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Open mike 05/05/2010

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, May 5th, 2010 - 51 comments
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It’s open for discussing topics of interest, making announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.

Comment on whatever takes your fancy.

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51 comments on “Open mike 05/05/2010”

  1. Jenny 1

    A side affect of financialisation of our economy?

    Is this the future of New Zealand farming?

    Small farmers who built themselves up to farm ownership by the traditional way, with years of struggle as share milkers and finally raised enough equity to get a mortgage for their own farm are the ones being hit.

    This will sort of merciless profit gouging will help accelerate the movement towards corporate owned farms, run by managers, (themselves employees) who direct the work of low paid rural farm labourers with no stake in the land they work, ie peons.

    Mayor accuses banks of profiteering.

    Hauraki Mayor John Tregidga, whose district has had no significant rain since January, said he knew of three or four farms that were under threat because of the drought.

    Mr Tregidga said BNZ had told one unnamed couple, whose farm had lost $80,000 last year and had been hit by the drought, to prepare to sell in December.

    “The bank has taken a high and crippling interest for three years and then is going to leave these young farmers with a loss of all of their equity saved over 10 years plus in sharemilking.” BNZ did not respond to a request for comment.

    Environment Waikato’s Regional Drought Committee was last week snubbed by ANZ, BNZ, Rabobank and Westpac which failed to send any representatives to the meeting.

    “We would like to see the banks back off,” Duncan Smeaton, DairyNZ regional leader for the North Waikato.

  2. Pascal's bookie 2

    Wee Gripe.

    John Armstrong, who’s usually much fewer sloppy

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10642802

    Even if the actual numbers marching were at the lower end of estimates, which vary from 15,000 to as high as 40,000, they will be of serious worry to the Prime Minister.

    Eh? Estimates I’ve seen are from 20-50,000.

    I realise it’s the parliamentary fluff piece but what the estimates have been is a matter of fact. I can haz editorz plz?

    Brownlee claimed the 2004 Hikoi of Hope on Maori ownership of the foreshore and seabed had been the biggest protest in a generation but “that did not stop Labour from doing exactly what it wanted and leaving the country with an absolute mess”.

    Seeing Gerry was National’s spokesperson for Maori Affairs at the time, it would have been nice if he could remember that that Hikoi was called the Foreshore and Seabed Hikoi. The parliamentary fluff piece might mention that fluff too.

    • Lew 2.1

      Bookie, the lower estimate he’s quoting likely comes from a letter-to-the-editor (!) of yesterday’s Herald by one Bruce Morris, who did some back-of-the-envelope calculations of his own. Fran referred to it today and while the letter itself doesn’t seem to be online, I reckon you might be able to get hold of a copy.

      L

  3. CnrJoe 3

    Is he? less sloppy than that? Why is there no system for calculating numbers? Surely the council should have something in place? Perhaps a google maps adaptation?
    Y’know, we may have all been marching for a variety of ‘anti-removal of schedule 4 land from protection from mining predation….’ BUT there was a definite anti-Nactional cohesive theme SO suck on that MaorActional Coalition!

    • Lew 3.1

      A google maps plugin for calculating demonstration attendance would be awesome, but would be horrendously perverted by all sides to fudge their numbers.

      L

  4. Further evidence that more and more people realise that our Prime Minister’s primary objective is to smile and wave.

    • Jim Nald 4.1

      Heh. The ‘I was PM’ picturebook is getting thicker and thicker.
      I hope NZ voters aren’t.

  5. prism 5

    Glenn Inwood in the news again. Omeka Communications – ‘Gun for hire’ for whales and tobacco. Now advocating and lobbying for tobacco in small shops. I have had a dairy myself and ciggies were a big part of the turnover so it will hurt these small businesses many family owned and viable because of employing family members.

    Previous ventures. “On January 1st, 2010 two men, Glen Inwood and Chris Johnston from Omeka Communications located in Wellington, New Zealand chartered a Chieftain aircraft out of Melbourne. They identified themselves as acting on behalf of the government of New Zealand to track down and locate a New Zealand catamaran and the Steve Irwin on the pretext that if they (the Sea Shepherd ships) were to get in trouble it would cost the New Zealand government a great deal of money to rescue.”
    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO1001/S00094.htm

  6. Green Tea 6

    New farms ‘destroying native New Zealand’

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/environment/3657642/New-farms-destroying-native-New-Zealand

    How do the Labourites on this site spin this one? Considering the Labour Party and the Greens oversaw all this, and in light of accusations against National of “looking after their rich farmer mates”.

    • bored 6.1

      Interesting take Green Tea, so just because these things occured under Labour et al environmental damage is justifiable?

      • Green Tea 6.1.1

        Not at all, bored. Just highlighting the inconsistency with Labour et al (this site) attacking National on its environmental record when this report reveals that Labour’s record is just as appalling.

        The sad reality is that there isn’t a party in parliament that is genuinely committed to looking after the environment.

        [lprent: This site isn’t the Labour party and isn’t run by them. I’d suggest that you read the about and the policy. Suggesting that this site and its various authors are slaves of a political party causes me to ban people for being ignorant, uncivilised, and obviously incapable of reading a few simple pages. ]

        • NickS 6.1.1.1

          Cue lprent telling you this site isn’t Labour in 5, 4, 3…

          [lprent: I was delayed. We were attempting to overload the code in the current project. ]

          • Herodotus 6.1.1.1.1

            I think all are aware that this and Labour are not connected. Yet faults that are equally possessed by both Nat and Lab are not dealt with. It is US good them Bad yet we the voter get crap from both. Yet there extremely limited critical commentary towards where the left (Read Lab and sometimes Greens) can improve. No wonder there is some skeptism out there in the swing voter as they see ALL doing it.
            For me the best situation is a strong govt and an equally strong opposition. For the last 12+ years we have had crap govts and even worse opposition and today is no different. No wonder NZ doesnt progress.

    • NickS 6.2

      Problem is, this is a local government issue, thanks to the relevant authorities not going and doing the research on environmental impacts for farm consents, thus meaning that this problem become obscured until the Landcare report came out. Though any decent ecology and conservation major should’ve seen it as a very potential problem, however, if there wasn’t the funding to look at it in the first place, it may have been mooted, but didn’t attract the funding. Also, working stuff out like this does take time to see, do the science and then publish.

      Heck, the stuff I’d like to do (and actually finish planning… damn thee depression) on invasive pines would take a year to two for the easy part of sampling and genetic testing, and over a decade for the common garden experiment that I saw as the only way to untie phenotypic plasticity from adaptation. And then there’s the other part on soil fungi.

      Which makes playing the blame game here isn’t as nice and black and white as you claim it is. But then again, scientific literacy isn’t something a lot of NZ’ers are good at per the bullsh*t that gets into the best sellers non-fiction list, r.e. Wisharts bullh*t. And CSI et al really hasn’t helped. Though back to the point, quit playing the blame game and actually tell your MP to do something, because playing the blame game isn’t going to fix the problem.

      Instead it would take changes to local council environmental guide lines and RMA changes that retroactively deal with these environmental issues, irrespective of how much the moronic leadership of Federated Farmers moans about it as being forced on them by townies/greenies as excuses for ignoring the science.

  7. Lanthanide 7

    National are looking at putting a $50 fee on everyone with a student loan, and bumping the fee from $50 to $60 for those who are still studying. http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/3657644/50-student-debt-fee-plan-for-500-000

    As I mentioned many times before, the 10% bonus for early repayments was the carrot, and it was sure to come with some kind of stick.

    I think they should tie the two even closer together though: raise the annual fee to $100, and waive it if the person makes voluntary contributions of $500 or more in a year. This means if you voluntarily pay $500, you get a bonus of $50 and the fee of $100 waved, for a savings of $150.

    This will make a much bigger impact on the government’s short term account as they’re effectively getting $500 in ‘fee’ paid per year (that they generally wouldn’t otherwise get – no one pays off 0% interest rate loans first), for a long-term cost of $50, instead of a measly $50 fee per year.

    • ianmac 7.1

      The idiotic effect of the $50 proposed fee which each student with a loan would pay, just gets added to the bill. So instead of saving $15million the total bill is $15 million greater!
      As student James says, “To wit, the extra 10-15 million is an on paper transfer of money that represents the “emperors new clothes” of band-aids for any shortfall in “loan administration” costs.”
      I am not sure what Economics 101 is but should Joyce make a start?

    • Pete 7.2

      I see that Allan Peachey is asking a patsy in the House about this one today:

      ALLAN PEACHEY to the Minister for Tertiary Education: What changes is the Government considering to make administration of the student loan scheme more cost effective?

      I’d ask, what is the existing admin cost is already charged to Student Loan borrowers, and as a proportion of the average Student Loan is this already about right, or is an additional fee justified? Otherwise this just looks like a money grab to, once again, look tough on a group that the ‘tough-talkers’ like to marginalise occasionally (students = bludgers anyone?).

      • Lanthanide 7.2.1

        At the moment if you’re not studying, you don’t get charged any fee. The suggestion is to charge these people $50/year.

        If you’re studying, you get charged $50/year, and there’s suggestion of putting that up to $60.

        IMO the first fee should go up to $100/year as outlined in my post, and the second fee kept at $50, or scrapped. Once you’re out in the workforce I think an admin fee is reasonable, but costs should be kept down while studying.

      • Pascal's bookie 7.2.2

        ALLAN PEACHEY to the Minister for Tertiary Education: What changes is the Government considering to make administration of the student loan scheme more cost effective?

        MINISTER FOR TERTIARY EDUCATION: I thank the member for his question and as I know the member has a longstanding interest in these affairs, I’m very pleased to be able to bring him up to speed on the exciting developments we are seeing in this area. The previous government were a bunch of neophytes when it came to bookeeping but this government was actually paying attention to modern financial best practice so we are well aware of the many and varied possibilities the nation has in the area of educational leveraging.

        Firstly we will be splitting the loan book up into a series of tranches, giving investors a range of options to buy, suited to their risk profile….

    • Bored 7.3

      Nact (or anybody else fo that matter) dont stand a show if getting the “debts” back. If they had half a brain (which they dont), they might invoke the wisdom of Solon.

      Student debts represent an intergenerational transfer of wealth to:
      1. An ageing bunch of people who had the benefit of free eductions.
      2. Current and future taxpayers as somebody will be made to pick up the bill.
      3. Those who are of age and wealth status to be owners and shareholders of business because they are picking up the benefits of the education without paying for it.

      My take, if you cant write it off tax those who have enough surplus to pay for it..

  8. Lanthanide 8

    Good point. I just wrote an email to Steven Joyce with my suggestion in it, but hadn’t considered that the fee is really just a number on paper, whereas my suggestion will actually get money flowing back into the government’s accounts. If he replies, I’ll be certain to point this out.

  9. uke 9

    Worth keeping an eye on this bill giving local councils the ability to contract out water supply services to private operators for up to 35 years:

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/3658594/Law-change-not-water-privatisation-Hide

    “Law change not water privatisation”. Yeah right.

    Perhaps, as with the mining plans, Labour could declare whether it would reverse this provision if elected (perhaps without any prospect of compensation to those seeking to profit from a common right)?

    • ianmac 9.1

      And because a contract is for 35 years it is “not privatisation” might change 35 years later. Lets just roll this one over for another 35 years, but its “not privatisation” you know! Thin end?

      • uke 9.1.1

        To get a sense of just how well NZ’s water infrastructure will be maintained, we need only turn to the recent story of NZ’s rail infrastructure. Excellent preview: thanks, private sector.

        Of course, part of the problem is that some councils haven’t been maintaining the water pipes very well either, eg. Wellington’s leak about 20%. Too busy spending money on fireworks displays, artificial beaches, and the like.

        • Jim Nald 9.1.1.1

          Loathe am I to use the language of battles and war but here goes to help illustrate a point …

          I would have thought the ‘battle’ over water and indeed long-running battles over rail, skirmishes over electricity, and failures with telecommunications/broadband demonstrate the challenges of a ‘war’ over private control of infrastructure. Infrastructure (or public utilities) for which the common folk has increasingly lost ownership and Governments irresponsibly divest stewardship.

          The new path to serfdom may be littered with privatisation intentions that are misguidedly formulated, poorly translated into policies, and hijacked by profiteering and exploitative interests when implemented.

          • Bored 9.1.1.1.1

            Jim, you make the very important statement “and Governments irresponsibly divest stewardship”.

            Seems to me that whether you are left wing or right wing you expect your government to take a responsible attitude for the whole of the populaces benefit. In the case of utilities and natural monopolies there is a very big responsibility for government to act responsibly.

            My biggest issue with throwing public services to the private sector is that I dont get a choice whether to buy their newly privatised services. The implication is that I become subservient, as you say a serf to a private beneficiary. My individual freedom that I share with the rest of the collective is reduced by irresponsible government. Feudalism results.

        • Mac1 9.1.1.2

          One of my reservations about this 35 year deal is that the infrastructure will revert back to the local authority at the end of the period. In what condition would it be after 35 years? Who would ensure proper maintenance?

          My fear is that the local authority, i.e. us, the ratepayers, will take over the costs of maintenance and refurbishment, thereby socialising some of the costs to the private company which is taking the profits.

          Small councils, because of their size and lack of financial clout to prosecute large firms, might be disadvantaged. These were the ones which the spokesperson for the Local Bodies Association said would benefit from a PPP over water.

          This spokesperson said that 15 year deals were not being taken up by private companies. Who would, if they knew the NACT government would give them a 35 year deal if they waited a bit?

        • ianmac 9.1.1.3

          Uke. The contracts would only be for new works like water treatment. The aging pipes in any place would still be for the local Councils.
          As with Rail the taxpayers still have to buy out the mess when the private company neglects, extracts, then goes bust!

          • uke 9.1.1.3.1

            Ahh. Cheers for the clarification.

          • Armchair Critic 9.1.1.3.2

            I don’t think so, ianmac, it is privatisation by stealth, after all. The Green Party blog has a good post on it, and a link to the Bill itself. There is a section in the Bill that says:
            a local government organisation may enter into contracts for any aspect of the operation of all or part of a water service for a term not longer than 35 years.
            The emphasis is mine.
            The contracts will be to operate and maintain the systems, as well as to renew and expand them. There is quite a lot involved in this, most people don’t even notice them most of the time. Stuff like:
            – Fixing leaks.
            – Ensuring pumps go on and off, and that valves open and shut at the right time.
            – Identifying old, worn out pipes and how best to replace them (whether they need to be bigger, or go a different way)
            – Putting on new connections for infill developments
            – Planning for land use changes (e.g rezoning rural land to residential) and how best to ensure the occupants of the new development have water, without reducing water pressure for existing users.
            This is what councils do, and there is no reason why a private company can’t do it too, even if they don’t own the actual pipes. Which is why I expect National to say – essentially “it’s not privatised because the council still owns the pipes”. Ignoring the fact that councils will have no effective control over how the assets they own are actually used for 35 years, because they are tied in by a contract.
            Worst thing is I heard someone on theradio this afternoon saying that the changes were unlikely to be sufficient to attract international water companies. In the future a government can easily repeal section 136 (2) and allow these companies control over pricing and policy, or even complete ownership and all that entails.
            The way I see it happening would involve:
            1) the setting up of a central organisation to develop water policy on a national basis. Call it the Environment Managment Agency or Environment Protection Agency, depending on what the comms/PR people say.
            2) Then I would put all central government funding through the agency.
            3) Then I would ensure policy developed by the agency required significant infrastructure upgrades.
            4) I would offer government funding to help out, but I would make it conditional on the projects being “contestable” or “subject to competitive tendering”. Purely because of transparency and getting the best value for money and that sort of thing.
            And thus the privatisation woud be complete.
            Step one has already happened. And I often think that no one cares.

      • Jim Nald 9.1.2

        This viral kind of modus operandi has mutated from the overt Ruthanasia type to a more insidious, subtle and covert pandemic form that can be considerably more powerfully devastating.

        How can the Left innoculate ordinary people from this? Once the initial wave of smiles takes over, and apathy overwhelms the survival instict, the infection of the rabid right knows no bounds. The course of the disease may be irreversible with no cure at hand.

        • uke 9.1.2.1

          The malady is complex.

          It also involves a “lowered resistance” among a populace addicted to a commodity-based lifestyle and an expensive level of state services. These addictions themselves arise from deep-seated beliefs about the value of technology-based progress.

          The logic of the privatisation virus can perhaps be short-circuited by unmasking the twin idols: mammon and progress.

          Tough job.

  10. mach1 10

    An interesting read.

    • ianmac 10.1

      Yes mach 1: Very interesting and is it translated into NZ? I was in a foreign country society recently where boys and girls are segregated at school and at home. There is no socialising before marriage, and I wondered how the kids learned to respect and interact socially and later effectively in marriage. Let alone sexually. I believe that the fallout rate from those who promise to wait until marriage is very high. And without sex education the kids play sex games with each other but not full penatrative sex. Anyway interesting.

    • NickS 10.2

      Thanks, ’twas most interesting, although the author did make it sound like a universal red/blue state thing, rather than a statistical pattern…

    • mach1 10.3

      Goes clean over my head but here’s an interview with the authors of the paper that the book Red Families v. Blue Families is based on.

      via

  11. just saying 11

    http://werewolf.co.nz/2010/05/from-the-hood-faster-liberals-kill-kill/

    If you want a good laugh I thoroughly recommend the above from Lyndon Hood at Scoop. If the link doesn’t work you’ll just have to go to Scoop – frankly, I’m amazed I was able to successfully transport it. An entertaining spoof on NACT tactics.

  12. I just listened to the General Debate in Parliament.

    I swear that I heard Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga say “the budget will undermine this governments stance as a prudent economic manager”.

    Freudian slip?

    • ianmac 12.1

      And isn’t it interesting that women MP’s are more likely to go for the jugular in the General Debate! Glad they are not in my family!

    • Jim Nald 12.2

      Perhaps a brief lesson from the Education Minister might be helpful, and to avoid all doubts and Folly, I will assist:

      ‘m’ is for mine, like mines are mine
      ‘l’ is for Labour and Left

      undermine = bad
      underline = good

      captcha: acceptable
      (this is quite remarkable!)

  13. NickS 13

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/science/3657584/Scientists-seek-new-life-in-mine-zone

    …And here we go again with the mining of areas of unique biodiversity, only this time we don’t really have a good idea about what’s down there due to a lack of research.

    Although, depending on what the ecological state is around extinct vents, and how much damage is done removing them, it might just be possible to mine with minimal environmental impacts. Of course, we actually need to know what’s down there first.

  14. gobsmacked 14

    Question Time was just hilarious today. Or it would be, if these clowns weren’t running the country.

    There was Wayne Mapp floundering, and Gerry Brownlee … well, being Gerry Brownlee. But best (worst) of all, this question to the towering intellect that is Paula Bennett:

    From Green MP Catherine Delahunty:

    “Which Peter Saunders did she intend to appoint to advise the Welfare Working Group on welfare and employment: the Peter Saunders whose book Welfare to Work she cited in the House last week, or the Peter Saunders she actually appointed, who thinks there is a link between low class and low intelligence? Is she aware that they are actually two different people?”

    Bennett was unable to answer.

    So the Green MP tried to help her.

    Catherine Delahunty: I seek leave to table two documents. The first relates to the biography of Professor Peter Saunders and it is from the University of New South Wales website.

    Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table that document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

    Catherine Delahunty: I seek leave to table another document. It relates to the biography of Professor Peter Saunders from the Centre for Independent Studies, and it is from the Welfare Working Group website.

    Mr SPEAKER: Leave is sought to table the document. Is there any objection? There is objection.

    ***

    Yes, a Cabinet Minister doesn’t know who she has appointed, and thinks it’s somebody else, with the same name.

    “I’m Brian … no, I’m Brian, and so is my wife!”

    • Jim Nald 14.1

      Unable to answer. That would not be a surprise, to put it mildly.
      Might she be able to bully the identity from one of them or bash the other for a confirmation?

      captcha: touch
      (If not consented to, that would be assault, Mr Captcha!)

      Note: can move this to the piece about the Floundering Fiascos or double post it if you wish

  15. zonk 15

    the ‘news’ reports from Bamiyan?

    Very very similar- shot for shot. Information and story arc the same. Ancient Bamiyan province, old man pulling cart, NZ troops and powhiri, 5 more years, blown up Buddha, girls school which we have made possible, Key saying there was three wars and that the Taleban were prepared to die for the cause.

    The only person interviewed was Key. There was no questioning of any of Key’s information, or assessing of the information given.

    This isn’t journalism.

  16. NickS 16

    Turns out, even a limited nuclear exchange has major negative global climatic impacts:
    South Asian Threat? Local Nuclear War = Global Suffering

    And since it’s stuck behind a paywall, here’s the literature the authors suggest looking at/based it on:

    Consequences of Regional-Scale Nuclear Conflicts. Owen B. Toon, Alan Robock, Richard P. Turco, Charles Bardeen, Luke Oman and Georgiy L. Stenchikov in Science, Vol. 315, pages 1224-1225; March 2, 2007.

    Climatic Consequences of Regional Nuclear Conflicts. A. Robock, L. Oman, 6. L. Stenchikov, O. B. Toon, C. Bardeen and R. P. Turco in Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, Vol. 7, No. 8, pages 2003-2012; April 2007.

    Nuclear Winter Revisited with a Modern Climate Model and Current Nuclear Arsenals: Still Catastrophic Consequences. Alan Robock, Luke Oman and Georgiy L. Stenchikov in Journal of Geophysical Research, Vol. 112; July 2007.

    Massive Global Ozone Loss Predicted following Regional Nuclear Conflict. Michael J. Mills, Owen B. Toon, Richard P. Turco, Douglas E. Kinnison and Rolando R. Garcia in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, Vol. 105, No. 14, pages 5307-5312; April 2008.

    Environmental Consequences of Nuclear War. Owen B. Toon, Alan Robock and Richard P. Turco in Physics Today, Vol. 61, No. 12, pages 37-42; December 2008.

    Makes the reductions in the US nuclear arsenal look rather insignificant when it only takes less than a 100 to cause global climate issues that effectively kill off agriculture for a year or more.

    Though I’m sure the resident CCD’s will merrily tell us that because the authors used computer models, all of this is horrible scaremongering…

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