Stuff has an overview of the various legal options around cannabis – medical use, full legalisation etc – along with Bill English ruling out any reform whatsoever. I’ve been convinced for a while that the only barrier to medical use (we have medicinal heroin, after all) is perceived brand damage. Any politician or government signing off on any kind of cannabis reform dooms themselves to be depicted as stoned pot-smoking hippies in every political cartoonist, pontificating talk-back host and lazy political editors’ sights yea unto the end of days. Imagine, for example, John Key’s frequent and amazingly convenient brain fades and memory lapses seen through the prism of someone who legalised medicinal pot. Not pretty, so it ain’t happening.
July 23, 2016
July 22, 2016
Patrick Gower’s stern declaration that Donald Trump should resign reminded me of a legend I’ve heard a few times about a regional New Zealand newspaper who used to regularly lecture world leaders in its editorials. ‘The Gisborne Herald has warned Premier Khrushchev many times in these pages . . .’ sort of thing. Only I don’t think it was the Gisborne Herald. Does anyone know if there’s any truth in the legend?
Another update: Apparently it was the Grey River Argus but ‘We have repeatedly warned the Czar . . .’
Roy Morgan reckons:
During July support for National jumped a large 10% to 53%, now well ahead of a potential Labour/Greens alliance 37% (down 5.5%). If a New Zealand Election was held now the latest NZ Roy Morgan Poll shows National, with their biggest lead since May 2015, would win easily.
However, support for the National partners was down slightly with the Maori Party down 1.5% to 0.5%, Act NZ was up 0.5% to 1% and United Future was 0% (unchanged).
Support fell for all three Parliamentary Opposition parties; Labour’s support was 25.5% (down 2.5%) – the lowest support for Labour since May 2015; Greens support was 11.5% (down 3%) and NZ First 7% (down 2%). Of parties outside Parliament the Conservative Party of NZ was 0.5% (down 0.5%), the Mana Party was 0.5% (unchanged) and support for Independent/ Other was 0.5% (down 0.5%).
Wow! The easiest thing to say is that this is a rogue poll, and that quarter of a million people did not switch to National in the last month. But maybe the last poll was rogue, and National’s support really is that high? Who knows?
No doubt Labour will start leaking that their secret polls show them getting a major bump after their conference. If you added all the bumps they’ve claimed from their private polls they’d be on about 500% by now.
My guess about the swing – if there was a swing – is that the news recently has been dominated by horror, fear and uncertainty. Terror attacks, racial violence in the US, Brexit, and so voters are looking for political stability and supporting National. If they are.
July 21, 2016
All four of the major banks have begun to apply new lending restrictions to home loans – six weeks ahead of the Reserve Bank’s official September deadline.
Earlier this week the central bank announced plans to introduce new bank conditions requiring most loans to residential property investors to have a minimum 40 per cent deposit.
Most lending to owner occupiers would also require a 20 per cent minimum deposit with both changes rolled out across New Zealand.
While the deadline for the changes is September 1 the Reserve Bank said it expected banks to follow the spirit of the new regulations immediately.
Does anyone else get the feeling that this Dom-Post story about a leaked email from a former Wellington Council transport adviser disgusted with the council’s handling of the cycle way has been super-carefully parsed and quoted by the newspaper that crusaded against the cycle-way? If anyone has a complete version of the email I’d be glad to post it.
US economist Robert Gordon makes the argument that robots aren’t going to take all our jobs. He is convincing, although I would add that robots don’t have to replace you in order for business models based on new technology to wipe out your industry. Like, there’s no robot journalists – except for Keith Ng – but the business model for the job has collapsed; now the ad revenue goes to companies like Facebook who provide the platform for over a billion users to generate content for them for free.
What with all my Russian revolution reading I keep wondering what Marx would say about this tendency for ‘workers’ to add value to companies by working for free. Mostly I think about this when I’m checking out and bagging my own groceries at the supermarket.
July 20, 2016
I am now obsessed with and addicted to reading about the US election campaign. My favourite commentator at the moment is democratic blogger Josh Marshall – but who else is good? I’d be very interested in reading an intelligent informed right-wing perspective, if that’s even a thing in contemporary US politics.
A parenting columnist says she’s been told she “should be raped” and sent photos of dead babies – and other women with an online presence say harassment has become a scary norm.
One in four women said they had received threats relating to death, rape and sexual assaults.
I am morbidly fascinated by this phenomenon. I watched the Tickled documentary recently and bizarre though it was, it seemed telling that the movie was about online harassment of men when the majority of the harassment is directed at women, but this seems to have become normalised so is not considered noteworthy. Who does this? Is it a tiny number of prolific offenders, like the villain in Tickled, or is the behavior very widespread? Is it ‘normal’, in the sense that a proportion of any group of men over history will send women anonymous threats, if given the technology, or is it happening now in response to wider changes in the culture? Why are some people so enraged by, of all things, parenting columnists that they feel compelled to threaten and abuse them? The article talks about the Harmful Digital Communication Act which National bought in last year: 38 people charged; 37 are men; according to the Police High Tech Unit their ages range from 15 to 61. The law does not seem to be acting as a deterrent.
July 15, 2016
The rise and spread of neo-liberalism since the 1980s has been a remarkable phenomenon. At its heart, it is based on a simple, utterly amoral idea ” that of the cost-benefit calculating individual. Life is understood as a competitive struggle among individuals. Each seeks to minimise their costs and maximise their benefits.
I have a more generous view of the neoliberal project: as something that genuinely must have seemed like a good idea at the time. By the 1980s the failure of socialist, centrally planned economies – both in the Soviet bloc, and in places like the UK and New Zealand – seemed very evident. Free market economies obviously generated more wealth and more prosperity than socialist ones and there seemed, as Keynes put it, to be a fundamental link between free markets and individual freedom. So why not do the opposite of the Soviet bloc: minimise the state and maximise the free market? Won’t that give you just heaps of prosperity and freedom?
I find Robert Reich’s answer to the failure of neoliberalism the most compelling. He points out that the state creates the free market. It creates money and regulates its supply, it creates the legal system through which contracts are enforced. It guarantees the solvency of the financial sector, it protects property rights and guards against catastrophic market failure (or, at least, is supposed to). You can’t take the state out of the free market because it creates the free market and regulates almost every aspect of its existence. So what you get under the deregulated, neoliberal model are the wealthy using the political system to set the parameters of the market to privilege the already privileged. Labour is taxed but capital is not; benefit fraud is investigated and punished but financial crimes (mostly) are not, profits are privitised but costs are socialised, and so on. And all of these things are defended as ‘what the market wants’.
The result is less growth and less prosperity because capital can maximise profits through gaming the political system rather than creating new products and businesses and jobs. The economy is based on rent-seeking rather than wealth creation; the hypertrophied, wildly profitable, politically powerful but completely unproductive finance sectors characteristic of neoliberal economies functioning as exhibit A. Neoliberalism hasn’t failed as awfully as no-holds-barred socialism, but it has failed, not because it was amoral, or evil or ruthless – the intentions were good – but just because it simply didn’t work.
Labour have figured out a way to leverage the housing crisis as a tool to grow their voter contact database.