Rich and Poor in New Zealand

Jurriaan Bendien bendien at tomaatnet.nl
Sat Jul 19 21:25:42 MDT 2003


Hi Phil,

Well - the big names (Hart, Fay, Richwhite, Myers, Tindall, Gibbs, Watson,
Todd, Goodman, Stewart, Paterson, Horton, Heatley, Barfoot, Norman, Levene)
are all familiar, they all have been around for 20 years or more, and some
of them, like the Todds, go really far back in New Zealand history. It is a
case of "know your own bourgeoisie" and there is really plenty information
about it. A lot of them hold directorates in investment companies which own
a whole string of subsidiaries and associated companies. Some of the names
seem to be new, like Peter Cooper (property development) who is USA based,
Rodney Duke (retail) and Michael Erceg (liquor trade).

In the 1980s, the path to enrichment in New Zealand was especially the
stockmarket, property sales and currency speculation, but in the 1990s, the
emphasis has shifted to property development. The more rapid enrichment of
the superrich nowadays derives from, and promotes, the sharp increase in
property values, especially in the higher end of the market. I think New
Zealand is also becoming increasingly popular in haute bourgeois circles as
a place "away from trouble" where you might retreat or retire, in your own
pied-a-terre, and so people build these mansions in secluded areas on a few
hectares of land and so on. The concept of the "hobby farm" is a similar
idea.

What you people really have to understand is that the international
bourgeoisie is thinking ahead, a bit like the people from "Spiked on-line".
Clean water, clean air, beautiful scenery, a tranquil environment - all of
this is fast becoming a scarce commodity in the world. And so these people
start looking for a quiet place to retire, which is desirable if all hell
starts to break lose. In 1968, the French bourgeoisie just took a holiday in
Marseille to wait for de Gaulle to deal with the strikers. But nowadays New
Zealand becomes a more attractive option, among other countries. You have to
have some place where you can quietly enjoy your wealth, and the rich are
prepared to pay for it, this raises property prices. Some of the rich just
buy an island somewhere in the Caraibbean or the Pacific.

My personal objection to the Green Party is not that they don't have good
intentions, but it is rather that they literally miss the wood for the
trees. They do not understand the meaning of class politics and they do not
understand the real meaning of the capitalist world crisis. When those
Greens come under severe political pressure, they often become erratic in
their behaviour, and might do all sorts of strange things. Some of the
socialist Greens are okay, but a lot of the Greens are just nutty, they want
to tax plastic supermarket bags and stuff like that.

It has been estimated that the total world population in 2050 will be well
over 9 billion people. In principle, the planet could carry that amount of
people, if you have good social systems in place. However, the capitalist
world crisis means that this is not happening, the debt burdens keep rising,
public services fall apart, infrastructure falls apart, poverty keeps
rising, arable land areas shrink, unemployment keeps rising, deaths and
diseases keep rising, crime and prostitution increases, and so on. This
means that within our own lifetime, we are going to see some more very big
social explosions and a lot of authoritarian politics, other things
remaining equal. So then if you are rich, you want to have your little nest
sorted out by then, perhaps somewhere tucked away in New Zealand. There is a
big market there.

When I mentioned the perspective of my Maori friend on New Zealand politics,
I did not say that I agreed with her viewpoint. She is not a politically
highly sophisticated person capable of making a comprehensive political
analysis. She is just an "ordinary person" who looks at things from her
point of view, her place in the world, somebody who is not interesting for
David Schanoes (alias "dms"). In the 20th century, Labour was always the
party that helped the New Zealand bourgeoisie out of a crisis, precisely
because of its traditional social bond with the working class. But the way
she explained it to me on the phone was, "it does not matter who has
government power, you get ripped off more anyway".

Cheers

J.










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