OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Dear Labour Caucus

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  • Sacha, in reply to Jeremy Eade,

    I was under the illusion they were the same word.

    Won't get into it now, but culturally they bring different baggage. And StatsNZ replacing one with the other on official forms was a political reflection of that.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16479 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade, in reply to Sacha,

    Yeh, but we know who THE NEW ZEALANDERS are, they be pakeha.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Regardless of who they are, the left shouldn't have any trouble differentiating itself from Bill English's understanding of what his govt's new poverty committee is for.

    It will be concerned with getting the best results from the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on social service delivery, he says.
    ...

    The poverty committee would provide oversight for welfare and housing reforms and work in the youth justice sector which had built up momentum.

    It would provide oversight for developments in whanau ora and for a grassroots social sector trial taking place in six centres - Kawerau, Tokoroa, Te Kuiti, Taumarunui, Levin, and Gore - which the Government quietly began in August without any formal statement by a minister.

    The trials under the management of a non-government organisation or individual manager will run for two years and are designed to try to find out what works and what doesn't in terms of interventions to help young people in truancy, unemployment, getting off drugs or whatever their problem is.
    ...

    Asked what measure the committee would adopt for poverty, Mr English said measuring poverty was not a big issue.

    So, overseeing trials of privatising social service delivery then - begun before the election campaign but strangely not mentioned during it. And what about those NGOs who do so much of the frontline work?

    "They are not driven by real results, they are driven by caring and supporting and helping."

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16479 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to Jeremy Eade,

    "The New Zealanders" was the English term for Maori, for quite a long time (over a century.)

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

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Greg Dawson,

    (and I could write a book about “don’t be a dick”, I really could)

    Umm, I know I'm interrupting something, but can we have that book? Or the discussion and debate that makes that book?

    I like Danielle’s answer, but just to expand the sense in which I think it’s pertinent:

    Roughly speaking an online community can be run like a bunker, a lounge or a public square. If it’s a bunker, then there will be a strict code on the behaviour that is or isn’t tolerated and the topics that are or aren’t legitimate, so etiquette won’t really come into it. If it’s a lounge, then “don’t be a dick” works quite well, with the caveat that what constitutes being a dick will always be a matter of debate and be a little or very arbitrary. (In the PAS demographic for instance it still seems okay to be dicks about The Feelers, or so I’ve observed.)

    Now maybe PAS is in fact a lounge. It used to be called a Cafè and Russell has made variations on that analogy numerous times. But I think it’s also a lounge that aspires to be a public square sometimes. And if PAS is or would like to be a public square, then “don’t be a dick” doesn’t work at all, and much more thought needs to go into the kind of speech that is promoted and the kind of speech that is tolerated.

    I happen to think that the nation is in fairly desperately need of a public square, in fact more than one, and that PAS could fulfil that role without losing its conviviality or its liberal core (which I don’t see as a problem per se). But yeah, if it has that aspiration then I think it needs to work a little harder at not foreclosing debate on a range of issues.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7351 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    I also want to respond briefly on the Grant Robertson thing because I think it’s pertinent: I don’t have much of a problem with the guy, I thought he was weak on special needs in education but liked a couple of his campaigns in Parliament (particularly on the vote to prisoners). I am however enormously frustrated by the tendency on the part of almost all of our politicians – and certainly not just Robertson – to empty their speeches of political content, leaving us to try to divine what they’re about from Hansard or their voting record or inside knowledge of party debates. When Robertson appeared to be supporting Parker, who’s on the far right of the party, it came, if not as a surprise, as a confirmation that I was at a complete loss to work out who he was. And so I asked PAS because here he is well liked, and I figured somebody could enlighten me.

    This speaks directly to the issue of the leadership contest, and the topic of this post: we can’t have two aspiring party leaders not say a word about the concrete political direction in which they want to take the party and be okay with it. Politics isn’t a zero sum game, where you provide for everyone across the board, as if every component of society (read: class) had the same economic interest. I would like to know from the leader of a Labour party what they think about unions, about welfare, about taxation, about party organization, about the role of activists and NGOs; what are their political solutions to the country’s problems, not in detailed policy terms, but in broad yet meaningful strokes. I think we deserve that. And I think that our discussions here and in other progressive, independent forums shouldn’t replicate the narrative that the mainstream media and the party strategists foist upon us, which is all about personality and theatre. Otherwise what’s the point? But if we are interested in questioning that narrative, then we might have to concede that there is a problem with the idea (implied for instance in the very popular video by Robert Reich that somebody quoted upthread) that what is good for the middle class – ie, by and large, us – is automatically good for the nation. It is a very self-serving view that is directly contradicted by some pretty harsh data on how liberals feel about the working class in New Zealand. We should face up to this stuff.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7351 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    And if PAS is or would like to be a public square, then “don’t be a dick” doesn’t work at all, and much more thought needs to go into the kind of speech that is promoted and the kind of speech that is tolerated.

    The governance requirements of a fully civic space are greater, yes. However, well-resourced public institutions like parliament and local councils don't seem to be feeling much pressure to reflect the interests of all citizens, let alone listen to their voices.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16479 posts Report Reply

  • Deborah,

    It's not just governance. It's the extent to which the community allows dissent. "Don't be a dick" is very coercive.

    I've got more to say, but it's Friday night, and I'm about to kick back and watch some trashy TV with my partner who hasn't been home on a Friday night for far too long. Tomorrow...

    Manawatu City • Since Nov 2006 • 1303 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Deborah,

    It's the extent to which the community allows dissent.

    I consider that to be part of governance (not talking narrowly corporate model). Similar televisual plans this eve, sans distraction.. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16479 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    Religions are incredibly rigid class structure. Even setting aside the exclusion of all those who don't believe exactly what you believe, then the priest class is very stratified with enormous barriers to entry.

    Sure the ideology says everyone is equal but the practice of religion is very different from the ideology.

    Whee politics and religion:)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3262 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Sure hierarchies seem to be inevitable and not necessarily bad, certainly like you I have a very good friend in that upper class, from very middle class background and a great guy. But there are conversations where I am aware that he has connections that make the impossible easy.

    The issue for politics is to ensure that those class structures do not lead to harm, that's what we trust our MPs to do. That hasn't been all that successful of late.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3262 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    when in Roma…

    then the priest class is very stratified
    with enormous barriers to entry.
    …Whee politics and religion:)

    But they have such groovy threads…

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4669 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Public squares can have the problem of people just walking away. The value of a core of engaged regulars at the cafe is they help progress discussions without driving away the lurkers, who are the largest group here. But they by their own voices can restrict the discussion.

    I can see your point that the culture of the cafe can restrict the breadth of the discussion. I don't have any answer to the balance question. While I commented that this thread got unpleasant I wasn't comfortable with you being targeted specifically. To me you were neither the only nor major voice that had lost it's inclusive tone.

    Somewhat circularly I think that might be my point, in the cafe there is generally a desire to draw in as many as possible into the discussion, including those on the edge of the crowd with edgier ideas. In the square there is a tendency to ignore those that walk away. I like the cafe more than the square.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3262 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    like you I have a very good friend in that upper class, from very middle class background and a great guy.

    Where as I, on the other hand, have no class whatsoever. I am often reminded of this fact on these very fora.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4665 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie,

    Someone forwarded this to me yesterday. It seems to fit the general theme of the past few pages.

    http://thechive.com/2011/08/29/20-first-world-problems-20-photos/

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1128 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Where as I, on the other hand, have no class whatsoever.

    And here's me thinking you were all class.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1128 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Someone forwarded this to me yesterday. It seems to fit the general theme of the past few pages.

    The erasure of class in the West is quite nicely illustrated by that meme. On the one hand, it says that since people in the first world are better off than those in the third world, than there is no meaningful inequality in the first world and nobody is entitled to complain (shut up, proles). On the other hand, it says that nobody in the third world has first world problems, which is equally unhelpful.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7351 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    AFTHOTWTTF*

    I like the cafe more
    than the square.

    how about the Salon
    - or better yet, saloon.
    Cheers...

    * A funny thing happened on
    the way to the forum...

    - Buster Keaton's last appearance

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4669 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    On the one hand, it says that since people in the first world are better off than those in the third world, than there is no meaningful inequality in the first world and nobody is entitled to complain (shut up, proles). On the other hand, it says that nobody in the third world has first world problems, which is equally unhelpful.

    It seems to hail from the same un-school of thought that makes whingeing anecdotes about state houses with Sky dishes.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4155 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    On the other hand, it says that nobody in the third world has first world problems, which is equally unhelpful.

    ...and here's me just thinking it was kinda funny.

    I personally prefer using the tag #whitewhine, but I wouldn't for a minute think that by using it I'm saying every single white person in the world is equal, or doesn't have issues, or doesn't cope with poverty, or has an iphone 4s. Or that all non-white people do. Not that I'm saying that's right, but I'm not quite sure how to show the appropriate level of self-deprecation in a hash tag after uttering something like "Nosh was out of chicken parfait"... #middleclassproblems? #well-adjustedissues?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1128 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Not that I'm saying that's right, but I'm not quite sure how to show the appropriate level of self-deprecation

    So when you proposed that that link "fitted the general theme of the past few pages", you meant to be self-deprecating, and not characterise the discussion as one long white whine?

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7351 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    (I'm white male and, I guess, middle-class. I'm probably blind to a lot of issues of privilege. Just to get that out of the way :))
    If we're going to talk about class (and it might be invaluable- if we can move past the fraught part :)), yeah, it's absolutely necessary to define terms- in this case, what and who and how and why separate classes are constituted.
    Does 19th century Marxist analysis translate neatly (and usefully) to 21st C NZ? I don't think it's neat, at any rate. But that might be just because I don't understand it properly :)
    I think it's sposed to be:
    upper-class = nobility
    middle class = ownership of significant capital from which they can derive income (which could be a business, factory, shop, farm etc but also maybe in some cases (doctor, lawyer) include intellectual capital.
    Working class = no ownership of working capital
    If there's a Kiwi 'upper-class' it's not about titles. Also, the nature of society and work has changed significantly (and is still changing... sometimes in the wrong direction) as are the rights and privileges of workers.
    Not so long ago, when most people owned homes and held steady jobs, maybe it was reasonable to claim most Kiwis were middle-class. (This is, I'm pretty sure, what Reich and Obama and folks in the US mean by the term- it would include, eg auto-workers and shop assistants. No intention it be limited to owners of working capital. And workers with shares in a company, maybe; with their own homes; with considerable intellectual capital in experience and expertise- the boundaries don't seem to be neat, but maybe they never were.)
    In NZ we now have a growing group sometimes called the 'working poor' - does this group map more usefully to marxist notions of 'working class'? What about the great bulk of what is sometimes called the 'underclass'- is this different because it is defined more by not working than by working?
    Gio- how would you divide NZ up into class interests? Neatly, or messily? Any links to handy class analysis of 21st century NZ society?
    Too many questions? I tried some analysis meself, and it all looked totally lame. Time for an expert opinion :)

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 1466 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    If we're going to talk about class (and it might be invaluable- if we can move past the fraught part :)), yeah, it's absolutely necessary to define terms- in this case, what and who and how and why separate classes are constituted.

    I don't think we'd easily come to an agreement on any definition. But I would hope that we might come to agree that class is a broader and more complex concept than what's generally understood by the term in our political discourse (which goes "underclass", "middle New Zealand", "the rich"). Glossing over the differences allows politicians to appear never to go against any interest in their policies, and also to frame anything underneath middle New Zealand - which Goff placed last year at a level of income ludicrously above the median, incidentally - as the citizenship in need of rescuing. As if our economic system wasn't in fact predicated on containing inflation by keeping a lid on wages, a goal that is achieved in turn by ensuring a constant reserve of unemployed people.

    But not allowing for the existence of class or a sufficiently honest and nuanced understanding of class impoverishes the political conversation, and so not even the introduction of a CGT (bad for the propertied class) and the extension of the retirement age (bad for the working class) proposed by Labour were able to be discussed in terms of how they affected different sectors of the population differently - but always solely in terms of their effects on the government's books.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7351 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    In NZ we now have a growing group sometimes called the 'working poor'

    The working poor and the unworking poor have their own fluidity.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Eade,

    When the Irish revolted in New York, they went after the group who they believed to be taking their jobs, the african-americans, many who had longstandings to that real estate back to New Amsterdam Days.

    auckland • Since Mar 2008 • 1112 posts Report Reply

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