Te Reo With Mnemonics: Law and Justice Words

Law – ture

As if from two suns, two rays of light shine from the heavens onto a book of law.

Court, to judge – kōti

Inside a courtroom, a judge watches two peacocks courting.

Prison – whare herehere

A ferry crosses the Cook Strait. There is a prison built on top of it, full of hairy prisoners. It is the ferry hairy hairy.

Prisoner – herehere

Looking at a prison yard, it can be seen that the prisoners are covered in both facial and body hair. To be a prisoner is to be hairy-hairy.

to arrest – mauhere

A naked, hairy man is mowing the strip outside his house. He is the mow hairy. The Police come and arrest him for public nudity.

Police – pirihimana

From a boat on the Amazon, people can see in the water of the river tiny policecars swimming like pirahnas.

The Māori word for ‘Police’ – pirihimana – shares a ‘pi-r-h-na’ construction with the English word ‘pirahna’

Crime, Criminal, break the law – hara

A man points and says “Hey, that guy’s breaking the law!” His anarchist friend cries out “Hurrah!”

fair – matatika

A man wipes his feet on a mat and it rises up and attacks him. He cries out “Be fair! Be fair!” as he suffers the mat attack.

Justice – manatika

A woman goes into her attic and sees a bunch of men she did not expect. It is now a man attic. She comes down crying “Justice!”

Punishment – whiunga

The judge says “Your punishment is a $100 fee.” The guilty man walks despondently up to the clerk to pay, and his niece is there. She says “Fee, Uncle?”

Right – mōtika

A woman steals a moustache off a man’s face. When he complains, she says “It is my right – I am the mo taker.”

unfair – makihuhunu

A man walks up to a table and takes a key from it. Another man already sitting there says “That’s unfair! That’s ma key!” “Huh? Who knew?” the first man sneers as he walks away, unfairly.

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The above is an excerpt from the upcoming Learn Maori Vocabulary With Mnemonics, by Jeff Ngatai, due to be published by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

Is The National Party Now New Zealand’s Natural Opposition Party?

It may now have to be conceded that the Labour Party is a genuinely superior economic manager to the National Party. The Sixth Labour Government has just announced a $5,500,000,000 surplus for the last year, and there’s no sign that they intend to piss that money away on tax cuts. As this essay will examine, Labour’s established record of superior fiscal management suggests that the National Party no longer has any claim to be New Zealand’s natural government.

The New Zealand electoral cycle is based on a cosy truism: the National Party makes the money, and the Labour Party distributes it. Like Daddy and Mummy, the National Party is responsible for the wealth being generated by the system and the Labour Party is responsible for making sure that this wealth filters down to those who are too vulnerable to fight for it themselves.

However, if one casts an eye back over the last thirty years, there doesn’t seem to be any real evidence that National is better at generating wealth.

As anyone who has lived in Scandinavia can tell you, a nation’s wealth is primarily a function of the degree of investment that previous generations made in the current one. Scandinavia is wealthy because, for decades, their governments have made heavy investments in the human capital of their people in the form of education, health and welfare, and these investments have paid off handsomely in the form of an extremely productive workforce.

The National Party let our country rot for nine years: our hospitals decayed, our mental health system decayed, our housing crisis worsened with every year, and for all of this time John Key and Bill English just grinned and let their people suffer. After all, the suffering of Kiwis meant immense profits for someone else, especially wealthy property speculators and banking interests.

As a consequence, we now have the developed world’s worst youth suicide crisis, as the neglect shown to our people during the Key-English era shows its effects in a reduced will to live. The National Party failed to make any meaningful investment in the human capital of New Zealanders, and the true cost of this is now becoming apparent.

Over the past three decades, a pattern is clear. When National is in power, the rich become bloated and the people suffer; when Labour is in power, the rich hold their position while the people take some small steps out of desperate poverty. Anyone who has lived through these times has conclusive evidence that the idea of National being better economic managers is complete horseshit.

National Party economic management is like not going to the doctor or dentist for nine years, and then bragging about how much money you’ve saved while your skin is covered in lesions and your teeth are rotting out of your head. The National Party forgot the parasite’s maxim that some minimum care of the host body has to be taken otherwise it will die.

With Key and English now given knighthoods and put out to pasture, the National Party suddenly seems bereft of managerial talent. The hapless Simon Bridges looks every bit the Head Prefect auditioning for a role that is above his level of competence. Judith Collins waits in the wings like an overfed vulture, and the only other contenders are Paula Bennett – who needed surgery to prevent her eating herself to death – and a parade of faceless grey men.

Jacinda Ardern also looks every bit the Head Prefect above her level of competence, and so much so that the Opposition has an open goal in 2020 – but they’re too clumsy to kick it in. Meanwhile, Ardern has had the opportunity to build a cult of personality, John Key-style, by dragging her baby along everywhere and styling herself The Mother of the Nation. This strategy might prove effective on the pudding-headed virtue signallers among New Zealand voters, and given enough time it could make Ardern’s position unassailable.

With both their historical record and their potential record both looking extremely bad, it might have to be conceded that the National Party are effectively now New Zealand’s natural opposition party. The idea that Labour was the natural opposition party may have been true in the days of big agriculture and the need to be ready to fight war on behalf of Britain at any time. Nowadays, it’s looking ever more like it’s National who are fundamentally unsuited to meet the challenges facing the nation.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis is an Exit Drug

Many people erroneously believe that cannabis is a “gateway drug” that leads to users moving on to harder and harder drugs. The reality, like many myths relating to cannabis, is closer to the opposite of this. As this article will examine, cannabis can serve as an ‘exit drug’ to help people overcome addictions to actually harmful substances, in particular alcohol, synthetics and opioids.

In New Zealand, there is a “synthetic cannabis” epidemic underway. A couple of recent deaths in Christchurch were believed to have been caused by the substances, and the total number of deaths in New Zealand this year attributed to them is approaching 50. This is rightly a public health crisis, and is increasingly being understood as such.

The substances being sold as synthetic cannabis generally have nothing to do with cannabis – they are mostly unknown psychoactives that generate some kind of buzz when smoked. No-one’s really sure where they come from or what’s in them, they’re just sold through shady contacts – often at tinny houses when someone was looking for natural cannabis – and end up killing people in the streets.

It doesn’t matter that these substances aren’t really much like cannabis, because they fill a market niche that would otherwise be filled by cannabis. If a person doesn’t like to drink alcohol, for whatever reason, the major alternative is some form of cannabis. If cannabis is not available, because prohibition has made it impossible to supply, then “synthetic cannabis” might have to do, because it will frequently be available through the same channels that a person would try to access natural cannabis.

For the many thousands of Kiwis believed to be addicted to synthetic cannabinoids, and for the hundreds of thousands who are at risk of encountering some synnies from one of the infamous “bad batches” that kill people from time to time, legal cannabis could serve as an exit drug. With legal cannabis in place, even if only at the medicinal level, a synthetic cannabinoid addict could be weaned off the synnies with a replacement medicinal cannabis regimen.

In America, there is an opioid epidemic underway. Opioid overdoses were believed to comprise 49,000 of the 72,000 drug overdose deaths in America in 2017. This contrasts with about 10,000 such deaths at the turn of the century. This represents several times more deaths than even the infamous American homicide rate – clearly a crisis of such proportions that extraordinary actions must now be considered.

Cannabis has shown immense promise as an exit drug from opioid addiction. Science Daily links a report from the University of British Colombia that found significant evidence to suggest that cannabis can help in the case of alcoholism and opiate addiction. There are already clinics in operation in Los Angeles where cannabis is in a clinical program of rehabilitation from heroin and alcohol misuse.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that rates of opioid use are lower in American states that have legalised medicinal cannabis, which suggests that individuals who use opiates are themselves happy to wean themselves off by using cannabis, if only there are given the opportunity. The JAMA study found that “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”

A report by Time Magazine found that rates of death by opioid overdose had quadrupled from the turn of the century, and that states which had legalised medicinal cannabis had saved hundreds of millions of dollars from alleviating some amount of opioid abuse. Even if a patient does not stop taking opiates completely, it is possible that a synergistic effect from the cannabis can potentiate the opiates they do take, meaning that they can take less for the same painkiller effect.

All this means that cannabis prohibition is effectively killing people, by preventing those addicted to alcohol and opiates from accessing a potential exit drug, and thereby forcing them to remain addicted to the substance. Despite the apparent moralistic intent behind cannabis prohibition, we can safely suggest that the spirit of the law was not that it should kill alcoholics and opioid addicts.

Cannabis law reform is necessary so that medicinal cannabis can be applied as an exit drug to people who are addicted to, or dependent on, more harmful substances. This will have the effect of substituting a substance that heals for substances that harm, and thereby preventing suffering.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

VJMP Reads: David Seymour’s Own Your Future X

This reading carries on from here.

The ninth chapter in Own Your Future is ‘Personal Responsibility’. Seymour opens here with a stark claim that ACT doesn’t believe in the nanny state or in a paternalistic government. Many of our laws are holdouts from an age of Victorian values, he states, and they are enforced by politicians who transparently do not have a deeper grasp on morality than anyone else.

Breaking rank with the other Parliamentarians, Seymour is willing to admit here that cannabis does less harm than alcohol and tobacco (although he points out that cannabis is not without its own harms). He also echoes a point often made by Kiwi cannabis law reform activists (such as here), that the burden of Police enforcement of cannabis prohibition falls mostly on Maori.

Seymour cites a Treasury study that estimated that cannabis prohibition costs the country $300,000,000 annually, as well as tying up 600,000 hours of Police time. Worst of all, the supposed criminal deterrence doesn’t even work – the overwhelming majority of people convicted for cannabis offences go on to use it. Moreover, the law is applied in a haphazard manner, as can be seen by the 26-month sentence initially handed down to Kelly van Gaalen.

In a distinct break from the right-wing that ACT is usually associated with, Seymour repudiates the moralising that is chiefly responsible for cannabis prohibition, pointing out that not only is there a heavy majority in favour of cannabis law reform, but that majority is steadily growing. This contrasts with the proportion of people who oppose actual crimes, such as murder – this proportion remains constant.

True to the libertarian image that Seymour is trying to stake out, he argues for legal recreational cannabis as well. However, true to the conservative streak that binds his party to National, he is torn, claiming that 80% of the New Zealand public opposes recreational cannabis. He does not cite a source here, and neither does he note that such opposition would be unusual in the context of places like Colorado and California voting by referendum to legalise medicinal cannabis.

Seymour takes pains to seat himself as immovably as possible, right in the middle of the fence. He is open to the possibility that countries that legalise cannabis might “lose their morality” and “become cesspits of unmotivated human squalor” (as if alcohol was not well capable of achieving both), and wants to have a Royal Commission that takes five years before he will consider that we have satisfactory evidence to make a decision.

He rightly pillories the Government for its sharp increase in the tobacco tax, pointing out that the people most sharply affected by this are those who can least afford it. Worst of all, it seems that raising the tax further will not help persuade people to give up smoking. Those who are still addicted are so addicted that they will do almost anything to get hold of tobacco. Sensibly, Seymour would legalise vaping and e-cigarettes.

Euthanasia is another thing that Seymour would legalise, promising an end to “morality-based harassment”. His reason for promoting this is to avoid the indignity of the last weeks of life. Having nursed elderly grandparents to the end of a terminal illness, I can commiserate with him in this regard. He is also in favour of abortion, which makes him less hypocritical than the old right. Seymour doesn’t want to pay for your kid either, but he’s happy to help you get it aborted.

It’s hard to find fault with any of Seymour’s proposals in this chapter. Even if the only right he champions with conviction is the right to die, it’s an excellent thing that these libertarian proposals are even being suggested. It is interesting to note how similar ACT is with the Greens on issues such as cannabis, especially if it is considered that being young is highly correlated with both voting ACT and Green.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).

Te Reo With Mnemonics: Parts of Language Words

Word – kupu

An old woman walks up to a box and says “Eh, you words shouldn’t be cooped up in that box.” She opens the box and hundreds of words come out.

Sentence, Saying – rerenga kōrero

A woman reads from a piece of paper: “Rare anger, core ear? This sentence doesn’t make any sense!” The man next to her, who has apple cores for ears, gets angry. It’s a rare anger, core-ear.

Paragraph – kōwae

A boy is writing on a piece of paper, and a second boy reads the paper, and says “Paragraph, paragraph, paragraph.” The first boy says “Go away”.

Consonant – orokati

Two canoes are racing. One is covered in consonants and the other is covered in vowels. One of the rowers in the consonant canoe is a cat, and his partner says “Oh, row, catty!”

Vowel – oropuare

Two canoes are racing. One is covered in consonants and the other is covered in vowels. One of the rowers in the vowel canoe is a very wealthy-looking man, and he says to his partner “Oh, row, Poorer!”

Language – reo

A man says to a cat “Hey, do you speak human language?” The cat replies “Rrreoo!”

The Maori word for ‘lower-case’ – pūriki – shares a p-r-k construction with the English word ‘pork’

to spell – tātaki kupu

On a tarry road covered in tacks, there is a chicken coop. It is the tar-tacky coop. In it, the chickens are busy spelling out words.

to define, Definition – tautuhi

A schoolteacher asks a boy “Can you define the word for the class?” The boy says “Totally!”

Letter (lower case) – pūriki

A lower-case letter is being filmed doing a cooking show. It adds some meat into a frypan and say “This is the case of pork.”

Letter (upper case) – pūmatua

A bunch of upper-case letters are spectating a boxing photo shoot. The bout is between an Argentinan rugby player (a Puma) and David Tua. In upper-case letters above the shoot spell out: “P U M A – T U A

Alphabet – arapū

A man says “Hey I composed a rap. It’s about the alphabet.” The man raps off A-B-C.

Phrase – rerenga kupu

Two men watch a chicken coop in which the chickens are angry and fighting. One says “That’s a rare anger coop.” The other says “You know the phrase: it’s a cold winter when you have a rare anger coop.”

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The above is an excerpt from the upcoming Learn Maori Vocabulary With Mnemonics, by Jeff Ngatai, due to be published by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

Will the Sixth Labour Government be a One-Term Affair?

The Sixth Labour Government has already made one colossal error in its short time in power, and it looks like it’s set up to make another. Considering that their grip on power was already slim, and that they are relying on the infamously treacherous Winston Peters to maintain it, there’s every chance that the Sixth Labour Government ends up being a one-term affair. This essay discusses the possibility.

There are many forces that threaten to tear apart every party in every Parliament, but within the New Zealand Labour Party some gigantic fissures are starting to become particularly prominent. The decision to raise the refugee quota was a slap in the face to the poorer voters within Labour, and can be counted as a colossal error. The other error will be forced by the referendum to legalise cannabis.

Make no mistake – raising the refugee quota was an error of profound magnitude. The reality of the situation is this: European governments have, for a couple of decades now, placed the needs of foreign “asylum seekers” above those of their own working classes, and the consequences of doing so are clear. Doing so will lead to a return of authoritarian populists, as has been shown with the rise of the Sweden Democrats in Sweden, the AfD in Germany and Matteo Salvini in Italy.

If you are a poor New Zealander, then you are probably a natural Labour voter, but it’s extremely galling to see Labour spending the money that could have helped you on refugees instead. Adding insult to injury, these refugees are usually dumped in working class areas because that’s where the cheapest housing is. The cherry on the top is that any working-class person who protests their demotion in favour of foreign chancers will be denounced by Labour supporters as a racist.

The decision to double the refugee quota will drive a thick wedge deeply between the working-class faction of Labour, who are dependent on a limited pool of government largesse for their personal well-being and who resent more people claiming a piece of it, and the champagne socialist faction, whose primary concern is virtue signalling for the sake of social status and advancement.

This is the current rupture. It’s unlikely that a populist worker’s movement will arise merely on the basis of this, but it will cause some Labour voters to switch to New Zealand First in 2020 and some to abstain.

The inevitable future rupture comes with the cannabis referendum that will likely be held near the end of 2019. Labour will not admit this, but the referendum has the potential to tear the Labour Party right down the centre, for demographic reasons. This is not a concern for either the Green, New Zealand First or National Parties, because the demographic equation does not apply in their cases.

Maori voters are massively in favour of cannabis law reform – this is one of the strongest relationships in all of New Zealand politics. The correlation between being Maori and voting for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in 2017 was 0.91. This is much stronger than all of the other well-accepted relationships in New Zealand society, and is immediately apparent if one observes the fact that the ALCP gets twice as many votes in Maori electorates as it does in General ones.

Pacific Islanders, by contrast, are much more lukewarm on the issue. The correlation between being a Pacific Islander and voting ALCP in 2017 was -0.00 (i.e. perfectly uncorrelated), much weaker than the correlation between being Maori and voting ALCP. The reason for this is clear if one looks at the general demographic profile of Pacific Islanders: they tend to be religious, and the religious tend to be prejudiced against cannabis.

Therefore, the Labour Party cannot avoid being divided when the cannabis referendum comes around, and they cannot avoid losing a large swathe of voters because someone will inevitably feel betrayed. Either Maori voters will punish them for being too strict on cannabis, or Pacific Islander voters will punish them for being too loose. So Labour is damned if they do campaign for change and damned if they don’t.

These two errors need to be viewed in their correct context. Many political commentators assume (incorrectly) that, because all political parties generally fall on a left-right spectrum, if a given voter doesn’t like the government of the day then they will move leftward or rightward to cast their vote next election.

The truth, as Dan McGlashan demonstrated in Understanding New Zealand, is that for many Kiwis, the alternative to voting Labour is not voting at all. If you are a working-class New Zealander, and therefore a natural Labour voter, the preferred option when Labour is too right-wing is not voting Greens but abstaining from voting.

As the article linked immediately above describes, the correlation between voting for Labour in 2017 and turnout rate in 2017 was a very strong -0.72. That tells us that as many as half of all natural Labour supporters actually don’t vote. The real challenge for the Labour Party is not convincing the masses that National is bad or even that Labour would be better, but convincing them that Labour would be better enough to make it worthwhile to vote for them, and to not rather abstain by way of protest.

The two major errors discussed in this article might collectively have the effect of significantly reducing support for the Labour Party. They have already greatly disappointed their voters who are dependent on social assistance, and the cannabis referendum will force them to either greatly disappoint Maoris (who will then abstain from voting in 2020) or greatly disappoint Pacific Islanders (who will then abstain or switch to National in 2020). This disappointment might be enough to tip the balance back towards National in 2020.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis).