The nonsense and (hate to say it) sense of Rodney Hide

While I’m not a typical reader of Rodney Hide, nor do I agree with much of what he has to say – most the time – but on occasion I find myself in agreement with some of his ideas/opinions.  I encourage you to read on, even if you hate the pants off Hide.

I want to focus on 3 of Hide’s articles that interested me. Note, interested does not mean I unequivocally agree with him. But for reference the articles are embedded as links below.

    Mainzeal and the mad men who drive our economy

    Hide states:

    The business failure is reported as an economic calamity. And a sign that all is not well within the wider New Zealand economy…It’s all nonsense, of course. The business collapse shows we have an economy that is working. We would be better off with more…It is traumatic and upsetting for those involved. But so, too, is life…It’s simply a part, and a very necessary part, of living….Business collapse is part and parcel of a successful economy.

    At first glance, I interpreted this article as saying that the free market wants business to fail. So, I thought I’d ask the biggest defender of the free market I know of (@MarkHubbard33) how he interpreted Hide’s piece. His response was in summary, that “business failure is the natural, necessary way for the market to fix malinvestment: that aids innovation and the big problem with bailouts were they kept alive zombie business concepts/models, and hindered innovation”. In comparing this response and reading Hide’s piece again, I suspect Hide’s view is identical.  

    What I understand from Hide’s comments is that business collapse is natural and indicative of a healthy economy. My problem with his theory is that in a later article he implies that providing a living wage to employees is bad for business.

    My question is, if you are for the free market and accept that businesses collapse is natural and necessary, why then is a living wage considered as something that would cause a business to fail?  

    For instance, if the labour market demands a living wage and the business is not in a position to pay it, then surely it is a zombie business and therefore deserves to collapse under the free market doctrine.

    I suspect a response to that claim might be that government legislating what employers must pay (at minimum) is intervention and not the natural course of the market. In my view, this is weak. The government are enacting what the labour market are demanding – the right to be remunerated for the value they provide to the business. Of course, the particular framing of this claim may suggest that if a business cannot afford to pay a living wage then the employee is arguably not providing the business with the value they seek in return for their labour. Although I don’t buy that argument either, since without the employee’s labour, that is, the skill used to produce the good or service, the business would not be able to turn its resources into a revenue stream. The business does not fail because of the labour provided – it fails because the business relies on an ineffective business model that ‘hinders innovation’.

    Bravo: The real business class

    So lets look at what Hide has to say when it comes to paying a ‘living wage’ to employees:

    …many businesspeople don’t make the minimum wage, let alone the “living wage”. They work all hours. They sweat about making the wage bill each week. The income they generate pays all our wages, either directly or indirectly...Business would survive without government. But government wouldn’t survive without business… business success is the social success that matters most. It’s the success of providing what people actually want at a price they are prepared to pay.

    I’m not compelled by this argument for he reasons set out above and additionally, I find Henry George’s argument more persuasive: 

    wages are the product of the labor for which they are paid

    George uses the example of an egg company that hires a group of workers to collect eggs and in return they receive a fixed wage. The fixed wage is paid in money that represents the eggs because the sale of eggs produces the cash to pay the wages.  This may in fact be what Hide meant. But in my view Hide overlooked that without labour the business would not generate the income to pay wages. So the importance is not the business, it is in fact the labour.  

    I’m amused that Hide on one hand says its natural and in fact a sign of a healthy economy where businesses collapse since innovation derives from these failures.  And on the other hand businesses that are struggling should be assisted by the government twofold – firstly, by not legislating a minimum wage thereby privileging the business over the labour, and secondly, by leaving it to the government to provide social security for the workers whose employers cannot afford to pay them a living wage. Has Hide forgotten that the government represents the people and not business? Well, not according to his latest piece in the NBR that I will discuss below.

    Problems solved

    I enjoyed this piece while at times I seethed much of what he said was palatable and some of it even sensible. Lets look at his idea for Christchurch first. Hide says:

    The government should butt out of Christchurch…Property rights should be recognised and reaffirmed rather than endlessly pinched, the region should be declared tax-free and oppressive laws such as the Resource Management Act, OSH and the Employment Relations Act deemed inappropriate.

    It was all going well until he spouted the bit about deeming laws that address fundamental rights of individuals inappropriate [in bold – emphasis added]. 

    What I like about this suggestion is that he is right about the government butting out – CERA is an impediment to the direct democracy of the people of Christchurch. CERA is an installed regime intended to ignore the plight of the people for the benefit of some crony government agenda. 

    I’m also impressed by his tax free zone, although in my opinion, this should be limited to personal income tax and GST because I’d be suspicious about some (external) businesses finding loopholes and using the tax free status of the region to create profits that didn’t feed back into the community. And this would undermine the whole point of declaring Christchurch a tax free zone. The advantage of a tax free zone is that individuals would have their full wage to assist them in rebuilding their lives which would go some way to providing the necessary relief in the wider community. It would also benefit the local businesses because people would have more money to spend and would be more likely to spend thereby circulating more money in the region without having to artificially create more money (banking) or printing more money (QE). I’m not entirely sure how such a scheme could be implemented, but on the face of it, I think Hide’s idea has merit. I suspect his reasons are because such a scheme would be more favourable to businesses, while I prefer the idea for the benefit of the community as a whole. 

    Another idea I liked of Hide’s was in relation to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. Hide says:

    Get rid of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. That alone would signal that government understands that business, innovation and employment aren’t things that flow out of the Beehive.

    In my view, he’s right. Government is about governance and not dictating what the economy should be doing. While I see a role for government in facilitating the employment relationship, its not the role of government to determine what is innovative for the private sector. I appreciate that some people believe that some ‘public-private partnerships’ have been successful, but I don’t think this justifies the relationship since success is almost always measured in profitability. We elect the government to represent us as a people and when governments are in partnership with business there is a clear conflict of interest and conflicts of interest are deemed highly inappropriate in most professions.  

    To conclude, for all the BS that Rodney spouts and his deliberate trolling of the left, he does happen to have some good ideas and opinions. What I am finding is that despite the differences in opinions or how our opinions and ideas are formed, where there is common ground we should probably work from there. Surely, its far more productive than slinging mud back and forth. 
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    Protest partial privatisation – boycott Mighty River Power

    Following the SC decision on the Wai case, looks like there is going to be a final push against Asset Sales in which various union groups and other movements are calling for a National Day of Action (Date: 27 April 2013).

    This week the MSM asked what National’s Plan B would have been, had the SC decision gone in favour of the NZMC. Its irrelevant. Who cares. They would have legislated against any finding. Much the same as Labour did with the Foreshore and Seabed. We can assume this.

    But what was the Plan B for those in opposition to asset sales? A referendum that wouldn’t be held until after at least the first few SOE’s were partially privatised? Relying on Labour & Greens to create more widespread participation through actual action something that they’ve failed to effectively do already?

    In the meantime they’ve left it to Mana’s activists, unions, blogs and other social movements to keep the issue live.

    So Plan B now appears to be another mass demonstration. This is not the 1980’s. And its not Egypt. It might feel like an exercise of citizen power but there are always a few who manage to deflect from the real purpose by using the march as a platform for spreading their anti-Key sentiments. When they do that, citizen power is lost. National laugh off the protest as a bunch of radical left wing haters. It does more damage than good.

    To make matters worse, opposition Leader, David Shearer ain’t gonna make the protest credible since he struggles to string together a single coherent sentence. And while the Greens will provide valid arguments, National have developed a knack for making common sense sound completely irrational.

    Yes, I did just make that statement – the Greens argument is common sense because its not just focused on economic advantages or disadvantages but takes into account both social and environmental factors which are highly relevant and seldom considered.

    I appreciate that there are people who are not opposed to the sale of these assets – in fact many, including Treasury see the full privatisation as providing more economic benefits. I also can understand the diverse philosophies/ideologies that compel people to either oppose or support privatisation schemes. But my point here is not to debate whether or not we should as a country partially privatise state owned assets. I want to focus on a more effective form of protest using our real power, that is, as Consumers.

    BOYCOTT MIGHTY RIVER

    Mighty River Power claims that its retail brands have a combined national market share of 18% of the physical electricity sales by volume. They boast around 370,000 customers.

    The Greens have released figures that suggest they have collected 370,000 or so signatures for a citizens initiated referendum and the polls tell us that around 80% of New Zealander’s are opposed to the partial sell down.

    Consumers are in control. Without them, businesses fail. This protest that is being organised needs to promote this power. The threat of loss of customers is enough to devalue a company. Actual migrations of customers will be even more effective. If those who oppose assets want to prevent the sale – then they must use their power as a consumer and boycott all Mighty River Power retail brands such as Mercury Energy.

    The effect of this is in order to retain profits the company are likely to have to drive up its power prices – this would inevitably force other users to transfer their service to other power companies. The loss of customers (and customer instability) and hence lost profits is less attractive to potential investors and is the only effective way of getting the government to respect our power as citizens and consumers. As consumers we can drive down the value of the SOE’s in a show of opposition to its proposed partial privatisation. We often forget that governments serve us we do not serve them.

    Its foreseeable how the government will respond – they’ll blame those who divest from Mighty River Power for its imminent sale. Its BS. They plan to sell anyway whether you take this action or not. Counter the rhetoric. Those who oppose these asset sales need to get smarter not angrier. They need to anticipate counter-responses and take more direct actions. Protesting about sales is a start but its not the same as taking direct action to prevent them. As a consumer in a consumption society – we have the power.

    According to the NZH Mighty River is in the process of being listed on the ASX:

    http://nzh.tw/1086852 now is the time.

    A word about the vultures for Ngati Toa

    Ngati Toa. Congratulations on your Treaty Settlement, but the Banks are not clamouring around because they see you as key economic players. They are vultures. The $75 million provides the banks with a reserve on which they can use as leverage for more loans. Yes, they can lend out more money and put more people into debt because their ledgers will show your settlement proceeds as an asset. Whats so bad about this? The Banks are not actually empowered to create money by any form of legislation. However, no doubt they’d rely on the ‘third source’ the fact that there is no law prohibiting them creating money in this way, since they are not technically ‘printing’ it. Additionally, they will lend money out, that they created out of nothing, that is associated with your deposit and then they’ll charge interest on that loan. That interest rate ensures that there is less money circulating in the economy than the debt that is actually owed. Its how fractional reserve banking works.

    I’m not kidding. The financial advice you’ll likely receive is to invest the proceeds of your settlement in overseas schemes. Your advisor’s will talk about the benefit of profits to iwi. But what are profits? They are the monopolisation of money in the economy. Profits mean that the person or companies who benefit from them do so at the demise of those who are forced out of work so that companies can continue to make profits. In the 1980’s this happened to be predominantly Maori, because Maori were unskilled factory workers and the companies had machines replace them. Its a vicious circle. (Although admittedly, machines have replaced menial work giving people the opportunity to pursue more interesting and fulfilling life paths – however, in NZ because education came at a cost at the same time those in menial work were replaced by machines, this had an adverse effect on Maori in particular). Moreover, if you transfer the money in your account out of NZ, say an overseas investment, then this means there is less money circulating in our economy and the less money in circulation the harder it is on the least well off members of society to improve their own economic positions.

    However, using a bank is unavoidable on your part really. But you have the opportunity not to be part of the system that caused the injustices that you received redress for but instead to use it as a means of transition. Maori values are not capitalistic. Maori values are egalitarian. Think about that before allowing the banks to use you in a system that necessarily creates injustices to benefit the few.

    But hey, who am I to tell you what to do with your money or what your values are. I am just reminding you that the system is deceptive and to be careful not to become corrupted by the very system that used its corruption to disadvantge you and pillage your villages, lands and resources.

    But do note: its not your money in reality – its just numbers in a computer system that have no value. It is not backed by any value. Its created as debt – every dollar of your settlement is a debt owed by someone else to someone else.

    Protest, Democracy and the TPPA

    The TPPA protest raised some interesting questions. One that interested me was whether  the protest was effective? I’m in two minds. I mean, what other options do we have to express opposition to our government? Yet, the government just don’t listen and they employ tactics to minimise the effect of dissent. 


    The image below (not from the TPPA protest – see credit below the image) sums up how many of us probably feel especially in relation to the TPPA negotiations and the recent comments made by PM John Key. 


    This image was posted by @OpBigBrother on Twitter, a demonstration organsied by the group Anonymous – the slogan was simple but effective:  see https://twitpic.com/bk8wll 


    I’m sure most readers would have come across the error notice when trying to open a website where the domain no longer exists. Pretty sweet analogy.  
    The TPPA protest involved around 300 people who met at Aotea Square and made their way to the Sky City conference centre where the TPPA negotiations were taking place. 
    Socialist Aotearoa report that: 

    “After the Conference declined to accept the Petition against the TPPA, people demand to be let in to observe just what is being negotiated in secret behind Skycity’s closed doors”  

    (The Socialist Aotearoa webpage has a write up including photographs and video footage see: http://socialistaotearoa.blogspot.co.nz/

    The New Zealand Herald headline depicted the demonstration as follows – Police attacked at TPP protest and reported that: 

    “Police have condemned “violent” protesters who attacked two police officers and set fire to cardboard boxes as they tried to force their way into free trade negotiations”.
    see http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10852773

    This opening line fails to acknowledge why the protest erupted into violence. 
    The beauty of social media is the eyewitness accounts shared when inaccurate or biased reporting occurs. 
    Most witness accounts I have seen posted on social media make it clear that there was an intentionally provocative strategy taken by Police at this protest, while others suggested this was more typical Police practice. But do not be dismissive, such provocation and tactics results in a restraint on democracy. 
    The strategy is simple: increase Police presence, raise adrenalin levels of the crowd, force a reaction to justify the use of Police force. One witness posted on Twitter that they saw a Police Officer punch a young female in the face causing those in the vicinity to react. That is the strategy in action, evidenced by the fact that some officers were armoured up indicative of their role in this strategy. 
    The Officer in this picture was seen to punch a young female in the face by the person who took this photo and reportedly was particularly provocative in his approach to the protest
    While I do not normally condone fighting or violence, witness accounts make it clear that the protesters had little option but to respond to the Police confrontation; however, it is wholly inexcusable that a protester took to stomping on the head of a Constable on the ground. 
    My overall assessment of this protest is that it was ineffective. This is contrary to those who attended so I want to explain why. 
    The aim of protests is to persuade those in positions of power to listen to the dissent. This happens most often when there is a majority support or at least visible widespread support. The protest yesterday did not gain that visible widespread support and as Police intervened to disempower the dissent and demonise participants, this played into the hands of the ‘ruling elite’.  
    The mainstream media ran with the ‘protester violence’ angle and many New Zealanders rely on those reports for informing their opinions. It is most likely, that public sympathy lies with the Police (although I hope I am wrong on this assumption). 
    Additionally, some of the video footage reinforced the media angle despite the Police force visible. This is because all you can hear are the following phrases: 
    • “F* the Police/Pigs!” 
    • “F* off Pigs/Police!” 
    • Or a generic “F* off!” 
    NZ audiences (generally speaking), particularly those who watch mainstream media are a reserved and even conservative bunch and are unlikely to sympathise with demonstrators who themselves sound like they are provoking the Police and are likely to view such phrases as tired and typical. But to be fair, it is extremely difficult to view these videos in context because the context was preset by the media. 
    Visibility of organisations. Neoliberalism has successfully divided the activists from the ‘reasoned’ public, notwithstanding that these groups are visible at all causes and demonstrations for social justice.  Unfortunately, their reputations among the wider public lacks support – at least on the broad scale required to be effective. 
    Protest requires public participation. Polls suggest that a majority of the public are opposed to the TPPA or at least want the negotiations made public. The support for the cause is there. The support for the groups involved in organising demonstrations is not. It is likely that many of those who oppose the TPPA also oppose socialism and unions and do not want to be associated with those groups by participating in the protest. 
    I mean no offence. Championing social justice is highly admirable. But my personal assessment is that the protest lacked wider public support despite clear public opposition to the TPPA negotiations for the above reasons and this is why I think the protest was ineffective. 
    For the sake of transparency, I did not attend the protest. I intended to, but backed out about half an hour before. I was most concerned about being in a large crowd and becoming overwhelmed, and I also questioned whether my presence mattered. In effect, I lost faith in the process. And the Police actions reaffirmed my despondency. 
    My view is that democracy in NZ is under attack and this is clear for the following reasons (the list is not exhaustive): 
    • Police engaged in strategies to silence protest; 
    • PM advised the general public and the TPPA negotiators to ignore the protesters because he thinks they are wrong and then revokes permission for NZ’s leading academic on the TPPA to deliver a petition to the TPPA meeting; 
    • Perseverance with state asset sales in the face of widespread opposition and refusing a referendum; and 
    • Secret TPPA negotiations that involve the trade off of freedom, privacy and sovereignty which adversely affects every person who is a citizen of a signatory to that agreement. 
    Protest needs to take a new track. It needs to involve more people by removing ties to particular groups. If the Anonymous movement has taught us anything, it is that when we act as one voice on issues we have in common despite our diversity and without compromising our diversity, we can achieve a great deal.
    If your interested in watching a short video on the TPPA protest by @OccupyEye see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oFhFYTz3yeM  

    Education: slavery through the illusion of enlightenment?

    13 days ago @AlexEdneyBrowne (twitter) asked for my thoughts on Stephen Joyce’s comments regarding engineering enrolments at the University of Auckland (apologies for my belated response). I refrained from writing too soon, because I had a few questions that I didn’t have answers to. I still don’t have those answers, but my views are little more reasoned (but only a little). This post reflects on Joyce’s comments, but not in the way that you might have thought.
    According to Stephen Joyce, education is about meeting the demand of the market and the market currently demands that prospective University Students undertake engineering degrees because there is a shortage of engineers in NZ and if an institution does not comply, then the government can go in and force compliance.

    “If they want us to be more directive, I’m more than willing,” he said. “I’m watching them really closely to make sure they do respond to what the market wants, and if they don’t, I can go and tell them how many they should enrol for each department.” 

    See: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10848413

      Legality aside, the Minister’s comments reflect the state of our education system. This is the system Labour and National have determined for our country. A system where market conditions are emulated within education institutions to privilege a few through the appearance of catering to the many.
      Recently, I was directed to a George Orwell quote:

      “The further society drifts form the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it”

      In my view, this applies to the Minister’s comments. I’m not saying that I agree with what he said, only that what he said reflects the reality of education in our country.Our education system is more about meeting the skills shortages in the job market and less about enlightenment. The rest of this post considers education in general but randomly refers back to the Minister’s views.  
      I watched a snippet of a lecture by Noam Chomsky ‘Education: for whom and for what?’ see: http://keentalks.com/education-for-whom-and-for-what/
      Chomsky distinguished between two groups: those who consider that education is for the privileged, i.e. the intelligent minority who occupy decision-making roles in society and those who consider that education is for everyone. I have no idea how Chomsky concluded his lecture but my argument is this:

      Our governments propagate that education is for everyone but it (the education system) operates to maintain the intelligent minority. Arguably, a public education system indicates education is for everyone; however, requiring a criterion for entrance acts as a restriction on the proposition that education is for everyone.

        Education is for everyone – only in the sense that we have a public education system. It’s an illusion to silence the masses in order to retain minorities in specific areas.
        Education is for the privileged – in the sense that those who perform better receive advantages as a result of their performance.
        An argument against this is the argument from equality. Equality in the sense that everyone has the same access so there is no privilege and those who outperform their peers deserve the benefits for their work. I agree in part with this statement. It takes considerable effort to attain grades of excellence (in the A range). So institutions should reward those who manage to attain those grades accordingly, right? Here I take issue. University grades are awarded through various types of assessment, predominantly examination. Some people are just good at taking exams, while others are not. The system privileges those who are good exam takers.
        I disagree with the argument from equality in the sense that not everyone has the same starting point. I have discussed this in various past posts, but I will briefly discuss it here. A persons ability to attain grades of excellence at University is not just dependent on the work they put in at University. There are pre-existing factors that will affect a students performance. For instance, the school you attend prior to University, the subjects available at that school, relationships with teachers, relationships with family, time available to complete the work required or to understand the material…the list is endless. We have created an education system that does not take into account morally arbitrary differences in a students life.
        Here is what I want to say about grades. There are limits on how many grades of excellence are awarded. You will not find a class where every student achieves an A grade. Our system moderates work so that only a certain number of students achieve A’s. Presumably, the argument is it increases competition and forces students to study harder to reach their full potential. This is not about full potential, for the teacher it may be, but for the institution its about ensuring that only a few students fill the spots of the intelligent minority. You must attain grades that the institution sets in order to complete at a post-graduate level e.g. Honours and Masters degrees. Even the language used to define post-graduate qualifications reflect the truth of the ‘intelligent minority’ thesis.
        The limitation on the number of excellence grades awarded is akin to the way in which money is kept scarce. It controls what people can and cannot do. If you don’t meet the requisite grades for post graduate study, then you are precluded from undertaking those courses, just like if you don’t have the money to pay a debt, you remain indebted. Scarcity forces the status quo to privilege a few. High grades are essentially academic capital. The more academic capital you have, the more academic capital you have access to.*
         Chomsky points to David Hume to make a similar point:

        “NOTHING appears more surprising to those, who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and the implicit submission, with which men resign their own sentiments and passions to those of their rulers” 

          How does all this relate to the Ministers comments? It does so by looking at the influence of the market on education. It is in effect a form of slavery. Let me attempt to qualify this. If the market demands what subjects or courses students take in order to meet those demands (and the government work to enforce those demands) then education is about state commodification of students for use by corporations. It is slavery because we are subject to whatever conditions the market determines for us. Here is the question I am struggling to answer: Do we freely chose our course of study or are we simply conditioned to think that we are freely choosing to pursue that path?

          *This is not a criticism of those whom have achieved high grades. Its a criticism of the system. 

          Murray McCully on Gaza

          Dear Murray McCully, 
          You are an arse. Here is the statement you made:

          “In our explanation of vote to the UN our Permanent Representative Hon Jim McLay will make clear our absolute commitment to Israel’s right to safety and security, and condemn the actions of Hamas extremists in recent weeks”

          http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/8018501/NZ-to-vote-to-recognise-Palestinian-state


          Thanks for propagating the Israeli/US lies. Thanks for making a commitment on behalf of NZ to support Israeli apartheid. Thanks for denouncing a democratically elected government, you know, one voted in by the people of Gaza. But most of all, thanks for the expression of your absolute commitment to the rights of Israel to defend itself by targeting and killing civilians including many many women and children. Thanks for that Murray. What a c**t. 

          How about considering that it was Gaza who had a right to defend themselves from the Israeli attacks. How about acknowledging the war crimes committed by the Israeli government in targeting civilians and journalists with ‘surgical precision’ and using weapons banned under international law.  

          Naming of the dead by Harry Fear –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1o9Jv4Lg90

          An article outlining why McCully is an arse for condemning Hamas’s right to defend Gaza:
          http://sabbah.biz/mt/archives/2012/11/27/brayer-the-absolute-right-of-palestinian-resistance/

          Re-introduce interest on student loans? No.

          Grrr. I was just reading the TVHE blog on student loans. The basic argument is that the government should reintroduce interest on student loans and that the government shouldn’t  provide support for students while they study, because tertiary education is a choice.

          This is the myth. Tertiary study is not a choice any more than receiving chemotherapy for cancer is. The author even points to the benefits of tertiary study, indicating that a student that completes an undergraduate degree will after 3 years of that degree be earning 51% more than those who did not obtain tertiary qualifications.

          Lets unravel this. The market is demanding higher qualifications. This is part of the markets labour competitive strategy. In order for people to earn living wages, tertiary education is paramount. Sure, there are people earning decent salaries based on years experience in an industry, but they are also noting that they cannot get higher than middle management roles unless they have a tertiary qualification.

          It is not correct to say that on the basis of the market conditions that people are choosing to benefit themselves through higher education. They are compelled to do so because the alternative is low waged, unskilled labour.

          So what of interest on student loans? This is the biggest grind of the whole article.

          Money is created as debt. If you don’t believe me go search the RBNZ website and you will see reports that indicate that private banks create money out of loans. Loans are debts. The money created by private banks is not paper money or coins. Only the RBNZ is allowed to create that kind of money. Over 80% of money in NZ is created by private banks. Less than 20% is the ‘real’ money.

          When you take out a student loan, you create new money in society. The money didn’t exist until it was deposited into the bank accounts of those whom you were required to pay. And interest, well, that is the biggest deception ever. Interest is not money. It is an arbitrary figured applied to a loan amount that makes it difficult to pay the loan back. Not just because it increases the amount you owe, but because it represents an amount of money that does not actually exist. I’m not lying. The world is in a perpetual state of debt because money is created out of nothing by private banks or financial institutions and interest is a means to ensure that all the debt can never be repaid. You simply cannot pay back all the debt in the world because there is not enough money in circulation to do so. Printing more money will not solve this issue, because private banks will create more loans and therefore more interest to continually feed the cycle.

          So when someone says re-introduce interest to student loans to make borrowing cheaper for the government, I say screw you dude. Students are compelled to take on substantial debt just so that they can survive in the system created to enslave them,they shouldn’t be made to borrow more. To insist that students also be compelled to pay back interest on that debt, interest that is not even money borrowed and therefore not even money created, is to insist that students are easy exploitative targets and ought to therefore pay for the privilege of being screwed over by the money creating beasts known as banks.Oh, and that the government should be in on it.

          Yes, TVHE are qualified economists and I am simply opinionated, but there is no conspiracy in exposing the way money is created and what interest actually is. The conspiracy is in why we were deceived for so long.

          Disappointed by the Greens on Gaza

          The NZ Greens have posted a press release on Gaza. Disappointed. Kennedy Graham insinuated that the Palestinian Resistance were senselessly provoking the Israeli Military, thereby implying that they are responsible for the deaths of the many Palestinians. Echoing the bias western media.

          New Zealand should call upon Hamas to refrain from rocket attacks on Israel. Such actions comprise a senseless provocation, which Israel uses to devastate Gaza’s infrastructure, and for which Palestinians pay dearly through their lives. See: http://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/nz-must-make-position-clear-israel-gaza-conflict

          Kennedy Graham that is shameful. Not only did you imply that the conflict is the fault of Palestinian Resistance but you failed to make your statement with proper assessment of all the facts available. As stated by Noam Chomsky (et al) who recently returned from Gaza: 

          “…the chronology of events of the recent flare-up began on November 5, when an innocent, apparently mentally unfit, 20-year old man, Ahmad al-Nabaheen, was shot when he wandered close to the border. Medics had to wait for six hours to be permitted to pick him up and they suspect that he may have died because of that delay…then, on November 8, a 13-year-old boy playing football in front of his house was killed by fire from the IOF that had moved into Gazan territory with tanks as well as helicopters. The wounding of four Israeli soldiers at the border on November 10 was therefore already part of a chain of events where Gazan civilians had been killed, and not the triggering event”.  See: http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/13031

          What about the Palestinians right to self-defence? Did you even mention that Israel don’t have that right under international law? Again, from (*a previous statement made) Professor Noam Chomsky:

          When Israel, in the occupied territories now, claim that they have to defend themselves, they are defending themselves in the sense that any military occupier has to defend itself against the population that they’re crushing…You can’t defend yourself when you’re militarily occupying somebody else’s land. It’s not defense. Call it what you like, it’s not defense. See: http://www.mediaed.org/assets/products/117/transcript_117.pdf

          (*Important note: It has been brought to my attention that I had previously misquoted Prof. Noam Chomsky by failing to verify the credibility of the source from which I quoted. For that, I sincerely apologise. Lesson learnt. I have now amended the above quote and provided a credible source. It must also be pointed out that the statement made by the Professor is not in relation to the current attack on Gaza but this particular quote comes from 2004 documentary Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land. See: http://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/it-misquoting-noam-chomsky-gaza/)

          For the Party whom many New Zealander’s turn to for support for human rights, this is a massive fail.  Your neutrality here is what Bishop Desmond Tutu refers to as support for the oppressor.

          And what is this?

          It is time for Fatah and Hamas to make a renewed effort at a consensus over the future of Palestine…their continuing divisions are blocking progress towards full statehood and an official role for Palestine in the Middle East. See: http://www.greens.org.nz/press-releases/nz-must-make-position-clear-israel-gaza-conflict

          Are you f*ing kidding? Lets not point the finger at Israel who breached the cease fire while Hamas were working on a long term peace agreement, instead we’ll condemn the internal conflict? An account from Israeli Peace Activist Gershon Baskin: 

           Just hours before he was assassinated, the Hamas commander had received the draft of a long-term peace agreement with Israel, Baskin claimed. Having kept communication channels with Gaza open since the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange, the activist was well informed about the state of the negotiations.

          The powerful Hamas leader played a vital part in those talks, Baskin said, adding that Jabari even prevented a number of recent flare-ups, having realized that the fighting was not “beneficial” to Gaza. But the Israeli side did not want to form a lasting peace agreement with Hamas, Defense Minister Ehud Barak shelved the draft truce after a committee that was reviewing the proposal “decided not to decide”, the peace activist claimed.” See: http://www.campaigniran.org/casmii/index.php?q=node/13029

          The only political party to make a stand for Gaza so far is members of the Mana Party. I had the NZ Greens earmarked for my vote at the next election. This is a deal breaker. 
          For updates see: Harry Fear.TV at  (or follow him on Twitter @harryfear); Gaza TV News https://www.facebook.com/GazaTVNews?fref=ts (Palestinian); Haaretz News http://www.haaretz.com (Israeli); RT http://rt.com/news/today/ ; Al Jazeera English http://www.aljazeera.com/ 
          To show support in NZ visit: 

          When to cross the floor

          The issue here is whether Tau Henare should have crossed the floor in support of Te Ururoa Flavell’s bill that would have allowed Members of Parliament to choose to swear allegiance to Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

          In my view, the answer is yes. Why? Because he delivered a very strong speech in favour of the bill.

          Although the bill was unlikely to obtain majority support from the house, in principle, Tau should have crossed. He should have done so because of his whakapapa and for his mana and the mana of the people. Such a move might have restored his reputation among the wider Maori community by signalling to them that he was willing to place the needs of not just Maori but any person who values Te Tiriti o Waitangi, ahead of the Party’s position.

          Recently, I had the privilege of listening to Tau Henare speak at the World Indigenous Lawyers Conference. I call it a privilege, because prior to his address I had him pinned as self-interested,arrogant and authoritarian. I was pleasantly surprised.While I disagreed with some of what he said, he was honest and he was passionate about Maori achievement.

          So I was shocked when he was challenged to cross the floor on the issues set out above and he gracefully declined on the basis that such actions lead to unstable government.

          Tau Henare is a seasoned politician, and it is unlikely that his position on the issue would be challenged by the National caucus. John Key made a statement today acknowledging that he knew of Tau’s opposition to the party position, and that Key does not prevent his MP’s from crossing the floor. While such a move might put the spotlight on the National Party in light of all the recent events including privacy breaches and bad taste comments, John Key and his political spin team would’ve surely been able to limit any negative publicity, and might have even been able to spin it in terms favourable to the National Party.

          Additionally, this would have shown that the issue is important not just to a few ‘radical Maori’ but to any person who values Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the founding document of Aotearoa New Zealand. Instead, he has done a disservice to the issue by backing down and voting against his own strongly held preferences.

          I question whether his desire to be Speaker of the House clouded his judgement on the issue. I hope not.

          The Heart Foundation Tick

          Sugar. After demolishing my 6 inch sub and 2 ridiculously good cookies from Subway, I’m going to start this post by contradicting the meal I just ate.

          Today, the Green Party posted on their Facebook page that the Heart Foundation refused to withhold support for a children’s lunchbox snack on the basis that there is no evidence or studies to show that sugar causes heart disease. The snack comprised of 44% sugar, yet was endorsed with a Heart foundation tick.

          Admittedly, I can see the point of the Heart Foundation, if the foundation is premised on the view that it endorses any foods that are not proven to contribute to heart disease. But is that the role of the heart foundation?

          In my view, this is questionable. Presumably, food product companies have their products endorsed by the Heart Foundation because consumers purchase such products on the assumption that the heart foundation tick indicates the product is healthy. For the more informed consumer, they know this is bogus. But where did the assumption come from? Probably,the way in which food companies promote their products as having the healthy heart tick and unclear objectives of the Heart Foundation. So herein lies the issue. Should the heart foundation endorse all food products that are known to be good for your heart,that is, products that promote heart health and products that are known not to be harmful to either heart or general health; or should it endorse any foods in which there is no evidence that those products are bad for your heart even if there are proven health implications elsewhere.

          In my opinion, the Heart Foundation should endorse foods that promote a healthy heart and foods that do not contribute to other serious health implications that may indirectly cause heart problems. It is indisputable that sugar plays a role in both diabetes and obesity. These health conditions are on the increase in NZ and are both known to correlate to heart disease.I think it is irresponsible of the Heart Foundation to apply its market reputation to products (which is does so for a fee)that contribute to serious health issues, especially for children.

          In fact, I would go further to say, that food products ought to have health warnings on the packaging. Is this to punish those companies? No. Its to better inform the consumer about the choices they make in respect of the food they purchase for themselves and or their children. If tobacco companies are to be held accountable for the harm they cause consumers,then surely food companies ought to be held to the same standard.

          I’m not suggesting that food companies be subjected to ‘plain packaging laws’ only that they provide more information for consumers to make informed choices.