More empty rhetoric, bad history, and absent analysis

There was an op-ed in the Financial Times yesterday that had all the appearances of being written by a fluent sixth former who wasn’t that smart and certainly wasn’t that deep.  But I guess we have to take the FT’s word that the column was in fact written by New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern.  It read like several of her other efforts (eg here) if with a bit less feel-goodism than some, and a bit more of just making things up.

Since the column is behind a paywall, I won’t be copying chunks of it directly into this post, but even if you don’t have access I hope you get the gist.

She starts with the claim that New Zealand is “tiny”, apparently oblivious to the fact that in the United Nations list of countries and territories there are 100 with populations less than four million.  But that claim is really just staging for her opening (and closing) claim about the mouse that roared: “we punch above our weight”.  This is the sort of vapid (typically deluded) story that countries –  and perhaps especially countries’ ministers and officials –  like to tell themselves in private, but which quickly become rather embarrassing, a sign of insecurity and doubt more than anything, when uttered in public.

The only concrete evidence she adduces for this claim is 125 years old: New Zealand being the first country to grant women the right to vote, in 1893.  Good for us, but rather a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since then.  (And even from that era, I happened to be reading last week a biography of that courageous British campaigner Josephine Butler, who led the push for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Act (in 1886) – this was, perhaps well-intentioned, legislation that grossly infringed the dignity and civil rights of women. Out of curiosity, I looked up the New Zealand experience: we finally repealed ours almost 25 years after the Brits.)

Almost every country has some “first” to its name, and some black spots from its past.   In our short history (whether you think of it as 200 years or 1000) New Zealand is no different.  The Prime Minister moves on to the claim that we were “one of the first” to put in place a “cradle-to-grave social welfare system that endures in some form to this day”.  Do note that “in some form”, as if the Prime Minister is trying to suggest that in decades since then the welfare system has been ripped to shreds, only the tattered remains enduring, when in fact we now have 300000 working age adults receiving welfare benefits and about 750000 getting universal New Zealand superannuation.  And today’s health and education spending (numbers, share of GDP or whatever) puts 1938 in the shade.

(And no mention, of course, of the fact that just a couple of years later, New Zealand was putting in place  some of the most restrictive provisions around press freedom and conscientious objection found anywhere in the free world during the war.  As I say, even the sainted Peter Fraser  –  from the Prime Minister’s own party –  has his blackspots.)

The Prime Minister moves on to claim that “we are sometimes the first to learn valuable lessons”.   This is an introduction to the sixth former’s account of the reform process of the 1980s and early 1990s.

Starting in 1984, New Zealand went further and faster than nearly any country in embracing the prevailing neo-liberal economic experiment. We slashed the top tax rate, dramatically cut public spending, removed regulations that were said to hamper business and vastly reduced welfare benefits paid to the sick, those caring for children and the unemployed.

It isn’t even clear where to start here.  There is no recognition that we’d been quite late to the party, have wrapped up our economy in heavy protection and distorting regulation for several decades –  more so again than most other democracies.  Many –  not all –  of our reforms were about catching-up again.   And yet she can’t even bring herself to acknowledge the costs and distortions (notice that “were said to be”).   Or to claim some credit –  for her own party –  for the overdue reductions in trade protection that the reformers put in place.   Or to note that as the top marginal tax rate was cut, so the tax base was broadened, and opportunities to avoid paying tax were substantially diminished.

Here is the evil low-tax regime that was created, as illustrated with OECD data on general government total receipts as a share of GDP going back to 1995 (which is about when the reform process ended, and also when the OECD has fairly complete data).


Over that quarter-century, we’ve basically been the median OECD country (literally so in in several years this decade).   The comparable spending chart isn’t so very different (although we spend less than most relative to tax receipts –  another way of saying we’ve avoided deficits and kept debt low), although the one period in the last 25 years in which government spending looks quite low by international standards is……the first half of the term of the previous Labour government.

But even now the Prime Minister is just warming up because her theme appears to be inequality.  Never mind that the labour share of GDP hasn’t changed much in 30 years now, or that wage growth has been running ahead of growth in GDP per hour worked.   Never mind the indications that inequality measures haven’t changed much here for 25 years, or that much of any concerning developments seem to relate to the spiralling costs of housing –  a development only made possible by restrictions imposed and maintained by successive National and Labour governments.  No, it is all the liberalising economic reforms that are “to blame”.

And all this while, oddly (but as she did during the election campaign), appearing to accept that narrative that somehow our economic performance has been just fine.  But, of course, there are no mentions of our shockingly poor long-term productivity growth performance (past and present), no recognition that New Zealand export and import performance has been disappointing, no nothing.  Far from “punching above our weight”, it is hard to conceive how a country which had built what it had in, say, 1913 could have done so badly in the subsequent 100 years –  without even the excuse of the physical devastation of war, military coups, or Communism.

Of course, none of this seems to be based on any analysis or research.  Instead, the Prime Minister tells us of her childhood memories, in which kids in the town she was living in “weren’t born into a decade of hope and opportunity, but one of inequality where users had to pay for basic services”.  Perhaps she means they had to pay for food and electricity, but then users have always had to pay for those?  As for schools and hospitals, they were –  and are – more or less free, and we’ve never the British system of generalised free GP visits.  So what on earth is she talking about?

And then the violins start up to accompany a mournful tale of the death of democracy and of prosperity from which she, and the New Zealand way, can save us.

We don’t need to start again, but we do need to change the way we do things. In May, my government will present the world’s first “wellbeing budget”.

All, apparently, premised on the weird, tendentious (and borderline dishonest) claim that any government anywhere –  especially in the free world –  has ever defined success solely in terms of GDP.   Perhaps she could pause a moment in her progress among the left-liberal elites to give us some evidence for that claim?   Have governments not been spending on education, on health, on defence, on age pensions, even on arts and the culture for generations now?  Not just in New Zealand but around the advanced world.   Have not cost-benefit analyses –  that don’t just cover GDP effects –  been part of spending evaluation for decades?

And thus the great mystery of the much-vaunted “wellbeing budget”?  Is anything going to be any different from what we might we might expect from a left-wing coalition government anywhere that happened to be running budget surpluses.   In her column, the Prime Minister talks of spending more on mental health, especially for young people.  You might think that is sensible (I suspect that, even if some of the spending is worthwhile, it is going to be mostly papering over cracks, while refusing to address the social and cultural issues that underlie the problems we observe) but it is what left-wing governments typically do –  they throw more money at things.   Perhaps it is even what the voters want –  after all, globally, government spending as a share of GDP is typically higher than it was 50 years ago –  but don’t try to pretend that it is a whole different approach to life, economic management or government management.  One only has to look at the wellbeing dashboard to see a grab-bag of vapidity, rather than a serious approach to better policy.  It is, among other things, a cover for the utter failure to even begin to grapple with the repeated failure on productivity.

(And, of course, while on the subject of increased spending, there is the oddity that people from the left and right point to: she proposes to change the world, laments how public spending was slashed, but her government published plans just before Christmas that involve

On the government’s own numbers (and these are pure choices, made by ministers), core Crown spending in the coming five fiscal years (including 2018/19) will be lower every single year than the average in each of the three previous governments, two of which were led by National.  

She goes on to claim that “this isn’t woolly but a well-rounded economic approach”.  Perhaps around the Cabinet table and even among some of her Treasury acolytes they even believe this nonsense. In fact, it is no economic approach at all, consistent with a government that has done nothing –  seems to plan nothing –  to reverse the decades of relative economic decline, that have so badly limited the possibilities for New Zealanders (reflected, inter alia, in the decades-long exodus of New Zealanders).   Weirdly, she claims that this “well-rounded economic approach” is same one she plans to use to respond to (inter alia) climate change, domestic violence, and housing.   This in a week when the latest Demographia report again reminds us just dreadfully unaffordable housing is in New Zealand –  and when her surrogate senior minister could go through an interview on the subject on Morning Report yesterday and not even (that I heard) mention land liberalisation.

Warming to her theme, the Prime Minister calls on those around the world to look to her “wellbeing approach” could be a “model” for others to respond to the problems of the world.  She asserts

I wholeheartedly believe that more compassionate domestic policies are a compelling alternative to the false promise of protectionism and isolation.

Spending more is apparently the answer….but (on her own rules) not more than 30 per cent of GDP.   Nothing at all, of course, about lifting productivity growth.  Nothing about fixing the huge regulatory distortions that render housing so unaffordable in many countries, notably her own.  Just more compassion.  More kindness.

As I observed of one of her earlier vapid efforts

We don’t want political leaders who can’t identify with individual need, opportunity and so on.  And yet, when one is dealing with five million people –  and government policy choices affecting many or all of them  –  you need to be able to stand back and think about things differently, to analyse issues systematically, to recognise (for good and ill) the force or incentives, to think about the longer-term as well as the short term, and so on.   And even to recognise that values and interests can, and often will, be in conflict –  in many areas hers aren’t Family First’s or the oil and gas industry’s  (or mine for that matter).  Politics is partly about navigating those differences, seeking reconciliation where possible, but also about making hard choices and trade-offs.

There is no sign that she brings any of those skills to the job.  Just a smile and lots of breezy vapid blather.

The Prime Minister ends her column with another deluded call, suggesting that she hopes New Zealand can once again “punch above our weight” by “forging a new economic system based on this powerful concept [guardianship]”.   Which might perhaps be fine if there were any substance to what she is talking about, but there is no sign of any.  She wants to spend a bit more (but not much), she wants to eliminate net carbon emissions in an country with seriously high abatement costs which her own government’s consultative paper data suggest will fall most heavily on the poorest, and she does nothing at all to fixing the disgrace that is New Zealand housing affordability, or to even think about reversing decades of relative decline.   Perhaps it all sounds good to a few readers –  and Davos attendees –  but it offers nothing of substance to New Zealanders, let alone to the world.


35 thoughts on “More empty rhetoric, bad history, and absent analysis

  1. With respect to mental health you write: “I suspect that, even if some of the spending is worthwhile, it is going to be mostly papering over cracks, while refusing to address the social and cultural issues that underlie the problems we observe.”

    Some problems don’t lend themselves to political solutions, shocking as that may sound. Too many on the left now consider the State to be the (post) modern saviour of the world; nothing falls outside its orbit.

    In reality there is very little the State can do to transform dysfunctional families or conflicted personal relationships, which I suspect are a significant contributor towards growing mental health problems. However it could remove itself from the role of pseudo parent, cease providing financial incentives that facilitate poor personal choices that have lifetime consequences…. however of this we can be certain, none of this will be addressed in the government’s ‘wellbeing budget’.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Mental health is a really important political issue. I don’t mind the govt doubling expenditure if the problem has, as is claimed, doubled. What I do object to is total failure to discuss what may be causing the problem. Something must have altered in our society – those social and cultural changes. There are so many possibilities they surely have to be discussed in Parliament before changing the health budget. Leaving the dscussion to being just amongst ivory tower academics is not acceptable. Is mental health deteriorating because of changes to:
      1. diet
      2. availability of alcohol and illegal drugs
      3. lack of out of doors exercise (even just walking to school)
      4. time spent with screens instead of face to face social interactions
      5. the nature of most screen time: violent films and computer games
      6. the stress of multiculturalism on fragile minds
      7. decline in religion
      8. family breakdown
      There will be many more factors. It would not be too difficult to test for the factors: anyone who interacts with our mental health services can be given a questionaire and results compared with those without mental health issues. My guess would be family breakdown being the main cause and if I am right then the govt can tackle it by removing any financial advantages with parents separating and helping two parent families into better housing.
      Throwing money at an issue without analysis is stupid.

      Liked by 3 people

      • The pain stressor is the mess Auckland has become. A job seeker living in Pukekohe can’t afford to travel to West Auckland to get a shelf-stacking job at Countdown. The emergence of people living in cars and garages and 21 people squashed into a State House will produce many/most of the ills you describe. You have alluded to some of the stresses in your own family

        The situation is brought about by pursuing a white-shoe-brigade of excessively wealthy blow-ins to use NZ as a money-laundromat regardless of the consequences to NZ society. And it has happened.


      • Is there evidence that being in Auckland causes mental health problems? What are the figures compared to rural NZ? Does Auckland attract the mad or does it make you mad? What about under-diagnosis in country areas which often are under staffed with GPs? What about farmers committing suicide? Plenty of questions. Worth a meaningful debate that rises above a virtue signalling bidding competition to offer more funds.

        To become a mental health statistic you have to be endangering yourself or others; anyone in misery or internal agony who isn’t a risk isn’t counted.


    • I largely agree. Politicians both lead and reflect society. I’m struck by the fact that of our top 4 ministers only one is married, and that despite the evidence that marriage makes a significant difference to all sorts of outcomes, incl most likely teen mental health, marriage doesn’t appear at all in any Treasury (let alone govt) discussion of “social capital”. The decline of religion is probably another contributor, and there I wouldn’t suggest govts have anything to offer, altho serious political figures might at least recognise that role that religion, and established social rules/tacit understanding, play in overall social and individual wellbeing.

      (And, of course, the housing disaster tends to exacerbate pressures and stresses that mostly arise for other reasons. Affordable housing should be a priority for a govt serious about limiting severe adverse manifestations of stress and mental ill-health. As it is, for all the talk of “kindness” there is no talk at all of getting house prices down.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Probably the main reason I read your articles is the clarity with which you express ideas that are rattling ill-shaped in my head. Reference your remark about a ‘wellbeing budget’ being “”a cover for the utter failure to even begin to grapple with the repeated failure on productivity””.

    Wealth is not the most important thing in our life. Even an atheist appreciates Matthew 4:4: “”But he answered and said, it is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God””. It has more clarity than the diagrams on the government’s wellbeing website. However in NZ we see the significance of our relative economic disadvantage almost every day; we see our best leaving to live in countries where they will be better paid and better housed; we read sad stories of NZ citizens who cannot obtain key medical treatment that is free in other countries and especially Australia.

    Are we are fortunate that the wellbeing budget is distracting New Zealands socialists since from the little I read of UK politics they are proposing red-blooded socialism with wealth taxes and widespread public ownership of commercial businesses?


    • I haven’t seen anything specific on this “wellbeing budget” but can see the impossibility of defining the term.
      Individuals and cultures vary enormously in their values and therefore aims. Almost everyone will say they want to be wealthy (or at least financially secure) but look at what people are doing and you will discover what they really value. If family or sports are your focus, what you do, then it’s hardly surprising that making money is less likely. You can’t expect to arrive at C if you’re aiming at B.
      For some a large family is their aim, their “wellbeing” is bound up in that, they are likely to be successful in their aim; who the hell is Jacinda fooling if she thinks she can divine a wellbeing formula for all.
      A lot of (particularly Asian) immigrants arrive here with nothing; no assets, English language, friends or family yet achieve great success at business or getting themselves qualified for a good career. They and we are lucky to live in a country where folk can achieve what they aim at but “man going nowhere is certain to get there”.
      The childish “kindness” obsession, the utter vacuity, the dishonesty of Adern is deeply worrying; she is living in an ideological bubble. Unfortunately most of our dripping wet MSM have her back and are more than willing to support her dangerous fantasises.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I confused living standards framework (LSF) and wellbeing budgets; both on govt websites and both seem to be full of well intentioned stuff. They distract from some of the essentials eg “how do we pay for it?”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. When the “wellbeing” was floated it came across as a bunch of do-gooders and bleeding-hearts coming up with another way of presenting data in order to do “there is another way”

    The Clark-Cullen government, followed by the National Government with 9 years of doing it its way has frankly stuffed up NZ society to the extent it is now beyond fixing and returning to some semblance of the society we (I) once knew

    In my opinion, immigration into NZ has failed and in the process has caused house prices to grow from $100,000 to $1 million which is now manifesting itself in a sick society that needs it wellbeing attended to

    NZ has to turn the immigration spigot off – otherwise it is only going to get worse

    Liked by 2 people

    • Easy to write and say but much much more difficult to turn off the immigration trap. Not when we are reliant on the services industries, ie Tourism, international students and an aging population. Unfortunately when people do not die, someone needs to care for them. My 87 year old mother is back in hospital after the Physiotherapist dropped her and she broke her rather frail leg. So she underwent surgery and now has steel pins to strengthen her leg. That involved a team of surgeons and nurses. Now she has to have regular monitoring and grooming and food catered. That involves a team of nurses, groomers and food caterers. She also get a couple of physiotherapists each day to get her to sit up and get moving.


      • GGS – I assume your mother is being looked after by care givers who are immigrants. On average NZ is getting just a little wealthier but compared to other countries we are treading water and they are passing us by. When you reach your mother’s age do you expect or hope that the Philippines will remain full of poor people wanting to work for low wages in New Zealand? Maybe the Philippines will become wealthier than NZ and our ambitious young will look for work visas in Manila; maybe Filipino care-givers will prefer to work in wealthier countries – there are now about 40 with higher GDP per capita than NZ.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Not to worry, I think Turkey still has 4 million Syrians interned in tents which the EU is paying Turkey a couple of billion euros a year to leave in tents. Chancellor Merkel has shown how easy it is too reduce the average age of Germans and have a pool of ready and willing low cost labour with a wave of her magic wand. Boom a million Syrian refugees appears in Germany.

        Anyway it is not what I want. I am an accountant. I look at the facts and plan accordingly and the facts tell me we have very little choice and need to plan accordingly. It is only economists and wannabe economists that look at facts and try and delude themselves.


      • An accountant looking at the facts – the fact is our current system of filling low wage jobs with foreigners is neither sustainable long term nor fair. OK, we don’t switch off immigration tomorrow. But over a couple of years insist on workers with work visas being a considerably higher cost than New Zealanders (for example by an increasing work permit fee); the result being increased wages for care-givers until our own people chose it as a career. Then if in the future you or I require the kind of attention your mother is getting there will be people (both natives and immigrants) available to do it.

        Liked by 3 people

      • One reason we ‘need’ immigrants is that there are jobs unemployed New Zealanders simply will not do. It’s considered beneath them, or their university degree ‘qualifies’ them for higher pay, or they would have to change locations, or they prefer not working, or [fill in reason here].

        Second and more importantly, we have lost the narrative of “service as a virtue” in our culture. Mike referred to the loss of religion in New Zealand, and with that there has been a commensurate loss of compassion (beyond virtue signalling on twitter). Jesus washed his disciples feet, and encouraged them to do the same for each other. I don’t recall him talking about ensuring they had a ‘living wage’ or similar before doing so.

        The Philippines still has a reasonably strong Catholic influence, so it’s not surprising that they are overly represented in our caring services here in NZ.

        I’m planning (hoping) to avoid a rest home, but even so I cannot imagine being cared for by someone who was on the minimum wage, who resented their job and the objects of their care. Interesting times ahead.

        Liked by 1 person

      • So … your mother is 87 years old … you have been here in NZ for 30 years … presume you brought your mother in on a family visa … so she arrived here as a 57 year old … one question … how much tax did she contribute … did she undertake any employment … or are you personally funding her health care …

        Liked by 2 people

      • What you need to understand about tax losses is that you only get back 33% from incurring a loss. Eg, $1 loss equates to a tax refund of 33c. It still costs 67c to the individual to create a tax loss position. You are still worse off by having tax losses. Accountants sell the concept of maximising tax losses so that they can tax plan for you and charge. That is also how they earn their income from you.

        Anyway, in the current property investment climate with interest rates falling and rents rising, my tax bill would likely be closer to $100k plus in the next tax year. Not too sure what the fuss is over ring fencing property losses. You would be lucky to even have a loss to ring fence.


  4. The irony of transport

    Around 1990 the NZ rail system was virtually abandoned. Or mothballed. No money has been allocated to either investment, expansion, or maintenance. In the South Island many rail spurs have been removed and the steel sold off. The Lines from Christchurch to Dunedin to Invercargill are unused. Just waiting to be pulled up and recycled.

    The political transport policy has been on road-transport and Highways

    And yet here we are in 2019 and the chosen political choice has become inadequate. Insufficient. The amount of money invested in the roading system has been less than needed to meet the needs of the increased population. The money not used to maintain the rail-system plus recycling, plus allocated normal road funding should see a perfect road commuter system – but we don’t – where has all the money gone

    There has been talk of upgrading SH1 from Auckland to Wellington. Widening or duplication, we are not told. Widening would be laughable. Duplication? In Australia they have just completed duplication of the Hume Highway. It took 50 years start to finish


    • “” her opening (and closing) claim about the mouse that roared: “we punch above our weight” “”. Per capita we do very well at sport; music and the arts we are not bad. The problem is NZ is still a mouse in a world with 100 mice (authors figure), plenty of sizeable animals and a couple of elephants. It is only the traditions of international relations that give NZ’s prime minister a public voice at international gatherings. We certainly used to be important. Now despite almost desperate population growth we fall between Costa Rica and Croatia or by economy or by GDP between Peru and Kazakhstan. Jacinda should think herself lucky to be allowed to speak.

      ‘The Mouse That Roared’ is a 1955 satirical novel by writer Leonard Wibberley, which launched a series of satirical books about an imaginary country in Europe called the Duchy of Grand Fenwick. Each placed the tiny Duchy of Grand Fenwick in a series of absurd situations in which it faced superpowers and won. Maybe bedtime reading for NZ prime ministers?

      Liked by 2 people

  5. ….on the “social cohesion” theme, tend to think there is more relative comparisons these days perhaps enhanced by the use of social media and it seems to create a perception of missing out: I guess its only human nature to compare at a point in time rather than across time (per post re your Mum’s survey); keep thinking “grow the pie but reduce the skew in portion sizes” – seems a solution in many countries remains elusive; but high house prices (relative to income) can be eased by public policy so 100% agree this should be a priority….

    Liked by 1 person

  6. How familiar are you Michael with the “nudge” behavioural economic unit that existed within the British government when David Cameron was first Prime Minister? It subsequently was shifted into the charity NESTA.

    At the margins the unit had some positive impact around many areas that will also no doubt be a focus for the government’s wellbeing budget.

    I do find it curious though how these initiatives are supposed to solve all sorts of ills but are generally just minor changes from the status quo or worse just the same but with a different veneer. Not surprising really when they are generally just instruments for a “new age” kind and empathetic leader to be doing something. (Witness David Cameron’s new conservative party and Jacinda’s kindness government).

    It certainly doesn’t help my underlying cynicism of no one giving a hoot about any underlying issue.


    • I’m moderately familiar with that work, and with the more general behavioural economics literature from which it draws.

      There are at least two quite different strands. One I have no problem with at all – eg helping govt agencies find effective ways of getting people to obey the law, pay their taxes or fines etc (there was a headline a week or two ago about how changing the wording on the letters the Ministry of Justice sends out appeared to have markedly increased the compliance around payment of fines). But much more worrying is the second type, where bureaucrats and politicians take a view on what sorts of behaviours citizens should engage in (save more, exercise more, or whatever) and attempt to use our own money to get us to accord with their preferences. Often, their preferences happen to be implications of very simple economic models, without stopping to understand why the model might not be an accurate representation in important respects.

      And, of course, most of these people start from the proposition that the problem is individuals/citizens, rather than governments (individuals and institutions). There is an implicit unstated assumption that the latter are entirely public spirited.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the reply and my view accords with yours in that it is interesting as a method to improve government productivity but concerning in other respects.

        Perhaps a better comparison would have been between the wellbeing framework and David Cameron’s “big society” which seemed to be a short lived solution to all of society’s ills.


  7. Tony Blair was described as a man with a soul of tinsel – fits Ardern as well. She is not a politician, just an empty space where you would expect normal intelligent politics to exist. In defence of New Zealand at least we can say no one voted for her, alas this is the dross you get with MMP.

    This whole wellbeing budget, living standards framework is like someone making a to-do list composed of things they have already done… it will measure how much like New Zealand under Labour is New Zealand. Basically an admission they cannot win the game under the established rules, so let’s just make new rules.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well at least we now have a good idea of the kind of flim-flam that can get you a Communications degree from Waikato. If this government wishes to make progress on mental health it will have to overturn Helen Clark’s dissolution of the State’s psychiatric care infrastructure and start providing for residential care on a significant scale for those with mental illness instead of abandoning them to the prison system. This will become even more urgent if cannabis is legalized and schizophrenia reaches epidemic proportions among young people – there is a connection, I have seen it happen. On housing the government has to overturn one of the several disasters inflicted by Geoffrey Palmer on this country, namely the RMA, and whip bloated, inefficient and vanity-project obsessed local government into line. The government’s efforts on its Kiwibuild programme are poorly targeted and ineffectual; Kiwibuild appears to be designed to benefit younger members of the middle class rather than helping the desperately needy put a roof over their heads. There is no option in the near term but a massive public housing building programme, and turn off the immigration tap while you’re at it. As for “wellbeing”, effective public expenditure requires objective and measurable data, not wishful thinking and sentiment.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve been browsing the Treasury’s Wellbeing and Living Standards Framework looking for references to our armed services: Army, Navy, Airforce and so far cannot find anything. If that is correct there appears to be no justification for having a defence budget and we can sell the valuable land at Devonport and Whenuapai. The last war to threaten NZ was a long time ago. Are there any threats to NZ and do we need a defence force? Being rather old and interested in history and current affairs I’d sleep better if I thought NZ had an adequate defence force; just big enough to make belligerent foreign power think twice.


  10. NZ lacks direction because we aren’t allowed to discuss what we really want. It is clear why people voted for Trump: Community over Cosmopolitanism.

    Click to access Its_Nativism_Explaining_the_Drivers_of_Trumps_Popular_Support.pdf

    Trump only got elected with the help of conservative media

    “”The essence of press power lies in the authority to select, elevate and promote one set of ideas, issues, and personalities and to ignore others,” this writer wrote. “The press determines what ‘people will talk and think about’ because of the monopoly it holds over the news and information flowing out of Washington.”

    “Among the reasons for Trump’s political success, such as it is, is that today’s conservative media did not exist back then, nor did the new social media that he has mastered so well.

    Yet still, the left’s power over America’s character- and culture-forming institutions remains overwhelming. It dominates public schools and teachers unions, mainstream churches, college and university faculties, media and entertainment, TV and film.

    What is taking place in the West today might be described as a struggle between the capital and the country it rules. England voted to leave the EU; London voted to remain.”

    Liked by 1 person

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