Bianca Begovich’s Column

biancabegovichNZ’s Greedies and the rest scraping the barrel

By Bianca Begovich

I recently published my first children’s book.  It’s about fishing.

Actually, it’s about over-fishing and taking care of one of our most precious resources, the ocean.

‘The Sea and Me’ aims to get children thinking critically about what Jeanette Fitzsimmons calls the economy of “Enough”.

Her theory can be viewed at  but the line from ‘The Sea and Me’ which best sums the theory up is “when we are careful and choose not to waste, there’s plenty of food so we all get a taste”.

What this means is there’s enough resources for all of us.

But ,thanks to those who I like to call ‘The Greedies’, the majority of us are left scraping the barrel. That’s why we have ‘the working poor’ in New Zealand – those families who work two or three jobs but still struggle to feed their families and heat their rented homes.

It’s why the richest 10% of the worldwide population own 80% of the wealth.  It’s also why the wealthiest people in the world continue to get richer – because they own the resources which the rest of us need – oil, gas, energy, drugs, water and food.

And let’s not forget the bankers who reap huge financial rewards from money which doesn’t actually exist.

The Big Issue

In my opinion, the single biggest issue facing the world today is the gap between the filthy rich and the dirt poor…. a gap which just keeps getting wider.

The companies and individuals who own the world’s resources have held Governments to ransom and had their vested interests prioritised over the basic needs of the people for generations.

Here in New Zealand, a classic example of how the neo-liberal ideology of our current Government widens the gap is the way the Government treats their commercial fishing buddies.

Last month, recreational fishermen had their snapper limits reduced from nine to seven fish (the fifth decrease for recreational fishermen since quotas were introduced) while commercial allocations have remained unchanged over the same period.

Not only does this means the commercial fishing companies still get the biggest catch (which largely goes overseas), but it means there’s less left for the average New Zealander.

Additionally, commercial fishermen are able to catch smaller fish (25cm vs. 30cm for recreational) and the huge issue of commercial bycatch wastage and dumping remains virtually unchallenged.

Reducing the recreational quota contributes a laughable 1% to the overall effect on rebuilding snapper fish stocks.

The economy of  ‘Enough’

The economy of “Enough” would even the playing field – the commercial fishermen getting their cut but with plenty left over for the rest of us.

The problem with the rich getting richer is that it means that overall, society is worse off.

The must-see documentary which explains this phenomenon is called ‘Mind the Gap’ and can be viewed at

‘Mind the Gap’ explains that, as the poor get poorer, the average person is more likely to be the victim of a violent crime, less likely to be happy and more likely to suffer a chronic sickness.  As the rich get richer, society as a whole gets sicker.

Something to think about at the upcoming election is whether the party you vote for widens the gap or not.  Do their policies favour the rich or do they support a more even playing field for all?

‘The Sea and Me’ will be reviewed by Guru in a later edition of the Kapiti Independent and is being launched by Dr Mike Joy at Paraparaumu library in June.  Watch this space for details.

Lets face a few facts – the oceans are dead , and WE are the greedies

Published on Jan 9, 2013

Evening Lecture | Jeremy Jackson: Ocean Apocalypse | January 7, 2013

What are the impacts of overfishing? (10:55)

What if the world’s garbage, sewage and toxic waste had been piled up on land instead of dumped in the ocean? (17:40)

Global Warming: Are the penguins and polar bears doomed? (28:22)

How much will the sea level rise in the 21st Century? (41:07)

Can we avoid Ocean Apocalypse? (54:35)

Jeremy Jackson is Senior Scientist Emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution and Professor of Oceanography Emeritus at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. He studies human impacts on the oceans and the ecology and paleoecology of tropical and subtropical marine ecosystems. Jackson is author of more than 150 scientific publications and eight books. snip

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