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This is not business as usual. This is not some hippy over-reaction. This is serious shit!

Written By: - Date published: 4:18 pm, December 11th, 2014 - 55 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, climate change, community democracy, cost of living, democracy under attack, Dirty Politics, election 2014, Environment, minimum wage, poverty, Privatisation, social democracy, socialism, Spying, sustainability, war, water - Tags:

Ten weeks ago I became a granny. I must admit, before this beautiful little boy was born I worried about the ethics of bringing another child into the world, just as I did before my own hormonal drive overtook my intellect 29 years ago and produced the original beautiful little boy who has now grown into a loving new father. But now I’ve seen my grandson I wouldn’t wish him away for the world – I am entranced by him, find myself gazing at him with a doting smile for ridiculously long spans of time, watching him soak in everything around him with such intensity I can almost see his brain fizzing beneath his downy scalp. What hasn’t gone away, however, is my deep concern for the world he will be growing up into, and the world my son and his wife will have to do battle with to ensure his ongoing well-being.

The thing is, I don’t trust the people in control. I want to. I want to be able to put politics from my mind and get on with living my life. But I not only don’t trust them, I loathe their values. For me it’s people over money every time – and the environment over money too. I find it incomprehensible that our current government are not only ignoring the apocalyptic onset of climate change, they are also actively working against the vital remediation necessary to temper its very real and terrifying effects. Not only our government, of course: there would appear to be a concerted effort by the leaders of the world’s biggest economies (and satellite economies like our own) to down-play the potential impacts and to undermine the real policy changes necessary to make a real difference.

I find it bizarre and incomprehensible those of us concerned for the health of our planet and who want to ensure we clean up our act and learn to live sustainably, are considered fringe, suspect, the loony left. While those at the very top of the pecking order might be insulated enough to survive the global devastation that we are rushing towards at break-neck speed, the rest of us are sitting ducks. And as the climate changes really start to hit, myriad other problems will rear their ugly heads as well. Floods, fires, water shortages, food shortages, climate refugees, boundary and resource wars, new illnesses, mass extinctions…. This is not business as usual. This is not some hippy over-reaction. This is serious shit!

Yet our government are building roads! They’re sidestepping emission-lowering measures. They’re continuing to think like petrol heads, riding rough-shod over environmental safeguards and, in the process, dooming my children and their children to ever increasing misery as the world heats up. They’re selling the environment out for the last few drops of oil and coal too: drilling in our precious waters, dredging our sea-beds for iron sand, fracking, destroying unique and irreplaceable habitats for commodities such as coal that will only add to our misery as they are consumed. And they’re signing up to secret trade pacts that will make climate change measures even harder to implement – and selling out our sovereignty to giant corporations. All this is madness. Lunacy. Ignorance and arrogance.

All this is due to their pursuit of the dollar. Their own ethics of greed, whether for power or wealth accumulation, are committing the rest of us to the eventual flames of climate hell. And that’s only the big picture… meanwhile, here in little old Godzone they are de-constructing the very social democracy that has enabled them all to climb the ladder, deftly pulling it up after themselves so my grandson will never have the kinds of benefits our current politicians took for granted in their youth. The equitable, excellent free education they all received, for instance, has been undermined, underfunded, and disastrously tampered with. Will my grandson be able to study at university in the future? It’s looking much less likely.  And, even if he can get in, at what cost? Already his parents are crippled by student debt. Owning their own home – the kiwi dream – goes straight out the window when you’ve got a mortgage-sized debt to repay before you even start – and, even if you’re not fettered by student loans (and are lucky enough to have employment), who the hell can pay the kinds of housing prices we are seeing now? My kids are having to face the very real possibility that home ownership might never be within their reach.

What about if my grandson needs some kind of social or health-related support (god forbid)? Where once the government supported people in vulnerable positions, many of these services have been so seriously underfunded they are dying or have disappeared – or been handed over to private companies whose bottom line is profit, not human good. They’ve sold off our power companies; are privatising our prisons, schools, healthcare, insurance… in short, all our safety nets have been shrunk or punctured full of holes. Heaven help my grandson should he need mental health support or rehabilitation. All our most important agencies, the ones that really are dealing with the dire day to day problems of this country’s most vulnerable and needy, are so strapped for cash they are unable to deliver the services many people need. The government is relying on communities picking up the tab while our communities are already in crisis and stretched to breaking point.

But it’s not just the lack of concrete needs that this government is responsible for. My grandson will be growing up in a climate of manufactured fear – designed to keep the populace in check and to justify the draconian and deeply undemocratic practices they are currently passing under urgency at every available opportunity. He will grow up with less privacy, less democracy, less trust, less freedoms, less ability to dissent, less concern for his personal human and civil rights. If he has the audacity to speak out against such practices, he’ll likely find himself running foul of a politicised police force – those very same cops who recently spent 10 hours searching my brother’s house while the real criminals and liars destroyed all evidence then walked away free.  All this, too, is really scary. With our media now under the corporate thumb, and our govt. politicians up to their armpits in dirty politics and cynical spin, what hope is there that dear Leo will grow up in a country where his interests are put before those of multinational corporations, bankers, weapons manufacturers, and self-serving power junkies?

What I don’t fear for is his personal sense of self: he is growing up loved and nurtured and we will all make sure his needs are somehow met and he is kept as safe as we are able. And he does at least have one bonus – the fact he’s male (sorry, guys, though you fellas don’t like to hear it, inequality is alive and well in Godzone. Need proof? Just look at the rabid misogynists who crawl out of the woodwork every time the words ‘feminism’, ‘sexual harassment’ or ‘rape culture’ are uttered from a woman’s lips.) But we’re still going to have to fight for him. I have no faith in this government’s commitment to his future. They have proved themselves to be serving much bigger masters: the mighty war machine of the US – and corporate greed. They lie. They cheat. They smirk out of the corner of their mouths as they pretend to care, juggling a knife behind their backs.

So that’s why I’m speaking out now, every opportunity I get. Not because I like the exposure (shudder), but because I love this tiny little person and I will fight for his future, come what may. It’s the right thing to do. It’s the decent, human thing to do. I need to know that when he grows up and asks how the people of my generation could have let this terrible state of disaster, fear and repression develop, at least I can say that I tried to stem the flow. What about you?

55 comments on “This is not business as usual. This is not some hippy over-reaction. This is serious shit!”

  1. r0b 1

    Great to have you aboard as an author Mandy. And congratulations on becoming a grandmother! It is the children, and (maybe) grandchildren that drives me too – and I suspect many on the political left. It mystifies me that the political right is so short term in its thinking.

    (I’ll add an image and some except text for the front page to this post.)

  2. One Anonymous Bloke 2

    If your parents ever discover how lame you are, they’ll murder you in your sleep.

    Frank Zappa (to the audience).

    You’re right Mandy, it’s absurd.

  3. BLiP 3

    Yep. Its about the grandkids not the grand in the bank. Would someone please tell John Key.

  4. Mandy also wrote a searing denunciation of Patrick Gower & news media uselessness:

    Mandy Hager sends Patrick Gower to the Spin Bin

    Of course, Gower is not the only one. And it doesn’t take much to see why he and others who started their careers as well-meaning journalists are sheltering behind snide remarks and lazy reporting: if we look back over the most recent past term of this government, we can see that those who have tried to question the government and its policies have been disposed of, one by one. TVNZ 7’s excellent news and documentaries were the first to go, and now we are seeing the devolution of Maori TV’s fantastic current affairs broadcasting. This is happening at a time when toxic right-wing luvvie-boys have been put into positions of immense power by the state broadcaster (yes, I’m talking Hosking and Henry – equally vile, vitriolic little men, who are more interested in sneering at those who hold genuine concerns for the state of our country, and propping up their own ‘celebrity’ status, than actually delivering unadulterated news.) They are our pseudo-Fox News presenters, self-absorbed, with little genuine concern for their fellow NZers or the ethical health of our current politicians, using the poor young women who have been partnered with them as mindless Barbie dolls who are presumably there in order to reflect their ‘glory’. It raises bile just to watch.

    Yup. Read the rest at Spin Bin

  5. NZ Sage 5

    Wonderful piece from the heart Mandy.

    I too became a grandparent for the first time this year and I too share your concerns for his future, particularly as my wonderful grandson was born Down Syndrome.

    Thankfully my daughter lives in the UK where she has access to excellent publically funded practical and financial support systems.

    The limited support services here in NZ means it is unlikely my daughter and grandson will be returning home anytime soon.

  6. karol 6

    Welcome Mandy.

    I also never understand why people who want a sustainable world with supports and opportunities for all, is considered some sort of “extremist”, “loony” left.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.1

      “Considered”? It’s abuse, ie: tacit (although hardly substantive) surrender, not consideration.

  7. Jenny Kirk 7

    Totally agree with you, Ms Hager.

    I feel tired, aching, no longer up to protesting physically, somewhat depressed at what our world, what our country has come to, and those unknown “masters” overseas who want to take us over totally.

    But then I look around me, and I see others like you – people actively opposing the draconian impositions others want to put us under ; people joining together to support each other in their various battles against dictatorships from up high ; people planting up previously scrub land with strong permanent vegetation; or showing the way by cleaning up a local stream or river; others building a community place to nurture their cultures for the coming generation; still others giving the knowledge of their life experiences and expertise to younger people.

    And I also see a younger generation coming through readying themselves to do “battle” against all the ills you have so aptly defined.

    And that’s when I feel hope.

    And do what I can.

  8. Red delusion 8

    Peak Oil anybody, I see this is no longer a poster child by the left for a fossil fuel free environment

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1

      I see global warming deniers are still delusional.

    • mhager 8.2

      I think the point is that peak oil is just part of the climate change debate – weaning off fossil fuels is the only solution for many of our global problems, including conflict

  9. Draco T Bastard 9

    Heaven help my grandson should he need mental health support or rehabilitation.

    I’d just like to point out that NZ’s mental health support has always atrocious. We’ve pretty much just ignored it and hoped it would go away.

    • northshoredoc 9.1

      “I’d just like to point out that NZ’s mental health support has always atrocious. We’ve pretty much just ignored it and hoped it would go away.”

      I just like to point out that your comment is absolute rubbish. While mental health support can always be improved it is light years ahead of where it was 30 years ago.

      • Molly 9.1.1

        It may be, but I have contact with some that have been unable to access the care needed for their family members and have it provided in a sustainable and long-term manner.

        For those people, “better than 30 years ago” is an irrelevant comparison.

        For those people, it is atrocious.

        • mhager 9.1.1.1

          I agree Molly – improved from 30 years ago it may be – but just this morning is another story of a family and their loved on let down by the lack of resources for mental health support : http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/261565/dhb-admits-it-didn%27t-listen-to-family

        • Augustus 9.1.1.2

          As parent of a seriously ill child (now adult), I can tell you that the child will get most of what it needs in NZ quite freely. However, if as parent one is not well off to begin with, there is absolutely nothing in the way of financial support (for the parent, not the child). Everyone I’ve ever had the displeasure to deal with at Work and Income think they can target assistance at the child only, poor parents are deemed to be unaffected and left to rot in their own misery.

          • A VOTER 9.1.1.2.1

            Yes it is to keep the parents powerless so the Fascists dont need to deviate from the govt rules and can feel safe in the fact that their carrots wont be denied so they can sleep at night happy in the fact that they dont need a conscience about carryout Bitchyfits policies

      • Murray Rawshark 9.1.2

        Funny you should mention 30 years ago. It was something very close to 30 years ago that a friend of mine got a job as a caretaker of an apartment building in Western Springs. I think it was a leftover from some Commonwealth games. Anyway, the idea of community care had just been imported and the building was full of people who’d been kicked out of Carrington. Most of them had no idea how to keep themselves alive and the fortnightly visits they got from caseworkers did nothing to help. My friend ended up feeding them and paying their bills, as well as simple things like opening bank accounts.

        It’s not hard to be light years ahead of that. Your statement is also at odds with the experiences of the smallish number of mental health patients that I know. Doctors might feel that things have improved, but the patients I know certainly don’t.

      • Draco T Bastard 9.1.3

        Just because it’s improved doesn’t mean to say that it’s good enough to be adequate.

  10. Lou 10

    Mandy, you certainly have a way with words! I have not reached the happy stage of being a granny yet, but am looking forward to it……………but I do share with you all of the concerns you expressed. Things have got to change, in our world, and in the world our grandchildren will grow up in. Somehow, I have some confidence they will, as if they don’t, this whole planet is doomed!

    • North 10.1

      Yes Mandy you write beautifully, movingly, inspiringly. The lending of the gift of it in service of “the decent, human thing…….” uplifts this reader very considerably. I thank you.

      Best to you – indeed best to all !

      PS: May you positively taste the deliciousness of all that “goo goo gaa gaa” bizo with the wee one Granny !

  11. philj 11

    Thank you for a clear exposition of the state of mankind. It gives cold comfort to know that you are not alone in your thoughts and actions. The right wing dominated media needs cauterizing, and a common good broadcaster established by the good people of Aotearoa. Kia Kaha. A true peoples voice arise! tHE GOVERNMENT IS NOT SERVING MOST PEOPLES INTEREST. Form an alternative government! Remember ONLY 33% of eligible voters voted for this brand of shysters.

  12. mickysavage 12

    Welcome Mandy. TS’s gender equity has improved dramatically!

    • mhager 12.1

      Thanks – glad my XX chromosomes are useful!

      • karol 12.1.1

        Well, TS has been noticeably weighted towards male authors. You are the third female author to have been added in about a week.

        And all excellent authors they/you are, too!

        PS: This was not a planned thing. We have some male authors we would like to be added, too. But the 3 this week are first off the blocks.

  13. Cheer up Mandy, it may not be as dire as you have been led to believe.

    Climate scientist Judith Curry walked off the ‘consensus reservation’ five years ago following the revelations of ‘climategate’, and has subsequently expresses some hope for the future based upon the good things that have happened in the Climate Science community since then.

    http://judithcurry.com/2014/12/01/the-legacy-of-climategate-5-years-later/

    • e-clectic 13.1

      About the time that Judith Curry is able to change (diminish) the heat absorptive properties of carbon dioxide and the other significant greenhouse gases I’ll be paying attention.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 13.1.1

        Judith Curry has decided that she is now a sociologist. The article waffles on and on and on, perhaps to give the tl;dr deniers the impression that it contains something of substantive relevance to Climatology.

        It doesn’t.

  14. Maui 14

    Brilliant post, absolutely true. I’m in my early thirties, and I grew up as a bit of a dreamer, believing you could make the world a better place if you really wanted to. New Zealand I thought was a perfect country that could help you in this goal, a country with a laid-back and innovative attitude to things, that could help in getting the best solution in a practical way.

    What I’ve found say in relation to things environmental is that you can make some progress yourself, and there maybe be tentative help from a local authority for your idea. But all the while central and local government is selling your idea down the river. In one case I’ve had to put in many hours of my own time to protect the environment because of the weakening of environmental protection by National. There is every chance that my volunteered hours will be meaningless, when I go to the local Council and get stonewalled, and no action is taken by them. So I too do not trust the people in power. Both of these systems are screwing over my environmental protection ideas because of money, not because they were voted in with a mandate to degrade the environment.

  15. David Owen 15

    Go Mandy ! It’s time for all of us to speak out about the direction, our so-called representatives are leading us into. Climate aside, we are fast approaching a Police-State, dictated to ,by America. The TPPA pretty much guarantees that, and all we get from our illustrious leader, is; LIE and DENY….. text-book CIA training….. Really John ? Do you really think Your Masters are going to give you a seat-on-the-bus, for handing us over to them on a platter ? Why dont you have the decency to crawl back under that rock in Hawaii, and let moral human beings run our country… David Owen

  16. Brigid 16

    Twas so pleased to see this. Thank you Mandy. I too am so frustrated and so angry and I feel so powerless. I think we’ve got a long fight ahead of us.

  17. venezia 17

    You echo my thoughts, observations and feelings about this government and about my concerns for my grandchildren Mandy. Sometimes I feel quite depressed and dismayed that NZers could allow so much of this to happen, then vote again for the same pack of shysters to continue to destroy the fabric of our society, and risk the future of our planet. I hope to see more of your posts. It gives me hope when these concerns are expressed with such clarity.

  18. Pat O'Dea 18

    The Imperative to Leave it in the Ground

    “The problem with solely pursuing climate policies which seek to reduce fossil fuel demand is that even when they are successful, they simply push fossil fuel prices down, creating a cheap energy supply that is hard for renewable energy sources to compete with.”
    TARSH TURNER
    NZ Youth Delegation member at the climate talks in Lima

    The logic of this approach is unassailable.

    And the real world proves it, as falling demand sees huge drops in the price of oil and coal

    Which is why Greens and Mana policy is, “No New Coal Mines”

    Contrast this with the National and Labour Party policy position of regulating emissions, which seems almost designed to fail, and in practice is failing.

    “There needs to be a simultaneous push from the other side, cutting off the supply of fossil fuels and creating a strong impetus for change.”
    TARSH TURNER
    NZ Youth Delegation member at the climate talks in Lima

    Sordid Energy

    Technically insolvent Solid Energy were given a government grant of $103 million to rehabilitate their old disused mine sites because they didn’t have the money to honour their contractual arrangements to clean up after themselves. This grant was on top of $150 given Solid Energy by taxpayers last year to bail them out of bankruptcy. But instead of cleaning up their old and abandoned mine sites, Solid Energy is massively investing in reopening the huge old abandoned open cast Kopuku 1 mine workings in Maramarua that used to supply the old Meremere power station that closed down in the early ’90s. I suppose, Solid Energy could make the claim, that by reopening these old closed mine works, they are rehabilitating them. Another interpretation is that Solid Energy is moribund and corrupt in abusing the public’s trust, in using taxpayer support to continue needlessly polluting the environment.

    Business As Unusual

    Solid Energy gets $103 million to clean up old mine workings

    September 18, 2014

    The Government will provide cover worth $103 million to Solid Energy for restoring mining land and to avoid its technical insolvency.

    Finance Minister Bill English and State-owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said today that the state-owned miner needed the indemnity to keep it in “positive equity” and to sign off its accounts.

    Negative equity means a company has more liabilities than assets and is technically insolvent.

    English said government officials were working with the company to extend its remediation indemnity, which would meet the future costs of restoring the mined land to its previous state.

    Stuff.co.nz

    “Governments simply cannot continue to consider their model of economic development apart from their commitments to tackle climate change. The longer this divide exists, the more the problem worsens, and we will only become further locked into dirty energy infrastructure. Nations need to face up to the crux of the climate problem and address the issue of continued extraction.
    TARSH TURNER
    NZ Youth Delegation member at the climate talks in Lima

  19. les 19

    and of course there is not much chance the grandson will ever own his own home ,at least in Auckland the way things are panning out , to quote Jesson in this ‘triumph of venality’!

  20. Tracey 20

    Great post and a great thread. Your message of beginning to lose hope leaves me paradoxically hopeful.

    there are many ways to parent that dont involve giving birth. i support many mentally ill and disabled people and try to fight on their behalf.

    we are an army not driven by self interest.

  21. Rosemary McDonald 21

    My eldest is the same age as your eldest Mandy, and I confess to occasionally berrating myself for having brought him and his two sibs up to value honesty and honour above all else.

    Tell the truth…no matter what, because the truth will ALWAYS come out.

    Then your lies will be exposed and you will no longer be trusted by those whoes opinion matters most to you.

    Lying kills trust….

    However…in the real world, it seems most people lie….or give a watered down version of the truth. This has become normal behaviour…..to the point where a person is criticised if they do tell the truth.

    It is easier to lie, be evasive, exploit the ‘loopholes’ that the rest do, and there is a kind of dishonourable honesty amoungst the liars and the theives.

    Those who “take the moral high ground” will pay the price.

    Never seeming to quite fit it…and not trusted by collegues….because you’re honest.

    Crazy.

    P.S. I read this out aloud to my partner Mandy…we both ended up in tears.

    ” I need to know that when he grows up and asks how the people of my generation could have let this terrible state of disaster, fear and repression develop, at least I can say that I tried to stem the flow. “

  22. Ennui 22

    Nice one Mandy: Your questioning of the forces driving the human economic patterns as we know them reminds me of an event years back wen I was working in a tannery. We had a boss who insisted that the new machine to shear the wool from pelts was a true wonder, and he demonstrated it to all and sundry.

    One day whilst demonstrating it to a group of engineers his tie flopped forward, got caught in the rollers and hauled him toward the blade. He could not reach the large red safety switch, disaster loomed until one of the engineers dived over and hit the button.

    We are that engineer, but our machine is so badly designed that there is no off switch.

  23. Thank you for your post. Intergenerational inequality and the world/society the kids will inherit worries me. Driving in the car recently my little daughter announced, “Mummy when I grow up and have a house, I’m going to paint it bright blue!” I felt so sad. She won’t have a house if she chooses to live in a major city in our country. This housing investment madness must be stopped for the sake of the children.

  24. greywarshark 24

    All true Mandy. This quote below resonates with me.
    The thing is, I don’t trust the people in control. I want to. I want to be able to put politics from my mind and get on with living my life. But I not only don’t trust them, I loathe their values. For me it’s people over money every time – and the environment over money too. I find it incomprehensible that our current government are not only ignoring the apocalyptic onset of climate change, they are also actively working against the vital remediation necessary to temper its very real and terrifying effects.

    That is how I have been all my life, thinking that others knew what they were doing usually, and wanted to do the right thing for the country and citizens that elected them to government. Now I know that democracy must be nurtured, watched and maintained. If it grows up and seems ready to leave home, we actually must keep it close, we mustn’t let it go so far that it is out of sight. It’s just an innocent that can be carried off by the greedy and criminal, and we can make mistakes in our regime of country-care too.

    We can do stuff together and learn how to support each other and take cuttings of our democracy plant and grow them on in many different places. It is happening and I am sure we can achieve many things. My approach now is – don’t expect too much from government, and don’t believe their promises. First look at what they expect to get out of each project supported. I suggest checking the Alex cartoon in the DomPost business pages, as his creators understand the cynical self-promotion that reflects many of our pollies in gummint these days.

  25. Barbara Strathdee 25

    How quaint – to be worrying about house prices for the generation now only in its infancy. With the western ice shelf of Antarctica due to collapse and cause massive sea rise Auckland will largely be under water.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 25.1

      Four feet won’t deliver that outcome. The entire WAIS would have to collapse, not just the Amundsen Sea region.

      Four feet (~1.45m) will be disruptive enough, though.

  26. Kattykat 26

    I feel ya!!! Thank you.

  27. Phillip Mann 27

    Hello Mandy, A superb article. You have expressed my own feelings and fears exactly, but with a clarity of expression that I could not have managed. I too have a young grandson of 2 years, and as I watch him play I worry that the world he will inherit will be impoverished in the ways that you describe. Thank you for having the courage to speak out.

  28. Barbara Strathdee 28

    I am not able to add to Mandy Hager’s bold and eloquent article but want to add a link to my own comment above. This is an article written by Chris Mooney and Joby Warrick for the Washington Post on 4 December with the title Research casts alarming light on decline of West Antarctic glaciers: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/research-casts-alarming-light-on-decline-of-west-antarctic-ice-sheets/2014/12/04/19efd3e4-7bbe-11e4-84d4-7c896b90abdc_story.html?Post+generic=%3Ftid%3Dsm_twitter_washingtonpost
    I have been fearful of being dismissed as a catastrophist but realise that the only thing to do is show disdain for all those who prevaricate. And speak. Mandy and Nicky are our leaders.

  29. A VOTER 29

    Brilliant piece It is Rome 21st century thats how little things have change in reality

  30. For those of you who are expressing concern for your children’s future, can I commend supporting the ‘Wise Response’ appeal. The text of the appeal http://bit.ly/wiseresponse reads:
    “Symptoms too serious to ignore: a call to face up to NZ’s critical risks.

    Appeal to Parliament for a NZ Risk Assessment.

    As demand for growth exceeds earth’s physical limits, causing unprecedented risks, what knowledge and changes do we need to secure New Zealand’s future wellbeing?”

    Connect with us via our Facebook.com/wiseresponse, and sign the appeal as a supporter via the link to the appeal text above.

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