Dunne Vs. Trump

The anti-medicinal cannabis crusader, Honorable Mayor of Johnsonville, and El Presidente of United Future Peter Dunne has bizarrely abandoned local issues to take on POTUS Donald Trump via a ferocious open letter  that will be neither read nor sent.

Perhaps Mr Dunne is trying to expand his dwindling Party Membership toward dissatisfied Democrats.

Perhaps Mr Dunne is eyeing up a future electorate to retire in come  Oct 2017.

It is always difficult to read the motivations behind the mystical ways of the bow-tied master of fence sitting.

He has however on this occasion peaked my interest enough for to ask, just what are the differences between Dunne and Trump?

Let us see:

  • One has a bizarre hair style, and the other is Donald Trump
  • One has a political voice far outweighing his voter mandate, and the the other is Donald Trump
  • One has a habit of saying lots, doing little, and blaming other people for it, and the other in Donald Trump
  • One has a history of engaging in insult swapping on Twitter, and the other is Donald Trump
  • One comes from a town with no Mexican Restaurants, and the other is Donald Trump
  • One is a career politician who does what he is told to say in power, and the other is Donald Trump
  • One is a Billionaire making bank from unpaid bills, and the the other is Peter Dunne
  • One is the guy no-one picked to win, and the other is Peter Dunne
  • One divides opinion, makes headlines, and baits the media, the other is Peter Dunne
  • One has a Political Career in 2018, and the other is Peter Dunne

So there you have it,  a five minute once over lightly analysis that produced a clear win to Donald with a 10-nil thrashing.

What can Mr Dunne take from this?

Well Pete, Petey, Pete-sta, if you cant even beat Trump, mate it’s time to go.

Aotearoa: A Post-Truth Utopia

Much has been said about the post-truth era in New Zealand politics.  Most of what has been said is accepting of this new ‘reality’.

I would sincerely like to question why this is.  However a recent dUMR Poll has reveals that 78% of Kiwis think that asking questions is dumb.  A further analysis of the findings indicate that the remaining 22% of Kiwis are most likely Jihadi Brides, misinformed anti-trade TPPA protesters, Homeless People, Benefit Fraudsters, and former InternetMANA agitators.

It seems only reasonable to conclude that asking questions in a post-truth era is in fact a tool of terrorism and a seditious act. Thank John we have five-eyes to keep a track on these people.

So in the interests of ‘National’ security lets dispense with troubling making questions and move on to the main course of facts and realities about New Zealand.

Housing Bubbles: This is a ridiculous and dangerous idea popular among a certain 28% of kiwis.  Minister of Taxi Rides Steven Joyce has done a lengthy and expensive investigation and discovered that housing is most likely to be made out of timber, bricks, mortar, and low grade Chinese steel.  Bubbles in fact, only factor into housing on those very rare super rich Grand Designs type developments, which none of you can afford anyway, so who cares.

Homeless People: A survey of Seven Sharp  viewers suggests that homeless people may in fact just be paid extras for that wannabe contender John Campbell.  This finding is further evidenced by the awkward reality that when the Salvation Army didn’t go out looking for homeless people they didn’t find any wanting help.  My own investigation has  ound that Sven and Ingrid seem quite happy in their very modern camper van.   Clearly this whole homeless ballyhoo is a left-wing conspiracy that no doubt has the universally despised truth terrorist Nicky Hagar behind it all.

Tax Havens: God of all things Tax, John Shoe-in is pretty sure that ‘Tax Havens’ is the wrong terminology preferring instead to reference a recent release by the Minister of Tourism.  The release suggests that New Zealand could potentially benefit by promoting itself as 100% Pure Tax Heaven.  This has been market tested and had an evidence based established.  Feedback gathered via Breakfast viewers indicated that right thinking kiwis believe that ‘heaven’ is a much nicer word than ‘haven’.

Inflation: Inflation is at an all time low, it is so low that you cant even limbo under it. Never mind that your rent, groceries, power, and breathing costs significantly more, these things are not part of inflation.   Minister of Positive Thinking Bill English explains that the negative gearing of downward trends in wages offset by record growth in the inequality sector will produce a meaningful dividend in the future social upheaval market. This will in turn translate into real and projected benefits of external wealth creation in the corporate friendly tax mitigation system upon which the future focused 100% Tax Heaven system will be based.

Labour-Greens: Recent  dUMR-TORi internal polling has emphatically concluded that Parnell residents took a dim view on potato peeling former union leaders cuddling up to a bunch of tree hugging dairy farm hating socialist hippies.  The same poll also unanimously concluded that National are doing a wonderful job given all the mess that last Labour Government left, although Helen might be okay for a job far away, like in New York, so long as she keeps saying the TPPA is awesome (which it is).

Child Poverty: Some people think that just because a kid misses lunch and goes bare foot they are poor.  However recent reports by the New Zealand Uninitiative questions if anybody has the right to label children who choose comfortable natural footwear and take a stand against obesity with a sensible diet choice.  Besides anyone who has watched those UNICEF ads on telly can tell you that ‘real poverty’ is something you go and visit overseas.

The Regions: Rumor has it that south of the Bombay Wall there is a group of wildlings ready to revolt against the more civilized folk living inside the Parnell Keep.  Valiant Ranger of the Key’s Watch Paula Bennett recently braved the lack of real koru club facilities on regional airlines and went to the outlying settlement of Napier.  Here brave Paula was delighted to discover that spirits were indeed high among the National faithful.  All who attended her public meeting on private property where indeed keen  to use the 90 day fire at will bill and the less than livable minimum wage to give some economic refuges a taste of personal responsibility and choice.

Media Bias: Leaving the most ridiculous claim to last, media bias has long been a rallying cry of truth terrorists plying their dangerous trade on the dark web of Twitter.  However a recent review of ‘Media Bias’ by the highly regarded Cosby-Slater-Texnor-Gower Think Tank has concluded that stories about Free-Trade Deals, Overseas Trips by Popular Prime Ministers, and soft questioning magazine style Talk Shows is what the public really wants.  Indeed a recent independent MediaJerks survey asked if listens would prefer ‘Hard Hitting Journalism’ or a ‘Unicorn on a endless Rainbow of Tax Cuts’.  It comes as little surprise that the results  confirmed that John Campbell is the last thing real Kiwis want.

So there you have it New Zealand, the facts are in and undisputed.  Not only are we entering a brave new era of Post Truth Politics, but indeed we may well be on the brink of a new Golden Age of She’ll Be Right Utopia.   Good on you New Zealand for consistently topping the OECD in Pretending.

Minding Gaps & Inconvenient Truths: Poverty in NZ

Building on statistics showing the wealthiest 10% of Kiwis own 60% of the wealth compared with the poorest 40% owning only 3% political commentator Duncan Garner has offered an opinion on Poverty in New Zealand  (Read it here)

Now I have spent the vast majority of my life in poverty – a card carrying member of the Underclass.  Even a hard fought uni degree, post grad qualifications, and professional kudos couldn’t erode the scars and debts of my upbringing.  I still live in the old neighborhood, and my friends and family still struggle alongside me.  So lets see what Duncan has to say about us.

Duncan’s central theme is that John Key once campaigned on addressing poverty, and has failed to do so.  Duncan throws a cheeky side shot towards Andrew Little and Labour claiming they cant do it either, before laying down the challenge for Key to get back on track.

Duncan touches on the good things this Government is doing for the poor

Yes, this Government has done some good things for the poor: they’ve raised benefit levels, got more children into early childhood education and they are redesigning the broken Child, Youth and Family model.

From Friday, paid parental leave went up by $10 a week,  and there’s more free healthcare for children.

What Duncan fails to note is that the benefit levels were in fact intentionally set below the levels needed to survive by a former National Government as an incentive to force people into work (that wasn’t there).  So in fact the benefit increase is just addressing a great wrong done 20 years prior at a rate that makes no material difference at all.

The increase in Early Childhood Education is good, but again it’s only old idea that is centered on that past philosophy to push lazy parents into work.

Increasing paid parental leave is a farce given Mr English’s recent poorly informed veto of a more substantial and meaningful increase.

Claiming free health care for children as a bonus is extremely concerning, shouldn’t healthcare access for children be a given right instead of something to politically crow about?

And lastly the reference to Child Youth and Family reforms as helping the poor runs in complete contrast to the EAP report that barely mentions poverty at all.

Missing is the refusal by that current Government to support a living wage, refusal  to accept that the 90 day bill has created work insecurity, and refusal to understand that falling benefits numbers does not connect to workforce engagement.

Duncan is right when he mentions the ‘cherry picking’ of stats, but lets not translate that into a cherry picking of reported facts.

To his credit Duncan does point out what we can all see, the growing visibility of extreme poverty in the streets,  A quick head count of the homeless people in the streets that Duncan frequents speaks volumes.  As does the reality that social housing in New Zealand is utterly unable to meet the growing need.

Less helpful is the ethnic break down on inequality.  I do get that in the big picture the numbers might fall this way, but take a wander through the poorest neighborhoods and you will find a cross section of all demographics.  Up north the loading is strongly geared towards an over-representation of Maori/Pacific, but head into the poorest parts of the South, and you will find a huge number of Pakeha living in utter hardship.  It is an inconvenient truth that points out how social commentary creates myths about poverty.

Social Myths exist to provide a rationale that is more palatable that the truth.  So what is the truth about Poverty in New Zealand?

Duncan unwittingly drops us a large clue to this

They’re basically living in poverty, hand-to-mouth, week-to-week – if they’re lucky. They don’t have assets.

So what did we hear from the Government? Concern? Worry?

Not really. They agreed with it – in a dismissive and slightly argumentative tone. So what? Nothing we can do about it.

Nothing to see here, it’s the same trend as in the last 20-30 years said Prime Minister John Key and his right hand man, Bill English. These figures don’t fit the narrative – so they’ve been dismissed as meaningless.

The political philosophy of Neoliberalism, in various guises has dominated the political values of mainstream New Zealand for the last 30 years.

Time to take a sit down New Zealand, I am about to give you some very difficult news, both National, and Labour are neoliberal political machines. Both Labour and National believe in market economics, individual responsibility, and work will set you free solutions to poverty.  And both Labour and National have utterly failed to address growing inequality in New Zealand, indeed both have actively supported the conditions for it to thrive.

Duncan posed an interesting question on the left-right politics of poverty.

So, if so many own so little why can’t the Left get these people out to vote. The opposition needs to connect with these people. But they’ve failed to. They offer not much or Little (Andrew) that inspires them to vote.

The answer is stunningly simple, because Labour and Little aren’t the left.  Labour hasn’t been politically left since the days of Kirk and Rowling.  Lange and the chardonnay socialists of  1984 saw to that, and no-one, not even Angry Andy has shown any serious interest in returning to the roots.

The only difference between Labour and National is where the wealth redistribution will come from.  National are strongly aligned to trickle down, Labour to middle out.  Both systems are inherently neoliberal, and both are more rhetoric than reality.

The improvised people of New Zealand know this.  Labour has been no friend to those in hardship, it has played the same ‘you failed’ ‘you made bad choices’ bullshit neoliberal card.  Why would we vote for them?  Indeed why would we vote for any of them? There is simple not any political voice for us in New Zealand.

There is no Sanders or Corbyn in New Zealand, nor is there likely to be one.  The core values of New Zealand prevent such a rise.  The majority of Kiwis do now believe that poverty is caused by individual failure and not by systemic conditions.   The majority of Kiwis are not focused enough to figure out that if you profit someone loses.   The majority of Kiwis are not honest enough to accept that the real lack of individual responsibility might well be them. And sadly the majority of Kiwis are doing okay thank you very much, so stuff the other guy, it must be his fault.

Look we may well see a shift from National to Labour-Greens in 2017, but it wont mean much for those in poverty.  It is just the shuffling of feet in the political middle, nothing more than a corporate re-branding.   It will not be the revolution that Duncan ponders about.

These facts this week are a wake-up call. These people can’t stay poor and silent forever. What does the revolution look like? What is the knock-on effect?

That revolution Duncan is already here, we aren’t silent, we aren’t inactive.  There is a reason why John Key hides behind police lines.  There is a reason why security guards protect government departments, There is a reason why my neighborhood looks out for it’s own and doesn’t call 111.  There is a reason why people drive instead of walking through the neighborhoods.  The revolution is characterized by separation, disengagement, and a brutal rage that is too often misplaced.

There is a saying about the underclass, ‘desperate people do desperate things, and desperate things are always ugly things’.

It is a tragedy 30 years in the making, and no one weeps more than I.  It shouldn’t be this way, but it is.  The inconvenient truth is Poverty is not about the Poor, it is about decisions made by others.   The inconvenient truth is those decision haven’t be good ones and the consequences are becoming harder and harder to deny.

 

Inside the #TPPA Roadshow Experience

On the 7th of March Trade Minister Todd McClay spoke to around 300 interested Kiwis  at the first in a nationwide series of MFAT run TPPA Roadshows.   The Minister made a number of bold and exciting claims about the roadshows;

“TPP has been the most widely-consulted Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in New Zealand’s history, and this conversation will continue throughout 2016.

“While we believe this FTA is of undeniable and significant benefit to New Zealanders, we want to give every Kiwi who has interests an opportunity to ask questions.

“This includes exporters seeking new opportunities under TPP, and anyone who has questions or concerns.”

“The roadshows and hui are designed to allow open debate, informed discussion, and a clear path forward for businesses that can recognize the benefits of a market that comprises 36 per cent of the world’s GDP.

“This is New Zealand’s largest free trade agreement. The TPP economies are worth US$28 trillion and open New Zealand exporters up to a customer base of 800 million people.

“It is a document that has the potential to seriously enhance both the national and regional economies and is estimated to add at least $2.7 billion to New Zealand’s economy every year from 2030.

“This FTA is important. It could be the difference between job gains and job losses in regions around New Zealand.

“We have huge wins in horticulture, forestry, fishing, wine, meat and dairy – and many other sectors.

“Over the next few months we have 50 engagements booked to talk to regions about TPP.

“We look forward to seeing you there.”

 

The Roadshow it seems is an offer too good to refuse.   Ever curious about the TPPA I decided to pop along to the Dunedin event on the 14th of March, and see what all the fuss was about.

Now attending a Roadshow is not as simple as popping along.  In fact in order to attend you have to first register via the MFAT website.
The good people at MFAT no doubt in the interest of open debate and inclusion have the following requirement upon interested citizens to gain entry.
Please note:
You will need to bring photo ID (e.g. passport or drivers licence) in order to collect your name badge when you attend the roadshow. You may not be permitted entry to the roadshow unless you present photo ID.Entry to the roadshow on the day is entirely at the discretion of the event organizers. Disruptive, threatening or offensive behavior will not be tolerated and may result in you being required to leave the venue.

You must comply with the instructions and directions of the event organizers. You may be required to leave the roadshow if you do not do so.

Right, have you got that? before you can enter Mr McClay’s ‘open debate, informed discussion’ you first have to agree to doing what you are told.
Being a curious and dutiful citizen I prepared my identification, completed my registration, and printed off my MFAT confirmation including individual Bar Code, and off I went to the show.
On arriving at the Venue in Harrop street, I was greeted by some very friendly people keen to hear my views about the TPPA, and happy to give me information sheets.  But enough about the protesters, onto the front door.
The front door itself was guarded by a heavy police presence supported by private security contractors from Amourguard.  A young man from Armourguard asked for my photo ID and then told me I wasn’t on the list and asked me to stand to one side while they check if I could enter.  Which under a watchful Police eye I did.  
I didn’t have long to wait before another slightly older young man from Armourguard came to speak to me and ask if I had my registration form, which of course I did.  After a moment of reading my licence, checking my registration , and checking my licence again I was allowed in the door.
Hallelujah I haven’t had so much scrutiny to enter a door ever in my life.  Not even as an under age drinker in  the last century, nor  at Passport control at Heathrow, have I ever faced such close observation and suspicion.  Crikey there must be something really really important inside.
Inside the door was more police, and more security, and a desk to register to attend the day.  I must say the folks from Orbit (Event Staff) were genuinely friendly and helpful.  In a very short time I was given my ID Card and lanyard and direct to the stair well.  Apparently the Lift was out of order.  This was when yet another Security Officer asked to search my bag.  Being a good citizen I handed my bag over.  Apparently my pen and paper and Banana for morning tea did not constitute dangerous items and I was allow to begin my long climb up the stairs.
The climb itself was uneventful except for the presence of Security Personnel on every landing carefully watching our every move to ensure we went were we where supposed to.
Upon reaching the top floor I was greeted by even more security staff and a lobby to wait in.  The lobby  contained some MFAT TPPA Fact Sheets and that is about it.
After about 10 minutes of standing and being watched we were all allowed to enter the conference room itself.
I must admit by now my expectations where very high. After all why have a small army of security guards if there wasn’t something spectacular inside?  Sadly I was in for a big disappointment, entering the room all I saw was a scene that thousands of Kiwi’s would see on a Monday morning.  empty seats, a table, and a power point presentation ready to go.
The only thing out of place was even more security guards and Sean Plunket. Sean was busy writing notes and looking like he deserved every last one of the tax payer dollars he was earning to be there.  The Security guards were busy eyeballing every single person who entered the room in presumably some mind reading exercise to decide who the trouble makers might be. It was frankly bizarre!
At 9:30 Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minster Paul Goldsmith entered the room and joined David Walker (MFAT Head Negotiator) on stage.  Where was Todd?   Not here!  It seems Mr McClay wasn’t that keen to actually meet us after all!  Oh well hopefully Paul has the answers to our burning questions.
Sean Plunket kicked off proceedings with a touch of housekeeping and then explained the rules, and how we should all be civil and polite.  Kind of like a primary school teacher for grown-ups. Before giving the follow to Minister Goldsmith.
Paul gave us his best John Key imitation and told us all why Trade was important, that the
TPPA was super important, and without it we would be doomed to playing alone forever at the bottom of the Pacific ocean, like some sort of international Nigel no mates.
The speech was uninspiring, and at points condescending.  For the first time in my life I was actually happy when Sean Plunket started speaking again.
Sean introduced David Walker from MFAT as the New Zealander who knew more about the TPPA than any other kiwi alive.  A Bold Claim indeed, gosh the Q&A afterwards should be great.
Just as David rose to speak the delightful sound of Monty Pythons flying circus theme song filled the room.  Finally some light entertainment to alleviate my numbing mind and buttocks.  As we all turned around a TPPA activist greeted us with a beaming smile and the declaration that this was a in fact a Circus.  It was a skillfully made point, done in the best tradition of non-violence protest.  The Security Guards seemed almost deflated as she politely agreed to leave.   All those bodies on the ground and still one got through eh?  Value for money New Zealand, value for money.
Back now to the ringmaster of TPPA Negotiations David Walker.  It must be said David has got a really good power point presentation.  It had graph’s, pie charts, maps, and lots of numbers, big big numbers, 8 billion for this, 28 Trillion of that, the long journey from 2008 to now, the scary chance we could literally ‘miss the boat’.  Indeed the smallest number of the day were 1% or 2.7 billion gain to GDP for New Zealand – that’s right  all this for a 1% gain.  Hell a good dairy auction could be worth more!
Now David has a good power point, and speaks well. He does know his stuff. but his stuff is MFAT stuff, and it was silo based.  Yep trade, trade, trade, trade is good, because it must be good, because that’s what I do, and I’m doing good.   It was dawning on me the David might not be the most objective head in the room, and was quite possibly not the most knowledgeable Kiwi on the TPPA alive today.   Now I know it seems unlikely that Sean Plunket may have exaggerated just a little bit, but I was becoming suspicious.
Following David’s Power Point it was time for a few questions before coffee.  Sean laid out the rules, clear questions, avoid politics, be civil, play nice, yadda yadda.  We did in fact have time for just five questions.  Questions which Sean moderated and helped the Politician and Civil Servant to understand.  Did you realize just how confusing us ordinary folk can be?
The  answers given where far from inspiring! Long answers to simple questions are often not answers at all and so it was today.  There was however space for Paul to give us one more  John Key style speech, and then it was time for coffee.
Something must have happened during the coffee break because when we got back Paul Goldsmith was gone.  That’s right the Government that had come to listen didn’t even last past morning tea!  Maybe the Monty Python music has some anti-bollocks magic power that I was previously unaware of?  Whatever the reason the Government has left the building.
Instead of a Minister we got two more power point presentations, one from Silver Fern Farms, another from Scott Technology, and then a chat with the guy who organised the party at RWC 2011 and got a plum diplomatic job in LA as a result.  These three plus Ringmaster David made up the panel for the final round of questions.
By far the hot topic Q&A style was the ISDS, will we get sued? could we get sued? can we sue? Is there anyone here called sue? oh my mum is, hi mum.  As you might be deducing the Q&A was more of a circular dance, which ironically is what the ISDS is likely to become.
What the Q&A wasn’t was an “Open Debate”, it was however “informed discussion” with most of the information appearing to be held by those on the floor asking the questions.
Before we knew it the hour had past and it was time to finish.  Sean Plunket thanked the people of Dunedin for asking good questions (as opposed to what Sean?).  And then it was Lunchtime and Class was dismissed.
For me that was enough!  I had registered to attend an IP workshop later in the afternoon, but frankly I was by then assured I could get better information elsewhere.
So does the TPPA road show achieve anything that Minister McClay said it would?  In short No!
Is the Roadshow a circus?  Again No, it is neither creative or entertaining.
Lastly is the TPPA a good deal for New Zealand?  No, and I say this as a now officially informed New Zealander.  The facts are the gains (1% GDP in 2030) are extremely small compared to large and real risks that David Walker and all his MFAT men could not explain adequately or succinctly.
At best the TPPA is a long shot to maybe gain some limited access to the US Market, but given the clock is ticking on Obama, and all the incoming candidates don’t support it, I would be holding your breath for a big pay day New Zealand.
As I left the venue, bidding a good day to the most bored looking Police Officers I have seen in a very long time, I thought to myself perhaps I had better buy that Lotto ticket instead eh.