Showing posts from May, 2017

Budget Blindness

One important thing that appears to be lacking in most budget commentaries, is real analysis or critique of the Government's overall vision or economic strategy. After almost nine years of controlling the purse strings, one would think that something would stand out as a planned outcome that had been well-articulated since 2008. Most commentators have just focused on the surface features of Steven Joyce's first effort; who gets what and the short-term political consequences. This approach just feeds the lolly scramble mentality and treats the budget as a moment in time rather than part of a bigger story. The bigger story in this case is that this National Government has never delivered  on the economic strategies it has promoted over its three terms in power. In 2008 it was mining and oil, to replicate the Australian economy of the time (never original thinkers); in 2011 it was the $11 billion motorway investment or the Roads of National Significance (RONS) that would re

Be afraid of Trump's Presidency, not the man.

Donald Trump should not be underestimated. I am not referring to his intellect (which is over-rated ), but the damage he may do to the US and the World. It takes a small intellect and a huge ego to believe that major decisions can be made without advice and using gut feelings (that he calls "being a smart person" ) and Fox News as a guide. While the United States Constitution provides checks and balances to presidential power , it appears that Trump's ignorance and arrogance is allowing him to override convention and law and do things many thought would not be possible. It is probable that much damage will be done before the long process of impeachment finally stops him. Trump clearly  admires totalitarian and authoritarian leaders  around the world and has openly stated his admiration for Putin, Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte, Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, Turkish  President Recep Tayyip Erdogan  and he even said that he "would be honoured"

National's damaged waka and steroid addiction

The National Party had a glorious win against all odds in 2014. Despite Dirty Politics ,  and the exposure of their dubious underbelly, they ran a smart campaign. The image of National's rowing eight pulling ahead of a disorganised tub full of opposition parties (paddling furiously in different directions) was powerful. The advertisement was backed with the driving beat of some very familiar contemporary music. It is ironic that the flash video actually represents the reality of National's governance (mostly smoke and mirrors): the rowers are all on steroids, the boat's maintenance has been underfunded and we all know about the lack of  due diligence in obtaining the outsourced music  ( pretty legal isn't good enough). National's economy is on steroids, the regular injections of property investments, farm fertiliser and immigrants may artificially lift performance, but the side-effects are becoming obvious and a physical collapse is looming . This is not a

Fretting Fantails Protest Pruning!

Fantails  (piwakawaka) are reasonably common in my Invercargill garden and our bush backed Catlins' retreat. In our usual brief encounters they flutter around me, chirping a quick greeting, but something quite different occurred recently that was a little disturbing. Although I have planted more trees than I have felled, and enjoy being surrounded by native plants, some growth becomes problematic and pruning becomes a necessity. A large non-native strawberry tree  had grown substantially over the years on our Invercargill property and was hanging over our greenhouse, blocking early morning sun, and dropped copious amounts of berries in Autumn. I finally removed some large branches with a pruning saw which brought more light into the garden, allowing the natives underneath to thrive and also provided some useful firewood. While sawing through the branches and piling them up for further processing, a fantail appeared. Rather than a quick hello it flitted around me, often withi