Thursday 9 June 2011

Cannabis Debate

Cannabis will not become legal in the foreseeable future, not due to its supposed health risks but because of the clash it would cause between economic legal theory and our liberal democracy.
Economic Legal theory basically purports that if something is superior in its economic viability versus its other downsides, then give it the green light. This of course begs the question of why the hell haven't Government introduced a taxed cannabis to the market. It is completely economically sound, you sell something with a tax and this tax then covers any of the speculated health risks that could emerge, and the surplus goes towards reducing public debt. This beats the currently expensive uphill battle the police fight against the drug, hands down. I do not necessarily support the drug, this is merely a presentation of the unbiased truth.
The reason cannabis will not be legalised is due to the fact that the Government will clearly have to introduce legislation banning its growth in house hold situations if they wish to tax it. If there is an option of 'growing your own' versus buying the expensive alternative, the answer is clear. DIY.
Here is where the liberal democracy and economic clash comes in to play. The Government would effectively be saying go ahead, smoke this now legal drug, but let us take the benefits from your pocket. By legislating against its domestic growth the Government, our elected role model and moral founder, would be saying 'do as I say, but do not do as I do.'
This could be argued against from a precedent basis, if one were to bring up the fact that it is still legal to brew your own alcohol and grow your own tobacco, even though they are mass produced and taxed. This is true, insofar as the Government has not legislated against the domestic production of these drugs, but they sit smug on a couple of obvious points. Brewing your own alcohol is timely and generally tastes like shit. Growing you own tobacco is also timely and the end product is once again nothing like you find in the store.
Cannabis is a different story, the most intellectually lacking members of our society could grow it. And they do. The Government knows this.

The argument against cannabis has always followed a detrimental-to-health based approach. If the Government were to legalise it, the real truth would be revealed that it is based on economic gain. This would be detrimental to the facade of our Government, hence its introduction is highly unlikely.
If the Greens spent less time trying to win favour of both sides of the house, they will realise this.

Sunday 5 June 2011

Brash is back.

Don Brash is back. He has rode in on his stallion, beheaded the leader of ACT and claimed his throne as King of the Right. His principles are cemented and he may even be equipped with a new mail order bride, who knows. This is all good and well for the moment, ACT was withering and it made for some amusing politics as Rodney and Don tried to hold a drowning friendship above betrayal. The polls aren't showing a tidal wave of support that Brash may have been banking on either, thank God. What keeps me up at night though is the fact that Don has a plan, a plan he is not at all scared to wield. A plan is exactly what English lacks, words from the mans mouth in his pre budget speech to the Institute of Public Administration; "I do not have a pre-prepared master plan sitting in my back pocket."
As far as Key is concerned, a plan would be good, a plan brings purpose and structure and takes ones eyes off of ones shoes. The budget was not a plan, it was a match struck and thrown at the tinder path of progress.

Questioned on whether or not he would replace English with Brash as Minister of Finance, Key responded with a shaky "definitely not in this term." Poor Bill cast a look like an orphaned puppy from his seat to the right of the leader.

My point here is straight forward and logically sound. Brash is a composed madman (I feel evidence is unnecessary), and Key has definitely thought of bringing him in next term. Thoughts are dangerous, hence the likelihood of this disaster taking place can only grow.
To vote National is to fuel Brash. I hope for the liberal and moral founding of New Zealand that I am wrong.

Saturday 4 June 2011


Deception. This single word sums up the strategy of the National government in regard to public sector reform. From the initial pre-budget speech to the current day, all we hear of is a move of support to the 'front line'. This front line is education, the health sector and anything else that is in the direct public eye.

Bill English and State Sector minister Tony Ryall announced proposals to shut down five crown entities and three tribunals, combine two government agencies and merge back office administration services across three major state agencies. English constantly directs attention to Australia's streamlined, tight public service system and offers it as reason to slash and burn our slightly messy one. He has made one simple mistake in his reasoning though, numbers of sectors should not directly dictate the number of employees each sector should boast. Job loss frees up revenue but in no way is it a necessary, or even sufficient condition for effectiveness. He has deceived the nation by justifying job loss as a move to a greater good.

The public service is on the diet from hell at the mercy of the metaphorical Jenny Craig's; English and Key. Conveniently enough, the public service is out of the public eye, away from direct scrutiny of every day Joe Blog. Give it three or four years though, and the degree of the current fasting and malnutrition to the back line will become apparent (well clear of this years election of course).
Meanwhile the voters see the front line picking up economic steam, deceived by National into thinking everything is heading back to the black. The fuel to this momentum is the destruction of the black line, the rational behind every move the government make. The irony of this is compelling.

English is looking to gain favour in the direct public eye for the voting year, and he has to gain means from an end that wont cause instant ailment to the election results. Once again National sweeps more mess under the rug, leaving only the question of who will clean it up when the floor becomes too uneven to tread.

Friday 3 June 2011

Green house tax.

2012 will see the expiry of the Kyoto agreement, an in turn a no doubt rushed, weak next stage will emerge from the UN Summit on Climate Change. The 2007 Bali Summit witnessed an agree to agree next time step from the general assembly. Although this eased pressure at the time, it is now beginning to build up again and will need to be more diligently dealt to next year.
New Zealand has weak legal environmental framework, hence per capita our carbon emissions are horrible.
Polling low, Labour needs to take a stance and see the up and coming Summit as a tool to justifiably attack the previously ignored tax on green house emissions from farms.
By remaining weak against this opportunity, Labour will do themselves little favours in the voting pocket as votes from farmers are slim pickings as it is.
Taxing green house emissions becomes even more economically necessary as our debt drips further into the red at hundreds of million a week. Through a tax scheme, Labour would be able to present New Zealand as a united front against green house emissions to the UN.
The OECD report did us little favours, hence we need to prove that we are a country that can show initiative in rough times.
If Labour presents policy on taxing green house emissions with less justification than National can provide against the move, they will be selling themselves short. If, however, the policy proves that Labour is looking to the future and not just at the gaping hole in the nation's wallet, they will certainly be ahead of take-every-day-as-it-comes National.
Unified and justified economic and environmental policy can only be a step in the right direction.

Thursday 2 June 2011

Two faced

It is relatively undisputed that John Key's smiley face is his paramount political weapon. In a largely politically uneducated nation, a smile can, and clearly does, get you a long way with voters.
This common knowledge is not my point. Continuing on the theme of faces, we have Bill English. Sure, the man has a smile, but this his not his forte as it is Mr Key's. Bill has two faces, and I do not believe he wakes up in the morning knowing which one he is going to wear, or at which part of the day.  We have optimistic Bill, and we have pessimistic Bill. One does not need to look past the budget and proposed sale of SOE's to distinguish these faces.

On one hand Bill can be quoted referencing his confidence in 'mum and dad' investors into the soon to be privatised SOE's. This is optimistic Bill, seen to be confident that our house holds have the means to thrust forward the revenue to outbid foreign investors and keep what is ours, ours. This in itself is deceptive as what is your neighbour's is clearly not your own. It is simply convenient for Bill to present this individually owned, nationally held illusion. He has no choice but to make the least damaging (by no means do i believe privatisation of any sort is moving positively) aspects of privatisation seem attractive.

In other situations we find Bill presenting his pessimistic composure, case in point the budget. If he claimed a dollar for every time he mentioned debt as a justification for slashing 'nice to haves' (affordable education for over 55's, working for families for some groups and KiwiSaver to name a pinch at the bucket) he would be a rich man. His focus was on our public debt, without too much attention given to the private debt. Conveniently enough, private debt represents about 90% of our national debt but with his pessimistic face on, of course he could not be seen referencing this staggering wound in our nation's side, it would completely bust optimistic Bill's predictions. It is plain to see that our country has not only overspent in the wrong areas, but done so dramatically.

Bill is banking that people will buy his optimistic outlook and trust his predictions of 'mum and dad investors' to buy, and keep our assets in New Zealand hands. His pessimistic side all the more wiser that with crippling private debt, more investment will only bring our country to its knees and that these 'mums and dads' will more likely spend their coin on sale items at the supermarket to keep the pantry full.

Bill has accepted that foreign investors will not only be in line to claim the privatised companies, but furthermore will essentially be the line. His optimistic face will bring the news that foreign interest will work to minimise our public debt, whilst optimistic Bill will continue to publicly grieve over our dire fiscal standing and use this as leverage to fuel privatisation.