The headline says it all, really, but it shouldn’t need saying at all.
If your problem is too many apples, you need to decrease apples.
If your problem is too many apples, and you suggest solutions which are based on the idea that the problem is actually not having enough oranges … you’re not really going to be very successful at fixing the actual damn problem.
Let’s consider the number of Labour MPs who think if the problem is their own amateur media management of a proposal about women-only candidate shortlists (no, I’m not saying it again)
Then the solution is never make policy proposals which might get media attention.
And if the problem is people aren’t supporting Labour because they don’t think Labour has a vision, a soul, a coherent leader, etc
Then the solution is you should just support us anyway because then we’ll have support.
It’s ignoring the real problem. It’s too many apples and desperately trying to pretend that the problem is really not enough oranges. Possibly because you have no idea how to decrease your apple stock, and whenever someone outside your clique suggests “eating some fucking apples”, you accuse them of not seeing the bigger picture, engaging in identity politics, being beltway, and just trying to undermine the leader.
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?
You might think the legal/policy arrangements around reimbursing carers of adults with disabilities would be a bit of a minority issue which the vast majority of New Zealanders don’t have to worry about, due to their able-bodied privilege.
But you’d be wrong, because right now that issue is the site for the National government’s most egregious shitting-upon of basic concepts of justice.
What’s a good way, you might ask, to create a policy on paying family caregivers without running the risk of it being overturned? And the answer I assume you’d give is “make sure that the policy isn’t unlawfully discriminatory, so there is no reason for this to happen.” If so, you are an idiot. Because there’s a far, far better way to respond.
You simply tell the Human Rights Review Tribunal and the courts that they are not allowed to look at the policy and decide whether or not it is unlawfully discriminatory.
I’d just like to end with a little thought experiment for the class: imagine that Labour were in power and passed any legislation – say, to plant more native trees on public land, or to make it illegal to waterboard people – and then said “but you can’t see the advice we’ve made this decision on, and you can never ever challenge it.”
Oh, and passed it under urgency.
Just imagine it. The Kiwiblog commentariat would shit themselves. W****O**’s servers would probably explode. You’d hear Cactus Kate’s screams all the way across the Pacific.
Add this to Sky City’s 35-year protection clause and our whole constitution just got taken out back and shot in the head, and National’s turned the corpse into a ventriloquist’s doll and is assuring us that democracy is just resting after a rather vigorous squawk.
We are so fucked. And the mainstream media will probably do fuck-all about it.
Possibly not, according to the font of all NZ political procedural knowledge and God-Emperor of the kiwipoliblogosphere, Idiot/Savant.
Quite apart from her total lack of experience and dodgy views on such matters, the Race Relations Commissioner must have mana. Devoy has none. But there’s another aspect to this that is worth exploring: the appointment may be unlawful.
On the not-fit-to-hold-a-teaspoon-much-less-public-office front, Morrissey in comments at The Standard raised this interesting piece of history:
Dame Susan Devoy says her testimonial for broadcaster Tony Veitch – splashed across newspapers today – was for an application to return his passport, not to support him in a court sentencing.
In her testimonial presented to the court at Veitch’s sentencing yesterday for injuring his former partner with reckless disregard, Dame Susan said he deserved a chance to get his life back and have the opportunity to work again.
She had written it because she believed Veitch, whom she knew and whose stepmother was a close friend, deserved a chance to work again.
“I mean we can’t ostracise him for the rest of his life. But it is a different kettle of fish when you are writing a letter of support of someone coming up for sentencing.
“And I know that because I have written a letter recently for someone who is actually serving 10 years and six months for something probably a lot less than what Tony has done.”
She said she would not necessarily have refused to provide a testimonial for his sentencing.
Oh no, Dame Susan was totally lied to! She wouldn’t have written that testimonial if she knew it was for Tony Veitch’s sentencing for kicking his partner in the back so hard he broke her spine! Except she also wouldn’t have not written him a testimony. It just … would’ve been a testimony that looked less like she’s willing to exploit her celebrity to bail out a mate’s grown abusive stepson, when entered on the public record.
Fuck, someone probably thinks that episode helps to qualify her for the job, being all conciliatory and open-minded about things. Gross.
So, Dame Susan Devoy is our new Race Relations Commissioner.
We need a day that doesn’t necessarily replace Waitangi Day but complements it.
That doesn’t mean we lose sight of the significance and meaning of the Treaty but an opportunity to recognise that New Zealand is a multicultural society continuing to evolve as a nation of many people and not just Maori and Pakeha.
… This would leave … the door open for a day that we don’t feel ashamed to be a New Zealander; a day where we don’t only focus on the grievances of the past; a day that is positive and uplifting and, above all else, makes us feel good about ourselves. After all isn’t that the real meaning of holiday?
Our Race Relations Commissioner thinks Waitangi Day isn’t a proper national day because it focuses on [RACE-BASED] grievances of the past and makes her ashamed to be a [WHITE] New Zealander.
It gets better, though, because earlier in the article Dame Susan notes:
We only need to look across the Tasman to witness how Australians celebrate their day … you do have to admire the way they celebrate their national day with a great showing of patriotism.
Mmmm, delicious patriotism.
Here’s my question(s): does it concern Judith Collins that she’s appointed a Race Relations Commissioner who – at least a year ago – didn’t even seem to know the first thing about race relations in Australia, our nearest neighbour? Wasn’t even aware that a growing number of Australians celebrate Invasion Day instead? Thinks that we shouldn’t even have to spend one day out of 365 considering issues which are at the very heart of race relations in our own country?
Shouldn’t a Race Relations Commissioner know something about race relations? Like, that the concept even exists?
I sure wish I were well-off enough to forget about $50k in an offshore bank account.
No, it doesn’t make Shearer corrupt. No, it’s not a rort. But it is:
- a very vivid symbol of his membership of an elite – an elite who do not actually have to know instantly how much cash they have on hand – quite unlike the Waitakere Man whose vote he courts
- another amateur fuckup (paperwork is haaaaaaaaard)
- a breathtaking illustration of his lack of political instinct. Did no one in his office think the phrase “offshore account” posed a risk? Before it became “undeclared offshore account”? Undeclared offshore United Nations slush fund worth more than 50k, even?
I think we’ve frankly got to be worried about Labour’s prospects when people are giving him advice which shouldn’t need to be said.
Like Morgan from Maui Street pointing out that leaving your Maaori Affairs spokesperson on the back bench doesn’t bode well for any hopes you have of retaking the Maaori seats. Personally, I’d go for the theory that Labour’s strategy team are a bunch of entitled dipshits who assume that eventually the Maaori Party will collapse and that everyone hates Hone Harawira as much as they do, and thus in the fullness of time those silly brown people will remember to vote for their rightful overlords.
Or they’ve forgotten about the Maaori seats. Anything’s possible.
Then there’s Dr Bryce Edwards explaining that Labour need to present a credible alternative government and be different from National. I respect Dr Edwards very much, but I have to say that this is hardly a groundbreaking idea.
I mean, how the fuck does Shearer expect to be Prime Minister without being a credible, substantially-different alternative to National? Hello?
Maybe this is nothing new to the Labour leadership. Maybe they’re trying, but for some reason (quackslikeaduck) it’s not working. Hell, they have a distinct shortcoming in only having 34 MPs (and being used to having a lot more, unlike the Greens) – which makes Shearer’s “top 20″ lineup seem a little ridiculous. (There’s no bottom 20! Six members of the top 20 are also in the bottom 20!)
But I just cannot conceive that it is that difficult for people with the level of political experience they have to make a dent, to wave a bright flag, to summon a few basic bullet points which sum up the point of their party’s existence. Unfortunately, that means the only logical conclusion is they don’t give a fuck as long as their safe electorate seats play ball.
There are those who will see this as yet another horrible mean-spirited attack on David Shearer. Those who will instantly retort that he totally got the support of caucus at the February
show trial vote and imply that it is my continued criticism which is really destroying the party.
All I’m saying is this.
When David Shearer, Leader of the Labour Party, marcher at Auckland Pride, is asked “Is there room for MPs with homophobic views in the Labour Party” …
You should be very fucking worried if it’s actually kinder to cut his answer off at “Oh look yes, absolutely” …
Because at least then we’d know what the fuck Shearer stood for. It’d be awful homophobia, but at least it’d be something.
I had this big long post written out about the many, many issues I have with David Shearer’s speech: the constant buying into rightwing rhetoric and language, the illogical little anecdotes, the poor writing …
But all of that is actually beside the point, the core, the one big reason I cannot get behind David Shearer’s leadership, cannot stop criticising him, cannot stop being a terrible undermining everything-that’s-wrong-with-bloggers person.
Throughout his speech, David Shearer makes it very clear that Labour supports a specific type of New Zealander: the employed New Zealander (secret code: “hardworking”).
You think, “duh, it’s the Labour party!” and sure, you have a superficial point there. But strategically, this is a really stupid thing for Labour to do.
There are a large number of voters who probably completely agree with Shearer’s dogwhistles – that paid work is the only valuable work, that you need to prove you’ve worked hard to deserve social support. Those people are voting for National, because National offers them tax cuts – hey, you’re so hardworking, why should you pay for lazy teenagers who have a bazillion kids?
They’re not going to buy Shearer’s line because it’s still got a thin facade of leftwing policy. If they don’t want their hard-earned money supporting DPB teens, why would they want it to go to helping lazy yuppies who can’t save a big enough deposit get a first home? What about their first home?
They see Shearer’s dogwhistles and say “that’s good … but are you going to give me tax cuts? Why should I have to pay taxes so other people can get houses? I could use that tax money to buy my own house, with a nice little linen cupboard to keep all my bootstraps in!”
Then there’s the voters who realise that life and happiness are about more than being a good little productive economic unit, who believe that helping the worst-off benefits the whole.
They see Shearer’s dogwhistles and think “this is not a party of compassion. This is not a party which cares about the welfare of society. This is not a party which will protect the vulnerable – including workers – once they’ve been thrown on the scrapheap. Sure, there’s a thin leftwing facade there, but what are you offering that’s substantively different to National’s approach? Why would I vote for that when I could help the Greens or Mana have a real influence on you if you do recover before election 2014?”
And to both sides, the approach screams dishonesty. Hang on, say the first group, if you agree that work is awesome and non-workers are scum, why aren’t you supporting National’s moves to reform welfare? Why are your supporters declaring that you’re a fantastic social democrat Jesus?
The second group say, “if you really are a fantastic social democrat Jesus, why are you constantly using language to reassure the conservatives that really you hate the beneficiary menace too?”
Even ignoring my personal beliefs on the matter, this strategy does not strike me as good politics. It’s not really working for anyone. It’s not really giving a clear picture of either what David Shearer and Labour really stand for, or what they want us to think they stand for. And to me, that leads to one conclusion: they still just stand for saying whatever it is they think will get them elected and preserve their shiny Parliamentary pay packets.
That’s the problem.
This post isn’t getting cross-posted to The Standard, because I’m seriously bored with Shearer supporters
(a) acting like the kind of mealy-mouthed crap he delivered on Sunday is AMAZING ASPIRATIONAL DIRECTION-SETTING GODLIKE ORATORY
(b) acting like criticisms like mine are the real reason Labour’s polling 31%