Democratic Social Economy Part 1

Written By: - Date published: 12:00 pm, September 3rd, 2010 - 31 comments
Categories: Deep stuff, democratic participation, Economy, science - Tags:

Due to the discrepancies in the spread of knowledge the free-market is irrational but there is no doubt that we, collectively, have the needed information to make more rational decisions. The problem that occurs is that neither the knowledge nor the tools to help make rational decisions on that information are readily available. We’ve tried to pass standards based upon the best information to enforce some rationality but that got the political right up in arms about “Nanny State” and so the regulation, and the government that brought it in, was tossed out.

The question, I suppose, is: would that regulation have been removed, and the “Nanny State” attack by the political right have succeeded, if people had had access to the necessary information to make a rational decision? I may be being optimistic in believing that they wouldn’t have. So that raises another question: How do we get that information out to the people in such a way so that they can use it and understand it?

This is where modern technology comes in in the form of computers and the internet but it’s not good enough just to put the reports online and hope that people read them. Most people just don’t have the time with working 40+ hours per week, trying to have some sort of social life some of the time and sleeping for the rest. What we need is some software (government developed, freely available and perhaps Open Source) that can easily and rapidly show what differences will ensue if changes are made according to the research available. Using the example of the light bulb saga the software could be set, using real information, to show what happens to power usage if inefficient lights are continued to be used and the extra costs involved in keeping them on the market and showing the decreased costs (savings made) of using efficient light bulbs. Being able to see all of this in an easy to understand format, IMO, it is unlikely that the people would have allowed inefficient light bulbs to continue to be sold.

Basically, what we’re looking for is a top down administrative tool available to everybody that also links through to the raw data and research (Government and, perhaps, private). The software will be able to use this data to show how resources are used and so how a change in one area of resource use will affect resource use elsewhere. With this information available to them people would be able to see what decisions mean and how they’re personally affected.

In Part 2 I’ll be looking at how this could be used to bring about a rational and free political-economy.

Draco T Bastard

31 comments on “Democratic Social Economy Part 1”

  1. nzp 1

    What we need is some software (government developed, freely available and perhaps Open Source) that can easily and rapidly show what differences will ensue if changes are made according to the research available.

    Respectfully, it appears that you don’t do a lot of modelling in your life. Models tend to be too broad brush to be useful, or so specific that you can just read the research. The other problem is that research conclusions never fit into models nicely. Especially social things. Moderate drinking helps, excessive drinking is terrible. How do you model this? Can you model the social enjoyment of drinking in the model? If the model says ban it, is it right?

    On the lightbulbs, ‘the right’ did get a lot of headway with the issue. But I don’t think banning the bulbs isn’t a good way of addressing the problem – just tax their ‘whole life’ cost. If you really want them (you graphic designers and die hards) you can have ’em, but they’ll cost you a tenner a bulb!

    Good luck with the model though -…

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      I’m more looking at resource use and that can be measured and input into models. I still expect humans to do their own thinking for themselves.

  2. randal 2

    of course the free market is irational.
    it depends on irrationality for its existence.
    where else in the world would you find a country that is obsessed with toys and meaningless status distinctions that rely on mindless destruction of species and habitat to stroke the peanut heads.
    now that is irrational to the max.

  3. Bill 3

    You really think that the vagaries of the market can be captured by a piece of computer software?

    I’d be of the persuasion that the predictability resulting from such an effort would be no better than what we might expect from predicting the weather using computer programmes. At best.

    What would the inputs be? Who would determine them? What would the relative objectivity/ subjectivity of the input values? And who would rise to be the authoritative voice on the whole matter?

    Because the answer to those questions points to where the potential for the next dictator resides.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      You really think that the vagaries of the market can be captured by a piece of computer software?

      No, I’m thinking that “the market”* can be refined by the use of better tools and the use of better knowledge so as to minimise irrational use of scarce resources.

      What would the inputs be? Who would determine them? What would the relative objectivity/ subjectivity of the input values? And who would rise to be the authoritative voice on the whole matter?

      Good questions and I don’t have complete answers to most of them. Even Part 2 will only have broad categories. The one answer I do think I have is about the authoritative voice and that is, and should be, the community. Not an individual.

      * The Market is a means to distribute the scarce resources available to the community. It is a social construct. In the capitalist system the market is used for delivering those resources to the wealthy. What I’m looking at is turning it to the betterment of the community.

      PS, I attempted to post this before but kept getting a server error

  4. Bill 4

    On a positive note, I believe that a democratic and socially orientated economy is possible. And no computer programmes are necessary.

    In a participatory economy, producer councils and consumer councils input their respective data ( Producer councils on what they are able or willing to produce and consumer councils on what they want or need to consume).

    When potential production and consumption balance, we just get on with the job of producing and distributing said product. The information coming from the consumer councils and production councils is not ‘capturable’, so no ruling elite arises as a result.

    Importantly, there is no market, so no ( often destructive) competition being rewarded. And no centralised authority as an overseer because such a function is not required.

    It’s complex (not complicated) and beautiful in it’s subtleties. There is no way I can even begin to do the concept justice here. Here’s that old predicable link I post from time to time where in-depth discussion debate and analysis alongside entire books on participatory economics are available http://www.zcommunications.org/topics/parecon

    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      I believe that a democratic and socially orientated economy is possible. And no computer programmes are necessary.

      I see the computer program as enhancing the needed communication and coordination of the resources that a community has available.

      And no centralised authority as an overseer because such a function is not required.

      Except for your producer councils and consumer councils. Sounds remarkably like central planning to me.

      there is no market,

      The market is a social construct and so we can make it anyway we want it to be.

      • Bill 4.1.1

        It’s not central planning at all. A major impetus behind the development of parecon was the desire to imagine a system of production and distribution that was deeply democratic and that was not subject to the dysfunctions of the market or central planning.

        Paracon consists of a number of elegant yet robust subtleties, and as I said in my previous comment, I couldn’t begin to do the whole concept any justice here. I can only suggest you read some of the material I provided a link to.

        The producer and consumer councils are not static bodies peopled by bureaucrats or any other type of functionary. They are peopled by you and me, the producers and the consumers. (And since we are both consumers and producers, we would participate in both consumer and worker councils.) They aren’t in any way, shape or form centralised or capable of exerting or projecting any type of illegitimate authority.

        As for the market being a social construct that we can make to be whatever we want it to be…that doesn’t make any sense. Either there is a construct with certain characteristics that we call a market or there isn’t. If there is, then what you are claiming sounds to me to be akin to saying that we can grow whatever fruit we choose to on apple trees.

        edit. If there are 300 tonnes of resource y available and a demand for 400 tonnes by consumer councils, then it doesn’t take too much of a computer programme to do the simple math. And simple math is all that’s required to inform the inevitable resetting of demands until the numbers even out.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1

          They are peopled by you and me, the producers and the consumers.

          And so is what I’m proposing – it just doesn’t have the councils as they’re not needed.

          Either there is a construct with certain characteristics that we call a market or there isn’t.

          False dichotomy. The market doesn’t have to be what the capitalists tell us it is – see above.

          If there are 300 tonnes of resource y available and a demand for 400 tonnes by consumer councils, then it doesn’t take too much of a computer programme to do the simple math.

          The problem is communicating that simple math.

          • Bill 4.1.1.1.1

            “…it just doesn’t have the councils as they’re not needed.”

            So how does a community determine and communicate it’s infrastructure requirements if there is no forum where it can communicate with itself, inform itself, determine what it’s legitimate demands are and communicate those desires to other consumer bodies as well as actors in the productive or industrial sphere? And how is it in turn communicated to by outside agencies (producers or/and consumers)?

            • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.1.1.1

              Pretty much the many to many relationship that I previously said was impossible but I’m still working on that so you’ll have to wait for part 2. ATM, suffice to say that the software would be able to determine what is needed from everyone’s input. The one I’ve roughly outlined above is one way, government outward, with a purpose to get people informed. The total set up would be two way. Actually, thinking about it, would possibly still need some form of administration.

              I actually think you and I are talking past each other here. We both want the same thing, participatory democracy, but we seem to be using slightly different meanings to the language, i.e. a council to me is a small body of people that quite specifically does not include everybody and is empowered to make decisions for everybody else.

        • Vicky32 4.1.1.2

          Er… Maths, not math, which is a Welsh name (unless you’re in the USA…)
          Deb

  5. People need to want to be engaged with the process of government to actually be able make conscious and rational decisions about particular policies. Too often those political unengaged will simply follow the dominant media spin on a particular policy. There are so many examples of this in addition to the mentioned “light-bulbs”; the infamous shower-heads, folate compulsion in bread etc.

    From the reaction of those types, you’d think that any type of compulsion was bad, yet we recognise compulsory education as necessary to sufficently skill our population for a life of hopefully both economic and social value. Besides, if you don’t want to have your shower heads pressure limited, take a bath. If you don’t want to have to use the efficient light-bulbs, use a candle. If you don’t want folate in your bread, bake your own.

    In the case of light-bulbs specifically, there is a legitimate criticism – that even though households are getting more energy-wise and efficient they are being continually charged more for their power, to the extent that any action taken by individuals means that they don’t feel like they are even saving. But then, a big FU to Max Bradford for that one.

  6. Kleefer 6

    The most “democratic” economy is the free market. Every time anybody makes a purchase they are making a “vote” for that product or service. The prices people pay for these goods and services send a signal to entrepreneurs to either produce more of them to make more profit or, alternatively, to cut down on production and use their time and capital to produce something more profitable. Central planning never works because values are subjective and differ from person to person, making “aggregates” meaningless.

    • Vicky32 6.1

      Kleefer, what you say is very simplistic. The whole ‘a purchase is a vote’ thing falls down the minute buyers are constrained by price, or availability. It’s like TV ratings. I may loathe cop and reality shows, but be constrained in showing my support for particular shows because cop and reality and cop/reality are all that’s available! So, I vote with my dollars for 500g of peanut butter that’s dry and unpleasant because it’s the only one without sugar – whereas if another brand produced one without sugar I’d buy it enthusiastically. All the PB manufacturer knows is his isn’t selling, and Bob’s is – but the “democratic” system doesn’t tell him to produce a creamy product without sugar, and I’d buy it in a heartbeat!
      Deb

    • Puddleglum 6.2

      Kleefer, while attempting to explain the democratic credentials of the market you have, probably unwittingly, described the very democratic failings of the market. Its strengths are its weaknesses.

      Each ‘vote’ of demand provides an incentive to increase supply. Similarly, the ability to supply something at low cost provides an incentive to seek out and/or create demand for it. In a world full of reflexive agents (i.e., people who can think about this feedback loop that the price mechanism enables), what this all means is that incentives are created to ‘un-free’ the ‘free market’.

      There’s a strong ‘double shot’ incentive, that is, to make sure that a free market doesn’t happen, at least in relation to your trading. That’s why most lobbyists on governments come from commercial interests – it’s an obvious tactic that is implicitly embedded in the incentives provided by a market. I call it corruption – certainly corruption of the market. Others call it a sensible business strategy.

      Examples of this are legion: Subsidised corn in America (leading to overproduction, farmers debted off the land, corn allergies, obesity …); the design of health systems to maximise pharmaceutical company profits; subsidised oil via wars and interference with others’ governments, etc., etc.. The market economy provides the incentive for this to happen. It’s strong ‘signalling’ element actually signals to anyone who notices (i.e., most ‘serious’ business people) that the best way to make profit is to rig the market. (That’s the problem with people, once they see the rules of a game they cheat. In a market, the best cheaters tend to win.)

      Notice that not many of these are particularly democratic outcomes from the market, at least not in the common or garden sense of the word.

      • Draco T Bastard 6.2.1

        (That’s the problem with people, once they see the rules of a game they cheat. In a market, the best cheaters tend to win.)

        And it certainly doesn’t help that our present system was designed by the cheaters to help them cheat.

    • Draco T Bastard 6.3

      The price signal, as is, doesn’t send enough information. If it did there wouldn’t be any international trade. I’ve covered this, you’re reaction is just to spout irrational dogma.

      Then there’s the simple fact that the “free-market” isn’t democratic at all (it’s actually anti-democratic) and that it’s not “free” either as it’s owned by the capitalists.

  7. Lew 7

    Basically, what we’re looking for is a top down administrative tool

    Leaving aside your bizarre conflation of purpose and mechanism, this quoted bit is the fundamental conceptual flaw right here. Democracy ain’t this way.

    You can’t buy it off the shelf, you’ve got to grow it from the seed.

    L

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1

      The heart of democracy is communication. This tool that I’m thinking about is to help that communication. Still, it does need people to participate but quite often to get people to participate you need to show them results. If people can see the results of their actions the chances are that they will be more likely to participate. ATM, they don’t get that. They go down to the store, buy whatever they want, and go home. There’s no connection to the reality that is that entire transaction.

      • Bill 7.1.1

        “…to get people to participate you need to show them results.”

        Who or what is it that is it that is going to be doing the showing of the results to ‘the others’? Again, it appears you are overlooking possible concentrations of power, in this instance based on knowledge and knowledge flow if I read you correctly.

        We already live in a situation where we are shown results and expected to participate…but only in a very minimal fashion; as consumers.

        The reason many people don’t participate in a more meaningful fashion is because there are no avenues allowing for meaningful participation. There is no possibility of meaningful participation in our conventional workplaces. There are no avenues for meaningful participation in matters pertaining to our communities.

        What we have is managers and bureaucrats and so on taking exclusive charge of important decisions and killing democracy in the process. And if I have no real say in matters, then I lose interest and become cynical and detached. At which juncture I become vulnerable to manipulation by all types of unsavoury parties.

        And I don’t see where any part of what you’ve been saying challenges the managers/ functionaries/ bureaucrats hegemony of our society’s decision making processes.

        • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1.1

          Who or what is it that is it that is going to be doing the showing of the results to ‘the others’?

          An impersonal computer program extrapolating from peer reviewed research. Perhaps I should have phrased that differently: For people to want to participate they need to see results.

          What we have is managers and bureaucrats and so on taking exclusive charge of important decisions

          I trying to devolve that so that the decisions are made by everyone and not managers, councillors or bureaucrats. Part of doing that requires the dispersion of knowledge in such a format that people can understand it. IMO, part of the reason why bureaucrats exist is because not everyone can no everything and so we end up with specialised roles. The people in those specialised roles begin to only see what they do and not how it relates to the rest of society which results in the need for administration, bureaucrats, to allow a complex society to function. The bureaucrats then start to contain and control information (Note how difficult it is, even with the OIA, to get information out of the government) which further disconnects people from society. This one idea here is to get that information back out to the people in an open and understandable format and, hopefully, remove the power from the bureaucrats.

          • Bill 7.1.1.1.1

            So now we’ve got peer reviewed research? Research of what? And who determines what is researched and assigns it it’s level of importance? And why the software again?

            If I’m participating in decisions that will have an effect on me…in my community and workplace…then I don’t need a computer programme to extrapolate from any information or research for me. There isn’t really anything that we can’t understand.

            Computers being used for communicating across distance is fine. We already have that.

            So if the community I live in wants to source the necessary materials to put in a sewerage system, then the community will have sat down and discussed the various options and come to a decision that then needs to be communicated to others who have the resources (skills, plant and machinery, raw materials etc) .

            And that is where the councils come into the picture…to facilitate the coming together of ‘citizens as consumers’ demands and ‘citizens as workers’ production capabilities.

            If you are living in Auckland and I’m in Hamilton, then I won’t be participating in the decision making processes that you are participating in unless the decision you are working on has a capacity to impact on me.

            eg At the moment we have centralised and utterly inefficient and disempowering infrastructures (like our electricity network) that lend themselves to ‘capture’ by bureaucrats and the like. But if your community and or workplace makes moves to generate electricity and set up autonomous systems, then that’s got nothing to do with me in Hamilton. Except that maybe the community I’m in and dozens, or hundreds, of others are embarking on the same project and maybe the resources are not available that would allow us all to do the thing at the same time. And again, that’s where councils and to-ing and fro-ing of information comes into play in such a way that novel solutions can be explored or demands altered to fit with reality.

            And short of AI, no computer programme can do that.

            • Draco T Bastard 7.1.1.1.1.1

              So now we’ve got peer reviewed research? Research of what? And who determines what is researched and assigns it it’s level of importance? And why the software again?

              Peer reviewed because it’s the most trustworthy means of obtaining valid results from research. The people will determine what is researched, it’s importance and the resources used for that research. To assist with communication of the findings of that research and how it affects resource use.

              And that is where the councils come into the picture…to facilitate the coming together of citizen’s as consumers demands and citizens as workers production capabilities.

              I’m sure the USSR said the same thing in 1917 and it’s still the process that led them to authoritarian control and oppression.

              If you are living in Auckland and I’m in Hamilton, then I won’t be participating in the decision making processes that you are participating in unless the decision you are working on has a capacity to impact on me.

              Almost all decisions everyone makes impacts upon everyone else. You drive a car – it impacts me. You drink a glass of water – that impacts me as well. The nation has a limited amount of resources available and they’re not all local. That’s what the economy is about – getting those resources to where they’re needed.

              But if your community and or workplace makes moves to generate electricity and set up autonomous systems, then that’s got nothing to do with me in Hamilton.

              Unless we decide to use the coal that sitting under Hamilton in which case you’re going to be affected in two ways at least: 1) Your house is going to subside in to a large, dark, pit and 2) the air you breath is going to be more filled with climate changing smog.

              And short of AI, no computer programme can do that.

              I’m not expecting it, or wanting it, to. It’s a tool to help people to make those decisions based upon real information rather than emotive response.

              • Bill

                Draco, I get it that peer reviewed research gives better quality research results that can be relied on more than research that is not peer reviewed. But you can’t say that ‘the people’ will determine what is researched without explaining exactly how the people will determine what is researched. Same goes for deciding the relative importance of any research to be undertaken.

                On the worker and consumer council front. One of the very first things the Bolsheviks did was abolish worker councils and implement one person management systems controlled by and answerable to ‘The Party’. Trotsky is on record saying that that they would have adopted Taylorist/Fordist management strategies in the workplace sooner if they could have.

                On the impact of my/your decisions.

                It’s just not true that ‘almost all decisions everyone makes impacts upon everyone else.’ We seem to agree that the economy is about bringing society’s productive capabilities and society’s consumptive demands into balance. And we seem to agree that a democratic means of doing that is preferable to other options.

                Meanwhile, why would anyone seek to build a coal power station if autonomous electricity generation is being sought? It’s not even remotely sensible. But anyway. Who would have the greater say in any mining proposal for Hamilton. Hamilton communities or Auckland communities? The answer lies in who will be impacted more by any such decision. And short of being either on the wrong side of a gun or the wrong side of the asymmetrical power relationships integral to the market…but by necessity we abolish that if we want to develop and maintain a democratic system of production and distribution…. you’d have to conclude that mining would probably be off the cards.

                Back to computers and computer programmes. What we need is already there. If I want info on wood burning stoves I can get all the info I need in the next 5 min. It has functionality.

                And a simple calculator can do all the arithmetic that would be necessary to fully inform consumer and worker councils on resource availability and desired resource use. You could ( I guess) have a programme sitting on the web that did it in real time as councils entered their data. But whether that would be desirable and efficient or not is another question.

                • Draco T Bastard

                  But you can’t say that ‘the people’ will determine what is researched without explaining exactly how the people will determine what is researched.

                  That’s in Part 2 as I’ve already said (I’m still working on it so I probably won’t post it for a couple of weeks).

                  It’s just not true that ‘almost all decisions everyone makes impacts upon everyone else.’

                  If we use a resource then we are preventing someone else from using that same resource which, last time I looked, made an impact upon them and almost every decision we make uses resources.

                  If I want info on wood burning stoves I can get all the info I need in the next 5 min.

                  Really? I’d be highly surprised. How many man hours went into producing that wood burner? Including the mining of the metals, minerals and stone. Do the people who did the mining have enough to live on? How much ecological damage was done in the mining? How much oil was used? How much wood does it burn? What difference does that make to the forests if only you have one? How much if everyone has one? (It’s been said that the reason why the coal age started in Britain wasn’t because they found coal but because they were running out of trees) What difference is it making to the atmosphere? To the ecosphere?

                  Yes, when you buy a wood burner you’re making decisions on all these questions and probably more most of which you don’t have an answer to.

                  There’s a lot of information that people just don’t know and have no access to and yet they’re making decisions that need that information. It’s how we ended up on the edge of calamitous climate change from a century and a half of burning oil.

                  But whether that would be desirable and efficient or not is another question.

                  The computer program would be able to show that you’re making decisions based upon real costs (both resource use and opportunity costs). The simple calculator won’t. The program will also, due to being connected to the internet, be able to get that information out to everyone in an understandable format which is easily searchable. Everything may already be on the internet but being able to find it is another question.

                  As for the councils – we already have them and both you and I have referred to them as elective dictatorships that respond only to the rich. If you’re talking about having everyone in the council then what you’re talking about is a really large discussion with nothing getting done as everyone will be arguing instead.

                  • Bill

                    Sorry draco.

                    But you need to do some reading on worker councils etc and how they function, who participates in them and so on, if you truly believe that we already have comparable structures operating today in the mainstream.

    • tea 7.2

      umm…at the risk of getting in trouble- you can have it imposed by an invading power- but they may forget to include opposition parties as part of the upgrade!

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    A bit of a clarification
    Basically, what we’re looking for is a top down administrative tool available to everybody that also links through to the raw data and research (Government and, perhaps, private).
    People don’t understand numbers all that well but they do understand charts and graphs.

    Visualisation renders complex data accessible. Graphics and interactive visualisations make visible things we never expected to see.

    So what I mean by top down administrative tool is software that, when you open it up, shows you, as an example, all the different sectors of government and how they’re inter-related. It’ll show resource sources and sinks etc. Selecting a resource will show more detail about how it’s used.

    Selecting Electricity will show you sources (Damns, coal and gas fired power stations, wind) and it’s uses (Residential, commercial, transport, etc). A different view of its uses could also show that as Heating, Lighting, Dishes etc, as well as projection into the future for those uses. Selecting Lighting would then show more details on that such as what type of lighting is being used and from here you’d probably have links to the actual research papers. If you’d gone into here with the question of How to save power? and saw that incandescent light bulbs used up far more power than any other type while also producing less light (i.e. really inefficient) then you’d probably look at enforcing certain standards on lighting because there are better uses for that power.

    By selecting Electricity you’d also be able to see what resources (Man power, cement, coal, gas etc,) were being used to produce that electricity and the research underpinning that as well.

    It would be one hell of a database project.

  9. B 9

    Keep up the good work Draco T – ur posts are always v interesting!

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    Alone, Alone, All, All, Alone: To argue that the Prime Minister is the victim of her advisers’ failure to keep her informed may offer Jacinda some measure of exoneration – but only at the cost of casting her as a hopeless political ingénue. A star-dusted muppet, whose only purpose is to ...
    2 days ago
  • Poor quality, poorly educated kiddie ‘Journalists’ spreading fake news
    In times of hysteria about the “World coming to an end” and “rising sea levels” so-called ‘Journalists’ who can barely spell words longer than four letters are having a ball! Though the majority of the Public have worked out that manmade climate change is nothing short of pseudo-science, and the ...
    An average kiwiBy admin@averagekiwi.com
    2 days ago
  • Chris Trotter on the BFD
    I don't want to give pblicity to certain parts of the internet that are better left to fester in their own irrelevance (I know, a bit like this place) but the listing of Chris Trotter as a 'author' on Cameron Slater's spinoff website, the BFD requires some explanation.Now, I don't ...
    2 days ago
  • Sex is not a spectrum
    The text below is a Twitter thread by Heather Heying that explains the essence of sexual reproduction and it long evolutionary history. She is an evolutionary biologist and a “professor-in-exile” after she and her husband, Bret Weinstein, stood up to supporters of an enforced “Day of Absence” for white staff and teachers ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    3 days ago
  • Climate Change: Trees, aviation, and offsets
    With crunch time for new Zealand climate policy approaching, most of the New Zealand media have got on board with a global reporting effort to cover the issue. There's one strand of stories today about polling and what it shows about changing public attitudes to the crisis, but the strand ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • Pissing-Off The Israelis Is A High-Risk Strategy.
    Dangerous Foes: For those readers of Bowalley Road who feel disposed to dismiss any prospect of an Israeli destabilisation of New Zealand politics, the example of the United Kingdom repays close attention. Ever since the election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the British Labour Party, the Israelis have sanctioned, funded and ...
    3 days ago
  • Something to go to in Wellington
    Make It 16, the youth-led campaign to lower New Zealand's voting age, is holding an official campaign launch at Parliament this Friday from 16:30. If you'd like to attend, you can register using EventBrite here. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • A founding member responds to Peace Action Wellington
    by Don Franks It was a lovely sunny Wellington afternoon with blue skies above  the beaches.  In Courtenay Place, political activists packed out a stuffy upstairs room for an important meeting. The assembled pacifists, anarchists, communists and independent young radicals of Peace Action Wellington felt the need for a mission ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    3 days ago
  • “Mistakes and errors”
    Current and former NZDF top brass are being publicly grilled this week by the hit and run inquiry over their public responses to allegations of civilian casualties. Previously, they've claimed there were no casualties, a position which led them to lie to Ministers and to the public. Now, they're saying ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    3 days ago
  • “Homosexuality is same-sex attraction and relationships, not heterosexuals with delusions of gende...
    by Rafael D. Quiles (gender-critical gay man from Puerto Rico) The writing on the wall is right in people’s faces and people just don’t see it or don’t want to. What could actually possess a heterosexual male to want to feminize himself and claim that he is a lesbian? Because ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    4 days ago
  • Trump: “Where’s my favourite dictator?”
    From the Wall Street Journal:Inside a room of the ornately decorated Hotel du Palais during last month’s Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump awaited a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. Mr. Trump looked over a gathering of American and Egyptian officials and called out in ...
    4 days ago
  • Magdalen Burns, 1983-2019, fighter for women’s liberation
    by the Redline blog collective At Redline we are very saddened to hear of the death of Magdalen Burns who passed away on the morning of Friday, September 13 (British time). Magdalen was a great fighter for the rights of women in general and lesbian women in particular, a defender ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    5 days ago
  • Parliament and the Executive
    The Brexit issue has certainly brought with it a series of apparently difficult constitutional issues, many of them concerning the respective roles of the executive and parliament. Most of them arise because of the unwillingness of MPs, despite their professions to the contrary, to be bound by a constitutional rarity ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    5 days ago
  • The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response
    . . This blogpost is different to my usual format of reporting on issues… Since July 1011, I have blogged on a variety of political issues; near always political and/or environmental; mostly highly critical of the previous National Government. Other issues included Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands and repression of ...
    Frankly SpeakingBy Frank Macskasy
    5 days ago
  • Police will have to wear silly Buckingham Palace hats from now on, says Police Minister
    Those close to the Police Minister believe the initiative may be the result of Nash “seeing a great deal” on AliExpress. In a move that comes seemingly out of nowhere, Police Minister Stuart Nash announced this afternoon that he expects all frontline staff to don bearskin hats, famously worn by ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    6 days ago
  • A sensible crackdown
    The government has released its Arms Legislation Bill, containing the second tranche of changes to gun laws following the March 15 massacre. And it all looks quite sensible: a national gun register, higher penalties for illegal possession and dealing, tighter restrictions on arms dealers and shooting clubs, and a shorter ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • California bans private prisons
    Private prisons are a stain on humanity. Prison operators explicitly profit from human misery, then lobby for longer prisons terms so they can keep on profiting. And in the US, prison companies run not only local and state prisons, but also Donald Trump's immigration concentration camps. Faced with this moral ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Why PPPs are a bad idea
    When National was in power, they were very keen on Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) - basicly, using private companies to finance public infrastructure as a way of hiding debt from the public. They were keen on using them for everything - roads, schools, hospitals. But as the UK shows, that "service" ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • A Movement That No Longer Moves.
    Moving And Shaking: There was a time when people spoke matter-of-factly about the “labour movement” – a political phenomenon understood to embrace much more than the Labour Party. Included within the term’s definition was the whole trade union movement – many of whose members looked upon the Labour Party as ...
    6 days ago
  • NZ ‘left’ politically embracing extreme postmodernism
    by Philip Ferguson Much of the left, even people who formally identify as marxists, have collapsed politically in the face of postmodern gender theory of the sort pioneered by American philosopher Judith Butler. For Butler even biological sex is socially constructed. “If the immutable character of sex is contested, perhaps ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    6 days ago
  • The obvious question
    The media is reporting that the (alleged) Labour party sexual assaulter has resigned from their job at Parliament, which means hopefully he won't be turning up there making people feel unsafe in future. Good. But as with everything about this scandal, it just raises other questions. Most significantly: why the ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • The moment I found out that you found out, I acted swiftly
    By Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern I am every bit as angry as you are. I am every bit as disappointed as you must be. The people with power, oversight and the ability to do something about these processes within the Labour Party should be ashamed. Whoever those people are, I ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    7 days ago
  • This is why people hate property developers
    Property developers think there is an "oversupply" of houses in Auckland:High turnover rates and falling prices may be a sign that there are too many new houses going in to some parts of Auckland, commentators say. [...] Property developer David Whitburn said there was a "bit of an oversupply" in ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Australia to Pacific: “Fuck you, you can all drown”
    World leaders are meeting in New York in two weeks for the 2019 Climate Action Summit, where they are expected to announce new and more ambitious targets to stop the world from burning. But the Australian Prime Minister won't be there, despite being in the USA at the time:Scott Morrison ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Implausible ignorance
    Labour Party president Nigel Haworth resigned yesterday over the party's sexual assault scandal. But while that's good news, its unlikely to take away the stench of a coverup. Because according to Paula Bennett in Parliament yesterday, pretty much everyone in the Prime Minister's office was involved as well:I have been ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    7 days ago
  • Labour’s Fatal Flaw.
     Two-Faced? Labour insiders' commitment to the neoliberal status quo puts them at odds with their party’s membership; its trade union affiliates; and a majority of Labour voters, but this only serves to strengthen the perception they have of themselves as a special elite. Among the lesser breeds, they’ll talk up a ...
    1 week ago
  • Ten reasons the Tories do NOT want an election
    There has been a lot of talk about Boris Johnson wanting an election, and he has blustered with great gusto about 'chicken' Jeremy Corbyn refusing one, but I think there are many reasons why he is secretly glad he has been refused the opportunity:The Tories are an utter rabble,tearing themselves ...
    1 week ago
  • Prorogation Illegal, rule Scottish judges
    Scottish appeal court judges have declared that Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament in the run-up to the October Brexit deadline is unlawful. The three judges, chaired by Lord Carloway, Scotland’s most senior judge, overturned an earlier ruling that the courts did not have the powers to interfere in the prime ...
    1 week ago
  • Let me explain what I meant by Everyday New Zealanders
    By Simon Bridges. The following is a press release from the office of Simon Bridges, leader of The National Party. Key ora, New Zealand. Happy Maori Language Week. Look, I’m writing to you today because I want to clear something up. There’s been a lot of kerfuffle around some things ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Yes, the SIS is subject to the Public Records Act
    I understand there's some stuff going round about how the SIS "was removed from the list of public offices covered by the Public Records Act in 2017". The context of course being their records derived from US torture, which will be disposed of or sealed. The good news is that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • An evidence-based discussion of the Canadian fluoride/IQ study
    Dr. Christopher Labos and Jonathan Jarry discuss the recent Canadian fluoride/IQ research. They provide an expert analysis of the paper and its problems. Click on image to go to podcast. The critical debate about the recent ...
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: Australia in denial
    Australia is burning down again, and meanwhile its natural disaster minister is denying climate change:Australia’s minister responsible for drought and natural disasters, David Littleproud, has said that he doesn’t “know if climate change is manmade”. Clarifying earlier comments that the question is “irrelevant” when considering the Coalition government’s response to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Philippines activist speaking on the Duterte tyranny
    Auckland Philippines Solidarity is excited to host Professor Judy Taguiwalo for a speaking tour of NZ in September. She is a well-known activist in the Philippines and was a political prisoner under the Marcos dictatorship. Professor Taguiwalo briefly served as a Cabinet member under President Duterte but was forced from ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Disgust
    I have no special insights to offer on the Labour sexual assault coverup. All I have is disgust. Disgust that an organisation could fail its people so badly. Disgust that they punished the victims rather than the perpetrator. Disgust that its party hacks are apparently blaming the victims for demanding ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speak Up for Women calls out Greens’ censorship
    This open letter to the Green Party was penned after an opinion piece by Jill Abigail, a feminist and founding member of the party, was censored by the Greens’ leadership. (Redline has reprinted her article here).The intolerance of the Green Party leaders and their acceptance of the misogyny of gender ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Member’s Day: End of Life Choice, part 3
    Today is a Member's day, and David Seymour's End of Life Choice Bill continues its slow crawl through its committee stage. They're spending the whole day on it today, though the first hour is likely to be spent on voting left over from last time. After that they'll move on ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Flight to Los Angeles turned back after passengers decide they don’t want to go anymore
    An ambitious plan to fly to Los Angeles petered out into a brief sight-seeing trip and a desire to return home and get some sleep before work tomorrow. Air New Zealand has confirmed a flight to Los Angeles last night was turned back about a quarter of the way into ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Indigenous Futures: defuturing and futuring – an analytical framework for policy development?
    There appears to be consensus – by omission – that the concept of indigenous futures should be accepted at face value. So I scavenged the internet to see if I could locate an academic descriptor or a framework around how we think about it as a concept, and whether it ...
    EllipsisterBy Ellipsister
    1 week ago
  • Cadbury rumoured to be releasing the Pineapple Trump
    Here’s another novelty chocolate to shove in your gob, New Zealand Cadbury could be seeking to make itself great again with a rumoured new release: Pineapple Trumps, a spin on its classic chocolate-encased pineapple treat and do-it-yourself tooth remover. The global confectionery manufacturer and bumbling “before” character in an infomercial, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • The coming resource war.
    During my time in the Pentagon I had the privilege of sitting down with military leaders and defence and security officials from a variety of Latin American nations. Sometimes I was present as a subordinate assistant to a senior US defence department official, sometimes as part of a delegation that ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    1 week ago
  • Māori Language Week with The Civilian
    Kia ora, Aotearoa. It’s that magical time of year. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori. In English, the week that frightens talk radio. As you probably know by now, all your favourite media outlets are participating, some more successfully than others. Stuff has changed its name to Puna for the ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    1 week ago
  • Will Horizons act on climate change?
    Local body elections are coming up next month. And it looks like all Palmerston North candidates for Horizons (the Manawatu-Whanganui Regional Council) want to take action on climate change:Climate change is set to be a key issue in Palmerston North for the next three years if those wanting to get ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • BORA reform is stalled
    Eighteen months ago, the government promised to strengthen the Bill of Rights Act, by explicitly affirming the power of the courts to issue declarations of inconsistency and requiring Parliament to formally respond to them. So how's that going? I was curious, so I asked for all advice about the proposal. ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Corbyn and Brexit
    As the Brexit saga staggers on, the focus is naturally enough on the Prime Minister and his attempts to achieve Brexit “do or die”. But the role played by the Leader of the Opposition is of almost equal interest and complexity. The first problem for Jeremy Corbyn is that he ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • A ditch for him to die in
    Last week, English Prime Minister Boris Johnson boldly declared that he would rather die be dead in a ditch than delay Brexit. Unfortunately for him, the UK parliament accepted the challenge, and promptly dug one for him. The "rebellion bill" requires him to ask for and secure yet another temporary ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Warning! Warning! Danger Jacinda Ardern! Danger Marama Davidson! Warning!
    Lost In Political Space: The most important takeaway from this latest Labour sexual assault scandal, which (if I may paraphrase Nixon’s White House counsel’s, John Dean’s, infamous description of Watergate) is “growing like a cancer” on the premiership, is the Labour Party organisation’s extraordinary professional paralysis in the face of ...
    1 week ago
  • Union solidarity with Ihumatao land occupation
    by Daphna Whitmore Every Sunday for the past two months unionists from First Union, with supporters from other unions, have set out to the Ihumatao land protest, put up gazebos and gas barbeques, and cooked food for a few hundred locals and supporters who have come from across the country. ...
    RedlineBy Daphna
    1 week ago
  • Climate Change: The wrong kind of trees?
    Newsroom today has an excellent, in-depth article on pine trees as carbon sinks. The TL;DR is that pine is really good at soaking up carbon, but people prefer far-less efficient native forests instead. Which is understandable, but there's two problems: firstly, we've pissed about so long on this problem that ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • No freedom of speech in Turkey
    Canan Kaftancioglu is a Turkish politician and member of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP). Like most modern politicians, she tweets, and uses the platform to criticise the Turkish government. She has criticised them over the death of a 14-year-old boy who was hit by a tear gas grenade during ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Speaker: Tadhg Stopford: Why I’m standing for the ADHB
    Hi there, just call me Tim.We face tough problems, and I’d like to help, because there are solutions.An Auckand District Health Board member has nominated me for as a candidate for the ADHB, because her MS-related pain and fatigue is reduced with hemp products from Rotorua.  Nothing else helped her. If I ...
    1 week ago
  • Good little vassals
    The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security has published their report on whether the SIS and GCSB had any complicity in American torture. And its damning. The pull quote is this:The Inquiry found both agencies, but to a much greater degree, the NZSIS, received many intelligence reports obtained from detainees who, ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Who Shall We Turn To When God, And Uncle Sam, Cease To Defend New Zealand?
    Bewhiskered Cassandra? Professor Hugh White’s chilling suggestion, advanced to select collections of academic, military and diplomatic Kiwi experts over the course of the past week, is that the assumptions upon which Australia and New Zealand have built their foreign affairs and defence policies for practically their entire histories – are ...
    1 week ago
  • The Politics of Opposition
    For most of the time I was a British MP, my party was out of government – these were the Thatcher years, when it was hard for anyone else to get a look-in. As a front-bencher and shadow minister, I became familiar with the strategies required in a parliamentary democracy ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    1 week ago
  • More expert comments on the Canadian fluoride-IQ paper
    The Green et al (2019) fluoride/IQ is certainly controversial – as would be expected from its subject (see If at first you don’t succeed . . . statistical manipulation might help and Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear). Anti-fluoride campaigners have been actively promoting it ...
    2 weeks ago
  • The return to guerrilla war in Colombia
    by Gearóid Ó Loingsigh On August 29th a video in which veteran FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) commander Iván Márquez announced that they had taken up arms again was released. There was no delay in the reaction to it, from longtime Liberal Party figure and former president Uribe, for ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Air New Zealand identifies this enormous plot of unused land as possible second airport site
    Air New Zealand couldn’t believe its luck that this seemingly ideal piece of real estate had so far gone entirely unnoticed. Air New Zealand’s search for a site to build a second Auckland Airport may have made a breakthrough this afternoon, after employees scanning Google satellite imagery spotted a huge, ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested interests in Labourism – often for career reasons. Nevertheless, there ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • New Fisk
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Labour’s failure
    When National was in government and fucking over the poor for the benefit of the rich, foodbanks were a growth industry. And now Labour is in charge, nothing has changed: A huge demand for emergency food parcels means the Auckland City Mission is struggling to prepare for the impending arrival ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Ardern attempts to vaccinate Clarke Gayford live on television to prove that it’s safe
    Gayford, pictured here on The Project, before things got wildly out of control. A bold public relations move by the Government to encourage parents to vaccinate their children has gone horribly wrong. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared on tonight’s episode of Three’s The Project, where the plan was for her ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Has Mr. Whippy gone too far by parking on our front lawns?
    Mr. Whippy’s business model has driven it down a dark road of intimidation. Residents in major centres around the country are becoming disgruntled by the increasingly aggressive actions of purported ice cream company Mr. Whippy, who have taken to parking on people’s front lawns and doorsteps in a desperate attempt ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Cleaning up the water
    Today the government released its Action Plan for Healthy Waterways, aimed at cleaning up our lakes and rivers. Its actually quite good. There will be protection for wetlands, better standards for swimming spots, a requirement for continuous improvement, and better standards for wastewater and stormwater. But most importantly, there's a ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago
  • Fronting up
    Today I appeared before the Environment Committee to give an oral submission on the Zero Carbon Bill. Over 1,500 people have asked to appear in person, so they've divided into subcommittees and are off touring the country, giving people a five minute slot each. The other submitters were a mixed ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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