A Green New Deal for Aotearoa

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has caused much angst amongst many conservative republicans in the US by promoting a Green New Deal (GND). The deal is attractive to progressives and those on the left because it is a package or political manifesto that encapsulates the environmental and social goals that many feel are essential to shift to a sustainable and fair economy. Republicans have labeled it a "Socialist Manifesto" and emotively suggest that it will destroy America.

The key elements of the GND are:
A ten year mobilisation plan.Building resiliency against climate change-related disasters.Meeting energy demands with clean, renewable zero-emission energy sources.Expanding energy efficiency and access to power.working with farmers to cut emissions.Overhaul the transport sector with electric vehicles, public transportation and high-speed rail.Planting forests to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.Fair pay and improved working conditions.Universal, high-quality healthcare.…

Fair pay will not destroy the economy

One would think the proposal to advance fair pay via industry standards will mean the end of the world when reading some commentators. The angst from many employers is predictable when the normal state of employment affairs for the last thirty years or so has heavily favoured them. The adjustment period will be a fraught one until a new and fairer normal is established.

The main arguments against what is being proposed can be easily rebutted:

1) Many businesses have low profit margins and raising wages will be unaffordable. 

Although New Zealand productivity is low, wages have not kept up with productivity gains. When productivity and profits have increased few businesses have shared gains with their employees and there has been an increase in the percentage of profits that goes to shareholders and management and a decrease in what is passed on to employees.

This has been an international trend that has also happened here. New Zealand has had the fastest growth of income inequality in …

The US is actually unique for not valuing life!

"...that’s what sets America apart from every other country; we value life. That is what makes us unique.” - Sarah Sanders

There is a high level of delusion operating in the White House. The stream of mistruths that come out of President Trump and Sarah Sanders' mouths are clearly blatant lies but millions of US citizens believe them. With daily diets of Fox News and living in a very insular culture, there is little that challenges these false perceptions of US "greatness". 

When comparing the United States of America with most other developed nations it becomes clear that it probably places less value on life than most and doesn't compare well with many developing countries too:

If the US really valued life then it would abolish the death penalty, it is the only Western Country that executes people under law (23 people were executed in 2018). If the US really valued life then it would have an equitable and universal health care system. The current system is consid…

Invercargill's Deepening Housing Crisis

There is an old saying that "to assume will make an ASS of U and ME" and this is so true of Invercargill and Southland's housing. Invercargill is experiencing a slow population growth compared to the rest of the country and house prices are amongst the lowest too. Add that to the facts that Invercargill's population was around 2,000 greater in 1980, 11 schools were closed in 2005 and the Southland Regional Development Strategy's key goal was to increase the region's population by 10,000 by 2025, it would be reasonable to presume that housing supply would not be an issue.

Given the city's relatively static population the National Government chose Invercargill as one of the cities to lead its state housing asset sell off in 2015. In the 1980s the region had over 800 state houses and after continuous divestment, the remaining 360 were to be sold to a private or NGO social housing provider. At that time only a handful of people in Invercargill were on Housin…

The United States has gone rogue!

Under President Donald Trump (and his growing swamp of a government) the United States of America has now become a fully identifiable "rogue nation" that ignores basic human rights and international agreements.

While the US constitution provides protections for civil and political rights, these are often ignored when corporate and political interests are challenged. The defence of an individual's rights are often dependent on a person's cultural and racial identity or being able to afford access to legal process (and an effective legal team). The United States has been internationally criticised for its poor human rights record for some time and is worsening under Trump:
Least protections for workers in the developed world and is ranked alongside Iraq, Iran and Sierra Leone and Honduras. It systemically violates basic workers rights and slave or forced labour is commonplace. The top 1% have now captured 40% of the country's wealth. Criminalisation of homelessness…

It's not easy being Green and even harder being a Green Minister

Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage was subjected to some angry comments from party members on social media after her decision to allow (in principle) a large Chinese water bottling company to purchase land to extend their plant. The decision by the Green Minister went against what the party had campaigned on and seemed incomprehensible for many. Media quickly published some of the angry responses and ex Green MP Sue Bradford predicts trouble ahead for the Party as Green Ministers find themselves between "a rock and a hard place" as decisions they are forced to make clash with Party policy.

This isn't the first time that Green Party members have reacted passionately to decisions made by their caucus. Giving up their questions to the opposition and supporting the waka-jumping bill for the first reading resulted in some internal anguish and articles in the Green Party magazine (Te Awa) from past MPs and members voicing opposing views.

I can understand why political com…

Trump's Shotgun Diplomacy Dominates

Ignorance, arrogance, dishonesty and denial have dominated Donald Trump's presidency and his responses to school shootings epitomise this. Trump speaks tough, uses popularism to maintain support and ignores evidence.

His approach to world diplomacy is also a simplistic one, believing that he can bully other countries into submission through the strength of the US military (dramatically increasing military spending). Under Trump and Tillerson the top management of the State Department has been gutted by 60%. The military leads diplomacy now.

His solution for solving school shootings is similar to how he is dealing with global conflict, more guns (arm the teachers). In Trump's world there are the bad guys and the good guys (like in a B grade Western), with no shades of grey. Leading up to his election Donald Trump ardently supported the National Rifle Association (NRA) and has done so since (despite the mass shootings) with rallying speeches in support of gun rights. The fake n…