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May, 2013

  1. Lefter 62 ~ Welcome to Mexico!

    May 20, 2013 by emweb

    From Texas to Mexico …  I love Mexican food. Mexican beer can be great, tequila has its uses … Mexican music is awesome. The weather sounds good (haven’t been there) and the beaches look fab, in films anyway.

    Then of course there’s the drugs, the kidnappings, the drug-related violence and lawlessness, the terrible scourge of widespread low income, the corresponding shanty towns and slums — and the child poverty rate that is at a shameful rate of 26%.

    And some of these things we have in common. New Zealand also has some excellent beer, the weather can be great, we have excellent beaches, some pretty good music… drugs don’t exactly rule most communities but they certainly rule some, and the corruption that goes hand in hand is at about a commensurate rate.

    But where a correlation is stronger is child poverty. New Zealand has a lesser rate than Mexico. One percent less. Relieved?

    You shouldn’t be. If you ever needed evidence that this government doesn’t care about its people, this should be it: 25% of our kids live in poverty. It’s got worse in National’s term – the NZ rate in 2006-2007 was at a still shameful 22%.

    Unfortunately, there’s plenty more evidence of this government’s shameful lack of concern for the citizens it pretends to represent.

    For example, let’s talk about Auckland. Like it or not, Auckland is the economic powerhouse of the country. Even if most of our wealth does come from farms and other sources with a land-based provenance, it either goes through the port of, or is administered from, or is somehow otherwise touched by, Auckland.

    The Auckland Council has a plan for sustaining growth for the Queen City. Unfortunately, the council has a nominal lefty for a mayor in Len Brown, and the National Government does not like Len Brown. So the Key Government has an alternative plan for Auckland. It’s about as opposite as you can get from the council’s Unitary Plan. Who do you think is going to win this?

    Interestingly (or it should be) is that Auckland has growth plans – almost nowhere else in the country does. If other NZ places had growth plans, Auckland’s wouldn’t be so important. Or so necessary. It’s a tacit acceptance that every other region of New Zealand is stagnating or worse.

    Auckland Council’s plan isn’t perfect, but does, sensibly, try and limit the growth outwards of this massive, sprawling city by allowing for higher density housing within current city limits. You know, like the housing in most big cities of the world. High density housing can actually be done very well, and has been done very well, in various places. But it does require thinking through.

    Shame it’s not going to happen. National’s plan, you’d think, would be written for the benefit of the people. You know, those very people among whom sits that startling and shameful figure for child poverty. But it’s not – it may as well have been written by developers. That’s who it suits. Developers put money into land to ‘develop’, making for themselves a massive profit.

    National’s plan makes more land available on the outskirts of Auckland, which developers want, simplifies the consent process (which developers want), says virtually nothing about public transport while extending routes to work ever further, allocates more money to roading and, most cynically of all perhaps, has created a 3 cents per litre tax rise per year on petrol for three years. This will pay for more roading. More roads, more cars, more petrol, more tax, more roading … It just goes around generating money, and congestion, for Aucklanders.

    Key could care less. He probably gets home to his Remmers mansion by private helicopter anyway.

    This petrol tax bill was put through under urgency.

    Meanwhile, Pacific Island Aucklanders have been shown (by the Salvation Army) to have been hardest hit by this recession. Anyone surprised?

    Money first, people last. And we voted Key in.

  2. Lefter 61 ~ NZ power shares in the heart of Texas

    May 8, 2013 by emweb

    Do you consider Texas USA to be like Albania and/or North Korea? Me neither. However, Stephen Joyce fails to see the distinction.

    When Labour and the Greens together announced a policy that makes the New Zealand resource of New Zealand-generated power more affordable to New Zealanders (does any of that sound wrong or bad so far?), National’s tory twerps immediately used the Communist card, saying they were trying to make New Zealand like Albania and North Korea. Unfortunately for them, it’s Texas that uses the very model the Labour-Green announcement detailed. Doh!

    As far as ‘scaring investors off’, why should I care? Investors, correct me if I am wrong, are those who put money into things that will reap them big rewards. Investing and morals, unfortunately, hardly ever go hand-in-hand. The two main divers of investing are fear and greed, after all. The massive profits our energy utilities have been making are very enticing to these people. Now it’s not so attractive? Boohoo, because you’re looking to profit off the poverty our overpriced power is creating, or at least adding to. You should be ashamed.

    We generate this power – we’re not importing it. It’s a New Zealand resource. We have rights to it – well, we should have, as New Zealand citizens.

    The model is as follows: privatising New Zealand’s power utilities meant the resulting entities created have been able to develop massive profits. For themselves. In the fond imaginings of those on the right, numbers of entities offering power means they will ‘compete’. This competition is supposed to result in efficiency and lower prices. Yet the market is not a moral or caring thing. It’s just a profit-generating device divorced from human toil, production and daily reality.

    Unfortunately, the competition model is usually just a fond imagining. The actuality is quite different.

    With the New Zealand power model, it’s easy to see how this happened. It uses a spot pricing model that dictates that the highest spot price in a given period sets the overall price for all power generated, so it fails to take in the difference between very cheaply generated power (of which we have plenty) and the most expensive/least efficient. This is grossly unfair and, if anything, keeps the expensive and inefficient generation going, since it sets the price for the rest. Cue massive profits to those private entities.

    A few years on, we’re all paying a lot more for the power we need,, despite being a country rich in generation capabilities, compared to most. In effect, the situation is the same as a monopoly except that the profits are spread around a few more capitalists. And, of course, this is the reality that Key, Joyce et al know only too well, what they really expect and also, unfortunately, what keeps them in power. It’s friends in high (ie, moneyed) places, with the power and the money, that keep Key and his cronies where they are, as they serve their needs and not ours. That’s why National can afford (and does afford) much better spin doctors to pull the wool over our eyes.

    I know this is a fact Labour greatly laments, but honestly, spin is hardly rocket surgery. Labour often makes PR mistakes that are simply stupid. I don’t know who Labour hires, but seriously, it’s not hard to get better advice. At any price. Or at least, it’s potentially feasible to work out which advice is good and which is not.

    But with this one, Labour is clearly onto something. As so many Labour supporters (or at least, occasional Labour voters like myself) have been saying for years, Green and Labour are a natural fit. If only Labour would stop being so damned arrogant about it. Helen Clark letting the moratorium on genetic engineering lapse did more to turn me off Labour last decade than anything else.

    We applaud this change.