The Dim-Post

December 19, 2012

Election strategy tax

Filed under: finance,Politics — danylmc @ 11:48 am

You need to have watched a few sessions of Question Time over the last year to really appreciate the jaw-dropping ballsiness of National’s surprise petrol tax increase, and seen Key, English, Brownlee, Joyce, Groser and Simon Bridges splutter with dignified outrage at the suggestion that carbon emissions should be priced into the market. ‘That would lead to increased petrol costs for ordinary New Zealanders,’ they’d howl, disgusted at the opposition’s vicious indifference to the struggles of ordinary people. ‘Labour and the Greens want to hit working people the hardest,’ they crowed. ‘It would lead to across the board living increases that would cripple the fragile economic recovery!’

(If we weren’t heading into the holiday season it’d be fun to crowd-source finding the most ironic Question Time performance on this issue: I’m guessing it would come from Simon Bridges answering on behalf of Groser. The other Ministers manage to memorise their lines, Bridges tries to look self-righteous while reading off a sheet written for him by some anonymous senior staffer.)

Anyway, not unusually, everything those Ministers said all year turned out to be meaningless bullshit, and taxes will go up as of next June. This means the government can keep its election promise and restore the government’s books to surplus going into the election. That doesn’t mean much in real life: the surplus is forecast to be $66 million, the government debt is about $50 billion, so impact on the economy is non-existent. This is all about the impact on the 2014 election campaign. ‘Labour left us a decade of deficits! But now the John Key National government has put New Zealand in the black!’

That campaign slogan – or one very much like it – is literally all this new tax increase buys us. And it might not be enough. Ever since the 2010 ‘revenue neutral’ tax switch, Bill English’s job has largely consisted of dreaming up stealth tax increases to plug the enormous hole his high income and corporate tax cuts blew in the government books. I doubt this petrol tax will be the last.

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63 Comments »

  1. Got a citation for the claim that the tax switch had substantial negative effects on the government’s books? I see this claimed a lot as a left-wing meme, but never backed up with any actual evidence. The switch was designed to be revenue neutral across four years, and included a suite of changes normally ignored by armchair analysts (for example, the changes to depreciation, or increases in tobacco excise). PWC summarises the plan here: http://www.pwc.co.nz/budget/2012/budget-2010-tax-switch/. Note the many inputs beyond “income tax versus GST”.

    Oh, and talking about hypocrisy, I find it hilarious that the left wing suddenly hates the idea of road users paying for the roads. National is spending a lot on roads (which you lot whine about constantly), yet you are sceptical when they claim that they need more money for Vote Roading (or whatever it is)? Please. The road expenditure is probably dumb, but at least it’s being paid for by road users. And hey, surely this incentivises the use of public transport?

    Comment by R — December 19, 2012 @ 11:59 am

  2. I agree with your not-so-subtle premise that National are hypocritical two-faced cowards and I find it rather abominable that they are raising the petrol tax and giving themselves a pay rise. Given their ridiculous logic when it comes to penny pinching, which is in effect Robin Hood in reverse, if I was a National supporter, I would have expected they would have given themselves a pay cut, so instead of a $66million surplus there would be a $66.5million surplus, a result that would have fit in perfectly with their false image of fiscal astuteness, if only the demon of greed hadn’t been so present on JK’s shoulder, whispering fervently, “Give yourselves a raise, you’ve earned it, you haven’t been to as many baseball games as you could have.”

    Comment by Dan — December 19, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

  3. It’s not just about achieving the surplus, it’s about framing the question.

    National (i.e. Joyce) correctly judge that Labour don’t have it in them to make the case for an alternative approach to the economy, but will instead attack the government for failing to wipe out the defecit, or for adding costs to voters.

    Whereupon Key pops up and says “OK, Target only 75% achieved, my bad, so how are you guys going to get there?”. Cue Shearer collapsing into jelly.

    If only Labour had somebody in their caucus who could explain this money stuff. Oh wait …

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — December 19, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

  4. is literally all this new tax increase buys us.

    Yep. Because it’s almost literally government by talk-back slogan. “More doctors/nurses/operations/jobs/$50 a week/rugby/happiness/whatever” plastered in More Places in 2014 by absolutely any means necessary including flat-out lies. Explaining, like truth, is losing.

    Comment by ak — December 19, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

  5. If you assume that National is captured by the road transport lobby we would expect RUC not to follow these increases in petrol prices. The provisions are there for such increases but not amounts or timeline have been announced.

    I on the other hand find it funny that righty’s are comfortable with inefficient investment, where is their vaunted economic and financial rigour?

    Comment by Doug — December 19, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

  6. I agree with the OP.

    National do Labour stuff better than Labour do it.

    Comment by redbaiter — December 19, 2012 @ 1:02 pm

  7. Its not so much economic illiteracy that the New Zealand electorate suffers from, it is a lack of memory. In 2005 National were jumping up and down about surplus budgets which “only gave enough of a tax cut to buy chewing gum.” I don’t like Labour all that much, but it has to be said that their government consistently ran a surplus. Then, when National got in and instituted tax cuts, mostly for high earners, they had to find a bunch of new taxes to pay for them. The average New Zealand voter though can barely remember promises from the last election, let alone a few cycles back.

    Comment by alex — December 19, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

  8. “Its not so much economic illiteracy that the New Zealand electorate suffers from, it is a lack of memory. In 2005 National were jumping up and down about surplus budgets which “only gave enough of a tax cut to buy chewing gum.” I don’t like Labour all that much, but it has to be said that their government consistently ran a surplus. Then, when National got in and instituted tax cuts, mostly for high earners, they had to find a bunch of new taxes to pay for them. The average New Zealand voter though can barely remember promises from the last election, let alone a few cycles back.”

    Yup +1. Everyone forgets that Labour paid debt down to zero. Thats right, zero. Where they lost their nerve was trying to counter Nationals wild tax cuts. But seriously, how much of an even bigger hole would we be if Brash had got in and slashed taxes?

    Comment by max — December 19, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

  9. Ever since the 2010 ‘revenue neutral’ tax switch, Bill English’s job has largely consisted of dreaming up stealth tax increases to plug the enormous hole his high income and corporate tax cuts blew in the government books

    That is the major economic argument being put forward by Labour and the Greens.

    Pity isn’t true.

    If it were all that was wrong with NZ’s economy then perhaps Labour and the Greens wouldn’t be planning such a massive cut to govt spending via superannuation. Why not just re-adjust the top tax rate. If that’s what’s caused all the damage.

    Labour, well Clark and Cullen, did do well by the NZ economy but they had the huge advantage of a decade-long boom.

    It’s been quite different since 2008 and I’m reluctant to believe that the Greens or Labour have a magic wand until they produce one.

    Comment by NeilM — December 19, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

  10. To be fair – this isn’t a “surprise” tax increase. It has been signalled to be progressively implemented betweeen 6 months and 3 and a half years from now.

    The surprise petrol increase occurs every time there is a supply disruption in the middle east or any time the dollar drops by a couple of cents.

    It would be good if parties with plans to print billions of dollars to devalue the currency and increase inflation were asked exactly how much they are expecting the currency to decrease or inflation to rise. My guess is that the impact on the price of petrol would be a hell of a lot more than 3c a litre per annum.

    Comment by Richard29 — December 19, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

  11. Wedge issue for the sheeple in a one party state.

    Comment by Simon — December 19, 2012 @ 3:07 pm

  12. A surplus of $66,000,000 is so razor thin as to be derisory. It falls into the category of a circus trick, not economic policy. More to the point, the economy is bouncing along the bottom in more or less permanent recession and is held up solely by on-going windfall profits in the dairy sector. The addition of 9c a litre to the fuel bills of NZ businesses on top of a stratospherically high dollar will do nothing to ameliorate the crisis in non-diary exports and in unemployment, it will do the complete opposite. Worst of all, like the GST increase this hike in fuel price is effectively another regressive tax on that will fall most heavily on ordinary New Zealanders, while National joyfully maintains its tax cuts for its rich mates and donors. In this country, there is planet Key with no recession, tax cuts and Xmas in Hawaii and then there is the rest of us. I suppose the rest of us might get to carry him and his bags to the airport in our second job as a cab driver if we are lucky – at 9c a litre more for the gas, of course.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 19, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

  13. @ Sanctuary, do you ever stop with your neo-commie claptrap. I mean FFS

    “on-going windfall profits in the dairy sector”
    ” It falls into the category of a circus trick, not economic policy. ”
    “will do nothing to ameliorate the crisis in non-diary exports and in unemployment”

    w-anchor.

    Comment by Tim — December 19, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

  14. @Tim, ok then rebut the comments.

    Comment by Stephen Doyle — December 19, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

  15. Remember when Key was going to equalise oz and nz wages?
    Remember when reduced tax on the rich and super rich was going to benefit the economy?

    Was not that something being trumpeted by National ,Key and English around about 2008?

    Why is there a resonating silence?

    Cycle ways. rwc, trucking industry handouts have, or are going to save NZ? All this provided by a Wall Street trader living in Hawaii.
    He comes to NZ for his business. For vacations he goes home to the USA.

    A great brand for NZ. When on holiday (vacation) go to Hawaii, avoid NZ.

    JK is Tourism Minister?

    Wall Street bluster (JK) and Treasury bullshit (English) rules. Untax those who can afford it and beat the hell out of those least able to fight back.

    Typical National Party.

    Comment by peterlepaysan — December 19, 2012 @ 8:54 pm

  16. @ NeilM – please show us which of the Greens policies involve cutting govt superannuation spending. Heck, even Labour’s policy to raise the pension age from 65 to 67 years old is grandfathered to only affect gen X and younger. So even if they got into power immediately, neither Labour nor Greens super policies can possibly affect the govt accounts over the next decade as you implied:
    “If it were all that was wrong with NZ’s economy then perhaps Labour and the Greens wouldn’t be planning such a massive cut to govt spending via superannuation.”

    Must try harder Neil ;)

    Comment by bob — December 19, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

  17. I am sure Tim is a bright lad, full of promise and sharp arguments to refute the neo- commies everywhere. And I am sure he would be delighted to share his wisdom on teh dim post blogs. But only after a girl – any girl – agrees to go to the movies with him. Ah, the talent such a signal event would unlock! who knows what genius might reside behind a dam of tongue tied resentment, that a simple peck from the accused bewitching lips of a woman may unlock?

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 19, 2012 @ 11:18 pm

  18. Yeah, it’s 5.23am and still no Tim, or is it “Timid Tim”

    Comment by frank_db — December 20, 2012 @ 5:23 am

  19. It’s because he’s switches over to being phil (with a lowercase p) on a Thursday.

    Comment by Gregor W — December 20, 2012 @ 1:41 pm

  20. I must confess to feeling a little mean this morning, having posted last night in the high reverie induced by the free bar at the staff Xmas party.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 20, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

  21. Typical neo-commie sentiment. Always looking for the free (liquid) lunch.

    Comment by Gregor W — December 20, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

  22. For whatever reason this tax occurred, it’s still a good tax. In practice, tax is just a general pool from which expenditure draws. At least this tax is on consumption and pollution. I may be left wing and hate National, but I don’t hate this tax.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 20, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

  23. The fact that it’s a tax on consumption of a natural resource is a good thing. However, it will also disproportionately affect low-income earners, and that it a bad thing. changes like this should be offset by making the income tax scale more progressive, so that they don’t increase inequality.

    Comment by kahikatea — December 20, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

  24. “That campaign slogan – or one very much like it – is literally all this new tax increase buys us.”

    I would have thought you would understand the meaning of literally. I am pretty sure this petrol tax is paying for the RONs – Transmission Gully etc etc.

    Comment by swan — December 20, 2012 @ 10:25 pm

  25. @bob

    please show us which of the Greens policies involve cutting govt superannuation spending. Heck, even Labour’s policy to raise the pension age from 65 to 67 years old is grandfathered to only affect gen X and younger.

    Raising the age of retirement is a cut in superanuation spending and hence a cut in social welfare.

    Maybe the Greens and Labour don’t believe they can manage the evonomy in a way as to provide a social welfare system that we have come to expect or prrhsps the just don’t like old people.

    But I fail to see how advocating such a cut in social welfare is any indication of confidence in our economic future.

    Norman is advocating printing money and Parker would allow increased inflation. Some alternative.

    What annoys me though is that neither Norman or Parker have the courage to outline the costs if their policies.

    Comment by NeilM — December 20, 2012 @ 11:03 pm

  26. @Sancy wancy, your alcoholism is touching.

    Comment by Tim — December 20, 2012 @ 11:12 pm

  27. NeilM acts simple, ignores the extensive international debate around the necessary role of QE et al and has a swipe at the ‘inflation’ that inevitably attends economic kick starts. Too much Fox TV, no?
    ‘printing money’ is a canard that belongs down in the tulip patch with tiny Tim.

    Comment by paritutu — December 21, 2012 @ 8:40 am

  28. “…‘printing money’ is a canard that belongs down in the tulip patch with tiny Tim….”

    I agree with this.

    However, for a smart rightie this is a far, far more profitable vein to mine, courtesy of Ben Wilson:

    “…For whatever reason this tax occurred, it’s still a good tax…”

    This is a timely reminder that the Green base at least remains unreformed enemies of working New Zealanders if working New Zealanders get in the way of their desire to take the economy back to 1775. For the Greens, it is never a bad time to put up the cost of living for the most vulnerable New Zealanders if the Green agenda is served. It is the sort of Puritan zeal revealed in comments from Green supporters like this one that provide the main reason why the Greens will never supplant Labour as the major party of the left, because, well, the Greens are not left wing. They are bunch of largely liberal middle class eco-warriors. Ben Wilson usually now comes out with some long ramble about the irrelevance of class based analysis in the modern world and the need to save the planet (maaaaaaaan). However, Joe and Jane Sixpack out there on Struggle Street are rather more interested in the extra $25 a fortnight they’ve got to find to cover the gas bill, $25 that won’t be spent in the increasingly shabby local main street or even in the depressingly sterile big box development on the edge of town, and $25 dollars they note that is being taken from them to ensure Montgomery Burns up in mansion keeps his fat tax cuts from Bill English’s “fiscally neutral” budget – fiscally neutral, return to surplus, a finance minister whose deadly dull approach to the nation’s finances were summed up 164 years ago by Charles Dickens’ Mr Micawber’s quote:

    “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and six pence, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery.”

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 21, 2012 @ 9:16 am

  29. Two important elements have been missed so far: the fact that we are in a recession and therefore the politicians should not be getting a pay rise, and the fact that National are capitalizing on the petrol companies having recently dropped their prices. They say they do everything they can to get people into work and keep them there, however all their taxes show otherwise and this tax in particular is disgraceful because the recent drop in the cost of petrol, while small, would have supported National’s media shtick had they chosen not to take the pay rise and not to put through the tax increase.

    Comment by Dan — December 21, 2012 @ 9:24 am

  30. Speaking of puritan zeal sandy, how’s the head?

    Comment by Timmy — December 21, 2012 @ 10:03 am

  31. “It is the sort of Puritan zeal revealed in comments from Green supporters like this one that provide the main reason why the Greens will never supplant Labour as the major party of the left … ”

    This would be an insightful, incisive and utterly convincing proposition, but for one fact. The Labour Party is not “of the left”.

    Comment by Flashing Light — December 21, 2012 @ 11:25 am

  32. “…The Labour Party is not “of the left”….”

    You got me there.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 21, 2012 @ 11:49 am

  33. Sanctuary,

    I think your comments on the Greens gloss over or outright ignore a great deal of the Green Party’s policy portfolio. Yes, we want to increase taxes on pollatants, and a reduction in consumption is a good thing (it’s inevitable anyway, given the impending resource shortages that make increasing consumption possible).

    But our proposed tax increases on fuel are not in isolation. We would alter the tax regime in New Zealand, with a much more progressive income tax structure than even Labour proposes. Your Joe and Jane Sixpack on Struggle Street might pay more in petrol, but they’ll have more in their pay packet because less was deducted from PAYE. So it’s their choice to burn petrol, or if they have no choice, they should have the income to do so.

    Whether the Greens are of the left is one for the political scientists to pontificate over. But your accusation of a puritanical zeal to drive everyone back to the 18th century is inaccurate. We know that we must have the support of the working class if we are to succeed in enacting our policies. That’s why many of our policies target social issues such as poverty, minority rights and education.

    If you think we emphasise environmental issues too much, then I invite you to look at the timelines for climate change and peak oil. These are going to have a massive impact on the working class too, and time to prepare for those impacts is running out (or in some cases already has). Neither the economy or society is bigger than the environment; both are actually subsets of the latter. If we wish for either to prosper, we must ensure that the environment is capable of supporting whatever society we live in, and whatever economy we work in. Taking care of the enviroment, even if it’s expensive in the short term, will almost always produce better social outcomes in the longer term.

    Cheers,

    Tane W (not the guy from the Standard)

    Comment by Tane W — December 21, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

  34. Tane W – I think your use of the royal “we” has to be taken with caution. While I suspect your comments reflect the parliamentary wing of the Greens, I also suspect that once in government a gap with the membership wide enough to merit a geological event will occur. Greens may be pragmatically environmental and soft liberals in the house; but the faithful are not. Between what you say and Ben Wilson’s comments imply is an ocean full of peril for you guys.

    In terms of being “of the left” the general Green position – that left and right are obsolete with a Green alternative path – is undermined by the general lack of any sort of intellectual underpinning of Green analysis of, to put in concrete terms, the politics behind WHY Montgomery Burns keeps his tax cuts while Joe and Jane Sixpack have to cough up an increase in petrol excise. The Greens regard the environment as central to their world view, without regard to politics of agency. I would suggest socialists regard class conflict as the driver of political conflict that acts as an agent of change, independent of the environment. To my mind, the failure to acknowledge, let alone understand and analyse, the fact of and political mechanisms resulting from societal and class conflict is the key indicator that the Greens are fundamentally middle class and therefore de facto anti-working class/working poor/underclass in terms of substantive change for those groups. Until the Greens come up with a way of dealing with this fundamental contradiction that lies at the heart of their political wing vs. their activist base, they will always be a party of the margins and carry a ticking timebomb of unresolved ideological questions that could easily rip them apart in government.

    Comment by Sanctuary — December 21, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

  35. Yeah and the chasm between the parliamentary Labour party and the union/rainbow/academic wings isn’t geological.

    Comment by Tim — December 21, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

  36. G’day Sanctuary,

    Firstly, you’re right, I am using the royal ‘we’, and I shouldn’t be pretending to speak for all of the Green party. I’m not sure of the exact views of the parliamentary wing either, but I think you misjudge the Green membership if you think the grass-roots is dominated by those who value the environment above all else. There is a strong social-justice trend among our members, and this is reflected in policies that are often more progressive than Labour’s. Like all parties we are a broad church, with various groups who have different aims and objectives. National has it’s farmers and urban liberals, Labour has its unionists and free-trade advocates. We Greens argue amongst ourselves too, but I don’t think that this is a ‘ticking timebomb’. Ben made a fairly short post, it might be unwise to build a mountain of conjecture on a molehill of blog-comment, unless you have substantial information from other sources.

    I don’t claim to be an expert on socialism, but I understand that it has the same basic flaw as liberal capitalism; both are founded on the notion of perpetual economic growth raising living standards. Liberal capitalism emphasises personal liberty, including the liberty to get very rich at the expense of social equality. Socialism emphasises equality at the expense of liberty. Both matured during the Industrial Revolution, a time of rampant economic and technological growth, and both make the basic assumption that this is a perpetual state. This is not true, as permanent economic growth requires never-ending resources and waste sinks, both of which are impossible in a closed system like the Earth. It’s a big place, but centuries of growth and billions of people can use up even a planet.

    If perpetual economic growth is impossible, then we need a new way of living that suits our limits. I don’t know what that is, but it must require fewer resources. One of the key drivers for this will be a more equal society. Unequal societies seem to use resources at a greater rate, due to a need to exhibit social status through highly visible consumption and to guard the wealth of the wealthy. And I’m sure you’d agree that the wealthy are never happy with what they have, but always want more, thus driving ever greating accumulation and resource use. So if there is an egalitarian streak in the Greens, it’s within the environmentalists as well as those more interested in social justice. I think that an understanding of class conflict is important for Greens, and possibly even as a central tenet of our philosophy. Certainly we’re never going to create the changes needed unless the working class is convinced. The rich will be the last to change, as elites always are. So while we might seem middle-class to you, we know that we need to convince the workers too.

    This might seem unlikely to you, and maybe it is. But these things take time, and as the super-storms increase, as petrol goes up in price and as droughts linger or floods intensify, people will start to come round. This post might not answer your call for a more robust analysis of Green philosophy and its application and appeal to the workers. I don’t have the space to do this, or more likely, a mature philosophical basis for doing so. But one things for sure. We don’t think Monty Key should keep his stinkin’ tax cut while Joe and Jane suck up the petrol excise. Like I said earlier, we’ll overhaul the tax system if we get a chance, and given the progressive views of our party, I think you’ll like it. You’ll like it a lot.

    Comment by Tane W — December 21, 2012 @ 11:09 pm

  37. Taking care of the enviroment, even if it’s expensive in the short term, will almost always produce better social outcomes in the longer term.

    I think your assuming that “taking care of the environment” is something self-evident and not open to judgement – in effect environmentalism becomes a matter if the self evident Good vs the self evident Bad al the while denying any mere mortal motivations or failings,

    A big like religion.

    Comment by NeilM — December 21, 2012 @ 11:20 pm

  38. Yes, the Left’s greatest danger is not Labour bashing beneficiaries, or National selling off the country, or Winston getting stuck into immigrants. It’s the Greens because they might do something different. It’s important for everyone to continue to understand that. Change absolutely must not happen, on any account. It would be better to have National, than the Greens, for the Left. Labour is there, named after the people it no longer represents, to ensure that continues to happen. The Greens absolutely must not steal any of the more of middle class vote, because that’s just too big a pie to share. People like Danyl are the scourge of the blogosphere, and it’s lucky there are still some working class heroes tirelessly squirting their Semmens into every debate.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 22, 2012 @ 10:37 am

  39. “the surplus is forecast to be $66 million, the government debt is about $50 billion, so impact on the economy is non-existent.”
    I guess it’s your taxpayer funded pay cheque that makes you conflate “govt finances” with “the economy”?
    And I’m sorry paritutu “NeilM acts simple, ignores the extensive international debate around the necessary role of QE”
    I think you’ll find that 99% of non-politicians agree: QE is achieving fuck-all around the world. The US is running a deficit of how much? 10% of GDP? And what is their expected rate of growth this year? 2%? Any idea how many more gnerations of americans are now indebted to the Chinese for that paltry 2?

    And fuck me, Sanct has a point about the lunacy of the Greens, then up pops this from (at a guess) one of them:
    “and a reduction in consumption is a good thing (it’s inevitable anyway, given the impending resource shortages that make increasing consumption possible).”
    Tane W, go back and read Sanc, then read your comment.
    “I don’t claim to be an expert on socialism, but I understand that it has the same basic flaw as liberal capitalism; both are founded on the notion of perpetual economic growth raising living standards.”
    Other than guilt for your (and others) consumption, what evidence do you have for believing that perpetual economic growth (I assume you mean, trending upwards, in spite of the odd recession) is not achievable? Do you think that there are no further technological advances left?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 22, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

  40. Remember, Tane: most advances are IDEAS. Some are too simple to be taken seriously at the time: the idea that washing your hands will make a difference, for instance.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 22, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

  41. It’s good to see that Clunking Fist is in bed with Sanctuary, confirms that the Greens are the real enemy, and that the center left-right divide differs on nothing of importance beyond that. This will ensure National wins in 2014, which we have established is all win for the Left (whatever that is). It was, after all, the Greens who imposed the petrol tax, just by existing.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 22, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

  42. Hi Ben, sorry to burst that bubble that had you thinking “third way = right way”! Many leftwingers i know have a problem with the professed desire to help the poor conflicting with the environmentalists thinking that consumption is bad. Environmentalism is a band-wagon. Surely you must have noticed it groan under the weight once Al gore got on board?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 22, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

  43. Sorry: “Many leftwingers i know have a problem with the GREENS professed desire to help the poor conflicting with the environmentalists thinking that consumption is bad.”

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 22, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

  44. Clunking Fist, there’s way more than three ways. I have never used the phrase, only “two ways” thinkers even care about it. Nor am I an environmentalist, particularly. I have voted for the Greens exactly once, because in the last election their economic policy contained actual left wing stuff, however much you and your mate Sanctuary want to have a wet dream that there is someone else doing it. I’m extremely reluctant in supporting a party that made a big fuss about GE, for instance. However, they are unequivocal in their policy on what actually matters to me, the economy, fairness and progressiveness in the taxation system, and taking a global view of what is happening. They are also prepared to actually use brains regarding monetary policy, rather than just take as gospel the rules set in place by a neoliberal past.

    Sanctuary blew his last dollar of credibility with his brilliant class-analysis, which he wanted to cut me off at the pass with. So he made folksy references to Joe and Jane Sixpack spending $25 more per fortnight on gas because of a petrol excise increase. I don’t know anyone *at all* for whom 3 cents more per liter will add up to $25 more per fortnight. That’s 833 liters of petrol per fortnight, so that means they’re driving an average of more than 4000 km per week, in a 10km/l vehicle. At a slightly more credible 150km/week, 3 cents on gas means their tax bill per week has gone up by 45c. If they’re really the battlers Sanctuary seems to think all political discourse in NZ should revolve around, then they’re catching a bus or carpooling with colleagues, so it’s even less. The people who will actually get bitten somewhat are those who take their SUV to work every day, and then have a big holiday highway trip. Except they won’t even notice it, it’s chump change to them, they could save the whole lot of it by one less discretionary chocolate bar purchase when they were filling up. Which they won’t. So it’s a progressive tax, a fair tax, and a sensible tax. I’m surprised National came up with it, but then they are the ones obsessed by book balancing, despite years of screaming at Labour for doing just that.

    Furthermore, the idea that you can tie one particular tax to overall prosperity, in the massive soup of taxes we constantly pay, in some kind of tit-for-tat way, is ridiculous. Laughably so. The reflexive squealing about this tax rise, just because National did it lacks *all* perspective. It’s an idiotic JOKE typical of NZ political discourse. But have at it, it’s Christmas.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 22, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

  45. CF – I’m not sure that most Greens think consumption is bad; saying that, I don’t profess to know the minds of most (51%?) Greens, just those Greens I know.

    What they (and I) ascribe to is that un-moderated, excessive consumption is bad, inasmuch as it is bad for the environment, bad for efficient resource utilisation, and bad for our social fabric by encouraging indebtedness in those who can quite frankly least afford it and crating a culture of envy and entitlement (premised on turning wants into needs).

    Comment by Gregor W — December 22, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

  46. National contradicts itself so obviously and your best idea of opposition is to have a go at the Greens? And you wonder why working people stayed home last election.

    Comment by Sacha — December 22, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  47. National contradicts itself so obviously and your best idea of opposition is to have a go at the Greens? And you wonder why working people stayed home last election.

    stayed home last election AND ate grandmothers toenail clippings

    .

    Comment by frank_db — December 22, 2012 @ 5:34 pm

  48. And what is their expected rate of growth this year? 2%? Any idea how many more generations of Americans are now indebted to the Chinese for that paltry 2?

    CF, did you mean to imply that economic growth rates have a zero boundary, or was that just a brain fade?

    Also, if you think the ‘debt to the chinese’ is the big problem, then I assume you think going over the fiscal cliff is the best idea in the short term, effects on gdp be damned?

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — December 22, 2012 @ 8:16 pm

  49. Ben “If they’re really the battlers Sanctuary seems to think all political discourse in NZ should revolve around, then they’re catching a bus or carpooling with colleagues, so it’s even less.”
    Not many buses available to carry the blue collar guy or guyess to his or her workplace. But plenty of buses from middle class suburbs into the heart of white collar cities. But well done for doing the maths, maybe Sanc counted every flatmate in a typical West Auckland house?
    Gregor W – ask a green what excessive consumption is. Then you might find that, according to them, everyone is “entitled” only to a fixed amount of consumption each, regardless of how much they produce. Now, in my mind, excessive consumption means consumption funded by credit, (as you do too). That is, buying stuff that’s “nice to have” without the funds available to do it. Some people do this (as you point out), but the most guilty are governments. In fact, they do it when it often seems, to many of us, that there is little chance of it being paid back.

    “CF, did you mean to imply that economic growth rates have a zero boundary, or was that just a brain fade?” Eh? Do I think that governments should cut spending that they can’t afford, even though it will have a negative effect on this indicator number we call GDP? Fuck yeah! What’s the point of expenditure when all it does is create more unrepayable debt? See what Gregor says about: excessive consumption; debt; environmental effects and sub-optimal resource allocation. Why do you love the US military-industrial complex so much that you would refrain from trimming it, PB?
    “Also, if you think the ‘debt to the chinese’ is the big problem” ha, a throw away comment that makes me look a little racist? Ignore it: I love the chinese and their command(ish) economy.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 24, 2012 @ 7:54 am

  50. “excessive consumption means consumption funded by credit, (as you do too). That is, buying stuff that’s “nice to have” without the funds available to do it.”

    Like highly-mortgaged houses larger than most in the world, you mean?

    “Some people do this (as you point out), but the most guilty are governments.”

    Which would be why most of our overseas borrowings are housing and farm debt, not by the government at all. Nice try.

    Comment by Sacha — December 24, 2012 @ 10:23 am

  51. CF, I made 2 points and you managed to avoid them both. Well played I guess.

    Comment by Pascal's bookie — December 24, 2012 @ 11:15 am

  52. >Not many buses available to carry the blue collar guy or guyess to his or her workplace.

    Do you have a shred of evidence to back that up? I live on the edge of an industrial area, and every morning buses disgorge hundreds of people into the factories here, and the bus stops are full come 5pm. There’s also a lot of foot-traffic. If you work suburban, you often live near your workplace.

    >But plenty of buses from middle class suburbs into the heart of white collar cities.

    You’ve got no idea. Every bus does a round trip, every trip. They take people in both directions, and they go through all suburbs, and they’re boarded by all types of people. They are most justified on high volume routes, yes, like the “middle class suburbs” (which is about 90% of suburbs) to “white collar cities” (which is everything that can reasonably call itself a city). They’re going to be infrequent if you opt to live out in the country. Practically everything is inefficient for people living in the country, which is why most people don’t, unless they happen to work there.

    >Which would be why most of our overseas borrowings are housing and farm debt, not by the government at all. Nice try.

    Yup, Clunking Fist is opting for fact-free debate. Ho, ho, ho.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 24, 2012 @ 11:44 am

  53. Sacha, you are truly correct for NZ. I was thinking of the US, Japanese and Greek govts when I wrote that. (But I like how you make “large houses” sound like something dirty. My “large” NZ house cost less than my “small” apartment in the UK. But I’ll move into an adobe hut if that’s the collective decision of NZers.)

    PB, I genuinely thought I had addressed your points. I even reprinted those points immediately in front of my responses to your points. Perhaps you were trying to confuse everyone by alluding to a Neumann or Dirichlet boundary conditions, when GDP is a fairly simple equation (well, one’s choice of fairly simple equations)? Or were you referring to the mathematics of the multiplier effect?
    “then I assume you think going over the fiscal cliff is the best idea in the short term, effects on gdp be damned?” Yes and no*. Ask the Japanese how fiscal stimulus has been working out for them over the last few decades. (While you’re making assumptions on my behalf, don’t assume that I think it should all come from spending cuts: there’s nothing wrong with considering tax increases.)
    (*The Americans do need to sort their spending shit out: if labour could do it here…)

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 24, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

  54. Ben Wilson, the industrial areas nearish me are mostly served by cars, judging from the carparks around each site.
    But you are an Aucklander, no? I believe Auckland has a good, thriving, multi-nodal public transport system that works really, really well, 24 hours a day, so you are probably right. Shame on those working class folk who choose not to use it: we should tax them (for their own good) for choosing to use their motor cars. And tax them again for working night shifts: there are plenty buses at other times and they are just being selfish and hurting the planet.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 24, 2012 @ 1:36 pm

  55. Oh: and who you calling a ‘ho? Say it to my face, man, say it!
    Merry xmas to you anyways, and to all readers of the DimPost.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — December 24, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

  56. >Shame on those working class folk who choose not to use it: we should tax them (for their own good) for choosing to use their motor cars.

    Exempting the working class from petrol tax would be difficult. They could, as the Greens suggest, get their first $10,000 of income tax free, but that would mess with the narrative that a tax imposed by the National Party is the fault of Greens, who are hell bent on crushing the working class.

    >But you are an Aucklander, no?

    Yes, you?

    >I believe Auckland has a good, thriving, multi-nodal public transport system that works really, really well, 24 hours a day, so you are probably right.

    Belief will get you a long way when you don’t have any facts.

    Comment by Ben Wilson — December 24, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

  57. “Merry xmas to you anyways, and to all readers of the DimPost”

    Shouldn’t Tiny Tim be saying that

    Comment by Leopold — December 24, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

  58. Come on Ben

    I believe Auckland has a good, thriving, multi-nodal public transport system that works really, really well, 24 hours a day, so you are probably right.

    I’m sure he was taking the piss. or pissed.

    Comment by f dx — December 24, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  59. Leo I hope you eat excessively to the point of being a little bit sick in your mouth.

    Comment by Timmy — December 25, 2012 @ 8:16 am

  60. “What they (and I) ascribe to is that un-moderated, excessive consumption is bad, inasmuch as it is bad for the environment, bad for efficient resource utilisation, and bad for our social fabric by encouraging indebtedness in those who can quite frankly least afford it and crating a culture of envy and entitlement (premised on turning wants into needs).”

    So you dont like humans Gregor? Where are your angels to do the moderating and to tell people how much they are allowed to borrow?

    Comment by swan — December 27, 2012 @ 1:35 pm

  61. No swan. I just think a bit moderation in all things is pragmatic.
    What I don’t like is people being sold a dream that they can’t possibly afford.

    Comment by Gregor W — December 27, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

  62. Regulated markets are what grown ups have.

    Comment by Sacha — December 27, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

  63. Given that he jumped into the thread with the subtlety of a bull in a china shop, isn’t swan quite an odd handle for comment 60?

    Comment by alex — December 29, 2012 @ 11:02 am


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