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Life in Lock Down: Day 12

7 April 2020 2 comments

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April 6: Day 12 of living in lock-down…

Another day of a near-empty Park N Ride carpark;

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covid19 - wellington - park n ride carpark 6 april 2020

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And another day of near-empty Wellington streets;

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covid19 - wellington - park n ride carpark 6 april 2020

.covid19 - wellington - park n ride carpark 6 april 2020

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Light traffic on the motorway. No apparent increase in volume. Commercial vehicles sighted; a gravel-hauling truck; McAuley’s Transport; a tow-truck; “Dole”-branded truck; container-truck; another container truck, “McAuley’s”; “Downer” flat deck truck; a Hyundai traffic speed-camera van north of Kennedy Good Bridge; a police car at the Melling Interchange; a Waste Management truck; a skip-bin truck; 2 “Kiwirail” utes; 2 “New World” covered trucks; “Mainfreight” truck; “Noel Leeming” truck; an ambulance; “Rescue” ambulance; “EBT” container truck; “Chubb” van; “KAM” double tandem truck; “Super Freight” truck; 2 “Mainfreight” trucks; firefighting appliance; Traffic Management truck; “PTS” container truck; train-replacement bus; firewood truck (empty); “Salvation Army Family Store” truck; a bus with “driver training” illuminated signage; 2 unmarked road-works trucks; an unmarked covered truck; “Red Wolf” security van; “Toll” green truck; “Chemdry” van; ambulance with lights and siren; “Laser” plumbing van; another gravel hauling truck; another ambulance; and a “Chill” branded van. Commercial vehicles passing me on the other side of the road were not always able to be clearly identified.

Traffic north of Lower Hutt remaining light with only two or three  vehicles on the motorway any one time. Approaching Melling Interchange, traffic was near non-existent. Traffic was equally light south of Petone with perhaps three in front and three to my rear. Traffic at Ngauranga was heavier as SH1 and SH2 merged. Even then, there appeared to be around eight in front and eight at behind me. Traffic at the Terrace tunnel was almost nil, one in front, one at back.

The price board at the “Z” service station in Vivian Street was still dark.

Heading to Miramar, it suddenly occurred to me that the Evans Bay Marina Carpark – almost always full with freedom camping vans-  has nearly emptied out. Yet, it was full at the beginning of the lockdown.

It is clear that the occupants have decamped and have moved on. All in the last two weeks.

If this is how “freedom campers” show they are responsible tourists, then we are better off without this low-end part of the tourist industry. The temptation to “hit the road” and enjoy what little remained of their holiday seems to have been too much for them.

At my work, management has implemented a new plan to purchase supplies for clients. It is a good plan (albeit needing some tweaking to mitigate food safety risks), even though it’s taken two weeks to put in place.

Later that night, I’m driving through Wellington’s Arras Tunnel near the War Memorial. There is a road-marking work gang in the tunnel; two of the four lanes have been “coned off”, reducing to two lanes. The work gang is painting road markings.

I find this remarkable. Until now, the NZTA has stated that all normal road works have been suspended and only urgent, emergency work will be undertaken;

“In accordance with the Government guidance, major project work (Capital Works) is not seen as an essential service and work sites and workers have been stood down for four weeks.

Services to maintain the site can continue as essential services to ensure these sites remain safe. This includes things like traffic management and environmental controls. We will continue to manage and monitor environmental risks and traffic management plans to protect and ensure safety for the travelling public. It is crucial that we preserve the integrity of the asset and render worksites safe.”

Road markings are “Urgent work”?

Has the NZTA authorised this work or has the contractor decided to undertake some work-sneaking? I have emailed NZTA for clarification.

Throughout my entire day, from 9am to when I roll into my driveway at about 8.30, I sight only one police car  all day. There were more police on the roads before the lock-down.

Meanwhile the National Party, various businesses, Simon Bridges, and David Clark lead the race to see who can be the most irresponsible.

Simon Bridges

His drive from Tauranga to Wellington exemplifies the sense of privilege and entitlement that pervades some people in our society. Mr Bridges justified his drive by citing his “constitutional” duties;

“I don’t take these things lightly, but I am the leader of the opposition, I’ve got constitutional duties, I’m running a committee in extreme circumstances where there is no Parliament.”

Is the virus aware of Mr Bridges’s “constitutional” duties?

Simon Bridges is unfit to lead this country.  His display of an utter lack of judgement shows he has no future in politics.

He should and must resign before the next election.

David Clarke

As above.

Businesses

The Warehouse tried it on. So did Jenny Craig. Golf courses (for “mental health”!?). And even a sex shop. Plus umpteen other businesses.

Make no mistake: Every. Business. Is. Essential. Or so their owners and shareholders will insist.

“My business is not essential”, said no business-owner, share-holder ever.

They will cite overseas traders; poor families needing their services (which they only discover when it suits them); “mental health”; physical health; etc.

Mad Butcher” group chief executive, Michael Morton, was interviewed by RNZ Morning Report’s Susie Ferguson on 7 April. He was quite blunt;

“If you open up and doing 20% of your trade, well, you’re going to lose a significant amount of money.”

We should be crystal clear on this: businesses want to open up their businesses to trade as normal – despite the world being in the grip of a deadly pandemic – not because they feel sorry for poor people not being able to buy warm blankets, beer, or play golf, or lose weight through weight-loss programmes; or buy sex-toys.

They want to open up to make money.

It’s that simple.

Don’t let businesses; their political allies; and self-serving deluded apologists tell you otherwise.

They want to make money.

And if, in the process, the pandemic spreads throughout the country and the body-bags start to pile up at mortuaries – they will deny all responsibility for their breath-taking selfishness and point the blame at Jacinda Ardern.

They want to make money. And they will do it over our dead or dying bodies.

The National Party

I swear, it seems to me that political ideology and sheer stupidity go hand-in-hand. Exhibit Number 1: National’s Todd McClay who is demanding that – essentially – all businesses be allowed to re-open. This would cut the lock-down from four weeks to two. Because if all businesses can claim to be “essential” (and what business isn’t “essential to it’s owners/shareholders?), then how is a lock-down a lock-down?

On 6 April, Mr McClay was bitterly complaining to RNZ’s Morning Report;

“The government needs to remain agile when it comes to allowing businesses to operate during the lockdown, if they can prove or show that they can do so safely.

To date the decision making has been too arbitrary and there are too many inconsistencies. For instance, allowing dairies to open but not local butchers or greengrocers, agriculture to continue but not forestry, cigarettes to be manufactured but community newspapers cannot be printed.

An example of this is Noel Leeming – they’re allowed to sell you a jug, but not a cell phone, but the person that’s packaging that … contactless sale that’s being delivered to the door, they’re already at work. Or the warehouse that’s allowed to sell you a car battery, not car polish.

We know that agriculture is functioning, I’d ask what’s the difference between that and forestry – an industry that is hugely important to the central North Island.

I think if you’re a clothing manufacturer, or a small business that’s working from home it can be contactless, you will show that you will adhere to and respect all of the Covid-19 health and safety rules, but we need to be doing everything you can to keep these businesses running

I think if you’re a clothing manufacturer, or a small business that’s working from home it can be contactless, you will show that you will adhere to and respect all of the Covid-19 health and safety rules, but we need to be doing everything you can to keep these businesses running.”

What is really crazy is that a supposedly well-educated, sane, intelligent person could endanger hundreds; thousands; tens of thousands of lives by advocating that businesses be allowed to re-open before the virus has been eradicated.

The breath-taking scale of Mr McClay’s short-sightedness should be seen for what it is: a danger to our own well-being and lives.

Through equal measures of quick action and pure luck, we have dodged (thus far) the covid19 bullet.

People like Mr McClay, Mr Bridges, certain right-wing commentators; and businesspeople would put us all back in the line of that bullet. They will put our safety and lives at risk for money.

These people are a menace.

Buzzword of The Day

National’s media minders have issued a new buzzword for their MPs to use. See if you can spot the “magic” word:

Let’s try and deal with some of the randomness where one is an essential service and one isn’t, let’s be agile and potentially we can move to a more risk-based system.” – Simon Bridges, Leader, National Party, 5 April 2020

The government needs to remain agile when it comes to allowing businesses to operate during the lockdown, if they can prove or show that they can do so safely.” – Todd McClay, National MP,  Economic Development spokesperson, 6 April 2020

Simon Bridges and Todd McClay have forgotten that the virus can be even more agile.

Let me quote an expert who is very familiar with the threat we are facing

“The enemy we are facing is very good at what it does; we are not failing. We need everyone to hold the line as the epidemic inevitably gets worse. This is not an opinion. This is the unforgiving math of epidemics for which I and my colleagues have dedicated our lives to understanding with great nuance, and this disease is no exception. Stay strong and in solidarity knowing that what you are doing is saving lives, even as people continue getting sick and dying. You may feel like giving in. Don’t.

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This outbreak will not be overcome in one grand, sweeping gesture, but rather by the collection of individual choices we make in the coming months. This virus is unforgiving to unwise choices. As this epidemic continues, it will be easy to be drawn to the idea that what we are doing isn’t working and we may feel compelled to “cheat” with unnecessary breaches of social distancing measures.” – Jonathan Smith, Infectious disease epidemiologist, 21 March 2020

 

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Current covid19 cases: 1,106

Cases in ICU: 3 (1 critical)

Number of deaths: 1

 

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References

RNZ:  More industry and small businesses could reopen – National

RNZ:  Bridges defends Wellington to Tauranga commute

RNZ:  Coronavirus lockdown – Is the Warehouse an essential service?

RNZ:  Jenny Craig defends stance as essential service

Fairfax/Stuff: Coronavirus – Golf clubs could perish if greenkeepers barred from caring for greens

Adult Toy Mega Store

RNZ:  Coronavirus – Mad Butcher CEO claims government decisions hurt butchers

TVNZ: Jacinda Ardern does not want lockdown to last ‘a minute longer than needed’, but says it won’t finish early

NZTA: Roadworks and projects

Elemental: Hold the Line

RNZ:  Covid-19 – What happened on 6 April

Must Read

Elemental: Hold the Line

Democracy Now:  Madrid’s Ice Rink Turned to Morgue as Spain Exceeds China in Coronavirus Deaths

Other Blogs

The Daily Blog: Why Jacinda MUST keep us locked up for 6 weeks

Previous related blogposts

The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus

Life in Lock Down: Day 1

Life in Lock Down: Day 2

Life in Lock Down: Day 3

Life in Lock Down: Day 4

Life in Lock Down: Day 5

Life in Lock Down: Day 6

Life in Lock Down: Day 7

Life in Lock Down: Day 7 (sanitised version)

Life in Lock Down: Day 8

Life in Lock Down: Day 8 (sanitised version)

Life in Lock Down: Day 9

Life in Lock Down: Day 10

Life in Lock Down: Day 11

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Acknowledgement: Evans

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This blogpost was also published on The Daily Blog on 8 April 2020.

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Life in Lock Down: Day 11

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April 5: Day eleven of living in lock-down…

My one day of rest for the week, and an opportunity to mow my lawns – which I’d been delaying for about three weeks. (On the plus side, the damp micro-climate in my back yard yielded three lovely fresh mushrooms for breakfast today, along with chorizo sausage and two eggs.)

First up, TVNZ’s Q+A at 9am.  A great interview with Dr Ayesha Verrall who said it was too early to tell how we were progressing with controlling cid19. We needed more data on community transmission, she said.

Dr Verrall was also concerned with how covid19 could be easily transmitted in lower socio-economic areas where low-income families were living in over-crowded housing.

She was forthright in advocating more restrictive practices, saying that the more retail outlets like Noel Leemings, Mitre10, etc, that were open to the public, the more gatherings would occur where transmission could take place.

In a crisis like this pandemic, it’s more worthwhile listening to scientists and medical professionals that business people and National Party politicians agitating for businesses to re-open earlier.

Following Dr Verrall was National Party Leader, Simon Bridges. He advocated full quarantining of arrivals to Aotearoa as well. Which would be fine except for a long time National was advocating tax cuts when faced with the growing pandemic crisis overseas. It was only after the government implemented a ban on all students from China that Mr Bridges fell in line with travel bans for people from affected nations.

Mr Bridges also strongly advocated more border controls; more testing; and more tracing. He made no mention of strengthening the lock-down and closure of non-essential businesses. He is mostly silent on the issue, as National is well known for it’s strong link to the business community.

Interestingly, the Word of the Day for Simon Bridges seemed to be “agile”; used so many times during the interview that this blogger lost count. “Let’s be agile” and variations thereof was his mantra.

An interview with ACT MP; libertarian, and spokesperson for promoting the spread of the covid19 virus, David Seymour followed. His concern for privacy and individual liberties would be laughable considering ACT’s  past support for increasing surveillance powers for the GCSB, Police, and SIS.

The covid19 virus would like to thank Mr Seymour for his support.

Following David Seymour, Dr Mel Bunce from the University of London gave her thoughts on the state of the media, as revenue from advertising dried up, weakening the fourth estate when it was needed most to report on the worst epidemic in 102 years.

She suggested that the proposed merger of NZME and Stuff was a two-edged sword. On the one hand a larger corporate entity might weather the current economic melt-down better than two smaller companies.

But on the other hand, she pointed to Bauer Media Group suffering financially and closing many of Aotearoa’s most well-known magazines as it withdrew it’s operations. She said a similar fate to a merged NZME/Stuff could  close up to 90% of the country’s media.

Rodney Jones from Wigram Capital Advisors offered his insights and research that China had under-reported deaths in their country by up to 40,000. He said we could not look to China for solutions because we coulkd not trust their data. He suggested that China will have negative GDP this year.

He also questioned how the pandemic would impact on globalisation – echoing the sentiments by others that the virus would do to neo-liberalism which progressives had failed to achieve.

Jack Tame finished the programme with a statement that Q+A would be doing another episode during Easter  (unlike it’s counterpart on TV3).

After lunch, sticking to the stay at home,exercise locally protocol I went for a walk around the block. The weather was fine and it was perfect to enjoy the quiet of a Level 4 Lock Down Sunday.

Unable to procrastinate any longer, it was time to pull out the lawn-mower and attack three (more like four?) weeks of turf growth.It’s unfair, I said to some passers-by: lawn-mowing should not be required during the Virus Apocalypse…

Did Bruno Lawrence have to mow his lawns in The Quiet Earth? Will Smith in I am Legend? Charlton Heston in The Omega Man? Grass continues to grow despite the slow collapse of civilisation-as-we-know-it…

At 1pm, Jacinda Ardern and Ashleigh Bloomfield make a televised address to the country. The latest figures are disclosed. There are more cases of covid19 and two more infection “clusters”.

Worryingly three people are in ICU – two are critical. Our death toll may rise.

Ms Ardern then made a rare departure from form, referring to “idiots” who are not taking the crisis seriously. She refers to the moron in Dunedin who deliberately coughed and sneezed at people whilst filming himself and uploading it onto social media. He has since been arrested and charged.

Standing on my front lawn at 1.55 – just in time to see a “boy”-racer (in late 20s, early 30s? too old to be a “boy” racer?) roar past at high speed. Seconds later, the sound of a police siren and a police car appears from around the corner, flying past in hot pursuit.

He went that way!” thumb pointing, as I ‘helpfully’ called out to the police car (it was unlikely he heard me in the 1 second he sped by).

Who said that lock-downs were boring? I was witnessing a live-action episode of “Police Ten-Seven” in front of my own house!

(The one positive thing about near empty streets?  Police chases become less problematic with fewer vehicles on the road and pedestrians out and about.)

That evening, I ‘Skyped’ my parents. They are in self-isolation. The pandemic affects their region as well.

With their age and under-lying medical conditions, a covid19 infection would make life very hard for them. It took a while to explain what Aotearoa’s lock-down meant and why only (supposedly) essential services were allowed to open. I described what a “bubble” meant and how – if it was religiously followed – it would stop the virus from transmitting to others. I explained it was legally backed up by a declaration of a State of Emergency and the edict to stay home and exercise locally was not a Take-It-Or-Leave-It choice (David Clark, take note!).

My youngest sibling, who has severe multiple sclerosis, is in strict quarantine by his carers. For him, covid19 would be an automatic, quick death sentence.

Following my parents, I ‘Skyped’ my partner. It’s been nearly three weeks since I last saw her in person. It was a joy to see her face and we spent half an hour or more sharing what we had done today; the short-lived excitement of witnessing a police-chase in my own street. There was cheeky banter exchanged and our plans for tomorrow. She is still working long hours for her organisation, though it’s done from home by phone, ‘Skype’, or video conferencing.

Tomorrow we begin Week 3 of lock-down.

Whether or not we begin to control the virus and see fewer people fall victim to it depends on what we do collectively. In short, it’s up to us.

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Current covid19 cases: 1,039

Cases in ICU: 3 (2 critical)

Number of deaths: 1

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References

RNZ:  PM – David Clark ‘needs to be a role model’

RNZ:  Covid-19 – What happened on 5 April

Must Read

Elemental: Hold the Line

Democracy Now:  Madrid’s Ice Rink Turned to Morgue as Spain Exceeds China in Coronavirus Deaths

Other Blogs

The Daily Blog: What kind of Police State do you call this? Why Faafoi & Clark should get slapped and what the hell is the CTU doing?

Previous related blogposts

The Warehouse – where everyone gets a virus

Life in Lock Down: Day 1

Life in Lock Down: Day 2

Life in Lock Down: Day 3

Life in Lock Down: Day 4

Life in Lock Down: Day 5

Life in Lock Down: Day 6

Life in Lock Down: Day 7

Life in Lock Down: Day 7 (sanitised version)

Life in Lock Down: Day 8

Life in Lock Down: Day 8 (sanitised version)

Life in Lock Down: Day 9

Life in Lock Down: Day 10

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Acknowledgement: Evan

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This blogpost was also published on The Daily Blog on 7 April 2020.

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Dollars and common sense – raising the minimum wage.

22 August 2012 3 comments

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Full story

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Well reasoned –  David Clark has reasoned the issue very nicely.

Of course, those who argue that raising the minimum wage would harm our economy should consider two things;

1. Our best and brightest will leave NZ for where wages are higher. THAT will harm our economy.

2. If raising the minimum wage is a “bad thing”, consider the converse; dropping the minimum wage to $1 an hour. What would that do to our economy? Wreck it for sure.

Raising the minimum wage means people can share in the “economic pie” and buy the services and products that businesses have to offer. Keeping wages low may mean that ‘Acme XYZ Ltd’ has a lower wages-bill to pay it’s staff – but it also means that other low-paid workers can’t buy ‘Acme XYZ Ltd’s’ products and services.

Meanwhile,

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Full story

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Interestingly, if those on minimum wage ($13.50) had a 20% wage increase, as did the Top 150 Rich Listers – that would raise their hourly wage to $16.20 an hour.

Question: why is it ok for the Top 150 Rich Listers to increase their wealth by a staggering 20% (during a global recession, no less!) – but not ok for the lowest paid to have a better wage?

Can any National Party supporter explain this anomaly in New Right dogma?

In 2008 and again in 2011, Dear Leader John Key promised to raise wages to match Australia,

“We will be unrelenting in our quest to lift our economic growth rate and raise wage rates.” – John Key, Prime Minister, 29 January 2008

See:  2008: A Fresh Start for New Zealand – John Key

“The driving goal of my Government is to build a more competitive and internationally-focused economy with less debt, more jobs and higher incomes.” – John Key, Prime Minister, 21 December 2011

See:  Speech from the Throne

Instead, the converse has proven to be the reality,

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Full story

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And it’s a funny old world, really.

Voters abandoned the government that gave them this…

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Full Story

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… for this,

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Full story

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Never let it be said that some New Zealanders don’t enjoy a bit of masochism every so often, and vote National for a sound bout of  self-whipping.

Unfortunately, it’s the rest of us that end up paying for that self-indulgent choice at the ballot box.

Here’s a clever idea – all those people who vote National should have a wage/salary freeze during the term of that government.  After all, as some National supporters keep insisting, raising the minimum wage “harms the economy”. (I assume the same holds for all  wages and salaries?)

The rest of us, who vote for Labour, Greens, Mana, et al, can have our wages/salaries linked to Australia’s pay rates.

Now I ask you – what could be fairer than that?

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Frank Macskasy - Blog - Frankly Speaking

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Previous related blogposts

Bill English: Minimum Wage Not Sufficient to live on!

Treasury’s verdict on raising the Minimum Wage?

Treasury’s verdict on raising the Minimum Wage? – Part II

Fifty cents an hour? I’m under-whelmed by Dear Leader’s Generosity

“It’s one of those things we’d love to do if we had the cash”

Jobs, jobs, everywhere – but not a one for me?

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