Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Breaking News: John Key conversation leaked

A tape of the following conversation was leaked to the media at 4:19pm this afternoon. It appears to be Prime Minister John Key and his Public Relations manager, Sean Fitztastic, having a private discussion regarding Prime Minister's Key's latest media gaffe.

Sean Fitztastic: Oh god John what are you doing to me!
John Key: Oh mellow out Sean, you're so serious all the time
SF: 'Mellow out'! Is that what the kids are saying these days John?
JK: Well no actually its what we used to say in the 70's. Good point Sean, I'll have to ask my kids what they say these days. Probably something like "you gots ta chill gaybo" (snaps fingers)
SF: What the hell was that?
JK: Ummm...just a little something the kids do
SF: Don't ever do it again
JK: I think you're forgetting who the Prime Minister is here Sean
SF: No you're forgetting who the Prime Minister is John. How could you compare NZ's clean green image to a McDonald's ad
JK: They've got a great marketing campaign, they make millions.
SF: Not the point John!
JK: Its slick, the food always looks better on the ads, and they had that cool kid Justin Biebel singing (sings) 'ooh ooh I'm lovin it'
SF: (stares blankly)
JK: What?
SF: Don't ever do that again...And it was Justin Timberlake anyway
JK: Well anyway he sure can sing (sings and shakes hips) 'I'm bringing sexy back'
SF: (loud slapping sound followed by a small whimper) What the hell has gotten in to you recently!
JK: I'm an entertainer Sean, I've got an audience to think about. I perform for thousands of people each week you know
SF: John, we've been through this before. You are not an entertainer. You make speeches about policy. You are the Prime Minister
JK: That's right I'm the Prime Minister
SF: Umm John, did you really just poke your tongue out at me
JK: Maybe
SF: Don't ever do that again
JK: It's what the kids do
SF: Snap out of it John. You're not a kid, you're not cool, you're not hip, you're the fucking Prime Minister
JK: Now steady on a bit Sean
SF: Don't you remember when we were riding a wave of popularity? There was a time when you could do no wrong
JK: I can't do any wrong, what's changed?
SF: You've changed John...you've changed. Why did you make yourself Tourism Minister anyway? What do you know about tourism?
JK: Well I go on a lot of holidays
SF: Not in New Zealand you don't
JK: Well no, but I thought about my holiday house in Hawaii and I thought, 'I want to make New Zealand a place where I would buy another holiday home. I want New Zealand to be the 'New Hawaii'
SF: And you bought a new holiday home?
JK: Well no, let's get serious here Sean. New Zealand's never going to compare with Hawaii. We can't even keep our clean green image in tact
SF: Oh for fucks sake. John there was a time when I thought this gig was going to lead me to great things.
JK: Like PR for the President of the US?
SF: Beyonce's publicist
JK: Oh I like Beyonce, she know's how to sing... (sings) 'I'm a survivor'. She's quite good looking for a black lady
SF: This is what I mean John, you can't just say things like that.
JK: Like what
SF: Like that, 'good looking for a black lady'
JK: What I can't find women attractive now?
SF: Its just like your 'gay red top' comment John. You speak without thinking
JK: Oh you know the media, they're just like the Maori's, they make a mountain out of a molehill
SF: Excuse me?
JK: You know, like this selling assets business. Its what we're doing, everyone knows that we don't have to obey the Treaty, lets just get on with it. Why turn it in to such a big deal.
SF: You know I'm Maori John?
JK: Well yeah, but you're not like one of them
SF: One of them?
JK: Well you know what I mean
SF: Ok listen John, if you want to save the next election...
JK: Well I'm not so worried about that, I mean six years is quite a long time already. I've got other plans you know
SF: Let me re-phrase then. John if you want to save your image...
JK: Oh my image, isn't it great. I had 20 new likes on Facebook this week
SF...if you want to save your image you're going to have to start doing two key things
JK: he he he
SF: What?
JK: You said 'Key'...like two 'Key' things...and my name is Key...he he he
SF: Oh forget it, I quit.

See also 'Meanwhile in the Fairfax Editor's Office - Part Two'

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Meanwhile in the Fairfax Editor's Office...Part Two

EDITOR: What's this story about John Key wearing a gay red shirt? Why are we printing this crap?
SUB EDITOR: You told us you wanted more stories about John Key sir
ED: Not this kind of story.
SUB ED: Umm...
ED: The kind people want to read! Dammit do I have to do all the thinking around here
SUB ED: It seems pretty popular...
ED: Something interesting dammit...like his mansion...I've been there you know, beautiful place, the toilets! My god you've never shat in such luxury. And the windows! Triple glazed you know
SUB ED:Umm sure...We've already run plenty of those though sir
ED: Well we need some balance dammit, we can't just run negative stories without a balance
SUB ED: I think this might be the first negative story we've ever run on John Key sir...
ED: What's the big deal anyway? He said he just meant weird
SUB ED: I think that's the point sir, he's saying that gay corresponds with weird
SUB ED: Like saying that if you are gay you are weird...
ED: You've lost me
SUB ED: He's saying...
ED: Did I ever tell you about the time I had to interview that chap the kids love. What's his name... Charlie Manson?
SUB ED: Umm...Marilyn Manson?
ED: Sure, girly name of course. You try and tell me that pansy isn't weird
SUB ED: But...he's not gay sir
ED: Well a fag then.
ED: Queer...fruity...I don't know, what's the bloody 'PC' word these days
SUB ED: Gay sir
ED: That's what I said the first time dammit
SUB ED: Yes but he's not gay
ED: Of course he's not gay, he's the Prime Minister of our country for Pete's sake. So he wore a weird red shirt one time, let's not make a big deal out of this
SUB ED: Of course sir. So shall we run a puff piece like the Herald did then?
ED: A what? You know this newspaper doesn't do 'puff' pieces. I want real journalism
SUB ED: We haven't run a story about his holiday home in Hawaii for a while...
ED: Perfect. Oh and do a follow up to that dancing ponies story. Let's cash in on the whole 'gay' thing while its hot

 Meanwhile in the Fairfax Editor's Office...Part One

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Moon orbiting Planet Key

Recently Prime Minister John Key was kind enough to reveal what life on 'Planet Key' would be like. "Nirvana" was the answer apparantly. Everyone would be rich, there would be lots of golf courses, no work, plenty of holidays. Sounds like bliss.

However, Key forgot to mention the Moon that orbits his planet. This is a dirty place, full of poor people. There is crime, poverty, inequality, homelessness. On Planet Key's Moon, solo mothers are punished, invalids are forced to work, hundreds of thousands of people work for poverty wages. There is homelessness and despair.

Sometimes the people on Planet Key's Moon are allowed to visit Planet Key, but only to work for the inhabitants of the planet. Then after work they are escorted off the Planet to their cramped Moon, where they try to survive, constantly struggling to pay the bills and feed the kids.

Sometimes the inhabitants of Planet Key are so busy playing golf and taking holidays, that they forget there even is a Moon, after all it remains out of sight most of the time. But on those nights when the full moon rises, its hard to ignore. So on Planet Key, where it is "beautifully governed", those doing the governing sit around and come up with policies to try and ensure that Planet Key doesn't become overpopulated. They cut student allowances and loans so that Moon inhabitants can't study for higher education. They take away Union rights so that Moon inhabitants can't earn living wages. They build more prisons and lock up people for longer so that Moon inhabitants stay where they should belong.

Planet Key already exists. Planet Key is places like Helensville and Epsom. Places where the mega-rich can hide away from the rest of society and pretend there are no problems. But living in paradise isn't easy, there's always the problem of reality getting too close for comfort. Luckily we have people like John Key to remind us all that there is no need for reality when you already live in your own fantasy.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Trillions of dollars for lifetime of corporate tax cuts - Report

By Packer Murdoch
Sep 13 2012

The Ministry of Social Development has released a report showing that all companies who now pay 28% tax, down from 33% in 2008, will cost hundreds of billions of dollars in lost revenue if they remain on the lower tax rate for the rest of their lives.

This is the first time a Government has forecast how much it will cost if a group of current companies get tax cuts for life.

In September last year Cabinet agreed to fund the $1 million research carried out by Australian company Fry Taylor Consulting Actuaries. In Parliament's question time, Prime Minister John Key was asked why a million dollars was spent on research which seemed nonsensical. He replied "This is valuable research giving insight in to the nature of corporate welfare dependancy. The company is owned by a good friend of mine so I knew they would do a good job".

The aim was to use the valuations to better target benefit reforms and classify groups who are the most benefit dependent, which now appeared to be corporations.

The Fry Taylor report finds companies who also get a 15% tax rebate for research and development have the highest individual lifetime cost. If other tax cuts, like those given to overseas film productions were taken in to account, the figures became astronomical.

The Government would also spend $1.1m over four years on the Corporate tax board who will advise the ministry on how to best implement corporate benefit reform and report to the social development, finance and state service minister. Former Commerce Commission chairwoman Paula Rebstock will head the panel overseeing the ministry's decision to have an "investment approach" to corporate benefits in New Zealand. Mr Key, when asked about Ms Rebstock's appointment stated "well we've given her every other cushy job and she always comes up with outcomes which we seem to be in total agreement with. Its a positive relationship."

Social Development minister Paula Bennett said the figures showed that the Government needed to put more focus on corporations, rather than on people on the sickness or domestic purposes benefit, which made up only a fraction of the total costs of benefits.

She conceded there were many variables in the figures, but said the exercise would force Government to be more accountable.

"We've known the unemployment benefit has relatively low numbers and people move on and off it quite consistently, yet it's where we put most our punitive policies, most of our resource, most of our energy and most of our negative legislative changes."

Ms Bennet stated that the report showed there needed to be a dramatic shift to concentrate on the costs of corporate beneficiaries. "The other point to remember is that Corporations have essentially the same rights as people, but their life expectency is potentially infinite. So if we are looking at the true costs of giving corporate tax cuts over the the corporations lifetime, it actually extends in to the trillions of dollars."

Finance Minister Bill English agreed and said that the change in focus would come at the expense of those companies who now paid much lower tax rates - he was currently in negotiations for next year's Budget and expected to approve more funding for the welfare reforms on top of the $237 million this year.


(see the original article here)

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Why the Christian Right has already lost the marriage equality debate

It's hard to gauge whether the current Bill proposing marriage equality will succeed. What is certain though, is that regardless of the way the media is trying to frame the debate, this is not a case of two sides with strong arguments and no clear winner, there is actually no debate to be had. 

The only thing standing in the way of this Bill becoming law is weak minded MP's in the Labour party that have lost all touch with the general public and are so worried about losing the next election, they seem to have forgotten that they lost the last election.

So why is there no debate? Well putting the popular support for marriage equality aside for a moment (let's not forget that the majority of the public wanted to keep the right to abuse their children), there are a few main arguments put forward against marriage equality: the slippery slope argument (if we allow gays to marry, soon babies will be able to marry toads); the 'doing it for the children' argument (marriage was developed as an institution centered around the welfare of children and most gays are child molesters); and the man/woman argument (marriage has always been between a man and a woman, the state has no right to redefine marriage. Also known as the 'two men kissing is icky' argument)

Essentially all the arguments lead back to an idea of christian morality regarding the institution of marriage (you'll quickly notice that every opponent of marriage equality has a religious background). Thing is though, that christians have no rightful claim over the institution of marriage in New Zealand, and they haven't done so for more thn 50 years.

This is the part of the debate that keeps getting left out. In 1908, more than a hundred years ago, the Government of the day passed the Marriage Act, which allowed non-religious people or people of 'other' religions to get legally married at the registrars office (s 34). The emphasis was certainly still on christian marriage, but here was the first hint that the State recognised that marriage was more than a 'christian value'.

In 1955 a new Marriage Act was passed. This Act was far clearer. It stated that not only could anyone get married (with some limits), but anyone was entitled to apply to be a marriage celebrant as long as they were of 'good character'. From this point on the State made it clear that marriage was not a religious act. Marriage was a committment of partnership recognised in law to help protect the rights of those entering the partnership [note: the Marriage Act 1958 does not say anywhere that marriage is between a man and a woman, however as homesexuality was an imprisonable offence in 1958, the courts have made the assumption that this is what was intended].

So for over 50 years any man and woman have been able to marry, regardless of whether they are Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Sikh, Atheist or Satanist. Marriage doesn't have to involve love. For example, there have been many cases of students legally getting married so that they could get a better student allowance. People who don't ever want children, people who are bisexual (yes that's right, including icky man/man kissers) and even the people who one day want their babies to have the right to marry toads, are all allowed to get married. None of these people are banned from marriage. With all this in mind, the current situation regarding marriage in New Zealand defeats every silly argument against marriage equality. All that is left is a weak moral claim that there is something wrong with people of the same sex getting married, and this is purely a religious claim. This last remaining discrimination is simply a hangover from when christian influence had far to much power in this country and the law regarding marriage should have changed back when homosexuality was legalised in 1986.

The point here is that marriage is not a religious institution. Everyone has a right to put forward their views on marriage, but christians don't own the guidelines, they are just another interest group like any other. In the context of marriage and the law in New Zealand, there is no moral argument that can be forwarded by the christian right that holds any weight and that has any relevance beyond the year 1955.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ode to the No Comply

I started skating during the first big boom in the 80's. This was right around the time Gleaming the Cube came out and as a young impressionable 10 year old, I'm pretty sure I came out of that movie thinking Christian Slater was a better skater than Christian Hosoi.

One of the first tricks I learnt was the No Comply and still to this day its my favourite trick. Not just because its easy, or because it can be combined with endless variations. You could say that about a bunch of tricks. No it's because the No Comply perfectly captures the spirit of skateboarding. Think about it, it's all in the name: the don't fuck with me fuck all authority damn the man goddamn motherfucking do what I want 'No Comply'. A thousand words about skating can't capture what these two words do.

This was back in the day when naming a skate trick used to mean something. You had Christ Airs, Airwalks, Stalefish, Boneless, Mad ollies, Rock and Rolls, Judo Airs, Melon Grabs, Feeble grinds and so on. People put a lot of thought in to those names, or at the very least took the opportunity to make up some weird shit. And one day some genius said "you know what, I'm gonna call this trick a 'No Comply'. Why? Because fuck you, that's why. It doesn't need explaining, it just is" (at least that's how it happened in my version of reality).

You see, for those too young to remember, skaters used to be outcasts from society. There was no X-Games, Nike wouldn't touch skateboarding with a hundred foot pole, and Tony Hawk ws too busy looking for Animal Chin to be looking for the next product endorsement. Skaters expressed their originality and freedom through skating.

Yep, back then you skated because it was what you wanted to do. You didn't care what anyone thought and you didn't give a damn if everyone hated you for it. it was a rejection of a lame arse society and its lame arse values. To skate was to 'No Comply'.

So here's to the No Comply. I hope you outlive every lame named fad trick that comes along and keep the spirit of skating alive. I hope you outlive the existence of every Nike factory and every version of every video game Tony Hawk ever makes. And last of all I hope you outlive me and when I'm an old duffer my grand kids will say "hey pops what's that old school trick you do where you take your foot off the board?" and I'll say "Why that's a No Comply" and then they'll say "No Comply? Good name, sums up what skatings about don't you think pops?" and then we'll all click our tounges twice and say "rolyoloho" (because that will be like a high five in the future), then jump on our boards and bomb a hill, Zimmer frame and all. 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Asset Sales and the Myth of Profit

There's something disturbingly lacking from the debate around the sale of assets.
Both Labour and the Greens have been relying on the argument that once public assets are lost, we lose the profit that comes with them. Here's an article where they both make the same point.

True enough, but why should these companies be making profit off the taxpayer anyway?
I expect this angle from Labour, who push the idea of the 'gentler' free market. They come off as the cocaine dealer to National's harder 'P' deals. It's disappointing however to see the Greens pushing the myth of 'profit for the people' from the peoples pockets.

The fact is that the taxpayer is paying too much money for electricity. This extra money lines a few rich peoples pockets and then the 'extra' goes back in to public spending. It doesn't take an economist (in fact probably the opposite) to work out this is unfair and has no benefit for the average Jane Public. A 2009 report showed that power companies had overcharged consumers by $4 billion dollars over 6 years. That's $4 billion dollars more than what even the capitalists consider a fair profit. Power prices rose 72% between 2000 and 2008 compared with a 29% rise in inflation. In laymans terms: we're getting screwed.

the National Government came up with a great solution to this pointless profiteering. they made it easier to switch power companies. Apparantly there's been a 38% increase in people switching companies. But tell me, did you also get a letter from your power company recently (like we did) saying that they were raising prices again?

Basically we are paying a tax on power. If there is excess money being paid, rather than just a user charge, and that extra money goes in to other areas of public spending, then that is a tax. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for taxes. In fact I advocate higher taxes if we want to have good health and education and a system that benefits everyone in society. But our power tax isn't a graduated tax system which taxes the highest earners more and the lower earners less. Our power tax is a twisted logic tax where a minimum wage family could be paying more than a millionaire. To put it another way, power companies don't make profit. they take money off people in an unfair way and then give it back (with some middle men taking a cut along the way). It's a system of exploitation that hurts the poorest the worst and right now that's what the Greens and Labour are ecstatically promoting.

There's a number of solutions to the problem, but a simple place to start would be to advocate for non-profit power companies. This would at least start saving some money for those who can least afford to pay. If power companies really are the peoples assets as we are led to believe, then they shouldn't be exploiting us. It would be nice to hear this from the Greens rather than the bleating on about how much profit we stand to lose. At the moment we are already losing, let's play the game properly and start winning.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ooh we, that gal's the gal for me

"Real love on a sunny day is a crow on a telephone pole with something to say
And you feel like someone has just walked on your grave

That's real love. That's real love" 
Nomeansno - "Real Love"

I'm not too sure I actually know what the quote means but it sounds pretty good I reckon. Felice would probably disagree, based on the fact that it's Nomeansno, so instead here's a quote from Bruce:

Some need gold and some need diamond rings
Or a drug to take away the pain that living brings
A promise of a better world to come
When whatever here is done
I don't need that sky of blue
All I know's since I found you, I'm happy when I'm in your arms"
Bruce Springsteen - "Happy"

Its been 10 years now since Felice and I got together. That's nearly one third of my life spent living with another person. Its crazy to think about sometimes. But when I think about it I don't see anything changing, we are best friends and are as "in love" as ever. 

Sure "love" is actually an evolutionary biological process where chemicals are released in your brain to give certain feelings, promote bonding and ensure survival of the species, but that doesn't mean that people "in love" will stay together. There's a bit more to it than that. Compatibility requires close friendship, understanding, shared beliefs, knowledge and interests. Everyone grows and changes with age and I guess some people grow together and some grow apart. In that sense we are lucky to have shared such common philosophies and ethics that even though the particular interests we have sometimes differ, the values underpinning our interests are the same.

So this is just a quick word to say thanks for the last ten years and I look forward to spending many more years together. I love you Felice.

To all those who haven't been lucky enough to stumble in to love yet, I hope it comes your way soon. 
To all those who have been in love, I hope it comes your way again.
And for all those people who try to stand in the way of people in love: Homophobes, warmongers, religious zealots, racist idealogues and anyone else who has ever done anything to try and stop people being happy together - Fuck you. Love will prevail.

this is the first day of my life
I’m glad I didn’t die before I met you
But now I don’t care I could go anywhere with you
And I’d probably be happy
Bright Eyes - "First Day of My Life"

Friday, January 20, 2012

Colonialism is the new black (maybe that should read white)

I caught sight of what appears to be the latest trend on a short walk from Tory street to Courtenay Place the other day.

First up was this interesting ad from Bulmers cider:

Colonialism....what a strange thing to promote I thought to myself. The "ruffled feathers" are of course hundreds of years of murder, theft of land, forced assimilation and other goodies. "Unashamedly" this should be celebrated apparently. Oh well just a one off I thought. Just another unethical company trying to capture its market audience (in this case middle class white people).

Next thing I know I'm walking past the Bangalore Polo Club. This is a restaurant pretending to be a Polo club as would have existed in 19th century British ruled India. You can experience all the majesty of the British Empire while dining on classic Indian inspired dishes like Beer Battered Fish and Chips, the fish "caught by the Brigadier's boot boy early this morning". In case you're in any doubt as to the theme of the restaurant, the website contains images like this: