and the skills I developed became very much less sought after. There is still, ironically, very well paid work for my skills, but as the work dries up, only the very best people get the jobs. I’m in a situation where no one can believe that I actually want to take less money than I used to, because I believe my skills don’t hold currency. So I’m pushed into interviews for very senior roles, and then of course I come up wanting on the technical skills that people expect for that much remuneration. No one can believe that I would be content code-monkeying for the man, on half my previous income, so long as the workplace had a pleasant environment, and made products that were even the slightest bit interesting. I would, in fact, actually like to take a more supporting role, involving less programming and more customer contact, but none of the roles I’ve applied for in that have even got back to me.

    So I’m retraining myself, because I can’t afford the time for formal qualifications, by developing my own product in a new technology, whilst seeking work.

    I have considered career changing, but every job above minimum wage requires qualifications or experience I don’t have. Even the people flipping signs on road construction sites need certification.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 9, 2012 @ 9:37 am

  124. Aztec – maybe you could talk to Danyl about implementing blog eugenics. Or skip comments that don’t interest you.

    Comment by Pete George — February 9, 2012 @ 9:37 am

  125. “…Some of my ideas:
    – to help people and groups to work together more from a community level up, to jointly look at how to improve things
    – to connect people with politicians and politicians with people more effectively
    – to promote more positive politics…”

    And some of MY ideas include:
    – Icecream and unicorns for everyone.
    – Free “hug me” badges.
    – Polar bears.

    So there we go Pete, we have more in common than I thought.

    Comment by Sanctuary — February 9, 2012 @ 9:43 am

  126. @Pete George: “if you buy the nonsense that National are only for the money grubbers at the expense of the poor surely Labour would have eliminated poverty in 2000 and made everyone and everything equal in 2001.”

    Didn’t Labour’s much poo-pooed Working For Families (designed to prop up the working poor we are discussing) lift a large number of children and their families out of the poverty they were living in? Isn’t that worth something?

    http://www.nzchildren.co.nz/child_poverty.php

    Not that I’m by any means an ardent Labour supporter, but FFS, at least they had their eye on the ball and gave a sh*t with a solution to ‘the market’s’ failure to provide a sufficient income to families.

    Comment by Pete — February 9, 2012 @ 9:46 am

  127. Pete, I think the reason you attract negativity is that most of your posts rabbit on about change but you don’t have any concrete suggestions beyond bland things like “promote positive politics”. You can’t really hope to change anyone’s mind with suggestions like the one’s you give in touch 120. It’s an ideological war. You can’t hope to end it by just quietly saying “come on guys, can’t we all just get along?”

    Personally, I don’t have the solutions but I do feel like tinkering is not going to have any effect on the structural nature of poverty in this society. The choices we’ve made as a society over the last 50 years were based on a faith that our economy would keep growing and the standards of living for everyone would improve steadily, but what actually happened is that only a very few people got better off and everybody else had their standards of living gradually eroded by rising costs of living, and the steady devolution of publicly provided services being turned into profit-grabbing private companies. As Ben points out above, the costs of basic needs in this country are insane in a country that has low population density, a flourishing timber industry and plentiful renewable energy resources.

    We need to change course completely, and that requires leadership. It’s all very well for communities to try and change from the ground up, but in an environment where people are struggling to get by and community groups are watching their funding get rationalised away this it’s simply not going to be enough.

    personally I like the ideas Gareth Morgan et al. came up with in http://www.gmi.co.nz/bigkahuna/ : a change to the way taxes are used to ensure that everybody has enough, that all forms of income are taxed equally (and I would go further to say taxing things that need to be discouraged: ie a tax on disposable, non-recyclable goods and carbon-intensive e-waste that is destined for landfill within 5 years of purchase).

    It’s a shame these ideas have been practically ignored.

    Comment by nommopilot — February 9, 2012 @ 9:57 am

  128. Sanctuary @123

    why are you not the Prime minister already? (or at least his speech writer)

    Comment by nommopilot — February 9, 2012 @ 9:58 am

  129. @pete george

    I’m not after sympathy, particularly. I will most likely come right, being upper middle class, well educated and articulate, and experienced. I have never been unemployed before, not since I was 10 years old. I’m well ahead of most people’s chances of a fair income, and I have managed my affairs highly conservatively, so my outgoings are well below the average for Auckland, and I have some assets.

    What I do want is acknowledgement of the situation, though. If it’s like this for me, I hate to think how bad things are for people leaving school and tertiary education. These people don’t even have a voice, they’re so disaffected and alienated from the people who hold all the economic and political power in this country.

    I’m not especially appealing to you, my comment was directed to the legions of baby boomers who saw how fucked up neoliberalism was, right from the start. There are a great many of them who were able to openly acknowledge how important their society was in building the positions of privilege that they found themselves in, and sincerely wanted for this country to become a better place for future generations. But these people have been ironically silenced by their own wealth, losing currency with both rich and poor alike, and have slowly fallen under the spell that perhaps they did earn their privilege after all, this spell that blames subsequent generations for the parlous state of the economy, and lectures from mansions on the virtues of tightening the belt, borrowing for education, working minimum wage for the character it builds, and eschews practically all activity that isn’t done for the mighty foreign dollar.

    I’m hoping to break the spell, because I think these people might be able to convince their own peers that it’s high time that whatever it is that they believed in about doing good for the future when they were younger was not a hopeless dream to be crushed by economic reality, but a world they have the power to make happen.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 9, 2012 @ 10:03 am

  130. So in synopsis Ben, “Snap out of it, you fucking sellouts!”

    Comment by Gregor W — February 9, 2012 @ 10:16 am

  131. @Ben #126 – hear hear!

    Comment by Pete — February 9, 2012 @ 10:20 am

  132. >So in synopsis Ben, “Snap out of it, you fucking sellouts!”

    LOL, that’s a harsh reading. I’m not sure if it’s selling out, when it happens very gradually, one little buy-in to an insidious ideology after another. The sneaky thing about neoliberalism is that it is still ostensibly a liberal world view, thus highly compatible with the beliefs of progressive thinking people. It’s crept up on them, they haven’t noticed the economic failures because they haven’t experienced them personally.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — February 9, 2012 @ 11:30 am

  133. I commented earlier but it hasn’t appeared (just before my 125)… moderation, Danyl?

    Comment by nommopilot — February 9, 2012 @ 11:47 am

  134. The welfare system should be restructured to allow for payments based only on a maximum of two children, regardless of whether the family in question have any more children or not. It sounds harsh but we just can’t afford any more than that.

    The Working For Families package needs to be replaced with income-splitting to encourage those who work to have families but also they will and should have an obligation to pay personal tax to an extent. Currently if a household (with two children) earns $50,000 per year, they effectively pay no personal income taxation because of their Working For Families entitlements. This isn’t particularly fair, nor sensible.

    Comment by daniel lang — February 9, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

  135. Nommopilot @130: It’s just technical – WordPress is not the most reliable format and it often eats comments.

    Comment by Rhinocrates — February 9, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

  136. well I’m not retyping it, so you’ll all just have to feel sad you missed out on a very enlightening post.

    Comment by nommopilot — February 9, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

  137. @Aztec: I’d be economical on the banhammer if I were you – just look at Red Alert. Best to let the trolls burn themselves out and say, “bugger this, I’m outta here!”

    @Pete George: the sad fact is, culture war pig farming is horribly lucrative, and all the new world settler nations have had to grapple with it.

    Comment by DeepRed — February 9, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

  138. LOL

    Sanctuary @123

    why are you not the Prime minister already? (or at least his speech writer)

    Comment by nommopilot — February 9, 2012 @ 9:58 am

    *Because* he’s saving himself for David Cunliffe.

    Comment by will — February 9, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

  139. The hard working Kiwis line, the trickle down etc etc must be running a bit thin and the right must be getting desperate if their new public push is look at those terrible people who are having children, they should have offered themselves for sterilisation while they could have.

    Comment by sheesh — February 10, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

  140. She’s just Dickensian in her attitude.

    Comment by Eric Blair — February 13, 2012 @ 6:55 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Rubric Theme. Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 417 other followers

%d bloggers like this: