National today announced new rules and regulations regarding oil and gas exploration in our coastal waters…
And yet, it was only last year that the worst oil spill in history occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, threatening marine and coastal wildlife; local fishing industries; jobs; tourism; and costing billions in lost productivity and clean-up…
As a reminder what went down in the Gulf of Mexico, let’s not forget that there is no reason whatsoever that the same could not happen here, in our country…
Further economic, environmental, commercial, and human consequences of the oil spill.
If an oil spill of similar magnitude and severity hit our coast, we would not have the same resources to effect a clean-up, as our American cuzzies did. And somehow, this just doesn’t sound right,
I hope to god that the powers-that-be know what they’re doing. The consequences of a disaster could make the Christchurch earthquakes look like an entree.
How to be a sloppy journalist…
NZ Herald journalist Derek Cheng writes about National’s planned “welfare reforms” on 14 August. Mr Cheng writes,
“The Government will limit how 16 and 17-year-old beneficiaries and 18-year-old teen parents can spend the state’s money to ensure they are not buying items such as alcohol or cigarettes…”
Mr Cheng continues in the same vein, a little later on,
“* money for basic living costs like food and groceries will be loaded onto a payment card that can only be used to buy certain goods and cannot be used to buy things like alcohol and cigarettes…”
That’s all very well and good… but it’s already illegal for 16 and 17 year olds to purchase alcohol and tobacco products.
Why has Mr Cheng not pointed this out in his article?
National’s policy release has been barely challenged by the mainstream media (MSS) and sounds as if 16 and 17 year olds are freely purchasing tobacco and liquor in this country. They may well be. But it is not dependent on whether or not under 18s are beneficiaries.
In fact, it could be argued that 16 and 17 year olds on a Living Alone Allowance are less likely to be able to afford expensive cigarettes and booze.
The Independent Youth Benefit rate (as at 1 April 2011) is $167.83 per week – NETT.
That’s right folks, that’s what this is all about: $167.83 a week. Out of that, a young person living independently has to pay board, food, clothing, transport, power, phone, and other outgoings.
That doesn’t leave much for boozing and fagging much, does it?
Yet, Mr Cheng ignores all this and simply parrots National Party policy, without any critical analysis whatsoever.
This is simply unacceptable. It brings to mind government-owned newspapers such as “Pravda” and “Izveztia” from the now-defunct Soviet Union. These newspapers were nothing more than mouthpieces for the Soviet Communist Party. they had as much to do with critical, investigative reporting – as Vegans have to raising cattle and lamb for supermarkets.
Perhaps the Herald should re-brand as “The New Zealand Government Herald“? Or simply, “The State Mouthpiece“?
Because that is what it seems to be evolving into.
As usual, the three Golden Rules to apply to the MSS are,
- Don’t believe everything you read, see, and hear.
- What am I not being told?
- Will it sell advertising?
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It’s obvious really, why List Spot #3 is vacant…
ACT will be selling that position on Trademe. (Minimum bid; $1. Buy now price; $5)
I guess this explains why milk, other dairy products, tomatoes, etc, are so expensive.
And the Minister for Agriculture, David Carter, can save taxpayers the expense of a Parliamentary inquiry into why milk is so expensive here in NZ…
I guess it wasn’t such a bright idea to allow supermarkets to buy each other up, until we had only two, nation-wide chains remaining. Duopolies are not noted for promoting competition and keeping prices down.
New Zealand’s supermarket duopoly:
Chalk up yet another cock-up for the free market, unregulated economy?
I think so.
+++ Updates +++
Parliament’s Commerce Select Committee inquiry into milk prices gets under way,
Floating cities: PayPal billionaire plans to build a whole new libertarian colony off the coast of San Francisco
- Ocean state would have no welfare, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons
- Platforms would house 270 people and hundreds could eventually join together
PayPal-founder Peter Thiel was so inspired by Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand’s novel about free-market capitalism – that he’s trying to make its title a reality.
The Silicon Valley billionaire has funnelled $1.25million to the Seasteading Institute, an organisation that aspires to launch a floating colony into international waters, freeing them and like-minded thinkers to live by libertarian ideals.
Mr Thiel recently told Details magazine: ‘The United States Constitution had things you could do at the beginning that you couldn’t do later. So the question is, can you go back to the beginning of things? How do you start over?’
The floating sovereign nations that Mr Thiel imagines would be built on oil-rig-like platforms anchored in areas free of regulation, laws, and moral conventions.
The Seasteading Institute says it will ‘give people the freedom to choose the government they want instead of being stuck with the government they get’.
Mr Theil, the venture capitalist who famously helped Facebook expand beyond the Harvard campus, called Seasteading an ‘open frontier for experimenting with new ideas for government’.
After making his first investment in the project in 2008, Mr Thiel said: ‘Decades from now, those looking back at the start of the century will understand that Seasteading was an obvious step towards encouraging the development of more efficient, practical public sector models around the world.
‘We’re at a fascinating juncture: the nature of government is about to change at a very fundamental level.’
Mr Thiel and his colleagues say their ocean state would have no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.
Aiming to have tens of millions of residents by 2050, the Seasteading Institute says architectural plans for a prototype involve a movable, diesel-powered structure with room for 270 residents.
The long-term plan would be to have dozens and eventually hundreds of the platforms linked together.
Patri Friedman, a former Google engineer who is working on the project told Details that they hope to launch a flotilla of offices off the San Francisco coast next year.
‘Big ideas start as weird ideas,’ Mr Friedman said.
He predicted that full-time settlement will follow in about seven years.
But while some Ayn Rand acolytes may think the idea is brilliant, it’s not without its critics.
Margaret Crawford, an expert on urban planning and a professor of architecture at Berkeley, told Details: ‘it’s a silly idea without any urban-planning implications whatsoever.’
Mr Thiel told an audience at the Seasteading Institute Conference in 2009 that: ‘There are quite a lot of people who think it’s not possible.
‘That’s a good thing. We don’t need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don’t think it’s possible they won’t take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it’s too late.’
I fully support founding such a colony. In fact, I’ll donate $100 for a (one way) ticket for Don Brash to migrate there.
I’ve suggested – on several occassions – that neo-liberals who want to live in a free-market, minimalist government, zero-tax, user-pays society have just such a country to migrate to: Somalia.
Somalia is perfect and meets their criteria in every respect.
Of course, as part of user-pays, they would have to pay for their own security; their own private police force. And why shouldn’t they? After all, why should other taxpayers pay for protection of someone elses’ property, in a User Pays nirvana?
Strangely enough, as far as I’m aware, no neo-lib has ever taken up my offer.
And stranger even still, neo-libs seem to prefer living in New Zealand; a country built on collective efforts by it’s citizens to build up every aspect of present day society; electricity sector, education, railways, health, roading, police, bridges, libraries, etc. Even telecommunications, airlines, and television started off as tax-payer funded services. All paid by our taxes.
Private enterprise was focused on providing citizens with supermarkets, clothing, shoes (once upon a time), and other consumer goods. It was a good balance.
“Mr Thiel and his colleagues say their ocean state would have no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.”
No minimum wage? But… who would clean their toilets?
No building codes? On a free-standing oceanic city? Oh, I can see that working… not.
Call me cynical, but I doubt if Peter Thiel’s ‘Seasteading’ project will succeed. For one thing, human nature is involved – and as we all know, human nature can be a bugger of a thing to deal with.
Secondly, what happens if Thiel’s ‘island’ gets in trouble? Perhaps struck by a hurricane? Will the Seasteaders expect rescue from the international community? And will they be willing to PAY for assistance? (User pays, of course.)
The article further states,
“The Seasteading Institute says it will ‘give people the freedom to choose the government they want instead of being stuck with the government they get’.”
Uh oh. That sounds perilously close to that pesky concept popularly know as “de-mo-cra-cy”. Damned dangerous, that “de-mo-cra-cy”. What happens if, in time, the population of ‘Seastead’ elect a government that is more interventionist?
Will Thiel then build another libertarian community? To get away from the first ‘Seastead’, taken over over “leftists”?
Personally, I think Somalia would still be a cheaper option.
Let’s be honest here, though.
This is about one thing: money. Thiel wants to keep as much of his money as possible and not pay taxes. There may be other, immensely wealthy individuals, who feel lifewise.
Well, I say “good luck” to them. Let them set up their little sovereign “Island State”. Let them learn the hard way that a functioning, balanced, society involves more than just having a bloated bank balance. A dynamic society is a collection of mutually supporting groups and individuals – not just a handful of wealthy people.
My guess is that this little “Profit Paradise” will not last long. Nor will it be self-sufficient. And, the inhabitants will still want to spend (most of) their time on the US mainland, socialising, doing business, and all the other things that the rest of us enjoy. Their Island State will be nothing more than a taxation “bolthole”; a floating bank account.
And herein lies the dishonesty of such an idea.
But if billionaires want to spend their entire lives on such an Island, and not leave, then they are welcome to it. Imagine being forced to live your life in one little area; never leaving; and associating only with others of your ilk.
It’s called “prison”.