Monthly Archives: February 2012

Taibbi on the GOP

Matt Taibbi writes on the current liberal meme de jour – the GOP are unelectable and getting worse.

Oh sure, laugh at the extremists. But have you seen Redstate?

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The neoliberalz

As a reader I struggle against the signal-to-noise ratio at The Standard. Everytime I visit I seem to slog through interminable bombast like this or this.

Which is a shame. One of the advantages of being run by the EPMU media team is that the industrial writing can be very good. Just take a gander at this wee cracker of post from Eddie on the effect of collective bargaining on wage rates.

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I thought the Right understood markets….

In fact, they do, and that’s exactly why the neoliberals are so keen on breaking the unions and why John “love to see wages drop” and the bosses are making a big anti-union play this term. They know that unions mean higher pay. But they don’t want you knowing that.

Or rather, take a good long look at that graph: it’s beautiful. As for the prose – well, I suppose someone has to keep ranting about the neoliberalz.

Dioxin Poisoning

It takes a story like this in the Guardian to properly illuminate the timelines involved when a community is poisoned.

The suit – filed on behalf of tens of thousands of people who lived, worked and went to school in Nitro after 1949 – claimed Monsanto spread toxic substances including dioxins, which have been linked to cancer, all over the town.

New Plymouth’s dioxin production run started and stopped around 12 years later than West Virginia, which would indicate a resolution for New Plymouth residents by 2025.

Default Dialogue

No doubt you’ve noted recent moves to remove state house tenants from Auckland properties.

David Farrar turns in a small and perfectly formed take on things:

There will always be a limit to the number of state houses available at any time. Hence, one should try and help as many low income families as you can, by making sure that the family size and the house size are aligned.

Some tenants are no longer poor, and are paying market rents. It makes total sense for them to find a private sector landlord, and let a low income family get the benefit of a state house.

Pithy common sense.

I’m being serious here, I think David writes very well. And I’m an open admirer of David’s leveraging off his blog to create a small media empire and ubiquitousness as the go-to political pundit. Take a look at the Herald, at Stuff. Or even that bastion of free-market thought, RadioNZ National.

If you want to deconstruct his post further with me, then go look at the original again. DPF simply tells us what a statehouse is; what purpose within the welfare state it serves. I’m pointing out the obvious here but bear with me.

What other alternative narrative is out there? I’d love to read a different explanation of things. Why do we have state houses, who uses them and why? Hey, I’m just fishing here.

The reason I’m interested is that some point someone must have known the answers to these questions. It must once have been a good idea for leaders to stage photo opps like this:

Contemporaries within the Labour Party are clearly uncomfortable with this mantle from the past. Why else when you go to Red Alert do you find that only 5 posts have appeared that are tagged Housing NZ, none of which communicate to much to anyone anything about Labour’s attitude towards social housing.

So what does Red Alert write about? Sadly, David Farrar is as always ubiquitous.

Snark aside, I simply don’t understand why Labour doesn’t talk to the electorate about housing.

It’s not like housing is critical to health, education and societal wellbeing, and it’s not like our current housing stock registers on the scale somewhere between appalling and Dickensian. It’s not like the chattering middle classes aren’t interested in housing; “Someone recently suggested to me that a typical Listener cover story nowadays would run something along the lines of “Is Your House Making You Fat?””.

Maybe this is just a consequence of a GenX/Y upbringing. I missed the boat on the Mickey Savage. But listen the voices around us. Labour isn’t helping to challenge the default dialogue on the issue, and I’m not sure why. Surely housing is important?

Friday Night Question

From Campbell Live’s occasionally interminable coverage of the Crafer deal came this little jem on Wednesday. Skim past the blathering cow cocky and you’ll come to the rather better studio debate.

Is this the alternative the Opposition are giving to NZ?

Winston especially has been giving the punters their money’s worth. The 6% of us crazy enough to vote for him have got themselves a hell of an MP. I suspect that things may get tougher; we can be assured from Richard Prosser’s performance on this week’s Back Benchers that things have only got weirder.

Meanwhile the other half of the duo above has DimPost wondering just how much Blairism is enough.

Labour: I don’t think I’m alone in saying I have no idea what Shearer stands for, or what his goals as leader are. His statements have been awful vague, along the lines of: ‘what we have to do is figure out how to figure out what we have to do’. Some measure of introspection is fine, but this doesn’t scream, ‘leadership’. And it wasn’t reassuring to read this column by Vernon Small:

[Shearer’s] Christmas non-fiction reading included Mr Blair’s biography and the writings of Philip Gould, Baron Gould of Brookwood if you please, who died late last year.

Gould’s 1998 book The Unfinished Revolution – how the modernisers saved the Labour Party was the strategy bible penned by the man who was a key adviser and pollster to UK Labour in the general elections of 1987, 1992, 1997, 2001 and 2005.

Mr Shearer himself does not shy away from the parallels.

He freely admits he is not ideological Labour. Like Mr Blair he is keen to set aside the road blocks to a return to power. His guiding mantra “whatever works” flatters John Key with imitation.

Blair? Gould? It’s a little like those US army officers who went into Vietnam boasting about their mastery of the theory of tank warfare.

I’m less cynical in that I think that Shearer’s strong organisational background means that the Labour’s Parliamentary team will start getting it’s shit together a little more. Maybe it’s the easier going of the slowly souring second term, but Labour seems to be better engaged in the national dialogue. Are they riding shotgun on Winston?

About 2,230,000 results (0.12 seconds)

Too much has already been written about why Labour lost the last election, and now I’ve slowly begun the redundant process of figuring out how I intend to stick my oar in.

By way of a first illustration take a headline policy of one of the parties of the current Coalition Government: Whanau Ora. A policy that attempts to readdress the same problems replicating a key plank of the 4th Labour Government’s 1999 election mandate. A policy targetting electorates Labour has all but had a mortgage on since before the Second World War, a group of electorates that Phil Goff talked about clean-sweeping.

Yet searching labour.org.nz Google can only find 8 results for “Whanau Ora” within the last year, and the MP who is getting the best dirt on the program is Winston Peters. Just take a gander at Scoop’s most recent articles on the search page and wonder where Labour have been all this time.