Friday, 1 January 2021

Happy New Year?

But Will She Keep Smiling? Kindness is as kindness does. And the one thing kindness cannot do is force people to be kind. Understanding that was the single most important factor in the Prime Minister’s success at stamping out the Coronavirus. She took New Zealanders with her; she encouraged them to “Unite Against Covid-19” for their own good. Now, in 2021, she must encourage them to do the same against poverty and homelessness.

WELL, IT’S GONE! The 2,020th year of the Common Era. The year of the global Covid-19 pandemic. The year of bubbles and lockdowns and Zoom. The year Donald Trump lost – badly. The year Jacinda Ardern won – bigly. Gone. But, we’re still here, celebrating the first day of the first month of 2021. A good time, traditionally, to hazard some guesses as to what the next 364 days may bring.

My most confident prediction is that Covid-19 will feature as prominently in the next twelve months as it did in the last.

By the time most New Zealanders begin to see the effects of the mass vaccination campaign against Covid-19 more than half of 2021 will already be behind them. Over the months remaining, those same New Zealanders will become increasingly impatient with the sizeable anti-vaxxer movement and its profoundly anti-social delusions.

Pressure will grow for the Government to make vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory. Should compulsion fail to move the hardliners, then the ugly punitiveness which lies just below the easy-going exterior of the average Kiwi is likely to erupt in spectacular fashion. Refusing to be vaccinated may be classed as a form of criminal assault, and denying the benefits of vaccination to one’s children may see the offending parents prosecuted as abusers.

If we’re very unlucky, the outrage of the anti-vaxxers will merge with the rising stridency of the “Free Speech Union” and the undiminished frustration of the country’s gun-owners, into a single, very angry, “Freedom Coalition”.

Jacinda Ardern’s government will be portrayed by this group as dangerously dictatorial: a collection of woke virtue-signallers prepared to unleash the full powers of the state against any individual citizen who refuses to acknowledge their obligation to serve the greater good.

The strength of the Government’s position on the issues of Covid-19 vaccination, curbing hate speech, and comprehensive gun-control should be sufficient to marginalise these critics. What could weaken its position, however, is the Ardern Administration’s apparent unwillingness to acknowledge its own obligation to serve the greater good.

Sharp rises in the number of families living in poverty, and the intractability of the housing crisis, could well see the Government facing serious charges of hypocrisy. In the name of “kindness” citizens are expected to swallow their objections to enforced inoculation, watch their language, self-censor their opinions, and submit their firearms to state regulation and control. That same state, however, acknowledges no obligation to show kindness to the tens-of-thousands of beneficiary families living in poverty: no duty to advance the collective wellbeing of the nation by redistributing wealth and intervening directly in the “free” market.

Both the Act Party and (if it can summon sufficient intellectual energy) the National Party will seek to exploit the issues arising out of vaccinations against Covid-19, hate speech and gun control. From the other end of the political spectrum, the Greens and the Maori Party will chime in against poverty and homelessness.

A self-confidently “centrist” government, assailed from both the right and the left, has little to fear. With most voters happy to position themselves somewhere in the “middle”, support for the Government is unlikely to be shaken by attacks launched from the political extremes.

Of much more concern to Jacinda Ardern and her colleagues would be the emergence of a political force willing to combine the arguments of both the right and the left into a single devastating critique of the Government’s policies.

For most of the period between 1993-96 this was precisely the strategy adopted by Winston Peters and his NZ First Party. While that particular soufflé may not rise a second (or should that be a third?) time, the option remains open for anyone with sufficient charisma to launch a radical populist party.

A “Freedom Coalition” committed not only to the individual’s “freedom to”, but also to securing people’s “freedom from” poverty, homelessness, discrimination and exploitation, could attract the sort of double-digit support that gives incumbent governments nightmares.

Kindness is as kindness does. And the one thing kindness cannot do is force people to be kind. Understanding that was the single most important factor in the Prime Minister’s success at stamping out the Coronavirus. She took New Zealanders with her; she encouraged them to “Unite Against Covid-19” for their own good.

Now, in 2021, she must encourage them to do the same against poverty and homelessness.


This essay was originally published in the Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 1 January 2021.

16 comments:

Trev1 said...

Make no mistake. Any attempt to shut down freedom of speech including by protecting religion from criticism and debate will be a massive own-goal for Labour. There is already a "freedom party" to lead the way, called "Act", and a growing movement in civil society to oppose vigorously any curtailment of our fundamental liberty to speak. Happy New Year.

Hunter said...

A user very eruditely stated that "Labour winning an absolute majority was a disaster for the New Zealand left" (or words to that effect)

Jacinda will end up adopting Muldoon's philosophy of leaving New Zealand no better than how she found it.

Unknown said...

Well, the redistribution of wealth for consumption can only end up in widening poverty for all after all the wealth that can be redistributed has been consumed.

So the long term priority for poverty prevention and elimination should be in helping to widen participation in wealth ownership creation by 100% of the population from birth.

Can anyone explain how poverty can be eliminated or prevented without wealth ownership creation ?

Cheers - Jens.

Kat said...

"Now, in 2021, she must encourage them to do the same against poverty and homelessness......."

I would confidently say the PM has got that particular message loud and clear, its the death cult capitalists and nut bar conservatives in the yellow and blue teams that require the encouragement.

greywarbler said...

I am only halfway through your post Chris and am thinking I recognise already the type of people described and their thinking. Sure, and arrogant about their opinions, so convinced of rightness, and the phrase "I am looking for the truth" rings out frequently. My reply that the truth can look different viewed from different perspectives seems to be received positively. But then I think that the certainty of having the right perspective overcomes the likelihood of a pause to consider a different scenario. There is an ugly desire for a sort of purity - could be a return to Oliver Cromwell's style of regime.

This about the Cromwells which would be helpful to retain:
Thomas Cromwell was a brutal enforcer to a tyrannical king; an unscrupulous, ambitious, ruthless and corrupt politician, who cared nothing of the policy he implemented as long as it made him rich. (This sounds a very opinionated, emotional description from a further florid history of England. https://thehistoryofengland.co.uk/resource/thomas-cromwell-and-his-reputation/

Oliver was from a different branch of the family.
[Oliver] Cromwell was a Puritan. He was a highly religious man who believed that everybody should lead their lives according to what was written in the Bible. The word “Puritan” means that followers had a pure soul and lived a good life...
From 1649 to 1653, Parliament ran England but from Cromwell’s point of view, it was not a system that worked effectively and England, as a nation was suffering. As a result, Cromwell, backed by the army, sent home MP’s and he became the effective leader of England from 1653 to 1658.
https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/stuart-england/life-in-england-under-oliver-cromwell/


Fun and pleasure seem to be no-noes. Oliver Cromwell believed in religious tolerance but hated Catholicism and Quakers. He fractured England because it seemed that Catholicism would become the primary religion. He introduced Puritanism, but was a ruthless general and overthrew two kings. He did good things (constitution) and bad things (large deaths in Ireland and banning their Catholic religion).

It seems vital that citizens take more interest in politics and power while we have the chance. The dreams of vainglory swell the head of those at the top. The powerful can do so much harm when they have arms behind them.

About Oliver: https://www.history.com/topics/british-history/oliver-cromwell

To Cromwell and his fellow Puritans, though, singing and related Christmas festivities were not only abhorrent but sinful. ... In 1644, an Act of Parliament effectively banned the festival and in June 1647, the Long Parliament passed an ordinance confirming the abolition of the feast of Christmas. https://quizlet.com/103232335/history-chapter-21-flash-cards/

The dour hand of Puritanism on ordinary life:
Giving liberty to carnal and sensual delights From this point until the Restoration in 1660, Christmas was officially illegal. Although Cromwell himself did not initiate the banning of Christmas, his rise to power certainly resulted in the promotion of measures that severely curtailed such celebrations. https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/what-is-designation/heritage-highlights/did-oliver-cromwell-really-ban-christmas/


I suggest that today there is an OTT trend to control ordinary life, to 'purify' it and not just create more respectful attitudes. This is seen in 'wokeness' and the aggressive arguments over free speech, and the choice of human icons held to be sacred such as Grace Millane, but not humanity as a whole to be respected and the vulnerable aided in compassionate action.

Tom Hunter said...

Over the months remaining, those same New Zealanders will become increasingly impatient with the sizeable anti-vaxxer movement and its profoundly anti-social delusions.

Yeah, they piss me off too. Still, we have been able to do quite well against far worse diseases than Covid-19 even with these dissenters inn our midst. And I'd like to see what the stats are to justify "sizeable". They've always seemed like a fringe group, which is why vaccination continues to work as it never has to be 100% or even close to it.

Pressure will grow for the Government to make vaccination against Covid-19 mandatory.
Why? I've just pointed out that vaccination programs work in spite of the anit-vaxxer loons. Unless you think the proportion of people resistant to taking such a new vaccine will be higher than the normal fringe?

Judging by this comment on Kiwiblog by "Pharmachick" - a NZ scientist who works in the industry in the USA, has been commenting on KB for a decade and has repeatedly shown that she's not a loon on various issues - resistance to taking the vaccine is not going to be fringe:

FWIW I will not take any of the vaccines until I’ve seen the AE and SAE profile in the general population AND the Phase III trial data in entirety (not press releases).

For one thing, even trials containing 30K participants aren’t powered for population-wide subsets of events. I also don’t believe the safety pharmacology/toxicology has been rigorous enough or followed participants for long enough. But we should know in a few months after millions of [other] people have taken it. If that sounds harsh, by all means line up first. But I’m certainly not coming at this from a lay POV. Also FDA approved Pfizer 17 aye/4nay/1 abstention… that’s not the standard margins, I would love to see the data they saw (which isn’t yet public). All the public has seen is interim analysis by press release.


AE standards for Adverse Events and SAE for (Severe Adverse Events).

Should compulsion fail to move the hardliners, then the ugly punitiveness which lies just below the easy-going exterior of the average Kiwi is likely to erupt in spectacular fashion. Refusing to be vaccinated may be classed as a form of criminal assault, and denying the benefits of vaccination to one’s children may see the offending parents prosecuted as abusers.
The ugly punitiveness could flow both ways, and compulsory vaccination of frightened people, even if you think their fears are nonsense, is not something a "kind" government would be willing to countenance for any disease short of Bubonic Plague.

Anonymous said...

Well, Chris - paragraph 8 - re-distributing the wealth. No matter how many bogs I read where this refrain comes out, I have never seen any suggestions as to how this will be achieved. Do you have any plan to put forward? As re-distribution means taking from one area to give to another, here are some ideas -

tax even more again - to the extent that our brightest and best go offshore

slice the government pie so that more goes to social services - at the expense of infrastructure

dramatically increase the wages of those that work for SME's - to the extent that the workers earn more than the owner, who probably won't bother anymore and just throw in the towel

dramatically increase benefits without any punitive barriers - such that it's not worth working anymore

put in place income caps, especially for those CEO's - who will just go overseas

compulsorily acquire private homes from people who live in homes too large for their needs, shift them to smaller homes and give the money difference to the homeless - of course the value of large homes will go down and the value of small homes go up (because of the enforced demand)

What else can I thin of? Obviously being facetious here....

John Hurley said...

You only need to watch the first third of this to get the gist of Paul Spoonleys thinking on free speech. He's a fan of Nesrine Malik
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQPnT8jAGWo&t=2304s

The other thing is the way he tries to wash "great replacement" down the plug hole. There is one underlying assumption in the above video

09:27
gets and look how far we've come which was a slightly discombobulating moment cuz I just saw I could have come all the way here and I'm being told the same things which is anything beyond these technical accommodations and winds that we have made is biology and now years after that that view has become really popular with jordan peterson and the kind of resurgent -- biological determinism which is that you know what


Aha Gotcha! Or what Steven Pinker calls the "blank slate". If we are blank slates we can be subjected to education (compulsory reo etc). Can you imagine if the state tried to introduce reo in our Weet bix? Far fetched.

I came across this:
Intensifying mobility, globalisation of economies and widening disparities between high-skilled professional elites and low wage service workers are features of contemporary urban transformation in most parts of the industrialised world. Even in countries with strong state-supported welfare traditions, such as Norway, Sweden and New Zealand, reducing inequalities in opportunity and access to services has become a critical political issue. Far from reducing social inequalities, and promoting greater social cohesion, globalisation everywhere is exacerbating disparities and entrenching social exclusion (Sassen, 1998).

Population Studies Center No 36 October 2000 Richard Bedford

He references a UN paper on replacement migration which tells us that to increase the working age population migration has to be extremely high and says without it retirement ages may have to be increased to 75!

One of Michael Reddels themes is the recalcitrance of elites. I had a thought about that this morning. It seems to fit with Jon Haidts theory of moral psychology. It evolved in order to facilitate group relations. That's why they aren't taking action they aren't seeing beyond their elite norms and they can ignore the (Philip Mathews) "losers".

John Hurley said...

Jacinda @ UN Redux (with 25% more)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTus4AQZbl4&t=639s

greywarbler said...

Many opinions here are like water on sand; after an initial pooling it finds a line if least resistance and thereafter follows that way automatically until there is a great change forcing difference.

sumsuch said...

Polemic, there is no 'extreme Left'. Just the best hearted of the old social democrats, who are to the left of 'let-the-rich-be-rich ... ists' like this govt. After us, who will remember?

greywarbler said...

John Hurley - I looked up those people mentioned. Jonathan Haidt came up with interesting fact that teenage girls suicides are up 70%. This must be coming from a turbulent mind background. I think this must affect everything that is happening now, and vice versa.
This was talked about in this link. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wpGd5DZ_K5w

The Barron said...

The last political movement that thought one little prick could cure everything was called Rob's Mob.

kiwidave said...

Oops, sorry Chris that comment should have been posted to the prior radical conservatives essay.
Cheers and happy new year,
David.

Nick J said...

Anonymous, I whole heartedly agree with your criticism except in one very important detail.

That detail is that we, here in NZ, here in the Western world from 1945 until 1980s had a working alternative economic model.

Two key policy tools that were used then are still valid. First full employment models that push up the cost of labour through scarcity. Second high progressive taxation. The second is not to punish the rich, it is to ensure that they actually do contribute as they will always find a way to avoid.

Nick J said...

Grey, have you been reading the Dao? Wise words.

Ive noticed the tendency to burden opinions with judgement of their source. For example if you agree with some of what Peterson says you are deemed to agree with everything he says. Id say be cautious, nobody has a monopoly on the truth, nor is entirely wrong.