National has blown it

Written By: - Date published: 2:22 pm, April 23rd, 2009 - 37 comments
Categories: economy, national/act government - Tags:

National cannot be blamed for the current financial crisis and recession of course. But they can be blamed for their short sighted and inadequate response. Stuck in old ways of thinking (cut spending, cut jobs, sell stuff) they have done nothing to stimulate the economy. All their talk of extra spending turned out to be just rebranding existing spending (see here and here), or moving money from one project (public transport) to another (more highways). The talk-fest jobs summit resulted in nothing – a token cycleway (now axed) and a nine day fortnight plan (going nowhere). Where was the leadership? Where was the vision?

Well, the chickens are coming home to roost. Borrowing and hoping not an option, says English:

Finance Minister Bill English is setting the scene for a grim Budget next month with the likely cancellation of personal tax cuts in 2010 and 2011. … Government spending growth cannot continue at this rate, particularly with revenue falling so significantly in the current environment.

Govt looks to bite bullet and cut debt:

Next month’s Budget looks set to be a grim affair focused on reducing the country’s ballooning debt and eschewing any major prime-the-pump spending initiatives. … “The preliminary forecast has shown such a strong increase in debt that we don’t think there is room for any significant fiscal stimulus at the moment,” he [English] said.

National should have acted sooner and stronger. Instead of going on holiday after the election, or rushing through their own narrow agenda under anti-democratic urgency, they should have been addressing this crisis while there was still time. They had it wrong then, and they still (according to the IMF) have it wrong now:

It [the IMF] again spelt out the case for a strong fiscal policy response, with the Government acting as the “spender of last resort” to break the negative feedback between weaknesses in the financial sector and the real economy.

National had their chance, and they’ve blown it for all of us..

37 comments on “National has blown it”

  1. gingercrush 1

    What a stupid guest post.

  2. Pat 2

    I agree, Guest Poster! They should have done all the things you said, which were … um … sooner … stronger …

    By all means attack the colour blue, but maybe put forward some fresh ideas.

    • BLiP 2.1

      What? You want anti-National people to put up fresh ideas – why’s that? Are you another National Party policy wonk scratching around at The Standard for fresh ideas to take to the leader as he sits jabbering and twitching in the corner while the economic depression rolls in the front door.

    • Quoth the Raven 2.2

      Pat – Many ideas are thrown around, you just have to look. The idea of the post was not to put forward new ideas it’s just providing a criticism of what National has done or hasn’t done, however the case maybe. I don’t agree that a big spend up is what’s needed, but there are things National could have done differently. For instance, if they had targeted their tax cuts to those on low incomes instead of towards the rich, as many people have said here and as many economists can attest, it would’ve provided greater stimulus to the economy.

  3. Pat 3

    Trust me, BLiP. No-ones ever gonna steal YOUR ideas.

    • ripp0 3.1

      “steal” is it..!

      always wondered what happened to all those submissions folks made public…

      I suppose the point about.. right now.. is the pre-empted stuff is pretty useless.. when the call to responsibility strikes…

  4. bobo 4

    When will the media start using the words “broken promise” over using the current line of “modify their policy in the current economic climate” ?

  5. Bobo – not a good idea to bring up flip flops anymore. It seems to have been catching.

    One of the problems – ignoring of course the scale of the problem – is that while Labour did much good in paying off debt, the same can’t be said for Govt expenditure.

    The following quote comes from the Stuff linked referenced above:

    He said Government spending growth had to be reined in: Crown spending in the year to June 30 was expected to be $63.5 billion up $21.6b or 51 per cent from five years ago while the economy grew by only 23 per cent.

    Now based on the fact that another Standard post appeared to blame Key for the doubling in his PM salary, I can only assume that the increase in Crown spending can now be blamed at Key.

    • Maynard J 5.1

      I would probably blame the stats there – WfF and Kiwisaver are included in there. If that spending isn’t being cut (and it isn’t. well, KS is being cleaved asunder. but the Independent Earners’ Credit would make up for a good chunk of that) then any spending cuts will be disproportionally large. If they’re based upon flawed logic like the statement you mentioned from Bill.

      Pity the Government won’t consider borrowing to sitmulate the economy – debatable whether there’s a case for it, but the IMF and the rest of the world thinks so – and will only borrow to stimulate their ideology.

  6. gingercrush 6

    Pity the Government won’t consider borrowing to sitmulate the economy – debatable whether there’s a case for it, but the IMF and the rest of the world thinks so – and will only borrow to stimulate their ideology.

    Why can’t you grasp that New Zealand is already at its debt levels just maintaining current services how the hell are they expected to borrow and stimulate the economy. When there is no evidence that the countries that did stimulate their economies in terms of stimulus packages. The US, Great Britain, Australia are not working.Japan too is stimulating their economy by borrowing billions. It isn’t working and it didn’t work in the 80s either.

    To answer you Kevin. The post is stupid because it completely misses the point of this recession and further to actually believe one could spend billions and somehow the economy would be fixed is an absurd assumption.

  7. So ginger… the Herbert Hoover approach rather than the FDR approach?

    • gingercrush 7.1

      No one is doing a FDR approach. Anyone that seriously thinks any plans by any country mirrors what FDR did are smoking something. Likewise, no one is doing the Hoover approach either. Both of those approaches were problematic. No doubt about it. But this recession isn’t the same as that one hence why we shouldn’t be looking back to the 1920s/1930s.

      Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing itself against stimulus. Its rather healthy. I just don’t believe the plans as implemented by many countries are any good in the short or long term. And I worry that the american stimulus package will cause more problems than solve them in the long term.

      —-

      The OCED said we were already at our limits for stimulus and they recommended we did no more. Or do we just ignore that report because it doesn’t tell us what we want to hear? Yes its neo-liberal and some of the proposals in it were pathetic. But they had some truth to them. Health is and will be a problem long-term. I just don’t think privatising it is the solution (as the OCED report recommended). But it does tell us is that changes in health will be necessary in the future. National Radios Nine to Noon had an excellent story with Brian Rudman. Hardly right-wing. He too says there isn’t much New Zealand can do. I just wish people would realise that.

      We either ride the recession out and supply some stimulus while reducing or at the least maintaining debt or we take a far-left regime of dismantling capitalism. In my eyes, those are the only two solutions New Zealand can do. I know which one I would go for.

      • jarbury 7.1.1

        Good post ginger. As has been said before, you’re certainly a cut above most right-wingers in how you put forward your arguments.

        Certainly there is good stimulus and bad stimulus. Some of the efforts made in the USA are good – like the high-speed rail proposals that will put a lot of people to work (even in simply designing them) and will also assist the USA in the long-term future. However, there was certainly a lot of stupid ‘pet projects’ that made it into the stimulus package. The same with Australia really, some good moves but also some stupid stuff – like giving people a lump sum payment of money (which of course most used to pay down debt or they saved).

        I fail to really see what stimulus has happened in NZ so far. A few roading projects were brought forward, money was shifted from public transport to road construction…. a couple more schools were built, 60 odd state houses (whoop de doo, Labour has pumped out 1000 a year). Tax cuts, though they weren’t even really additional spending, just money shifted from Kiwisaver (and most of the extra money went to those rich enough to save it or pay off debt).

        Regarding what you say about the health system, I couldn’t agree more. In the long-term we’re screwed. Why do you think the Green Party is into banning unhealthy food from schools and other health promoting policies? They realise that in 20-30 years time we’re going to be up shit creek regarding the costs of our health system versus the tax dollars we’ll be able to afford.

  8. Nacts ( by association maori & the greens) -Three strikes, you’re out.
    You over-egged the bribe/promise pudding to buy this election you mutts.

    I’m sorry, we were about to have a cleansing ceremo…i mean Change the government just now But Due To A Technical Fault we will have to keep bringing you this sorry lot for the next year and a half.
    Over to you John. Keep going John. John?
    could you please push… oh good, here we go.

  9. outofbed 9

    Nacts ( by association maori & the greens)
    Why the Greens ? are you an idiot ?

  10. Greg 10

    When did we come to the conclusion that fiscal stimulus was a good response to the current crisis? The economists out there seem pretty divided on the issue. Therefore any stimulus seems like a very big lottery to me.

    • Pascal's bookie 10.1

      I’m not quite following the logic there Greg. Surely if the economists are divided then either way is gamble. The bigger gamble would be going with the minority opinion I suppose. Most economists seem to be saying that stimulus is needed as part of the response.

      Many of those ‘most’ are nobel winners and/or people that have been saying the system was heading for trouble. Many of those opposed to stimulus are neo liberals that have lead us down a path of deregulation and so on. on the basis that the market can regulate itself, that the market can discipline actors, and the rest of the supply side axioms. TINA we was told. And here we are.

      TINA is back in town perhaps, and she’s wearing a new dress.

  11. mike 11

    What a pathetic post
    The obama method of throwing billions down the shitter is being critisised more each day as drowning the future generations under a mountain of dept.

    Come 2011 Key’s brilliant vision, pragmatism and restraint will be hailed and the dirty socialists banished for another term or two.

  12. r0b 12

    What a pathetic post

    What a compelling counter argument. Not.

    The obama method of throwing billions down the shitter is being critisised more each day as drowning the future generations under a mountain of dept.

    Yes, Obama has the wrong model and is wasting his billions propping up failed banks. He’s not being criticised for spending, he’s being criticised for spending in the wrong places (“wall street” not “main street”). We don’t have failed banks here, so the Nats can’t make that mistake. Their mistake is that they’re doing nothing at all. Nothing.

    The IMF and most major economies agree that increased government spending softens the impact of the crisis and speeds recovery. Yes it increases dept in the short term, but if it heads off the downward spiral and the economy recovers that debt gets paid back. If you do nothing the downward spiral gathers speed, which is where we seem to be in NZ.

    As for suggesting alternatives, how about this. Cancel the April tax cuts, or redirect completely to low income earners (who will spend it and actually stimulate the economy). Institute capital gains tax. Cancel the useless broadband spend up. Borrow some if necessary. Invest in real infrastructure: (1) proper public transport – not a piddling cycleway but light rail mass transit systems in and around as many major cities as possible, and (2) renewable energy sources, sun, wind, tide. This would bring the short term benefits of “fiscal stimulus” and the long term benefits of reduced carbon emissions, more liveable cities, and less dependence on declining world oil supplies.

    But no, the Nat response is to ignore the international consensus, do nothing, and hope for the best. They can and will be blamed for the disaster that follows.

    • Pascal's bookie 12.1

      I bet Bill English is thinking about what happened to the tory vote after they let Richardson loose. MMP is not as forgiving. I’m not expecting anything great from him, but I think the more fervent righties are going to be far more disappointed in him than I.

      Which itself might have electoral implications.

      If 18 or so months from now, ACT polling starts going up at National’s expense, National could start losing voters from the centre as well, who will be worried about a stronger ACT presence. that’s the problem with Key’s borg style of government. You are making a coalition out of people with fundamental differences, and the centrists will be asked to choose…

      • gingercrush 12.1.1

        PB – The far right fanatics are already pissed off with the John Key government. They’re already expecting the worse. Nothing will please them until Roger Douglas is made Finance Minister. Though one of those fanatics think the solution is making Judith Collins leader of National.

        Such people are likely already voted Act and will keep voting Act or there is about 2% of the voting public out there for them. I honestly don’t believe the fervent right-wing blog readers represent much of New Zealand whatsoever. I would contrast that with some of the people here at The Standard that have far-left views that don’t exactly reflect the left-wing vote either. I do believe Act are capable of reclaiming 5% and I think that would be quite healthy.

        I don’t believe a stronger Act represents any danger for National and the centre. National is far more likely to lose the centre to Labour themselves as they eventually get some traction again. Something that they just have to wait for.

  13. BR 13

    “Stuck in old ways of thinking (cut spending, cut jobs, sell stuff) they have done nothing to stimulate the economy.”

    The best way to stimulate and economy in good times and bad, is to slash government spending and slash taxes. This will put more money back into the pockets of those who have earned it, and give them the options of spending their own money how they see fit instead of having someone else spend it for them.

    When you spend your own money on yourself, you care how much you spend, and how well you spend it.

    When you spend your own money on someone else, you care how much you spend, but don’t care how well you spend it.

    When you spend someone else’s money on yourself you don’t care how much you spend, but do care how well you spend it.

    When you spend someone else’s money on someone else you don’t care how much you spend, or how well you spend it, and this is the reason government spending is so inefficient, wasteful and obstructive.

    Who needs crap government services anyway. Apart from a few core functions, I sure as hell don’t.

    Bill.

    • DeeDub 13.1

      Bill: “Who needs crap government services anyway. Apart from a few core functions, I sure as hell don’t.”

      … and YOU’RE all that matters, eh Bill?

      Screw everyone else then?

  14. outofbed 14

    I think BR would be more at home in Somalia No Gov Services whatsoever
    I’ll contribute to his fare

  15. Greg 15

    “‘m not quite following the logic there Greg. Surely if the economists are divided then either way is gamble. The bigger gamble would be going with the minority opinion I suppose. Most economists seem to be saying that stimulus is needed as part of the response.

    Many of those ‘most’ are nobel winners and/or people that have been saying the system was heading for trouble. Many of those opposed to stimulus are neo liberals that have lead us down a path of deregulation and so on. on the basis that the market can regulate itself, that the market can discipline actors, and the rest of the supply side axioms. TINA we was told. And here we are.

    TINA is back in town perhaps, and she’s wearing a new dress.”

    But it ain’t a minority opinion, not in the economic world at least. Yes Paul Krugman is a vocal supporter of stimulus and did win a nobel prize, but others (like Greg Mankiew for example) have a similar background and similar experience and come to a completely different conclusion. If anything it would seem that the minority opinion in the economic world is against the stimulus.

    If you get it wrong you burden future generations with debt for no gain and essentially completely screw over the economy (kinda like what Muldoon did but on a much larger scale).

    And you cannot be convinced without a doubt (whatever your political beliefs) that stimulus is the best way to go, not once you’ve read the robust debate going on between economists at the moment.

    • Pascal's bookie 15.1

      Thanks for the reply Greg.

      I think we may be talking past each other a little, or I may have misinterpreted your comment that I replied to.

      In that comment you seemed to be saying that the idea of stimulus per se was controversial. This is sort of carried on in your latest comment, but when offering support by the way of Mankiw it becomes “the stimulus” (presumably Obama’s), before reverting back to general stimulus in your last paragraph.

      Mankiw has his opinions, and he certainly doesn’t like Obama’s package, but to claim that he is against govt stimulus at all would mean that he has apparently changed his mind since Nov:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/30/business/economy/30view.html?_r=1

      IF you were going to turn to only one economist to understand the problems facing the economy, there is little doubt that the economist would be John Maynard Keynes. Although Keynes died more than a half-century ago, his diagnosis of recessions and depressions remains the foundation of modern macroeconomics. His insights go a long way toward explaining the challenges we now confront.

      You don’t point to any other supposed anti stimulus folk, and yet I guess you meant to say that they are actually the majority. I don’t follow the debate intently, but I do follow it. Most treasuries around the world are fiscally stimulating. The RB’s are using monetary policy to stimulate, the world bank and the IMF are urging stimulus. As well as Krugman there is Stiglitz and Galbraith who are all also critical of Obama’s package, for different reasons than Mankiw of course. And Mankiw at least in the above piece doesn’t offer an alternative to Keynes, but says he is the man ‘you would look to’.

      Mankiw was one of Bush’s chief economic advisors no? I think it would be fair to say that his record is mixed.

      I think Muldoon is a red herring to be frank.

      The last global depression was eventually fixed by massive government spending. Yes this generated a lot of debt. After wwII most countries had enormous debts. It took a long time to pay that debt off, and yet the period from 1950 to the mid 70’s (under Bretton woods) saw the fastest economic expansion probably in history. They were doing something right. take a look at the graph at the bottom of page 6: (warning pdf)

      http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2000/01/pdf/chapter5.pdf

      I’m not saying that this or that stimulus package is foolproof, or that any given package is uncontroversial, but only that some sort of stimulus package is being recommended by a seeming majority. Which is what you questioned in your first post quite strongly.

      Everyone recognises that there is a price to pay for that in terms of debt, but what I’m not hearing is the counter risks involved in doing nothing.

      I don’t know why you think I should be ‘without a doubt’. That’s a remarkably high bar don’t you think? All I am saying is that it as least as much of a gamble to do nothing, a point which you haven’t here at least, addressed.

      • RedLogix 15.1.1

        Problem is PB, is that New Zealand’s total debt is already at the maximum can be sustained. Sure our public debt is low (and if that were not the case we would already crashed and burned big time)… but our total private and business debt is far too high (aprox $180b) and worse still 60% of that is ‘hot money’ being rolled over short-term by our banks overseas every 120 days or so. Anymore debt and our credit rating gets hammered, and cost across the board rise. Gets worse than that and no-one will lend to us at any price.

        Not too many commentators have realised the significance of the $50 billion dollar ‘hole in govt accounts over three years’ announcement this week. That is roughly $17b pa… or about 34% of core govt expenditure.

        Overseas lenders look at our total debt profile, our volatile currency risk, the huge global uncertainties…. and Bill English going around with cap in hand is not the first man on anyone’s dance card. The fatal mistake was that he has painted himself into a corner by politically committing his Party to PAYE tax cuts at a time when GST is falling (in line with dropping GDP and increased repayment of debt) and Company tax receipts falling into the toilet .

        There will be no ‘stimulus’ here in NZ . English has no choice but to cut expenditure… and massively.

        • r0b 15.1.1.1

          There will be no ‘stimulus’ here in NZ . English has no choice but to cut expenditure and massively.

          English had a choice though, and he blew it. Even now he could reverse / rearranges the tax cuts in the budget. But National lack the will to do what is required. Instead they will sit and watch it all fall apart.

  16. jarbury 16

    Seems like private debt is the huge problem here. Why is it so big and what can be done about it?

  17. RedLogix 17

    Why is it so big and what can be done about it?

    Finally someone asks the right questions.

    Why is it so big? Because a greedy, de-regulated banking industry realised that the best way to rack up huge profits was to lend out massive amounts of credit. They did this by reducing LVR ratios and relaxing income history requirements. (So called ‘lo-docs’.) If two people with say $100k of equity are bidding on the same house; one of them has a bank that does a traditional LVR of 80%, then he can bid to a maximum of $500k on the house. The woman next to him has a bank that will go to 90% LVR. She can bid up to $1m. Of course she does go that far, she only has to go to $501k and she wins the bidding.. and of course the vendor happily takes the cash.

    It was the banks that irresponsibly drove the property bubble, competing for ever bigger slices of a hugely profitable business. It is the banks that should take the pain of cleaning up the resulting crisis… not us.

    Ask the right question, the answer is obvious. The banks must be nationalised, their shareholders and bondholders told that they have lost their money; the senior layer of management sacked and the rest of the business (the daily main-street branches, ATM’s and regular, prudential mortgage and business lending) kept running with direct Reserve Bank oversight, backing and Govt bonds.

    Then every mortgage is reset by $200k, back to sane sustainable levels. That’s right, wipe the credit off the books. It was only printed out of nothing in the first place, it can be made to go away in the same fashion.

    Of course NZ probably would not, could not, pursue such a strategy on it’s own. But eventually the rest of the world will have to. They will try everything else first, there will be 20-30% unemployment, the global economy will be in ruins… but finally they will have no choice but to break the power of the banking oligarchy who have held a gun to our heads and demanded we fund their failure, their losses, and their fraudulent ponzi schemes.

  18. jarbury 18

    So most of our private debt is mortgages I guess…. balanced by house prices that are probably 25% over-valued (at least).

    Hmmm… and here I was hoping that we’d seen the worst of things.

  19. Greg 19

    Pascal.

    You raise some interesting points, rest assured a response will come, its just a little late right now for me to find the necessary evidence to back myself up! Check back tomorrow.

    Also, thanks for managing to disagree while remaining civil!

  20. Greg 20

    Pascal,

    Your right, I have inter-changed ‘stimulus’ terms a bit. To clarify: I am making the assumption that those who promote a stimulus plan in NZ promote one broadly along the same lines as the Obama plan. Ie massive increases in government debt to an unprecedented level in order to increase spending and theoretically ‘stimulate’ the economy. The is where Muldoon comes in ( and your right, I did not justify myself that well here) in the 1970’s he borrowed heavily from overseas to fund ‘Think Big’. A concept that was intended to curb unemployment and therefore stimulate the economy. Broadly along the same lines as Obama plans to. He just about bankrupted the country.

    On Mankiw,

    I take a different reading of the article you refer to. In my opinion he is applying Keynesian theory to the current crisis, not promoting it. Indeed in the conclusion he states:
    “The fly in the ointment — or perhaps it is more an elephant — is the long-term fiscal picture. Increased government spending may be a good short-run fix, but it would add to the budget deficit. The baby boomers are now starting to retire and claim Social Security and Medicare benefits. Any increase in the national debt will make fulfilling those unfunded promises harder in coming years.’

    This is Mankiw’s self professed own opinion on the subject: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/business/economy/11view.html?_r=1&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

    He seems to be claiming that this stimulus is a massive gamble.

    Yes Mankiw was one of Bush’s economic advisors. However it would not be fair to say that all economic policies come directly from the advisors. Indeed Bush’s economic policy was by no means the major criticism of the Bush administration.

    On other economists:

    Here are a few that disagree with the idea of stimulus: http://www.cato.org/special/stimulus09/alternate_version.html

    Krugman himself acknowledges that many of the worlds top economists disagree with him: http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/01/19/economists-ideology-and-stimulus/

    “What’s been disturbing, however, is the parade of first-rate economists making totally non-serious arguments against fiscal expansion. You’ve got John Taylor arguing for permanent tax cuts as a response to temporary shocks, apparently oblivious to the logical problems. You’ve got John Cochrane going all Andrew-Mellon-liquidationist on us. You’ve got Eugene Fama reinventing the long-discredited Treasury View. You’ve got Gary Becker apparently unaware that monetary policy has hit the zero lower bound. And you’ve got Greg Mankiw — well, I don’t know what Greg actually believes, he just seems to be approvingly linking to anyone opposed to stimulus, regardless of the quality of their argument.’

    On other countries:

    I would be very weary of justifying stimulus with the argument that “everyone else is doing it’. Politicians often choose the wrong path the incentives are in the wrong place. Their number one goal is to stay in power and therefore will put in place what sounds good to the general public. Who was it who said “the worst thing a politician can do is to do nothing’. A stimulus plan sounds good and is easy to sell. Economists on the other hand a solely concerned with maximising utility (or welfare) thats why we should be worried if a large number agree that the stimulus plan is not going to achieve this (and will probably do the reverse).

    On looking to the past,

    I would contend that it was not the massive government spending that fixed the last global depression oil played a much bigger role. There will always be ups and downs, but there is a difference between falling down and falling flat on your face this is what Obama’s stimulus plan risks.

    To conclude,

    If we do nothing we will pay the price we have to pay and no more. Stimulus could well lead to us paying a much higher price. Personally I would advocate slashing government spending and cutting taxes (but that’s just me and a whole different kettle of fish).

    I set the high bar because the costs of getting it wrong are so high. If the stimulus plan doesn’t work you have massive government debt for no result this could ruin an economy.

    I guess what I’m saying is doing nothing may not be the best option but it is better than the gamble on the stimulus.

    I look forward to your reply.

  21. BR 21

    >>Bill: “Who needs crap government services anyway. Apart from a few core >>functions, I sure as hell don’t.’

    > and YOU’RE all that matters, eh Bill?

    >Screw everyone else then?

    That is a ridiculous comment. If you want to use any government service that not everyone has an equal stake in, it should be paid for separately.

    Bill.

    >I think BR would be more at home in Somalia No Gov Services whatsoever
    >I’ll contribute to his fare

    Where I have ever supported the view that there should be no government?

    Bill.

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    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
    2 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 ...
    2 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
    2 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
    2 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
    2 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
    3 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 ...
    3 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
    4 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
    4 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
    4 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
    5 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
    5 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
    5 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
    5 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 ...
    5 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
    6 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
    6 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
    6 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
    6 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
    6 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 ...
    6 days 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 ...
    7 days 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 ...
    7 days 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
    7 days 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
    7 days 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 ...
    7 days 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
    7 days 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 ...
    1 week 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
    1 week 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
  • Politics of science – making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear
    Anti-fluoride activists have some wealthy backers – they are erecting billboards misrepresenting the Canadian study on many New Zealand cities – and local authorities are ordering their removal because of their scaremongering. Many New Zealanders ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Democracy – I Don’t Think So
    So, those who “know best” have again done their worst. While constantly claiming to be the guardians of democracy and the constitution, and respecters of the 2016 referendum result, diehard Remainers (who have never brought themselves to believe that their advice could have been rejected) have striven might and main ...
    Bryan GouldBy Bryan Gould
    2 weeks ago
  • Government says it will now build just one really nice home
    Following publication of this article, the Ministry has requested it to be noted that this supplied image is not necessarily representative of what the final house will look like, and it “probably won’t be that nice.” As part of today’s long-anticipated reset of the Government’s flagship KiwiBuild policy, Housing Minister ...
    The CivilianBy admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Imperialism and your cup of coffee
    Over the next week or two we will be running three synopses of parts of the opening chapter of John Smith’s Imperialism in the 21st Century (New York, Monthly Review Press, 2016).  The synopsis and commentary below is written by Phil Duncan. Marx began Capital not with a sweeping historical ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 weeks ago
  • Still juking the stats
    The State Services Commission and Ombudsman have released another batch of OIA statistics, covering the last six months. Request volumes are up, and the core public service is generally handling them within the legal timeframe, though this may be because they've learned to extend rather than just ignore things. And ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 weeks ago

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