Showing posts from April, 2014

King Luddite and the Green Wave

Once upon a time there lived an amiable king who was generally well regarded for his relaxed demeanor and his friendly smile. While he had been called the smiling executioner in a past, most of his subjects thought of him as a good bloke and a dab hand with a barbecue and he left most of the dirty work to his ministers. King Luddite loved tradition and the technology of the past and was very generous to his friends amongst the lords and nobles.

King Luddite lived in a huge palace and he never went anywhere without his bodyguards. He was very careful to not cause unrest and envy amongst his subjects by revealing his true wealth. He would put aside his expensive garments and make sure his bodyguards kept their distance when he regularly walked amongst the poor, dressed as one of them. Although many lived in extreme poverty, he reassured them them that he was doing his best to improve their lot. None of his subjects saw his crossed fingers behind his back as he talked about how things w…

Remembering the Dead and Thinking of the Living

More people are attending ANZAC dawn parades across the country than ever before and the harsh realities of past wars are becoming more widely known. We now know about the lost opportunities that could have avoided military conflict, the poor decisions that caused huge losses and the treatment given to those who refused to fight. I hope that this knowledge will make it harder for current and future New Zealand governments to engage our nation in military conflict. It is also much harder now for war propaganda to be effective when the internet can readily counter misinformation. We probably have more to fear from rogue trade agreements than from World War 111.

While many stood in the rain beside the Invercargill cenotaph this morning, remembering the hundreds of soldiers listed, few would be thinking of those who are still living, but suffering, in our community. While I think it is extremely important that we do remember the lessons of war, there does seem to be a greater focus on em…

John Key Aspires to Mediocrity

The Prime Ministers of New Zealand who have had lasting respect are the ones who have stood up on the global stage on points of principle. While we may be a small country, and almost insignificant in a population sense, we have often been far more influential than our size should dictate.

Michael Savage won respect and attention by challenging Britain for weakening the League of Nations, damaging the concept of collective security and failing to properly consult the dominions on matters of foreign policy and defense. At the 1937 Imperial Conference he criticised Britain's weak stance over Japan's invasion of China and its appeasement of Franco in Spain. In 1938 Savage publicly castigated Britain for its acceptance of Hitler's annexation of part of Czechoslovakia. Savage had a strong Christian faith and governed using 'applied Christianity', for him principles and people came before economics.

Norman Kirk wanted "New Zealand's foreign policy to express New Z…

EDUCANZ, Professionalism and Politics

When I first started teaching I spent a number of happy years in rural communities. In the early eighties all teachers were expected to teach in a 'country' school to enable them to get promotion. Country service was seen as an important part of our professional experience as we would have to teach a range of ages and be able to build positive relationships in the wider community. Primary Teachers were never paid particularly well in those days but I always found that the job was given considerable status and clergy, doctors and teachers were respected as the educated professionals in any community. Only a small proportion of the population had tertiary qualifications then and around 50% left school at 15-16 years of age.

When I started teaching, most teachers had a three year teaching diploma and no degree and now there are much greater academic expectations. Teachers colleges have merged with universities and most teachers now have degrees and many principals have a Masters

Invercargill Green Campaign Launch

It couldn't have worked out better. When Metiria and Catherine asked if they could come to Invercargill as part of their 'Kids at the Heart of Education' speaking tour, I jumped at the opportunity. Considering my own background in education and my work as the facilitator of our Education Policy review it seemed like the ideal way of launching our Invercargill campaign.

For a Saturday night I was impressed by the number who turned up for the launch, most of the seats were filled and there was a good cross section of the community present as well as our local Green Party members.

After welcoming those present I started the evening by explaining why I am so passionate about education and my dismay at how the National led Government has dismantled much of what made our public education system great. I used a my blog post that has been widely shared as a basis for my presentation. I openly admitted that I had a depressing picture to paint but reassured the meeting that Metiria…

Bill's Busted Budget and Tim's Exploding Emissions

The Government's 'Rock Star' economy hit a bum note (or rather a number of them) when Bill English had to admit that, yet again, his targeted surplus in 2015 is under threat. Despite the often trumpeted improving economy, the tax take was well under what was projected. The core tax revenue was $1.14 billion below expectations because assumptions around personal tax and custom duty did not eventuate and lower than predicted corporate tax and source deductions were received.

The Government has stubbornly stuck with their tax cuts to upper income earners, a loss of around $1.2 billion a year. This is despite the revelation that 107 out of our 161 wealthiest (who have assets of over $50 million) claimed to have taxable incomes of less than $70,000 a year. 2012 research discovered that up to $6 billion in unpaid tax was being cheated by tax evaders.

The dairy industry is largely leading New Zealand's supposed economic recovery and now generates about 1/5 of our export inco…

The Young Nats Celebrate Wealth and Privilege

The National Party is often accused of lacking empathy and when this was suggested by Metiria Turei she got a memorably vicious response from Anne Tolley and Judith Collins. To me empathy is best displayed through actions and I have noted that most of the policies that have come from the Government have supported the already rich and have increased inequality.

When I attend protests in support of the living wage or meeting with those concerned with worker health and safety, National MPs are notable by their absence. The issue of child poverty and our shocking child health and safety statistics are shameful for a relatively wealthy country such as ours with an abundance of food and natural resources. Why should 285,000 of our children not have their basic needs met? Why should this Government steadfastly ignore advice in addressing poverty and refuse to use a measure to track progress in addressing it?

In a country where 20% of our working population is either unemployed or underemplo…

How Do Our Children See Poverty?

I wonder what the 285,000 children who are living in poverty in our country think about the world they live in? They could be asking the following:
Why do I have to have breakfast at school and not at home?Why do my parents struggle to pay for food when they have jobs?Why does my mum earn so little money when she is a hard worker and does important work?Why are my parents often stressed and arguing?Why can't we live in a nice house that isn't damp and cold?Why do I have to share a bed with my little brother when he keeps me awake night with his coughing and makes me feel tired at school?Why do schools in the rich end of town have so much more stuff than our school?Why did the girl in our class, who finds school work really hard, get her help cut because her frustration stops me from learning and uses all my teacher's time?Why can't I have a computer at home to do my homework so I can get good marks?Why is my teacher and school being blamed for my lack of progress when …

The Great Oil Gamble and Wasted Opportunities

'Gamble Big' rather than 'Think Big' should be this National Government's mantra. Opening up huge areas of our land and territorial waters for open slather oil and gas exploration is a gamble on so many levels. When many countries like Denmark are actively chasing a sustainable, clean energy future, this government is throwing all its hopes on a big strike of fossil fuel.

It is a gamble that in the twenty years or so before any worthwhile production will occur, that there will still be a high level of demand for the polluting fuel (given the growing urgency around climate change). It is a gamble that during the most dangerous exploration phase that the Government has limited public scrutiny and involvement in initial consents. It is a gamble to drill at depth of over 1,000 metres - the deeper the drill the greater the risks. It is a gamble that the Government sees no benefit in ensuring that Maritime New Zealand is capable of managing a serious spill and Anadarko&…

Addressing the Climate Crisis Through Smart Economics