Sieving through the nitty, gritty and just plain lumpy

02:31, Jun 30 2014
Mark Carney
TOP BANKER: Mark Carney says our basic social contract is breaking down.

Making sense of a lumpy and gritty world ain't easy. I came to this conclusion after spending too much time this week in my pottery, sieving glazes. When the task at hand is dull, oh how the mind does wander.

I have to sieve glazes. Lumpy and gritty pots are a hard sell these days.

The sieve is a filter. The "good stuff" gets through, the "bad stuff" doesn't. Mostly. And I couldn't help but think this week, bored as I was by all the sieving, how much we all filter things in our lives.

Like this column. Right at the moment it's all lumpy and confusing, but with any luck you'll persevere and it'll smooth out. You'll filter out the nonsense and be left with sense. We can but hope.

Like all the news stories and advertisements that bombard us on an hourly basis - if you're going to make any sense of the world you just have to learn to filter them. If you don't you get overwhelmed.

And it's this filtering process that has got me thinking.


What do I filter out? How much really important stuff do I ignore? Is there something I'm missing in my pursuit of making sense of this dark and dirty world because my filters are already clogged?

How can I change them? Perhaps I should take my smeary sunglasses off and give them a clean.

A couple of months back I had a car crash, which blew a hole in my car-crash-filtering system. Everywhere I look, I see and hear about car crashes. Awful ones. And although I reckon there has been a lot of dreadful accidents recently, I think it's mainly because previously, for reasons of sanity, I filtered those stories out.

Like our new second-hand car. I didn't realise half of Nelson own the same model and colour car until I got one. Thank God the wheels are different otherwise I'd never find it in a car park.

Like those recent tornadoes that ripped through Nebraska. I bet you've forgotten about them. I would have except my filters are set to allow information in about Bruce Springsteen. His album Nebraska meant I let the tornado story through.

Filters - they are everywhere. We've got them set up consciously and unconsciously. And those are just the ones we have ourselves. What about the filters surrounding media outlets and politicians these days?

I've read the Prime Minister has a personal staff of about 25.

That's a lot of filters for information to pass through on the way in, and a lot of filters for information to pass through on the way out.

That I've bothered to remember the number working in the prime minister's office and that there are supposedly more people working there than ever, says a lot about how my own filters have been set.

Which brings me back to more old news that I wasn't able to filter out.

Last week a report came and went about comments made by Mark Carney. Carney is the governor of the Bank of England and normally I suspect his views wouldn't make it past my clogged filters. But I would have expected his views to get pass the filters of people far more important than I.

Carney says capitalism must regain a sense of responsibility to restore public faith in its virtues. In a speech he gave he said that for markets to sustain their legitimacy they need to be not only effective but fair.

Carney warns that the basic social contract made up of relative equality of outcomes, equality of opportunity and fairness across generations is breaking down.

"Within societies, virtually without exception, inequality of outcomes both with and across generations has demonstrably increased."

"Wow," I thought. That's not the sort of speech that should be filtered out. But generally it was.

Earlier in the month a report from Oxfam NZ came out that similarly made little waves. The report cited the richest 10 per cent of New Zealanders are wealthier than the rest combined. It said the top 1 per cent hold more wealth than the bottom 70 per cent. The report also raised the issue of multinational tax avoidance. Yes, this is old news.

In responding to the report the Government says inequality hasn't worsened in the past decade.

And with that response the report, like the speech given by Mark Carney, is filtered out.

So I guess, it's back to other more pressing stories of car crashes and tornadoes and political donations causing havoc in our societies.

And for me, it's back to sieving more glazes in this lumpy and gritty world where smoothness seems our only wish.

The Nelson Mail