Open mike 12/08/2023

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, August 12th, 2023 - 42 comments
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42 comments on “Open mike 12/08/2023 ”

  1. Dennis Frank 1

    A clever manager has done the unthinkable in our public service: actually measured operational competence!

    The internal survey that MSD ran for a year, and which is still being number-crunched, showed as of 30 June 57% were getting what they should be paid and 43% were not.

    Folks will wonder whether the chronically-challenged staffers providing welfare use the dartboard method or the dice method for allocating funds to the needy. Although the official sampling has the govt converging on the 50:50 random chance statistical standard, they aren't quite there yet – there's still a 7% bias toward competence.

    That will be a residual effect of early 20th century imperial qc – in which people actually got replaced when they screwed up. Born losers infesting govt departments became a more popular governance method after that.

    "In these instances, our staff worked to correct these payments accordingly," the director of a $2 billion programme to overhaul the ministry's payments systems, Craig Hill, said in a statement on Thursday. But Brereton said that only applied to those in the survey – about 1200 beneficiaries took part in it – not the other 150,000 affected – and she was sure most of those would have been underpaid rather than overpaid.

    Staff naturally prefer to blame systems rather than themselves, and fortunately MSD just happen to have ten different systems to blame, of varying degrees of antiquity. Staffers must endeavour to jump through all ten hoops in the right sequence to get operational results, I presume. Good news, however:

    The ministry has embarked on a 10-year, $2b-plus plan to fix its systems.

    So in 2033 everyone will get paid the right amount. Whew, what a relief!!

    • Patricia Bremner 1.1

      Dennis Why 10 systems? How did that come about? Why also were some retained when they were "past their use by date?" That information would have been useful, without it we are making asses out of you and me. I assume. The Governments work with IRD has made a huge difference, but it is easier to throw stones imo.

      • Dennis Frank 1.1.1

        Why 10 systems? How did that come about?

        Only someone involved in the management during both Nat/Lab govts could give an informed answer. Even then, it would likely only be partially true – few people ever acquire a systems overview of situations.

        I agree that a fair view from bystanders requires acknowledging both the merits and the demerits of supervision by National & Labour govts. Each can obtain plausible deniability of any moral responsibility for the 10 systems by pointing to departmental protocol & managerial delegation etc.

        Someone with a career in public service behind them would likely have a relevant experiential basis upon which to comment. The old colonial doctrine of responsible govt upon which our democracy was founded seems a sham nowadays, when ministers from both sides keep slip-sliding away from taking responsibility for whatever governance shambles happens to hit the headlines on any day. However, to be fair, the system of democracy allows them to do that: the buck never actually stops anywhere most of the time. It's like a quantum system, shimmering…

    • AB 1.2

      What gibberish. To attribute the fact that 43% of beneficiaries don't get paid the right amount to something called "incompetence" is surely odd for a big cheese who waxes verbosely about complex systems.

      Whose incompetence? The frontline workers who navigate round messy, error-prone systems and make mistakes? The managers who allowed the systems to get that complex in the first place? The other managers who denied the previous managers the funds to improve those systems? The officials who set departmental budgets at a level that required invidious prioritisation of initiatives that nobbled those two previous sets of managers? The campaign managers and politicians who determined that government deficits must not exceed 30% of GDP? The timid fools who made the social safety net complicated through arcane, stupid and inefficient 'targeting' rather than staying with sound principles of universality and progressive taxation that are efficient and just? The voters who got persuaded by all this nonsense in the first place?

      Competence is a personal matter and it can be learnt – degeneracy of entire systems is something else.

      • Patricia Bremner 1.2.1

        Well explained AB, what I suspected was the case. Built on a faulty premise, politically chosen, led to faulty systems and outcomes. Mostly because they were about the money not the people.

      • Dennis Frank 1.2.2

        Competence is a personal matter and it can be learnt – degeneracy of entire systems is something else.

        Too binary – any manager employed as a typical Nat/Lab placeholder can be relied on to administer the status quo rather than improve creaking dysfunctional systems.

        From a resilience perspective, we need systems fit for purpose, where fit means the darwinian adaptive sense of the word. Competent administrators see that and do it.

        So whereas you're right about the personal dimension of competence, the social dimension of it requires a communal grasp of how it works. Accountability is the relevant concept. Unless participants see how it works in practice, they cannot maintain it as operational procedure. Know how, can do.

        Ethos is what has to kick in to get a governance system evolving toward resilience. Seems to be the missing factor in the operation of the relevant govt departments. We can make both National & Labour responsible for the lack & the performance failure it has produced. Their historical aversion to holding people accountable has driven the degenerate trend – but spending constraints in any year would also be a factor.

        • Descendant Of Smith

          The timid fools who made the social safety net complicated through arcane, stupid and inefficient 'targeting' rather than staying with sound principles of universality and progressive taxation that are efficient and just?


  2. Dennis Frank 2

    Isms are on the march yet again:

    What we see here is a classic example of popular constitutionalism in the guise of originalism: an argument crafted by politicians to serve their own political interests that has transformed into a putatively legal argument propped up (however feebly) by claims about the Framers’ intent.

    Many Republicans, including former President Donald Trump, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, describe migration at the southern border as an “invasion,” and have started talking about going to war with Mexico to stop the cartels. (The moderate GOP position is to bomb Mexico instead of launching a full-scale assault.)

    Traditionalists everywhere will be delighted by the appearance of Noah's Ark in contemporary politics and foreign relations. However, another Texas/Mexico war will thrill them much more. Michener did two classic historical novels (Texas and Mexico) that illuminated both sides comprehensively, I read em both last year – fascinating history brought to life.

    Using invasion theory is an archaic move by the Republican southerners, which works on the traditional basis that an invasion is an attack. When invaders are peaceful and not carrying weapons one might hazard a guess that the theory may seem implausible. One must, however, allow for the possibility that popular hallucinations will prevail over reality. The extent they usually do is indicated by the dollar value of the global advertising industry: ( Google) US$ 615.2 billion in 2022.

    In 2022, for instance, former Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey announced that Arizona could—and, if necessary, would—wage war on Mexican cartels.

    The cowboys are getting restless, boots entering shit-kicker mode:

    Anything could happen at the lawless, far-right U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, but if its extremists hand Texas a victory, the Supreme Court may feel obliged to step in.

  3. mikesh 3

    A posting to to Counterpunch suggests (in the USA) taxing share buybacks. This would seem like a good idea. It would probably not raise much revenue, but it would be easy to collect and share buybacks are something of a dodgy manipulation anyway.

  4. Roy Cartland 4

    I was just "doing my own research" (ha!) and looking at electric vehicles on Trade me.

    There are so many at affordable prices now than even a few months ago, let alone a few years. Who else remembers the idiotic naysayers that tried to tell us rebates and encouragement wouldn't work? You don't even need to be a genius to see for yourself how wrong they were, and continue to be.

    • psych nurse 4.1

      The batteries are shot, unable to hold a charge. Have a mate who drives a Prius, often runs flat as he enters his gate. Used to do two return commutes now not quite one.

      Cheaper to buy a new car than battery.

    • Molly 4.2

      Electric cars market value relates to battery health, not age or mileage.

      The rebates were a poor mechanism, for a badly envisioned outcome.

    • Roy Cartland 4.3

      All true; even so, all they were ever going to be is slightly better than petrol, and that still stands.

      Kicking the can slightly further, yes, but even if microscopically, still better.

      • Descendant Of Smith 4.3.1

        I have family members with hybrids. Seems to be the way to go – despite quite a long daily commute they now only use about $20-00 worth of petrol each per month.

  5. Phillip ure 5

    A musical heads-up:

    At nat-rad 101.4 fm..@ noon..

    ..sees a program celebrating the 50yr arc of hip-hop..

    • Phillip ure 5.1



    • gsays 5.2

      You were right first time as well.

      An interview with DLT before the 11am. The grandfather of Aotearoa hip hop covered off Upper Hutt Posse, the difference in attitude in Aucks and Wellies, his influences, 3 or 4 songs etc.

  6. bwaghorn 6

    Labours big tax announcement coming tomorrow!!

    If it's the dog policy of gst of segments of food they've lost the plot.

    All food I could accept.

    Hoping for a game changer, though,

  7. Molly 7

    At the heart of any discussion about surrogacy, is the need to answer this question:

    Is the commodification of babies justifiable?

    Interpol have just released information about an investigation into trafficking in Greece:

    (Google Translate required)

    "The young women were kept in 14 homes where they became pregnant against their will, then gave birth to the babies who were illegally given up for adoption for a fee. Clients included single men who wanted children, infertile couples or homosexuals. A baby born to a surrogate mother was even sold for 120,000 euros. Nine people, including a Romanian woman, were arrested in Crete for at least ten crimes including human trafficking, illegal adoptions and illegal egg harvesting.

    The investigation led by INTERPOL reveals how at least 30 women, including Romanians, were trafficked by the group led by the Greek gynecologist.

    The women had their eggs illegally collected and then inseminated to become surrogate mothers for infertile couples, same-sex partners or single people around the world who wanted a child."

    Women's reproductive capacities being the sole reason for their reduction to manufacturing units.

    Further details here (also requires Google Translate):

  8. Anker 8

    Thanks for posting Molly.

    I am particularly aware of the mother infant bond immediately after birth. A baby can apparently determine its biological mother by smell.

    Its shocking and cruel for these young girls who are trafficed and forced into this position.

    Surely these people know the circumstances of the babies conception and gestation or have some inkling? If so they are unfit to be parents.

    • Belladonna 8.1

      It brings to mind the adoption agencies of the mid-20th century – both religious and otherwise, where children of unmarried mothers were taken at birth.
      It was recommended that the mother never be allowed to touch the baby – otherwise she might be unwilling to give it up for adoption.

      Most of the adoptive parents had no idea of the circumstances (believed that the mother was giving up the baby for a 'better life' for the child). I suspect some level of 'it's more comfortable to believe this' – but they never met the mother – and had no way of knowing for sure.

      The adoption agencies, however, knew exactly what they were doing….

  9. Stephen D 9


    Rather than addressing the real concerns of schools, after six years in opposition the National Party is offering mandated teaching hours, mandated testing, mandated reporting and mandated bans on cell phones

    • bwaghorn 9.1

      More brick in the wall headmaster than nanny

    • alwyn 9.2

      I like the description of the author, and his qualifications to comment

      " He has created and researched theatre in prisons, psychiatric institutions, and disaster zones which he says has prepared him for his work in schools."

      I know some parents of current school pupils who tell me that the schools are run like prisons, the approach taken by the teachers is nuts and the standard the children reach is a disaster zone. Makes him sound quite appropriate to comment.

  10. weston 10

    From the House Select Subcommittee On the Weaponization of the Federal Gov

    This little clip concerns Dr Fauci …dude mustve been going for some kinda record !!lol

    "did not recall " 174 times and 212 times " i dont remember " !!

    • joe90 10.2

      Five months on and little has happened.

      Jimmy 'Gym' Jordan does have other things to worry about, though……

      On Monday, June 26 , 2023, SCOTUS ruled that the lawsuit brought against Ohio State University by hundreds of athletes who claim sexual abuse by trainer Richard Strauss can go forward. Part of the lawsuit directly implicates Jordan, as it states that he not only turned a blind eye to this abuse, but also states that Jordan obstructed justice by tampering with witnesses. Jim Jordan’s days in Congress are numbered. It is just a matter of time, as the trial against Ohio State moves forward.

  11. joe90 11

    Our mandatory self-isolation requirement could well be dumped soon, too.


    Dr Helen Salisbury


    Forwarded from a friend – a reminder that Covid is still out there and you'll need to look after yourself because nobody else is

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