Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Years Honours and the Republic

The Government has seen fit to give Helen Clark the Order of New Zealand, supposedly our highest honour, replacing Edmund Hillary on the list. I suppose on the basis of her tenure she deserves an honour as much as any other politician but I think there is something very unsavoury about giving such a polarising politician our highest award.

Actually, I find the whole honours system very unsavoury. The idea that you receive an award from the Government - who are, after all, meant to be serving us not the other way around - seems very feudal to me.

They also chose to give Peter Jackson a knighthood. Again, I guess he deserves it as much as any New Zealander. But it doesn't add anything to his accomplishments, which I think stand on their own merits. He doesn't need the 'Sir' to tell the world how successful he has been.

The honours systems brings the republican debate into focus. Keith Locke, with whom I wouldn't normally agree on anything, wrote a piece in The Bin Liner (otherwise known as The Dominion Post) the other day, in support of New Zealand becoming a republic. While I have my doubts about what sort of republic the likes of Keith Locke would turn New Zealand into, I whole-hearted support his sentiment.

The one thing that makes me a republican is the idea that my children cannot grow up to be head of state of New Zealand because that role is inherited by the eldest son in a family twenty thousand kilometres away. In America, every child is taught at school that they can aspire to be the President. In New Zealand, we cannot teach our children that. We believe our own children are not good enough to be our head of state. The only ones who are, under our constitutional conventions, are the descendants of a corrupt, despotic, incestuous family in Britain. I find this situation offensive.

Friday, December 18, 2009

2009 - the year NZ decided to join the Third World

As 2009 draws to a close, it is time to reflect on the year in retrospect. It was a year that opened with hope for those of us who believe there is a better alternative to the ever-waxing tide of government regulation and expenditure that we have seen under successive New Zealand governments for the last 15 years. The new National government was elected on a platform of economic growth and prosperity.

Alas, after one year of National, the signs are that this is a conservative (with a small 'c') government that is not prepared to change anything that the previous Labour government put in place and that is prepared to increase the burden of regulation and government interference in the economy through initiatives such as the new emissions trading scheme and increases in accident compensation levies.

The truly alarming news out of this government came late in the year when the Minister of Finance announced that the goal of the 2025 Task Force, to match Australia's GDP per capita by 2025, was "aspirational" and unrealistic. The effect of this is that, for the first time ever in my observation of politics in this country, the government has conceded that New Zealand's future is as a Third World, not a First World, country. This alarming news is made worse by the widespread acceptance of the Finance Minister's view in the mainstream media. Personally, I find this situation very depressing and for the first time in many years I find myself reassessing whether New Zealand will continue to be my home.

I am fortunate in that my family and I have dual citizenship and can live and work anywhere in the European Community as well as in New Zealand. My children are still at school but they are already citizens of the world, having travelled to a number of countries at a young age and having already become fluent in other languages. It is apparent that they will be highly productive citizens of whichever country they eventually settle in and I don't think I am being overly boastful when I say that they are exactly the type of young people that New Zealand needs to retain. But it is difficult to remain loyal to a country that seems intent on squandering its future.

Hopefully 2010 will see the National Government come to its senses and follow through on the platform of economic growth and prosperity on which it was elected. If it does not, it will be betraying not only the electors who put it in power but the future electors of New Zealand like my children.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Easter Trading Bill Defeat - How Medieval

If a retailer is prepared to open on a particular day and staff are happy to work on that day and customers are willing to shop on that day, then what business does Parliament have in interfering in the arrangement? Where is the harm?

Actually, I know the answer already - the only harm is to the socialist sensibilities of the those who imagine that we live in some sort of real life parody of medieval feudalism where workers are virtual slaves and are too stupid and ignorant to negotiate with business owners in their own interests.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Science Has Left the Room...

It seems that the climate change debate has gone beyond any semblance of rationality. I can't understand why many scientists, who are otherwise so rational and objective, cast their rationality out the window and resort to shouted slogans and insults when discussing this issue.

For example, the much-acclaimed Pharyngula (the blog name of biologist PZ Myers) today had this to say about fellow scientists who oppose the accepted wisdom of global warming, "..there are two broad categories of denialists, the ones who are sincerely nuts (like Monckton) and the ones know better but are lying to make a profit for their cause (like the odious Steve Milloy)."

He goes on to say, "...the most reprehensibly dishonest 'scholar' of the bunch, Jonathan a Ph.D. in developmental biology and should know better but everything I've read by him has led me to the conclusion that he is also profoundly stupid."

I think it only reflects on Myers, who I normally follow with interest and respect, that he should resort to such personal abuse.

Ian Stewart, the English mathematician said, "Religion hinges upon faith, politics hinges upon who can tell the most convincing lies or maybe just shout the loudest, but science hinges upon whether its conclusions resemble what actually happens."

By this definition, science has left the room in the global warming debate and all that remains is politics.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

NZ - a future nation of domestic servants?

It was interesting to hear Bill English's reaction to the 2025 Taskforce's recommendations on policies New Zealand should follow to catch Australia in GDP per capita by 2025. The taskforce was set up by the National Party-led Government as a condition of its 2008 election coalition agreement with ACT. English didn't disagree with the taskforce's recommendations so much because he thought they were likely to fail to meet the objective, rather he dismissed the objective itself. It other words, he said it was unrealistic for NZ to try and catch Australia.

Let us think about what this means for a moment. Australia's economic growth hasn't been spectacular in recent years, in fact, it has been quite modest in comparison with China and some other Asian nations. Australia itself will have its work cut out trying to keep up with its Asian neighbours over the next 15 years. If NZ doesn't even keep pace with Australia, where does that leave us?

I think the answer to this question is obvious. It will leave New Zealand as an increasingly poor country in an increasingly prosperous region. We are already starting to take on the characteristics of a third world nation with low wages and poor infrastructure, and an economy based on commodity exports and low-cost tourism. If the trend continues, New Zealanders in the future will work for Chinese and Malaysian companies as low-cost labour, manufacturing consumer goods or pharmaceuticals; or as domestic servants making the beds, cleaning the toilets and tending the gardens in wealthy Asian homes. We will become a remittance economy with New Zealanders working offshore sending money home to enable unemployed relatives here to survive, just like many Pacific Island economies today.

Is this what we aspire to? According to Bill English it is. Essentially he is saying New Zealand should not try to compete with its neighbours in the region. We should lie down and allow ourselves to be rogered by those who have the fortitude to compete on the world stage.

I have never before heard such a pathetic, defeatist vision for this country. If this is all English and his cronies think the people of this country are capable of, they should all resign immediately.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Antartic Ice Retreating? Yeah Right!

Mark Steyn has a really good article on global warming here but the really cool (excuse the pun) revelation is in a comment from 'William' about the well-publicised retreat of Antartic ice. See for yourself here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

RIP Anna Woolf

Your ideas were heroically honest in a world where lies pass as facts and where consensus is more important than truth. May your words live on and inspire the sort of courage in others that you have demonstrated in the past few months.