30 September 2008

The Burns Unit stands for Parliament

He's number 49 on the Labour list and standing for Christchurch Central. He has a profile and a photo on the Labour website, and his own website too.

It's Brendon Burns.

Burns is well known in Parliament, as he created the infamous “Burns” unit, which is the Labour government PR function in the Beehive. He doesn’t mention this in his profile. Funny that, you’d think being Helen Clark’s spindoctor would be something he would be proud of. The "Burns unit" is responsible for ensuring Labour MPs deliver publicity "on message", consider it the Labour Central News Agency (Pyongyang has the Korean Central News Agency).

Being a master of spin there is not a sign of it on his profile or his website. No, his instrumental role in spinning the Labour Party's message while in government is curiously absent - he will know why, because it isn't good spin!

He’s firmly on the left, as his website proudly proclaims his banal fights against privatizing water and contracting out the provision of council services. He likes making people pay for what they don’t use, and council monopolies spending ratepayers’ money. He also says “Helping Christchurch achieve a fibre optic network that provides high speed connectivity is hugely important.” I guess Telstra-Clear’s HFC network passed him by, or is privately owned so “doesn’t count”. “we need to insulate every home, no matter what the income.” So subsidising the homes of the wealthy too Brendon? “I also wants to ensure more low-moderate cost housing is built in Christchurch Central”. What’s stopping you Brendon? Go build some? No - he wants to spend more of your money as well.

Unlike all those below him on the list, he has a very good chance of getting elected this time round. Not because of his list position, which is just a bit high for that, but because Christchurch Central is a solid Labour seat. Tim Barnett had 52.6% of the electorate vote in 2005 - another majority MP, against National's Nicky Wagner on 29.3%. (who was elected as a list MP anyway). Now Tim clearly had some personal appeal, as the Labour party vote was 48.3%, with National on 30.5%, but you can't disguise this is a safe seat being handed to Burns on a plate as Tim is retiring.

So ask yourself this, how many Christchurch Central voters know about Brendon Burns? Labour's greatest spindoctor looks likely to waltz safely into Parliament after the election, it being unlikely Nicky Wagner can bridge a 22% gap this time round.

British Conservatives remain a mixed lot

You wouldn't notice it, but the Conservatives have been having their party conference - overshadowed completely by the financial crisis.

The policies coming from the Tories are all over the place:
- Council tax to be frozen for two years (a bit wimpish but a start);
- Private rooms for single mothers in hospitals (more government);
- University scholarships for apprentices (still more government);
- Abandon central government housing plans and reduce regulations that hinder construction (ok);
- Wasting £20 billion on high speed rail links and stopping a private company from building a third runway at Heathrow airport with its own funds (appalling);
- Scrapping national child database (excellent); and

Boris Johnson has announced a council tax freeze for London.

However one of them blames career women for the breakdown of society.

Oh dear oh dear, doesn't he recall who one of the most successful recent Tory Prime Ministers was?

So it's better than Labour - but that's about it - it can't stop spending money, and it can't stop interfering with the private sector. *sigh*

US taxpayers saved, financial markets sink

The Democrats could have passed the bill on their own - to take US$700 billion from future taxpayers to bail out the foolish borrowings and foolish lendings by US banks, encouraged implicitly by a central bank that kept extending the money supply - but even they couldn't be convinced. Too many saw their constituents demanding why they should be forced to bail out Wall Street. Many more Republicans said the same, and reacted to the lies that this was the result of "8 years of economic mismanagement" as rich little leftwing Democrat Nancy Pelosi bleated. Democrats want this to be painted as the fault of Bush and the Republicans, but their hands are far from clean. This goes back before Bush and even before Clinton - it is a longstanding problem of government growth in the money supply, and the long held belief that the government will step in.

So, according to CNN the Dow Jones has plummeted 7%, it is about time to do some bargain hunting.

Obama and McCain don't know what to do. Obama is trying to make hay from it, McCain is trying to say Obama would spend even more taxpayers' money on new programmes.

The truth is both look like less than Presidential material at the moment - neither give the public confidence in the economic future. Gerald Warner in the Daily Telegraph says that as McCain and Obama both supported the package, US voters chose "none of the above" in putting huge pressure on Congress to say no.

For now the taxpayers have won the battle - the question is what the cost of that will be in the short to medium term.

Nudity legal all over Wellington?

The Hive notes the story that an old bylaw, that is apparently unenforceable, banning nudity for over 8 yos on the beach has been repealed by Wellington City Council. This follows the same action by Kapiti Coast District Council. I assume Lucyna at NZ Conservative wont say its because Kerry Prendergast is a heterosexual National Party member. Mind you, the old bylaw was never enforced - but the publicity in the media means that people now know they can't be arrested for mere nudity - the question is whether it is indecent exposure.

However, to be serious I don't doubt that conservatives will fear this will result in a bout of flashing, perverted showing off and the like. Certainly people ought to not fear other people at the beach, their children especially shouldn't fear others. It shouldn't be a problem, because such aggressive behaviour will remain summary offences. Most Wellingtonians living on the Miramar Peninsula know only too well that Breaker Bay is an unofficial nudist beach. What will be legal is simply going into the water naked, or sunbathing naked, essentially minding your own business. Nudity is not, per se, sexual. Indeed in some contexts it is abundantly beautiful, it leads one to look at it because it is so - it is the difference between those who see nudity and think "porn" (which admittedly the majority of teenage boys probably think), and those who see it and appreciate it for how the human form can be quite exquisite.

Now having said that I doubt if 90% of those who may be nude on a beach in New Zealand would fit that mould for me - and I expect they also aren't being nude to be admired, just to be comfortable, and rather "laissez faire".

The Dominion Post reports that the legal position is more than just beaches, but any public place in Wellington City. Nudity in a park, nudity walking down Lambton Quay. Quelle Horreur!

Now Section 27 of the Summary Offences Act says that indecent exposure is when someone "intentionally and obscenely exposes any part of his or her genitals".

Simply lying on your back in the Botanical Gardens might not be the case, but certainly showing off and drawing attention to your genitals would. Also interestingly, it means breasts are allowed - regardless - they are not genitals.

However regardless of what you think - this is the tragedy of the commons. As long as peaceful people do not initiate force (or threaten it) against each other, the law should not be concerned. Private property rights mean you can control your land, your park, your mall, your shop - but that is where it ends. The solution to concerns about nudity in public is private property rights. The solution to those who think nudity is an opportunity to threaten is the existing criminal law.

Hamish McCracken - Labour's candidate for apostrophe abuse

Hamish McCracken has Labour's number 50 spot, he is also the candidate for Northcote.

Now for Hamish to get elected, Labour has to do a bit better than in 2005, which is a bit optimistic, but not out of the question. He has a profile, photo and a website.

That's when the learning begins. Hamishs’, Hamishs, Hamish’s’s, I mean Hamish’s profile lets Labour down with a fine example of educational failure “I want a society that values it’s people and demonstrates this through first class public health and education.” Well Hamish you need that education to have a promiscuous apostrophe inserting itself where it isn’t wanted.

You see Hamish has no idea how to use apostrophes, which of course makes him qualified to be a university lecturer despite saying on his website “Education policy for me remains the backbone of all else.

I found where he stole the apostrophe from: “Tomorrows Choice”. Grrr, first class education he has and he’s still failing reasonable literacy standards! Click the annoying policy link and you’ll also find “Workers rights” which doesn’t link to anything at all, like most of the policies where appear non-existent. He also has “many NZer’s lives”, “many of Labours policies”. More illiteracy with “New Zealand has a special role in the pacific” the world’s biggest ocean not deserving of a capital. “one of the worlds first sustainable economies” arrgh when will it end!

How damned hard is it to get your material proof read, or are all those around you a bunch of leftwing unionist grunts?

Well don't worry, Hamish doesn't just lack in literacy.

I am proud also that in championing sustainability Labour is extending the logic of egalitarianism, not just across society today but down through the generations to come. I want to be part of a government that will lead the world on this issue.” The “logic of egalitarianism”? What is that? It is “logical” that everyone be the same? Yes the Khmer Rouge thought so. “Lead the world on this issue”? Go on Hamish, raise the red flag to egalitarianism, you need it given your poor literacy.

The profile on the Labour website gets the link to his website wrong, but I worked it out. His website says “Hamish also has a passion for Economic Policy. He lectures at the Auckland University of Technology Business School.” Yes, spot the rot in education when the lecturers stand for Parliament. He has been a unionist too (Labour is SO diverse). He channels Tony Blair with “Labour has been tough on crime but more importantly we have been tough on the causes of crime.” Yawn.

He thinks taking money from families to give money to, families is an “investment” “Working for Families package – benefiting 370,000 families and worth $1.1 billion per annum. This is a logical step in encouraging people from welfare into work and an investment in New Zealand families” Yawn. He wants taxpayers to be forced to pay for – Tai Chi! “In times of record house prices” obviously in touch isn’t he?

Labour supports greater democratisation of the United Nations and strengthened powers for the General Assembly. The current veto power of the five permanent members of the Security Council should be abolished.” Oh really? What should the General Assembly be doing? More resolutions against Israel, but none against Zimbabwe, Iran and North Korea? Nice to see another cultural relativist in Labour. Nice to see such enthusiasm for an organisation that treats Libya, Cuba and China on a par with Europe and New Zealand on human rights.

In Michael Cullen we have a finance Minister who has given significant assistance to kiwi families but who also has carefully shepherded our financial resources” Whose financial resources? Oh that’s right, everyone elses. Oh Hamish, your literacy deprived ravings are interesting, but that’s about it.

Carefully shepherded!

Surely though this has to be the best disclaimer:
The Labour party has a rigorous policy process whereby we debate ideas and establish the eventual party manifesto. It is the party manifesto that represents the official party policy. While unsurprisingly as a participant in this process I support the manifesto, on this site I have endeavoured to give my own personal views and thoughts so you will know where I stand on issues. In the majority of cases these will be in line with party policy, if however you want official Labour party policy please visit http://www.labour.org.nz

So it could all be his views, just to protect Labour.

Now Northcote is fairly marginal. National’s Jonathan Coleman took it off Labour’s Ann Hartley by 2383 votes last time, and he should remain fairly comfortably ahead, but it is clearly a seat to watch. National got 43% of the party vote in 2005 against Labour’s 39.1%, so it is a battleground seat for the party vote in particular. Hamish lets Labour down, as a lecturer who can’t use apostrophes or capitalisation where relevant, as a unionist who thinks Michael Cullen “carefully shepherded our financial resources”, this should give his opponents plenty of fuel to fight him over. Thankfully, Hamish has a low chance of getting elected.

3 more Labour candidates - 1 without profile

To continue my series, I thought I'd countdown from numbers 53 to 51 on the Labour Party list.

Chris Yoo – list only- number 53: No profile, no photo, no website, no interest, no chance. Even he doesn’t think Labour will get far over 40% of the vote. This you see, is where you wonder how ambitious Labour is being? If it seriously thinks it is getting this far, why is this candidate without any profile at all?

Errol Mason – Te Tai Hauauru – number 52: Profile and photo. Errol has a long familial link to Labour, and says “It is important for Maori to have a united voice in Government. This Labour Government has delivered great opportunities. More Maori in employment, working for families’ package and affordable health care to name but a few.” Setting aside him wanting to sit in one of the racist seats, his profile is nothing special, but not mindlessly awful either. He has a considerable battle on his hands though. He is up against Tariana Turia who gained 63% of the electorate vote last time, against himself on 33.5%. Party vote in the seat remains mainly Labour with 53.1%, and the Maori Party second on 31.7%. He wont win the electorate, but I kind of wish he would. Turia after all is far away with the fairies.

Erin Ebbor-Gillespie – Wigram – number 51: Profile and photo. “I was motivated to join the Labour party in the late 1990s. I remember the “Mother of All Budgets,” state asset sales and restructuring. It was a dark time in our social history.” Took her a while, since the “Mother of All Budgets” was 1991, asset sales started under a government that included Helen Clark and Michael Cullen, and “restructuring” has happened on a grand scale under this Labour government (look at transport). Silly bint doesn’t understand history or economics, puts her in good stead to run against Jim Anderton though! She’s a family lawyer, which begs the question why she wants to control people’s lives? She concludes “If the self determination of the people is strong, the well being of the people is assured”. Yes Erin, but Labour takes much of the proceeds of people’s “self-determination” and spends it how it sees fit. She’s probably good at her job, but not much sense beyond her own experience.

As long as Jim wants to hang on, she has no chance in Wigram, where Labour comes third behind National in the electorate vote with 19.1%, (Anderton got 47.6%, National 22.2%). For party vote it is different, Labour led in 2005 with 48% of the party vote, so that’ll be what she is chasing. Fortunately it isn’t likely to be enough to get her in.

29 September 2008

Less local government

It's only a start for me, but a good one. Stephen Greenhalgh in the Sunday Telegraph reports how he as leader of Hammersmith and Fulham Council has:
- Cut council spending by 4%;
- Cut council tax by 3% each year, the past three years;
- Cut council employees by 18%;
- Cut council debt by £20 million;
- Introduced round the clock beat policing resulting in less reported crime;
- Increased satisfaction by residents in council provided activities by 11%.

It was done and continues to be done by seeking "lower taxes, less waste and better services" according to him. Frankly in a UK devoid of interest in dismantling nanny state it IS a great leap forward. Maybe this Conservative Party led council can show some others what that party ought to be about?

National Maori Affairs policy - me too again?

National's Maori Affairs policy (pdf) is no revolution, it talks of the Treaty of Waitangi being the founding document of New Zealand. It talks of continuing to support (read - use your taxes to spend money on) Maori broadcasting, Kohanga Reo and the like which, if you believe in state education, healthcare and broadcasting, can hardly be argued against (you see I'd argue against the lot). However, what is most disconcerting is the euphemism attached to what is the appalling violence, abuse and intergenerational criminal underachievement of the underclass of predominantly Maori families, failing again and again, and worst of all breeding children in a climate of fear, abuse and neglect.

National says "Despite recent achievements, there remain a number of Māori whose ability to participate in the economy and New Zealand society has not enabled them to realise their aspirations". That's telling it like it is - you could say that about everyone of course. My aspiration to be a concert organist isn't matched by my ability.

Oh and if you thought Te Puni Kokiri was a large bureaucracy that employed far too many people with mediocre qualifications and a lack of understanding of economics and hard headed public policy analysis, don't worry National will make it worse!

"TPK has a wide knowledge and understanding of Māori communities, and a regional presence which places it in a strong position to influence and monitor policy. We believe that, in the key areas of health, education, and housing, TPK can help achieve National’s objectives for a growing economy, and Māori aspirations for economic independence and self reliance."

How, by spending more taxpayers' money?

Now I didn't expect anything magic, and there is hope with the statement:

"The National Party believes it shares many values with Māori:
• The recognition of property rights and personal responsibility.
• Economic independence and choice rather than dependency on the state.
• Less state involvement in Māori lives and a preference for community provision of government services.
• The nurturing of strong families, whänau, and communities.
• Engagement in wealth creation, business, and enterprise."

However the policy does little to achieve that, the Nats wont allow education funding to follow the child, they don't allow health funding to follow individual choice, and the notion of reducing state spending seems invisible. Is it, like the Treaty Settlement policy, about keeping the Maori Party happy? Certainly Dr Pita Sharples - friend of convicted Cuban government sponsored murderers - thinks so.

National Treaty Settlement policy - support the Waitangi Tribunal

National's Treaty Settlement policy is back to the past, before 2005 that is, with a promise to conclude settlements by 2014. If this was full and final then that might be a cause to celebrate, but it is just an aim.

It seeks to "Appoint independent settlement facilitators to chair negotiations, keep the process moving forward, and ensure both parties act in good faith." a small step forward, although you may wonder who represents taxpayers in all of this.

However what's most disconcerting is its faith in the Waitangi Tribunal. The Waitangi Tribunal is little better than a kangaroo court, but it wants to provide "more support" to it.

This is a nonsense, as former Waitangi Tribunal member - ex. Labour Cabinet Minister Dr. Michael Bassett might testify:

"the industry doesn’t want the Tribunal process ever to end. After 23 years, no decision has yet been made to close off new historical claims. The major parties dither. Labour wants the party vote of Maori; National isn’t sure they mightn’t need the Maori Party’s support after the coming election. Both major political parties know that what is happening is wrong, and that ordinary Maori in whose name the claims are made, aren’t getting a cracker out of the money being spent on lawyers, researchers and Tribunal staff."

Previously he wrote "Existing claims must be settled as quickly as possible. Stopping fresh historical claims means that full and final settlements already made have a chance of working longer term. The Waitangi process was never intended as a permanent career for lawyers and under-employed “researchers”. It was to assist ordinary Maori whose interests, sadly, are too often over-looked."

National could do worse than listen to a man intimately involved in this process for years, but no - it wants power - it wants to broker a deal with the Maori Party to break Labour's stranglehold on the Maori vote - it will do that by continuing to feed the new Maori state funded aristocracy. National may not do a deal with NZ First (largely because it expects the party to disappear), but it will do one with the Maori Party.

I'll leave the final verdict on that to Dr Bassett

"When politicians settled on land grievances as the cause of Maori problems they made a mistake. It would have made better sense to examine welfare and the huge damage it has done to Maori society. The Waitangi Tribunal should be scaled down. The industry is of no use to 99% of the people it’s meant to serve. "

Sadly the Maori Party seems unlikely to agree.

National electoral law policy holds glimmers of hope

National has released its electoral law policy which does distinguish it from Labour in a handful of ways, although is also a backtrack from 2005 - again.

First, its press release said it would abolish the Maori seats once the historic Treaty claims are settled, which it anticipates being 2014. However the policy statement (PDF) says "start the constitutional process to wind up the Maori seats". That's not doing much. Better than nothing, but not much more. A future confidence and supply agreement with the Maori Party may be why this policy isn't much more, but why give away so much BEFORE negotiations?

Second, it wants a binding referendum on retaining MMP in 2011. Now I don't care either way for this, but interesting how this is more important than doing away with the racially defined Maori seats.

Finally it will repeal the Electoral Finance Act, reverting to the previous Electoral Act 1993 in the interim, before further reform before 2011. The repeal should be celebrated, and is perhaps the biggest reason to vote National in itself, but what comes next remains vague.

Incomes of uneducated don't rise

According to The Press a study by Christchurch social agency Supergrans claims that "the income gap between families of unqualified and qualified parents has more than doubled over 25 years". Hardly surprising. If you're uneducated then unless you gain experience, and skills as a result, why SHOULD you expect your incomes to rise?

The positive side to the story is that the agency is promoting education among older uneducated people, which of course, is part of the answer. Indeed my Aunt (neither elderly nor uneducated) has recently retrained to be a teacher's aide and is a damned good one from all accounts.

However, the notion that this is a problem for the government to fix by raising wages is a nonsense, it is up to individuals to take opportunities to retrain, and for the overwhelming incentive to be clear - no education, no skills means low wages.

Belarus has a Parliamentary election

Today's election in Belarus - Europe's last dictatorship - will have observers and opposition candidates. Some political prisoners have been freed and some opposition politicians have been given TV coverage on the monopoly state media. Alexander Lukashenko says the elections will work according to the "rules of the West", I doubt he will be kidding anyone.

It is a little less oppressive, but political prisoners remain in Belarus. There are limits on how candidates may campaign, with only small noticeboards allowed and a limit of £400 in spending. This, naturally, benefits the incumbents in the Parliament. 41 of the 110 Parliamentary seats have no opposition candidates. All seats in Parliament are held by Lukashenko's supporters, in a classic communist style rubber stamp assembly.

So with the state controlled media, candidates barely able to campaign and Lukashenko running his own small personality cult dictatorship, the chances of change in Belarus are next to zero. Even Vladimir Putin thinks he is too much of a dictator.

Having said that Lukashenko has managed to hold onto power by maintaining internal stability - dictatorships can be very good at controlling crime, because the state doesn't like any competition. In addition, Belarus's close relationship with Russia has seen it continue to get heavily subsidised gas and oil from its neighbour - which it then rations to its population, reselling the rest at market prices to the West. As a result, if the election IS deemed fair (in that the votes cast are reflected in the result and there is little overt intimidation), Belarus 's dictatorship will demand legitimacy from the West - because democracy is king, right?

The Sunday Telegraph has a two part report report from its correspondent, Colin Freeman.
Part one notes on Lukashenko "Cameramen have reportedly been sacked after showing his bald patch on TV, and until recently, there was even an official ban on cracking jokes about him"
Part two he meets a dissident, arrested for advocating closer ties to the European Union. He said "They chuck you in a jail for ‘administrative detainees’, where there are usually about 20 people in a tiny room with hardly any space to move around... You got no exercise, not even for 10 minutes a day, and you’re not allowed any visits or food from relatives, and the food gives you diarrhoea. Even a fortnight inside, he adds, leaves you weak and “half-brain dead”.

The simple point is that Belarus should not be rewarded for "democracy", it should be rewarded for freedom. That means a free and open press, the right to protest, the right to criticise the government, and to hold government accountable through an independent judiciary, and constitutional courts. Belarus is a very long way from that. To let Belarus off after this facade of freedom would be a travesty to those Belarussians who have been imprisoned, tortured and murdered by Lukashenko's goons since Gorbachev let Minsk go its own way.

Pay for your mistakes?

While I bemoan those who give or take credit without being able to bear the risk either way, Crusader Rabbit has an interesting post on those who bemoan the "costs" of alcohol or drug use imposed upon the public health system.

Send them the bill. In other words, if the hospital determines that you are to blame for your accident - you pay.

That's inherently appealing - responsibility for the harm you impose on yourself or others. However ACC gets in the way - at the moment we all pay ACC for the costs of all those who have accidents causing personal injury. The better first step is to individualise ACC, and allow people to choose who to get accident insurance from - meaning premiums will vary. If you don't pay for accident insurance then you pay the bill. Of course such insurance would have to be compulsory unless the right to sue is returned - a big additional step.

So if you are turning up at A&E regularly drunk, then funnily enough your premiums go up. If you don't, your premiums go down. Then the only costs left that remain a concern are those who don't get insured - in which case you might ask, why drink alcohol heavily instead of buying accident insurance? That becomes another issue - but why should the costs of recidivist foolishness be socialised? Why should the state owned monopoly ACC be retained?

Vote McCain or Obama with The Economist

The Economist has an online "vote" for the US Presidential Election through its website. The hook is you must register with the publication to vote, but that does reduce the odds of multiple registrations to vote multiple times, and anyway you should be reading the Economist on a regular basis shouldn't you?

It works in a rather interesting way. The Economist has basically classified every country in the world as a state using electoral college rules. Every country gets at least three electoral college votes, and then by population gets more. The candidate with the majority in a country gets the electoral college votes of that country.

Unsurprising, Obama is overwhelmingly ahead. In the UK it is 86% to Obama, in Australia 85%, in New Zealand 81%, China gives Obama 79% (France 90%). Only El Salvador, Slovakia and Colombia look like possible McCain territory (but many countries have few votes).

However, regardless, it was only listed in the Economist on Friday, so it should have an overwhelming response in coming weeks. Go on, cast your vote.

Tesco Dandong - convenient for North Koreans

The Amnok river separates the People's Republic of China from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (yep the more words implying "people" and "democracy" the more oppressive it is). Mao Tse Tung once said that the two countries were as close as "lips and teeth" in relations. The differences are stark between Dandong on the Chinese side of the river and Sinuiji on the Korean side. You see in Dandong there is a Tesco, a three storey one. Dandong is a thriving city. Sinuiji is a stark contrast. On the left you can see Kim Il Sung Square in Sinuiji, you can see the shadow from the statue and the people, with no cars. On the right you see Sinuiji stadium, run down, filthy from the industrial pollution, and people roaming around on foot and bike - no cars, no sport, but something was happening there on that day. I daren't even guess what.

Until recent years, the DPRK patrolled this bordered harshly, and scope for bribes and corruption with border guards was very low. However, the stark economic situation on the Korean side has seen that change. For a price, DPRK border guards will let people through, and North Korean entrepreneurs (bless them) have been doing just that. According to the Sunday Telegraph, they are some of the best customers for Tesco Dandong in China, "They buy soap, toilet paper, shampoo and food, of course". This is what capitalism can provide, which totalitarian socialism cannot.

The nearly worthless DPRK won currency trades not at the official rate of 20.5 to the Chinese Renminbi, but 400.

The Economist this week also reports on the Koreas. It notes that North Korean society is in serious flux, because of the border becoming more porous and economic changes in neighbouring countries flooding through to the country in curious ways:

"Earlier this decade DVD players fell dramatically in price, so South Korean households quickly dumped their old VCRs in favour of the new players. Smugglers picked up the old units for next to nothing and sold them in North Korea for US$40 or so apiece - a price that plenty of urban North Korean familis could afford if they saved up. The consequence was what Mr Lankov (Australian National University) calls a "video revolution": a flood of South Korean soap operas, melodramas and music videos entering North Korea by the same route and delighting new audiences. The impact of the astounding affluence on display - the star's clothes and cars, Seoul's glittering skyline - exposes the central lie on which the regime bases its claim to rule: that South Korea is a backward, impoverished and exploited."

In other words, the hermit kingdom whereby everything about the outside world could be controlled - as North Korean radios had no tuning dial to allow foreign stations to be heard, like North Korean TVs, as satellite dishes were banned, as the internet was banned - is starting to unravel. The dire economy has resorted to many near the borders taking advantage of opportunities to buy and sell what they can to better themselves, and as a result the news of the outside world is drip feeding in. Not that residents of Sinuiji would have any illusions - from their side of the river they have watched Dandong grow like umpteen other Chinese cities in the past 20 years, into a brightly lit capitalist beacon of wealth, whilst around them is the dreary poverty of their socialist paradise.

Tesco's slogan is "Every little helps", and it can say, in China, it's doing just that for North Koreans. It's far more than you'll notice most politicians in the West doing for them.

Our children will thank us

So say the environmentalist lobby. The likes of the Green Party, and indeed the vast numbers who believe that it is critical now to force or subsidise people into a low carbon dioxide future because of the "costs" of climate change. The primary point such doomsday merchants make is how unreasonable it will be to allow "our children" to pay for this.

So have you noticed how willing so many are to use their children's taxes (and grand children's) to bail out the unwise borrowing of so many today? Why not pay the cost now? Why not ensure that the risks of foolishness are born by those who took them? Government borrowing transfers problems to future generations - it may be justified to manage the capital costs of core government spending, such as defence infrastructure, but to bail out banks?

Whose children will thank you because you were prepared to support governments who borrowed off their future taxes due to the mistake of a minority of people offering and taking credit unwisely?

Am I going to "own" another bank?

Amidst the negotiations to use future US taxpayers' money to bail out banks who have lent to the barely creditworthy, UK mortgage lender Bradford and Bingley looks about to be nationalised. Last ditch efforts to save the institution are underway, but according to the Sunday Telegraph B&B has a £40 billion mortgage portfolio of which most comprises self-certification and buy to let loans. The types that didn't require proof of salary to be given. In short, it lends to those with nothing left if, as has happened in the past year, property values drop below the value of people's mortgages.

The UK government isn't letting those who borrowed so imprudently (or deposited with such an institution) bear the costs of their risks - no - it is taking on the so called "toxic mortgages" and then polluting the bank it already nationalised - Northern Rock - with them. That allows the rest of B & B to be taken over by another bank - nice, so socialising the losses and privatising the profits. The £24 billion in deposits would be owned by another bank, but th £42 billion in useless mortgages - the British taxpayer. Yes £1000 of extra debt for every adult and child.

Although B & B shares are now worth 20p when they were worth £2 in April, any such takeover should include the shares which should be rendered useless.

Hopefully the taxpayer wont step in, as it didn't need to when Lloyds TSB took over HBOS. I don't doubt the willingness to do so, and how that is affecting those negotiating to buy the assets of B & B, as they will want the liabilities to fall on the taxpayer.

Gordon Brown's economic genius at work - 10 years of budget deficits during the good times. Labour has been pump priming the economy with debt, borrowing from future taxpayers, and within 18 months will be out of power.

The Conservatives may then gain power, and face the reality that spending needs to be cut, quite dramatically, and Labour will point fingers and say how "mean" they are.

At what point should those who took out credit to speculate on the housing bubble have to pay for their unfortunate mistake? At what point should those who deposited with banks who did the same pay also? In the UK the first £35,000 anyone deposits in any financial institution is guaranteed by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme - so I hardly think Labour's rank and file voters are going to lose out anyway.

When will the thieving from future taxpayers end?

28 September 2008

Sunday Herald joins Green religion

Yes, sadly, it is five weeks to the general election and the Herald on Sunday devotes its editorial to what? Wanting tens of millions spent subsidising cyclists and pedestrians to cross the Auckland Harbour Bridge. Crime, healthcare, education and the economy aren't as important as wasting a fortune for a few tourists and the ultrakeen to get $40 million of other people's money spent on a cycle/pedestrian way.

As I've said before, and so has leftwing columnist Brian Rudman, this is a colossal waste of money for something that would be barely used. It is especially inappropriate to want to waste precious road users taxes on a project that doesn't stack up.

The sheer banality of the editorial can be summed up in this statement: "A vociferous cycle lobby has good claim to the moral high ground in the debate. Climate change, traffic-choked roads and the remorselessly increasing price of fuels drawn from the earth's dwindling and finite reserves all argue for the value of getting more commuters out of their cars."

Where is the moral high ground is making others pay for something you want people to use? To demand something you pay nothing towards? What nonsense is the claim that fuels are remorselessly increasing in price? Do they not follow the fact that oil prices have been easing downwards for the last month or so? What IS the value of getting more commuters out of their cars except - to those commuters? Actually the NZ Transport Agency DOES value reducing congestion, fuel wastage and pollution, and this project doesn't even come close to producing economic/environmental benefits that exceed the costs.

The only people advocating this project are those handful who will benefit from a new facility they wont have to pay for, and those worshipping the Green Party religion on transport, called its policy. Can't New Zealand get a Sunday paper that's 10% as good as either the Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Times or the Observer?

McCarten talks nonsense again

Yes, you didn't have to wait long for failed socialist Matt McCarten to treat the failings of an excessively generous central bank and poor judgement by banks lending mortgages to bet on the property market at the bottom end(and those borrowing with little to no deposits hoping the same) as the free market proven wrong.

Rubbing his hands with glee like any typical authoritarian who can't wait to be proven that if you he and his ilk could be controlling what people do with their money, it would all be easier. His NZ Herald column is a triumph of banal slogans and offering nothing, but his sneering envy that he never got a chance to do things differently.

How empty is this phrase "Quite frankly, the free-market theoreticians have been shown to be a bunch of charlatans dressing up old-fashioned greed as a social good." How Matt? It is an individual good, and people pursuing their individual good, as long as force and fraud are absent (and they are not in part of this equation) is perfectly moral. This is different from your "sacrifice yourself for the greater good" nonsense, which always seems to involve taking money from everyone else and you and your friends deciding how best to spend it. Your system involves force - none of what has happened recently is about force, it is about speculation.

Then he becomes so incredibly economical with the truth it's barely worth believing anything else he says:

"Remember, we spent a billion dollars of our taxes bailing out the Bank of New Zealand in the early 1990s. The bank made the same mistakes that the American institutions have made. You'll remember that our free-market ideologue, Ruth Richardson, was in charge of our economy at the time, but that didn't stop her from taking a billion dollars of our funds to bail them out"

I remember a bit better than you Matt. The bail out was NZ$380 million, hardly a billion. However, you have long campaigned for higher taxes so what's NZ$600 million between socialists? The bail out was just after the 1990 election, the bank had been left in a parlous state after the 1988 sharemarket crash, and Matt - it was majority state owned. Yes the taxpayer held a majority state - something you undoubtedly approve of. So the taxpayer bailed out a majority taxpayer held bank, it was privatised two years later.

"Our politicians and business leaders need to come clean and admit that free market capitalism doesn't work and never has." Oh I see Matt, so what does? Oh you don't know do you? So how doesn't it work? Are the failings of a majority state owned bank an example of free market capitalism? Are the failings of government created behemoths Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac examples of free market capitalism? Is the extension of the money supply, backed by - nothing - in the 1990s, an example of free market capitalism?

Go back to reading the selected works of Lenin Matt, stop pontificating on something you know nothing about.

Nick Kelly the communist unionist

It has already been reported that the Wellington Tramways Union President is now Nick Kelly - a communist - former candidate for the Marxist-Leninist Workers Party. So the union representing most Go Wellington bus drivers is now led by a nutbar who believes in the destruction of the liberal democratic capitalist state and its replacement with a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship.

Poneke thinks it is an "interesting development", I think it's a great chance for Wellington bus drivers to throw off the shackles of these violence worshipping socialists and negotiate individual contracts.

Labour numbers 64-54 - not much to see here

In the next 10 Labour candidates on the list (63-54), only two are without profiles (remember these are the candidates that would be elected if Labour was around 50% of the vote, a position it was expecting in 2002). Of this lot, Kate Sutton is undoubtedly the most skilled and ambitious, many of the rest are truly mediocre - which says a lot about how serious Labour is about getting her elected. Of those below, maybe two have a tiny chance of picking their electorates up, Julian Blanchard in Rangitata (though the swing to National should rule this out), and Denise MacKenzie in Wairarapa (again the swing to National should rule this out). The list positions are too low, if you expect Labour to not get above 45%.

It's worth noting how many "minority" Labour candidates there are near the bottom of the list. Yes, it shows Labour being diverse without actually risking these people getting elected - how's that for being patronising?

Kate Sutton – Epsom – number 63: A photo, profile and a website. Someone who seems like she wants to win. Her profile isn’t too bad, neither is her website. Now Kate is 27 and Women’s Vice President of the Labour Party, been President of AUSA, and well clearly is ambitious and keen. However she is far too optimistic about government doing good (although she is keen on private sector involvement too). She wants to spend more of your money “We need to address the need for more affordable housing especially in the big cities” well letting the property market deflate will help, as would getting out of the way. She has a blog showing that nobody has donated a cent to her campaign through it. She seems rather bright and ambitious, maybe she’ll finally see how much waste and interference by the state is negative rather than positive.

In 2005 Rodney Hide beat Richard Worth with 3102 votes, and the Labour candidate was a distant third, another 6011 votes behind, so Kate has no chance really. Rodney’s fairly safe. However, even though Labour was second on party vote with 27.2% it was well behind National on 58.5%. She gets credit for the best website so far, but the competition of her lower ranked Labour candidates is poor.

Susan Zhu – list only – number 62: A profile, no photo and no website. It is essential that we continue to develop, so that our families, business, young people and senior citizens can experience a much improved standard of living and quality of life. Such values enhance Labour's core objectives of social justice, equality and prosperity for all.” Hmm well Labour devalues the efforts of those trying to improve their standards of living. No chance.

Anjum Rahman – list only – number 61: A profile, no photo and no website. “My main motivation goes back to advice in 2004 from a friend. She told me that if I wanted to do the greatest good for the greatest number of people, then I should stand for parliament.” Your friend is wrong Anjum, but don’t worry you have no chance.

Hamish McDouall – Whanganui – number 60: No profile, but a photo and no website. Must be disappointing for a seat that was Labour’s until Chester Borrows defeated Jill Pettis in 2005 by 2402 votes. Labour got 40% of the party vote here in 2005, but is punting up an unknown who can’t be bothered putting a profile up. Chester Borrows looks safe, Labour’s letting Wanganui down, again.

Julian Blanchard – Rangitata – number 59: Photo, profile and a website. Nothing special or too ridiculous in his profile, though the profile has a bad link to his website. He’s 33, his grandfather was former Labour MP Sir Basil Arthur. However, his press releases show enthusiasm for just spending more taxpayers money on everything from subsidizing rural broadband to Kiwirail. Rangitata is a new electorate, combining pieces of Aoraki and Rakaia, both currently National seats. Julian has a very low chance of winning this against National MP Jo Goodhew, who won Aoraki from Labour in 2005.

Denise MacKenzie – Wairarapa – number 58: Profile and photo. We need an efficient broadband network, well maintained roads, user-friendly public transport, well-resourced schools, and accessible health services. I pledge to work hard to make all these a reality in the Wairarapa electorate.” Nothing exciting there, pretty standard centre left candidate, wants to focus on government spending more money. She stood in 2005, and lost against National’s John Hayes who gained a 2752 majority when it had been held by Georgina Beyer until she chose not to stand again. National gained 45.1% of the party vote against Labour’s 36.1%, so it’s a closer race. However, Denise has only a very low chance to swing against the tide.

Farida Sultana – list only – number 57: Profile, no photo and no website. I have been active in the community and voluntary sector since 1995 and set up Shakti which has grown into a national, multi-ethnic community organisation that strives towards achieving human rights of immigrant women, and promotes violence-free families.” Nothing wrong with that. The Labour policies promote inclusiveness, elimination of poverty, sustainable economy, human rights and international peace.” How? Oh dear, slogans aren’t good. “For the past 9 years, Labour has done unparalleled work for and within the diverse ethnic communities as well as wider New Zealand Yadda, yadda, yadda. Banal and meaningless. No chance.

Michael Wood – list only – number 56: Profile, no photo and no website. The decisions made by our elected representatives have a real impact on the lives of New Zealanders.” You can tell he’s a genius. I believe that no person is an island, and that we are all better off when we work together as a society to look after one another.”

Fine Michael, but why do you want to use force? Why is your altruist collectivism a violent one? “I want to see public institutions and services that are the envy of the world, an end to the shame of child poverty in New Zealand, and a thriving economy, the fruits of which are shared justly.” Well Michael, you go and help the kids, but screw your socialism. The fruits of a thriving economy are shared justly by those who taking risks profiting from their success and paying for their failure. I can’t believe Kate Sutton ranks lower than this idiot. No chance.

Don Pryde – Clutha-Southland – number 55: Profile, Photo and no website. Ahh he’s President of the EPMU, so a hard arsed working man no doubt, well as hard working as a unionist might be. We have had an outstanding government since 1999” well, he’s a believer isn’t he? the only way for working families to get ahead together is through higher wages, stronger work rights and decent public services like health, education and ACC. And that needs a Labour Government”. They could be more productive, better educated and advance themselves rather than use the state. Bill English commanded 66.7% of the electorate vote in 2005, Labour 23.3%. The party votes were 57.1% for National and 28.7% for Labour. Don the socialist believer has no chance.

Jo Bartley – Tamaki – number 54: Photo, no profile and no website. Allan Peachey took this seat with 58% of the vote in 2005 against Labour’s Leila Boyle with 31.7%. Party vote 53.9% for National and 32.3% for Labour. Clearly Jo Bartley doesn’t think it’s worth fighting for, and I’m sure most Tamaki voters will take that into account when they re-elect Allan Peachey.

27 September 2008

10 more Labour candidates, 1 has any chance

10 more Labour candidates I'm profiling, and of them three have photos on the Labour website, and three don't even have candidate profiles, showing how interested they are in campaigning. Only one of the ones below has any chance at all, and he isn't Jordan Carter.

Anne Pankhurst Number 73 – Tauranga I have an in-depth knowledge of the city and the issues facing the city along with the excellent achievements that have been made here recently, through my involvement on the SmartGrowth Implementation Committee the 50 year growth management strategy that drive’s the future development of the city. It is important to have an understanding of both the strategy and need for growth management” (sic)

What the hell is “drive’s”? Anne it is important to have an understanding of the English language. So you’re responsible for forcing construction of unwanted high density housing near public transport corridors? Control freak. It’s a two horse race between the Nats and Winston, but feel free to take pro government votes from Winston, we’ll all be grateful. However Tauranga isn’t where Labour’s party vote is strong either, 30.2% in 2005 vs National’s 45.3%. Anne wont be helping that along

Renee van der Weert Number 72 – Taranaki - King Country doesn’t even have a name on the profile page. Maryan Street got 13118 less than Shane Ardern (who got 67.6% of the vote) in 2005, and Labour got only 25% of the party vote vs National on 56.4%. No interest, no point, no chance, a Nat shoo in.

Traceey Dorreen – Number 71 – list only - no profile, no interest, no chance. Labour’s lowest ranking list only candidate. Why bother?

Jordan Carter – Number 70- Hunua. Well, we know Jordan.

believing in the equal worth of everyone” so the murderer of James Whakaruru is worth the same as James? I'll work hard for a fairer society with great public services, a secure retirement, a fairer share for families, and a real balance between the needs of our economy, our society and our planet”. The planet has needs!

Sorry Jordan, you wont be chosen by Hunua or voters to join the gang of thieves. Your sanctimonious tribalism is so vapid and one-eyed it isn't funny. If everyone has equal worth you’ll be happy that someone of equal worth will have beaten you. Hunua is a new seat, formerly Port Waikato. Jordan has no chance against Paul Hutchison.

Brian Kelly – Number 69 – Pakuranga – “I have been fortunate to have a successful career in health and education and am now ready to serve the wider community as the nation is looking for the next generation of leaders Stick to your day job Brian, leaders aren’t needed, self starters are. Maurice Williamson got 54% of the vote last time, with 53.3% for National. Labour got 30.3%. Brian has no chance.

Eamon Daly – Number 68 – list only. Again, Labour’s not looking for him to be in Parliament. I’m a youthful and energetic 39 year old who’s built a successful academic career in ICT and Philosophy.” Philosophy with a capital P? How?

“I’ve lived overseas and I’ve become extensively involved in human rights” Oh you mean political dissidents? Torture? Journalists imprisoned? “…, disability advocacy, and ethics committee work.” Ah no you don’t mean that. Oh, and I’ve been tetraplegic and in a wheelchair since a trampoline accident in 1985”. Tragic indeed, but clearly Labour doesn’t think you’re ready to be elected yet.

Vivienne Goldsmith – Number 67 – East Coast Bays. A photo, and someone with a website, shame it's really quite banal! I have been able to serve the many different faces of my community through the organizations I have belonged to.” American are you? The loose “z”.

I have personally benefited from the many polices that the Labour has put in place over the last 8 years Polices? What have the Police been doing with you personally? Or hasn’t education benefited you yet? “More people should get the opportunities that I have received.” Well give it to them, don’t make others do it. I want to be able to get out into my community and meet and talk with people who think in terms of survival rather than in terms of possibilities.” Who is stopping you? Go to Africa, you’ll really meet those people, but you’ll meet lots who think in terms of possibilities too. Aim low and you’ll achieve. I believe that the people of the Bays need a visual, reliable and active representation in Parliament So someone that you can see, hmmm. Maybe that is why she is the lowest ranked candidate to actually have a photo on the site! Murray McCully’s majority was 7286 in 2005, Labour got 31.8% of the party vote, National 52.3%. Vivienne, you have no chance, and maybe your next website will have more substance than that of someone a quarter your age.

Jills Angus Burney – Number 66 – Rangitikei. No page on website. Simon Power had a 9660 majority in 2005, with 60.4% of the vote, with 46% of the party vote for National against Labour’s 36.1%. However, Jill is clearly uninterested, uninspiring and unelectable. No chance.

Koro Tawa – Number 65 – Botany. A photo!! Botany has benefited from policies that have ensured fairness, prosperity, opportunity and sustainability.” Ensured fairness? How has fairness been ensured? Is everyone prosperous? If not, it hasn’t been ensured has it?. As a new seat, Koro has a chance, up against Pansy Wong for National. So, if Koro gets in, will he ensure fairness and prosperity for all?

Conor Roberts – Number 64 – Rodney. A photo too, but Conor Roberts is a former student union President – so expert in forcing students to pay for representation they didn’t ask for, and demanding the state make people pay more for things they wouldn’t choose to pay for. However Rodney is Lockwood Smith’s seat, he won 55.6% of the vote in 2005, against Labour’s Tony Dunlop on 24.5%, party votes went 52.3% vs 27.8%. Again, no chance, but he is one of the young hopefuls for the future, maybe he'll learn something.

Well on I go, working up the list - seeing who has a chance from Labour. I'll do the same with National, and then do electorate profiles.

25 September 2008

Key will listen to public service?

According to the NZ Herald John Key has said that "National will expect a high degree of professionalism from the public service, part of which is telling ministers what they are not comfortable hearing...As part of this openness, policy advisers will be able to take part in Cabinet committee discussions where it is appropriate".

Now that may well help secure the Wellington Central vote, but there is something in this - and I know this only because I once worked for the public service and saw the dramatic change in attitude between National and Labour in dealing with it. Quite simple Labour didn't trust public servants, especially those from Treasury, what was then the Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Transport and also Department of Internal Affairs and several others, although the more "social" the Ministry, the warmer Labour has been towards it.

I recall one Minister not wanting to see words that she considered being "New Right Business Roundtable speak" like "accountability", "transparency" and "efficiency". Others were suspicious of getting told policies were expensive or difficult to implement, advice was rejected. More importantly, political advisors became the new vetting staff between officials and the Minister. Heather Simpson being the most important, but most Ministers got political advisors quickly - to send back reports, draft Cabinet papers and the like, or request them. It reduced official contact with Ministers, it meant Ministers got what their political advisors thought they would get and what they understand. Some Labour political advisors are very intelligent, Heather Simpson being one, setting aside the politics. Others are/were not the sharpest knives in the kitchen.

The Nats may well do the reverse of Labour, believing Treasury over all others, which frankly wouldn't be a bad place to start. Most departments have evolved under Labour to reflect a more interventionist approach on many issues, some of course simply should not exist and they will justify their existence in ways that needs some tight scrutiny (Treasury has relaxed that a little over the years as Labour Government Ministers WANTED to spend more money).

Of course in the last few years the numbers working for the public sector, doing policy, have grown enormously. The quality has reduced significantly as a result - ask for objective analysis, economic appraisal, optioneering and with some you'll get a blank stare. The Nats could do worse than simply demand significant reductions in those in the state sector who prepare "advice" - the most important advice is "this is what we shouldn't be doing".

In fact the first questions that Ministers for an incoming National government should ask of departmental chief executives is this:

"Tell me all the things you currently do that have no net value for taxpayers. I expect a list within 5 working days."

"Tell me all the things you currently do that have a net value for taxpayers, that they would agree to choose to pay for from their own pocket. Give me evidence, that should come in 10 working days"

"Tell me all the programmes started by the current government, tell me your free and frank advice about them, and why I shouldn't end them immediately. You have 5 working days"

"Tell me your budget in 1999, show me how to reduce your current budget to those levels in real terms and what the consequences are if they are not reduced. If you didn't exist then, tell me why you should exist now. You have 5 working days".

Ask Treasury the same of all the budgets, and ask it to scrutinise them all.

It would be a start.

24 September 2008

Key vs Cullen

So, John Key was at best evasive over his Tranz Rail shares, even though he had no insider knowledge, did not profit from asking questions in Parliament and indeed could NOT profit more than the average person from doing what he did.

Apparently that is a reason to call him into doubt more than otherwise. He has been foolish, because of the political uproar caused and doubts raised about him, never mind that the media will evade the true impacts and importance of the issue - it raises doubts about his willingness to be honest. Not that Labour politicians could be accused of this too!

Meanwhile, Dr Cullen has never admitted when Labour started seriously thinking about buying Toll Rail, and the advice that Treasury has been giving, over some years, as to the cost of any purchase. That involves hundreds of millions of dollars of OTHER people's money.

The 1999 Labour Manifesto did not say it would buy back the Auckland rail network.
The 2002 Labour Manifesto did not say it would buy back the national rail network.
The 2005 Labour Manifesto did not say it would buy Toll Rail. It implied that money recovered from operators would be "used to further develop and maintain the network" when it didn't even enforce such charges against Toll Rail when it was in private ownership;

Now according to the NZ Herald, an additional $380 million of taxpayers' money is being put into this "business", Labour didn't say it would do that either.

So John Key has lied and cost the taxpayer nothing - Michael Cullen and Helen Clark hasve avoided telling the public their intentions before elections, and cost the taxpayer not far short of a billion dollars. The latter isn't new of course, but if fingers are going to be pointed for evasion most politicians ought to be hiding.

Catholic school apparently bans cervical cancer vaccine

A Roman Catholic high school in Bury, Greater Manchester, has decided to not permit its students to be vaccinated against the papilloma virus on its premises. Now the report (from the Manchester Evening News) is purely about a letter, not yet sent to parents, about the decision, and nobody from the school has commented directly on the report, so it is only preliminary.

Now I would defend, vehemently, the right of the school to make this decision. It is the school's property, and parents have the choice whether or not to send their daughters to the school. Furthermore, as the vaccine is taxpayer funded, there should be other options to obtain the vaccination if parents so choose. I do not object to the right to withhold it. This is a libertarian stance - asserting private property rights.

However, as an objectivist, I find the stance itself based on irrational and immoral grounds. It has been reported that the letter announcing the reasons for withholding permission
"points out that the vaccine protects against only 70 per cent of cervical cancers, and gives details of possible side-effects to the jab".

Only 70%!! As opposed to all those vaccinations derived from the Vatican, which has done wonders in fighting cancer over the years. Now the side effects are logical to advise about, but that should then be a question of rational trade off.

The real problem the school has is with sex. "Morally it seems to be a sticking plaster response. Parents must consider the knock-on effect of encouraging sexual promiscuity. Instead of taking it for granted that teenagers will engage in sexual activity, we can offer a vision of a full life keeping yourself for a lifelong partnership in marriage".

So dramatically reducing the risk of a cancer that at best could mean a lengthy period of medical treatment, at worse death, is "encouraging sexual promiscuity". Well then by extension there should be NO vaccinations, indeed there shouldn't even be any drugs or treatment for people with STDs or HIV should there? The threat of cancer discourages sexual promiscuity.

So presumably the school and the church regards those girls who get cervical cancer as sinful, and deserving of their fate - because after all, they should have not sinned because, somehow, that protects you completely from the papilloma virus and cervical cancer. As usual, the wisdom of celibate men on these matters

Is anyone delivering the message that "get this vaccine and you can shag without protection happily"? Of course not. The message is more a case of, here is a vaccine that could possibly save your life. Nobody is saying that the risk of pregnancy has gone or the risk of HIV or other STDs. Who thinks that girls go "hold it, I might get the papilloma virus, I will wait till I'm married". Most who do wait do so for a host of reasons which are emotional and rational, none of which celibate men are really in a place to understand well. Much as they understand a "full life keeping yourself for a lifelong partnership in marriage" - an ideal I think is rather lovely, if it is sustained genuinely rather than by altruistic sacrifice.

However it is more serious than that. Women can get cervical cancer from the papilloma virus without having been sexually promiscuous. Indeed people can get HIV without having been sexually promiscious as well. Yet the school, and by implication the Roman Catholic Church cares not about that. Death apparently isn't so important that the achievements of medical science should be as widely available as possible to delay it.

Moral? Hardly. It is one thing to frighten young girls into fearing an eternity of agony and damnation if they dare wander off a certain path, it is another to deliberately deny them a means to prevent the onset of a fatal disease, so that the threat of that disease can be hanging over them if they wander off that path. So not only do they risk being punished in this life, but having that life shortened as well.

The school has every right to do this, but that does not make it immune from criticism for its apparent motives.

23 September 2008

Number 21...

Bugger. down from a hat trick of 18, but the competition is heating up. Going to Ireland for five days completely away from net access had an effect on post, but even with my traffic going up, it is clear many leftwing blogs are coming to life. Of course I'm hardly objecting to healthy competition!

However, many have said it before and I can only reiterate a very warm thank you to Tim Selwyn for the excellent work, I am sure it spurs some of us to work harder at attracting audiences - rather like having radio ratings - except none of us has inane competitions to attract punters!

Four more unlikely Labour MPs

Continuing my rather peculiar review of the chances of Labour candidates. Starting at the bottom of the list, it's fair to say this lot wont get in on the list, but any chance at all of being electorate MPs?

Raj Thandi – number 77 – list only. My ambition in life is to be successful in work and my personal life. I would like to be a positive role model and leader for the Indian community” not being elected to Parliament will help with that, being an MP is hardly high up the list for being a positive role model. No chance

Carol Devoy-Heena – number 76 – Bay of Plenty. “Demography suggests that Labour voters in this electorate should now be the majority” she says. What if they are not? So bloody arrogant. Given Tony Ryall won it last time with 57.8% of the vote and a 13584 majority, and National got 57.2% of the party vote against Labour’s 28% it puts paid to her claim that “I feel I can provide the impetus to achieve the political change necessary for this area, whilst supporting core social democratic values.” No chance.

Hugh Kininmonth – number 75 – Coromandel. I am standing to ensure that the development of our nation as a world leader continues” in what?? What can you "ensure"? Then there is “Labour stands for equality of opportunity and fairness for all. The alternative is to turn the clock back to the 1990s Imagine if everyone had the same opportunities, what sort of ironed flat, everyone the same hellhole that would be. Sandra Goudie got 53% of the vote last time, the Labour candidate 23.6%. She also pulled in 44.2% party vote for National, with Labour on 31.7%. Hugh has a website, so give him credit for that, as putting some effort into the campaign. He’s a public sector health manager, and he still believes in it. No chance.

David Coates – number 74 – Selwyn. “My focus is on making our communities safer and better places to live - even better than they are under Labour today.” The planet he is on is what?? “Public commuter transport is something else I believe needs further investigation from “sleeping suburbs”. Removing the single-occupant vehicles from the roads must be a plus for all. Less pollution, less congestion, less fuel usage.” What’s this obsession with transport? So he wants to remove single occupancy vehicles from Selwyn roads?? Oh please, control freak. Selwyn is a new seat, with rural and dormitory towns around Christchurch combining parts of Bank’s Peninsula and Rakaia. It should be National seat, Amy Adams should have a good chance of entering Parliament, but it isn't a sure thing. Low chance for David Coates.

22 September 2008

Mbeki steps down - and about time

The blood stained hands of Thabo Mbeki will no longer be landed on the desk of the President of South Africa.

I have blogged enough about this anti-science thug, whose legacy to South Africa is the growing epidemic of HIV - which he once thought was a conspiracy.

He shook the hand of his murdering mate Robert Mugabe, and has done more than anyone outside Zimbabwe to bring that country to its knees, through sheer inertia, cowardice, denial and explicit support for Zanu-PF's thieving murdering kleptocrat bullies.

Good riddance to a very stupid, palpably ignorant, gutless friend of evil.

My posts related to Mbeki here, his appeasement of Mugabe, being a friend of fascism, continuing being an accessory to bloodshed in Zimbabwe, his hypocrisy, his fawning over Mugabe, the pathetic pointless man, his desire for compromise after a stolen election, his recent explicit support for Mugabe, other countries condemning his ambivalence about Mugabe.

So now Jacob Zuma, who is a serial polygamist, with four wives (one who killed herself), three fiances and has bred 18 children, thinks having a shower after sex protects from HIV, will lead South Africa. The only thing that can be said is he has been more critical of Mugabe than Mbeki - small blessings huh?

Cyclists should pay for their own bridge

You see the current bridge was paid for by motorists paying tolls, and more recently maintained by motorists paying fuel taxes and road user charges. There isn't a cycling lane or public walkway because of a deal done by Auckland local authorities at the time protecting the ferry operations and the local government owned bus services.

So, as cyclists don't pay a cent into the National Land Transport Fund they have no right to demand motorists pay for an exorbitantly expensive NZ$42.8 million new lane. $42.8 million is NZ$4 million more than the Wellington Inner City Bypass, $1 million more than the Avalon Drive Bypass in west Hamilton on State Highway 1. It's an expensive project.

Furthermore, what the hell is the ARC Transport Chairwoman Christine Rose doing supporting the illegal cycle protest from Sunday? The Auckland Harbour Bridge is part of the Northern Motorway - cycling on motorways is a traffic offence because motorways are not designed to handle slow traffic.

This silly bint - apparently responsible for so much of Auckland transport (except the motorways and indeed your cars) said according to the NZ Herald "I'd like to know why it isn't safe, why can't you cycle across, and who organised that".

Being even more banal she also said that "walking and cycling across the bridge was an equity issue and "a human right"". Great, you go do that, every day Christine - maybe Aucklanders will be better off with you walking the motorways, getting taken into court or maybe, perish the thought, run over. If you don't know what the hell a motorway is, then you shouldn't be chairing transport at the ARC.

I notice also the Police, ever keen to catch a speeding driver who presents next to no harm to anyone else (like me doing 108 km/h on a straight empty highway in Canterbury) didn't fine the cyclists because "there was no harm done". There you go, a $250 fine avoided - perfect chance for more Green protestors to clog up Auckland's motorways. By the way motorists pay for the Police to do traffic enforcement through the National Land Transport Fund too - good to see the cops not doing their job then.

The illegal protest drew support from Labour and Green candidates apparently.

My view is simple - the bridge should be sold. The new owners should toll it to fund the expansion of the Victoria Park viaduct and a duplicate crossing if they deem it commercially worthwhile, and can choose to install cycling/pedestrian ways if they so wish. Meanwhile, those who haven't paid for something shouldn't moan because they can't use it - it's called life. Cyclists get full use of almost all roads in the country, even though they pay nothing to use state highways, and only pay towards local roads as ratepayers. If they want better facilities, they ought to cough up the money themselves or do some fundraising.

UPDATE: Brian Rudman has a rush of blood to the head, and is against the cycleway clipon in the NZ Herald. On the various proposals he says "there is no evidence to suggest building either will lead to widespread use. All we get is faith, argued on the basis of what is said to happen elsewhere".

He recalls this issue from decades past when the truth was that hardly any cyclists really cared "If I wanted to call the lobbyists' bluff, I'd lay on a trial shuttle between Northcote and Shelley Beach Rd and see how many takers there are. Even the cost of providing this as a free shuttle would be cheaper than commissioning another report. Thirty years ago, after a similar clamour, several shuttle trials were conducted. The first month-long trial carried 25 bike/passengers a day. A subsequent three-month trial shuttle carried fewer than 10 return travellers a day. A final year-long trial in 1983 averaged under 20 users a day.

The cyclists argue that shuttling or catching a ferry mid-journey forces them to a timetable and restricts their free-as-a-bird independence.

But surely they owe the public purse a better justification than pure faith, before asking for $43 million."

Indeed Brian - but the Green Party transport policy IS pure faith.