Archive for February 2008

Union caught out by Anti-Free Speech Act

February 29, 2008

The new Anti-Free Speech Act (officially known as the Electoral Finance Act) has caught its first victim. The Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), which has been barred from campaigning for two months while the Electoral Commission sees if it is eligible to be a third party this election.

The EMPU applied to be third party in early February, and faced an objection from David Farrar. The objection is done on the basis that the EMPU is affiliated to the Labour Party, and thus involved in its affairs. Reading the letter Farrar wrote to the Electoral Commision hereit makes it clear the EMPU is far closer connected to Labour than the Brethren ever were to National.

Although I support David’s objection, it raises a disturbing possibility. What if someone was to maliciously raise objections to certain third party’s registering in order to keep them muzzled an reduce the time they are allowed to campaign in?

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Violence in politics is wrong

February 28, 2008

According to David Farrar, today Chris Trotter said that a National victory this year would be good. Why?

Because of fears that right wingers could respond to their loss with violence. Although such violence would almost ineviatably be confined to fringe few, if it happens at all, the brick throwing incicdents involving “people power” are distirbing. They have thrown bricks through the windows of Helen Clarks electorate office twice in one month. They have also smashed the window of a Auckland Green Party electorate office.

I want to be very clear about this. Such actions are despicable and totally unacceptable, and those responsible should be imprisoned. By trying to silence elected officials with a campaign of violence, is worse than the Electoral Finance Act, trying to silence Government critics through legislation (in a evil but non-violent way). Although violence can be justified in some extreme circumstances, such as if a totalitarian government didn’t allow free elections, and went round murdering political opponents, and was done as a last resort, there is (thankfullly) no sign of those circumstances ever occuring here in New Zealand.

Morals survey

February 28, 2008

The New Zealand Catholic has (Feb 24 issue, ‘abortion more acceptable than cloning’, Page 3) an interesting survey on what people think is morally OK and what is wrong. The results are (listed by % of people who think practices are morally OK): Divorce 78
Consensual sex between two unmarried heterosexual people 78
Having a illegitimate baby outside marriage 74
Medical research from embryo stem cells 65
Homosexuality (presumably sexual activity) 60
Abortion 55
Euthanasia (Doctor assisted suicide) 54
Wearing animal fur 50
Gambling 49
Death Penalty 42
Cloning Animals 27
Suicide 21
Cloning People 9
Adultery 9

For me the results are a mix of good and bad. It shows that the socialist left assualt on traditional values, starting with legalised abortion in the 1970s, to the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986, to Civil unions and legalised prostitution today, have significently eroded the value of chastisty, to the point where almost 80% of us see nothing wrong with premarital sex. However traditional values aren’t dead yet, with 91% disaproving of adultery. The NZ Catholic talked about the 55-45 margin with abortion as an excuse to reopen the debate. Sadly, with such a hot potato political issue, politicians since 1978 have done almost all they could to leave the issue alone, and that looks set to continue. The 54% approving of euthanasia is also a worry, particularly with moves by the likes of Exit and NZ First MP Peter Brown to legalise it, this could be the scene of a big political debate in future. I also find it interesting that practices I have no moral problems with, such as wearing animal fur, gambling and cloning animals are opposed by most of the public.

The fact that many of the things people said were morally OK were often legal (and sometimes widespread) shows that legislation can make a difference. This is something conservative politicians need to think about.

Labour retrospective legislation

February 27, 2008

David Farrar has another case of Labour retrospective legislation. This is for companies giving stappled securities instead of dividends.
I’ve done a bit of research into Labours history of retrospective legislation, and this is what I’ve come up with.
1) July 2003. The State Sector Amendment Act 2003, dealing with “technical” redundancies in some state departments.
2) August 2003: Harry Duynhoven (it goes without saying it was a Labour MP) gets retrospective legislation after he was suppose to loose his seat in parliament by re-applying for his Duch citzenship. Helen Clark also cancelled an election because the timing was bad. In 2002 she called an early election because the timing was good. In another precedent, Helen’s crony then-attorney-general Margaret Wilson ignores the advice of the Auditor general and Solicitor general (as Helen would later do after the pledge card) and declares the law “ambiguous” to alow Duynhoven to keep his seat.
3) August 2006. I found this Cullen press release on retrospective legislation to undo some tax issue involving the NZ Herald.
4)October 2006. This one MPs didn’t get to find out about until the morning before they had to debate it. According to Labour it shouldn’t be counted, since its validating legislation, not retrospective legislation. We are of course talking about the pledge card.
5) The latest example.

More examples will be added if I find them. The above gives Labour good reason to claim the softest party on crime position this election. They not only don’t prosecute crinimals, or even ignore them, but instead give them retrospective legislation making their illegal acts legal.

Backstreet abortion lies

February 27, 2008

One of the common lies advanced by “pro-choice” groups to legalise the murder of unborn children, is the argument that abortions happen anyway. they just occur, instead of at safe, legal “clinics”, in dangerous backstreet alleys, posing a threat to the life and health of the woman. Of course in any society crime occurs, and if abortion were illegal some illegal abortion would probably occur. But in order to advance their case they greatly exaggerate the numbers of illegal abortions. In 2001, when Portugal was one of the few European countries with reasonably restrictive abortion law, Planned Parenthood advanced the 20 000 to 40 000 figure on number of illegal abortions, and 10 000 women each year needed hospital treatment for the number of legal abortions.

Sadly, there is now a way we can see how accurate these figures are. In 2007, a referndum was held, with the loaded question Are you in agreement with the decrinimalization of the voluntary interuption of pregnancy, if carried out, by the womens choice, in the first ten weeks in a legally authorized health institution?. A fairer question would be “Should abortion be legal in all circumstances when a women consents to it, during the firsat ten weeks of pregnancy?”. Given the loaded question, the 59% yes vote should come as no surprise.If there really were 20 000 to 40 000 backstreet abortions when abortion was illegal, we would expect 20 000 to 40 000 legal abortions now. However the number is only 25 per day, average 9000 per year. The number is fewer than the number of women Planned parenthood claimed to have been hospitalized due to illegal abortions. This leaves three possibilities:
1) That thousands of Portugese women are choosing to have dangerous backstreet abortions, despite there being a safe legal alternative availiable (unlikely)
2) That there a re fewer pregnancies in Portugal now, or that more Portugese women are choosing to keep their babies than abort them (given such a massive decrease in such a short period of time, unlikely)
3) Palnned Parenthood was wrong (the obvious answer)

Drugs don’t work

February 27, 2008

Message to all drunks and stoners (and most users of antidepressants): Drugs don’t work.

This to me is no surprise. using drugs to escape problems can work temporarily, while you are still on your “high”, but once the effects of the drug on your mind (but not on your health) wear of, the problems remain. Not to mention you can get into more problems while on alcohol or drugs, such as embarrasment, crinimal charges, damage to property, and if female an unwanted pregnancy. Not nice.

A new study in the UK shows that antidepressants only worked in a small minority of cases, usually in the most depressed people. This comes as no surprise to me. Usually when people get depressed theres a reason (say a marriage breakup, unexpected hardship, loved one or friend dying e.t.c). Drugs may make someone feel better in the short term, but don’t address the original cause of the problem. Thus, like alcohol or other drugs, don’t work.

Could Helen get rolled?

February 26, 2008

The latest polls paint a truly bleak picture for Labour. Which has some thinking the unthinkable. Could Helen get rolled by her own party?

My short answer, like David Farrar’s, is no. This is for three reasons.
1) Helen Clark is still the best Labour has. Despite the bad polls, and a few lapses in her political judgement, she still is a formidable political leader.
2) The Labour leadership is a poisoned chalice. If Goff or King wanted to be PM they would be well advised in waiting until after the election and focusing on 2011 or 2014.
3) At the moment Clark appears to have the numbers, so a coup would fail anyway.

I also have strong doubts about the idea that changing leaders will save you. Every time since 1940 that a New Zealand political party has changed leaders while in office, it went in opposition at the next election (Shipley 99, Moore 90, Rowling 75, Marshall 72 and Holyoake 57). While much has been said about Howard staying on too long, there is no proof the coalition would have done better with Costello, and now that Nelsons leader has doing far worsein the polls than Howard ever did (admittedly, partly because Rudd is still new and having a honeymoon).

For the fun of it, lets assume that Labour’s caucus looses faith in Clark, or Clark resigns/dies/is somehow removed from the political scene. Insolent Prick looks at the options here. Goff is competent, but has the support of only a few on Labour’s right, some of whom are leaving. He would, despite his lack of support, be the best choice. Cullen is getting old, and his well earned reputation for opposition to tax cuts will not help him. King will be largely new to the electorate, and will please the Labour left more than Goff, but is she up to the task? IP mentions Gosche, but he looks more likely to leave politics than lead Labour. And we can forget about Trevor Mallard. Shane Jones could be a good choice longer term, and could be our first Maori PM, but since he’s only just made it to cabinet he’s not ready yet.

This is an issue Labour probably won’t have to face until the December. Who they choose will depend on the size of their defeat (and in the unlikely event of a win, as Clarks been around for a long time they may still have to face the issue). If they loose by a small margin Clark might stay an extra year and choose her sucessor. If they loose big Goff will be the favourite for the job. My hope is Labour gets thrashed (on present polling this might happen), Goff becomes leader after a civil war within Labour, and a wave of national euphoria after a 2011 RWC (a big if, given we haven’t won one in 20 years, but at home should help us) win drives Key home again. Goff is pernamently stained by the loss in 2011 (in a similar way to English is by 2002) and (getting more hopefull) Labour spend the next 20 years in opposition. Looking shorter term, I can’t wait till the election, especially with current polls. But I wouldn’t want to write Labour off just yet.