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The corruption of democracy

Written By: - Date published: 11:07 am, June 11th, 2013 - 67 comments
Categories: capitalism, class war, democracy under attack, greens, john key, russel norman, Spying, telecommunications, uk politics, workers' rights - Tags: ,

The governance of the five nations linked by the Five Eyes Echelon spy network share many similarities in the ways the shining ideal of democracy are consistently being undermined.  In each country, the details are a little different, but they follow the same pattern.  Of the five countries, the US wields the most power with the UK being second-in-command, while Australia, Canada and New Zealand have the least leverage to maintain their own interests and independence.

The same kind of neoliberal, corporate-friendly, beneficiary-bashing, anti-worker, anti-democratic and big-brotherish measures favoured by the US and UK governments have been adopted by the Key government.  They don’t always take the same form, sometimes the NZ version is a little milder, but the end result is similar: more power and wealth for the 2% less for the rest.

So it is chilling to read the result of the latest measures by the UK Cameron government, aiming to tackle the use of corporate lobbyist to bribe members of the Houses of Commons and Lords, as reported by Seamus Milne in The Guardian. The evidence is as damning as it is shocking to those of us who favour democracy and a socially just and fair society:

First a Tory MP and then a clutch of greedy peers were caught on camera apparently agreeing to take cash from journalists posing as representatives of foreign companies. “Make that £12,000 a month,” grinned Jack Cunningham, Tony Blair’s former “enforcer”.

UK corporate lobbysists

After Cameron and Clegg failed to respond, they finally came up with legislation to (allegedly) curtail such corrupt practices:

So on Monday they came up with a plan: to crack down on trade unions. Wrapped in a panic bill to set up a register of lobbyists are to be powers to police union membership lists and cut union spending in election campaigns. The first will make what is already the almost impossible task of holding a legally watertight strike ballot still harder. The second is a direct attack on Labour funding.

The contemptuous class cynicism of the coalition leaders’ response takes some beating. Not only are unions the most accountable and only democratic part of the political funding system; but by including anti-union clauses in the new bill, Cameron and Clegg want to ensure Labour’s opposition – all the better to change the subject and wrongfoot the opposition in the process.

This kind of Orwellian doublespeak, and diversion is a hallmark of Key’s government, as outlined by Russel Norman in his ‘Muldoon and Key’ post.  It doesn’t take exactly the same form as under the Blair and Cameron government’s, but the underlying aim is the same.  In NZ as Norman explains, as with Muldoon, the Key government’s anti-democratic measures includes “The concentration and abuse of power”, Rigidity against change”, and “Divisiveness”.  In explaining the latter, Norman outlines a more subtle form of corruption than that of UK lobbying:

To be with Key and National is to get special favours. It is to have tender processes designed so that you’ll win. It is to get $2 billion in tax cuts. It is to get shoulder-tapped for a top job by one of your old schoolmates, it is to get a job you applied for a month after it closed, or to get a job for which you were underqualified  because of your profile as a sportsperson and a Key supporter.

To be against Key and National is to be silenced. It is to have Ministers breach privacy obligations by releasing your personal information to the media. It is to be the subject of personal attacks from right wing lobbyists if you dare to speak out to protect the environment. It is to have “threats and budget cuts… used to silence dissenting voices,” according to New Zealander of the Year Dame Anne Salmond.

The NZ government’s abuses of power include extensive abuses of urgency in the House, anti-protesting laws, over-riding local democracy, disallowing rights to family carers, and the government’s Bill to make,

it legal for the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders and expands its power to do so.

The latter makes legal capabilities already used by the US government through its part in the Echelon electronic spy network using the Thin Tread and Prism capabilities.

Echelon watching you

While John Key denies that the GCSB has been using such US-based systems to by-pass laws against spying on Kiwis, others have expressed concern.  Nicky Hager points to the undemocratic, Soviet style capabilities of the US agencies.  Meanwhile, “information technology and telecommunications lawyer Michael Wigley” argues that there is nothing to ensure the GCSB doesn’t make use of such systems in the future, and that,

 the agency has said it has not been involved in any reciprocal information sharing but that doesn’t rule out non-reciprocal information sharing.

The latest revelations related to the Kim Dotcom saga indicate the ways such powers can be used in the service of powerful corporates, in this case those of the Hollywood industry.  NZ Herald’s David Fisher claims that “top secret documents” show that Prism-like strings of data containing information on or related to Kim Dotocm were fed into the Echelon system.

Given the widespread corruption of democracy in the services of the rich and powerful elites, Green MP Stefan Browning is right to call for the end to:

our intelligence agencies spying on legitimate, peaceful, political dissenters.

He also urges people to submit to

the Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Bill and the Government Communications Security Bureau and Related Legislation Amendment Bill. Submissions close 5pm, Thursday 13 June.

and argues for an inquiry in to abolition of the SIS.  Browning also calls for measures to

enable better oversight, a regular parliamentary select committee should replace the government-dominated Intelligence and Security Committee, and the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security should become an Officer of Parliament.

Welcome to the Brave New World of Ministries of “Truth”.  Who can stop this widespread attack on democratic processes and replace it with a system that aims for a socially just, and fair society that works for the benefit of all?

 

 

67 comments on “The corruption of democracy”

  1. Humph 1

    It’s fine to say voters should make submissions on bills (when they’re not ‘debated’ and enacted behind closed doors…), but who has the time – and more importantly – the inclination to wade through screeds of (deliberately? and often confusing) verbose text?

    Most people work 40 hours a week and expect elected beneficiaries to ‘do the right thing’ – it’s their job, in theory, to read and understand newly dreamed up legislation. It’s this in particular that stifles democracy in this country, we don’t have the time and the bloggers and journalists that do are more often than not ignored.

    The political system has to change or we’ll only slip further down the slippery slope of tyranny due to an ever greater lack of transparency.

    Voter advocates for new legislation are needed, paid and sourced in the same way as jury duty. Under the current legislative procedures, this is the only way transparency can be revived under National from its almost lifeless shell.

    The Swiss system of (near) direct democracy must also be seriously considered. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best there currently is. Also, and this is my personal favourite, the career politician as a ‘job’ does not exist.

    • Drakula 1.1

      I think you have a point there Humph, I would like to know more about the Swiss System I think the partisan system is on the wane.

      Democracy has been corroded away it no longer exists!

  2. Bill 2

    Who can stop this widespread attack [on democratic - strikeout?] of unaccountable processes and replace it with a system that aims for a socially just, and fair society that works for the benefit of all?

    Only you and me. But that would require an onslaught of democracy. And that in turn would require denying positions of representation to people – any people – because they will always seek to develop ways or processes to secure their position. And that inevitably entails they wind up working for their own interests and (at best) not the interests of those they claim to represent or (at worst) decidedly against the interests of those they claim to represent.

    And seeing as how the world is heading for ‘interesting times’ with climate change and resource depletion, developing truely democratic systems of governence shouldn’t be treated as just some intellectual game, but rather a task of quite marked imporatnace to be undertaken with urgency.

    But I understand most people will just continue with the same old, same old and angle to survive by hanging on in there as the systems of governence we’ve become inured to these past 100-150 years become a brutal, blood letting train wreck.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      Only you and me. But that would require an onslaught of democracy.

      And not just any “democracy” but localised democracy. At the neighbourhood, work place, town, and regional level. A good large chunk of the detailed decisions currently being made in Wellington could be better made at a lower level.

      Also agree that this is a massive matter of urgency now, when you look at where we are on the curve.

      Every imperial system in decline seeks to assert more and more control over both their citizens and imperial holdings from the centre of empire.

      • Bill 2.1.1

        Hmm. I don’t know of anything the term ‘democracy’ can be meaningfully applied to that isn’t immediate and local.

        As for town and regional levels of governence – they become problematic insofar as the tendency might be to elect representatives to those remote centers of decision making. And that puts us back on the path to square one.

        There was a youtube vid on Brian Eno I was watching a few days ago that contained an unexpected and hopeful snippet. Back in1970 John Conway developed a simple computer programme that demonstrated how complexity arose, quite naturally from simplicity rather than from any plan or complicated arrangement being imposed from above.

        Natural complexity then, just is. It doesn’t need to be managed, drawn up or over seen. It’s dependant upon the configuration of simple elements. So democracy would, arguably, naturally give rise to self sustaining yet dependent complex systems in the larger scheme of things eg, the larger economy etc.

      • AmaKiwi 2.1.2

        CV +1 +1 +1 +1

    • prism 2.2

      Someone with the loudest voice or hardest ideals or best manipulator will always appear at the top of the pile Bill. Somone always gets to manipulate the discourse, either openly or covertly. They will call on authority, a populist, their God made in their own image, somebody else’s God, scientific proof from those who haven’t even gone to the Unseen University.

      What about the wisdom of the masses? A group of everyday citizens who don’t know much but know what they like is a recipe for porridge and bullshit mixed – perhaps useful for muck spreading. Or perhaps used as stucco on a solid structure. But of variable quality. We would just get a new sort of leaky building with the broad mass standing to their opinions.

      Select committees as now should be informed by fora who collect data and then present scenarios produced on computers using that data and attempting to show present, past contributory information and then likely future outcomes. Legislation would have to be explored thoroughly in this way so that some smartarse can’t push through some brainstorm or scheme for enriching his or her family trust whether it’s good for the country or not. And pilot schemes would be encouraged, publicised, monitored and assessed all the time. So we would address needs and visions of different approaches. And then the positive ones could go into law for five years and then be reviewed. With this system we wouldn’t have all this education argy bargy.

      • Colonial Viper 2.2.1

        Select committees as now should be informed by fora who collect data and then present scenarios produced on computers using that data and attempting to show present, past contributory information and then likely future outcomes.

        Very Star Trek but people aren’t going to go for that. Why have select committees of MPs involved at all? They seem as much a part of the general riff raff as anyone else. but a society run by self proclaimed experts and specialists is doomed to failure, if not through silo thinking than through lack of buy in and legitimacy. It’s also a philosophy in harmony with the elitist nature of groups like Bilderberg who intrinsically believe that they are more competent and visionary at ruling than any of us.

        What about the wisdom of the masses? A group of everyday citizens who don’t know much but know what they like is a recipe for porridge and bullshit mixed – perhaps useful for muck spreading. Or perhaps used as stucco on a solid structure. But of variable quality. We would just get a new sort of leaky building with the broad mass standing to their opinions.

        Maybe you should consider history for a moment, and think about how the Kurow Three, Davidson McMillan and Nordemeyer, changed the course of this country, people who were no more than a run of the mill doctor, school principal and priest.

        Letting a bunch of self proclaimed technocrats and specialists run the country, might as well put Treasury in charge and be done with it.

      • Bill 2.2.2

        The loudest voice, the idealist or the manipulator can only thrive where democracy is absent or severly compromised.

        And who makes everything that is good or worthwhile function and advance in civilisation if it isn’t us ‘everyday citizens’ and our collective skill sets? People acting in concert aren’t thick or stupid Prism. It’s the denial of our legitimate agency by illegitimate authorities that’s the recipe for porridge and bullshit.

        • karol 2.2.2.1

          I agree that strong local democracy is (part of what is) needed for democracy to thrive, but I disagree that it is the whole of the solution.

          I tend to agree with Prism though, that the loudest voices, the most manipulative and power hungry people will dominate if there are not significant measures to prevent that.

          Even if we have strong functioning local democracy, there will be those with access to the most powerful arms, electronic surveillance systems, and/or propaganda platforms who will be able to over-ride local democracy. These resources have been developed already, and can’t be undone.

          People acting in concert, in the interests of the people are part of the solution. But there also need to be systems in place to hold the power hungry in check. Those more over-arching systems are also a potential threat to democracy, hence the need for counter-balancing checks, one of which should be strong local democracy.

          I see no easy solutions.

          • Colonial Viper 2.2.2.1.1

            These resources have been developed already, and can’t be undone.

            Of course they can. You defund them.

            But there also need to be systems in place to hold the power hungry in check.

            Some established ways work best. Civil institutions, workers unions, collectives, binding referendums (local and national). Civic education and civic participation.

          • Bill 2.2.2.1.2

            power hungry people will dominate if there are not significant measures to prevent that.

            Such significant measures are intrinsic to a functioning democracy. And if they are left out or not developed and honed, then you don’t have democracy. What you have is something like we have now – a primer for tyranny.

            ..there will be those with access to the most powerful…

            How? Democracy encourages legitimate empowerment and denies illegitimate empowerment of the types you mention. What you say kind of suggests a two tier arrangement where some people live and act from within democratic systems of governence and some (mysteriously) not only live seperately and hold sway over those that do.

            I suspect you are unwittingly taking aspects of present day social configurations and projecting them onto, what would be in reality, a completely – a radically – different complex of social structures with entirely different encouragements, rewards, fears and punishments to those of the present day.

  3. ianmac 3

    Against Atomic Weapons. But you cannot uninvent the technology. Just try and control it.
    Against wholesale trawling of the internet. But you can’t uninvent the technology. The best we can do be made fully aware of how it it works and try and have mechanisms to control it.
    This Government is in Denial and we do not get to know the full extent.
    “…it legal for the GCSB to spy on New Zealanders and expands its power to do so.”
    What to do about it. Mmmm.
    David Shearer does have Question 4 today which asks “Has he received any information that shows foreign intelligence agencies are routinely collecting emails,………….”

    • Colonial Viper 3.1

      You don’t “uninvent” technologies, you defund them, and then you stop acting in ways which keep fanning the fires of extremism and terrorism.

      Just ask yourself. Where did the IRA come from? Who formed Al Qaeda and where did they get their military training? What’s the history of Iran that they are now so set against the west?

      • karol 3.1.1

        Sounds simple.

        But who/what decides, enforces and maintains such a policy?

        Also, how to ensure the power-hungry don’t find some way to accumulate wealth, resources and/or assets?

        • Bill 3.1.1.1

          In a (necessarily) undemocratic market economy there are massive, inescapable and inbuilt incentives, alongside obvious avenues or ploys, to accumulate wealth, resources and assets. And if you take away those incentives and avenues for accumulation (through, for example, the development of a democratic economy that places economic/political/social power firmly in the hands of those producing and consuming – distribution becoming a natural adjunct to the excercise of that decision making power), then you, obviously, also take away the market economy in the process. Not a bad thing in my book, but we know that…. ;-)

        • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.2

          Also, how to ensure the power-hungry don’t find some way to accumulate wealth, resources and/or assets?

          I don’t think that the accumulation of wealth and assets in of itself is a huge problem; the problem is when individuals can do it on such a massive scale capable of distorting the whole of society and the whole of government.

          In a “market economy” which empowers capital, the massive accumulation of capital automatically translates into massive influence over the economy. This is what should be disallowed.

          This is not a new problem of course and there have been many effective ways to manage this in the past.

          For instance, an 89% income tax rate on earnings over $400,000 pa would effectively cap incomes near 10x the median working wage. A 50% death tax applicable to every dollar of assets over the first million dollars automatically undoes a lifetime worth of wealth concentration, and encourages capable people to focus their talents on more than making more and more millions off the communities they live in.

          And possibly most importantly – a massive societal revaluing (up valuing) of unpaid work, emotional labour, and other non-financial contributions to the nation by ordinary people.

          • karol 3.1.1.2.1

            However, such measures cannot be implemented at a local democracy level. It requires an over-arching system of governance.

            • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.2.1.1

              I’m not saying that a sovereign system of governance will not be necessary in future. I’m saying that significant parts of that governance can be devolved downwards.

              Also, there are plenty of powers that could be decentralised from Wellington.

              For instance, why not enable regions or cities to set their own fuel tax, and have them develop and run public transport with it?

              Or whenever a major property asset is bought/sold, why not allow regions or cities to set a stamp duty to ensure that the local community benefits?

              • Bill

                Why not go much further along the path that would devolve power – right on down to the immediate local level – and ‘lock it in’ through establishing and developing robust and inter-locking democratic systems?

                If you leave any remote governence in place then we’re going to wind up right back here again.

                • karol

                  But how can you successfully and enduringly “lock in” devolved power, without an over-arching system of governance? One local democracy is only stable til another local coup decides it wants to start colonising others, possibly by force of arms.

                  • Bill

                    It gets locked in by dint of the fact that many interlocking democracies constitute ‘a’ democracy and that would be like confronting a behemoth for anyone inclined to usurp it or control it. You could swing your question on it’s head and ask how you achieve any democracy if an overarching system of governence is left in place?

                    As for control and power being taken at the barrel of a gun, well…that’s kind of how we got into this mess in the first place, right? But that was off the back of many disparate – often isolated – systems of governence existing in the world…many of which were undesirable. And it was in a point of time when securing resources in order that market economy advantages could be built up made sense to small elites who already had populations under their undemocratic control.

                    And how would a similarly medacious small elite even begin to gain traction in a democracy? I can’t see how they could or even why they’d want to.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      And how would a similar medacious small elite even begin to gain traction in a democracy? I can’t see how they could or even why they’d want to.

                      The traditional way is by using democratic systems to gain a foot hold, and then by dint of some “emergency” declare those same democratic systems suspended in favour of emergency powers…

                      An educated involved populace is very good protection against this kind of thing though.

                      One local democracy is only stable til another local coup decides it wants to start colonising others, possibly by force of arms.

                      I certainly see this happening in the USA; however it is not NZ culture to allow or participate in this (even though we have a million firearms in this country).

                      But how can you successfully and enduringly “lock in” devolved power, without an over-arching system of governance?

                      There are many many ways, especially if the power of central government is limited and towns/regions have their own ability to tax and manage assets.

                      Of course, anything can be unpicked over time, but the 5th Labour Govt made it painfully easy for the NATs to do that. Channel 7 public broadcasting as a counterbalance to a fully commercial TVNZ – a “balanced” system which Labour created? The NATs just defund the Channel 7 part of it and it goes away, leaving just the commercial part. Nothing could be easier.

                    • Bill

                      CV – you seem to be assuming that democracy involves heirarchies and that people/groups occupying certain points of whatever heirarchy would then find themselves in a position whereby they could ‘game’ the entire edifice. Granted, that’s entirely the situation in this system we call ‘social democracy’. But an actual democracy simply couldn’t have such structures. If it did, it wouldn’t – couldn’t – be democratic.

                      In a democracy there are no footholds – they simply don’t exist – and no possibility of anyone (or group) securing a position whereby they could unilaterally ‘call the shots’ because the possibility of their being such positions of power and/or influence doesn’t exist.

                    • Colonial Viper

                      It’s roughly thereabouts that you lose me slightly Bill. Humans, like other primates, whether pre-historic, pre-capitalist, pre-industrial, whatever, naturally form into communities with a definitive (if quite flexible) social framework and social ordering. And a hierarchy (or maybe multiple overlaid hierarchies), no matter how subtle, is going to be part of that.

                      Put in a more practical example: a large proportion of employees out there today would shy away from the chance of being “their own boss” having to take collective responsibility for all kinds of issues, as opposed to just doing a solid 9 to 5, taking orders but walking in and walking out, and collecting a regular pay cheque every fortnight.

                    • Bill

                      If it’s natural to form into heirarchies, then how could it ever have come about that I was a member of a collective where no social heirachy existed? It couldn’t possibly have happened.

                      How could we, if heirarchy was simply ‘natural’ have possibly imagined to construct and develop systems that levelled hierachies of (say) knowledge/skill on an ongoing basis and further, safeguarded our social situation from being influenced by any such ‘external’ factors? We couldn’t have. At least, not any more than we could have flapped our arms and lifted off the ground – a natural limitation that we have to live with.

                      Yes, most workers fear the idea of a collective. That’s true in my experience. But is the fear natural? Or is it born of a lifetime of conditioning that sets up the vertical division of labour and deference to supposed authority as ‘a norm’ – a ‘norm’ that just happens to present an environment that day in, day out, picks away at their sense of self – their esteem – and any belief they might have had in their abilities as well as those of their workmates?

                    • Colonial Viper

                      In a workers collective, on tax matters I would tend to defer to the opinion of the accountant in the collective. On a matter of a lease, I would probably defer to the lawyer in the collective. On the matter of the earthworks, I would usually defer to the landscape architect.

                      I might also give more weight to the opinion of someone who had been there longer with a proven track record of good judgement, as opposed to the new 17 year old kid on the block.

                      So hierarchies don’t need to be formal, but human beings rely on them a lot in every social situation. Every one’s say on everything is not going to be necessarily equal, nor should it be.

                      Yep I accept that there is a lot of social conditioning at play in the current arrangements.

                    • weka

                      “Put in a more practical example: a large proportion of employees out there today would shy away from the chance of being “their own boss” having to take collective responsibility for all kinds of issues, as opposed to just doing a solid 9 to 5, taking orders but walking in and walking out, and collecting a regular pay cheque every fortnight.”

                      They might be happy to have the collective take responsibility if it mean they didn’t have to be too involved (as opposed to one boss).

                      There are hierarchies and there are hierarchies too (or scales of grey). I’m thinking about one of the examples that Daniel Quinn uses in Beyond Civilisation. He talks about old style family circuses. There was definitely a hierarchy of sorts eg the ring master got paid more, but they had to do more work and take more responsibility too, which wasn’t something everyone wanted. But the reason they functioned well was because everyone had a role to play in the good of the whole organisation that in turn made sure that each individual was looked after (had a way of making a living).

                    • weka


                      If it’s natural to form into heirarchies, then how could it ever have come about that I was a member of a collective where no social heirachy existed? It couldn’t possibly have happened.

                      I’ve worked in collectives that purposely built in things like consensus decision making. But they were constructions, no natural evolutions. Personally I think we are probably too far away from our pre-patriarchal/dominator roots to know what is natural now.

                      But again, what are we meaning my hierarchies here? If I’m having brain surgery, I want someone in the room who is in charge. I don’t want consensus decision making about which part of my brain to cut into (at least not during the op itself) ;-) It makes sense to that in some situations having different levels of whatever is useful.


                      How could we, if heirarchy was simply ‘natural’ have possibly imagined to construct and develop systems that levelled hierachies of (say) knowledge/skill on an ongoing basis and further, safeguarded our social situation from being influenced by any such ‘external’ factors?

                      How did you level hierarchies of knowledge/skill? Are you talking about power?

                    • Bill

                      How did you level hierarchies of knowledge/skill? Are you talking about power?

                      There was a firm commitment to skill sharing. And without market impositions, no-one had anything to gain from being possesive over their skill sets. Of course, there was a balance insofar as there was no desire to ‘burn out’ any particular person who happened to possess a wide set of skills or particular skills that were going to be in high demand. Incidently, I think that’s where I realised that the old maxim ‘From each according to their needs, from each according to their abilities’ was utterly unrealistic.

                      Am I talking about power? Yes insofar that if a group is relying on one person who is in possession of any required knowledge or skill, then an opportunity exists for that person to ‘control’ certain agendas. And yes, insofar as people gained a sense of empowerment.

                      As far as deferring to somebody with a skill when a particular task is being undertaken, I believe a distinction has to be made between deferring to their practical knowledge but not allowing that to bleed into other areas of the relationship eg elevating that person to a de facto ‘boss’ position whereby they adopt and deploy the ‘usual’ psychological traits of the boss directing or controlling the worker.

                    • weka

                      So would it be fair to say it was a leveling of power rather than skill eg you can have people with skill sets that are rare and expert but this doesn’t give them more power than anyone else?

                    • KJT

                      Effective company board meetings are deliberately structured so that everyone has an equal chance at input and the less assertive are able to speak. Good boards do take advice from those with expert knowledge in their own area.

                      Then, when the same people get into Government, they do the opposite.

                      I fancy the idea that occurred in some Polynesian societies. the “talking Chief”, to make the speeches, then the “doing Chiefs” who took charge in their own areas of expertise. The navigator when at sea, the expert on crops when planting and the expert on warfare when fighting.
                      Unlike us, they did not make the mistake of giving the “talking Chief” “the windbag”, power over the others. He was their mouthpiece, not their boss.
                      The point is the tribe chose whoever they felt had the best skills to lead on each occasion. After the need was over the “Chief” reverted to being one of the tribe.

                    • Bill

                      Both a levelling of power and a sharing of skills. No point in being too dependent on too few people in important areas. And as KJT signposts, no point in allowing power to accrue to and reside with certain given people ‘just because’.

          • Bill 3.1.1.2.2

            Taxation only offers a partial solution within the context of a managerial bureaucracy or some-such and in and of itself points to a major problem ie, a situation where an over-arching and remote system of governance has been allowed to persist. It also suggests that the market economy is persisting in some form or other. Taxation has no role in a democracy for that very reason – that it legitimises an illegitimate and unnecessary layer of centralised control/decision making and legitimises profit.

            Where producers and consumers make economic decisions on the basis of social need, then neither taxes nor central planning/decision making are needed.

            And individuals…specifically those who chase profit and who would be the precursors of corporate dominance within a market context…wouldn’t have the economic rewards they have in the present day. They would have lost their incentive and subsequent leverage. A democratic economy is implicitly geared by social need and such like and most definately not the profit motive. The profit motive would have as much relevence as pig ownership has in the modern western context. (Note that pig ownership is very important in some presently functioning economies and confers many social privileges…but not in ‘the west’)

            And with the profit motive effectively neutered, all the undesirable behaviours it promotes and rewards would likewise be of no use – simply wouldn’t find encouragement from the economic quarter.

            • Colonial Viper 3.1.1.2.2.1

              Well without taxation you’re still left with the problem of how the commons is going to be funded.

              I’m familiar with the arguments around money not being a resource or store of value in of itself, but our economy still requires it to perform every single action, with or without a profit motive.

              And with the profit motive effectively neutered, all the undesirable behaviours it promotes and rewards would likewise be of no use – simply wouldn’t find encouragement from the economic quarter.

              OK so no profit motive – but people and organisations alike will still need an income in this economy to survive, right? Also the motivating forces for people in the current economy are (in no particular order): money, power, status, authority, security, intrinsic. What do you see that rebalancing to in future?

              • Bill

                but people and organisations alike will still need an income in this economy to survive, right?

                Maybe and maybe not. In kind of depends on how you define ‘income’. And there is no reason why income, if it exists, isn’t ‘communalised’. That was precisely the situation in the workers collective I was a part of. An income was generated – but not on the individual level. I mean by that, that we paid ourselves absolutely nothing by way of a wage. The money that was generated by the business (yes, we had a business – we weren’t a pile of useless dreamers) was allocated in various ways by us eg – building fund, maintenence fund, reinvestment into the business etc. And all purchases were made on a communal basis – food, whatever other consumables etc as determined by us – and we then just helped ourselves from what we had bought in.

                Would it be possible to expand that space we had created outward to encompass an ever greater proportion of what is produced and distributed so that no means of exchange is necessary? I don’t know. What I do know is that within the space we had, our interactions, behaviours and relationships underwent a remarkable change, freed as they were from ‘costing’ every activity or from weighing up activities against relative economic advantages/disadvantages.

              • Bill

                Where it’s demonstratably to an individuals advantage to cooperate, then the motivations of a competitive scenario lose their power – as do the rewards which either diminish or become ‘punishments’ or liabilities.

                Not trying to be trite, but under a market economy you gain advantages by being a bit of a bastard. Under a democratic economy, I’d suggest bastards would diminish their own status and standing and eventually learn that bastard behaviours were to their detriment.

              • Colonial Viper

                Yep I can agree with all of that in principle, nonetheless money (and tax) has many important functions today which would still need to be fulfilled even if it were in other ways or via other accounting methods.

                And with the proviso that elements of individual performance, reward and recognition are still crucial for good societal functioning. They may not be financial rewards, but they must provide community and societal recognition for excellence and contribution, nonetheless.

                Communal enterprises can be very successful. That’s similar to the way that many silicon valley billion dollar corporations started out.

                • Bill

                  There are social needs to be fulfilled that we fulfill today using tax revenue. Many of those needs would persist (some wouldn’t). And if well structured democracies are anything, they are incredibly good at discovering novel solutions to seemingly intractable problems.

                  Functioning collectives/cooperatives/societies are very good at recognising and acknowledging the contributions made by people – much, much better than is the case in our atomised undemocratic society, sitting as it does beneath the over riding demands of the market economy and its singular means of reward flowing from its myriad of perverted incentives.

                  • emergency mike

                    So over on whaleoil there’s a post about a video of a guy doing a bad make up job on himself and making jokes about wanking.

  4. vto 4

    .
    So the British government is completely and utterly corrupt

  5. Clare Curran 5

    Perhaps people might like to read my post on Red Alert published on Sunday night which raises these issues and was perhaps the first comment made by a NZ politician.

    http://blog.labour.org.nz/2013/06/09/too-close-for-comfort-is-the-gcsb-spying-on-us/

    • Bill 5.1

      That the same site where attempts have been made to use log-on details to identify people and thence their activity on various sites and further to, on occasion, ‘shut them down’? Y’know, a bit like monitoring and spying….not to mention censoring. If so, we need to invent a more appropriate word to replace ‘irony’ Mz Curran.

      • weka 5.1.1

        I had two words come to mind: bloody cheek.

        • Anne 5.1.1.1

          I think it is only fair I explain what may have happened Bill and weka.

          I saw Clare’s post for the first time this morning, and left a comment to the effect that karol had also written an excellent post over on The Standard. I saw the two – while emphasising different aspects – as being complimentary to one another. That may have lead to Clare responding in kind. There’s nothing wrong in her (Clare) doing that.

          • Bill 5.1.1.1.1

            It’s not the linking. It’s the penning of the post given the history of the author.

            • Anne 5.1.1.1.1.1

              Fair enough Bill. But maybe she should be given a bit of space to show she has… mended her former ways. At this point that’s where I think it should be. Lets leave it there.

              • weka

                For me it’s the linking, or even just the hubris of claiming something as she does it (eg being the first politician to comment). Has Claire Curran ever acknowledged the issue with Red Alert and login details? I doubt that she can acknowledge what happened to CV, but has there been any attempt to make amends? What would evidence be that she has mended her ways? I think she is quite capable of writing the post she did and still not being trustworthy when it comes to Red Alert or Labour members. That’s the problem.

                btw, I think it’s fine for her to comment here. More tact would be nice though.

    • karol 5.2

      Thanks, Clare. I was pleased to see that the Labour Party is concerned about the 2 Bills related to surveillance and the GCSB, as well as the implications of Prism & Thin Thread.

      However, your post doesn’t substantially focus on the main core of my post, “The Corruption of Democracy” apart from the final sentence, where you say:

      This is simply intolerable in a democracy where New Zealanders have ultimate power over the way they are governed.

      This seems too cosy a view of the current state of “democracy” in NZ. I disagree that “New Zealanders”, especially those with least power and the lowest incomes have “ultimate power over the way they are governed.” And I dispute that the majority of Kiwis have such power.

  6. vto 6

    So given that the Lords in the British Parliament are accepting money for policy…..

    Does that mean we need to know what Lord Archer and John Key meet about?

    In my opinion absolutely…. the conflict is immediate and clear.

    ————-

    In addition, from the above post it appears that the state and corporatism have merged and that we now have fully fledged fascism in our land (.. but no that can’t be right. Not here. Oh, it’ll be all right. I think thats rubbish. Now, what’s on the telly tonight (fucking dripheads)).

    And in evidence of the merger of state and corporate look no further than THE SKY CITY DEAL.

    Fascism is what we have in New Zealand.

  7. karol 7

    On the debate above with Bill and CV, I do think that hierarchies tend to develop over time in collectives as I saw in the network of women’s movement groups in London back in the late 70s. They developed because some people tend to be more active and have personalities that garner more attention than others. Some individuals do have a tendency to dominate.

    Maybe there are some collectives that remain non-hierarchical, but I think most will not.

    I favour a balancing between layers of democratic governance including strongly empowered local collectives, plus various layers of collective organisation that reach across geographic locations. Communities are no longer totally isolated within specific geographical regions. We live within and between multiple intersecting networks, linked by various forms of communication.

    I also think it’s necessary to work from where we are. Tearing everything down and starting again is (as yet) not an option. So I think local democracy needs to be restructured into flatter systems. And the more widespread layers need to be held accountable to local groups.

    • Bill 7.1

      Some individuals do have a tendency to dominate

      And well constructed meetings with well developed procedures suppress that tendency by deliberately empowering everyone by seeking their input and creating spaces that encourage those who are less confident…not allowing one or two people to dominate discussions and being careful to do that in a way that isn’t utterly dismissive of those with a penchant for being more vocal.

      Tearing down existing institutions isn’t necessary and any attempt to would probably and in bloodletting. Far better to create and develop democratic institutions that run in parallel with existing ones and that eventually supplant them.

      • karol 7.1.1

        Far better to create and develop democratic institutions that run in parallel with existing ones and that eventually supplant them.

        Yes, I agree with that.

        It’s possible, though not always easy (speaking as an ex-teacher) to manage, prevent individuals dominating. however, that dominance, it doesn’t always occur in organised meetings. it can be in the daily informal interactions in a community.

  8. karol 8

    I think one of the main stumbling blocks to a more democratic society is capitalism: it’s values of competitive, profit-making, status-loaded acquisition of material goods and power are firmly entrenched in a hierarchy of power.

    And now we have Palantir, now operating in a Wellington near you, as reported by Tova O’Brien on 3 News tonight. It’s part of the privatisation of the analysis of surveillance data.

    3 News can reveal that a controversial American data company called Palantir has set up base in Wellington and is dealing with the Government.
    Palantir helps spy agencies understand intercepted data. It is also the creator of software called Prism, though it insists it’s not the same PRISM that the US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower warned the world about. They say the name’s just coincidence.
    Palantir is a multi-billion dollar software company. It works with the NSA, the CIA, the FBI and the US military, to name just a few. It helps spies trawl through, and make sense of, masses of data.

    Key doesn’t know if the GCSB uses this company but he has heard of them – great! Who IS in control of the country then? the Greens are worried about Palantir’s data mining activities. Oh, and more potential cronyism:

    Palantir co-founder Peter Thiel, who also founded PayPal, spends a lot of his time in New Zealand. He knows the Prime Minister, but Mr Key says he didn’t speak to him about using Palantir’s technology.
    Both spy agencies refused to tell us if they use Palantir technology.

    Palantir is recruiting in NZ, they require their employees to be,

    “passionate about the mission”, “spend late nights in the vault” and “although you loathe bureaucracy, you believe a revolution in intelligence is imminent”.

    • prism 8.2

      I hereby announce that I am no longer going to call myself prism because the word has changed in an unpleasant way. I used the name because it seemed to put a positive light on the world. I will now be Rosetinted.

      • vto 8.2.1

        Claim the patent prism, it is exactly what they would do.

      • karol 8.2.2

        Ah, nothing is sacred to capitalists. Maybe you could sue them for breach of your copyright?

        • Rosetinted 8.2.2.1

          It won’t be long before someone works out how to patent the letters of the alphabet and then we will have to develop tonal grunts (again, though I don’t remember this happening you understand). Or we could try yodelling or the alpenhorn which have been used to call from mountain to mountain.

          I thought I heard that someone, was it actually The Obama, saying that the present patent system needs revising?!!?

          • karol 8.2.2.1.1

            Gordon Campbell has an article on Dotcom, copyright and patents, in the latest issue of Werewolf.

            It shows the need to patent and copyright systems need revising.

            Campbell points to the unequal treatment of patents and copyright: the treatment of online copyright infringement (Dotcom charges) is different from the treatment of patent infringers. Hollywood corporates are charged with patent infringement frequently – there’s been a couple of such cases against Warners – they get slapped with a wet fine notice and carry on with business as usual, while copyright infringers get a criminal conviction.

  9. Huginn 9

    Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia is asking why we found out about this from a whistleblower and not the executives of the corporations.
    He tweeted a link to this:

    > how far up the chain of command did the decision-making process reach? Did the NSA contact the CEO of Verizon, the chairman of the
    > board of Google, etc. and say, “Do you mind if we take a peek?” or
    > did they target some VP of operations and say, “Do this for us, and
    > don’t tell your boss”?
    >
    > If the decision to comply with the request reached the executive
    > levels, why were there no mass resignations, a la Nixon’s Saturday
    > Night Massacre? Why did no one take a stand and say, “I will not
    > sign off on doing this”? If some number of executives all tendered
    > their resignations with no explanation, Wall Street would have taken
    > notice.

    We know what happened in the case of QWest before 9/11. They
    contacted the CEO/Chairman asking to wiretap all the customers. After
    he consulted with Legal, he refused. As a result, NSA canceled a
    bunch of unrelated billion dollar contracts that QWest was the top
    bidder for. And then the DoJ targeted him and prosecuted him and put
    him in prison for insider trading — on the theory that he knew of
    anticipated income from secret programs that QWest was planning for
    the government, while the public didn’t because it was classified and
    he couldn’t legally tell them, and then he bought or sold QWest stock
    knowing those things.

    This CEO’s name is Joseph P. Nacchio and TODAY he’s still serving a
    trumped-up 6-year federal prison sentence today for quietly refusing
    an NSA demand to massively wiretap his customers.

    https://mailman.stanford.edu/pipermail/liberationtech/2013-June/008815.html

  10. muzza 10

    Excellent article , Karol.

  11. karol 11

    Why NZ herald journalist, David Fisher is not keen on state surveillance capabilities:

    When the Operation 8 defendants were awaiting trial, one of those facing terrorism-related charges allowed me to sift through police evidence released under discovery. Among thousands of pages were dozens of text messages I had exchanged almost two years earlier with the accused person.

    A few years later, I asked a military source with extremely sensitive information: “What will they do to track down the source?” The source told me that my mobile phone records would show who I had spoken to and where I went.

    • muzza 11.1

      Having recently sat on a jury, what I learned up close, (not for the first time), is the level of incompetence of the so called, *trusted institutions*!

      *The Crown* prosecution, was built around failed *intelligence*, which had been *fashioned*, by officers who were *in training*, using witnesses that were not credible!

  12. AmaKiwi 12

    Follow the money.

    Ed Snowden said he could read any of your files, see all your accounts, bypass any passwords. No company will pass up an opportunity to mine their competitors’ files.

    NSA is about American companies dominating any and all foreign competitors. If they haven’t done it already, they will be doing it now.

    • AmaKiwi 12.1

      Clarification:

      American companies will bribe NSA contractors to get them access to competitor’s data.

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  • Power prices soar on the eve of winter
    On the eve of winter as New Zealanders are turning on their heaters, power prices have soared sky high, Labour’s Energy spokesperson David Shearer says. “Energy Minster Simon Bridges claimed in Parliament that prices were estimated to rise 2.4 per...
    Labour | 18-04
  • Workers can kiss goodbye to Easter Sunday off
    The Government’s decision to “reprioritise” scarce labour inspector resources by abandoning the enforcement of Easter Sunday Shop Trading laws means workers can kiss goodbye to a guaranteed day off, says Labour’s Associate Labour Issues spokesperson Darien Fenton. “The Labour Minister...
    Labour | 18-04
  • Businesses need to respect workers this Easter
    Businesses intent on flouting Easter shopping laws should face stiff penalties, Green Party industrial relations spokesperson Denise Roche said today. This Easter, at least one major garden centre chain intends to open on Good Friday despite this being in breach...
    Greens | 17-04
  • Time to deliver on 26 weeks Paid Parental Leave
    Today marks two years since Labour MP Sue Moroney's Bill extending paid parental leave to 26 weeks was drawn from the members' ballot. “It’s time the Government acted in the interests of families,” Sue Moroney says. “National has tried every...
    Labour | 17-04
  • Taxpayers robbed of $130m in Genesis sale
    Kiwi taxpayers have been robbed of $130 million by the Government in its final failed asset sale, says Labour’s SOEs spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove. “National set the price for Genesis far too low in a desperate attempt to beef up demand....
    Labour | 17-04
  • Work visa problems need monitoring
    The Government is handing out temporary work visas to migrants to work in jobs that could easily be filled by unemployed Kiwi workers in the Christchurch rebuild, says Darien Fenton, Labour’s Associate Immigration spokesperson. “In the past 12 months, temporary...
    Labour | 17-04
  • Resignation rates among cops soar
    The number of frontline officers quitting the police force is at a four-year high, with more than 350 walking off the job in the past year, Labour’s Police spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says. “Since 2009 resignation rates among sworn staff have...
    Labour | 17-04
  • Service for victims of sexual violence pushed out in cold
    The Green Party is calling on Housing New Zealand to revisit its decision to evict an essential community organisation in Christchurch with only eight weeks notice.Yesterday at the Select Committee inquiry into funding for sexual violence support services the organisation...
    Greens | 17-04
  • Legal high ban worthy of wider pick-up
    Auckland Council’s ban on using legal highs in a public place is an excellent idea that should be replicated around New Zealand, says Labour’s Associate Health Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “Auckland Council has implemented a by-law banning the use of psychoactive...
    Labour | 17-04
  • Smith sells state P-houses to first home buyers
    Nick Smith must reassure worried first home buyers that any Housing NZ houses sold under his First Home policy will be tested for P contamination after revelations that three out of seven properties sold in Wanganui tested positive for methamphetamine,...
    Labour | 17-04
  • PM’s China visit assisted Oravida, not Fonterra
    Questions must now be asked whether it was Fonterra or Oravida who really benefited from the Prime Minister’s recent visit to China, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says. “Before his departure, John Key said he would wait until all...
    Labour | 16-04
  • New Zealand’s use of ozone depleting gases increases
    A new Government report highlights that the amount of ozone depleting gases New Zealand is using is increasing, the Green Party said today.The report tabled in Parliament yesterday shows that total use of ozone depleting gases in New Zealand has...
    Greens | 16-04
  • Manufacturing Upgrade
    Labour is determined to support and grow our manufacturing sector. These policies grew out of the findings of the 2013 Parliamentary Inquiry into Manufacturing.  ...
    Labour | 16-04
  • Collins must admit misleading Parliament
    ACC Minister Judith Collins must front up and admit she has misled Parliament over ACC’s policy to stop paying compensation to clients who refused to fill in its privacy form, Labour’s ACC spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says. “Judith Collins claimed Labour...
    Labour | 16-04
  • English confirms he has no plan to raise wages
    Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed he has absolutely no plans to lift wages, Labour’s spokesperson on Labour Issues, Andrew Little says. “Bill English told the Chamber of Commerce yesterday that workers could expect a rise in average income of...
    Labour | 16-04
  • Govt careless and callous about threatened birds
    The National Government is increasing the threat to two of the world's most threatened and unique birds by opening up Victoria Forest Park to petroleum drilling, the Green Party said today.Scientists have recently published a ranking of the 100 most...
    Greens | 16-04
  • Genesis: The biggest fire sale of them all
    National has finished its asset sales with a massive bonfire of a fire sale, showing once and for all how much of a disaster this programme was, says Labour’s SOEs spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove. “Just 68,000 Kiwis bought shares in Genesis,...
    Labour | 16-04
  • Interest rates rise but only smokes increasing
    Mortgage rate rises are making life harder for homeowners, and many of them will be surprised the latest CPI figures show inflation would be zero were it not for tobacco tax hikes, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson David Parker. “New Zealanders...
    Labour | 16-04
  • Term One Report Card for Hekia Parata
    Assignment Teacher’s Comments Grade      ...
    Labour | 16-04
  • Hekia Parata kept exam book errors from schools
    Schools will be appalled to learn Education Minister Hekia Parata knew since January that hundreds of exam booklets had been returned to the wrong students but said nothing about it, Labour’s Education Spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Exams are stressful enough...
    Labour | 15-04
  • What has ACC Minister been doing?
    The ACC Minister needs to front up and explain what, if any, changes she has made to the broken culture of ACC rather than denying that she has any part to play in the dysfunction of her Ministry, the Green...
    Greens | 15-04
  • Promise of jam tomorrow takes the cake
    A claim by Minister of Finance Bill English that average wages will climb by $7,500 over the next four years is a cynical promise of jam tomorrow by a government whose record on wage growth is atrocious, Labour spokesperson on...
    Labour | 15-04
  • Judith Collins has to fess up on ACC blunder
    ACC Minster Judith Collins must front up and tell New Zealand how many people who refused to hand over their private details to ACC have been denied cover, says Labour’s ACC Spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway. “The legality of ACC’s privacy waver,...
    Labour | 15-04
  • Board of Inquiry conditions will save rivers in New Zealand
    The Ruataniwha dam decision released today has protected the Tukituki River and dashed the Government’s hope of the “one nutrient model” (TRIM) being adopted nationwide, says Labour’s Conservation spokesperson Ruth Dyson. “It is a massive victory for those in the...
    Labour | 15-04
  • Labour turns wheels for cycling safety
    With more than a million New Zealanders now using cycling as an attractive alternative means of transport it is past time their safety was taken seriously, Labour’s Transport spokesperson Darien Fenton says. Due to speak to a cycling rally at...
    Labour | 15-04
  • SPEECH: Institute of Directors
    LEADING AND MANAGING OUR ECONOMIC FUTURE David Cunliffe MP, Labour Leader Speech to the Institute of Directors 15 April 2014, Auckland It's a privilege to be speaking here. The Institute of Directors has a proud history of developing New Zealand's...
    Labour | 15-04
  • More Oravida endorsements from John Key
    The use of a picture of John Key in an advertisement for Oravida’s scampi products in a Chinese airline magazine is further evidence of an unhealthily cosy relationship between the National Party and this company, Labour Leader David Cunliffe says....
    Labour | 15-04
  • Workers at Canterbury Yarns need redundancy support
    Workers faced with redundancy at Canterbury Yarns need a redundancy support co-ordinator, Green Party industrial relations spokesperson Denise Roche said today.Last week, Canterbury Yarns was placed in receivership. Canterbury Yarns joins a long list of New Zealand manufacturers who have...
    Greens | 14-04
  • Making the holidays easier for Kiwi drivers
    The next Labour Government will make the holidays easier and journeys quicker for Kiwi families driving on the roads, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. “There’s nothing Kiwis like more than getting on the road and going on holiday. But on...
    Labour | 14-04
  • Ae Marika! 15 April 2014
    Our MANA AGM down in Rotorua on the weekend was a sold-out affair – even the media were struggling to get in! Political conferences can be very dull, but not this one. We had a great line-up of speakers including...
    Mana | 14-04
  • Green light from Labour for cancer screening programme
    Labour Leader David Cunliffe has today committed to a national bowel screening programme, starting with extending the current service to the Southern and Waikato districts. “Around 3000 New Zealanders develop bowel cancer each year and about 1200, or 100 a month,...
    Labour | 14-04
  • Adequate resourcing needed for victims’ advocate
    The establishment of a victims’ commissioner role will only be meaningful if it is properly resourced to do the job of advocating for victims’ interests, Labour Justice spokesperson Andrew Little says. Justice Minister Judith Collins has just recently indicated her...
    Labour | 13-04
  • IPCC report shows Government ignoring climate experts
    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) report into climate mitigation, just released in Berlin, shows the National Government is ignoring the pleas of the world's best climate scientists.The report says deep and fast emission cuts are vital from all...
    Greens | 13-04
  • Japan’s quick turnaround on whaling disappointing
    News that Japan plans to recommence some form of “scientific” whaling programme so quickly after the International Court of Justice’s ruling against it is very disappointing, says David Shearer, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson. “New Zealanders expected the ICJ ruling -...
    Labour | 13-04
  • Reviewable tenancies will increase risks for vulnerable children
    Instead of kicking families out of their homes if they can pay their rent, parents with young children should have the opportunity to purchase equity in a state-built home over time, the Green Party said todayFrom July, Housing New Zealand...
    Greens | 13-04
  • 48,000 New Zealanders drinking faecally contaminated water
    Some 48,000 people were provided with water that had issues with faecal contamination, 18,000 of whom were from Canterbury, the Green Party said today. The Ministry of Health's Annual Report on Drinking-Water in New Zealand for 2012/13 shows that 48,000...
    Greens | 12-04
  • Labour will move to save the Kauri
    Labour will spend $20 million over the next 10 years to stop the spread of Kauri dieback disease, says Labour Leader David Cunliffe. “We are facing an ecological disaster with over 11 per cent of the Kauri trees in the...
    Labour | 12-04
  • Opportunity for new blood in Māori politics
    Labour MP Shane Jones’ news of retirement from Parliament yesterday got some korero happening alright. From his staunch loyal supporters ardently praising his skills to those in fervent opposition and refusing to let his hour of glory go without a...
    The Daily Blog | 23-04
  • We need to protect our rights online
    New Zealanders deserve the right to a thriving, open Internet which supports economic development, innovation and free speech. The Internet over the last twenty five years has changed everything; from how we communicate, how we buy and sell products and...
    The Daily Blog | 23-04
  • Turning Shane: How Murray McCully deprived Labour of Mr Jones
    THERE ARE THREE TYPES OF TRAITOR. The first is the person who betrays his country for a higher cause. The second betrays his country for money. The third betrays his country for the wrongs it has done him. By far...
    The Daily Blog | 23-04
  • Why NZ needs a Digital Bill of Rights
    I’m glad the Greens have taken on board some of my suggestions for a NZ Digital Bill of Rights. October last year I blogged… what should a NZ Digital Bill of Rights look like? -freedom of online expression -freedom of...
    The Daily Blog | 23-04
  • The blue collar cred smoko room mythology of Shane Jones as told by the msm
    So apparently, Shane Jones leaving is the end of the Labour Party. Yawn. Vernon Small screams, “Disarray. There is no other word to describe the mess the Labour Party plunged into last night” while John Armstrong predicts “resignation couldn’t have...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • Flockton Floods Again
    Last week the Flockton Basin flooded again – the second time in six weeks.  And not just roads and land, but homes and garages.  Some people have been flooded multiple times since the earthquakes.  One couple, after the March flood...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • The PI vote and political stunts
    The mainstream media got quite excited a couple of weeks ago when a number of Pasifika church leaders were photographed at the Manurewa markets wearing blue, Key-people t-shirts. The clergy pictured in those articles said that they had changed allegiance...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • EDUCANZ / EDUCAN’T
    Oh hello, select committee … sorry to interrupt your tea and bickies, but I have something on my mind that I really need to talk to you about. You see, word on the street is that you are planning to...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • Why Waiariki and Epsom are so important this election
    Two of the lynchpin electorates that need to go the Opposition’s way if there is any chance of a Labour led Government are Waiariki and Epsom. Epsom is the only lifeline for ACT and if the 6000 progressive voters in...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • TV Review: Seven Sharp: third strike lucky
     More prophetic than anyone could imagine – Jesse in a coffin  Jesse Mulligan was the last of the original ill-fated trio to be dumped from Seven Sharp.  This happened last week with little notice given and less notice paid.  His removal was more inevitable than the...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • The Liberal Agenda 23rd-27th April
    The week is dominated by the launch of the NZ International Comedy Festival – our picks for the week are… WEDNESDAY 23rdSunrise Yoga on Queens Wharf 7am-8.15am Queens Wharf, 89 Quay Street (bottom of Queen Street) Free ********************************************************************* THURSDAY 24th5...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • Shane Jones caption contest
    Shane Jones caption contest...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • Helping Simon Bridges find the forest he lost
    Helping Simon Bridges find the forest he lost...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • On climate change denial
    On climate change denial...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • Labour on manufacturing
    Labour on manufacturing...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • When your National Party mates claim National are a better economic manager...
    When your National Party mates claim National are a better economic manager, show them this graph...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • Introverts Unite (separately)
    Introverts Unite (separately)...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • The problem with food
    The problem with food...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • Why queues outside synthetic cannabis shop is proof regulation is working
    Latest moral panic on synthetic cannabis is that there were queues waiting for a store to open over Easter. Yawn. Before the Psychoactive Substances Act (PSA), there were up to 6000 venders and hundreds of different brands. Since regulation via the...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • Shane Jones resignation: Labour dodge a bullet & the Greens smile
    Best Friends Forever now Thank God Shane Jones is selling out and taking a job for National… Shane Jones to leave Labour, set to work with Murray McCully Shane Jones is quitting Parliament and the Labour Party, and there is...
    The Daily Blog | 22-04
  • The only one happy with ACTs new ’3 strikes’ for burglary will be priva...
    The great scholarly Grand Cleric of the libertarian right, Jamie Whyte, has come down from the mount with two stone tablets and sadly all he has is 3 strikes, not 10 commandments… Jail burglars after third offence, says Act Party...
    The Daily Blog | 21-04
  • Trade and Investment Agreements: Human Rights For Sale
    On March 29, many New Zealanders took to the streets in defense of democratic rights by opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA). A week earlier, delegates from dairy unions from around the world (including the NZ Dairy Workers Union...
    The Daily Blog | 21-04
  • Rest in peace Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter – despite the disgusting polic...
    Rest in peace Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter – despite the disgusting police racism and injustice you were undefeated...
    The Daily Blog | 20-04
  • Maori Party wine and dine invite
    Maori Party wine and dine invite...
    The Daily Blog | 20-04
  • For Simon Bridges – here’s the forest you forget
    For Simon Bridges – here’s the forest you forget...
    The Daily Blog | 20-04
  • Never forget the GCSB lies
    Never forget the GCSB lies...
    The Daily Blog | 20-04
  • The Empire strikes back
    The Empire strikes back...
    The Daily Blog | 20-04
  • God bless capitalism
    God bless capitalism...
    The Daily Blog | 20-04
  • Drone killings erode social constraint on using violence
    The drone killing of an (unnamed) New Zealander in Yemen should prompt us to look at the ethics of this practice. We’re told from birth that murder is wrong. Yet drone killings (as conducted by the Obama administration) convey the...
    The Daily Blog | 20-04
  • Labour’s first 100 days – where the messaging needs to be
    ‘The first 100 days’, an expression coined by President Roosevelt in 1933, is generally used to describe the successes and accomplishments of a government at the time when their power is greatest. During the 2008 election campaign, John Key issued...
    The Daily Blog | 20-04
  • Pharrell: a new brand of feminism?
    I think most people heard about how the song Blurred Lines featuring and co-written by Pharrell and performed by Robin Thicke (who has adeptly just been named “Sexist of the Year”) really pissed a lot of people off last year. ...
    The Daily Blog | 20-04
  • Why Easter holidays should always be mandatory and retail free
    The moaning from retailers that they can’t open the cash registers and worship the consumer culture of consumption over Easter bores me immensely because I’ve always believed that public holidays should be mandatory. It’s not that I really care about...
    The Daily Blog | 19-04
  • Why punish the parents of the disabled?
    Parents who have adult children with disabilities saw a glimmer of hope when the promise for payment for caring for their children was given. But like most things, the complicated and relentless bureaucracy of the whole process shows a completely...
    The Daily Blog | 19-04
  • Our government: still no idea
    Happy Easter everyone, bad weather aside. A previous post of mine was called “The Government with no ideas”.  Unsurprisingly, the theme of the piece was of a current government thoroughly absent of any creative ideas or solutions to assist more...
    The Daily Blog | 18-04
  • 12 things Forbes has to say about NZs about to burst economic bubble
    Forbes is not known for their socialist or left wing activism, so when they predict a grim economic failure, we should should collectively poo ourselves a little. National often get given this perception that somehow they are better economic mangers....
    The Daily Blog | 18-04
  • That Sinking Feeling: Labour’s urgent need for persuasive words and coura...
    THE LATEST ROY MORGAN POLL has Labour on 28.5 percent (down 3.5 percent) and the Greens on 11.5 percent (down 1.5 percent). At 40 percent, the combined vote of the two main centre-left parties has fallen 5 percentage points since...
    The Daily Blog | 18-04
  • Why the Labour movement should support a Universal Basic Income
    The Mana movement’s support of the idea of a universal basic income is a welcome development. It could become one of the litmus issues that define the party and prove extremely popular. If Mana are in a position to do...
    The Daily Blog | 18-04
  • Legal high and cannabis regulation
    I marched through Henderson last month with my fellow Westies to express our concern about the impact of so called “legal highs” on our community. Some people chanted loudly calling for banning, some expressing anger at the parliamentarians who voted...
    The Daily Blog | 18-04
  • Know your Tory fellow travellers and ideologues: John Bishop, Taxpayers Uni...
    . . On 19 March, I reported on the Board members of the so-called “Taxpayers Union”. With one exception, every single member of the Taxpayers Union Board was a current (or recent) card-carrying member or supporter of the National and/or...
    The Daily Blog | 17-04
  • GUEST BLOG: Daniel Bruce – Internet Party: What Seems Ridiculous To The O...
    Imagine you’re a 18-21 year old, from a working class family. You’ve never had a landline phone at home, because your parents can’t afford the fixed monthly bills, so everyone in your familiy has a pre-pay mobile phone. Because of the same tight...
    The Daily Blog | 17-04
  • Greens to push for housing standards in MOU with Government
    Source: Green Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Greens to push for housing standards in MOU with Government Tuesday, 28 Aug 2012 | Press Release We don’t need any more official reports. We know the problem and we have the plans....
    The Daily Blog | 17-04
  • Mighty River squanders $3.8m preparing for sale
    Source: Green Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Mighty River squanders $3.8m preparing for sale Tuesday, 28 Aug 2012 | Press Release New Zealanders do not want asset sales and they do not want the Government wasting millions of dollars on...
    The Daily Blog | 17-04
  • Government’s economic agenda on shaky ground
    Source: Green Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Government’s economic agenda on shaky ground Monday, 27 Aug 2012 | Press Release Instead of betting on a boom and bust industry and selling off assets the government needs to invest in a...
    The Daily Blog | 17-04
  • National’s tax cuts haven’t cut tax avoidance
    Source: Green Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: National’s tax cuts haven’t cut tax avoidance Sunday, 26 Aug 2012 | Press Release It is not fair that many rich New Zealanders are cheating on their tax. National’s 2010 tax cuts, that...
    The Daily Blog | 17-04
  • Waitangi Tribunal report adds to crisis in asset sales agenda
    Source: Green Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Waitangi Tribunal report adds to crisis in asset sales agenda Friday, 24 Aug 2012 | Press Release In its rush to sell our assets, National has found itself in a crisis of its...
    The Daily Blog | 17-04
  • Privacy across all departments needs checking
    Source: Green Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Privacy across all departments needs checking Friday, 24 Aug 2012 | Press Release “People don’t have a choice about giving their information to the state so the Government has an absolute duty to...
    The Daily Blog | 17-04
  • Reports show Government role in driving ACC dysfunction
    Source: Green Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Reports show Government role in driving ACC dysfunction Thursday, 23 Aug 2012 | Press Release Restoring public trust and confidence is an essential goal and will require very major change starting from the...
    The Daily Blog | 17-04
  • Government must front up on full costs of asset sales
    Source: Green Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Government must front up on full costs of asset sales Thursday, 23 Aug 2012 | Press Release It’s time for the Government to front up over just how much these asset sales are...
    The Daily Blog | 17-04
  • New report: middle NZ worse off, inequality grows
    Source: Green Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: New report: middle NZ worse off, inequality grows Thursday, 23 Aug 2012 | Press Release Our society has never been as unequal as it is today. New research from the Ministry of Social...
    The Daily Blog | 17-04
  • Government to delay addressing climate change indefinitely
    Source: Green Party – Press Release/Statement: Headline: Government to delay addressing climate change indefinitely Thursday, 23 Aug 2012 | Press Release “It would be a shock for any other Government to introduce such a self-defeatist piece of legislation but unfortunately...
    The Daily Blog | 17-04
  • Total figures for campaign against alcohol fuelled violence
    The final total figures for the eighth police led Operation Unite: a Blitz on Drunken Violence was announced today by Jon White, CEO of the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Agency (ANZPAA)....
    Scoop politics | 23-04
  • ACT’s proposal to further three-strikes policy short-sighted
    JustSpeak is calling out the ACT Party’s extension of the three-strikes policy as knee-jerk punitivism, political populism and based on a culture of fear, rather than evidence....
    Scoop politics | 23-04
  • InternetNZ pleased Green Party taking issues seriously
    InternetNZ is pleased to see the Green Party join Labour in having a serious discussion about online rights....
    Scoop politics | 23-04
  • Age Concern calls for building accessibility for elderly
    Age Concern has made a submission strongly opposing the clause within the Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill that exempts building owners from providing or improving building accessibility. The current Building Act 2004 clearly acknowledges...
    Scoop politics | 23-04
  • Internet Rights & Principles Coalition: Internet Rights Bill
    The Internet Rights and Principles Coalition (IRP Coalition) of the UN Internet Governance Forum applaud the release of the NZ Green Party’s Internet Rights and Freedoms Bill for public consultation. The IRF Bill is a pioneering project for the internet...
    Scoop politics | 23-04
  • Gender quotas should be a last resort
    The Institute of Directors in New Zealand (IoD), says introducing gender quotas is not the best solution to increase the number of women directors on New Zealand boards....
    Scoop politics | 22-04
  • Taika Waititi lends support to #BeefWithBullies campaign
    Even if Chardonnay doesn’t like your Michael Jackson dance moves, that’s no reason for you to be made fun of. Renowned Kiwi director, Taika Waititi has pledged his support to the Mad Butcher’s anti-bullying campaign #BeefWithBullies. With...
    Scoop politics | 22-04
  • Commissioner proposes limit on credit reporting charges
    The Privacy Commissioner, John Edwards, is proposing an amendment to the Credit Reporting Privacy Code that would limit what credit reporters can charge individuals wanting immediate access to their credit information....
    Scoop politics | 22-04
  • Does ACC system provide access to justice asks UN
    The United Nations Committee responsible for the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ("CRPD") has formally raised access to justice and other issues with the New Zealand Government. The Committee considered a report submitted...
    Scoop politics | 22-04
  • Iwi concerned over future of country’s oldest wharenui
    An East Coast iwi says they are concerned the Crown has not made good on its promise to return their wharenui – the oldest meeting house in the country. “The Government promised to return our wharenui, now they are reneging,”...
    Scoop politics | 22-04
  • NZDF-Supported Anzac Day Commemorations in France, Belgium
    The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) will be increasing its support for official and locally-run Anzac Day commemorations in France and Belgium this year with a 10 person contingent, including a Māori cultural element, from New Zealand as well...
    Scoop politics | 22-04
  • Third National Māori Housing Conference set to take place
    Success stories in Māori Housing developments from around Aotearoa will be shared at a National Māori Housing Conference, to be held in Whanganui from May 1-3. Conference hosts the Whanganui Iwi Housing Forum and national umbrella organization Te Matapihi...
    Scoop politics | 22-04
  • Partnership targets visitor safety on New Zealand roads
    Partnership targets visitor safety on New Zealand roads Tourism New Zealand, the New Zealand Transport Agency and Air New Zealand have joined forces to target Chinese tourists with important road safety messages before they get behind the wheel. A...
    Scoop politics | 22-04
  • Renewable energy in the Pacific under EU-NZ Partnership
    European Commissioner Piebalgs and New Zealand Foreign Minister McCully depart on 23-27 April on a joint mission to the Pacific to see EU-NZ renewable energy and energy efficiency projects....
    Scoop politics | 22-04
  • Disabled Community Further Marginalised by Proposed Bill
    Disabled Community Further Marginalised by Proposed Building Amendment Bill for Earthquake Prone Buildings to the Building Act....
    Scoop politics | 22-04
  • Home loan affordability worsens by most in 12 years
    Home loan affordability worsens by most in 12 years as interest rates and house prices rise...
    Scoop politics | 22-04
  • ACT should abandon Three Strikes
    Rethinking Crime and Punishment is urging right wing politicians to do their homework before coming up with one-off “tough on crime – high on vengeance’ sentencing policies for which there is no evidence of success. He was responding to the...
    Scoop politics | 21-04
  • Noho Hewa’: Visit of Native Hawaiian filmmaker
    Native Hawaiian filmmaker, Anne Keala Kelly, will be in Aotearoa New Zealand for two screenings of the award winning documentary 'Noho Hewa: the wrongful occupation of Hawai'i', a powerful portrayal of the multiple links between militarisation and...
    Scoop politics | 21-04
  • Rural Contractors NZ hits the road during May
    Rural Contractors New Zealand (RCNZ) will be updating its members on the latest changes in health and safety, transport and employment laws – as well as other topics – in a series of roadshows being held around the country during...
    Scoop politics | 21-04
  • Landlord and tenant alarm at healthy homes bill
    Landlord and tenant alarm at healthy homes bill Landlords and tenants should be alarmed at Labour MP Phil Twyford’s Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill that would immediately impose stringent requirements upon rental properties without defining those requirements,...
    Scoop politics | 21-04
  • US/New Zealand relationship best in thirty years
    US/New Zealand relationship best in thirty years. NZ well qualified for UN Security Council seat...
    Scoop politics | 21-04
  • Oxford University study says large dams are uneconomical
    Just in time for this week’s ASEAN Renewable Energy Week, new scientific results have questioned the economic viability of large dams. Calculations by the Bruno Manser Fund show that the Malaysian Bakun Dam scores even worse than the average large...
    Scoop politics | 21-04
  • ACT Speech: Three Strikes For Burglary, Three Years Jail
    Last year there were more than 52,000 reported burglaries. According to the Treasury, for every 10 reported burglaries, there are another 12 that go unreported. This means there were more than 120,000 burglaries last year – or over 2000 a...
    Scoop politics | 21-04
  • Derek Leask: Media Advisory Re: Nigel Fyfe MOJ Appointment
    Derek Leask yesterday 20 April 2014 made the following observations in response to a media enquiry about the recently announced appointment of Mr Nigel Fyfe, currently Deputy Secretary at the Ministry of Justice (Legal and Operational Services and Legal...
    Scoop politics | 21-04
  • Oceans In The Spotlight At Election Year Oceans Forum
    The marine environment will be in the spotlight at an ‘Election Year Oceans Forum’ at Kelly Tarlton’s SEALIFE Aquarium on April 27 from 10.30-12.30. A panel of non-governmental advocates and scientists will outline challenges facing our seas, and MPs from...
    Scoop politics | 21-04
  • Himalayan Trust responds to Everest avalanche
    The Himalayan Trust has launched an appeal to help the families of the Sherpa climbers impacted by the recent tragedy on Eve rest, Nepal....
    Scoop politics | 21-04
  • Himalayan Trust responds to Everest avalanche
    The Himalayan Trust has launched an appeal to help the families of the Sherpa climbers impacted by the recent tragedy on Eve rest, Nepal....
    Scoop politics | 21-04
  • Tariana Turia: Labour doesn’t deserve our vote
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  • Community detention for pokie theft
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    Scoop politics | 17-04
  • Where Are The 15,000 Jobs?
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    Scoop politics | 17-04
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    Scoop politics | 17-04
  • Depreciation Policy Shouldn’t Be Just for Pet Industries
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    Scoop politics | 17-04
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