The Teacher Strikes and the Fiscal Cap

The teacher strike has a back story that should not be dismissed or ignored. This is much more than two of our larger unions (NZEI and PPTA) flexing their collective muscles just to get a pay rise. As a retired teacher and past member of NZEI's Executive I know how much it takes to push our teachers into strike action, in its 136 year history this has occurred only a handful of times.

I recently left teaching myself after over 30 years of service in a range of roles that included special needs and five years as a deputy principal. Lack of resourcing, little government recognition, very long hours (60-70 per week) and stress caused me to pursue political solutions. The steady decay of our world-leading public education system began with the neoliberal Tomorrow's Schools model and culminated with relentless attacks from the last National Government. I listed much that has been inflicted on our education system over the past decade in this widely viewed and circulated blog post.

Highway to Hell!

(fire, California)
Some time ago Jeanette Fitzsimons described our action on climate change like a car driving rapidly to a precipice while the occupants argue about whether they should maybe change down a gear. If we are to continue with this analogy I would say that the cliff edge is now very visible, the car is still in top gear and we have only a slight chance of stopping in time if we hit the brakes now. named itself after the parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere that was considered a safe level. At the time the organisation was formed in 2008 that level had not been reached, but five years later we passed 400 ppm.

It's not as though we haven't had ample warning, there has been scientific consensus for decades and even Margaret Thatcher was making speeches on climate change thirty years ago. The evidence of rapid climate change is constantly in our faces. We are globally experiencing extreme weather events on a far more regular basis and the intensity of …

NZ dilemma as US empire disintegrates and China dominates.

The United States of America is undergoing a a gradual decline as the leading developed nation. It once dominated the world with its culture, global franchises and political and military interventions, however, fewer now wish to emulate the ultimate consumer society and celebration of capitalism. Greed has proved to be an unsustainable vision and the wheels are falling off.

The so called "Champion of the Free World" is finding itself increasingly isolated as the free world moves on without it. The multilateral systems that the US often dominated to support its own interests (Nato, the United Nations and free trade agreements) are being abandoned for the pursuit of simple nationalism. The US no longer provides leadership for two major issues that currently confront the world, climate change and the increasing numbers of displaced people (there are currently around 20 million refugees - the most since World War Two). President Donald Trump's rejection of climate science a…

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…