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A plague on both your houses!

with 8 comments

The discussion of our terrible housing market – especially the massive and relentless rise in house prices over many years now – is one I’m used to hearing often from the friends of my kids. In fact one of them joked a year ago in Wellington that when she’s at some party and doesn’t know anybody, a sure-fire conversation starter is to talk about how her Generation, Gen Z, may well be screwed when it comes to buying a house, especially those who lack the Bank of Mum and Dad.

Yet as is often the case, it takes the perspective of a foreigner to really bring home the news of just how bad things are. In this case via a Canadian who tried – and failed – to get a foothold here in NZ, New Zealand shows how a housing crisis can become a catastrophe:

I arrived in New Zealand’s capital of Wellington in early 2020 with my fiancée, a New Zealander, to buy a house and start a family. We knew that the Pacific country’s overheated housing market would be a challenge, but we’d lived in Toronto and Vancouver. We considered ourselves prepared. We’d soon learn that New Zealand’s housing problems are similar to Canada’s, just much worse.

Having scrimped and saved for years in Canada, and with a slightly stronger currency to exhange, they decide to have a crack at $750,000 place, all 800 square feet of it with a miserable commute, no backyard, no parking spaces, no grocery store and in one of our worst areas for socio-economic deprivation.

An adviser looked at our bank balances and asked if we were expecting a large donation from family. Our smiles faded. Without at least 20 per cent down, the bank wouldn’t even look at our application papers. A year later, we tried again with the help of a mortgage broker. The result was the same, but house prices had soared by 50 per cent. We started packing our bags for Montreal, which still has relatively affordable homes.

Admittedly he’s a journalist so no great loss for New Zealand, but there are plenty of brighter and more valuable people – and ones younger than him – who are making the same decision. As he puts it:

When my fiancée and I decided to announce we were leaving New Zealand toreturn to Canada, I prepared myself for awkward conversations. I needn’t have worried. Most of our friends beat us to the punch with their own plans to leave, turning the first months of 2022 into a long going-away party. For those who remained, the conversation boiled down to one question: “It’s the housing, isn’t it?”

For those who love history, here’s the bipartisan aspect to this disaster.

Yes, I know that John Key and National were stymied over changing the Resource Management Act by Peter Dunne, but I’ve always had three problems with that excuse.

First, that attempt was not made until late in the Key Administration. A government of National and ACT alone (National/ACT had 63 seats between them) could have made the changes in his first term as PM between 2008-2011.

Second, Key worked on Wall Street and made a fortune. He also ruled the National Party well (preventing Jamie Lee Ross incidents or killing them off quickly if they did happen, re Richard Worthless). Yet we’re supposed to accept that that he didn’t know how to apply a blowtorch to the soft and squishy lower reaches of that preening wanker, Peter Dunne, and others?

Third, in any case the housing crisis is driven by more than just one factor in the form of the RMA, and none of those others were addressed by National either.

In 2017 I thought that Labour’s Phil Twyford had some good ideas for getting the housing market to work better, especially the parts that have driven city land prices, which is the primary component of the overall house price insanity.

But those ideas all vanished and he was left holding a typical Labour/Left Big Government solution in the form of the ill-fated Kiwibuild.

I suspect that the real reason that National and Labour are so helpless in the face of this market failure is that house values now constitute such a part of our “wealth” – feeding our consumerism via increased borrowing against the rising value of housing – and are the only investment in New Zealand that’s “safe”. Dropping those values to levels that are more affordable for young people, let alone crashing them back to where they should be in terms of wage and salaries, would incredibly economically damaging to too many people.

Especially the people who got on board this gravy train years again, like the Boomers and Gen X’rs like me. People who vote. BY contrast this is what our kids and grandkids are facing, courtesy of Michael Reddell’s updated analysis of housing costs in New Zealand, especially in relation to incomes and Price/income ratios, with the key insight:

At best, it takes 33 years for price/income ratios to get back to three – the sort of ratio seen in large chunks of the US, in cities large and small. At best, it would take almost a quarter of a century to get back to a price/income ratio of four.

Frankly I can no longer see this being resolved, given that, as Michael Reddell points out, both the leaders of the National and Labour Parties have said that significant price drops – say 25% – would not be acceptable.

Why? It would simply put us back two years. Although buyers in the last two years would be looking at negative equity, that’s a temporary situation that can be worked out of and has been in the past.

If you’re not willing to unwind a clearly screwed-up marketplace by even a small amount because some recent entrants will feel some (book-value) pain then you’re basically admitting that the current situation of relentless and ever larger price increases will continue, which will lock out a lot more potential entrants, particularly the young. The graph above is a “best-case” scenario if price drops are not permitted – and it shows an awful situation for people wanting to enter the housing market.

In a sense our housing market has become rather like any welfare system or drug addiction: the more people who are hooked on it the less chance there is of changing it. The only difference is that with housing it’s the newest entrants who have the most to lose.

Which means that what we have here is a Ponzi scheme, and they never end well. But they do end, irrespective of the authorities.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 15, 2022 at 4:09 pm

This tactic won’t work in NZ, unfortunately

with 14 comments

The tactic of a political party stiffing its MSM opponents that is.

The reason being that we don’t have anything like Fox News in NZ, although small outfits like The Platform are trying to get into the game.

Still, it’s nice to see the Republicans finally getting a fucking clue about their enemies, as shown by the decision of a largish gathering in Florida called The Sunshine Summit to not bother inviting or dealing with most of the MSM. This promptly led to whinging by the MSM, starting with Vanity Fair:

Other high-profile Florida Republicans were also in attendance at the Hardrock Hotel & Casino event, which this year tried something new: after seven years of being open to the press, “it limited which media could attend, giving inside-the-room access to right-wing outlets that give the governor positive coverage,” Politico reports, adding that traditional GOP figures were “largely replaced by the conservative social media influencers with massive followings who have recently moved to Florida and become some of DeSantis’ most vocal backers.”

Many local and national mainstream outlets were unable to get press credentials, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, including the Miami HeraldPoliticoFlorida Politics, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

This led Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’s press secretary to respond as follows:

Some journalists had already realised that this is happening far beyond this event.

Read that article to see the Tweet response to that piece. Among other things the responders note that Biden campaigned from the basement in 2020, that his media handlers quite literally shout at reporters as they wave them out of the room so they can’t ask follow-up or off-the-cuff questions, plus other tactics:

How many sit-down interviews has the head of the Democratic Party done in the last 6 months, not including late night comedians?

The vast majority of the American MSM are no “journalists” or “reporters”, especially the ones based in Washington D.C. They’re Democrat Operatives With Bylines and have been for some years now. It’s nice to see that GOP (at least some of them) finally getting a clue about this.

Naturally enough the Washington Post decided to launch an all out attack on Christina Pusha, a 2000-word “analysis” of her tweets, starting with the one I’ve included here:

The derisive tone was typical of Pushaw, 31, a state employee who earns $120,000 a year. In the 14 months since joining DeSantis’s staff, she has transformed the typically buttoned-down role of gubernatorial press secretary into something like a running public brawl — with Twitter as her blunt-force weapon… Her usual targets: Democrats, the news media and anyone else she deems insufficiently supportive of DeSantis’s agenda and her own conservative politics,”

Just to show you their honesty and good will they also tried to link Pushaw to the followers of the QAnon conspiracy theory, who they claim used the term “groomer” before Pushaw did. Gee, that would give any Republican confidence that they were going to be dealt with fairly by the MSM (/sarc).

Pushaw simply doubled down and hit back hard:

“Amid war in Europe, runaway inflation, a global energy crisis, our economy about to be plunged into recession, the many scandals of the Biden Administration, record-breaking illegal immigration and drug trafficking, and terroristic threats against Supreme Court Justices, the Washington Post chose to devote months of effort to writing a profile about a staffer in Tallahassee,” Pushaw told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

“This is ‘DeSantis for Clicks,’ and Floridians see right through it. No wonder media credibility has fallen to an all time low,”
[Paul Farhi, the author of the piece] is “[The] Washington Post’s Creepiest Reporter.” 

But some of the GOP are still politically clueless. Like this idiot, Peter Meijer, a Republican representing Michigan’s 3rd district, who has proudly boasted about being the only Freshman GOP House member to vote for Trump’s impeachment – and yet now finds that the Democrats are funding, with a huge TV advertising buy, his Trump-supported primary opponent. Meijer went public with a whinge about it with a op-ed:

So you would think that the Democrats would look at John Gibbs and see the embodiment of what they say they most fear. That as patriots they would use every tool at their disposal to defeat him and similar candidates that they’ve said are an existential threat.

Instead they are funding Gibbs.

What a clueless fucking moron. GOP voters should dump him less because he voted to impeach Trump (free choice and all that), but because he’s so demonstrably politically fucking clueless. As the writer of the article points out:

They are boosting your opponent because they do not care about you. They never cared about you. You were a useful idiot to put a “bipartisan” stamp on their ill-fated impeachment. The moment you outlived your usefulness, they were always going to throw you overboard.

Honestly, it’s incredible to see Meijer beg and plead for fairness from a Democrat Party that was never going to offer him fairness. Even in redistricting, they screwed him over, making his district bluer. Yet, here’s Meijer still thinking that if he just says orange man bad loud enough, Democrats will disengage and pat him on the head.

I had already intended to write about this long-needed change of strategy by the GOP when I saw this latest polling news from the Roy Morgan poll over at Kiwiblog, showing National falling back even as conditions worsen for the Labour government.

I can only assume that the recent MSM-led attacks on Chris Luxon over abortion and his trip to Hawaii, had an effect? Or perhaps it’s National itself. In any case, since Luxon is at least going around NZ, talking to all sorts of smallish groups, perhaps he’d consider giving The Platform a go, even if they might perhaps ask tough questions of him about National’s C-19 approach of standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Labour – itself likely a product of National’s terrible fear of the power of our MSM to shape the narrative.

But the MSM are weak and getting weaker all the time, hence the $105 million government fund to help them survive the lockdowns. It’s time National, ACT and Luxon started pushing back on them; regularly going on The Platform and Hosking and ignoring interview requests from John Campbell, Tova/Jessica and company would be tough I know, but the fightback has to start somewhere.

Hell, why not start appearing regularly on the Sky News program, Outsiders, with conservative hosts Rowan Dean, Rita Panahi and James Morrow. Too scary for Middle New Zealand? A regular appearance while also stiffing the usual suspects here would perhaps force eyes in NZ to pay attention to it. Help outfits like that to help you.

Unless National and Luxon just want to roll with the MSM-Labour/Green/Maori punches and achieve government only when Labour is completely exhausted?

I have this terrible feeling that we’ve got all too many Meijer’s in the National and ACT Parties, appealing to fairness and balance and bi-partisanship and blah, blah, blah; all the wonderful stuff that the so-called “Centre” loves.

Written by Tom Hunter

August 3, 2022 at 1:32 pm

ONE THING I REALLY WANT NATIONAL TO DO

with 26 comments

When we spend more on New Zealand superannuation (NZS) than we do on education ‘we’ have a problem. While I’m happy to acknowledge that the country has a duty of care towards the elderly the simple reality is that the spend on education represents our future while the spend on superannuation represents our past. That’s not to say its unimportant because looking after our elderly is important (remembering too that 40% of retirees have NZS as their only form of income and 20% only a little more) but, having said that, the increasing cost of NZS is a millstone around our collective necks.

Consider this … fiscal briefing papers from the Treasury (bless their cotton pickin sox) show that in 2022 there are 851k recipients of NZS growing to a projected 1.699m by 2060. Over the same period the cost of NZS is projected to increase from 5.1% of GDP to 7.5%. You add into the equation the additional burden placed on the health sector by that increase in numbers and the need to fund that and the problem becomes more acute. Doing nothing is not an answer.

There are a number of possible solutions. (1) Increasing the age of eligibility; (2) indexing the rate to just the movement in the CPI; (3) introducing a form of means test and claw back and (4) a combination of some or all of the above.

As it stands right now the system is uncomplicated. You hit age 65 and pass the residency test and you get it as of right. Simple and straightforward. If you change the indexation model by removing the link to any movement in average wages then you are effectively devaluing the worth of the pension which would disproportionately effect those with no other form of income. If you introduce a form of means test and claw back then you are heading into escape and evasion territory. Many will remember Labour’s ill fated ‘surcharge with National campaigning on its removal only to have it continued (for a time) per courtesy of Ruth Richardson’s ‘mother of all budgets. A move that helped lay the foundation of NZ First … thank you Ruth not.

You can fairly increase the age of entitlement as long as you do it gradually. Over the period 1993 to 2001 the age was lifted from 60 to 65 (five years in eight years). Some argued that phase-in period was too short. I would like to see it increased to 68 over 36 years through to 2060 in one month/year steps. In advocating for an extended phase-in period I acknowledge there are those in the workforce who would be unfairly disadvantaged should the phase in period be shortened. One month per year is doable. Its not the rip, s**t or bust approach stuff favored by some. To me its a no-brainer reinforced by the Treasury who said this would “generate long term savings and could have economic benefits”.

That’s what I want to see National campaign on.

Written by The Veteran

July 27, 2022 at 4:01 pm

NO COMMENT NEEDED

with one comment

Written by The Veteran

July 22, 2022 at 3:02 pm

Ideas from the American Heartland

with 10 comments

New Zealand’s economic productivity has been low for decades now, in both the pre and post-Rogernomics era.

Jokes like ACT’s Productivity Commission have predictably not helped, and neither will the insanity of other government ideas like their new energy policies, especially renewable energy, which, judging from the experience of other nations, are going to result in a more unstable and expensive power system that won’t meet demand. Given that our technological and industrial world relies on having plentiful amounts of relatively cheap energy this is yet another marker of serious problems ahead.

Even a difference of 1% per annum between us and other nations productivity growth will, over years and decades, add up to large gaps in GDP, translating into us being outspent by those other nations on all manner of things – like doctors and nurses. In fact it already has, hidden by the cheap products churned out by China’s economy in the last twenty years.

With younger people fleeing the country as soon as the C-19 border controls were lifted, and possibly hundreds of thousands soon to follow, plus the current problems with staffing our healthcare system, with much talk of immigration problems with Phillippine nurses, it should be obvious that those who focus on the future are thinking that New Zealand’s is not so bright. In another twenty years we may not be able to afford those foreign nurses, for the Developing world will be able to pay more.

I’ve already covered some of the basic economic things that could be done to kick-start the NZ economy after our lockdowns and general malaise, using the lessons from Germany in 1948 (A different economic starter motor)

But in the superb web site, City Journal, is a recent article that suggests ideas aimed at something other than theories about economics, taxes and spending. A Heartland Manufacturing Renaissance looks at recent growth in businesses and jobs in the American Mid West, which had the crap kicked out of it decades ago:

Out in the rolling country just east of Columbus, Ohio, a new—and potentially brighter—American future is emerging. New factories are springing up, and, amid a severe labor shortage, companies are recruiting in the inner city and among communities of new immigrants and high schoolers to keep their plants running.

Not long ago, Ohio was a classic Rust Belt state, with high unemployment, massive outmigration, and a prevailing sense that time had passed it by. Between 1990 and 2010, Ohio lost more than 420,000 factory jobs. Then things started to turn around, as the state gained back nearly 100,000 industrial positions over the next decade, until the pandemic interrupted that growth.

It’s not just Ohio either:

Almost all the states with the fastest industrial growth are outside the coasts, led by Texas, Michigan, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arizona, Ohio, Minnesota, and North Dakota.

In Ohio, new plants are popping up in numbers second only to Texas. To put this in context, Ohio is booking new capital projects on a per capita basis at a rate almost 14 times that of California, 

Notably this success does not include the old industrial centres like Detroit and Chicago. There are many factors involved here, starting with governments that don’t treat business and business people as greedy, grasping assholes that need to be regulated on every aspect of their existence.

The Buckeye State, notes Rick Platt, president and CEO of the Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority, “never skipped a beat on funding development.” More than 60 such authorities in Ohio work to attract industry with capital financing, infrastructure investment, land preparation, and speculative building development. Such efforts often tend to be largely expensive money-wasters, but in Ohio they have proved more successful.

Many companies created as a result including the world’s first organic baby food company. I thought New Zealand was into organics, and baby food? Why weren’t we the first on this?

There are other factors involved of course and at least two of them should be applicable to New Zealand:

Many Ohio firms, like TDK and Ariel, use cutting-edge technologies like 3-D printers, robots, and computer-controlled machine tools that allow them to produce better and often cheaper products. John Wilczynski, executive director of America Makes, a manufacturing consortium funded by the U.S. Air Force and based in Youngstown, says that these “additive manufacturing” processes open new possibilities for companies to lower costs and craft parts that, in many cases, were previously available only in China or other countries. Wilczynski believes that “digitally distributed manufacturing” is key to helping U.S. firms compete more effectively.

But no matter how clever the technology there’s also the people needed and how they’re educated and then trained.

“We really need practical skills more than anything for our business,” notes Andrew Lower of TDK Manufacturing, which makes components for Tesla as well as for semiconductor and medical-equipment firms. 

As in the USA there has been far too much emphasis in NZ on university education, with frequent reference made to the lifetime income of university graduates being much higher than those who merely finish high school. Those references too often looked at the past, ignoring the rapidly increasing cost of university, leaving young people mired in debt for years:

The up-front investment of college is extraordinarily high—tuition has increased 213 percent in the last 30 years—and returns for many students are not guaranteed.

There’s also the reduction in standards caused by universities aiming for government funded bums-on-seats, with the degradation showing most clearly in qualifications so esoteric that they could only end in low-paid work, with Welfare For Families as a never-ending, dead-end supplement to try and keep the whole creaking structure working.

The conventional wisdom among pundits and politicians is that the big labor shortages are concentrated in fields employing well-educated professionals. President Biden has talked about having factory workers and oil riggers “learn to code.” But companies are crying out most for skilled, dependable workers who can act as drivers, machine-tool operators, and welders. 

Due largely to an aging workforce, as many as 600,000 new manufacturing jobs this decade will go unfilled. The shortage of welders alone could grow to 400,000 by 2024. By May 2021, amid a mild economic recovery, an estimated 500,000 manufacturing jobs had no takers. Overall, manufacturing jobs pay over 20 percent more than typical service or retail jobs.

And that’s before we consider the demographic problems that we’re about to hit, as others are also being hit:

One of the main obstacles to reindustrialization is a massive labor shortage. U.S. population growth between ages 16 and 64 has dropped from 20 percent in the 1980s to less than 5 percent in the past decade. The shortage is afflicting most industrial economies worldwide. China, with a population expected to shrink by half in less than a half-century, is already seeing a decline in its under-60 population. A lack of new workers is slowing Germany’s formidable manufacturing sector.

Fewer workers means increasing wages as competition for skilled people rises. Young people need no economics knowledge to see this, only the employment advertisements in Australia and further afield, and often enough it’s for jobs that have seemingly little connection to what they studied here in school.

We need a better emphasis on training for skills and the next National-ACT government could do worse than to take a look at things like this:

The Ohio Association for Career and Technical Education boasts a 98 percent graduation rate, and the vast majority of its graduates find jobs or advance to higher education. Local efforts are important, too. C-TEC (Career and Technology Education Centers) of Licking County collaborates with local companies, high schools, and colleges to train skilled workers. Students who often struggled in high school study subjects such as medical technology and welding and learn to operate complex machinery, including 3-D printers and robotic arms.

We all knew kids like this in high school. They weren’t dumb, they just weren’t interested in academic crap. The same kids now are buried in even more of it, and right through to Year 13 (the old Form 7) which was once the world only of those likely to go on to university but which now consists of almost the entire wing that started high school in Year 9. There’s also this:

Skills-education programs like these do more for working-class families, minorities, and immigrants than any array of “diversity” initiatives. 

Terrence Hayes, who runs Ariel’s 125-person operation in Licking County, suggests that the biggest struggles tend to be not at the top—after all, foreign engineers are plentiful—but closer to the factory floor. “There’s been a period of at least twenty years where we have moved away from practical skills,” he notes. “We would have been better off if there were machine shops in schools like when I was a kid.”

Education has been treated as a backwater by successive governments, with tweaking on qualifications like NCEA and never ending fights about funding being the main topics – yet with increasing truancy rates as high as 40% and significant percentages of people leaving school with little or no qualifications, plus the free market of seemingly endless numbers of “Higher Education” places producing empty qualifications.

It can’t go on as it is and it needs the same focus and energy applied as does Healthcare – and the lessons from places like Ohio. Read the whole thing.

Written by Tom Hunter

July 16, 2022 at 1:04 pm

WELL DONE NATIONAL

with 3 comments

The traditional route for National Party members wanting to promote policy ideas is to have them endorsed by their electorate policy chair/electorate executive who then forwards them to the regional policy committee for debate and then to the caucus spokesperson for consideration. Does work although some would consider the process to be cumbersome and time-consuming.

Clearly the party has acknowledged that because today I received an e-mail inviting me to join any of eleven zoom meetings being conducted over the next two months where party members will be able to engage directly with caucus members holding shadow portfolio responsibilities. As I understand it the MP hosting each session will outline, in broad terms, the likely policy direction to be taken with members able to express their views.

Direct grass root involvement in policy formation and debate is essential and any enhancement of the process is be applauded. Kudos to those responsible for this initiative.

Written by The Veteran

July 15, 2022 at 12:35 pm

STANDING CONDEMNED

with 13 comments

The Maori Party and its leaders (both inside and out of Parliament) for their racist attack on the ACT party leader at their annual conference last weekend which saw co-leader Rawiri Waitai muse on poisoning David Seymour and earlier their President, Hone Tamihere, sometime Labour Party cabinet minister, calling ACT “the white settler party and if they don’t like it here they should buy a one way ticket to Australia”. Tamihere sought to justify his outburst citing ACT’s opposition to the Maori Health Authority (with veto powers over decisions of Health NZL – the one that looks after the rest of us ‘ordinary folk’).

Tamihere might well have included National in his attack as both parties stand together on this issue. What Hone conveniently forgets is that both National and ACT (to a degree) attract significant support from Maoridom, especially from Maori on the general roll. So I guess in Hone’s lexicon they’re all Uncle Toms’ and part of his problem.

The one positive to come out of this is that Te Pati Maori has completely edited itself out of any possible coalition deal with the incoming National/ACT government. For that to happen there needs to be a measure of mutual respect among the parties Te Pati Maori wouldn’t know respect if it bit them in the bum. Te Pati Maori of today ain’t the Maori Party of yesteryear.

Written by The Veteran

July 14, 2022 at 2:28 pm

Two people worth listening to.

with 2 comments

First up is long-time analyst of our social welfare system and one-time ACT candidate, Lindsay Mitchell with The Flaw in The PM’s Plan. That link goes to her website but it’s notable that National Party man DPF has the same article as a guest post:

Between March 2018 and March 2022 the number of children in benefit-dependent households grew by 22 percent or almost 37,000. To picture this increase, imagine about one hundred good-sized schools.

I spent a number of years as a volunteer working with dependent families and came to know the tragic circumstances of a typical child on a benefit. But my sample is small so let me construct a profile based on New Zealand statistics.

What follows is the typical profile of a five year old child on welfare in NZ. It’s grim. She follows up with specific examples that she has dealt with personally. It’s grimmer.

Who asks the hard questions about where all the extra money goes? Who asks why New Zealand has apparently record low unemployment but over 200,000 children relying on a parent on a benefit? Who asks about appalling and worsening school absenteeism? Who asks why New Zealand ranked last in child mental well-being in the most recent UNICEF report card? Who asks why only one in five Maori babies has married parents?

Who cares so long as the PM can pat herself on the back and claim to have achieved what she came to parliament for.

Then there’s Education which seems to be in almost as bad a condition as Social Welfare. Again, this is a guest post on Kiwiblog by long-time educator Alwyn Poole, Our Education System is New Zealand’s “Big Short”. I should note here that I’ve known Alwyn for over a decade, ever since we sent our eldest to his old Mt Hobson school, a decision we’ve never regretted. He is a passionate and smart teacher who has dealt with tough-to-teach kids from low-decile backgrounds. In fact he specialises in them.

Adults have little comparative concern about the NZ education system. Only 6% had high concern about education.

By strange co-incidence 6 (out of 2,600) is exactly the number of schools who bothered to submit to the Education and Workforce Select Committee into school attendance.

We have little medium-term thinking, let alone long-term thinking. Politicians think within their cycle, kids don’t vote, many families know that their children are doing okay, many others are disengaged and/or worried about food on the table and petrol in the car today. Adults worry about themselves and there is no NZ Education Vision or visionaries for adults to support. Hipkins has been the very worst and most inactive Education Minister in living memory – but he has been allowed to be and is rarely challenged by the opposition.

It’s quite incredible that voters pay so little attention to education as a political matter, considering first of all the massive weight of the Public Education sector, and secondly the degree of attention that many parents, at least those who are Middle Class and up, pay to their kids education. Whatever the reason it has allowed the teaching establishment and governments to get away with poor performance, the stats of which he lists and which are as depressing as Mitchell’s SW stuff. Here’s just a few:

  • In the “Southern Initiative” area 32.3% of Maori leavers have less than Level 1 NCEA – i.e. no qualifications at all.
  • Only 14.4% of Auckland young people are attaining degrees.
  • The current Auckland NEET rate is the highest since 2010. In the year to December 2021 more than 10,000 Auckland 15-24yos were Not in Employment, Education or Training.

Not even mentioned is the 40% truancy rate. I know that Alwyn has well thought-out ideas on how to deal with all of these problems and I hope to see them outlined in future guest posts.

Judging from Kiwiblog putting up these two guest articles by “outsiders” I can’t help wondering if DPF is trying to push some of this thinking and analysis into National’s policies in these areas, but I don’t know how much influence he has aside from his polling input.

From the POV of ideas there is at least one thing we can be grateful to the Labour Government for, which is that they’ve have proved that vast increases in spending after “nine long years of neglect” is not the panacea they thought it was and more importantly for that argument, has not even improved the outcomes (same for Health). If anything they’re quite obviously going backwards, which even I would not have believed possible.

I’m sure it scares the living shit out of the Left but with these institutions we are rapidly approaching a Rogernomics-type situation simply because the existing systems are failing so badly, just as the industrial ones were under Muldoon in the late 70’s/early 80’s. My natural Conservatism leads me to not like or trust revolutions – and that includes Rogernomics, which would not have been necessary had we begun making steady, substantive changes a decade earlier. I prefer changes that are less destructive even if they are fundamental, but if the status quo continues defending the indefensible then a revolution in Health, Education and Social Welfare is what we’re going to get.

See also this interview with an incredible headmistress from Britain:

Written by Tom Hunter

July 10, 2022 at 6:53 pm

Learning from other’s mistakes

with 13 comments

I’m not talking about Labour and certainly not the NZ Greens. They’re committed to a path of insanity when it comes to renewable energy, as they are most other things in our society.

No, I’m looking at National and ACT. I understand that polling shows that Jacinda still has quite a grip on the female vote in this country, and that polling and focus groups show the same cohort as being the determining factor on things like wearing face diapers to ward off the dreaded Chinese Lung Rot – and saving the planet! I also get that this is backed by a wall of almost monolithic MSM propaganda 24/7.

But we surely now have enough examples from “leaders” in renewable energy around the world who have started to run into big problems with both the unreliability of these new power sources and the increase in power costs associated with them, as well as the failure to reduce CO2 emissions, (which is what this was supposed to be all about in the first place) to be able to argue back on the basis of sheer, basic, in-your-face reality and not join the insanity.

Here’s the latest victim of that reality, South Africans left in the dark after grid collapse:

South Africans are struggling in the dark to cope with increased power cuts that have hit households and businesses across the country.

The rolling power cuts have been experienced for years but this week the country’s state-owned power utility Eskom extended them so that some residents and businesses have gone without power for more than 9 hours a day.

Eskom has officially said that the blackouts are not a temporary situation and they estimate that it will take “years” to stabilise the power grid. The unstated assumption is that they can manage this feat at all in the face of the path their government has followed on trying to reduce CO2 emissions by building wind farms and closing some of their old coal-fired plants and not spending money on repairs and maintenance of the others because they anticipated their eventual closure.

Does this sound familiar? It should given that we’ve seen the exact same thing happening in Australia, Europe (especially Germany), Texas, and California:

  • Power blackouts (both rolling and sudden)
  • Massive increases in electricity costs
  • Little to no impact on reducing CO2 emissions

The biggest joke here is that we may be about to commit the same suicidal actions just as the rest of the world begins to turn away from it, despite all their hot air on the subject of Global Warming, because those energy realities are starting to bite:

World leaders at the Group of 7 summit in Germany signaled they will turn back to fossil fuels despite their commitments to a green energy transition thanks to the ongoing energy crisis.

“The G7 leaders are pretending that nothing has happened to the green agenda,” Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “In reality, if you look at individual member states… it’s quite obvious that the green agenda will be sunk.

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, a member of the Green Party, announced last week that the government was instituting a surge in the use of coal-powered plants.

Given the steady increase in German reliance on natural gas from Russia over the last few years, their €500 billion Energiewende project increasingly looked like a farce anyway, but it’s taken the Ukranian war to make that obvious.

Habeck is not the only such Green who is waking up, with other Euro Greens beginning to not only get the message that their favoured Renewables are actually better called the Unreliables, but that new – and previously forbidden – thinking is required:

Finland’s Green Party (Vihreät De Gröna) has voted by a large majority at its party conference to adopt a pro-nuclear approach. The party manifesto now states that nuclear is “sustainable energy” and demands the reform of current energy legislation to streamline the approval process for small modular reactors (SMRs). Finland’s is the first Green Party to adopt such a position.

There will be others, judging from this article by a guy who has started up or run companies dedicated to “clean energy technologies”, energy efficient homes and so forth – a True Believer in other words:

I wasted 20 years of my life chasing utopian energy.

Utopian energy is an imagined form of energy that’s abundant, reliable, inexpensive, and also clean, renewable, and life-sustaining. But utopian energy is as much a fantasy as a utopian society.

For years, I chased utopian energy. I promoted solar, wind, and energy efficiency because I felt like I was protecting the environment. But I was wrong! Feeling like you’re doing the right thing doesn’t mean you are. I just couldn’t admit it. My sense of identity was tied to my false beliefs about energy—myths that blinded me to what really does—and doesn’t—help the planet.

He puts forward eight measures of assessment that must all be used when looking at energy sources – emissions being just one of them. The other seven are: security, reliability, affordability, versatility, scalability, and land use.

Suffice to say that he’s realised that renewables don’t do very well when measured on all these factors, as he shows in that article.

Will National and ACT realise the same thing – and more crucially will they be intellectually and politically tough enough to make those arguments?

Written by Tom Hunter

July 4, 2022 at 10:22 am

Bang that drum, Bomber

with 4 comments

Over at The Daily Blog, Martyn “Bomber” Bradbury has being going apeshit on the abortion issue since SCOTUS dropped its ruling that booted both the Roe (’73) and Casey (’92) decisions, throwing the law on abortions back to the fifty US states to decide.

What issue you may ask? That’s the US. This is New Zealand. True, but by my count “Bomber” has now written something like half-a-dozen posts trying to link the decision to the National Party here and in particular to the Great Christian Ogre that apparently is National leader Chris Luxon.

🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

Dear oh dear, oh dear. Those polls showing the slow deflation of the Jacinda balloon and her Party must be keeping Bradbury awake every night, as well as the ongoing collapse of our healthcare, education, social welfare and law and order systems that promises more fail and even lower polls leading up to the next election. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

As even some of his Lefty commentators have tried to explain to him – repeatedly – those problem areas are too big to ignore or deflect from, not to mention that Luxon strikes much of the right wing as a Wet, Woke drip who has already dumped his Christianity in the box marked “personal” and who will be silently “opposed” to whatever other Culture War crap the Left decide to pull in NZ from here on (“the National Party does not do culture wars”.)

However, “Bomber” is not listening: drowning men usually don’t, as witnessed by him refusing to publish my cheerful and erudite comments on his posts. 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

Aside from the desperate stupidity of his ploy there’s also the usual amount of hysterical garbage and double standards. The following has become a favourite over at TDB:

“THEY LIED”, scream the left, both here and in the USA, as they lambast the four latest GOP-nominated justices to get on the Supreme’s bench.

There’s a couple of problems with that, starting with the fact that if Supreme Court decisions were buried in the aspic of precedent and stare decisis, then terrible rulings like Plessy v. Ferguson (segregation), or merely legally weak ones like Bowers v. Hardwick (gay sex), Baker v. Nelson (gay marriage), Wolf v. Colorado, and many others, would never have been reversed.

Originalists such as Justice Antonin Scalia argue that “Stare decisis is not usually a doctrine used in civil law systems, because it violates the principle that only the legislature may make law.”[62] Justice Scalia argues that America is a civil law nation, not a common law nation.

The second problem is the usual double standards of the Left, in this situation something called The Ginsburg Rules. These were crafted up in 1993 by none other than one Senator Joe Biden for the purpose of protecting Clinton’s SCOTUS nominee, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, from being questioned too closely about her radical past positions on various legal issues. There was also the Model Code of Judicial Conduct:

Canon 5 of the Model Code, among others, forbids judges or judicial candidates from indicating how they will rule on issues likely to come before the courts or making any statement that would create the appearance they are not impartial. This rule is critical to an independent judiciary. Justices must remain open-minded when an actual case comes before them. They must not even hint how they would rule.

It all worked like a charm:

Sen. Leahy asked about the religion clauses of the First Amendment. Ginsburg responded simply: “I prefer not to address a question like that.” Leahy pressed for her interpretation of Supreme Court precedent on the subject, but Ginsburg again demurred: “I would prefer to await a particular case.” 

Sen. Strom Thurmond asked whether Ginsburg thought states could “experiment with and provide for diverse educational environments aided by public funding.” Ginsburg refused to give an answer: “Sen. Thurmond, that is the kind of question that a judge cannot answer at-large.” 

Ginsburg refused two senators’ requests to address homosexual rights. “[A]nything I say could be taken as a hint or a forecast on how I would treat a classification that is going to be in question before a court.” In fact, she exercised the Rule to avoid answering any questions relating to sexual orientation: “I cannot say one word on that subject that would not violate what I said had to be my rule about no hints, no forecasts, no previews.”

All bullshit of course. As with the recent conservative justices everybody knew damned well how Ginsburg was going to rule on such issues, that was why she was selected in the first place. To be fair to her it would have been interesting to ask what she thought of Roe since she (later) went on record about how legally weak it was. Still, she would never have overturned Roe or Casey, which was the point for the US Left.

No, Trump’s nominees did not lie, they merely followed the precedent of Ginsburg and Canon 5.

BTW, that article is dealing with the Robert’s nomination in 2005, by which time several Democrat Senators had stated that they weren’t going to follow the Ginsburg Rules or Canon 5 when it came to GOP nominated Justices.

I know. I’m shocked to learn that too! This is my shocked face.

Keep banging that drum “Bomber”.

Written by Tom Hunter

June 30, 2022 at 11:29 am