sign uplog in
Want to go ad-free? Find out how, here.

Gareth Vaughan on how capitalism broke young adulthood, fighting fake news in Finland, the World Bank's Doing Business Report cops a serve, tracking the Coronavirus and political satire in the US

Gareth Vaughan on how capitalism broke young adulthood, fighting fake news in Finland, the World Bank's Doing Business Report cops a serve, tracking the Coronavirus and political satire in the US

This weekend Top 5 comes from's own Gareth Vaughan

As always, we welcome your additions in the comments below or via email to

We are always keen to find new Top 5 contributors so if you're interested in contributing, contact (I promise this will be my last one for a while).

1) How capitalism broke young adulthood.

Derek Thompson writing for The Atlantic delves into the reasons why the 78 year-old self-described socialist and wannabe Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has galvanised young people, pledging expansion of the welfare state including free health care, free university, and eliminating student debt.

Skeptical older voters might see little here but a list of fantastical promises that are utterly out of step with American traditional and modern capitalism. Socialism remains deeply unpopular among Americans born before 1975. Even in the Democratic Party, Sanders polls 30 points better among Americans under 45 than among those over 65.

But the irony is that these old anti-socialists already live in a wonderland of government generosity that bears a passing resemblance to the socialism they so dread.

The federal government already guarantees single-payer health care to Americans over 65 through Medicare. Senior citizens already receive a certain kind of universal basic income; it’s called Social Security. While elderly Americans might balk at the idea of the government paying back hundreds of billions of dollars in student debt, they are already the grand beneficiaries of a government debt subsidy: The mortgage-interest deduction, a longtime staple of the federal tax code, effectively compensates the American homeowner (whose average age is 54) for their mortgage debt, thus saving this disproportionately old group approximately $800 billion in taxes owed to the federal government each decade. The economist Ed Glaeser has likened these policies to “Boomer socialism.”

Sanders, he suggests, is "extending the terms of an existing social contract to cover more - and, necessarily, younger - Americans."

For young Americans, there is a mounting sense that whatever the ladder to adulthood is—or whatever traditional or normative markers of financial independence have been historically associated with adulthood—it’s been shattered by modern American capitalism. This is why Sanders appeals to young voters when he says, “If we don’t fundamentally transform our economy, we are facing—for the first time in the history of this country—the possibility that our young people will suffer a worse future than their parents had.” Whatever you make of their argument, it’s rich hypocrisy for beneficiaries of Social Security, Medicare, and housing subsidies to argue that a little socialism cannot help the U.S., when it has so obviously helped Boomers become the most financially secure generation in history.

2) Fighting fake news in Finland. 

Jon Henley of The Guardian takes a look at Finland's efforts to combat fake news, a scourge of modern democratic societies. Henley talks to Kari Kivinen, head teacher at a Finnish secondary school. The Finnish Government devised a strategy after being targeted with fake news stories by its neighbour Russia.

In secondary schools, such as the state-run college in Helsinki where Kivinen is head teacher, multi-platform information literacy and strong critical thinking have become a core, cross-subject component of a national curriculum that was introduced in 2016.

In maths lessons, Kivinen’s pupils learn how easy it is to lie with statistics. In art, they see how an image’s meaning can be manipulated. In history, they analyse notable propaganda campaigns, while Finnish language teachers work with them on the many ways in which words can be used to confuse, mislead and deceive.

“The goal is active, responsible citizens and voters,” Kivinen said. “Thinking critically, factchecking, interpreting and evaluating all the information you receive, wherever it appears, is crucial. We’ve made it a core part of what we teach, across all subjects.”

Finland comfortably tops a Media Literacy Index of European countries compiled by the Open Society Institute.

“Kids today don’t read papers or watch TV news, which here are OK,” he [Kivinen] said. “They don’t look for news, they stumble across it, on WhatsApp, YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat … Or more precisely, an algorithm selects it, just for them. They must be able to approach it critically. Not cynically – we don’t want them to think everyone lies – but critically.”

3) The World Bank's annual Doing Business Report, cherished by NZ's MBIE, cops a serve.

New Zealand's government likes to trumpet our position at the top of a World Bank survey of 190 economies for the ease of doing business. The World Bank's latest annual Doing Business Report also ranks New Zealand number one for ‘ease of starting a business’ for the twelfth consecutive year. Here's what the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment has to say on this.  

Meanwhile those using NZ in international regulatory arbitrage plays such as Vivier and Company are keen to talk up NZ's position in the World Bank survey, and their own association with this country. 

"Higher rankings (a low numerical value) indicate better, usually simpler, regulations for businesses. Those in countries with the highest rankings, such as Vivier & Co. in top-spot winning New Zealand, reap the most benefits. These benefits can be passed on to clients which is why it is worthwhile to consider the rankings carefully when deciding where to do business," Vivier says. (There's more on Vivier here).

Now Justin Sandefur and Divyanshi Wadhwa of the Center for Global Development have hit out at what they see as the World Bank survey's "extreme libertarian stance."

At a more philosophical level, the index measures the costs of government regulation but none of the benefits of those regulations. It's an extreme libertarian stance, out of step with much of the World Bank's other work. Viewed through the lens of Doing Business, corporate taxes are a pure bad, with no consideration of the benefits that come from raising tax revenue. Safety regulations and minimum wages are pure bads because they slow down business, with no consideration of the benefits to workers or customers. On almost all dimensions, a Hobbesian state of nature would get the best possible Doing Business score.

4) Tracking the spread of the Coronavirus.

This is a useful website tracking the growth of the Coronavirus, which from its origins in China's Wuhan, is spooking people all over the world. 

5) Political satire in the US and a bizarre football video.

US politics these days often seems to be a twilight zone. You have to pinch yourself sometimes to check that what's going on is real and not some sort of bad dream. Still as I've noted before, it's a great time to be a satirist or cartoonist in the US. As ever the Daily Show is having fun. And Politico cartoonist Matt Wuerker continues to capture bizarre moments in time cleverly and humorously.

And continuing with the bizarre, check out the crazy football video below.

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.



Re coronavirus. The graphic (link) is interesting, but The Lancet ( now estimates more than 75,000 infections in Wuhan alone. Other governments are implementing pre-emptive travel restrictions. Not ours. Is our government putting its abject fear of offending China over the basic protection of New Zealand citizens?


Air NZ to stop flights to China from Feb 9 ...

... how nutty is that ... if you're true Coronavirus believers you halt the flights immediately ...

Virtual signalling , sheep in wolfs airplanes .... Air NZ are Coronavirus deniers ...... boooooooooooo ....

Stealing your old age gummy

BBC article; Coronavirus: US and Australia close borders to Chinese arrivals
"What is the latest? The death toll from the new virus, which is officially called 2019-nCov, now stands at 259.
All the deaths occurred within China and the majority were in Hubei province, where the virus originated.

Almost 12,000 cases have been confirmed and a small proportion of those - around 100 - have been identified outside China. The UK, US, Russia and Germany have all confirmed cases in recent days".

The Bangladesh Govt have chartered a plane and 300 plus of its citizens have arrived home,yet NZ is still waiting.


Please remember that we are a colony of China and our survival depends on China so cannot blame any government now as is too late as China = New Zealand besides other few small Pacific islands and countries that sold their souverignity to China by their political class for vested interest.

The peak prosperity guy, the cat maybe out of the bag. Either way apply roadblocks.

A. Cut the inbound tourists from China and risk action from China and also the economy takes a hit from loss of tourists numbers.
B. Cross your fingers that this isn't that bad and it is contained.

B has been chosen. Now we wait and see.
If Labour has chosen the incorrect option, Winston could see the writing on the wall and have a chat with National to lessen his exposure.
I hate to say it but the only two politicians that can crack heads and not care is Judith Collins and Winny.

Total number of infections 12,037 now 14,000
Total number of deaths 259 now 304.
Total number of recoveries 284 now 331.

Recoveries v infections... This is not a hot lemon & honey with a dram of whiskey and sweat it out thing. The long incubation period of upto 14 days enables infections over a large area before detection.

Those are options, there could be more.

The problem seems that for us its the leadership that has evacuated.
Reading minds is impossible. What is PM Department's position: situation (big risk, little risk, no risk. To public health, to tourist sector, to export sector), options, decision and basis of decision.

The comms here are terrible.
Who is the govt person responsible, for actions, for communications.
We see what other OECD countries are doing, see the pictures.

This is a demonstration of governance and administration and its gotta be a fail mark.

Standard one person Government, there is one person the buck stops with! A lack of action is nothing new.
It is a wait and see now.

As we know Winny is the 'Teflon Don' and he will be mulling over his options for his benifit and his National drinking buddies will be pointing out the obvious that he could be the saviour of the nation and become the PM at the same time.

NZ needs to follow Australia and Singapore to ban all the flights coming from China. It is the right thing to do right now.

Yes it is.
Will we see Jaconda stepping up tomorrow first thing and being a leader?
If not Winny needs to step up.

Kezza R, it all depends when they receive go ahead from their high command in China as one must remember that NZ economy only because of China and cannot upset them and who cares about anything but Rock Star Economy.

Let's lay this out .... our # 1 trading partner is Australia ... ridgey didge .. all good , cobber ...

... our # 2 trading partner is the PRC ... hmmm ...

Australia's # 1 trading partner is the PRC .... oh ...
... looking a little " too many eggs in two baskets " isn't it ....

As you say if you look closely it's really the same basket...

... ya haaaa . . And what happened to us in the early 1970s when 80 % of our trade was with the UK ? .... they joined the EU , who froze us out ...

47 years later , we're deeply in bed with the PRC ....

... but .... luckily , the UK is out of gaol ... back into the free world .... stroke of good fortune there ...

If China has issues the whole world has an issue.

... so does the Warehouse ... the red sheds would be 95 % empty without China ....

Yes the world isnt that small and interwoven.

Here we are a day following Aust, USA and UK commencing.
Light on details of the decision and medical rational.
Compare this to the USA explanation and back grounding.

Q: why the comments of being a "gateway to the Pacific" ...
And saying "cabinet met last night" but the announcement is a cycle day later. Why the delay, who was delaying...

Air NZ - I know Foran is not really in charge yet but this looks bad. Jeff McDowell is nominally in charge atm but the dithering is hard to believe.

Seems the announcement, press conference, was only
Minister of Health David Clark and Health Director Dr Ashley Bloomfield held a media meeting

Jon Henley of The Guardian takes a look at Finland's efforts to combat fake news, a scourge of modern democratic societies.em>


Syria’s last opposition-held province has been battered with 200 airstrikes in the past three days in an assault that has pushed 700,000 civilians to flee towards the Turkish border and sparked fears of an impending international crisis. [my bold] Link

This so called "opposition" description is a fake step up the respectability ladder for actual western armed terrorists, imposed upon the public by what can only be called a stated sponsored stenographer, that masquerades as a failing newspaper of record.

German and French evacuations
German plane not allowed in land in Russia.

Australia, USA & UK.

Is it actually a good thing to appear at the top of an "ease of doing business" survey? It sounds like an appraisal of low standards.

If you’d like it to be harder to start a business, you’d be benefiting the wealthy at the expense of the poor. Extra paperwork and cost does not do anything to increase quality, but businesses who can afford lawyers love it.

Watched the movie IDIOCRACY on a recent Sing Air flight. A stupid Luke Wilson is accidentally sent to the 26th century where the USA has been dumbed down to a moronic level. Was really easy to believe the plot line - looked like how Washington is today.


Sad news today , the death of Labour strong man , former PM , Mike Moore ... just 71 y.o. ... after a long illness ...
... Gummy salute to a great guy , a patriotic Kiwi ...

Don't make them like they used to!

... he was the last true working class Labour leader ... it's all been Chardonnay Socialists since then ...

1993 . . the last time I voted for Labour ... you were a terrific man , Mike ... a big hearted man of the people ...

Claiming the Russians are planting fake news is actually a fake news story.

Finland's Largest Newspaper Faces Treason Charges For Publishing Leaked Files On Spy Ops Targeting Russia

December 6 saw the 100th anniversary of the country’s declaration of independence from Russia, hailed by the leftist Guardian newspaper as a social democratic “triumph.” [The Guardian view on Finland’s centenary: a social democratic triumph, December 5, 2017] Yet everything is falling apart and is doing so at breakneck speed as mass Third World immigration has suddenly overwhelmed a once-unified nation. Political consensus is disintegrating—recently, the government felt obliged to ban the “Nordic Resistance Movement” because of “hate speech” i.e. not violence but merely opposition to immigration [Finnish court bans neo-Nazi group, Reuters, November 30, 2017]. Link

That is a very interesting article, thanks.

Yes, isn't it just an example of a 'brain washed' or 'pushed propaganda'?

Bit like AGW then ;)

Claiming weaponised misinformation is not a tactic used between nations today is...not being realistic at all.

I recommend checking out former CIA Director Michael Hayden's book The Assault on Intelligence. He notes that the USA (along with NZ, actually) focused on cyber security over weaponised disinformation for too long, and got caught out.

Sunday afternoon pottering about.
Try a little Dr M Hudson economics.
+ for free Fascinating insights into USA Democrat party & its ownership/controls.

8200 Americans have died from flu , regular influenza B virus , so far in this 2019/20 flu season ... 0 deaths from Coronavirus ....

... China has reached 304 deaths from Coronavirus ... in an average flu season they have around 100 000 fatalities ... more than 300 per day , if you annualised it ...

You'll forgive me for not freaking out over Coronavirus ... the Wu Flu just ain't that big of a deal .... hmmmm ... 35 'c here : beersie time .... YAY !!!

Even the party officials, GBH, know the numbers for infections and deaths in China are garbage. Even though they know this, they won't offer any other estimates, but keep repeating the party line. It's how things work in a tyranny. And it's why the serious calculations are being done, and urgently, elsewhere. The influenza comparison is a red herring.

14,500 infected, 340 recovered.
It must be a fun experiance that lasts for at least two weeks and maybe longer. How dose that effect the world's GDP's?
Infection rate doubling every two weeks. A NZ news artical stated that China has stated that numbers maybe as high as 75k x's 2 next week.
Do the cities on lock down stay locked up untill a cure is found and reproduced in mass for a billion Chinese to stop further spreading? How long dose that take 3 months / 6 months / 1 year???

Stay calm and carry on investing in Rymans , life / income insurance, ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, ,,,,,,,,,,,,

Yep agree. I maintain this is paranoid overreaction.
Right, tempranillo and Greek bbq time !!!

I'm taking it as a possible out come and planning arround it.
Just like doing figures on a new business venture. Bump up the costs and knock down the income projections. If it still adds up....
Fail to plan, plan to fail. I'm not so keen on doing the hard yards again....

Yep fair enough. It's gonna be disruptive this bug.
Out of all proportion to its risk, but disruptive all the same...
Humans are irrational whether its housing markets or viruses!!!! We kid ourselves into thinking we are highly evolved....

14,500, 30,000, 60,000, 120,000, 240,000, 500,000, 1 mill, 2 mill, 4 mill, 8 mill,
10 weeks doubling and maybe more than that if it hits India.
There is subdtanicial risk.

.. lest we forget ... the regular influenza virus kills 650 000 people around the world annually ... if you average that out , around 1800 people per day ...

And Wu Flu has killed 304 in a month .... yasssss ....

Humans have lived with influenza for a long time and we have immunities against it, eventually we will have immunities against this as well but at present zero.
The influenza or anything else is not sitting you on your behind for two / three weeks and putting Dr's in intensive care despite precautions against it. Different game and we are waiting on the rule book.

... a UK virulogist said that Wu Flu may gradually lose its potency... and , after a few years , become just another one of the 100 or so cold / flu bugs which affect us each flu season .....

Be good if it is.
On the plus, we'd had a week without the climate < *,* > double think, alarmist parallel world.

Ever thought to restart the presses to publish NZ Truth?

OMG yes . . the " NZ Truth " .... bring back the big busty page 3 girl ...... yummmmmmy ....

Wish NZ government was able to take decessions independently instead of waiting for orders from High Command in China an NZ is bound to be hit by virus because of inaction by government sooner than later.

. . finally , a decision has been made... kiwis returning from Wuhan will be quarantined in Whangaparoa for 2 weeks ...

Cooking up the bbq, playing some classic hip hop, Wu Han Clan, ' Protect ya neck'

. . thought I'd had too many Meenans beers .. but no , there really is a red moon rising , through a smokey hazy Canterburian evening ...

And , the T20 is about to start ... how can the Crap Bats muff this one .... haaaaaaaaaaa ...

The Crap Bats have been very kind to me, returned over $300 in TAB bets over the last couple of months.

. . the Kohli team are true superstars ... and they love our Timmy ... 6 . 4 4 1 . ... and , he thinks he's the best bowler in our team .... nyaaaah haaaaa . .

If the Indians make it 5-0 tonight I will pocket another $200.
Come on India!
After a good start the Cougar Lion is now getting spanked

.. fingers crossed ! ... actually , I think that's how our guys hold a bat , with their fingers crossed ... and , they run between the wickets like their legs are crossed too ...

$ 200 , huh ... good one ...

Wasn't as confident of a series white wash as I was against the Aussies!
Nothing like deluded Black Caps fans and the TAB to get good odds on crap bats trouncing!
We have a rock star cricket team - not!

Hmmm .... leemee add em up :

1 , we have a rockstar economy ....

2 , we have a rockstar prime minister .... and

3 , we have a rockstar cricket team ...

... we are deluded buggers ... but we're happy , and the beer's good : Cool !

...oh ... dopey moi .... that was a fiery red sun going down ... the half moon was towards the north ...
My astronomy is aboot as good as the Crap Cats batting .... 41 / 3 .... tisk tisk ... s'just not cricket , old bean : Wot !

UK, welcome back from the dark side.

Now let's get our great meat & dairy produce back to them, mind how you go with the supermarket buyers.
Access. Even the word looks good!

Branded products too!

Could Greta have something to do with this?

I see where you going here. Quite possibly. All the bandwidth thats taken up with climate disaster commentary - see the press happy to report real alarm, any alarm, rather than climate....
Yes, with all the attention J Shaw & Co have taken, they have been a massive distraction from real issues of higher priority.

This chinavirus is a reset. Reset to be alert to real risks, maintain observation of our present business, build resilience.
Remember our PM happily celebrated CNY with china folk in Auckland, all the while reports of something big bubbling away. Remember doctors in china were being arrested when describing what they, the drs, saw.

Remember her china negotiations include climate sentences,

whereas, basic food & public health issues food supply chains, cool chains, left undressed.

News now china has another N1H5 bird flu outbreak.

Possible correlation in that both topics have the potential to generate hysteria in older men.

#1 - great link, thanks. How very true:

"Whatever you make of their argument, it’s rich hypocrisy for beneficiaries of Social Security, Medicare, and housing subsidies to argue that a little socialism cannot help the U.S., when it has so obviously helped Boomers become the most financially secure generation in history."

I could never understand why you'd make healthcare free for those at end-of-life stage, but NOT free for young people/children. It really is a horrible fact of life in the US. Old people kept alive with expensive interventions - for what? - whilst parents can't afford asthma meds, etc. for their children.

Boomers...making the rules for themselves since 1965

Maybe they should implement a logan's run style of system and set the age at 65