Friday, July 19, 2013

Sheeple need not apply

Voting. It's one of those things that we don't think about all that much, except for that frenzy that comes upon us when a general election looms. And even then many people choose still not to think about it.

But it's important. Really important, and for more than the obvious reasons. 

When we choose people to govern our land, from a community perspective it matters that everyone take part. Community is a concept that many people really fail to grasp (sadly I think particularly our politicians fail to grasp this). Society is held together by community. The sharing of skills and ideas, the shared responsibility to uphold laws, raise contributing adults and to care for the vulnerable. Choosing who governs us is another shared responsibility.

Please don't imagine that my writing about the importance of casting your vote is going to be 'vote for who I said'. I don't work that way. Whomever you choose to vote for, the act of voting is important. Every vote counts, even if the team you chose don't win. Not to mention that it's massively hypocritical to whine about the current government if you didn't actually cast a vote. Even if the vote you cast was FOR those numpties, you have granted yourself the privilege to reasonably say, "well you dickbags haven't lived up to my expectations then, have you?" 

So, let's assume for the sake of my sanity that you have now decided that maybe voting is a good plan. What now? Pick your favourite party and go for it? That depends on the situation, there are things to consider. What outcome do you want and realistically could it happen? Sometimes there's a gap between what you want to do and what you should do to achieve the best possible result. Last time I cast my vote not to get a party to win, but to try to stop another party from winning. 

Last time around people abandoned the Labour Party in droves, huge terrifying droves. Not surprising really, the reds have been a ship adrift for some while now, even staunch Labour supporters began to wonder if they were actually up to the job. Wishy-washy leadership, incoherent and minimalist policies. So there was a large shift (mostly to the Greens, who lets face it didn't have a hope (of doing more than getting a couple of seats)) Sometimes you have to kind of 'do the math' to figure out where you vote is best used. And who can be bothered with that much thinking amiright? Thinking. It's so important. 

I posit this: These people, once chosen, will govern the country for a significant period, in a position to do immense damage if they are no good at it (or just no good) perhaps putting a little thought into it is not such a big ask.

So: CAN your party win? If they can't is your vote still best cast with them, or is it worth voting for someone else who MIGHT be able to win with a bit of a push - if it will prevent someone you actually DON'T want getting in, this is worth considering. Is a coalition a reasonable idea? Or would it be a good thing to try and push for another seat for a minor party? The trouble with answering questions like this is that you have to have some idea of what the current political climate is like and some idea of the policies and candidates for each party. If you just make assumptions about each one based on nothing more than their party name or that the local candidate is cute or some other facile reason, you'll do some of them a disservice (not to mention the country). And potentially vote for a madman. 

You don't need to become a sociopolitical genius, just take a look at the options and judge for yourself. Form an opinion. I'm full of them.

Peace. Out.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

In a less confrontational tone; Dear Sirs and Madams, what you are doing is not logical (PART II, PART I is much angrier)

Well obviously to YOU it is, your pockets are getting lined.

But if you think collectively, consider the community, what you are doing is not only illogical it's disgraceful. I talked about remembering a better time in New Zealand. I do, a much better time - I don't understand how so many people seem to have forgotten. We used to be a functional and successful welfare state. Please don't instantly switch off at those words, they are not the dreadful mantra you seem to think they are. 

There seems to be an assumption many people make that a welfare state is solely about giving people who somehow don't deserve it something for nothing. This is not the primary function of a welfare state, it's just one fairly minor aspect. And trust me, no matter what system you choose to run things under there will ALWAYS be a group of people willing to take advantage of it.

Do you remember how things used to be in this country? I think the point at which I was certain things had taken a dangerous turn for the worse was when education started to get expensive. And getting a good education became far more expensive than getting a merely acceptable education. The more we have to pay to gain a reasonable level of education, the further the poor fall behind. I know a lot of people would say, so what? But here is what: The larger the education gap ( the gap between what the rich can afford and what the poor can afford ) the smaller the pool of well educated citizens becomes. The more under-educated people there are the harder it is to fill jobs at a certain level of technical ability and above, and the more people there are needing lower grade jobs. Unemployment rises. The need to bring overseas talent in to fill the top jobs raises wages and the top end of the spectrum, which increases the gap between rich and poor, which increases the cost of education. Do you see where this is going? Is this sounding familiar at all? I realise that in your cushy offices and luxury homes it's hard to imagine that this affects you in any way, but can you at least see that you have a responsibility to ALL the people of New Zealand not just those on the gravy train? Does not your moral compass quiver at the thought of all those people abandoned?

You keep pretending that things will get better for everyone, but things will not. In the long run they will eventually become worse for YOU too. Do we want a country where people are forced to live on the streets, slowly starving for want of a hand up? Are we ok with being a people who ignore the suffering of others? Because this is the decision we are being led to. 

I will borrow for a moment from something a good man wrote as a piece of black humour.

The idea of a civilisation that had gotten rid of the middle class. They did it rather differently, but the net result was that they were all wiped out by a disease contracted from a dirty telephone.

Funny or not the point is that every section of a community is important. I'm not into labeling or a class system as such I'd rather think of it all as sides of a regular shape. Each side is important in holding the structure together. if you remove a side you weaken the structure and open it to outside stresses.

I realise that I tend to harp on about education. But really it is SO important. It's the root of civilisation. Without it we might as well climb back up into the trees. Education allows us to live up to our potential, educated to a level appropriate to our abilities makes us a happier people. Variation in potential allows us to fill all the levels of society. But NOT if we do not allow those with the greatest potential to reach it. One should not assume that the smart are always rich, or that the poor are always stupid. Not that there is anything inherently wrong with not being smart, or anything inherently great about being smart. As in all things, it's what you do with what you have that matters. There's nothing wrong with cleaning telephones for a living, every niche must be filled or it lessens us all. 

The primary function of a welfare state is to allow all people the ability to reach their potential. Yes, I am aware that an (actually insignificant) area of society take advantage of that but as I mentioned earlier it doesn't matter what system you use there are always a few who will work the loopholes. I'd rather go with a system that benefits society as a whole than just watch the fortunate few get more fortunate.

Peace. Out.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


The country I grew up in, the New Zealand I remember as a child was a land of compassion; a land of hope. A place where everyone had a reasonable chance of success, and no one had to live in ignominy. We were in fact what America has so long pretended to be. A land of freedom, a land of milk and honey. GODZONE (I seriously hate that term, but grasp it's intent). 

What have we become? I lament.

What drove us to this dirty bottom? A place where our leaders believe it is acceptable to take those most vulnerable people and make them MORE VULNERABLE; Acceptable to discard our collective responsibility to care for ALL our people; Acceptable to treat the unfortunate as criminals. What did we all do so very WRONG?

In the wake of a huge step in the right direction, in the shining light of our finally giving our people the option to marry whatever other thinking adult they choose to love, are we about to take a giant filthy leap into the dark ages? 

Changes to benefits happen all the time, I was a beneficiary for a long time - sickness is a respecter of no one. But the changes we are looking at now are a sickness in themselves. Compulsory pre-employment drug testing? What the ACTUAL FUCK? At the expense of the beneficiary no less. If a prospective employer wants a fucking drug test, they can fucking ask for one and fucking pay for it them fucking selves. Is this suddenly Nazi Germany (sorry Germany, you have come a very long way since those dark days)? read here about the latest travesty

Dodgy new laws invading personal privacy? Sure we can do that; what the fuck, why not! SERIOUSLY NATIONAL PUT A FUCKING TIN FOIL HAT ON YOU CRAZY BASTARDS. Stop it right now.

I could continue but I'm actually starting to froth a little, so I shall restore sanity and continue in peace.

Bizarre idea I know, but what about actually trying to HELP these people? Recently the concept of benefits as an addictive influence on people has been mooted. That handing someone with no current means of survival a lifeline is tantamount to handing them a bong. Well, I can see a certain train of logic in it and I'm pretty sure it's the same train of thought that the person(s) who initially suggested this were on. For some people going from a panic situation with no money, no job no prospects to a wage they can get for doing NOTHING could conceivably be like a drug, but I think that's actually a pretty small percentage of the total adult population. The people who will treat it like a drug for the most part are the ones who are at risk of all kinds of similar issues anyway. The ones who are raised in a naf situation and raised to expect they will never be able to get out of it no matter what they do. The ones who don't believe in themselves in the first place. And what do we achieve by making the system harder for them? We make them even less likely to ever even TRY to raise themselves up. Mark my words National, you will create a new culture of criminal, those who feel they have no place else to go. What you save in making peoples lives more miserable you will loose in so many other ways. Handing someone the means to pull themselves out of the gutter will never be a wasted effort no matter the result. We are judged by how we treat those fallen from fortune, and if we do not try we cannot succeed.

I'm not suggesting that there are no people who will take advantage of a welfare system. I am suggesting that those people are a tiny minority. I am suggesting that taking food from these peoples mouths will not magically make jobs appear, will not magically make them qualified for the jobs that are out there. I'm suggesting that making things harder for the ones who actually want to try will only hold them back.

If you want to make a real change you are starting in the wrong place. The place where the change must come, as all change must come, is with the young. Start in schools, improve our education system (which you have so far continued your crazy path by dismantling further) teach children to respect themselves, to respect others. Teach them to believe they can be everything they are capable of, that if they try they can make more of themselves than what they see. ALL children, not just the privileged few. Make sure that they have enough to eat, a roof over their heads, clothes on their back. Make sure that no child is left behind, that no child feels they are not worth as much as the next. Change for good is a long process, but quick change for a quick profit will turn to ashes in your mouth. 

Take some of the bollocks that no one actually needs to learn out of the education system at put in the skills that will help them GET A JOB. The skills to make a good choice in further training. The education system is a monolith that needs a facelift, a massive facelift. Restructuring to a system that teaches a mixture of what you need to know and what you want to learn. I look at the state of our current education system and weep. Teachers under paid and under valued. For goodness sake how the fuck long have they had to put up with the NOVOPAY debacle? If that was politicians wages getting fucked up it wouldn't have lasted 5 minutes. School was hardly perfect when I was there, lets face it schools worldwide are by and large a bit crap - unless they happen to have a shed load of cash available to them. But when I was a kid it was still a respected institution, not an irritation that you had to tolerate in order to get on with your life (ok I probably have a pretty twisted attitude towards school both past and present, sue me). Teachers don't have time to put into the students, students don't have freedom to learn, and to find their own path. Parents treat schools like daycare and seldom have the spare time to put into helping their kids find that path. All that money you want to put into invading our privacy and policing our poor, put it into helping them to raise a healthier, happier next generation. A generation of young adults who believe in themselves, believe in their homeland and want to make this a better world. I dare you to.

Peace. Out.