Thursday, October 30, 2008


Cactus Kate today offers a fine example of a bizarre right-wing delusion that's often to be seen on the web. The bigotry in question is summed up in the first line:

Labour Party people don't know how the real world works.

Apparently, the "real world" consists of people in the private sector. Those of us currently working in the public sector are apparently occupying some kind of fantasy world, hyperspace, 4th dimension - hell I don't know, the mechanics of it are never explained.

I do have some sympathy for people who've given themselves over to ideology to this extent. When I left university, full of socialism, I was less than chuffed at working in the private sector, where your worth is measured not by how much use you are to society but by how well you are able to part fools from their money (yes, that's a grossly unfair description of private enterprise, but bigotry is exactly what we're talking about here.) As I got older and less stupid, and worked for a while in the public service, I realised that imagining you can fit the world into your little ideological box is foolishness of the highest order; that in fact, a great many people in private enterprise were of essential value to society, and a great many in public service of little or none. The last 15 years I've alternated in and out of the public and private sectors and don't rate one higher than the other in the aggregate. They both have their place.

This is a lesson sadly unlearned by many on the right. Time and time again I see people like me characterised as not living in the "real world" (Hello-o! There is only one! If you're seeing other ones, I recommend a psychiatrist!), for the seemingly impardonable sin of working for a publicly-funded institution. It's a testimony to the fact that a lot of right-wingers never come to realise the foolishness of imagining that the world fits into their little ideological box. For examples, look no further than any of the ACT or Libertarianz blogs.

A simple contrast. Today staff at my work were addressed by Dr Al Rowland, a senior lecturer in genetics and plant biology and apparently not a denizen of the "real world." Al came up with the tests that proved British and NZ servicemen suffered serious genetic damage while observing nuclear testing at the behest of the UK govt. Contrast Al with Mr John Key, an undisputed participant in the "real world" of separating people from their cash. Unlike Dr Rowland's abstract and pointless achievements, Mr Key made shitloads of cash by shifting currency from one place to another on behalf of clients, exploiting fractional differences in exchange rates. Uh, right. So, like, one of these guys is an ivory-tower type dealing in abstractions and offering no discernable and demonstrable practical benefit to society, and the other lives in the "real world." Well, yeah on the whole I have to agree, Kate. But I don't think we're both talking about the same person.


the deity formerly known as nigel6888 said...

right, so because your lecturer is from a university talking about the impact of nuclear testing on service people is somehow not true because he is not in the private sector? really? Your point being?

incomprehensible. stick to the car blogging, the rest is getting very boring milt.

Psycho Milt said...

You've got a cheek calling my post incomprehensible, given your first sentence makes no sense at all. Care to try again?

LaFemme said...

Thoughtful post, Psycho, I hope lots of people read it and consider, even if just for a moment, that no one view can give us the picture en toto.

KG said...

"Publicly funded" = money thieved from working taxpayers and pissed up against the wall (largely) by bureaucrat assholes who produce nothing and contribute nothing to the national wealth. In fact they're a massive drain on the productive sectors of NZ. And you're happy enough to suck on that teat.
At least the people who parted with their money in John Key's world did so voluntarily, with the expectation of making a profit.

Psycho Milt said...

Thank you for coming along to provide further illustration of exactly the kind of bigotry I'm talking about, KG.

Anonymous said...

I've worked in the universities, public service, state corporations, multinational corporations, professional firms, private enterprise and my own small business.

They all have their place, stresses and challenges; and their satisfactions.

But I tell you, the toughest is the raw day to day struggle to survive in a small business, especially under Labour.

At that stage of my life I learned to loath those who made regulations and laws that made my life a misery, and chopped and changed policies that made a joke of any notion of business planning.

Compared to all the securities and cosseting you have as an employee, as a small business owner you are at the bottom of the heap, unsupported and on your own. Yet these guys are the engines of the economy, and the source of our growth.

As a country we have our priorities arse about face, and it shows in our economic performance.

Every public servant and politician should understand very clearly what I am saying. When I was a public servant I did not, and looking back there are many things I would have done differently if I had understood.

I will be voting for John Key because, if for no other reason, he has felt the heat, and is more likely to take decisions that respect rather than denigrate small business. I hope that is what will happen, and if it does we will all be much better off.

Cactus Kate said...

"Today staff at my work were addressed by Dr Al Rowland, a senior lecturer in genetics and plant biology and apparently not a denizen of the "real world."

You see right there Milt that's the difference between the private and public sector. Employees in the private sector spent today most likely filling out stupid forms and dealing with bureaucracy and compliance created by the public sector. While the taxpayer paid for you to listen to an academic, albiet a useful one and not a history professor or a politics lecturer as if he would be as a Labour stalwart.

"I was less than chuffed at working in the private sector, where your worth is measured how well you are able to part fools from their money"

And again Milt - the public sector measures worth exactly this way. Helen Clark and her Labour Party appointees have done marvellously well at "parting fools from their money" - 39% of it in many cases.

Psycho Milt said...

The private sector makes no effort to listen to and understand its customers, Kate? That doesn't match my experience.

It's certainly true that society could continue without the public sector, but couldn't continue in any sensible form without the private sector. The mistake of the right is in imagining that confers some kind of moral superiority; it doesn't. The reason we have a public sector in the first place is that we know exactly how ugly and unpleasant the lives of the great majority are in a society dominated by the private sector - living in Hong Kong, you must know that very well.

Redbaiter said...

"Thank you for coming along to provide further illustration of exactly the kind of bigotry I'm talking about, KG."

Yep- standard leftist response. Any criticism that challenges leftist social ascendancy and that has the ring of truth to it must be branded as ignorant, misguided or bigoted or be met with some other similar disparagement. Whatever happens, people must be discouraged from speaking out against leftism. (Left think- Crikey, if everybody did it, we'd lose our grip on power.)

Buggerlugs said...

I'm with anonymous and cactus kate. milt, you live up to your forename. perhaps you could try pulling your head out of your arse.

When I worked in the public sector, I got lots of invites to hear people like Al Rowland. I just got on with what had to be done unless it was relevant to my work.

Did you enjoy your break from contributing to the 'real world'?

Psycho Milt said...

Redbaiter: given that I own up in that post to having engaged in the same kind of bigotry myself, your peddling of your favourite hobby horse here is more than usually redundant.

Buggerlugs: I don't doubt you've resolutely refused to meet, listen to and understand your customers. Doesn't surprise me in the slightest. How you can interpret this failing as some indicator of moral superiority though, that part isn't clear at all.

Pique Oil said...

PM, Here is a little story from a good friend of mine who is a contracted truckie.
He leases his truck and thius he has to carry at all times a letter delegating all fines to his company rather than the leasing company. If he doesn't have this always available he will be fined .
He also has to have his GSL(goods service licence) number etc in the door of the truck. He has it in the truck window and was fined as it was not in the correct place. He is now getting magnetic signs made as this will not mean a repaint of the door at the end of the lease.
Now I ask you what is achieved by these absolute necessities? His truck is no safer, his driving is no safer, the load is no safer and most importantly the load has in no way gained nay value from these actions.
Regulation and compliance in tough economic times must add value.
There is no sin in being paid from public funding, but there is a responsibilty to spend that funding wisely and meaningfully.

Anonymous said...

I do not deny the fact that public servants are essential. However at present there are too many of them; their tasks are questionable and their political masters have given them a wretched direction--bother the rest of NZ with taxes levies and rules so we can fund a crummy and confused ideology and remain in power. The Public Service tradition of impartiality is compromised, and so they are disliked. How long is it since optimism instead of anxiety ruled government departments? How much talent is wasted in an exchange for 'job security'. NZ is on a slipway and is starting to look like the situations described by Tacitus in The Annals. One of the first stages is the confusion that the country exists to serve the engine of the state.
To all Public Servants: Sorry. Me public; You servant.

KG said...

Ah yes, that bigotry, eh.....
It's 'bigotry'to object to some arse-polishing leech being able to dictate what I do with my own property, 'bigotry' to object to having an army of leeches distributing my hard-earned money to lowlifes and layabouts, 'bigotry' to object to 'public service' leeches attending endless conferences and seminars and so forth at my expense while it's impossible to get a human to answer the fucking telephone at government offices I ring.
There's a lot of bigotry about...
I have more respect for someone who cleans sewage ponds for a living than for your ilk, Psycho.
Get it straight--so-calle public servants are a massive drain on the economy, a burden the rest of us have to carry. They're largely little more than beneficiaries in suits.

OECD rank 22 kiwi said...

What KG said.

WAKE UP said...

Time was, the Labour party was created by, for and of the people, was essentially staffed and fronted by same, and voted for by working stiffs like my father and grandfather, who resolutely voted Labour all their lives, God bless.

The dichotomy I don't get is: Why, now that the direction and leadership of Labour has been taken over by University wonks, idiots and pointy-heads, and it's no longer the same entity, do the same working stiffs (with no disrespect to my fine forebears intended) still vote for it?

This is a much more interesting question than debating the obvious differences between Left and Right in general.

Psycho Milt said...

KG: Yes, the old cobblers you're spouting is bigotry. It doesn't warrant any more involved answer, but since I'm a nice guy I'll give you one anyway.

Back when I was a proper socialist and regarded people like Key as parasites on the back of those doing productive labour, that was bigotry on my part. My personal definition at any one time of what work is productive or not isn't some kind of gold standard of objective measurement of usefulness to society, it's my not-overly-informed opinion. Even now, my personal opinion is that I was more useful to people in the year I spent as a PSA delegate than some of the people who sell useless crap to people with more money than sense ever will be, but that remains a personal opinion, not a statement of fact. Your own opinions reflect the bigotry described above, but you fail to recgnise the fact.

Pique oil: you've never encountered rigid enforcement of foolish and pointless rules in the private sector? I suggest you start reading Dilbert.

Wake Up: since I'm not a Labour voter, I can offer no insights here.

OECD rank 22 kiwi said...

The lesson PM should have learnt from his time "working" in the public sector is DON’T.

Talk about pissing your life away. Bludging off the state, delivering little if anything in the way of measurable outcomes. All the time burdened with the knowledge that you could have done so much better (Apart from the lifers of course who are useless and couldn’t get a job in the private sector to save themselves). How many tea breaks have you had at “work” today PM.

On the plus side, at least PM has made a direct contribution to the war effort in Iraq by directly supporting the US military machine in a past career choice. How that squares with voting for the Green party I’m not sure. Jeanette Fitzsimons salutes you PM.

OECD rank 22 kiwi said...

Bernard Hickey has an interesting take how the Labour government has completely stuffed up New Zealand with it’s government waste and welfare for losers approach. Check it out over on
Opinion: Why we need a crisis and a not so secret agenda

Psycho Milt said...

OECDrank22: I may have been nice enough to respond seriously to KG's bigotry, but I'm not nice enough to take your bullshit seriously. If you seriously believe that stuff, you're a walking caricature.

Lance said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I like Milt's posts. They offer a premise check.

When you have a premise on what you think is the best for the world and someone diametrically opposed to you says the opposite, of course you are going to assume they mean harm.

They very probably don't. They simply operate from a different set of premises trying to reach the same conclusion of a peaceable, productive society (or similar - let's just say it is benevolence). It's no good running around calling the left evil or accusing them of deliberate malice.

Now that is not to say that I don't view the product of collectivist/leftist thinking as downright evil, just that I don't easily attribute it to malice.

So Milt offers here a premise check (well okay he outright says the premise is wrong), the premise being that "Labour Party people don't know how the real world works". And it is something that is thrown around a lot - usually with the justification that the "public sector" where most(a lot, some, all, the prominent ones?) Labourites have spent their careers, isn't the real world.

Why? Well the argument seems to be that the public sector is an artificial construct, propped up with taxation (i.e. money taken by force), with protections not afforded to the private sector (and frankly the recent bailouts by the US gummint put paid to that idea in some areas of the now not so private sector). Fine, okay, whatever - I don't believe I have straw-manned that argument too badly feel free to challenge it.

Now - my wife is a quite successful high school teacher in a public school, I am self employed as a freelance contractor. She is public sector and I am about as private sector as you can get, but I can assure you we very much occupy the same reality. We both have to continually justify our positions with the work we do, we pay our taxes, and do our best to get by, which isn't always easy.

At the very least Milt has pointed out that "Public sector" != "Real world" is a bad premise. Defend it, reconstruct it, do something! I'd hate to see the cheeky pinko vindicated...

Anonymous said...

"delivering little if anything in the way of measurable outcomes"

Most of the advances that have delivered very measurable advances in the diary industry meaning that New Zealand has arguably the biggest, most profitable, and advanced diary sector in the world have come from Hort Research and Massey University, both publicly funded institutions.

Then we could get on to the many world leading medical procedures that gosh darn it were researched and developed in our public health system. I suppose they don't contribute anything measurable to you.

OECD rank 22 kiwi said...

Did I touch a nerve PM?

Too many tea breaks yesterday?

Psycho Milt said...

No OECDrank22, I simply don't value your ignorance-based opinion of what my job consists of.

No doubt if I knew what you did for a living I'd consider it a pointless waste of time contributing nothing of value to the world. So what? Why would you care? On the same basis, your delusions about my work are worthless to me.

The above notwithstanding, your views on the public sector are indeed those of a caricature. Are you really that shallow, or simply not very bright?

Lance: cheers, glad somebody appreciates my efforts!

Anon: no, OECDrank22 doesn't consider those to be worthwhile, because it was done for the public, not shareholders. And no, I don't follow the logic of it either.

Sus said...

Nice post, Lance.

As a libertarian (that's not a right-winger, BTW!), I have little time for the public service, period.

I believe that most govt depts could disappear today & go unnoticed by most of us, such is their pointlessness. And I believe that private enterprise can run everything, leaving the state to prove police & defence forces & a justice system, ie its core duties.

Does private enterprise get it right all the time, Milt? Of course not. But when it doesn't, it only has itself to blame. It loses its own money.

Conversely, the state can dream up whatever grandiose scheme it likes, and when it fails or blows out as it invariably does, the perpetrators blithely carry on being paid by the taxpayers with nobody being made accountable.

That's not Fantasyland. *That's* the difference.

Psycho Milt said...

It's a matter of opinion, not fact. One fact we are all agreed on (except for the anarchists) is that some activities are best carried out for the public good rather than for private profit. At your end of the spectrum, you recognise only police, justice and defence as being these kind of activities. At my end, a wide range of activities are recognised as "public good" ones. There's plenty of scope for argument and plenty of good arguments have been made for all positions along that spectrum by better thinkers than me. My point is, "private profit" is not inherently superior to "public good," merely more or less appropriate for particular activities depending on your political viewpoint.

Sus said...

Not opinion, but fact, Milt. And the fact is that we are *forced* to fund govt depts, whether we approve of their existence or not - and whether we utilise their services or not.

You speak of the "public good" - but what is that? Who makes that call? Whereas services provided by private companies are forced upon nobody. Customers pick & choose.

Besides, if state-run services are so important, then why does the state not control the most important service of all: the food supply?

A: Because countries that do just that result in shortages, high prices & starving people. You wouldn't tolerate a six-month waiting list at the supermarket, so why should you for hospital admission?

The irony is that if private enterprise delivered similar outcomes, they'd be crucified - and rightly so.

"Private profits" derive from customers who voluntarily purchase. Companies stand & fall upon performance. (Or should do, which is why I opposed the Wall St bailout).

"Public services" are funded from monies taken by *force. (And if you disagree with that sentiment, then I invite you to withhold your taxes on a point of conscience - and see how far you get). It doesn't matter how inefficiently they operate, nobody's ever accountable & the govt money just keeps coming.


*Non-initiation of force is the "civil" bit of civilised. And a civilised society is one based on voluntary activity, not coercion.

WAKE UP said...

HEY MILT, WAKE UP here - you can do better than that.

I'm not interested in who you do/don't vote for (please don't tell me, I regard that info as a private vice) - and so I'm also not interested in your ducking the issue I raised about Labour voters by your saying you don't vote Labour.

(Nor am I interested in you implying that I might be a Labour voter, just because I wrote an insightful query about Labour voters).

TINUE TO VOTE FOR THE LABOUR PARTY WHEN IT IS NO LONGER THE PARTY OF ITS ORIGINS (having been taken over by university wonks, idiots and pointy-heads)?

It appears that you don't have an answer. Well, neither do I (that's why I put it out there!)
but at least I'm man enough to ask.

Too bad some of the Left don't do the same instead of continuing to vote on auto-pilot, eh?

Sus said...

Sorry, I missed something crucial:

I believe that the state must provide a police force, defence force & run the justice system - not for "public good" - but because the state exists to protect the individual rights of its citizens internally (police) & externally (defence), and uphold contract law.

That's it. It is chained up like a guard dog to do *nothing* but protect our rights. It does not otherwise interfere.

Here's the thing:

Citizens may do whatever they like, except those things expressly forbidden (acts of fraud & force, etc).

The govt may do nothing, except those three things with which it is charged.

Then it truly would be the public *service*, as opposed to public control.

Psycho Milt said...

Sus: I realise you believe the universe fits perfectly inside that little box you made for it, but the rest of us don't share that belief, knowing it to be wrong. No doubt it is very annoying for you, but there's not much to be done about it.

Wake Up: you might just as well ask why farmers and small business owners continue to support National when it's no longer the party of its origins. Inertia and an absence of critical thinking, for the most part, I presume. I just don't consider it particularly relevant to my post.

Sus said...

Too easy to just say it's "wrong". That's no argument.

1. What part of coercion is ok, then?

2. I repeat: If state-run services are so essential, then why does the state not control the crucial service that is the food supply?

I'm away for the wknd. Look forward to your answers next week. ;)

Redbaiter said...

"but the rest of us don't share that belief,"

"rest of us'.. pfft typical leftist bullshit, always trying to marginalize disagreeemnt.

Please show some manners. You don't speak for me.

Debate the issue loser.

Psycho Milt said...

Sus: will answer in a separate post.

Redbaiter: Given that above 99% of the population are not libertarians, I think "the rest of us" is pretty accurate. Your delusion that by saying that I'm attempting to reserve some kind of right to speak on behalf of that 99.something percent is, as ever, merely one of your bizarre personality quirks.

OECD rank 22 kiwi said...

The Private sector is efficient thanks to competition. You fail and you're gone(Unless the government starts to interfere in the market place).

The public sector is inefficient because it is a monopoly. It fails and fails again just like the public health sector does and no one is held responsible.

The public sector is bad value for money. A transfer from the productive to the non-productive.

It's no wonder New Zealand's productivity along with it's place in the world is declining.

Keep up the good work PM.