Archive for June, 2016

knock, knock, good news

Why did I answer the door? I broke the cardinal rule of people who are at home during the day, which is ‘don’t answer the door’. No-one you want to see ever knocks on your door during the day.”

But they were a lovely, smiling couple of young people holding what could only be a Bible; they were Asians, although I don’t know why I make a point of that, no reason that I can think of but it added a bit of a challenge; the facial expressions and body language differ from the ginger-haired, glazed eye people who normally bring you the ‘GOOD NEWS’.

They were from a Bible study group up in Roslyn, so they informed me (from which I concluded that I was being assessed for my potential to join their group to help defray the cost of hiring the hall and to take my turn at bringing supper). Then they asked if I knew there was also a female god? Points for originality in an opening gambit, where was this going, I wondered. They might just be weird enough to be interesting. “Why no, I didn’t’ know that”, I replied. Two delighted Asian beams told me I had given just the answer they wanted. Step 2, ‘now we have three question for you, ok?’

‘Ok, give me your three best questions; game-on.’

They produce an electronic tablet of some sort, not an i–pad (although I am not a brandist so I don’t know why I said that) which has a question 1 written on it: ‘do you believe in GOD (in red and underlined).

“Well I replied, that depends on your definition of God, doesn’t it?” Confucius reigned on the young faces before me. Not the expected response at all. It was supposed to be yes/no from which they had two pre-planned paths to lead me to the good news about this female god (they should have said goddess, but I can overlook that with English being a second language).

“The person who created you and us and all thing on earth and star in heaven” they countered, tag-teaming to recover their composure.

That was their big mistake. When some stranger answers a fundamental question of faith with an even more fundamental question of faith, and all you wanted out of this meeting is to get a new member for the Bible study group to help defray costs and take a supper turn, then the red flag should go up on their electronic tablet. It should say to them: ‘this is the moment to cut your losses and exit stage right.’ I am sure an i-pad would have had that function.

“Well”, I continued, “if you are talking about god as a person, a him or her in the sense that you and I are hims and hers and you think that this him or her or both, if that’s where you are leading with your opening gender-specific gambit, created humans and animals and all things in heaven and on earth from nothing but dust,  then no I do not believe that such a gender-specific person exists.

So they switched; so God was now a spirit not a him or her.  Ok now we are getting somewhere even though it seemed to have drifted away from the ‘female God’ opening gambit, but I let it go, for now.

Then they showed me the references to the plural ‘us’ when God talked about creation in Genesis. I am totally with them on all that. There were lots of highlighted underlined verses bouncing between different books in their Bible to continue references to multiple gods; they had done their homework. Yes I quite understand all the Biblical pluralities in reference to multiple gods and have no argument with that although a little surprised that a Biblical study group that normally sticks rigidly to the monotheistic creed would keep pointing it out; normally it would be me who would use it to counter the monotheistic claims and thus send you scampering from my door.

I thought of inviting them into my parlour to see where this was all leading, as their body language suggested would be welcome, but I actually decided against that for their sake. They would find escape much more awkward and they actually did seem genuinely nice people, so I cut them a break and left them on the doorstep. Then I switched them to Genesis 6, that usually sends door-knocking, good news salespeople away quickly. You know the one? ‘the sons of god resorted to the daughters of man and bore children by them’.

Interestingly they also had that passage underlined, presumably as part of their female god theory, although the rationale was lost on me. Then, before we could clarify that, he quickly shifted back to his plan, backing up to the start of the Bible, Genesis. Then with excitement he points out ” Look Adam and Eve have two son, Cain and Abel, but Cain kill Abel then Cain have wife!!! Where come from Cain wife?’ He gibbers with frothy excitement. ‘Then Adam is not first man, just first man who know God!’

Amen, young brother I am with you, the Bible is full of weird anomalies. So I reeled him in with ‘so who do you think wrote all this stuff in the Bible? It is, after all, only two or three thousand years old.’ Confucius again reigned briefly in his eyes. Then he replied, “No no, Moses write of course. Moses write five book of Torah” (‘you silly old man’ said his eyes). “Well there is some dispute with that, with Moses having been dead before some of the incidents in later books of the Torah, but setting that aside, even if it was written by Moses, that was still only 3,400 years ago and humans have been on earth some 200,000 years, the earth has been around nearly 5 billion years and the sun is 15 billion years old; so, if Moses was the author, then he was writing about stuff that happened a long, long time before he was born’. (‘You annoying bastard old man’ said his eyes).

“So anyhow lets get back to Genesis 6” I suggested. The frustrated young man asked “why? why, when he was explaining things for me, did I keep jumping back to Genesis 6 and making Confucius?” For the simple reason my friend, that until you can explain what it means by ‘the sons of Gods resorted to the daughters of men and bore children by them’, we can go no further. That is a brick wall, you do not pass go, you do not collect two hundred dollars, until this is resolved between us.

Again he switches back to the plan. “Look Genesis say, day 1 God create the light make day that is sun made, ok?” (yes my enthusiastic young friend, that would be the sun), “then day 4 God create two light, sun and moon ok?”  (Yes that is what it says). “BUT (he leaped with joy at having sprung his trap) how can be two sun? first sun make day 1 and day 4 make number two sun. How can be?”?

Ok, I am weary of this now, I step it up a bit. So, now that we are talking about suns, there are not just two but many hundreds of billions of stars. We are a small planet in a solar system located in the far corner of a Galaxy, the Milky Way which is only one galaxy in the universe correct and God created all this?” He seemed a little bit annoyed at this topic shift, but he agreed. “So Magellan got in a boat early in the 16th century” I continued,  “and sailed continuously to the horizon not knowing whether he would fall off the edge of the planet or hit the sky like a brick wall but, in fact, he came back to where he started. So if you and I, John, (I had extracted his name by now as John) set off in a space ship travelling faster than the speed of light and kept going would we eventually hit a wall, fall off the end of space or come back to where we started?”

In my peripheral vision I see the young woman moving discreetly stage right, this shouldn’t take long now. The young man is slumping, “I don’t know too many big, too many headache.” Of course my young friends, the universe is huge and we are but one planet in the solar system of what is known as a dwarf sun, a minute speck in the far flung corner of an unspectacular galaxy containing tens of billions of stars, which itself is just one galaxy among a hundred billion galaxies (give or take) so answer me this: would the God who created all those hundreds of billions of suns and trillions of planets only put life on one planet? Ours?

“Yes?” he whimpered. No, no, no my little Good News friend. God would have created more life than us somewhere in the universe, surely? And so is it not possible that we were visited by a far more intellectual species in the past and those alien visitors were in fact the sons of god mentioned in Genesis 6?

At the mention of the ‘alien’ word there was horror and fear in his eyes. I was clearly a lunatic. Asians don’t seem to run, not in the classic Greco style, but a very quick shuffle probably covers it. Exit Stage Right.

“Y’all come back real soon now y’hear? We didn’t even get past question one.”

What I would give to be at next week’s Bible Study meeting in Roslyn. “We meet this crazy guy, he say God make other life is somewhere else in universe. He crazy, scary guy; nobody must visit this man again”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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They Brexited!!!

I had to delay it’s Thursday NZ time to Thursday UK time so that I could collect on my bets that the Poms wouldn’t have the bottle to leave the EU when it came to putting an x in a box. But the results have just come hot off the Thursday press, and it is a 52:48 win for the Brexit team. I lose my bet. Wow, I didn’t see that coming.

Keep calm_part 2I read an article in this morning’s paper saying that although the polls were favouring ‘remain’, the journalist noted a strong element of the ‘remain’ supporters were the young 18-24 year olds. Having no confidence that this age group would actually then make the effort to vote, he believed the critical balance of “Bremain” votes would be missing in action, still in bed or too busy on their i-phones and Brexit would win. Maybe he was right.

But maybe I misread the outcome because of my pragmatic Celtic heritage. As it turns out 62% of Scotland and 56% of Northern Ireland voted to remain in, but 53% of England voted to leave. Same with the Welsh, no-one seems too interested in what the taffies think. Of more relevance is that London voted to remain in, as they would, and that now there are calls for London to declare itself an independent city state in order to remain in the EU. What larks. The Republic of Ireland remains in the EU of course and the Celts are politically in tune and in opposite camps to the English. That bodes for an interesting reconsideration by the Scots whether to abandon the UK and rejoin the EU. The ghost of Bonnie Prince Charlie will rise again, Culloden will be avenged. I think that the biggest strategic error of the referendum was in a 50%+ ‘winner take all’ format on a decision with such huge implications for three countries in an already shaky political alliance of their own.

The Brexit people based a lot of their arguments on the immigrant issue. England want to slow down immigrants into their country. “They are takin’ our jobs guvnor”. Be careful what you wish for England. I know a kiwi who has lived in London for quite a few years now who has observed that if London didn’t have Eastern European immigrants, nothing would get done. If you need a builder a plumber or an electrician or if you want service in a shop or an office, then you talk to an immigrant and keep well clear of the Brits. And if the English ‘don’t do service’, there is also the problem that they don’t actually make many things anymore either; nor are they that big into farming. Britain’s most important industries today are not manufacturing or agriculture but Banking, Finance and Tourism. Even two of the remaining iconic British car brands, Jaguar and Land Rover, are owned by an Indian company Tata Motors. “Takin’ your jobs? Are you ‘avin a larf, me old china plate?”.

How ironical that Britain spent three hundred years travelling the world, parking themselves uninvited in any country they wanted, killing or enslaving the locals and pillaging their resources. Now they want the world to leave them alone. They want the rest of the world to stop invading their country and polluting their culture. 

So much of Britain’s economy is based on the wealth of Europe being channeled through the financial institutions of London, “The City”. “The City” has a more of the world’s capital in it’s vaults (or computer banks) than any other in the world, processing 41% of the global foreign exchange transactions, over twice as much as the #2 city, New York. The London Stock Exchange has a value of 6 Trillion USD, twice the size of the European Union Stock Exchange. And a major part of the investment industry is in London property. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the people were abler to buy their own homes at exceptionally low prices. A lot of opportunities for new private businesses opened up. Over 200,00o Russians have become millionaires. The impact of the collapse of the Soviet Union went much wider than the 88 Oligarch billionaires that we read about. So tens of thousands of ‘mere millionaire’ Russians were attracted to Britain initially as a tourist destination, then to the schools for their children’s education and ultimately into London as a property investment. This created a stimulated economy of wealthy visiting Russians, Arabs and other nationalities investing in the London property, splashing out a few hundred quid on a night out in a restaurant or spending a few thousand quid in the High Street. But that type of spending that does not automatically build a productive and sustainable base beneath it.

The value of the currency is the barometer of an economy. The announcement of Brexit plunged the value of the Pound to a 30 year low and it is expected to go further. Having conceded most of their manufacturing and agriculture to overseas countries, the necessary imports now escalate dramatically in price. The potential of a falling economy from inevitable rising cost of imports and job insecurity has meant an instant devaluation of property values in London. Those spending up large because they saw their property values increase faster than they could spend it, now have to seriously review their spending priorities. Banks will start to call in loans on over-mortgaged properties. The properties then have to go to an oversupplied and desperate market and the dominoes start falling.

So much of Britain’s tourism is based on Heathrow being the biggest transport hub of Europe. Heathrow has 73 million passengers pa (93% are international). Charles de Gaulle has 64 million and Frankfurt just on 60 million. Just watch the European airports start jockeying with the airlines for a bigger chunk of Heathrow’s business now that Britain is tightening immigration controls and as a contracting economy impacts on service delivery at Heathrow. Air NZ and Qantas may well get made offers they cannot refuse from Charles de Gaulle to use Paris as their European hub; or from Leonardo da Vinci to use Rome? Either of those work for me.

As Britain withdraws from the European Union agreements, those two critical pieces of infrastructure, “The City” financial hub and the Heathrow international transport hub, will come under significant pressure. I hope the Brits know what they are doing. Actually I don’t really mean that; I still remember that they dumped us to join the EU and they partied hard with their Euro friends, so it’s not easy to get upset as they now go through a messy and expensive divorce. And as with any divorce, they will inevitably have to divide their friends as well as their assets. Europe is 700+ million population, Britain 64 million (England alone 53 million). Do the maths.

And as Britain contracts it will be acutely aware that it’s best friend USA is effectively insolvent following the earlier collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. China had been selling huge amounts of goods to the USA for some time and had a mountain of USD in their vaults, a lot of which (10% of their GDP) they had reinvested in Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. So China now owns a lot of the debt over a lot of the properties in the USA. China is their daddy. China could bankrupt the USA if they had the allies to win the inevitable war (hello Mr Putin,…hello Hassan,….hello Kim,…..).

Remember China? You Brits ran the opium trade there not so long ago and addicted at least 10% of their people to your narcotics. You did it because China had built up such a stockpile of British pounds from all the tea, spices and silks that you imported, that you set up this drug cartel growing poppies in India and converting them to opium, then selling it to the Chinese in order to get your pounds back off them. When their government protested you sent the navy in to sort them out and then you stole Hong Kong from them to give you a base to continue trading your opium to them for the tea, spices and silks that they produced. If you Brits think that is old history and forgotten, I bet there are those in dark places in China who have not confined it to ancient history. What goes around comes around.

And if you still think the Brexit decision is the smart one, just remember, Donald Trump and Sara Palin agree with you.

Footnote: The referendum is actually not binding on Parliament. It still requires Westminster to pull the Clause 50 trigger on the EU agreement. If the TV show “Yes Minister” is more documentary than sitcom, then the bureaucrats may yet win the day with delay, delay, delay. Meantime PM Cameron has thrown the mess over to Johnson. His resignation is effectively saying ‘you caused this mess, Boris you clean it up’. (His actual words to his aides were: “Why should I do the hard shit?”.

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To Brexit or not to….

So Britain is about to decide on a divorce from that euro tramp it ran off with.

Back in the 1960’s, a massive 88% of New Zealand’s dairy produce went to the UK. We were a good and faithful provider. But back at the office, Britain had been carrying on a little dalliance with its European mistress and in 1973 good old faithful New Zealand, who could always be relied upon to put meat on the British table when they came home from pub, was unceremoniously dumped as they joined the European Union. Our lamb and butter were no longer wanted. They wanted croissants and olives. The great wars were years ago, it was time to abandon old faithful allies and sleep with the enemy. New Zealand could find our Dairy_Figureown way in the world. And to our credit, we did. By 2012, the UK was down to 0.3 percent of New Zealand’s dairy exports. A token alimony. And meantime, over the past 20 years the value of our dairy exports has grown fourfold. Would we have ever made such great steps on the global market had we stayed in our little world of dependence on Britain? I doubt it. We needed the incentive of a crisis to actually kick into gear. So do we really care whether or not Britain leaves the European Union? Hardly. To be frank my interest in Britain’s position with the EU is purely that of the betrayed spouse quietly and disingenuously sympathising that things did not work out so well when we are doing oh so exceptionally well, thank you for asking. 

Which then leads to the question, will Britain now vote to leave the European Union on June 23rd? Again, who cares? I hear you. It is about the same as whether we really care who wins the Presidential vote in the USA. It’s just a bit of a TV reality show that is getting more stupid than ‘married at first sight’.

Or maybe just another opportunity to put on a bet. We all love a bit of a flutter. So is it worth putting a lazy hundie on the outcome with a British bookie. The latest polls are moving from a 50/50 call to an exit bias as the ‘don’t knows’ start to decide they do know and signal a teasing intent towards a Brexit vote. Latest polls are actually indicating a 52:48 vote in favour of the exit. The bookie odds have always been in strong favour of a conservative result to stay in the EU. Probably following a similar debate with Scotland’s referendum to leave the UK. But I see that the odds of leaving have been dropping from 9/2 down to 5/2 as more money is moving Nigel Faragetowards the Brexit option as the decision date gets closer. Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, member of the European Parliament, promoter of the Brexit option and former well-known city trader in London decided to slap a quiet thousand quid at Ladbrokes, his local bookie, on the exit. Obviously nothing but a transparent publicity stunt to try to lower the odds and get people thinking, before they vote, that Brexit is odds on. If that was the case one might say a thousand quid was a pretty cheap stunt, but perhaps that was the showcase and behind the scenes some of his rich mates are manipulating the odds as an investment in publicity.

And that brings up the whole basis of our democracy. We know that all democratic votes are won by the middle ground swinging voter. The hard right and hard left generally cancel each other out, within a margin, and it is the swinging voter who tips the balance.

That might be all good and well if we, as a society, could be assured that the middle voter is the voice of reason who considers both sides on their merits and makes an informed, rational vote. Sounds like the start of another Tui billboard doesn’t it. But at the end of the day, the reality is that the swinging voters are not carefully considering their opinions, they don’t have any opinions that’s why they always answer ‘don’t know.’ They are fence sitters. What they are waiting for are the polls and the subsequent bookie odds to see who they think is going to win so that they can place their bet on the eventual winner.

That’s all they want, to be able to go out and say the day after election day that their vote won. They want to be winners, the politics are just another horse race. Think about it and tell me I am wrong. You know I am right and so democracy is just a total sham. It used to be just a two horse race but that got a bit boring  so, like sports betting and Super Powerball, MMP was created to add more options into the great left vs right tri-annual betting game that is the general election. Politics, it’s all just a game, good for a bet.

But back to the Brits and the EU, what’s the bet they divorce? If you are putting on a bet, I think if the polls move more to a Brexit vote and you can get a good price on a ‘stay’ bet, I would take it.  They complain about the bureaucracy of Brussels, but these poms are all piss and wind (English-born and resident readers of this blog excepted, of course). They thrive in a bureaucratic environment; they need politicians to blame for their misery and they like a luvlie ‘oliday at Benidorm; as long as there are no bombs raining out of the sky, they will stay in the EU and hope to make a few quid with the bookie.

Google it, look at all the News updates about the betting on the result, it’s hard to get much interest in whether or not it is a good decision.

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my achy-breaky heart

That I can even find time for this blog is surprising. Time and schedules all have been thrown into glorious chaos this week. And I cannot write about the outside world because, this week, the outside world does not exist for me. Sammy has brought our 7 week old grand-daughter to visit for a week. She has come down to get the sense of one side of her ancestral homeland in the deep south. To meet her extended Collins family. And to have all who meet her gasp in amazement at her huge eyes, her beautiful skin, her melting smile and her extraordinary capacity for flatulence. There are two definitions for flatulence, the obvious one is the accumulation of gases and noisy expulsion thereof; the other is ‘inflated and pretentious writing’ so when j’accuse this precious little angel of flatulence she could very well respond ‘et tu grand-père’. And I would reply: ‘pretentious?? moi?”.

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But I have not been my father’s son for so many years without developing a healthy respect for a grand-fart. My heart just swells with joy when her nappies vibrate to the triumphant trumpets signalling a changing of the nappy guard.

Her impressive flatulence is no doubt related to her most impressive appetite. I say I am impressed, but then I am not the one who has to wake every 2-3 hours every night and be on call all day to keep this little tummy satisfied. So as I write this, in the middle of the day, I am on monitoring duties while Sammy tries to catch up with the many lost hours of sleep over the last few weeks. And the little angel is thus-far behaving beautifully.

How is it that little girls are born with a gene so primal that at seven weeks she can pick out a soft-touch grand-dad who will do whatever she wants as long as she is either widening those bambi-eyes, or breaking her little heart crying (or quite possibly faking the breaking) before she even knows what eyes and tears are?

So I swing her to and fro, on demand, in her little cocoon thing until her eyes become too leaden to demand it any more and I can settle her into bed and just watch her sleeping the sleep of the innocents as I write out a few words on my blog inspired by the absolute joy of little Marni.

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But even as I write I can hear a little whimper and see a sneaky peak that is just letting me know that it is time for me to start winding down my blog and get ready for swing time.

I really do start to wonder about the Hindus and Buddhists and their reincarnation theories. It is hard to compute that she could be this smart after seven weeks if this is only her first time on planet earth. But now is no time to explore that little philosophical mystery; a grand-père’s job is never done, swing time is here again and, for this week, time is far too precious to be squandered writing blogs.

 

 

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Colour Coded

For your convenience.

Did you know that the French epitome of elegant, monsieurly attire, the cravat, actually was a clothing item borrowed from a 17th century military unit called the Croats. It was no more nor less than a piece of cloth worn around the neck in a colour that identified on whose behalf they were fighting this fine morning. Colour has, since then, been the way to identify political allegiance.

In England the Magna Carta of 1066 established their a feudal system whereby the Monarch had a number of noblemen advisors to assist with the creation of laws of the land. Effectively a parliament. A bunch of toffs who never did a hard days work in their lives poncing around in purple and crimson cloaks. The colour of royalty and religious hierarchy has always been purple or crimson red, something to do with the myth (presumably) that aristocratic blood (the blood of those descended from the gods) has a slight bluey tinge to it.

The system appeared to work quite well in Europe until the French peasants, at the end of the 18th century, started chopping the heads off the nobility as an expression of their displeasure with the monarchial system. That caused a bit of concern amongst the nobility of Britain and so they started releasing a bit of pressure by having parliament introduce reforms designed to ease the plight of the poor and the workers who, in those days, were one and the same. Give them a little more say in the running of things so as to hopefully keep their heads attached to their neck. Before the end of the 19th century the working classes were starting to get some real representation and a Scottish independent MP, James Hardie, wee Jamie to his mates, formed the Independent Labour Party and he became the first Labour MP in Britain. Things took off a bit after the Russian Revolution in 1917 scared the nobility of Britain a bit further and in 1924 Britain had its first Labour Government.

And so it came to pass that the noble purple was divided into it’s two primary colours of blue and red. I have no evidence that the two political groups rationalised it thus, in fact I doubt they did, but the fates control these things anyway, we are just along for the ride and you can’t argue with the colour codes. The workers took on the colour of the blood of the working man and the tories took on the tinge of blue that turns common blood to noble blood.

Red&GreenYou know where I am going with this don’t you? Yes that most disturbing of political engagements that took place this week between Andrew Little (wee andy?) and his political fiancée Metiria Turei.

Has any political marriage been any more awkwardly staged since Helen and Peter?

Do you Andrew, take this woman….

But in the weirdest bit of the pre-nup, the engagement only lasts until the eve of the wedding (I mean election); after that it will be a question of who is most desperate to consummate the relationship and what will they pay to do so. And just to get even weirder, wee Andy said this was ‘not a monogamous agreement’. Is this a variation of that other reality TV show ‘married at first sight’? This is because the stated #1 goal of the arrangement is simply to remove National from government. Where was the positive, united policy platform that would make the lives of the average Kiwi a lot happier? That is what we needed to hear. Not just that they would combine resources to get rid of the government. They can see from all polls that, while we would always be keen for a better deal, the majority of Kiwis are not desperate to get rid of the government at all costs. A reasonable number are solid supporters, another reasonable number think better the devil we know. And what does ‘sharing resources’ mean? I don’t think the treasury box of either party is overflowing. Will they share computer-hacked gossip which was their failed strategy last time? We don’t want to hear that. We did not need computer hacking to tell us politicians from both sides of the house are not always telling the truth. We worked that out a long time ago, and hacking someone’s computer to tell us the opposition is dishonest is hardly the action that gives them the right to the moral high-ground. We know there is no such thing as moral high ground when it comes to politics so just tell us, what does this merger of Red and Green mean for us in policy?

So lets get the old colour wheel out and see what the fates have in store for us this time.
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Yep, mix red and green colours and, as any artist will tell you, it merges into the brown stuff (mud). We know where the Labour ‘red’ came from but why did these self-appointed earth guardians choose green? As we know from satellite images, planet earth is blue not green. Possibly the rationale is that the colour green represents the vegetation that grows on the planet and that fundamentally, the greens are a vegan party (if that’s not an oxymoron).

Red and Green are at polar opposite ends of the colour spectrum and an analysis of their core political policies confirms that. Labour has a foundation cornerstone in  mining; it was from the coal mines of the South Island west coast that the NZ Labour Party was formed, protecting the livelihoods of the miners. This search for energy sources saw the industry extend into off shore drilling for oil. The Greens have a foundation cornerstone in opposing mining for coal and minerals and drilling for oil. Their stated policy is to import wind turbines, ignoring the mining of rare earth elements involved in that technology, to replace locally sourced energy. I don’t know what the agreed common policy between the reds and greens will be but I suspect it will be as clear as mud and will fail to appeal to the core of either political movement. If Labour throw the mining industry under the political bus, they undermine their foundation, then what is next? The factory workers who make the milk powder for export as the Greens oppose the dairy industry? The employment to construct the Transmission Gully motorway that the Greens opposed? Where do you stop when increasing environmental considerations make it hard for an average Kiwi worker to earn a living? And if the Greens concede environmental protection for the sake of employment how can they say they are true to the mandate of their members and supporters. It is a lose/ lose.

NZ FirstThe greatest risk, if the mud colour fails to appeal to the swinging voter, is that their vote will go into the colour black, the political void within which matter (or anything of substance) simply disappears. The Andrew & Metiria engagement will be called off and the only one grinning on the wedding night will be Winston. Then when he has consumed sufficient easy-prey votes to fill his mandate, he will hibernate again for a couple more years and re-emerge in time for the next election to see what other idiot things have happened in politics that he can prey on.

To my mind the obvious strategy staring labour in the face, rather than sleeping with the enemy, would be to redefine the battleground. They have lost the “middle New Zealand” voter and, frankly, National are boxing far too cleverly to concede it. So Labour need to redefine the battle ground; redefine the target market. Instead of a political landscape of hard-core left, far right and middle New Zealand definitions, redefine the voter population into three categories of: Capitalist, Working and Beneficiary. Capitalists are those who let money earn more money, Workers are those who work for a living, whether as an employer or employee, and Beneficiaries are those who rely on social charity for survival. Political correctness, highlighted in WINZ euphemistically referring to beneficiaries as clients, has totally failed to reverse or even contain the increase in poverty so let’s start to call it what it is if we are ever to start to reverse the poverty trend.

But the first priority is to build the productivity base of workers and the self-employed who establish small businesses. As the airlines say, you need to put your own oxygen mask on first before you can be any help to others. Nearly a million people in New Zealand are either self-employed or work in a small business with fewer than 20 employees. Add their partners to the political population and that is a voter majority by a country mile. A worker party that understood and focused policies on this sector would capture the largest single group in the voting population and would build the economic base upon which a solid social welfare system and increased public service infrastructure of health and education can be funded. And through its growth, this focus would actually reduce the demand on social welfare services in the unemployment sector. But they won’t work that out in the Labour party Think Tank. They are, in essence, just toothless politicians. It has always been such since the feudal system was replaced by a sham lower house of parliament. Give their elected delegates a few perks while the bureaucrats make all the policies and the capitalists make all the money. My Gran was a devoted Labour Party supporter with leanings towards the Marxist end of the spectrum but even she said that the cynical version of the British Labour party’s anthem, The Red Flag, that she believed to be the sad truth was “the working class can kiss my arse, I’ve got a boss’s job at last.”  Give a working man a suit and he turns into a suit.

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