Mar.22 | Meat suits, productivity, social cohesion, and conservatism; also, sharing is caring
Piloting the meat suit | Productivity is too important for the Productivity Commission to neglect | We need to work at social cohesion | The truth in conservatism
Piloting the meat suit
Google “meat suit” and you’ll come up with photos of Lady Gaga’s 2010 outfit at the MTV Video Music Awards, a dress made literally of meat. You might also come across references to “piloting the meat suit,” which means something rather more abstract. This meat suit is the human body, the flesh that encases the real you. The real you is disembodied; it can inhabit a virtual form, like an avatar or a digital identity, and it can also inhabit a physical body, a meat suit that’s driven by real you. Same essential self, different but equally real expressions—or so the logic goes. This would be a good jumping-off point for an anti-tech diatribe, but that’s not where this is heading. (Maybe another time.) Instead, it’s a vivid example of the influence of the virtual on the real, a force that may be shaping much more than we think. Click to keep reading
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Productivity is too important for the Productivity Commission to neglect
The Productivity Commission needs to give itself a fair chance to do its job.
New Zealand’s economy “is like a car stuck in first gear” said the Productivity Commission in 2019. It reinforced this sobering assessment last year: our nation “has gone from being one of the most productive economies to one of the least productive in the OECD.” Kiwis work longer hours to produce less than workers in other OECD countries. That affects our quality of life, from our ability to provide for ourselves and our families, to our capacity to volunteer in our communities, to our prospects of finding meaning and satisfaction in our employment. Oddly, then, the Commission’s latest inquiry has a fairly tenuous link with productivity. Click to keep reading
We need to work at social cohesion
Social cohesion is an asset in New Zealand, but a fragile one.
Social cohesion is both thriving and threatened in early 2022—thriving in our commitments to follow COVID rules for everyone’s good, threatened by acrimonious protest and the creation of a two-tier society. It is, as Sir Peter Gluckman says, an asset but one that’s fragile. So his recent conversation on this topic with Simon O’Connor MP is timely and helpful. Click to keep reading
The truth in conservatism
Part X of our amble through Roger Scruton’s “How to be a Conservative”
Do charities exist to help the government achieve its goals? In one sense, maybe—governments have an interest in services that help support a strong society. But in a more important sense, no—charities grow out of voluntary passion and freely assumed obligations to help our neighbours. So I’ve always thought this IRD statement was rather like saying the quiet part out loud: “Subsidising charities enables governments to further their social objectives”, with those “subsidies” taking the form of tax exemptions for the charities themselves and tax credits for their donors. Although it’s from a 2001 discussion document, I suspect this view still has adherents. But whatever its currency, it’s an apt illustration of a conflict with a conservative vision of society, one that prioritises free associations and the people that make them possible. Click to keep reading