Home > politics > Ignorance, Greed, and Liberalism

Ignorance, Greed, and Liberalism

Things really are getting interesting in politics around the world, I think. It’s odd the way I used to be so disinterested in this sort of thing – when I was a student I didn’t take the slightest notice of it. I still think a lot of politics is trivial and pathetic, but I also find it amusing to watch the battle lines, I appreciate the inherent humour, and am amazed at the incredible corrupt self-interest exhibited by many of our political leaders (although, as you will know, I have no greater admiration for business and many other leaders).

The three words in the title of this entry refer to three events I want to comment on here. The first, “ignorance” is in reference to the newly discovered (by the media) Conservative Part of New Zealand. The second “greed” refers to the Talleys company and possible ways to combat their incredible arrogance. And the third “liberalism” refers to the first sign that maybe Obama really does have some liberal tendencies (instead of those just imagined by his political opponents).

So let’s get started: ignorance. Well conservatism and ignorance are just about synonyms in many cases. People follow a particular political line for many reasons: habit, conformance, laziness, etc; but ignorance would be fairly high on the list for many. I don’t want to say that only conservative people are ignorant but I suspect if a study was done on political allegiance and knowledge of basic facts about the world a trend would emerge!

The leader of the Conservative Party in New Zealand has managed to get himself a bit into the news recently (which is quite impressive since the party has no representation in our parliament) but not always for good reasons. Even his natural ally, John Key, has distanced himself from this nutter. Of course, he doesn’t always seem as nutty as he really is and when he makes the effort he can seem quite reasonable, but like all conservative and religious people, in the end the crazy stuff comes out.

His latest blunder is a statement regarding how promiscuous New Zealand women are. Really? He chose this subject to make a comment on? To be fair, he did quote some real research but I have two problems with this: first, finding one piece of research which supports your preferred belief while ignoring other facts isn’t fair; and second, why do this at all? Even if it is true (I’m not saying it is) why would you even make this point? Didn’t he learn from what happened to that other crazy, Alasdair Thompson? (see my blog entry “Period Problems” of 2011-06-24)

So that’s the ignorance, what about the greed? Well you could take any big corporation and accuse them of this offence but in this case it is Talleys who have caused the most outrage. Like all companies they are not all bad: they employ a reasonable number of people, they contribute to our economy in general, and they produce some good products, but (contrary to the belief of most large companies) that doesn’t give them an excuse to treat their workforce unfairly (or abuse the environment, exploit their position to gain excess profits, or anything else).

Hone Harawira, the leader of the Mana Party (and a politician who I alternate between despising and admiring) has suggested a “Talley-ban” against the company because of the unfair way they are treating meat workers in the North Island. Good idea. I will certainly be taking part in that ban. I will avoid buying their products, even if they do relent on their current unfair treatment of unions. I’ve heard local people suggest that the Talley family are barely one step above criminals. Even if that isn’t technically true they are clearly immoral.

So moving on to liberalism. Barack Obama has recently announced his support for gay marriage. While I don’t really care too much one way or the other on this (who cares about marriage any more anyway?) it is a landmark issue and one where liberals and conservatives clearly disagree. It puts Obama into the more left-leaning camp where he should be. I know his opponents have labelled him a liberal or socialist in the past but that (unfortunately) has not really been true.

Maybe, assuming he wins the election, his next term as president might more represent the values the Democrats should be representing. Currently the US has a right wing party (the Democrats) and another party (the GOP) which is so far off in the distance of insanity that they can barely be described in any conventional political terms!

So these are interesting times and I haven’t even mentioned the victory of the left in France and the upcoming battle with the right in Germany (wow, that’s a scary image), the near anarchy in Greece, the decimation of the conservatives in the UK, the new tax regime in Australia, etc. And that’s ignoring the Middle East completely! Yes, things are getting interesting all right…

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  1. Daniel Lang
    June 21, 2012 at 9:43 am

    I agree with your statement on the leader of the Conservative Party. I feel that he has a religious agenda which he is letting permeate through to his political “beliefs”. He has prayers sometimes in political conferences, while I am a fervent believer in the separation of church and state and am against bibles in schools.

    Hone Harawira, I would say is less potent than his colleague Sue Bradford, and he has some really valid points. We should have a bilingual country and we should increase funding to Maraes.

    And I think greed is a huge thing in western countries. United States can be accused of having Conglomerate Syndrome, where the power and influence in businesses is reduced to a few wealthy people. New Zealand is just the opposite. We are one of the easiest countries in which a person can start up a business and therefore we have Tin Pot Company Syndrome, whereby we have a lot of business owners but they have limited funds. I once worked for a business for a period of three months in a suburb of a large town. There were no buildings, merely two small tents. No equipment (gumboots, soap, rain jackets) was provided and despite having both males and females on the staff, only one port-a-loo was provided (and it was never cleaned). Now, I understand minimalistic working conditions out in the wop-wops but, in a large town? No way. Soap was not provided, nor was hand sanitizer or a sterilisation liquid and they were badly needed because we were working with hostile chemicals. Unfortunately, during this time, the business was sent the chemical at a stronger rate (10 times stronger) than what we catered for (with our thin rubber gloves). This burned through the gloves and I now have large pussy sores in different areas, they swell up at times and new ones appear. My body is poisoned for the rest of my life because of an accident that could have been avoided if the Government had put through the appropriate regulations.

    This Tin Pot Company Syndrome has the capability to escalate even more under National because they have reduced the top rate of company tax (greed), reduced the number of public servants inspecting worksites (conservatism) and decreased employer’s contributions to the already burdened Accident Compensation Corporation (ignorance).

  2. ojb42
    June 21, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I think a political party should be able to have a religious basis as long as they are up front about it. The conservatives should rename themselves the “Christian Party” or something so we know what they are really about.

    I think small companies can be a positive thing in many cases. I’m sure not all of them abuse and potentially harm their employees. Can I ask what the chemical was which caused your problems?

    I agree that capitalism is OK as long as it is controlled and steered in the right direction. I totally reject the idea of removing controls and relying on “the market” for everything.

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