Friday, 11 February 2022

Anti-Vaxxer Protesters, Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand, February, 2022

Last night I listened to John Minto speaking to Karen Hay on the protests in Wellington on Radio New Zealand (RNZ). I thought Minto was being too kind to the protesters; he said they were products of the last forty years, people who had been betrayed by both National and Labour governments of that forty years. Having said that, I wished he would have unpacked that further because on one level at least, people have been betrayed just as he said. Betrayed by neoliberalism, by the ever-increasing gaps between the rich and the poor, and the poor, as a class in Aotearoa/New Zealand increasingly lack opportunity, and worse, lack hope.

Perhaps the anger at Jacinda even has reason. In that first campaign she promised a transformative government. She promised to get rid of poverty in New Zealand. But more and more people cannot afford rents in this land, more and more are struggling to put food on the table they probably don't even own. We see children without shoes, not attending schools through lack of school lunches or uniforms to wear. Charities are forced to step in. Meantime we see landlords becoming more wealthy. We see supermarkets posting millions in profits. Is it any wonder people are angry, but may lack the education to respond in a sensible manner. Instead, they become fodder for Q'anon and social media conspiracy theories.
Labour could have brought in capitalist gains taxes. They could put ceiling limits on rents. They could enforce the regulations that do exist instead of leaving it up to tenants to report landlords transgressions. They could raise benefit levels to something families might be able to live on, maybe something more akin to what workers got to keep heart and soul together in 2020. They could take important utilities like electricity back into public ownership.
This Labour government headed by Jacinda have been awesome though, through so many crises over their governance, far better than any government we have had since I don't know when. They have held us together as the previous Key government never would have, actually didn't, if you think about the Christchurch earthquakes, and the mess National made of that. But the betrayed, immersed in anger, don't see that. Instead they hear the empty rhetoric of Trump and the like, and they believe in that instead.
I guess that's how it seems to me anyhow.
On our screens we see an amorphous rabble that make no sense to us. They make no sense to me either. I see their great big cars and trucks, and I wonder how they afforded the petrol. Like everyone else I get annoyed by their ignorance and aggressiveness, their entitled behaviour when they demand rights with no apparent idea of responsibility, their horrible videos on YouTube.
And yet, around me, in this suburb of the lowest vaccination rate in Christchurch, I know so many decent people. Nice people. Thirty year olds whose parents became anti-vaxxers in the nineties following that appalling UK doctor who insisted vaccinations made children autistic. To this day their children have had no vaccinations, instead they held kids parties to get their kids immunised "naturally". Only high vaccination rates in this country kept those children safe, but they don't see that. They literally see vaccinating children as child abuse. They were misled, and they misled their children who are now parents themselves. They saw "big pharma", the privatised and apparently uncaring pharmaceutical companies making huge profits, developing drugs for wealthy markets while ignoring the needs of the poor. Again. Neoliberalism. More fodder for social media.
However, I think the people who annoy me the most are the people that probably think they are above the "rabble" but remain unvaccinated for their "individual health". I cannot pretend to understand this mindset, but they appear to be middle class people who have swallowed the neoliberalist rhetoric of of individualism, hook, line, and sinker. They make decisions based upon their own perceived individual good. The concept of looking out for others, of team spirit is over their heads. They think we all have a level playing field. They are also products of the last forty years but unlike the betrayed, they have done well out of neoliberalism.
And okay, while I am on a roll here, let me not forget the whinging business people, especially those of what might well be a fossilised tourist industry. Those ones who throughout the pandemic have wanted borders opened regardless of the sickness and deaths that would have resulted, because they are losing money. Those that have their arms open wide for any handouts from government, while still maintaining beneficiaries as bludgers. In this world where we must reduce emissions to keep the future viability of our species alive, the tourist industry is as exploitative as the coal and oil industries, and the filthy dairy industry.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

One a Pecker, Two a Pecker, Bright Fine Gold

In the sixties and early seventies my parents started buying Readers Digest Condensed Books. They were great readers, and I expect this was a cheap way of getting books. Us kids read them too, of course, but even back then I used to wonder what they edited out in order to condense the stories. What was I missing?

Well as time went on, I would find some of the novels in libraries or second-hand bookshops. I don't think I ever came across even one that had benefited from such wholesale editing. The novel pictured here was one of the condensed stories in those books which I read as a teenager, but this is the first time I have come across the full novel at a sensible price ($4). It's a vintage New Zealand novel and even in the first few pages, it is clear that heaps was missed out from the condensed story. I am very pleased with my find from the St Christopher's Bookshop at New Brighton (NZ).

This copy appears to be a first edition, published in 1957, original price on the flyleaf of 17s.6d. 

The story is centred on Currency MacQueen, left alone and penniless at eighteen when her guardian known as Mother Jerusalem, suddenly dies on the streets of Dunedin. She makes her way to Calico Town  with Billy Figg and his crazed wife Adeline and their cargo of cats. The other main characters are the sober-minded Law family, Uncle Alick, his sister, Margaret Law, daughter Tatty, the Italian Pigallo, and the mysterious Shannadore. Also the well-drawn, often desperate miners drawn from around the globe, all seeking their fortunes in amongst the snow-capped peaks and mountain streams flowing from Lake Wakatipu.   

Ruth Park was born in Auckland, New Zealand on the 24th of August, 1917. She worked as a journalist for the Auckland Star but found the job disappointing. In 1942, she moved to Sydney, Australia in search of more challenging work, and she married Australian author Darcy Niland. She and Darcy had 5 children including twins (I am feeling a bit bonded now, I also have 5 children including twins). She wrote several novels including this one, One-a-Pecker, Two-a-Pecker which was published in 1957 (an auspicious year, I feel), set in the Otago Gold Rush of the 1860s, New Zealand's biggest gold rush. Later the novel title was changed to The Frost and The Fire, under which title it was published by the Readers Digest Condensed Books.

One-a-pecker, two-a-pecker, bright fine gold,
Spend it in the summer and you die in the cold.
It cannot light a lantern, or ever ease a pain,
And yet we go on searching, tho' we search in vain.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

My Bus Submission on the Chopping of Routes, and The Raising of Fares.

Six Bus Routes Face the Chop

This really gets up my nose! Yet again, Environment Canterbury (ECAN) (you) are doing your level best to annoy and frustrate people, not only by canning six bus routes, but by raising fares as well, especially hitting low income people and disabled people in the pocket.

ECAN annoyed people in previous years by changing the routes as far as I can tell, so less buses can get around more areas . That might sound good to accountants but it now takes over 50 minutes or more for my Southshore bus to get to the City Bus Exchange, as it ambles along to QE2, through Burwood, wandering along Lake Terrace Rd to Shirley and past the Palms and schools, taking in North Avon Rd, Stanmore Rd, and finally points its nose to town. This is a journey 60 yr old me can do in 25 minutes on a good day on my bicycle, taking a simpler more direct route. Meantime, I require two buses in order to get to the closer Eastgate Mall? Is this making sense to anyone. Not to me.

I note that the Westmoreland bus route is going for the chop. This is a route my sister would use daily IF the flaming bus would actually go to the Central Bus Exchange near to her work, but it doesn't. So she would have to use two buses also which is ridiculous. Why any route would not go to the Central Bus Exchange built at great expense by the Christchurch City Council, therefore ratepayers, I cannot understand. Instead my sister ignores her close-by bus stop and drives to outside Princess Margaret Hospital where she then picks up a bus taking her into town where she wants to go. In case you haven't noticed the Central City is now opening up and more people are working there. All buses should arrive at the Central City Bus Exchange in a timely manner.

I am quite sure that people all over Christchurch can tell many similar stories. It is ridiculous, firstly, that the Christchurch City Council (CCC) is expected to provide all the infrastructure while ECAN decides the routes and fares. ECAN would be better named ECAN'T I think.

So what I want to say here is that public buses exist to provide a Service, first and foremost. They should provide that Service by giving people what they want and need, instead of making their customers struggle to find ways to make it somehow work for them, or else just give up and use their cars. ECAN is tasked with looking after our Environment, aren't you? Isn't that why it is called ENVIRONMENT CANTERBURY? Isn't that your kaupapa? ECAN is failing in its duty if it cannot find ways to help people to not use their car, thereby saving fossil fuels and congestion on our roads. In this day and age, as we see Global Climate Change wreaking havoc on our day to day temperatures with hotter summers, hotter seas, and more frequent and devastating storms, surely a first step is to get people using the public bus system. More people will do so if they are indeed offered a better service on their buses, not cutbacks and rising fares.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Sunday Morning Sermon

Life has never been a place of continuous happiness or continuous joy. Anybody who expects that is a fool. But we cannot ask our babies before they are conceived if they wish to live or not. Therefore any decision made can only be the decision of the parents, or made without choice if there is no access to contraception. 

To force children to live in a world of starvation and misery, war, and horror is not the choice of most parents, rather political decisions made by evil leaders of theirs or another country, or by the evil, unequal, capitalist based distribution systems in place globally. Even if your country is as socialist as is possible, it will still be affected by the global greeds and corruptions of the rest of the world. 

So parents bring, or not bring their children into the world due to their own desires. I desired children, and in the end I gave birth to five. Each one of them brought me so much joy, and I tried to give them the happiest lives within my power. I did not always succeed, things went wrong , like the breakup of my relationship, him using my children as pawns against me, never quite having enough money, stuff like that. But I always felt responsible, that having chosen to have these children, that I must give them the best start I could and teach them well. I believe I have succeeded in that to the best of my ability.

But I do have regrets. It first hit me, at the time of the Twin Towers, that I had brought my children into a human world that is inherently violent, against each other, against the planet, against the very earth that sustains us. For some years I struggled with the deepest depression, I still do. And my only way out from that, to find any hope at all, turned out to be joining the Green Party of Aotearoa, a political party which abhors war, embraces pacifism, cares for the earth and the people on it. Environment and social care are entertwined, a system that exploits one has the same attitude to the other. I and each of us, must bear responsiblity for the world we bring our children into. 

I also deeply believe that each one of us, now that we are here, are entitled to make our own decision about whether we wish to continue with our life. If our life is too much to bear, for whatever reason, we should be entitled to leave it. But only I can make that decision for me, only you can make that decision for you. Just because a person has disabilities does not mean their lives are too much to bear; a perfectly physically able person may have no joy in their life. It is arrogance that decides for another that their life is a nothing, Malthusianism at its most dangerous, it is this perspective that is morally wrong. 

I insist on everyone's right to live. I insist on everyone's right to choose the time of their death for whatever reason. And their right to bear or not bear children. But with every right comes responsibility. We are all responsible for the world we live in, and the children that live within it.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Speaking ill of Hugh Hefner.

You call us shallow. But I and so many other women lived through your so-called sexual revolution.

We are the women who were girls in the seventies.

We are the girls who were told that if we didn't "put out" this bloke we thought was so cool would move on to the next girls.

We are the girls who were told we were sluts after we put out and that bloke had moved onto the next girl anyway.

And he told all his slaggy mates we weren't that great at sex.

More of a wash-out.

Or, he said, she will put out for anyone and they all came calling, all singing the same tune.

And you were still a slut, eh.

Or, after the first two or three your stomach churned and you said no,

And then they said, but you put out for him and then him, so now do it for me.


That is what was gifted to the boys by Hugh Hefner.

Or what if that first time you said no, and you stuck to your guns,

Then you weren't a slut after all, you were a frigid bitch instead.

Don't go out with her because she won't put out and so you were left lonely and confused.

Or maybe when you said no that first time.
No, you said, no, no, no.

And he said, I know you really want it, and he got on top of you

Ramming himself against you, bang bang bang,

Under the pine trees.

In the dark.

Under those pine trees, stinking of pine and afterwards, when you pull your pants up,
you get scratched by the pine needles in your pants.

I knew you had done it before, he says, you are no virgin.

I knew you had put out before.

Under the pine trees.

And you had only met him that afternoon. He was in the back seat of a Vauxhall where
Playboy magazines were scattered about. On the floor.

You were Thirteen. When you finally got home there was blood in your pants.
And pine needles.

And you know he told all his mates you were a slut and no virgin and you put out,
They should have a turn with you.

Under the pine trees.

When you were Thirteen.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Dirty Filthy Politics and Dead Cats on the Table.

Once again all the National voters, and all those swinging voters who voted for the National Party, know that you have all been totally manipulated by The National Party political advisory consultants, Crosby Textor, that Australian political advisory firm who manipulated the first National/Key election, possibly the second, don't know about the third but by golly they are alive and kicking in this campaign.
The antics of Crosby Textor were first let out of the bag in Aotearoa/New Zealand, in Nicky Hagar's "Hollow Men" and  "Dirty Politics" books. It is the 'dead cat on the table' ploy, in this case the lie about the so-called billion dollar hole that Steven Joyce (National Party campaign chairman) and Bill English (National Party leader and current Prime Minister) knew was a lie the whole way through because it was a lie thought up by Crosby Textor.
Crosby Textor were also campaign managers for the Tories in the UK, Theresa May used them, David Cameron and Boris Johnson to become Mayor of London. Tony Abbbot and Malcolm Turnbull have also employed them. Clearly the right wing parties just love them. No worries about deceit and lies are troubling any of these people, and their parties.
So, did you think Bill English was a decent bloke? Honest? Straight forward? Well think again because he and Joyce have lied, and lied, and lied, to everyone in this country all the way to the box office. Read the article linked at the end of this blog and realise that the Nats are laughing at you all every one of you, all the way to the bank. Again. Michael Wright on the Stuff article (25th September, 2017) explains in the first paragraph, 
"It worked so well it looked like it didn't work. It looked like National copped a hiding in the media and from the experts over its claim that Labours fiscal plan had an $11.7b hole in it but somehow managed to escape with 46% of the vote on Election Night. In fact, it was perhaps the single biggest factor in why National did as well as it did."
I read the article first of all on a newspaper copy of The Christchurch Press. It was on the bottom half of the front page, continued on page two wrapped around articles about Jacinda Ardern (leader of the Labour Party where she is described as being naive. "Substance trumped style, wrote Mike Yardley. "Play nice idealism is all very well, but you also need mongrel and a killer instinct in your arsenal ..." Translate this into, you need to be a liar and deceitful, you need to be corrupt. You need to stare into a camera with bland face and lie like the devil. Like the National Party.

Apart from the National Party getting the highest percentage in our election this weekend entirely through their lies, which in another country with a First Past the Post (FFP) voting system, would have won them the election; the saddest thing about all this, is the people who might read this post and/or the Michael Wright article and blithely say, 'oh well all politicians are corrupt', but actually they are not. And the people who believe these things about corruption and politicians are most often the people who do not turn out to vote because they say, what's the point they are all the same.

But I will argue that they are not all corrupt. Not in Aotearoa. The politicians who have not used the lies (advice) of Crosby Textor. The NZ Labour Party. The Green Party of Aotearoa. New Zealand First even. But what do we all do against this evil. How do we fight this? Do these other parties find their own Cosby Textor Political Advisory firms? Are the biggest liars with the biggest budgets always going to win now just like in the USA? Is this the Aotearoa/New Zealand that we want?

I have even more questions. Were Cosby Textor behind the vitriol aimed at Metiria Turei by John Armstrong, David Seymour of Act Party, Mike Hosking over and over on TV Ones Seven Sharp, Patrick Gower on Three. et al? I would not be surprised. When Metiria Turei first announced the Green Policy of Ending Poverty the Green Party went up to 15% on the polls. It was following that that all hell broke loose, as those privileged white men in suits unleashed the viciousness onto Metiria Turei and her "benefit fraud" after which the Green Party plummeted in the polls, even going under the 5% threshold. Did that all happen because of a nod from Cosby Textor?

Another question still. Was the leak about Winston Peters (Leader NZ First) superannuation overpayment also a Cosby Textor ploy, this time to undermine Winston Peters as National was fighting to win back the Northland Electorate from him? If the leak did not come from the Inland Revenue (IRD) or the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) then the only other place was the National Party itself, perhaps Steven Joyce in his capacity as National's campaign Manager? Perhaps we will never know.

So, at this time of writing, the negotiations start between National and New Zealand First, between Labour, Greens, and New Zealand First. Will Winston Peters swallow the overpayment leak and the losing of Northland? Watch the space,

The 'Dead Cat' Masterstroke that just may win National the Election (the article)

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Honesty in Politics

(This post has started life as a comment on Doug Noakes post on Facebook, in answer to Benni Jones, in the US.)

As a financial member of The Green Party Of Āotearoa, I am privileged to have met several honest MPs, all people who are honest, intelligent, and who all have integrity. I am proud to know them. Honesty and Integrity can get in the way sometimes as we are finding out especially, in this Election Campaign 2017. I wish it were over. I am scared of the result when it is over. Apologies up front, this "comment" may turn into a bit of a dissertation.

The Green Party in New Zealand started life as the Values Party on the seventies. It became the Green Party Of Āotearoa in the nineteen nineties. This last Election Cycle we have had fourteen MPs in Parliament. It is a part of our kaupapa that we always have two co-leaders, this last cycle they have been Metiria Turei and James Shaw. James became a co-leader during the cycle when Russell Norman stood down to become CEO of Greenpeace NZ.

In August Metiria Turei and James Shaw, (during the Greens AGM) launched two major policy platforms for the Greens Campaign. James launched policy over the environment, Metiria's policy platform was on Ending Poverty in New Zealand, a policy from her heart, because unlike many other people, she understands what it is to be a single mother on a benefit in New Zealand, especially during the nineteen-nineties after the then National Party government had cut benefits to 20% below what was needed to live on. I was on the same journey back then, so you get that I have strong empathy with this story. Since then poverty has become more and more obvious in New Zealand, we now have families living in cars, people living under bridges or sleeping under shop verandahs, children lacking shoes, coats, or school lunches, people in despair. This was not part of the Āotearoa/NZ that I grew up in, where we believed in community or equality of opportunity. Today's New Zealand is driven by classism, racism, and money, and sheer nastiness, it seems to me, and Metiria's story has become the graphic example of that nastiness, that wilful ignorance aimed at keeping the status quo.

Because, as a part of that Ending Poverty launch, Metiria revealed how she had 'lied' to Work and Income (WINZ) about flatmates in her home which would have effected her accommodation supplement on her single parent benefit. Filling out her annual forms to WINZ, she had neglected to mention that she had two flatmates in her home at he time; this because she didn't want to lose money, back then this was about survival, this was about putting food in her baby's mouth, and keeping a roof over her and the baby's heads. Remember, the benefits had had that major cut. In fact, pedantically, I would say she withheld information rather than outright lying, and further, had her flatmates been framed as boarders, people on the Domestic Purpose Benefit were allowed two boarders in their home. Boarders were not seen as income in the same way. Metiria told this story in an effort to get people to understand how bad poverty is in New Zealand, to get them to understand how difficult poverty is, that people are forced to scrimp and to lie in order to survive. which is true. I know this also. Incidentally the amount of money would be miniscule, but every little bit counts when you simply do not have enough money.

Anyhow, when I saw that launch on the TV, that Sunday night my heart dropped into my stomach. I was terrified. I was so afraid at what might happen, in fact what did happen.

Because all the nasties came out. Those well-off, sleek, white men, in designer suits with designer shirts and designer ties, the Mike Hoskings, the Patrick Gowers, the David Seymours, et al., the men (and some women) who are milking it from today's classism and racism, today's inequalities, today's housing market, where investors make millions, and low-waged people struggle to put food on the table or pay rents, even if they are working 2 or 3 jobs. Those media men led by ACT Party's David Seymour, they came out guns blazing, screeching about Benefit Fraud, the word fraud probably never having crossed their lips, nor their pens, nor their keyboards a few months earlier when the now Prime Minister, Bill English, ex-farmer, had been found out to have lied (oops, sorry dear, just made a wee mistake even) when he had claimed for accommodation supplements he was not entitled too, as part of his being an MP, to the tune of some $33,000! And I see little of that nasty, scathing rhetoric from those white men in suits over Winston Peter's (NZ First party leader) little mistake in claiming for more superannuation than he was entitled to, to the tune of some $18,000. Neither of those men had owned up as Metiria had done, both had been found out. But oddly, these little, maybe even deliberate mistakes are considered not fraud, rather they are technically legal? Really?

See, I think, that when Metiria told her story, the whole juggernaut of class, of gender, of racism, of the hatred that rich and well-off Pākēhā have for the unemployed, and the poor, and single mothers not kowtowing to some man somewhere, all that hatred and viciousness was brought out, and we in New Zealand got to see the true ugliness that surges underneath. The Green Party and Metiria lost control of the message which was, of course, to highlight poverty and the shifts that people have to go to in order to survive, and to launch this grand and wonderful policy to END POVERTY and Mending The Safety Net in New Zealand.

For the record, the policy was and still is :The Green Party will repair the holes in the social safety net by Increasing all benefits by 20%. They will increase the amount people can earn before their benefit is cut. Increase the value of Working for Families for All Families. Create a Working for Families Children's Credit of $72 per week. Introduce a new Top Tax Rate of 40% on income over $150,000 per annum, and Raise the Minimum Wage to $17.75 per hour in the first year and keep raising it until it reaches 66% of the average wage. These changes are to bring people out of poverty and provide independence, dignity and real choices.

Now, as we still carry on through the Election campaigning (till 23rd September), I wish that Metiria had not told that story. I understand why she did. She explained that she had been trying for 15 years in politics to get the message about poverty across, to get the message across about how it stunts growth, how it traumatises people, and how it turns good people into liars despite their normal inclinations. Because nobody can sit and look at an empty table at dinner time and their hungry kids if there is something they can do about it, especially when it is, to all intent and purpose, a victimless crime. Nobody is saying its ok to hold up the nearest dairy or bank here, ok. But in all these years nobody had listened, media had not given a jot, and Paula Bennett, Anne Tolley, and the National Party government have continued to reduce beneficiaries into frightened, ground-down people. At least that is the intent. So she used her own story in order to explain. While she knew that some would villify, I believe she thought that most of us would get it, that people would get on board and vote for this policy. We see stories about the homeless so frequently on TV now, that we would respond to this new Green Policy with open arms. It is what you would think if you still believe that most people care.

Even two of our own MPs did not understand, Kennedy Graham and David Clendon; they were so focused on the Fraud, that they wound up resigning from the party.

The trouble is, that in telling the story, Metiria Turei, instead of the Mana of being an MP and leading the Green Party, was put down and villified as a single Māori mother, a beneficiary like myself and many others, seen as a drag on the economy, shiftless, scum, all those things that are said to reflect the so-called underclass who live precarious lives, hoping like hell that the washing machine won't break down, that the school won't decide to take the kids on an unaffordable field trip that your kids can't go to. I remember one of my sons wouldn't even tell me about field trips, you know, because he knew I couldn't afford it, or would do without myself in order for him to go. And If I did find our, he would just insist that he really didn't want to go anyway. Anyway that nasty upperclass set went on and on about Benefit Fraud, night after night on the TV news, in all the papers, in articles online, on The Project and Seven Sharp, night after night and day after day of relentless shitraising about Benefit Fraud, and they sent out teams of people to Investigate Metiria Turei and her life in the nineteen-nineties to see if they could find more evidence of Bad Things she might have done back then when she was a Solo Mother on The Benefit. And any little scrap they found they published with glee. What do you think, New Zealand, do you think this woman ought to be an MP, they would sneer and they dragged in whanau (family) so that in the end Metiria had enough and resigned from being our Leader, and being on our party list.

And now the Green Party who were polling at 15% at the outset of the campaign are now polling at 5,2%, 5%, 4.9%. If we don't win an electorate or cross that 5% threshold, The Green Party will not be in Parliament at all.

Note: Metiria Stanton Turei is still standing as an Electorate Candidate in the Te Tai Tonga Electorate. Voters can get her back into Parliament by electorate voting in Te Tai Tonga.