The Dim-Post

May 30, 2011

WWG redux

Filed under: policy — danylmc @ 8:06 pm

NZPA via Stuff:

Prime Minister John Key says proposed reforms of the welfare sector will be rolled out in the lead up to the general election, but changes will mean that if people can work, they must.

The Welfare Working Group’s final report, released in February, gave the Government 43 recommendations to reform the welfare system into a work-focused programme.

He had now asked ministers to look at the group’s recommendations and develop a comprehensive package of welfare reform.

The Government would announce policies in due course and campaign on them.

“It’s important we signal to New Zealanders that if we are afforded a second term that there will be reform in welfare.”

However, while ruling out the one recommendation he had earlier indicated was unpalatable, he would not go into detail on the remaining 42 recommendations.

Just to recap, the welfare model recommended by the Welfare Working Group was:

  • Abolish the DPB, Sickness and Invalid benefits and roll them all up into a single unemployment benefit called a ‘Jobseekers Benefit. So paranoid schizophrenics are Jobseekers, paraplegics are Jobseekers, solo mothers at home with three children are Jobseekers, ect.
  • Privatise the entire welfare system (the Working Group consisted of a bunch of ACT Party members and representatives of private sector welfare companies). All welfare recipients are managed by private companies that bid for tenders.
  • Those private companies are incentivised to move Jobseekers into paid employment as quickly as possible.
  • They’re empowered to enroll Jobseekers into compulsory work schemes and reduce or cease payment of their benefits if they see fit.

This might sound radical, and likely to cause massive pain and suffering and a return to a pre-1930s social model but it IS predicted to reduce the total number of beneficiaries by 100,000. Which happens to be the number that Labour reduced the total number of beneficiaries by when they were in office, before the economy went south, and is a lot less than the 170,000 new jobs Treasury forecasts over the next four years.

Everything you ever needed to know about politics summed up in a single sentence

Filed under: polls — danylmc @ 9:34 am

From another story by Audrey Young summarising Herald Digipoll results, this one regarding voter support for raising the retirement age:

A breakdown of the 52.3 per cent of respondents who think the issue should be addressed now shows greater support for the proposition among younger voters, aged 18 to 39, and those aged 65 or over who are already receiving the pension.

Ach du

Filed under: psuedopolitics — danylmc @ 9:06 am

Stuff reports:

Newly appointed parliamentary leader of the ACT Party, John Boscawen, has found himself a new press secretary. Lindsay Perigo, a founding member and inaugural leader of the Libertarianz political party, was introduced late last week to the press gallery as Mr Boscawen’s new media man.

Here’s Mr Perigo’s blog ‘Solo Passion‘. Seriously. Solo. Passion.

It makes for fascinating reading: apparently the National Party is actually the National Socialist or Nazi Party and, confusingly, John Key’s coalition with the Maori Party makes him Neville Chamberlain or ‘Neville Key’ because the Maori Party are also Nazis.

So good luck to Mr Perigo on his first day as a staffer in a coalition with the National Socialists. On a related note Audrey Young reports on:

the Herald-DigiPoll survey which showed 11 per cent of voters believed a Don Brash-led Act Party in coalition with National would leave New Zealand better off, compared with 47.3 per cent who believed it would be worse off. Thirty per cent felt it would make no difference.

Another question indicated a positive view of the Maori Party by general voters, with more than 60 per cent saying it was a positive force for Maori.

Just like in Weimar Germany.

May 29, 2011

Chart o’ the evening, poll orgy edition

Filed under: polls — danylmc @ 7:48 pm

TVNZ and TV3 both published new polls tonight. DPF has the details at his CuriaBlog. This chart shows movement since their previous polls (which were both in early April). Numbers in parenthesis show average results across both polls.

Wait! DPF’s numbers are wrong! Gimme a minute . . .

Okay:

That makes a lot more sense than the previous chart.

Dissent of the day

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 8:46 am

Re an earlier post, a friend emails:

I’ve just read your very long post about Slutwalk and the even longer comments thread where a bunch of mostly guys spend Saturday night debating issues about gender and consent all of which convinces me that Slutwalk is a brilliant success.

The usual suspects

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:08 am

The SST reports:

A group of National and Act Party activists is preparing to launch a campaign against MMP.

Details of the campaign, to be launched soon in the lead-up to the referendum on MMP on election day in November, have been leaked to the Sunday Star-Times.

Among the campaign’s key players is Simon Lusk, who played a major role in Don Brash’s leadership coup against Act leader Rodney Hide.

Jordan Williams, the young Wellington lawyer who accompanied Brash on the day he deposed Hide, is being considered for the role of frontman of the campaign.

David Farrar, National’s pollster and a well-known right-wing blogger and columnist, is providing strategic advice. Also involved is right-wing blogger Cameron Slater, known as Whale Oil.

Anthony Hubbard has more details here. If this is anything like the billboard campaign DPF, Slater et al ran against the Electoral Finance Act then MMP supporters have little to fear. At some point National is going to have to address the fact that a faction of its activists and staffers are ACT supporters who have latched onto National solely because it’s bigger and richer.

My fantasy

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 5:58 am

Is that John Banks is the only ACT MP to enter Parliament after the election. It would be a fitting end for a party so hateful to the public their only chance of getting elected is to stand candidates that don’t endorse their views and exploit a loophole in the system to sneak in a few who do.

May 28, 2011

There ain’t no party like a Yage party

Filed under: drugs — danylmc @ 4:22 pm

The Herald reports:

A powerful party drug rarely seen in New Zealand that can cause intense hallucinations and paranoia has been seized in a record $4.5 million haul.

Dimethyltryptamine, also called DMT, is also the main psychoactive ingredient in ayahuasca, an Amazonian brew used for healing purposes.

Many Dim-Post readers will know ayahuasca by its other name, Yage (pronounced Ya-Hey), the drug William Burroughs travelled to the Amazon in search of at the end of Queer (sorry, it’s actually at the end of Junkie. I should try and do some basic research when I write these things, but then it wouldn’t be the same blog), in the belief that it would cure his heroin addiction and grant him telepathic powers.

The Herald reports:

Depending on the dose, the high ranges from a mild psychedelic state to extreme immersive hallucination – including a total disconnection from reality.

William S Burroughs reports:

Larval beings passed before my eyes in a blue haze, each one giving an obscene, mocking squawk (I later identified this squawking as the croaking of frogs). Yagé is space time travel. The room seems to shake and vibrate with motion. The blood and substance of many races, Negro, Polynesian, Mountain Mongol, Desert Nomad, Polyglot Near East, Indian-new races as yet unconceived and unborn, combinations not yet realized passes through your body. All human potentials are spread out in a vast silent market… The city is visited by epidemics of violence and the untended dead are eaten by vultures in the street.

According to the Herald:

Law enforcement agencies are still trying to establish street-level prices.

Natatonia Watch

Filed under: psuedopolitics — danylmc @ 3:51 pm

Via Stuff:

There will be 500 fewer military staff in uniform by the end of the year, including personnel from the Linton, Waiouru and Ohakea bases, as the Government begins its civilianisation of the Defence Force.

The Manawatu Defence Hub has already had 59 jobs earmarked for civilianisation – 23 at Linton, 25 at Waiouru and 11 at Ohakea – which involves changing sworn military roles into civilian positions.

The plans were announced in the Government’s Defence White Paper, released last year, and involve 1400 military jobs being civilianised during the next two to three years.

As usual I have nothing of value to say about the merits of the actual policy, but the outsourcing of military jobs to civilian bureaucrats seems like yet another thing the National Party and its supporters would scream about until they foamed blood if it was ever introduced by a Labour government.

Slutwalk, or social activism as reality TV

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 12:21 pm

The Slutwalk phenomenon is coming to New Zealand. I commented on twitter the other day that I think it’s a stupid gimmick, and this prompted a flood of outraged emails and tweeted responses, and since Twitter is not a venue for reasoned argument, here’s a more expansive take.

The original premise is rather witty. A policeman visiting a university in Toronto gave a speech in which he advised woman to ‘avoid dressing like sluts’ to avoid becoming victims of sexual violence. Social activist groups organised a protest outside the police headquarters and called it ‘Slutwalk’ to foreground the police officer’s offensive remarks. The organisers asked people to dress normally but some dressed as sluts, and this (inevitably) captured media attention and this attention, in turn, captured the attention of activists in other cities who immediately organised their own Slutwalks, with a stronger focus on dressing up like sluts.

Removed from the context of the Toronto protests what is Slutwalk about? Well, clicking around the different organising sites, it seems to be about a lot of things. It’s about celebrating female sexuality, and protesting against sexual violence, and the fallacy that women behave in ways that invite sexual violence, and re-appropriating the term ‘slut’ (eg. in the manner of suffragette and queer) and also protesting the use of the word, and also celebrating the use of the word.

I’m not going to pretend to a feminist analysis of Slutwalk, but as an amateur observer of political activism it looks to me like a train-wreck. You’d think that the main critics of the global Slutwalk phenomenon would be conservative groups and commentators, but the most outspoken naysayers are other feminists. The basic criticism is that it’s counter-productive to associate being a feminist with being a slut, that many feminists don’t self-identify as ‘sluts’, so don’t want to march on something called a ‘Slutwalk’. Feminist writers and intellectuals from non-white ethnic groups point out that there’s a huge stigma against sexual promiscuity in many non-western cultures and the identification of feminists as sluts is damaging to their struggle for basic human rights and gender equality. I don’t have a dog in these fights – but if there is one single issue you’d think all feminists and all progressives could unite behind it’s outrage against sexual assault and the culture enabling it – yet Slutwalk has managed to create division and polarisation around this very issue.

Sure, it’s superficially clever: the basic concept – chicks dressed up as sluts! – will attract massive media attention so it’s a forgone success if that’s your only goal. But the goal of protesting is to convey a message and attempt to bring about change. What message does Slutwalk send?

See, a protest march is not a nuanced, sophisticated medium. It’s about what it’s about, not an ironic meta-message. When Tuhoe marched through Wellington in 2007 to protest the terror raids some of them dressed as terrorists to make an ironic comment; but all the bystanders and TV viewers saw were a bunch of Maori dressed up as terrorists. The message conveyed was the opposite of the message intended. Compare that to the protests last year against mining in national parks: simple, uncomplicated theme; massive support; massive turnout: the government reversed its decision. That’s how you do it.

Slutwalk aims to convey a variety of messages: some worthy, some vague, others contradictory. But the means of doing so are highly mediagenic and sexualised and the basic, elemental message is about the right to dress up like a slut. That’s going to be the message sent to 99.9% of bystanders and TV viewers. Is that really where contemporary feminism is headed nowadays? You’re a feminist if you can get your picture in the paper or on TV by dressing like a slut? It’s not my movement, so if that’s what contemporary feminists think is important then good luck to ‘em. I just think it’s stupid.

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