Posts by Euan Mason

  • Access: Just think of the children, in reply to chris,

    Apparently things are not going so well in Scandanavia (note: selective cherry picking throughout).

    I agree about the cherry picking. Sweden has a very high proportion of GDP delivered by government agencies, and salaries tend to be more equitable than we see in NZ. There is a small, privileged aristocracy that has inherited vast wealth, but for the most part those at the bottom have considerably more buying power than our poor do in NZ, along with more respect and vastly better government services. Sweden offers fully tax-funded education right through university, as well as health services, counseling, unemployment benefits and pensions. Sweden has one of the highest effective prices on GHG emissions in the world and can now claim to generate more than 50% of total energy from renewables, versus NZ’s 35%. The economic performance of Sweden suggests that those who claim that increasing taxation and state services will necessarily bankrupt our economy are purely propagandists.

    There are strong pressures within Sweden to turn neoliberal, and nobody would claim that Sweden is a perfect society. There are also issues with integrating immigrants, as the article says, but those I spoke with in Sweden took a very caring attitude to the problem, and although that statement is excessively anecdotal, I didn’t encounter the venemous xenophobia that pervades our social media here. The problems perhaps arise from a deep social conservatism in Sweden that is a strength when it comes to working in state services and a weakness when immigrants arrive with radically different world views. BTW, the word “state” is rarely used in Sweden, conferring a Stalinist overtone which Swedes instinctively dislike. It’s OK to talk about “government” services.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 213 posts Report Reply

  • Access: Just think of the children,

    Hilary, this is a great post, and the questions you pose are very difficult to answer in today's New Zealand. I would prefer we paid higher rates of taxation and provided better government services. I do not believe this would be bad for our economy, in fact the opposite is likely; more equitable distribution of wealth and services would lead to a happier, more productive nation. Scandinavia offers several examples of high tax/high government service economies that remain prosperous. I have lived in Sweden, and their focus on children is wonderful to behold.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 213 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: To have a home,

    Great post, Russell.

    "Isn’t that what you’d want for your family? And with all the talk about national values amid the flag debate, wouldn’t you want offering that chance to our share of those in need to stand as a marker of New Zealand values?"

    Yes, and yes.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 213 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Not yet standing upright,

    Next: A $26 million panel, comprising neither poets nor musicians, to select a short list for a new national anthem.

    The National Party has managed to stuff up even this diversion from their other stuff ups.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 213 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: The CERA transition that no one…,

    Couldn't agree more. We need to resume a democratic tradition in Canterbury. I've had it with King Gerry and his cohorts treating us like children.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 213 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: The overconfidence man,

    Sadly we’re probably looking down the barrel of a fourth term for Key. Andrew Little is a nice guy but he isn’t resonating with the public. This public is insensitive to serious misbehaviour by the Nats so long as JK gets out there and dissembles wildly. People don’t get what’s not in it for them to retain a right wing government with serious democracy deficit disorder, and nobody is highlighting the downsides effectively. They are comfortable with John Key’s public face no matter what, and Key now has a media stacked to the gunnels with his cheerleaders. JK could rip a kitten apart on prime time TV and Hosking and Henry would proclaim it was the kitten’s fault and that, besides, the last Labour government crucified an innocent hamster. Hosking preaches mindless platitudes to over 500,000 viewers each night, and they swallow it because it’s what they wish to hear.

    Maybe I’m having a bad Friday…

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 213 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: SIBs: The reality of…,

    Thanks for this excellent review. It must be shared widely.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 213 posts Report Reply

  • Envirologue: Too Big to Fail – Why…,

    Re: Hiatus

    There was a similar hiatus in surface temperature increases in the middle of the 20th century, then look what happened.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 213 posts Report Reply

  • Envirologue: What has Neoliberalism Done…,

    The biggest difference between neoliberals and old-fashioned laissez faire capitalists is that neoliberals hold no illusions that competition is a natural human condition. They know that people, if left to their own devices, are likely to trust each other and cooperate. For them, trust, cooperation and collaboration lead to inefficiencies and market failure, and the prime role of government is to force people to compete like rabid dogs.

    They also tend to believe that taxation is bad, because it represents a high level of social cooperation that will lead to a poorer country. They live in a world where Scandinavia doesn't exist.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 213 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Reviewing the Election,

    Democracy is as much about consultation & participation as it is about voting. Hence the failed “democracies” where voting has been established but after that it’s corrupt business and authority as usual.

    The demise of real consultation and a sense that most citizens’ opinions no longer matter loom as a crisis in New Zealand. They accompany a widening gap between rich and poor. Declining participation in elections is merely one symptom of a more serious malaise.

    Canterbury • Since Jul 2008 • 213 posts Report Reply

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