Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Wait for it..

... behind National's slick slogans and clever billboards there lies an absolute dislocation from reality.

Cathy Odgers, recently introduced to the New Zealand blogosphere by National Party bigwig and Wellington Central campaign manager David Farrar, has taken a swing in this direction.

After a couple of hundred words of personal abuse in her June 20th posting, Ms Odgers comes out with this pearler, which to me speaks volumes about the people in the National and ACT parties and their (lack of) connection with the real world: "NZ does not and never will have poverty".

Easy to say from an office tower in Hong Kong I suppose.

That sort of attitude explains why it was that during the mad rush of reforms during the 1980s and 1990s, New Zealand went from being one of the most equal, to one of the least equal countries in the world - the people leading the process simply didn't care. That's why people like my Mother who is a Plunket Nurse in Otara, deals with third world diseases and babies who have lost arms and legs to Menengitis owing to poor living conditions. Twenty years ago this would have been unthinkable in New Zealand, and we are only now beginning to address some of these appalling problems.

Ms Ogden and her ilk can remain in their ivory towers and ignore the problems of the real world, but I care, and I think that most "mainstream" New Zealanders also care.


Cathy Odgers said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cathy Odgers said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Cathy Odgers said...


We are never going to agree on this and quite frankly I can't justify wasting time on this as thanks to high tax regimes I have plenty of people asking for tax and offshore trust advice.

I had prepared an answer for your post but its best left said by The Herald. Here is the cure for "poverty" - get a bloody job.


Looks like there is no excuse for what you call "poverty".

Whaleoil said...

Poverty does not exist in New Zealand. You ask anyone who has actually lived outside their comfy little box in Pakuranga whether there is poverty in New Zealand and the answer emphatically is NO!!!. Having working in most asian cities in the last 10 years I have seen real poverty...it certainly does not exist here.

Whaleoil said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Toa Greening said...

Of course Poverty exists in NZ, it is the degree which is different to other countries. For example retired folk cannot get a job, yet they are one of the poorest groups around. Another example is when kids go to school poorly dressed for the conditions and without breakfast or lunch.
One of the biggest causes of child poverty in NZ is the lack of personal responsibility from parents. Sometimes it is because the parents have poor parenting skills, financial skills, education, spend too much money on inappropriate activities, are involved in inappropriate activities etc. All of these can be remedied but it comes down to personal responsibility for parents and their families. I believe the government can play a much more active role in ensuring that parents become more accountable for their families welfare.

Toa Greening said...

Meningitis is not a disease of the poor. It infects anyone regardless of socio-ecconomic circumstances. All families can take precautions to lower their risks of contracting the disease, all it takes is the personal responsibility to learn the precautions. The government has done a good job on controlling the disease.

spooks said...

Of course, the majority of "mainstream" are concerned about genuine hardship.

The problem is that over the last thirty or forty years, we have built a whole system of government around those in hardship. The cry "what about the poor people" was heard loud and clear so often, that the poor people became the ONLY focus at times.

And what do you get when you build a system around those who are struggling? Well as history has shown, what you get is more people struggling.

We need to learn from history - and don't feed us the bullshit of nats did this, and Labour did that - both are equal contributors to the lesson. The lesson is that human nature dictates that if you reward sloth, you get more sloth. If you reward laziness, you get more laziness. And if you reward failure, you get more failure.

Time for a change. Time to reward success.

That means catering for hardship, not abandoning it. But it also means not making hardship the centrepiece.

David Farrar said...

I love the tricky connect the dots. Cathy is friends with David, and David is involved with National, so hence Cathy represents those in National!

Not that I disagree with Cathy, in that I regard defining poverty as less than 50% of the average wage as inane.

Oliver said...

Unemployment rates are extremely low (yes, even when cross-referenced to numbers being taken OUT of the Labour force through sickness benefits and others, there is a huge decline in unemployed), yet poverty still exists.

An interesting comparison is the USA, where 12% of the population is below the poverty line, and around 15% of households do NOT have regular access to food. It's the same sort of situation there, except both the 'left' and the right choose to ignore that, and just think everyone is enjoying the American Dream.

It's very easy to turn poverty into a word you can just dismiss, without actually driving through a place like Mangere or Otara and actually seeing people living in tiny garages, mum and dad both having jobs that barely pay the rent.

Too Right said...

Twenty years ago NZ was not populating itself with people from third world countries - hence the absence of third world diseases back then.

As regards meningitis - at the individual level it is a tragedy. At the political level vaccination has been a cynical sop to the middle classes. If it was priorities, and the Clark Government really wanted to get on top of meningitis it would put the $200million into reducing overcrowded living conditions.

Theprophet said...

Obviously Micheal you have never seen real poverty or you wouldn't have wrtten such a stupid post.

Try parents selling their children into the sex trade to feed the rest of the family.

Try a family of 5 living on $40nz per month- that was for both parents working 10 - 12 per day x 7
less than a year ago in a relativly rich asian country.

Africa is far worse.

Wot a conceited little tosser.

Allah protect us

Theprophet said...

Also Micheal the least you could do is link to ms odgers post if you are going to try ( and fail miserably) to dis her

Cathy Odgers said...


Yep - I was thinking the same thing Prophet. So I have done it for him here.

Anonymous said...

Too Right has recommended $200m in reducing overcrowding: that calls for a bit of 'National did that'!
National sold 10 000 state houses in the 1990's and had more on the block, and also had Housing New Zealand operating like any other private landlord in charging market rents. Markets rents will tend to cause family and friends to share,hence overcrowding.

I'm not sure how vaccination is a sop to the middle class!

And as for spooks' contribution, heed the words of Winston Churchill, 'I do not agree with those who say that every man must look after himself, and that intervention by the state....will be fatal to his self reliance...It is a mistake to suppose that thrift is caused only by fear; it springs from hope as well. Where there is no hope, be sure there will be no thrift".
Dependency is a myth. The notion that the unemployed are idle layabouts is a myth, given currency no doubt by a few. The drop in unemployment shows people will take a job when it's there, does it not? Pity is the wages are often not high enough to sustain family life in New Zealand, hence Working for Families and the need for responsible unionism.

It is hard to know what National is offering - it has no policy. Act is irrelevant, thank God.

Left to its own devices, National would give ordinary Kiwis 'moderate' tax cuts to make up for no minimum wage, weaker unions hence lower wages and salaries overall, insecurity for retirement, sharply increasing costs for education and health: in short, little hope and a lousy deal in the name of rewarding people who seem to believe that because they earn more they are better and more deserving people.

The underlying social moral is that low-income earners are doing jobs that have to be done and that high income earners depend on them to do. It is immoral to cry 'inadequate' or 'feckless' or whatever and seek to distribute opportunities away from them to build the best lives for themselves they can.

There is no right winger contributing to this blog who can counter that basic, in fact, Christian, insight into social obligation. This is the case, I suspect, on reading their contributions, because they are socially inept.

Gman said...

Well Michael you prove my theory:

the only thing worse than a has-been is a never-been.

dry up tosser


Toa Greening said...

You guys are only quoting extreme cases of overseas poverty. But you cannot ignore the fact that child poverty and poverty amongst the elderly exists in NZ. With regards to overcrowding. Lets get honest with this issue because the government has put quite a lot into reducing overcrowding and improved standards with many homes around South Auckland being insulated and rooms added.

Anonymous said...

Socially ineptness exemplified by spooks' claim that someone who thinks bringing up children is hard work has their head "up the bum of political correctness"

Some great marriage prospects must be going on down there!

spooks said...

MW/Anon, you are all over the place, and nowhere all at the same time. Tangential thinking to the max. Non-sequitur personified.

Now, if you are going to say "And as for spooks' contribution ... ", do you think what follows could actually have some relevance to what I said.

Sorry, MW/Anon, but you are showing yourself up to be a dog's breakfast -- All over the place.

spooks said...

... and Anon, do you think you could quote me correctly. I said "... political correctness, or has never actually done any hard work".

Cathy Odgers said...

"The drop in unemployment shows people will take a job when it's there, does it not? Pity is the wages are often not high enough to sustain family life in New Zealand, hence Working for Families and the need for responsible unionism".

What a load of ballocks. Give low income people more of THEIR money back into THEIR hands, not the creation of more useless Government agencies and bureaucracy to help them where they don't need it.

In HK we pay zero tax on our first $100KHKD income - that's about $18KNZD. Most HK people do not earn any more than that so pay no tax at all.

Low income people are actually the greatest advocates in HK of paying low and no taxes. There would be riots on the street if they were asked to pay tax.

Of course doing similar in NZ would eliminate the welfare dependency that Labour's vote relies so heavily upon.

The last thing low income NZ needs is more bloody Christian social obligation telling them what they need. Give them their own money back and let them decide.

Theprophet said...

Toa - Micheal has clearly stated in his post that Ms Ogder was wrong by saying that there is no poverty in NZ.
My reply was to show you that she was right.
The two cases I was talking about are people that I have personally met.
I could give you another 50 easily in my limited travels. ( Never been to the African continent or South America.)
In NZ you have low wage earners, and yes they may need some help for whatever reason but they do not live in poverty.
Thats the whole point ,Micheal has never seen poverty. Nether have you if you claim that poverty is 6 to a garage and missing out on 1 meal a day. I understand you trying to protect your views but you should know what you are talking about before laying finger to keyboard.

Allah protect us.

Anonymous said...

Cathy, take a salary of $30 000 and increase it by 10% and decrease the tax on it by 10%.

Salary goes up by $3000.
Tax (say for argument's sake down from 20c to 18c per dollar) does down $600.
Dollar for dollar wages and salary increases are far more valuable than tax cuts, esp. given that the tax revenue keep health and education services from rocketing to totally unaffordable cost for the low to middle income earner.

Anonymous said...

Spooks thinks that motherhood is not hard work. Has he met any mother other than his own? Readers will doubt it. 'Nuff said.

Anonymous said...


2002 Election
Labour vote nationally 41%
Beneficiaries vote for Labour - 46%
Hardly an electoral bonanza, especially given their lower than average turnout.

Anonymous said...

I like it how one right-winger's comment said that 'real' poverty was what afflicted the people of the Thrid World, presumably regarding those people as part of our moral universe. But another right-winger's sympathy towards the Third World didn't extend to letting in migrants from there because of a meningitis risk.

If we are going to seal ourselves off from the Third World in this latter manner we should not use their poverty as a measure for ours. We should have a measure of poverty appropriate to the country we are. Poverty is relative.

Cathy Odgers said...

Typical Union attitude, why don't we give everyone a 10% payrise - that will make us all better off!

Yep - NZ businesses should pay for this Government's lavish spending promises and mismanagement in order to win votes.

You cut tax by giving taxpayers their own money back. Business is free to grow and prosper and employ more people.

You give 10% payrises with employers money which may be against their will or budget.

Net effect - employers do not hire as many people.

Nice one. You then hurt the low and unskilled worker you are claiming you protect as they are the most vulnerable to be turfed in times of crisis.

But then Labour is all about fencing in and labelling people poor and stating they are going to help them - it looks nice and fluffy.

You guys seen this post: http://www.gmaninc.blogspot.com/ its rather good.

Theprophet said...

'I like it how one right-winger's comment said that 'real' poverty was what afflicted the people of the Thrid World, presumably regarding those people as part of our moral universe. But another right-winger's sympathy towards the Third World didn't extend to letting in migrants from there because of a meningitis risk.'

Anon - That is because of YOUR preconception that anyone who disagrees with your completely stupid statements is a rightwinger.
Keep talking, you are showing us (NOT right wingers just anyone reading this)just how small the box you call a mind is.
As a frequent visitor to all sorts of blogs I must say that I have seen pretty much that same statement trotted out at least ten or twelve times. Without exception it has been from someone on the left side of the political spectrum who has been showen to be wrong.

Allah protect us.

Allah protect us.

Anonymous said...

Now don't be silly - the point is that tax cuts can never be worth the same to a worker as a wage and salary increase of the same proportion - 10% was not a recommendation at all, it was a figure for argument.

Good companies with sound prospects for the future do not take a cost-cutting mentality to staff, however.

Another case then:

Salary increase of 5% - quite reasonable given mild inflation, many years of moderate pay increases, and what many unions are currently pushing for.
Salary up $1500 from $30 000.

Tax Cut of 25% from 20 to 15c: a cut to wet right-wing beds everywhere.
Tax Bill down $1500 - nothing in it on the surface, but for the low income worker, costs for education, health and all the rest go out of reach....not a good deal.

Taxation levels have very little to do with whether people are 'fenced in' or not. Education's more the key factor. The most usual threat to people's intellectual and personal independence is the "dull compulsion of economic forces", ie capitalist relations.

Anonymous said...

What statement is that of the multi-trots, oh prophet-one?

ps - you're outclassed here, you know....

Anonymous said...

Hey 'spooks' thinks motherhood is a breeze...real easy, ah. Not like 'man's' work, nah. Not hard work at all.

Where will the right-winger 'spooks' find a wife with his attitudes?

spooks said...

My my, the assumptions that people make.

spooks said...

Hey, listen MW/Anon, we know that you have a snowflake's chance in hell of winning your electorate, but that is not a good reason for losing your poise. And that is what you are already doing here. One thing about us right-wingers, Mikey, is that we actually respect those who put themselves forward for political office. Good on ya. But, Mikey, it does not become you to let down your guard so easily. It is bad form for you, who would be my representative in the House of Reps, to be bad-mouthing me. You just ain't fit for the job, if this is how easily you is flustered. You wouldn't be doing this for the pay rise, would you? You wouldn't survive. Give it away, and go do something easier, like raising kids. There you go, a nice cushy job for you, raising the kids. You should be good at it. Send the wife out and you do the hard job of raising the kids.

Anonymous said...

I am not Michael Wood.

Your opinion that raising children is easy is plainly wrong to the vast, vast majority of people.

Theprophet said...

Outclassed ?????

Why Anon you anon. There is not one I repeat not one classy comment from anyone on this thread called anon.
Stop hiding, step forward if you really believe in what you are saying and identify yourself.

If no class is outclassed then you are right if not ........

Allah protect us.

Toa Greening said...

Prophet - The point I make is that there are degrees of poverty. The most common cases in NZ are child poverty (lack of food and clothing) and poverty of the elderly. In these cases the children and elderly are totally reliant upon others to improve their situation. I have also heard of extreme cases in little old NZ of parents prostituting their children for money/drugs, children prostituting themselves for food, sweat shops where people are worked like dogs, elderly folk freezing to death in winter, elderly folk eating pet food or only once per day. When I was at primary school growing up in one of the less desirable areas of NZ we had kids stealing lunches, clothing, scavaging from the rubbish bins, walking to school without shoes or warm clothing, stealing fruit from all of the trees in the neighborhood. If you do not think that this qualifies as child poverty then I am at a loss to convince you otherwise.

I also have travelled overseas and seen various levels of poverty. In Paris I have been approached by disheavelled beggars asking for coins for an infant they were carrying. In Asia I have seen foreigners taking advantage of children at tourist resorts. Then on the other hand I have visited very humble villages througout Asia and the Pacific with very little in the way of wealth but living in near-total self sufficiency and not what I would consider poverty. As I said there are degrees of poverty and to outright ignore the cases in NZ is folly.

michael wood said...

Just a couple of things first - Spooks, when I comment, I comment as myself. I don't feel the need to hide behind an anonymous tag, or a weird non-sequitor for that matter. I don't recall ever "bad mouthing" you, and in fact the only person to have been abused on this thread so far is me by one of your right wing mates. I have never deleted anyone's posts. The earlier deleted comments I am guessing, were removed by Cathy herself.

In terms of the issue itself, it sounds to me as if Cathy et al are ignoring the point and saying that as long as we don't have the grinding poverty of East Asia or sub-saharan Africa, then everything is OK. Plainly no one is claiming that we do.

What Toa and the rest of us are saying is that there are people in NZ who don't have the material means to make a decent go of things for themselves or their kids. The evidence is unequivical that this has come about through a period of economic restructuring which has created structural unemployment and social dislocation in quite specific parts of NZ.

If it has been government policy changes that have created this situation, then government has a duty to try and remedy the situation, particularly when many other people in our society have materially benefitted from those economic changes.

The fact is that under Labour policies such as income related rents and working for families, the number of people living in poverty (60% of the average wage or less) is dropping. The state can begin to "fix" these problems just as the state created them in the first instance by imposing free market policies on our most vulnerable people.

Finally, isn't it odd how Cathy notes:
a) grinding widespread and awful poverty in Hong Kong; and
b) the lack of a progressive taxation system in that country.
... but doesn't connect the dots!

Too Right said...

National may charge market rents but it provided supplements for the low income to bridge the gap. That way the market for housing operated efficiently and people made their own decision on housing according to need. Labour consigns the low income to penury by fixing their rent at 25% of salary. No incentive to either right size the house or increase income. Labour has the ridiculous situation of $1million housing corporation houses in Orakei on very low rents. The sensible solution would be to sell the house and build 3 more nearby and rent those to three families.

Too Right said...

Anon/MW have put out the most amazing display of flaming today, on their own blog. Incredible really.

As other posters have noted Anon /MW's sole attack is to use labels - Right Wing is popular. Sadly that is how the Left work, labelling people and never addressing the issues. The real news of the day is the inexorable rise of the anti-labour vote - a rise which appears to be strengthening. All the Left have in the quiver is to threaten "1990's", "higher interest rates" or similar claptrap. This all looks rather tawdry.

Similarly the sudden focus on the cricketers. Gives Clark another chance on the international stage, given NZ is not firing for her. The wrong in this saga is the villain is actually South Africa - that country alone is able to bring Zimbabwe to heel. They supply the electric power and prop up the regime. Clark is going NZ Cricket because she knows they cannot solve the issue and it will hang around for a long time giving her much needed opportunities to look Prime Ministerial. They are a venal and sad lot the Labour Ministers - no strategy is too low.

Too Right said...

Anon/MW - why are you so scared of leaving people with the money they earn? I know why - because you lose the element of control.

Cathy Odger's comments about nil tax for low income earners in HKG are very apposite.

The Government is a poor purchaser and deliverer of service - and that is why Labour is on the run. The promises have cost a squillion for no additional service. Working For Families is a fantastic case study of the disincentives to either work harder for more money and see most of it abated away, or do no work and have the income topped up by the Government.

spooks said...

Okay, MW, if you say you post only as yourself using your own name, I'm happy to accept that your good word on that. Good to have this confirmation. Probably best if others accept it too. Probably some of the flaming attributed to you has been overplayed because of this confusion. And if I have wrongly attributed the flaming to MW, then MW has my apology. Sorry, Mikey.

Cathy Odgers said...

Memo to Dave Farrar:

Those payments from the NZ National Party seem to be a bit late this month, either that or the Cayman bank is confusion it with money flowing between the Crown into the Transpower account.

Please sort within a week or else I will commence derogatory comments about National.


michael wood said...

Thanks Spooks, apology accepted.

Generally speaking, people may want to go a bot easier on each other in their comments. This is just a blog to discuss ideas - chill out!

David Farrar said...

Cathy - Cullen intercepted it and has used it to spend more money on the roads. But don't worry we will instead ask Dubya to cover your expenses for June.

Michael is right about chilling about - this debate has got a bit too heated.

Cathy Odgers said...

""Finally, isn't it odd how Cathy notes:
a) grinding widespread and awful poverty in Hong Kong; and
b) the lack of a progressive taxation system in that country.
... but doesn't connect the dots!""

Finally for me (I had to take a break in order not to yell loudly and be calm in my response),

I will repeat again though Michael (for the millionth time) HK DOES have a progressive tax system (with generous allowance of the first $100KHKD tax free for "poor" people), as well as a cap of 16% total paid. It is not by definition a flat tax, for most taxpayers it is progressive.


Follow the dots Michael....................................your argument on this point is........therefore...........invalid.

Anonymous said...

I think some general comparison between New Zealand and HK needs to be made before we start recommending the wholesale conversion of one's taxation system to the other....only sensible.

Cathy Odgers said...

Here is a general comparison.


HK is a bloody great country and its people have a brilliant mindset.

If you are lazy and stupid you are not only laughed and physically mocked at by the rich - but also by the very poor.

If you are hardworking and very poor you work harder and aspire to be richer.

If taxes were raised the very poor would be the first to complain.

The company tax rate is 17%.

There is no GST.

You cannot get a work permit as a foreigner here unless you are qualified professionally. This eliminates most of the left with a BA degree in politics or history.

The public health system is more advanced that the private system. To prove this I note I have not even bothered with health insurance.

The children of HK are polite, obedient and by all accounts are intellectually very smart.

Its public transport system is so good that to prove this I have not purchased a car. I actually use public transport.

It has a private savings scheme where workers put 5% of their pay into accounts in their OWN name. When you leave HK permanently you can take ALL of this money with you.

A recent survey among the people of HK released the following order of importance for people in their lives:

1. Money
2. Family

Politics was 22nd

On the downside the pollution sucks, but people seem not to be dropping dead en mass.

The rents are high, but then so are Aucklands and people live 6 to a house in HK by choice - they like living with their relatives (that's one that the left find hard to believe). Very poor people live in housing estates funded by government.


Anonymous said...

Not really - no history

Theprophet said...

Anon - I'd say Ms Odgers last question was rhetorical.
With you only wanting what is sensible you may have already realised that.

Allah protect us.

Anonymous said...

Well a couple of observations about the capacity of the state to run good monopoly public services were sensible.....but the enviability, if we can call it that, of Hong Kong will be matched by many other 'high tax' small countries in Europe. I'd rather have a socially liberal and non-authoritarian and rich Scandanavian country any day....

Oliver said...

The question is, Cathy, can anyone have a debate with you when you say things like:

"Surprisingly some people actually ENJOY their job as a labourer and would not want to even if they had the chance, be an office professional"

Go and work in a factory in Kowloon or maybe even cross the Red border into Shenzhen for a week to work as a hotel porter: I bet you'll love the great varied nature of both jobs :).

Toa Greening said...

Hi Cathy I read your "Enough of the Rich Bashing" article and enjoyed it immensely as it gives an excellent insight of your persona. Perhaps when you are next in NZ I will hook you up with some "enjoyable" labouring jobs I have done in the past. How about apple picking in the middle of summer, 30C +, no wind, 20kg apples hanging off your chest all day, an eight foot ladder to climb for 6 days a week during the season. Perhaps asparagus picking, crawling all day in the dirt on your hands and knees in 30C + heat. Perhaps vacuuming all of KMarts floor area, literally running with 15kg vacpak on your back from 4am to 7am. Docking sheep, lifting 15-20kg sheep, sheep faeces, maggots and flies all over the place, 30C+ heat. Winter pruning, chopping 5-10cm branches with hand secateurs in the middle of winter with 5-7C rain chill and on 6 foot stilts. The best one was cleaning the local high school staff toilets and being treated like an idiot by the staff. As a simple labourer I certainly did not enjoy any of these jobs at the time and I can assure you that wages did not increase with the economy. Anyway both sides of the rich vs poor argument are correct to a certain extent.

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