Cannabis Prohibition Kills 45 New Zealanders Every Year

If one assumes without the need for elaboration that withholding medicine from a sick person is a very cruel thing to do, then it’s incredible that so little attention is being given to the fact that medicinal cannabis is being withheld from sick Kiwis even today. This article tries to estimate how many of us this policy is killing.

One way that National Party cannabis policy is killing New Zealanders is by withholding from them a medical alternative to opioids. A 2015 Boston Herald article describes how doctors in more enlightened jurisdictions use cannabis as an exit drug for people struggling with opioid addiction.

A doctor in the report is quoted as saying “patients have decreased and even eliminated their opioids” when presented with an alternative in the form of cannabis.

A paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that overdose deaths from prescription opioids decreased by 25% in states that legalised medicinal cannabis.

The reason was that patients who had access to medicinal cannabis used it either as a substitute or as a compliment to opioids, which had the effect of sharply reducing their overall opioid intake and thereby fatal outcomes.

According to the New Zealand Drug Foundation, 37 Kiwis die of opioid overdoses every year.

If medicinal cannabis would save a quarter of them, as it does in the USA, then Bill English’s refusal to legalise cannabis is killing about nine Kiwis every year simply on the basis of lost opportunity to prevent opioid deaths.

An article in the American Public Journal of Health found that legalising medicinal cannabis reduced suicide rates by 5%. The reasons for this are really obvious if you are one of the many people who has used cannabis to treat your own depression or suicidal ideation.

As a professional medical researcher would put it: “The negative relationship between legalization and suicides among young men is consistent with the hypothesis that marijuana can be used to cope with stressful life events.”

Most people who use cannabis do so to relax, to chill out – “to cope with stressful life events”. Given that, it’s obvious that withholding from people a medicine that helps them cope with stressful life events is going to kill them.

New Zealand is famous for our youth suicide rates, second highest in the OECD for both males and females.

So given what we know about the ability of cannabis to prevent anxiety and stress-based suicidal actions, it’s safe to say that Bill English is responsible for the deaths of 5% of New Zealand’s suicide toll, which is believed to be around 500 per year.

In other words, the National Party’s refusal to update New Zealand’s cannabis laws is arguably causing the deaths of around 25 Kiwis every year to preventable suicide.

The major way that cannabis prohibition is killing New Zealanders, however, is by withholding from us a recreational alternative to booze. A 2010 Coroner’s report found that alcohol directly killed 1,100 Kiwis in the preceding decade – or 110 a year.

This does not refer to deaths from complications caused by alcoholism or excessive drinking – this figure would be orders of magnitude larger. This figure of 110 is the average number of Kiwis who drink themselves to death in one session every year.

It’s unclear how many of these people would still be alive if they had been allowed an alternative to alcohol. A 2005 study referenced in a landmark MedScape paper suggested “most people use alcohol to achieve certain psychological effects, and that they will choose equally effective substitutes as long as they are available, legal and socially acceptable.”

Perhaps 10% of the 110 Kiwis who drink themselves to death every year would still be with us if they had had cannabis available and/or legal (the fact that it is already socially acceptable in New Zealand is unquestionable).

This gives us a grand total of 45 Kiwis killed every year from the refusal of Bill English and his National Party to update the medicinal cannabis laws (9 from opioid overdose, 25 from suicide and 11 from drinking themselves to death).

That means that the death of one New Zealander every eight days could be prevented at the stroke of a pen by tomorrow lunchtime.

It’s incredible that New Zealanders continue to accept that their ruling class is literally killing them with laws that starkly have no place in a compassionate and humane society.

Understanding New Zealand: Voting Patterns of Employment Status

With regard to employment status this analysis divides New Zealanders into those who work for a wage or salary, those who are self-employed, those who are self-employed with employees (i.e. employers) and those who do unpaid work in the family business. This does not consider the unemployed because this is discussed in the article about Labour Force Status.

The strongest correlations in this section are those that reflect the basic economic division of society, between owners and owned.

In particular, the correlation between being self-employed with employees and voting National in 2014 was an extremely strong 0.75. The converse – with voting Labour in 2014 – was even stronger at -0.83.

This is hardly surprising if one takes into account that the entire purpose of the National Party’s existence – at least theoretically – is to shift the balance of power towards the employer (and the bigger the employer the better) whereas the precise opposite is true for the Labour Party.

There were similar correlations for those who are self-employed without employees, only not quite as strong. People in this category had a correlation of 0.68 with voting National in 2014 and a correlation of -0.78 with voting Labour in 2014. These are no doubt strong for the same reason the ones above were strong.

As could be predicted from the general enfranchisement rule, people in the employer group have an extremely high turnout rate. For the self-employed with employees the correlation with turnout rate in 2014 was 0.57, and for the self-employed without employees it was 0.63.

This group was more or less indifferent to the two medium-sized parties. Those who were self-employed without employees had a small, not significant positive correlation with voting for the Greens in 2014 (0.14), and a small, not significant negative correlation with voting for New Zealand First (-0.23). This probably reflects the influence of the professional class, and the number of doctors, lawyers, psychologists etc. with their own practices.

One statistic that will surprise some is that the correlation with working for a wage or salary is much stronger for people who voted Green in 2014 (0.41) than it is for those who voted Labour in 2014 (0.11). The reason for this is the large proportion of beneficiaries among Labour voters.

This correlation between working for a wage or salary and voting Green in 2014 is the strongest of its kind. The next strongest correlations between working for a wage or salary and voting for a particular political party were 0.23 for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, 0.18 for the Maori Party and 0.11 for Internet MANA.

There were two significantly negative correlations. Between working for a wage or salary and voting for New Zealand First in 2014 the correlation was -0.32, and with voting Conservative in 2014 it was -0.43. This probably reflects the fact that these two parties get a significant number of votes from people who are too old to be working for a wage or salary.

There was also a negative correlation between working for a wage or salary and turnout rate in 2014 (-0.08), but this was not significant.

A curiosity is that the correlation between working unpaid in the family business and voting New Zealand First in 2014 (0.34) is about the same as the correlation between working in this manner and voting National in 2014 (0.32). This is because most people in this group are the elderly who have left the running of the family business or farm to their offspring, and who contribute but do not need to take money out.

*

This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, published by VJM Publishing in the winter of 2017.

Understanding New Zealand: Voting Patterns of Medium-Skill Occupations

The demographic of medium-skill occupations breaks down into technicians and trade workers, community and personal service workers, and clerical and administrative workers.

The medium-skill occupations are characterised by a relative indifference to the two major parties. This makes sense if National and Labour are considered to represent opposite poles of the capital-labour spectrum, because the medium-skill occupations, falling in the middle, could be expected to be indifferent.

Working as a technician or trades worker had a correlation of -0.09 with voting National in 2014, and a correlation of -0.02 with voting Labour in 2014. This is not too surprising as neither of those parties aim to represent people in this occupation.

Technicians and trade workers had a significant positive correlation with voting New Zealand First in 2014 – this was 0.44. This can only partially be explained by the fact that this occupation has a significant positive correlation with being Maori, and Maoris love New Zealand First.

For all the other parties, besides ACT, they were indifferent. The correlation between working as a technician or trades worker and voting ACT in 2014 was -0.37.

The reason for these correlations might be that people who work as technicians and trade workers have a strong working-class sentiment but cannot find expression for it in the Labour Party, which more and more has come to represent middle class special interests.

The voting patterns of community and personal service workers reflected the fact that there was a correlation of 0.72 between working in this occupation and being Maori. In particular, there were strong correlations with all of the Maori-heavy parties.

The correlation between working as a community or personal service worker and voting New Zealand First in 2014 was 0.48; with Internet MANA it was 0.56; with voting Maori Party it was 0.64 and with voting Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party it was 0.76.

Consequently, the correlations between working in these profesions and voting for the parties that Maoris don’t like were all significantly negative. With voting Conservative in 2014 it was -0.41; with voting ACT it was -0.47 and with voting National it was -0.51.

These correlations also reflect the degree of compassion evidenced in the policies of the various parties. Because the sort of person who works as a community or personal service worker can be expected to have a higher than usual amount of compassion, it’s clear that their voting patterns reflect this.

The last group of medium-skill occupations is clerical and administrative workers. This class is perhaps better considered as somewhere on the high-skill end of the medium-skill occupations.

Their voting patterns are consequently much like that of the professional class (with whom they share a high income). The strongest positive correlation between working as a clerical and administrative worker and voting for a political party in 2014 was 0.22, with the Greens. The strongest negative one was -0.24, with the Conservative Party.

It’s not possible from that, however, to conclude that people in this group are particularly left-wing. The correlations with voting for Internet MANA in 2014 (0.14) and for the Maori Party in 2014 (0.12) were about as strong as the correlation with voting for ACT in 2014 (0.17). Likewise, the correlations with the three most established parties were all negative, if insignificant.

These patterns reflect the fact that most people working in this group are young adults with ambition, just not quite enough ambition to get a professional degree.

*

This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, published by VJM Publishing in the winter of 2017.

Understanding New Zealand: Voting Patterns of High-Skill Occupations

The demographic of high-skill occupations breaks down into managers and professionals. The general rule, put crudely, is that managers like to vote National whereas professionals like to vote Green.

Working as a manager had a correlation of 0.56 with voting National in 2014, which was moderately strong and in line with what most people probably could have guessed.

The National Party exists to bring in laws that weaken the position of workers and make them easier to control, and this directly benefits the sort of person who works as a manager.

Predictably, then, there was a very strong negative correlation with being a manager and voting for the Labour Party – this was -0.75. After all, the Labour Party exists to oppose the National Party.

The only party apart from National to have a positive correlation with being a manager was the Conservatives. The correlation between voting Conservative in 2014 and being a manager was 0.31.

Even though it is also a right-wing party, the correlation betwen voting ACT in 2014 and being a manager was not significant, at 0.06. This may be because their love of neoliberalism is too radical for the average manager – who is fairly elderly – to handle.

Some might be surprised that the correlations between being a manager and voting for the Maori-heavy parties are not negatively significant. The correlation between being a manager and voting New Zealand First in 2014 was -0.06; with voting Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party it was -0.05; with voting Internet MANA it was -0.17 and with voting Maori Party it was -0.14.

The reason for this surprising set of correlations is that Maoris who live to be in the age bracket from which most managers come are not significantly less likely to become one than a European New Zealander who lives to the same age. But because the bulk of Maoris are much younger than non-Maoris, proportionately fewer of them are in that age bracket, and the young ones like to vote Labour.

Working in a professional occupation had a correlation of 0.73 with voting Green in 2014. This fits with the fact that highly educated people in general like to vote Green.

The party that the professional class was most opposed to was not Labour but New Zealand First. The correlation between working as a professional and voting New Zealand First was -0.58.

This was in striking contrast to the other Maori-heavy parties. The correlation between working as a professional and voting for the Maori Party was -0.12; with voting for Internet MANA it was -0.07; and even with voting for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party – hardly a favoured cause of the sort of person driven enough to become a professional – it was only -0.25.

There exists a genuine antipathy between Green and New Zealand First voters, and this is exposed most evidently when the voting patterns of professionals are examined.

For the sort of person who becomes a professional, things like freedom of movement are paramount (as they often are for people with higher levels of human capital than financial capital). This means that their values naturally align with the Green Party.

The average New Zealand First voter is characterised by their low level of education, and consequently their low level of human capital. For a person with a low level of human capital, who usually ends up a member of the low-skilled occupations, freedom of movement is a danger because it exposes their low-skilled niche in the market to greater competition.

Green voters have this problem less often because people with professional educations do not have to compete for employment opportunities as a general rule. In fact, professional occupations are almost permanently on the New Zealand skilled shortages list and consequently people with professional educations can go straight into the immigration fast lane.

Freedom of movement is an opportunity for these people because it broadens the potential employer pool.

Both managers and professionals had a significantly higher turnout rate. For managers the correlation with turnout rate in the 2014 General Election was 0.38 and for professionals it was 0.28. These correlations reflect that fact that people in highly skilled occupations tend to be strongly enfranchised and engaged with the system.

*

This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, published by VJM Publishing in the winter of 2017.

Should New Zealand Adopt Saudi Arabia-Style Imported Slave Labour?

New Zealand employers might as well admit it – if they don’t want to pay a living wage, they can just as well go back to importing slaves

Today’s most shameless example of corporate propaganda masquerading as journalism comes, as it often does, from Stuff. The article discusses the subject of whether New Zealand’s welfare system is too generous and whether this is responsible for the difficulty that employers are currently having retaining staff.

What distinguishes the corporate whores like Susan Edmunds – who write pieces like this – from people who used to practice what was known as journalism is that, here, no effort is made to provide any kind of balance to the piece.

The only people quoted in the piece are business owners and right-wing thinkers, such as the Chief Executive of the Employers and Manufacturers Association. Nowhere are any worker’s representatives or even any workers given a voice.

The obvious rebuttal to the slant of this piece is to point out that the free market dictates that if you can’t get workers then you have to pay better wages, so that employers are themselves to blame if no-one wants to work for them.

In 2001, I worked at a variety of bars and cafes in Christchurch to save money for a move to Northern Europe. At the time I was generally paid $8 an hour, as that was the minimum wage at the time.

Later that year I was working in Sweden, where they paid me $22 an hour for equally unskilled work and apologised for it being such a low wage.

When I was in Northern Europe, I was surprised to learn that they do not have minimum wage legislation. They were surprised to hear me tell that such an implicit deal is not universal.

My stories about being paid barely enough after tax to buy a Big Mac after an hour’s work were met with surprise – after all, isn’t New Zealand supposed to be a wealthy country?

The reason for this is cultural: it’s not culturally permissible in Northern Europe to employ a person to work full-time for you and then to not pay them enough money to live on.

Kiwis don’t afford each other the same degree of respect. Ultimately, the reason why there has to be minimum wage laws in New Zealand is that in our culture it’s not considered immoral to pay someone less than they can live on for their full-time labour.

This is even though such an arrangement is the norm in societies where the interactions between employer and employee are between free men. New Zealand has been influenced by the master-slave employment relationship that characterises the New World of which we are a part. We have been influenced by America, Australia and Brazil.

The reason why Bill English lies about how all Kiwis are on drugs is so that his owners in the National Party membership can import third world workers on temporary visas to work for wages that Kiwis know too well are unfair.

In terms of profitability, there’s not that much of a difference between a slave who can be beaten at a whim without consequence and a worker on a temporary visa who can also be abused without consequence because if they complain about it they will get sent home. Because the former is illegal in New Zealand our employer class has to settle for the latter.

All of this raises a question.

In Saudi Arabia they have solved this problem by importing a slave class (that now outnumber the native Saudis by over two to one, just like in ancient Rome). It’s easy to get into Saudi Arabia as a worker from Pakistan, Bangladesh or the Philippines – it’s just that you have no rights and can be disposed of at any time.

A similar arrangement would suit the mentality of New Zealand employers down to the ground. After all, if you don’t want to pay your workers enough so that they can eat and send their kids to school with shoes on, why not just import slaves?

Perhaps all Kiwis can agree that, if our economy won’t work without a steady supply of fuel in the form of cheap temporary workers who get disposed of as soon as they get sick or complain, it’s best that we use foreigners for the purpose?

Making slavery legal again in New Zealand would also make it possible for the New Zealand middle class to have domestic servants, which is, after all, the fantasy of every National voter.

New Zealand is Now More Backwards Than South Africa

A New Zealand family is torn in half because draconian laws prevent them from accessing the natural medicine their daughter needs to prevents seizures. Corporate interests have made all alternatives to pharmaceuticals illegal, so the family is forced to flee to South Africa to get healthcare.

It sounds like a dystopian cyberpunk novel along the lines of The Verity Key, but this is actually the reality of New Zealand today.

Kiwis like to smugly think that their country is more socially advanced than the others: after all, we gave women the right to vote in 1893. Surely we’re more advanced than South Africa, in any case. But on the major moral issues of the day, New Zealand is already more backwards than South Africa.

A court in the Western Cape just ruled that cannabis can be used in the home without fear of prosecution. This means that South Africa has a more enlightened, compassionate and mature approach to the War on Drugs than New Zealand.

Does any court in New Zealand have the courage to do that? Not a chance in hell. Our judges and justice system representatives happily lick the arses of the politicians who command them to put Kiwis in cages for their use of a medicinal plant.

This comes after Uruguay fully legalised cannabis in 2013.

It might come as a blow to the pride of Kiwi readers to hear that their country, long considered forwards-thinking, is now more culturally backwards than South Africa and parts of South America. But it’s true, and we’re going to have to get used to it. They have surpassed us in cultural advancement, because we have stagnated so badly.

The total failure of the New Zealand Baby Boomers to hold the political class to account has meant that New Zealanders actually lack rights than people in certain parts of Africa enjoy.

When South Africa legalised gay marriage in 2006, Kiwis who knew about it mostly wrote it off as a fluke, one that went against the run of play. But now that a South African court has ruled cannabis legal – again, well in advance of any New Zealand court doing so – we Kiwis have to accept that we are now the socially and culturally retarded cousin in the relationship. They have surpassed us.

Even prisoners in Uruguayan jails have access to medicinal cannabis.

Considering that one of the major psychiatric uses for medicinal cannabis is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and considering that misbehaving on account of having complications from PTSD is one of the major reasons why people end up in prison, withholding it from prisoners in New Zealand seems inhumanely cruel.

Cruel, but reflective of who we really are, not who we pretend to be. Our reputation as a world leader on social issues is gone, gone, gone. We pissed it down the toilet for tax cuts and a lift in the value of our property portfolios.

The third world country at the bottom of Africa that had apartheid based on race until 1994 is now more socially advanced than New Zealand. That’s how far behind we have fallen. That’s how badly the Baby Boomer intellectuals have failed us.

Kiwis, we are now more backwards than South Africa, and this is not a new idea that has fluttered into the consciousness but a grim reality that has been bitterly chewed over for a decade. Is there anyone left with the will to challenge this?

Understanding New Zealand: Voting Patterns of Maoris

One of the least surprising statistics in this entire study is that there is an extremely strong positive correlation between being Maori and voting for the Maori Party – this was 0.91. What might surprise some people, though, is the strength of the correlation with other parties.

The correlation between being Maori and voting for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party was 0.89, almost as strong as for voting for the Maori Party. This is because Maoris are greatly adversely affected by the cannabis laws, which are a major contributor to their disadvantaged position.

Because Maoris are more likely than non-Maoris to be arrested for cannabis offences, less likely to be offered diversion for those offences, more likely to stand trial for them, more likely to be given a custodial sentence for them and because they get longer average custodial sentences upon conviction for cannabis offences, there are plenty of reasons for Maoris to vote for the ALCP.

The correlation between being Maori and voting Internet MANA was 0.84, also very strong, but not quite as strong as the above two, perhaps because Internet MANA, despite mostly targeting its rhetoric to disadvantaged Maoris and Pacific Islanders, also appealed to a high-tech young Pakeha and Asian demographic.

Between being Maori and voting New Zealand First the correlation was 0.66, which is a reflection mostly of how well this party does in the Maori electorates, where they regularly score more than 10% of the party vote. It also reflects the degree – surprising to many – that nationalist sentiments exist among Maoris.

Another unsurprising statistic is the strength of the relationship between being Maori and voting for the National Party in 2014 – this was -0.75. Curiously, this figure of -0.75 was also the degree of correlation between being Maori and turnout rate in 2014. Perhaps it reflects the degree of Maori disenfranchisement from the political system.

Neither it is surprising that Maoris do not like to vote for far-right parties. The correlation between being Maori and voting Conservative in 2014 was -0.53, and with voting ACT in 2014 it was -0.42. This is probably a function of culture, in that Maoris are very unlikely to vote for parties that put money above people.

Interestingly, the correlation between being Maori and voting for the Green Party in 2014 was not significant (-0.09), despite the fact that Green voters are significantly wealthier than average and Maoris considerably poorer. This was the only party to have no significant correlation in either direction between voting for them in 2014 and being Maori.

This reflects the fact that Maoris with middle class pretensions vote Green well before they vote National, and that many Maoris are young and so in the student demographic that heavily votes Green.

*

This article is an excerpt from Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan, published by VJM Publishing in the winter of 2017.