Friday, July 30, 2010

Carter gets himself, part un

Earlier today on FM talkback radio show The Scissors, former Labour MP Chris Carter revealed the real reason behind his actions against Labour leader Phil Goff yesterday. He revealed that he had short-sold himself on iPredict to fund his future holiday travels.

"I knew I was going to get caught. I wanted to be expelled from caucus. I made a freaking fortune through a range of fronts on iPredict. My remaining time as MP for Te Atatu will be a strange and lonely one in parliament. It makes sense to travel widely in the remaining time I have left there," said Carter, who had recently arrived back in the country from Tibet.

Talk show host Donny Tamihori then questioned Carter on whether getting rich at the expense of the Labour party and his leader was selfish and destructive to party solidarity. Chris Carter said that it was a sign of poor leadership on Goff's part. "If I was leader, I would have sacked me long ago," he said.

The Securities Commission has begun an investigation into Carter and allegations of insider trading and fraud.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


Good riddance to bad fish. And now, here's Sven-Göran Eriksson:

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Man bites octopus

"[T]he Iranian president accused the octopus of spreading "western propaganda and superstition." Paul was mentioned by Mr Ahmadinejad on various occasions during a speech in Tehran at the weekend."

One of these is an unpredictable slug. The other one is Paul the Octopus.

From The Telegraph.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ode to July

Rhymes with July.
You'd think truly
Would work.
But not
About the

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Co-opting the co-ops

I wish Labour looked more at the Co-operative Economy instead of fiddling with monetary policy. NatRad looks at Rewi Alley, the Gung Ho Movement, Tait Electronics and Italy's Emilia-Romagna region as examples of good co-ops.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Any last requests?

My father was rather fortunate in his last months of cancer. He was only on morphine for the last few months. He didn't lose his dignity, like losing his marbles or crapping in the bed. Better than some.

I heartily support terminally ill Auckland doctor Dr John Pollock, who is raising the issue of euthanasia in the media:
"The law won't be changed in time for me and the only way that I can legally end my life before it is due to end is suicide and that's the cruelty of it - not only suicide but suicide alone because if I top myself with my family present then I put them at risk and I think that's hideous. It's very cruel."

NZ has a hell of a way to go in palliative care for the terminally ill. It's not about price either. The rest home boom puts paid to that excuse. It's a matter of outlook. It's the mindset. Abortion laws written by men are just as ludicrous as the presumptions of the healthy telling the dying how to die.

Hospice dwellers should be given supervised access to marijuana, Ecstacy and LSD. Some may find a peace that fills a gap that Jesus, Mohammed or Shiva never has. Dagg knows, many of the poor bastards are loaded up already on anti-psychotics or what-have-you. For the reasonably lucid others, why the hell not? I say this with the demises of Martin Hames and Bevan Burgess in mind as well.

But for the moments when there are no more good days, just a slow painful ebb into oblivion, we should reserve the right to end it on our own terms. Maybe my end will be a good one. But just the thought of having the choice to make a decision beyond reasonable doubt when the time comes, that would be some consolation.

I think that's one of the reasons my father had guns. It's certainly one of the attractions Hunter S Thompson had with guns. It is why I'm particularly concerned with WhaleOil's love of guns. And it's why I live in Wellington. There are many places to leave from around here, and you don't need a gun to do it.

No-one chooses to be born. At least allow the humans the freedom to leave, and be comforted with that knowledge.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

On the defensive

A few years ago, I was invited to a UN forum on drugs in Vienna. Limited UN grants were available for the $6,000 trip. However, preference would be given to developing countries to attend the international forum, on the basis that cost should not bar representation for NGOs in developing countries such as Laos.

So good on Auditor General Lyn Provost ripping into the NZDF fraud of UN accommodation allowances. What the NZDF was doing was not zero-sum. They were misappropriating funds from a finite UN budget allocated specifically to offer assistance to those least able to afford it. So much for international aid. The double-dipping for personal gain shows a corroded military attaché which has lost its meaning and mana.

Tom Scott is wrong

I have broken bread with Tom Scott and I love his work as much as Murray Ball, but he continues to be wrong about cannabis:

If a market cannot rely on the government's monopoly on force for support, it will arm itself accordingly. Alcohol prohibition is the US led to riskier public drinking, the St Valentine's Day Massacre, Al Capone and all the rest of it.

Sir Tom's mispreconception is part of a wider intellectual malaise I've seen pop up around the place. All this talk of " if alcohol was introduced today, it would be banned." It is absolute crap. Alcohol is one of the simplest things to make. Third world hill tribes of Papua New Guinea have worked out how to make it. 80 year olds get busted for it right now.

And so it is with cannabis, which is a cuzzie of beer hops in the Magnolia family of plants. You can grow poppies in NZ but cannabis is illegal. Consider the futility of a law preventing something that literally grows on trees.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The price is right

40,000. That's National's price. If you can get 40,000 Aucklanders on a march, Wellington listens. Shame 40,000 couldn't muster Labour for a clearer Iraq Invasion policy way back in 2003. My very first ever non-sarcastic march. It was the only time I truly agreed with Global Peace and Justice:

Surely Auckland can muster up at least 40,000 cannabis reform marchers? If you agree with official statistics, something north of ten percent of NZers are regular smokers. There's 120,000 people right there, not including the many non-partaking supporters.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Way down in the hole

Something happened to the body politic in the weekend, but it's too soon to say exactly what it was. John Armstrong rightly declared the National party conference at Sky City a vacuous stage-managed affair. The Young Nats got their token limelight with the only remit of the weekend (the Keep It 18 thing, which suits the shareholders just fine), but it was otherwise a very glossy love-in.

Conference attendees were happy enough to hear of John Key's crackdown on labour protections. Outside the venue, union groups did their performance art thing for the cameras. So stupid to try and storm the building. You'd think Sue Bradford would be getting too old for the aggro. But no, they were mired in old tactics once again.

Helen Kelly and others had enough ammunition to put across some succinct soundbites. Russell Brown is fairly doing his nut on the matter of selectively leaking a state-funded report to the party faithful to justify the new rules. A study which seems so skewed, even John Key was backing away from bits of it by Sunday morning on Q&A.

Then on Monday morning, Nine to Noon gives some airtime to Dr Judy McGregor, the EEO Commissioner who talked about a much more thorough report into the NZ labour market from the Human Rights Commission. No Right Turn sums up the three myths uncovered:
"...they found that workers are not slackers"
"the HRC also found a culture of long working hours"
"But the really disturbing stuff is about gender discrimination and pay equity..."

On the first point, the overwhelming majority of workers I have observed are not slackers. Very few people go to work to do the absolute minimum possible. You want corroboration? Here's the excellent RSA Animate backing it up:

The HRC second myth aneurysm is that NZers are slack workers. On the contrary, NZers aren't afraid to work long hours. By OECD standards, NZ works long hours as much as Japan. Unfortunately, we don't get the same pay as Japan. No, we're way down with the Greeks on the take home pay.

On the third point, I have no opinion. Hospitality has been low rent for long enough that equal pay is not an issue. But I do appreciate the desire for more transparency over pay rates.

The HRC Report catches my eye on the matter of the disability labour market:
People with disabilities face considerable difficulties securing and sustaining employment and problems of underemployment. Disabled people with tertiary qualifications experience the same level of unemployment as non-disabled people without qualifications and in general disabled people are twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people...

A group of Deaf in Hawke's Bay talked about the multiple barriers inherent in the recruitment process. They talked about assistance needed for preparing Curricula Vitae (CVs), phoning prospective employers and organising an interpreter for the rare occasions when they got a job interview. There is no resident sign interpreter in Hawke's Bay. Sadly the interpreter was often perceived by prospective employers as a support person rather than as an impartial interpreter.

Fears that lack of hearing created a higher risk in terms of health and safety were also prevalent.
My bold. Although I inhabit the in-between world of the demi-Deaf, this all rings so very true and it's not just the tinnitus talking. I was advised that tertiary study helps get a foot in the door. Utter rubbish. My first job after graduation was alongside school leavers at a Telecom Call Centre front line (My career in inappropriate job placements has a long a colourful history).

While I understand that John Key had to throw his backers some kind of simple bones to chew over, I'm not quite sure why he had to throw them the underclass bodies. Key's smile and wave ambitious for the underclass advertising jingle has now officially expired.

I think this is where it all falls down for Key. He sold himself on being ambitious for the underclass, but here he is selling out that constituency against all rational advice. He led the union heads to believe he would move in good faith, and he has clearly trashed that understanding. And on a very personal level, John Key has continually failed to provide any quid for his pro quo. Not one iota of some Edward de Bono lateralism, just a reinforced distrust of the wage slaves.

The big winner from all this is Sky City, who rely on a high churn of lonely robots for their vast workforce. I should know, I used to work there. Sky City is legendary for the hateful work environment, from the floorstaff to management. Never have I seen a place so rife with justifiable sickies.

The swathes of National and Act activists with Sky City shares will be rejoicing on the anticipated extra squeeze for dividends being extracted from the masses. But for the many waiters, cooks and others who served and entertained National last weekend, it's just one more reason to smile harder and pretend not to be a minimum wage performing monkey.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Magnificent 7

Russell Brown's Media 7 this week featured a yak with TVNZ News Boss Anthony Flannery on the intriguing future for news gathering:
There are some job losses but TVNZ News Boss Anthony Flannery is upbeat about a new strategy that will see reporters going into the field better equipped to deliver stories to air faster and to service the growing range of platforms that carry news content.

There will be changes too inside the Television Centre with "centralized hubs" where coverage will be planned and stories will be processed and delivered to the growing number of different streams that carry daily news content. 

He's not wrong.

Congratulations to Vic Uni Law School, Gibson Group and TVNZ 7 for their new show, The Court Report. HT to Steven Price. Probably borrowing the Back Benchers' offsite studios on their days off, the show has lawyers questioning lawyers on current affairs in front of a live audience of baby (student) lawyers.

It's a bit rough around the edges, but so what. The details will smooth out. The Court Report is a welcome addition to TVNZ's new style of programming "flavours". There's Media 7, analysing media affairs in front of a live audience. Back Benches gets truthful and nasty with pub politics. The Ad Show has the dope for the Advertising & PR darlings.

So yeah, a deeper dig into Law is very welcome. The first episode looks at NZ's archaic adoption laws, with Dean Knight seeing little hurry from Simon Power on the matter.

But there's a real wealth of subjects to cover in the future. Hell, Family Court stories alone could take up a season. Take divorce. If there's one thing that I think separates my generation with ones that came before or after, the boomers and the Y's, it was the change in the divorce property laws.

It wasn't until the Matrimonial Property Act 1976 that wives even got an anticipated divvy of the property. My father, an accomplished divorce lawyer, divorced my mother in 1974. He saw this law coming and jumped early. He used to crow about it years later, proud of the fact that Mum didn't get a spare cent out of him. He kept the house and money, she kept the kids. He dismissed Mum's lawyer as pedestrian and made the judge laugh.

But I digress. Things have changed. All I'll add is, watch out doctors/ nurses and accountants. I reckon you'll be next in line for your wonk of the week show on TVNZ7.

Under Aotearoan Skies

HT Nine to Noon for this magical time lapse in the Southern Skies:

Looking north from the Church of the Good Shepherd throughout the night. Visible constellations include Gemini, Cancer, Leo and Virgo. The bright star appearing in the upper right corner in the middle of the animation is planet Saturn. They are compositions of hundreds of still photographs, taken and compiled together by Fraser Gunn.

This video is used with permission and is subject to strict copyright conditions. Copyright Fraser Gunn. For further information visit

It's enough to change my mind on Carter Observatory's claim to as NZ National Observatory. With reliable skies like that available, Mt John earns that crown easily.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Summary Justice

What Police Union Mouth Greg O'Connor thinks he wants:
What he will get:

I'm not a big fan of Police 10-7's Graham Bell at the best of times, but Greg O'Connor got a whupping on The Panel yesterday. John Bishop was giving O'Connor's spin a good kicking, but it was heartening to hear Bell give him a few slaps too. And too right. We not be arming the cops.

Danyl at the Dim Post is fighting the good fight, although post commenters continue to let his point fly over their head like a satellite. As someone who has been home invaded by police based on nasal hearsay, I get it. A man's home is not his castle. Hell, it's not even a lounge cushion fort when it comes to police rights to search under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

I had the Law Commission up on this point earlier in the year. The penalty for possessing cannabis is 3 months in prison maximum. Hardly anyone, except Maori and Pacific Islanders, ever gets the clink. Yet this minor deviancy is enforced with search without warrant powers. Yet the police feign surprise when one disproportionality is met with another, rarer disproportionate response.

Judith Collins is set to get the cops to lock and load. The War on Drugs is set to go Mexican. The blood will be on your hands O'Connor, and on the sly and slick Judge Jude Collins' gloves too.

P.S. Simon Prast is running on the counter-culture ticket for the Auckland Mayor's job. Good on him. Vote Prast. Don't let the Banks bugs bite. It took years for Hudson & Halls to have any political impact on gay politics. Dagg knows, we could do with more accomplished drug role models than Millie Elder or Van West.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Judith Collins' Soft Cell

Something has been bugging me all day about the Economic Impact Statement lauded by Judith Collins as a money spinner for Wiri and region. Crampton sums it up nicely, saying the story confuses costs and benefits. He also helpfully links to other reactions around the blogosphere. Yep, they're all valid, but that wasn't it.

No, it took me a bit of a think but I finally put my finger on it. Indulge me with a bit of crude maths. It costs around $100,000 to keep a prisoner locked up for a year, excluding capital costs (building the thing and keeping it in good repair). Collins is crowing about the $1.2 billion return on investment over 30 years, which No Right Turn works out at around $40 million a year.

The new prison in Wiri will have 960 beds. 960 times a hundred grand works out to $96 million, all of which the taxpayers pick up. Only $40 million will enter the regional economy. Where does the other half go? Is there a better way for the government to spend half, burn half of $96 million a year in Wiri?

MMP as Mount Doom

David Farrar points to a caption competition being run by Peter Shirtcliffe as part of the futile campaign to rustle up opposition to MMP. Although the bottle of champagne prize is quite tempting, I won't be submitting this entry:

 Click to embiggerate

And besides, I thought Internal Affairs changed the rules a few years ago banning liquor as a prize. A silly prohibition that only the Law Commission could love, but one a parochial conformist such as Shirtcliffe is duty-bound to obey.

Monday, July 12, 2010


If Auckland is serious about getting its act together, they should move the Council Chambers up the road a bit to this truly iconic Auckland building:

View Larger Map

Suffice to say, Auckland will get the mayor and council it so richly deserves.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Sodding Cold

You gotta love the MetService's recommended clothing levels with the weather readings. Unless they use sleeping bags as a unit of clothing, in which case it all makes sense. New Zealand has yet to discover air conditioning, or at least my Scottish landlord has yet to be convinced of its merit. It's been too cold to blog here in the Hobbit Hole on the dark side of the valley. All spare energy has been nommed up for vital functions.

Normal service will resume once I stop shivering and tumbleweeds stop drifting across the political landscape. Thank you for your patience.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Judith Collins to ban knitting in prisons

Corrections Minister Judith Collins has announced a complete ban on prisoners' access to homecrafts. From July next year, knitting, embroidery and sewing will be prohibited in all corrections facilities.

"Knitting needles, wool and sewing machines can be used as weapons. For health & safety reasons, this privilege will be withdrawn from all prisons," said Collins in a speech to the Remuera Freemasons Association Annual General Meeting.

Corrections Staff are upset with the new directive. "Boredom and overcrowding without distractions or hobbies can only lead to trouble," said union representative Oswald van der Graaf. "They're being treated worse than battery hens."

Lawyer Gerry Gittlobe of the Penal Dysfunction Association foresaw other problems. "All they'll do is push knitting into the black market. They can't stop drugs getting in, how are they going to stop a cotton-picking underground railroad? We aren't training them for a more productive life for the time when they are released back into the community either."

Judith Collins dismissed all criticisms. "There are many hard-working families out there who can't afford luxuries such as wool or a sewing machine. Prison will no longer appear as a hotel for delinquents, although it will cost about the same."

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Sacred and the Pro Fane

Nothing is sacred. Popes, paedophiles, politicians, police, Paris Hilton, BP, Hitler, Jews, Jesus Freaks, Cancer, Aids, Paul Holmes. It's all fair game.

I was hoping this David Fane thing might have died out by now, but no, the nation seems transfixed on this comedian's joke fail still. The clacking of knitting needles coming from Rachel Glucina's direction has legs. That's where it all started, wasn't it?

It certainly shows, given the polar opposite stories in the HoS and SST a week later. No-one seems to have been interviewed for the Herald on Sunday story. A blogger could have written it:
Just what other celebs in the audience thought that night is hard to ascertain. Mike Hosking, and Willy de Wit did not respond to phone messages or emails from the Herald on Sunday. Paul Ego declined to comment. Jason Gunn called back but did not respond to messages after that.

Jeremy Corbett emailed twice to say he was too busy filming 7 Days to respond and was then going on holiday. On the night, Corbett said about Fane's offensive outburst, "That's just Dave. He featured in an episode of Deal or No Deal once but it was so offensive it never aired."

In contrast, the Star Times went where comedians go, the Classic Comedy Club of Scotty Blanks. They talked to them, not the Harlot on Sunday. Another story, apart from the offensive comments, emerges.


The offence to which the jester is accused of took place at night at the Northern Club m'lud. It is a private establishment and no children were present at the time. Club policy I believe, yer honour. The alleged offence occurred in front of a paying audience, none of whom appeared to take any long lasting grudge because of Fane's comments.

The roast subject, which was omitted from the original HoS Story, was some suits. Not the Jews, not HIV people, not Hitler. It was the SUITS who were accused of being a bunch of Jews, nazis, HIV patients, which is fair enough. I've personally wished worse on some suits myself. Suits are fair game, m'lud.

A gossip columnist, probably with a complimentary entry ticket, one Rachel Glucina, thought the sour joke was memorable enough to be printed in the only metropolitan newspaper in the City of Sails, the NZ Herald. Note well! I doubt that the worldly Madam Glucina personally took offence, merely that she considered it newsworthy. She should stick to her knitting and leave the comedy reviews to people who give a damn.

La Porcette! J'accuse! It is Madam Glucina who should be in the stocks, not this fool! Attempted murder of a comedian! I'm sure that this femme fatale du porc won't be welcome in the comedy circles for a damned long time at the very least.

And as for the nasty, small-minded little sadists who yum up this lynch mob mousse and buy the faux-rage, shame on you too.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Coals to Newcastle

Paris does Pot, apparently. More interestingly, she was arrested trying to enter South Africa with some in her possession. Bringing weed to South Africa, a country where marijuana grows wild by the roadside and can be bought at the right petrol stations. It's the single stupidest bust since [unnameable billionaire] was busted bringing a personal cannabis stash into NZ a few years back.

UPDATE: Bravo that bimbo. Charges against Paris Hilton have been dropped. One less victim in the war on drugs. Only a few billion people more to go.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Nothing to see here

Good on Russell Brown for maintaining life support for the multi-million dollar faith-based spending story surrounding PEDA. While the MSM scurry around for the latest takeaway receipts from assorted politicians, they continue to ignore the $4.3 million uncontested buffet that Bill English handed to this private company in the budget.

You can buy a lot of pies for $4.3 million. You could almost buy Bill English's house in Karori four times over. Two months and one radio host suspension later, the only thing that has become clear is that the bill stops at Mr English. An OIA request on the relevant Cabinet papers approving the spending would prove enlightening.


One event that seems destined to slip down the memory hole is last Sunday night's military exercise above Wellington. In a country where hermit sheep make headlines, it is simply impossible that this rare event wasn't newsworthy. A short blurb appeared in the DomPost before the noisy Sunday in question, illuminating in its opacity. On the Monday, NatRad's Checkpoint had a few disgruntled residents justifiably complaining about the loud wops late at night, but nothing online in the DomPost.

OK, it was late night stuff and maybe the dramatic art of formation Iroquois helicopters flying like a nocturnal salute to M*A*S*H might have been delayed at the 1 Hour Photo store or something. Tuesday, still nothing. No art, no story. It's as if it never happened.

Even the Wellington City Council press release has evaporated. This is some pretty spooky indication of the state of New Zealand's national security powers.

Beehive to get moat in security upgrade

Speaker Lockwood Smith has ruled on the incident on parliament's forecourt involving Greens co-leader Russel Norman and visiting Vice President of China Xi Xinpeng. Among the recommendations is the installation of a ten metre wide moat around the Executive Wing.

"Russel Norman is an inconsiderate sod who has forced the matter on this office," said Lockwood Smith. "Although Norman's protest was below appropriate noise control limits, his voice presented tonal discomfort at irritating frequencies. Audiological neurologists have informed me of the technical name for this phenomenon; The Snott Faire Note."

"Therefore, for health and safety obligations as well as state of the art security realities going forward, this iconic water feature will also provide more full time jobs than the prime minister's bicycle track through New Zealand," said the Speaker at a press conference in the underground Beehive theatrette.

A written statement from the Speaker went on to detail the new biometric portcullis being installed, complete with kevlar drawbridge from Lockheed Boeing.

Opposition parties are questioning the move. Green MP Keith Locke said that this is yet another sign of the government's drift into totalitarianism. Act MP Roger Douglas said that Electric Martin should have won the contract.

In a separate statement, the Speaker has concluded his report on the MP expenses scandal and has recommended a pay-rise to all MPs.

Hobbits on Film

Speaking of Withnail & I, Peter Jackson and David Court have finally handed in their homework on the Film Commission to Chris Finlayson. Stuff's headline of Jackson review criticises Film Commission is a bit like saying Roger Ebert criticises Peter Jackson films. That's the point, isn't it?

Yes, the Film Commission Board does get singled out as some kind of Star Chamber. No-one's denying that, not even the Board. But the faults go further than that, into the clash between the grey cardies of bureaucracy and the highly-strung and out-of-the-box theatrics of the creative sector.

There are strange parallels in this Hobbit Declaration to the review of Crown Research Institutes not so long ago. Piddly funding, a constant dribble of checklists and tick-boxes for accountability, lots of day after tomorrow promises that never lead anywhere.

It's notable that the core of the market Jackson and Court are talking about is a very low number, something south a 100 talented people nationwide. Even given the TV and advertising sector, it gives a good clue as to just how much training the government should be throwing into the relevant tertiary training arena. No point getting twenty thousand teens with qualifications in film for a pool of 100 jobs.

Yes, incentivise writers by linking their income to box office returns. Writers are treated like shit at present.

Yes, have some limited funding for lo-fi trailers for prospective movie ideas. Links to NZ on Air's funding of music videos comes to mind, albeit with slightly different targets. A trailer can act as a visual business card for writers/directors to sell their vision, while also getting the pool of talent refreshed through no-name trailer stars. Trailer trash, if you will. Everyone wins. That's how Sin City sold itself.

The Film Archive should be split off and assigned to the Librarians' Guild with the National Archives. That's their function, not the Film Commission's. That way, they might be in time to save all that VHS archive from the 1980s before it gets electronic Alzheimer's. That's worth a dollar or two in public goods.

However, I'm with Treasury on the proposal of extending the Large Budget Screen Production Grants scheme. NZ is transparent in its support structures and we do not favour subsidies. Fuck Sony, screw Warner. We have cheap labour as a competitive advantage if they film here. I'm also wary of Australia's mistake with the Docklands Studio:
A schedule of every movie and television program shot at the studios, released for the first time, reveals they have been used for feature films only 50 per cent of the time.

There have been four months when the studio's five stages have been empty. It is vacant at present.

Withnail & I would never have made it into reality without the backing of former Beatle George Harrison of HandMade Films. This production company began life in order to fund Monty Python's Life of Brian because no major studio wanted to go near it. Neither the Film Commission Board nor the offshore studios should pick our winners.

A good film is an interesting story told well. Sleeping Dogs taught us a lot, and it would never have happened without the support and belief of Don Brash (for finance) and even Rob Muldoon (helicopters and rockets). Vigil, Smash Palace, Goodbye Pork Pie, Boy, Once Were Warriors, Christmas; these are our stories, not King Kong or Avatar. If our homegrown talent can add to the panthenon on a regular basis, that'll be good enough.


A compilation of the "Top 100 Insults in Movies". Contains every swear word in the English language, including eggplant. HT HuffPost:

Of course, every scene from Withnail & I should be in there too.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Over Corrections

The NZ Herald highlights a speech by Finance Minister Bill English. I don't care about the house price fixation. Yeah, it's a bubble, but the government isn't going to hose that down with a capital gains tax so nothing's going to change there. No, the bit that interested me was about the size of the Corrections Department:
The job market was unfavourably skewed away from the export sector toward government, led by a rapidly expanding prison system set to soon make Corrections the government's biggest department, said English.
My bold there. Prisons will overtake health, education and welfare as the largest government department soon. Meantime over in the UK, the Con Dem coalition is looking to trim the deficit with a radical reform of the prison sector. While we're racking and stacking prisoners in double-bunks and container cells, the Brits are looking at purging their prisons of inmates, especially those on short sentences:
Keeping a prisoner in jail costs an average £38,000 - more than sending a boy to Eton - but has too often proved "a costly and ineffectual approach that fails to turn criminals into law-abiding citizens", Mr Clarke said. In the worst prisons, jail sentences do no more than produce "tougher criminals" and introduce petty offenders to hardened felons.
It costs about NZ$100,000 per prisoner year here. That's still more expensive than most NZ private schools. The Law & Order Bash might rake in the election ballots, but there must be a cheaper way to buy votes.

Council of Missing Links

Russell Brown has a look at various absurd website Terms & Conditions:
The Copyright Council of New Zealand goes a step or two further. It forbids anyone to link to the terms and conditions in which it is explained that you are forbidden to link to the site. And don't even bother asking:
We do not permit direct linking to information sheets or other documents.
Ever, apparently. Because who knows where we'd be if information got out.
You may provide a direct link to our home page, and/or to other pages on our website, but first, please contact us to request permission.
They undertake to respond to any such requests "within 1 to 5 working days." No, I'm not joking.
That's right. It forbids anyone to link to this page without their explicit written permission. Morons.