The New Zealand Government Has Been Separating Children From Their Cannabis-Growing Parents for Decades

This is no worse than what our own Government is doing to us

Today’s mass media assault on consciousness involved emotional images from America of Mexican children in cages. The ensuing outrage was based around the fact that when a Mexican family is apprehended crossing the American border illegally, the children are temporarily separated from their parents. Although this is regrettable, what the media is ignoring is that the New Zealand Government has been doing the same thing to its own citizens for decades.

For one thing, it’s standard practice for the New Zealand Government to separate children from their parents if those parents are going into custody for breaking the law. In this regard, the New Zealand Government’s normal actions are no better than what the American Government is doing. Even worse than this is the fact that many of those parents are going to jail for offences that don’t harm anyone, unlike (arguably) illegal immigration.

The fact that cannabis is a medicine is a fact near enough to universally acknowledged by the young people of the world, even if Baby Boomer politicians have been slow to understand it. However, cultivation of it remains a crime punishable by up to seven years imprisonment in New Zealand, despite that the plant has a wide range of medicinal effects and is used all over the country to alleviate needless suffering.

Because cannabis is so good for alleviating suffering – taking away pain, nausea, insomnia among other maladies – people continue to grow it, despite the law. But because of the law, a significant number of these people end up being apprehended by Police and sentenced to prison.

Many of the medicinal cannabis growers who have been put in prison over the past 40 years have had children. Those children were forcibly separated from their parents by the New Zealand Government for the sake of enforcing a law that should never have been a law.

So all the perfectly natural dismay that Kiwis have been induced to feel at what the Mexican children at the American border are forced to endure – a traumatic forced separation from their parents as a consequence of an arbitrary law enforced by armed men – could just as well arise as a result of thinking about what Kiwi children have to go through as a result of cannabis prohibition.

In fact, our own children have it worse, because they will often not get to see their parents again for a long time.

So if people in New Zealand are going to get upset because of an outrage that the global corporate media manufactured in order to target a conservative American President, let’s get equally upset about similar and equally evil actions in New Zealand.

Every time a New Zealander gets put in prison for a cannabis offence that has harmed no-one, leaving a child on the outside who is now missing a parent, we ought to react with the same outrage towards our own Government as we had today for the Trump Administration. If we’re going to expend energy on outrage let’s at least direct it somewhere where it can do some good.

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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).

VJMP Reads: David Seymour’s Own Your Future IV

A Liberal Vision for New Zealand in 2017

This reading carries on from here.

The third chapter in Own Your Future is ‘Superannuation and the Gold Card’. This essay starts with a dig at Winston Peters, who was once investigated by the Serious Fraud Office. Seymour doesn’t like the wasteful spending he sees in the Gold Card, especially as many of the recipients of the largesse of it are already millionaires.

Universal super is set to cost us around $20,000,000,000 per year by 2031, Seymour informs us. Here he makes a play for younger voters by having a go at the Baby Boomers. He references the suspicion of the younger generations that they aren’t going to get the same sweet pension deal that their parents got – after all, we didn’t get the same free tertiary education that they got.

He raises the spectre of a Greece-style economic apocalypse happening as a result of a debt spiral triggered by having to pay these lavish pension funds up to and past 2060. It’s hard to deny Seymour’s maths, as it appears to be true that we will soon reach a point where there are only two workers for every pensioner (as opposed to today’s four).

The options, as he sees it, are: raising taxes by about a quarter or raising the retirement age, neither likely to happen because young people don’t vote. Seymour here criticises both John Key and Bill English for lacking the courage to deal with the issue, and makes an entreaty to the young to not become disengaged from politics.

This seems baldly hypocritical, considering that ACT spent all of the last nine years voting alongside the National Party, who are the party that represents all the Baby Boomers. As Dan McGlashan showed in Understanding New Zealand, the vast majority of Baby Boomers vote for National, whose efforts to fuck over the young were eagerly supported, for nine years straight, by all ACT MPs including David Seymour.

National closed down rape crisis centres and gutted mental health funding, leading to New Zealand having the developed world’s highest youth suicide rate, and Seymour supported them all the way, despite that many young people voted ACT in 2014. He does not acknowledge that this may have contributed to the low turnout rate among the young.

True to neoliberal form, Seymour’s solution to this looming pension crisis is to squeeze some extra labour out of the working class, by raising the age of retirement to 67, and soon. No means testing, despite that 25% of people claiming the pension are also either claiming a salary or run their own business (as admitted by Seymour himself) and at that point the chapter abruptly ends.

One realises here that Seymour is primarily trying to win votes from people too young to know anything other than neoliberalism. Old people are too conservative to vote anything other than National or sometimes New Zealand first, and it’s the young and well-heeled (who don’t expect to be reliant on a public pension in old age) who are the most amenable to Seymour’s suggestions here.

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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: Caring And Sharing Words

help – āwhina

A child cries: “I lost my letter R!” A man says “My dog will help you – he’s an r-finder!” His dog goes into the bushes and comes back with a letter R.

give – takoha

A family is sitting around eating Mexican food when a baby stretches out a hand and says “Give. Give. Taco here.”

share – toha

A lady at a party produces a bowl full of toes. She goes around sharing them, saying “Get a toe here.”

care – kumanu

A man cares lovingly for a cow, who shits into a wheelbarrow that the man wheels over to a gigantic pile of shit with a sign that says “Cow Manure”.

neglect – whakahapa

A child sits outside, neglected. Its parents neglect it by sitting inside partying. The child picks up some binoculars and sees a person playing a harp on a distant hill. It can see the far car harper.

contribute/provide – homai

A donations collector approaches a bunch of gangsters. One of the gangsters says “Okay homies,” and they all contribute some money.

The Māori word for neglect – whakahapa – shares a “f-k-h-p” construction with the English phrase ‘far car harper’.

kind/to show kindness to – atawhai

A really tough-looking man jumps when a nurse kindly wraps a bandage around a sore finger. She says “So you’re not such a toughie!”

nasty – whakawiri

A soldier says “I’m worried.” With a nasty expression, his sergeant says nastily “Fuck worry!”

support – taituarā

A tuatara, supported on the shoulders of two other tuataras, reaches up and pulls down a piece of fruit.

take – tango

A man holds out a twenty dollar note, and a couple tangoes up to him to take it.

thank/acknowledge – mihi

A man shakes hands with a doctor. The man says “I’d like to thank you for fixing my head.”

consider – whaiwhakaaro

A car drives around with three bagpipers leaning out the windows playing their pipes. A man looks at the piper car and says “They should consider those trying to sleep.”

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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.

VJMP Reads: David Seymour’s Own Your Future III

A Liberal Vision for New Zealand in 2017

This reading carries on from here.

The second chapter of Own Your Future is titled ‘Tax’. Seymour opens with a complaint about wasteful government spending, citing the example of Gerry Brownlee flying to San Francisco on the taypayer’s dollar for a photo op. Indeed this was an appalling waste of money for no benefit to the nation, but Seymour leaps from this fact to the tacit assumption that all tax money is likewise wasted.

Seymour is right when he says it’s stupid that the Government is running surpluses while the average New Zealand household is at record levels of debt. The solution is, naturally, lower taxes. Here Seymour makes a sharp distinction between “our own” money, and “another person’s” money. Not for him the interdependence of all things. In Seymour’s world, there are very clear lines over who owns what.

Government takes in taxes equal to 40% of GDP, Seymour notes – “exclusively” another person’s money. Seymour doesn’t agree with the idea that the state is the most efficient provider of many services on account of the economies of scale afforded by its unique size. For him, the Government is merely a parasitic entity that sucks tax money out of hard-working Kiwis and wastes it frivolously.

Breaking step with the usual neoliberal choice of target, Seymour points out that there is a tremendous amount of corporate welfare in New Zealand as well. This only lasts for a few sentences, because he’s soon back to crying about taxation. Bracket creep comes in for particular ire – for Seymour, the wealthy aren’t getting a big enough share of the spoils of economic growth.

True to being a politician, he is dishonest. He claims that bracket creep happens because wages rise (which is true) but he also claims that wages rise to meet the increase in the price of consumer goods. The truth is that wages are not linked to the inflation of consumer goods – they are a function of the relative leverage that the employer has over the employee. When consumer goods become more expensive, this gives the employee absolutely no additional leverage through which they can negotiate a higher wage with their employer. If anything, it gives them less leverage because the lower standard of living makes them more desperate to settle.

In one paragraph, Seymour abandons even the pretense of reasoning and simply lists American libertarian slogans: “High tax rates… drag the economy down”, “people spend their money better than governments do”, “Money goes more good in the private sector than in the public sector.” Again one senses the cold shadow of the millions starved to death by Communism.

Seymour makes some good and fair points when he talks about the bureaucratic waste in the system. The problem is that this waste is the only thing he sees – all Government spending is hip-hop tours and junkets to San Francisco. He will not acknowledge that tax money is used for anything good, or that taxpayers get anything back for their tax money. National are the good guys because they levy less tax; Labour are bad and the Greens are the worst of all.

It’s hard to disagree, however, when he complains about the top tax bracket being $70,000. One doesn’t have to be wealthy to concede that someone earning $70,000 a year is far from loaded.

In all, one feels that Seymour is capable of making some good points but has a dishonest method for selecting and presenting them to the reader. Despite that, it’s easily arguable that Seymour and his party are tasked with playing an important role in New Zealand politics – that of keeping a check on Government waste – even though they are apologists for neoliberalism.

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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).

Is It Time to Nationalise Empty, Foreign-Owned Houses in New Zealand?

It isn’t fair that Kiwis sleep on the streets while houses sit empty because their foreign owners are gambling on the New Zealand housing market

As seen by its climbdowns on the TPPA, on medicinal cannabis and on immigration, the Sixth Labour Government lacks courage. This means that the time has come to make some truly bold suggestions. Given that our homelessness crisis has long ago reached critical status, it’s time for a bold solution to the housing shortage. This essay proposes that we nationalise all empty, foreign-owned houses to provide shelter for our own people.

The state of homelessness can be summed up by the fact that there are believed to be 24,000 homeless in Auckland alone. This gives New Zealand by far the worst homelessness rate in the OECD, a list which includes much warmer and poorer countries like Mexico.

Per capita, our homelessness rate is far worse than the second-placed Czech Republic and around twice that of Australia, despite that it’s much easier to be homeless in the Australian climate. It’s gone beyond being a national disgrace, to the point where it is threatening our status as a developed country with a functioning society. It’s time to consider extreme measures.

It’s hard to get an accurate figure on the number of New Zealand homes owned by foreigners. The people making most of the profit off selling them have a vested interest in restricting awareness of, and information about, their activities. However, we can make educated guesses.

A 2016 census revealed that over 8% of Vancouver homes are unoccupied. From the same link, we can see that slightly fewer than 6% of Vancouver homes are both unoccupied and owned by foreigners. So roughly two-thirds of empty homes in Vancouver are also owned by foreign residents.

There are believed to be 33,000 empty houses in Auckland, with others saying 35,000. If two-thirds of those houses are both empty and owned by foreigners, that makes for 22,000 homes – about the same number as there are homeless people in Auckland.

The Vancouver solution so far is to charge a 1% property tax on an annual basis for every Vancouver property left unoccupied. This amounts to $10,000 in taxes for a million-dollar property. Vancouver is infamous for its overheated housing market and perhaps represents an extreme case, but the basic principle is the same as in Auckland: most of these foreigners are speculators who have parked money in real estate for the capital gains, and they have no interest whatsoever in the ability of the locals to find affordable housing.

The question naturally arises: if there are so many foreign residents who are keeping houses empty purely for the sake of making a profit, and so many Kiwis who are going homeless because of the shortage of available housing, why be satisfied with a tiny bit of tax as compensation for the damage done? Why not nationalise empty houses that are owned by foreign residents?

Nationalisation could proceed on the grounds that owning a house in New Zealand and deliberately keeping it empty is a crime, in much the same way as owning a business and refusing to serve a customer on the basis of their race is already a crime.

Deliberately keeping a house empty when there is a housing shortage would therefore be declared to be a crime equivalent to refusing to stop to ascertain injury at the site of a motor vehicle accident. In other words, it would be an action that represented a criminal level of disregard for the well-being of the people of this nation.

The logical punishment would be forfeiture of the property.

After nationalisation, the houses would simply be added to the existing Housing New Zealand stock as an asset on the balance sheet. From there, Housing New Zealand would proceed to treat them as regular state houses, and they would be rented out or apportioned to the needy as was necessary to meet their needs for shelter.

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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 Northcote By-Election Result is Fraudulent and Illegitimate

Northcote by-election candidate Dan Bidois was crowned the winner, despite only getting the support of 21% of eligible voters

The reason why our ruling class have the right to rule, so they claim, is because they have the consent of the masses. But the winner of yesterday’s Northcote by-election and newly crowned Member of Parliament, Dan Bidois, did not have the consent of the masses. Therefore, the Northcote by-election result is fraudulent and illegitimate.

19,900 people cast a vote in the Northcote by-election. According to the Northcote Electoral Profile on the Parliamentary Profiles page, there are 49,569 eligible voters in that electorate. This tells us that barely more than 40% of eligible voters chose to participate in the democratic process – something like 30,000 people abstained.

The question then has to be asked: how is the election of Bidois to the House of Representatives legitimate, when fewer than half of eligible voters took part in the election process? If so few people believed that the democratic process was worth participating in, isn’t that sufficient evidence that it has failed, that its claims of legitimacy are fraudulent?

Bidois himself won 10,147 votes in the by-election, which amounts to almost 21% of the eligible voters in Northcote. If no-one cares about the election, how can the winner of it legitimately claim to have any power to rule anyone? Any reasonable person can see that this is absurd. We can’t possibly know what the electorate wants unless we canvas the non-voters.

One candidate, Liam Walsh of Not A Party, ran specifically on the non-vote. His platform was that democracy has failed and is inherently corrupt (hard to deny) and that it would be better for us to scrap it entirely and work together instead of using the democratic system to try and fuck each other over.

After all, as a National MP, Dan Bidois will immediately work towards the further enslavement of the young, the Maori and the working class. Walsh notes that Bidois came second to an empty seat.

One wonders what would happen if those 60% of adults in Northcote who do not feel represented by New Zealand’s peculiar imitation of democracy gave their allegiance to Walsh instead of to the central government.

What if, instead of paying taxes to the IRD to piss up the wall on flag referendums, yacht races, imprisoning medicinal cannabis growers and importing Somali rapists, people paid no taxes, and we had neither flag referendums nor a justice system putting people in cages for growing medicinal plants?

Some might respond that having no democratic government will leave the community unable to solve problems that require collective solutions, but Dan Bidois, with his 21% support, sure as fuck isn’t going to be solving them either. He, like the majority of backbenchers, will stick his nose straight up the arsehole of his party’s leader, in this case Simon Bridges, and he will keep it wedged there as long as the National Party hierarchy is responsible for his meal ticket. As a consequence he will vote to enforce National Party policy and dogma – not the will of the Northcote electorate.

A democratic election that gets 40% turnout cannot claim to return a legitimate ruler. The vast majority of the Northcote electorate did not consent to being represented by Bidois; therefore, his being in the House of Representatives is no more legitimate than it would have been if the CIA had helped him raise an army that seized power through force.

After all, a foreign-backed dictatorship might even gain the consent of more than 21% of the population – assuming it put a sufficiently enlightened person on the throne – which would make it no less legitimate than yesterday’s by-election.

If the democratic process is rejected by a majority of the people, then it’s time to get together and to think up a new political philosophy that adequately represents them. It’s apparent from the fact that New Zealand clings to cannabis prohibition, a policy supported by almost no-one, that the will of the people is not represented by the law enacted by their rulers. This failure to represent the people’s will is evidence that democracy has failed and needs to be superceded.

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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).

VJMP Reads: David Seymour’s Own Your Future II

A Liberal Vision for New Zealand in 2017

This reading carries on from here.

The first real chapter of Own Your Future is titled ‘Housing’. The degree to which Seymour is out of touch comes through again immediately, when he states a belief that an “ordinary” New Zealand family is one that owns 50ha of land. His maths seems fair when he calculates the deficit of new houses, but it is notable where he lays the blame.

Seymour is willing to appeal to “basic economics” when he points out the factors restricting the supply of housing – in particular red tape – but basic economics does not seem to apply to the demand side of the equation. Following the neoliberal playbook closely, Seymour dismisses entirely the idea that migration could make a contribution to the increase in house prices.

His logic here is curious. New Zealand’s waves of migration “have not caused food prices to double, for example”. He is comfortable with concluding therefore that “there is no evidence that immigration has increased the price of commodities”. It’s certainly an unusually high standard for a variable to need to double a second variable before it can be said to have caused it to increase.

This line of reasoning can be explained by a study conducted by Dan McGlashan, in which he found that Asians voted for the ACT Party at higher rates than anyone else. No doubt Seymour is wary of placing any blame on immigration because that’s how most of his voters got here.

Perhaps through some effort of will, Seymour holds off on mentioning the Resource Management Act until the sixth page of the essay. This is invoked to take all the blame for rising house prices. He points out that, 30 years ago, the bottom 20% of the population paid 27% of their income in rent, whereas now they pay 54%. This is a fair comment but it’s not clear that all of the blame for this necessarily lies with the RMA.

Seymour repeats the claim that only 0.8% of the land area of New Zealand is urbanised, but doesn’t mention how this compares to other countries or who benefits from raising this percentage. How does the average Kiwi benefit from urbanising more of the country for the sake of letting in more immigrants? It isn’t said.

He goes further, pillorying the Greens’ proposal to limit immigration to an increase of 1% of the population every year. Even an immigration rate of 1% is enough to double the population of the country before the end of the century. This is very interesting if one considers that the people of New Zealand have never asked for the Government to increase the population at all, much less double it.

The most striking thing about this essay on housing is that Seymour never refers to the experience of overseas countries that have had similar housing crises. Housing in Sydney, Melbourne and London has increased in price much like Auckland – do they have RMAs constricting the supply of housing? Seymour doesn’t say. What has happened in other jurisdictions that have implemented his suggestions? He doesn’t say.

One gets the feeling from this essay that Seymour is a dedicated supporter of neoliberalism, but does not feel the need to back up his assertions with real-world examples, preferring instead to use rhetoric.

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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).

What Would the Average Hourly Wage Be in New Zealand If Wages Had Kept Up With House Prices?

New Zealand is torn by inter-generational tension right now. The young have no hope of finding houses they can afford and the old simply blame them for being too lazy to work hard enough to afford one. However, the numbers show that workers today get a much worse deal than they did 30 years ago. This article looks at what the average wage in New Zealand would be if it had kept pace with the price of houses since the late 1980s.

This graph from the Trading Economics website tracks the increase in the New Zealand Average Hourly Wage over the past 30 years. We can see that the average hourly wage in New Zealand, as of the beginning of 2018, is $31.03. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand website contains many interesting statistics and graphs, many of which can be downloaded from this link. This article will combine both sources.

In March of 2001, the House Price Index (from the RBNZ link above) stood at 700.2. At this time, the average hourly wage was $17.70. So if a person wished to purchase a $300,000 house, suitable for a growing family, they would have to have capital equal to 16,949 hours of work at the average wage.

According to this article by Human Resources Director, Kiwis work an average of 1,762 hours a year (this figure was for 2014, but for cultural reasons this figure does not change much over time). This means that, in March of 2001, buying a house suitable for raising a family in required capital equal to 9.62 years of full-time work at the average wage.

How does that compare to today?

After seventeen years of red-hot growth, the House Price Index now stands at 2480.8. This represents an increase of 254% over those seventeen years, and it means that a $300,000 house in March 2001 now costs $1,062,000 (all growth factors assumed equal). As mentioned above, the average hourly wage in New Zealand has increased from $17.70 in that time to $31.03, which represents an increase of 75%.

In other words, in January of 2018, buying a $1,062,000 house, suitable for raising a family in, requires capital equal to 34,224 hours of working at the average hourly wage. This is equivalent to 19.42 years of work at the average hourly wage.

We can see, then, that when measured in terms of a person’s ability to purchase a house suitable for raising a family in, the average New Zealander is less than half as wealthy as they were only 17 years ago. To have the same house buying power that it had in 2001, an average wage in New Zealand would now have to be $62.65 per hour.

People working in 1989 – when the majority of Baby Boomers would have been in the workforce – had it even better still. In December of 1989 the House Price Index stood at 453.5; the average hourly wage stood at $13.07 in the first quarter of that year.

So our standard family home that cost $300,000 in 2001 cost a mere 64.8% of that price in 1989, whereas the average wage in 1989 was 73.8% of what it was in 2001. Put another way, the average house suitable for raising a family in cost $194,400 in 1989, which represented capital equal to 14,873 hours of labour at the average wage. This was equivalent to a mere 8.44 years of saved labour.

The average house price has gone up 447% over the past 30 years in New Zealand; the average hourly wage has gone up 137% in that time. So to have the same house-buying power as the average New Zealand worker in 1989, a Kiwi in 2018 would have to get paid $71.50 an hour. This would allow them to buy a decent house after saving around 14,000 hours of the average wage, which is the standard of living that the average worker had in 1989.

In summary, the average New Zealand worker has lost almost 60% of the house-buying power of their wage over the past 30 years.

Buying a decent house in 2018 costs savings equal to 19.42 years of work at the average wage; 30 years ago buying an equivalent quality of housing cost savings equal to 8.44 years of work. So if a Kiwi left home at age 18 in 1970 and saved half of their income on the average wage they could own a house by age 35; a Kiwi who left home at age 18 in the year 2000 and saved half of their income on the average wage can’t expect to own one before they turn 57.

Despite tiny relative savings on consumer electronics, it’s obvious that the standard of living for young people is much lower nowadays than it was 30 years ago. The fact that wages haven’t come close to keeping up with housing costs is the main culprit.

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Dan McGlashan is the man with his finger on the statistical pulse of New Zealand. His magnum opus, Understanding New Zealand, is the complete demographic analysis of the Kiwi people. Available on TradeMe for $35.60.