In the midst of the most heart-warming story of the year, why must we argue over whom to thank – capitalism or God? Can't we have it both ways?

First let me just get this off my chest: to those who always rabbit on about how the media never cover good news stories, I hope you are choking on your words this week, because there would have hardly been a news organisation which did not bring us hourly updates of the Chilean miners' progress until they were safely winched from their underground prison.

And only those with hearts of stone would not have shed a tear when that last miner, the foreman, surfaced safely into the arms of his family and friends.

Did we all sit there like crones around the guillotine, knitting and hoping for bad news? I don't think so.

And I also believe even the agnostics and atheists among us sent up a prayer of thanks to someone – even if it was a god of capitalism – that after just over two months these men were saved. And the miners themselves, good Roman Catholics, in messages sent from the mine, told how they listened to bible stories and prayed to Mary and Jesus for a safe rescue, and for their families to be strong. (A t-shirt was even made: Ed).

So now some on the outside are aghast they have not fallen on their knees and given thanks to the free market, the profit motive, world trade and an open economy and the innovation created by capitalism, without which, 25 years ago they would be dead.

Daniel Henninger, without doubt a good journalist and commentator, has written a fine opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, Capitalism Saved the Miners, subtitled, The profit = innovation dynamic was everywhere at the mine rescue site. He argues the rescue of the miners is a "smashing victory for free-market capitalism" then admits, though it is churlish to make such a claim, these are churlish times and the stakes are high.

But how can Henninger know, without a doubt, if the miners were trapped half a mile underground in 1985, they would die? Was capitalism not alive and well in 1985 too? If we go back to the Second World War, we can find many instances of seemingly impossible situations, where men were trapped – not a half-mile underground I grant – but often without hope.

Miracles did happen due to the triumph of human determination and spirit, spurred on by – dare I say it – the power of prayer.

In New Zealand, Henninger's not without his admirers. Facebook acolytes diss the 'religionists' and ask, rhetorically, why 'the hell' the miners thanked God for their safe rescue when capitalism ensured they were not buried alive.

On the NZ Business Roundtable's blogsite, executive director Roger Kerr did his usual cut and paste, extolling the wonders of an open economy.

But one essential tool in reaching the miners was the Center Rock drill bit, which drilled down to the miners. This drill bit was made by a company in Berlin and was donated to the Chileans. Given for free. The profit motive did not come into it. Wouldn't you have thought, if capitalism came into this, if the open economy, free trade, profit motive etc were central players, that Center Rock's president would have sold the drill bit to the Chilean government?

What puzzles me, is that I support capitalism. I understand it's Center Rock's profit that has enabled it to donate the drill bit to Chile and become the benevolent corporate in this time of crisis. Of course along the way it gets the kudos and achieves "good citizen status".

But I also support spiritualism, the power of prayer; the power of the human spirit and the extraordinarily under-rated value of voluntarism.

Last weekend Labour and the Greens released a report on the care of the elderly, based on a tour of New Zealand's rest homes. They obviously didn't visit our village.

I'm responsible for caring for my 89-year-old mother. She lives alone, not far from us. She's difficult, much like I was, I suspect, when I was a teenager. I'm also, for my sins, on the 'ladies auxiliary' of the local rest home (yes, laugh) and we fund-raise like mad to make the residents' lives happy and filled with activities. We are all volunteers. The rest home receives no state funding.

My mother – and hundreds of other people in this community – are also supported by the church. I don't think our vicar rejects capitalism. She's also a grape-grower and winemaker, and embraces all the latest technology to ensure each harvest is as profitable as possible. But it's the church which gives breakfast to the primary school children so they don't go to lessons hungry, not the capitalists in town.

It's the church which steps in to look after mother when we go away, not the corporates.

I'm interested in philosophy, and to me, Christianity is another form of philosophy. A couple of weeks ago, in her sermon, the vicar was talking about relationships. She mentioned an elderly couple. The wife had serious alzheimer's, and was in a rest home, visited daily by her husband, despite the fact she didn't know who he was. May (the vicar) could see the husband struggled with these visits so she said to him, "you know, she doesn't know who you are, you don't have to visit every day."

And the old man said, "Yes, but I know who she is."

I loved that story, because it illustrated how divides can be crossed.

So why can't capitalism and spiritualism, journey along together?

 

Comments (29)

by peasantpete on October 18, 2010
peasantpete

Capitalism (whatever that means) and spiritualism (whatever that means) do not share common values.

They will both journey along together, they do not have much choice.

The mixture of capitalism with various religions, ideologies has always resulted in anguish.  Either to the capitalists, or the others.

C'mon Deborah, you are an ACT supporter,

Toughen up!

by stuart munro on October 19, 2010
stuart munro

All things are possible.

Religion or spirituality is arguably the premium human cultural artifact, it can exist in pretty much all human circumstances.

But extreme forms of capitalism do conflict with spiritual values. I doubt that Enron's activities were markedly  spiritual, for instance.

Plenty of people have fingered Weberian values for the economic rise of various nations. These were not inconsistent with Christianity, except for their persistent entrapment and exploitation of the lower classes.

You might enjoy the work of Francis Hutcheson (1694–1746). An influential figure in the philosophy behind the abolition of slavery, among other things. His influence on the Scottish Enlightenment was so great you could almost say he was the Scottish Enlightenment. Little things like the 'pursuit of happiness' in the American constitution come from him.

 

by Deborah Coddington on October 19, 2010
Deborah Coddington

peasantpete: you are talking past me. What is an Act supporter these days? I used to support Act, the party which stood up for property rights, choice, etc. That is not the Act party these days. Anyway, as a journalist, I don't support any political party. "Toughen up"! What does that mean? Does supporting some kind of philosophy, or even exploring philosophical ideals, or spiritual ideas, make one batty, or a soft cock? On the contrary, I think 'what's wrong with the youth today!' is that they have absolutely no philosophical backbone. We did away with religious values and maxims, but we didn't replace them with anything. So now anything goes. Truth? What's that? Truth is whatever you want it to be. So take the current tragedy of James Webster, drinking himself to death. His parents "just know" he never drank "much at all" before he drank himself to death. Yet his close friends swore on oath he was weekly "wasted" and "coma-ed" on alcohol. What's the truth? Whatever you want it to be. The Kahui inquest - another example. There are no truths, no morals, no boundaries. Why are we shocked?

On another tangent to do with capitalism and the elderly. Capitalism has proved so wonderful now, it has extended people's lives to the extent that we can no longer look after them properly. Capitalism has made medical science so fantastic, we keep people alive much longer than they should be alive, longer than they can safely look after themselves, and longer than their families want to look after them, so we then put them in institutions and expect the state to pay for the care of them.

Stuart: I shall look out Hutcheson, thank you.

by Andin on October 19, 2010
Andin

"I'm interested in philosophy, and to me, Christianity is another form of philosophy."

I think the more appropriate word is Theology.

"So why can't capitalism and spiritualism, journey along together?"

Ahh the whitterings of a mind formerly lashed to the mast of the corporeal, pining for something it thinks it dropped, somewhere along the road, on its journey. Is now trying to knit together the threads of some tawdry garment. But the threads simply fall apart in your hands, don't they. Sad.

by Andrew Geddis on October 19, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Deborah,

I'm not sure I see either the James Webster or Kahui twins inquests as having much to do with relativism. There is a "truth" about how much James drank - either it was lots and he hid it from his parents (hardly the first time a teenager has misled the olds, surely?) or it wasn't lots but his "friends" are trying to cover-up (whether intentionally or not) for their culpability in his death by making out there was nothing unusual in his actions that night. Same goes for the Kahui twins - someone killed those poor kids, it's just that those who could reveal the truth are part of a highly disfunctional family group that are so disconnected with "normal" society that they refuse to disclose that information. That's not relativism at work - no-one thinks that what happened to the kids is "OK" - it's culture.

If your point, however, is that somehow a decline in moral values allowed these events to occur at all, then I guess that is a different question. But you also need to set that asserted decline against the outpouring of anguish and anger about what happened - it's not as if the nation has just shrugged and gone "meh" about these events.

by Andrew Geddis on October 19, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Oh - and Pablo over at kiwipolitico has a great post on the issue of who or what was responsible for the miners getting trapped and rescued.

by Deborah Coddington on October 19, 2010
Deborah Coddington

Andrew I think the nation has just shrugged and gone "whatever" about these events. Oh yes, the media has managed to manufacture a bit of outrage, a bit of middle class dinner party conversation, something along the lines of, there-but-for-the-grace-of-god-go-our-kids in the case of Webster, and in the Kahui case - but-what-can-we-dooooooo? But then out comes another bottle of Syrah and the Angus prime ha ha ha, love to have the recipe, darling.

My point is, it's bloody boring to talk in depth and at length about these issues. You get branded as "intense" if you have "moral values". And I disagree with you, I think there is an issue of relativism around the Webster echelons of society, like the kid who supplied the alcohol but won't give a statement to police (why are his parents allowing this?), the same as there is relativism around the 'tight 12' of the Kahui lot, who wouldn't give statements to the police either.

In both cases, a human being has died, but these people are not prepared to assist the authorities to find out why, and perhaps prevent it happening in the future.

These people are demonstrating that their moral principles have no absolute standards, and that, pure and simply, is relativism.

 

by SPM on October 19, 2010
SPM

A most interesting post that touches upon a debate about the compatibility of Christianity and capitalism that has ebbed and flowed over the centuries as markets succeed and fail.

At the moment, I think the pendulum is starting to swing back to recognising some of the more overt contradictions – like capitalism being a system where pursuing self-interest (under certain conditions) generates optimal outcomes for all whereas Jesus tended to be about forsaking personal interest to be in relationship with the poor and the needy (eg putting the last first and first last, not loving money and God).

A decade ago, I’m sure radicals like Shane Claiborne would hardly get a look-in with mainstream Christian discourse but at the moment movements like modern monasticism do seem to be on the up. 

The relationship between Christianity and capitalism is a really rich area to explore – especially considering the enabling role Christianity has had in the growth of capitalism or how the welfare state and charity assuage our guilt from not doing the hard yards like you are doing with your mother, Deborah.

With regard to the miners, I think we also need to appreciate the role of capitalism plays in sending them down in the first place and in their working conditions and remuneration. 

by Mark Wilson on October 19, 2010
Mark Wilson

Deborah, that's what we get when you have the wealth consumers promote truth relativism and moral relativism to the point where it it is the dominant  political philosophy. (I go with Mark Twain, who when exposed to this Waikato University level of stupidity said "Kick that rock and then tell me that". It is why politically correctness is such a pernicious form of censorship.

Mind you, the Kahui defence lawyer at the coroner's hearing gets last weeks award for mocking someone with a little subtleness  by explaining how his client "is at one end of the bell curve." Three cheers for that man.

I disagree when it is claimed that  this is not a relativism issue. Those who hold that no minority group or culture can be told in plain language that if you behave badly or are lazy, stupid, drugged or drunk then you are responsible for the consequences are the people responsible for where our society has ended up.

With the level of sophisticated and complex technology increasing on an exponential basis, and no political will to straighten up the opt outs, our society is past the tipping point where the number of those who cannot cope, like the Kahui group, will only grow.

As there are no significant penalties for opting out of any responsibility for any action, no matter how shameful, we are moving into a Blade Runner age of two permanent classes. (And no, prison is not a significant penalty to these losers.)

If our society had said after some of these terrible events, let's actually do something about making these people see the consequences of their actions and make them  suffer some harm from it, then yes, we took it seriously. The "tight 12" have not suffered and if you watched some of the coverage of the inquest some of the main protagonists were revelling in their 15 minutes.

I believe that we did in fact go "meh".

It is interesting to note that there is starting to appear in the overseas financial media coverage of a withdrawal of capital by some of the wealth creators around the world. Certainly some of that is because of the  uncertainty but some of it is because they cannot see the point of it being wasted by politicians and the wealth consuming classes. Already one French owned wealth fund is selling up all it's French assets because of its belief that the left there will wreck the economy before they will accept cuts.

We have gone down the "its never anyones fault" path (unless you are a wealth creator) for 60 years now and it just gets worse. As our society has no will to change our losers are only going to grow in numbers.

by stuart munro on October 19, 2010
stuart munro

@ Mark,

I think you overstate the case, but it is not entirely empty. A rise in relativism is consistent with a decline in social responsibility, and I suspect that might be reflected in data like not guilty pleas vs convictions, for example.

But what social change do you envisage? Most of the changes over the last few decades were market led - if indeed we can describe the handful of interests that control New Zealand spending as a market.

There are indeed many similarities between NZ and Bladerunner - especially the kipplisation, and mass emigration. But the masses, unlike Roy Batty, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a_saUN4j7Gw

have no incept date. They might not just cry quietly in the rain as the 'wealth creators' complete their destruction of the decent society.

by Andrew Geddis on October 19, 2010
Andrew Geddis

@Stuart,

Quite right. I'm with Thatcher on this one: "They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and then, also to look after our neighbour. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations."

That's the sort of wealth-creating, hard-headed thinking that will cure our modern ills ... .

by Mark Wilson on October 19, 2010
Mark Wilson

Stuart I would vehemently argue that the market was never in charge. It was certainly freed up to create the wealth that Clarke and co spent but the fact is the welfare state has very much been in charge since the 60s. The proof of that is the ever increasing numbers on various benefits since the 60s. And the governments spent it to death until finally the western world ran out of money.

There is a wonderful book - The Olive Tree and the Lexus - which talks about the "golden straitjacket" which countries must put on to prosper so all their people can be looked after. It argues that fiscal prudence and certain economic realities cannot be avoided without dire consequences. No matter how much the left hate Roger Douglas his reforms saved the country from ruin. We were so far gone that according to Lange the Labour government had to rob our embassies to pay off a mere $1 million loan, or default on it our entire loan book. Without Douglas  and his reforms we would be very poor indeed as fiddling with the economy would not have done it. He is in fact the most important politicion as far as helping the poor since Savage. Without a robust economy Clarke and co would have had nothing to spend - they owe everything they had to him. What Douglas says is true - nine years in power and they didn't change substantially one of his reforms. 

My point is that unless we can reinstall some individual responsibility in an ever growing percentage of the population that cannot cope with an ever more complex world then we cannot prevent massive poverty as there is not going to be enough wealth to go around. 7 tax payers used to support 1 beneficiary and now we are on the way to 1 to 1. Can't work!

Labour has returned to its roots where it is going to increase tax rates, install a capital gains tax and generally incentivize business and capital to go overseas. In the terrible days of Muldoon's Stalinist command economy a Government could hold capital in the country and had at least some ability to control the wealth creators. They can't now and will never be able to without resorting to the socialist fascism of leftist goverments like Venuzuala and North Korea. And they are huge economic success stories.

When we do get a Labour Government that will lurch to the left big time the economy will be slam dunked as capital, brains and experience leaves. 

My point is not "screw the poor" as claimed, but that the only way to help them is to have a business friendly environment (because if we don't there are plenty of places that do) and to reduce the number of wealth consumers to a manageable level. To achieve the latter we need to find another way than just create more and more weaker and weaker beings as we have since the 60s.

I and those who are like minded will adapt (or move) if we are required to do so, but our society cannot spend more than we can create to care for increasing numbers of poor.

Socialist rhetoric, which we are going to hear a lot of in the next year, and socialist legislation is going to kill the goose, and that is going to hammer the poor, and that is my concern.   

by Andrew Geddis on October 19, 2010
Andrew Geddis

Mark,

If you really think the world's policy settings are going to keep on assuming that unconstrained free markets are the only alternative, given the experience that we've just had over the last 3 years, then I want the drugs you take.

By the way, who is this "Clarke" of whom you speak? We did have a PM called Helen Clark, but I'm sure a man of your  worldly wisdom and acuity wouldn't think her name had an "e" in it and so end up constantly mispelling it.

by stuart munro on October 19, 2010
stuart munro

@ Andrew

...And no government can do anything except through people...

They seem to have achieved the alienation of a great many state assets without the people. I'm sure though, that it will be the people that have to rebuild them.

by stuart munro on October 19, 2010
stuart munro

@ Mark,

There is an inferior book, called the Lexus and the Olive Tree, that doesn't even recognize that the Lexus was the product of a taoist implementation of Shewart's quality assurance equations - rather than confirmation of a 'Wall Street knows best' position from which Friedman has since retreated.

Roger Douglas was an outrageous liar - standing for Labour and destroying it's policies - and an epic failure so huge he makes Muldoon look like some kind of savant. (Muldoon's think big projects have a better strike rate than Douglas's) Douglas's fantasy of making NZ a financial hub was always absurd, and it fed into the next generation of government financial mismanagement - when MPs decided post-crash, that they were no longer like share brokers, but in fact more like merchant bankers, like Fay Richwhite. Of course they were encouraged to believe it, but they actually resembled nothing so much as Blue Chip investors - people formerly in the possession of substantial assets.

Make no mistake - there was plenty wrong with the spending of the last Labour government - but the economic strategy for real growth - like that of Korea or Japan or China or Malaysia or dammit Solonian Athens - requires government intervention, substantial public assent and corporate cooperation. It is not and never can be a disembodied capital class reiterating its fantasies of the perfect society in isolation - that doesn't work except for micro-citystates like Monaco or Singapore, that began wealthy in the first place, and are scrupulously managed.

 

by The Falcon on October 19, 2010
The Falcon

And just like that, the new "reasonable" stuart munro is gone, and the conspiratorial one has returned! Welcome back.

Here's my two cents on the Kahui twins - maybe NZ should stop paying people tens of thousands of dollars per year for every kid they have but can't afford to actually take care of? Just a thought...

by Mark Wilson on October 19, 2010
Mark Wilson

Where to begin?

1 - Touche on Clark - it must have been the heady aroma of leftism on the site that clouded my thinking - it tends to do that to people.

2 - I don't remember ever arguing for unconstrained free markets in my life. What I do argue is that the financially illiterate ex school teachers in the Labour caucus have returned to the tax and spend strategies that have a 100% failure rate.                            Winston Churchill: “I contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle.”                       

3 - Roger Douglas drives the left into incoherence. Douglas may have mislead the left, but he saved the economy. The people the left claim to represent would have been more than happy with the trade off if they were financially literate enough to understand it. It is illogical to rail against his changes as Labour had 9 years to change them and didn't. As to the after effects of his actions, you can't blame Douglas for the fact that Labour MPs proved that people with no business experience should not be running the PTA, let alone something as complex as a country. That is a serious point. Blame the Labour MPs who were out of their depth, not Douglas who was sidelined by then.     

4 - The point of the Lexus and the Olive Tree is the fact of the golden strait jacket - the rest is irrelevant. . No credible economist would argue against that  principal. Incidently, nowhere does it claim that Wall St knows best.

5 - Your are right about corporate co-operation and Labour have no hope with these new policies. When they win, which they will sooner or later, their will be a massive capital flight and capital strike and the economy will crash and burn. Unintended consequences.

by stuart munro on October 19, 2010
stuart munro

@ Mark,

The golden strait-jacket is just a straight jacket. Try this http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Samaritans-Secret-History-Capitalism/dp/1596913991

Pretty much Stiglitzian. Krugman wouldn't tell you any different.

Douglas destroyed the economy to save it. Look at the divergence point between the New Zealand and Australian economies - it dates from Douglas. And New Zealand is a textbook example of how not to sell assets, not sure if I still have a copy.

As for Labour - well it has only taken them, what 23 years, to admit they were wrong about Rogergnomics. By the standards of ruling elites that's lightning fast.

Corporate cooperation and capital flight are a curious thing - any real government must risk them to some degree,or cease to represent their citizens. But Key is right to be concerned about the possibility of capital flight - if not directly from Labour foreign investment policies. Of course, had irresponsible monetary and foreign investment policy not driven land prices beyond the means of New Zealanders it wouldn't be such a problem.

Tax and spend is not wrong per se, but certainly most NZ governments never understood just how seriously public spending should be analysed. Government spending is a major part of the path to economic recovery. But it ain't a lolly scramble -not even close. Of course our current MPs grew up in the days NZ govts were so irresponsible they used to spend everything they could as they left office, and hide the books from the incoming government. So they imagine that they're doing a great job. Not even close. They should look at Taiwan- best level of health care for lowest GDP fraction in the world. Bet they don't even know.

@ Falcon,

Curiously enough, like many New Zealanders serially ripped off by ACT Labour and National, I have lost enthusiasm for it. Irrationality would be to believe them. New Zealand is a small country though, and their more disgraceful dealings have a way of being found out even without vigorous investigative journalists.

 If you are so keen to repeal the New Deal, go do it in America. There you lie outside only two standard deviations of the mean, here you are outside three.

by The Falcon on October 20, 2010
The Falcon

Here's the thing stuart. I'm sure you would object if a right-winger said his right-wing policies would result in greater income equality. It's just disingenuous - flattening tax rates increases income inequality (we just don't think income inequality is a bad thing).

In the same way, it's disingenuous of you to say left-wing economic policies will grow the country and that liberal economic policies will hurt NZ. It goes against 5th-form economics. Yes, left-wing policies will increase income equality and protectionism will give NZ more control over its own economy. But don't try to say it will grow the country. You know it's not true, Phil Goff knows it's not true, let's have some honesty here.

(I can understand Phil Goff potentially misleading the public about left-wing policies promoting growth, he has to worry about votes. But here in the comments section of pundit, there's no reason not to be honest with each other in having a discussion).

by stuart munro on October 20, 2010
stuart munro

With the greatest respect Falcon, economies grow best when productive activity is rewarded and less productive activities are not rewarded. (There are of course complicating trade factors)

Protectionism varies in its appropriateness according to the environment. At present New Zealand is more liberal than our trading partners, and it is costing us. A smarter policy for us would be a T-1 tarrif system - charging 1% less tarriffs than our trading partners charge us. If they don't tarriff us, fine, free trade. But we should not be hanging out to be mercantilist patsies. I wonder if you can tell me which country had the highest tarriffs throughout the 19th century and for the beginning of the 20th century? They not only protect local trade, they are also 'a nice little earner' especially for smaller economies.

Left wing - let us be straight about it - Keynesian economic policies can work very well. Goff doesn't seem to have developed them properly yet, but you should not suppose they can't be made to work. So too liberal policies can be made to work, but in New Zealand they have not been - which is why the present government is losing ground, and our lag vs Australia continues to grow.

At present we are suffering from chronic under-investment in infrastructure and entry-level housing. That ought to mean that governments can spend productively - if our construction efficiency has not degraded too much. Someone should be crunching those numbers avidly - this is how Singapore funds a proportion of government spending without tax hikes.

We are a small economy, and this means we have to run our game smarter than our neighbours. No signs of this yet - we are in a full-fledged recession without a hint of expansionary monetary policy. Full marks for neo-liberal orthodoxy, but a fail in economic nationalism.

And the last thing- spending patterns. An economic plan that gets cash low down in the economy stimulates all the other levels as it trickles up. Once it reaches the top in NZ, it is usually invested offshore, or in property, where it ceases its productive circulation. With no capital gains tax and negligable stockmarket regulation, NZ investment has substantially been directed into property since 1987. Not smart, and the results are pretty clear - stagnation.

by Richard James McIntosh on October 20, 2010
Richard James McIntosh

Andrew, I looked at a few of the comments pages from the news items that can be read on Yahoo... Pablo's analysis may be accurate, but tens of thousands of others seem to believe something else was happening:

"I say thank you Lord for the miracle you have done in lives of these miners... and finally, the Americans who God gave the wisdom of what to do to make sure these men were alive while underground and who work day and night and eventually brought them to the surface, may God reward you all..."

The God of Capitalism.(http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101014/wl_afp/chileminingaccident)

Falcon, a little proof of how liberal economic policies, financial deregulation, etc., has grown the U.S. economy, might be helpful. Income disparity: OK, but consider the statistics about corporate welfare in this piece from the US. What are the differences in NZ? (http://news.yahoo.com/s/csm/20101018/cm_csm/329606)

To the point: what's wrong with a bit economic steerage? Read Bernard Hickey's piece from a couple of weeks back. It is complete with reference to God.

by Claire Browning on October 20, 2010
Claire Browning

Here's my two cents on the Kahui twins - maybe NZ should stop paying people tens of thousands of dollars per year for every kid they have but can't afford to actually take care of? Just a thought...

You guys who keep putting in your "two cents" know that's not currency any more, right? Which seems apt, come to think of it.

Just a thought.

by Rod on October 20, 2010
Rod

Deborah, I think you are missing the point, these men where underground because of capitalism and some have suggested the mine collapse was caused by good old human greed, so why shouldn't they expect to rescued by capitalism , and did all the praying help, I don't think so, but the opium of the masses can still calm the nerves.

by The Falcon on October 20, 2010
The Falcon

You guys who keep putting in your "two cents" know that's not currency any more, right? Which seems apt, come to think of it.

Just a thought.

Technically it is still possible to enter into transactions for a value of 2 cents, via eftpos, internet banking and various other mediums.

Anyway, perhaps if the Kahui family had only been offered 2 cents for each baby they cynically cranked out, rather than tens of thousands of dollars per year, there would have been 2 fewer babies to be murdered?

by stuart munro on October 20, 2010
stuart munro

@ Rod,

I'm fairly sure the praying did help - with the trauma of being trapped in the dark with (initially) no prospect of rescue. Capitalism helped too, but not so much in the way of the WSJ article - the miners spent a certain amount of time contemplating the benefits they might derive from the book rights to their story. Resourceful creatures, humans. In extremis, they put everything in play.

@ Falcon,

Many critical things can and no doubt will be said about the Kahuis, but that they cynically cranked out babies for the money? Not so much. I doubt they thought so far ahead. That would be the kind of ultra-rationalism that we might expect from an economist.

The 2 cent thing is an interesting point - though a bit of a cheap shot at you I fear. In China, I used to buy steamed buns for breakfast, they were five fen, about 0.25c NZ. In real terms, the Renminbi is considerably stronger than it trades. And currencies like the $NZ, especially since the debasement of GST, is considerably weaker.

by Claire Browning on October 20, 2010
Claire Browning

The 2 cent thing is an interesting point - though a bit of a cheap shot at you I fear.

It was a cheap shot, indeed. Worthless, you might almost say. However, the target was the two comments, not their authors. I would never shoot a Falcon.

by stuart munro on October 20, 2010
stuart munro
by Mark Bennett on October 21, 2010
Mark Bennett

"These people are demonstrating that their moral principles have no absolute standards, and that, pure and simply, is relativism."

I disagree. These people are demonstrating the strength of self-interest. Do you really think that they believe that what they did was morally acceptable?

by on September 28, 2011
Anonymous

Post new comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.