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What does the right have against Venezuela?

Written By: - Date published: 8:10 am, February 9th, 2019 - 131 comments
Categories: International, jacinda ardern, labour, national, Politics, Propaganda, Simon Bridges, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

I have never understood the hatred that the right has for Venezuela.  The classic was yesterday when Simon Bridges said that Labour was planning to Venezuelaise the tertiary training system.

Yep that takes a lot of getting your head around. What is Labour proposing?

The background is that various Polytechnics have struggled, and over the past few years built up larger and larger deficits. The current Government has spent $100 million bailing out four polytechnics. And this is not a recent problem. It has been brewing for years.

And the causes of the problem are clear. From Jacinda’s state of the nation speech:

Over the last two years this Government has been forced to spend $100 million to bail out four polytechnics, and that is a pattern that started before we took office.

That is not the sign of a healthy and sustainable sector.

We need to move away from the cycle that sees course delivery at institutes boom when the economic cycle turns down and then dive when the economy improves, while on-the-job training providers face the opposite cycle.

Instead of our regional polytechnics and institutes of technology retrenching, cutting programmes, and closing campuses, we need them to expand their course delivery throughout the country.

We want a sector that meets the needs of our economy. But the current system faces three major structural issues we need to fix.

It is not well coordinated or integrated. It is not easy for business to engage with and it delivers variable results across the country.

We have a duplication of courses and lack of consistency across the sector.

Many of the institutes face an issue of scale and insufficient capital to grow and respond. All of this is unsustainable.

Here is our vision – I want the vocational training system to be the backbone of our productive economy, and of our regions. I want students and parents to proudly choose a career in the trades and I want businesses to have confidence that the system is flexible and preparing a workforce for the future of work.

Her analysis is complex and rational. And the need for change is clear.

But Jacinda’s announcement resulted in the most inane comment yet from Simon Bridges. And believe me there is a lot of competition.

From Radio New Zealand:

However, at National’s caucus retreat in Hamilton, Mr Bridges was telling reporters that plan would mean 1000 jobs will be lost.

“Abolishing them all, moving to four hubs, effectively a nationalisation, a Venezuela model.”

What does that mean? Is Bridges saying that Labour is going to nationalise the already nationalised Polytechnic institutes?

Are they going to be brought under state control from their former position of being, get this, under state control?

The Government is dealing with a long term problem with vocational problem.  And the last National Government is to blame. Not only did they preside over the system when it stalled and started to fail but some of their MPs were directly involved.

So what is the big deal about Venezuela?  I know that it is a democracy and although it has its issues at the last election it still elected its current leader as head of state.  I know the result is upsetting but I have major problems with the current POTUS but I am not advocating that he is removed by armed force or by someone who was not a presidential candidate saying that they are going to assume control.

The other guy, Juan Guaidó, did not contest the last election against sitting president Nicolás Maduro.  Perhaps he should have.  Then he would be in a better position to claim that he should be leader.

Venezuela has been a source of obsession to the right for many years.  I presume it is because their oil industry was nationalised many years ago.  Or because former leader Hugo Chavez used the income to lift many, many poor people out of poverty.

The claims that the country is undemocratic has been made for many years.  The Independent had this to say about recent elections shortly after the death of former leader Hugh Chavez:

Over the coming days, you will be repeatedly told that Hugo Chavez was a dictator. A funny sort of dictator: there have been 17 elections and referenda since 1998. Perhaps you think they were rigged. When he won by a huge margin in 2006, former US President Jimmy Carter was among those declaring he had won “fairly and squarely”.

At the last election in October 2012, Carter declared that, “of the 92 elections that we’ve monitored, I would say the election process in Venezuela is the best in the world.” I was there: perhaps you think I was like those hopelessly naïve Western leftists who visited Potemkin villages in Stalinist Russia.

I was with a genuinely independent election commission, staffed with both pro-Chavez and anti-Chavez sympathisers, who had previously been invited by the opposition to run their own internal elections. We met with senior opposition figures who railed against Chavez, but acknowledged that they lived in a democracy. When they lost the election, they accepted it.

Indeed, Chavez himself has had to accept defeat before: back in 2007, he lost a referendum campaign, and did not quibble with the results. Until he came to power, millions of poor Venezuelans were not even registered to vote: but dramatic registration drives have nearly doubled the electorate. There are 6,000 more polling stations than there were in the pre-Chavez era.

.And this fascinating collection of views shows why the right hated Chavez so much, and why the left liked him.  Alex Hearn at the New Statesman quoted Pamela Sampson, a business reporter for the Associated Press, as saying this:

Chavez invested Venezuela’s oil wealth into social programs including state-run food markets, cash benefits for poor families, free health clinics and education programs. But those gains were meager compared with the spectacular construction projects that oil riches spurred in glittering Middle Eastern cities, including the world’s tallest building in Dubai and plans for branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums in Abu Dhabi.

And Fair’s Jim Naureck, who pointed out the bizarre angle, said this in response:

That’s right: Chavez squandered his nation’s oil money on healthcare, education and nutrition when he could have been building the world’s tallest building or his own branch of the Louvre. What kind of monster has priorities like that?

So Bridges’ take on Tertiary Institute reform is lame, weird and totally misguided.  If he meant by the “Venezuelan” of the Polytechnic system  the addition of further resources then he is right.  If he meant the system is being nationalised then it already is.  But this attempt to construct a cold war narrative against clearly needed reforms is pretty strange.

131 comments on “What does the right have against Venezuela? ”

  1. adam 1

    Welcome to the new mccarthyism – as dumb and as stupid as last time – except this time you going to get way more violence.

  2. francesca 2

    Venezuela=socialism=failed state has now become a media constructed reality
    Most populations suffer from information deficit ,have been primed on Venezuela, so that when Bridges utters the word Venezuela , it gets all mixed up with toilet paper and Corbyn and possibly anti semitism and corruption!.. those filthy socialists ..and blood on the streets and oh! an unthinkable mess.
    Do we have a competent informed broadcaster who could pin Bridges down on this and expose his wilfull ignorance?

    • phil99 2.1

      Theres also the recent “socialists equal national socialist party” thus socialist equals nazi , from the right

  3. It’s just a general-purpose insult that appeals to the dimmer bulbs on the right – kind of like schoolkids calling things ‘gay’ back when my kids were at school.

  4. Adrian Thornton 4

    I am not quite sure why you would write this opening line…
    “I have never understood the hatred that the right has for Venezuela.”

    The right ( and ‘centrist’ liberals for that matter ) have always attacked ( and often violently) any and every deviation to the left from their ideology…Vietnam, Cuba, Chile, Iran spring straight to mind, give it a couple minutes more thought and list would be a long one…a very long one.

    No Left wing government that has sprung up since 1950 that I can think of, has been allowed to exist in it’s own space without some sort of serious pressure and meddling from the right.

    It is so common and out in the open that even the usually useless Washington Post had this one…
    ‘The long history of the U.S. interfering with elections elsewhere’

    • Morrissey 4.1

      New Zealand in 1985. It’s no coincidence that the Rainbow Warrior was bombed in New Zealand, which at that time was standing up to the U.S. and infuriating the likes of George Schulz and George H.W. Bush.

      • Adrian Thornton 4.1.1

        @Morrissey, Good point, hard to imagine that the Rainbow Warrior terrorist attack was conducted in a void.

        • Anne

          …hard to imagine that the Rainbow Warrior terrorist attack was conducted in a void.

          It wasn’t. That’s why Britain and the USA did not stand by NZ throughout that period. They were not directly implicated in the Rainbow Warrior bombing, but they turned ‘a blind eye’ to what was going on both beforehand and afterwards.

          You can’t tell me their respective intelligence agencies didn’t know France was planning something.

          And the NZSIS was not informed in advance.

          So much for the much touted matey closeness. Gone in a jiffy when it suits them.

          • halfcrown

            And don’t forget that other USA Puppet Australia, who at the time if my memory serves me correctly could have easily delayed, postponed, held up, arrest etc the bombers who got away on that yacht, but decided not to. No doubt on instructions from either Thatcher or America.

            • Anne

              ASIS had their agents in NZ for years halfcrown. They infiltrated the Labour Party in the 1970s and 80s. I knew two of them, but wasn’t aware at the time what they were doing or who they were working for. One of them at least was a NZer – not sure about the other one.

          • Adrian Thornton

            @Anne, Yeh that’s exactly what I meant.

        • patricia bremner

          Adrian, that triggered a memory…my Father’s attitude toThe French was they were unpredictable and volatile in their relations with other societies. They felt their tests did ‘no harm’ on Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. They felt entitled.
          I remember standing at the back door with my Dad. The sudden glow in the sky.
          He had previously picked everything from the garden and bottled and frozen the food. He and Mum had bought a large supply of powdered and condensed milk. They had ‘gone halves’ with my Aunt and Uncle in a beast, and had it prepared into cuts sausages mince and roasts for the freezer. He had iodine in the medicine cupboard. I realise now they must have been very afraid of fallout. Low voiced conversations and palpable fear went on for months. I heard the words ‘strontium 90’ and ‘half life’… So the event of the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior seemed part of that, just continued arrogance and use of might.

  5. Infused 6

    Let’s just start here https://www.reuters.com/article/us-venezuela-election-nationalizations/factbox-venezuelas-nationalizations-under-chavez-idUSBRE89701X20121008

    Let us know how that worked out. The current round of elections were illegal. Following the constitution it was correct to put the interim leader in

  6. Wayne 7

    It is pretty obvious why Venezuela is put up as the poster boy of failure.

    It has among the largest oil reserves in the world yet over the last decade has got progressively poorer. It is not as if Venezuela has been in a war, which might explain the failure. So it is a spectacular anomaly, the reverse of what should be the case. A unique global case!

    For instance no-one uses Vietnam as an example of failure. In contrast to Venezuela it has done quite well.

    It so happens that the period of Venezuelan failure coincides with the socialism of Chavez and Maduro, the latter being a spectacularly bad leader. Unless you think that Maduro is a success, which quite possibly many Standardnistas do.

    So Venezuela becomes the parable for taking success and turning it into failure.

    Obviously when Bridges is using Venezuela in respect of school reform, he doesn’t literally mean it. It is about the lesson of centralism/socialism as the marker of probable failure.

    Of course I don’t actually need to state any of the above, you already know why Venezuela is used as a reference point. But it clearly annoys you.

    • vto 7.2

      Wayne, you well know that Venezuela has been taken out by the US by way of financial war.

      As for Doofus Bridges, what a frikkin’ doofus.

      • Wayne 7.2.1


        Until a few weeks ago the sanctions were directed at individuals only, admittedly the top leadership. However, those types of sanctions don’t really impact on the overall economy.

        • vto

          rinse and repeat… sorry Wayne I no longer believe anything which comes out of conservatives mouths these days…. you lot have blown your cred

        • Stuart Munro

          If the US had kept their fingers out of the equation, Venezuela would have managed a level of state support comparable to Saudi – which manages many benefits for citizens including free education.

          It is a damning indictment of the US that they chose to destabilize the oil state that had a functioning democracy, and prop up the monarchy which resists it.
          Not a consideration for hard right plutocrats like Wayne of course.

          • Dennis Frank

            Stuart, I just can’t see why you blame the USA. Their historical agenda of empire & exploitation, I presume. No arguing about that – the testimony of John Perkins as operator of that policy suffices on it’s own to establish that agenda, and the various coups produced by it provide supportive evidence.

            I even agree the Trump regime would like to replicate the process, but I cannot see how they can obtain sufficient leverage to succeed. I have no idea why Chavez & Maduro retained the US as the most-favoured trading partner of Venezuela – can you explain that?? It makes it seem to impartial observers as if the stalinists are deeply in league with the capitalists. Yet commentators onsite here seem to believe they are enemies.

            Also, can you explain why Russia and China are not providing food aid or money to the starving poor in Venezuela? I asked apologists for the regime here but got no response (other than someone suggesting that their funding help was going to the regime).

            • Stuart Munro

              As with many south American countries, US political interference in Venezuela is longstanding. The elites the pretender president represents resemble the Cuban exiles, or the Iraqi pretenders who meant to profit by the US invasion.

              This partially armed quasi-insurrection has been going on for decades, and, were Venezuela’s socialist leaders the tyrants the RWNJ are wont to paint them, would long since have seen them all purged.

              America’s voice has been raised against Venezuela for a long time – but it hasn’t tendered much in the way of aid – apparently because they mean to profit from overthrowing the current regime, which aid would tend to stabilize.

              Neither Russia nor China are big on humanitarian aid, they are more likely to kibbitz than to do anything substantive to support Venezuelans.

              • Dennis Frank

                I don’t disagree with any of that. I reported a poll recently (here) that had both sides with minimal roughly similar public support, because the vast were disillusioned with both. It was from an ngo in Venezuela.

                I’ve been citing their parliament’s usage of Guaido as leader as being evidence of authenticity. As long as the regime continues to control their electoral commission and supreme court, free and fair elections will be impossible. Stalinist creation of an alternative assembly as pseudo-parliament fools pro-stalinist observers, but nobody else. I’m aware their rationale may be that the authentic parliament is controlled by a pro-USA class of domestic capitalists – paranoia is understandable.

                Kiwis ought to acknowledge the political reality within as much as possible. Framing one side as evil and the other is good merely reduces discourse to banality.

                • Stuart Munro

                  For the moment at least the US backed aggressors have not achieved control. The realpolitik momentarily lies with the existing government. I don’t expect that to last, and in time the puppet may achieve de facto rule. Until that happens however, I see no need to grant him the semblance of a legitimacy he has not earned..

                • mikesh

                  Venezuela already has free and fair elections. I don’t think anybody is prevented from voting. If parties are banned it will probably be because they are US stooges.

                  • Dennis Frank

                    The reason you’re wrong: when Maduro was defeated in the election before last, their electoral commission ruled enough opposition winners invalid to overturn the result. That’s why the opposition refused to stand candidates in the last election.

                    The equivalent procedure in this country: John Key’s govt replaced any members of our electoral commission who were pro-Labour, then after the 2016 election our electoral commission ruled enough successful Labour candidates invalid to overturn the result, ensuring National got a 4th term in government.

                    You’d be calling it a free and fair election. People would be laughing at you.

    • Funny how the countries with US sanctions against them have such disastrous economies, isn’t it?

      • Cuba has struggled for 60 years having had a US led worldwide embargo placed on it, since 1959. Cuba was originally a Spanish Colony until the USA annexed it at the turn of last Century. The USA were are bit pissed off when Castro took it back for the Cuban people in 1959, and ousted the dreaded Baptista Regime.

    • Incognito 7.4

      Obviously when Bridges is using Venezuela in respect of school reform, he doesn’t literally mean it. It is about the lesson of centralism/socialism as the marker of probable failure. [My bolds]

      Indeed, Simon is simply wielding National’s preferred political weapon of demagoguery: his much-beloved dog-whistle. Did he find it in Sir John’s top drawer by any chance?

    • KJT 7.5


      The fact is, despite the endemic corruption, a legacy from previous right wing Governments, US economic warfare, dollar debt repayments, and repeated attempts to destabilise the country, Venezuela became dangerously close to that anathema of the USA. Getting away from the US dollar and showing the benefits of poverty reduction, education and fairness.

      The USA could not afford to let Venezuela succeed.

      Meanwhile, corruption, economic failure, repression, political violence and serious human rights violations, in actual dictatorships, are ignored.

      Many right wing dictatorships have been, or are in much worse state than Venezuela. But we never hear about them.

    • Cinny 7.6

      Wayne, am yet to see anyone on TS backing Maduro, so stop spinning shite.

      Better yet go through all the comments on TS about Maduro and find one person on here that backs him.

    • mickysavage 7.7


      Obviously when Bridges is using Venezuela in respect of school reform, he doesn’t literally mean it. It is about the lesson of centralism/socialism as the marker of probable failure.

      Can you explain how the reforms are examples of centrism or socialism?

  7. Stunned Mullet 8

    Simon comes across as a munter in his many uttering not sure why that surprises anyone anymore.

    ‘Her analysis is complex and rational.’

    Ummm it’s certainly not complex and whether it’s rational is up for debate.

    ‘And the need for change is clear.’


    As for what does the right have against Venezuela, well it’s not just the right that see it as a failed state and general basket case most on the centre and left do as well.

    However, I’m sure the many venezuelans suffering in their country and those that have already left are very thankful for the chardonnay swilling intelligentsia sitting in their comfy houses in NZ sticking up for the governments that put the country in its current mess.

  8. Andre 9

    Why does the right keep bringing up Venezuela?

    Because it’s an easy way to bait loonier lefties into bizarre denials and apologia for the screwups and venality of the Chavez and Maduro regimes. Which the RWNJs fondly imagine will lead to the discrediting of all leftie values and ideas.

    • RedLogix 9.1

      Nicely put. Maduro set about his revolutionary socialism with a spectacular incompetence, dismantling the very industries he dependended on.

      It’s a complex story with many actors, but this economic failure is central to the plot.

    • Adrian Thornton 9.2

      @Andre…You are wrong as usual.

      …..”to bait loonier lefties into bizarre denials and apologia for the screwups and venality of the Chavez and Maduro regime”

      It is you (+RedLogix) and your great friends in MSM who are the apologist nutters for Western imperialism, and of course never acknowledging the long and factual history of meddling, violent subversion, and outright intervention in the Socialist project in Venezuela by the worlds most powerful and influential country and all it’s proxies…and now all of a sudden you idiots spouting on about a failed state like it’s has happened in a void of outside influence…FFS are you really that devoid of critical thinking?

      The History – and Hypocrisy – of US Meddling in Venezuela

      The United States’ Hand in Undermining Democracy in Venezuela

      • Andre 9.2.1

        Sure, fuckery by the US has contributed plenty to the distress Venezuela is currently experiencing. If I were ever in the mood for mud-wrestling with gimps somewhere like Kiwibog on a topic like “why do lefties hate the US?”, US shitting on Venezuela and the rest of Latin America, indeed the rest of the world, would supply endless ammunition.

        But right here, right now, a leftie has asked the question “what does the right have against Venezuela?” on a leftie blog. So I’ve chosen an aspect of the issue many lefties are least likely to be aware of for my response.

  9. Morrissey 10

    Meanwhile, that sad joke Justin “Blair” Trudeau tries hard to win favour with Trump….


  10. JustMe 11

    I wonder how many of us here in NZ are now so fed up to the back teeth with the constant scare-mongering of a political party called National who are still sore from losing the 2017 general election?

    I am getting so tired of hearing Bridges comments and the equally stupid comments from his colleagues.

    I am also very much fed up with the constant adulation such National Party supporting ‘journalists’ like Mike Hosking, Katie Hawkesby, Audrey Young and so many others in the main stream NZ media heap upon a failed political party like National.

    Such media tabloids like the NZ Herald has lost my readership because it has articles praising National whilst badgering the current government. Even the MKH duo as I call Mike and Katie Hosking seem to have answers for everything which gives me the impression their immediate neighbours at Matakana must surely be John Key as he always had an answer for EVERYTHING even when it was just dribble that came from his mouth.

    National will always support America. They(National)will never stand up to America and say “No we don’t agree with you on that matter…” And so National will always blame everyone else but themselves and of course John Key’s beloved America.

    Simon Bridges using Venezuela as being reason to condemn something shows that in all reality National don’t have anything else when it comes to policies. National and Bridges are ‘far too busy’ with fault finding rather than thinking creatively and in the best interest of NZ and NZers.

    • Wayne 11.1

      Hey JustMe,

      Pretty sure that Simon Bridges won’t shut up just to please you.

      And if you want to defend Twyford and his spectacular Kiwibuild failure, go right ahead.

      It is surely hardly a surprise that the Kiwibuild failure is constantly referred to by National and in the media.

      It has got to be just about the worst government failure I have ever seen from any New Zealand government.

      • Sabine 11.1.1

        it would be nice if he could finally utter something that would actually benefit the country, and no i am not talking about ‘tax cuts’ that have to be offset by spending resulting in abstract poverty for those that the No Mates Party don’t care about.

        Kiwi build right now might be a failure, but frankly selling of state houses, closing schools, underfunding teachers, deregulating early childhood care / education, selling of state assets despite the opposition of New Zealanders underfunding health care, underfunding mental healthcare, defunding anything to do with sexual assualt and the likes has been a greater failure.

        Unless of course you consider children living with their parents in a van/combi parked next to a public toilet in a park success. Which you probably do so as long as you get your tax cuts and your perks? Right?

        So next when you see 10 Bridges Simon ask him to actually rethink which country he wants to run. Cause the only thing so far he is doing is running around like a headless chicken squawking, yet he does nothing to address the issues that we have right now, and will have in the future.
        but maybe you don’t care about the future, as Bush the second so pointedly said once to the question as to who History will judge him:”History? I will be dead then”.

      • vto 11.1.2

        Sorry Wayne, re housing and Kiwibuild, the most monumental failure by recent governments was clearly your lot in failing to ensure all the people in your community had a safe, warm house to sleep in each night…

        … your great chief Key had his mansion on the hill while the poor villagers who cleaned his mansion and did his gardens had nowhere to sleep.

        Your lot should be ashamed of themselves… can’t and wont house the villagers

        • Anne

          Nice response vto.

          It has got to be just about the worst government failure I have ever seen from any New Zealand government.

          Damm right Wayne. The Key/English government should hang their heads in shame at the appalling way they neglected the housing needs of this country during their time in office. They should have been prosecuted for criminal negligence.

          • Stuart Munro

            When you get as shameless a bunch of rogues as the Key Kleptocracy, who will not hang their heads in in shame, sometimes the public is obliged to hang them for them.

        • Cricklewood

          Um paid his gardeners pretty damn well actually…cleaners to i’d imagine. Hes not silly.

      • One Two 11.1.3

        It has got to be just about the worst government failure I have ever seen from any New Zealand government

        The thing about subjective views is that they are subject to variables including prejudice and other form of bias.

        Your comment is also laced with a level of incorrectness which, given your documented history, wayne…is either arrogance or dementia setting in…

        Perhaps it is just a good old fashioned lie…eh…

        Like selling off housing stock, creating various disasters in ChCh, selling taxpayer assets and growing poverty, inequality and the country’s debt at unprecedented pace…as recently as from 2008-2017…

      • Incognito 11.1.4

        It has got to be just about the worst government failure I have ever seen from any New Zealand government.

        This has got to be just about the best example of confirmation bias and selective memory I have ever seen from any (former) National MP.

      • KJT 11.1.5

        Sorry Wayne. The spectacular failure to address New Zealands housing issues is entirely on National.

        While I think Labour should have put the dollars into State rentals rather than Kiwibuild, the hypocrisy from a member of National is breath taking.

        Labour has added a magnitude more, net houses, to the supply in a year, than National has done in ten.

        • Dennis Frank

          Yeah, as far as I can tell the current score is coalition 47, National 0. Nats ought to have put some runs on the board while in govt, they wouldn’t be looking so inept now if they had. Twyford’s inadequacies stand revealed, but he’s not naked and National lacks even a fig-leaf…

          • KJT

            Don’t forget to subtract from National’s score all the State houses they removed, which makes it more like Nationa,l minus several thousand.

      • Blazer 11.1.6

        Compared to..Key in 2007..

        It wasn’t so long ago, in the 1990s, in fact, that New Zealand had a high level of home ownership compared to other countries. Not so anymore. We now have what has been described as the second worst housing affordability problem in the world.

        Make no mistake; this problem has got worse in recent years. Home ownership declined by 5% between the 2001 and 2006 census to just 62.7%. To put that into context, home ownership for the preceding five years had been stable at 67.4%.

        If you dig down into those numbers a little deeper, some worrying facts emerge. The share of homes owned by people aged 20 to 40 dropped significantly between 2001 and 2006. Young people – the people we most want to prevent joining the great Kiwi brain-drain – are really struggling to get onto the property ladder.

        This decline shows no signs of slowing. In fact, on current trends, the crisis will only deepen. Home ownership rates are predicted to plummet to 60% within the next decade. And one of the biggest factors influencing home-ownership rates over the next 10 years will be the difficulty young buyers will have getting into their first home.

        This problem won’t be solved by knee-jerk, quick-fix plans. And it won’t be curbed with one or two government-sponsored building developments.

        Instead, we need government leadership that is prepared to focus on the fundamental issues driving the crisis. National is ready to provide that leadership. Earlier this month I announced our four-point plan for improving home affordability:

        Ensuring people are in a better financial position to afford a house.
        Freeing up the supply of land.
        Dealing with the compliance issues that drive up building costs.
        Allowing state house tenants to buy the houses they live in

        from..https://www.nzpif.org.nz/news/view/53038 =spectacular FAIL.

        • KJT

          National ignoring the real solutions, again!

          To stop the housing crisis we already know what is needed.
          Reduce immigration.
          Ban offshore ownership of land.
          Build 100 000 State houses.
          Stop the banks risk free return on mortgages.

          National first denied the problem. Now they promise ‘solutions’ which have already proven not to work.
          Just like National’s other ‘solutions’.

      • Gabby 11.1.7

        Twyford’s faith in the building industry and local government to cease their ticket clipping out of the kindness of their hearts was touchingly starry eyed. His solicitude for poor deprived not yet millionaire professionals was praxically saintlike. Maybe now he’ll start hiring actual builders, for wags like, none of that contractor stuff, and get some state houses built.

      • Stuart Munro 11.1.8

        A crowning fatuous lie Wayne!

        What about the utterly useless Nick Smith, Wayne, who malingered in the housing portfolio for nearly a decade, achieving less in that time even than Twyford’s lamentable performance!

        That has been the worst failure you’ve seen from any New Zealand government, but you are too fundamentally dishonest to admit it.

      • patricia bremner 11.1.9

        I think you are forgetting a shipment of live sheep to an Arab gentleman for his ‘farm’, and how that experiment was an abject failure when the sheep all died.
        Further there was NO I repeat NO advantage to the people of NZ at all Wayne, it was a diabolical failure on every level.. Just one of many between 2008-2017

        At least Phil was building homes for Kiwis and the lessons have been learned and the path forward planned to still achieve the original goal

        Now Wayne, excuses and lies were offered up about the sheep and why they had been sent… that WAS a monumental cock-up.

  11. Dennis Frank 12

    I was a supporter of Chavez for many years. It was very disappointing that power corrupted him eventually. It’s also disappointing that you haven’t read the evidence posted here that the current regime is corrupt.

    I agree with you re the Nat leader’s banality, but he can’t help being born as himself. His figure of speech seems to be intended to imply a mickey-mouse plan is being promoted by Ardern – reading too much into it. She deliberately refrained from providing much of a clue about any coalition plan. Vague intent suffices, apparently.

    Polytechs are in financial trouble due to operating costs not being paid for by student fees, I presume. Neither leader bothered to get to that point – why not? Isn’t the solution to replace incompetent management, or import more rich foreign students?

    • Incognito 12.1

      Polytechs are in financial trouble due to operating costs not being paid for by student fees, I presume. Neither leader bothered to get to that point – why not? Isn’t the solution to replace incompetent management, or import more rich foreign students?

      It was partly addressed in the OP; the polytechs need to break away from the boom-bust cycle. How is the question.

      • Dennis Frank 12.1.1

        Well, one presumes a function of leadership is explaining how. If she doesn’t know, she ought to be explaining how the govt intends to figure it out. If it is merely an admin problem, she ought to say so. If the model is flawed, she ought to say so.

        I can’t see how she, or the coalition, expects to gain any political traction by bombarding the situation with descriptors. It sounds like they want to consolidate the sector due to perception of market failure: too many service providers, too few customers. If the analysis is correct and the leak re four regional hubs likewise, but they haven’t yet got consensus on that, why even talk about it?

        I presume she feels consensus is likely and that’s a sufficient basis to proceed upon – but if so, why does she lack the courage to say so?? Announcing a course correction serves to alert the passengers that the captain has a new goal and a plan to get there. It gives people confidence in the government. Such leadership is desirable. Using only aspirational language about what she wants is campaign-speak – when she ought to be performing a governance function.

        • Incognito

          If the model is flawed, she ought to say so.

          She did.

          If the analysis is correct and the leak re four regional hubs likewise, but they haven’t yet got consensus on that, why even talk about it?

          Who are doing the talking? Anyway, can we only talk about things when we’ve got consensus or when we’ve got all the answers? I like the sound of silence 😉

          One thing that the PM is doing really well is giving speeches …

          • Dennis Frank

            She didn’t make it explicit. If the problem was the neoliberal model, then the Clark govt became complicit in that, didn’t it? Appropriate leadership would acknowledge such Labour complicity. She failed.

            Honesty about past mistakes is neither difficult nor politically problematic. People would respect her for it. I still support her, on balance, but pointing out inadequacies is part of how negative feedback creates corrective process.

            Remember we’re still waiting for her to declare an alternative to neoliberalism. Do you believe she will never do so? If so, why not admit she’s part of the problem, pretending to be part of the solution? That ain’t honest!

            • Incognito

              Whoa! Slow down, Dennis, one step at a time! You’re jumping higher and faster than John Carter on Mars.

              • Dennis Frank

                Yeah, make haste slowly, so as not to leave folks behind. Patience is a virtue, etc. However multiple folks here have already complained about her lack of signalling a positive alternative to the prevalent paradigm. I’m just demonstrating solidarity with that crowd.

                As regards JC, Warlord of Barsoom, very much an adolescent role model for me (after my childhood trip through the Tarzan series in the fifties). 😎

                • Incognito

                  It hadn’t occurred to me that you and JC were acquainted but you and the Lord of the Jungle, yeah, that doesn’t surprise me 😉

                  Nothing wrong with crowd solidarity but for a moment you started to look like a banner-waving megaphone-shouting crowd-organising front-leading activist attacking the Establishment 😉

                  We can’t have any of that kind of naive ignorant behaviour here on TS …

                  • Dennis Frank

                    What, me a rabble-rouser? Not my style. But I acknowledge the formative influence of heroic opposition to evil that young males are traditionally brain-washed with. Transcending that and seeing good in those doing bad things later becomes an essential praxis…

                    • Incognito

                      Good vs bad/evil, Left vs. Right, etc., we just love our binaries and dualism, don’t we?

                    • Dennis Frank

                      Could be a topic for how to get there tomorrow, eh?

                    • Incognito

                      Hmmm, how do we get from here & now to there & then? Does it require a special kind of praxis? Praxis is a process yet it only takes place in the here & now. Once we transcend this space-time dualism we’re ‘here’ and ‘there’ and ‘everywhere’ all at the same time, we are. Obviously, I’m only at the bottom rung of the spiritual ladder, so to speak, and still grounded in dualism.

    • Gabby 12.2

      Possibly polytechs should be forbidden to offer degree courses and stick to praxical subjects franxie. No more university lecturer salaries. Big chunk off the budget.

      • Dennis Frank 12.2.1

        Yeah that sounds sensible. Coalition ought to get employer advice in making the changes. The global trend is towards job elimination by technology, so govts must adapt to it. Polytechs ought to focus on tech employment provision.

        • Gabby

          Well I’m guessing employers would like polytechs to turn out experienced tradies at no expense to them.

          • Dennis Frank

            That points to a crucial design element. When I was young, tradesmen learnt on the job. Apprentice employment costs were part of running a business. All businesses ought to pay their operating costs.

            Socialism in the sixties provided general education, tax-payer funded. Some elementary trade-skills were included. I recall having wood-work and metal-work classes separately. I think that was at intermediate school.

            I guess nowadays the market rationale has been applied to polytechs & they teach whatever sufficient students sign up to learn. Failure of that model due to insufficient management planning in relation to market signalling can’t really be seen as a government responsibility in the neoliberal framework. By staking a claim to taking responsibility for the shambles, the PM seems to be signalling in a tacit way that the coalition wants to be more socialist…

          • Siobhan

            I know a young person doing an intro to electronics course at our local Polytech, it’s described as a one year full time course, the idea being people straight from school can then go on and find an apprenticeship.

            The truth is it has scheduled lessons for 3 days a week, 5 hours a day. Some days cancelled while students ‘catch up’ or resit exams. The supposed ‘full time’ aspect comes from the students doing homework and self initiated study. The actual course length is nine months.

            I figure most of the class could have achieved the course requirements in 3 months without breaking into a sweat.

            And for this the poor suckers are using up their Fee Free year of study.

            All I’m saying is, there are going to be some very disappointed tradies out there.

            • KJT

              Bums on seats!
              Even worse is education as an immigration scam.
              Probably the majority of foreign students.
              Tertiary providers make a fortune, while we get to pay for the pensions, housing and health care for the students extended family, after they gain residency.
              Tertiary providers even advertise it as a path to residency in China, India and elsewhere.

          • KJT

            I wish. In fact they finish polytechnic with almost no practical skills whatever.

            But a return to a proper apprenticeship system, would be much better.
            Apprentices are tied to the employer, sure. But the employer is also strongly motivated to bring them up to a high level of skill as fast as possible, so they can start making back some of the costs of training. Worked fine for hundreds of years. Until the neo-liberals wanted to dick with it. Like so many other things.

    • KJT 12.3

      Did it.

      Perceptions of corruption from the US media seem to be rather one eyed, to say the least.

      The US Government, and indeed our own National party, after recent revelations on how much an MP costs, are as “corrupt” as Chavez. In fact they are even more in corporate pockets.

      Maduro doesn’t appear very competent. I wonder if anyone would, in the face of determined ruthless attempts to de-stabilise his Government.
      The other allegations have been applied by the US to every socialist leader, since Allende.

      Meanwhile, Indonesia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Israel and other corrupt and genocidal Governments, are apparently OK. Often supported by US aid.

      • Gabby 12.3.1

        If he hired blackwater to deal with the opposition, why, he’d be as right as rain. You can be a genocidal murdering thug as long as you don’t cut yankistan out of the action.

    • KJT 12.4

      Right wing, follow the money, “competitive” bums on seats managerialism is destroying polytechnics.

      Who would have thought it

      • greywarshark 12.4.1

        What an interesting thread with so many allusions. Keeps us all sparking merrily.

  12. Puckish Rogue 13

    Simon Bridges really is getting under the lefts skin isn’t he, he’s already the first Maori leader of a major political party maybe he might just be the first Maori PM as well…

    Also where’s Gosman, thought this would be right up his alley 🙂

    • Andre 13.1

      If Gosman’s taking the day off, he’s going to be gutted when he comes back and sees what he’s missed.

    • Incognito 13.2

      I can’t keep a straight face every time I hear and see Simon struggling to play his dog-whistle and barking at every car. All he’s achieving is a poor parody of the Yazoo Kid; at least he can play an instrument and has friends!

      • Incognito 13.2.1

        Blast! I meant the Kazoo Kid. For some reason I typed the name of my favourite 80s band 😉

    • Gabby 13.3

      Slick’s getting under the left’s shoe puckers. Scrape him off! Scrape him off!

    • Grant 13.4

      Too many free drinks at work yesterday.

    • Robert Guyton 13.5

      Gosman has an alley?

    • Robert Guyton 13.6

      The “Left” has a skin ?

      • Puckish Rogue 13.6.1

        A thin skin by all accounts 😉

        • Incognito

          Low sub-cutaneous fat is healthy and attractive.

          • Puckish Rogue

            Well that’s just plain fatist

            • Incognito

              To appease you, high sub-cutaneous fat is unhealthy but can be attractive. However, it is all context dependent; babies have high sub-cutaneous fat and are usually (but not always) very attractive. Anyway, it’s in the eye of the beholder.

  13. rata 14

    Simon bridges is no more Maori than Winston Peters
    Shane Jones, Paula Bennett or Ben Couch who are/were as white
    as it is possible to be brown.
    None were elected because of their Maoriness but because
    of their perceived lack of Maoriness by the white voters of the National party.
    The potato, brown on the outside white on the inside comes to mind.
    National is the white peoples party with fake token potatoes
    and the left should remind the public of this regularly.

  14. Gosman 15

    T’is a lovely day indeed out there.

    I will point out that I find it laughsble that Mickey Savage thinks Maduro’s election was in any way democratic. It has been widely condemned as not free and fair and his swearing in for his new term wss unconstitutional. His Presidency is therefore illegal.

    MS have a view of this clip of Ken Livingstone essentially doing what you are doing.


    • Barfly 15.1

      Your wrong btw regarding the swearing in but I’m sure that’s of no importance to you

      • Gosman 15.1.1

        How am I wrong?

        • barfly

          Article 233 Venezuelan constitution ….to the effect that (I’m paraphrasing)

          “If for any reason the president cannot be sworn in at the National Assembly
          they may be sworn in by the Venezuelan Supreme Court” which is where Maduro was sworn in. Game , set and match Gossy.

          • David Mac

            Are those sitting on the Supreme Court bench appointed by Maduro or his people? If so…I’d be lying if I didn’t say ‘I smell a rat’.

            “I’m a fantastic bloke, I’d like to offer proof in the form of this testimonial written by my Mum.”

          • Gosman

            There was nothing stopping him getting sworn in at the National Assembly

            • barfly

              apparently there were a significant number of illegalities relating to the election of individuals in the National Assembly hence the use of the Supreme Court


              sorry Gossy u r the weakest link

            • mikesh

              The pretender, Guaido, was not elected, and in any case Venezuela already has a properly elected president.

          • patricia bremner

            Well done Barfly I did enjoy that vicariously xx

    • mikesh 15.2

      Banning political parties does not invalidate elections, though of course he would need to have good reasons for doing so. Promotion of his own political advantage would not be enough; election of the banned parties would have to be in some way inimical to the safety of the state. Hopefully when the next election rolls around we will find out if the electorate at large agrees with his analysis.

      We would probably have nothing to fear from the Mafia or the Ku Klux Klan forming political parties here, since no-one would vote for them, but in Venezuela the situation could be somewhat different.

      • KJT 15.2.1

        I suspect that any political party which participated in an armed attempt at a coup, here, would be banned, also

        • mikesh

          I understand Guaido is a protegee of the guy who led the CIA backed 3 day coup in the early 2000s. I think his name was Jose Mendoza (though I could be wrong).

          The election was democratic to the extent that nobody was prevented from voting.

  15. rata 16

    Polytechs like Universities and indeed most educational institutions
    are on the way out as the digital age really kicks in.
    Learning online will see 95% of students of all ages learning from home
    with 2-3 week block courses in local or regional hubs
    for socialization or practical work requiring equipment.
    Some courses will need more practical but overall
    it’s home based digital all the way from now on in.
    So of course downsizing will happen every where.
    Parliament should be the next to down size.
    Halve the MP numbers and their hangers on
    and halve their salary and retirement perkies.
    A very close raft of cut backs of Government fat is long over due.
    Venezuelan ?
    No give them a Brazilian 🙂

    • KJT 16.1

      You know the percentage of students that can cope with online learning?

    • patricia bremner 16.2

      Rata you don’t get good people applying if you offer peanuts.
      “A Brazillian?”You want them to wear bikinis? The mind boggles.
      I mean Soiman stood during the challenge at Waitangi looking pugnacious and aggressive. Imagine a bikini.. No oh No!!

  16. David Mac 17

    We’re screaming out for concreters, electricians, roofers, hammer hands, plumbers, digger drivers etc. Our Polytech facilities should be better aligned with our needs.

    From the 2nd year on I think Polytech students could be honing their skills within the Kiwibild framework. I think there is a synergy to someone gaining free trade qualifications whilst helping to build state houses on the min wage.

    95% of us can’t name 5 MPs. 95% of us have a passing interest in politics but live essentially in blissful ignorance. To get cut through with the populace a politician must have a message no longer than a bumper sticker.

    This is why Bridges appears to be dumbing his comments down to: “It’s Venezuelaesque” It’s because it gets cut through, traction.

    It works both ways, I think one of Jacinda’s best known positions on a subject would be re: climate change ‘It’s our generation’s nuclear moment’ A bumper sticker speech that stuck.

    • Kat 17.1

      This govt needs to stop pussy footing around the topic and reinstate the Ministry of Works, 21st century style. Reinstating apprenticeships that are full time with the appropriate mixture of theory and real time work being mandatory. The private sector is not capable nor has the capacity of creating the numbers needed, let alone Polytechs. People need to be aware that most of the skills, design, engineering, construction that built this country’s infrastructure came out of the original MOW.

      Here’s a bumper sticker: MOW……NOW

      • David Mac 17.1.1

        Ha, yeah Kat. That’s a bumper sticker: MOW NOW…it gives me a twinge of guilt re: the current state of my lawn.

        I think your thoughts could be chronologically tracked. The wheels seemed to fall off the preparing people for their careers objective around about the same time the men who found work in the private sector after the MOW was disbanded, retired.

        We left the job to employers with little skin in the education game and educators focused on getting bums on seats, any bum. Vice chancellors chanting ‘show me the money’.

        • Kat

          Yes David, MOW NOW, but maybe not in tinder dry places like Nelson.

          The govt has every incentive to create a new MOW/SOE to drive the likes of Kiwibuild, modernising of the Rail system and other major infrastructure projects of national strategic and economic importance. Trouble is they just don’t have a big enough mandate this term to give it a go and are very wary of political backlash.

          Thats why the likes of Bridges mindless expedient barking away, including the negative commentary in the herald, at every move the govt makes puts the proverbial handbrake on public support.

      • Like +100% MOW… NOW

        Developing a NEW MOW is a NO BRAINER IMHO

  17. Morrissey 18

    In Venezuela, White Supremacy is a Key to Trump’s Coup
    by Greg Palast for Truthout. Feb. 8, 2019

    On January 23, right after a phone call from Donald Trump, Juan Guaidó, former speaker of Venezuela’s National Assembly, declared himself president. No voting. When you have official recognition from The Donald, who needs elections?

    Say what?

    I can explain what’s going on in Venezuela in three photos:

    First, we have Juan Guaidó, self-proclaimed (and Trump-proclaimed) president of the nation, with his wife and child, a photo prominently placed in The New York Times…..


    This is the story of Venezuela in black and white, the story not told in The New York Times nor the rest of our establishment media. This year’s so-called popular uprising is, at its heart, a furious backlash of the whiter (and wealthier) Venezuelans against their replacement by the larger Mestizo (mixed-race) poor.

    Four centuries of white supremacy in Venezuela by those who identify their ancestors as European came to an end with the 1998 election of Hugo Chavez who won with the overwhelming support of the Mestizo majority. This turn away from white supremacy continues under Maduro, Chavez’ chosen successor.

    In my interviews with Chavez for BBC beginning in 2002, he talked with humor about the fury of a white ruling class finding itself displaced by dark-skinned man who was so visibly “Negro e Indio,” a label he wore loudly and proudly.

    Why did the poor love Chavez? (And love is not too strong a word.) As even the US CIA’s surprisingly honest Fact Book states:

    “Social investment in Venezuela during the Chavez administration reduced poverty from nearly 50% in 1999 to about 27% in 2011, increased school enrollment, substantially decreased infant and child mortality, and improved access to potable water and sanitation through social investment.”

    What should be added is that, even more than the USA, race and poverty are linked.

    But just as Maduro took office in 2013, the price of oil began its collapse, and the vast social programs that oil paid for were now paid for by borrowing money and printing it, causing wild inflation. The economic slide is now made impossibly worse by what the UN rapporteur for Venezuela compared to “medieval sieges.” The Trump administration cut off Venezuela from the oil sale proceeds from its biggest customer, the USA.

    Everyone has been hurt economically, but the privileged class’s bank accounts have become nearly worthless. So, knowing that the Mestizo majority would not elect their Great White Hope Guidó, the angry white rich simply took to the streets — often armed. (And yes, both sides are armed.)

    I’ve seen this movie before. When I look at today’s news reports of massive demonstrations against the so-called “dictatorship” of Venezuela’s left government, it looks awfully like 2002, when I was first in Caracas reporting for BBC Television. ….

    Read more…

  18. Morrissey 19

    National MP Barbara Kuriger’s lamentable lack of knowledge about the Billenglishing going on at Taratahi Agricultural Training College was commented on way back in 2015…


  19. David Mac 20

    When being a mate of the President is a ticket to becoming an overnight multi-millionaire (in US money of course, not the currency with their selfies on it.) the problems are bigger than Uncle Sam sticking his oar in.

    I think Venezuela is the perfect storm of a number of influences. US shenanigans. Big $ for those at the top, bribes/corruption all the way down to council car-park attendants… who can blame them when a Big Mac is half a week’s wages and a tumbling global oil price.

    Through my eyes, all these influences play a part. I think most rational people would agree. The bone of contention seems to arise when determining what influences are most to blame.

  20. David Mac 21

    There’s a broken neon sign over the front door into Venezuela. It used to say ‘Socialism’ now it winks ‘ism’.

    If you want to check out socialism and oil money check out Norway. Trillions in their State pension fund. Everyone grows old with dignity in Norway.

  21. Ad 22

    Ardern’s Polytech reforms propose a kind of regionalism also proposed for secondary education (in Hipkins’ “hubs”), also proposed for water (in amalgamating reticulated public waters suppliers), but hardly working for a decade in health (in District Health Boards), and also failing spatially (in regional local government).

    They just can’t name the fact that it’s a country small enough to require specific kinds of trades to be supplied when the economy requires them, which in turn requires a bit of central planning.

    Unlike our universities, there is no need to be a particular “critic and conscience of society”. As the Prime Minister notes, Polytechs are skill suppliers into the economy. All they have to do is match skills to the economic cycles, as she notes. 500 carpenters next year, and 200 concrete workers, on the double thanks.

    Labour market needs track as close to our cycles of the economy as electricity use, land transport use, tax mix and tax take, and mortgages. Electricity supply is nationally regulated. Transport networks are fully nationalized and regulated. Tax is fully regulated of course. Mortgages are regulated and there is also a state-owned provider. They’ve even decided that housing needs a central provider big enough to tilt its entire market. So why be shy about state direction in Polytechs?

    The Polytech proposal is a half-baked version of Hipkins’ secondary school proposals, which themselves are just jelly when you put a finger on them.

    There’s no coherent philosophy or guiding structure – between regional and centralized – to what this government proposes for the polytech industry, or indeed electricity, land transport, the tax system, education system, health system, water system, or much else with a natural national need for controlled supply and demand in a very small country.

    Since they are nearly halfway through their term, none of these ideas they are putting out will happen anyway. Since they are not going to be as lucky as Key, they have to look like they are thinking clearly and across the whole country if they want to be attractive enough to be voted in again.

    That starts with strong policy coherence, not this nonsense.

    • Anne 23.1

      And they complain bitterly about Russia fucking with neighbouring countries.

      Talk about pots and kettles.

      I have believed for decades they are both as bad as one another!

  22. ken 24

    Dog whistle.

    As long as we don’t follow any of Soimun’s models, we’ll be OK.

  23. Ian 25

    Any jurisdiction that runs out of toilet paper has got to be dodgy.

  24. Morrissey 26

    The politicization of aid is a crime.

    The absurd and obscene sight of the Trump regime, that flagrant and gross violator of human rights, sending “aid” to the country it is illegally blockading is an insult not just to the democratically elected government of Venezuela, but to the whole world.

    Even the ghastly Al Jazeera hackette Lucia Newman admitted on tonight’s 9 o’clock news that the USAID packages being stacked on the border are “part of a strategy not just to help the needy, but to undermine the Venezuelan government.”



  25. mac1 27

    “It would be easy if we could vote ourselves rich. However, we only need to look at Venezuela’s extreme food shortage, political unrest and resulting mass exodus of people to neighbouring countries to see all the reasons why socialism doesn’t work.”

    Stuart Smith, National MP for Kaikoura. Stuff 11 Feb 2019.

    A day in politics is a long time but two days after this post goes up we get this piece of political wisdom.

    And as well today, we learn of National’s disastrous poll.

    Can the two be linked?

    Are National trying the old Red smears again because of their latest poll result? Is it back to the ideological trenches again for National? It seems so, as their world view seems to be limited to what can be seen through a trench periscope……..

    “Gad, Smithers, the enemy seem to have built a large woven wall right across our front!”

    “Sorry, sir, but that’s one of our own sand-bags………”

  26. Philj 28

    Go easy on Simon he is a drowning man and will grasp at thin air to attempt a miracle.

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