How much astroturf can you buy for $500,000?

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, November 20th, 2009 - 76 comments
Categories: child discipline - Tags: , ,

astroturfingTomorrow the Christian Right are holding a self-styled ‘March for Democracy’ that’s been bankrolled to the tune of $500,000 by Auckland property developer Colin Craig.

I’m sure you’ll have seen the TV ads, the newpaper full-pagers and the slick PR campaign. They’re even paying for free buses to and from the event. With that kind of big money behind you’d expect to get a decent turnout, almost regardless of the cause. But exactly how much astroturf can you buy for $500,000?

Let’s generously assume a budget of $10 per person you get to your rally. On that basis we should be expecting a turnout of at least 50,000 people. If they get 10,000 people it’s $50 per person. 5000 people and you’re looking at a $100 spend per person.

Taking this train of thought a step further, the organisers could save themselves a whole lot of hassle and just spend the $500,000 to actually pay people to attend the rally. At the minimum wage they’d get 40,000 people along. Even at $15 an hour they’d still get 33,333.

Don’t get me wrong, I expect a large turnout. We just have to remember to ask how that number looks when you divide into 500,000.

76 comments on “How much astroturf can you buy for $500,000?”

  1. gitmo 1

    If they get a couple of hundred people I’d be amazed….. by the way who are the “Christian right” and relation to the Christian left the Muslim right or the Hindu centrists ?

    Why are some of the writers here so quick to try and hang a label on people ?

    • Geek 1.1

      Because its easy to dismiss someone as an extremist crazy if you hang a label like Christian right or Redneck on them.

    • Marty G 1.2

      sorry, are you denying that there is such a thing as a Christian Right and that it is a major force behind social conservatism in New Zealand?

      As it happens there are of course Christian Left (the established churches in NZ mostly fall into this category) and there is Muslim Right (not yet a significant political force in NZ), and Hindu centrists (who have a lot of trouble with the Hindu Right in India)

    • Clarke 1.3

      Because “Christian Right” is a much politer label than “Deluded Nutjobs”.

  2. lukas 2

    How much does it cost to hire a bus and take voters to polling booths and then on to KFC?

    captcha- money

  3. Scribe 3

    How much for the honorary consul’s job in Monaco?

    I find it hard to believe you’d write a similar post if someone put up $500k to promote a rally on climate change issues. It’s really the cause that’s got you riled up, isn’t it Eddie?

    • Marty G 3.1

      myself, I would hope that any climate change campaigner would have better things to spend $500,000 on than a march.

      That’s the interesting thing for me – how awash with cash the beating lobby is. There are obviously a few wealthy people behind this. I wonder why they spend their money on this issue, which can’t seriously matter to them, not to the extent they would shell out half a million on a march. Aren’t there other rightwing issues they would rather spend the money on?

      They’re free to waste their money how they like, of course.

      • Geek 3.1.1

        How big is Green peaces budget? I am sure they have spent far more than 500K on protesting about climate change.

        • Marty G

          yes, so?

          • Geek

            Make a stupid comment get a stupid answer.

            Clearly climate campaigners do spend large amounts of money on getting their point across. To discredit these peoples views simply because money has been spent on the protest is stupid.

            • Roger Anderson

              It is worth spending half a million for climate change awareness, it is not worth spending half a million dollars to protest a view that shows a misunderstanding of what the repeal of section 59 is or what democracy really entails.

        • squirrel

          I’ve been involved in organsing a fair number of marches and protest events. The majority would come in well under $1000 though some large union events with stages, PA’s a sound engineer and a bit of promotion might come in between $10,000 and $20,000. This would be the same with greenpeace.

          Certainly a budget of over $50,000 would be unheard of for a major left wing protest, I doubt it has happened. The electoral finance act and anti smacking protests have in contrast been exceptionally well funded by donors with big pockets. If only those of us on the left had as generous spnsors.

      • Draco T Bastard 3.1.2

        They have the money to manipulate people and so binding referendums would pretty much guarantee them dictatorial control over the country.

  4. exbrethren 4

    Wonder if this is the poster girl for the march?


    • Draco T Bastard 4.1

      Those children need to be removed from those parents ASAP.

    • Geek 4.2

      In as much as they will use it as an example of the law having no effect on those it was aimed at they probably will.

      I understand the law is designed to change attitudes over time but you may just see them marching out this case as an example of why the law isn’t working.

      • felix 4.2.1

        Not sure if you’re being deliberately obtuse or not, but in case you aren’t:

        Before the repeal of section 59 this woman could have (and in all likeliness would have) used the defense of “reasonable force”.

        Now she can’t.

        That is the effect of the repeal, Geek. She is in jail for what she has done whereas previously she would likely have been free to continue her abuse.

        You might not think that’s a significant difference but I’m pretty sure she does, and her victims do too.

        • Geek

          I think you got the wrong end of the stick and even so you make a hell of a lot of assumptions.

          Firstly you are right that she would have attempted to use s59 however it is a big step to assume it would have worked. The fact that it was premeditated with lengths of hose being cut before the child was home and then the beating being carried out as an example in front of all the kids puts it on a level that I think any lawyer would have difficulty arguing was reasonable. However it was never tested under the old law so it is ridiculous to try and predict what the outcome would have been.

          Secondly cases of children being killed by abuse have already been trotted out as examples of the law not working. It is claimed that kids were dieing under the old law and they are dieing under the new so the law isn’t working. The same reasoning will probably be applied to this. I would not be surprised to see a sound bite from the march where someone mentions this case and uses it as an example to prove that the law doesn’t stop child abuse.

          • Roger Anderson

            There was the reported case of the lady who used a horse riding crop on her son and succeeded in using this defence. The argument that this repeal doesn’t work because people still break the law is ridiculous. would you say in cases where children die from abuse that laws against murder also do not work and need to be removed?

            • Geek

              yes there was the reported riding crop case. Widely reported and if anything that case being so widely reported would more than likely reduce the chances of a jury returning a not guilty verdict as they did int he riding crop case.

              Also read my earlier comment. I understand the law is intended to change attitudes thereby reducing child abuse over time. I understand that it won’t have an immediate effect on the numbers. My understanding of this does not change the fact that people will still march these cases out and say “see the legislation didn’t save this child”.

            • felix

              “see the legislation didn’t save this child’.

              I can see what you’re saying Geek but I really think it backfires a bit. They would seem to be saying, in making that argument, that the child was still victimised in spite of the repeal but the abuser should be given an out anyway.

              It comes out sounding like:

              “See? The legislation didn’t save this child. From us.”

            • Geek

              There is the chance for it to backfire. That chance is seldom taken. MSM will grab that sound bite and play it. What they won’t do is have someone else saying “It didn’t save this child right now, but how many children will be saved in the future by a slow removal of the acceptance of this behavior”.

          • felix

            That’s why I said “likely”.

            Maybe I should have said “possibly”.

            Anyhoo this case is exactly why the reasonable force defense was removed. If the marchers think it helps their cause to highlight it then good for them. I disagree.

            The real trouble they find themselves in I suppose is that they don’t have any good examples to hold up because to date no-one has been prosecuted for smacking a child.

        • Herodotus

          So you are really questioning our judicial system?
          It is not necessarily the law ( as the old S59 still outlawed violence, now we have replaced precedence with police discretion) that is wrong BUT how the court process is applied. If that is a case then should we not be reviewing the system, as in this case you were worried that a not guilty may have resulted that in this example 12 peers would have let them go. Could the same arguement be had for any jury case?

  5. Adrian 5

    How about Key feeding the masses in Singapore last week, and so-called journalists to boot?

  6. Bored 6

    Christian right, what an oxymoron. I had hoped as Gitmo suggests that they dont exist in reality, that its just a label. Then somebody fronts $50K to gather the righteous to demand Old Testament rules, a fiery brimstone wielding retributive God in tow. Will we be surprised and see the real Christ, the charitable forgiveness figure in these “Christians”, or just the local Taliban?

  7. prism 7

    The march seems centred around raising and fostering false consciousness. Rigid Christian dogmatics are also great followers to a call by their leaders. They think and examine beyond the dogma with an already closed mind. They can be stirred to feel and react with particular emotionally charged words such as democracy, parents rights, anti-sex anything – gays, prostitution, unmarried mothers, they’re also likely to reject government social programs etc. That tends to be where the Christian right comes from. Most people understand that don’t they.

    • Herodotus 7.1

      Such labelling , you are following H1 putdowns on Christian Fundamentalists, without describing what they believe in who they are. You may find that when you describe such a group as CF the majority also vote for Labour, as your def may blanket both CF & CR!!
      Why is there so much hostility towards such a group, perhaps if you place a label then you depersonalise the people so you donot have to face that the individuals are not as “bad” as you portray them and maybe your neighbour whom you have a beer/Chardonnay with.

      • prism 7.1.1

        Herodotus – Putting a label on someone can be a way of being dismissive about others I know. But it is essential to be able to describe something observable, and the CF behaviour is predictable.

        If I had the neighbour you describe it wouldn’t be a relaxing time having a drink with that person. If I didn’t keep strictly to discussion of fences and overhanging trees etc. we would soon be disagreeing whatever their political persuasion.

  8. outofbed 8

    If Colin Craig wants to beat children so much he is willing to shell out $500,000,
    I am sure there are other places in the world that would see a higher childbeating per dollar ratio then he will achieve on Saturday

  9. Armchair Critic 9

    The whole thing is a diversionary tactic.
    The organizers are abusing the word democracy; the march is nothing to do with democracy. The march is advocating stripping a group of vulnerable people of their existing legal rights.
    Democracy is (according to my Concise Oxford) “government by the whole population”. The march is not asking for democracy, it is asking for mob rule.
    The protection of children’s rights is the one thing I am happy with National’s actions on. The only thing they could do better is explain clearly why the march organizers are a bunch of [self moderated].

    • Scribe 9.1

      Democracy is (according to my Concise Oxford) “government by the whole population’. The march is not asking for democracy, it is asking for mob rule.

      Nonsense. They’re asking that a referendum of the people that has such a clear-cut outcome should lead to a change in policy.

      Sure, it’s convenient to portray them as child-beaters. Sure, the referendum question was flawed. Sure, the government has no compulsion to make any changes.

      The reaction of people like you, Armchair Critic, and others, appears to be a case of only supporting freedom of speech when you agree with that speech.

      • Pascal's bookie 9.1.1

        No one is saying they can’t speak Scribe. Don’t be silly.

        What they are asking is that a non binding ref, be treated as a binding one. That’s dumbity dumb dumb, and it’s not denying their freedom of speech to point that out..

      • Draco T Bastard 9.1.2

        They’re asking that a referendum of the people that has such a clear-cut outcome should lead to a change in policy.

        And which referendum was that one? Because it sure as hell wasn’t the latest one that had a misleading question and wasn’t about any laws.

        appears to be a case of only supporting freedom of speech when you agree with that speech.

        Free speech is all well and good but when it gets into the political realm then it needs to be supported by facts. These people don’t have facts – only delusional belief.

      • Armchair Critic 9.1.3

        You have headed off down the diversion trail too, scribe. You haven’t addressed the point that the march is about stripping a group of people of their legal rights.

        “They’re asking that a referendum of the people that has such a clear-cut outcome should lead to a change in policy.”
        Democracy involves a bit more than that. When a referendum outcome purportedly supports stripping the rights of a disenfranchised part of society, I support any government that does not pursue the referendum outcome. And where a large group of people demand the existing rights of the disenfranchised are removed, that sounds more like mob rule than democracy.

        “Sure, it’s convenient to portray them as child-beaters.”
        But it’s misleading. There is a wide gulf between smacking and beating. It amuses me that the same people that tell us all how smoking marijuana leads inexorably to using harder drugs, yet refuse to apply the same logic to smacking.

        “Sure, the referendum question was flawed. Sure, the government has no compulsion to make any changes.”

        “The reaction of people like you, Armchair Critic, and others, appears to be a case of only supporting freedom of speech when you agree with that speech.”
        Let me leave you with no doubt on this one. I am with Voltaire on the issue of free speech. I do not agree with what the marchers are advocating, however I will defend to the death their right to say it. And the same applies to my right to criticise their views.

        • fraser

          “to criticise their views.”

          and their funding model

          • Armchair Critic

            I don’t have a problem with their funding model, per se. If someone is dumb enough to put up their own cash to advocate doing the wrong thing, that’s their loss. If they are actually serious about supporting democracy, there are plenty of other ways to do this that would be much more effective.

            • fraser

              yeah, im kinda of the same opinion.

              was more getting at people equating a paid for event with a political movement

            • Armchair Critic

              Oh, right, that is a bit of an issue.
              I wonder, if people are being paid, does that create an obligation to pay tax? And does it create an obligation on the oganizers to comply with the Health and safety in Employment Act? That would leave a few i’s to dot and t’s to cross. Wouldn’t want anyone breaking any laws, now.

  10. Scribe 10


    Some people are saying those who will march tomorrow are rednecks not worth listening to.

    You’re right, though; the horse has bolted on this issue.

    What the group should be doing, and I think they are to an extent (but opponents are shouting “childbeaters” etc), is making the case for there to be BINDING referenda. Maybe along the lines of 75%+ support makes something binding, but with greater restrictions around the wording of questions etc.

    People might or might not agree with that, but it’s something people ought to be able to march up Queen Street about.

  11. Pascal's bookie 11

    “Some people are saying those who will march tomorrow are rednecks not worth listening to.”

    “Some people” eh? Rightio.

    Even so, that’s not saying they shouldn’t be allowed to speak.

    • Geek 11.1

      What matters

      TC posted 19 November at 1120am

      “The scary and sad thought is these marchers represent the folk who put us where we are by voting for the NACT. It’s not so much a ‘pro beating’ turnout , even though it would contain a fair few of those, but more like ‘give us red necks what you promised’ turnout.”

      Some people ARE saying those who march tomorrow are just rednecks.

      • Pascal's bookie 11.1.1

        I was disputing the claim that people are denying them the freedom of speech. Maybe someone is, I’ve not seen it though.

        I think tc is right though, that there is an element in this protest that feel Key? National have betrayed them, and that can’t reasonably be about the smacking because National’s position on that hasn’t changed.

        Instead, I think it’s a consequence of the dogwhistling National engaged in against liberals and gays, and nanny state, etc. There was more of it under Brash for sure, but the right kept it up through talkbalk etc when Key took over. And Key never really fronted on repudiating that stuff. That crowd feels betrayed, and yeah, they’re ‘rednecks’ inasmuch as the term means anything.

        I was struck my how personally they went after Key in the TV ad that I heard, (didn’t see it as I was in the kitchen, but it was John Key this and John Key that we voted for John key and now John Key the other). That sense of leadership betrayal is a pointer to authoritarian leanings, IMV.

        But they’re free to speak and march, certainly.

        • Geek

          “”Some people are saying those who will march tomorrow are rednecks not worth listening to.’

          “Some people’ eh? Rightio.”

          That seems like a denial of his claim that people are claiming that those who are marching are rednecks. I merely provided evidence that people are simply dismissing them as all being rednecks.

          I actually agree that most of those there will be people who voted for national who feel they aren’t getting what they voted for. That of course is not the same thing as a bunch of redneck or child beaters which seems to be the major response I see here.

  12. Herodotus 12

    Why is there so much aghast on when there is a march against what the left do not support. All this demonising of those who support the cause?
    Over the years as ideas that”we:” do not support, valid discussion cannot be held without the conversation deterioating into either KB mentality or, academic snobery so we can excluded those out there who are not us as they cannot converse in “our” language.

    • Pascal's bookie 12.1

      Stop demonising the left Herodotus. Why is it that whenever anyone disagrees with the right, they start crying and stamping their feet. The only acceptable speech to them is complete agreement with whatever their current lunacy is. Anything else, and they claim they are being oppressed.

      • Herodotus 12.1.1

        using this thread, please re read this at point out where my comments do not fit.I did not say that the right do not also do something similar but their exclusion basis is completely different to the left. I was making an observation that has been more obvious. I do not know if it is because there are only the same people contributing, but e.g. In 1 post within the month Someone suggested that the PM must have passed a political studies course.
        If I was to comment on the rights exclusion basis would this be the most appropiate forum?

        • Pascal's bookie

          Mate, basically speaking people actually disagree about things. Standing around acting all school teacherey and saying why can’t you all be more polite and then we might reach a consensus is a fools game.

          The acrimony is not caused by the ‘exclusionary language’ or the labeling or what have you, (though there is a feed back loop involved), but rather by the underlying diffrence of opinions, genuinely felt.

          But anyway, needs must, I’m off.

    • Draco T Bastard 12.2

      Valid discussion can’t be held unless facts are utilised and discussed. The people supporting this march for “democracy” are making sure that fact doesn’t enter the discussion at all.

  13. Greg 13

    “Taking this train of thought a step further, the organisers could save themselves a whole lot of hassle and just spend the $500,000 to actually pay people to attend the rally. At the minimum wage they’d get 40,000 people along. Even at $15 an hour they’d still get 33,333.”

    Apparently thats the done thing these days…… check out:

    The left started it!

    • Roger Anderson 13.1

      nice try Greg, your link does not describe a left wing protest. Try harder next time.

      • IrishBill 13.1.1

        That’ll be those left-wing small business owners.

        • Geek

          People see student in an article and immediately assume left wing. It’s a shame that other actually read the entire article and then make them look like idiots.

  14. fizzleplug 14

    I don’t see the issue at all. It’s his money, and although I can think of much much better things to spend it on (I’m looking to buy a house at the moment), it’s also his money to waste. WHich is what he is doing.

    Astroturf is a very odd thing to compare it to though. Seriously, how many people buy astroturf? I’d like to know how much airtime someone can get on TVNZ for $500k….

    oops different thread!

  15. Cameron 15

    Unite Union volunteers are turning up to the march tomorrow to collect signatures for the $15 minimum wage petition. May as well take advantage of the big crowd of people, even if you disagree with repealing Section 59. If you want to help out, meet up outside the Unite Union offices at 300 Queen Street – it’s just by the ASB on the corner of Wellesley street.

    I doubt the vast majority of the crowd will be hardened right-wingers. I think many will be conservative working class people, involved in churches. It is best to break them from the right-wing demagogues, like Family First, by actually helping them with the day to day issues in their lives, poor wages etc.

    • prism 15.1

      Good luck with the wages petition. Smart thinking to utilise the mass gathering for something useful.

      The problems I see about the march is it demonstrates that there are people out there with money who will use it to push the country in their chosen direction. There’s nothing new in that eh, we’ve got Shirtcliff and that other big wheel doing this over MMP, but it makes me feel wobbly. Shades of Fiji.
      And the other problem is their idea that we should have binding referendums, and because they think so it is as good as having such a system, and they act as if we do and demand their chosen result and then call that democracy. Frankly I don’t want their version of it and wouldn’t trust them to come up with sound decisions about anything, whether smacking or their next target.

  16. Addicted to Smack?

    lol – anti-spam word – “danger”

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