Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Well well well…

Since my last post, the world seems to have passed me by like nothing else. Leaving a whole lot of interesting stuff to comment about. So, lets commence the examination, starting from when I last left you.

The Civil Union Bill

It did indeed pass its second reading, and passed its way into law. Which was to be expected. There has been a lot of filibuster on both sides about the bill, or, as it should be correctly known, the Act, but all in all, civilization has yet to fall, and heterosexuality has still yet to be undermined. I still catch myself checking out women, as opposed to men, and my girlfriend and I are still together. Nope, the deviant homosexuals have not recruited me, nor anyone else I know. The Civil Union Act is a big step forward for New Zealand. And no, marriage is not undermined.

The Tsunami

One of the biggest earthquakes in history, wobbling the earth’s axis and shifting islands, and unleashing a torrent of water throughout the lands ringing the Indian ocean. A sombre rounding out to 2004, and a sad chapter in history for humanity. New Zealanders have dug deep for the tsunami cause, but it leads me to ask the question: why aren’t we digging deep for our deprived and underprivileged? Are they less worthy? We should really be looking to our backyards. There is poverty in New Zealand, and we seem to be ignoring it. 30 years ago it would have been a scandal, not its just not newsworthy. Oh well, that’s Rogernomics for you. Hopefully, the people of Asia will recover, and rebuild a better civilization for themselves, and we should start looking in our backyards and fixing some of our problems too. There’s a long list.

The Iraqi Elections

They went off without a hitch, but who exactly won is rather vague. By the looks of it however, any hopes of the elections stopping the violence and crap that is happening looks to be rather dashed, as it yet again continues.

Over 1000 US troops dead in almost 2 years, countless Iraqi deaths, and no end in site to the violence and the occupation. Its getting to be rather expensive, both in dollar and human terms. However, unlike my colleagues on the left, I don’t think the violence will die down if the US left. I think there are a lot more deaths ahead in Iraq, till everyone gets their shit together. No matter what course of action that would have been taken in Iraq, there would still be death and violence. I think the whole Iraq thing could have been handled a lot better than it did. I think the US should have a long think about what happened in Iraq before facing off with Iran. And by the looks of it, Iran is going to be a different kettle of fish than Iraq. Iran is starting to form a relationship with Syria, and Russia is also giving them assistance as well. Im probably exaggerating, but this could be one heck of a powderkeg if Bush gets his gun off. Hopefully, cool heads will prevail, and the only war that will be fought is a war of words at the negotiating table.

Anyway, what about that bin Laden chap? You know, the guy wanted for ramming those planes into that building? Sometime in 2001…..???

Don Brash’s Owera II

Same crap, different day. He had a good chance to inject some new policy ideas, but he came out with the same rightist crap as he usually does. And the worse thing is, there are people out there who agreed with him. People who have a cold, complete disregard for humanity. And this 90 trial period. Big alarm bell there. Trial periods are morally wrong, and belong in the 19th century. All trial periods will do is strip their employees of their right to feel secure in their job, and give their bosses the means to fire their workers at a whim, and just keep firing their workers every 90 days. Don Brash really needs to pass by a school book depository some day. I really cannot see how stripping workers of what little protections they have is going to make it easier for people to get a job. That other ACT strumpet, Muriel Newman – fine to take to bed, but I wouldn’t want to engage in any meaningful discussions with her – has also chimed in with a private members bill. 90-trial periods are rather dangerous. And should be opposed by all means neesseary. Labour’s alternative of a single universal benefit sounds good in theory, but I should be worried about a few things. One being the fact that your income has to be pretty low to qualify – translation – if your dying of starvation, they still wont give you a benefit. A bit like Housing New Zealand at the moment – you have to be under a bridge before you can even get on their waiting list, and if you do, its going to be a forever wait. I know of one case where a woman who had 2 kids, who urgently needed to get a house to get away from her abusive partner, was turned away from Housing New Zealand EVEN THOUGH SHE HAD CYFS WITH HER. So, if WINZ is going to be like Housing NZ, then we are going to be in for a rough ride. Secondly, there is a plan to get everyone into jobs, even those with disabilities and sicknesses. I doubt whether an employer would want to hire someone with a chronically bad back – even though WINZ would still kindly pay for his medical bills. And the boyant economy isn’t going to last forever, either. Especially when the FTA with China kicks in, and our manufacturing sector gets wiped out overnight. And there is another thing. Steve Maharey saying that there would be a chance that benefits would be reduced in the future – this should sound warning bells. Our welfare system aint perfect, but without it, people would be starving on the streets. The problem with our welfare system is that the payments are too low to keep up with cost of living, such as rent and power, which take up a lot of people’s income. Something should be done about that too.

And there should be more effort made to provide jobs. 25 years ago we had a welfare-to-work scheme. They called it the Railways. They called it the Ministry of Works. They called it the Post Office. They called it the Manufacturing Sector.. They called it the Mines Department. We had people in jobs then, looking after our phones, building our roads, working on our railtracks. If you want welfare to work, then unleash the power of DOC, the Railways Corporation, BCL, NZ Post, our schools, hospitals, councils, forests. Give people jobs that would suit their circumstances. I read somewhere that it would be cheaper to solve Auckland’s roading problems using the unemployed and Army engineers. So why not? Bugger those consultants in suits charging $20,000 to tell you what you already know. Our schools need IT people. Get some of those unemployed in IT degree courses, pay their tuition and have an IT job waiting for them at the end.

Only one solution to the benefit problem. We start using Mickey Cullen’s surplus to make jobs. I know it’s heresy, but its what worked before. And Don, Richard, Rodney and Peter can find the nearest lake and take a big flying leap in it. All the free market has done is bring down wages. Time we brought back Keynes.

The NCEA scandal

The NCEA was the result of too much compromises between those who didn’t want to see a pass or fail system, and those who did. It should used in management schools as an example of how sometimes, consensus and compromise isn’t really the best thing. I didn’t really think the NCEA was too crash hot to start with, but I think I kinda underestimated it. Its too confusing, and no-one knows who passed and who failed. I think that what we should do, is return to the original NCEA as developed by the National Party, but use it for vocational subjects only, and bring back School Cert, and Bursary, etc, but without all the mischief that comes with scaling. In essesce, we should just start over, and have another crack at it. It is clearly not working. And we should do this fast before more schools start bringing in the Cambridge exams, which would only create a two tier qualification system. The rich schools getting the good Cambridge exams, and the poor schools getting the crap NCEA. The cynic in me, says its just another plot to bring down our public school system, and have all the rich private schools take over the poor public ones.

As for the Cambridge exams. I am not opposed to them, but I think that they should not be taught in our public school system. If private schools want to offer them, or if parents want to arrange it for their children in their own time, then fine.

Theres really no easy way out of the NCEA scandal. And there is going to be a lot of wringing hands before time is up.

Well, I think that’s just about covered it.