Quotes of the month

It is clear that a certain privileged layer of New Zealand society has learned nothing from the recent political convulsions besetting both the United Kingdom and the United States. Spit upon the most cherished beliefs and achievements of your “deplorables” and – eventually – they will spit back. – Chris Trotter

To judge the actions of historical actors by the prevailing moral precepts of the present is not only philosophically impermissible, but it also betrays the writer’s fundamental ignorance of the history he is purporting to condemn.Chris Trotter

To apologise for one’s history is to invite those wronged by it to seek either restitution or retribution – or, maybe, both. The problem is, that what was taken by a combination of force and trickery is unlikely to be reclaimed by anything else. The children of the settlers who built “New Zealand” on the body of “Aotearoa”, understand in that special place known to all human-beings who love their homeland, that the apologies being offered by these radical journalists (who clearly despise everything “New Zealand” stands for) are a warning of deep and tragic upheavals to come.

Some of these Pakeha will reluctantly abandon their country. Some will retreat deeper into what is still its racist heartland. And some will struggle to preserve the nation they have grown up in. A nation whose true history is one of Maori and Pakeha finding more and more to be proud of in the way each ethnicity has adapted to the presence of the other. In the course of that history many apologies have been earned, and some have been given, but not, in the end, for being caught up in historical forces too vast for blame, and too permanent for guilt. – Chris Trotter

We need to take back control of our language and of the agenda. A strong democracy is one that can conduct a civilised but serious and passionate debate about what matters to large blocks of opinion. Attempts to prevent topics and ban any view you disagree with is usually an unwelcome move to alienate significant parts of the electorate and impoverish decision taking. – Sir John Redwood

Arguments about regenerative agriculture illustrate the challenges of creating informed debate. More generally, democracies depend on voters understanding complex issues. – Keith Woodford

Mainstream media is influenced by a perceived need to present things in black and white. The emphasis is on the sensational, and controversy always helps. Keith Woodford

Muzzling opinions because they conflict with the opinions of editorial managers would be perturbing at the best of times.  Muzzling them when democratic governance arrangements are the critical matter at issue is shameful. – Point of Order

The price you pay for food in the store, and the price the farmer receives, do not reflect the real cost of producing that food — not even close. According to government statistics, 58% of a British farmer’s income is from subsidies (remarkably, that figure only drops to 46% for “very large” farms.) It doesn’t matter what kind of farmer you are, upland or lowland, arable or livestock, intensive or extensive, nature-friendly or monoculture: you can’t earn enough from commodity food prices, so your business is propped up by these payments.

It is bonkers, but it’s a global problem, because the commodity prices are set globally and farmers globally tend to be subsidised. The US has a particularly insane system that encourages terrible industrial farming and then dumps its excess stuff on world markets at beneath true cost. – James Rebanks

When I was a kid, a scrapman used to come to the farm in a white van and would occasionally buy machinery or old gates, or rolls of rusting wire for scrap money, or take it to “clean it up”. It was sometimes a useful function, because the scrap had to be got rid of, but the fella was dodgy, and my old man used to say “keep an eye on him, or we will find things missing when he’s gone”. I think I feel the same way about the Government’s plan for agriculture — it may do some good for rural England, but if I were you I’d keep an eye on it, because later on you might well notice that some valuable possessions have gone missing. – James Rebanks

These emotional attempts to suppress controversial or unpopular speech have increasingly made use of what I call the “Mourner’s Veto”—individuals will say that a speaker or a piece of writing has caused them to become distressed or sad or angry or frightened, and they will support these claims with allegations of “harm” or even threats to their “right to exist.” Reasonable debate and discussion then becomes impossible as activists make unfalsifiable but furiously emotive claims about alleged threats to their safety and wellbeing amid much weeping and claims of exhaustion and mental fragility. It is not healthy for the limits of permissible speech to be dictated by the most sensitive person in the room, nor to allow emotional appeals to supplant robust argument as the most effective strategy in a debate. – Christopher J. Ferguson

This kind of heightened emotional expressiveness can be difficult to contend with. A debate participant who dismisses the tear-streaked outbursts of an opponent can appear monstrously insensitive and callous, even if they happen to be right on the facts. On the other hand, indulging this kind of behavior only aggravates and encourages it and constitutes a surrender of reasoned argument to emotional blackmail—a lose-lose scenario for the person arguing from facts and figures. Social pressure and a desire to appear compassionate and empathetic may prevent us from challenging emotional narratives. Even requests for evidence are sometimes misconstrued as exercises in power and privilege even though they are the cornerstone of rational discourse. – Christopher J. Ferguson

Those who defend the authority of the most sensitive among us to censor the rest ought to consider what will happen when the same standard is employed by their opponents. We must work to restore clearer norms for civil debate, and diminish the power of emotional arguments. Emotions almost invariably lead to bad decisions and the sooner we recognize this in our public discourse, the sooner we’ll be able to tackle our formidable challenges with rational and empirically informed discussions about the many complex issues we face. – Christopher J. Ferguson

Such fragility is now to be expected, however, because crying at the first opportunity is the new heroism. To display one’s vulnerability to all and sundry is a manifestation of emotional authenticity, to hold anything inward a form of deceit and betrayal of the self. A cycle of competitive vulnerability is set up; the person who can withstand the least is now the strongest, and certainly the most moral. – Theodore Dalrymple

 But sentimentality comes in many forms, and one of them, nowadays the most prevalent, is the deliberate elevation of emotion over thought. This is not to say that emotion has no place in ratiocination. Indeed, it seems to me likely that thought requires some kind of emotion for it to take place at all; for, as Hume said, reason is the slave of the passions, and without a passion of even the most etiolated degree, we could hardly rouse ourselves to bother to think, or to choose to think, about one thing rather than another. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is no plumbing the shallows of the modern soul. – Theodore Dalrymple

We seem to be paying lip service to the value systems established at huge cost on battlefields throughout mankind’s recent history that emphasise equality of opportunity and representation as cornerstones of our heritage. The radicals who want to introduce a new world order are having a field day in a vacuum that is not conducive to those traditional societal standards we should be defending at every turn. There is only one way to push back and it will need to involve every free thinking person on the planet. We need to say “Enough” before it is too late.Clive Bibby

Sustainable plant-based meat is made when cattle, sheep, goats, camels, deer and pigs graze natural free-range pasture which gathers solar energy via their green-leaf solar collectors. These grazing animals harvest plant biomass without using diesel and they also spread valuable plant fertiliser onto the ground and into the air. Real meat is greener and healthier than any fake “meat” manufactured by green alchemists. – Viv Forbes

The only hope for New Zealand now is that, whatever horrifying plans that Labour has in store, Jacinda Ardern is just as hopeless at actually implementing them in her second term as she was in her first. – Gideon Rozner

No one in New Zealand appears to be willing to simply tell it as it is. They are all too frightened of being labelled racist or whatever. Thus the corruption of our society continues its slide into a socialist politically correct oblivion, from which in my view there is no escape. Trying to legislate equality is like trying to stop the tide coming in with a bucket. Rob Sintes

The gun laws passed by this Government may have sent a powerful signal that an atrocity such as the one committed by the Christchurch shooter was abhorrent to New Zealanders. And it may have tightened up some loose legislation around gun procurement. But it did not and has not made New Zealand a safer place, despite the very best of intentions.Kerre McIvor

I think there is some value in returning to blatant, all-out honesty. In my experience, life is easier when you do the right thing. When you front up. When you fix your mistakes. When you apologise for getting it wrong or when you accept the return of the product that didn’t work as you said it would. – Bruce Cotterill

The accusation of racism is an extremely serious slur – or would be, if the meaning of the word hadn’t been so weakened by overuse. . . If the accusation of racism still meant something, it would be damning. But in the 21st century the word racist simply means anyone who doesn’t conform to the authoritarian orthodoxies of identity politics. – Karl du Fresne

A newspaper is an assembly of pages on which is printed news. The preposterous apologising nonsense of the past week was not news. It was fictionSir Bob Jones

Insulting your customers has never been a smart commercial move. I say it again. Stuff is now stuffed. In one inane move they’ve reduced their one dollar purchase price for the entire fleet of newspapers to zilch. Sir Bob Jones

We need to boost productivity and improve wages across the economy, not tinker with minimum wage rises that could just as easily benefit a 16-year-old living at home (16-to-24-year-olds make up 55 per cent of all minimum wage earners) than it could a parent supporting a family. – Susan Edmunds

As illiberalism insidiously spreads, many people around the world are losing their jobs, being investigated by the police or harassed online for expressing commonly held opinions.  The most effective form of defence is silence.  – Point of Order

Criminalising “hate” might be superficially seductive, but should this amendment to the Crimes Act be passed, the repercussions will be chilling. Unlike other prohibitions, such as exceeding the speed limit, theft, and so forth, there will be no precise definition in the legislation as to what constitutes disharmonious or hateful speech, and where the threshold of criminal speech lies. Instead, it will be determined on a case-by-case basis, with the accused knowing whether they have broken the law only at the moment they are convicted – Paul Moon

Criminalising those who might insult a religion is a frightening prospect. It has the potential to stifle opinions and discussion, and increase misunderstandings about people’s faiths. Instead of honest examinations of religions, the ensuing climate of caution will merely prop up and perpetuate creedal caricatures, with only the brave or unwise few prepared to probe and challenge them.

There is something fundamentally infantile in trying to build a legislative wall around a belief system, as a means of shielding it from criticism. What if the tenets of a religion deserve ridicule or contempt? – Paul Moon

Of course, it is naive in the extreme to believe that “hate” can be mitigated by laws. Criminalising hateful views does not extinguish them. On the contrary, anyone with even a passing knowledge of history will be aware that prohibition simply drives opprobrious opinions underground, where they become transfigured, and then emerge in newly codified forms that camouflage their hate and consequently make them much harder to tackle.

The liberty to hold our own opinions, to debate them openly with others, to change our views, and to chisel out some truth from it all, is one of the great inheritances of the Enlightenment, and has been one of the most potent weapons in centuries of campaigns to achieve social justice (the abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement in the United States, and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa are all examples where disharmonious speech directed at systems of belief led to millions of people’s lives being improved).

Make no mistake, there is something deeply sinister in the plans to criminalise speech according to a definition that no jurist can even define with sufficient precision. And if what’s past is prologue, the recommended changes to the Crimes Act will have a suffocating effect on the free expression of honestly held views. – Paul Moon

Our way of life is being propped up by unprecedented and unsustainable levels of monetary and fiscal stimulus; and this is no time for economic complacency. – Steven Joyce

Kicking the can down the road yet again on a transtasman bubble and other urgent issues smacks of economic and political self-satisfaction. Real people are being hurt by things as they stand, and the economic scarring in places like Auckland, Rotorua, Queenstown and Southland is also real. These people are all members of the fabled team of five million. We should be acting with urgency to resurrect their livelihoods while we have the opportunity. – Steven Joyce

But to an anti-racist all things are racist, and everything is grist to his ideological mill.Theodore Dalrymple

The reason, I suspect (though I cannot prove), is this: that in their heart of hearts, the over-promoters of the black actors and actresses believe that, unlike Indians and Chinese, blacks require administrative and political assistance to succeed, in other words that they, the over-promoters, are deeply, if subliminally, imbued with racist notions. Racism is in many places, but not always where the anti-racists perceive it. – Theodore Dalrymple

It was an opportunity to show character – a bit too much opportunity to show character in my opinion, but there we go. It’s hard. It was hard. It was physically very hard, very tiring. And it was just, it was hard.  But you know, I didn’t die.Judith Collins

“I think it’s important to understand that it’s called Leader of the Opposition for a reason that in a democracy, you do need to actually have someone who’s not just going to say, ‘Well, if the Prime Minister said it that must be right’.

“You do actually have to have people who are going to say, ‘well, hang on, let’s look at this’. But where there’s areas where we can agree, then we will agree. – Judith Collins

Politicians around the world are notorious for apportioning blame after the publication of damning reports that highlight failures of leadership under their watch as long as the number of those who might lose their jobs doesn’t include themselves.Clive Bibby

Maturity makes a big difference, but mostly it’s attitude. If you’ve got a good attitude, you’ll be right. You don’t mind persevering with someone with a good attitude. – Warren Temperton 

In Woke circles you must not use “woman” to refer to someone’s biological makeup, physical structure, or capacity to become pregnant. All that grossly mammalian business is somehow icky, beneath us. Why should we as spirits with infinite potential (or something) be defined by our toilet functions, or the oozing, smelly business of mere reproduction? Gnosticism, the ancient heresy that treated bodily existence as of the devil, and offered salvation by secret knowledge to a certain “awakened” (i.e., Woke) elite, has risen from its grave. – John Zmirak

If the capacity for real motherhood or fatherhood is not part of “gender” then what is? Lipstick, high heels, and a high-pitched voice on the one hand — and lumberjack shirts, work boots, and unashamed farts on the other? By “identifying” as some gender at odds with your genitals, are you simply indulging a stereotype? If so, must strangers honor that? Must we blow up women’s sports, strip women of privacy, and subject some to physical danger (like the fellow prisoners of a suddenly “female” rapist, or girls on a rugby field mowed down by a 6’ 3” “girl”)? – John Zmirak

But right now we seem to have come full circle, and collectivism is fashionable like never before. People hanker to be part of a group – especially those groups perceived as victimised. Grievance is earnestly sought and if the seekers can’t legitimately be part of the aggrieved group, they protest vigorously in the group’s name. Brand new groups are created and labelled, with the non-member creators then patting themselves on the back for embracing them! Unwittingly people are forced into groups of believers and deniers, enemies or allies. It’s almost comical. Almost…

Except the new collectivism is best characterised by its propensity to rapidly lash out at, denigrate and silence any party that questions. Despite their largely collective facelessness, through mass communication they are far more powerful and influential than any individual bigot. This monstrous movement changes the meaning of words and disregards facts. So detractors are left impotent.Lindsay Mitchell

Resist. Communicate with your younger ones. Encourage them to think. Oddly, encourage them to rebel. That’s the prerogative of youth. Some of their world view has justified roots, and we should listen. But many of us do have something they don’t. A lifetime’s experience of the world and its many earlier bouts of madness and mayhem. – Lindsay Mitchell

I can, at times, cross into the territory of libertarian conservatism when it comes to issues like free speech.  In other words: it is possible to hold an ideology of the right without agreeing with every aspect of any one particular school of thought.  This is a real point of difference with the left, it seems, where one is often vilified or abused for expressing criticism of – or even a differing opinion to – a belief you are expected to hold. – Monique Poirier

It’s difficult to fathom that with more than 20,000 Kiwi families currently waiting for a home the Government is prepared to spend millions stopping 480 much-needed houses from being built. – Judith Collins 

Does it make any kind of sense that scarce MIQ spaces are being taken up by people who come from places that do not have Covid-19? Why couldn’t we just admit RSE workers as usual from places without Covid, on an understanding that the gate would be shut if their Covid-status changed? Does it seem plausible that the most valuable uses of scarce spaces in MIQ is for people coming in for fruit-picking, if those workers are coming in from places where Covid is prevalent? If it were the outcome of an auction for spaces, I’d take that seriously – I could too easily be wrong! The policy simultaneously plausibly lets too many RSE workers into MIQ, and too few RSE workers into the country. It seems unlikely that the highest valued use of an MIQ space is for someone who would come in to pick fruit at $22/hour, but it also makes no sense at all that they be required to be there in the first place.Eric Crampton

I suspect, but cannot know, that the government is doing all of this deliberately, to kill the RSE programme. Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. – Eric Crampton

Every state possesses the means to keep its citizens under strict control. The democratic trick is to ensure that it receives no encouragement to use them. If governments are incited to believe the worst of their citizens, then those citizens will not be slow to live up to their masters’ expectations. Chris Trotter

The brief period of sitting this year has been atrocious, with nearly half of each Question Time spent watching Labour MPs ask themselves questions then gleefully clapping at the response like some banana republic legislature. – Thomas Coughlan

In short I think females get a comparatively rough deal, first by nature and also, if unintentionally, by cultural norms. – Sir Bob Jones

Taxpayers aren’t a bank to be called upon to clean up the Government’s poor decisions, particularly when it is meddling in private property rights. – Michael Woodhouse

Parenthood, in essence, is the relegation of one’s own interests below those of your child’s.James Borrowdale

It is not of self-censorship that I speak, however, or even of that social censorship that demands that certain verbal taboos, in the name of good manners, are not lightly broken. I mean rather the increasing hold on public expression of specific little orthodoxies that, de facto though not de jure, may not be questioned or contradicted.

There is no midnight knock on the door, at least not yet, to ensure conformity, but those who question these little orthodoxies (whose content, incidentally, changes all the time, but also extends in scope, like multiplying starfish crawling over a coral reef) are subject to such punishments as ostracism or black-listing.

I am no martyr for the truth, and have no thirst for it either. There are certain things that I believe but would never say in public. But I passionately believe in the right of other people to say them  – Theodore Dalrymple 

Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having. . . free speech encompasses the right to offend, and indeed to abuse another  – Lord Justice Bean and Mr Justice Warby 

Generally, the closer to Christmas a government announces something, the more unpopular that thing probably is. It’s the old trick of slipping out bad news while voters are too distracted by present-shopping and too worn out to care. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Humanity’s recent past is pockmarked with tragedies on a scale beyond our current imagining, and they all were the result of unanticipated consequences of grand government programmes designed with noble intent; many of them less radical than that we have currently deployed.

So whilst the current prognosis looks positive I remain of the view that the risks we took were disproportionate to the evils we sought to avoid. We dodged a bullet; no question, but you will win at Russian Roulette five times out of six. This does not mean it was a good idea to spin the chamber.Damien Grant

A couple of weeks back Jacinda Ardern came out and said no one in New Zealand should have to rely on their family to buy a home, and yet she doesn’t mind people in New Zealand relying on their family to have to stay alive. You know, there’s just an inequity in what she said that’s not right. – Chris Jackson

There has never been a council mayor or chairman, born, created, or cloned, who would prefer to officially open the valve on a new sewerage scheme in preference to turning the freshly polished handle on the front door of a new council office block. Gerry Eckhoff

The election to public office is a generous choice by the public which must always be met with an equal measure of accountability by the recipient. – Gerry Eckhoff

We let them down by failing to test them for Covid. We let them down by giving them the wrong facemasks. We must not again let down the border and managed isolation workers who go to work to risk their lives every day.Dr Parmjeet Parmar

Finally, it seems more and more people are on Santa’s naughty list, waking up to the reality that biological sex cannot be changed by clothes or pronouns any more than a pair of Christmas antlers makes one a reindeer. All any of us gender heretics, ‘nasty’ feminists and free-thinkers want for Christmas is for politicians to show some common sense and to publicly state that a ‘woman is an adult human female’. – Jo Bartosch

Exactly one-in-three of all MPs in Parliament now is a newbie. That is a stunningly large proportion. They will be unruly, inexperienced, idealistic and in some cases wholly unsuited to representing themselves as legislators, let alone anyone else. – Pattrick Smellie

House price inflation is an absurd disgrace for which successive governments of the last 30 years bear responsibility and may take another 20 to fix.

Inequality is rampant, rivers are still dirty, the economy is still too heavily based on low wages and low productivity. From Ihumātao to local government reform to commissions of inquiry into terror attacks and abuse in state care, there were any number of issues that mattered this year.

But no issue mattered more than covid, and our politics have been shaped accordingly. Pattrick Smellie

The point here is not that the government should borrow endless amounts of money to throw at all of the country’s issues, nor that greater state involvement is always a good thing. Instead, I make the simple observation that politicians make up their own rules about when the state should take decisive action. If it wanted to, the government could apply the same thinking to child poverty or climate change that it did to Covid-19: early intervention and spending to avoid future catastrophe. The pandemic may be a once-in-a-lifetime aberration, but strategic policy-making doesn’t have to be. Matt Bartlett

Climate policies also have costs that often vastly outweigh their climate benefits. The Paris Agreement, if fully implemented, will cost $819–$1,890 billion per year in 2030, yet will reduce emissions by just 1% of what is needed to limit average global temperature rise to 1.5°C. Each dollar spent on Paris will likely produce climate benefits worth 11¢. – Bjorn Lomborg

The world, of course, is always divided into WE and THEY. WE are innocent, good, well-meaning, helpless victims; THEY are guilty, bad, ill-intentioned, deliberate perpetrators. How neat and satisfying it all is, how well it explains everything! – Theodore Dalrymple

We who have suffered nothing more than the inconvenience of no overseas travel and one (or two) lockdowns should give some thought this holiday season for New Zealanders who have borne a much bigger burden so we have the luxury of feeling safe.

The people whose livelihoods have been destroyed, and often their life savings too, when their industries were decimated by the border closures. Those who have lost their careers and are now in a much lower paid job or no job at all. Children who have had their education disrupted, and in some cases truncated, so they can support their families because traditional bread winners have lost their jobs.

Many have not been able to say goodbye to cherished family members, hello to new ones, or celebrate myriad other life events. Many life partners are separated either side of our national moat. To all those people we owe our thanks, support and understanding. – Steven Joyce

The international economic response is predicated on the notion that inflation is dead, and massive increases in money supply won’t revive it. It’s a big bet. If the mandarins are right we are likely headed into a period of slow growth and higher asset prices that will cause more political dislocation and risk social unrest. If they are wrong, things could get really ugly. – Steven Joyce

For my old political party there is a major rebuild to look forward to. As someone who had a part in the last such effort I can report it will involve a massive amount of hard work, and listening to the public. There are few short cuts. The principles of individual freedom, choice, free enterprise and personal responsibility will endure, as they do in democracies around the world. The challenge will be applying them successfully to the post-Covid world. – Steven Joyce

The extent to which we can give animals what they need on a farm is pretty good and may well be better than that which wild animals, and even some people, experience.Dr David Beggs

The biodiversity able to occur with rangeland farming is so much better than that in cropping. So is it better to produce food for people from something that has prevented wildlife from existing at all or to produce an animal for eventual slaughter and raise it humanely? – Dr David Beggs

Society has way more anxiety, we’ve basically got a pandemic of anxiety and depression amongst our teenagers, that’s a multifaceted thing but I think the loss of an at home parent in the first 1000 days of life is a big driver. – Nathan Wallis

In other words, “bleeding heart” versions of our history which push the line that everything was lovely in Aotearoa until the colonists arrived, and that they were responsible for depriving Maori of their livelihoods, are telling dubious bits of the story. Maori had killed more Maori between 1810 and 1840 than the total number of Kiwis killed in World Wars One and Two combined. And in the process, they complicated the relationships with settlers when they arrived in substantial numbers between 1840 and 1860. Yes, the wars of the 1860s did terrible damage to what remained of the Maori economy. But not as much as Maori had done to themselves before colonists had even arrived. – Michael Bassett

The thing about grief, big and small, is that it’s ordinary. We carry our losses in our bodies, they say, deep in the tissues of our hips, our shoulders, and each new loss we experience calls up all our previous losses. We can dissolve some of this grief by moving, working it out, stretching it out, talking it out, crying it out, but can’t we also roll it out on a lightly floured countertop, shape it with our hands into something small and delicate and crisp? – Jenn Shapland

It’s very early days and we have a lot to think about – but what we do know is that we want to help people in need. Our goal is to make a difference in the lives of people who really need it – and a win like this allows us to do that. – North Otago Lotto winner

In the Maori worldview there’s this saying: ko nga tahu a o tapuwai inanahi, hei tauira mo apopo, which is the footsteps you lay down in your past create the paving stones of where you stand today.

Those footsteps and that world view are always in front of me. It’s incredible to sit here today and look back and see all of those footsteps and see everyone who joined on those footsteps that made this possible. These paving stones would not exist if a number of things hadn’t happened here in Dunedin. – Ian Taylor

2 Responses to Quotes of the month

  1. adamsmith1922 says:

    Reblogged this on The Inquiring Mind and commented:
    Excellent quotes, thought provoking, but disturbing

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Tim Sheppard says:

    Fabulous curation – thank you, Ele! Hope to see more in the new year please!

    Like

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