How Much Has Peter Dunne Cost New Zealand By Stopping Cannabis Law Reform?

After the reign of Graham Capill, Peter Dunne vied with Colin Craig and Nick Smith for the title of “New Zealand Politician Considered Most Likely To Get Sent Down For Kiddy Fiddling”, as Dunne is also a highly narcissistic, sexually repressed, out-of-touch Bible thumper – the prime demographic. But in the cold light of day, not even a dozen Beasts of Blenheim could have done as much damage to Aotearoa New Zealand as Peter Dunne.

This article limits itself to calculating the amount of financial damage Peter Dunne did to New Zealand through his one-man campaign to prevent even the possibility of reform to our expensive, vicious and counterproductive cannabis laws.

After the 2002 General Election, called in the wake of the collapse of the Alliance Party, Labour Leader Helen Clark had three possible options to help her stitch together a Government: New Zealand First, who wanted no immigration; the Greens, who wanted no genetic engineering; and United Future, who wanted no reform on social issues.

In the end it was apparent that big business strongly supported both mass immigration and genetic engineering, so cannabis users and gays and lesbians wishing to marry got thrown under the bus for the $$$$$. Helen Clark signed on the Wormrider’s bottom line for the support of his 8 MPs and the rest is history.

After the 2005 General Election things were slightly different. United Future had less influence on account of voters not being so easily tricked by a television gimmick this time around, so Labour was in a position to try and unfuck the country.

Dunne was able to get a cabinet position, cementing his reputation as “Hemhorroid of the House” by resisting all progress.

He continued to oppose progress on social issues by voting against the Civil Unions Bill, a half-arsed attempt at a gay marriage bill sold as an ingenious compromise with New Zealand’s legion of elderly Christian bigots, and, of course, by not allowing so much as a discussion about cannabis.

After 2008 the conservative National Government took power, and naturally they did not repeal cannabis prohibition as it directly serves major capitalist interests to have a competitor to the alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical industries crushed.

Dunne managed to worm his way into the position of Associate Minister of Health, from where he was able to garrote all attempts at cannabis law reform in their infancy, most notably by skillful and successful actions in dividing the cannabis law reform movement.

The two most notable examples of this were declaring the grossly unsuitable fraudster Toni-Marie Matich to be the public face of cannabis law reform, thus damaging the credibility of the movement, and the Orwellian Psychoactive Substances Act, which made everything illegal and divided the movement into people who had read it and people who hadn’t.

So, aside from the couple of million that Dunne has leeched from the public funds in the form of an MP’s salary and perks, how much has he cost the country?

There is no simple calculation because it depends on the extent of the cannabis law reform that was prevented in the last window of opportunity presented by the Fifth Labour Government.

We know that full, Colorado-style reform would save New Zealand $500,000,000 per year in Police costs, court costs, prison costs, and lost tax revenue. Multiplying this by the 14 years since 2002, when Dunne first had his influence in preventing reform, gives us a figure of $7,000,000,000.

In reality, the Clark Administration would have likely brought in some kind of medicinal cannabis and/or decriminalisation in 2003/4, with full legalisation coming later, so the immediate savings might have been a third to a half of their final value, increasing as time went on.

This suggests a figure for the total wastage of Kiwi labour and resources due to Peter Dunne’s actions of between $3 and $7 billion.

This thought experiment ought to be a sobering one for anyone worried about Maori beneficiaries having too many kids and Chinese restaurants not paying taxes. If one politician can cost the country $3,000,000,000 because of moral and intellectual incompetence, all of our scrutiny ought to be directed at the ruling classes, and not on each other.

Understanding New Zealand: Voting Greens

Long stereotyped as a fringe movement for harmless eccentrics, the New Zealand Green Party appears to be following the general upward trend for environmentalist parties in the West as the social democrats continue to fragment into special interest groups. The Greens in New Zealand are large and established enough to be a political force in their own right and ought not to be considered an adjunct to the Labour Party.

Despite a nominal adherence to the left wing of Parliament, the Greens have a number of striking differences with the Labour Party to whom they appear shackled.

The most notable is that the Greens are a party for comfortably wealthy people, but not the ones creaming it. This might surprise many who still consider the Greens to be a party for students and semi-employed Golden Bay hippies. The correlation between voting Green in 2014 and Personal Income is 0.31, which is not as strong as National’s 0.53 but is much closer to that than to Labour’s -0.51.

Voting for the Greens in 2014 may have had a negative correlation with Median Age, but it was not significant at -0.17. This belies the image of the Greens as a student’s party, especially if one compares to the correlations between Median Age and voting Cannabis Party in 2014 (-0.55) and voting Labour (-0.70). This suggests that the average Green voter is significantly older than the average Labour voter.

The average Green voter was the best educated of those of all the parties, with a correlation between voting Green in 2014 and having a Master’s degree of 0.64. The only party to come close to this is ACT with 0.57 – National is the closest major party, with a not significant 0.20.

Also, the average Green voter was about as likely as the average National voter to have no qualifications. The correlation between having no qualifications and voting Greens in 2014 was -0.49, for National -0.43, for Labour 0.34 and for New Zealand First 0.79.

One factor that correlates highly with support for the Greens is not being religious. Not being religious and voting Green in 2014 had a correlation of 0.56, which was much higher than for any other major party (National 0.10, New Zealand First 0.12, Labour -0.50). Only the Cannabis Party was close: voting for them in 2014 had a correlation of 0.34 with being religious.

Unsurprisingly, Green voters are very unlikely to be Christians. Voting Green in 2014 and being Christian had a correlation of -0.57. This was at variance with all other parties except Internet MANA (-0.40) and Cannabis Party (-0.41). None of the other major parties are so antichristian. Being Christian and voting National had a correlation of 0.29, with voting Labour it was 0.10 and with voting New Zealand First it was -0.11.

Perhaps the oddest correlation is the one between voting Green in 2014 and having spiritualism as a religion. This is a fairly significant 0.52. This was shared with the Cannabis Party, who had a correlation with being a spiritualist of 0.36, and is a notable point of difference with the ACT Party, with who the correlation with being a spiritualist was -0.43.

Perhaps these points can be explained by the fact that cannabis use tends to turn people strongly away from the exoteric side of religion and strongly towards the esoteric side, an interest they will share with the spiritualists.

Although the Greens are mostly a white person’s party, there is just barely a signification correlation between being of European descent and voting Green in 2014 – this is 0.24. There was also a barely significant correlation in the other direction (-0.27) between being of Pacific Islander descent and voting Green in 2014. For being of Maori descent it was a not significant -0.09, and for being of Asian descent it was perfectly uncorrelated.

So the Greens are an odd mix – like Labour when it comes to taxes, like National when it comes to personal income, like the ACT party when it comes to education and like the Cannabis Party when it comes to religion. The only party they are really opposed to seems to be New Zealand First. Probably the bulk of their voters come from people who are educated in the hard sciences in particular and the humanities to a lesser extent.

If Violence is Unwanted, Why Force People to Consume a Drug That Makes Them Violent?

Violence is the scourge of our society. The long-term cumulative psychological damage from all the various acts of violence committed by New Zealanders is atrocious. For the most part, we all agree that violence is something that ought to be dealt to strictly, but we can’t agree on how.

This is the standard pattern of social interaction in New Zealand: Monday to Friday afternoon – work. Friday afternoon to Saturday night/Sunday morning – consume alcohol. Sunday – recover from the effects of the alcohol.

This pattern has served us for over a century.

Back in the day, life was cheap, and we didn’t care. Of course the working men who loaded up in the six o’clock swill went home and beat the shit out of their wives, but Abrahamic morality held way and women were considered the property of their menfolk.

New Zealand loves violence, but not in the way it’s usually portrayed. The All Blacks aren’t really violent because they play against consenting adult men. Rugby is sport, not violence. Kieran Read has never done anything on a sports field even one percent as violent as arresting and caging a medicinal cannabis user.

However, our culture is violent. We take people who create drugs that make people less violent and put them in cages, and we take people who create drugs that make people more violent and give them knighthoods.

Why do we do this?

Probably the main reason is a cultural artifact relating to the strategic considerations that led to New Zealand existing in the first place.

New Zealand was, after all, founded as a military colony, once British colonial planners came to appreciate that whoever controlled the Aotearoan archipelago could easily project power upon the poorly defended, but by now reasonably populated, Australian East Coast. Whoever controlled that controlled the continent.

Being founded as a military colony, it was natural for the ruling class to encourage a warrior culture among the New Zealanders, in case it was ever necessary to send them overseas to die for the Empire. This meant that New Zealanders had to be molded into a hard, cruel people, and that meant violence, and that meant alcohol.

So the booze flowed, and New Zealand bestowed all manner of honourable titles upon the men who kept the booze flowing and the fists flying. After all, if New Zealanders were given free access to a peaceful drug like cannabis, they’d be much less willing to go overseas to kill the enemies of the ruling classes of the Empire.

Some people will counter that no-one is forced to drink alcohol. Usually people making this argument are some kind of puritan or wowser who never does any drug because they hate themselves and are terrified of what they might find in their souls if they were compelled to take a look.

But the counterargument is that people are compelled to drink alcohol in New Zealand if they want to meet their natural social needs, because all attempts to build a recreational drug culture around anything other than alcohol are crushed by the Police.

Let’s not pretend that these social needs are not needs. Humans cannot survive alone – not for want of intelligence, adaptability or ingenuity but for mental health reasons. A total lack of social interaction will result in a oxytocin deficit which will lead to terminal depression.

Of course, cannabis users are just meeting up anyway, only in private and in smaller groups. This is perhaps a win for those who profit from the continuation of alcohol culture, such as shareholders in breweries and wineries. But it’s a massive loss for New Zealand.

Is It Time For Gay and Lesbian New Zealanders to Lose Their Victim Status?

Apart from Rugby World Cup trophies, the one thing that New Zealanders fight for with the most intensity is victim status. Being a victim in our society is to wield the power of laying guilt trips on people, which often brings with it a free media platform to convince people to stop their behaviour and adopt others more to the guilt-tripper’s liking.

Once you have achieved the status of victim no-one can disagree with you without feeling ashamed because if they disagree with you they automatically become part of the oppressor class, who all New Zealanders have been conditioned since kindergarten to reflexively despise.

This social pressuring has an extremely powerful influence on the thoughts and feelings of the individual, but the problem with this cozy arrangement is this.

The reason why gay and lesbian New Zealanders have, as of right now, an impregnable position at the very summit of Mount Victim is that being gay and lesbian is not highly correlated with significant measures of social deprivation in the country today.

The average homosexual is actually fairly wealthy on account of being both better educated than average and being less likely to have children, a phenomenon known as the pink dollar.

There’s no denying being gay and lesbian once was highly associated with measures of social deprivation and disenfranchisement. This is inevitable when you can literally get locked in a cage for being who you are. The contention of this column, however, is that this battle has long been won.

Homosexuality became illegal in 1840 in New Zealand and legal again in 1986 – now thirty years ago – so the people that enforced the legal prohibition on it are all long ago dead and buried.

In the 2011 General Election, seven gay or lesbian MPs were elected to Parliament, which is almost six percent of the total – over twice the actual proportion of gay and lesbian New Zealanders (and this is ignoring the known homosexual MPs who are just not public about it).

If your marginalised group is represented in Parliament at 250%+ of its proportion among general society, so much so that when a law is passed in your favour the entire Parliament will band together and sing a song of regret that they didn’t do it sooner, are you really that marginalised?

The irony of the eternal battle for victimhood is this: once your victim status is recognised by your society at large, you are automatically no longer a victim, because you are instantly doing much better than all the oppressed people whose victim status is not recognised.

The reverse of this is also an irony: in order to get into a position where you can do anything about being a victim, you have to get into a position where you are no longer a victim.

This is why the physically and mentally infirm will always be at the bottom of society – simply because they are in the weakest position to advocate for themselves. It is exceptionally rare to meet a sick person wearing a suit and who is articulate as Grant Robertson.

So perhaps it’s time for another marginalised group of New Zealanders to get some attention?

If you are one of New Zealand’s 400,000 medicinal cannabis users, getting completely ignored by all parties is galling when you can turn the television on and hear Jacinda Ardern passionately arguing for legalising gay adoption – an issue which affects perhaps 50 people a year.

Every day you are ignored is another slap in the face, another insult. But no-one will bring up your plight in Parliament, ever, and merely to point out that it’s time for you to displace some of the wealthy and powerful people raking it in at the victim table is seen as effrontery (no doubt many people will read the headline of this article and become outraged without reading the body).

That’s a real victim of societal prejudice.

Understanding New Zealand: National Voters

If National are the current governing party it is because they are the most popular, and if they are the most popular it stands to reason that understanding them will bring us a lot of insight into New Zealand. This article is a statistical analysis of the sort of person who kept the National Party in power during the 2014 General Election.

The simplest way to describe National voters is as the opposite of Labour ones. Generally they are wealthy, and wealth more than anything is what defines the National voter. The correlation between Personal Income and voting National in 2014 is 0.53, much stronger than it is for voting for any other party. Even ACT, stereotyped as the party of big business, has a correlation with Personal Income of only 0.36.

By being wealthy, National supporters naturally tend to feel that the control system is there for their benefit and to protect them. This explains why voting National in 2014 has a strong correlation of 0.76 with Turnout Rate. National Party supporters vote, vote and then they vote some more. A turnout rate of 0.76 means that even the thinnest conservative sentiment will see their supporters come out and vote, rain or shine.

Also by being wealthy, voting for National in 2014 tends to correlate with other correlates of wealth. With voting National in 2014 and Median Age the correlation is a very strong 0.81, which reflects the well-known phenomenon that turnout rate declines sharply the younger the demographic one looks at. Old people love to vote, and they love to vote conservative.

Although voting for National in 2014 is significantly negatively correlated with having no academic qualifications (-0.43) there is no significant positive correlation between voting National in 2014 and having a Master’s degree. As there is a significant positive correlation between having a Master’s degree and both voting Greens in 2014 (0.64) and voting ACT in 2014 (0.57) this might be difficult to understand until one realises that the National Party is the party of inherited wealth and class.

This is evident from the fact that Asians, who are more likely to be recent immigrants and thus less likely to inherit wealth from grandparents etc. (and who correspondingly have a non-significant correlation with Personal Income of 0.22 compared to the European 0.35) do not have a significant correlation with voting National in 2014 (0.09) but have an extremely strong correlation with voting ACT (0.85).

This reflects the foundational split on the right wing: if you want to start a business you tend to vote ACT; if you want to charge rent or inherit you tend to vote National.

This is evidenced by the fact that, although the correlation between voting National in 2014 and voting ACT in 2014 was significant, it was a weak 0.35. This is much weaker than the correlation between voting National in 2014 and voting Conservative in 2014, which was 0.77.

Another point of note is that while voting National in 2014 obviously has a very strong negative correlation with voting Labour in 2014 (-0.85), the strength of the negative correlation is greater between voting National in 2014 and voting New Zealand First in 2014 (-0.34) than it is between voting National in 2014 and voting Green in 2014 (-0.19).

This is probably because National and Green supporters share significant similarities that they do not share with New Zealand First voters, namely being white and wealthy. The correlation between voting National in 2014 and being of European descent is 0.60, whereas for Maoris the correlation is -0.75 and with Pacific Islanders it is -0.46. This pattern is similar with the Greens, who also attract Europeans and repel Pacific Islanders.

Interestingly, the correlation betwen voting New Zealand First in 2014 and being of European descent is a perfect 0.00 – which tells us that the National Party, in so far as it maintains class privilege, actually maintains the racial privilege that correlates with it much more aggressively than New Zealand First, although the latter is stereotyped as the party that attracts racial supremacists.

Those readers unfamiliar with this newspaper might be surprised at the massive correlation between voting National in 2014 and voting to change the flag in the second flag referendum: a whopping 0.95.

Considering that the correlations between voting National in 2014 and Turnout Rate in the first flag referendum (0.86) and the second flag referendum (0.83) were also very strong, it’s fair to say that the whole flag referendum project was pretty much a National Party vehicle (one that was perhaps intended to distract from more pressing issues).

*

This article is an excerpt from Dan McGlashan’s upcoming book Understanding New Zealand, to be released by VJM Publishing in the autumn.

The Real Media War is the Mainstream Media vs. You

noamchomsky

Noam Chomsky said something very intelligent once, quoted in the above image. It’s an extremely perceptive insight because it lays bare at a stroke one of the most powerful tools of deception that the Hate Machine has to levy against you.

The corporate media is very skilled at creating the impression that the war between truth-tellers is a war between TV1 and TV3, or between Stuff and Newshub.

In reality, it is a war between those who seek to force you into that claustrophobic little paradigm of thought that Chomsky referenced, and the rest of us.

An insight into how this works can be gleaned from observation of the incestuous nature of the mainstream media. On Stuff, for example, many of the articles are simply puff pieces that reference other mainstream sources of media, in particular television, the pleb’s choice of medium.

This probably isn’t surprising once you consider that the majority of the New Zealand media is owned by a small number of foreign billionaires. If you own both a television station and a newspaper, then why not direct your newspaper to write about the shows on your television station?

This collaboration is in principle little different to how the major bookstores work in concert to act as gatekeepers for any book or publisher whose message does not serve corporate interests (which is why you don’t find David Icke and VJM Publishing books in Whitcoulls or Paper Plus).

They will say it’s a matter of economy of scale but this dodges the point, because there will always be more money in pandering to the lowest common denominator, which has been true for a long time.

In Ben Vidgen’s 1999 bestseller State Secrets he notes, of the media: “The corporate media is not about delivering information (at least not to the public): it’s about making dollars… Crap sells newspapers, and the number of newspapers sold equals the quantity of advertising space sold.”

This newspaper warned at the time that the flag referendum was a deliberate waste of time and energy intended to distract us from making progress on real social issues. Predictably, this warning was not heeded by the masses, who indeed wasted many months of time and energy deciding which flag would ultimately be rejected in favour of the status quo.

The accuracy of Chomsky’s headline quote is very evident if one studies the message of the New Zealand media during that period. They presented a meaningless choice between a range of already doomed options, and then simply refused to discuss anything else.

And then, a few months later, they simply did it all again: excluding all political debate of any national significance so that John Key’s hubristic charade could be front and centre.

The end price of $26,000,000 was a win-win-win for the National party: they successfully hamstrung any meaningful debate about the state of society for months, and they made us pay for it, while at the same time cutting access and funding to social services.

The real media war is between those who want to inform you (out of solidarity) and who want to confuse, frighten, mislead and befuddle you (usually out of a profit motive). So if you have a piece of information that is of more value than the average mainstream media puff piece about Max Key or Kate Middleton, then share it.

How Much in Taxes Would New Zealand Make From Legal Cannabis Sales?

With the repeal of cannabis prohibition rising higher and higher in the national consciousness, it seems like a good time to assess the economic impact of a change. The figure of $180,000,000 per year has been touted as the potential savings from a repeal, but how much tax revenue would it bring in?

The paper linked above suggests that the figure ought to be around $150,000,000 per year, but an argument can easily be made that it ought to be more.

In the first ten months of 2016, Colorado sold over USD1,100,000,000 of cannabis. This figure was so high that the total tax receipts for 2016 on cannabis sales in Colorado look set to be more than those for 2014 and 2015 combined.

USD1,100,000,000 over ten months works out to USD1,320,000,000 over twelve months or NZD1,830,000,000 at the current exchange rate. Colorado has a population of 5,400,000 compared to New Zealand’s 4,700,000, which means that New Zealand is 87% as populous as Colorado. Assuming that the total cannabis sales per person is equivalent in New Zealand and Colorado, we can assume from this that the market in New Zealand would be 87% of the Colorado one, or $1,592,100,000 per year.

Rounding this to $1.6 billion, we come to the figure of about $340 per person per annum. Hardened stoners might scoff at this figure, as it represents about one ounce per year, and New Zealand very likely has more hardened stoners than Colorado, but let’s assume this represents a conservative lower figure.

Simply taking 15% GST on this volume gives us $240,000,000 per year. So it’s fair to say that the $150,000,000 touted above is a very, very conservative figure.

This figure of $240 million is assuming that cannabis is not subject to some kind of vice tax in the way that alcohol and tobacco are. In Washington, the State Government took a 40% cut of the total sales.

The Washington market is not as well developed or planned as the Colorado one, and is thus much smaller. But if the New Zealand market developed like Colorado, a 40% tax would (even allowing for a 10% reduction in total sales on account of the tax) reap $500,000,000 per annum.

The likelihood is that someone on the Government side will end up making the argument that legal cannabis will reduce legal alcohol sales and thus alcohol tax income, and therefore a vice tax will have to be placed on legal cannabis to make up for the shortfall.

The majority of the country will find this logic entirely reasonable, which is in fact regrettable but this is outside the scope of this article. It will probably get pushed through.

In any case, the chances of a cannabis tax up to or even exceeding Washington’s 40% are very real, as New Zealand has a lot more inbred, out-of-touch, sanctimonious wowsers than Washington.

Realistically, then, we could count on tax money from a mature legal recreational cannabis market bringing in half a billion to Government coffers every year. This figure would be considerably higher if we did so now and got the jump on Australia, as there are legions of Aussies who would happily fly a few hours to New Zealand for a weed holiday.