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True Believers In A False God

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WHEN ADOLF HITLER committed suicide on 30 April 1945, thousands of Germans followed his example. The most famous copy-cats were Joseph Goebbels and his wife, Magda. Not only did they take their own lives, but also those of their six children. The idea of surviving the Fuhrer, being held accountable for everything he, and they, had done, seeing National Socialism overthrown and accepting the inevitable ruin of everything they had hoped for and fought for, was simply too overwhelming for many fanatical Nazis to contemplate.

Good riddance! Well, yes, that’s one response. But just consider the following excerpt from US writer, Eric Levitz’s “QAnon Is Madness: But Believing It Can Be Rational” article posted on The Intelligencer website of 23/9/20:

“Speaking with voters in Wisconsin this month, Time reporter Charlotte Alter heard conspiracy theories from about 20 percent of her interview subjects. Many of these Wisconsinites were not familiar with QAnon but subscribed to its basic tenets. Tina Arthur, a small-business owner, told Alter that she was not a follower of QAnon but did believe that the Democrats were in league with a cabal of blood-drinking child rapists and that ‘if Biden wins, the world is over, basically … I would probably take my children and sit in the garage and turn my car on, and it would be over.’”

What the hell is going on, when a businesswoman from the Mid-Western United States is willing to wipe out her entire family rather than face the prospect of living under a Democratic President? Because, when all is said and done, “Sleepy Joe” Biden is a very far cry from Joseph Stalin, and even the most strident antifa protester is nowhere near as dangerous as the vengeance-seeking soldiers of the Red Army. How did as many as 20 percent of Americans end up tumbling down this dangerously hallucinatory rabbit-hole?

According to Levitz, conspiracy theories have much more to offer confused and frightened citizens than may, at first glance, be apparent:

“The tendency toward conspiracism is deeply rooted in the human psyche. It manifests across time and geography and is likely a product of evolutionary pressures. On an emotional level, human beings tend to find the idea of being threatened by forces beyond their comprehension or control much more upsetting than being threatened by an intelligible enemy. Social psychologists have found that when fearful people contemplate potential misfortunes, they tend to feel helpless and pessimistic, but when angry people contemplate the same, they feel a sense of optimism and control. And one simple way to transmute fear into anger is to perceive an evil agent behind whatever development is causing you uncertainty and disquiet.”

With this in mind, we begin to appreciate the powerful psychological insight behind the New Zealand Government’s “Unite Against Covid-19!” campaign. By personifying the virus, transforming it into an “evil agent” which New Zealanders could defeat collectively, the Government and the Ministry of Health headed-off the sort of QAnon craziness that has turned so many fearful Americans into gibbering paranoiacs.

The other key factor in this country’s success in preventing the widespread uptake of insane conspiracy theories was the regular 1:00pm briefings from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Director-General of Health, Dr Ashley Bloomfield. Fear grows exponentially in the absence of timely and reliable information. New Zealand was, therefore, especially fortunate in having the “Jacinda and Ashley Show”. These two particularly gifted and credible communicators were able to deliver on an almost daily basis the answers and reassurance their frightened fellow citizens were so eager to receive. Such anger as was generated out of public fear tended to be directed against those who refused to “unite against the virus”. Not only did this popular enforcement of the Covid-19 Lockdown impede the disease’s spread, but it also served as a useful safety-valve for the tensions occasioned by the extraordinary limitations of individual freedom which the fight against the pandemic necessitated.

The comparison with the United States could hardly be more stark. Rather than the consistent and uplifting communications of Jacinda Ardern, the Americans were exposed to the constantly changing, often contradictory, messages of President Donald Trump. Also a formidable communicator, Trump deployed his talent in ways that fed, rather than calmed, his people’s fears, and fuelled their anger with hyper-politicised bulletins of unprecedented malignancy.

It would be wrong, however, to suggest that New Zealanders have been unanimous in their acceptance of the measures adopted to “stamp out” the virus. Although upwards of three-quarters of the population have registered either their “support” or “strong-support” for the Government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis, that still leaves a quarter of the population unconvinced.

Some of these were the sort of hyper-individualists so often found in the upper reaches of societies dominated by the ideology of neoliberalism. Such people (most of them men) find the idea of standing in solidarity with the “sheeple” abhorrent. Equally unappealing, from the perspective of these “One Percenters”, is the unhelpful example set by the all-too-obvious success of collective intervention. Well-positioned to communicate their opposition, these Covid sceptics have been unceasing in their efforts to undermine the Government’s solidaristic appeals to “The Team of Five Million”.

The other pool of scepticism and resistance is fed by the fear and ignorance of New Zealand’s least educated and most marginalised citizens. With little cause to trust a state which bitter experience has taught them to regard as an alien and hostile entity, these folk remained largely untouched by the Government’s campaign against Covid-19. In terms of social-psychology, they are precisely the people who feel “threatened by forces beyond their comprehension or control”. Looking for “an intelligible enemy” to blame for their shitty world becoming even shittier, they have every reason to believe, and insufficient intellectual resources to refute, the conspiracy theories fed to them by the algorithms of social media and the political predators who so adroitly exploit them.

Once inside the rabbit holes of the conspiracists; once supplied with the identity of the “evil agents” against whom their now inflamed emotions can be directed; once filled with the optimism and sense of control that makes being angry in the company of like minds so much more bearable than being alone and frightened; once the hallucinations have become more compelling than reality; what then is the incentive to stop seeing things that aren’t there? Better by far to expand the rabbit hole until in encompasses the whole world.

And if reality reasserts itself: either in the form of the Fuhrer’s death and the Red Army’s victory; or in the person of President Biden and a Democratic Party-controlled Congress; then what is the point of going on? Better to grab the kids, administer the poison, and avoid shouldering the unbearable heaviness of being exposed as a true believer in a false god.

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How frightened are the Free Market Death Cult Capitalists by the new found NZ pandemic solidarity? Look at National’s obscene tax cuts 

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The deregulation architects, benefactors and Free Market Death Cult Capitalists are for the first time in their lives, terrified of losing their privileged wealth and political influence.

The 35 year neoliberal experiment in New Zealand’s politics, culture and economy has been dealt a knock out blow by the pandemic which has highlighted the enormous inequalities essential to neoliberalism’s dominance.

What has turned their cultural values and myths on their head is the solidarity this unique moment in history has delivered us.

In an individual uber Allas culture where we are increasingly divided into intersectionist sub categories of sub categories, our differences have been weaponised while the common ground forgotten.

This shared sacrifice that the lockdown has forced upon us has rekindled solidarity just when the Right had thought they had finally stamped it out.

The recognition of how fragile and interconnected we really are, how dependent upon the good will of others and how kindness really is the ions way forward have combined to ignite the concept, the feeling and the power of solidarity.

And it is terrifying the bejesus out of those who have benefitted most from its erasure.

The unforgivable tax cuts announced by National to the middle classes while the working classes pay the highest essential worker cost is nightmare enough, but the mercenary nature of the bribe funded from the Covid response budget is an act of outright ideological desperation.

The Right are desperately attempting to extinguish this blaze of solidarity by appealing to our most selfish natures and it is philosophically reprehensible.

For the Right, this loss won’t just represent a second term of Labour, it will represent the beginning of a fault line shift in the NZ political landscape away from neoliberalism, towards a far larger state with a far larger mandate.

In a crisis the people cry out to the State for protection, especially when they feel they have universally sacrificed, this births a solidarity that becomes uncontainable to the lesser angels of our nature.

Divide and conquer only works if the people are divided.

Increasingly having independent opinion in a mainstream media environment which mostly echo one another has become more important than ever, so if you value having an independent voice going into this pandemic and 2020 election – please donate here.

If you can’t contribute but want to help, please always feel free to share our blogs on social media.

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Waatea News Column: Dear Jacinda – it will take more than Matariki to uphold the Left’s values

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It was an interesting first Leader’s debate.

Judith Collins scowling and constantly on the attack.

Jacinda trying to remain calm and above the petty interruptions.

And John Campbell too tied down by his perceived bias to actually be John Campbell.

It was a tiresome affair that added little insight to the big issues and the political solutions for those big issues.

Thanks to the pandemic, this country faces the greatest challenge to its ongoing progress and we have debate that creates only heat and no light to best decide how to navigate those challenges.

What was most fascinating about the first Leaders Debate, is how Māori weren’t mentioned once!

Labour are so focused on winning an outright majority that they don’t want to spook any of the new voters they’ve managed to woo away from National and they don’t want to give Judith the chance to play to the worst angels of our nature the way Don Brash did with his infamous Orewa Speech.

I’m guessing that’s the reason no resolution at Ihumātao has been announced yet. Expect it right after the election.

The simple truth is that without massive support from Māori, Labour wouldn’t be anywhere near a majority winner on election night.

It is not going to be enough to make Matariki a public holiday, this pandemic has exposed the inequality that has gnawed away at the soul of this country and radical solutions are required.

Urgently.

Jacinda leads the Labour Party, the Left’s values demand more than lip service to inequality and poverty than a public holiday.

Radical reform is required within the relationship between the State and Māori.

Māori aren’t looking for a hand out or a hand up, they are looking for Hands off!

They want the resource to run the services directly themselves.

The egregious results for Māori within public health and public education speak for themselves. There needs to be a Māori response, run by Māori within a Māori cultural dynamic that actually provides agency and self sovereignty.

Now that doesn’t mean the universal service provision can simply ignore Māori needs or discontinue service because new Māori agencies will be picking those up, it means new Māori service providers with their own agency alongside universal bi-cultural providers are seen as the way to live up to the Treaty’s promise.

Policy tokenism within the bureaucratic tyranny of a Coloniser State will no longer be tolerated by the next generation of activists.

First published on Waatea News.

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Political Caption Competition

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Billy TKs greatest hits

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The Daily Blog Open Mic – Friday – 25th September 2020

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Announce protest actions, general chit chat or give your opinion on issues we haven’t covered for the day.

Moderation rules are more lenient for this section, but try and play nicely.

EDITORS NOTE: – By the way, here’s a list of shit that will get your comment dumped. Sexist language, homophobic language, racist language, anti-muslim hate, transphobic language, Chemtrails, 9/11 truthers, climate deniers, anti-fluoride fanatics, anti-vaxxer lunatics, 5G conspiracy theories, the virus is a bioweapon, some weird bullshit about the UN taking over the world  and ANYONE that links to fucking infowar.

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Sigh – Jacinda wades into free speech debate – this will end badly

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Sigh…

NZ Election 2020: David Seymour fears for freedom of expression as Jacinda Ardern plans to beef up hate speech laws

ACT leader David Seymour fears for freedom of expression after Jacinda Ardern confirmed plans to beef up hate speech laws if Labour is re-elected to power.

Ardern was in Christchurch on Thursday to unveil a plaque at the Al Noor mosque, one of two Muslim places of worship targeted in the March 15 terrorist attack of 2019.

Ardern was asked at the site about progress on updated hate speech laws, after the Government fast-tracked a review of hate speech legislation in the wake of the terror attack, which was fuelled by anti-Muslim sentiment.

Following that review, the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights Commission presented Justice Minister Andrew Little with options, and in March he said they were “working their way through Cabinet”. 

But Little confirmed in June that Labour was still in talks with its Government partners about the options and said the legislation would probably have to wait until after the election, and it’s understood NZ First had some concerns. 

Ardern confirmed on Thursday that Labour is keen to progress with beefing up hate speech laws if it wins another term in Government. 

“We do have within our legislation in New Zealand provision that deal with hate speech, discrimination around people’s identities, but religion hasn’t been included in that. My view is that does need to change,” she said. 

“I just think in a modern New Zealand everyone would agree that no one should be discriminated against for their religion and so it makes sense that we add this to the other suite of things we say is just not OK to discriminate people over.”

Ardern said she couldn’t understand why there would be resistance from other political parties.  

“I don’t see why there should be, and so that’s probably a question for every political party, but that’s certainly our view and that’s the view that I’m putting forward.”

…remember when the Woke Identity Politics activists led their deplatforming purge against the visiting crypto-fascists and I said this will end badly and that the woke will inadvertently gift ACT a free speech momentum the Left will regret?

Yeah, well ACT is on 7% now once they doubled their MMP vote off the back of that free speech fiasco!

When the Wellington Woke banned a gender critical feminism conference from happening at Massey Uni, Seymour stepped in and held it at Parliament. He ended up protecting free speech while the woke tried to strangle it off!

The Left should champion free speech – not repress and deplatform it!

Jacinda feels that no one would have a problem with expanding hate speech laws to include religion – really?

I love mocking religion, if you believe in a magical invisible flying wizard, I get to mock that because it’s fucking stupid!!!

Would I breach the hate speech laws for mocking someone who believes in a magical invisible flying wizard?

Would Monty Python’s Life of Brian be banned?

Why can’t I hate religion? Why can’t I see it as a terribly regressive form of control over other people?

Can I criticise the fanatics at Gloriavale or is that going to be illegal?

See, I think that I’m already very tolerant of religion as it is.

I tolerate their crazy belief system that tells them they won’t catch Covid.

I tolerate Gloriavale.

I tolerate the fact they don’t pay tax.

I tolerate fucking Scientology and Mormonism.

Now I’m being asked to not only tolerate religion, but I also have to fear religion if I criticise it as well?

I mean, give me a cross here and I can be a fucking martyr!

Now, you can counter argue that it’s wrong to hate someone for their religion and that mocking or belittling religious people won’t inspire them to change, and I completely agree.

It would be boorish and mean to throw hate at a person for their religion, but are we really going to criminalise being an arsehole?

Is that the threshold we are being asked to agree to here?

Current hate speech law covers colour, race and ethnicity. Those are three things you can’t choose.

You choose religion.

You want to criminalise hate thrown at someones choice?

That seems like a recipe for bad law.

The problem with including religion in hate speech laws is that it won’t just be religion that is included, the woke won’t be able to help themselves and will demand other inclusions.

And we see the Prime Minister sliding into that territory by agreeing gender and sexual orientation will be included.

Will a misuse of a pronoun be hate speech?

Is that where we are going?

Will micro aggressions be a form of hate speech?

Is Labour 100% certain they want to start spending political capital on what the Wellington Twitteratti considers hate speech?

Including religion will be challenging enough, the never ending list of what triggers the woke will be fucking endless.

Mark my words again, this isn’t going to end well.

The only winner in this will be ACT.

 

Increasingly having independent opinion in a mainstream media environment which mostly echo one another has become more important than ever, so if you value having an independent voice going into this pandemic and 2020 election – please donate here.

If you can’t contribute but want to help, please always feel free to share our blogs on social media.

 

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Oh sweet Jesus – why BOTHER with the bloody Greens!

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Are.

You.

Fucking.

Kidding.

Me??

This morning I woke truly refreshed brothers and sisters.

I dreamed in colour for the first time in 4 years.

Personal trauma, pain and horror had left my limbs.

I finally knew who I was going to vote for.

The beautiful Greens.

It had happened at the most unexpected moment.

Yesterday, the mighty Julie Anne Genter told a small business panel discussion that a bottom line for the Greens to go into Government with Labour would be their wealth tax!

It was extraordinary!

FINALLY there was a reason to vote Green!

They had brilliantly, for the first time in 3 years, realised that to play politics, you gotta throw a fucking punch!

Telling Labour, straight to their face, that if they want the Greens in, then a wealth tax so that the State can actually redistribute, was a bottom line!

What a master stroke of brilliant strategic nuance and genius. Labour’s bloated Party vote is cuddling up to those well heeled 45+National Matrons who have become Jacinda fans, meaning Labour’s actual left vote feels unloved, and a clear raid by the Greens could not only ensure a 5%+ threshold return, they could be needed by Labour to form a Government and the Greens would actually have done something meaningful in being transformative!!!!!!!

Finally a genuine, hand on heart reason to vote Green!

AND LOOK AT ALL THE MEDIA ATTENTION AT THE ANNOUNCEMENT! Everyone was talking about it.

I had been too harsh on those beautiful Greens.

I WAS THE ARSEHOLE!

I slept like a baby last night, all my angry blogs about them just being middle class identity politic fuckwits who had no strategic capacity whatsoever drained away from me.

I was at peace, my waters were still.

I planned to get up, drop my daughter off to school, catch a yummy organic bite to eat and prepare a huge blog calling on everyone to now proudly support the Greens. I would denounce my previous criticism and tirelessly call all on the Left to battle for the brave Greens…………………………………………………………….

………and then this…

Wealth tax not a bottom line for Green Party but they will push for it – Shaw

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says one of his senior MPs misspoke under pressure when she said a wealth tax was one of the party’s bottom lines.

…ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING!!!!

WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

THIS IS THE REASON TO VOTE FOR YOU YOU FUCKING CLOWN!!!

WHY ARE YOU NOW WALKING AWAY FROM IT?????

WHY?

WHY??

WHY???

I just, I don’t even.

I.

Fuck it.

I’m not even doing this anymore.

I’m stroking out here.

They need to go. Just go now.

These people are fucking muppets.

 

Increasingly having independent opinion in a mainstream media environment which mostly echo one another has become more important than ever, so if you value having an independent voice going into this pandemic and 2020 election – please donate here.

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MUST READ: Debate without substance

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Anyone expecting a clash of philosophy and policy ideas between Jacinda Adern and Judith Collins on television last evening was bound to be disappointed. The government’s COVID management results were undeniable, especially by world standards. The most recent poll numbers reflected that – even after the viral resurgence in Auckland. Large chunks of well-heeled soft National voters had shifted to Labour, a trend illustrated by recent poll numbers in Auckland Central. Many of Nicky Kaye’s supporters from the last election shifted their preferences to Labour’s Helen White and the Prime Minister. Nationwide, the government wants this bloc of voters to stay on board. Raising the top tax rate from 33% to 39 % for those earning more than $180,000 would hardly affect these people. And their conscience will be salved by supporting the government’s proposed minimum wage increase. So, for Labour strategists, it’s steady as it goes – foreground the low COVID numbers, the Prime Minister’s crisis management credentials and the wage subsidy largesse. There must be no controversial policies suggesting the redistribution of wealth and privilege. Got to keep those former National voters sweet (remember 1987?). From this perspective, the television party leader debate had to be boring and inconsequential. Indeed, modest ratings are preferable—Jacinda’s regular Facebook addresses already have cut-through, no need to over-emphasise the television exchanges with Judith. 

National desperately want those National voters back. One last policy roll of the dice, let’s go for broke—tax cuts for the middle and upper-middle income earners. Maybe this will shift those stubborn poll numbers. Against this background, Collins had only one option as the first televised debate drew near. Go hard, go early, rattle the Prime Minister, get under her skin, damage her credentials as leader. Create controversy, get people talking after the event—do anything to bring those soft National voters back home. 

So, what happened? Well, both sides achieved their objectives to a certain extent. The exchanges were dull, trite, soundbite-driven and truncated by the format. Between regular ad breaks and John Campbell’s interruptions, the contenders were given ridiculously short timespans to enunciate their policy proposals and vision for New Zealand. Nothing to worry about here for Labour strategists then. At the same time, Judith Collins’ energetic counter-punching approach would have pleased her supporters. She never let up, although it would have been turgid viewing for neutral observers. In boxing parlance, Jacinda took some punishment in the “discussions” on poverty, tax and housing (for reasons I will consider shortly). At the end, though, Jacinda Adern’s stature was undamaged. Her concluding references to the Christchurch mosque attacks, the White Island tragedy and the global pandemic subtly reminded viewers of the Prime Minister’s leadership  in trying times.

In certain policy areas, the Prime Minister was inherently vulnerable to Judith Collins’ attacks and unable to counter-argue effectively. The “child poverty” issue is a good example. This phrase is a misformulation, if very young people are struggling, then their older siblings, parents and grandparents are also likely to be in trouble. Poverty is structurally entrenched within families and communities without secure income and capital assets. The government has not addressed this reality through a properly tax-funded public housing policy. Kiwi-build was premised on a bound-to-fail private-public investment model and the recently announced tax changes will bring minimal extra revenue. Unsurprisingly, therefore, child poverty persists despite good intentions, and Judith Collins has an opening. On such matters, the leaders’ responses to Auckland City Missioner Chris Farrelly was telling. He referred to income inadequacy and wealth inequality—but only the former was considered. For Jacinda Adern, income adequacy required increases to the minimum wage. For Judith Collins, abolition of the Resource Management Act was the solution. None mentioned entrenched and worsening inequality between rich and poor. Roughly speaking, three social categories of wealth prevail—the “haves”, the “have nots” and the “have yachts”. The latter group is too politically powerful to allow open criticism from major political leaders. The plight of the “have nots” can be the subject of sympathy, concern and support without altering their social status. The “haves” must be seriously catered for in the battle for party votes. Consequently, in a major televised leader debate, any call from a community leader to redress structural inequality will fall on deaf ears. 

So, there we have it. No exploration of fundamental national issues—leader references to climate change were desultory at best. As the campaign continues, Labour will be hoping for more turgid and boring television exchanges among the party leaders, a fine victory for the All Blacks against Australia in a full stadium and a nationwide Level 1 not long before polling day. Judith Collins and the National Party will be hoping for a giant government scandal or cock-up and/or a preventable resurgence of COVID-19. If none of these possibilities transpire, the net result will be a coronation for one side and near oblivion for the other and no real macro-economic plan beyond borrow and hope.

 

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Going High, Not Low: An Assessment of the First Leaders’ Debate

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THE PEOPLE who awarded the first Leaders’ Debate to Judith Collins are the people we learned to loathe during Lockdown. They’ve learned nothing from the public’s negative reaction to arrogance and aggression in the Time of Covid. Poor Simon Bridges paid the ultimate political price for lapses much less damaging than Judith Collins’ on Tuesday Night. But, fear not, Collins, too, will pay a price for her arrogance and aggression.

Jacinda Ardern, on the other hand, knew exactly what was expected of her in this encounter. Labour’s dominant position, three weeks out from the general election, is constructed out of the admiration and gratitude of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who, more often than not, vote National. Her calm demeanour at the helm, as she steered her country through the early stages of the global Covid-19 pandemic, was complemented by her ability to project an almost joyful confidence in the steadfastness and solidarity of her fellow New Zealanders. Nothing she said or did in Tuesday’s debate could be allowed to undermine that precious combination of calm and confidence. Nor did it.

Astonishingly, most political journalists and commentators still don’t get this. Like the snarling pack of newshounds who earned the instant (and likely permanent) dislike of those New Zealanders who tuned-in to the 1:00pm media briefings during Lockdown, these others regard arrogance and aggression as indispensable tools of the journalistic trade. People who are offended by their use are, in their professional opinion, naïve. They simply don’t understand how the news business works.

In the electronic media especially, broadcasters are expected to deliver performances overbrimming with confidence and energy. Like their colleagues in the print media, they have been trained to communicate with an audience whose average reading age is said to be twelve. But, as George Orwell makes clear in Nineteen Eighty-Four, the ruthless simplification of language leads swiftly and inevitably to the equally ruthless simplification of thought – the Holy Grail of totalitarian regimes everywhere. Simplicity in communication is a virtue, but sadly, the contemporary news media is increasingly prone to confuse simplicity with simple-mindedness.

So it was that while most New Zealanders responded positively to their Prime Minister’s clear command of the complex issues with which her government has had to grapple, the academics who train and educate the young people who emerge from our universities as professional “communicators” saw only someone who spoke to her fellow citizens as if they were seated around the cabinet table. Quelle horreur! In a democracy – a system of government which confers key decision-making powers upon the people themselves – a prime minister addressed her fellow citizens as, of all things, decision-makers!

How much more effective, according to these academics, were the tactics of the Leader of the Opposition who barked and snapped at her opponent like a demented terrier and addressed the watching voters as if they were intermediate school-children. With her arched eyebrows and curled lips; snorts and guffaws; puerile interjections and belligerent playground taunts; Judith Collins was held up as the possessor of all the theatrical and rhetorical gifts required of a modern (or should that be post-modern?) political leader. For declining to get down in the gutter with Collins; and for refusing to treat politics as a blood-sport; the loser of the first Leaders’ Debate was declared, by these erudite instructors of tomorrow’s journalists, to be the Prime Minister.

Most of the journalists in the Parliamentary Press Gallery concurred. Jacinda Ardern, they opined, lacked energy. Why was she so passive? Where were the zingers to match her magnificent put-down of Mike Hosking earlier in the day? Why didn’t this “superb communicator” not bark and snap at her opponent as expected? The clear consensus among the political scribes was that when the Prime Minister next went head-to-head with Judith Collins, she would have to lift her game

Even among Jacinda’s supporters on the Left there were pockets of disappointment. Why didn’t she crush the crusher? Why didn’t she, figuratively, slash off the Tory champion’s head and hold it aloft, Game of Thrones-style, for her followers to revile? Why, when Collins offensively implied that people on the minimum wage were so much less consequential than school-teachers and small business owners, did she not condemn her appalling class prejudice? Why didn’t she call New Zealand’s dirty dairy farmers – dirty dairy farmers? Why all the boring centrism? Dammit Jacinda you’re the leader of the Labour Party – would it kill you to act like it!

Yes, quite probably, it would. No matter how hard they might wish it were otherwise. And no matter how obdurately some leftists insist that the voters are only waiting for the word “To overturn the cities and the rivers/And split the house like a rotten totara log” [James K. Baxter] New Zealanders have never been insurrectionists. We are socialist renovators – not revolutionaries. Middle-class New Zealanders, the people Jacinda has to thank for being at 48 percent in the Colmar Brunton poll (and not 25 percent, like the hapless David Cunliffe) need to be persuaded to back Labour in a programme of non-terrifying change.

That’s why one of the most effective political statements of the whole evening came in response to John Campbell’s challenge to the Prime Minister over the Capital Gains Tax. “At some point, John,” Jacinda explained, acknowledging Labour’s three failed attempts to sell a CGT to the electorate, “you have to accept that voters don’t agree with you.” From those few, and yes, simple words, former National voters could draw the sort of reassurance they were looking for that their ballots can be safely cast for Labour in 2020. They are not in the market for a “crusher”, but for a leader to construct the sort of “new normal” in which they and their families can feel comfortable and secure.

In presenting herself as that sort of political leader: calm, considered, compassionate and constructive; Jacinda Ardern held her middle-class supporters in place – and won the debate.

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Political Caption Competition

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All slices of the same neoliberal loaf

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The Daily Blog Open Mic – Thursday – 24th September 2020

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Announce protest actions, general chit chat or give your opinion on issues we haven’t covered for the day.

Moderation rules are more lenient for this section, but try and play nicely.

EDITORS NOTE: – By the way, here’s a list of shit that will get your comment dumped. Sexist language, homophobic language, racist language, anti-muslim hate, transphobic language, Chemtrails, 9/11 truthers, climate deniers, anti-fluoride fanatics, anti-vaxxer lunatics, 5G conspiracy theories, the virus is a bioweapon, some weird bullshit about the UN taking over the world  and ANYONE that links to fucking infowar.

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Wickedness in Christchurch: Legal Threats – Money Laundering – Boss steals $120,000

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A lawyer has accused OneUnion of blackmailing and defaming a couple after we filed a claim alleging, they stole $120,000 from a worker. Their lawyer claims it’s a crime that a union would expose an exploiter and have the temerity to demand the boss give the money back. The lawyer says they will make a police complaint of extortion if we don’t back down. Crikey! I wonder if they have ever heard of a union strike. They’d probably want the army called out. I’d love to respond to a police complaint online. That would be a great help to publicise our case. 

Every exploiter and their lawyers want to keep their crimes out of public view. Keeping exploitation in the darkness allows this poison to spread. OneUnion decided a week ago that we will publish any case where we are representing a worker that we believe is being seriously exploited or abused. Our protocols are simple. We formally write to the alleged exploiter and engage in establishing the case facts, according to each side. If they refuse to engage or attend mediation if requested, we reserve the right to publish. We send them my article the day before we publish to allow them time to correct anything. 

It seems exploiters and alleged exploiters don’t like our new policy of openness. This couple’s lawyer sent us an email threatening that if we published this article, he would sue me personally, and OneUnion, for defamation. Good luck. I will keep telling the truth until they stop lying. Apparently, telling the truth is something to be sued for. My union would see being sued by an exploiter for exposing them as a badge of honour. I certainly would. The only way we will get a change in our country is everyone knowing who these exploiters and abusers are. I intend to expose these abusers every time, all the time. 

Only when the community knows the level of rampant exploitation that goes on, can we get the political will and the tools to end it. I hope this lawyer and his clients do sue. We will then get the opportunity to provide the details of migrant exploitation in the full public glare of the media. 

This is the case the lawyer wanted me to suppress. Jaya Bharath Reddy Gopu and Divya Bereddy are an up and coming power couple in Christchurch. A couple of months ago I got a call from a lawyer friend from Wellington, saying he had a young man claiming he was being threatened by this couple. I’ll call him ER. My mate the lawyer sent me the case file and cheerfully said to my colleague: “This isn’t a case for a lawyer, it’s more a case for Matt.” Thanks mate.

ER had received an email that accused him of telling lies to his immigration case manager and saying he had been bad-mouthing the couple around town. ER was required to attend a disciplinary meeting immediately and they threatened “we will be going legally on these issues and will be reported to concern authorities.” It was signed “management”. Unnamed emails always make me suspicious.  

ER was on a temporary visa and was terrified. My colleague contacted the boss and said OneUnion would have someone attend the meeting as his support person. The meeting was abruptly cancelled.

When I got ER’s file, I knew why I got the hospital pass. ER had left the job three months earlier. It seems ER had applied for permanent residency and the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) case manager was concerned that he wasn’t been paid correctly and had not been provided payslips. I understand when the case manager made enquiries to the employer, the couple withdrew their support for ER’s current visa. This meant ER promptly lost his job. The ‘management’ email alleged he had lied about the couple to INZ. They also claimed he’d stolen from them. The truth is, he had been telling INZ the truth, and that’s why they started digging. The allegations of dishonesty against the young man are easily dismissed. It was clear the employer wanted to shut him up, and if that didn’t work, they wanted him discredited.  

After going through ER’s bank statements, texts, emails and recordings, it was clear this couple were running an exploitation racket across their companies. ER was only paid a total of four weeks holiday leave over his four years’ tenure. They owe him for 11 more weeks. Interestingly, they closed their businesses for a week each year, and stood their workers down. None of them, I understand, were paid their holiday entitlements. What I just don’t understand is how any employer could do this to their workers. 

ER says he was required to work 55-60 hours a week. He has evidence for working these hours. ER was paid for only 30 hours a week. This meant he was required to work 25-30 hours for free each week. Using 25 hours as a calculation, he is owed $113,000 with another $21,000 for annual leave and public holidays. I’m told other employees were required to work for free and weren’t paid annual holidays or public holidays either. If this is true, the couple may have stolen over a million dollars from their workers. 

When I hear about exploitation cases I always offer the abuser a chance to make it right before we roll up our sleeves and get to work. Without exception, their greed and arrogance win over their common sense. I wrote to the couple giving them the opportunity to do the right thing. 

When we first raise a worker’s grievance, we instruct the employer they are not permitted to contact our client. The usual tactic from exploiters is to have a middleman approach the worker and try to get them to accept a paltry offer, aided by veiled threats of getting them deported. Sometimes the worker’s family back in their home countries are approached and menaced.  

Sure enough, an intermediatory known to both the couple and ER approached him shortly after my letter was sent. The conduit proposed the couple would pay him up to $40,000 through an overseas account. ER wanted it to be settled through the union. The person said the couple didn’t want to do that because then they would have to admit their guilt. A secret compromise was suggested where the couple could admit to a minor breach and pay a smaller settlement through mediation.  That way the union could be placated. The remaining could be deposited offshore. I have dealings with the police squad that deals with this sort of money laundering. They say it’s becoming disturbingly common.  

After ER turned down the offer, the intermediatory said that if ER didn’t accept the deal, the couple had a very powerful lawyer who would win for them. Their lawyer, true to his word, is playing hardball. He denies everything, alleges crimes, won’t engage or won’t agree to go to mediation. I have been told current employees have been coached to verify their employer’s version and compelled to sign statements prepared for them, claiming ER only worked for 30 hours a week. 

It is clear to me this couple is running a calculated exploitation racket. We have formally complained to INZ, the MBIE Labour Inspectorate and the IRD Investigation team, and have asked them to investigate this couple and their companies. We have also filed into the Employment Relations Authority.

We want to create an UTU Squad in Christchurch. UTU are volunteers publicly exposing exploitation and abuse of vulnerable workers. If you want to be part of the fightback contact us on email at justice@oneunion.org.nz

We are compiling a dossier for INZ, MBIE and IRD. Please send any information on Jaya Bharath Reddy Gopu or his wife Divya Bereddy. Their companies are Maria Anthony Reading Limited (3 businesses), Fly Cheap Travel Agency and Crazy Discounters, based at 189 Colombo Street, Sydenham.

We have our campaign bus ready for action to support our campaign to end exploitation in Aotearoa. We would appreciate you making a small koha to help get us on the road. Please go to here.

In solidarity / Nga mihi

 

Matt McCarten is the National Director of One Union and a Trustee of UTU For The People.

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GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Poll Dancing

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I’ll be honest, it was a long day yesterday so I only watched the first 10 minutes of the Leader’s debate last night.

What I saw confirmed the view I expressed some weeks ago that in Judith Collins National have chosen someone who will save their party from oblivion. The rise of ACT in the latest and the appearance of the New Conservative Party however I think indicates the political Right is splitting.

The choice between the major parties who want to form the next government now does seem pretty clear.

If you want to pay less tax and have welfare cuts – in short unrepentant neoliberalism and a less caring society that panders to the wealthy – then a National /Act coalition will be what you are hoping for.

On the other hand, if you want the wealth of our country to be shared more equally and see the government driving the marketplace in the post-covid economy rather than big business and big money – then a Labour /Green coalition is what you will want to see once all the votes are in.

A Labour alone government? On current polling it could happen but it would be against the history of MMP voting in our country.

NZ First? You can’t right them off just yet but it seems at this stage that Winston Peters will not be in the position of King maker.

I think this is also true of the smaller parties – even if one of them managed to get a candidate elected I doubt they would find themselves in the Kingmaker role.

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.

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Dr Liz Gordon: Ten belated thoughts about last night’s debate

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1: My first thought was “What has happened to Judith Collins’s face?” I have met her on a number of occasions. I have never seen anything like that twisted smirk on her face. And it was uncannily like Muldoon in his later years. Has she been possessed by the malign spirit of ole Rob? Surely these facial ticks are not a deliberate strategy – they are very off-putting.

2: Loved Jacinda’s big baggy jacket but I agree with commentators that she looked tiny inside it. Cool outfit but wear something gorgeous next time, I think.

3: I agree that the placing of the podiums (podia? I don’t think so) and the camera angles were very bizarre and seem to be designed to film Judith as if she was looming over Jacinda. Very creepy, given aforesaid facial gymnastics.

4: I also agree that John Campbell was not on good form. A cousin of mine was a famous actor who never went on stage with fewer that 3 large G and Ts in him (really large – they were yummy but I could only manage one without falling over), and mostly took scripts that had him drinking more gin onstage (mind you, he came to a bad end). But perhaps one gin before, and one during, the show might have enlivened John. I suppose not possible in this dour age in which we live.

5: I resent the view that it is only worn out old boomers that would watch a show in that format. I am a woob myself and thought it brought out the worst in everyone. If they had held it in a graveyard, it may have been more apt.

6: Of course Muldoon had his appeal, and was elected three times, and most voters now would not remember him, so perhaps this is about reincarnating an old model of populist politics (hopefully without the sexism and racism of those days).

7: It was all so old, wasn’t it? Jacinda on working with the poor and young families, increasing wages and so on. Judith on tax cuts (that mainly benefit the wealthy). Environmental protection versus unrestrained production. Bring the gin, FFS.

8: What is with National’s new government department to handle the border? This is just neo-liberalism – privatise the service and regulate it with a new agency. Labour should be going hard on this, I reckon. I do not think that New Zealander’s want quarantine to become a profit leader for the private sector.

9: Are we in the middle of a pandemic that is likely to affect our wellbeing into the foreseeable future? There was virtually no discussion on the Covid and the scariness, second wave outbreaks, a third of a million cases a day and a million deaths worldwide. The pandemic has not gone and needs excellent political management on an ongoing basis. Didn’t hear much.

10: A great deal of thought (or gin) needs to go into the next two debates. Maybe they should all be sat around a table. Maybe the big questions should be asked, rather than unanswerable ones. John needs to delve into what the parties really believe. Are they just the same at heart? What is leadership really about? I thought the closing statements should really have been the opening ones. I am not a broadcaster, but there must be a better way!

 

Dr Liz Gordon is a researcher and a barrister, with interests in destroying neo-liberalism in all its forms and moving towards a socially just society.  She usually blogs on justice, social welfare and education topics.

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Yawn – triggered snowflake Farmers screaming at Jacinda is boring

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Farmers are like university students – they’re never happy.

They are currently taking faux offence like a bunch of triggered woke activists by claiming Jacinda said that farming was a ‘world that had passed’…

Being ‘picked on’ not in the past for farmers: Claim PM ‘out of touch’

A comment from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at Tuesday night’s leaders debate has ignited a backlash from farmers.

“If I may, that feels like the view of the world that has passed,” she said, responding to National Party leader Judith Collins’ comments that as a child growing up on a dairy farm, Collins was “proud as punch” of her parents, and that today farmers felt picked on over environmental issues by the Labour-Green coalition.

…which led to breathless screaming from the Fucking National Party…

…but did she actually say that?

…right, so she didn’t say it.

So, while the PM most certainly DID NOT SAY farming was a ‘world that has passed’ – the truth of course is that it is!

Synthetic milk and meat make it a sunset industry and the sooner we decouple it from our economic future, the less painful it will be.

The economic success of NZ has been built on stealing Māori land, handing it to corporate Farmers and never paying it back. Those corporate farmers who feed the rest of the world however steal water, pollute water, create vast climate change emissions and cause vast animal misery.

I care about  the farmer who feeds me, I don’t give two shits about the corporate farmer who feeds someone else overseas.

We want to support and love and respect those farmers feeding us with sustainable meat and produce, but the corporate farmers are a plague we need to eliminate and with the leaps and bounds coming out of the synthetic meat and milk industry, their economic privilege is coming to an end.

The vast vast vast majority of milk product sold from NZ is powder used as a bulk ingredient in highly processed food, the moment synthetic milk powder can replace the real stuff for a fraction of the cost, those markets will dump us in a split second.

When you consider the huge debt dairy intensification has cause many farmers, they are trapped in a rigged game they can’t win.

NZ has coasted on its ability to grow grass on stolen land for a very long time.

Dairy is a world that will pass.

The plural of Farmers is a ‘grumble’ of Farmers.

 

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