If anyone has – or knows of – ‘spare’ tickets to one of The National concerts in January I’m interested – very interested – in buying them. Damn they sold out fast.
September 30, 2010
Bernard Hickey had an op-ed in the Herald yesterday declaring the death of the free market:
We need to accept that a completely free and unfettered system of global multi-national capitalism driven by an elite of CEOs and investment bankers will inevitably blow itself up in a frenzy of borrowing, bonuses, short term thinking and self interest.
Does this mean I should change my super scheme back to a high risk investment profile?
Trevor Mallard is worried that the Rugby World Cup Minister will have too much power.
This Rolling Stone article on the Tea Party movement in the US is crack cocaine for sneering left-wingers like myself:
You look into the eyes of these people when you talk to them and they genuinely don’t see what the problem is. It’s no use explaining that while nobody likes the idea of having to get the government to tell restaurant owners how to act, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the tool Americans were forced to use to end a monstrous system of apartheid that for 100 years was the shame of the entire Western world. But all that history is not real to Tea Partiers; what’s real to them is the implication in your question that they’re racists, and to them that is the outrage, and it’s an outrage that binds them together. They want desperately to believe in the one-size-fits-all, no-government theology of Rand Paul because it’s so easy to understand. At times, their desire to withdraw from the brutally complex global economic system that is an irrevocable fact of our modern life and get back to a simpler world that no longer exists is so intense, it breaks your heart.
Of course, the fact that we’re even sitting here two years after Bush talking about a GOP comeback is a profound testament to two things: One, the American voter’s unmatched ability to forget what happened to him 10 seconds ago, and two, the Republican Party’s incredible recuperative skill and bureaucratic ingenuity. This is a party that in 2008 was not just beaten but obliterated, with nearly every one of its recognizable leaders reduced to historical-footnote status and pinned with blame for some ghastly political catastrophe. There were literally no healthy bodies left on the bench, but the Republicans managed to get back in the game anyway by plucking an assortment of nativist freaks, village idiots and Internet Hitlers out of thin air and training them into a giant ball of incoherent resentment just in time for the 2010 midterms. They returned to prominence by outdoing Barack Obama at his own game: turning out masses of energized and disciplined supporters on the streets and overwhelming the ballot box with sheer enthusiasm.
When I talk to some Labour activists and some journalists about how badly the opposition is doing they repeat the conventional wisdom that that ‘the phone is off the hook’ for the opposition during a government’s first term. But if you look at the US and Australia you see that isn’t the case. Of course I don’t want a domestic version of the Tea Party but it does prove that political parties can pick themselves up after a massive defeat, refocus, rebrand, energise your base and make life difficult for the governing party.
All those media stories about the Christchurch mayoralty race insisting that Bob Parker has surged ahead of Jim Anderton in the polls will become more credible now that there has been an actual poll conducted in Christchurch:
A UMR Research Poll released today shows 55 per cent of decided voters now intend to vote for the incumbent Bob Parker, up 27 per cent since June.
The survey was done online and questioned only a small sample of 361 Christchurch residents so had a relatively high margin of error of 5.2 per cent.
DPF is a professional pollster and he wrote about online polls a few days ago:
In some circumstances they can be very useful – especially when surveying the opinions of a discrete group.
But generally they are unreliable when it comes to being a fair sample of all New Zealanders. Because they are only representing those NZers who have joined that online panel. And even with weighting, this does not mean it is representative. A weighted sample can still be unrepresentative.
But my view is that at this stage in NZ, they are not a reliable indicator of New Zealand public opinion. I have seen many online panel polls like the above, which produce results massively different from those produced by phone polls. Normally I ignore them, but as some media reported this one, I thought it is worth making the point.
Naturally he blogged the results of this poll because it’s a poor result for a politician he doesn’t like but I think his earlier comments are useful.
Via Marginal Revolution, “Signs that your opinions function more to signal loyalty and ability than to estimate truth:”
- You find it hard to be enthusiastic for something until you know that others oppose it.
- You have little interest in getting clear on what exactly is the position being argued.
- Realizing that a topic is important and neglected doesn’t make you much interested.
- You have little interest in digging to bigger topics behind commonly argued topics.
- You are less interested in a topic when you don’t foresee being able to talk about it.
- You are uncomfortable taking a position near the middle of the opinion distribution.
- You are uncomfortable taking a position of high uncertainty about who is right.
- You care far more about current nearby events than similar distant or past/future events.
- You find it easy to conclude that those who disagree with you are insincere or stupid.
- You are reluctant to change your publicly stated positions in response to new info.
- You are reluctant to agree a rival’s claim, even if you had no prior opinion on the topic.
September 29, 2010
Just to pick up on one of the points made by our rebel scum legal luminaries in their open letter about the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010:
Furthermore, the Act now stands as a dangerous precedent for future “emergency” situations. This earthquake, devastating though it has been, will not be the last natural disaster to strike New Zealand. When the next event does occur, inevitably there will be calls for a similar legislative response, which will be very difficult to resist given this example.
National’s cheerleaders supported the CEERA on the grounds that Brownlee will be a ‘good dictator’ (to quote David Farrar). But Key won’t be around forever, sooner or later there will be another natural disaster while Labour and their coalition partners are in government at which point Labour will – quite reasonably – pass a similar bill giving themselves dictatorial powers. The question isn’t whether or not you think Gerry Brownlee will be a good dictator, the question is whether you think every politician with the potential to have these powers in future will be a good dictator.
The graph shows tax cuts minus estimated cost increases from an additional 2.5% GST (the estimates sourced from a Dom-Post article).
September 28, 2010
Opposition leader Phil Goff yesterday formally launched the policy of GST-free fresh fruit and vegetables, which he said would save a household between $300 and $400 a year.
“It makes a difference, but by itself it won’t be enough. We’ll have other policies also.”
Mr Goff said Labour would announce details on savings, skills programmes and monetary policy in the lead-up to the next election.
He also floated the idea of demanding less revenue from state-owned power companies to ease electricity bills.
At this stage in the election cycle an opposition party needs (a) a vision and (b) a major wedge policy wedded to the vision. For National under John Key it was economic reform wedded to tax cuts, for Don Brash it was white supremacy wedded to abolition of the Maori seats and scrapping the Closing the Gaps policies.
Labour’s vision is ‘for the many not the few’. Okay. I don’t think anyone who isn’t a politics junky knows that and its more of a slogan than a vision, but that’s what they’ve gone with. What’s their big policy star they’ve hitched their wagon to? Slightly cheaper beetroots.
David Cunliffe is working on a major savings policy – my guess is compulsory savings combined with tax cuts or credits for all low income earners. I think people are really nervous about their quality of life in retirement – wouldn’t that have been a better flagship policy to roll-out? It even feels pointless writing about them: they’re so utterly lost and comprehensively doomed.
September 27, 2010
It’s never going to end is it. It’s fruit and vegetables today, frozen peas tomorrow… vegetables in hamburgers sold in McDonald’s – that’s healthy.
Finance Minister Bill English, criticising Labour for policy developments that don’t actually exist outside his own imagination.