Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Baseless Security Measures

Tainui Group Holdings, the people who brought you the Hamilton Casino (before SkyCity bought them out), have some strange customs; no bikes or cameras at the mall:
"The cyclists in question were riding on the footpath and filming. Because both of these activities are prohibited, they were requested to stop riding on the footpath and to stop filming."
It seems the mall can sell bikes, but you're not allowed to ride them on their public private property. And good luck preventing the use of cameras on site. I can understand banning cameras in casinos, because technology might just undermine the "House Always Wins" rort, but this nonsense with threats of trespass notices and arrest is plain idiocy.

In some ways, these prohibitions aren't a surprise. Just as the Riverside Casino was built to suck what little life Hamilton city contains out of the region, the Base Borg are gutting the retail life out of the city as well.

I'd boycott The Base, but it has been years since I had to enter Hamilton for any reason at all. It'll be up to the captive Tronians to judge for themselves whether they shop at the Zombie Church with the anti-social security guards.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pussies and Bobcats

The Oatmeal comments on Hurricane Irene:

It's official; East Coast Yanks ARE pussies

The Torygraph's Toby sums it up:
There was almost palpable disappointment among the TV big guns rolled out for the occasion when Irene was downgraded to a mere 'tropical storm". In New York city, CNN's Anderson Cooper, more usually seen in a tight t-shirt in a famine or war zone, was clad in what one wag dubbed "disaster casual".

His face fell and he was briefly silent when a weatherwoman told him that the rain was not going to get any worse. "Wow, because this isn't so bad," he said. "It's an annoying rain but it isn't even a sideways rain."
How's Haiti going? Still a mess from the earthquake? We didn't hear much about them when Irene passed them by. She was a proper hurricane back then, not some jumped-up tropical storm that rattled David Letterman's mocha-latte.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Adventures of Super Key Man

Is it a shag? Is it a glider? No, it's Super Key Man to the rescue!

By day, John Key is a retired currency speculator who likes to keep fit by swimming lengths in his Parnell mansion's swimming pool full of Krugerands. By night, he is protector of the rich and entitled; he is... Super Key Man!

Last week, you will recall that Super Key Man was trapped by those dastardly fiends, DPB Mum and her side-kick Delinquent Unemployed Hoodie Boy. DPB Mum threatened to rape Super Key Man in order to get pregnant and stay on the benefit, while Delinquent Unemployed Hoodie Boy forced alcohol and cigarettes into him.

Stay tuned for another exciting episode of... The Adventures of Super Key Man!

Super Key Man: Ugh! This behaviour is morally unacceptable and fiscally reprehensible. New Zealand will never catch up to Australia while you're free, DPB Mum and Delinquent Unemployed Hoodie Boy!

DPB Mum: That's what you think, Super Key Man. Hang on, what's this scar on your scrotum? Gah! You've had the snip! I'll never get preggers with you, Super Key Man!

Super Key Man: That's right, DPB Mum. I have taken personal responsibility of my testicles, just as the Welfare Working Group Justice League recommends for you too.

Super Key Man reaches into his utility belt.

Super Key Man: I may have left my Compulsory Hysterectomy Laser at home but... take that!

Something whizzes out of Super Key Man's hands at DPB Mum and Unemployed Hoodie Boy.

DPB Mum: BLAMMO! You've stabbed us and our boy with stored value debit cards!

Super Key Man: Yes. Lucky I always carry my Paula Bennett Slapper cards with me at all times.

DPB Mum: You may have won this round, Super Key Man. But we'll be back to fight you another day. Come on, Delinquent Unemployed Hoodie Boy. Let's limp off to the pub and drown our troubles.

Well done, Super Key Man! Stay tuned next week, when Super Key Man takes on his most dangerous foes yet; Domestic Violence and Suicide!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Are East Coast Yanks a bunch of pussies?

Earlier in the week, a rare earthquake on the eastern seaboard of the US set off a round of post-9/11 panic. The devastation and trauma was palpable:

Now, with Cyclone Irene bearing down on the Big Apple, a state of emergency has been declared before the storm hits. Mayor Bloomberg has ordered evacuations of low-lying areas and state governor Cuomo has ordered the closure of several bridges if the winds rise above 60 mph, or what we Wellingtonians call a light breeze. Hell, we don't even bother closing the airport in such weather.

Friday, August 26, 2011

I paid my taxes. I deserve free money!

"I deserve free money!"

A few days ago, David Chaston at interest.co.nz released some startling data on Superannuation and increasing life expectancy:
Essentially, our statistically average person will have earned about NZ$1.4 million and paid about NZ$342,000 in tax, taking home a pay packet of a little over NZ$1 million over those 50 years.
Converting these raw earnings and taxes to 2011 dollars, they earned NZ$2.7 million, paid NZ$620,000 in taxes, and had take-home pay of a bit more than NZ$2 million.

However, for the next 20 years of retirement, they will claim in 2011 dollars NZ Super to the value of NZ$544,000 - or almost 88% of all the taxes they have ever paid.
The comments thread is a trove of wonder. One of the more ignorant myths that persists pops up as well. Take it away Hiacinth:
How about you work out the compounding interest our taxes make, over the full working years.  Will make a huge difference to the amount you say we pay, the Govt makes plenty out of that.  If the money was managed properly, there would be enough and more to go round.
Chaston replies:

No, you can't do that, nor claim that. That is the problem I noted about 'pay-as-you-go' - there has been no "saving up" for these liabilities, therefore there is no 'compound interest' available. It doesn't exist.

Over the past 40+ years, voters have rejected policies to fully-fund the obligations to pay NZ Super in the future. To do so would have required consuming less 'now' so you could be more comfortable in the future. A whole generation or two rejected that concept.

The Cullen Fund was the first time any attempt has been made to start that, but the benefits will (and should) accrue to the people who retire in 30-40 years, not to the generation that chose 'pay-as-you-go'.
Taxes collected are spent the same year. That's what the Budget is.

The whole point of KiwiSaver was to get to the stage Hiacinth presumes already existed with National Super, a pay-as-you-go bribe brought to her by Muldoon's Dancing Cossacks. My generation were too young to vote for Muldoon's National Superannuation bribe, and now the buggers who did plead ignorance.

X and Y know damned well that there won't be National Super when we reach 65. We're lumped with paying-as-we-go for existing retirees, even if the Old Ones' incomes are larger than our own. We're lumped with paying for our own alleged retirement through KiwiSaver. And if we're too broke or indebted to even join KiwiSaver, we aren't saving at all for retirement and are merely cross-subsidising the ones who can with KiwiSaver tax breaks.

Self-destruction before old age is the best we can aim for. You go for the diabetes. I'll take the lung cancer.

Management is a cow

Reading Owen Glenn's Opinion piece in today's Herald reminds me just how much apologising and sucking up the Labour Party have ahead of them to get this man back on their side.

The column was partly a response to Federated Farmers' new talking head lamenting the over-taxation of farmers. Glenn reckons you can't throw out the colostrum with the calves, and that NZ's future lies in embracing both new tech as well as old McDonald's farm.

Since the farmers aren't investing in R&D, it'll have to be funded through taxation. If that means cow belches are carbon taxed, so be it. That'll help pay for Massey Uni and the CRIs doing the farmers' hard yakka looking for less gaseous-inducing clover and feeds.

The farming sector is a good example of a more endemic problem in NZ. It was highlighted by the blow-up a couple of years ago with NZ's biggest dairy farmer at the time, Crafar Farms. Allan Crafar led the serial polluting, animal abusing pack with his novelty cow calculator helping him keep on top of his crumbling empire.

No-one connected to Crafar Farms came out looking good; Federated Farmers, Fonterra, the banks. Allan Crafar remains the poster boy for the NZ tradition of shitty management.

NZers are poor resource managers, be it animal, vegetable or mineral. As Tim Watkin points out in this Q&A blog on innovation, NZers have great ideas but hopeless follow-through. NZ managers are generally shit staff retainers or trainers and have utterly shitty people skills.

I don't mean we should suddenly embrace American Management Theory wholesale. That's a crock of shit too, just sweeter smelling shit. I don't mean we should go all out to entice all those good ex-pat Kiwi managers back here. They'll come home when they're good and ready. Besides, there's enough good ex-pats back here already who can't make headway as it is.

There's a whole class of NZ managers who realise their underlings have a better handle on things than them. Rather than reward that potential, these younger ones are seen as threats to the existing manager's position. So they are buried. I call it Crafar's Confidence. Or Hubbard's Hubris. Take your pick.

The main uplift in NZ's export fortunes lies not in cutting the peasants' wages further or excluding farmers or other businesses from taxation. It lies in making the most of your domestic herd of human capital. That means getting smarter in  the area that makes or breaks a business; those decision-makers in management.

The Bi-Polar World of John Key

Because there are only two types of people in the world; Americans and socialists.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

High Fibre Electioneering

Perhaps a better headline for this story is "Broadband roll-out a priority in rich enclaves of marginal constituencies:
"Homes in Plimmerton, Papakowhai, Whitby, Kelson and Churton Park will be among the first to be connected with ultrafast broadband by Telecom... Chorus said construction work would start in the five suburbs before Christmas."
That list of suburbs seemed oddly specific, so I cross referenced Chorus' map of the roll-out with a quick search of houses for sale in the areas, as well as the electorate boundaries.

Churton Park is Peter Dunne's Ohariu seat. Kelson is in Rimutaka, a seat that National is trying to rip off from Labour's Chris Hipkins. And the overkill in the Mana electorate shows how badly National wants the seat from the vacuous Kris Faafoi.

Sorry Petone, sorry Cannon's Creek. You're too poor to be a swing voter.

Further afield, Labour's Ian Lees-Galloway is facing a strong challenge from saturation broadband provided by Joyce Caesar:

Auckland is perhaps the most obvious Nat sew-up:

From top to bottom, the broadband rollouts for Year One match up to John Key's Helensville electorate, Nikki Kayes' marginal Auckland Central yuppie enclave, the Remuera Tractor farmers of Epsom, the multi-national industrial park of Lincoln Rosebank Road in Mt Albert and newbie Nat MP Jami Lee Ross in Botany. He'll no doubt be wanting to increase is bare majority there a bit.

National. Looking after their own and the rest can go hang.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Live target practice

It's moments like this I feel like donating a barn door to the AOS. I'd rather have them trying to hit that than practice on innocent civilians.

I grew up around guns, which may explain why I loathe them so much. By the age of eight I had learned how to refill shotgun cartridges (Old primer out, new primer in. Gunpowder, wad, shot and seal). By the age of ten, I had already been shot once by a family member. Getting shot isn't fun, even with an air rifle. Boy, did the old man give my brother a whipping for that.

Because one of the very first lessons that I learned was identify your target. Before you prime the weapon, before you raise it, know where you are aiming.

It's a rule hunters ignore at their peril. The NZ courts are littered with weekend Rambos hallucinating people into deer. It's a rule so bloody basic, the AOS has no excuse for missing their target and shooting a completely innocent courier driver stone cold dead.

Even the whitewash cop-out handed out by the IPCA (you can change the letterhead but you can't stop the rot) couldn't defensibly defend the AOS manslaughter. Instead, they tried to spread the tar onto another armed police member who went off half cocked before he knew where to look.

Don't forget the old New Zealander of the Year Award handed out by Eating Media Lunch. I forget the dog's name, but the video of him evading police at close quarters as they unleash a barrage of missed rounds at the pooch is a stark memory.

You want to arm the police? Sure. Go ahead, make their day. It might be your funeral.

Not Yet Ready for Prime Time

Brain Rudman explains why I am not telegenic. I have Kim Hill disease:
Radio doyenne Kim Hill's short stretch as a TV current affairs interrogator is an awful lesson to them all. Her high quality of interviewing survived the switch of medium, but the gurning, and her inability to sit still, proved a distraction too much.

The days of Magnus Pike on Don't Ask Me are long gone. Television favours the Botoxed or otherwise inanimate, which probably explains why our political leaders come across as pieces of wood in the public forums these days.

But TV had better watch out, because they are a kakapo's pube away from a discrimination suit at the Human Rights Commission. NZSL is an official language now and Deaf don't like getting their hands cut off from a shot. It's as rude as a camera cutting the top of their subject's head off the frame.

Widen your perspective please. Don't discriminate on agility, mental or otherwise.

Magnificent 7 fights on

In spite of TVNZ nicking a Bob Marley anthem to promote its Land of Coro Street bland landscape, it has been ages since they did a non-hysterical story on cannabis. Apart from cutting and pasting the Peter Davy story from Fairfax, the last bit of balanced reportage was this Breakfast interview on the benefits on medical cannabis from back in April.

Thank Dagg for TVNZ7. Russell Brown occasionally looks at the subject on Media7, most recently in the episode on evidence based research.

It was also heartening to watch Damien Christie's excellent Hindsight program on drugs last night. There was a lucid explanation of the United Nations Convention that sparked this persecution in the first place, as well as sobering interviews with the NZ Drug Foundation's Ross Bell and the Hempstore's Chris Fowlie.

The fight continues...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Yet another sign that Labour continues to drink from the poisoned well of thought that is Helen Clark and Heather Simpson. I might go Dim this year and vote Greens for the first time. It might make up for voting National last time.

Should I bore you with past party political voluntary work? The scruntineering for Labour when I was 17? The Research Unit stuff for Act in 97/98, the door knocking on election day in 1999 to check to make sure the voters have voted? Helping with phone polling for the Nats at the 2005 election, phone polling for Labour a couple of years later from Fraser House?

Only a poor craftsman blames their tools, and that's what really bit home in Curran's post. Last month, I attended a street meeting held by Kris Faafoi in Pram. He had three supporters with him holding placards, not a mean feat as it was the day of the Waikanae tornado.

Faafoi turned up and launched into a well rehearsed three point bulletin on Labour's policies. He was on message and showed not a whit of personality in his monologue. Two of the three locals who came to hear him were cannabis law reformers. The only other feedback he received was from the guy who came out of his house to tell him to get off his lawn and stop making so much noise.

Neither Clark's muppets nor Goff's have learned a thing. It looks like it'll have to be the public ballot that teaches them that lesson.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Brought to you by drugs

New Zealand and the US of A are the only countries in the world that allow advertising of pharm products in the media. Unlike the US, which spends money hand over fist on meds, NZ is not full of rich hypochondriacs being sold on meds that ideally their medical professional is best set up to understand. Contra-indications and all that stuff.

TVNZ sales and marketing have run out of finance companies to sponsor their news, so they're reaching for the pharm boys:

Today's news is brought to you in association with Vannair™,  an asthma medicine. The government mandated warnings are partly obscured, clipped to include such great advice as "Use strictly as directed. Do exceed maximum dose." Click the image to embiggerate if you don't believe me.

Don't blame the pharm companies. It's their business to plough profits from the ill and infirm any way they can. They're not afraid of a wide variety of tactics, including this little bit of baby prostitution I tripped over when I was in Lynn Mall earlier in the year:

Buy Nurufen for Children or you're a bad parent! They don't mention the (nearly) dead babies in the ad, do they? But then, over-the-counter drugs are always under-reported compared those dangerous illegal ones.

This just in from TVNZ News. TV ad revenue is up! Huzzah! Pass the Botox!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Maori Internet

Just got a text from 2 Degrees:
Time flies. It's 2yrs since you joined us & our quest for better mobile. You were one of our early birds so thank you for your loyalty. The quest continues.

Call me kiwi, but I'm an early adopter of underdogs. I joined Clear the weekend they opened back in the early 1990's, Michael Aspell ads and all. One of the reasons I lived in Wellington was for Saturn's cable network. Alas, Telstraclear dumped this loyal customer a few years ago. Dumped like a Filipino mail order bride.

So I'm giving 2 Degrees a bit of time to sort their shit out on their alleged mobile broadband:

Putting aside the slight variance between kilobytes and KiloBits, you can mask the download speed on your Huawei software, but you can't fool me. Yes, I'm downloading. I have to in order to watch any video without getting dropped off.

Mobile dial-up might be a more accurate name for it. Still, as far as Maori assets go, they're doing a hell of a lot better than Sealord. And don't make me laugh by saying Telecom. They're about as funny as thousands of black cock rings and Sean Fitzpatrick sitting in a pink fist.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Americans aren't revolting

Matt Taibbi said yesterday that he'd been too busy to blog but there'd be something to show for the absence today. He's not wrong. A taste of money:
On October 1st of that year, the mystery was solved: Dick Walker was named general counsel of Deutsche. Less than 10 weeks after the SEC shut down its investigation of the bank, the agency's director of enforcement was handed a cushy, high-priced job at Deutsche.
Why aren't the American public revolting? And I don't mean those Koch-sucking teabaggers at the Bachmann Palin Underpass. Taibbi's old bro's at eXiled have been uncovering the Koch Brothers' astroturf for some time.

Smells like Cave Creek all over again

The more I observe about the Pike River explosions, the more I think back to the Cave Creek enquiry that concluded with the systemic failure cop-out.

Mary Wilson caught Labour Minister Kate Wilkinson on the hop on Checkpoint last night, asking whether National's cut in mine safety inspectors in the 1990's might not have helped safety measures at Pike River. The minister didn't want to revisit the Old History of the 1990's. After all, if she did she might have to admit her side was culpable.

John Armstrong notes the minister has relented on merely waiting for the royal commission to conclude, intending to double the number of mine inspectors (that would have given Pike River mine a whole inspectorate of two people). More intriguingly, Armstrong finishes off with a warning for John Key:

The Prime Minister's stocks rose even higher after his handling of Pike River. So far the Government has escaped blame for the tragedy.
So many man-made disasters have happened under National; Cave Creek, Leaky Homes and now Pike River. If anyone manages to sink that truth into the general public, the PM from central casting might have a few more worry lines and gray hairs to brush off in Hawaii.

It's a shame in some respects that Darren Hughes has left the building. He studied the bureaucratic loophole of Cave Creek at Vic Uni. As it is, Labour's Damien O'Connor and the Greens' Kevin Hague are fighting as well as can be expected. O'Connor might be out of favour with the Labour hierarchy, but they'd be stupid not to properly resource O'Connor's attack strategy.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Coen Brothers Movie moot

David Haglund at Slate has the latest in an enjoyable debate on ranking the Coen Brothers movies from good to bad. IFC has a good read on the near impossible task. Haven't done a Coen movie marathon before, and it sounds just the thing to fill the short days with long hours.

The NYT editor guy reckoned Fargo was Death of a Salesman with a chipper, while I thought it was Burn After Reading which was Death of a Salesman with Langley. John Malkovich starred in the movie version of the play with Dustin Hoffman in the lead, so if anyone can channel Arthur Miller, it's Malkovich Malkovich. I hope his performance in Burn After Reading helped get him the role in the Reds movie too.

I haven't seen Hudsucker Proxy or A Simple Man yet, and only seen Miller's Crossing and Blood Simple once. I don't know if I've seen Intolerable Cruelty and I don't care if I never see The Ladykillers (Tom Hanks is not Alec Guinness). With those caveats in place, here goes:

1. "The Big Lebowski"
2. "No Country for Old Men"
3. "Raising Arizona"
4. "Barton Fink"
5. "Fargo"
6. "Burn After Reading"
7. "Miller's Crossing"
8. "Blood Simple"
9. "True Grit"
10. "The Man Who Wasn't There"
11. "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
12. "A Serious Man"
13. "The Hudsucker Proxy"
14. "Intolerable Cruelty"
15. "The Ladykillers"

This list will no doubt be subject to flux and revision at a future date.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Snow news day

Today there is snow news. Here at Pook Farm, we had a few mesmerising snow flurries the other day, and was about to partake in the uploading of the public Zeitgeist. Unfortunately, the hamster in the mobile modem had a hernia from the strain and my accountant advised against sharing, citing possible bankruptcy from data charges. Then the lawyer rang up saying you better not put that Fly My Pretties song on as a soundtrack as you might get thrown into Copyright Court.

So I thought "Sod It" and stared at the hills a bit longer.

UPDATE: Pook means Pukeko, not meth. For non-kiwis, a pukeko is an essentially useless farm export. You can't milk 'em, they taste like crap, and they have a sharp beak which they can peck you with if  you try and cross-breed them with sheep.

Monday, August 15, 2011

No food stamps for old people?

Bernard Hickey has picked up yesterday's post and run with it in an unexpected direction. It seems he's a fan of food stamps, a program that is working so well in America, one in 8 people are now using them. Whatever the hazards of the system, it works well as a poverty indicator.

In fact, the scheme should be introduced to pensioners too, to protect the Old Ones from the TAB, pokies and the RSA, sez Bernard.

True, my Old Mum does like a flutter on the races, and her favourite free to air channel on the old tube is Trackside. But it gives her solitude something to look forward to, because frankly there's not much else in the day. Similarly, I have no problem with Old Ones getting pissed in the middle of the day. I just wish they wouldn't drive as well. Personally, I'm an after 6pm drinker myself, but each to their own.

I'm closer to Bernard's mindset on the pokies thing, though. Horses and booze are as harmless as phone-up psychics and homeopathic anti-wrinkle creams to the Shopping Network Oldsters, but pokies is different. These things are designed to rob people blind. In spite of the facade of charity grants, pokies are run by a hive of scum and villainy preying on the desperately vulnerable.

Big Ups to Bernard Hickey for pulling the relevant stats on benefit numbers:
Pensioners are New Zealand's biggest beneficiaries. There are over 580,000 people aged over 65 who received over NZ$8.8 billion worth benefits in the financial year just completed. See more here at Jonathan Barron's detailing of the Social Welfare budget here.
 Needless to say, John Key was lying by a large quantum yesterday when he said:
"Currently, 328,000 people are receiving a benefit – more than 10 per cent of the entire working age population."
 If he wasn't lying, Key's speech would have read:
"Currently, 908,000 people are receiving a benefit – more than 20 per cent of the entire population."

If John Key was as honest as he was smiley, he would have gone on to say:
"The 580,000 beneficiaries, who cannot be named and will not be harmed, enjoy more Health dollars per capita and more free public transport per capita than any other sector of society. My National government has backed your vested interests by changing the rules and allowing the 580,000 beneficiaries to travel or even live overseas without losing a cent of entitlement."
  There's one hell of a fiscal creep.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Anarchy in the UK

It's not often that I agree with police of any stripe, but the Auton from Eton's idea of appointing a New York crime consultant in the aftermath of the British riots is a bloody stupid idea. What does a Yank know about the situation? Does Cameron really consider New York and British problems equivalent? He's thicker than he looks, and he's asking for trouble.

No Country for Young Men

After having a read of John Key's welfare speech to the converted, I consider riots in NZ more likely than yesterday. These Nat plans can only ratchet up public tensions further.

I'll get to the competent adult / young person support provider thing, as well as the food stamps, shortly. But first, I want to discuss John Key's dictionary definitions.

John Key certainly has a strange definition of government benefits. "Currently, 328,000 people are receiving a benefit – more than 10 per cent of the entire working age population," sez Key. The Super Gorilla in the room, National Superannuation, is not considered a benefit, even if it is a government transfer just like the DPB or Special Youth Benefit, which John Key is bashing here.

Either I'm thick or don't know the right question to Google or whatever, but I cannot find a direct answer to how many people are currently receiving NZ Superannuation. Not even a ballpark figure. The latest New Zealand Income Survey (June 2010) gives an indication of not only the size of the geriatric iceberg, but how skewed Key's selective benny bash truly is:

Of the 48,100 more people claiming a benefit in the year to June 2010, 36 percent of the new intake was over 65 years old. The 2009 Income Survey showed 41 percent of the increase in government transfer recipients was from an extra 13,900 over-65s. From 2009 to 2010 alone, that's a 25 percent increase in new Superannuation payees. It's going to get a whole lot worse as those Boomers retire.

To drive the point home further, there's always Dim Post's old Chart o' the Day from a while ago to remind you what Key's ignoring:

Now, Dagg bless Phil Goff's cranky old dad and all, still loudly ticking at 90. But unless Bruce Goff is an idiot, he would have been on National Super for the last 25 years. I don't wish him ill, it's just one example of how wilfully ignorant John Key is on the demographic nightmare NZ is putting off because Mr Smile and Wave is too chicken.

It's no wonder that John Key is cherry-picking from the Welfare Working Group's report, myopic as it was from ignoring those precious old person votes which John Key has promised not to antagonise.

But what lousy cherries he has picked. Targetting the 16 and 17 year old's Special Benefit is a case in point. Yeah, they're vulnerable and need support more than most. After all, if they can't live at their parents' homes for whatever reason, there's a certain natural level of distrust to authority figures to take into account.

The cure according to Key is to take the benefit off them and hand their basic budgeting to others. The Young Ones must be patronised:
They need a competent adult to help them manage their money. They need a competent adult to help them meet the obligations and responsibilities that come with receiving financial assistance from the State.

And they need a competent adult to help raise their aspirations above the here-and-now. That is why we are going to fund these support providers to be the competent adults in these young people’s lives – to provide intensive case-management and mentoring support.
These "support providers" haven't been quite worked through yet. It might be the local Catholic priest or an overworked WINZ case manager or a private sector corporate welfare scheme based on the Wisconsin model. Whatever. I reckon they'll be about as successful as John Key's boot camp experiment Fail.

It's not just the Young Ones who should be worried. The level of state intrusion in benficiaries' lives is set to worsen:
Instead, we will have a much more managed system of payments, with the young person’s support provider, or MSD in some cases, paying bills on their behalf and helping them manage within their budget.

While there is still a lot of detail for officials and ministers to work through, we envisage that:
  • some essential costs, like rent and power, will be paid directly on the young person’s behalf
  • money for basic living costs like food and groceries will be loaded onto a payment card that can only be used to buy certain types of goods and cannot be used to buy things like alcohol or cigarettes
  • and that a certain, limited amount will be available for the young person to spend at their own discretion.
You do not unleash infrastructure of such complexity unless you intend to test it before widening it to others.The Young Ones are guinea pigs for a new regime of Food Stamps for all beneficiaries (excluding the Super voters, no doubt). Alcohol and tobacco for poor people bad! Pies and ice cream good!

National's paternalism is more likely to fuel a backlash than inspire fomenting youth to comply with their minders. Because, no matter how much Key tries to hide it, the jobs just aren't there.

The Young Ones are easy fodder for the blue rinse brigands, in much the same way as farmers are Labour's current scapegoats. Farmers are predictable protesters though, always with a strong "Let the Tractor do the Talking" motif. The Young Ones aren't quite as constricted in their tactics, as the last week in London has shown.


Who is making hay under John Key? According to that Income Survey, it's not the average income earner:
Median weekly income from all sources fell slightly, down 1.7 percent to $529 (non-significant).
It's not the average wage slave:
Between the June 2009 and June 2010 quarter, there was a slight decrease in the proportion of people earning wage and salary income down 0.6 percentage points to 53.5 percent.

It's those bloody Baby Boomers:
Significant increases in median weekly wage and salary income since the June 2009 quarter were recorded for only two age groups:
  • 50–54-years (up $61 to $880)
  • 65 years and over (up $66 to $535).
Uh huh. As at June 2010, the median weekly wage and salary income is below that of the median Superannuitant. Needs based welfare indeed.


This just in from the Met Service. Good luck people, and let's hope those SOE power companies don't throttle you with monopoly rents like they did earlier.

Friday, August 12, 2011

There is no exception to America

PJ O'Rourke once described the Philippines' history of colonial rule by Spain then the US as three hundred years in a convent, fifty years in a brothel. What he failed to mention was what happened during the change from one to the other:
American forces were soon engaged in atrocities that resulted in the deaths of tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of civilians as well as the burning of villages and the widespread use of torture to extract information. Brigadier General Robert Hughes defended the actions before Senate investigators in 1902 on grounds that would be familiar to the ancients: "These people," he said, "are not civilized."
HT Arts & Letters Daily.

OK, they got the idea from the previous occupiers, and WWII led to atrocities that would dwarf the Filippino massacres. But consider how the Guantanamo Bay occupants were and are excluded from the Geneva Conventions because a legal argument was used that rendered them non-combatants, completely unlike the civilised American soldiers.

From a very early age, I have known of the evil that men can do. OK, evil's the wrong word. Call it man's inhumanity to man and everything else. The USA is no exception to this, no matter how much it clutches its exceptionalism as an alibi for atrocities.

In WWII there was a Japanese POW camp in New Zealand based at Featherston. How's our SAS going in Afghanistan these days? Still handing non-combatants over to the US, or is it a Take No Prisoners policy now?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Randall can handle the jandal

The always excellent xkcd has some good general advice today:

It's called Statistically Improbable Phrases in the parlance of our times.

Can you dumb that down for us, Lord Winston?

Lord Winston rips Kate Chapman a fresh one after she goes under-prepared and ill-informed into an interview. An excerpt:
By now 40 minutes into what was once a news interview, Lord Winston was in his stride and disagreed with the suggestion that the internet was the most important scientific discovery of the last 50 years. 

Looks like he ripped into the Walrus' demographic on Close Up as well:

"The fact is that you still rate things like the America's Cup, the All Blacks and the cricket (as) being far too important when actually they don't fundamentally improve human wellbeing." 
Right on the cue, the MSM continue their Dumb and Dumber NZ Cultural Cringe Fest with the latest brouhaha over effing rugby jerseys. This country remains with its feet in Foreskin's Cement.

Court rejects DNA rape

While the National government haggles with the Maori and Act parties over the half-good half-awful Criminal Procedure (Reform and Modernisation) Bill, it is worth revisiting an earlier Nat law making it a crime for arrestees not to produce a DNA sample. That's because the California Appeals Court has ruled the collection of DNA samples from arrestees as unconstitutional:
“What the DNA Act authorizes is the warrantless and suspicionless search of individuals, before a judicial determination of probable cause to believe they have committed a crime, for evidence of crime unrelated to that for which they have been arrested,” (.pdf) the court wrote. “The United States Supreme Court has never permitted suspicionless searches aimed at uncovering evidence of crime outside the context of convicted offenders.”
The law breaches the US Constitution's Fourth Amendment on unreasonable search and seizure. The New Zealand Bill of Rights 1990 echoes this protection in Section 21. Unlike the US Constitution, the NZ Bill of Rights is more of a carpet than a fence, so although against the spirit of freedom from state menaces, John Key and company can walk all over our sovereignty at their leisure.

A lot like some of the consequences of this Criminal Procedures Bill facing the minor support parties, where the accused loses the right to silence, and the Crown no longer has to prove their case based on their evidence by introducing agreed facts and other contrivances to diminish a fair trial.

The right to jury trials for imprisonable offences will shoot up from 3 months to 3 years. The Law Commission suggested this in their Delivering Justice for All paper from a while ago, but it was one of a sweeping range of reforms which the Nats have otherwise studiously ignored. Where's the decriminalisation of cannabis that they implicitly suggested? Where's the quid pro quo? Where's the balance?

Until the NZ Supreme Court can have a proper whack at all these repugnant Nat laws (Stripping the vote from all prisoners, DNA testing arrestees), it is up to the Maori and Act parties to hold back the whole damn sausage factory legal system, whereby the ones who hire a flash lawyer win and the rest don't have a chance.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Violently shopping

The style of the British riots brings to mind a recent Foreign Policy story highlighted by Arts & Letters Daily under the byline “Television is more important than food!” If you can't be bothered clicking through, it's about poverty and bordeom. Orwell gets a mention.

At least no-one's died yet, which is more than you can say about the Yank's Black Fridays:

Troll Farm Hoedown

In two days' time, P2P software will be illegal in New Zealand. Dub Dot Dash has a good summary of why everyone should uninstall all P2P software before August 11. Troll farmers aren't going to discriminate on who they milk, and the government doesn't give a monkey's about innocent until proven guilty.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Foreskin's Cement

1981 was the first time I became aware I was a political animal. Aside from reading Orwell's Animal Farm for the first time, it was the year of the Springbok Tour. It would be years before I was forced to read Foreskin's Lament in Seventh Form, by which time the plot proved irrelevant to me. I already loathed rugby.

My growing antipathy towards rugby hit something concrete in Form One; the alienation of human rights in South Africa. That, and the final test in Auckland that looked like a live re-enactment of the Crunchie Bar ad. Although I was too young to make it to the Palmerston North Springbok game, I won my first argument with Dad over the topic, a rare event in itself.

So it is fascinating to read Redmer Yska's Listener article on the police side of the Tour equation. Yska has written the only authoritative history of cannabis in New Zealand, and the police's reaction to non-conformity is put under similar scrutiny here.

It makes one wonder just what preparations the authorities have taken heading into the Heineken Mastercard Rugby World Cup. There's nowhere near the same level of public anger, and no stronger reason to protest then the usual non-violent means warrants. Nevertheless, it is interesting to note that when the police force is stretched to its limit, airport security staff get temporary deputy badges. Strange Customs Indeed.

Putting aside the politics, there's a twinge of strategic pride in reading about the Palmy game, seeing as I knew the guy who supplied the rubbish bin barricade, and I might know the guy who supplied the cops with the idea.