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Dear Leader: I’m so Ronery…

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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In the last week, John Key has shown  tell-tale signs that he’s losing it.  At the very least, he appears to be somewhat frazzled and it is this blogger’s contention that the pressure and stress from the last few months are beginning to take their toll on Dear Leader.

More importantly, there is a definite chill in the air. The media and the public are not quite as adoring as they were during National’s previous term in office.

How else to explain this incident, a week ago on 10 May, when Key was doing one of his  repetitious Smile & Wave photo-ops at the Holy Family School in Porirua East,

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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Two things jump out at the reader straight away,

  1. Look at the expression on Key’s face. Unless the camera caught him at an awkward moment, his face appears to  be expressing a feeling of… disdain? Discomfort? As if he didn’t really want to be there?
  2. When the Prime Minister asks a group of children if they have dreamed of being the Prime Minister – and then retorts with, “Frankly, the way it’s going at the moment you can have the job” –  that is a man who is not in a Good Place.

Aside from indicating that something is obviously   ‘bugging’ Dear Leader, that comment was utterly inappropriate.  You don’t ‘shoot down‘ children’s bright-eyed, youthful enthusiasm with such a cynical come-back. If John Key has a problem with his job, he needs to address it – not take his stress out on a bunch of kids, who, judging by the image above, were excited to see him.

His comment, a day earlier, on a radio show, seemed to further illustrate his growing frustration.  When he was questioned about the Sky City piokies-for-concention-centre deal, his annoyance was obvious,

I’m out there trying to promote a convention centre which we don’t put any money in and all I get is grief. OK? That’s what I get is grief. “

Wow! Talk about ‘wired‘. To quote our American cuzzies, “Dude! You need to chill!”

One further thing that comment reveals is that John Key doesn’t seem to get it. He doesn’t seem to comprehend community concerns with problem gambling and the fact that pokie machines are heavily implicated as the worst possible  form of gambling. They certainly appear to be the most profitable, despite declining numbers.

For good reason. Problem gamblem affects not just one individual, it can tear apart families and impact severely on businesses where gamblers may be working. Company embezzlment is often motivated by the culprits’ addiction and uncontrolled access to gambling machines.

People have lost their family home due to a gambling addict in their midst.

That is why Key is “getting grief”.

And he should expect more of the same.

That was followed, five days later by an extraordinary ‘whinge’ on NewstalkZB, with rightwing radio talkback host, Leighton Smith. When Smith questioned Key on the media’s increased willingness to be more critical when scrutinising National,  Key tore into the media,

The second point is that… what is true, is the media are in a more aggressive and hostile mood towards us…

… despite contrary to their opinions, I’m not that bent out of shape about that. “

Strangely, he then ‘channelled’ Helen Clark, and referred to a comment she made to him about her term as Prime Minister. As if Key was trying to use Clark’s standing as some kind of attempt to legitimise or justify his own performance.

Helen Clark came up to me at the swearing in of the Government in 2011 and said to me, ‘I remember what it was like, the first term was sort of okay, the second term was disastrous and the third term was diabolical.”

He also referred specifically to the NZ Herald and Sunday Star Times, saying,

  The Herald has turned more tabloid – that is an absolute statement of fact.  It was trying to lift circulation, especially casual sales at dairies, and had brought over David Fisher (from the Herald on Sunday) as “an investigative journalist, so-called“. “

Hear:  John Key with Leighton Smith (P1)

By that afternoon, Key resorted to form and denied he had ever made those critical comments. When questioned  by journalists, who referred to his remarks naming the Herald and Sunday Star Times, Key grinned his usual vacuous grin and responded,

“… Don’t think I did. (Journalist interjecting; “Yeah, you did“) Not specifically. Just said their headlines were wrong…”

Key said a damned sight more than just “their headlines were wrong“!

Snapped, Dear Leader. That was an outright lie.

See:     Key bemoans ‘hostile’ media (video)

See:     Key bemoans ‘hostile’ media (report)

The pressure is now on John Key and National. They sleep-walked through their  first three years in office, despite unemployment rising; growing debt that would’ve made Muldoon blush; a stagnating economy; and thousands more Kiwis voting with their feet and leaving the country.

As this Facebook User described the event,

Not content with having New Zealand’s so-called journalists follow him around like lost puppies eager to lick up whatever verbal vomit he puked their way during his first term, our venerable leader expressed his exasperation that some of the pups have grown into wolves and now seem intent on going for his jugular.

Well i say good job- it’s about time the media in this country got real where Key is concerned and started to ask some serious questions about his background, his motives and his real agenda for this country and whether that agenda is going to be to the great detriment of the vast majority of New Zealanders.
Did Mr Key think he could just carry on running the country as though policy, legislation and inter-party deals were just another series of currency trades?

Perhaps he thinks the media should just stand idly by and provide tacit approval for his backroom deals with big business donors and cronies- because for a while there they did- without question. Maybe the increasingly wonky John Key thought we’d all just turn a blind eye to his massive hypocrisy over the John Banks donation scandal and his inability to comprehend the ethical considerations raised by Banks actions and their incompatibility with his position as a Cabinet Minister. Not to mention the morally bankrupt deal that gifted the unpopular Banks the Epsom seat in the first place. ”  –  Newstalkzb is a Right-wing Propaganda Machine

Now, in their second term, the public are expecting a heckuva lot more than  bashing solo-mothers and raising charges on  prescription medicines. “Reforming” welfare is not going to create any meaningful new jobs (does 150 extra staff for WINZ really count?).

Especially when Paula Bennett herself admitted on 29 April, on TVNZ’s Q+A,

No. There’s not a job for everyone that would want one right now, or else we wouldn’t have the unemployment figures that we do.

See:   Q+A: Paula Bennett interview

Not enough jobs for everyone. But plenty of money to throw around on welfare “reforms”, hiring more WINZ staff, and giving solo-mothers free contraception (which seems a bit of a case of  slamming the barn door shut after the baby has bolted…).

Here’s a thought – job creation!! Damn, I bet no one in National has come up with this bold new idea! (Holy Common Sense, Batman,  I’m a fricken genius!)

If John Key is stressed now, six months into his second term, he has no idea what’s in store for him. As a Green co-leader said, Key needs to toughen up. Whinging to rightwing talkback hosts and venting at schoolkids is not a meaningful response to the critical problems faced by this country.

If John Key has a problem with understanding this – call a snap election, and be done with it. Let the people decide his fate.

Who knows – he might not have to worry about being PM any longer.

He might even get a decent nights’ sleep.


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Additional

You can have my job, John Key tells kids

Key bemoans ‘hostile’ media

Key denies slamming NZ media

Key backs off comments on ‘Herald’ in media gripe

Other Blogposts

Fearfactsexposed:  Key attacks media for doing its job

Kiwipolitico:  Whining John

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That was Then, This is Now #13

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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References

National Party  Tax Policy 2008

John Key:   Address to the CEO Summit, APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC)

Previous Blog post

That was Then, this is Now #12

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Dear Leader; prescriptions, airline taxes, and priorities

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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Continued from: National prescribes bad medicine for the poor

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Whacking the poor and bashing the benes…

National thinks nothing of raising prescription charges, from $3 to $5. As Dear Leader has assured New Zealanders, the poor have nothing to fear about more expensive medication.

John Key, with an estimated value of $55 million, of course understands what it’s like for the poorest in our society to pay for healthcare.

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prescription-charges-to-go-up Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking pm-says-low-income-earners-will-benefit-from-health-improvements

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Once upon a time, prescriptions used to be free of charge. Then a “part charge” of 50 cents per prescription was introduced during the 1980s/90s  neo-liberal “reforms”.

The argument was that everyone could afford 50 cents.

Then the charge was raised to $3 per item.

Now National will raise it to $5.

This is what is colloquially known as The Slippery Slope. The Slippery Slope is where a governments wants to implement a certain policy – but knowing that it will be highly unpopular, will introduce it gradually, in small increments.

Fifty cents. $3. $5. Next – ?

Meanwhile…

Key is up in arms about the Australian government’s plans to increase it’s airport departure tax from A$8 to A$55, per traveller.

See:  Travel chiefs declare war on airline tax

Evidently, according to one of Dear Leader’s  spokespeople, Key  “would raise the matter with Julia Gillard “shortly”.”

It’s reassuring to know that John Key takes his Tourism portfolio so seriously. This is a vital issue.

After all, no unemployed person; solo-parent; part-time worker on the minimum wage; or superannuitant wants to be distracted from their re-budgetting, to take into account more expensive medicines,  by the worrisome issue of  tourists facing higher airport charges.

Thankfully, Dear Leader is on the job.

John Key knows what his priorities are.

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Postscript

In a previous blogpost, National prescribes bad medicine for the poor , this blogger stated that tax cuts must inevitably result in reduced services and/or increased User Charges,

Common sense will tell even the most die-hard National groupie that if you reduce revenue, then one  has to cut expenditure and services; borrow to make up the shortfall; raise  user-charges; or all three. There ain’t no other way.”

Dear Leader has confirmed this by saying that because National was planning  a “zero Budget” (aka Black Budget), that would result in  “either an increase in charging or a reduction in expenditure“.

Key has stated that we should expect more increases in User Charges.

Message to National Party supporters and voters:  still enjoying your tax cuts?

See:  Opposition attacks prescription charge hike

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National prescribes bad medicine for the poor

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking

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National’s tax cuts are coming back to bite us firmly on our collective arses.

In April 2009 and October 2010,  National cut income tax and raised gst from 12.5% to 15%.  Key and English insisted that the tax cuts/gst rise were “fiscally neutral”.

Like so many of National’s statements, that “fiscal neutrality” turned out to be a fiction,

The Green Party has today revealed that the National Government has so far had to borrow an additional $2 billion dollars to fund their 2010 tax cut package for upper income earners.

New information prepared for the Green Party by the Parliamentary Library show that the estimated lost tax revenues from National’s 2010 tax cut package are between $1.6-$2.2 billion. The lost revenue calculation includes company and personal income tax revenues offset by increases in GST.

“The National Government said that their signature 2010 income tax cut package would be ‘fiscally neutral’ – paid for increased revenues from raising GST. That hasn’t happened. The net cost for tax cuts has been about $2 billion,” Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today. “

See:   Govt’s 2010 tax cuts ‘costing $2 billion and counting’

As taxation revenue dropped,  National’s deficit has risen alarmingly,

The government took in $1.57 billion less tax than expected in the first nine months of the fiscal year, reflecting a tepid economy, Treasury figures show – reflecting what the Finance Minister says has been a ‘difficult year’.

The Crown took in $39.8 billion in tax in the nine months ended March 31, against a forecast in the Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Update estimate of $41.3 billion, according to the government’s financial statements. “

See:  Govt tax take down by $1.57 billion

Massive borrowings over the last three years has not staunched the bleeding of government revenue. Soon after the April 2009 taxcuts, government revenue had begun to drop,

The Crown accounts for the year to June, released yesterday, showed an all-up deficit of $10.5 billion, compared with a surplus of $2.4 billion the previous year.

The state’s core operations – such as health, education and defence – recorded a deficit of $4.5 billion as tax revenues fell while spending grew. “

See:  $250 million: What our Govt borrows a week

After the October 2010 tax cuts, that borrowing had risen, and by mid-2011 stood at around $380 million a week,

”  The Government is borrowing $380 million a week and next week’s budget will carry a record deficit of about $16 billion, Parliament was told today.

Finance Minister Bill English said the Government’s financial position had deteriorated “significantly” since late 2008.

“The pre-election update in 2008 forecast that the deficit for this year would be $2.4 billion,” he said.

“It’s much more likely to be around $15b or $16b.”

That level of deficit, as NZPA has previously reported, will be the highest in New Zealand’s history and Mr English confirmed that today.  “

See:  Govt borrowing $380m a week

See:  Government debt rises to $71.6 billion

History lesson over.

Test: what can we deduce from tax-cuts – especially made during a recession?

  1. Government revenue will fall.
  2. Government will have to borrow to make up the short-fall.
  3. Goverment will have to either increase taxes or cut services and/or increase User Pays charges for the public.
  4. All of the above.
  5. We don’t have to do anything, because National is a fabulous fiscal manager;  John Key waves his hands; and money magically falls from the sky.

If you, the reader picked anything except Option 4 – feel free to re-read the above and go do some further research on Basic Economics 101.

If you picked Option 5, then you are a  hopelessly committed National supporter.  Seek professional help – stat.

The fact of the matter is that none of the tax-cuts were ever affordable.

Common sense will tell even the most die-hard National groupie that if you reduce revenue, then one  has to cut expenditure and services; borrow to make up the shortfall; raise  user-charges; or all three. There ain’t no other way.

National has borrowed billions – that much is crystal clear from media reporting using  Treasury data.

What the New Zealand public also need to understand is that National will also be cutting expenditure and services and raising user-charges.

National has begun a programme of increasing user-pays charge for,

  • Prescription Charges

Prescription charges will increase from $3 an item to $5 an item in next week’s Budget, as the Government moves to offset the cost of extra health spending in the “zero Budget”.

The new charge will cover up to a maximum of 20 items from January 1 next year, raising $20m in the first year and $40m after that. “

See:  Prescription cost to rise to help pay for Budget

  • Raising the compulsory student loan repayment rate and cutting student allowances,

Up to 5000 students will be affected by the National-led Government’s cut to student allowances, Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce revealed this afternoon.  The Government announced a raft of changes to student loan and allowance schemes last week, including a stop to allowances after 200 weeks. “

See: Allowance cuts to affect up to 5000 students

”  The changes would see more than 500,000 people forced to pay back their student loans more quickly and people studying for more than four years would no longer be able to claim an allowance…

… The repayment rate for loans will be increased to 12 per cent from 10 per cent for any earnings over $19,084.

See:  Outrage at student loan changes

  • Government has cut back on the state sector, sacking 2,500 employees, including  60 frontline bio-security border staff.

The cost to our economy, should the Queensland fruit fly take hold, would be in the hundreds of millions. And if foot and mouth ever took hold, the cost to our economy could be in the order of  $10 billion over a two year period!  National is gambling with our economy, simply for the sake of a few million dollars.

Pests such as the Varroa mite and the Psa virus have already taken hold in our environment. The latter, the Psa virus, could impact on our $1.5 billion kiwifruit export industry.

See:  Kiwifruit disease Psa explained

See:  2500 jobs cut, but only $20m saved

See:  Risks involved in cutting MAF Biosecurity jobs

  • Teachers numbers “capped” and class numbers increased.

The ratio of teachers to students in New Zealand schools is set to be changed, Education Minister Hekia Parata announced today.

For year one the ration will remain at one teacher for every 15 pupils while the ratio for those preparing for NCEA exams in years 11-13 will be standardised to one teacher for every 17.3 pupils…

…  The Government is also putting a cap on the number of teachers by keeping it at the present level.

Parata says the Government is not reducing teacher numbers, but claims $43 million can be saved by not hiring any extra teachers. “

See:  Teachers ‘pushed out the door’ in Budget shake up – Greens

The implications of this cost-cutting exercise are mind boggling. Not only will be see class sizes increase, but there is the strong possibility that students with special needs will miss out. Larger class sizes will put extra pressure on teachers and students; make one-on-one teaching harder; and will possibly force many teaching staff to quit or move to Australia.

At a time when our society desperately needs more educated and trained young people, this is a counter-productive step that beggars belief.  Only a bean-counter (unmarried, no children of his/her own) could devise such a crazy proposal.

Ian Leckie, the New Zealand Educational Institute national president, said,

Essentially every child gets less attention, and if we’re ever going to be concerned about what happens for our children, we want them to get the best of service, put more children in the class, it makes it harder for the teacher, harder for children to succeed.”

New Zealand’s youth unemployment currently stands at 83,000 – up from  58,000 last year. How many believe that National’s plan will improve on that dire situation?

See previous blogpost:  Bennett confirms: there are not enough jobs!

How many believe that is not a desperate cost-cutting exercise?

And how many suspect that the “cap” will quickly become staffing cuts – as happened with state sector workers?

  • Government closes down Gateway Scheme – where those on low incomes were assisted to buy there own homes,

Prime Minister John Key says a scheme to provide up to 100 affordable homes at Auckland to people on low incomes is not needed because low interest rates mean there is greater capacity for people to buy their own homes.

Mr Key has been explaining the Government decision to scrap its Gateway scheme to help those on lower incomes buy homes in its flagship Hobsonville Point development, in Auckland.

It would have provided affordable homes in a flagship Auckland housing development but has been wound up with just 17 houses built. “

See:    Low interest cuts need for cheaper houses – Key

See:    Key backs cut-off for cheap homes plan

There will be other cuts to social services and/or rises in User Pays charges.

The net effect is that those who received tax cuts under $40,000 will find that the cuts have been swallowed up. Low and middle income earners may find that they are now not only no better off – but are having to put up with higher government charges and  less services.

Those on $100,000+ p.a.  have done very well.

Those earning $70-$80,000+ p.a. may escape  relatively unscathed.

Low income earners, on minimum wage ($13.50 p/h) or just above,  facing higher prescription charges,  will effectively  be paying for tax cuts for the high-income earners, wealthy, and asset-rich.

If the tax cuts were designed to reduce government expenditure; increase user-pays; and raise incomes for the top 10% – then National has achieved it’s goal.

National is continuing it’s 1990s agenda, albeit more slowly, and stealthily.

I wonder – is this what 1,058,638 New Zealanders voted for, when they cast their ballot for National. More user pays?

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Information

Tax Cuts April 2009

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking  tax cuts april 2009

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Tax Cuts October 2010

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Frank Macskasy Blog Frankly Speaking tax cuts 2010

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By contrast,

Health Minister Tony Ryall said the $5 cost would be applied to the first 20 items of medicine per family each year, so no family would pay more than $100 a year for their prescription costs.

The current maximum for prescription costs was $60 a year. “

See:  Meds price hike: ‘Children will die’

The last word goes to Mana MP, Hone Harawira,

”  Doctors are saying right now that children’s health is being threatened by the price of medicine now. You have to assume that if Government raises that price then children will die as a result of that measure.

I don’t believe that any Government could be so callous.

Absolutely I think that these measures, although it is going to be difficult to prove, will lead to children dying, through the inability of their parents to afford the charges for medicine that are being proposed by this National/Maori Party Government.

Every price rise impacts poor people in a far greater way than it does people on the kinds of levels of income that him and his mates are on. So yes it is going to hurt every poor person in this country – Maori, Pacific and Pakeha”.

See: Ibid

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Additional

Government delivers April 1 2009 tax cuts, SME changes

Budget 2010: What the tax cuts mean for you

Prescription cost to rise to help pay for Budget

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