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Russian oligarch urges dump MMP

Written By: - Date published: 11:00 am, April 8th, 2009 - 43 comments
Categories: business, MMP - Tags: , ,

So, the Business Roundtable has resorted to calling in Russian oligarchs to aid their campaign against proportional represenation.

Here’s what “Taranaki-born former Treasury economist-turned-Russian oligarch” Stephen Jennings had to say following last night’s Sir Ron Trotter address.

MMP, he says, must go.

We need political leaders who can lead and manage change. “They need to be able to make policy choices quickly and efficiently,” Jennings says. “We know what kind of political behaviour our current constitution generates: gradualism, populism and the quasi-corruption arising from disproportionate pandering to tiny minorities.”

We must move back to a system of government, he says, where our leaders can promote high economic performance without pandering to narrow sectoral interests.

Given Jennings made his billions in the daylight robbery of Russia’s assets after the collapse of the Soviet Union, I’m guessing his definition of “disproportionate pandering to tiny minorities” and “pandering to narrow sectoral interests” doesn’t extend to the tiny minority that is big business.

His real gripe with MMP, much like the Business Roundtable’s, is when the public gets in the way of his looting and plundering.

The contempt these people have for our democracy is astounding.

43 comments on “Russian oligarch urges dump MMP”

  1. Thomas Beagle 1

    Gosh, in the old days it was the left that portrayed Russia (ok, the USSR) as paradise on earth against all the evidence, now it seems to be the right.

  2. vto 2

    So you think his comments are directed at making it easier for people like him to make squillions more and bugger the people, rather than directed at what it actually takes to transform an economy into a high performer to everyone’s benefit?

    • Tane 2.1

      Yes. Look at his own comments, then look at what he and his cronies did to the people of Russia.

      Democracy gets in the way of his looting – that’s the “pandering” he’s talking about. That’s why he wants to weaken it by making parliament less proportional and hence less representative of the “narrow sectional interests” of the poor.

      • BLiP 2.1.1

        Yep – the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, only at a faster rate:

        income distribution in Russia at slightly worse than in any EU country

  3. gobsmacked 3

    World’s least corrupt countries, as reported annually in the definitive independent survey, by Transparency International:

    1. New Zealand

    (2 – 146 … world)

    147. Russia

  4. BLiP 4

    Classic Business Roundtable / John Key – there is no such thing as a society; New Zealand is a business and should be run by a board of directors so as to not let silly things like democracy get in the way of making the rich richer and the poor poorer.

    • Daveski 4.1

      Classic BLiP BS … Key goes and appoints the very opponent who coined the phrase “rich pricks” and yet you still see him as undemocratic. Classic indeed.

      • BLiP 4.1.1

        Good point, I concede in relation to Dr Cullen – but Key gives with one hand and takes away with another – I point to the reduction of democracy (or, to use BRT-speak, “disproportionate pandering to tiny minorities”) with the arbitrary elimination of Maori from the governance of Auckland.

        • Chess Player 4.1.1.1

          Maori are not ‘eliminated’ from the governance of Auckland.

          They have the exact same rights as everyone else….

      • getstuffed 4.1.2

        I think we can listen to men like Jennings but it must be realised he has his oen agendas. He doesn’t live in NZ for a majority of the time (im not 100% on that) but i would think he isn’t fully aware of the social context in which MMP operates.

        What narrow sectoral interests was he referring to? We live in a great democracy, every issue should be given some airing, even if it is soon seen as unworkable.

        Dont worry about blip.

        He is more an ideological burp – a stale one at that.

        Wheres the post re the green / national hand holding. I truly hope Blimp is a member of the labour party. Then i can rest easy at the thought of a national lead decade of governance.

  5. vto 5

    Yes, well it is the continuing conundrum isn’t it – is it all a conspiracy? A bit like the existence of god – the only way to find out for certain is for god to appear on telly and admit he exists. So too should Jennings appear on telly and admit he is only saying these things to encourage some rich boy looting. Anything other will simply not be believed.

    Having personally known some of these types you may well have a point. But equally, they often also have the best interests of their societies at heart. From what I have experienced anyway. (oh, except for the Talley caterpillar people.)

    Of course the exact same accusation can be made (and often is) about left wing types wanting to control the world and impose their own way of life upon the people. Conspiracies fly thick and fast in that arena as well.

    Conspiracies really are a bugger …

  6. Tim Ellis 6

    I’ve had my reservations about the MMP system for some time. In particular the ability of small parties to wag the dog and the consequent instability, pretty much everything that the opponents of MMP in 1993 stated.

    Yet it is hard to deny that the MMP system and coalition and governing arrangements have evolved since 1996. Things were pretty shaky under Bolger-Peters, and then Shipley-Peters, and small parties learned a lot from the collapse of the Alliance from 1999-2002.

    I think John Key has continued the maturity and evolution of MMP. His decision to achieve the broadest possible support base as a government, by including the Maori Party and even an MOU with the Green Party on mutually acceptable policies, has significantly improved MMP’s ability to provide broad, stable, well-functioning and popular governments.

    I tend towards the view now that we need a bit more time for MMP to bed in before we even look at changing electoral systems. The system is evolving and working pretty well.

    • Daveski 6.1

      Perfectly put. I believe that’s why the Labour supporters are so keen to create negative perceptions of both Key (in particular) and the partners he’s built relationships with.

      National were hopeless at MMP for so long yet Key has shown a superb ability to go where no-one expected. The risk for Labour is that the voters may excuse National because of the economic environment and not punish them … it could be a lot longer in opposition than they expected.

  7. vto 7

    A bit more… I think one part of what he was saying is that minorities under this system have a disproportionate power. And that is not a new allegation and most definitely has some truth to it. This disproportionate power limits advancements that society may require (whether of left or right ilk).

  8. tsmithfield 8

    I think both FPP and MMP are totally unnecessary and delay the progress of democracy. Due to our short election cycle, it is often not possible for governments to fully implement their plans, and often not enough time for voters to assess the effects of policies. Therefore, I think a more efficient system would be better.

    Here is what I would consider as a better system. Interested in comments:

    1. All parties competing in an election must produce a fully costed manifesto that is lodged with an independent body that monitors the running of government. This body would have the power to dissolve parliament if necessary and call for new elections.
    2. Only one party in parliament: Winner takes all. This party then implements the policies on which it has been elected without hinderance.
    3. If a party wishes to move away from its manifesto due changing circumstances, it must gain approval from the independent body. If it does not get this approval then the independent body can dissolve parliament and call for new elections.

    This system is still entirely democratic, but allows for rapid progress of policies and better opportunity for voters to assess the effects.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.1

      1.) Who’s going to pay so that the parties can actually do this?
      2.) Ah, no – we’ve already proven that sort of system doesn’t come close democracy.
      3.) Who the fuck died and made this independent body God?

      Democracy is all about the people making the decisions not some elite.

      PS: What’s so great about rapid progress? I prefer well reasoned and thought out ones myself.

      • Lew 8.1.1

        DTB,

        What’s so great about rapid progress?

        Rapid progress is great because when it inevitably results in fuckups, those fuckups can be fixed just as rapidly, and with just as much risk of fuckups!

        L

    • BLiP 8.2

      Great. I wonder why no one hasn’t thought of it before.

      Basically, replace government with a “Board of Directors” and a “Commerce Commission”. And since your model does away with the need for Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition just think of the the immediate cash flow injection and savings going forward! The number of MP’s can be reduced to 61, Parliament Buildings can be sold, and meetings held via teleconference technology so no need for that travel budget – the list of savings just goes on and on. And good for business, too. No longer need democracy be a 24/7 operation, it can be reduced to a one day event every three years.

  9. Lew 9

    TS, that’s a very limited view of `entirely democratic’ indeed. Who elects the `independent body that monitors the running of government’?

    L

  10. Who elects the `independent body that monitors the running of government’?

    They’re voted in, but they’re closely monitored by an independent body.

  11. insider 11

    And we can have unqualified faith in it based on all those other independent bodies we have that make completely politically agnostic decisions.

    • Lew 11.1

      And we can have unqualified faith in it based on all those other independent bodies we have that make completely politically agnostic decisions.

      The ones which are appointed by the people who are voted in?

      L

  12. exbrethren 12

    Jennings is now working on fleecing African countries. He looked very shifty on Campbell last night. I guess he’d like us to dump MMP and have a government able to use the military against ‘upstarts’ in a similar way to the countries he operates in.

  13. rave 13

    Opposite of democracy is oligarchy.
    Auckland will soon look like Russia under Putin.
    John Banks has this Key-like front where he spouts crap about democracy but as soon as he is tested his authoritarian streak shows itself.
    As the new Mayor of Auckland, and Lord of Tamaki, as in Tamara John, we will see a swift execution on the streets of dissidents, as cyclists fall to the chop of Hummers.
    And life expectancy for the elderly is already on the fall. 70 year old Indian man gets beaten to death by 27 year old BMW driver in fit of road rage.
    Last time there was a feudal oligarchy in Russia it got overthrown and the superpricks lost their goodies and left.
    Roll on the revolution.

    • gingercrush 13.1

      And life expectancy for the elderly is already on the fall. 70 year old Indian man gets beaten to death by 27 year old BMW driver in fit of road rage.

      rave that comment is utterly disgraceful.

    • Felix 13.2

      ginger,

      You’re a sad simpleton incapable of comprehending the nuance of rave’s writing so get off the high chair, shove your mock outrage up your arse, and fuck off while you’re doing it.

      • gingercrush 13.2.1

        You might find rave comments nuanced but all I see is a comment that wasn’t necessary. There was no need to include that with the rest of the comments rave made. And is this your solution to every comment I make Felix, for me to fuck off? Because last I looked you didn’t have the ability to ban anyone here.

        • Felix 13.2.1.1

          So you can tell rave what’s acceptable but I can’t do the same to you?

          Sorry gc, it’s not rave’s fault that you don’t appreciate the context of his words, and the whole world can’t be dumbed down to your pre-school level so fuck off back to kiwibog where your mindless dribble might just pass as coherent thought you jack of clubs, you big blubbering child, you decidedly average object for leaning bicycles against.

          • gingercrush 13.2.1.1.1

            Sure you can tell me what is acceptable. Though the mind boggles as to why its necessary for you to use childish lines such as, “shove your mock outrage up your arse, and fuck off while you’re doing it.” Or why you feel the need to write what is itself rubbish and actually beneath the usual standards you set. You can do wit rather well. But in this case, you simply look pathetic.

          • Felix 13.2.1.1.2

            Because that’s the level of language you’re able to comprehend, as you’ve shown yet again. Everything else goes right over your head. Silly goose.

            And don’t talk to me about standards gc, your entire presence here is a caricature, barely worthy even of derision. I may as well be talking to the cat.

          • vinsin 13.2.1.1.3

            I’m in total agreement with at least one of Felix’s points, which is that ginger, is in fact, a jack of clubs. Also ginger, perhaps one should look at these words, “why you feel the need to write what is itself rubbish and actually beneath the usual standards you set” and point that question somewhere near your… FACE!

  14. tommy onions 14

    Where’d you get the fact that the 27 year old was driving a BMW?

    According to the news I read, the driver’s name is Bio O’Brien and he’s a student from Tuvalu.

    In any event – it’s a tragedy and it’s not appropriate to make jokes about it.

    You can do all the bad taste jokes you like about Jennings though.:)

  15. RedLogix 15

    Simon Johnson recently retired from the role as Senior Economist at the IMF. This article in The Atlantic is fascinating for it’s perspective. Set aside for one moment everything else about the IMF one might not like; Johnson writes a decisive condemnation on the power of wealthy business oligarchies to destroy economies.

    No, the real concern of the fund’s senior staff, and the biggest obstacle to recovery, is almost invariably the politics of countries in crisis.

    Typically, these countries are in a desperate economic situation for one simple reason—the powerful elites within them overreached in good times and took too many risks. Emerging-market governments and their private-sector allies commonly form a tight-knit—and, most of the time, genteel—oligarchy, running the country rather like a profit-seeking company in which they are the controlling shareholders. When a country like Indonesia or South Korea or Russia grows, so do the ambitions of its captains of industry. As masters of their mini-universe, these people make some investments that clearly benefit the broader economy, but they also start making bigger and riskier bets. They reckon—correctly, in most cases—that their political connections will allow them to push onto the government any substantial problems that arise.

    In Russia, for instance, the private sector is now in serious trouble because, over the past five years or so, it borrowed at least $490 billion from global banks and investors on the assumption that the country’s energy sector could support a permanent increase in consumption throughout the economy. As Russia’s oligarchs spent this capital, acquiring other companies and embarking on ambitious investment plans that generated jobs, their importance to the political elite increased. Growing political support meant better access to lucrative contracts, tax breaks, and subsidies. And foreign investors could not have been more pleased; all other things being equal, they prefer to lend money to people who have the implicit backing of their national governments, even if that backing gives off the faint whiff of corruption.

    But inevitably, emerging-market oligarchs get carried away; they waste money and build massive business empires on a mountain of debt. Local banks, sometimes pressured by the government, become too willing to extend credit to the elite and to those who depend on them. Overborrowing always ends badly, whether for an individual, a company, or a country. Sooner or later, credit conditions become tighter and no one will lend you money on anything close to affordable terms.

    The downward spiral that follows is remarkably steep. Enormous companies teeter on the brink of default, and the local banks that have lent to them collapse. Yesterday’s “public-private partnerships’ are relabeled “crony capitalism.’ With credit unavailable, economic paralysis ensues, and conditions just get worse and worse. The government is forced to draw down its foreign-currency reserves to pay for imports, service debt, and cover private losses. But these reserves will eventually run out. If the country cannot right itself before that happens, it will default on its sovereign debt and become an economic pariah. The government, in its race to stop the bleeding, will typically need to wipe out some of the national champions—now hemorrhaging cash—and usually restructure a banking system that’s gone badly out of balance. It will, in other words, need to squeeze at least some of its oligarchs.

    Squeezing the oligarchs, though, is seldom the strategy of choice among emerging-market governments. Quite the contrary: at the outset of the crisis, the oligarchs are usually among the first to get extra help from the government, such as preferential access to foreign currency, or maybe a nice tax break, or—here’s a classic Kremlin bailout technique—the assumption of private debt obligations by the government. Under duress, generosity toward old friends takes many innovative forms. Meanwhile, needing to squeeze someone, most emerging-market governments look first to ordinary working folk—at least until the riots grow too large.

    Long quote…sorry… but I needed to make a point here. This article is not by some wing-nut anticapitalist, it is written by a man who has literally sat across the desk from Presidents, Ministers of Finance and Senior Govt Officials from dozens of countries. The deep thrust of this article is directed exactly against the kind of man Stephen Jennings is, and the danger he represents. I highly recommend it.

    • BLiP 15.1

      Top link! Thanks.

      You know, I’ve learned more in my three months blogging at The Standard that I have in ten years of reading the NZ Fox News Herald.

  16. ripp0 16

    I’m for following Redlogix’s recommendation.. right after completing this comment..

    I didna have time hear it all when this fellow – a kiwi who’d gone to Russia to assist the post-Soviet “privatization” regime. Not an oligarch, according to himself to Ryan on nine-to-noon.

    Though definitely an advocate for “convergence”. Remember that, guys? The big really after GW Bush’s second term election. Before which it might interest you to know how US religious oligarchs trammelled the streets of moscow in search of grossing their fast bucks special. And a long time after any kiwis whatsoever hit Russians for their own gamed roulette. Could have been – sure sounded like one of his(someone say Jennings) repressed ambitions – the next big thing for offshore Republican minds of other nationality. Face it, they’d missed the best commercial break wave to go in right after Iraq invasion..

    Convergence was to become the term of high wealth individuals who included by this time very highly paid (and often in too many additional share options) corporate managers.. vultures for high profit hedgefunds(investors seems altogether too kind a term for these folks)..

    But Recession hit them hard.. and likely regulatory return practices will do so even harder (than they anticipated at anyrate)..

    So.. in the fungible that is language.. advocates of BRT and behind the scenes money supply wholesalers et al change the word. Not convergence – well not stateside or aussie – but a try by for RNZ where the journos – (and I have a good deal of respect for these hapless souls) know better than argue with some supposed fount of wealth. Such expressions as convergence can be so revealing nonetheless.

    Thus, next in the fun of fungible language we listen and learn of his “We’ll never know what happened in Korea.. South Korea..” or what was that other place he mentioned —[Brazil.. Chile..] Yep, the unmentionables from his pov. Why? Well, who wants talk about failures.. About failed states failing bigtime with a litte help from his friends..

    I kid you not… recession holds out a promise for such people. If you’re not suffering as much as other states why, wholesaler* money can pull a big premium..AND if you’ve gotten to failed state status it’s walk-in…

    fact: rothschilds investment bank these days does without brokers and usual market agencies, avoiding retail banking altogether.. and this past year making very sizeable profits out of what’s left. banking with connections is the way to go.. always was.. but the moreso when times are tight.

    So walk-in is worthwhile.. more likely than not explaining this fellow’s visit. Have dough will travel.. for the fun of fungible.. and fungible folks.

    Rave made a point earlier about Putin.. betcha Vlad made his point about so-called oligarchs…

    and I’m saying don’t be fooled.. distracted. Convergence = Friedman = undermine democracy. Admitted by the once great man himself.

    now for that read RL..

  17. tommy onions 17

    Turning our attention to the robber banke’r’s current sphere of activity – extracts from :
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13016

    ‘The IMF predicts the global economic crisis will have a huge and disproportionate impact on sub-Saharan Africa. The effect will be to widen global inequality and plunge more of the African population into poverty.’

    ‘The IMF’s prediction of Africa’s economic growth has been slashed by half, from 6.7 percent to 3.25 percent. IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn warned that even this figure may be “too optimistic”. Growth at this level would mean declining GDP per capita (because of population growth) and therefore rising poverty.’

    ‘The World Bank has also predicted that the global economic crisis will drag 46 million people in Africa down into absolute poverty.’

    ‘Egyptian Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali told Reuters, “In the case of Africa, people are going to die. We are talking about lives, not just somebody who will have to drive a smaller car”.’

    ‘It is hardly surprising that nothing is said by the IMF about its own role in creating the conditions for a human catastrophe on the African continent. Some African leaders, including Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete, have accused the IMF of unfairness in its treatment of its members, being hard on poor countries whose populations were already on the brink while allowing richer countries to do as they pleased, even when this undermined their finances.’

    ‘The IMF also calls on African countries to “seize the opportunity to advance their structural reform agendas in order to boost prospects for growth”—that is to continue with the IMF-imposed policies that have been responsible for squeezing huge amounts of wealth out of the poorest region of the world.’

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