Archive for May 2008

Why I want a change of government

May 31, 2008

On May 17, in response to a rouge poll showing National party support at a fantastically unrealistic 56%, and support for Labour 29% (I wish Labour support really was that low, but sadly it probably isn’t), Steve Pierson at The Standard asked a very good question (surprised at the result because of National’s lack of policy, and his ignorance of the effects of the Electoral Finance Act): “You’ll be voting for National come election day. What will you be voting for them to change and what have you seen from them that leads you to believe they’ll make that change?”. Here is my answer:

I too, like 56% of the NZ public in this poll (I suspect the poll may over-estimate support for National, and believe the true level of National support to be around 50% and Labour at around 37%) support National and plan to give it my Party vote on election day (although I have not definitely made up my mind).

I will be voting primarily to get Labour out, and voting more out of a very strong dislike of Labour, than a love of National.

The first thing I hope to see changed is the repeal of the Electoral Finance Act. I want to be very clear on this. I strongly believe that any-one who not only deliberately steals $800 000 of taxpayers money, despite three warnings in advance from the chief electoral officer that doing so was illegal to win an election, and after that (possibly stolen) election, manipulate electoral laws for partisan political gain (and in doing so placing onerous restrictions on free speech) is unfit for public office.

Given Key’s public statements in this area, and National’s voting and speaking record, I believe this to be a realistic expectation.

I also have serious reservations about Labours social liberal agenda on moral issues (i.e. abortion, civil unions, prostitution, smacking ban). Although I acknowledge that National is unlikely to make any changes in this area, judging from its voting record on these issues, as well as its historical record of avoiding such issues since the 1970s, it would be surprising if National were to introduce more legislation that goes against my moral values, and further if such legislation was introduced it would more likely to be conservative legislation than liberal legislation on these issues. The same can not be said of Labour. Judging from all available evidence, Labour took the positions it did on these issues because of genuine conviction, and did so despite some of measures, particularly the smacking ban, being deeply unpopular with the public. I commend Labour for its principled position on these issues, even though it is not a position I agree with. I do not commend Labour for being dishonest in the way it promoted the legislation, particularly the claim the Smacking ban was not about banning smacking, when the law changes removed all legal defences for smacking, and Labour rejected an amendment proposed by Chester Borrows to allow smacking, while banning all child abuse (and I do not consider smacking child abuse). I worry that if re-elected Labour may introduce more socially liberal legislation, particularly in the area of euthanasia. I do not feel any public statements from Labour in this area can be trusted, given what Helen Clark said on Radio Rima in 2005 denying her intention to introduce a smacking ban.

Further, I agree in principle that the role of the government in the economy and personal affairs of its citizens should be kept minimal. Judging from previous National Party policies on issues such as tax cuts, bulk funding of schools, and its record of governance in the 1990s, National appears to share my beliefs. Although some policies in this area have been compromised in order to gain public support, any new policies this election, and decisions made in government will reflect its (and my) ideological views in this area. Labour, judging from its record over the last nine years, does not share my views, and instead appears to hold socialist ideological views, and its policies and actions reflect those views.

For the above reason, I will not vote for the Labour Party with my Party vote, or support any Labour Party electorate candidate this election.

It describes perfectly the reasons why I won’t vote Labour. To be fair, given my ideological views I was never going to vote Labour anyway. However its actions, particularly on the Electoral Finance Act, and it’s socially liberal crusading nature, have given me a very intense dislike of the Labour Party and Helen Clark. I try not to hate them, and know that there are many good people (even though I may disagree with their political views) within the ranks of the Labour Party. But when I read and hear about the unborn New Zealanders being killed through abortion (partly because of Labour’s failure to ban it), the decline of moral values and rise of promiscurity in our society (in part by Labour’s legalisation of prostitution and civil unions), and the way it, despite being warned three times in advance by the Chief Elelctoral officer, stole $800 000 for its pledge card, and how it is trying to gerrymander its way into a forth term with the Electoral Finance Act, it makes me angry. Very angry. And while I know National is far from perfect, I get the feeling at times that any lot would be better than the current lot. And I hope, I really hope, that we will have a change of Government this election.

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Changes to society

May 31, 2008

Over the last two weeks, two items have got attention from the media, which highlight two trends in our changing society, both of which the socialist left have been behind.

The first is the descison by a California court to legalise gay marriage. As a social conservative I am very disapointed by the descison. To those who argue that same sex couples should have “equal rights” including the “right to marry”, the words of new London mayor Boris Johnson “if gay marriage was OK … then I saw no reason in principle why a union should not be consecrated between three men, as well as two men, or indeed three men and a dog”, give a pretty good reason to keep marriage within its traditional definition (i.e. between a man and a woman). Fortunately there is hope that gay marriage (called henceforth in this post fake marriage) in california will be short lived, as there is a ballot initiative for the 2008 elections to change the constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. A referendum on the issue in 2000 saw 63% of Californians oppose fake marriage. On the other hand, opinion is more liberal now than 8 years ago, and California is one of America’s most liberal states. Regardless of the final outcome in California, it is only one part of a growing wordwide trend towards fake marriage (and an extension of the trend of legalising homosexuality (sodomy) over the last forty years). In 2001 fake marriage was legalised in the Netherlands, and since then in Belguim, Spain, Canada, South Africa, and Massachusetts (and now California) in the US. Equally concerning, is the shift in public opinion, with is some US polls support increased by 12% in one year, with support strongest amongst the young. Micheal Kinsley wrote an excellent piece for the time magazine here, about the “quiet gay revolution”, concluding that in 20 years time “gays will have it all”. I, sadly, completely agree with him and find it hard not to forsee a future in which fake marriage is the norm in all western countries in my lifetime, and the view (which I am proud to hold) that homosexuality is morally wrong, will be seen as wrong-headed by society in the same way rascism is (rightly) seen today.

Also in the news, just out yesterday, is a new survey showing the percentage of New Zealanders who smoke falling to 19.9%, with only 18.7% doing so on a daily basis. This is a big decrease from 1996, when 25.2% of Kiwis smoked daily, and over 30% in 1986, and over 35% in 1976 (the 1976 and 86 data is for all smokers, including non-daily ones). there have been similar trends in most other western countries. Between 1974 and 2005, the percentage of British men who smoked fell from 51% to 25%, while amongst women the percentages fell from 41% to 23%. In the US, 38% of American men smoked in 1980, only 23% do so today, while the decline in American women over the same period is 29% to 18%. Australia has seen similar trends, with smoking decling from around 40% of the population in 1976, to under a fifth tin 2001 (see article here). The trend is truly pleasing to those who dislike the ill effects on people’s health by smoking, and truly alarming to the tobacco industry. The decline in smoking has not only seen the number of smokers fall, but the number of cigarettes smoked per smoker has also gone down. In New Zealand tobacco consumption fell by half between 1990 and 2005, a much greater decline than smoking rates, showing that smokers are cutting back as well as quiting. In the UK, the average number of cigarettes smoked per day per smoker declined between 1979 and 2005, from 22 to 14 in men, and 17 to 13 in women. Similar trends have been shown in the US. Also good news is the rapid fall in youth smoking, with only 13% of year 10 (14-15 year olds) students in New Zealand smoking now, compared to 29% in 1999. Tjis shows that as the older generation of smokers are dying, quiting or cutting back, there isn’t much of a new generation to replace them. The long term net effect of this is that one day, and I would not be surprised if this occured in my lifetime (although given the addictive nature of nicotine it will take a long time) we may have a smokefree New Zealand (and eventually world). Although the number of smokers will never be zero, unless the government bans it (something I am completely opposed to, but would not be surprised if it happens one day in the distant future), in future it will not be a normal part of society, and only done by a small number of people in private (one related issue I have not covered in this post is the corespending rise of smokefree areas, which now extend into not only all public indoor areas in NZ, but also some parks, and in one Californian town, in the street (and I don’t think it will be too long before we see street bans here).

These two changes to society have occured quite rapidly. In the space of two generations, we are likely to see homosexuality go from being illegal in most of the western countries to fake marriage being the norm. And in the case of smoking, from a normal part of everyday life for almost half the population, which is allowed almost everywhere, to something which can only be done in private in certain designated areas outside (once nanny state bans it in the street and peoples homes, if not completely) to being done by only a small minority of people (I guess under 5% in 2050). These are not the first big changes to society to take place. The abolition of slavery, women getting the vote, legalisation of abortion represent other rapid and major societal changes, with the latter two occuring in one generation.

The key message is that sometimes things which are a normal and acceptable part of society can become frowned upon and rare in a short space of time (e.g. smoking and slavery), while other abnormal taboos may become commonplace and accepted equally quickly (e.g. women having the vote, abortion, homosexuality). These can happen for good or ill (the abolition of slavery being the greatest victory for freedom in the history of mankind, while in my opinion the legalisation of abortion constitutes the biggest mass murder ever). For social conservatives who are interested in what kind of society we are going to live in the future, we need to study these changes, and see (and hope) we can replicate them in areas where we want to see changes. For instance, wouldn’t it be great if sex outside marriage, and alcohol abuse, made people social outcasts and were rare, instead of being the norm. And wouldn’t it be great if we had laws that protected the right to life of the unborn, and abortionists seen as the evil mass murderers that they are, like nazi war crinimals. I know that my views on abortion are very controversial, but the fact that abortion is legal, accepted in society, and most people think it is right, doesn’t make it okay, any more than the fact slavery was once legal, accepted in society as morally right by most people as morally right, made it okay. Although I concede that such changes are unlikely to happen in the forseeable future, we can learn from the examples of smoking and homosexuality that big changes can happen to society, faster and more completely than anyone expects.

No, I haven’t forgotten about this blog

May 31, 2008

But I have been very busy with university study, with essays due and exams throughout the month. Hence my lack of blogging. The really good news is that yesterday was my last day at University, and if I pass everything I should graduate (with the formal ceremony in December) with a BA in History and Political Science. It also means (until I find a full time job) that I will have more time for blogging. But as I only have internet access at university (for the time being, and in future I won’t even have that) and the expense of train fares into Wellington, until I get my own computer with internet access, I will be blogging less frequently.

While I was away from blogging, my blog had its first birthday (May 2), and I plan to keep this blog going, somehow, for many years to come. During that 12 months, I had 5675 visits (not all unique, and including my own visits), I posted 208 posts, which people placed 91 comments on. The topics I wrote most about were the Electoral Finance Act (21 posts, categorized under “Anti-Free Speech Bill”, and future posts on this topic will now be posted under “Electoral Finance Act”) and Abortion (19 posts). The blog visit numbers were a roller-coaster, reflecting how much blogging I was doing, with the following stats:
May (2007): 417 visits
June: 316 visits
July: 593 visits
August: 962 visits
September: 698 visits
October: 428 visits
November: 300 visits
December: 184 visits
January (08): 166 visits
Februrary: 201 visits
March: 749 visits
April: 661 visits
For all those who were counted in the above statistics, thank you for visiting and/or commenting on this blog. And trust me; even though I may go for periods of time without blogging, I will be here for a long time to come.

I have also added a new “about me page” for those who want to find out a little about me, and for new visitors to this blog. A link to it can be found at the bottom of the sidebar.