Tuesday, 26 March 2013

You Forget

David Shearer forgot $50,000
John Key forgot his TransRail shares
John Banks forgot, umm, pretty much everything.
Both Johns forgot the tape recorder was on.  And that their well publicised meeting was being held in a public place.  Oops
Bill English forgot he lives in Wellington, with the rest of his family
Paula Bennett forgot that private information is, well, private.
Phil Heatley forgot a bottle of wine, or three.
Shane Jones forgot he watched some videos.  Or, he remembered but didn't want to say.
Nick Smith forgot that ministers mustn't be seen to be improperly using their position.

Elsewhere, comparisons are being made about who was worse/worst, and justifications on the basis that "they did it too/first" are being put forward.  But none of it is good enough.  Because who cares who is leading the race to the bottom?

David Shearer is no good as leader of the Labour Party.
John Key is no good as the leader of the National Party, nor as the PM
John Banks is just no good.  And the food at Tony's was terrible.
Bill English was no good as the leader of the National Party.
The crap we have to put up with from our political leaders is appalling.

David Kilgour - Here Come The Cars, 1992

Monday, 25 March 2013

Brainsaw

Damien Grant is one of Granny Herald's resident twits.  I suspect, based only on what he writes, that his employment at the Herald continues because he makes the other columnists look good (even when many of them are not).
This weekend Damien wrote about Watercare's connection charges.
And at The Standard, RedLogix demolished Damien's arguments.
I'm not a big fan of Watercare and their corporatised model of water distribution.  However, development charges are something they do in a transparent manner and a decent journalist with some understanding of the issues could pull the development charges to bits, if they were unfair.  Needless to say, Damien does not even make an attempt.

So, apart from what Redlogix raised (essentially an unfair comparison is made, based on implied and incorrect assumptions), what was wrong with Damien Grant's piece?
He missed the opportunity to examine whether telecommunications companies are cross-subsidising, and if so by how much, and why?
He missed the opportunity to examine what effect the UFB initiative, a $1.5B government subsidy, has had on how costs are allocated within the industry. And to ask whether it should have been the private sector that funded UFB instead?

The actual costs of a water connection are pretty much fixed.  Suggesting that the proportion paid by developers should be lowered are not suggesting the total cost should be lowered, because such a suggestion is stupid.  Rather, what they are suggesting is that the difference should be paid by the existing customers.  Which is another way of suggesting that the existing customers provide a subsidy.  That developers should be allowed to dip into everyone else's pockets so that developers can make more of a profit.
In the same way that the privatised gas and comms utilities that Damien Grant holds such a high opinion of do.  No, thanks, I've had enough of being fleeced.

Therapy? - Troublegum, 1994

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Hey Hey, My My

A while back I compared the governments actions to actions typical of dictatorial regimes.  And that caused a bit of a fuss, at the time.

But it occurred to me that the present government has committed some significant time and effort into attacking what it sees as competition, specifically, local government.
National and its coalition partners have and continue to actively interfered in local government in our two major centres, are implementing changes to the Resource Management Act, have acted to undermine the Local Government Act and confidence in local government (halted only by Nick Smith's last fall from grace) and have fostered discussions around reform of local government that would make the reorganisation of Auckland look like a good thing for democracy.
The unicameral parliament we have, with weak oversight by the governor-general, and the terrible Speaker we currently have in Parliament are tempered only by MMP (no wonder we voted to retain it) and local government.
It is my opinion that we need stronger and more democratic local government, to balance the power of central government and to keep local decision-making, well, local.
The National government are not dictatorial; they have a majority (of one) in parliament and were democratically elected.  However, they are, in my opinion, acting in a way the dictators act, and in the long term this benefits only a very few people.  And that's just wrong.

Neil Young - Rust Never Sleeps, 1979

A Fire Burns

A silver-plated jet comes home....


The Church - The Blurred Crusade, 1982

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Big Yellow Taxi

They certainly did pave paradise and put up a parking lot, if you consider the the CBDs of Auckland and Wellington are paradise.  Or once were.
Now, having paved it, the government that believes in less tax and fewer taxes is considering including carparks in FBT calculations.  So that'll be more tax revenue and more taxes, again, then.  Thanks National.
If National were committed to making either Auckland better places to live and work, it would be sensible to implement policies that reduced the need for carparking in the CBDs.  Instead they are stretching the boundaries of Auckland and suggesting that the ratepayers should bear the costs.  Unbelievable.

Joni Mitchell - Ladies of the Canyon, 1970

Three Strikes

Question 11 in parliament, yesterday, was described by one MP as a circus.  And it was.

Lockwood Smith became a reasonably good Speaker.  David Carter is new to the job and it shows.  He has made a bizarre ruling where a question is put to a Minister three times and if no satisfactory answer is obtained, parliament moves on.  He said so here:

Mr SPEAKER:... I have established a regime by which if a question is not answered to satisfaction, then we have the question three times. Beyond that we have got to move on, otherwise we could sit in the House on the same supplementary question for a long time. Now we are moving on

Strike me down - that's out and out ridiculous.  If a Minister won't answer a reasonable question there are two outcomes.  First, the Speaker makes them answer it.  Or second, they either resign or are dismissed.  National have set increasingly lower standards and continue to amaze, and not in a good way.

Kelly Price - Mirror Mirror, 2000

A Forest



The Cure - Seventeen Seconds, 1980

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Too Much

Nick Smith has vowed to "smash" the Auckland City limits.

Not because it's a good idea (it isn't a good idea), but for a variety of apparently unrelated reasons:

  • National, in spite of all the smiles and positive media messages, do not like Len Brown and will not forgive him for beating John Banks for the mayoralty.
  • Labour, in a brief flash of political brilliance (probably by accident, given their recent performance) caught National flat footed on housing.  Until Labour stuffed that up, too.  However, National need to appear to be competent in this area and their message is clearly stated, not implausible and has a neat appeal to people's desires.  Once again Labour are out-communicated.
  • Some of the people who stand to benefit the most from relaxing the urban limit are also close friends of National MPs.

From the Herald:

[Nick Smith] said his focus would be on opening up land supply because land prices were the biggest factor putting home ownership out of reach of many Aucklanders.
That's land supply being the constraint according to Dr Smith, not the high cost of living due to speculative investment in land and certainly not high unemployment or low wages with stagnant wage growth.  Uh-huh.
"There's no question in my mind that we have to break through the stranglehold that the existing legal metropolitan urban limit has on land supply," he said.

And that clinches it for me - the statement above tells us more about Dr Smith's mind than it does about metropolitan urban limits and land supply.  Remind me, why was he allowed off the back benches, again?

The Bats - Silverbeet, 199

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Gone Fishing


Robert Winter - please come back to the blogosphere.  We miss you!

Consolidated - Play More Music, 1992

A Transport of Delight



The ever-anonymous editor of the Herald has opined on the tram in Auckland.

It's not much of a tram, it runs on a very small circuit in the Wynyard Quarter, which, for non-Aucklanders, is  a short walk (ten minutes or so) from the downtown end of the CBD.  The area is going through what is referred to as "urban-renewal", which basically means the fish factories, warehouses, Americas Cup yacht bases and oil storage bunkers are being demolished and replaced with glass offices, glass apartments and expensive cafes with underpaid staff from the other side of town.  Right now it's a hodge-podge of all kinds of stuff, in ten or twenty years it will probably be nice, if you like that kind of thing.

Was it a smart place to put a tram?  Well, it showed a lot of foresight.  And read the tram blog.

It's a bit disconnected from the rest of the city.  Apart from the obvious "leave it as it is" solution, there are two other possibilities, shut it down, or allow it to expand.  And the editor chooses to accentuate the negative, favour pursuing the small-minded provincialism that blights New Zealand.

A comparison between Melbourne and Auckland is made.  And it's not unfair to make that comparison, both cities were founded at about the same time, both are major cities with temperate climates, by the sea.  Melbourne's tram system is brilliant.  It goes all sorts of places, it's cheap and convenient, it's part of the city-scape.  Auckland's tram system is a start.  Or a restart.  Melbourne also has a comprehensive urban commuter rail network, as well as buses and motorways.  Whereas Auckland has a bit of a rail network, as well as buses and motorways aplenty.


The thing that gets me about this material is that the editor has not considered the inherent contradiction in their editorial.  Part of the reason why Melbourne is a better place to live than Auckland is due to the transport.  Advocating against something different, when that difference has worked elsewhere, is dumb.

Flanders and Swann - At the Drop of a Hat, 1957

Know Your Product

Watched the first segment of Seven Sharp, when it was launched.  About the nicest thing to be said about it is that it is a good cue to change the channel to anything else.  A lot has been said about Seven Sharp, elsewhere, and there's no need to repeat it here, and I am incapable of refuting much of it.

Watched the first segment of 3rd Degree this evening.  Loved it.  Not a fan of Espiner, or Garner, but 3rd Degree started off with a bang and I will make a point of watching it again.

Well done TV3.  TVNZ, get yourselves together.  Know your product.

The Saints - Eternally Yours, 1978

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Cars

There was a bit of a miscommunication between me and my car - the outcome was that it was sold as scrap.  Evidently those warning lights are for real and shouldn't be dismissed as an electrical malfunction.

So I've done without a car.  Living more than ten kilometres from town (and the nearest shop) made this seem daunting, initially, but it's not been bad.

The main downside is that getting places requires a bit more resourcefulness, and forethought.  Rain is another problem.

On the upside:

  • no registration or warrant of fitness costs.
  • no insurance to pay.
  • no tyres, batteries, oil, filters, coolant, brake fluid to renew.
  • no petrol
  • the extra walking and cycling have given me a new perspective on my surroundings, and there's less of me too.
  • sharing vehicular transport is a good way to get time to think, and to make friends.


Gary Numan and the Tubeway Army - The Pleasure Principle, 1979

I'll Say Goodbye

Goodbye to Leslie Longstone.  And 10c of my tax money last year.

Is it just me, or does a $425,000 golden handshake, after 13 months, seem excessive.  That's almost $200 for every hour worked, in addition to regular pay.

Responsibility lies with the minister, who must explain this.

Meanwhile Halswell Residential College has had its budget cut by about a million dollars and is looking to cut its costs in the usual manner - transferring the costs to WINZ.

Hekia Parata is the worst Education Minister since, well, unfortunately, Anne Tolley.  Her only achievement is to make her colleagues look competent, when they are not.

Dance Exponents - Prayers Be Answered, 1983

Monday, 4 March 2013

Rock'n Me

He [took] the issue to the country [] at the [] General Election, he was able to form a government, and he was able to pass the requisite legislation; that's how our democracy works.Inventory2

The trend is your friendJohn Key
May these words come back to bite you both on the arse.

Steve Miller Band - Fly Like An Eagle, 1976

You Can't Hold On Too Long

Why would News Corp be selling its 44% shareholding in Sky TV?  And at 7% below the price it was trading at on Friday?

Rupert Murdoch is a canny man, and did not become phenomenally wealthy through pure luck.  He has realized that SkyTV's future is bleak, and that as competition from new media increases the business model the Sky TV uses will become obsolete.

The Cars - Candy-O , 1979

Hello Again

My holiday in Albania lasted somewhat longer than expected.  It gave me plenty of time for reflection and possibly made me a better person.

I'm not sure what will become of Every Tiny Straw.  Blogging is something I do for a variety of reasons, many of which come back to vanity.  For the moment it is my intention to continue to write.

The Cars - Heartbeat City, 1984