Posts by BenWilson

  • Hard News: Budget 2017: How do we get…,

    ...which all just makes me feel tired of this kind of discussion. I'm glad that there's a steadily rising appreciation of this conundrum, as genuine hardship slowly slides its way up through the middle classes, and brutal homelessness has become a normal thing in this country. But still, the discussion is going to continue to follow the past. Neoliberals will insist that doubling down one more time is the way to go. The "Left" will insist that it's all about getting jobs. The middle ground will be found between those two bankrupt positions and things will continue as they have for all of my life. This is how our incremental system works. It will slowly and gradually tinker itself to death because power will continue to be held by the small group that is mostly unaffected. They will be evenly split between people who just don't give a fuck and those who vainly try to convince them to.

    It's fairly clear to me that only quite drastic changes to fundamental settings are going to reverse things. Instead, we have projects to build large numbers of houses. Less than the population growth rate needs, of course, so the problem will still get worse. And any discussion about controlling the main source of population growth, immigration, will be shouted down as racist, and the "Left" will be the worst culprits of this.

    We literally can not have a sane discussion about economics. It is an ideology driven field, totally dominated by the people who profit from things being as they are. It masquerades as scientific, despite endless failures to predict major events, thus automatically taking it out of the realm of public discourse and into a specialist topic. And the genius of Neoliberalism is that it plays both the wealthy and liberals at the same time. With one hand it gives rights and with the other it takes away equality.

    I live in a time when the Mayor of my city of unaffordable housing was the man who made me pay for my tertiary education, and he's the "Left" wing option. How the hell can I engage with any of this?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10363 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Budget 2017: How do we get…,

    AI is constantly raised as the thing that will take all our jobs. This has no basis in observation of what has actually occurred with AI. The loss of jobs is down to EVERY kind of technological improvement and AI is the very least of all of our worries. It is literally the hardest kind of productivity improvement to make.

    I'm always annoyed by this because it defers into the future a problem that is not only already here, but has been for several hundred years. It's this easy catch all end-game, this singularity, this cataclysm that suddenly ends work. Wake up! Work is already ending. Every time we improve something, we remove a little bit of our pressing need to work. We literally have to manufacture scarcity in order to justify work.

    AI is not going to build the houses we need. That will be chippies and plumbers and electricians and jib stoppers and painters and carpet layers and so on, hundreds of jobs that are simple things that generally can be learned quickly, don't really require that many years of training. All of these people can work way, way faster than they could 100 years ago on account of their tools and materials being vastly superior. But we have somehow landed ourselves in a situation that despite having far more capacity than ever before to produce one of the most basic needs in human life, literally the first thing a human lost in the bush should set about organizing, we have found ourselves unable to do this basic thing.

    Our economic situation has simply stopped functioning when it can't provide basic needs in a time that we have supercomputers in our pockets.

    I felt this way ten years ago. To be honest, I felt it somewhat even twenty years ago, when even on a very high income I found that property seemed impossibly out of reach. I also felt that property was a fundamentally unproductive thing to invest in, but that our society was so invested in it that it was going to keep inflating massively for the foreseeable future. It is too big to fail. I knew I had to be in it, or be losing ground. It wasn't about getting ahead, even then. It was about stalling how rapidly I was becoming less wealthy, as property rose in value far faster than my disposable income. I managed with a whole lot of scrimping and some good timing to get into it. Since then, my paper wealth has steadily risen but my personal evaluation is that I'm effectively the same as I was then. The mortgage is bigger. It's still 30 years before it will be paid off. I'll still be in an average house in a poor suburb.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10363 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: What's the Big Idea?, in reply to Moz,

    To be fair, The Bubble Bubble guy thinks everything is a bubble at the moment, hence his name. He might be right, but until it all bursts, we can't be sure.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10363 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: What's the Big Idea?, in reply to Rich Lock,

    The important caveat I see is that the house types are very different, that 1-2 bedroom flats are actually like a thing, unlike here. We don't really do the terraced house thing either. An "average house" in NZ is literally a house, freestanding, probably with a small amount of land. So to compare apples with apples we probably should only look at what those cost in the UK.

    But obviously the existence of all those smaller units in the UK is a good thing for accommodation of people who don't want (or can't afford) the quarter acre, and we really don't have that here. I think that impacts on "affordability". But yes, it's certainly affording something that is actually different.

    The median wage seems almost identical to here (oh, how times have changed!), and lending ratios seems similar, as is the near certainty of young people requiring deposit gifts from some source.

    Yet still, I can't help but feel that if the average "house" in the UK is around $400,000 NZD and in NZ it's $500,000 that's a pretty straightforward measure of NZ prices being inflated beyond UK values. If you're an existing house owner in NZ you could probably afford to trade down to living in the UK, with 100k leftover from your previous budgeting. That is a real turnaround. Obviously things are not that simple, my understanding is that buying property in the UK (actually pretty much everywhere else in the world apart from Australia and the USA) is an absolute nightmare, even if you're a citizen, let alone if you are not.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10363 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: What's the Big Idea?, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    OK, I thought so. I don't think you're misusing it, it's just a confusing term when used this way, which is hardly surprising considering that it was coined by a spin doctor. Essentially you're using it to mean "moving to the middle"? AKA Centrism, and maybe Third Wayism?

    So many different ways to reinvent the two dimensional analysis that has dominated Anglo political discourse since always. TBH, I don't think either agreeing with or opposing this strategy makes that much sense. Neither is a big idea. They're old ideas, and the frame the entire discourse as taking place along the single dimension between the two main parties.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10363 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: What's the Big Idea?, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    OK, it doesn't really sound like something you'd dispense with. At the very least you could use it to gain more confidence that your big idea was really gaining traction. Or it could work the other way, showing that it actually is not. Either way, it's making a picture based on information about what we observe, rather than what we want to observe.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10363 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: What's the Big Idea?, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    Well, Labour's vote is growing anyway. That article is more about the Tories basically pissing away some votes, by alienating the elderly. The big surprise in the article was that the average house price in the UK is only $215,000 pounds. Way more affordable than NZ.

    It’s not the moment for careful triangulation.

    Can I ask a silly question? What does "triangulation" mean in the context of politics? I understand it to be usually used to find things, like heights or transmitter locations.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10363 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: What's the Big Idea?, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Except I’m not interested in changing anyone’s values, and I never enter any discussion intending to change someone’s values.

    We're talking about politics, what progressives might be able to do better in that, what ideas might work well. There's going to be quite a lot of value discussion there, although naturally there's plenty of room for data and evidence. It will help in its way, but it's not the only thing that will work. It may not even be the most effective thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10363 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: What's the Big Idea?, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    It is unbelievably hard to get someone to change their value-based position.

    The truth of this statement depends on basically every variable in it.

    Changing people's values is a pretty big part of what education is about, and to a large degree it's the purpose of any discussion of values. Certainly there are times, people and subject combos in which no progress is likely to be made. The opposite is also true.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10363 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: What's the Big Idea?, in reply to linger,

    The ability to combine analytical skills with plain speaking is regrettably rare (though there’s a fair concentration of such individuals among the regular PA contributors) .

    I think it's a skill that means a lot more to others who also have good analytical skills. Which, as you point out, isn't that common. To many, such a talent actually makes people trust you less. The slippery lawyer, the doctor giving you the bad news, the judge summing up the case. If you inherently don't want to believe the truth, then counter evidence can strengthen your false belief.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10363 posts Report Reply

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