At last a good explanation for the rise of ISIS

Thank you, thank you Jim Tankersley of the Washington Post. You have finally answered the question about why people from the Middle East feel so bad about the west that they need to commit dastardly acts of terrorism.

I don’t have friends who are experts on the Middle East’s inequality and Piketty has spelt it out for us so well. Finally!

Your article should be read by everyone. You say the inequality is due to the concentration of oil wealth into a few countries with relatively little population. You draw attention to the oil monarchies controlling 60-70% of the wealth. It seems he is talking about Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman. They had 16% of the region’s population in 2012 and almost 60% of its Gross Domestic Product.

Within those monarchies, Piketty says, a small slice or people controls most of the wealth while a large proportion, including women and refugees, are kept in a state of ‘semi-slavery’.  Piketty’s list starts with the first Gulf War, which resulted in allied forces returning oil ‘to the emirs.’ The wars that benefited only a select few have become what Piketty calls a ‘powder keg for terrorism across the region’.

Tankersley writes ‘Terrorism that is rooted in inequality is best fought economically.’ Piketty says the region is the most unequal on the planet.

And Piketty says the Western nations largely have themselves to blame for terrorism as the west perpetuated the wars that worsened inequality. ‘The countries in question are the regimes that are militarily and politically supported by the Western powers, all too happy to get some crumbs to fund their (soccer) clubs or sell them some weapons.’

It looks like this is what Piketty will be remembered for. The discussion is only just beginning.

Of course this brings us to searching for the real political solution, otherwise terrorism will persist for ever.

I am reminded of the first part of Silvio Gesell’s wonderful 1906 book The Natural Economic Order. The part is called Free Land and he writes,’ Free Land means that the earth is to be conceived as a globe on which there is no import or export of goods. Hence Free land also implies universal free trade and complete elimination of all tariff boundaries. National boundaries must become simply administrative boundaries, such as, for instance, the boundaries between separate cantons of Switzerland. From this description of Free Land it follows that such expressions as ‘English coal, ‘German potash’, ‘American oil and so forth can be understood only in a geographic sense. For everyone, no matter to what race he may belong, has the same right to English coal, German potash and American oil.’

Work this out, using the principle of sharing the rents from the earth’s resources. Quite a challenge.


Deliberating in public “would have a chilling effect on free discussion”, say MPs

Last year we went to the trouble of collecting nearly 900 signatures for a petition. When I was finally informed that it was going to be discussed on a Thursday by the appropriate Select Committee, I said “Good, I will come”. “Oh, no,” said the secretary, “this is not an open session”. Having been involved in local government where meetings are almost always in the open I was gobsmacked.

Well the petition was turned down and we are none the wiser as to why. We don’t know what arguments were put forward or used in objection, we don’t know anything – only that they invited a submission from the Reserve Bank because they sent us this recently, together with their final report.

NZ Parliment
After discovering this behind doors policy, I wrote to the Speaker, saying that Parliament had legislated to require local authorities have their meetings in public (give or take a couple of exceptions) 22 years ago. Why did they now expect the same standards of open government from themselves?

The Speaker wrote an excellent letter back and invited us to submit to the Select Committee on Standing Orders. We did this and before long they invited us to give evidence. We got a reasonable hearing.

But a few months later when I asked what the result was, the secretary gave me a link to the committee’s report and lo and behold there was nothing about having Select Committees in open session. Again we have no idea what the arguments were and who argued which way.

The only part of Parliament we see is the tribal raruraru in the House and it is an embarrassment to notice there are school children in the gallery watching it all. The Westminster System certainly shows its ugly side.

But Select Committees, they tell us, are the most constructive part of Parliament. So why can’t the public see them cooperating and deliberating? Why do they close their doors? What have they got to hide?

No wonder so many are turned off Parliament and don’t vote. All parties seem as bad as each other at the moment.

And today the advice from the Clerk of the House was posted on Parliament’s website. “No”, she said. “While I agree that it would be useful for the public to see the constructive discussions that occur in closed meetings, the nature of these discussions would be likely to change if they were conducted in public, or they would take place outside the committee room. In particular, opening proceedings would affect the provision of free and frank advice, have a chilling effect on free discussion and political negotiation amongst members, and increase the likelihood of lobbying.”

Well that was what one MP told us when we went there. Oh how dreadful seeing them being constructive. Oh how surprising seeing them negotiate. Well it makes one wonder what is so different about being an MP when councillors at local level can deliberate in public with the media and the public present. The latter is democracy we trust, the former is a closet democracy.

And it seems the MPs followed the Clerk’s report, because that is how they decided. And no one will ever know if one of them didn’t agree. If this is the effect of the adversarial imperative of the Westminster system it is not serving well and it is time our adversarial system was reformed.

A thriving, vibrant economy is possible after fossil fuels – tax reform, currency reform and welfare reform

This slideshare show is now updated and made clearer. It is the first time it has been published on this site and represents a lot of feedback from our members. If others have a method of reforming the tax and money system in a way that is politically possible and in a way that doesn’t shock the economy, we would love to know. Meanwhile this is a serious proposal. Feedback is welcomed.

Hordur Torfason, democracy activist from Iceland to visit New Zealand

New Economics Newsletter Jan 26-2013

1.  Hordor Torfason is coming to New ZealandYes we know there is a permaculture hui in Taranaki 9-11 March and then there is WOMAD after it. But here is something really relevant to our policy we will support. Hordor Torfason is coming to New Zealand. Never heard of him? I hadn’t either. Well he led the protestors in Iceland and forced the whole government to resign. They nationalised the banks. They pushed the losses on to the bondholders not the public. Paul Krugman said “A funny thing happened on the way to economic Armageddon: Iceland’s very desperation made conventional behavior impossible, freeing the nation to break the rules. Where everyone else bailed out the bankers and made the public pay the price, Iceland let the banks go bust and actually expanded its social safety net. Where everyone else was fixated on trying to placate international investors, Iceland imposed temporary controls on the movement of capital to give itself room to maneuver.”Not only did Paul Krugman approved but the IMF changed its tune and said the “decision not to make taxpayers liable for bank losses was right”. Krugman also says:

A funny thing happened on the way to economic Armageddon: Iceland’s very desperation made conventional behavior impossible, freeing the nation to break the rules. Where everyone else bailed out the bankers and made the public pay the price, Iceland let the banks go bust and actually expanded its social safety net. Where everyone else was fixated on trying to placate international investors, Iceland imposed temporary controls on the movement of capital to give itself room to maneuver.

The size of the problem was huge. Banks had defaulted on $85 billion. They arrested nine bankers and the former Prime Minister. 200 criminal charges were laid on the bankers, many of whom had fled the country.

Anyway here’s what you can do. Go to the Facebook page where you can link to all those sites, including to the pledgeme site where you can support his tour. He will be in Auckland on March 18 and 19, Wellington on March 20, Hawke’s Bay on March 21st, Golden Bay on March 23, Nelson on March 24th, Christchurch March 25-26 and Dunedin 27-28.Hordur Torfason, we understand, is primarily a democracy advocate. We are undertaking as a party to prepare two reports to brief him, one on democracy in NZ, and one on banking in NZ. If you would like to participate in preparing these briefs, or have ideas for people we must consult, please email Deirdre at or phone 06 364 7779 or 021 728 852.Please also help in the publicity for this event through Facebook, twitter, google +1 etc. You can email awareness party if you can think of an organisation which should be involved in publicity. Thanks!2.There is an Economics of Happiness conference between 15-17 March to be held in Byron Bay, 772 km north of Sydney. Cost $250 AUD plus accommodation. See you would like to participate in developing policy you will need a special yammer email, which can be generated by Deck Hazen. Please email to let him know you are interested. This is an excellent site.4.Permaculture in NZ Annual Hui in Taranaki March 9-11 2013

Taranaki is hosting this year’s national Permaculture Hui, and they picked the March date so you can stay on after the hui to take in some of the post hui events. Get together with people of like mind and find out what is happening in the permaculture community.

Accommodation includes cabins (limited), dormitories, marae-style, and BYO camping, with a maximum capacity of 250 people. There are other accommodation options nearby.

The theme of the Hui is “Upskilling“, with an emphasis on practical workshops. There will be a wide range of talks and activities, including a strong matauranga Maori presence. We aim to appeal to both the novice and the seasoned permaculture practitioner. There will also be lots of connecting with people, networking, and having fun!