What’s racist today?

When protectionism is racist;

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 8.17.39 AM.png

Here, the Australian left-wing media hangs New Zealand’s Prime Minister elect Jacinda Ardern out to dry because she’s at once too socialist and not socialist enough.

To be clear, there is a difference between social socialism and economic socialism.

Economic socialism views housing as more than a commodity and claims that the free market trade in goods and services (such as houses) must be regulated to prevent the concentration and consolidation of power*.  Ardern has stripes in version of economic socialism**. Economic socialism also does not view people as commodities, to be imported and exported depending on the GDP per capita that quarter.

Social socialism (probably what the vapid, swaying lampreys in the right wing media call ‘cultural Marxism’) means not being a cunt to the Indians living next-door. It means making sure that people who live in your country do not experience prejudice and have the same opportunities as others. Ardern also has stripes in this department.

We see this paradox emerge in the US all the time – Republicans are economically liberal but socially conservative. That was, of course, until Trump, when the socially conservative finally realised that they were economically conservative too – coming clean about the protectionism that engenders their economic strength. They’re still economically liberal with health care though – you limping losers brought that on yourselves.

Which brings me to my final point;

The more astute of you may have guessed that my reference to ‘limping losers’ was a statement whereby I take the position of an anti-healthcare advocate. It is an attempt at positioning both them and me – I believe in publicly funded health and disability care, many Americans do not. If I were a politician, this statement, along with many others I have made online would be enough to get me fired in a fit of internet outrage, no doubt after a Guardian revelation that I’d called disabled people limping losers. Let’s make this easy;

Senator XXX Suspended After Calling Disabled; ‘Limping Losers’. (The Guardian, March 2039)

Tagline; Senator XXX has been relieved of her duties after it was revealed that she once referred to disabled people as ‘limping losers’ in an online blog post in October 2017. 

Let’s have a look at one the BBC prepared earlier;

Screen Shot 2017-10-26 at 8.53.15 AM.png

Yep, this MAN called women ‘sexy little slags’ in an online review of an Arctic Monkeys something-or-other in 2002 (14 years ago for those playing at home). He also apparently called someone he’d an some kind of sexual relationship an ‘ugly bitch’ during a discussion with her (he denies this).

Conservative MP Mims Davies, chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group for women in Parliament, said it was “right” that Mr O’Mara had been suspended over his “vile” comments.

But she added: “Why on earth has it taken so long?”

Ummm, let me think about that one….

Firstly, maybe no-one gives a fuck? I am a woman and I couldn’t give a fuck if some bloke calls women ‘sexy little slags’ – and that’s without knowing the context of it. Maybe he was trying to be funny, he is a ginger after all.

Second, no-one is going to call out this behaviour because it opens the Giant Box of Hypocrite. How long till we see ancient online comments from Conservative MPs claiming poor people are best sliced thinly and served with a light vinaigrette?

I’m less interested in the hyper-vigilant confected outrage du jour and more interested in how it is used. It’s like a tractor beam, ever ready to be pointed at the next person to go. Outrage does not ‘do’ complicated political intrigue – no-one’s got the attention span for that. No, it cuts straight to the chase; he called me X. Let’s get rid of him/her.

Politicians are constantly on the knife-edge of inferior wokeness, endlessly surveilled by a foaming media pack ever-ready for salacious, one-line mis-steps in the morass of shrill identity politics.

Who benefits from this hyper-vigilance? The right wing media, who claim that we all live in fear of saying anything at all. Right wing ideologues like Andrew Bolt are increasingly recruiting ‘ordinary Australians’ as the distance between political speak and regular speak grows.

_____________

*Houses in Auckland (because that’s where this debate begins and ends) are sometimes bought by overseas investors (often Chinese – thus the Asian racism angle). However, it’s worth noting that although 70% of Auckland’s entry level housing is purchased by investors only 3% is purchased by overseas buyers. Middle aged kiwis are finding Auckland’s housing market almost impossible to access because of Glenys and Murray, not Mr and Mrs Tan. Even though 3% is a small amount, it’s testament to the disquiet about houses being traded as commodities quite so blatantly. After all, even if Glenys and Murray are using their property investment to make money they’re still spending it in NZ – it’s an interesting type of commodification.

**Also worth noting that this reflects a peculiarly Australian viewpoint of racism, focused on anti-Asian sentiment when actually, a good deal of the disquiet about overseas investors isn’t about Asians at all, it’s about the (tiny but high profile) trend of very wealthy global/Americans (Peter Thiel et al.,.) buying large properties within ‘iconic’ New Zealand landscapes. New Zealanders fear their rural and ‘natural’ landscapes becoming an increasingly gated community that they are locked out of. Maori have seen this movie before of course….

 

Advertisements

More of the same

IMG_2722

A couple of week’s ago I knocked up this graph with my predictions for the upcoming NZ election. It took around two minutes to compile, and I am pleased to report that my predictions are coming along nicely.

I made this graph shortly before Metiria Turei resigned from the Greens, but shortly after she had admitted to benefit fraud. There is nothing less generous than a penurious public – her fate was sealed the moment she opened her mouth.

My Mum pointed out that Peter Dunne doesn’t appear on my graph – there’s a good reason for this, as was made clear yesterday when he resigned from United Future.

Dunne’s fate was sealed the moment he started vacillating on cannabis reform quite some time ago. You can’t support a scientific approach to cannabis and then continue to support its continued criminalisation. All politicians hold prejudices but the clever ones don’t discuss them in terms of rational decision making. If you appear to be thinking about something people will not vote for you. This is how dogmatism works. Pick a line and stick to it – we’re busy people!

Finally, you’ll note the The Opportunities Party (TOP) is doing quite well on my graph.

As I said on its inception, this party is a real threat to the status quo, as evidenced by the poisonous and at times insane smearing that is coming its way.

In the last couple of days Gareth Morgan’s party has been accused of;

– being anti-neoliberal pretenders, because they’ve said they’re ‘against the establishment status quo’. New parties are by definition, against the establishment, but the headline; ‘New TOP Party Describes Itself as New’ doesn’t work so well.

– being underpinned by some radical economic theory (it’s not).

– discussing ‘economic theory’ instead of Important Political Matters (Jacinda’s expertly wound chignon, OMG I bet it even smells nice). It’s worth noting here that governments don’t systematically underfund education so that the population can have educated discussions about economic theory – (c.f; Jacinda’s expertly wound chignon).

– stealing Labour’s vote

– stealing National’s vote

– stealing the Green vote

– being headed up by a rich white man who once lamented that only the rich could enter politics and he’d therefore decided to spend his money entering politics.

– see ‘rich white man’ above

– calling ALL WOMEN PIGS IN LIPSTICK #lipstickonapig #pussygrabsback #paleandstale #triggeralert #easilymanipulatedwomenunwittinglyco-optedintopoliticalsmearcampaign #fuckingdeadshits

– hating cats

– 1070 good, 1080 better. Something like that anyway.

– something about not being pretty and/or a celebrity.

– not having enough hair for an expertly wound chignon

So, that’s TOP dealt with.

When I made my graph I predicted that it would reflect the results within 2% for each party.

Here are my results compared to Colmar Brunton’s on the 17th of August

GRN

CB – 4.3

Me – 6.1

 

LAB

CB – 37

Me – 37.7

NAT

CB – 44

Me – 40

NZF

CB – 10

Me – 9.4

TOP

CB – didn’t poll for them

Me – 8.9

My polling is based on a sample size of one, me. Most of me falls in the middle so I’ve decided I am normally distributed. This is reflected in my correspondingly low margin of error. Prove me wrong.  If you find that logic confronting, here;

Screen Shot 2017-08-22 at 8.53.07 AM

The real reasons cannabis remains illegal?

Screen Shot 2017-07-24 at 8.55.58 AM.png

There’s been an increase in anxiety surrounding the legalisation of marijuana in New Zealand, lately, mostly due to the impending election. Medical cannabis will eventually be completely legalised, certainly, as it’s just another medicinal drug. However, the debate over medicinal cannabis is frequently conflated with legalising recreational pot-smoking/consumption.

To be clear, smoking pot is widespread and more or less tolerated in New Zealand, unless the police have some other reason to discriminate against you. Keeping marijuana illegal is just another way of giving police the discretion to arrest people they feel might be ‘trouble’.

Forget stigma, this is the main reason it remains both commonplace and illegal. Sure, there’s probably a voting block of boomers who believe that pot is meth’s aperitif, but mainly it remains illegal because it serves a convenient purpose.

The other thing I find interesting is the way this debate is playing out in the mainstream hard-left media. Apparently, the government adds fluoride to water supplies to keep the populace dumbed down and quietly apathetic. Yet the government won’t legalise marijuana?

I grew up completely surrounded by marijuana, and knew many, many MANY people who smoked it all day, every day. If you want a relaxed, apathetic populace, we should add cannabis to the water. Or the next best thing.

To be clear, this does not mean that all people who smoke pot will be apathetic loseroos, of course it doesn’t. Most people use it like they’d use any other kind of drug (like alcohol) – to have a nice time. It’s not a permanent arrangement. If there’s one thing we know, as a recreational drug for ‘sometimes use’ it’s generally well tolerated, safe and nice.

I’m not pro or anti pot – I don’t think it’s particularly dangerous, but it’s not without its risks. Changing your brain (getting high) has all kinds of effects, not matter how you do it. It all comes down to how we judge the effects.

For instance, some people think it’s fun to get a skinful and bash the shit out other people. This is their idea of a ‘good effect’. I think it’s a crap effect. Likewise, some people believe there’s merit to mooching about in your trackies all day – I’m one of them – while others think we should be contributing to the future of humankind by spending ten hours a day mining coal. Each to their own.

 

 

NZ Political analysis from the beltway

….if the beltway is comprised of tea, cats and church.

Here’s my Mum’s take on the NZ Labour Party;

‘They’ll never win. Nope. Not with that chap in charge, he is such a whinger. Everything the government does he whinges about. Everything’.

‘Yeah, I think that’s why it’s called ‘being in opposition’ Mum. If he agreed with them he’d be in the National Party’.

‘Well, he can have a jolly good think about all the whinging is all I’m saying. People aren’t interested in whingers’.

‘Right’.

Pepi pods

New Zealand is currently going through a pepi-pod phase, encouraging new parents to place their baby in a small sleeping pod to prevent cot death. The pepi-pod enables the baby to sleep in the bed next to its parents without fear of being squashed, suffocated, or otherwise lost amongst the Minties in the glovebox.

Yep, turns out that most cot deaths aren’t caused by some mysterious set of factors, they’re just caused by unfashionable ones – poverty, homelessness, substance abuse and formula feeding.

To engage in a little social history…when I was a fresh new Mum my own mother offered to whip me up a ‘banana box’ bassinet. These were common in the 1970s – a long skinny banana box covered in cotton fabric and a little wadding. Babies were separate but accessible – my earliest memories were of a gentle hand reaching down to me through a miasma of cigarette smoke so as I might receive another bellyful of thick, yellowy formula (I should note my Mum didn’t smoke, Dad did. But then so did everyone else. It was the 70s after all).

On another note, I asked Mum the other day what women did before formula. Mum grew up on a remote sheep farm – in those days new Mums did not scrum it out with sinewy Chinese girls for another tin of Karicare, yet breastfeeding wasn’t universal. Cow’s milk was the answer there – fresh, unpasteurised cow’s milk. I’d be fascinated to know how many babies received cow’s milk as their first food.

 

 

 

Housing is the new cholesterol

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 2.34.54 PMBaby boomers have both the majority of housing and cholesterol.

Frankly, I don’t know why we didn’t see the connection sooner. I don’t know about you, but I feel pretty silly. Jesus, this is like that time I shaved my tongue. Thanks, Facebook!

Remember when housing investment was good? And then it was not so good. Then it was bad. Cholesterol started off bad, then not bad, then good. It’s in eggs.

And eggs are good, right? They’re certainly yellow. And cholesterol is also probably, possibly, potentially yellow in its effects, seek* advice** from a professional***.

Who can see the pattern?

Things are Bad, Not So Bad, Debunked, Oh my God, you can see that agenda from space! I knew that bacon flavoured lip balm was good for me!

Don’t go looking for confounders, or multiplicative effects. No. Just look for things that are Bad, Good or Yellow.

Currently, New Zealand’s housing availability is Not Yellow. This is because there is an election looming.

Roughly the argument goes something like; high cholesterol is strongly correlated with home ownership. Follow the money sheeple!

But here’s where things get beyond the scope of finger puppets. There is more than one factor contributing to the housing shortage in NZ. It’s not just immigration, speculation or intergenerational fleecing.

In fact, it’s a whole bunch of RELATED factors, with multiplicative effects which reach a series of tipping points.

Too hard too hard! Can’t we just hate baby boomers? And immigrants? I have so much hate to give!

Screen Shot 2017-06-12 at 2.39.20 PMLet’s have a look at this news article. It appeared on my facebook feed. It’s about restricting NZ’s immigration but the comments section quickly degenerated into a conversation about home ownership.

Apparently, foreigners are buying all the houses, thus driving up prices for New Zealanders. Those fuckers! Swooping in with their haircuts and fancy teeth!

Thing is, of course, only 3% of houses are bought by non residents, and that’s in the frothiest market, Auckland. (The rate is no doubt lower in the rest of NZ, as the market for wobbly weatherboard methlabs in Bunnythorpe is surprisingly bearish).

It’s not immigrants speculating on housing, it’s New Zealand baby boomers. They are seeking capital gain. This is as self-evident as it is yellow. YELLOW!

Although the average rate of investor owned property in Auckland is around 40%, around 70% of ‘entry level’ housing in Auckland was purchased by investors.

This means that would-be first home buyers face the stiffest, frothiest market conditions. (I’m only talking about Auckland here because let’s face it, compared to Auckland everything else IS a meth-lab in Bunnythorpe. Also, Fun fact; 50% of the electoral seats are in Auckland).

So where else will Sue and Brian put their money? How will they grow their wealth in order to pay for the extravagant luxuries they’ve become accustomed to, like heating and meat that hasn’t got a picture of cat on the tin?

The NZ pension pays about 20 grand. Now I can live on rather a lot less than 20 grand, but that’s because I’m a completely impoverished Gen-Xer with a student loan almost entirely comprised of compounding interest (remember that, GenY? Student loans used to have compounding interest. dissolve that in your turmeric mylk, snowflake etc.,). I consider my life fairly comfortable, but I doubt there are many baby boomers who’re willing to climb into my cut-off sleeping bag.

Let’s talk about other reasons baby boomers invest in housing.

Many New Zealanders do not retire with heaps of cash. Their superannuation scheme is voluntary and there aren’t the tax breaks that exist in Australia to encourage saving. For many, their main source of capital is their house. They can use their small savings to buy another house, leveraged off their existing house. Interest rates are low, which means their mortgage is ‘cheap’ and it’s less tempting to keep their money in savings.

As noted above, investors comprise the majority of the lowest quartile of the market. They are effectively bidding one another up, and the resulting increases in rent are worn by tenants and the government (through the ever climbing accommodation supplement – indexed to market rents. NB; In Australia, when the government transfers money to wealthy property owners it’s called ‘middle class welfare’).

Yes, this housing situation is fragile – the bubble might burst, and those who with negative equity may lose both their rental property but also the family home. Not that it matters because they’ll still have some remaining equity and houses will be cheap as chips! However, no one really thinks this will happen – the market isn’t wobbly enough for it to fall over. There may be some corrections, but the reality is, as long as the government continues to pump warm bodies into the cities, she’ll be right.

Sure, Sue and Brian could take their modest savings and invest them in the sharemarket, (Mum and Dad investors), but they’re not comfortable doing that because they don’t know anything about it. The returns might be higher but they equate higher returns with greater risk. At least a house is a real thing. You can constantly reassess your vulnerability with a house. People will always need houses.

So let’s have a capital gains tax, right? Because that will make housing more affordable for lower and middle class families, right? Less liquidity in housing means more liquidity for alternative investment. The rest of the economy will benefit in more balanced growth! Huzzah!

Well, as far as I know the only tolerable capital gains tax model floated so far is one where investors must hold on to the property for 3-5 years to avoid the capital gains tax. That might knock a touch off the froth of the speculation, but it’d be three fifths of fuck all. Hanging onto a rental property for five years isn’t a problem for most baby boomers – they’re going to live to 150 years old.

While we’re here, let’s have a bit of a chat about immigration and infrastructure in Auckland. Underfunding infrastructure is underfunding infrastructure. It’s not a matter of demand outstripping supply – you can always build more infrastructure. In the old days governments used to even plan for it! On paper! Yeah you can limit the number of people moving into cities but….

Sprawl is the new MasterChef. It’s worth it just to wait until the pressure is at fever pitch then expand the outskirts of the city, delivering the maximum profit to landbankers. Land bankers don’t want infill housing or more infrastructure within existing city limits. Neither do homeowners – no-one wants a block of flats next door. Imagine what that’d do to the market value? No, no no, Murray! It’s much safer to return a tax free profit to investors. Because; voting demographics.

It’s worth noting that Australia has capital gains tax, compulsory super that is heavily supported with generous tax incentives and is discussing ways to limit negative gearing BUT its housing market remains far too frothy for almost everyone under the age of 60 to enter in the city.

This polarised, simplified ‘debate’ is what’s known as class warfare/wedge politics.

That’s my contribution for today. Feel free to correct me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

500 words – New Zealanders in Australia

The Australian government’s recent crackdown on the residency of (not just) New Zealanders is gaining rather a lot of attention in the New Zealand media. Apparently, they ‘can’t just keep taking our rights away’.

I’m always amazed at the expectation that New Zealanders have immutable birth rights in Australia. New Zealanders are not actually Australians. So the only reason Australia would want to extend ‘rights’ to kiwis is is they get something in return. For almost all of the nineties and two thousands, what Australia got was an upwardly mobile, constant influx of well educated, mostly healthy adults of working age, who would pay tax but cost the government very little in return. To be clear, there are no shortage of ‘foreigners’ working in Australia who do this too.

New Zealand’s immigration requirements are much more relaxed than Australia’s however – after all, it is the cornerstone of their continued economic growth. As a consequence, New Zealand started being used as a stepping stone to get into Australia. The New Zealand government claims this is not the case, but it is. I could talk more about this but I won’t right now. It’s Occam’s Razor though – one in four kiwis who move to Australia originally came from outside NZ to begin with.

Most recently, this article talks about the introduction of international fees for New Zealanders. Below is a quote from a peevish student, who moved with his entire family to Australia as a teenager. He was considering his degree choices, but the new fees mean he’s now planning to move back to NZ,Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 7.02.55 AM

And that, right there, is why the New Zealand government is dragging its feet to assist New Zealanders in Australia – they want them back. Like the flow of people from the global south to the north, New Zealand is losing its working population. Nominally educated with at least a few of their own teeth, the New Zealand government is looking hard at its own large and unskilled population, as well as the high numbers of non-earners (young and old), and thinking; ‘By Hoki, we could really do with some of the flash ones back!’.

They can’t ‘pull’ them back with higher wages or working conditions, so all they’ve got left is the ‘push’ – Australia making it more and more uncomfortable for New Zealanders to stay in Australia.

The real losers out of this deal are the children, like Laurie, cited above. His parents moved him to Australia but made no attempt to obtain citizenship for Laurie, who would always be, even under the previous arrangements, the child of relatively temporary migrants. There aren’t many kids in this situation – children who are born in Australia to New Zealanders automatically gain citizenship when they turn ten, so really it’s just the kids who’ve moved there at some point during their childhood. It’s got to be pretty hard to move back to NZ when you’ve spent almost all your life in Australia.