Saturday, September 30, 2006

Political thermometer

Sometimes little things are bombshells. My Mum and Dad came for tea. My mother has voted Labour all her life. When I was apolitical she used to harass me to vote because women had worked so hard to secure that right. She is a teacher and a great believer in democratic responsibility.

At some point (we weren't even talking politics) she turned to me and said that I would be pleased to know she is never voting Labour again. Sadly, she says she isn't going to vote for any party. Such is the turn off politics has become.

Culture of blame

Don Brash is on the money again when he says;

"(But) it is quite wrong to argue that, because Maori are over-represented in negative social statistics, the 'Crown', or the Government on behalf of all New Zealanders, has somehow failed to discharge its obligation under the Treaty.

"If Maori New Zealanders die more frequently from lung cancer than non-Maori do, for example, it is almost certainly because Maori New Zealanders choose to smoke more heavily than other New Zealanders do ...

"Similarly if there are relatively few Maori at the Auckland Law School - and that despite preferential arrangements for Maori - that is not a failing of the Government, but a result of decisions made by individual Maori," he said.

Unfortunately this is no longer just an argument about personal failure. It's about an attitude that is now manifesting itself more ominously than ever before. When asked why youth violence in South Auckland is escalating an ambulance officer replies;

"They just don't understand what they're doing," says Carey Dobbs, team leader of the St John Ambulance Specialist Emergency Response Team.

"They'll beat someone to death and . ... they don't appear to care, which is quite frightening."

Mr Dobbs, who covers the South Auckland area, says that attitude exists in the youth gang culture.

"My personal feeling is it's a culture of 'Let's blame someone else', 'It's my upbringing', 'It's a lack of money', 'I've got no education'.

So the danger of inculcating a culture of blame goes beyond creating personal failure, it is spilling over to affect completely innocent people. People who do not wallow in self-pity. Many of them also Maori or Pacific people who just happen to live in the same neighbourhoods.

People like Tariana Turia, who foster Treaty victimhood or colonist victimhood (essentially racism towards Pakeha) need to start preaching a different message.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Cost of kids

What a shame the 5,000-odd beneficiaries who add a baby to their benefit each year aren't thinking this way.

Pernicious (-shus) a. Destructive, ruinous, fatal

Given the anti-right hyperbole Chris Trotter has been using lately, his column, Pernicious right-wing blogs, in today's DomPost, really takes the cake. Here's an excerpt:

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Homophobia cause for violence

I just don't buy this;

Homophobia is being blamed as a major cause for high levels of violence among men.

Senior lecturer in community psychology at Waikato University, Dr Neville Robertson, says by far the majority of violence in this country is carried out by men.

He says there is a range of reasons for male violence, not the least the perception of needing to be macho. Dr Robertson says too many men still believe they ought to be the boss, fearing that otherwise they will look "gay".

Firstly I take issue with the statement that "by far the majority of violence is carried out by men". There is plenty of evidence to show women are just as violent, if not as 'effective'.

I believe high levels of violence are due to stunted emotional growth, childhood abuse, alcohol and drug use, some psychiatric conditions and exposure to violence in movies, games, etc.

And female violence is growing. Is that due to homophobia also?

Good advice...

...from the UK's Adam Smith Institute;

As you look at the concern for us that our leaders proclaim from their conference platforms, remember the words of P J O'Rourke:

"Politicians are interested in people. Not that this is always a virtue.
Fleas are interested in dogs."

Ten years ago

Who said this exactly ten years ago? And was he right?

_________ warns that problems caused by 'dysfunctional families'-- criminal behaviour, sex abuse, violence and alcoholism -- represent a time bomb for the country. He says that such families were responsible for 80% of the crime in NZ, and that children from such families were 100 times more likely to follow the same path of dysfunction, than children born into a 'normal caring relationship'.

_________'s prescription: dysfunctional families should be discouraged from having children they cannot cope with; the domestic purposes benefit should be restricted and adoption made easier; the present welfare system should be dismantled in favour of insurance-based social services.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What to think

What to make of this story? A baby is left in a car outside Farmers in Rotorua for what the parents say was no more than five minutes. The police and ambulance are called and CYFS notified.

Anyone who has ever had a baby asleep in the car has debated whether to duck into somewhere momentarily rather than disturb it. I might have done it in my neighbourhood.

Once a baby wakes up and starts to cry it works itself into a lather pretty quickly.

But if the police had time to arrive maybe the baby had been alone longer. Then again, I can't help but contrast this story to others where the mother has gone off to play the pokies for an indeterminate amount of time.

Are we getting too precious?

(Oh, and if you want speedy police attention it might be a good idea to say there is a baby locked inside a car outside your house.)

"Extreme rhetoric" 1

Here we go with the "extreme rhetoric" hit words. This time it is Parekura Horomia describing Don Brash saying that there are few if any full-blooded Maori left.

I have long held that to tell the truth today is a radical action.

This will be interesting


Come and listen to Sue Bradford and Theodore Dalrymple publicly debate this proposition on Wednesday 11 October.

Venue:  Ground Floor Theatrette (previously known as the "BP Theatrette") - Ground Floor, BP House, 20 Customhouse Quay, Wellington (entry from either Waring Taylor Street or Johnston Street)

Date and time: Wednesday 11 October 2006, 12pm to 2pm

Admission: free

RSVP: or (027) 248 7919 by 5 October 2006.  Space is limited, and interest is high.  First in first served.

About the speakers:

"Theodore Dalrymple" is the nom de plume of Anthony Daniels, English writer and retired prison doctor and psychiatrist. He has written extensively on culture, art, politics, education and medicine, both in Britain and overseas, and is probably best-known for his opposition to progressive and liberal policies in these fields. He argues that the progressive views prevalent within Western intellectual circles tend to minimise the responsibility of individuals for their own actions and to undermine traditional values, thus contributing to the formation within rich countries of a vast underclass afflicted by endemic violence, criminality and drug abuse. Occasionally accused of being a misanthrope, he denies the charge and his defenders point to a persistently conservative philosophy in his work that is anti-ideological, sceptical, rational and empiricist.  He is in New Zealand courtesy of the Sensible Sentencing Trust, Family First Lobby and the For the Sake of our Children Trust - see

Sue Bradford has been "an activist for social justice, peace and women's issues" since 1967, protesting against the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons and apartheid, and for the rights of women and the unemployed.  She has set up people's organisations such as the Auckland Unemployed Workers Rights Centre and Auckland People's Centre, a 'union' for unemployed workers and beneficiaries and other low income people.  She is now a third term MP, third on the Green Party list.  Amongst the many issues with which she is involved, she has been at the forefront of the "anti smacking bill" - the proposal to repeal section 59 of the Crimes Act which currently entitles parents to use reasonable force by way of correction of their children. 

Sue Bradford - There are three ways to make radical social and environmental change. 1) Working within the system; 2) throwing rocks at the system from outside; 3) building new organisations within the shell of the old system. People who take these three paths should all be valued for their contribution.

Theodore Dalrymple - An unholy alliance between politicians and bureaucrats who want to keep prison costs to a minimum, and liberal intellectuals who pretend to see in crime a natural and understandable response to social injustice, which it would be a further injustice to punish, has engendered a prolonged and so far unfinished experiment in leniency that has debased the quality of life of millions of people, especially the poor.

Sue Bradford - Time in police cells and prison can be lonely and degrading, but also sacred. Great places for learning about self and life. I was first arrested at 16 in 1969 for an occupation of the American Consulate in Queen St. We were protesting against the Vietnam War. I was locked up and strip-searched. That made me decide whose side I was on - the side of people who haven't had the chances I had. - Sue Bradford

Theodore Dalrymple - Intellectuals propounded the idea that man should be freed from the shackles of social convention and self-control, and the government, without any demand from below, enacted laws that promoted unrestrained behavior and created a welfare system that protected people from some of its economic consequences. When the barriers to evil are brought down, it flourishes.

The globalised world

Scanning a few international papers each day I am always surprised at the homogeneity of social and political issues. California is agitating over election funding and some want to raise taxes for public funding while excluding funding from corporations. I suppose the proposed legislation could provide a model for Labour.

An unlikely coalition has formed to beat the measure. Led by the California Chamber of Commerce, the foes include the California Republican Party, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and groups that in other instances are their fierce rivals: some of the state's most influential unions, including the 300,000-member California Teachers Assn.

MP for Epsom pin-up boy

This story comes from Oddstuff. There is indeed something strange about it. Can you pick it?

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Compulsion is the problem

I have been reading a history of Maori and alcohol which is a rather sad story. In the broader scheme of things alcohol drives many of society's problems, but Maori are disproportionately affected. It is easy to see why prohibitionists have tried with varying degrees of effort and success, at different times, to attain alcohol-free communities. For instance Sir Apirana Ngata managed to impose prohibition on Ngati Porou/ East Coast tribes for a period in order that they would have the money to repay the govt mortgages which he had secured for them. But the ban could not be imposed permanently. Prohibition ultimately leads to more problems. Here is a quote that reminded me of this;

I'd rather that England should be free than that England should be compulsorily sober. With freedom we might in the end attain sobriety, but in the other alternative we should eventually lose both freedom and sobriety.

— W.C. Magee, Archbishop of York, "Sermon at Peterborough," [1868]

And this is the haka performed by the Ngati Porou men who opposed the ban;

Ee...Apirana Ngata, you're the man
making changes to the laws
in Wellington!

Show your laws to me!
Let's have a look at those documents!

The Prime Minister was
standing in our midst!

Your destructive laws are over-riding
the traditional customs
of the community right here.

A load of humbug is what we have!
Council by-laws are what we have!
Prohibition is what we have!

I want to be able to go to the pub
To buy a drink at night!
You bloody bugger!
Son of a slave!

Give your laws to us so we can analyse them!
And sort all this out!

Good for Brash

Labour has thrown everything they have at Don Brash and it isn't working. But look at the calibre of their attackers. Pete Hodgson who is shaping up to be the most unpopular Minister Of Health, Parekura Horomia who is completely overshadowed by the Maori Party, Trevor Mallard, whose behaviour in Parliament is extraordinary (remember when he repeatedly refused to stop calling Ross Robertson Madame Speaker?) and Helen Clark, the best thing Labour has going for them, who should have stayed aloof, showed a really nasty side.

I don't think the public is anywhere near as bothered about the Exclusive Brethren as Labour was relying on. Rightly or wrongly many New Zealanders think they are fundamentalist but identify more with the values of work and success than those they now associate with Labour; socialist liberalism gone too far. It is difficult to see how Labour can reclaim its former support. Even if they repay the pledgecard money it will be too late.

Monday, September 25, 2006


The Prime Minister is to play a part in a stage production of Bad Jelly the Witch. She is playing the voice of God.


Paul Holmes asks, So what's the difference between the "modern orgasm" and the "old-fashioned one"?

I don't know but it's going to cost us Half a million $ to find out.

"Quarantined from men"

Two contrasting stories today say it all.

The Early Education Association lament the lack of men as teachers for young children, many who come from single parent homes, virtually "quarantining children" from men. They blame 1990s hysteria over paedophilia.

Meanwhile Gymnastics New Zealand is "cracking down on cameras" at competitions in Christchurch this week, to guard against, you guessed it, paedophilia.

What does the future hold?

This article reminded me again what will most likely be the biggest challenge facing our children (that we can predict). The ageing population. Have a look at the statistics.

The latest data from the U.N. Demographic Commission clearly show the aging of the developed world:

* In the United States, in 1950 there were seven people of working age (20-65) for every retiree, and even today, there are almost five.
* But by 2030, when the last of the baby boom generation retires, that ratio will fall by nearly one-half, down below 3 to 1.
* In Japan, by mid-century the ratio of workers aged 20-65 to retirees will fall to just over one-for-one.
* At that time the most populated five-year age segment in Japan will be those ages 75-80; the same will be true in Italy, Spain, Greece and other European countries.

However, instead of an easy retirement, many retirees will find a future marked by bankrupt government social programs and declining asset values that will quickly deplete their nest eggs. As a result, average retirement age would have to be raised beyond life expectancy in many countries just to keep pace.

By comparison New Zealand currently has 4.2 workers per retiree. By 2051 that will drop to 1.7 (based on Statistics New Zealand population projections.)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Welfare Reform UK

The United Kingdom measures up against US welfare reforms in much the same way as New Zealand. Failed. D minus. Must try harder. Much harder.

From the Guardian; New Labour has tried hard, but has never felt able to reproduce the robustness of Clinton's measures in a British context. As a result, 16 per cent of households, representing more than three million people, are still workless in Britain, living off benefit, only down by an eighth over the past 10 years. Yet over the past two years, up to 600,000 east Europeans have found work in Britain. Too many British live on benefit for no better reason than they don't want to work and there is too little insistence that they show determination and resource in finding some.

In New Zealand 13.7 percent of households are workless. Odd that, when unemployment is only 3.6 percent.

Does anybody get this?

Rod govt-is-the-answer-to-everything Oram, writing in today's SST says about David Cameron, UK Conservative leader;

Some of his utterances sound foolish to all political persuasions. For example, in July he told an audience,"You, the social entreprneurs, the voluntary organisations - the people doing the patient work on the ground - you stand for love."

What is foolish about that? Any ideas?