The Agora

This is the place for our readers to have their say, to talk about whatever interests them.

The floor is all yours – shoot the breeze.

Our usual comment guidelines will apply.

Over to you.

137 thoughts on “THE AGORA

  1. Gert,

    There’s a difference between ‘self sufficient cultures’, like Japan and ‘leading cultures’ like the US. France is not the world’s leading culture. I wasn’t referring to France’s internal culture but its influence on the world.

  2. Social and work interactions in NZ?

    I’m not sure if I’ll get any replies, but hopefully someone will see this. I’m an American (West Coaster) and have lived in NZ for 4 years. Even after that long, I’m still struggling to ‘fit in.’ Bigtime. Here are some of the things I’m struggling with:
    – Why don’t people look at each other in the eye or smile at each other?
    – I feel an enormous disconnect between the people in my work environment and myself. As if I’m from Mars or something. I still can’t put my finger on it. Can someone help me understand?
    – I often feel that the moment someone figures out I’m American (which is pretty quick, although they like to take me for a Canadian or even an Irish person), there’s a cooling (not that there was much warmth anyhow). Am I imagining things?
    – At work, there is a tremendous lack of directness. At meetings, when asked what I think, I say what I think. I’m not a particularly confrontational person, and I’ve never been accused of being nasty (most Americans describe me as kind). Here, I’ve gotten comments like “you need to pick your battles” and “you’re not known for holding back your opinions.” Have I changed, or am I in some vortex?
    – No Kiwi has ever invited me to their house for a drink or a meal. Nor has anyone at my child’s school. Is this normal?

    I’d love to hear about your experiences. Thanks.

    • Not a lot of answers – but more a reaffirmation of what you have already said!

      I am a New Zealander (born of immigrant parents). I live on the South Island – or as the majority of my fellow countrymen and women would say – ‘in’ the South Island.

      In the workplace I am often asked what I am smiling at… It seems to annoy some people greatly – especially middle-aged women (I am a middle-aged male). Many of my co-workers have led such tragic lives and they seem to be constantly leaving work to deal with family dramas. No, they don’t tell jokes and they don’t know what’s happening in the world. Their lives are very miserable. They eat a lot of processed-carbohydrates, are overweight, and have low self-esteem. Many abuse alcohol and smoke marijuana on a regular – if not daily – basis. Sadly, this is fairly typical for New Zealand. It is also hardly a recipe for the South Pacific paradise the popular media and tourist brochures tell us about.

      In a social sense – all my closest friends are people I went to school with – people I have known all my life. The only new friends I have ever really made are – perhaps not surprisingly – immigrants or Kiwis who have lived overseas for considerable periods.

      I have spent time in the US and over the years have known quite a few Americans here in New Zealand. In comparison to Kiwis – Americans certainly look you in the eye, are assertive, and are not afraid to speak up should the occasion arise – they are also I might add (in my experience) very charitable, friendly, and giving (this I first experienced as a young backpacker in the US back in the 1980s). They also expect nothing in return for their charity (there is no ‘underlying motive’ like there often is with Kiwis who ‘appear’ to be charitable).

      In comparison Kiwis are often ‘backstabbers’ – they will say nothing at the time (at a work meeting for example) but will take an issue away with them and either bear a grudge for eternity – or form an undercover faction to character assassinate the person/s they disagree with. Many Kiwis harbour a lot of anger and many ‘go off’ at the slightest provocation. If you dare suggest something could be done another way (ultimately – more ‘efficiently’) they will come down on you like a ton of bricks.

      When I was growing up my parents were heavily involved with the school in my hometown (the PTA and other committees). All new staff and new parents to the district were automatically invited round for a cup of coffee or a meal. It was second nature to my parents – I guess because they had once been newcomers themselves.

      The amount of xenophobia, intolerance, and distrust which exists in New Zealand today is actually ‘way beyond’ disturbing.

    • SafeFromNewZealand,

      In my experience ‘quality issues’ pertain to many kiwi food exports. I have worked in the NZ food industry at various times over the past 20 years and have encountered this first hand. Quality has been compromised in favour of the sheer volume of food produced. Kiwi primary producers brag about how efficient they are (in this regard) compared to their overseas counterparts but at what cost? Inferior products, food safety issues, and environmental degradation. These are hardly the hallmarks of a so-called ‘developed’ nation.

  3. CHILDRENS RIGHTS NZ FOUNDER/ DIRECTOR Dr Lisa Shamseldin tonight in hiding with her children from New Zealand judicial harassment and intimidation. Dr Shamseldin has accused New Zealand officials of breaking international human rights law in their pursuit of her and her whistleblowing organisation, and in subjecting her children to a campaign of harassment and arbitrary attacks on their reputations, including threatening her over 47 times to remove her children from her care and threatening her children with arbitrary detention under the use of “Parental Alienation Syndrome”.

    Parental Alienation Syndrome, “PAS” or anyother name by which this is known is a framework used to determine the best interests of the child by the New Zealand Judicial system. It is not recognised by the international legal and scientific community and its roots lie in the support of paedophilia. The USA and Australia have disciplined judges and psychologists caught using it in family court. This “junk science” is entrenched in the New Zealand family court and it is used to mask domestic violence and child abuse, including child sexual abuse. The use of “Parental Alienation Syndrome” breaches international fair trial rules.

    Dr Lisa Shamseldin and her children remain in hiding over the weekend with judicial threats to their safety still in place. A protection order issued against Dr Shamseldin accuses her of domestic violence and child abuse, including child sexual abuse. We do not think this is a coincidence given the history of judicial harassment and the fact this comes less than 2 weeks after Dr Shamseldin’s keynote speech in Kenya on judicial corruption and breaches of fair trial rules by the New Zealand Family Court where Dr Shamseldin spoke in front of UN Officials and a Justice from the Supreme Court of Kenya.

  4. Yes, sometimes I think that Mother France still “runs the world”. I worked in freight forwarding and logistics for years, and I found it rather, well, odd, how French companies seem to be “buying up” all the fresh water resources. Not being a hater here, and never investigated it, on my own, but anytime I talked to someone buying, or selling, bottled water, the “middle man” was in France. Maybe this is the French “endgame”? Viva La France, are you thirsty, “you English pig- dogs”!

  5. O.k here I go haha ,as someone who resided in the U.S for twenty five years I found gun ownership to be very comforting,if somebody came creeping into my house in the dark hours I would most defiantly have shot them ,I find that mass gun ownership is a real deterrent to criminals however it needs to be coupled with a legal system which allows a person to defend their own life and property ,in my humble opinion this is how things should be ,And is in most states of the U.S .it is so.People seem to me more self controlled and polite when they know that the person they are pissing off has the potential and means to put a cap in their ass,the kind of road rage trespass ,burglary and home invasions experienced in N.Z are a lot more rare in the U.S due to the great equalising threat of the gun,even the police are more polite and careful about adhering to laws regarding property search etc.
    I do understand that N.Z laws do not support people’s rights to protect their own lives and property,a call to the 111 centre would more likely tell you to just wait for the deranged killer to rape and kill your entire family,they are experiencing unusually high call volumes at this time(due to rampant out of control repeat offenders) so just wait ,don’t defend yourself ,the police will be around sometime within the next 4 hours.(maybe)

  6. Anti- US sentiment is actually an easy way out, to a certain extent. It is also considered a “safe” position. No one ever challenges it, or it is considered “unfashionable” to do so. Other powers, such as Russia, or China, or even India, do not much care about the court of public opinion. internal dissent in China can mean jail time, rioting in the United States might get you one night in jail, maybe. You can hear quite a bit of Anti- US sentiment at our colleges, from comfortable, upper- middle class “children”. It never surprises me to hear that someone hates the United States. In fact, it is an entertaining “trope”. Regards.

    • Yes it’s easier to have a clear conscience and carry on if one can point in the direction of the U.S and say how stupid they are over there,I fear Trump won’t improve this situation.

  7. As someone that has lived my entire life in the United States, I love to hear the opinions of others. Australians and New Zealanders are going to have a different view, or many different views, outside looking in, than most Americans. In regards to the USA. What I have noticed, from some New Zealanders, is an almost- paranoid “we are losing our culture” because of the United States trope. This, of course, has nothing to do with our foreign policy, or any President, but I guess it is more our movies, and fast food companies, perhaps? Marketing is marketing. We have a very popular Outback Steakhouse chain, complete with faux Australian “culture”, and television ads with Aussies playing on the beach. Money is money, and companies are going to use whatever brings in cash. Hang a boomerang on the wall, have an Aussie voice in a radio commercial, the money rolls in. Americans tend to “love” Australians. Fair enough. Hardly compromises my “native culture”. Long story short, if so many New Zealanders hate the United States, quit eating Maccas, give up KFC, quit watching our movies, and please quit defining yourselves by the old “we are not the bloody Yanks”. No, you are not. No one ever claimed you, not from my point of view. You can become whatever you desire. Use body paint, dye your hair silver, wear trash bags to work. Do I care, “way up here”? You already have a worn- out, hack director that markets “fantasy movies” here, should I be upset? New Zealand is so bloody isolated, it should be a great incubator for a very distinct culture. Have at it. I am not being rude, but most people here in the United States do not worry about New Zealand. We have nothing to do with what our fast food companies marketing, most of us, anyway. Paranoia, no matter the nationality, is never a good thing. Regards.

    • Charles,

      Yes, indeed, American ‘soft power’ is very influential and the US is not forcing it on the rest of the world, we choose to adopt it. However there’s one qualification, to some extent, the Americanisation is only superficial. Most Australians and Western Europeans, would not want to adopt the US health system, the greater degree of social inequality, the gun culture or America’s political institutions.

      Cultural assimilation is hardly a recent phenomenon, people have been adapting each others’ cultures for thousands of years and if the rest of the world is besotted with US pop culture, it’s not America’s fault.

      • I believe we have already embraced all the cultural Americanisms you mention ,John Key basically follows a script which could have come straight out of the U.S,it’s a global trend.

  8. Ok, cool – btw I also intended to post using my ‘nickname’ but I guess when I clicked “change” it didn’t
    So, yeah – I’m sorry, I do tend to get passionate about the topic – especially as I’ve now had too many different Kiwis (including spouse’s relatives) I’ve seen get slowly brainwashed by the NZ media – the anti-USA stuff is getting downright scary here. Plus I’ve just about had my head bitten off by people that think the ‘modern’ world is somehow now this ideal fantasy paradise, when it’s not – and they have no clue about history – it Repeats.
    Anyway – In an attempt to bring the topic back to where it should be – that poor little baby: In regard to what McleodKiwiTony said “…to educate people in favour of caring and nurturing rather than killing” — when you take away all the good old youth programs (YMCA/YWCA, Girls/Boys clubs, activities other than sports)… there is nothing for the youth to do but booze it up and have sex and get into things they should Not be getting into. No joy, no ambition, no life goals, no hope. This Topic may as well be like so many other topics here (Suicide, drunkeness, etc etc etc).
    Take away the Mental Facilities and you have total nutcases as our next door neighbors, and folks, this isn’t just a one-off rare thing – this is happening ALL OVER the place! And this statement might be the most disliked by some, but it’s a reality: Take away the very thing that Western values originated from in the first place: Church (or at least belief in God, or belief in Right vs Wrong) and you have one hell of a confused, screwed up society. Those values (Do unto others, ten commandments, etc) – are dying, and as they do – the vacuum left behind gets filled in with twisted values that are either imported from other non-western countries, or injected via God-hating media propaganda. Let’s call it what it is? It’s to the point where people are so callous, one day no one will give a damn about a little girl being shot. Slippery slopes, all over the place, is what I see.

    Taking guns away will do Nothing except give Absolute power (which IS more than they have right now, even with spying, etc) to the Corrupt that much more quickly, and oppress the good-hearted, decent folk that are left. Please read real history (not ‘deconstructionist’ garbage) on Nazi Germany, Stalin, Mao, and many other instances.
    Turning the hearts of people back to valuing what is “Good” and not just what is “Easy/Convenient” is the only real solution. This is what ails not only NZ but the entire world atm.

    We All need to wake up. And..ok I’m done with this thread, I promise – I have no other solution than what I said. (lol, I will stay off this thread, to make sure I don’t take it off topic from here out). 🙂
    E2NZ – if you feel I DID go too far yet again, please feel free to move this one to the Agora? Thanks…

    (moved from

    • I have to wonder, as an American, tho neither a Right- wing, nor a Left- wing one, is the old ANZAC alliance really of any value? I would much rather that Australians, and New Zealanders, figure out where their nations are headed, and make whatever alliances that are necessary, for them. Not to be flippant, but if New Zealanders, in particular, are that uncomfortable with the United States, I, for one, do not wish to hold them hostage. The world has changed a lot, and it may be time for New Zealand, in particular, to go in another direction. The United States can find another strategic ally, I am sure. Again, no hostility intended, but loyalties are shifting, and New Zealand can make whatever associations that are convenient to the body politic. Regards.

      • The irrelevance of NZ being any kind of strategic help can most easily be analyzed by the “no nukes” stand that NZ took and not allowing US [war] ships in. Very little disturbance [if any] to the US Navy, yet this seemed to be a way bigger deal for NZ. I think that NZ does not like being known as being irrelevant, yet, mostly, they are.

    • Lucypevensie7

      I understand your point of view—I get rather irritated by the ignorant anti-Australian comments in the NZ MSM. We will have to agree to differ on the subject of gun control.

      • Can I interject something a bit funny, here? I used to work, years ago, with a woman from Paris, France. She was great to work with, and we used to have “enlightening”, for me anyway, conversations. She had lived in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States, and I once made the mistake of asking her what she thought of the cultural differences between the three nations. Her one word answer- “culture”? One thing about the French, they are brutally frank. Or Frank, as that pun may be.

        • Charles,

          That remark seems far more arrogant than frank. I sometimes wonder if the French have become just a little sulky after losing their place as the West’s leading culture to….the Americans.

          Of course there’s Machiavelli’s famous observation— “Men always resent those to whom they’re indebted”. The French didn’t liberate themselves from the Nazis.

          • There is a pun intended , but also a very genuine perception. An other observation is that the French have never lost their leading culture . It is just not touted on an industrial level , because it is a self sufficient culture . But the self sufficiency does not make it a more tenuous culture .And that is what RusselW has not understood.Myself from Netherlands can very naturally agree with the French lady’s remark , the more when returning from America or an other ” new” world place , and visiting France again. Or Italy , or Spain , or Germany etc for that matter. It is just the very nature of things . Conversely France has no Grand Canyon.

    • Hmmm ,my neighbours are white Christian( or let’s just say they attend a Christian church) and they really suck at being nice ,they are horrible self centered self important trolls with a superiority complex.Many of the social problems we have now were cooking two generations ago ,I don’t think religion is the only answer to our current problems ,the world seems to have gone off the rails with its greed and lack of empathy and compassion ,N.Z is no exception also it seems that financial desperation here causes people to really push the limits of morally acceptable behaviour ,Ive mentioned in previous posts that N.Z people have no problem selling one another or foreigners goods and services which are completely defective ,when confronted or asked to be accountable they will run and hide behind this countries defective legal system and victim blame claiming caveat emptor etc.I will do no financial transactions of significance in N.Z without operating through a law firm

      • Hi MKT – I do get where you’re coming from about your neighbors. Just to clarify I said “Church (OR at least belief in God, OR belief in Right vs Wrong) ” .. when we no longer have “Right vs Wrong” and everything becomes Relative (which ultimately is the Luciferian tenet of “Do what thou wilt”), then you get chaos, and ultimately Zero justice. People need to start caring about and Defining what is truly “Right” and what is “Wrong” again before they can “Care” about anything – it’s no longer about caring, it’s about Toleration and Acceptance of what has always previously been “Wrong.” I’m sad to see so many don’t get where I’m coming from – but I’ve said my piece and don’t have anything more to add.

        Anyway – I wanted to give you one last answer… I’d like to thank this site for existing, at least to give us clarity about NZ – but I think my time here is done. Problem is, Even though I keep unsubscribing from the forum, I’m still getting email notices…lol Really have a lot to do IRL right now so won’t be coming back to this forum. (please expect no more answers from me)
        Hoping the best for everyone and good luck!

      • “I don’t think religion is the only answer”

        I’d agree. Individual responsibility, knowing right from wrong, identifying good and evil will be of much further use. The adherence to conformity [in NZ] is a huge hindrance.

  9. lucypevensie7

    (1) “Slave Rebellion”? No idea what that has to do with this…”

    You’ve overreacted to my comments by deciding that I’m some smart arse foreigner taking easy shots at the US, I’m not. The fact is that the Second Amendment was introduced in 1791, more than seventy years before slavery was abolished in the US. The last decade of the 18th century was the period of the successful Haitian slave revolt (French colonists were virtually annihilated or expelled) which alarmed, naturally, both America and the European colonial governments. My interpretation is that the militia was as much a defence against internal insurrection as foreign enemies. If I’m wrong it doesn’t weaken my other arguments.

    (2) “.. our old Allies have bought the media campaign against the USA which is Very strong in NZ and AUS.”

    Well, the US deserves criticism because of its appalling record in the Middle East, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were war crimes and caused more problems than they solved. America should have bombed the crap out of Saudi Arabia. Of course the Free World owes the US an enormous debt for its role during WW2 and the Cold War, however it’s lost its way. Surely America’s democratic allies are free to criticise its foreign policy, particularly when we’re all in it together.

    You presented a defence of the current interpretation of the Second Amendment and I suggested a critique, that’s reasonable isn’t it? You’ve also used straw man arguments and you also came close to an ad hominem attack. I’m also becoming increasingly annoyed with right wing Americans claiming that Australians have been “disarmed”, it’s drivel, ignorant drivel.

    So, I’m sceptical in regard to the effectiveness of America’s gun culture, but as I wrote earlier it’s ultimately America’s business.

    • Look, I have in fact encountered enough of those “smart arse foreigners” to easily have misunderstood what you were referring to (i.e. slave rebellion). Fair enough if you’re talking about another incident in history, but here again, that is your opinion. I never said you weren’t entitled to your opinion, merely throwing my own into the ring. There is still plenty of other historical evidence of what happens to countries who have their rights taken away, including the right for individuals to protect themselves.

      On point 2, criticism of our recent administrations is completely fair. Specifically Obama, Bush, and Clinton…but the nastiness and hatred toward regular Americans merely for being American (including those living in NZ, which is what this forum is about), isn’t right. I’m only stating a fact that the media DOES color everything one-sided. It does tend to utterly color Kiwi views, and the fact that so many of them are on the left – they’ve already made up their minds to dislike us and once that’s done it’s done.

      I’m sorry you feel I was making ad-hom attacks, there was no such intention there. I get passionate about this because as with the point I mentioned about women in the Middle East, I have first hand experience at suffering real oppression. It frustrates me that Westerners do not know what they will be in for if they do not defend their own culture, and the values they came from. Look what is happening in Europe now and the women of those nations being made to be afraid and “cover up.” Again, you conveniently chose to ignore that point – as I am so used to encountering from those I speak to who are liberal.

      When it comes down to it, and those people are attacking YOU or holding a gun to your head – us “right wing nutters” with our guns would be the first to come to your aid. And no, I don’t even own one — yet, though the way the world is going, I just may soon. Believe what you want to believe – but don’t expect us to stay silent either, we also have opinions, when in the face of Reality are quite valid.

    • I find it laughable that certain Americans genuinely believe the US is some benevolent power saving the world from danger. In fact, the current mess in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. illustrates just what a violent and maniacal government the US possesses. The US creates a myriad of serious problems and amplifies already extant problems through its eagerness to intervene militarily. This intervention has nothing to do with helping the affected people and everything to do with helping powerful lobby groups in the US, such as the military industrial complex.

      Australia and New Zealand do not have an independent foreign policy of substance. I think both countries would be far better off maintaining neutrality and increasing their trade with China and other nations. However, the leadership in these countries does what is best for the US power elite rather than for the locals. The US military installations in Australia exists more to keep Australia in line than to “protect” Australia from imagined dangers.

      US foreign policy towards the vanquished in World War II is also interesting. Rather than liberating these countries, the US inserted itself as the de facto coloniser. Germany and Japan have large US military installations to this day. Rather than demanding tribute as the Romans once did, the US uses Japan and Germany to run trade surpluses so they can buy large amounts of US debt, allowing the US to live beyond its means. This is merely a better disguised form of imperialism.

      The Republican yahoos in American politics are too dense to realise that the US is an insidious influence around the world. The world will be much better off when multi-polarity and a balance of power restores itself.

      • Sorry, I don’t really want to get involved any further in this. When my words merely get twisted to suit someone else’s biases, I’m out. Hate the USA all you like, enjoy yourself.

    • Thanks for sharing this Russell. The situation with Sweden does not surprise me. Unlike New Zealand. Sweden had an educated population and a plethora of competitive companies such as Volvo or Ericsson. The Swedish welfare state was viable in the past, in part, because most people worked and produced.

      Unfortunately, the Swedish elite have imported a mass of Third World people who are bleeding the system dry. The average time that it takes an asylum applicant in Sweden to find a job is seven years. The punitive taxation has also encouraged quality people to emigrate.

      New Zealand has always been far more backward than Sweden, so its experiment with Kiwi socialism failed sooner. Sweden actually has lower corporate tax rates and an environment that is more pro-business than say New Zealand. Unlike the relatively altruistic and intelligent Swedes, the Kiwis are low IQ takers. The capable people left and now the vampires can steal from themselves or gullible migrants that they can fool into settling in New Zealand.

      • Safefromnewzealand,

        Yes, if the Swedes, with all their advantages compared with NZ, are on the way to the Third World, I’m rather pessimistic about NZ’s economic and political prospects.

  10. Can anyone recommend a good moving company, from NZ to USA? (Sorry didn’t know where else to post this) but love to hear any user reviews or experiences with the NZ international moving companies. Thanks!

  11. Sorry to break in, this is Chuck from Indianapolis, USA. Is it not a “sort of” tradition in all English- speaking countries to be, well, anti- intellectual? If you are a good student in school, your classmates will often give you grief. I think that that might apply to Canada, USA, UK, NZ, and Australia. We have all heard it. Pencil- neck, geek, bookworm, egghead, etc. But if you can hit a baseball, a softball, toss a football, play rugby, play soccer, or hit the hockey puck, it is all good. Sports seems to be an English- speaking trans- national addiction. I do realize that sports makes money, but at what cost? What is produced? Nothing. It is like basing an economy on making horror films. Entertainment is great, but should athletes get all the attention? I have never seen an English- speaking modern- day intellectual on a poster, and no one collects scientist trading cards. Russia values authors, Japan values scientists, Germany has a long tradition of philosophers, etc. The best way to get rich, and popular, in an English- speaking nation is to play sports. Regards.

    • Charles,

      Yes, loud ‘anti-ntellectualism’ does seem to be part of the culture of English-speaking countries, however those countries still produce their share of intellectuals, particularly in science and literature.
      The British are credited with the invention of many modern sports, so it’s not surprising that the concept of competitive sports spread through the Empire.
      The Ancient Greeks, the Western world’s first eggheads were also fanatical sports fans and intensely competitive. The difference with modern ‘fans’ is that they’re spectators, they have more in common with the audience at the Roman arena than Classical Greeks.

      I don’t agree that the worship of sporting heroes is necessarily confined to the English speaking countries there are 100s of millions of occasionally violent, football/soccer fans around the world. Of course many citizens of the Anglophone community are not interested in spectator sports at all, like me. I try to ignore the football mania that infects my home state during the winter, it’s not easy.

      • Agreed, it is HARD to not be a sports fan. Indiana is basketball crazy, and I have yet to get up even a bit of interest in the sport. I do believe that athletic abilities should be valued, but it gets a little extreme sometimes. So many young people count on a career in sports, and most, of course, never make a living at it. I love this forum. The whole is great. Regards.

  12. safefromnewzealand,

    I actually agree with you in regard to some of your comments, my objection was that you appeared to be describing Australians as unusually ‘dumb’.

    This is where I agree–

    (1) There’s a famous book called “The Lucky Country” which Australians have, characteristically, misinterpreted, the author’s thesis was that the country was run by a second-rate political elite that had been lucky, so far. Certainly.

    (2) We have too many eggs in too few baskets i.e. mining and agriculture, Australian and NZ farmers are the least subsidised in the world and are more efficient economically than their counterparts in Asia and Europe. Unfortunately the Asian and European markets are also highly protected, so there’s not much room for expansion there. Despite all those so-called ‘Free Trade” agreements.The export service sector is becoming more important, particularly education, however future trends are, to say the least, uncertain.

    Certainly we have a very serious problem with private debt, a looming real estate bubble crisis and inadequate investment in infrastructure as a result of high immigration rates. A serious recession could have devastating effects on the economy, as with the US and Spain for example.

    Where I disagree–

    (1) Australia isn’t the only country with unimaginative or incompetent economic management. The GFC originated in the US because of that nation’s remarkably lax regulations and there’s the monumental Euro-debacle and there are many more examples. When I returned to Business School in the early 90s to do a course on the Japanese economy, that country was an economic exemplar. A few years later Japan entered a period of economic stagnation from which it still hasn’t recovered. So much for the accuracy of forecasting.

    Although conservative politicians bleat about ‘the Budget Crisis”, Australia, unlike many OECD countries has a relatively low government debt to GDP ratio.

    Undoubtedly Australia is at the crossroads and there’s no guarantee that the country’s economic and political elites will seize the opportunities available. It’s worth noting, that, unlike Argentina (a) Australia, has more robust political and social institutions and (b) unlike NZ it was never so dependent on connections with the British Empire.

    • Hi Russel,

      I like the discussion, but it is somewhat off topic. The problems that I describe about Australia do not pertain only to Australia. Circumstances have allowed Australia to insulate itself from some of the economic trends or buy more time. The Australian government and electorate confuse fortuity with aptitude, which is where I think the problem exists.

      The English-speaking countries have similar problems. For example, the UK has a trade deficit against the rest of the world. What has prevented living standards from eroding further is that the UK imports capital that offsets the trade deficit. Rich foreigners buy UK properties or place their money in the UK because London is a big finance hub. Otherwise, the UK would face the same trade and debt imbalances as the Mediterranean countries. As for the US, it has Third World governance and it will suffer dramatically when the US Dollar ceases being the world’s reserve currency. The USA has some stellar industries, but a large portion of American commerce cannot compete with say Germany or Japan. Large swathes of the US and UK are the economic equivalent of second World countries. New Zealand on a whole is a second world country. Over the past two decades, Australia and Canada have been the best of the English-speaking countries. However, Australia cannot continue to consume more than it produces.

      Japan’s issue is that its government has tried to rescue the banking sector at the expense of its economy and the massive debt bubble will eventually explode. However, the actual economy is relatively good. Unemployment is practically non-existent and large labour shortages exist. Japan’s economy does not grow because its population is ageing and few married women work. In my opinion, this is not a bad thing. The economic model predicated on endless “growth” is disastrous. GDP only measures quantity not quality. Whoever is left holding the bag on Japanese debt will suffer, but the underlying economy is actually quite strong and internationally competitive. Population growth is often a gimmick. It helps GDP or produces phony growth in the short term, but it often conceals declining per capita incomes and living standards. Australia has benefited immensely from population growth. The Kiwis especially want immigrant blood because New Zealand’s capable population escapes the place.

      Lastly, I apologise if any of my comments caused offence. I think the level of culture and education in Australia is, like most Anglo countries, much lower than say northern Europe or East Asia. Australians have a very lacklustre attitude towards punctuality and work and the culture is rife with anti-intellectualism. I do not necessarily believe that international education assessments such as the PISA test are perfect indicators, but they provide a guide. Australia’s scores are average at best. There are of course capable people and Australia is a net talent importer. One area where I think Australia excels is in having an immigration policy that attracts young and capable people who are a net plus for the country. I will try not to monopolise this with my observations about Australia.

      • safefromnewzealand,

        Thanks for the reply. My point is that each country has its own political and economic weaknesses which are often obvious to outsiders but ignored by the country’s citizens.
        Now in reference to NZ, my opinion is that it, unlike Australia, it really doesn’t have any realistic long term options. I doubt if mass immigration is the solution, some Kiwis are also sceptical.

        As far as I understand we can be somewhat OT on The Agora.

        I appreciate an interesting discussion, we should find more points of disagreement, that’s even more interesting.

  13. Follow along this logic stream:

    In NZ industrial/commercial/construction work fields, you are allowed to wear; short pants, tank/singlet tops [with highest UV and skin cancer rates] BUT you MUST wear steel caped shoes. An unbalanced way too little on one side, way too much on the other approach to practical saftey.

    Elsewhere, 2″ capped sleeve shirts have been mandated [to prevent skin cancer even in lower UV areas such as N. America] and long pants in industrial/commercial/construction situations so as to prevent cuts and abrasions, and sensible [leather topped] shoes [note no steel caps required except for a few certain specified industries]. A reasonable, cohesive approach to safe [outside] work environment clothing and footwear.

    I was astonished to find out that the rest of you can be scraped, cut, abraded, get burnt to a crisp, and get cancer, but your toes MUST be protected by steel capped shoes. This is typical of the “logic” employed in NZ.

  14. I’m really needing help and just don’t know where to go. Maybe someone can help me and get in touch? I’m American, married to a Kiwi and have been living in NZ for 15 years now. We’ve just come back from an 8 week holiday in the midwest (where I’m from) and now all I want to do is move back home! I’m not sure how to make this happen though. I don’t have a career or profession to return to in the US, we have 3 kids and I’m not sure how hubby could find a sponsored-job in the US for us to go home. Any ideas where to look? Tips on what to do? Please someone. My sanity and mental well-being are being compromised and I hate it 😦

    • If you are a US Citizen, as I presume you are, then you can sponsor your husband without a job offer. He will automatically receive a green card if you have been married for more than 2 years and your kids will be US citizens by birth.

      The entire process takes between 6-12 months. You can contact the US embassy in Auckland for more information or go to the INS website. The process is relatively straightforward and you do not require a lawyer.

      I hope this helps.

      • Yep I am a citizen so are the kids. I’ve talked to the consulate a number of times and they say he needs a job sponsor or a family sponsor who can support our family as I won’t be returning or doing to a job in the US. If it’s as simple as you say, then I’d be super happy! But in the past when we have tired, it’s always red tape and not so clean cut. I’ve been reading what I can but can’t find much that applies to your situation.

        • @Christi: This is the correct web site. You should be able to locate the instructions that you need on there. You can also call the Immigration and Customer Enforcement number in the US.

          Your husband should be able to go without a job offer solely through marriage to you. However, I believe that you will need to demonstrate that you earn at least 125% above the poverty line to show that you can support him so that he does not become a potential burden on the state. At least this was the process in 2010 when I researched it.

          As a US citizen abroad, you are responsible for filing tax returns, one reason why I do not like the US and why I now live in Switzerland. Your US tax returns from the past couple years should be sufficient. If you have not filed, then you will probably need to file late returns. If this is not possible, then you can locate a sponsor who agrees to become financially responsible for him. This person does not have to offer him a job. Rather, they only need to provide evidence that they earn sufficient money to look after him so that he does not become a burden on the government.

          I hope this helps. I am not an expert on this process, but I have twice obtained permanent residency through marriage (to the same woman), so I know a bit and I have citizenship in three countries. Remember the words of Arthur Schopenhauer, “Man mistakes the limits of his own vision for the limits of the world”. Do not let the idiots at the US embassy in Auckland confuse you or provide you with inaccurate information that prolongs being in New Zealand.

          If returning to the US is not an option, you can also go to Australia with your husband. There is a five-year visa for spouses of NZ citizens that is easy to get. However, be smarter than most of the Kiwis and apply for permanent residency if you go there. There is no reason why you and your family should have to remain stuck in the mire of New Zealand.

          I hope this helps.

          • Having lived in New Zealand, I now know to take these surveys with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, I know that I am in a much better place now. At least the deviants here are an aberration rather than the norm.

          • Thanks so much for this! We remember when we researched it too that I needed to prove I could support him. But it seems things have changed? I don’t know, we need to look into it further. I just feel my life being sucked away from me here. So difficult especially coming from a place that is open, fun, social and exciting! I need to figure this out. Just gotta move. My soul can only take so much of a beating!

  15. An interesting game. Decided in the last minute, quite exciting.
    Finally got on a good link with little lag and all the commercials.
    The first link was laggy [like NZ] and had no flavor [like NZ], barely worked and was always behind [like NZ]. Unfortunately, the work-arounds for live streaming internet are easier than the work-arounds for the country. Not sure if there are any.

  16. Super Bowl Sunday [or Monday if you are on the other side of the world].
    I am reminded of how petty and small minded Kiwis can be while trying to get connected to the game [that is being touted as one of the most easy to watch online, around the world] yet you have to jump through hoops to get something that the owners of the rights of wants to be seen and is being soo actively blocked in NZ. There ARE ways around their blocking schemes, but why should it be blocked in the first place? A way of trying to make some $ off of something that is being provided free? A way of controling something that they have no part in? I’m not sure what the motivation is in them being so petty, I guess they just can’t help being who they really are.
    I am able to stream the game [despite their silly and futile antics].
    Grow up, and stop acting like children. One can always hope.

  17. I was talking to a friend in England last week who told me she pays thirty pounds a month for her combined telephone and Broadband service I pay the equivalent of twenty five pounds a fortnight for mine

  18. Two small items.
    1. Last night, was made aware of some loud and drunken youths hanging out out in a traffic island outside my house. After going out and asking them to be quiet and move on [and getting “mooned” and told to just go back to my house], I called the police and was pleasantly surprised to have them arrive within 5 min. The police hauled several of them away, and told the rest to leave the area [without driving as there was none there sober enough to drive]. Good on the cops, getting on to this. Stuff like this happens with alarming regularity.
    2. I was talking to a guy that worked in a “freezing works” who told me that their “domestic” product costs 2-3 times what they charge for export. Goods and services ARE WAY MORE EXPENSIVE in NZ.

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