The Dim-Post

March 5, 2013

The elephant in the river

Filed under: finance,Politics — danylmc @ 10:52 am

Via the Herald:

Ordinary New Zealanders will be favoured “at every turn” of the Mighty River Power share sale which gets underway today, says Prime Minister John Key, who has pledged at least $2000 worth of shares for those who want them.

Labour leader David Shearer said Mr Key had so far been unable to explain how he would prevent more than 15 per cent of Mighty River shares going to overseas investors.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the $1 million advertising campaign “shows National knows how unpopular this policy is … They’re doing everything they can to try and sweeten the deal”.

Ownership transferring to overseas investors and the dividend stream leaving the country is one possible outcome here, sure. But another VERY possible outcome is that the majority of ownership ends up in the hands of ‘ordinary New Zealanders’ who then lose all their money when Mighty River is mis-managed into bankruptcy. Solid Energy only collapsed a couple of days ago, and there’s nothing stopping Mighty River’s executives from borrowing crazy amounts of money, using it to pay out dividends for the first few years and rewarding themselves with spectacular bonuses and then walking away rich men when the debtors call in the receivers.

Indeed, that’s one of the rationales for the asset sale – it shifts some of the risk of failure away from the government and onto the shareholders, which is fine if the shareholders can manage that risk by monitoring the company and diversifying their investment portfolio – which funds like ACC, the Super Fund and the KiwiSaver providers will all do, but which ‘ordinary New Zealanders’ mostly won’t.

Given the proximity of these events – Mighty River float, Solid Energy collapse – it’s a little weird that the opposition aren’t more focused on the fact that the government is giving New Zealanders terrible investment advice that could cost them a lot of money. I guess the objection to the sale has always been in economic nationalist terms, so it would sound odd if they turned around and told kiwis not to invest in these assets. But it seems like someone should.

February 26, 2013

Key blames Solid Energy failure on previous Labour government and fabric of space-time

Filed under: Politics,satire — danylmc @ 9:28 am

Prime Minister John Key has hit back against opposition claims that his government was ‘asleep at the wheel’ when it came to managing the troubled state-owned coal company Solid Energy, linking its problems to an SOE diversification strategy implemented by the previous Labour government and the phase transition that occurred during the earliest picoseconds of the creation of the universe in which the strong and weak nuclear forces separated from the electromagnetic force, allowing for the creation of solid matter. 

‘In 2007 Trevor Mallard called for the SEO’s to expand into new areas, and they started looking for ways to raise capital to restructure in response to that,’ Key said, citing a request for a billion dollar loan made by Solid Energy in 2009. ‘When you combine that with the strong headwinds this government is dealing with as a result of decisions made well before the formation of our galaxy then you have a problem that was not of our making.’

‘But this government is fronting up and dealing with the issues at that company, just as we are dealing with the disappointing situation that the universe is a large, complex structured environment and  not a tiny ultra-dense infinitely hot ball of plasma,’ Key added.

Key also pointed to debt decisions taken by the Solid Energy executives and the inadequate number of temporal dimensions in the visible universe as it currently stands. ‘Obviously the company was allowed to structure its own finances under the SOE act, but if we had fewer spatial and more time dimensions to work in we would have done things very differently.’

The Prime Minister also took aim at policy decisions made by Phil Goff and Annette King, who were Cabinet Ministers during the  nucleosynthesis of the Sun 4.5 billion years ago.

February 24, 2013

My theory about what’s happening in the polls

Filed under: Politics,polls — danylmc @ 7:03 pm

Latest aggregated poll, click here for the interactive version (it doesn’t contain the latest TV3 numbers it does now).

nzpolls20130225

My guess about what’s happening at the moment is that centrist voters are soft on National, but if they vote for National they get National plus some insignificant, powerless support parties, while if they vote Labour they’re also effectively endorsing the Greens and Winston Peters since they’ll be major components of the Labour-led government, and most of those center-voters distrust Peters and/or the Greens to the extent that they’ll continue supporting National despite the ongoing blunders and disappointments.

I’ve seen people on Twitter wondering how anyone could still support National, but if you think about the Shearer-led Labour/Greens/New Zealand First alternative, it’s hard to imagine that being anything other than a short-lived disaster. Centrist support for National seems very sensible from that perspective.

February 22, 2013

Just like in the REAL world

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 9:57 am

Via the Herald:

Solid Energy is at a crisis point, with a Government bailout almost inevitable, mine closures possible and further job cuts likely in another restructure to try to salvage the debt-ridden coal mining company.

The state-owned enterprise yesterday revealed it was in talks with its banks and the Government over its future after its debt rose to $389 million and a further “significant loss” would be in its half-year result.

The company posted a $40 million loss last year.

So Solid Energy geared itself for debt which it used to pay massive salaries to its executives and boost its dividends, now it’s collapsed and the taxpayer will bail it out.

I guess that’s the advantage of having the John Key National government running things: they bring the benefit of their commercial experience to the public sector, so the state-owned assets they oversee can be stripped and gutted and the losses socialised as effectively as their privately owned counterparts.

February 21, 2013

Crowdsourcing the government’s scandal-crackdown tactic

Filed under: blogging — danylmc @ 9:02 am

I’m trying to put together something to document the relationship between National’s countless scandals and blunders and National’s equally countless and seemingly closely correlated ‘crackdowns’ on prisoners, beneficiaries, boat people etc. So could people list either scandals, blunders or crackdowns in the comments; if you could link them to a news story or press release that’d be even better.

February 20, 2013

Hyena Hall

Filed under: media — danylmc @ 6:34 am

There’s a mounting whirlwind of press coverage about Hilary Mantel’s Royal Bodies column in the LRB, claiming that it’s a vicious attack on Kate Middleton. The headline for the Stuff story is Novelist Lashes out at Kate Middleton. You can read it for yourself here, and quickly discover that the actual article is (amoungst other things) a lashing out, vicious attack etc on the public obsession with royalty and the media’s exploitation of that obsession. Sample quote:

When her pregnancy became public she had been visiting her old school, and had picked up a hockey stick and run a few paces for the camera. BBC News devoted a discussion to whether a pregnant woman could safely put on a turn of speed while wearing high heels. It is sad to think that intelligent people could devote themselves to this topic with earnest furrowings of the brow, but that’s what discourse about royals comes to: a compulsion to comment, a discourse empty of content, mouthed rather than spoken.

Much of the essay is about Henry VIII and his Queens, and the creepy, unchanging prurience about the sexuality of royal persons:

As for depression, he had a great deal to be depressed about: not just his isolation on the world stage, but his own decay and deterioration. He had magnificent portraits created, and left them as his surrogates to stare down at his courtiers while he retreated into smaller, more intimate spaces. Yet he was quite unable to keep private what was happening to his own body. The royal body exists to be looked at. The world’s focus on body parts was most acute and searching in the case of Jane Seymour, Henry’s third wife. No one understood what Henry saw in Jane, who was not pretty and not young. The imperial ambassador sneered that ‘no doubt she has a very fine enigme’: which is to say, secret part. We have arrived at the crux of the matter: a royal lady is a royal vagina. Along with the reverence and awe accorded to royal persons goes the conviction that the body of the monarch is public property. We are ready at any moment to rip away the veil of respect, and treat royal persons in an inhuman way, making them not more than us but less than us, not really human at all.

You really need to bend over backwards to read this as ‘Novelist lashes out at Kate Middleton’, but when you’re a news site on which the lead story is usually about ‘Kate’s Baby Bump‘ this sort of stuff must cut pretty close.

February 18, 2013

The spectre

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 1:15 pm

I know even less about educational needs in post-earthquake Christchurch than I do about most of the things I write about. It seems reasonable that there needs to be closures and mergers given the millions of dollars in property damage and the huge population shifts. But for me the spectre hanging over all this is the charter schools policy. The Education Minister has announced that this government will be ‘seeking expressions of interest’ from organisations wanting to operate ‘partnership schools’ in the affected areas.

So are these changes tragic but necessary? Or are they opportunistic – a change to proceed with the part-commercialisation  of the Education system using the earthquake as an excuse?

February 16, 2013

There goes the neighborhood

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 10:09 am

(Update: Apparently this has been cancelled. Now I’ll have to spend Sunday afternoon with my family instead of Richard Prosser. Not happy.)

Via DPF:

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Apparently this is a real thing. I guess the goal is to generate news footage of Prosser being abused by a room full of weird, scary looking hipsters, generating sympathy for him with New Zealand First’s constituents. If anyone can come up with a better reason why Richard Prosser is holding a public meeting in the Aro Community Hall I’d be happy to hear it.

Whatever the reason, this meeting is a golden opportunity to question Mr Prosser on other issues, such as whether he still thinks the South Island should secede from New Zealand, and if he still believes he possesses magical healing powers.

Now I, too, have watched Seven Sharp and have an informed opinion on it

Filed under: tv — danylmc @ 8:02 am

I saw last night’s episode, and it wasn’t too bad. Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t like it and I’ll never watch it again but in terms of news value it didn’t seem worse than your average episode of Close-Up. The first story was about youth binge drinking – as was every other episode of Close-Up – with the usual stock-footage of kids stumbling around plastered, slurring amusing things to the camera. The context was that the government’s alcohol reforms weren’t going to fix this, but they didn’t explain what the reforms were, or weren’t.

The interview was with a PR shill from the alcohol industry. The presenters didn’t seem to know anything about the subject so the shill was unchallenged. Greg Boyd’s done well-prepped interviews on Q & A, so I blame the producer and the researcher.

As many others have pointed out, the tone is a bit weird; the opening segment contained a joke about Oscar Pistorius, and normally I’d find a gag about an athlete murdering his girlfriend hilarious, but this one didn’t quite work for me. And they haven’t solved the technical challenges of a three person hosted live-show; that’s still a bit of a mess. But these things take time. Remember Paddy Gower’s first few months of TV journalism? It was pretty bad, and now he’s the Mother of the Nation.

Much has been made of the fact that they lost 200,000 viewers in a week. If they’re losing those viewers from TV1’s older demographic I doubt they care.  Those people don’t buy the products that Seven Sharp’s advertisers sell. If they lose 200,000 viewers over fifty and gain 50,000 viewers under 30 then that’s a ratings win for TVNZ.

February 13, 2013

The best thing about the Richard Prosser/Wogistan story

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 8:00 am

(From my perspective, at least) is that his brilliant scheme for a one billion person global no-fly list was vexed to idiocy when this vacuum-eyed buffoon tried to carry a knife on board a passenger aircraft and the security officers confiscated it:

Prosser, 45, penned a provocative column for Investigate magazine titled Enemy of the State after his pocket knife was confiscated at Christchurch Airport.

He wrote: “I will not stand by while their [his daughters’] rights and freedoms of other New Zealanders and Westerners are denigrated by a sorry pack of misogynist troglodytes from Wogistan.

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