11 August 2011

NZ Herald disgraces itself

As if to prove my long held view that finding proper journalists in New Zealand is quite difficult, Graham Baker of the NZ Herald comes along and spins absolute nonsense about the criminal violence that beset England since Saturday, and which has thankfully largely dissipated. It has dissipated in part because of the enormous increase in Police presence, but also the rain. You see people who “can’t be arsed” turning up for a job interview, or getting out of bed before 11am, or working are incredibly resistant to getting wet and cold. For that reason alone I hope it rains every night through the next few days and especially the weekend.

Baker is the NZ Herald’s news editor and is from the UK. Maybe he left because he couldn’t earn a living writing for the Morning Star, for I suspect the Guardian is not left wing enough for him, nor is Ed Miliband.

A journalist is meant to report on events, investigate and provide insights into the news. Baker didn’t do that, he interviewed his laptop. In this age when anyone can read for free most major UK serious papers such as the Daily Telegraph, Financial Times, the Independent and the Guardian, as well as the numerous tabloids, why would one even bother reading the NZ Herald for news about the UK, when it puts out an article that could have come from the Marxist-Leninist (pro-USSR) Morning Star. The NZ Herald may a well have reprinted this, to help keep the ailing Morning Star from collapsing.

So what did he say? Consider it a rant worthy of Matt McCarten, and indeed it was embraced by my good buddy Russel Norman.

Baker claimed:

British politicians have espoused neo-liberal dogma for the best part of 30 years. A dogma based on consumerism and selfish individualism over shared responsibility.

Really Graham? Find a single speech by the current PM, Deputy PM, or indeed the past four PMs which has exemplified what you have claimed. Did the welfare state get dismantled, because I’ve watched it grow to the point where people on above average incomes get benefits for breeding, where people get up to £400 a week in housing benefit to have a four bedroom home (after the cuts!), and where pregnant teenagers are handed a free flat by councils. Yes, I’ve noticed health spending go through the roof in the world’s most centrally planned health service. I’ve noticed a top marginal tax rate of effectively 42% (now 52%). Most tax collected is on people in the top third of income earnings, but don’t let facts get in the way of your neo-Marxist dogma.

He goes on, expecting that a one year old government might have worked wonders...

Cameron's nebulous ideal of "Big Society" - that communities are stronger than the government in sorting problems out - has yetto prove of worth. (sic)

So government is the solution Graham. No shared responsibility in that, and funnily enough I thought the large numbers of people who turned out to clean up the town centres that had been vandalised might actually prove communities ARE stronger, but you ignored that, doesn’t fit your neo-Marxist love of “government can sort problems out”. 

Then he makes the riots a cause and effect of the recession...

in a time of austerity and a global recession lasting years, when people see their opportunities narrowing, services cut and the disappearance of the things they have for decades been told to expect, this is what happens

Most people have seen opportunities narrow for now, but spending cuts are largely just a reduction in the growth of spending. The government is spending more this year than last year. However, what’s this “things they have for decades been told to expect”? How many decades do teenagers expect things? Yet so what? Shared responsibility which Graham embraces doesn’t mean not having any of your own? This actually isn’t what happens Graham – all of Eastern Europe had its economies turned upside down, with mass layoffs and expectations of free social services and guaranteed jobs abolished when the mass of the population overthrew the dictatorships the Morning Star had lauded as examples. 

He asks plaintively (of a place he left to find a future)...

Where does one find a future? There are 400-odd unemployed people for every job advertised in Tottenham, many of those part-time shop or cleaning work for minimum wage.

Funnily enough Graham, London is bigger than Tottenham and one can catch a bus anywhere for £1.20 each way. How about the tens of thousands of immigrants from far poorer countries who come with next to nothing and set up small businesses, working seven days a week to scratch out a living? Of course they are displaying “selfish individualism” and so are part of the problem, right Graham? Is concern about your future a reason to mow down three young men on a footpath, or beat up a young man till his jaw is broken, or indeed just set fire to a store to watch it burn?

Then comes a mistake or a deliberate misrepresentation...

It now costs about $24,000 a year just to study at university in England.

No Graham. That’s complete nonsense. You have misrepresented it in three ways. First, the figure you quote is false. The MAXIMUM a university can charge is £9,000. That’s NZ$17,900 at today’s exchange rates, but far better to put it over NZ$20k, good for your “story” right? Secondly, it is a maximum. Quite a few charge less than that. Most importantly, nobody has to cough up that amount upfront. Student loans are available to cover the entire tuition fee that do not have to be repaid until the graduate starts earning above the average wage, and then only in increments. Guess the full story doesn’t fit your agenda does it Graham?

He then refers to someone the Guardian talked to who said:

“University fees have gone up, education costs money. And there's no jobs. This is them sending out a message."

One point ably made by Allister Heath of City AM is that a significant number of those rioting probably could never have got into university because they would have performed so badly at school. The three reasons this happens tend to be negligent parents, poor quality schools and the corrosive culture of criminality that pervades many areas. Free university education doesn’t address this issues in Scotland, so why would it in England?

However, then he talks about circumstances as if they are all about luck. 

My generation was lucky. University was affordable, social mobility was a reality, and just over a decade ago I entered an economy that worked. The situation young people find themselves in today is the very antithesis of the word "lucky".

Well actually many young people are “lucky”, many work damned hard to do well at school, go to university, or find employment and make a life for themselves. Most of them don’t vandalise and steal. Graham might have reflected that decades of overspending by governments and promising unaffordable pensions for older generations have proven to be unsustainable, but we don't get anything about solutions from him.

Does he have a solution? No, of course not, in fact almost none of the leftwing commentators do, all they do is blame past politicians. He says:

It is no irony that a country which has pursued consumerism and social nihilism has been blighted by people who - when it all goes wrong - believe in and respect nothing except consumer goods.

Did it suddenly go wrong? No. The social nihilism Graham damns is actually because of the breakdown of families, and the embrace of moral relativism and post-modern theories of power and identity politics that teach and disseminate the view that nothing is ever your fault. They claim everything is stacked against Afro-Caribbean youth because of “racism”, and everything is stacked against those on low incomes because of the view that wealthier people are just “lucky”, and that it has nothing to do with hard work and discipline. In fact the word discipline has been eschewed as “self expression” has been embraced. It is an embrace of a perverse individualism that demands the right to do whatever they like, whatever they consequences, and demand what they want, and to complain if you don’t give it to them. This corrosive culture has been catalysed by a subculture of gangsterism, embracing the “music” and attitudes that celebrate violence, misogyny and expectations that education and hard work are for fools, and that easy money is what matters. This isn’t about capitalism or even individualism, it is parasitism.

What really happened Graham is that a handful of people decided to take on the Police in Tottenham Hale, and the Police were overwhelmed and outnumbered. This was seen by criminal gangsters and the underclass of feral youth (the ones that parents and teachers are scared to discipline for fear the kids will call Social Services, and who will complain about their rights whenever anyone tells them off for breaking laws or being obnoxious) as a weakness, and so they networked loosely and went out on a spree. They were laughing, joking and boasting about what they did. They weren’t on a political demonstration, they weren’t complaining about racism (most of the rioters up North were white), they weren’t looting for food or essentials, indeed many times they didn’t even loot, but just destroyed. Not that far removed from the Sex Pistol’s in “Anarchy in the UK”, which was written in the 1970s, before Graham’s “neo liberal” revolution.

Graham doesn’t have an answer. Maybe because he doesn’t know it, or because if he said he wanted taxes to go up, and more to be spent on welfare, education and state subsidised jobs, his economic illiteracy should show.

So I urge those who think this sort of journalism is not worthy for New Zealand to give up buying or subscribing to the NZ Herald.  If this is what passes as professional journalism in that newspaper, then it's worthless.  A mixture of half truths, complete falsehoods, and agit-prop dressed up as analysis, without any answers.  You'll get more sense from the centre-left Independent.

UPDATE:  Seems the Greens have swallowed it all hook, line and sinker, and continue to be barren in their answers.


Barbs said...

Bloody well said, your blog deserves a wider readship... so Im going to reads that article again!!
that makes 2 off us, but seriously get yourself SYNDICATED, check out PENNY RED blog in the UK, 24 yrs old and steaming hot...


Well said again Liberty.

James said...

What the others said...good stuff LS...you need and deserve a wider readership.