Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Limping Onwards

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  • Robert Fox,

    I think the social value of people going to university and studying literature, philosophy etc is currently a negative value, since the net result is generally a person who is unable to communicate their ideas about art/philosophy/whatever to a non-academic audience

    This is a huge generalisation. The same could be said of a great many scientists being unable to articulate theory to the public, the climate debate being just one example. Ironically in the UK at least, most of the politicians who make this kind of argument about supposedly unproductive degrees, are the product of public (private) schools with arts/philosophy/classics degrees from Oxbridge. I think we should never underestimate the value that a university education has in developing important critical thinking and research techniques whatever the subject.

    Since Nov 2006 • 114 posts Report Reply

  • Jacqui Dunn, in reply to Robert Fox,

    I think the social value of people going to university and studying literature, philosophy etc is currently a negative value, since the net result is generally a person who is unable to communicate their ideas about art/philosophy/whatever to a non-academic audience

    I agree with what you say, and would add that surely some spirited arguments among people studying the same subjects would lead to a honing of communication skills. You can't have those discussions if you're studying in isolation.

    Deepest, darkest Avondale… • Since Jul 2010 • 585 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Danyl Mclauchlan,

    I think the social value of people going to university and studying literature, philosophy etc is currently a negative value, since the net result is generally a person who is unable to communicate their ideas about art/philosophy/whatever to a non-academic audience.

    What bollocks <cough>.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Robert Fox,

    I think the social value of people going to university and studying literature, philosophy etc is currently a negative value, since the net result is generally a person who is unable to communicate their ideas about art/philosophy/whatever to a non-academic audience

    This is a huge generalisation.

    And utterly facile.

    I have to say, as someone with degrees in both the technical and professional areas, Industrial Design and Architecture and humanities – English lit, I have to agree with Gio: bollocks.

    Danyl’s argument represents the most shallow form of utilitarianism – “If it is not of immediate discernible benefit to me, then it is no benefit whatsoever.”

    This is otherwise known as solipsism. Maybe philistinism. Perhaps reductionism. Very probably egotism.

    to a non-academic audience

    Because that is all that matters, of course. The implication is that academia is of no social benefit. Hmm, a point for the anti-intellectualism, perhaps. Careful, Danyl, some common bloke is going to question whether your work is going to give them better caseroles… Then you’ll be in trouble…

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Kracklite,

    Worth a separate post, methinks...

    The role of universities as "critic and conscience of society" is much ridiculed today... and I think that one should ask why this is so. We see universities pressured to become degree factories, research institutes... but Mammon forbid that the humanities departments start discussing Orwell's examination of how language can be corrupted to serve despotism, because that's just not productive according to some bean counter's calculations, is it? Somehow I do happen to think that that actually does have some social value. If one refuses to understand that, maybe that says more about the person who dismisses it with facile stereotypes...

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Democracy only really works if the voting public is educated enough to truly participate in their society: to decide for themselves what kind of society they want, and to understand the issues on which to choose their representatives.
    [And surely part of that education should be comparative cultural study (how else could anyone form an educated judgement about preferred kind of society?) –
    so the availability of a liberal arts education is not unimportant to this goal.]

    This is something the Liberal Government of Pember Reeves, Ballance & Seddon got : it was the impetus for the 1877 Education Act setting up free compulsory state education.

    The current bunch of clowns (government and so-called “opposition”), on the other hand, seem to have utterly lost sight of this basic principle, and are acting more in keeping with the idea that if the majority of the public are kept uninformed and ignorant, then they are easier to lead.

    NZ’s woeful news media can also be blamed for this state of affairs, as there should be some kind of public education role for the media to play – but of course that would probably require some kind of government funding, to ensure that that role is performed by media companies that actually have a stake in this country rather than merely a duty to return a profit, either to their overseas owners, or to the aforementioned clowns in the case of TVNZ.

    But with opposition and media missing in action, who is left to call the government on this? (The education sector, logically ... but wait for the cries of "vested interest".)

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1921 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to linger,

    clowns are evil

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Sacha,

    clowns are evil

    Why else would McDonalds choose one for their mascot?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to linger,

    The current bunch of clowns (government and so-called “opposition”), on the other hand, seem to have utterly lost sight of this basic principle, and are acting more in keeping with the idea that if the majority of the public are kept uninformed and ignorant, then they are easier to lead.

    Ignorance Is Bliss.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5428 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to BenWilson,

    I get the feeling that Nolan's/Ledger's Joker is but one degree of separation from Stanley Milgram.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Meanwhile, anyone having trouble seeing the strategic brilliance in this?

    Out of all the angles of attack on the economic front, the best Labour can do is bitch English for bringing South Canterbury Finance under the retail deposit scheme they created -- and IIRC, on advice from the previous government -- rather than effectively selling it to a foreign-lead consortium? (Which I thought Labour was opposed to.)

    If nothing else, it's really great politics giving your opponent a chance to frame you (again) as hypocrites, a party whose leader and finance spokesman can't put out the same message and, even, more interested in propping up Alan Hubbard and a shonky finance company.

    Now all we need is the SFO to bring charges against Hubbard...

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    Sorry Craig, are you saying that applying the scheme to South Canterbury -- given the information available to Key and English at the time -- was a competent decision?

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1921 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    a party whose leader and finance spokesman can't put out the same message

    foot, meet gun

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison, in reply to linger,

    Sorry Craig, are you saying that applying the scheme to South Canterbury -- given the information available to Key and English at the time -- was a competent decision?

    Cullen always knew the scheme would by fraught with problems which is why he was reluctant to introduce it but did because it was a least worst option.

    Labour voted for this at every opportunity. It's a bit rich for Cunliffe to be scare mongering on this now.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to linger,

    I'm not sure he is but, be fair, Key and English don't give him a lot of good material to work with.

    What I got out of Craig's post is that it was alright for the National Government to do what they did, because Labour would have done the same, which - no.

    In a way, Craig has just complimented the Labour strategy (if it was competent for National, then it was competent for Labour) and confirmed that National don't actually have a distinguishable economic policy or strategy of their own.

    As Sacha said, "foot, meet gun".

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2931 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    really great politics

    Attacking 'strengths' is a useful approach*. In addition to emphasising a positive alternative vision, it seems smart to remind voters that the Nats are fronted by an unreconstructed 80s Treasury neolib who helped bugger the economy in the 90s and a glib finance market gambler. They promised New Zealanders that personal tax cuts for the rich would be our salvation when the evidence is clear that is hasn't. Most would be all too aware by now of their living costs skyrocketing, jobs being increasingly under threat and holes emerging in government services like early childhood education, local roads and other "low value" spending. Whose values?

    *if executed properly (and it would sure help if the person heading up the fightback didn't have filthy hands from doing similar damage in the name of Rogernomics).

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Neil Morrison,

    Labour voted for this at every opportunity

    You're right they set the scheme up - and I believe any government would have done that in the circumstances.

    However, I'm not convinced the opposition had any role in extending SCF's coverage after in-depth advice of the risk. Nor in deciding to pay out foreign investors. Nor to pay out interest. We may never know all the back room dealing and special interest pleading involved.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19705 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to linger,

    Sorry Craig, are you saying that applying the scheme to South Canterbury – given the information available to Key and English at the time – was a competent decision?

    Linger: As I said at the time, English was on a hiding to nothing no matter what he did. I know Idiot/Savant's default position is that this is all National looking after their rich prick mates. I could take up an equally extreme position on the purist right (which, ironically enough, Labour was quick to dismiss when the CRDS was introduced) that the moral hazzard involved was unacceptable.

    It's easy for Cunliffe to be wise after the fact, and the politics couldn't be clearer - if more risky than Labour seems to understand. But, really - "you should have sold SCF off to a foreign consortium" is the best angle of economic attack Labour can come up with?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to nzlemming,

    What I got out of Craig’s post is that it was alright for the National Government to do what they did, because Labour would have done the same, which – no.

    In a way, Craig has just complimented the Labour strategy (if it was competent for National, then it was competent for Labour) and confirmed that National don’t actually have a distinguishable economic policy or strategy of their own.

    Well, if that's what you got out of it I obviously didn't express myself very well. Still, you may be right and Labour has a strategy of Baldrickian cunning in place -- or like the GOP is certain populist rage-induced memory loss will cover their own lack of coherence. I'm just not so sure that's a good thing, or as smart an electoral strategy as Cunliffe thinks.

    If you want to know what I really think: I suspect the only thing English and Cullen agree on is that the retail deposit scheme was the smallest plate of shit pie on a groaning desert cart of unpalatable options.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic,

    And IIRC, Cullen originally wanted the scheme to be restricted to retail banks. But that would likely have prompted cries of 'what about us?' from the rest of the finance sector, and left the (right in hindsight) impression that banks were safe but other financial institutions were not. In this day and age, money doesn't just talk, it shouts and harangues.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5428 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    If you’re interested in literature or philosophy or history you can just read about those things yourself, without getting the rest of the country to pay to indulge your interests.

    Belatedly, but I only just read this thread and I cannot let this stand: I currently work as a historical researcher for a private firm. A job I would be unable to do adequately if the rest of the country hadn't paid 'to indulge my interests', because actually, having a bit of a read of some history books in my spare time does not equate to the rather rigorous training in research I got by doing a postgraduate degree in *history*, that TERRIBLY useless subject which merely *tells humanity how everything in the world happened and what it means*.

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

  • recordari, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    I think the social value of people going to university and studying literature, philosophy etc is currently a negative value, since the net result is generally a person who is unable to communicate their ideas about art/philosophy/whatever to a non-academic audience.

    What bollocks <cough>.

    +1

    And what Danielle said.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to recordari,

    And what Danielle said.

    To which I would add: if nobody was trained to be, say, a historian, it's not very clear who would get to write the books that you could read in your spare time and be as good as somebody who's had to study the stuff. Is Danyl suggesting historical research be carried out by amateurs?

    So yeah, there are layers and layers of bollocks under the superficial stratum. It's like a bollocks millefeuille.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    a bollocks millefeuille

    Salty!

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3828 posts Report Reply

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