Let’s not repeat Ireland’s mistakes

Written By: - Date published: 1:25 pm, March 29th, 2010 - 23 comments
Categories: capitalism, economy, Economy, poverty - Tags:

The eXileD has a piece on Ireland’s woes and how they got there. The 1980s neoliberal revolution and dodgy deals for the Right’s mates are familiar. Ireland became a tax haven for bludging international financiers. It’s all come crashing down but John Key wants to copy their mistake by creating an offshore financial centre here.

So it’s that time of the year again. That time of the year when you put on the stupid, oversized green hat, get outrageously drunk, approach a young man/woman/shaved-ape in a bleary haze and ramble on about how your third-cousin’s friend’s half-aunt was Irish in a desperate attempt to get laid. Maybe some cringing Irish ballad might come on (you know, one of those songs about prison ships and birds of freedom) and there’s no way in hell you’re going to resists that urge to sing along. For shame.

That’s right; it’s St. Patrick’s day!

Here in Ireland we have an expression for this type of behaviour (yes, we Fenian folk act in a similar manner so often that we’ve coined a phrase); it’s called ‘acting like a total fucking gobshite’. And yes, Paddy’s Day is a day of doing precisely that. It’s a day when people idolise the old country (even if it’s not old, or their country); a day when they call to mind images of leprechauns, Celtic warrior kings and Enya.

Well, as the Guinness induced intoxication begins to clear and those whimsical spirits fade away; when you wake up next to a stranger only to find that both of you have huge shamrocks tattooed on your arses; when you begin to survey the vaguely recalled chaos of the night before now you’re ready to read about the fair green isles.

You see Ireland isn’t in a good way. Ireland’s coming out of a bad bender and it fucking hurts!

‘Jesus! How did this happen?’ you ask yourself the morning after. Why is your novelty hat full of sick? Which drink was the ‘one too many’ that pushed you into that self-destructive spiral? Well, the Irish are asking themselves or, at least should be asking themselves the very same questions. Let’s start from the beginning.

Historically, Ireland has been a very poor place. Up until the mid-twentieth it was basically an agrarian economy an economy dominated by landlords, bailiffs and peasants. The landlords were prosperous class who laughed at the hungry poor; the bailiffs, a mean bunch of drunken bullies who liked nothing better than to batter some poor emaciated hut-dwellers with their shillelaghs (I believe your Bill O’ Reillys and your Sean Hannitys inherited the ‘bailiff gene’); and the peasants? They were a terrible bunch a personification of the smell of a rotten potato.

Sure there were a few built up cities Dublin was alright, Cork wasn’t too bad but even here the poverty was pretty disgusting. You know that Schopenhauerian idea that life is essentially embodied pain? Well, for most of their modern history, the Irish have been living evidence of this.

And the culture? It was crap. Completely saturated by a Catholicism spread by a well entrenched and highly organised Church (although in fairness to the Church, if it hadn’t been for their civilising influence, which only sort of half-worked, I’ll bet that the Irish would still be living in their own filth).

Anyway, then the revolts came. The big dates that you’ll be swigging to this Paddy’s Day: 1916, 1921 1923. They were okay. Well, to be fair 1916 was great; a bunch of poets, nationalists and an admirable Scottish Marxist called James Connolly basically signed a suicide pact and took over the GPO, one of Dublin’s main strategic buildings. Then the British came in and absolutely crushed them oh well.

Once the dreamers and the fools were out of the way a heavy and ignorant nationalism set in that can still be felt today. When the Civil War ended in 1923 no one really cared about anything except Catholicism and the tri-colour well a few did, but they were just ignored.For the next 60 or so years nothing really happened. The Church banned a few films; a load of people went to Latin mass and the new ruling-class that had taken power after the Civil War tried at some rather feeble attempts to industrialise the country. Pretty boring stuff oh, well there was the troubles, but they’re a bit of a fetish; if you want a discussion of them do a Google search, you’ll get plenty.

So, then the early 80s hit. While Maggie Thatcher’s own version of the Cheka were murdering people in the North, the Fianna Fail Party a bunch of corrupt right-wingers formed after the Civil War who refer to themselves as the ‘Republican Party’ got their hands on the doctrines of Milton Friedman and his cronies in watered-down form, I’m sure (these people are cretins, real troglodyte types, in both brain and body). Neo-liberalism had come to Ireland.

The effects were slow to pick up, but the cuts in public services were quick, sharp and deep. The free-market warrior who implemented them was a man called Ray MacSharry. He quickly became known as ‘Mac the Knife’, after the seedy character in Brecht’s ‘Threepenny Opera’. He finished his career, like many of the characters we will meet along the way and also like many Friedmanesque reformers, in public disgrace he was involved in a Watergate-style scandal, using police equipment to tape some of his colleagues. But no worries, even if an Irish politician ends his career in the proverbial stocks he’ll always be able to make himself a small fortune in the business world where moral vice turns into practical virtue.

The cuts of the 1980s were to be felt for the ensuing decades. It might be expected that during the boom years the funding would be restored. To expect that would be to misunderstand the nature of the ‘boom’. One of the main policy measures which allowed the boom to take place was an extremely low corporation tax rate. Ireland was never able to fund its public services because it was, and still is, a tax haven for international corporations an international money-launderer. We launder so much corporate money that economists don’t measure our economic growth in terms of GDP (the standard international measure), but instead measure it in terms of GNP, so that we don’t take into account all the money the corporations are washing through Ireland to avoid paying taxes in the countries where they set up shop. Somehow I doubt that magazines like the Economist took nuggets like these into account when they were championing Ireland as an economic paradise some years back.

In the mid-1990s economic growth was starting to pick up and by the late-90s it was accelerating at a rapid pace. The right-wingers were patting themselves on the back for their infinite cleverness. The stupidly named ‘Celtic Tiger’ was here (the term is cut-and-pasted from the ‘Asian Tiger’ phenomenon further evidence that the international business press is full of drooling idiots and lobotomised hacks especially since the Asian Tigers imploded in 1997-98).

To anyone who maintained their sobriety during this period it was remarkably obvious that the boom was dangerously unsustainable.

Actually, I won’t say ‘maintained their sobriety’ because anyone who was remotely realistic throughout this period would have found it hard not to reach for the bottle. You see the Irish came up with a stupid colloquial phrase to describe critical reasoning: doom and gloom.

‘Ah, Johnny’, Mary would say with a moronic smile plastered on her face, ‘sure he’s always talking doom and gloom’. The RTE’s (our national broadcasting service) economics editor who warned of the disaster that was coming? Doom and gloom. People who pointed out that spending your pension fund on a second home in order to turn around a quick bit of cash was a bad idea? Doom and gloom.

Throughout the so-called Celtic Tiger period the unquestioning subservience the Irish people had learnt under the rule of the Catholic Church fused with the facile optimism of the consumerist age to create a chemical compound of mass-stupefaction. Why vote out the corrupt bastards that were fleecing the country when a new Tommy Hilfiger shop had opened in the city centre (this one has jeans that come pre-faded!)?

Oh, and the corruption no, I won’t move on to the corruption quite yet, we’ll stick with the culture of the era for the moment. You see, Ireland modernised remarkably fast culturally speaking. Don’t get me wrong, I’m truly thankful for this it really isn’t a bad thing when large swaths of the population stop believing that the immaculate Virgin has appeared in Bally-nowhere to tell some sexually abused girl that God loves her.

The Irish culturally modernised by leaps and bounds. Most people of my generation sneer at the mention of organised religion or at the very least are fairly flippant about the whole thing. But if history has taught us nothing it is that one superstition will inevitably be replaced by another. China got Maoism; we got consumerism.

A strange sort of consumerism it was too. The Irish writer Brendan Behan once said ‘Other people have a nationality. The Irish and the Jews have a psychosis’. How right he was. When both these peoples tried to forge their own national identities they were horrified to find a big, dark void where their nationality was supposed to be. The Zionists went mental existential threat this and holocaust that. The Irish weren’t quite so unfortunate. They hung onto the whole Catholic thing for a while; but ditched that whole miserable affair at the first chance they got. When the imported American cultural goods started to arrive by the shipload, the shopping malls began to fill up Dawn of the Dead style.

Then something weird started happening young people started mimicking the characters they saw on inane MTV-style shows like ‘The OC’ and ‘One Tree Hill’. Why is this weird? Well, it’s a matter of geography, really. You see, we’re not L.A. we’re REALLY not L.A. Ireland has shit weather really, really shit weather (the Irish burn significant amounts of carbohydrates just complaining about it). So when you see the guys (yes, we say ‘guys’ now) wearing beach shorts in the pouring rain, or the girls doing the oompa-loompa through the application of fake tan, it’s just that a little weird.

Anyway, let’s move away from the cultural pathologies and get back to the political pathologies. Corruption got pretty bad no, scratch that corruption got really bad. One of the major figures of the 1980s reforms was on-again off-again Taoiseach (translation: Prime Minister) Charles Haughey. Haughey was a crooked bastard and everyone knew it. A total pisshead (translation: regular consumer of alcoholic beverage) and a notorious womaniser; he was also embroiled in an IRA arms deal in 1970. ‘Cool’, you say? Don’t let this fool you as I said earlier Irish nationalism is a murky ideology; where greed mixes with social responsibility and venture capitalist drug-dealers form alliances with committed socialists.Through the eighties Haughey amassed a small fortune by accepting bribes from scumbag businessmen. He even bought himself an island yes, that’s right, the Irish Taoiseach had his own island-lair! But it wasn’t your typical lair. It didn’t have sharks and scuba-men swimming around it or a skull-cave housing a biological warhead. Instead of playing the Bond villain, Haughey used to take helicopter trips to the island with his buddies on the weekends (his son owned Ireland’s biggest helicopter firm) and they all used to get so thrashed on whisky that many claimed Haughey couldn’t work properly come Monday. Corruption Irish style.

Haughey pretty much got away with it too. Everyone thought he was a scumbag well apart from his elite buddies, and that’s all that matters. Unfortunately corrupt bastards don’t pay for their crimes in Ireland; they merely step down from public office, go in front of some bullshit tribunal that goes nowhere and end up in a cushy business job or live out the rest of their days on their private islands drinking their brains out.

For the rich boozing isn’t the escape it is for the poor. Instead it’s a Bacchic dance of transgression. The elites in Ireland don expensive clothes, go to the trendy spots and get absolutely trashed. Enter one of these hip clubs and you’ll encounter the décor of a Parisian restaurant, the dress of an awards ceremony and the stagnant stench of an alley bar. Approach one of the sneering patrons they’ll tell you, in their stressed, pretentious accent, all about their wealth, about their loathing for the poor then they’ll stumble, try to steady themselves and fall on their ass. Coke is popular too the perfect drug for Ireland’s verbose, yet vapid elite. What these people seek is a chemical to accentuate their vulgar arrogance and vulgar it is. There’s no class about this arrogance. There’s no ironic distance toward it it’s fully felt, fully embraced. Many Irish elites would get-off on telling you just how brilliant they are. There’s no need for culture of any kind say, talking about Renoir or Joyce as a point of prestige the arrogance sells itself. This is an attitude of pure brilliance, esteem and privilege and it feeds the corruption like cancerous tumour feeds off its host body why would you have any responsibilities for a society and a country which you are so far above?

The corruption theme is a tired one in Irish political discourse as drawn out and tedious as an Al Gore speech. To give a recent example take our last Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern (another Fianna Fail-er). You’ve probably seen him before. He’s the stammering, dithery monkey-man in the shabby suit you often see standing next to world leaders, complete with shit-eating grin. Ahern was also disgraced for taking bribes from dodgy businessmen and stepped down from his government office. As the financial crisis unravelled and the activities of some of the bankers came to light Ahern commented that ‘he’d only taken a few bribes’ a perfect example of the sense of arrogance and untouchability that pervades Ireland’s elite. Interestingly, Ahern’s autobiography went on to be a best-seller.

This is another thing people need to understand about Ireland. Ask the average Irish person what they think of the politicians. ‘Feckin’ corrupt eejits’, you’ll be told but in reality what Shaun O’ Shaughnassy really wants is to cultivate that drive to fuck over other people himself. This is what a large portion of the Irish population looks for in Ahern’s autobiography but they find themselves only able to apply it in the most petty manner; say, by hiring a builder off-the-books, or by ripping their customers off by selling overpriced crap through their shit businesses. These people, who sneer at the arrogance and corruption of the elites, really just want in on the game.In Ireland we have a term for the attitude of the corrupt (yes, another): ‘cuteness’. Cuteness is a strange one; it’s a sort of mix between criticism and praise. ‘Ah he’s a cute bastard’ means at once ‘He’s a corrupt dickhead’ and at the same time something like ‘He’s very clever’. In reality these people aren’t in any way clever they’re simply ruthless. They’re the type of people you wouldn’t leave your wallet around and the Irish people have an intense love-hate relationship with them. The average Irishman’s conscience says ‘no, what these people do is wrong’, but the little Bertie Ahern-shaped devil on their shoulder says ‘ah, go on no one will notice, you’ll get away with it!’.

In following these supposedly lovable rogues and again I stress there’s nothing lovable about these rogues, they’re just crooks Ireland has walked blindly into an economic catastrophe. As mentioned earlier an enormous property bubble inflated during the so-called Tiger. Who would have thought that a sty of corruption would be fertile ground for a speculative bubble to emerge? Well, emerge it did. Property prices went wild prices tripled between 2000 and 2006.

People were fed the illusion of wealth. Their bank accounts were empty, as part of our economic policy was to artificially stifle wages, but people thought that because their house was worth €500k they were in the big leagues. Like a punter at a street-corner playing three-card monte, the Irish people bought what they were sold in a dizzy state of unquestioning optimism.

Then it all crashed. What a bang it was! The floors fell out of these houses; their value dropped into the netherworlds. Then the banks started going under. One after another they imploded. Property developer after property developer was discovered to have been bribing corrupt government officials. As in most developed countries, for most people the ‘boom’ was never a boom at all it was merely the using of the public purse to generate a speculation induced bourgeois orgasm. There was public outcry. Things really started to heat up. And then silence.

As things quietened down, the government began setting up NAMA (National Asset Management Agency). NAMA makes the US bailouts look as transparent as a Spielberg film. The scheme pumped money into some of the worst banks; institutions that should have died a death, but instead were kept on life-support. Joseph Stiglitz, speaking at Ireland’s main university, commented ‘Countries which allow banks to go under by following the ordinary rules of capitalism have done fine. The US has let 100 banks go this year alone, as did Sweden and Norway in their crises this bank bailout is a simple transfer from taxpayers to bondholders, and it will saddle generations to come. The only thing that might give you solace is that, as chief economist of the World Bank, we see this type of thing happening in banana republics all over the world. Whenever a banking crisis happens, the financial sector uses the turmoil as a mechanism to transfer wealth from the general population to themselves.’

Stiglitz’s comparison to a banana republic is apt. In those countries the ruling elite is so tightly knit, so closely interlinked that one of them couldn’t roll over in bed without getting a hand job from another. Here we see another of Ireland’s political diseases: localism. We’re a small community, with good social ties. ‘How lovely’, you might think, ‘I might go there on holiday’ but throw unregulated capitalism in the mix; then what you get is a tightly knit oligopoly whose members literally all know each other.

The Fianna Fail government, for example, used to have a tent at the country’s major horse-racing event where they would drink with the biggest property developers and cut deals. No one else was allowed in. No citizens; no press. You didn’t need a cool password or a complicated handshake to get in you just needed your face to be recognised. ‘Jimmy, come on in, boy. Wait’ll I tell ye about this luvely piece-a land the Dublin council has and can’t afford to develop because we fucked them in the budget ‘.

So when the property developers’ banks went under the government drove the tax-payers money in by the truckload without thinking twice about it.Then the debt crisis hit. The politicians realised that they’d been haemorrhaging cash on utter shit such as electronic voting machines that didn’t work and now the government budget was fucked. Last January the budget was announced two words: bad medicine. And people’s attitude? Those involved in running the country political types, legal peeps, businessmen etc have a weird masochistic attitude toward the whole thing. They take this weird pleasure in implementing the cuts. It’s a binge and purge mentality and these people seem eager to administer the enema. The average worker, on the other hand, just feels powerless and finds solace in typical Irish cynicism and drink, lots and lots of overpriced drink (we tax drink loads ostensibly to stop people drinking so much, but really because it’s such an easy target).

So when you’re out drinkin’, singin’ and reminiscin’ remember that the ol’ Emerald Isles aren’t the paradise many purport them to be. There ain’t no rainbow folks. No pot of gold either. Just a rather backward country that failed to modernise its institutions properly; that is now being run by an almost nihilistic group of cynics who know they can get away with almost anything and which is now paying the price, big time.Ireland followed the route that so many countries have since the late-1970s (Russia, the United States, Chile, Indonesia etc): neo-liberalism. They used economic policy to float the wealth to the top of the pond where it collected, like scum, until it smothered all those that lived beneath. In Ireland this was undertaken in a cultural atmosphere that many will be celebrating today.

To end on a more positive note: [raises glass] Here’s to the death of neo-liberalism, Reaganism, Thatcherism and monetarism!!! [swigs].

Happy St. Patrick’s Day eXiled readers!!! Have a fucking mad one!!!

23 comments on “Let’s not repeat Ireland’s mistakes”

  1. Peter Johns 1

    i suppose you will suggest to British voters to vote Brown in after all he has done.

  2. ghostwhowalksnz 2

    Good to see they arent blaming the English for their troubles- yet

  3. tc 3

    Nice piece in granny today by an experienced funds manager whose worked in HK till recently who very diplomatically pours scorn over sideshows john’s financial hub fanasty and why it’s highly unlikely to ever work here……does the location sydney ring any bells johnny ?

    • Draco T Bastard 3.1

      This one?

    • Irascible 3.2

      Making NZ a finance house hub was a favourite Roger Mosferatu Douglas mantra during his time as finance minister. The scheme came to nothing as the abstract of “an advantage of time zone” was as much of an illusion as his economics were and are.

  4. BLiP 4

    Actually, I won’t say “maintained their sobriety’ because anyone who was remotely realistic throughout this period would have found it hard not to reach for the bottle. You see the Irish came up with a stupid colloquial phrase to describe critical reasoning: doom and gloom.

    In Aotearoa its called “hysteria”.

  5. prism 5

    Well- made quote from above –
    “the business world where moral vice turns into practical virtue.”

  6. Bored 6

    “speculation induced bourgeois orgasm”…..truly splendid, the language in this article is to die for.

  7. bobo 7

    Just shows the whole “lower taxes and they will come” argument for what it is, Ireland was a totally artificial economy built on hype, massive EU grants and a property bubble. In the mid to late 90s the right wing said “Look at Ireland !!, Look at Ireland!!” now the left wing say “Look at Ireland !!!” Look at Ireland !!!” for the opposite reasons..

  8. prism 8

    Another quote from eXileD (link at top of post) –

    Class War Alert: 70% of American Corporations Paid No Income Taxes Between 1998 and 2005. Let’s Repeat That Again: Majority Of Corporations Do Not Pay Any Taxes!

  9. prism 9

    Another good quote from the end of the piece.
    ” neo-liberalism. They used economic policy to float the wealth to the top of the pond where it collected, like scum, until it smothered all those that lived beneath.”

  10. vto 10

    So was it the lower taxes that caused the current crisis, or the massive EU grants, or the world-wide debt feast combined with real corruption, or the property boom? Or just … I dunno … what did he say again?

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      It was all of them vto and is exactly what Jkeyll is proposing that we do.

      • vto 10.1.1

        I don’t think that’s right Draco. I would suggest that had the tax system not been adjusted the same problem would have arisen due to the other factors. For instance.

        Many years ago while in Ireland a large scale property person known to us said such was the corruption that it was common for the glaziers to turn up to a building for repairs before it even got damaged by bombs etc.

        The piece above makes an entertaining read but it is just a rant and offers no decent analysis of Ireland.

  11. prism 11

    Listening to Nat Radio. Discussion on post financial muck-up. Ireland having trouble borrowing enough money to keep going. NZ not so bad our debt 60% of GDP, but China 22%, Japan about 190%. Britain will be about 100% by 2014, so much money will round the world will be going to pay interest with some reduction, there will hardly be enough to facilitate private company ventures.
    I feel that financiers deserve blame. Perhaps we can set up stocks and put the financiers in them and throw tomatoes at them.

    The item about Ireland said they haven’t tried to get tough with their financiers and banks. Sounds a real crony based greasy economy which has an echo of what happened in New York in the 1840s as Irish fleeing from the potato famine found berths to Ellis Island and the USA.. Wikipedia from google – “About 1842 Irish “gangs,” which used physical violence at election time, … The power of Tammany Hall is the natural result of…” There is interesting background as to how the Irish immigrants formed a system which organised large rorts under Tammany Hall influence that took US hundreds of millions in dollars in about a decade starting mid 1850s.

    • mcflock 11.1

      “Perhaps we can set up stocks and put the financiers in them and throw tomatoes at them. ”

      I’m not going to invest in tomato futures simply on the basis of stock market speculation…

  12. lessonfromhistory 12

    Ireland is indeed a salutary lesson – not just for its recent history but its past history as a island owned by overseas landlords who were quite happy to export the harvests while the local population starved.

    Time for the left to start fighting the sale of our farms to foreign buyers. The rules need tightening and soon. The elite of the right or the left are not going to protect us- we need some grassroots action here.

  13. mcflock 13

    One of the lessons I tend to get from history in general is that many of the “wealthy pillars of society” in most periods got to that position by doing things that were subsequently made illegal – capture in battle (middle ages), piracy (16th/17thC), monopolistic and anti-competitive behaviour and insider trading (19th century), marketing poisons to children and toxic waste dumping (20thC). With unique variations on the practices of previous centuries that were technically still legal, such as making money from information in accidentally received faxes or routing waste to less functional nations.

  14. Rob M 14

    I’ve never met an Irishman I trusted. This article goes someway to explaining why. Fair few lessons for NZ in here too. Much of this exiled Paddy’s description of Ireland brings to mind the free-market shakedown shenanigans we’ve been subjected to here. Of course our bubble isn’t going to burst because of a series of unique factors yet to be determined by the appropriate subject-matter experts.

    • john 14.1

      I have to agree that this is a fantastic rant, but a pretty poor analysis of the situation.
      It reminds me of the rubbish I spoke after spending my first day burning in the harsh NZ sun.

      I quite like the irony of Rob M “not trusting an Irishman” while swallowing whole of the rant above. I must remember that one…

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    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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