Sunday, 7 July 2019

Goff And Tamihere Are Both Wrong. (But Bernard Hickey Is Right On The Money!)

Show Me The Money! The alternative to state funding of infrastructure is, of course, to fund it by taking on massive amounts of private debt. On this issue, at least, Auckland mayoral challenger, Tamihere, has some solid points to make. In his own colourful turn of phrase, the incumbent mayor, Phil Goff, and the Auckland Council, have “maxed-out the credit card”. If the City is to preserve its international credit rating of AA, then it simply cannot afford to take on any more debt.

NEITHER PHIL GOFF, nor John Tamihere, are telling Aucklanders the truth about their city, but Bernard Hickey has given it a pretty good shot. In a powerful and deeply insightful article, posted on the Newsroom website, Hickey not only explains why KiwiBuild failed, but why it could never have succeeded. In the process, he lays bare the fundamental failures of political and economic intelligence fuelling New Zealand’s conjoined national and local infrastructure crises. Goff and Tamihere are part of that intellectual failure, and that is why neither politician is giving Aucklanders meaningful answers to their most pressing questions.

Tamihere has proposed selling 49 percent of Watercare to either the Accident Compensation Corporation, or the Superannuation Fund, or both, and using the proceeds (estimated at around $5 billion) to fund Auckland’s urgent infrastructure needs. Goff, who, in his years as a member of the Fourth Labour Government, never once voted against the privatisation of state-owned monopolies, has come out as a staunch defender of the municipally-owned Watercare company. He is warning Aucklanders that Tamihere’s plan would increase the average Aucklander’s water bill by $200-400 per year – falling most heavily on the poorest Auckland families.

What does Hickey say about the funding of local government infrastructure?

“After the mid-1980s, the Government saw the private sector as the provider of housing and saw any infrastructure as a cost that needed to be borne by those building the new houses and local Government, not the wider taxpaying public. Even now, that thinking is infused through Treasury and into the minds of the current Labour leadership, going from Ardern through Finance Minister Grant Robertson to Twyford.”

In other words, the neoliberal principle of “user pays” has been extended well beyond its original target, the hapless individual consumer of government services, to encompass everyone: consumers, businesses, central and local government institutions; everyone. The contrast between the neoliberal approach and the nation-building approach, which, historically, has informed the policies of successive New Zealand governments, could hardly be starker.

As Hickey makes clear:

“[N]neither the National or Labour-led governments of the last 35 years have seen it as their role to pay for [housing’s] underlying infrastructure. Their instincts have been to get others to pay for it, unlike during the golden eras of the 1930s, 40s, 50s, 60s and early 1970s when governments of both colours used the national balance sheet to build and subsidise that infrastructure through the Ministry of Works, State Advances Corp and various Group Building schemes and child benefit capitalisation policies.”

The alternative to state funding of infrastructure is, of course, to fund it by taking on massive amounts of private debt. On this issue, at least, Tamihere has some solid points to make. In his own colourful turn of phrase, Goff and the Auckland Council have “maxed-out the credit card”. If the City is to preserve its international credit rating of AA, then it simply cannot afford to take on any more debt. What’s more, the rest of the country cannot afford for Auckland to take on any more debt.

Hickey tells us why:

“The technical problem is the Auckland Council is almost at its debt-to-revenue limit ratio of 270 percent, which is the level specified by Standard and Poor’s for Auckland to keep its AA credit rating. This is important because taking on more debt would mean Auckland’s credit rating would be downgraded, which would increase the interest costs on existing debt and force up rates. But it would also breach the rules set by the Local Government Funding Agency [LGFA] about Auckland’s credit rating not falling more than one notch below the Government's AA+ rating. That’s important because Auckland’s rating essentially sets the base for all local government borrowing through the LGFA. It means there is enormous political pressure locally and financial pressure from other councils (and the LGFA) for Auckland not to borrow much more. Councils beyond the Bombays and north of Orewa would scream blue murder if their interest bills went up because the Auckland Council decided to solve a funding problem the central Government won’t solve.”

Unable to take on any more debt, Tamihere knows that the only way for Goff to fund infrastructure development in Auckland is by increasing rates, raising user-charges, and/or adding another 5-10 cents to the price of a litre of petrol. Tamihere is far from convinced that Goff (or anyone else) is willing to risk a ratepayers’ revolt by leading Auckland up that particular garden path, hence his plan to access five billion desperately needed dollars for urgent infrastructure development by selling 49 percent of Watercare.

The politics of this is quite clever, because, by the time ACC and/or the Superfund take the necessary steps to secure their standard rate-of-return from Watercare by taking it out of everybody’s water bill – Goff is quite right about that – Tamihere may have earned himself enough public good-will to be re-elected Mayor in 2022. (Assuming, of course, that this partial privatisation policy enables him to beat Goff in October 2019.) Five billion dollars builds a lot of infrastructure, so, who knows, Tamihere’s use of Peter’s central government funds, to pay for Paul’s local government needs, might just work. “The Mayor who rebuilt Auckland without plunging us all into deeper debt!” – has a rather nice political ring to it.

In the long run, however, Tamihere’s gambit can only be a bust. Liquidating and then spending Auckland’s capital assets can only end up dragging the city to the same point Goff has already reached. Namely, facing the politically unpalatable reality of requiring people to give up an increasing proportion of their income to the Council and/or its commercial arms. While the New Zealand political class – and that includes you, Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson and James Shaw – remains incapable of thinking outside the neoliberal box, New Zealand’s crumbling infrastructure, not to mention the many large-scale public works projects that will be required to meet the challenges of the future, cannot be addressed.

Goff and Tamihere would be better advised to jointly demand, as the leading mayoral candidates, that the State once again steps up to the plate of nation-building. In a country whose entire population is smaller than that of a medium-sized global city, there never has been, and still isn’t, any other viable alternative to turning the state into New Zealand’s angel investor.

This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 4 July 2019.

32 comments:

BlisteringAttack said...

A while ago I was at the lookout at the Clyde Dam.

My first thought looking out over that mighty structure was: Ministry of Works.

Patricia said...

Government deficits are not bad and surpluses are not good. It all depends on the economic circumstances at the time. When economic times are bad, as they are now, the government should be spending large, in my opinion, on infrastructure. Not the poor councils who are limited in the money they can accumulate. Sovereign governments, as New Zealand is, are not constrained from issuing money. They never need to borrow to buy what is available in its own currency. When there is too much moneys in circulation then the government can have a surplus by removing money from circulation. HOWEVER post war, most countries of the world have had deficits. Norway is an outlier. It always has a surplus. The reason is because it has oil and unlike Britain with its share of the same oil it chose to put its money in a sovereign fund. Because too much money is in circulation in Norway the Government takes money from them to calm the economy down. It is only since the infamous 1980s has there been a mantra of public bad and private good - to paraphrase George Orwell. Post war governments were constrained by the gold standard so they used accounting methods to achieve what they wanted to do. Until 1971 the US dollar, which from 1944, has been the world’s reserve currency, and was tied to gold. Since that date most of the world’s currencies have been fiat currencies meaning they are tied to nothing UNLESS they choose to do so. Why any country would is beyond me but they do. NZ floated its dollar early 1980s but since then neoliberalism has controlled our country. Now that is another question. Who decided the WHOLE world would become neoliberal at the same time? Government control of the economy is such an interesting subject but it can NEVER max out its credit card. It can never be likened to a household.

Jens Meder said...

Patricia - by "governments never need to borrow to buy what is available in its own currency" - aren't you advocating debt free Social Credit at the expense of currency devaluation, which could lead to run-away inflation ?

Geoff Fischer said...

Kia ora Chris
You seem to be saying that if Auckland City needs additional funding for new projects, that funding should come from central government.
But let us suppose that central government is unwilling to provide the finance. Should Auckland then borrow, sell assets, or abandon its plans altogether? That question demands an answer. It is not good enough to just say that central government should do it. Central government "should" do a lot of things which it does not do and probably never will do. Does that mean that local government should also adopt a "do nothing" policy?

Tom Hunter said...

After the mid-1980s, the Government saw the private sector as the provider of housing and saw any infrastructure as a cost that needed to be borne by those building the new houses and local Government, not the wider taxpaying public.

Over a decade ago I worked with the old North Shore City Council and got to see one of the spreadsheets their civil engineers used to calculate the so-called Developer Contributions. It amounted to millions of dollars per year and they were very proud of being able to charge developers to pay for all the infrastructure and "save the ratepayers from getting stiffed

I was talking with a Lefty American yesterday who had a bit of a rant about developers in his state - California - who can simply buy land cheap, build houses and leave all the infrastruture to the remaining taxpayers, including those who buy the new houses. Said American was impressed by our Local governments gouging the money out of the developers.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well, this is going to be a little off topic – at least at first. I'm back from my holiday in the provinces, computerless getting my news from actual newspapers – and incidentally forswearing all politics. And I find I can't keep myself away. But I better explain what I said in that last post, because it seems I didn't explain myself at all well.
I had gotten sick of having to engage with eejits – and with all due respect, there are some here. But the majority are on other blogs I frequent and make the ones here look mild by comparison. I'm sick and having to explain the same things over and over and over again. That white people aren't more intelligent than everyone else, that climate change is happening, that men don't need liberating, that white people, particularly old white men are privileged in our society. I'm appalled that people believe climate change is a con, that white people are discriminated against, that religious people are discriminated against, that God help us, the earth is flat, and that feminists want to metaphorically or in real life – cut your balls off.
And then, when someone I admire, who claims to be in favour of the working class turns out to be in favour of a policy that discriminates against the working class I confess I got angry. But funnily enough, it wasn't because I disagree with Chris. He and I have disagreed numerous times about numerous things. So either I didn't explain it well or the anonymous eejit who have thought that.... Is an eejit. And I'm prepared to entertain either answer here.
And I'm also tired of having to run my son around, because he can't be trusted to drive with some of his shifts. I'm tired of seeing foreigners doing jobs that he could do and would love to do. And I'm tired of people saying "Well New Zealanders don't want to do the jobs" without finishing "at the wages I'm prepared to offer. And I can't see why we need to import farmworkers, or retail sales people. But the same time I was tired of being accused of wanting open borders.
And it's galling because I know I'm not changing anyone's minds by presenting them with facts. Because psychologists have shown that this only confirms people opinions. So I have to ask myself again why the hell do I do it, considering the abuse that often comes out when you attack someone's deeply held opinions. And again the much the worst of it is on overseas blogs, where I was tired of being called libtard or fucktard among other things. (And whale oil – forgot whale oil.) And I'm pretending to myself that there might be people out there whose opinions aren't yet formed, who might be influenced. Haven't seen a huge amount of evidence of it, but I'm clinging to that like a life raft in a storm. So I'm back.

David Stone said...

@ Jens
Patricia is saying only that the economy was more equitably run when governments controlled the amount of money banks could issue, and controlled the flow of that money in and out of the country so as to hold the tools of the nation's finance. It isn't radical or weird , it is common sense and worked very well for the western world for 50 years. Going back to that model would be perfectly sensible .
Going to the issue of money to the population as a 'social dividend " and then controlling the flow as people spent it to live or run businesses as SC would advocate would be a step more equitable, but not necessary in my opinion if the issue and international flow of money is controlled by government as it was.
Now the governments of western countries have handed over control of finance and hence resources to the international corporations and can only fiddle around with what these corporates leave as crumbs to redistribute to the ever growing portion of humanity left out. They can do for the voters only what global business allows; Claims of addressing child poverty are hollow without retaking this control.
D J S
D J S

Anonymous said...

Blistering Attack - Clyde dam was built by a joint venture between W Williamson & Co of Christchurch and Ed Zublin AG of Stuttgart, West Germany. The original design was MWD (not Ministry of Works) but it got much modified, going from low to high, then the fault movement allowance, then the missing spillway. I don't know who deserves the design credit for it now. However, what can be said is that since generation started in 1992, it has been a very reliable producer and the predicted landslips haven't happened.
Chris Morris

Anonymous said...

Though your self imposed exile only lasted one post, it seems GS that you haven't had any change of views. In you explanation above, it seems everyone who disagrees with you is an idiot (spelt the correct way) Now either you are a hidden intellectual genius that the world hasn't recognized, or your posts are just the rantings of an arrogant prat. I am picking the latter. The "facts" you say you present are often just opinions that confirm your prejudices.
There are things that Chris writes which I disagree with, but they are well reasoned and I can see his point of view. If I do respond, I am respectful that this is his blog and we are guests.
Chris Morris

Jens Meder said...

So what do you recommend that should be done, Guerilla Surgeon - to achieve a better world for all ?

Patricia said...

No, Jens I am not advocating social credit although I must say I don’t know much if anything about social credit. All I am saying is that no sovereign country which has a floating exchange rate and which can issue its own currency needs to to borrow. Such issuing does not result in runaway inflation; no more than borrowing would. The critical issue is the actual issuing and for what. Nobody said a government should issue money willy nilly For instance labour and machinery are needed to build the infrastructure and that takes time to create. Mind you we used to have the Ministry of Works as BlisteringAttack says. But there has to be a plan and a government does not need to borrow to achieve that goal.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Well Jens, firstly we have to get rid of this neoliberal economics bullshit. It's about as much an article of faith is social credit. We actually know now for a fact that austerity doesn't work except under very strict circumstances, and we know that in the US at least lowering taxes for the well off does not result in more jobs and a better economy, it's just increasing the deficit.
We have to reorganise the tax system and get rid of GST. Everyone knows it hits the poor hardest, and nobody seems to give a stuff. Including the Labour Party, who are supposed to be on the side of working people.
We have to get back to some form of Keynesian economics, perhaps modified for modern times, but it's time we started taxing and investing.
We need to make sure the businesses pay their fair share of tax. Because there are very few options for avoiding it for those of us who are employed rather than on some sort of contract. And we have two cut down on immigration and only import people who are absolutely necessary, and offer better wages for those people who allegedly don't want the jobs.
And somehow, God help me I don't know how, someone has to energise those lower down the economic scale who don't vote. And then we might stop electing raft after raft of neoliberals. All those who just nibble round the edges of social democracy.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"it seems everyone who disagrees with you is an idiot"
Not at all anonymous or should it be Chris?. As I said I have often disagreed with Chris Trotter.And I wouldn't call him an idiot. But I'm sick and tired of relitigating things that are established facts. Someone wrote a column about it sometime ago which I can't find, but they said something like: It's like going into the emergency room and saying "stop! Are we sure about the germ theory of disease?"
Having said that:
If you don't believe that climate change isn't happening yes you are an idiot.
If you believe in some sort of racial hierarchy, yes you are an idiot.
If you believe that women are now totally equal, yes you are an idiot.
Although to be fair, some people who profess not to believe are simply disingenuous.

greywarbler said...

GS
Good to see you back. The facts as you say don't convince. It is how they apply to the person receiving them in their life that will break through 'the crust'.

We are all on a spectrum of rationalising away things we don't want to face; when we think and look at ourselves, we have to admit it. Gardening analogy; some are just so embedded in their soil that in attempting to transplant, their roots will be damaged, they will wilt and die. Some may put out shoots that can be layered, and grown on from the source, and eventually can be cut away, leaving the old material to sink into senescence.

When those who wish wisdom realise that we operate from emotion, not reason, not rationality, we get closer to knowing what the public relations people have learned and exploit for business and political parties' profit. Why do we keep doing things that are not good for us? And how does one explain why people do things deliberately, that hurt them; cut themselves as some young people do, starve themselves with anorexia in the midst of plenty, have extensive tattoos done, choose to struggle up mountains, run marathons for the sheer hell of doing it. To me it would be hell!

If humankind is to have a better future with the feeling that we are pretty fine people, when we give it a real try, we have to learn what makes us tick. Otherwise the machines that we have invented will tick our lives and our stories away, before we have even created them with our own minds and imaginations. I think we are wonderful and should be full of wonder, at being here at all, and create scenarios within ourselves and our community that express the positive aspects of our nature. Quite often the observable results will explain and illustrate the facts we present, far better than just the words and symbols we use.

I'm reading a how-to book at present that has a good title - Live the life you love And Stop Just Getting By by Barbara Sher who has also written It's Only Too Late If You Don't Start Now. I like her style. She starts from the view that we should start from our everyday being, not try to achieve by setting hard goals. Instead if we just look at our feelings of we want to do, then change our habits to acknowledge the dream, we can incorporate it into our everyday life. It involves thinking about oneself, reaching out to the inner self with acceptance and understanding, so achieving fulfillment and the pathway to follow. I think such a settled, thoughtful person would be charismatic in their words and life, beyond any facts or counsel put forward.

kiwidave said...

GS There is absolutely no need to explain, we know.
I'm sorry to see no trace of humility, contrition, self awareness or respect for the views of others since your all too brief sojourn in the wilderness.
Less of the personal abuse, tantrums and unbridled arrogance would be good.

“Maybe your misery is the weapon you brandish in your hatred for those who rose upward while you waited and sank. Maybe your misery is your attempt to prove the world's injustice, instead of the evidence of your own sin, your missing of the mark, your conscious refusal to strive and live. Maybe your willingness to suffer in failure is inexhaustible, given what you use that suffering to prove. Maybe it's your revenge on Being. How exactly should I befriend you when you're in such a place? How could I?”
― Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

greywarbler said...

That Jordon B Peterson piece is pretentious. He presents as the perfect person, so wise, above the standard of the hoi polloi, so my poor attempt at adjective is probably inadequate.
So take your choice. I present these for your delectation:
affected, ostentatious, chi-chi, showy, flashy, tinselly, conspicuous, flaunty, tasteless, kitschy; overambitious, pompous, artificial, flatulent, inflated, overblown, overripe, fustian, hyperventilated, mannered, high-flown, high-sounding, flowery, grandiose, big, grand, elaborate, extravagant, heroic, flamboyant, ornate, grandiloquent, magniloquent, bombastic, turgid, orotund, rhetorical, oratorical;
sophomoric; informal- highfalutin, la-di-da, fancy-pants, posey, pseud, pseudo; informal- poncey, toffee-nosed; informal - dicty
"Clytemnestra is a pretentious name for a dog"

It's fascinating to see the little spiteful NZr pop out and take a swipe at someone who is being criticised. Pile on, that's where a lot of NZs get their feeling of community. That's the real tall poppy syndrome at work. Get a little passionate, desperate and bitter about the sleepwalking we are doing and all the prosy little twerps will jump out and bite your heels. Man those little dogs have sharp teeth. Get a tetanus shot for safety I suggest.

Jens Meder said...

Guerilla Surgeon - you are right that freely consumable tax reductions do not benefit the whole country but enriches mostly only the rich already, and those catering for consumption at the expense of reduced investment in infrastructure and wealth ownership creation by the have-nots -
and with that only intensifies socio-economic polarization into Haves and Have-not s.

But unless you can give us just one practical or imaginary example of wealth being created (not stolen nor gifted) without at least a mild form of "austerity" (sacrifice at the expense of consumption potential -

you have to admit, that without prudence and thrift to save capital or "surpluses" for reserves, trading or useful- profitable - investment - we would be still pre-stone-age hunters and gatherers.

Borrowing wealth creatively the Keynesian way is eventually limited to our willingness and capacity for debt repayment "austerity", beyond which - as we keep consuming more than what we repay to our source of wealth from which we borrowed - we enter into Patricia's more serious "at the expense from the value of the currency" (Social Credit) territory.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jens. You and I obviously have different definitions of austerity. I'm talking about the sort of government austerity that restricts spending in times of economic downturn. Pretty much the reverse of Keynesian economics. You are obviously talking about something else. And if you do a bit of googling, I think you'll find that most economists now days don't believe it works, and the World Bank has admitted that it doesn't work – after ruining various underdeveloped countries economies by insisting on it. We are essentially talking past each other. Sorry.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Kiwi Dave. I'm sorry you think I sound arrogant, so do you sometimes but I usually put it down to the fact that we are missing out on the queues we normally get in face-to-face conversation. Having said that, there are opinions and opinions. There is the opinion on which ice cream flavour is the best, in which case your opinion is as good as anyone else in the world's. And then there are opinions about things like global warming, in which case your opinion is not nearly as good as the many climate scientists'. I try to base my opinions on evidence and facts rather than on what I want to believe.
Just as a matter of interest though, what did you do when you found out that Jordan Peterson lived on a diet of steak and water? I await your reply with interest.

kiwidave said...

Thanks for the comment Greywarbler although I'm not sure all the hyperbole is helpful.
I think we all need to appreciate that people have had different experiences, knowledge and values; perhaps they know something you don't.
A lot of the things we discuss are highly complex with no obvious or simple answer. To deride others as idiots, morally deficient; Bad People because they have a different perspective and then bemoan the fact that you are being shunned suggests that a bit of inner reflection is in order; a bit of humility.

kiwidave said...

Thank you for the question Guerilla Surgeon. I was aware that Jordan Peterson began experimenting with an all meat diet, largely following the benefits to his daughter Mikaila who suffered from a harrowing condition akin to auto immune disease. In her it manifested as a type of crippling arthritis causing severe pain and requiring an ankle joint replacement as a small child. Nothing conventional helped arrest the progression of the disease but the all meat diet has worked for her and for her father who suffered from a similar causal problem with different symptoms. Others have had similar results but it's certainly not something that the Peterson's recommend for otherwise healthy people. I've no intention or need to try it. I have (mostly) cut out grains and processed sugar and believe I'm the better for it.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Tammy Peterson (his beloved wife) currently battling for her life. Regards, David George

kiwidave said...

An update on Tammy P follows - hope Chris doesn't mind.
1. On the personal front: I have spent much of the last week in the hospital accompanying my wife, once again. The surgical complications she has been experiencing are not resolving easily, and we are searching far and wide for a specialist who might be able to deal with what is a rarely encountered situation.

It’s a very thought-provoking experience, to say the least, to spend time in an emergency ward, and in step-down care (which is one tier less serious than emergency). The uncertainty that accompanies a surgical complication that has an unspecified outcome (as there has been no positive response to conventional treatment) and the fact of hospitalization is of course very anxiety-provoking and saddening. It’s very difficult to see someone you love undergo such a serious sequence of operations and complications. It’s hard to see my kids—who are now responsible young adults—nervous and suffering. It’s also illuminating, in that spending much time in hospital (and I’ve been in hospital rooms for at least two months of the last four, as well as a two-week stretch with my daughter when her ankle replacement was modified) has dramatically heightened my awareness of the tremendous physical and psychological burdens so many people bear. I can’t imagine, literally, what it would be like to be in a situation like this without the care of my family and friends, who have stepped up to the plate in a remarkable manner. It’s made me wonder: Have I been there as much as I could have been when friends and family have had trouble? I’m not sure the answer is “yes.” It’s easy for me to privilege work and productivity and to pay less attention than I might have when those I know and love are suffering. In any case, I am overwhelmingly grateful to my sister, and mother, and sister-in-law, and a selection of friends, and my kids, for stepping in and helping when help was and is necessary.

Our life has gone from a thousand miles an hour to a dead stop in a matter of months. I have to say that this has presented a tremendous challenge to my spirit. My wife and I went through a fair bit of stress and pain when my daughter, Mikhaila, was suffering with her arthritic and other auto-immune troubles (she is doing very well, the current situation excepted) and I did learn to some degree to cope with chronic illness. But this situation has thrown me for a loop in a completely different manner. I have known my wife, Tammy, for 50 years. We were childhood friends. I am far more dependent on her than I suspected. My concentration has been badly affected, which is not surprising, but that also leaves a hole once occupied by work that anxious worry can and does easily fill. I’m trying to maintain my fundamental commitments, not least for the benefit of my sanity, but I have had to push the deadline for my new book forward by at least six months. Under optimal conditions, I thought I’d have it finished by the beginning of August, but that’s not to be, and it is currently impossible to plan more for more than the current day, as the medical situation (and the advice we are getting) changes on a moment’s notice. It’s also made it impossible to attend properly to such things as the release of thinkspot. It’s all I can do right now to maintain this weekly newsletter.

Thank you all once again for your continued support.

Jens Meder said...

Well Guerilla Surgeon - is it not true, that an economic downturn - for whatever reason you can think of - enforces austerity, or reduced consumption potential by those who "do not have" ?
So yes - ideally - if we had adequate reserves, they should not be held back, but employed - spent - primarily(?) on repairing the cause of the downturn, and adequate hardship relief.

But if there are no reserves and the spending has to be borrowed, then should not the absolute priority be in universally wealth creative investment spending (e.g. infrastructure) rather than in spending for direct consumption?

In other words, some austerity in direct consumption potential is not almost inevitable, but highly recommendable and necessary for repairing and maintaining a healthy economy.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Again Jens..... I am not talking about personal austerity but government spending. Which can be cut in times of prosperity, in order to provide money for when there is an economic downturn. And spending on infrastructure I couldn't agree more, particularly as it provides jobs and taxation. I can't for the life of me see what you're arguing about here.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I'm afraid I'm going to offend you again Dave. If you bothered to do a modicum of research into the all meat diet, you would have found that while it's okay in the short term, there are serious long-term consequences. This from an actual professor of nutrition. Of course, there are people who live solely on meat the Inuit for instance, but they have to get their vitamin and minerals and the like from eating everything – except perhaps too much liver. Neither he or his daughter do this. So perhaps he should be looking at other alternatives. But that aside, it shows that he has no great expertise outside his own field. And THAT is why some opinions are worth more than others.

kiwidave said...

I'm not offended in the least GS (was that your intention?), nor am I particularly interested in Dr Peterson's diet; what possible reason would I have for engaging in research on it. I think it's a bit weird, firstly, for you to be going on about it and, secondly, to make the extraordinary leap that because his diet's unusual then everything else he says and does is somehow diminished; of little value.
I know you place great store in "facts", in the certainty of your world view, as a prior comment illustrates: "either I didn't explain it well or the anonymous eejit who have thought that.... Is an eejit. And I'm prepared to entertain either answer here."
The third possibility, that you are wrong, is completely beyond consideration?

“The capacity of the rational mind to deceive, manipulate, scheme, trick, falsify, minimize, mislead, betray, prevaricate, deny, omit, rationalize, bias, exaggerate and obscure is so endless, so remarkable, that centuries of pre-scientific thought, concentrating on clarifying the nature of moral endeavour, regarded it as positively demonic. This is not because of rationality itself, as a process. That process can produce clarity and progress. It is because rationality is subject to the single worst temptation—to raise what it knows now to the status of an absolute.”
― Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

greywarbler said...

Back to basics - spending on infrastructure in times of unemployment and low interest rates - I am all for it. Let's do it!

Jens Meder said...

Guerilla Surgeon - does it mean then, we agree that government investment or spending on infrastructure at a time of economic hardship benefits the economy, but presses for some frugality (austerity) on welfare consumption spending, so as to keep down the accumulation of excessive debt repayment commitments and the austerity associated with it ?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"to make the extraordinary leap that because his diet's unusual then everything else he says and does is somehow diminished; of little value."

Well basically it says that his opinion on anything outside of his own area of expertise is no better than yours and mine. And given that he works at a university and could easily have consulted nutritionists, probably worse than mine at least. His daughter claims apparently that all diseases can be cured by diet, and sells her opinions basically. Which is both unethical and factually wrong.. He doesn't seem to have said anything about this, and endorses her meat/salt/vodka diet – which makes him complicit. So yeah, I do like facts and informed opinions. There seems to be a shortage of both in the circles you move in.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

PS Dave.
" It is because rationality is subject to the single worst temptation—to raise what it knows now to the status of an absolute.”
He seems to have done this with irrationality.

kiwidave said...

Dr Peterson is not promoting himself as an expert on nutrition; he is free, like all of us, to comment on anything he feels like. Essentially all he has said is that it has worked for him. I wouldn't take advise from him on diet other than to note, with passing interest, his experience. Let if go.
He is a psychologist (behavioural and clinical) with an impressive knowledge of and deep concern for the human condition generally. He is really more of a philosopher, which is and must be an unbounded field.

“At the beginning of time, according to the great Western tradition, the Word of God transformed chaos into Being through the act of speech. It is axiomatic, within that tradition, that man and woman alike are made in the image of that God. We also transform chaos into Being, through speech. We transform the manifold possibilities of the future into the actualities of past and present.

To tell the truth is to bring the most habitable reality into Being. Truth builds edifices that can stand a thousand years. Truth feeds and clothes the poor, and makes nations wealthy and safe. Truth reduces the terrible complexity of a man to the simplicity of his word, so that he can become a partner rather than an enemy. Truth makes the past truly past, and makes the best use of the future's possibilities. Truth is the ultimate, inexhaustible natural resource. It's the light in the darkness.

See the truth. Tell the truth.”
― Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos


sumsuch said...

Kiwi Dave, Peterson can say generally, and still be a prick.

I, my misbegotten self, believe in believing at your own leisure as your way to make your way through the million opinions. And from my own country, everyone is an equal, thus, worthy of respect.