The Dim-Post

September 30, 2012

Cunliffe channels Chauncey Gardiner

Filed under: economics,movies — danylmc @ 5:43 pm

Via Imperator Fish, apparently David Cunliffe has given one of his ‘thought leader’ speeches about economics. I’ve admired his previous ones, and haven’t had a chance to read this one yet, but that won’t stop me making fun of it based on this excerpt from the linked post:

If you want a garden to grow, then you have to dig the soil and plant the seeds. You have to feed and nurture the plants and you have deal to the weeds when they grow up amongst the crop.

Which sails awfully close to the main character in Hal Ashby’s Being There, a film about a simpleton who works as a gardener, until his agricultural knowledge is mistaken for economic brilliance, and he becomes an adviser to the US President.


  1. I was thinking more Neil from the Young Ones. YOu don’t understand the timeless wonder of it:

    Comment by Rob Hosking — September 30, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

  2. Lately I have so admired David Cunliffe’s speeches. Beautifully prepared and read, well thought out, paragons of economic perfection and I do agree with him that we should adopt economic methods from the Scandinavian countries. I’d even go so far as to say that we need to have embassies in all of the Scandinavian countries and relaxed bilateral immigration agreements with most of those countries (if not all) and we need to trade more with those countries, too.

    Being of Danish, Scottish, and Greek ethnicity, with heritage in those countries going back several hundred years (although I was born and raised in Aotearoa and am a fifth generation kiwi from a multitude of pioneering families), it is important for me on a personal level that New Zealand embraces other countries, their culture and way of living, etc.

    Comment by Dan — September 30, 2012 @ 6:10 pm

  3. Please tell me that he was talking to an audience of ten year-olds.

    Comment by Margaret Pope — September 30, 2012 @ 7:06 pm

  4. Its when he appears to us to walk on water, you have to worry…

    Comment by gn35 — September 30, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

  5. DC won’t like that comparison… he’d have to wait for Shearer’s funeral before getting a chance to lead the Labour party.

    Comment by Phil — September 30, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

  6. Dc seems to say a lot and the standardista left get all excited and intone ‘great speech’ because he says nice things about unions and chucks in cliches about nasty speculators, overseas landlords, and neoliberals. but when you look closely it all goes wispy and uncertain. We got lots of ‘we must acheive x (be it jobs, growth, low dollar etc)’ but never specifics on the how. Has he committed to anything new and significant in any of them?

    and this bit was so lacking in inpiration it was a bit sad : “our capacity for working wonders with reduced resources has led us to developing the world’s first electric fences, jet boats and so on. The list is almost endless….” so why stop at two 50 yearold inventions?

    The nz speech writers union really needs to ban the citing of jet boats and electric fences as inspirations for modern nz.

    Comment by insider — October 1, 2012 @ 1:12 am

  7. “…and he becomes an adviser to the US President.”

    Whom the party-powers-that-be annoint as the next President … not a bad role model, surely?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — October 1, 2012 @ 1:41 am

  8. It sounds to me a little as though the ever-modest Cunliffe is channeling quite a different source:

    “Behold, there went out a sower to sow: And it came to pass, as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and the birds of the air came and devoured it up. And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth: But when the sun was up, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. And some fell among thorns, the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. And other fell on good ground, did yield fruit that sprang up and increased; and brought forth, some thirty, and some sixty, some an hundred. He said unto them, He that has ears to hear, let him hear.”

    David ‘Christ’ Cunliffe: a self-made man who worships his creator.

    Comment by Higgs Boatswain — October 1, 2012 @ 5:21 am

  9. More metaphor soup without any actually real suggestions to lift us from the stagnant pool of economic misery.
    I could eat a can of alphabet soup and shit a more reasoned economic argument than Cunliffe can deliver.

    Never any specific policy offerings. Just lots of eat the rich hyperbole wrapped up in vague promises of taxing the last 7 net tax payers and borrowing us into penury.
    If Cunliffe is the answer we are in big trouble.

    Comment by Barnsley Bill — October 1, 2012 @ 6:47 am

  10. Isn’t anyone else worried about how the opening symbiotic analogy (plants and people need each other to produce oxygen and CO2 for each other) is scientifically incorrect? As any third former could tell you, yes WE need plants for the oxygen they produce during photosynthesis But THEY don’t really need us for the CO2 we produce during respiration in which we burn up the fruits of their photosynthesis. They also respire and produce CO2. That is why they do photosynthesis in the first place. So they can make and store food and then use it later to produce energy and release CO2.

    Comment by Will Truth — October 1, 2012 @ 7:45 am

  11. The Young Ones was the first thing that came to mind when I read it also.

    Comment by Karl — October 1, 2012 @ 7:59 am

  12. There is nothing new under the Sun, Son.

    Comment by xianmac — October 1, 2012 @ 9:09 am

  13. So I am the only person here who is worried that someone who aspires to fix our economy is not only scientifically illiterate, he (or his advisors) can’t even be bothered to check basic science on wikipedia or something before pontificating on it to the rest of us.

    I had thought Cunliffe was good but this is a worry, I’m surprised that Danyl – as a scientist – hasn’t picked up on it.

    Comment by Will Truth — October 1, 2012 @ 10:22 am

  14. Will, you need to understand that you can’t let the truth get in the way of a running metaphor.

    Comment by insider — October 1, 2012 @ 11:03 am

  15. So I am the only person here who is worried that someone who aspires to fix our economy is not only scientifically illiterate, he (or his advisors) can’t even be bothered to check basic science on wikipedia or something before pontificating on it to the rest of us.

    It’s almost as though he’s positioning Labour as a potential coalition partner for NZ First and the Greens.

    Comment by NeilM — October 1, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

  16. NeilM. This is not a party political issue. They have all been guilty of scientific ignorance. Remember the dihydrogen monoxide hoax? Both the Greens in 2001(Sue Kedgley) and National in 2007 (Jacqui Dean) fell for that and called for this dangerous chemical (water) to be banned. I reckon the Greens are pretty good on science these days

    Comment by Will Truth — October 1, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

  17. Cunliffe may want to reflect that the highest ratio of youth unemployment vs unemployment in general in the OECD is in Sweden.

    Comment by insider — October 1, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

  18. From his speech:

    Gone are the days when manufacturing was just some unskilled worker bolting two parts together. That style of manufacturing is now inevitably done in low-wage countries. In most cases, we simply can’t compete with Asia when it comes to large-scale, low-cost manufacturing.

    Which is why Kiwirail had its trains made in Asia not in Dunedin, just like what happened when he was in govt.

    But haven’t Labour been oh so pro worker with all their big talk of saving the Hillside workshop? Not that they’ve actually committed themselves to that. But surely they will sometime, they couldn’t possibly be using the issue just for political ends.

    Look at what’s happening with the West Coast coal miners. After a lifetime of hard work in the coalmines, these miners are now facing the economic scrapheap thanks to National’s plans to railroad the sale of Solid Energy. The miners must now adapt to a changing world. Can they do this overnight? Of course not.

    But what exactly is he saying? Labour will protect mining jobs through boom and bust cycles? Jobs in mining come and go, if Labour is genuinely concerned about that then they should be offering miners something quite a bit more substantial.

    With both the miners and the railway workers one gets the impression Labour is concerned only to the extent that they can turn the issues into cheap shots at National. There’s nothing coherent and even worse they’re not commiting to any substantive policy.

    Comment by NeilM — October 1, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

  19. Dan @ 2, the culture of living from Greece seems to comprise: not paying taxes and collecting benefits/pensions from a ripe age, then wondering why your govt has so much debt and no one wants to lend to you. Then, in a fit of pique, you burn down the few remaining productive bits of the economy and attack foreigners.
    In the meantime, your govtnerment (in Brussels) can’t do much about your fixed exchange rate.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 1, 2012 @ 12:54 pm

  20. One of the oldest civilizations in the world, by implementing bilateral agreements with Greece and other countries, our citizens will find out more about where they came from, from a practical perspective.

    Greece, in particular, has had significant periods of time when they were economically astute and wealthy, from hundreds of years ago, to a significant part of the twentieth century. Let us not rubbish this country because of its recent blight and few recent decades of silly policies, when that is only a fraction of its history and not, technically speaking, yet a part of its culture.

    Comment by Dan — October 1, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

  21. @Rob Hosking, what about:

    Darling Fascist Bullyboy
    Give me some more money, you bastard.
    May the seed of your loins be fruitful in the belly of your woman.

    Comment by Pete Sime — October 1, 2012 @ 9:25 pm

  22. Dan, you are right. You can remember old Greece fondly and I’ll remember the old British Empire fondly. Sound like a deal?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — October 2, 2012 @ 11:45 am

  23. Did the “Pagani years” lower Labour’s standards so much, that this ‘competent-but-overly-general’ speech is celebrated as a Labour success?
    It’s the lack of specifics that is the problem.
    Like mining in conservation areas. So Labour won’t strip mine national parks. Big deal. Thats the status quo, since the backdown over the proposed minerals “stocktake” of the 40% of the conservation areas absolutely protected from mining by Schedule 4 of the Crown Minerals Act.
    And it leaves Labour supporting mining in the other 60% of the conservation estate as long as the miner has to get a an access agreement from the Minister of Conservation. Like Chris Carter’s decision to allow Pike River Coal Mine. Whtat does Cunliffes statement “Labour is not opposed to environmentally responsible mineral and energy exploration” mean in practise?. Does it mean Labour are okay with Bathurst Resources putting an open cast coking coal mine in the Mt Rochfort Conservation Area? Are Labour okay with Bathurst being able to (possibly) get resource consents for a new “Stockton Coal Mine” in another patch of indigenous Poweliphanta (snail) coal-measure habitat, without even having to factor in greenhouse gas emissions from the coal under the RMA?

    National have a bill in the house to (see ) to make the DOC mine access decision a joint decision with the Minister of Energy with economic factors to have equal weight with conservation criteria. What’s Labour’s position? Will Labour commit to revoking the change if it forms most of the next Government?

    And the emissions trading scheme…No I won’t start. I think you get the picture.

    Comment by Mr February — October 2, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

  24. Labour might want to review its secret magic wand policy for the economy.

    In France the centre left Holland govt is about to unveil an austerity budget, atfer campaigning agaist such policy.

    In Britian the Labour Party is saying they would have no other option but to cut welfare and that times will remain tough for quite some time.

    I would say that the NZ Labour Party looks to be taking the Holland approach. Say one thing but do another.

    Comment by NeilM — October 3, 2012 @ 7:53 am

  25. He left out the bit about having to write an ode to the sprouting cotyledons –

    Comment by annie — October 3, 2012 @ 10:38 am

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