The Jackal: September 2013

24 Sep 2013

I am not medicine

19 Sep 2013

Fracking and the Colorado floods

14 Sep 2013

10 Sep 2013

I am not a trinket

Stop the TICS bill - public meeting

When terror acts go wrong

Today, Stuff reported:

A former Taranaki man working in Saudi Arabia learned money he sent home to pay bills had been seized under an anti-terrorism act.

Michael Shaskey says Kiwibank froze US$2600 ($3265) he sent to his New Zealand account under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act.

Shaskey, who has been teaching in Saudi Arabia since June, said he only learned the funds had been sequestered after several messages to Kiwibank went unanswered and he threatened to go to the Banking Ombudsman.

Actually, under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 (PDF), the Reserve Bank is the responsible supervisor. That means only they could have ordered that Shaskey's funds be forfeited.

Under that act, Kiwibank is required to comply with the Reserve Banks AML/CFT supervisor's orders. Also, they wouldn't have been allowed to notify their client about what had happened.

In effect the law is a complete ass! Firstly it requires financial institutions to keep tabs on all their customers at their own expense and secondly it then gives powers to institutions that have no proper investigative capabilities.

But the real kicker is that no civil or criminal proceedings can be brought against an AML/CFT supervisor, meaning there isn't any real accountability when things go wrong. How many other innocent people's bank accounts have the "supervisors" dipped into I wonder?

Deep Sea Drilling - A Local Perspective

Tony Abbott fucks up

Today, ABC News reported:

The Coalition is already piling pressure on the Labor Party to "honour" the new government's mandate to repeal the carbon tax.

Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott yesterday instructed his department to begin drawing up the legislation to dump the carbon pricing scheme, and says Federal Parliament will resume in late October or early November to deal with it.

This is a very stupid tactical move by Tony Abbott and his honchos. It effectively means that they won't be able to repeal the carbon tax system anytime soon, which is good news for the environment.

Why you might ask? Well, the new Prime Minister of Australia doesn’t have the numbers in the upper house to pass his legislation. That means any controversial policy, such as repealing the carbon tax, simply won't happen.

When the bill doesn’t pass the first attempt, Tony Abbott will have to wait three months to be able to table the bill again. Being that there is still ten months before the upper house changes and there are no guarantees that a new Senate will increase the amount of climate change deniers within Australia's government, Tony Abbott has got his agenda and time frame wrong!

The only option available to the budgie smuggler when his stupid legislation fails a second time is to initiate a double dissolution and dissolve both houses of parliament. That would cause another election for the lower and upper house, which is risky business. Abbott has arrogantly said this option is on the table.

It is understandable that Abbott wants to look decisive in pushing ahead with his environmentally damaging policies, but in this instance he's just showing the world what a complete idiot he is...something we need no further proof of thanks.

9 Sep 2013

Climate change won't wait for tomorrow

Another right wing thug

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

National Party MP Alfred Ngaro allegedly punched an atheist teacher at his son's school for not bowing his head during a prayer.

Ngaro, a list MP and former chairman of the Tamaki College Board of Trustees, was last week dragged into the Employment Relations Authority dispute between Tamaki College and former art teacher Christopher Scott Roy.

Seems like a pretty silly reason to attack somebody. After all, people have a right to not participate in religious functions if they wish to.

Ngaro, whose son was in the Tamaki First XV, came up to him and got "right in my face" after the prayer, Roy told the ERA hearing, eyeballing him just a few centimetres from his face.

Representatives from Kings College saw the behaviour and asked after his well-being, and if he wanted security guards present, Roy said. As he went to leave he was confronted outside by Ngaro, who lashed out at him, punching him on the back of his head.

Members of the First XV broke up the fight, Roy told the hearing.

So there are multiple witnesses to the assault.

As he was driving some of the boys home, they told him he was bleeding from the back of his head.

One of the then-Tamaki First XV members, Unaloto Pita, confirmed to the Sunday Star-Times that a scuffle had taken place involving Roy as he left the Kings College function. Pita said he did not see who assaulted the teacher.

There is little doubt that Alfred Ngaro assaulted the teacher. Let's hope the Police investigate.

Ngaro, appearing in person at the ERA hearing, categorically denied the assault.

I guess he would do that. If proven, it would effectively end his political career.

Not much of a loss really...Ngaro is about as useless as they come as far as politicians go.

8 Sep 2013

Citizen A with Julie Fairey & Selwyn Manning

No drill, no spill

Professor wrong on suicide

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

Doctors view suicidal patients as a threat to their reputations and are more concerned with avoiding blame than treating people, a leading expert says.

Professor Roger Mulder, head of psychological medicine at Otago University, said clinicians were afraid of being blamed for suicides and were not acting in the patients' best interests.

Wow! That's a pretty gross generalization to make. I wonder what makes hime think that?

Mulder said he now believed "traditional psychiatric models of suicide prediction and prevention were not working.

"Very few psychiatric interventions have been shown to reduce the incidence of suicide," he added.

How very silly! It would be almost impossible to show when psychiatric interventions have reduced the incidence of suicide...mainly because there are no figures kept for people who have gone undiagnosed as having a mental illness who have committed suicide.

What is it with these Otago University academics anyway?

Despite a large rise in drugs prescribed and ongoing treatment for at-risk patients, suicide rates remain high.

Of course just medicating people up to the eyeballs isn't the answer. Although suicide risk is highest in depressed individuals who feel hopeless about the future, medication can in most cases only treat the symptoms, not the underlying causes of the problem.

The main failing in the current harm prevention system is a lack of holism. There is no real attempt at changing people's personal lives for the better, which invariably means more cases of self harm and suicide when patients are released back to often dysfunctional situations.

Figures released last week show there were 541 suicides in the 12 months to the end of June 2013, almost exactly the same as when records began in 2007.

According to this document from the Ministry of Health (PDF) that shows provisional suicide numbers, a total of 483 people died by suicide in 2007, which means there were 58 more deaths by suicide in the year to June 2013. The suicide rate per 100,000 population has also increased from 11 to 12.

It would be helpful if the Herald could at least get these basic facts right and you've got to wonder why they haven't? Clearly there are more suicides each year since National gained power, mainly because people's lives have become even more difficult.

The only real way to reduce New Zealand's terribly high suicide rate is to reduce poverty and hardship, which National doesn't look likely to do anytime soon.

4 Sep 2013

Grant Robertson - Labour's Future

It's time to Get Free - TVC

Three years on

Three years since the Christchurch earthquakes and horror stories of Christchurch families living in garages and tents continue to surface. Many families are still living in squaller and stranded in sheds or illegally overcrowding houses. Meanwhile, rental housing prices continue to increase astronomically with welfare agencies struggling to keep up with demand.

Much of Christchurch's infrastructure remains broken, not least of all over 400 kilometres of sewage pipes resulting in a huge health hazard from people coming into contact with open raw sewage. As a result of this social dysfunction, suicides in the region have almost doubled since 2008.

Three years after the 7.1 magnitude earthquake decimated Christchurch and we're still waiting for the free market to deliver...we're still waiting for the Christchurch rebuild to actually begin. What a complete failure this National led government is.

David Cunliffe on Labour values and legacy

David Cunliffe vs neoliberalism

Today, The Standard reported:

The next election is critical for Labour and for New Zealand. We are at a turning point in history. The Global Financial Crisis and the Great Recession have busted the neoliberal consensus and exposed it for the dodgy pyramid scheme it always was.

[...]

The neoliberal project has run out of steam. Kiwis can see it offers no answers to the challenges they face. It hasn’t delivered jobs, it hasn’t delivered security, and it hasn’t delivered the prosperity it promised.

The next Labour Government must not be a continuity government. We need a transformative economic and environmental agenda and we need leadership with the vision and the credibility to see it through.

We must also have leadership that has proven it can stare down vested interests – because make no mistake, the beneficiaries of neoliberalism will not give up their privilege quietly.

It's great to see a politician and potential future Prime Minister come out so strongly against the now completely defunct neoliberal agenda. In my opinion, because of this strong stance, David Cunliffe will likely win the leadership race.

Clearly Labour supporters are ready for a change away from the current status quo, a change in the system that previous Labour governments have unfortunately also blindly followed. If David Cunliffe can show that he intends to return Labour to its roots, he will undoubtedly gain more support from voters who had previously become disillusioned with politics.

In fact apart from the Greens, I don't believe any other left wing politician has so openly opposed the right wings free market dogma of deregulation, privatization, and reducing government control of the economy, all of which has utterly failed New Zealand.

More Kiwis are now impoverished and struggling to survive than ever before and such dysfunction is causing untold misery in a country that produces far more than it needs.

In terms of our declining living standards and growing inequality, the main culprit is neoliberalism. Get rid of its destructive influence and we will once again have the New Zealand we all deserve.

3 Sep 2013

Thicke Parody - Defined lines

Key can't get basics right

Yesterday, Stuff reported:

Mr Key was critical of calls from Labour Party leadership candidates for a living wage of $18.40 to be introduced for all government employees.

He said Labour "clearly had no understanding of economics".

The policy would cost the government $2.5 billion dollars and lead to 26,000 people losing their jobs.

Clearly it's a back of the envelope calculation that is of course wrong! What else do you expect from a merchant banker who used to work for Merrill Lynch, one of the companies responsible for causing the financial crisis the world is still struggling to recover from?

Instead of it costing $2.5 billion to pay government employees $18.40 per hour, that's the cost the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment claim it would cost ALL employers to pay ALL low waged workers in New Zealand a living wage.

Here's the relevant NZ Herald report from April 2013:

The ministry's policy manager Cherie Engelbrecht and general manager of labour environment Kirstie Hewlett compiled the report, which showed there are 84,000 people on minimum wage and a further 221,000 low wage workers being paid between $13.50 and $15 an hour.

[...]

The ministry said increasing the minimum wage to $18.44 would constrain employment growth by 25,000 jobs, increase annual wage costs by $2.6 billion and increase inflation by 1.27 per cent.

You might have noticed that paying all workers a living wage won't lead to 26,000 job losses, it will instead perhaps constrain employment growth by 25,000.

To put the PM's brain fart into context, there's around 40,000 government employees paid below $18.40 per hour while there are approximately 740,000 people in private employment in New Zealand paid below the living wage. Key has overinflated his argument by 1750%.

Confusing these two groups of people to try and show Robertson and Cunliffe's policy is unaffordable is dishonest! But what else is new?

Confronting Arctic oil

2 Sep 2013

Joyce loves low wages

Today, the NZ Herald reported:

The policies have gone down a treat among those at the meetings, which had a strong union presence. However, they have drawn flak from Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce who said the three were "spending like drunken sailors".

"If there is another fortnight of this, then what is left of their economic credibility will be shot to bits. It's like they went to sleep in 2008 and have woken up not realising the world has changed so they're back to the old borrow and bribe ways."

Steven Joyce is one to talk. Since National gained power in 2008, they've increased government debt by a whopping 380%. A lot of that $65.5 billion increase to $82.8 billion has gone on bribing their supporters for continued support.

Mr Cunliffe said yesterday he believed the cost of extending the living wage across the public sector would be about $20-$30 million in its first year.

Mr Joyce said Mr Cunliffe was pulling numbers out of thin air. "It would be a lot more than that. They're talking about every agency of Government."

Introducing a living wage of $18.40 per hour for government employees is affordable. In fact there is good empirical evidence (PDF) for a $18.40 living wage across the board.

In 2012, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment estimated that increasing the minimum wage to $18.40 for all workers would increase annual wage costs by $2.6 billion and increase inflation by 1.27 per cent.

However increasing minimum wage for government sector employees to $18.40 per hour would be a lot more affordable. There's approximately 39,800 state sector employees being paid below $18.40 per hour and contrary to what the right wing have been saying, increasing their incomes will not mean state sector employees on better remuneration packages will need their incomes increased as well.

The MBIE also found that 12.2% of those 2.5 million workers are being paid below $15 an hour. Their number crunching shows that increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour across the board would increase annual wage costs by $315 million and cost the Government $67.87 million. However they do not factor in Working for Families subsidies, which would be reduced with people receiving higher wages.

There's around 2.5 million people in full time employment in New Zealand and around 298,000 of these are state sector employees. To increase the incomes of 13% of these state sector workers to $18.40 per hour would therefore cost the government (ie taxpayers) $31.2 million per year before you account for any savings in other areas. The increase to inflation from this policy is so ridiculously low as to not be worth mentioning.

$20 to $30 million is chump change when you consider the government has just given $30 million to a privately owned overseas company, Rio Tinto, when there's no evidence of any economic benefit or increased job security for New Zealand workers.

Likewise, increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour is also affordable and should be one of the first changes a Labour led government initiates to ensure New Zealand's economic recovery. $67.87 million per year is chump change to a government that is borrowing more than $300 + million each week. What exactly are they spending all that money on anyway?

1 Sep 2013

Demo for Democracy


Herald on Sunday vs Labour

Today, the Herald on Sunday reported:

The pork barrels have been rolled out in the Labour Party leadership battle, with Grant Robertson promising to introduce a "living wage" of more than $18 an hour for all government workers.

There is little doubt that Claire Trevett has used the term 'pork barrels' here as an insult. But instead of the policy announcement being an attempt to gain votes specifically from spending on the candidates constituents, which is what pork barrel means, increasing government worker wages to $18 per hour would benefit more than just those the policy targets. Besides, not all government workers are within the candidates electorates, or Labour voters for that matter.

He told 350 party members and unionists in Levin yesterday that he would set a timeframe to phase in the living wage, which is currently set at $18.40 an hour for a family to live without suffering poverty.

He also pledged to lift the minimum wage to at least $15 an hour and repeal all of National's industrial relations laws.

What a fantastic announcement that should have made the front page.

The policy will give National further ammunition for painting Labour as the big-spending party.

Is that meant to be a joke? First we had South Canterbury Finance receiving a $1.7 billion when they didn't need to and AMI a $500 million bailout. More recently there was the Rio Tinto $30 million payment with no increased job security or economic benefit known by the government.

Then on top of the approximately $115 million already spent on selling our assets the Meridian loyalty incentive scheme will gift at least another $40 million to retail investors.

Then we have all the spending on private consultants and the billions spent on roads of little significance plus a raft of other big-spending schemes that clearly show National has completely blown the budget. Have a look at our government debt increasing since they've been in power and it's clear that National has no ammunition, they only have empty words.

But if ignoring these facts wasn't bad enough, it's nothing compared to the editors diatribe against Labour's leadership contest. It seems ironic that the HoS has just won an award when you consider how bad their reporting is sometimes. Take for instance the fact that after Grant Robertson and David Cunliffe both announced there will be significant wage increases under a Labour led government, the HoS reports:

When a major political party decides to hold its leadership election in public, we should hear something of substance from the candidates. They are, after all, competing for the votes of party members, a more sympathetic electorate than they usually face and probably on average a better informed one.

So, increasing people's incomes, scrapping the GCSB legislation, potentially throwing the Sky City deal in the bin and rolling back the clock on asset sales isn't substantial? Get off the grass! The rest of the editors scribblings aren't even worth copy pasting.