The Dim-Post

April 30, 2013

More good news for New Zealand tourism

Filed under: music — danylmc @ 1:20 pm

We’ve been mentioned on the website Global Metal Apocalypse. They’ve been contacting various Culture Ministers around the world asking what their goverments do to promote heavy metal music. The official reply on behalf of Chris Finlayson:

There is no official government support for young people to learn instruments for use in metal music. The government does fund an initiative called Sistema Aotearoa, which enables primary-aged children from disadvantaged communities to learn classical music under the instruction of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. It is not inconceivable that these young players may one day end up accompanying power metal groups such as Nightwish as part of a full orchestra, or providing ominous strings and horns on a black metal record by the likes of Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir”.

April 28, 2013

Chart of the day, dead Wood edition

Filed under: finance — danylmc @ 3:07 pm

I’ve just watched the Q & A section on the Labour-Greens power policy, in which Susan Wood agonised over the massive financial destruction the announcement visited on all the ordinary New Zealanders who have investments in KiwiSaver (and, indirectly, in the Cullen Fund and ACC), so have lost hundreds of millions of dollars over the last week because of the massive market crash.

This is a talking point the government’s shills have been throwing around all week – Hooton claimed the total loss was in the ‘billions’ on National Radio – so I thought I’d take a look and see how the NXZ has actually been performing recently. The red line is April 18th, the day Labour and the Greens launched their announcement.

nzxapril

How journalists could transform public perceptions about criminal justice

Filed under: crime — danylmc @ 8:17 am

Simply report the cost of the corrections system with the same breathlessness that they report the cost of the welfare system. This story is via Stuff, my additions in italics:

The controversial “three strikes” legislation has seen a young man jailed without parole and warned that if he steals another skateboard, hat or cellphone he will spend 14 years behind bars at a minimum cost to the taxpayer of $1.6 million dollars. 

In issuing Elijah Akeem Whaanga, 21, his second strike, Judge Tony Adeane told the Hastings man his two “street muggings” that netted “trophies of minimal value” meant his outlook was now “bleak in the extreme”.

“When you next steal a hat or a cellphone or a jacket or a skateboard you will be sent to the High Court and there you will be sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment without parole.” Judge Adeane said.

[Whaanga] committed two aggravated robberies with two separate accomplices.

The first involved taking a skateboard, hat and cigarette lighter from the victim after trying unsuccessfully to remove the victim’s jacket. The second involved Whaanga kicking the victim in the back of his leg and taking his hat and cellphone.

Justice Minister Judith Collins said the case showed the law was working. Sensible Sentencing Trust spokesman Garth McVicar agreed, saying the sentence of two-and-a-half years’ jail with no parole at a cost to the taxpayer of $300,000 was “fantastic”.

It’s a nice illustration of how dumb it is for politicians like Judith Collins to showboat with the justice system by legislating away judge’s ability to decide sentences. It doesn’t matter if Whaanga beats someone so badly he sends them to hospital or just tries to pull their jacket off them, the sentence is the same. 14 years.

April 23, 2013

The Dim-Post interviews Conservative Party leader Colin Craig

Filed under: Politics,satire — danylmc @ 8:01 pm

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig cuts a likable, boyish figure: whether managing his billion dollar property portfolio, canvasing for votes in his home turf of Auckland’s North Shore, or lathering himself with soap as he prepares to show me around his new hi-tech pleasure dungeon, Craig is unceasingly cheerful and energetic. 

‘I bought this place to relax,’ he explains, a little sheepish about splashing out on such an indulgence. Craig is famed for his frugality, furnishing his home second-hand on Trade-me. But all the leather, chrome and rubber decor in ‘Colin’s Crypt of Agony and Ecstasy ‘ is brand new and gleaming, ready for use. ‘At the end of the day I’m wiped out, and I needed a way to wind down,’ he added.

And is it relaxing?’ I ask.

He grins and tosses me a towel and a leather ball gag. ‘You tell me.’

Craig is in pretty good shape for a man in his mid-forties. There’s a hint of a belly, but his arm muscles are defined – ‘All that political hand-shaking,’ he says, rolling his eyes – and the snarling wolf’s head tattooed across his buttocks still conforms to the ripe curves of his gluteal muscles. ‘The tattoo artist warned me it would sag,’ Craig said, adding simply, ‘He was wrong.’

Many people have been wrong about Colin Craig, dismissing him as a political lightweight or  a bible-thumping, homophobic misogynist reactionary dick, but Craig simply shrugs off the criticisms and when you see him squeezing into a red latex dress and tugging a chain-mail hood over his head you realise there’s more to Colin Craig than his critics are willing to allow. They underestimate him at their peril.

But what is it about the Conservative Party leader that sets him apart? I’d arranged this interview to try and solve this mystery, but as I hung upside down beside him, both of us screaming in exaltation and pain while hot wax from the candles strapped to our ankles ran down our thighs, I couldn’t decide what it was that separated him from other minor party political leaders. Was it his faith? His candor? His status as an outsider? Or his controversial statements about homosexuality and female promiscuity, which were as inflamed as our perineums after the wax pooled and hardened?

Craig denies that his statements on contemporary morality are dominated by his religious upbringing, or the fact that I was kneeling on his throat while grating his nipples with a citrus zester. ‘I stand by my statements, no matter how much blood I’ve lost,’ he explains, a little defiant. ‘And I’m very proud of my background,’ he adds, rubbing vinegar on his lacerated chest. ‘I’m not a regular church-goer, but I cherish the Baptist values I was raised with, and the Scottish emphasis on frugality which has been passed down to me.’

And Craig is certainly frugal, even in his hobbies. Every centimeter of electrical tape and every liter of urine that enters his pleasure crypt is closely monitored and accounted for. ‘And I’ll bring that same level of attention to detail to government if elected,’ he vows.

Craig also intends to repeal the anti-smacking legislation and get tough on violent criminals. He speaks at length about the need for greater efficiency in the public service, reducing waste, getting rid of red tape. The familiar litany of conservative policy platforms. Sometimes his voice fades as his knees press against my ears, but I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. Craig’s political agenda isn’t what makes him special. It’s something else.

Eventually I opened my eyes, expecting to find myself staring into the wolf’s head, but instead I found myself face to face with Craig, his eyes rolled back, his cheeks flushed and his teeth clenched, and I finally realised what made him different from, say, Peter Dunne or Hone Harawira. It was those eyes: glittering, chromatic, fragmented: they captured the light and threw them back at me, and I gasped in sudden comprehension.

His eyes were fifty shades of Colin Craig.

(Written in solidarity with The Civilian, who is being sued by Craig for defamation.)

April 22, 2013

Chart of the day, destruction of wealth vs destruction of independent thought edition

Filed under: finance,general idiocy — danylmc @ 1:20 pm

NZX data on Contact Energy’s share price, which – according to Matthew Hooton and the Herald’s Liam Dann has suffered an unprecedented form of destruction in the wake of the Labour Green power policy announcement:

contact

So Contact’s shares are at their lowest level for like, seven weeks! And still way above their historic average! Hooton is paid to regurgitate preposterous bullshit, and he’s pretty great at his job, but the Herald’s business editor should be a little less gullible.

April 21, 2013

‘de facto nationalisation’ and why the new power policy is a Big Deal

Filed under: economics,Politics — danylmc @ 8:45 am

DPF gets it:

I don’t think people realise the precedent that will be created if you allow a Government to nationalise the entire power generating industry, on the grounds that they are not competitive enough and charge too much.

First let’s address this question of whether the Greens-Labour proposal is a form of ‘nationalisation’, a term that’s been thrown out by National’s comms team and repeated by uncritical journalists.

A lot of left-wing critics of the Mixed Ownership Model have argued that it’s ‘looting’, or ‘theft’ of ‘the people’s assets’, and the problem with that is that National are selling shares in the power companies. The people are getting something back, probably several billion dollars. Likewise, nationalisation is when ownership of assets are transferred to the state, cf Air New Zealand, TranzRail etc. In this case it makes no sense to argue that the state is transferring ownership of the power companies, when it will still already have majority ownership of most of those power companies anyway. Regulation is not nationalisation, not even heavy-handed regulation. If you are, say, an arms company there is extensive government oversight into who you can sell your products to: does that mean that this industry is ‘nationalised’? Are tobacco companies ‘nationalised’? Bah.

But DPF is correct when he says that this is a significant development in New Zealand politics. Prior to the mid-1980s there was a general political consensus that the New Zealand economy should be dominated by state-owned industries, trade-unions and centralised bureaucracies over-seeing any private industry. This system was horribly flawed and in 1984 the Lange-Douglas government broke with the consensus, and for the last thirty years the pendulum has swung a long, long way the other way, far further than almost any other developed country in the entire world, and there’s been a broad consensus between Labour and National that our economy should be dominated by unregulated oligopolies.

Now one of the main political parties has broken with that. This is a Big Deal, and is blowing the minds of people like DPF, Fran O’Sullivan and, most amusingly, Colin Espiner.

The level of disconnect around this debate has been pretty funny, with various Ministers putting out press releases about the loss of share value in various energy companies, apparently oblivious to the fact that most of the country despise the  power companies and see them as loathsome profiteers, and now DPF is warning that Labour and the Greens might introduce legislation to prevent price-gouging by the supermarket duopoly, an idea that is anathema to adherents of the cult of unregulated oligopolies, but probably sounds pretty good to about 90% of the population that have had to live with the spectacular failures of that ideology for the last three decades.

April 19, 2013

Hideous graph of the day, yes it’s about electricity edition

Filed under: economics — danylmc @ 10:06 am

Sorry. Especially if you’re trying to look at this on your mobile phone. Anyway, this shows change in household electricity prices adjusted for inflation across the OECD since 1990. New Zealand is the red one, and we have had some of the largest increases. Other relevant or interesting countries also colored. Look what happened to lucky little Slovakia (purple) when they privitised their electricity market in the late 1990s.

power

Kicking the tires out from under them

Filed under: economics,finance,Politics — danylmc @ 6:48 am

You can critique the Labour-Greens power-policy on a number of levels. Where do they pluck their estimates of 5000 jobs and $450 million dollar boost to ‘the economy’ from? What happens if our power companies respond to reduced windfall profits by sacking all their staff and scrapping expenditure on the maintenance of their assets?

You can even claim that it amounts to nationalisation of the energy sector and ‘North Korean style economics’, if you don’t actually know what nationalisation is and think that North Korea is a country where publicly listed companies own the electricity infrastructure and pay dividends to private shareholders.

But you can’t fault the politics. The government needs the partial sale of Mighty River Power to succeed. It’s their signature achievement. English needs the cash, and Key has bled so much political capital and invested so much time on this policy that it has to work. And now the shares are finally on sale to New Zealand buyers. It lists on the NZX early next month. They must have felt like they’d finally made it.

But now Labour and the Greens have announced that if they’re elected dividends from these companies will be minimal. How do you quantify that if you’re a risk analyst for an investment fund? No wonder National are furious, and Simon Bridges was close to tears in Parliament yesterday spluttering about the decline in Contact Energy’s share price.

Maybe the market won’t care, and the float will be a success. But if it isn’t, I don’t think the public will be sympathetic when the government blames the opposition. This is an unpopular policy, and government Ministers blame Labour every time they spill their coffee. It’ll also leave English trying to raise money, either through borrowing, spending cuts or tax increases, all of which would kick in in 2014. Election year.

Quote of the day, geekiest quote of any day ever edition

Filed under: economics — danylmc @ 6:25 am

From Matthew Yglesias, excerpted without comment:

Note that Robert’s debts aren’t some kind of countercyclical stabilization policy. This is an agricultural economy governed by a real business cycle. Nor is he going into debt to finance productive investments. He’s not improving Westeros’ infrastructure. He’s not strengthening the Wall. He’s throwing feasts and tourneys. If he doesn’t have the money he needs today, then he’s not going to have the money he needs tomorrow either. That means a fortiori that he’s not going to have the money to pay Tywin back. Making things worse, winter is coming! The Iron Throne needs to be saving during the fall to deal with the huge negative shock to income that’s coming during the winter.

His conclusion:

 In effect, Tywin is attempting to execute a debt-for-equity swap since his debts aren’t actually recoverable. But that simply underscores the extent to which the loans to the Iron Throne are, themselves, worthless as financial assets.

April 18, 2013

According to reports

Filed under: Politics,satire — danylmc @ 9:18 am

Via Stuff:

Justice Minister Judith Collins is masking her disappointment over not being able to attend Margaret Thatcher’s funeral by throwing a wake. Government MPs “unable to attend” the London ceremony are invited to Ms Collins’ sixth-floor office tonight to commemorate the life of the former British prime minister. Ms Collins paid tribute to Baroness Thatcher last week as a “highly intelligent, brave, formidable woman”.

Dim-Post sources report that last night’s wake was a moving affair, which ended on the stroke of midnight when Attorney General Chris Finlayson solemnly led a white ox into the Justice Minister’s office. Collins then stretched the animal backwards over her blood-stained, heavy stone desk and deftly cut out its heart which she offered, still beating, to the massive basalt statue of Baroness Thatcher that accompanies her everywhere. Treasury officials estimate that this act of obeisance will keep inflation at less than 1% in the forthcoming quarter.

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