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The Standard

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I’m sorry, I’m out

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, April 16th, 2011 - 68 comments

broken pencil

Every country that has ever sleepwalked from democracy to dictatorship has done it in the belief that it was taking extraordinary, temporary measures in response to an emergency. Seeing Labour denounce every aspect of CERA and then vote for it has shaken me to the core.

Oil spike takes off

Written By: - Date published: 11:50 am, April 11th, 2011 - 36 comments

petrol cost

Get ready for another petrol increase this week. Last week, the Dubai crude benchmark, which most of New Zealand’s imports are priced of, shot up over 4% in NZD terms. Unless that rise reverses right away, petrol will have to rise past $2.25 a litre. We’re now pay $160m a week for oil imports – $2b a year more than a year ago.

AMI socialises its losses

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 am, April 8th, 2011 - 70 comments

ami insurance

Another week, another massive corporate bailout as National reaches into our pockets to aid a company. Whatever happened to free-market ideology? Isn’t failure of bad businesses healthy? When did every financial sector company become ‘too big to fail’? We’re rewarding a bad business model and punishing good ones.

They just waste it on booze & smokes

Written By: - Date published: 7:40 am, April 6th, 2011 - 246 comments

foodbank

John Key says the thousands of Kiwi families turning to foodbanks to get by are made ‘poor choices’. Among the ‘poor choices’ that poor people allegedly make according to righties is spending all their money on alcohol and cigarettes, rather than on food. As with most ‘truths’ that underpin rightwing prejudice, the facts don’t back this up.

No plan, no worries?

Written By: - Date published: 12:55 pm, April 5th, 2011 - 9 comments

unemployment

A unemployment disaster is slowly unfolding in Christchurch. For now, the tide of job losses is being partially held back by wage subsidies supporting nearly 70,000 workers, but those will be phased out by June. Then, all hell will break loose. The Government has no plan for this and, according to Key, hasn’t even bothered to understand the scope of the crisis.

A goal is not a strategy

Written By: - Date published: 11:36 pm, April 4th, 2011 - 26 comments

smoke stacks

Last year, the New Zealand Institute lambasted the Nats’ ‘aspiration’ to catch Australia by 2025 with a report entitled ‘A goal is not a strategy‘. Did the Nats change? Of course not. Yesterday, their energy strategy was released. It offers some goals but is mute on how to get there. It’s not really a strategy at all, but it serves the Nats’ purpose nonetheless.

Kiwis want buses, not holiday highways

Written By: - Date published: 1:34 pm, April 4th, 2011 - 30 comments

bus

Kiwis are voting with their feet, or rather their arses. Patronage of public transport is skyrocketing to the point of overcrowding while state highway use is falling among except for freight. You have to wonder why the government keeps building expensive highways that will be underused when public transport is full to the brim.

Plurality support quake levy

Written By: - Date published: 11:29 am, April 4th, 2011 - 4 comments

shushing key

A UMR poll shows that 40% of Kiwis support paying an earthquake levy to help pay for the Christchurch rebuild. 22% prefer more borrowing, and 29% want spending cuts. Asked just whether they supported or opposed a levy – 57% supported it. Yet the Nats are choosing cuts instead.

Choices, choices

Written By: - Date published: 11:32 am, April 1st, 2011 - 21 comments

choices choices company tax vs ece r and r and borrowing small

In the last Budget, National cut the corporate tax rate to 28%, which costs $400 million a year and comes into effect today. It also cut $200 million a year from early childhood education and tertiary funding in the same Budget, while borrowing billions. When the government cuts public services it is because it chooses […]

Meltdown at Fukushima

Written By: - Date published: 8:39 am, March 31st, 2011 - 34 comments

radioactive sign

Efforts to cool the nuclear fuel rods in Fukushima’s No 2 reactor have failed. The rods have become molten and it appears some have melted through the steel reactor core into a concrete layer. Two dangers now arise: radioactive chemicals created by the concrete reacting with the nuclear fuel and the nuclear fuel pooling enough to go critical.

Cuts don’t make costs disappear

Written By: - Date published: 11:19 am, March 30th, 2011 - 58 comments

joker-debt-burning-fire

Key and English are trying to soften us up for big public service cuts this budget. They tell us it’ll just be ‘nice to haves’ and that the private sector will step in to fill the gap when they cut too close to the bone. The important thing to realise is that every time the public service doesn’t provide us with something either we have to buy it out of our own pockets (usually at greater cost) or we don’t get it at all.

Key’s kiss of death for Chch workers

Written By: - Date published: 10:10 am, March 29th, 2011 - 57 comments

closed out of business

The $6.8 million package for businesses offered last week by the government was an insult: business mentors and export junkets – just what people who aren’t allowed to access their businesses need. Now, Key and Bennett have announced they are slashing wage support and and the job loss payment. It will hammer the Christchurch economy.

Half a million protest UK budget cuts

Written By: - Date published: 10:27 am, March 28th, 2011 - 36 comments

cuts are not the cure

I’ve been checking out some of the amazing footage and photos from friends who were in the London ‘March for the Alternative’. 500,000 people turned out to show the depth of feeling against the slash and burn budget of the Conservative-Lib Dem government. As the Nats plan their own shock doctrine budget, I hope they’re taking notes.

Fukushima radiation skyrockets

Written By: - Date published: 11:16 pm, March 27th, 2011 - 45 comments

radioactive sign

Normally, we get 3.65 millisieverts of radiation a year. Increased cancer risk is associated with 100 millisieverts per year. Nuclear workers are only meant to get 100 millisieverts even in an emergency with protective clothing. Today, water in No 2 reactor was detected emitting 1 sievert per hour – and they’re not sure of the source.

O’Sullivan gets it right & wrong

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, March 27th, 2011 - 65 comments

smile-and-wave-key

Fran O’Sullivan makes some pertinent remarks about John Key’s recent performance. The fact is, he wanted to be the Party PM, head clown presiding over good times, but times aren’t good and his heart just isn’t in tackling the hard issues. However, while saying these issues matter more than the Hughes affair, O’Sullivan makes one big mistake.

Zero is a cut

Written By: - Date published: 9:30 am, March 25th, 2011 - 24 comments

budget cuts

As we brace for this year’s budget it’s important to remember that no change is a cut. A dollar today buys nearly 5% less than it did a year ago and there are 1% more New Zealanders. This is the most subtle and insidious way that the Right can undermine public services, by letting inflation and population growth do the work for them.

Flat as a pancake

Written By: - Date published: 12:43 pm, March 24th, 2011 - 58 comments

stock crash

The economy grew just 0.2% in the December quarter, enough to avoid the technical definition of recession but did it feel like that for you? No. It felt like recession because the economic pie grew slower than the population. National’s economic record is GDP per capita 5% below its peak and down another 0.6% between […]

30% of Chch workers jobless by quake

Written By: - Date published: 9:08 am, March 24th, 2011 - 11 comments

unemployment

62,000 Christchurch workers are now receiving special earthquake payments. Most of these workers’ businesses have been closed by the earthquake and plan to re-open at some point by 6,300 jobs are gone for good That’s about 30% of Christchurch workers out of action and 3% without the hope that their workplace will re-open.

‘Crisis’ but tax cuts for the rich keep coming

Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, March 23rd, 2011 - 41 comments

rich-man-poor-man

The Nats want us to believe there is no other option than massive cuts to government spending. Roughly, a third of the cuts covers the earthquake rebuilding, another third covers the Nats’ tax cuts for the rich, and the last third covers the revenue loss from this neverending recession. So, how come the Nats can afford another round of tax cuts for the rich?

Armstrong on Key’s thinking

Written By: - Date published: 12:07 pm, March 22nd, 2011 - 29 comments

stop the cuts

John Armstrong’s contacts in National are telling him that Working for Families and student loans are the targets for cuts in this year’s budget. He also reveals the real reason for National opposing the widely-supported earthquake levy: putting on a tax would be an admission that tax cuts for the rich were a mistake in the first place.

Slash and burn, Key’s choice

Written By: - Date published: 10:41 pm, March 21st, 2011 - 91 comments

joker-debt-burning-fire

John Key says there’ll be no new money in the Budget. The health, education, and other locked-in increases  plus the Christchurch rebuild will come from cuts elsewhere. Cuts of up to 32%. It doesn’t have to be that way. The rebuild and the shortfall can be easily covered if Key wanted to. If he chooses to slash and burn, it’s because he wants to.

Credit where it’s due

Written By: - Date published: 9:18 am, March 21st, 2011 - 17 comments

apprentice builder

On Friday, the government sent out a Request for Proposal for building companies to build 2,500 temporary modular homes in Christchurch. It looks like step towards the rebuilding plan I and others have been suggesting for the past couple of weeks. Now, lets see an aggressive timetable and a plan for what comes next.

The mannequin candidate

Written By: - Date published: 12:23 pm, March 20th, 2011 - 34 comments

key with earpiece

Key was full of excuses and vague promises for Christchurch on Q+A. He ruled out a levy and indicated the rebuilding would be funded out of savage cuts to our public services. He stuck to his script. Maybe the earpiece he was wearing helped. What was being whispered in his ear? And who was telling our PM what words to mouth?

Hartevelt swipes Nats’ elitism

Written By: - Date published: 10:57 am, March 20th, 2011 - 30 comments

key eyes wide shut

The SST’s John Hartevelt is shocked by National’s decision to pay out millions for Christchurch rugby business while ordinary people live in shattered homes and lose their jobs with meager support. He asks whether the Nats have lost their moral-political bearings. In fact, this is a perfect example of National’s elitist philosophy.

Who’s bulldozing Christchurch business?

Written By: - Date published: 8:47 am, March 18th, 2011 - 60 comments

gerrybrownleeearthquakeminister

There’s a large number of reports coming out of Christchurch of businesses that have been demolished without Civil Defence consulting with the owners, as is procedure, and giving them a chance to recover vital equipment and records first. Disturbingly, some of these demolitions seem to have been carried out by ‘cowboys’ without CD approval.

Fukushima crisis deepens

Written By: - Date published: 10:46 am, March 17th, 2011 - 46 comments

radioactive sign

In American football, there’s a move called the ‘Hail Mary pass’ – throw the ball down field and pray. That’s what filling the Fukushima reactors with sea-water has been described as, a Hail Mary pass. It just doesn’t seem to be coming off. Reactor 3 has started emitting more radiation, 4 is on fire, the core may be breached in 2. Even 5 and 6 pose a risk.

The building blocks of new Christchurch?

Written By: - Date published: 11:01 pm, March 16th, 2011 - 96 comments

hib-system

Me & others: How come the government seems to have no plan for rebuilding Christchurch or desire to get one?
Righties: Well, um, Key’s awesome and, anyway, what’s your plan, smart-arse ?
Me: I’m not the government, rebuilding Christchurch isn’t my job. But here’s where I would start.

Re-run: Unemployment up, productivity up

Written By: - Date published: 2:42 pm, March 16th, 2011 - 8 comments

us productivity and unemployment

As I predicted in this post last year, productivity has risen sharply in the latest stats but for all the wrong reasons.The Herald gushes “NZ employers squeeze more out of fewer workers” but that’s fundamentally wrong. We’re getting less out of even fewer workers. “Labour input” fell 4.3%, while GDP fell 0.8%. Why anyone would think this is a Good Thing is beyond me.

Continuing nuke crisis in Japan

Written By: - Date published: 10:40 am, March 16th, 2011 - 63 comments

radioactive sign

Every day brings a new disaster from the Fukushima No 1 nuclear power plant. Four reactors have now experienced an explosion and/or fire and/or partial meltdown. Yesterday saw the first significant radiation release, from Reactor 4. It’s a complex situation, so I’ve tried to summarise it as it stands this morning.

Chart of the day: measuring success

Written By: - Date published: 11:37 am, March 15th, 2011 - 32 comments

us visitors

Earthquake news round-up

Written By: - Date published: 12:05 pm, March 14th, 2011 - 19 comments

JAPAN-QUAKE/

The destruction wrought by the 9.0 Sendai Earthquake and Tsunami is truly appalling. Untold lives have been lost. Thousands of square kilometres were obliterated by the water which swept up to 20km inland.Updates second explosion at nuke plant. New tsunami warning. 70% chance of 7+ aftershock within days.

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