Poor old Jim Bolger has become more and more addled as time marches on. He’s become the Malcolm Fraser of New Zealand politics and farther left than even Jim Anderton.

He has renounced capitalism and it seems his recipe for success for whoever becomes the leader of the National Party is to be like Labour but less shit.

Bolger said the dominant global economic model was dividing society.

“Some are getting obscenely rich and others are going to food kitchens.”

Bolger said Labour was not seriously addressing social inequality and there was no reason National could not win the next election.

In his interview, Bolger referred to the book “Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire”, by Harvard professor and economist Rebecca M Henderson.

“Free market capitalism is one of humanity’s greatest inventions, and the greatest source of prosperity the world has ever seen,” the Penguin books website said.

“But it’s also on the verge of destroying the planet and destabilising society in its single-minded pursuit of maximising shareholder value.”

NZ Herald

Clearly, Jim Bolger has never been a student of history. Every socialist and communist country on the planet has failed. They divided their populations up and maintained an iron grip on their citizens through fear, subjugation and terror. They’ve never been enlightened social nirvanas and they have never in the history of the world addressed social inequality.

You only have to look at the actions of our own very socialist prime minister to see the creation of harmful divisions in society. Every single negative statistic that measures poverty and inequality has gotten worse under the Ardern regime.

In fact, contrary to what this old fool believes, it is capitalism not socialism that has lifted millions upon millions out of poverty.

In 1820, 94% of the world’s population was living in extreme poverty. By 1910, this figure had fallen to 82%, and by 1950 the rate had dropped yet further, to 72%. However, the largest and fastest decline occurred between 1981 (44.3%) and 2015 (9.6%). Reading these figures, which were compiled by Johan Norberg for his book Progress, is enough to make anyone rub their eyes in disbelief. For according to leftist anti-capitalists, these were the very decades in which so much went so wrong in the world. In his book Capital in the 21st Century, the left-wing French economist Thomas Piketty writes that it is precisely this period that is allegedly so problematic. He bemoans a widening of the gap between the rich and the poor in terms of income and wealth in the period from 1990 to 2010. But what is more important to these hundreds of millions of people—that they are no longer starving, or that the wealth of multi-millionaires and billionaires may have increased to an even greater extent than their own standard of living?

According to Norberg, 200 years ago, at the birth of capitalism, there were only about 60 million people in the world who were not living in extreme poverty. Today there are more than 6.5 billion people who are not living in extreme poverty. Between 1990 and 2015 alone (in Thomas Piketty’s view the devastating years in which social inequality rose so sharply), 1.25 billion people around the world escaped extreme poverty—50 million per year and 138,000 every day.


Capitalism is what funds the welfare state. Destroy that and you destroy any chance of improving one’s lot in life.

What staggers me is that the media don’t even ask silly old coots like Bolger simple questions like:

How does he think we should allocate resources? and

Where has his proposed solution worked anywhere else in the world?

But capitalism has achieved more than just alleviating poverty. It has increased life expectancy massively:

Progress over recent decades is particularly evident in terms of life expectancy gains. Life expectancy at birth has increased more than twice as much in the last century as in the 200,000 years before. The probability that a child born today will reach retirement age is higher than the probability of previous generations ever celebrating their fifth birthday. In 1900, the average life expectancy worldwide was 31 years; today it stands at 71 years. Of the roughly 8,000 generations of Homo sapiens since our species emerged approximately 200,000 years ago, only the last four have experienced massive declines in mortality rates.


What about alleviating hunger?

In the last 140 years there have been 106 major famines, each of which has cost more than 100,000 lives. The death toll has been particularly high in socialist countries such as the Soviet Union, China, Cambodia, Ethiopia and North Korea, killing tens of millions of people through the forced transfer of private means of production to public economies and the use of hunger as a weapon. The book The Power of Capitalism describes in painful detail the biggest socialist experiment in history, Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” at the end of the 1950s. About 45 million Chinese died at that time.

The annual number of deaths due to major famines fell to 1.4 million in the 1990s—not least as a result of the collapse of socialist systems worldwide and China’s move toward capitalism. As late as 1947, the United Nations stated that around half of the world’s population was chronically undernourished. By 1971, this had fallen to 29%, ten years later it was only 19%. By 2016, the proportion of people suffering from malnutrition worldwide had fallen to 11%.


Those are all inconvenient facts that seem to have escaped the feeble grasp of Jim Bolger. All of those famines occurred in socialist or communist regimes.

But capitalism is also the driving force for improvements in the environment:

Norberg also confirms the extent to which environmental conditions have improved over the last few decades. While acknowledging the impact of climate change, he also points out that the amount of energy needed to produce one unit of prosperity in the Western world has decreased by 1% per year every year over the past 150 years. As he demonstrates, there are ways and means to cut CO2 emissions without reducing growth, trade and access to energy. These include more efficient production processes, less energy-intensive construction methods, new energy sources and fuels. As he also explains, scientists and companies are now working on fourth-generation nuclear power plants, all of which have passive safety systems, that can generate hundreds of times more energy from the same resources and do not have the same waste problems as their predecessors. 


Jim Bolger has clearly lost his faculties of reason and logic. Embracing socialism in his dotage just looks remarkably like jealousy that his life choices have not been as good as those of others and therefore everyone must be dragged down to his level.

Socialism is the politics of envy, capitalism is the politics of possibility. Sadly, the media like to trot out old attention-seeking fools like Jim Bolger because he is slapping the National Party, which is their main driver.

If National wants to be the next government they have to be bold and different from Labour, not merely a lighter shade of red. If they follow Jim Bolger’s advice they may as well just shut up shop.

Jim Bolger should savour his few remaining years: at 86 he deserves a good long rest from public life. Maybe then people will remember him fondly rather than that guy who went crazy and spent his final years muttering incoherently.

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Silly Old Jim Bolger Has Lost His Marbles
Cam Slater

Cam Slater

As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news,...