Pragmatism makes us politically tartan

Why all the surprise over the idea that New Zealanders have a socialist streak?

When Prime Minister John Key said all New Zealanders had a “socialist streak” it referred to their caring for others, he says . . .

Key said he could vaguely remember the meeting and said his comment was during a discussion about very right-wing policies.

“I think New Zealand is a very caring country, I think New Zealanders do have a heart.”

New Zealanders did not want to see the “overt” signs of poverty here that were present overseas, he said.

Asked if he had a socialist streak he said “absolutely” and pointed to Government programmes to help people during the global recession.

“I’m a product of the welfare state.”

The only thing I’d take issue with is the notion that you have to be socialist to care or that caring makes you a socialist.

Margaret Thatcher said, no one would remember the Good Samaritan if he’d only had good intentions – he had money too.

She also said, the trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.

Being a capitalist doesn’t mean you don’t care about others and it’s capitalism that gives you the means to help them.

But life isn’t black and white and single colour polices aren’t always the best solution.

People like me nail our colours to a party’s mast but those colours tend to be tartan. The background for mine has varying shades of blue with some green (note the small g) and yellow squares, and the odd pink or even red stripe.

It’s called pragmatism. You stand firmly on your principles and philosophy but are driven by the will to find what works rather than by pure ideology.

And regardless of what your politics are, if you don’t care about people then you’ve missed the point.

18 Responses to Pragmatism makes us politically tartan

  1. Andrei says:

    Yes – I’ll go along with that.

    Compassion is a fine quality, an important quality and one that must be fundamental in all our thinking.

    The biggest danger with big government socialism though is that we abrogate our personal responsibility towards others and their needs and expect the Government to do it for us


  2. Deborah says:

    Yes. ‘Though the danger with assistance based on personal responsibility is that some people with real needs may not get any assistance to get going again, through the caprice of fate.


  3. robertguyton says:

    Green with a small ‘g’ – that makes you a greenie Ele.
    Your farming friends will mock you.


  4. rfdunedin says:

    Och Aye. Brilliant!


  5. MacDoctor says:

    It seems to have been overlooked that Key made this remark to an American. Compared to the US, NZ is indeed very left leaning. Our centre right would be considered centre left in the US, including Key himself.

    As to caring – the only uncaring people on the political spectrum are those at the extremes both left and right. They are the ones who see people as aggregates, rather than individuals.


  6. gravedodger says:

    “But life is not black and white and single colour policies aren’t always the best solution”.
    Reality 101

    Robert falls into the same morass that Ms Curran tried to walk on recently.

    If you are not with us you must be agin us.

    We shall show mercy but we will not seek it.

    Having leveled my palace, don’t erect a hovel and complacently admire your charity in giving me that for a home.

    Robert you shamelessly ignore the many thousands of green activities, that do not fit with your blinkered vision, of all who seek a life extracting a living from the soil as a commercial activity.
    They are not eco terrorists and grasping capitalists with scant regard for their environment.
    There are bad apples in any barrel but your crusade loses much of its authenticity and gloss when you fail to see any green tinge in any farmer when the reality is that denying sustainability will always lead to ruin and most farmers see that as a paramount truth every day.

    I often wonder if people such as St Jeanette were strictly audited as to sustainability and clean green activities they may just be found wanting somewhere.

    There are things in my farming past I would do differently in the light of knowledge gained but were justifiable through ignorance or sheer necessity at the time but I am comfortable with my ledger balance.

    Good post Ele, that it roused that trite response from ykw, it obviously hit the target.


  7. homepaddock says:

    Andrei, I agree, those of us who can look after ourselves should do, and be free to do so.

    Deborah – you’re right that is a danger. The difficulty is where you draw the line so those in need get help without wasting money on those in want.

    Robert – my farming friends are in the same camp as me.

    RFD – och aye back and thanks.

    MacD – Yes, both extremes take the people out of politics.

    GD – you too understand the importance of the small g.


  8. robertguyton says:

    Gravedodger – yours is an intemperate rant by hokey!
    You’ve extrapolated, as is your wont, wildly and I fear for your wellbeing – be still GD and breathe in, breathe out. My light-hearted comment, that Ele would be teased by her farming friends if she were to declare “I’m a greenie!” is I still maintain, correct.
    She could, of course, settle the matter for us, by doing so and reporting back.


  9. robertguyton says:

    It is fascinating though, that Key attributes the caring nature of New Zealand society, to Socialism.
    For the Prime Minister to say this gives the claim a lot of credibility. I wonder if he believes that New Zealanders’ socialist make-up balances the capitalist un-caring, as demonstrated by Brash, Kerr et al. It seems, from his statement, that he does. This must make those who sit way over on the far right, those who decry Socialism, feel a bit silly.


  10. robertguyton says:

    You a Socialist GD?
    Or are you un-caring?


  11. Cadwallader says:

    Altruism is not the preserve of the left or big government. To maintain that it is, is to deny the vibrancy of volunteered charity.


  12. homepaddock says:

    Robert – why would anyone think minimising negative and maximizing positive impacts on the environment is funny?

    Cadwallader – absolutely, you don’t have to be a socialist to care and act on your compassion.


  13. robertguyton says:

    Key reckons differently Cad. He says caring=socialism. If you’re not a socialist, you don’t care. Don’t you trust his judgement?
    Ele – no one would think that Ele – yours is a strange question. Still maintain that if you said “I’m a greenie” your friends would tease you. That phrase makes National-supporting farmers snigger. Why not try it and report back.


  14. Cadwallader says:

    RG: Absolutely, I do not trust Key’s judgment. Before you think we have a concordance, I stress that there are others in a political role whose judgment is equally questionable.


  15. Cadwallader says:

    RG: To carry this further; if it is asserted that the only compassion present in society today is divined from leftie governments, then explain the strength of institutions such as the Salvation Army. I accept it was not established in our times, but it continues robustly in our times. It is politically neutral, is self-funding through its activities and the non-compulsory donations of the citizens, yet it picks up where occasionally the state agencies flunk. Is this organisation anomalous to your world view?


  16. homepaddock says:

    Robert – I never said I was a greenie, that’s your misinterpretation of my comment there’s some green squares in my political tartan.


  17. gravedodger says:

    Very sorry Ele in Roberts world, yours is not an option.
    You are a water melon or not and he will be the arbiter.
    Note how he yelled three times into the canyon yesterday over a tenuous idea about socialism being all or nothing, no chance a greedy capitalist could possibly exhibit a little charity to his fellow man.
    I loved the comment about the Good Samaritan would not have made the front page if he had been poor.

    OTOH if he wants to get to Nelson he jumps on a plane or in a land vehicle and burns up some more carbon purely on the basis that his philosophy only applies to others.
    At least my mate Hugh at Hinewai eschews the carbon consuming options to inordinate lengths and is suitably embarrassed when he calls on emergency services as he has had to a couple of times lately.
    But then Hugh lives the life without Preaching, probably considers his dad did enough of that.


  18. ZenTiger says:

    Key reckons differently Cad. He says caring=socialism. If you’re not a socialist, you don’t care. Don’t you trust his judgement?

    So, Robert, to join in your silly game, do YOU trust Key’s judgment then?


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