OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Dear Labour Caucus

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  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    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.

    I think this is an extension of the shift in political discourse over the last year or so, whereby sovereign debt has become the benchmark by which everything - absolutely everything - is measured. Whether a policy increases it, decreases it, might increase it, might decrease it...that's it. Not whether it helps or hurts *actual people*, or, god forbid, whether countries like New Zealand - with internationally very low levels of government debt - even need to be concerned about it as their first priority. Back in 2007/2008, when the whole economic crash was brewing, I don't remember government deficits garnering anything like the level of attention they have now. It's been a very marked shift in how things are discussed, and it doesn't seem to me to entirely reflect the realities of the situation for a lot of countries.

    It's not about the erasure of class so much as the take-over of political discussion by pure economics. And Labour, to a large extent, chose to buy in to that view of things, rather than say, hang on, maybe we're looking at the world the wrong way if that's our only measure of achievement. In a year where they did choose to come forward with a lot of policies considered politically unpalatable, I would have liked to see that.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • Raymond A Francis,

    I have been pondering this "class" thing for a couple of days
    Being white and middle class there is a tendency to say we still live in a mostly classless society, which is true for us but not so much from the point of Giovanni's "under class " though
    So ok , we have ""underclass", "middle New Zealand", "the rich" with the subset here in my part of the South Island that could be called the "Landed Gentry" (send their children to Christ College, owned their land for 4+ generations and are not very financial thanks to the afore-mentioned)

    The great thing we do have going for us here in New Zealand is that it is quite easy to slip/slide from one class to another. In fact you don't even need a Lotto win to do it, just good luck and timing

    45' South • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Raymond A Francis,

    The great thing we do have going for us here in New Zealand is that it is quite easy to slip/slide from one class to another. In fact you don’t even need a Lotto win to do it, just good luck and timing

    Or bad luck and timing, of course. What everyone always seems to ignore with the whole Poor Person Making Good thing is that if the percentage of the population who are in the "middle/upper class" section isn't rising, it means some people are going the other way....

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2093 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    it means some people are going the other way....

    And for a whole bunch of different reasons. Having a child with a disability will help the process no end.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Susan Snowdon,

    I have been pondering this "class" thing for a couple of days

    Me too, my brain hurts.

    The great thing we do have going for us here in New Zealand is that it is quite easy to slip/slide from one class to another. In fact you don't even need a Lotto win to do it, just good luck and timing

    But this assumes monetary wealth is the main factor in allocating 'class'. You can change this, but not 'where you came from'. (Neighbourhood, town/country, generation, species of culture, family attitudes to education, social behaviour, consumption, religion etc etc.)

    It's not about the erasure of class so much as the take-over of political discussion by pure economics. And Labour, to a large extent, chose to buy in to that view of things, rather than say, hang on, maybe we're looking at the world the wrong way if that's our only measure of achievement. In a year where they did choose to come forward with a lot of policies considered politically unpalatable, I would have liked to see that.

    Same.

    Since Mar 2008 • 98 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3559 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    Tip of the iceberg:

    Or, speaking of great New Zealanders, this.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    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?

    Again, we are in danger of me feeling you are deliberately misinterpreting what I'm trying to say. We had been discussing what makes people middle-class, people had discussed the 'well-adjusted' blog of yours, and then someone sent me that email. I forwarded it on. Because I thought some of them were funny. Turns out I might have been wrong.

    Of course, some might say that yes, a whole lot of people with the luxury of the time and energy to be having the discussions we have been having over the past couple of weeks is very #firstworldproblems or #whitewhine etc. I didn't see too many people arguing whether "cafe", "public square" or "salon" was an appropriate metaphor for online discussion when I was in Afghanistan.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1130 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    We had been discussing what makes people middle-class, people had discussed the ‘well-adjusted’ blog of yours,

    I think the term you are looking for here is blog post, otherwise things may get misconstrued.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to merc,

    I think the term you are looking for here is blog post

    Ta Merc, you've probably just circumvented another week of cross-purpose discussion.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1130 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Damian Christie,

    Again, we are in danger of me feeling you are deliberately misinterpreting what I'm trying to say.

    I was going to apologise but then

    I didn't see too many people arguing whether "cafe", "public square" or "salon" was an appropriate metaphor for online discussion when I was in Afghanistan.

    you confirmed my interpretation of your comment was in fact correct: discussing class is a first world luxury. Good then.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Damian Christie, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I was going to apologise but then

    ...you found something else to misinterpret, and diss rather than discuss. Good then.

    I'm out. Of this thread. Last one out please turn off the lights.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1130 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Damian Christie,

    ...you found something else to misinterpret, and diss rather than discuss.

    If the second paragraph of your last comments is open to interpretations other than the one I've given, I'd honestly like to hear them.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes,

    What is that buzzing noise?
    Bees reach consensus by headbutting dissenters

    As with neurons, the swarm’s collective decision is made when a particular threshold is reached. But, unlike neurons, the bees have a very physical means of inhibiting those with a competing message: they headbutt them.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4896 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Bees reach consensus by headbutting dissenters

    So do Sardinians. True story.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Damian Christie,

    I didn't see too many people arguing whether "cafe", "public square" or "salon" was an appropriate metaphor for online discussion when I was in Afghanistan.

    As someone who has lived for an extended period in a poor country that could reasonably be called third world - at least in the rural bits (Indonesia) - I can say that you do find people discussing trivia endlessly, and in extreme detail, often circuitously and frustratingly.

    The minutiae of daily life is examined and tossed around in village gathering places sometimes without obvious resolution, and includes questions every bit as slight as the above question on metaphors.

    Or, in 2011, just as a often, in places like this - online forums.

    At best I find the #whitewhine and #firstworldproblems tags arrogant - the rest if the world seen through a Discovery Channel or tourist experience filter, or at worst b̶o̶r̶d̶e̶r̶l̶i̶n̶e̶ racist.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    At best I find the #whitewhine and #firstworldproblems tags arrogant – the rest if the world seen through a Discovery Channel or tourist experience filter, or at worst b̶o̶r̶d̶e̶r̶l̶i̶n̶e̶ racist

    Quite. As though people in villages and cities around the world did not fall in love, experience bad service, or buy the wrong paint. It's not all starving and breeding in those other places.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2136 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    But not allowing for the existence of class or a sufficiently honest and nuanced understanding of class impoverishes the political conversation,

    Could you possibly just talk about it instead of complaining about how you're not allowed to talk about it and trying to bait Damian?

    No one is stopping you.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18969 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Simon Grigg,

    At best I find the #whitewhine and #firstworldproblems tags arrogant – the rest if the world seen through a Discovery Channel or tourist experience filter, or at worst b̶o̶r̶d̶e̶r̶l̶i̶n̶e̶ racist.

    Thoughtlessly rather than maliciously so, as per the Atlantic column that Gio mentioned and which Toby Manhire covered here.

    It’s hardly a sin to publicly make light of one’s minor frustrations. People just need better words for it. #middleclasscalamity, perhaps.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18969 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Or indeed that unemployment, not knowing where the next dollar is going to come from, housing so bad it causes sickness, or food insecurity (not having enough food at least some of the time) did not affect New Zealand.

    I’m out. Of this thread. Last one out please turn off the lights.

    I’m in, rather belatedly. But I seem to think that what Giovanni has raised is indeed important; there is a huge ideological void in public discourse in New Zealand, and it is that way because decisions have been made that foreclose that discussion.* The area of things that are outside acceptable discourse is huge, but it includes meaningful discussion about differentiations in class and how the structure of society produces such outcomes, and how these affect race in New Zealand.

    I’m always struck by the fact that when I step off a plane from Australia, into my hometown of Mangere, the person cleaning the toilet will be Samoan or Tongan. Our Mexicans. It’s so normal that it passes without comment almost the rest of the time, even when I live in South Auckland.

    *edit: not, I must add, by the moderator of this discussion. I refer to the content of our television, newspapers, and radio, and those who are considered to be acceptable spokespeople for the issues and society.

    **further edit: reading back through the thread, may comment further.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2136 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Could you possibly just talk about it instead of complaining about how you're not allowed to talk about it and trying to bait Damian?

    Actually, I have and so have others, but don't let that divert you from the far more important topic of saintly Damian's hurt feelings.

    No one is stopping you.

    That's fantastically rich. Anyhow, signing off now - you all have a pleasant break.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7386 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Having just read through all of the comments by Damian, Russell, and Giovanni, I can say that the only pointed comment directed personally was the one in which he brought in Damian's class interests. The rest were consistently on topic, wide-ranging, thought out and interesting.

    I'll also rescind my above edit. Discussion about class has been policed here, because (consistent) rejoinders to swerves away from acknowledging its structural conditions have been characterised as aggressive and 'dickish', because they are consistently directed towards the person making the claims. Giovanni is a sharp writer, but not a malicious one.

    I'm disappointed.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2136 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to George Darroch,

    Our Mexicans

    "I'm struck how our friends (considered middle class because of real estate) who live in the countryside, are heading to Oz for 3 or 4 months of the year for work, then home to their land for the remaining, with savings to live off. These are hard hit rural areas. We are almost at the stage where, it's not so much "Islanders for toilets" but ""everyone into a city for work." Moving across the ditch is proving to be the new wave of Mexicans for Australia.Then Australians will get resentful because Kiwis are taking their jobs.....

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6269 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Anyhow, signing off now – you all have a pleasant break.

    You too Giovanni, to you and yours.
    A fra poco.
    Cin cin :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6269 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Grigg, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Thoughtlessly rather than maliciously so, as per the Atlantic column that Gio mentioned and which Toby Manhire covered here.

    Let's call it something akin to casual racism borne of perhaps understandable ignorance* given the way the western media and entertainment industries often plays the non-Western stories, rather than anything malicious.



    *and I'm not accusing Damian, who has been a good mate for well over a decade (thus I'm reasonably able to judge), of either, of course. Just to be clear.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3208 posts Report Reply

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