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New Year’s Wish List for 2012…

29 December 2011 9 comments

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My New Year’s wish list for 2012. Nothing too extravagant – just a few things that, in my ‘umble opinion, would make New Zealand the egalitarian social democracy we once had – before someone thought that pursuing the Almighty Dollar was more important than building communites.

In no particular order,

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  Stop the asset sales process. This government has no mandate to privatise any of our SOEs. There is also no rationale for any privatisation, as dividends  exceed the cost of borrowing by the State.

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  Halt the Charter Schools programme. There is little evidence that Chart Schools achieve better results  than  non-Charter Schools, and at least one major research project on this issue indicates that Charter Schools are a waste of time.

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  Introduce “civics” into our classroom curriculum. I’ve never considered this a necessity – up until now – but our recent low voter turnout – coupled with peoples’ apalling knowledge of how how political system works – is disturbingly. A modern democracy can only flourish if the public participate; contribute; and take ownership of the system.  Apathy breeds cynicism, frustration, and ultimately disengagement, disempowerment, and a violent response.

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  Implement programmes to assist those in poverty – especially families with children. Meals in schools (breakfasts and/or lunch) would be a great start. Build more state housing. Support programmes that help get young people  into training, upskilling, and  other constructive activities.

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  Stop bene-bashing and tinkering with the welfare system. Our high unemployment is a symptom of the current economic recession – not the cause of it. Instead, government must focus on job creation policies; training and upskilling of unemployed; and spending on infrastructure that maximises new jobs – not reduces them.

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  It’s time to wind back our liberalisation of liquor laws in this country. That particular experiment has been a colossal failure. Split the drinking age to 18/20; ban ALL alcohol advertising; put in place minimum pricing; reduce hours of retailers and bars; give communities greater voice and control of liquor outlets; make public drunkeness an offence; and implement the other recommendations of the Law Commission’s report, ‘Alcohol In Our Lives: Curbing the Harm‘.

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  Increase funding for Pharmac so that sufferers of rare diseases, such as Pompe’s,  can have hope for their future, instead of mortgaging it merely to postpone death for another day. We can do this – we must do this.

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  Release and make public all relevant information regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). Making such deals in secret is hardly the transparency-in-government that John Key says he supports.

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  Maintain and keep funding TVNZ7. The planned closure of this station – and replacement with a shopping channel – would be a blow to decent public television in this country. We can, and must do better, than simply a channel devoted to more mindless consumerism.

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  Cease from further cuts to the civil service. Sacking loyal, conscientious, workers is not the “capping” – it is adding to the unemployment dole queues. It is gutting the system that makes a modern society function and we are losing decades of collective skills and experience for no discernible purpose. We went through this in the late ’80s; early ’90s; and late ’90s – and our services suffered as a result.

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Raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Stat!

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  The Ministerial committee on poverty is set to end homelessness by 2020. This is simply not good enough!!! Bill English was interviewed on Radio NZ  on 16 December, and his responses to Kathryn Ryan’s questions were not reassuring. This excerpt from the interview was most telling,

RYAN: “It’s to report every six months, the committee. What measures will it use?”

ENGLISH: “Well, look, we won’t  spend a lot of time arguing over measures, there’s any number  of measures out there ranging from gini co-efficients  to kind of upper quartile [and] lower quartile incomes. Lot of of that is already reported in the MSD social report that it puts out each year…”Bill English and the new ministerial committee on poverty

If the Committee doesn’t monitor itself, how will it be able to measure it’s success (or fail) rate?

Poverty and unemployment have to be the top priorities of this government. Nothing else is as important.

Like the way in which the Jobs Summit, in early 2009,  sank beneath the waves,  I do not hold out for much success though.

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  Less spent on roads – more on rail and other public transport. Our continuing reliance on imported fossil fuels will not help our economy or environment one iota.

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  No mining on the Denniston Plateau (or any other Conservation lands). This ecologically-sensitive wilderness area needs to be preserved for future generations.  If we want to make money our of our environment – tourism is the way to go, contributing to approximately 10% of this country’s GDP.  John Key. Minister of   Tourism (NZ – not Hawaii), take note.

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  No deep-sea oil drilling. The stranding of the ‘Rena’ and subsequent loss of  of 350 tonnes (out of around 1,700 tonnes) of oil into the sea is the clearest lesson we’ve been taught that NZ is simply not prepared to cope with a massive deep-sea oil spill. An event such as the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, last year in April, by comparison lost 780,000 cubic metres of oil. An event of that magnitude would be catastrophic to our countrry.

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  Free healthcare for all young people up to 18.  And children to have first priority when it comes to our resources and funding. The future of our nation depends on healthy, well-educated, balanced children growing up as productive members of our society. Who knows – if we look after our children properly, they might feel more connected to our country and more motivated to live here instead of leaving for Australia. If we want our children to have committment to New Zealand – we need to be committed to them.

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Those are a few of my New Year’s wish list.  There are probably others that I may add at a later date – but they’ll do for now.

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Wishing Death Upon Him…

21 December 2011 4 comments

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A week or two ago, I happened to catch a segment of    Lindsay Perigo’s TV blog,  “Perigo!“, on Stratos TV.  It is a Libertarian response to  Bomber Bradbury’s more left-wing “Citizen A” and “War on News”, on the same network.

Lindsay Perigo holds some views that are similar to mine – and others that are  diametrically opposed. It’s all part of the fascinating, grand political rainbow upon which we all move.

The episode in question was a repeat  of one broadcast by Stratos TV on  July 12, 2011, and was Perigo’s commemoration of the passing of Roger Kerr, Chief Executive of the Business Roundtable.

In part, Perigo said this,

When Roger’s illness was made public, there was an outpouring of that unique kind of hatred only the Left are capable of. One poster on one political blog said:

He is getting what he deserves.

Millions of ordinary Kiwis have suffered because of HIS greed and desire to turn us all into a nation of slaves.

Let’s see you try to take all your money with you now, you TRAITOR.

This is why God exists, BECAUSE there MUST be a hell for evil of the likes of Roger Kerr, Ruth Richardson, Jenny Shipley, Rodger Douglas, etc etc.

Actually, there is a place beyond hate, (which is how ordinary Germans felt about Jews), caused by years of hardship and suffering), and it is where my reaction to Roger Kerr, et al is, and I would quite happily send the Business Round Table to the gas chambers.

And their families too. Why? Because you MUST get the evil OUT of the gene pool.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is what we’re up against. Generations of New Zealanders conditioned to believe they shouldn’t have to pay for anything; the world via the government owes them a living and any expectation they should make any effort themselves is a cosmic impertinence. Government should be all-providing … and all-powerful. Not merely mediocrity but sub-mediocrity is the goal … and those who would beckon us to a higher path should be gassed and damned to hell for it. This envy-and-hate-ridden, mindless, soulless and soul-destroying mentality brought us to the brink of catastrophe in 1984 and is threatening to do so again. Roger Kerr has fought the good fight against it for decades.

Whatever they may have said about him, most of his detractors, who are legion, have grudgingly, respected him. In their hearts they know he’s right. The prosperity of all us depends on wealth creation, and wealth creation flourishes under conditions of small government, minimal regulation and low taxes, underpinned by personal freedom and responsibility. Hanker though they might for the former Soviet Union or East Germany, the present-day North Korea or Zimbabwe, the socialists know that if prosperity rather than equality of destitution is our aim, then the Roger Kerrs of this world are … on the money.” – Source

At about this point, I switched channel. Not because I disagreed with certain aspects of Perigo’s views – but because in my view he was exploiting Kerr’s death to “have a go” at the Left. Quite distasteful. Bad form.

And I say that as a left-winger who disagreed with much of Kerr’s views.

However, the comment made by the “left winger”, that Perigo quoted, was  somewhat… familiar. So I employed that great Oracle of the  21st Century – Google.

And I discovered from whence that derisory comment had emanated from. It  most certainly was  not a “Blog” – leftwing or otherwise.

It was from a messageboard belonging to “Trademe“.

Yes, folks, that great icon of  innovative, Kiwi capitalism; Trademe. Here’s the link to a website that has ‘captured’ and stored that particular Thread, entitled simply, “Roger Kerr“. The comment was actually made by an anonymous User, “321mat”, in Reply 2 – though it is visible only as a “reply-to-reply 2″, under a post made by Username “Silas”.

I remember the post from “321mat” quite clearly. I myself recall posting on that same Thread (which has not been ‘captured’ by this website, “boardreader.com”). I made my own views quite clear; one may disagree with Kerr’s political opinions, but to wish him dead was simply  unacceptable. By all means let us be passionate in our views – but not psychotically so.

Wishing Kerr dead was as obscene as Cameron Slater wishing the same on Winston Peters, as he did today,

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Source

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I would add that I am no fan of Winston Peters. In fact, during the late 1990s I was a trenchant critic of him; his Party; and his fellow NZ First MPs. But I cannot recall ever wishing him to fall under a bus or similar fate. There is a vast gulf of difference between opposing the man’s ideas and actions – and desiring his demise.

Perigo might care to reflect that it is an unfortunate fact of life that fantatics exist in all religions;  in every political grouping; and throughout the left-right spectrum. This does not reduce the possible validity of a  philosophy – it simply means that disturbed individuals tend to gravitate to more extremist religious/political groupings.

That, Mr Perigo, is what we’re up against…

… extremists.

… and political commentators who use the death of a public figure to “have a go“.

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Sources

Boardreader: Thread – Roger Kerr (originally published on Trademe)

Roger Kerr Special—Peritorial: Capitalism Derangement Syndrome

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National’s Standards: F-minus

21 December 2011 2 comments

Former education minister, Anne Tolley, and John Key have some serious explaining to do,

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It is a serious matter for a Minister of the Crown to allege that a news-media story has been fabricated. Aside from being potentially slanderous – it is a distasteful mis-use of ministerial power. It is State power attempting to intimidate and destroy the credibility of the media.

This is Third World, banana-republic stuff.

It is not what we expect from our elected representative. (And make no mistake, MPs are our elected representatives – well-paid civil servants.)

Some background,

John Hone Riiwi Toia Mutu and wife Debroah Anne Mutu have been deregistered as teachers and ordered to pay $20,000 each in costs after a hearing by the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal.

Mrs Mutu was a principal at Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Kaikohe in 2004 when her husband, who was a teacher at the school, was found on a mattress with a 15-year-old student.

Mrs Mutu tore up the student’s written complaint about the incident, which occurred when she was home alone.

Mr Mutu was suspended by the school’s board of trustees in 2007 and his wife resigned in 2008, but she was later employed as a principal at a Kaitaia school before being appointed one of the Education Ministry’s 46 student achievement practitioners.

The practitioners are ministry-appointed experts sent into schools to help them implement national standards.

Labour has accused Mrs Tolley of misleading Parliament and the public after education spokeswoman Sue Moroney raised questions at the final question time last term on October 6.

Mrs Tolley replied, saying “that principal has never been suspended”.

A ministry spokesman said the information it had provided Mrs Tolley “at the time was correct” and it became aware of the allegations against Mrs Mutu only subsequently, when she appeared before the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal a few days later.

“The minister did not know at the time she answered questions in the House that Mrs Mutu had been stood down.

“Debroah Mutu had not fully disclosed the serious nature and extent of the charge against her to the ministry at any time prior to October 10.”

The ministry terminated Mrs Mutu’s practitioner role when it learnt she was before the tribunal, the spokesman said. It had since reviewed its secondment process.” – Source

This raises several issues,

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  • If, as a ministry of education spokesman claimed, “the information it had provided Mrs Tolley “at the time was correct” and it became aware of the allegations against Mrs Mutu only subsequently, when she appeared before the Teachers Disciplinary Tribunal a few days later” – why did Tolley not issue a correction in the House at the first available opportunity?
  • Key was asked if Tolley should have issued a correction  when she discovered the principal had been stood down and Key replied,  “That’s one option always available to a minister to make sure they correct that.”
  • Will Tolley be issuing an apology to Radio NZ?
  • How does the apparent incompetence of the Ministry of Education relate to this government’s on-going cuts to civil servants? Are we going to see more of these horrendous mistakes as National makes further cuts to government departments – until their efficiency is serious degraded to such a level that they cannot function in any meaningful fasion?
  • And is this how the leaky homes fiasco  and the down-grading of the mining safety Inspecorate began?

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Conclusions based on public information seems to indicate the following;

  1. Anne Tolley mis-led Parliament by making statements denying that the Mutu’s had been struck off.
  2. Tolley’s intemperate remarks attacking Radio NZ were an abuse of ministerial power.
  3. Tolley was advised within a week about the Mutu’s being struck off – and did nothing about it. Despite knowing the true situation, she made no effort to correct her earlier statement to the House.
  4. The effectiveness of the Ministry of Education, and other government departments, may be threatened as ideologically-driven cutbacks began to have inevitable consequences to public service  competance and productivity.

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Considering that Ms Tolley is now Minister of Police, I believe the public need to be confident that she is competant and not prone to lashing out at news media who raise valid issues.

This blogger considers that she is not up to the task, and should stand down.

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Additional

Tolley ‘didn’t know of charges’

Not much festive cheer for MPs’ staff

MPs get pay rise package of $7000

Further scrutiny of Tolley’s Mutu answer

National MPs: Anne Tolley

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John Key, Minister for Tourism, MIA

20 December 2011 6 comments

John Key is Prime Minister of New Zealand.

You wouldn’t believe it – but he’s also Minister for Tourism,

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As Prime Minister, he has been an almost omni-present figure on television, radio, internet, print media, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

As Minister for Tourism, though, his presence has been more akin to a human “stealth-politician“. One has to think very, very, very hard to actually recall any achievements that Key has made in his role.

In fact… he has achieved practically nothing.

Even his cherished “baby“, the nationwide cycleway, has not been the outstanding achievement he proudly predicted it would be,

The national cycleway has so far generated just 215 jobs – well short of Prime Minister John Key’s expectation of 4000.

In May, Mr Key said he expected the $50 million project, which involves building 18 cycleways throughout the country, to generate 4000 jobs. ” – Source

It is worthwhile considering that of sixteen tourism-related press releases issued since February 2010 to December of this year, Key’s office was responsible for only eight. The remainder (twelve) came from then-associate Tourism Minister, Jonathan Coleman’s office. Source

And when it came to tourism-related  speeches made on this ministerial portfolio;  four were made by Jonathan Coleman; and three, in total,  were made by John Key  since his victory speech on 8 November 2008.  [1], [2], [3]

Not exactly an over-exertion on Key’s part. In fact, it’s a mediocre performance.

Perhaps the most extraordinary contradiction  of Key’s tenure as Crown minister is that he appears to be Minister of Hawaiian Tourism.

Every year, John Key takes his family – not to a New Zealand destination – but to his  holiday residence on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

Personally, I wouldn’t  care a jot if John Key was Minister of Housing or Energy or Mushroom Farming – his choice of holiday destination would be irrelevant.

But Key is Minister of Tourism. His brief is to advocate on behalf of New Zealand and to promote this country as every holidaymakers’ first destination-choice.  As Key himself stated in a speech to the Hotel Industry Conference on  14 May, 2009,

It is a privilege to be New Zealand’s Minister of Tourism, to lead tourism in our beautiful country, and to promote our incredible scenery, our fine food and wine, our rich Maori culture, and the 100% pure experience.

Tourism is one of New Zealand’s most interesting industries. It has many different operators and many different customers.

And its success is hugely important for our future. Already, one-in-ten working New Zealanders are employed in the tourism sector. It accounts for around one dollar in every five of our export earnings. And it makes up about 10% of our economy.

We need to keep this in mind, because it shows just how much we stand to gain if our tourism industry keeps lifting its game.” – Source

I can’t see John Key promoting New Zealand from a beach in Hawaii.

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It’s not exactly a Vote of Confidence in our own tourist  industry if our own leader takes of to overseas destinations. What signal does that send to others – that a beach on Maui is more desirable than Ninety Mile Beach or the Marlborough Sounds in NZ?

By contrast, his predecessor, Helen Clark, routinely holidayed locally. Her tramping trips into our incredible scenic wilderness – which Key refers to in his comment above – were legendary.

We should remember the excellent Colenso advertising campaign in 1984, which encouraged New Zealanders “Don’t Leave Home Till You’ve Seen The Country“.

If John Key is serious about encouraging tourism to “lift it’s game”,  he definitely needs to  either take the role more seriously – or pass the portfolio on to one of his colleagues.

Preferably one who actually enjoys holidaying in our own country.

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Additional

Politicians relax with family

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The Story of Asset Sales – In Very, Very Simple Terms.

16 December 2011 Comments off

National’s plan’s to sell of our state assets – starting with Mighty River Power – doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s very simple to explain…

Once upon a time…

… our Dear Leader was being driven through his Kingdom of New Sheepland. He decided to stop and address his loyal serfs  subjects,

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He had a very busy day, but he still found time to do lotsa nice prime ministrary stuff with us. What a luvly Dear Leader he is. He is so kind, he  even gave his empty coffee cup to a nearby serf  subject, to take home for the little subject-children to play with. What a jolly nice Dear Leader he is,

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Once inside the vast ‘Moonbeam’ auditorium, named after Dear Leader’s favourite pet, he  was welcomed by his adoring serfs  subjects, with rapturous applause,

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"Huzzah! Huzzah!"

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Dear Leader greeted them all,  with a gentle smile and wave,

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Dear Leader then told the excited throng that he had an announcement to make,

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"I have an announcement to make!"

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The good, simple serfs folk of New Sheepland waited in anticipation. After so many decades, was the much-promised wealth about to trickle down upon them?

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Dear Leader then said,

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"My loyal serfs, er, I mean subjects! I have decided that the power generators that you have all slaved, er, worked so hard to build, can now be yours!"

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The loyal serfs  subjects erupted with rapturous applause! The wealth they had worked all their lives to build, would now belong to them. Everyone was happy,

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"Hooray!"

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Dear Leader then cheerily added,

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"Yes, for only a week's wages, you'll be able to buy your very own SHARES in Mighty River Power! How cool is that, my Loyal Subjects!"

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The serfs Loyal Subjects paused, stunned, and one brave mud-caked fellow timidly asked,

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"Wha-?!?! But, Dear Leader - "Mighty River Power belongs to us, already! We built it!"

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Dear Leader dismissed the serf’s  loyal subjects concerns with deep, heartfelt, empathy,

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"Shhhh! Now, now, muddy little man! This will be your chance to own it. Otherwise, the Big Bad Ogres from a far away land will come and take it away for themselves!"

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Another serf Loyal Subject spoke up,

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"What 'ogres'?"

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Dear Leader replied (just ever so little crossly, because he had other places to visit and other  muddy serfs  Adoring Loyal Subjects to talk down to) ,

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"The Big Bad Ogres from far away! That's all you need to know! So if you don't buy Mighty River Power, they will!"

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The muddy serf Loyal Subject pressed the point with Dear Leader,

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"Oh really? Well here's an idea, Flash Harry! Don't sell the bloody thing! We already own it!"

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Dear Leader was not amused,

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{"Christ-on-a-stick, why do I bother...?"}

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Another even-more-muddy serf Loyal Subject spoke up,

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"Well, why sell it at all? What'll you do with the money?"

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Dear Leader beamed and replied authoritively to the mud-caked serf Loyal Subject,

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"Tax cuts, my little muddy Subject! Tax cuts!"

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To which, all of Dear Leader’s Loyal Serfs Subjects gave a resounding cheer,

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"Huzzah! Huzzah!!"

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But the Muddy Little Serf Peasant woman Loyal Subject seemed suspicious,

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"What tax cuts? How much do we get?"

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Dear Leader smiled benignly, making a mental note to place this woman on the International Terrorist WatchList. She was just too damn lippy.  He said in a very patient, almost (creepy) uncle-sort of way,

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"Everyone will get a tax cut, Good Lady! Whether you're a serf, er, worker or a Lord! Everyone!

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The Muddied and Quite Smelly Serf Peasant Lady Loyal Subject raised an eye-brow in a very Spock-like fashion, and asked,

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"Oh yeah?! And how much do the Lords get, then, eh?"

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Dear Leader replied, sternly, and hoping that one of his Diplomatic Protection Squad would “accidentally ” taser this woman,

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"The Lords and Ladies of the Manors of the land will recieve 100 bars of gold, and a bushel of emeralds, rubies, diamonds, and sapphires. Also, several million in US dollars, deposited into their Swiss Bank accounts. Anything else, peasant woman?"

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The Peasant Woman’s boyfriend,  Barry, looked up and asked,

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"Yeah? What do we get?"

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Dear Leader replied,

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"If you behave, you'll get a balloon."

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The peasant woman (her name was Susan), demanded,

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"A balloon?! How is that fair???"

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Dear Leader smiled; his special, somewhat menacing shark-smile, and replied slowly,

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"It's not. But you voted for me. Any other questions, Loyal Subject?"

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Clutching at a sod of earth,  Susan said,

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"Yeah. I have one."

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"What is it?"

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"Can I have a yellow balloon?"

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Moral: If you voted National – what did you expect? Just be happy with the balloon you got.

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Additional

Gordon Campbell: Ten Myths About Asset Sales

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Haere ra, Carmen

16 December 2011 1 comment

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Full Story

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You got my vote, Carmen. You were one of those special people; unique and your own person.

The world is a slightly lesser place because of your passing.

Farewell…   

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Categories: People Being People Tags: ,

Good onya, mate…

16 December 2011 1 comment

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Full Story

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The problem I have with these “Honours” is that the public have no say in the matter.

As far as I can see, they are issued to politicians and wealthy businesspeople – not exactly community-minded, and often on dubious grounds.

I’d be more inclined to offer these Honours to the folks working in our community, helping the vulnerable; mentally unwell; troubled children; abused women and families… the ones who pick up the pieces from negligent government policies.

For example, Women’s Refuge which this year suffered an $800,000 cut from government – whilst the NZ Defence Force received $20 million funding for advertising. “Advertising“?!?!

Personally, I’d rather see an Honour given to Bryan Bruce who recently produced the excellent documentary, “Inside NZ: Child Poverty“. Bruce has earned our respect for his diligence in reminding us that NZ faces some seriously critical problems surrounding  poverty.

If that doesn’t merit recognition – what does?

As for Ritchie McCaw – I wish him a long and successful career. He’s an excellent role-model for our young folk. (And a good sportsperson as well.)

Sometimes, the best recognition doesn’t need a title.

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