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.

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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.

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

Is There A Crypto-Conservative in Your Midst?

The phenomenon of rich kids pretending to be working class because it’s fashionable – satirised in The Young Ones by Rik Mayall – is not a new one

With all the bullshit being produced nowadays, it’s sometimes difficult to spot new patterns or sources of it in all the noise. One of the most interesting new patterns (or, more precisely, resurgent patterns) is that of middle-class kids pretending to be working class, and flooding into leftist politics: the crypto-conservative. This article tells you how to spot one.

In order to understand what a crypto-conservative is, it is necessary to understand recent Western sociological history.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Western liberal capitalism surged to triumph in the Cold War. No longer facing an outside threat, the Western Establishment immediately shattered, but not, as many had expected, into the rentier class and the working class.

It shattered instead into the rentier class and their offspring, who gravitated towards the left out of rebellion towards their parents.

The actual working class were progressively driven out of the left until we arrived at the situation we have today, where it is almost entirely comprised of the offspring of the rentier class, and the social considerations upon which it was founded have long been forgotten.

Thus we have arrived at a definition: a crypto-conservative is literally a natural conservative pretending to be left-wing – usually a young, middle-class person who has infiltrated the working class movement and is acting, wittingly or otherwise, to destroy it from within.

The easiest way to pick one is that they don’t care about issues that affect the actual working class, like getting a fair wage for a day’s work.

Often they are obsessed with issues that literally destroy the working class, like mass third-world immigration (which tips the balance of power between worker and boss back towards the boss).

Other times they are obsessed with issues of no particular importance to the working class – it’s genuinely difficult to see anything necessarily working class about homosexual law reform, for example.

In another time and place it could just as well be the left wing making homosexuality illegal over inflated fears of STD infection or psychological predation upon minors. It was after all left-wing hysteria that led to the failed experiment of alcohol prohibition.

The striking thing about the middle-class crypto-conservative is that all of their political ideology will benefit them as soon as their parents die and they inherit their property.

So it’s actually in their own interest to act as a cancer within honest working class movements – and they may or may not know this.

This is the secret to identifying a young conservative that is pretending to be working class. They will not care about working class issues like a fair wage for a day’s work, but seek to instead divert attention from this to meaningless trivia in the hope of appearing fashionable.

Obviously, a young person will not care about a fair wage for fair work if they just bludge off their wealthy parents, so anyone claiming to be left-wing while bludging off their wealthy parents is very likely to be a crypto-conservative.

Likewise, a young person who does not work will not care about the fact that allowing large numbers of unskilled refugees into the country will remove any leverage the working class may have had over their bosses. After all, they are unlikely to live in the same neighbourhood as the refugees (at least not after they “settle down”), and in any case the refugees are unlikely to be competing for middle class jobs.

Ultimately, though, the most effective way to pick a crypto-conservative is from their anemic lack of conviction and passion when they are discussing working class issues.

If a person looks sheepish or embarrassed when talking about the need for adequate wage compensation, or the need to build quality houses instead of the third-world shacks we have, or the importance of not sending kids to school without food or shoes, but becomes loud when talking about the gender wage gap or Israel-Palestine, then that person might not be trustworthy.

The Fundamental Conceit of the Mental Health System

Being forced to try to fit into our extremely unnatural society causes all kinds of mental health problems

The strangest thing about being a mental health patient is that the mental health services act as if fitting into our society in a productive capacity is natural and normal, and that anyone who cannot do this for whatever reason must be abnormal.

The attitude that fitting into our system is natural and normal is the fundamental conceit of the mental health system.

The truth is that the human animal has evolved to fit an ecological niche that is almost nothing like the lives we actually live today, which are as artificial as Disneyland.

Humans have evolved to suit a reasonably specific set of social conditions. In the biological past, it was rare to live in a group of people larger than about 150. This was because the nomadic lifestyle that was the norm back then could not support larger groups, primarily because of the absence of agriculture.

In these groups of 150 or so, there was very little in the way of social order. In this chaos, however, there was a degree of freedom that humans have adapted to. There was never an authority that made some behaviours against the “law”, as there was no agricultural surplus and therefore no way of maintaining an enforcer class.

As a consequence, humans were able to live in accordance with the natural curiosity that has provided our species with a decisive survival edge.

This is not an argument for anarcho-primitivism and is not intended to romanticise the past. The point is simply to describe the distance between the degree of freedom that we have evolved to consider natural and the degree of freedom currently afforded to us in modern society.

Perhaps the most unnatural thing about our society is the nuclear family. When there were tribes of 150, young children had almost infinite access to social reinforcement – it was possible to play with cousins of a similar age, and to talk to people much older than one’s parents, at almost any time one wanted.

In modern society, the early social development of a child is restricted to what they can get from the nuclear family unit. So instead of playing with cousins they watch television or go on the tablet, and instead of listening to stories from their elders they watch more television.

This means that almost everyone in our society grows up with a grossly unnatural deficit of both quality and quantity of social contact.

Because social contact is necessary to release oxytocin, and because oxytocin is necessary for proper brain development, the inevitable consequence of the nuclear family model is an increase in social retardation, reflected in our skyrocketing autism rates.

Neither is it at all natural to be forced to wake up early in the morning from the age of four so that one can go to school.

The natural sleep-wake cycle of a child is similar to that of a cat – one sleeps when one is tired, and is awake otherwise. In a state of nature, a child will nap frequently throughout the day.

This is not permitted under the mass education model. Under our model of schooling, even five year-olds have to stay awake all day uninterrupted, which is extremely unnatural. Should this cause them sleep deprivation they just have to suffer it.

Perhaps the worst is that it isn’t natural to not be able to discuss these things. If you go to see a psychiatrist in our mental health care system it is not possible to discuss whether these problems have been caused to you by our culture.

The attitude, which cannot be questioned or discussed, is that our culture is perfect; any problems you have fitting into it are yours and yours alone.

If sleep deprivation makes a child misbehave they just have to go on sedatives. If it causes an inability to concentrate they just have to go on Ritalin. Should it be so bad that they start to hallucinate they just have to go on anti-psychotics.

This conceit alone makes for terrible treatment outcomes for patients. Because the mental healthcare system may not acknowledge the real cause of the suffering of its patients, neither can it actually treat that suffering. The best it can do is to treat the symptoms by dishing out mountains of highly profitable pharmaceuticals.

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.

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