I posted this to le social media when it was new, but forgot to blog it…

Remember how I said that the Internet-Mana party isn’t an affront to democracy and it’s okay if they want to have their own run at the electorate lifeboat while it exists?

Well, the Internet Party is now running a petition for a sensible solution to the electorate lifeboat: end coat-tailing, but also lower the threshold somewhere reasonable, for instance 2% or lower.

This is a good near-term compromise on the threshold: it allows a reasonable barrier to entry, which satisfies people who don’t want to have to fight the Colin Craigs, Rodney Hides, John Banks, and Winston Peters of the world with humour, and it also allows small parties to enter parliament solely on the strength of the Party vote, which is actually a practical way for parties that don’t split off with a pre-loaded electorate MP to enter parliament. Our higher-than-recommended threshold is the only reason parties even bother with so-called “coat-tailing”. Let’s start treating micro-parties with electorates more like independent electorate MPs, but lower the threshold for genuine small parties.

Becoming an MP joins the long list of things Colin Craig is confident he can do, including:

  • Assisting all new mothers to remove their shoes and make their way securely to the kitchen.
  • Ending the plague of gay marriage upon all of our houses.
  • Overturning scientific abominations such as the teaching of evolution in classrooms.
  • An excellent karaoke rendition of the song “Roar” by Katy Perry.
  • Removing the redundant “h” from the placename “Whanganui”.
  • Removing the redundant “s” from the pronoun “she”.
  • Merging the North and South islands into a single landmass through the power of prayer*.
  • Making our country a laughingstock.

This is yet another reason why electorates are the obvious weakness of MMP and we should transition to an open list system as soon as we can convince enough of the country via referendum. That a small community can elect a credulous bigot and disgrace such as Colin Craig with a bare fraction of the vote we require for a single list seat is ridiculous, and the rate at which we keep adding electorates makes things even worse. Local representation is not necessarily better representation.

*This is actually supposed to be a thing if you take the Bible literally. Read the rest of this entry »

So, in between perusing listicles of cats that have gotten stuck in things and of the worst things about being a person who sweats all the time during summer, I came across a list of the worst things about being an extrovert. Know which item they missed? The regular bullying of introverts about their energy orientation, telling them to “get a life”, that they’re loners, nerds, that they’ll die alone, or frigid, or any number of similarly dumb things. Because that’s definitely far and away the worst thing about extraversion.

The author of that article, while I’m sure they have many valid points about the downsides of extraversion and the childishness or at least over-simplification of counter-stereotypes about extraverts, could have easily left off their passive-aggressive closer about how “introverts aren’t better, it’s about celebrating your personality type”. (protip: introversion and extraversion aren’t personality types. They’re orientations for the gathering of mental energy, which is one of five dimensions of personality) The author seems to miss the whole reason for the recent spate of articles, comics, books, blogs, and so forth explaining introversion and how it can be great: That introverts are a minority of the population, (around 25%) are not well-understood by extroverts, who rarely even know what an extrovert is or identify with the word, and their energy orientation is maligned by many common attitudes.

Introverts post this content not to dig at extroverts, but because we want people to understand us better, and we occasionally need reminding how who we are is a good thing amongst the put-downs and misunderstanding. I’m not claiming introversion has it anywhere near as bad as any other oppressed group, but there are major awareness issues for those of us with more than a mild orientation towards introversion.

That’s why you’re now seeing pictures explaining the concept of personal space, and how letting you into it is a bigger deal for introverts, the methaphor that introverts run on batteries during social occasions and extroverts run on batteries during intellectual occasions, and the explanations of what it feels like to us to be over-stimulated. (A phenomenon that’s probably a lot rarer for extroverts, who have a wide variety of ways to function in society that allow them to avoid the deeper introspective thought that exhausts and overloads them, as opposed to the broader, social type that’s everywhere and frequently overloads even comparatively moderate introverts) Think of these as the equivalents of infographics for men about how not to behave like a stalker: they’re not attacks. They’re PSAs about how to behave in a way that is respectful of people with different problems than yourself, and a peaceful nudge towards behaviour that will allow us to be friends.

There’s a lot of suspicious stuff going on around the John Banks guilty verdict that doesn’t seem to be being questioned inside newspapers. (in fact there seems to be an effort to shield him to some degree, which is hilarious, because it’s just feeding the outrage)

Firstly, there was the fact that this case had to initially be brought by private prosecution. There is a culture of not convicting politicians for electoral fraud because it’s seen as part of “business as usual”, especially if you’re a right-wing politician. (If you’re a left-wing politician, as always you’re held to a higher standard, even if it’s not perfectly executed) This should never have had to happen- this case should have been brought by the Crown to begin with.

Secondly, there’s the odd wait between the verdict and sentencing in this case, that possibly smacks of political favouritism to the government. I’m sure that waits before sentencing are a thing that happens, but a two-month wait in a high profile case where there are political ramifications as soon as sentencing occurs, and the timing puts sentencing after parliament goes into recess? That’s ridiculously contrived. Banks should have been sentenced shortly after the verdict, which will give him his chance at not being convicted in the sentencing despite being found guilty. (Which will be a problem of its own if it happens)

But in the meantime we’re left with a parliament in limbo, where Banks may technically remain an MP under the law, even though he has been found guilty of a crime that is the modern equivalent of treason against the state. (that is, undermining our democratic system) Banks should do the least dishonourable thing (because by delaying this long, let’s face it, there’s no honour left to be claimed) and resign. If his sentencing is quashed and therefore he isn’t convicted, then he can live to run again. (good luck though, if you’re an ex-bigot and guilty of electoral fraud, you’re about as electable as Roger Douglass)

The really shady thing here though is that the government didn’t immediately call on Banks to resign, or rule out working with him. They’re still considering working with Banks even as his party leader is pressuring him to resign.

First there was the obvious corruption that has stymied Judith Collins’ run for leader, (thanks to successful shielding from the National Party and the media, she’s somehow still a minister) then Maurice Williamson serially attempting to influence police investigations, and now we have Banks guilty of electoral fraud. This is record-setting levels of corruption in New Zealand, and it continues to put to lie our perception of being the least corrupt country in the world.

 

update: Of course, he announced his pending resignation the same day. For some odd reason he’s waiting until Friday, but at least he eventually did the right thing.

Crickets…

Posted: June 1, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Well, this is not entirely unexpected.

Labour are keeping a low profile in regards to the Green Party’s climate policy- I can see two reasons why they wouldn’t immediately have a reaction:

  • Labour will wade into this space later in order to fight hard on the Green’s home ground and try to cannibalise some votes off its strongest support partner.
  • or Labour is intending to not contest climate policy at all, will not announce any significant measures of its own, and will “concede” to the Green’s policy as part of “negotiations”, so that they can either take credit for supporting it if it’s popular (which I find hard not to believe) or wash their hands of it if it isn’t.

Given that Cunliffe has failed to steer the Labour Party entirely back to its routes, and just sailed the ship a few smidges more left of centre1, I don’t really have any suspicions it’s going to be a warm embrace of the policy, but I can always hope to be proven wrong.

1Centre being a political milestone which for some reason seems to be drifting rightward ever since the 1980s…

So the Green Party has announced its new Climate Protection Plan, a $320(ish) tax cut for everyone earning an income in New Zealand, a 1% cut to the company tax rate, funded by a levy of $25/tonne on carbon-equivilent emissions for most polluting sectors, with a $12.50 rate for dairy and an exemption for all other farming sectors that have already kept their emissions at or below 1990 levels. They’ve also pledged that all the money raised by the levy will be refunded to the tax payer, and an independent panel will be set up to suggest any future amendments to the scheme.

This is one of those excellent policies that hits both highly technical and sensible policy benchmarks, and is great politics at the same time. The Greens were never happy with the idea of the Emissions Trading Scheme, being persauded to vote for the stronger version proposed by Labour only because it was marginally better than doing nothing, and due to the potential energy reduction of $1billion invested in insulating houses. The National version of the scheme is largely a giveaway, and where it isn’t, it’s functioning as a money-go-round and not actually reducing emissions, and the small amount of houses they’ve agreed to insulate is bizzare, given that we are already seeing reductions in health costs beyond what the first round of the scheme cost.

This presents the Greens, (and barring and announcements of a competing policy from Labour, the entire opposition) as a movement that can square the circle: They’ll use a carbon reduction policy to provide a tax cut to ordinary New Zealanders, (and because their tax cut is broad-base, it will stimulate the economy, too) and make the business environment even more competitive for companies that achieve low-to-zero emissions. This is an excellent scheme known more internationally as “Cap and Dividend”, and given the shocking failure of ETS policies globally, (mostly due to their vulnerability to business lobbying) a great second-try at making New Zealand more of an environmental leader. (Or perhaps more fairly, a close follower- we would have led in this if we had proposed this during the previous government rather than for the next one)

This isn’t a policy that can be de-railed as a “fart tax”: it’s charitable to farmers, and most charitable where they’ve stepped up and done their part. It’s fair to the rest of New Zealand, refunding us for the externalities heaped on us by polluters. And as a country vulnerable to climate change, especially any political destabilisation it might cause, becoming a leader or a close-follower in addressing emissions is in both our economic and social interests, not to mention our national security interests, given that the more extreme range of climate change prediction could leave New Zealand one of the few relatively agriculture-friendly areas of land.

 

edit: Looks like the $319 is based on two-incomes, so if you’re solo, that’s a $159.50 tax cut. This is, however, the amount after potential cost increases are accounted for.

Well, that’s not really fair to donkeys, but you get the picture.

What’s become clear to anyone who viewed Lockwood Smith under rage-tinted glasses at the fact that National was in government, is that we actually had it pretty good under the former speaker.

The current speaker doesn’t really give a shite about fair debate, is quite happy to shield corrupt ministers under flimsy justifications, and has done literally nothing to improve the standard of debate in Parliament.

You know what would be nice? Having an actual experienced debate moderator as speaker, and letting MPs stay as MPs instead. Either elect the speaker directly, (risky, potentially just as prone to politicisation) or have them independently appointed on a periodic basis, say by a random pool of electors pulled in from each electorate in a situation similar to Jury Duty.

Can you imagine a having a speaker who wasn’t accountable to his or her party when the Prime Minister tries to abuse the debating chamber? Can you imagine having someone who would support engaging the public with parliament, instead of a petty tyrant who wants to ban tweeting about him?

I know I can.

In running tradition, I would like to call out another press gallery reactionary for not understanding politics.

While I have no intention of voting for this merged Mana-Internet Party, it’s not an affront to democracy that it exists and that it wants to rely on electorate politics to succeed.
(And before we get really into things, I’d like to mention that in the past I’ve said similar things about parties I vehemently dislike and consider a cancer upon our parliament. Also, to be on the record, I think the name “internana” is about the most hilarious thing I’ve heard all day, and I believe the name “Winston Peters” came up in conversation, so that’s pretty impressive)

National have happily abused “Act” and “United Future” as one-man micro-parties with no real agenda and little public support to prop up their government for another term without having to make compromises with the Mäori Party. They and their fans can just quiet down for a while now Hone wants to give them a taste of their own medicine. Labour and the Greens both offered support to end coat-tailing, but National wouldn’t have it, (correctly realising it would hurt their electoral chances in the short-term) and refused to implement the independent recommendations they themselves arranged for, presumably on the deluded hope that the public would vote for watering down MMP with a system that removed its close-enough-to-proportional approach and replacing it with a system half-full with a bunch of safe-seat-warming buffoons.

No, what’s an affront to democracy is our ludicrously high party threshold. If Kim Dotcom wants to buy his way into parliament, let him win enough of the party vote to win a single seat outright. From there, with the ability of any New Zealander to vote for him, stop voting, or vote for someone else instead, the worth of his ideas can be judged by the public, and all it costs is the time for a quick trip to whatever local facility they use to host votes in in your electorate. One of the incredible upsides of MMP has been that it has let the public see how ridiculous some of the marginalised political voices on the Right are, and that it has been kind to the public’s desire for a sensible left-wing party. (If we have to put up with New Zealand First over our current threshold for that, I suppose I will merely resort to mockery in my suffering, as usual)

And Hone Harawira, who like Rodney Hide and Peter Dunne, doesn’t have that great of a claim to have earned his way into Parliament with rip-roaring public support, (although he at least has the legitimate claim to representing a community that deserves its voice being magnified) should not be the gatekeeper for a new political party. While I maintain that Mäori are the proper judges of how to protect their own political rights, and that the Mäori roll is an appropriate judge of whether they support their own electorate seats, I’d just as soon see all electorates gone, when another better way to support the voices of our indigenous people is chosen by our indigenous people. Electorates lock in bad candidates based on uncompetitive backroom selections, and they turn small parties into personality contests, where they continue to isolate voters into groups that feel empowered by electing two-faced wonders who will kiss a sufficient amount of babies and promise you things they don’t even understand. (Like common sense, or patriotism)

No, what’s an affront to democracy is that people have been sold this dumb idea of electorate seats, so that ordinary people can apparently lobby a local boy (or girl, if you’ve transitioned to the 21st century) about their problems. This is a ridiculous notion of politics. You are better off writing a letter to someone who understands your issue from a party (or preferebly, many parties) that may be sympathetic. Most likely that someone will be an aide of course, but aides are there for a reason.

We have a diverse enough parliament that farmers, conservationists, business, social reformers, and even to some degree IT enthusiasts are all represented by people who can understand them to some degree. Voting for whatever idiot decides to run in Ohariu or Epsom isn’t going to give us anything extra, and in fact the idea that that is the only legitimate way to do politics takes away from just how much the party vote has improved our democracy. National actually values capable women now, Labour is only a bit less diverse than the country, we have a disabled MP in parliament, and New Zealanders actually support at least the generalities of how our voting system works. So let’s not get mad at coat-tailing. Let’s get mad at electorates.

It appears Shane Jones is stepping down. Good riddance, he is a relic that was holding the Labour Party back. I’m all for a big tent, but his regressive views were taking things a bit far, and in a healthier political landscape, he’d have been sitting firmly on the Right wing of parliament.

The internet does a lot of cool things and a lot of terrible things.

One of each of those types of things relates to child pornography. Obviously the internet has allowed for better proliferation of child pornography. (It may have even allowed for better detection of child pornography, too)

But the really cool thing that’s beginning to pop up are support groups for paedophiles. Why is this so good?  I hear some of you asking. Surely these people are monsters? Well, because it’s an inkling of a hope that this might give us new ways to prevent child sexual abuse, and the data we’re beginning to get from studying support groups that take a moral stance on paedophilia, (ie. paedophiles who say that actually abusing kids is wrong) indicates that we can use this as a way to improve treatment.

The internet provides an anonymous medium where people can go to talk about attraction to children without necessarily risking discovery. For those who have committed abuse and use anonymity as a shelter to discuss abuse, that’s obviously terrible. But there’s a chance here- not all people who are attracted to kids are attracted only to kids. By reaching out to those individuals and studying them – which has not been done before, we could come up with intervention plans that could potentially cure or at least identify a sustainable treatment plan for so-called “exclusive paedophiles” who also experience more normal sexual attraction.

People have demonised attempts to ethically and safely research paedophiles who have not committed child abuse as paedophile sympathising. That’s ridiculous. Clearly understanding more about the development of attraction to children, what might cause it, etc… can all contribute to the prevention equation.

Also it can help develop trust between these people and a responsible therapist, who can help monitor them and hold them to account, who can help them have a fulfilling life in an area where they’re well-isolated from children, and maybe even have a normal (, childless) relationship.

Of course, such research would need funding, which could be a potential PR bomb. If someone were really interested in defending young children, they WOULD risk the PR bomb, and announce what they’re doing aggressively, to try and shame up more funding. I hope someone in the corporate world hears about this issue and comes up with the same strategy.

The other opportunity we have is to start building a world of people who could have been child sexual abusers, that aren’t, and who come out to people they can trust, building accountability networks that will stop them from offending. If we can build good practice guidelines internationally about what to do with self-reported paedophiles who have not committed abuse, that would be a Big Thing™.

And maybe, in the very distant future, even being able to come out publicly as having been in this situation, and transitioned through it. Can you imagine how much harm we’d stop if a confused 16-yearold whose feelings for younger kids isn’t going away can hear that they don’t have to be seen as a monster, that if they get help from someone qualified, they can manage their feelings without harming anyone? Because I can, and that world would be fucking excellent.