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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Will Drinking Alcohol Still Be Popular In 50 Years?

Booze: it’s kind of crap, and it’s time we moved on to better drugs

A lot of really stupid things have fallen out of fashion in recent decades, and for good reason. Smoking tobacco is now uncommon, because we’re now much more aware of the deleterious effects than we used to be, and seeing someone riding a motorcycle without a helmet is rare too. This article asks the question: will drinking alcohol still form the basis of Western social interaction in half a century?

Let’s face it: the only reason we drink a lot is habit. It’s not because alcohol is good, and it’s not because alcohol is safe. Alcohol isn’t really good because there are plenty of other common drugs that are better: MDMA is a better entactogen, cannabis is more relaxing, opium is better for getting wasted with. It’s also not safe, for reasons that are obvious to anyone who has spent time around drunks.

No – the reason why we drink a lot is because our parents did, and they drank because their parents did, and so on, and in every case it’s true that people drank alcohol because that’s just what people did. For thousands of years, the ancestors of Westerners knocked back the booze – they didn’t know about the relationship between alcohol and heart disease, liver failure or cancer, because people seldom lived long enough to be affected by such things.

Moreover, there are large capital interests that are tied up in alcohol manufacture and sales. The alcohol industry is easily big enough to buy off politicians at the national level – and they do. These politicians have been more than happy to stop any competitor to alcohol getting established, which is why our recreational drug scene is soaked with booze (and thereby with the violence, sluttiness, vomiting and hangovers that inevitably accompany the alcohol experience).

These factors might very soon stop having an impact. The changing drug market scene has smashed the duopoly over the recreational drug market that alcohol once enjoyed along with tobacco. Not only are there now over a dozen territories where cannabis is properly legal, but the rise of dark markets on the Internet has made it possible for people anywhere to access a wide variety of drugs without needing anything more than a postal address.

There have also been more sinister undertones to the historical promotion of alcohol use.

From the earliest days of the Age of Colonialism, European traders were aware of the destructive effect that alcohol (usually in the form of rum) had on the natives of the New World. There was no need to shoot them when you could simply trade them some booze and watch them destroy themselves. Although it was not appreciated at the time, alcohol was effectively able to be used as a bioweapon by the Europeans.

This was because they had developed a genetic resistance to alcohol over thousands of years of exposure, while the natives had not. Over the past several thousand years, because Europeans were getting drunk much of the time, there was a selective pressure against those who misbehaved while drunk. Anyone who became excessively violent or stupid while drunk was liable to delete themselves, and their genes, from the gene pool. Over time, therefore, Europeans adapted to behave relatively tamely when intoxicated.

So when the European traders introduced alcohol to the delicate psychobiological balance of the New World, it had a similar effect to a hand grenade. Alcoholism has destroyed the native peoples of North America, South America, Australia and Polynesia. If European complicity in this was widely accepted and owned up to, the need to legalise recreational alternatives to alcohol would become obvious.

Given all of these factors, it has to be asked whether the widespread consumption of alcohol is something that will continue much further into the future. It can already be observed that the youngest generation is abandoning alcohol en masse, usually for cannabis but sometimes for other substances that can be easily be obtained: MDMA or research chemicals are popular alternatives.

Global recreational drug culture this century is more likely to revolve around cannabis for the reasons described. Cannabis is something that people of all nations and races can enjoy equally without any sense of cultural advantage, unlike alcohol, which is really the white man’s drug. It can already be seen (in the few places they exist) that cannabis cafes serve as places where people of many cultures come together in harmony and good cheer.

As awareness of the harms of alcohol spreads, as recreational alternatives become increasingly available and as world culture moves further away from a Eurocentric model, it’s possible that the prominence of alcohol in our culture diminishes in the same way tobacco did. It’s hard to imagine now, but there are good reasons to think that hardly anyone will still be regularly drinking alcohol in 50 years’ time.

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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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Why the 2018 Labour Budget Was so Underwhelming

The 2018 Budget, like the 2000 one, was extremely tight; the 2020 Budget will be a lolly scramble, as the 2002 one was

“Yet, for all the hype, [the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister] were at pains to reassure big business and employer groups that this was above all a ‘fiscally responsible’ budget. Its commitments to social spending would not jeopardise Labour’s intention to maintain a surplus, they emphasised…” The two Labour Party politicians mentioned here are Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern, speaking in 2018 right? Wrong – they are Michael Cullen and Helen Clark, speaking 18 years ago in the year 2000.

The quote in the opening paragraph comes from this article from 2000, discussing the first Budget of the new Fifth Labour Government. Other quotes of interest from the same source are: “the increases fall far short of what is required to address the acute levels of social and economic inequality now embedded deep within the social structure”, “The majority of families forced to rent from private landlords will be no better off than before” and “Labour and the Alliance have done nothing to restore the vicious cuts to unemployment benefits and welfare that were implemented by the National Party”.

So if you’ve been listening to the Sixth Labour Government explain why this year’s Budget helps almost no-one and you’re starting to realise that you’ve heard this exact same bullshit story before, sit tight while we explain why – and what’s going to happen next.

After nine of years of neglect, including closing down rape crisis centres and overseeing the world’s highest youth suicide rate, the Fifth National Government was finally – although narrowly – voted out of power. The Sixth Labour Government came to power with a strong commitment and mandate to do something about the rape and pillage of the New Zealand populace by the plutocrats.

So the 2018 Budget surprised many commentators with how weak it was. The consensus described it as “National-lite”, and, indeed, it did almost nothing to help anyone. Many asked themselves why it was that an incoming Labour Government would deliver such a weak Budget. Didn’t they want to create the impression that they were doing something to help? Why miss this golden opportunity to set things right?

The answer to this conundrum comes from examining the 2002 Budget, which was released a few months before the General Election that year. That year’s Budget sent the New Zealand business community into paroxysms of rage.

The Employers & Manufacturers Association complained that “The huge $3.31 billion increase in new spending in the Budget for the next financial year is more than double the increase in new spending for the past two years combined”, and then National Party leader Bill English was enraged by “Labour and their higher operating balances, as well as higher taxes, increasing debt and billions of taxpayers’ dollars invested overseas”. There was even money for pure luxury items like refugee resettlement.

These increases impressed the population, as they were the first real relief Kiwis had been given in 18 years of relentless neoliberalism, and they duly returned the Labour Party to power. Kiwis contrasted this big spend-up with the cruelty of the National Party Budgets under Ruth Richardson, and the Nats were duly slaughtered, falling to 21% of the votes, their lowest result in 100 years.

It was a lesson for all, not least the Labour Party.

So the reason why the Sixth Labour Government did next to nothing to fix the nine years of neglect that the Fifth National Government put us through is simple: they’re saving the lolly scramble until just before the 2020 General Election. You can almost guarantee that, when the 2020 Budget rolls around, the grip of the New Zealand ruling class around the throat of the population will be loosened just enough to enable us to express our gratitude by returning Jacinda Ardern’s Government to power for a second term.

This is not a nefarious new trick, dreamed up by a crack team of political consultants – it’s straight out of the Helen Clark playbook. We can confidently predict another weak Budget in 2019 before the conspicuous generosity of the 2020 one, and we can also almost guarantee that if Labour wins a second term this would see us having two more weak Budgets in 2021 and 2022 before another lolly scramble in time for the 2023 General Election. Then, if they win a third, there will be weak Budgets in 2024 and 2025 before yet another lolly scramble in 2026.

This pattern is no less predictable than the General Electoral Cycle itself is, and could even be said to be part of it. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

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Generation X and the Wisdom of Robert Anton Wilson

The great philosopher Robert Anton Wilson liked to say “It only takes twenty years for a liberal to change into a conservative without changing a single idea.” As it happens, I first heard this statement almost 20 years ago, when I was just about to begin studying at university. How did RAW’s observation stack up for those of us born at the arse end of Generation X? Let’s have a look.

In 1999, when I first went to university, I was more or less a liberal. I had grown up in a welfare family that had been strongly adversely affected by the 1991 Budget of the conservative National Party. A consequence of this budget was that sometimes my brother and I had to go hungry, and the effect of this would often reduce my mother to tears. This gave me a very deep and powerful sense of contempt for conservative politics.

Twenty years later, things have changed immensely, although I haven’t. RAW’s observation holds just as true this century as it did in his time.

In 1999, race was a major issue, as it had already been for centuries, but the tone of it was different. The liberal belief in 1999 was that, although there had been a lot of inter-racial violence in the past, people of all races were capable of coming together in shared humanity. Although biological reasons could clearly explain much of the racial differences in intelligence and behaviour, segregation was an example of the utmost evil.

All that has been flipped. In 2018, the white race stands alone as the singular cause of all the suffering in the world. Now, I’m a conservative because I don’t support the outright destruction of the white race and of Western culture. Even believing in borders is seen as conservative in some quarters, merely an impediment to the neoliberal objective of maximally efficient allocation of labour resources.

Although it’s true that no two things in Nature are identical, it’s no longer permissible to assert that racial differences in intelligence have a biological component. Although this was accepted without question 20 years ago, now one must blame everything on economic and social reasons or be considered right-wing, if not actually fascist. All races are perfectly equal in intelligence, not only when measured in general terms but also when it comes to specific behaviour. Evolution stops at the neck.

Neither has gender escaped this miserable phenomenon. In 1999, I considered myself a strong believer in women’s rights. I considered men filth if they abused or harassed women, and was glad that New Zealand had its first elected female Prime Minister later that year.

Now, a man is sexist if he does not support a system that actively undermines and destroys him. It’s not enough to support scholarships for women to study at university – now that women heavily outnumber men among university students, the agenda has moved on to boardroom quotas and the “gender gap”. MPs like Julie Ann Genter attack white men on account of being white and male, even when there is already a suicide epidemic among those some young men.

Anyone who mentions that men commit suicide at 300% the rate of women is considered a bigot, or dismissed as an incel men’s right’s activist. It’s not enough for men and women to be equal – men have to be made to suffer for the historical crimes of their gender. Many people, like New Zealand’s Poto Williams, want to remove the right to presumption of innocence from men accused of rape.

Religion is no different. Some say that religion is supposed to represent the timeless and eternal, but public attitudes to religion have not remained the same over the past 20 years. In 1999, it was widely understood that Islam was an extremely conservative religion that treated women and homosexuals appallingly. For these reasons, it was obvious that Islam was a right-wing ideology and therefore the enemy of liberals such as myself.

Twenty years later, it’s all different. In 2018, Muslims are – bizarrely – seen as victims, despite a 1400-year world tour of slaughter, mayhem and conquest. I’m a racist if I don’t like people who choose to worship a murderous warlord paedophile. If I oppose the mass immigration of Muslims to my country, I am equated with Hitler, despite being able to point to dozens of historical examples of local populations suffering immensely after mass Muslim immigration.

Believing in history is now conservative, because it supposedly normalises a white male way of thinking. The liberal approach to history nowadays is just to make up whatever needs to be made up in order to further one’s political aims. Lebanon was always a Muslim country, and no natives ever benefitted from colonialism.

Last of all, a similar thing has happened with homosexuality. In 1999, I was a fervent supporter of gay rights. Not only did I think it was appalling that our government had taken until the mid-80s to decriminalise homosexual activity, but I fully supported gay marriage. Gay adoption was clearly a step too far, however, as society was made up of men and women, mostly in breeding pairs, and it would be best for a child to be exposed to this and to both genders.

Now, 20 years later, I’m a conservative for believing that a gay couple is different, in any way, from a heterosexual one. A man can just say he’s a woman now, and if I continue to insist that he’s different to a woman – in any way – then I’m a bigot. I’m not even allowed to find homosexual activity odd, or disgusting, no matter how fervently I support someone’s right to engage in it. Fucking a 16-year old boy in the arse is as natural as anything else in the world.

Even worse, those same homosexuals I defended for many years against hissing, hateful Christians are now attacking me because of my criticism of Islam. They call my criticism of Islam ‘racism’, even though it’s motivated by an appreciation for gay rights – precisely the same sentiments that motivated my criticism of Christianity!

If you are also young and reading this, don’t think it won’t happen to you too. When I first heard RAW predict that I would be a conservative in 20 years if I didn’t change any ideas, I refused to believe him. RAW was old, and didn’t understand that we had now made everything right after centuries of misrule, and that we didn’t need to go any further.

But RAW was right, and much wiser and more perceptive than me. If you are a liberal now, and young, just know that in 20 years those who call themselves liberal will be pushing all manner of absolutely insane shit, and if you don’t go along with it then you’ll be considered a conservative.

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VJMP Reads: Julius Evola’s Ride the Tiger IX

This reading continues on from here.

Part Seven of Ride the Tiger is called ‘Dissolution in the Social Realm’. This consists of four essays. The first of these is called ‘States and Societies – Apoliteia’. In this essay, Evola contends that the sociopolitical environment has essentially collapsed, and that the right sort of person must learn to govern themselves in the absence of social guidance. This is because there are no longer any legitimate nation-states.

True leaders, Evola states, do not exist today. Neither does any movement exist that offers itself as a defender of higher ideas. The petty politicians of today are just figureheads “at the service of financial, industrial,
or corporate interests” – essentially prostitutes. Even if a party that reflected a higher truth appeared, the people are simply too base to voted for one. The only realms left for political action are the irrational and the subintellectual.

Apoliteia means detachment from the political. Evola notes that the great conflict between Western democratic capitalism and Eastern socialism requires no appeal to any higher ideal. The West is equally as destructive and nihilistic as the Marxists. However, the West does at least offer the freedom from where an assault can be mounted. The really difficult thing is to defend one’s dignity when one feels that one belongs to a different humanity.

Essay 26 is called ‘Society – the Crisis of Patriotic Feeling’. Evola immediately lays out the problem – “eνery organic unity has been dissolνed or is dissolν­ing: caste, stock, nation, homeland, and eνen the family”. The associations of today are not built on blood or ideals or anything meaningful – people only come together temporarily for economic advantage. Spiritual superiority counts for nothing. The problem can be summed up by Nietzsche: a great struggle just to win nothing. Modern states are so bloated and overreaching that they have destroyed all remaining organic bonds.

Curiously, even for writing in the 1960s, Evola can already criticise an “economy of excess” that no longer serves to meet necessities. Evola is able to deduce that overproduction has become normalised – people’s wants simply increased to meet the increase in production. Moreover, the desperate need to employ everyone has people working to produce things that no-one needs.

The modern world is absurd. Our massively increasing population is an insanity, and serves as proof that man, for all of the impulses he has overcome in his conquest of the Earth, cannot control his sexual urges. This population growth has led to the need to condition people more and more in order to force them into the workplace. The overall effect is much like a cancer. No really aristocratic soul could possibly identify with a modern world so base.

Men of our age respond even less to the old appeals for action. Appeals to religion died with World War I; appeals to the nation died with World War II. The traditional state won its power through appeals to order. It was a matter of unification from above, not below. The void can be filled if the ancient principles returned. What is needed is an invisible unity of individuals associated by their nature.

The 27th essay is called ‘Marriage and the Family’. Here Evola contends that we have to face up to the fact that the family no longer has the same meaning and importance as it once did. The essential thing is the transmission of spiritual truth from generation to generation, not merely passing on the bloodline. This loss of meaning in the idea of family combines with the trend of materialism to create misery.

Marriage is now “little more than a puritanical veneer for a regime of high prostitution”. The marriage rites that supposedly made the profane into something sacred have merely served to do the opposite. Part of the problem is that sex is seen as something sinful, which means that marriage itself is something that one only chooses to participate in because one does not want to be an ascetic.

As it is, there is no longer anything worth defending or preserving. Therefore the differentiated man cannot ready form social bonds such as marriage. He must have his own self. Part of the reason for this is, again, that if a true leader arose in today’s time, he would be the last of men to be followed. More important than ensuring a succession of blood is ensuring a succession of spiritual knowledge.

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The Greater Electoral Cycle

If you’re in your mid-30s, and start feeling like you’ve seen it all before, it’s because you have

Many commentators like to talk about what they call the electoral cycle. This refers to the fact that, in the vast majority of modern liberal democracies, a party coming to power inevitably soon hits a high point and then steadily loses support over time until they are ousted. This essay looks at a broader phenomenon that we will call the Greater Electoral Cycle.

The Lesser Electoral Cycle is the one that most people, by now, are well familiar with. A party or President comes to power, immediately makes the changes that the previous regime had neglected to make, then rides a wave of popular support, until inevitably their own lust to cling onto power at all costs causes them to make poor moral decisions and the voters throw them out in disgust.

In the old days, this expulsion of the previous rulers could lead to any kind of new philosophy or ideology taking its place. If the previous rulers weren’t good enough, try fascism, try democracy, try republicanism, try anarchy. So there was no real greater cycle beyond this. It was just come to power and cling to power for as long as possible.

In recent decades, now that the ruling classes have refined and perfected their strategies for dividing and brainwashing us, all we get is neoliberalism with a red mask or neoliberalism with a blue one. The Greater Electoral Cycle, then, is from the start of one government to the start of another government of that kind (i.e centre-right or centre-left).

New greater cycles begin all the time. One has just now begun after 16 years in America, and one has begun after 18 years in New Zealand. Because of this, anyone with a memory that goes back 20 years or so has by now heard all the arguments and excuses already, and is starting to hear them again. Political arguments, like fashions and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, are simply repackaged every generation for a new audience not exposed to them yet.

For example, Internet commentators often make reference to Trump Derangement Syndrome. This is a joke referring to the reactions of people on the left to the election of Donald Trump as American President. The idea is that many leftists have reacted so badly to the news of Trump’s ascendancy that they have essentially become clinically deranged.

Those who have been around a bit longer remember that this as Obama Derangement Syndrome, which is essentially the same thing but triggered by the sight of Barack Obama as President. Those of us as old as Generation X might even remember everyone talking about Bush Derangement Syndrome, and there might have been a Clinton Derangement Syndrome before that.

A lot of Millennials have now observed that Trump is little different from George W Bush in a lot of ways, and the Democrats’ reactions to him are very similar to their reactions to Dubya. Trump, like Dubya, uses certain patterns of speech to appeal to people who aren’t particularly well educated. His concern is that he might cause resentment and alienation by speaking to them in long sentences with multiple clauses and ten-dollar words. So he’s painted as dumb – when he really isn’t dumb.

Likewise, in New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern tells many of the same lies as her Labour predecessor Helen Clark, from whose playbook Ardern appears to be reading. Claiming that the previous Government left the books in a terrible state, and so there’s much less money available than anyone supposedly thought, Ardern’s Labour has gone back on almost all of its spending promises. Typically, they will suggest in 2020 that we will have to vote them in again if we actually want all those goodies, because we sure won’t get them from National.

If we want to know what’s happening next in the Greater Electoral Cycle, we just need to look at what happened at this point last time. The Democrats in America will probably run a weak candidate because incumbent Presidents are rarely prevented from winning a second term (not even George W Bush failed to do so). Trump will probably easily defeat them, as he will be in the high point of the centre-right part of the cycle.

The National Party of New Zealand has already handed the poisoned chalice to Simon Bridges, who is unimpressive even by the low standards of New Zealand politicians. He will probably lead National to a crushing defeat akin to that suffered by Bill English in 2002.

The West will keep going around and around in these greater cycles until the charade of democracy finally ends. At that point, either a tyrant arises to take us all to hell or a new movement of philosopher-kings arises and initiates a new Golden Age.

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Medicinal Cannabis Advances in 2017 – A Review

This literature review was conducted using Google Scholar, which was used to find citations of academic papers that referenced “cannabis medicine”, “cannabis psychosis”, “cannabis schizophrenia” and “medicinal cannabis”.

The strands of research that interest us here include: research undermining cannabis prohibition, with reference to psychiatric concerns; research supporting use of cannabis medicine, with reference to psychiatric conditions; evidence for cannabis as a substitute for opioids; other evidence supporting the use of cannabis medicine.

Research undermining cannabis prohibition, with reference to psychiatric concerns

This paper in the Biological Psychiatry Journal was notable for containing the sentence “Meta-analyses suggest that individuals with schizophrenia who use cannabis show better cognitive functioning compared to those who are non-users.”

Another paper in the Schizophrenia Bulletin makes a point of distinguishing between the effects of CBD and the effects of THC, noting that “THC is responsible for the psychotogenic effects of cannabis.” This directly contradicts the received psychiatric wisdom that “cannabis” causes psychosis.

This paper even notes that “independent evidence that CBD has antipsychotic and anxiolytic properties in patients with mental health disorders has been accumulating.” Indeed, doctors in California have been advising people for at least 10 years now that high-CBD strains (such as Northern Lights) were better suited for calming and sleeping purposes than high-THC skunk.

Although this paper is not titled with a journal of publication, it is worthwhile for at least conceding that many of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia are ameliorated by cannabis use.

This paper in the Acta Psychopathologica argues against the prohibition of cannabis on the basis of the Precautionary Principle. According to this paper, almost everyone tempted to smoke cannabis already has, regardless of the law. Moreover, prohibition prevents very few cases of schizophrenia, even assuming a direct causal link. Therefore, the deterrent effect of prohibition is outweighed by the positive effects of making it legal.

Research supporting use of cannabis medicine, with reference to psychiatric conditions

This paper in the the Clinical Psychology Review performed a meta-analysis of recent discoveries about the relationship between medicinal cannabis use and positive mental health outcomes. Perhaps the foremost result of this analysis was “Cannabis has potential for the treatment of PTSD and substance use disorders.” Among cannabis users this is well-known to be one of the main reasons why people smoke it in the first place. It was also noted that “Cannabis use does not appear to increase risk of harm to self or others.”

What is striking about this paper is the absence of Drug War rhetoric. Cannabis use, instead of being described as cannabis abuse (as in the majority of prohibitionist papers), is here given the acronym CTP (cannabis for therapeutic purposes). In the past, a paper that referred to cannabis in this manner would not have been funded or published, so the appearance of the phrase suggests that attitudes are changing.

A comprehensive overview of recent advances in medicinal cannabis science can be found in the Handbook of Cannabis and Related Pathologies Chapters 90 and 91, ‘The Use of Medical Marijuana in the Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders’ and ‘Beneficial Effects of Cannabis and Related Compounds on Sleep’.

Unfortunately, much of the literature continues to make the fundamental error of confusing cannabis extracts and pharamceutical preparations with the actual cannabis plant itself (as seen here). The authors of these papers frequently draw the conclusion that cannabis is not helpful for treating certain conditions because some extract was found to not be helpful. Others (as seen here) fail to make any distinction between THC and CBD, lumping all 100+ cannabinoids under the rubric of “marijuana”.

This paper notes that anxiety is one of the top five reasons given by patients in North America for using medicinal cannabis. It doesn’t go into why, but it’s likely that the calming effects of CBD are involved, as they may also be in the case of schizophrenia. Other papers also support the notion that cannabis has use for treating certain mental conditions, such as social anxiety.

Evidence for cannabis as a substitute for opioids

One of the most promising directions of future medicinal cannabis research appears to be in the direction of using cannabis as a substitute for a variety of other medicines that might have worse side-effects or addictive potential.

One of the most astonishing pieces of research was a study of how usage of pain, anxiety and sleep medication decreased when medicinal cannabis was available. In a survey of New England dispensary members, “among respondents that regularly used opioids, over three-quarters (76.7%) indicated that they reduced their use since they started [medicinal cannabis]…” and “…Approximately two-thirds of patients decreased their use of anti-anxiety (71.8%), migraine (66.7%), and sleep (65.2%) medications following [medicinal cannabis]…”.

Another example can be found here. The linked study is a literature review of 2897 medicinal cannabis patients that found “Respondents overwhelmingly reported that cannabis provided relief on par with their other medications, but without the unwanted side effects.”

In particular there seems to be special promise for cannabis to help with the opioid addiction crisis. Several papers suggest promise for cannabis to help here, as well as act as a substitute for sleep medications.

Other evidence supporting the use of cannabis medicine

Soporific uses appear to be one of the most promising avenues for future research into the benefits of medicinal cannabis. This study found reason to support the idea that cannabis heavy in CBDs is better suited for sleep management than cannabis heavy in THCs.

This review in Clinical Psychopharmacology and Medicine suggested that there might be promise in using cannabis to treat Alzheimers’s, Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases, among other neurodegenerative conditions.

Other studies suggest that there is promise for cannabis medicine in alleviating suffering associated with multiple sclerosis.

This study suggested that the savings from prescriptions that don’t get filled in legal cannabis states (because legal medicinal cannabis acts as a substitute for the prescribed medicine) could run into the billions.

What many of these studies have in common is a mention of the need for more research into the potential for cannabis to alleviate suffering, and a lament for the fact that this research has been hamstrung by cannabis prohibition. It’s clear that awareness of the benefits of cannabis medicine is spreading rapidly among the medical community, and that there is much excitement about future applications.

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Vince McLeod is a former Membership Secretary of the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party and author of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook.

Could New Zealand Ever Imagine Banning Rugby?

When even men built like this don’t want their kids playing rugby because it’s too violent, you know the sport has a problem

For decades, Kiwis have got used to the idea that wintertime means rugby. Well, we better start getting used to the idea of wintertime meaning soccer, because soon we’re going to have a lot more awareness about the effects of repetitive head injury than we do now, and when we do, there are going to be a lot of shrieking violets trying to get the game they play in heaven banned.

Rugby is popular in New Zealand for two major reasons. The first is that it’s fun as all hell both to play and to watch, the second is that rugby has been an important part of the masonry that cemented white people and Maoris together into a functioning modern culture. For over a century, rugby fields have been the places where Kiwis learned to set aside their racial and class differences and unite of their own free will towards a common goal.

There has always been an undercurrent of concerned mothers, however, who didn’t let their kids play rugby out of fear of head or brain injury. It’s an entirely legitimate concern – rugby is a collision sport, after all, and it’s evident from watching ten minutes of an All Blacks match that not even the best tackling technique in the world is a guarantee that one can avoid head injury entirely.

Perhaps most worryingly of all, even the best of the best rugby players in New Zealand are aware of the risks they are taking. Kieran Read has said that he intends to encourage his children into cricket on the grounds that rugby is too dangerous, and Richie McCaw said, post-retirement, that “I don’t miss getting smashed.”

The question is this: what risk of permanent brain injury is considered too much, given the positive physical and social benefits that come from the game? Because if that limit is exceeded, it may be that the responsible thing to do, from the Government’s perspective, is to ban it. After all, New Zealand schools banned Bull Rush with very little sentiment because of head injury concerns, so why couldn’t they do the same for rugby?

Recent studies on NFL players suggest that the incidence rate of brain damage in adult professional collision sports is many times higher than was previously suspected. It seems that, as brain scanning technology continues to improve, we are gathering a more refined appreciation of how vulnerable the brain really is to repeated blunt force trauma.

Rugby is different to American football, of course, because in rugby the tackle is made with the shoulder, whereas in American football tackles are often made with the head in a manner akin to a charging rhinoceros. But that’s merely a difference in degree, not in category. Rugby is still a sport based around putting the ball carrier on the ground through physical force, and this means the risk of head injury can only be minimised, never eliminated.

Already we’ve been able to observe a change in the culture of the sport in recent years. Avoiding head injuries is sometimes prioritised to an absurd degree, highlighted by the incident in the recent Lions tour when a Lions player leapt into the air to catch a loopy pass from halfback Conor Murray, was tackled before he hit the ground, and then was awarded a crucial penalty for having been taken out in the air.

This looks set to get even more extreme. It won’t be long until a professional match has to be stopped part way through because (for example) two tighthead props on one team have both failed head injury assessments.

This column has previously pointed out that the Government never gives rights back to the peasantry; they always take one new right away for every one they give back. Recent discussions about whether to change the cycle helmet laws have been centred around the idea that forcing people to wear a helmet discourages them from cycling. One can be certain that if we get our rights to cycle without a helmet back, pressure will begin to build to have them taken away somewhere else.

We would never argue for the game of rugby union to be banned, at any level. We don’t even support the softening of the game with the repeated TMO checks for suspected head-high tackles. But there are some wowsers and control freaks out there, and we can confidently state that they would happily ban rugby if they thought of the children long enough. It pays to stay one step ahead of them.

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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).

How Do We Know They’re Not Lying Again?

They lied last time, and they’re not sorry about it – so how do we know it’s different this time?

In 2003, Britain teamed up with America to attack Saddam Hussein’s Iraq on false pretenses, an action that would eventually lead to over 1,000,000 preventable deaths – a war crime by any standard. 15 years later, Britain is again beating the war drums over a supposed Russian assassination of a former Russian intelligence agent on British soil. The question the rest of us have to ask is obvious: how do we know they’re not lying again?

The British Prime Minister in 2003, Tony Blair, solemnly presented to the world a “dossier of death” that supposedly detailed Hussein’s arsenal of chemical and biological weapons, ready to attack Britain within 45 minutes of the Iraqi strongman giving the orders. Even worse, the dossier claimed, Hussein had procured significant amounts of uranium from African sources, enough to build 200 nuclear bombs.

We were told all this, and then told that the international community “had no choice but to act”. It was a casus belli of such strength that it was apparent there would be no talking the Anglo-Americans out of their impending action. Iraq was, in Blair’s words, “a current and serious threat to the UK national interest”.

The trouble is, all of those claims were lies.

Hussein’s Government disintegrated at the first sight of the iron wave coming their way, and the victorious Anglo-American forces scoured every square metre of the country for the chemical and biological weapons that would have been triumphantly paraded before the world’s media. Had they been found. There were no chemical and biological weapons in Iraq.

Usually when someone lies to you, and you find out about it, you don’t trust them again until you are satisfied that they have learned the value in honesty. But no contrition has been shown, ever, by any of the leaders who worked to bring about the slaughter in Iraq. Neither George W Bush nor Tony Blair have ever shown genuine regret for the invasion, or even the barest awareness that the invasion was the wrong thing to do.

Both George W Bush and Tony Blair are free men, not wanted by any Western war crimes tribunal. No Western leader openly calls for their arrest or imprisonment, despite that they murdered as many people as Pol Pot. No-one in British politics appears to be willing to commit Blair to trial for war crimes, the minimum acknowledgement necessary that the lost Iraqi lives had some value.

So why should we trust the claims of the British Government this week that the Russian state killed someone on British soil? Nothing appears to have changed since the last time they lied.

Most worryingly for New Zealand, our current Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern volunteered to work for the unapologetic war criminal for two and a half years, and after the scale of the destruction wrought in Iraq was widely known, and even after the fact that the invasion was launched on false pretenses was known. This suggests that not even our Prime Minister has the moral fibre to understand that killing a million people with lies is a bad thing and that people who do it should not be supported.

The prospect for world peace is looking grimmer, but, as this newspaper has previously written about, there’s no need to worry until the television starts telling us that Russians are mistreating babies somewhere. Then it’s time to hit the bunkers.

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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).