June 2012 Archive

I believe in giving credit where credit is due and two tweets from yesterday showed that the Labour gals can fling parliamentary muck as good as the guys:

Now a talking point on Talkback, Labour MP Megan Woods made a numpty of herself with this example of Godwins Law:

Megan Woods:

Hitler had a pretty clear manifesto that he campaigned and won on. Question: does this make what he did ok @NZNationalParty?#SaveOurAssets
Ms Woods has today backed down – but she stuck it out for another two or three inane tweets defending her original remark. 
@myfewcentsnz1 as a historian usually I would agree but fact remains that nats are using faulty logic that historical examples can show

Basically that says to me that she is a dick of a historian.

Then we have the lovely Jacinda Ardern:

Asset sales bill just passed by one disgraceful vote. Absolutely gutted.
I don’t understand this. Je no comprende. What is a “disgraceful vote”?
Anthopomorphism in democracy. Who knew.  
Also it’s trivial that she is “absolutely gutted”.  She’s not paid to be all emotional and hair-pully  over passing legislation; she’s paid to find valid holes in the governing party’s proposals and take them down like a clown. 

Meanwhile Trevor Mallard plays prettily in the corner with this:
@Megan_Woods Todd McClay almost certainly the worst chair of committee I’ve seen in the 1st half of my career. Thinking about solutions.
Thanks for sharing.

Girls! Curb your fish-wifely ways. When boys bicker it can be quite entertaining. Winston, Mallard, in better form, JK and Brownlee are good examples.  When girls do it, it makes them look petulant and prissy.
Boys have testosterone and use this to good effect to bluster their opponent into a corner.
Girls have the ability to inflict misery on their opponents in 1000 unseemly ways.  However, a more subtle approach is required to be the biggest bitch.
Social media might be a platform for the girls to avoid if the tweets indicate “hissyfit”. You’re already disadvantaged by being female. You do yourself no favors if the punters are left asking the question, “Is she fit”?

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In an interview  with MSMBC,  two months ago, James Lovelock, the “godfather of global warming”, recanted his strong beliefs on the inevitability of global warming. He said he had been unduly alarmist. That other doom prophets such as Al Gore were too.

James Lovelock developed the Gaia theory, portraying Earth as one big organism and it’s inhabitants as inter-reliant on each other. That the preservation of the whole system was largely affected by the actions of the organisms within.
No postulating layman or “political scientist”, he invented the electron capture detector in 1957. this allowed the measurement of cloroflourocarbons (CFC’)s to be measured in the atmosphere. CFC’s have a profound effect on the thickness of the ozone layer.
lovelock says that global warming is still occurring but “doomsday” predictions were wrong as the actual temperatures don’t reflect the computer modeling.

The degree of his turnaround from his 2006 book that predicted billions would die from the effects of GW is unprecedented; he now endorses nuclear power, tracking and lashed “greenies for treating
Global Warming like a religion.
From science 20 – What’s eating the Godfather of Global warming:

“It’s just the way the humans are that if there’s a cause of some sort, a religion starts forming around it. It just so happens that the green religion is now taking over from the Christian religion. I don’t think people have noticed that, but it’s got all the sort of terms that religions use. The greens use guilt. You can’t win people round by saying they are guilty for putting CO2 in the air.”

He displays equal disdain for those who do not accept science on climate change: “They’ve got their own religion. They believe that the world was right before these damn people [the greens] came along and want to go back to where we were 20 years ago. That’s also silly in its own way.”
http://www.science20.com/science_20/james_lovelock_whats_eating_godfather_global_warming-91406

The following is the full transcript of the UK Guardian interview:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/jun/15/james-lovelock-fracking-greens-climate

In this interview, he says,”wherever the UN puts it’s finger in, it becomes a mess. He “detests” the Uk Liberal Democrats however, he says he is neither Left or Right:
“All ideologues are harmful. They are never right. We get to our stable position through checks and balances. The whole of nature does that through natural selection. Proportional representation is a very bad idea and an absolute gift to ideologues.

My commentary:
I was well aware by the age of eight that fervor and fear of technology could be whipped up very easily. A schoolfriend of mine told me we would get obliterated by a nuclear cloud from Chernobyl.
I was paralyzed by my own emotions and wouldn’t leave the couch until Mum coaxed my fear from me.
Burned at an early age, I was skeptical over GE and rightly skeptical of the Y2K bug non-issue.
Sometimes power can only be obtained by whipping up fear and loathing of others. An easy target is the “uppity” middle classes. UN Political Guilt tugboat, Helen Clark, recently said that consumers must curb their appetites or we are digging a grave for emerging economies:
I wonder if the UN is a haven for ideologues.
Environmentalism belongs in the local community. It should be up to the local community to retain or endorse, say, fracking. I have family employed in the oil industry in Taranaki. I have hazy memories of the distant glow at night from oil burnoffs. Somehow I doubt Taranaki would go for a hazy, non-proven, “environment over the economy”, mindset. Only if the down stream effects to other provinces or the entire NZ GDP was at stake should we be legislating to prevent environmental damage.
And this is where the traditional right wing needs to step up – the Federated Farmers position on dirty rivers was protective of the industry rather than being based in reality. Even when water quality was directly attributable to local farms.
If the science is dubious or not proven then the decisions should be in the favor of the community. Wind-power is  case in point:

 Wind power – a method of electricity generation widely hated by the communities surrounding wind farms. Perhaps the turbines belong in  the 13th century or in the ocean as in the photo above.


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From The Huffington Post. In an interview with one of the inspiring stars of new Sundance Channel reality show, The Push Girls. A show about glamourous gals in wheelchairs:

Competitive swimmer Mia Schaikewitz was told: “Look, you can do anything that you did before. Especially sports! If you were a swimmer before, you should definitely get back in the pool.” And it was interesting, because I went back to everything… except for swimming. I tried every other sport. And then realized, “Why am I avoiding that?” And it’s because there are these emotional blockages that you put on yourself sometimes, to face things. In all honesty, at the time I got paralyzed, I had enough going on. So to add one more thing like that… I wasn’t ready. I think that’s the key: Knowing when you’re ready for something. 
You shouldn’t beat yourself up about staying in a safe place, because that’s a natural place for humans to want to be. But I think there comes a point when you gotta sink or swim. There really is that moment where you can stay in there and not live your life. I think every time you choose to go past that you realize how amazing life is. It opens up your world.


 Like Mia, a bleed left me paralyzed and in a wheelchair. Unlike Mia I can now walk without aid, albeit in a labored fashion. I have very little sensation in my left arm and leg. None from my left knee down. Every step is one of faith. My leg collapses if someone looks at me the wrong way, though others tell me they never notice my limp.


To read a story of a woman both more disabled than myself and more glamorous is strengthening. I’m unsure which give me more hope – the glamour to aspire to to kick my lazy ass off the couch or the tales of stem cell therapy that might one day give me the ability to run fast after my boys. 










  

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Rodney Hide in The Herald:

Employment Favours The Keen and Hard Working:

I can’t argue with much of it and I love this passage:

“When I was a politician I was supposed to pretend sympathy for people without a job. The truth is I never had much.”

I expect Rodney could smell those who weren’t really trying to find a job a mile off. Literally and figuratively.
When you don’t have a job for a period of time you lose interest in getting out of bed, unless you have other strong reasons or a lifetime of good work habits behind you. Showering becomes less of a priority on your to-do list.
I experienced a period of unemployment once and I noticed a drop in my motivation. I just sat around and smoked ciggies in my pajamas all day. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it for a time.
And it’s human nature to fall into sloth if the way forward isn’t clear.
However, we thrive only by being unswerable  to someone, a workmate, a boss, our other half. Everyone can slip off the path of good habits; the trick is to get back on the right track.
Prior to this period I had had numerous part time jobs usually through Student Job Search.
I turned the first part-time job interview I went to after leaving uni unqualified, into  a career: Book-keeping. I employed three other people part time and had numerous clients.
After four years, I put my business on hold  to recover from illness and have a family. Before doing so I proved to myself that I could support myself and my loin-fruit if push came to shove. This is important to do as a female.
 I made sure I was aware of good savings and investment ideals and was well insured by the time we were in our late 20’s. The insurance coverage allowed me to recover from a traumatic illness without our financial ship sinking
In my experience, it’s not hard to get a small job or unpaid volunteering unless there are other mitigating factors. We survive and thrive on our own efforts and a handful of friends and family.
This goes against the current ideology that permeates New Zealand that only by caring and putting more structures in place for those in need will the problems of society be fixed. A lot of that myth is perpetrated by the middle class who wouldn’t want to see an animal let alone another human experience suffering, even though they themselves may not be suffering.

  .

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This is a must watch just for the skit at the end which must happen in homes all over the globe.

It’s a take-off of the show “16 and pregnant”, and it proves; no matter how old you are, you’re never too old to be a pregnant drama queen.

It's Tough Being 32 and Pregnant

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From Wikipedia:
The United States Republican Party is the second oldest currently existing political party in the United States after its great rival, the Democratic Party. It emerged in 1854 to combat the Kansas Nebraska Act which threatened to extend slavery into the territories, and to promote more vigorous modernization of the economy

And again Americans are highlighting slavery as an issue, with a top diplomat pointing to a New Zealand company that is producing goods “tainted by modern slavery”.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/7159929/Americans-warned-that-NZ-seafood-tainted-by-slave-labour

Where are the unions on this issue? Modernizing work conditions and ensuring fair pay should be their bread and butter.

My point – it is commonly accepted that the right wing care only about money and it is the left that cares about people. It surprised me that it was the action of the Republicans that stopped slavery because  a card carrying leftie I naturally assumed it was the Democrats.
Always judge a political party on it’s actions and not on the prevailing rhetoric of the day.

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This editorial from the New York Times:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/23/opinion/the-anti-union-roberts-court.html?_r=1&hp

In the case Knox vs Service Employees International Union
The court’s five conservatives ruled that in 2005, Local 1000 of the Service Employees International Union should have sent a notice to all nonmembers it represented when it imposed a temporary 25 percent increase in union dues for public-sector employees in California to fight two anti-union ballot measures.

The court said the union infringed on the free speech rights of the nonmembers by not giving them the chance to prevent the use of their dues to support expressions of political views unrelated to collective bargaining. Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg agreed with this narrow judgment only.

The majority held that “the union should have sent out a new notice allowing nonmembers to opt in to the special fee.” Justice Alito described the longtime rule allowing union charges to nonmembers unless they opted out of paying part of the dues as “a remarkable boon for unions” that approaches “the limit of what the First Amendment can tolerate.” For the first time and on its own initiative, the court mandated an opt-in requirement.

Not having the ability to opt into a financial arrangement in wider civil society is pro forma invoicing. It is hard to believe this precedent has only just been set. Maybe my unionized friends could explain. A similar case in New Zealand is the legislation to remove compulsory student union membership.
I can’t see the problem myself – in the public sector, any company or collective needs to advertise to attract and retain it’s customer base.

Why should unions be special?

An obvious exception is where the individuals work alongside, ‘shoulder to shoulder’ , or for the government. But unions need to up the game in the public sector.

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Oracles: How prediction markets turn employees into visionaries. By economist Don Thompson.

A link to an excellent  interview with Sarah Green from the Harvard Business Review, IdeaCast here:.

For those that don’t know what a Prediction Market ( E.g, NZ’s I’Predict) is:
A prediction market is a type of  Stock Exchange that deals with events or ideas instead of the value of a business. (Equities)
 Brokers in a traditional Stock Exchange will predict the value of a business at a point in time.
A prediction market gives you (Joe Bloggs) access to a market to invest in “idea stocks’. You are asked whether something will happen or what an outcome will be. It tells you the strength of peoples views and how they change over time.

‘Oracles discusses how prediction markets are more accurate than polls. Bad news David Farrar 🙂
In a prediction market, people’s ego and and personal financial investment into the outcome is involved so there is more research into the prediction outcome.
The Iowa Electronic Prediction Market is very accurate despite the participants being white males, university educated males in their 20’s. Everything that a statistician would tell you cannot accurately predict an outcome, but this market does.  The two main prediction markets in the US have constantly outperformed longstanding poll such as the Gallup, CNN and New York Times polls in calling presidential races since 1988.

The interview touches on how companies might use prediction markets. For example to replace meetings where homogenity of employee and the need to save face in front of fellow employees prevents innovation.

My Comment:

I am not a fan of compulsory Kiwisaver. I am with Chris Trotter in believing that some of the hype around retirement savings, however well meaning, is softening up the populace. Arguably, those who will mainly benefit from increased personal savings are those that clip our savings ticket.
As the saying goes: “In a gold rush the only people that get rich are those selling the shovels”.

Far better to give employees the means to invest in the company that employs them. Increase our financial literacy to boost financial and retirement outcomes. The widened use of Prediction Markets might achieve this in some measure:
 A company called Right Solutions has set up a Mutual Fund Market within the business. Effectively the company is now run by it’s employees. (The CEO accepts he is not the smartest person in the business)
The net worth of the company and that of the employees is increased due to the more efficient running of the business that pulls in knowledge through the Mutual Fund from managers through to secretaries.

Keep an eye out for:
Prediction markets in defense
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Personally I am appalled by the Greens use of the Leaders fund to the tune of $76,000 to employ full time staff to collect signatures for an anti-asset sales, CIR Citizens Initiated Referendum.

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/opinion/news/article.cfm?c_id=466&objectid=10814355

From the Guide; Petitioning the House of Representatives available online at the New Zealand Parliament website:

A petition is a document addressed exclusively to the House of Representatives, signed by one person or many people, requesting the House to take a clearly defined action on a matter of public policy or law, or to redress a local or private grievance.
Who can petition?
Anyone of any age may petition the House of Representatives, including corporations and unincorporated bodies having sufficient identity as organisations.
Should you petition?
Petitioning the House should be your last course of action. You may petition the House when no other remedies are available, or where other statutory remedies have been exhausted.


Quite clearly the petition process is obviously intended to give citizens, collectives and corporations recourse to Parliament on controversial issues not otherwise addressed by parliamentary process. A good example of this is the Hands Up For Learning Campaign against National Standards. It was driven by the NZEI union. Labour had it’s paws all over it but the petition was sufficiently removed from Parliament to be democratic.The chief spokesperson and person named as the petitioner Bill Courtney believed in the petition sentiment and spoke well to the issues behind the petition. 
Legally the Leader’s Office is entitled to spend the funds however it likes – staff are generally employed to act as advisors or surrogate whips. They keep communication lines open with electorates and travel with the leader. Effectively here the Greens have employed citizens to pursue a democratic process intended for citizens to have an avenue of recourse to the House.


The public should be looking at the Green agenda closer. I am not a hater; I think they do some good work particularly around technology and ACTA.
However, they appear to be whipping up hysteria by abusing democratic process. They are promoting the Tall Poopy Syndrome in Nz – All ‘rich’ people are arseholes and if you don’t want to be an arsehole – vote for us because we caaare.
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The following is an excerpt from UnitedFuture’s Supply and Confidence Agreement with National, December 2011:

  • There will be no sale of any part of Kiwibank or Radio New Zealand
  • Introduce statutory limits on the sale of public assets to no more than 49% of shareholding to private interests including limits on the extent of single entity ownership

In the 2011election, both National and UnitedFuture campaigned on partial asset sales. United Future’s wording is quite clear. The rest of the Supply and Confidence is here:
That document; not the media or the mob rule sentiment of the day is what mainly governs party interactions after an election.

Despite the sentiment on asset sales in your part of New Zealand, or, if you are gone-burgers to a different part of the world like moi, UnitedFuture has kept to it’s word with asset sales:
Essentially UnitedFuture originally saw no problem in flogging off the aging asserts up to a 49% shareholding for a shot of capital and presumably some experience on the energy company boards.  

 In the interim, Tony Ryall and his advisers came up with the funky idea of allowing second class or shares with non-voting rights and this was seen as a breach of Supply and Confidence by United Future:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/7138920/Government-U-turn-on-SOE-sale-cap

UnitedFuture was absolutely, technically correct.  51% retention of ownership is 51% regardless of whether the shares are A class, B class, pink, purple or issued on flypaper.

Kudos to UnitedFuture for spotting this.
  I have volunteered for UF and they are a very pragmatic bunch so this doesn’t surprise me.
Kudos also for holding the bigger party to account.
It is very easy for a smaller party to roll over to the bigger if nothing else than to get extra air in Question Time in Parliament.
In this case UF played it’s hand well. Peter effectively had the casting vote on asset sales. Given the level of discontent over asset sales in the general populace, there was room for UF to move. Not all the room in the world given the lack of affection in New Zealand for smaller political parties but enough for a game of poker.

A small political party is very Kenny Rogers: 
You have to know when to hold ’em, when to fold ’em and when to walk away.

It would seem Tony Ryall had no choice but to issue an amendment eliminating the future issue of non voting shares;  the respective press secretaries will have eyeballed each other over a couple of afternoons, and the share ownership will remain undiluted for the benefit of New Zealanders.

Why the idea of non-voting shares was proffered in the first place is interesting.
Interest rates will remain low for a decade. You don’t dilute your shares or dividends by issuing a new round if you can borrow from banks at  a good rate.

Ergo, there must be a need for a new capital injection projected 5-10 years into the future. Capital that might be supplied by the issuance of second class shares. This begs the question: what new project is planned by National. A new coal burner, and/or a change to the RMA and a reversal on project Hayes and Mokihinui perhaps?

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