Frank’s post on Shearer’s resignation used one of my least-favourite images of the man (actually worse than those damned dead fish), and has inspired today’s New Rule: get your sodding hand off your sodding chins, gentlemen.
It doesn’t make you look thoughtful or deep or serious or whatever the fuck your publicist has conned you into thinking. It makes you look like you’re desperately trying to look thoughtful/deep/serious/whatever the fuck.
You all look like total hankies. Slightly-confused, total, hankies.
And Duncan, that goes for fingers too. You’re making Espiner look positively grown-up in comparison.
Homework: 200 words on why the hell people keep doing this to themselves in orchestrated photo shoots meant to make them look good.
Today, R0b asked a question that many people have been posing: just how many times does the National Government think it can spend the “profits” it’s “made” by selling off viable money-making New Zealand assets?
So I had a wee dig. Bear in mind, I’m not an economist; I’m just a citizen trying to find out where her money’s being spent.
On the other hand, I help run a household, so apparently this makes me just as qualified as the next person to determine whether the Nats are good economic managers.
Let’s start with the income. 2012 Treasury forecasts suggested a price of $6 billion for selling off 49% of Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis Energy and Solid Energy, and part of the publicly-owned chunk of Air New Zealand.
The proceeds of these sales go towards the “Future Investment Fund” – which isn’t really a fund, more a guideline.
Now that’s just a Treasury forecast, so put what faith in that that you wish.
What we have in hand is $1.7 billion from the sale of Mighty River Power. (And this was at the low end of the initial $1.6-1.9b estimate of its value, so let’s add that fact to any niggles we feel about Treasury’s forecasts while we’re at it.)
Somewhere along the line this has become $2.1 billion added to the Future Investment Fund.
Now, to the spending.
National has committed from the Future Investment Fund:
- Up to $1.43 billion for the Auckland Central Rail Line
- $1 billion to modernise schools (including the $50 million out of $136 million announced for upgrading school broadband)
- $1 billion into health, including $426 million to redevelop Christchurch and Burwood hospitals and the $88 million announced in Budget 2012)
- $900 million to the Christchurch rebuild
- $400 million to “water priorities” (irrigation)
- $250 million for KiwiRail
- an unknown amount for KiwiBank – but Bill English confirmed that asset sales proceeds would be the source of any new capital for KiwiBank (source) and Kiwibank’s CEO estimates $200 million is needed
- $80 million for the creation of the Advanced Technology Institute, whatever that is
Phew, that’s a mighty list of stuff!
A mighty list of stuff costing $5.26 billion dollars. Out of $6 billion dollars we don’t even have yet.
And that’s ignoring the Government’s earlier statements about reducing our debt by $6 billion. That’s ignoring the fact that the Future Investment Fund only funds capital expenditure, not operating expenditure.
That’s ignoring the millions in the cost of consultants and advertising already spent trying to hike up the price of Mighty River Power.
If we were a household, we’d be sticking a fancy new fridge on hire purchase while promising to put the Xbox on Trademe some time next month, honest, I reckon it’ll pull in $600, and doing nothing about the credit card debt we racked up taking the lads out for Friday night Jagerbombs. Oh, and that new fridge? Uses three times as much electricity, but we haven’t put aside any extra cash for the power bill.
Does this look like good economic management to you?
I really, really hate the phrase “NZ Inc” and would not be said to see all those who use it uncritically fired into the heart of the sun.
We’re not a corporation. We’re a fucking sovereign nation.
(Damn, that should be the chorus line of an epic anti-neoliberal rap. If only I were vaguely talented in that particular oeuvre.)
But the thing about the classic righty propaganda about “balancing a budget being just like balancing a chequebook” is that it says so much when they can’t even measure up to their own framing.
Anyway, Russel Norman said it better in a piece over at RadioLive. Warning for the obnoxious use of black background/white text.
If the New Zealand economy was a business; the management team that has a business plan to increase losses to $17 billion a year while selling some of our best earning assets would be treated as rogue traders.
And yet that is what the National Government is doing to the New Zealand economy.
Through the efforts of its highly paid spin doctors and friends with vested interests, it manages to portray itself as “sound economic managers”.
But the facts just don’t back that up.
Finance Minister Bill English is depicted as predictable and safe. Yet the CFO of NZ Inc has been recklessly borrowing money. He started borrowing the minute he took on the job and hasn’t stopped since.
On top of this National gave pay rises (tax cuts) to the wealthy. NZ Inc couldn’t afford this dividend to wealthy investors at this time. It was seriously bad management.
The only fly in the ointment, and the truly depressing thing about all this, is that this is pretty normal business practice in many parts of the NZ private sector. Look at Solid “oh shit, where did all this debt come from?” Energy. Look at every collapsed, taking-out-your-life-savings-with-them finance company.
So I guess that the Nats really are running government the way they would run a business. We just should have double-checked what kind of business.
Finance Minister Bill English, quoted on Stuff today:
deputy Prime Minister Bill English says [legalising same-sex marriage] is ”not that important” and he ”thought the problem had been solved” with civil unions.
Yes, I know, he probably meant “the problem” as in “the problem with same-sex couple relationships not getting the same legal recognition as hetero couple relationships”.
But that just means that he’s less a clumsy speaker and more an outright liar. Which is what you are if you peddle the bullshit argument that civil unions are just slightly different yet completely equal to marriages.
Forgive the tautology, but you know how I can tell that civil unions are different from marriage? (Beyond the actual obvious legal differences, e.g. being unable to adopt children as a couple).
Because civil unions exist.
If there were truly no difference, if civil unions were equivalent in social meaning and weight and importance and cultural significance, they would just be marriages.
We have civil unions precisely because enough judgemental hetero douchebags decided that scary gay people were not worthy of having what they got to take for granted.
Maybe in some future utopia there could be two distinct states, marriage vs. civil union, where the decision of a couple to pick one or the other truly came down to nothing more than personal preference, influenced by largely irrelevant historical religious/cultural/political leanings or simply an aesthetic choice on the words uttered at the ceremony.
But we, here and now, live in a society where we’ve pretty much all grown up knowing that marriage was important, marriage proved your relationship was real or permanent, marriage was the inevitable outcome of a successful falling-in-love happily-ever-after story.
And despite feminism, despite queer rights, despite that awesome divorce rate across the West (which truly shows how “sacred” and “special” the institution of marriage is), the fact is that marriage and the societal assumptions about it are still very important. Even when your partner is the same gender as you.
Back to Stuff. English, along with Joyce, then trots out the classic “it’s not a priority / it’s not the most important issue.”
Which, if we had a press gallery worth something, would immediately lead to the follow-up question, “Is the Minister saying that his Government is incapable of tying its shoes and chewing gum at the same time?”
We don’t, but we have a good start when our media start noticing that John Key, who voted against civil unions, magically comes out in carefully-worded support of at least introducing marriage equality legislation just as soon as Barack Obama says it’s cool.
Anyway, enough aggro. Louisa Wall’s bill has been drawn from the ballot. Let’s get our marriage equality on, people!
List of known MP leanings on a first reading at least – Damian O’Connor is a no, surprise surprise
For lulz, read the Conservative Party’s release on the subject, which demonstrates the Conservatives’ deep respect for the sanctity of marriage by referring to married people as “stakeholders”
Check out the Legalise Love website for more!
Because they really like having a population who, even if they remember the difference between mean and median and why these can be flawed ways to measure things, don’t really have the time in between just surviving on shitty wages and crap job security and rising costs of living and lack of social support mechanisms to get all critical and cynical about blatant political lies.
(A competent media could help them out on that, but none have been seen in the wild in this region for years and the species is now feared to be on the point of extinction.)
Still, props to Bright Red for this guest post at The Standard laying out why our Minister of Finance is either amazingly incompetent or feels very secure in the knowledge that he simply will not be called on this shit.
Our teacher had 10 of us line up at the front of the class and measured our heights. From that she calculated an average.
Then, she got the tallest boy to stand on a chair and measured his height again. He was now 50cm higher. The average of the ten kids went up 5cm. But nearly all of were the same height.
That was the first lesson: average does not mean typical, it can be influenced by movements in outliers.
Though I always like the “kill two rhetorical birds with one stone” method of getting 6 people in a room, working out a rough average wage for them and then saying “Oh look, here comes the CEO of Telecom! Now you all have a mean wage of $1 million a year so you must have no financial worries!”
There’s a nice (if by “nice” I mean “obscene”) piece of framing from Bill “I had no problem having a large family while collecting extra housing allowance from the taxpayer” English on the SATANIC UNDERAGE ABORTIONS issue:
If a school doctor wants to give a pupil a Panadol, they have to tell parents … It is time to swing the pendulum back in favour of parents
The “pendulum” is a fascinating insight into how those who would deny pregnant teens basic medical confidentiality think: that teens and parents are inherently oppositional forces, and that the preferential treatment of one force – in this case, teens – is just a natural imbalance that needs to be corrected.
They of course can’t see the massive cognitive dissonance in arguing that the “pendulum” is too far in favour of teens … while using “parents have to give consent for Panadol” to back up their arguments.
And they can’t even begin to consider that maybe viewing themselves and their teenaged children as natural enemies, looking on their children as strange alien beings whose motives are inscrutable and who must be forced into line … might kinda be one of the big throbbing reasons their kids don’t want to fucking include them in discussions about sex and pregnancy.
Teenagers under 16 don’t get to have abortions without parental involvement because one day somebody just decided “hey, let’s experiment with the idea of giving teens this level of control, push the “pendulum” out there and dial it back after a while”. They get to have abortions without parental notification because some parents are fucking evil bastards who are abusive and controlling and dangerous. They get to have abortions without parental notification because pregnancy is a big fucking deal and only the person whose body it’s happening in, whose body will be irrevocably changed by it, who might fucking die from it, should have the right to decide whether it continues.
There is only a “pendulum” in this situation if you truly believe that the right to medical confidentiality and the right to choose whether to continue to be pregnant are not fundamental, straight-up human rights. There is only a “pendulum” if you think an under-16-year-old’s rights are worth less than an adult’s, because they’re still the property of their parents (oh, fine, “under their parents’ authority” because that phrasing isn’t too uncomfortably accurate).
Imagine what else might be a “pendulum”. Women’s right to vote? Well, maybe it’s time to swing the pendulum back in favour of men, because that sure wasn’t predicated on women being men’s property. Women’s right to be granted custody of their children post-divorce? Maybe it’s time to swing the pendulum back in favour of husbands, because that sure wasn’t predicated on children being their father’s property.
Human rights are not fucking pendulums, Bill English. Teenagers are not their parents’ property. And the more that asshats like you talk about the rights of parents, the more I will feel certain that this issue is about nothing more than your need to control those you perceive as your property and the terrible fear you have of a future generation that neither needs nor wants your outmoded shit.
[H/T to LudditeJourno for further details on Bill English’s antichoice views.]
As a friend tweeted, remember the time I got trashed because abortion was a dead issue and no one really cared about it and our laws weren’t going to change any time soon so why didn’t I get back into the kitchen where I belonged?
Now it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Judith Collins thinks young pregnant people’s wishes are less important than enforcing their parents’ ownership rights, given her support of similar provisions during the 2004 Care of Children bill debate, nor that a finance minister of Catholic faith agrees.
But I have to give props to Dr Paul Hutchison for acknowledging, even in the most tempered terms, that this isn’t actually an automatic-moral-outrage issue:
We have to tread lightly, doing everything possible to have the parents involved. But having worked in places like National Women’s, where I saw women who had been beaten by their families because of an unknown pregnancy, that’s why the law is there
The alternative proposed, that young pregnant people should be able to see a judge in chambers within 24 hours, sounds fine and fucking dandy if you’ve got privilege shining out your ass. What if the judge is an asshat and agrees with Collins and English that you should be forced to tell your parents unless you have written documentation to establish they’ll beat you? What if the judge is a douchewad who believes in bullshit ideas like only “forcible” rape really counting?? What if you live in godforsaken Gore and the only judge willing to do teen abortion decisions is in fucking Rangiora but will only see you on a Wednesday? (Oh look, I’m drawing on the actual current abortion situation for some pregnant people). What if your abusive parents demand to know where you’ve been? I’m sure they’d react really well because obviously teenagers only refuse to tell their parents because they’re just “mental“.
What if we pass this retrograde bullshit and within two weeks the Sunday Star Fucktimes decides to run another panic-mongering article about School Counsellors Arranging Secret Judge Visits?
Because what this issue comes down to is some parents thinking they have every right to control every moment of their children’s lives. The specific current story is about a parent who did find out and insists she would have been totally supportive of her child getting an abortion, but is outraged because she didn’t get to find out before the fact and because she didn’t get to exercise control in granting that “support”.
It is not about health. It is not about supporting teenagers through a difficult time. It is about control. Scary, patriarchal control.
And Sunday Star-Times? Hire a fucking journalist with some basic ethics and numeracy, would you? Because that shit scare-statistic at the bottom about How Many Teens Had Abortions!!! would be a lot less damaging to your rep as a publication with integrity if you noted that all the abortions performed on over-16-year-olds wouldn’t require parental consent under this shit law anyway.
Of course it would also make the Big Scary Number a lot smaller, and that would ruin the panic-mongering, wouldn’t it?
More awesome rage from Boganette.
Let it stand in history that it was the NACT government who chose to exploit the Canterbury earthquake for political gain.
Gordon Campbell: On Bill English…
The Standard: The Shock Doctrine
No Right Turn: Key commits to WFF cuts.
We. Are. So. Fucked.
[Please note: your humble author has been pretty fucking harsh on WFF in the past, especially on the basis of its discrimination against beneficiaries. The idea that children should be left in fucking poverty to “incentivise” their parents to find mythical jobs is one reason your humble author doesn’t party vote Labour. But as NRT covers, cuts to WFF will screw a lot of people. Not cool.]