A land grab, or just free trade?

Ever since the global food crisis of 2008, countries such as China, as well as South Korea and the oil-rich but food-poor nations of the Middle East, have been buying up large amounts of land for agricultural production in places like sub-Saharan Africa, sparking concerns about a “new land grab” and “re-colonisation” of the continent. These terms certainly appear to be accurate, the neo-colonial relationship African countries have shared with the West since the end of colonialism proper has kept them poor and susceptible to unequal trade relationships, not just with the Western world, but with emerging economic powers as well. It is surprising however, that similar rhetoric has been used to describe the announcement that Chinese company Natural Dairy NZ plans to buy NZ$1.5 billion worth of farmland, cows and milk processing plants in New Zealand.

“It’s simply a new, Chinese, version of the British economic colonisation that dominated this country’s agriculture up until the 1970s” cried a press release from the Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA). Federated Farmers described the move as an “unintended consequence” of the free trade agreement between China and New Zealand. The Green Party said the New Zealand dairy industry “risked falling into the hands of overseas investors” if the government continued to loosen overseas investment rules. And 3 News repeated the claims, scaremongering that “all the milk will go to China.”

The impression that is given is that New Zealand has an economic situation in common with sub-Saharan Africa, and that China is coming to take the milk out our mouths. This view is at odds with the reality of dairying in New Zealand. All that Natural Dairy NZ is going to be taking is a share of the Chinese market for dairy products. The big losers will be the worlds largest dairy company, New Zealand based Fonterra. A large amount of dairy produced in New Zealand already goes to China, which is New Zealand’s fourth largest market for dairy exports. Dairy exports to China increased 72% in 2008 and a further 43% last year. The only way the general population of New Zealand –  that is, those of us who aren’t Fonterra shareholders or suppliers – could be affected is if the growing market for dairy in China (and elsewhere) were to push up prices. Yet that would occur regardless of who owned the land Natural Dairy New Zealand is aiming to buy. As Fonterra sells its products at the global market price, it doesn’t actually matter if a particular dairy company is incorporated in New Zealand, China, or the Cayman Islands- as Natural Dairy NZ is for tax purposes.

The economic nationalism and calls for protectionism seem ironic given the fact that Fonterra itself is a large multinational, which in addition to having farms in China, has since 2002 been in partnership with global food giant Nestle in the Dairy Partners Americas (DPA). DPA produces milk products in South America for local markets as well as circumventing US protectionism that allows South American -but not New Zealand- dairy products to enter its markets. When DPA was formed then Prime Minister Helen Clark described the deal as allowing Fonterra to “go in behind the backs of tariff barriers” in the USA. If you’re a large New Zealand farmer, you might have something to lose when Natural Diary NZ arrives, otherwise, you shouldn’t be worried.

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Comments

  1. Phil toms says:

    I disagree. If we allow our land and dairy industry to fall into foreign hands then eventually we will lose it all. Our tax take will go down and jobs will be lost. instead of selling them the cheese, we will be selling them the grass.
    Since when are globalists and communists the same thing? Maybe you are? So we should just roll over with our feet in the air is that it?
    I believe NZ farms should remain in the hands of New Zealand citizens.
    You can’t buy land in china. they aren’t stupid.
    They do have some very nice mirrors and blankets though.

  2. “If we allow our land and dairy industry to fall into foreign hands then eventually we will lose it all.”

    But we don’t have it to lose. Farms in New Zealand are not publically owned, what difference does it make what country the private owners are from?

  3. Don Franks says:

    FOREIGN HANDS

    They say six percent of New Zealand land
    is held today in foreign hands
    I don’t know where they got that figure
    I know that the foreign holding’s bigger
    coast to coast and tree to tree, most of the land that I can see
    is firmly in hands that are foreign to me.

    The hands that tick National, United or ACT
    the finger that points out the man to be sacked
    the hand putting up the No Trespassing sign
    they’re just some of the hands that are foreign to mine

    the hand that can write any size of a cheque
    for a car or a boat or extension or deck
    that same hand that won’t pass across union pay
    that’s as foreign a hand as I’ve seen any day

    the glittering finger that crooks for champagne
    the hand grabbing hard out for capital gain
    the hand on the wheel driving scabs through the line
    they’re hands that will always be foreign to mine

    the finger the magistrate wags at the dock
    from a hand less unbending than on the court clock
    the thumbs that we’re under, the palms that they grease
    I can’t think of hands much more foreign than these

    Then there’s hands that are warm, that give out their last cent
    to a mate who’s been sacked or behind with the rent

    some of those hands are not Kiwi designed
    but all are the hands I want joined onto mine.

    Don Franks 2004

  4. Phil toms says:

    Byron,
    If our farms and dairy industry fall into foreign ownership then our nation will lose most of what we earn from it. They plan to make their own milk powder and export it themselves to China. Also under Clark’s free trade they can bring in their own workers and pay them in China. Not only does NZ lose the profit from the farms, we lose the jobs, and the tax on the jobs, even most of the company tax will end up elsewhere.
    Seems like a no brainer to me.
    This is our country. what we produce is what sustains us. our exports pay for our imports, including petrol etc. During the Irish potato famine there were lots of potatoes – they all went to Britain. We have huge debts. we are selling our land to pay for our imports. Mirrors and blankets. Sheesh!

  5. > If our farms and dairy industry

    But they aren’t “our farms”. I don’t have any ownership rights over them. Do you?

    > fall into foreign ownership then our nation will lose most > of what we earn from it. They plan to make their own milk powder and export it themselves to China.

    How dare “they”? It sounds remarkably like what NZ-owned Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy Marketing company already does in its many farms around the world.

    > Also under Clark’s free trade they can bring in their own > workers and pay them in China.

    Like Air NZ does you mean.

    > Not only does NZ lose the profit from the farms, we lose
    > the jobs,

    “We” don’t have these jobs. The FT agreement actually places strict restrictions on the importation of Chinese workers.

    and the tax on the jobs, even most of the company tax will end up elsewhere.
    Seems like a no brainer to me.
    This is our country. what we produce is what sustains us. our exports pay for our imports, including petrol etc.

    I suppose where I differ from you is who I define as “we”. I feel that I have far more in common with a Chinese worker who has the audacity to get a job and feed his/her family than I do with NZ capitalist farm owners, who may or may not leave their money in New Zealand anyway, incidentally.

    > During the Irish potato famine there were lots of potatoes > – they all went to Britain.

    No, in the famine the potatoes rotted with a blight. The Irish starved because the food they were producing (beef etc) all went to Britain and potatoes were the staple of the Irish diet. This could happen because Britain was an imperialist state dominating Ireland. That situation is nothing like the one that would allow a foreign firm to buy some farms in New Zealand, an advanced capitalist country. It already happens anyway without any outcry. There’s nothing particularly special about land in this respect anyway. As the lawyer representing Natural Dairy NZ asked, would there be this outcry if Microsoft were proposing investing a billion dollars in New Zealand? There appears to be a resurgence of “yellow peril” in the fear of this deal.

    Ultimately, most people (being workers) are exploited in New Zealand regardless of whether or not some farms are owned by local or foreign capitalists.

    What we in the WP want to do is not to protect the interests of New Zealand’s capitalist class, but to undermine it. We want a world where people do genuinely get the benefit of the work they do, regardless of whether they live in China, NZ or anywhere else. That project cannot succeed while NZ workers feel that they have more in common with their own bosses than with workers in other countries.
    Cheers,
    John

  6. Phil toms wrote:
    > Mirrors and blankets. Sheesh!

    Actually it’s not about “”Mirrors and blankets.” It’s about the fact that whether a farm (or other business) is owned by a NZ capitalist or a Chinese capitalist is of no concern to Marxists. If capitalists want to sell their property for a few mirrors and blankets, more fool them, although $1.5bil buys quite a few mirrors and blankets. But that’s how capitalism works; capitalists, for all their rhetoric, tend to make choices out of financial interest. That’s their prerogative. Our task is to try to build a movement that sees beyond national boundaries and ultimately dispossesses the entire capitalist class, regardless of where their money came from, or has been going.
    Cheers,
    John

  7. Phil toms says:

    I see you took my last post down. I did go too far and must apologise.
    I do not percieve the situation the same way you do. I remember when we (meaning people who live here) owned the entire infrastructure and most of the essential industries of NZ publicly, hard fought for by real socialists and we had no national debt. Life was much better here then. Wages were higher. Now, after 25 years of globalisation we have $150 billion private debt and have so many foreign companies operating here taking home the profits that we run a 6 to 8% balance of payments deficit every year. Profits from power companies,phone companies, banks, malls, office rentals, realestate companies, rubbish companies, busses etc. all sail out of the country leaving us with an unsurmountable deficit. So then we have to sell our farms to pay the bills, and all the time the govt is borrowing $1 bill a month. Once the farms are gone we will have nothing left to sell to sustain our standard of living, which will naturally plummet as an obvious result once our credit line dries up as a result of having no collateral. I expect the average socialist to understand that.
    Yes, NZ companies also operate overseas but the little guy can’t win. NZ inc. loses on the equation.
    This is not global socialism, its global monopoly, and in monopoly the little guy inevitably loses. And you’re playing for keeps.
    So you sell another earner (farm, road, water company, whatever) and your income goes down. Eventually you are broke. No pension, no public health, schools.
    As the Icelandic foreign minister said “This is economic warfare”
    In fact we have seen with globalisation what is known as “the race to the bottom” where nations compete with each other for lowest wages and conditions and tax rates, all the time the wealth of the world concentrating into fewer and fewer hands.
    So we are being sold into slavery by the Gatt, the WTO, APEC, the FTA, to a global elite.
    Our whole Island Nation down the drain.
    And here come the “workers party”. “Yeah, sell the farms”. Waddya need the farms for?
    Well, derr!

  8. Phil toms says:

    I find your inability to empathise with your own tribe, those who share your culture, society, economy,welfare, accent, genes, a little breathtaking.
    Our economy, like that of Iceland or Greece, is vulnerable to sovereign bankrupcy. Germany has suggested Greece should sell some of its islands, which would lead to Greece actually being smaller. This, I suppose is of no concern to you, capitalists selling to capitalists, but in the world we have to live in,if our economy shrinks we get poorer.
    You seem oblivious to the fate of your fellow countrymen who may have been duped by the media into voting National, and of course the poem leaves out those who voted for labour, which is almost as right wing.
    It makes little difference whether it is an American capitalist corporation or a Chinese capitalist corporation, and perhaps it is you who imagine a difference.
    A company registered in the Cayman Islands does so to avoid paying tax where it actually does business, depriving that country of income, which translates into public money. Had you forgotten this part, or not thought of it, or do you feel that this further downtreading of the people (welfare cuts, pension cuts, health cuts) is necessary to cause them to rise up against the opressors?
    Your reluctance to focus on this point, and your bitter distain for your fellow countrymen suggests the latter. Either way, you are incorrect to pronounce that NZ selling the grass instead of the cheese will not make any difference to the average person. They have been telling us this for 25 years, as they flog off everything and we get progressivly poorer..
    Your argument that it is no worse than the bad things other corporations do is not an argument to have more bad things done to us.
    You and Roger Douglas seem to be arguing for free trade, globalisation, the Gatt, the WTO, all the tools of the Global Elite who are tightening their grip and disposessing people everywhere.
    If a house here is bought by a resident of another country, the rent goes overseas. It is not spent here, at the dairy, or the movies, or on local building contractors, painters etc. and sure, there are lots of leaks, where some of that money goes overseas but a lot more is injected back into the NZ economy than for someone living in Idaho or Singapore, who of course will spend his money in that economy.
    Surely the same applies to farm profits, even though too much is lost to our economy already.
    I am starting to feel I should say, by “our economy” I mean me and the other NZers. If you wish to leave yourself out of that, well, thats sad for you. in fact by so doing you render yourself irrelevant.
    Probably you will still expect a pension.

  9. Don Franks says:

    “I find your inability to empathise with your own tribe, those who share your culture, society, economy,welfare, accent, genes, a little breathtaking.”

    Mate, I tried to tell you about “our” in a poem, but that didn’t make connection.

    In prose, we folks in the Workers Party and the rest of the international communist movement empathise not with national superficialities but with the class we belong to or relate to.
    ” culture, society,( national) economy,welfare, accent, and genes” are, to us, secondary to our relationship to the means of the production of human necessities.
    John has already clearly spelled this out for you in different words.
    Where we arbitarily happen to be born into this whirling speck of dust is a very little thing indeed and to elevate that totally petty coincidence into some sort of political tenet or question of any consequence at all strikes me as a bit bloody silly.

  10. Phil toms says:

    It did make a connection, that was my first comment, mate. Many working class people vote national, and many business class vote labour. If your childhood friend votes National you dispise him yet if he votes labour, which is the same, he is your brother? Is a self employed tradesman a businessman or a worker? Whatever.
    My main argument with this article you have repeatedly ignored. It does make a difference to the ordinary bloke because there is less tax money available for public services, so the original premise in this unsigned article is false. This is not a matter of political philosophy or personal alliegences. Its simple maths, it is fact.
    This is my challenge to your piece. you have misrepresented the facts.
    “The only way the general population of New Zealand – that is, those of us who aren’t Fonterra shareholders or suppliers – could be affected is if the growing market for dairy in China (and elsewhere) were to push up prices. Yet that would occur regardless of who owned the land Natural Dairy New Zealand is aiming to buy. As Fonterra sells its products at the global market price, it doesn’t actually matter if a particular dairy company is incorporated in New Zealand, China, or the Cayman Islands- as Natural Dairy NZ is for tax purposes.”
    This is the main plank of your argument and its bullshit, isn’t it Don?

  11. Don Franks says:

    No, its not.
    If you want to exchange ideas,read what I wrote again and respond to that.

    • Phil toms says:

      So what you are saying is that selling the land to the chinese will bring just as much money into the NZ economy as selling them the cheese, made here by NZers, and that there is no way they will be able to minimise their tax here, by paying it somewhere else, compared to an NZ farmer registered here rather than the Cayman Islands?
      You seem very cagey on this point, in fact quite evasive and sadly dishonest. Don’t have thge guts to admit you were wrong or defend your satements.
      Is this what you are saying or not?
      The question is not wheither you care or whether NZ companies also try to avoid paying tax elsewhere. It is a simple question. It is not about political ideas or theories, but present day economics, facts on the ground.
      Your latest post is not an answer or an explanation. It is a dodge. just like all your other answers to the SAME question.
      Insead of answering my question you tell me to read what you wrote again. I have read it several times and as we both know it states our economy will not collect any less tax as a result of selling them the soil instead of the cheese.
      And i quote:
      “it doesn’t actually matter if a particular dairy company is incorporated in New Zealand, China, or the Cayman Islands”.
      So why then does a company register in the Cayman Islands, widely known as a “TAX HAVEN”?
      Could it be something to do with avoiding paying tax?
      Come on admit it, you were wrong. Be a man.

  12. Phil toms says:

    “Where we arbitarily happen to be born into this whirling speck of dust is a very little thing indeed” So you don’t care about your family, your parents, your children? They must be arbitrary specks as well.
    In fact none of it apparently matters, after all this is just a whirling speck of dust.
    “to elevate that totally petty coincidence into some sort of political tenet or question of any consequence at all strikes me as a bit bloody silly.”
    Yeah, breathtaking.
    “There’s nothing particularly special about land in this respect anyway.” Dangerous bullshit.Obviously not true. Land is survival.It is the very planet. it is a finite resource. It is sovereignty. In the absence and apparently receeding prospect of a revolution, this is the survival system we depend on, this country and the people who live on it. the land and what it produces. this is what we have to work with.
    “although $1.5bil buys quite a few mirrors and blankets”
    Yeah, thats what Rangi thought.

  13. Phil, there are a couple of key issues here that we differ over. Neither of them is helped by making assumptions about how much we care about our children or other gratuitous ad-hominum attacks.

    The first is the issue of taxation. You argue that the dairy farming sector pays a large amount of tax which the NZ economy, and therefore “we” would be deprived of if the farms in question were sold to Natural dairy NZ or some other foreign owned concern. There are a couple of issues wit this. The first is that the dairy sector pays a lot less tax than you might think. Have a look at the stuff that Rod Oram (a pretty well respected entirely pro-capitalist economist) has been saying about New Zealand’s farming sector, and about dairy in particular. His major criticism of the dairy industry is that the land price is grossly inflated. This is because New Zealand’s dairy farmers farm, and this is long term trend, for capital gain rather than for immediate profit. This means that many farms pay little or no company tax or income tax because the farms run at a loss or at about break even. There’s more than one way to skin a cat. Registering your company in the Caymans is only one. The upshot of this strategy – which involves farmers in a highly productive sector often declaring minimal profits and living on bank finance – is that the tax loss to New Zealand from the money being transfered offshore by a foreign concern, would probably be a lot less than you think.

    When those farms are sold, the absence of a capital gains tax means that the proceeds are untaxed. Capitalists utilise their profits for one primary purpose: to invest for the purposes of making further profit. The capitalists in Natural Dairy NZ would very likely take their profits and invest them back in NZ if that were considered the most profitable location, or in anther, probably offshore, investment if that proved more attractive. A NZ dairy farmer is faced with a similar choice, either invest back in NZ, whether in the farm or something else, or invest in a fund with a higher return elsewhere. The money does not simply reside in a bank account here, waiting to be invested for the welfare of all.

    If we are to wait for the NZ capitalist class to collectively come around to deciding they will a) pay rather than avoid tax, b) agree to farm for productivity rather than capital gain, c) convince their political leaders to implement a capital gains tax so that they can then pay it, d) invest their profits for the meeting of human need, and e) hand over political and economic power to the working class, we will be in for a very long wait.

    The other, obviously related, issue is whether or not people should identify first and foremost as New Zealanders (or citizens of whatever other nation they were born in or hold citizenship for) or instead as members of a class which extends beyond national borders. This is, I suspect, the more fundamental difference. We in the WP are internationalists. We do not require, or even expect, you to be although we would obviously hope that one day you might change your mind. So when we say it is of no concern to us where the capitalist comes from, it is not because we do not care about our families and our children’s futures. It is because we do care passionately about the future of our planet, our families, and the families all over the world who struggle to make ends met every day because capitalism exploits them mercilessly and without regard to international borders or to which nation they may owe their allegiance. Like the additional 100 million people in India who now live below the poverty line ((US$1.25 a day) since 2004, despite the institution of the so-called economic miracle and over 7% per annum growth in the economy there. Like the millions of people in Nepal struggle to make a better life for themselves, their families and their fellow peasants through the revolutionary process unfolding there. Like the people in Latin America who are working to redefine the political map of that region through the Bolivarian revolution there.

    In contrast, I find your seeming “ability to empathise with your own tribe, those who share your culture, society, economy,welfare, accent, genes” quite disturbing. I would have hoped humanity could see the advantage of moving beyond such things.

    As for the suggestion that we in the WP think along the lines that “If your childhood friend votes National you dispise him yet if he votes labour, which is the same, he is your brother”, it clearly reveals that you have no idea whatsoever what the WP stands for or how it has operated ever since its inception. Your self evident unwillingness to investigate our position on the Labour Party before shooting your mouth off in such a completely misdirected manner leaves me in doubt that there is any point continuing a debate with you. It seems you are set in you position as a nationalist; I am quite comfortable with my own position as an internationalist. I suspect that that is where we should leave things.
    Cheers,
    John

    ps. The conspiratorially “unsigned” article was written by Byron Clark.

  14. Phil toms says:

    I have tried to argue here that the recent surge in internationalisation of credit and labour and corporations has given global corporations huge power and that this represents a major ratcheting up of corporate power and profit.
    I have pointed out that we are more dependent on foreign corporations for our daily lives and have a huge foreign debt as a result, which will cause our country to lose what little we have left to trade with, being our land and farming industry.
    It seems you feel it is important that we do not try to protect our land from foreign ownership. You then decide to define a foreigner as anyone who votes national.
    Your vigorous defence of the global elite is indeed surreal.

  15. I assume you are just willfully misrepresenting what people are saying because it is completely beyond me to understand how anything anyone has said even approaches close to defining “a foreigner as anyone who votes national”, unless you count lifting one line out of a whole series of people who oppose the interests of the working class, and then decide that one line, or more accurately, fragment of a line, represents “defining”. As I’ve noted, but which you have chosen to ignore, the WP has a view of the National and Labour parties which bears no resemblance to your crude caricature. Our “vigorous defence of the global elite” exists only in your mind, not within the WP. On that note, I will leave you to your own judgement regarding the surreal . . .
    Cheers,
    John

  16. Phil toms says:

    The hands that tick National, United or ACT
    the finger that points out the man to be sacked
    the hand putting up the No Trespassing sign
    they’re just some of the hands that are foreign to mine

  17. Phil toms says:

    I have tried to argue here that the recent surge in internationalisation of credit and labour and corporations has given global corporations huge power and that this represents a major ratcheting up of corporate power and profit.
    I have pointed out that we are more dependent on foreign corporations for our daily lives and have a huge foreign debt as a result, which will cause our country to lose what little we have left to trade with, being our land and farming industry.
    It seems you feel it is important that we do not try to protect our land from foreign ownership.

  18. Phil toms says:

    “the finger the magistrate wags at the dock
    from a hand less unbending than on the court clock”
    Less unbending?

    Your poem expresses that you feel as much empathy with your neighbour or local contractor as you do for someone you have never met on the other side of the world. You seem quite bitter.
    It seems, and maybe I misunderstand, that you think it makes no difference whether the house down the road is built by a local contractor or by G.J.Gardiner. You seem to say it doesn’t make a difference whether the coffee bar is locally owned or by starbucks, locally owned fruit shop or aussie multinational.
    This is surely what ACT would say.
    Of course it makes a difference. A rather obvious big difference.
    The people who voted national are part of the society you live in. Some of them are your relatives. Some of them give to charity.
    Perhaps you could be a little “less unbending” yourself.

  19. Don Franks says:

    Yeah, some of my relatives vote National and some of them give to charity.

    My central point was and is that I have more in common with a labouring person from an overseas country than I do with any boss born here or living here.

    Even if that local boss happens to be a blood relative.

    On that question I’m unbending to the grave.

  20. Phil toms says:

    This labouring bloke you haven’t met may turn out not to be a nice person. The local boss may be a good person. You can’t judge people you haven’t met, based on their job.

    My central point is that global capitalism is worse than local capitalism. Allowing companies to become huge multinational conglomerates concentrates the wealth into fewer and fewer hands, and in some other place. They become all powerful and ruthless.
    Multinationals operating here taken together drain money out, leaving a net loss to the NZ economy,and welfare system. We sell (export) NZ businesses and land but the debt still grows. NZ no longer owns the profit making businesses to trade ourselves out of bankrupcy.
    My challenge is to the central point of this piece:
    “it doesn’t actually matter if a particular dairy company is incorporated in New Zealand, China, or the Cayman Islands, as Natural Dairy NZ is for tax purposes.”
    I think Byron rather shoots himself in the foot there – For what purposes?
    And as I said, the local rich guy spends a lot more money here, his kids go to ballet, the pony club, the races, so its not true, is it?
    I suppose, the closer we get to the grave the less unbending we become, Don.

  21. Don Franks says:

    “My central point is that global capitalism is worse than local capitalism.”

    That’s been the position of much, probably most of the New Zealand left for a long time.

    It ignores the fact that local capitalism is part of global capitalism, to the extent of exploiting workers offshore as well as here.

    It also invariably translates into some sort of support for local bosses, which fosters reactionary nationalism,ideologically disarms the working class, and generally slows the march of human civilisation.

    As it happens, I have worked for some years as a ballet dance class musician, horse riding club and racecourse entertainer and to a man the local rich guys spent as little as they could possibly get away with on the hired help.

    This will probably be my last post of this thread, because it is getting repetitious and I have heaps of other stuff to be getting on with.

  22. Phil toms says:

    “My central point is that global capitalism is worse than local capitalism.”
    Yes, thats all. That was my entire point.
    It contradicts the entire argument of the article above. You do not deny it. After 22 posts here you seem almost ready to begrudgingly admit that what I said is true.
    Whether or not local capitalism is part of global capitalism is not relevant to this point.
    Neither is your assertion that local capitalism fosters reactionary nationalism.
    Your statement about the local rich guy dodges the obvious point which is that if he lived in Beijing he would not have payed you anything at all. Clearly these local rich guys kept you in work, even though you resented them.
    This all seems to suggest that you do not care if we are destitute under globalisation because our impending poverty may give rise to a revolution. Well, it may not too.
    Surely if globalisation is worse than local capitalism we should be trying to resist it, not as you do, arguing against those who do oppose it.

  23. Phil, that foreign capitalist “may be a good person.” Bill and Melinda Gates are probably “good”. They certainly give loads of money to charity. Foreign capitalists even do charity work in NZ, like running the Ronald McDonald House or the Oil companies’ funding of conservation projects. That’s not the point. We don’t want a world dependent on our exploiter being “a nice person”. Plenty of people I’ve worked for have been “nice”. My current boss is “a nice person”; in fact she’s been a friend of mine for 7 years and a boss for only a couple of months. But the class position of our work relationship is still one of exploiter and exploited. Nice or not is not the issue.

    Neither is whether or not the boss sends the kids to the ballet. A foreign capitalist will employ managers, just as a local capitalist will do. Often (although not always) they pay higher wages. Those people will spend money in New Zealand regardless of who their boss is, maybe even on going to the ballet. From the point of view of socialists, it’s not how the capitalist spends his/her personal drawings (their own salary), but what they do with the profit that matters. And local or not, capitalists tend to invest where they expect the best return. NDNZ currently see NZ as a good place to invest and make a profit. If they still think that a bit later when they’ve made a return on their investment, they’ll invest more here. A local capitalist makes the same decisions. With capital free to move virtually without restriction around the globe, a local capitalist is free to make the same choices – invest in another farm, or other NZ business, or, if the profit looks better in a managed fund, the Australian share market, any other potential investment, that’s where they’ll likely go, without regard for whether or not it’s a NZ investment.

    We aren’t trying to build a society where we’ve kept the foreign capitalists out, regulated the local ones better, and prized a bit more out of them in the form of taxation to pay for welfare. Perhaps that’s where the misunderstanding lies, because a lot of people think that’s what socialism is. If that’s what we wanted, we’d probably just vote NZ First or even Labour. We want to build a society where there is no capitalism, there is no production for profit, and there is no need to think in terms of the local (the tribe as you put it) and the foreigner. We know it’s along haul, but it beats campaigning for Fortress New Zealand with the accompanying xenophobia and all that goes with it.
    Cheers,
    John

  24. Phil toms says:

    Whatever society you would like to build, this does not affect the question. What you “want” is irrelevant.
    The national debt and 20 year 6 to 8% balance of payments deficit despite selling everything, prove you wrong in your assertion that globalisation is no worse than local capitalism. Not to mention lower wages, lower home ownership rates, later pensions, job losses. You are wrong. NZ is going bankrupt.
    We may both be aware that the money system is a racket, but if you don’t pay your rent you are out on the street.

  25. No, what it proves is that capitalism has been unable to fully recover from the 70s recession that ended the post-war boom. New Zealand capitalists and politicians don’t just do the bidding of foreign interests; they want a strong NZ economy that will ensure high profits. They haven’t adopted free market (or protectionist for that matter) policies out of stupidity, or from anti-patriotic sentiment. On the contrary, many are staunch nationalists and, as with John Key, very intelligent.

    To a greater or lesser degree, all capitalist countries with “mature economies” are experiencing the same problems that you identify – high national debt, rising unemployment, falling wages etc. If it were as you suggest, the US economy would be booming instead of limping from recession to “jobless recovery” to recession, because US corporations have huge global interests. Japan would not have just gone through such a long crisis. NZ “going bankrupt” if it occurs, will be a factor of the normal operation of capitalism, not from an advanced capitalist country with minor imperialist pretensions (NZ) being sold to foreigners.
    Cheers,
    John

  26. Phil Toms says:

    At last after 26 posts you finally attempt to address the question.
    Your answer is absolute baloney., which is why you only used it as a last resort.
    In 1984 our national debt was $3 bill according to old Labour or $18 billion according to Douglas, the contention being whether to include internal debts relating to “Think Big”.
    It has now ballooned to $150 billion, with an $8 bill shortfall every year for 20 years, plus right now an extra $1bill a month borrowed by the govt. This is in spite of selling a wealth of assets from our economy into foreign hands (in case you still don’t understand the term, it means people operating in an economy outside NZ)
    It is absurd to suggest that this additional $130 billion debt was incurred out of shrewd and cunning intelligent policy. What bullshit!
    Just half an hour ago, a rep from the pork industry said on the news that if we force pig farmers to do away with sow crates, cheaper pork from overseas will take over. He said studies have shown that $1 spent on NZ pork returns another $1.92 to our economy wheras the foreign pork only contributes another 82 cents. So we can’t be more humane to our pigs because of globalisation
    As for the US. The USA govt had a surplus before the Iraq war, now it has a $9 trillion debt. While $1bill is owed to China, the rest appears to belong to gazillionaires in the US and around the world, many of whom are registered in the Cayman Islands. Credit created out of thin air by the privately owned FED and various dodgy banks has conned Americans into huge ficticious debts. Americans are horrified to see their manufacturing industries replaced by slave labour in China making cheap imports for US multinationals, many registered in the Cayman islands.
    It is not that you think globalisation is not ruining us. I believe you relish this thought in the hope that it will bring about a revolution. I believe you are keen to see us rush headlong into destitution.
    If you feel your new boss is exploiting you you should ask for a pay rise. If you are payed too much you will be the exploiter. By your reasoning if you employ someone to paint your house you are exploiting them – if you pay too much they are exploiting you. Same applies when you go to the dentist.
    Recently we were informed that our balance of payments deficit had grown again after shrinking last year but that was good news because it showed the economy was growing, which meant we were spending more, which if course means the better we are doing, the faster we go backwards.
    Having foreign companies collect our rubbish is like employing someone to clean your house when you can’t afford to pay the mortgage. This is how we run our economy.
    Oh, yes, very shrewd indeed! Yeah, right!

  27. Phil, throughout this discussion I have endeavoured to treat you with respect and to address your views in a serious and considerate way. You have responded with straw men, caricature and distortion. Your latest reveals even more clearly you have no idea what we are saying. Your garbled attempt to engage with the Marxist concept of exploitation – clearly not grasped at all by you – and your further attempts to misrepresent what I have said only confirms that there is no point in continuing this discussion.
    Cheers,
    John

  28. Phil Toms says:

    It is obvious to everyone except the extreme right that globalisation has made life harder here, with jobs sailing offshore to very low wage economies. Everybody can see this. The worst aspect of the new “free” market system is the normalisation of insane levels of debt, without which we could not continue to import cheap crap made by slaves.
    Your defence of globalisation as being no worse than the system it replaced is not worthy of respect, nor are your arrogant assertions as to what a socialist is supposed to believe.
    You have feigned walking away from this challenge several times, but always feel the need to defend your ridiculous assertions. You are not trying to convince me, you are defending your reputation and your ideas, as I am defending mine.
    We both know this used to be a good country to live in. Now it is a tough one. Your argument is disingenuous. Perhaps when we had the 5th highest standard of living in the OECD you were just as miserable as you are now.
    Your characature of life as bosses and workers, exploiters and the exploited, does not reflect reality. Life is much more complex than that. I was not actually attempting to “grapple with the marxist concept of exploitation”. I was simply replying to your comment that you were being exploited by your friend, apparently as an unavoidable consequence of being employed. It seems you are not able to simply argue your case without trying to assert some kind of bogus authority based on your declaration that you are a marxist, which I am apparently unable to understand therefore not qualified to question your authoritar.
    This does not constitute a logical debate but does rather illustrate the flaw in your totalitarian dictatorial political system. Of course, after the revolution it is necessary to butcher huge numbers of people as the revolutionaries are such a small minority. The privelaged children of the revolutionaries end up being the new ruling class. The bolshevics were only 8% of the population. Their children are the new upper class in Russia. Same old same old.

  29. Phil Toms says:

    By posting the above defence of the annihilation of NZ’s dairy industry, and consequent vigorous defence, you are knowingly feeding us to the sharks.

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