The Real Gateway Phenomenon Is The Government Telling Lies About Drugs

One of the reasons for keeping cannabis illegal is known as the Gateway Drug Effect (or Gateway Drug Story, for the cynical). The logic goes like this: people who try cannabis will like it and, in doing so, come to reason that drugs are awesome, and will then inevitably try heroin and die.

Apparently this happens with such tragic predictability that the phenomenon has taken the name the Gateway Effect – namely, that cannabis serves as a gateway to the wider world of drugs.

This reasoning, wrong as it may be, is almost logical. There is a Gateway Drug Effect, only – the gateway drug is alcohol. There is also a gateway effect related to cannabis, but it’s not what the Government claims it is.

The real gateway effect usually kicks in the morning after one has tried cannabis for the first time. Invariably one has already tried alcohol and discovered what a hangover is. Waking up after having smoking weed for the first time the night before is often accompanied by a sense of relief, as one might have been expecting an alcohol-style hangover only to find the cannabis one is very different.

So that next morning, and that next day, it sinks in that you have been lied to the whole time about cannabis. That evening, you start wondering what else the Government has lied to you about.

And then you’re on a journey down the rabbit hole.

That rabbit hole can take the neophyte psychonaut to some paranoid places. This is natural when one realises that the police officers who came to your high school to tell you that cannabis causes violence and mental illness were lying. They came to you as if they were pillars of the community, and they lied to your face about a medicine that you might have found beneficial.

Did they know they were lying? Probably some of them did and some of them didn’t. The ones that didn’t know were lied to by someone else – but who are these people?

It soon comes to appear that the lying comes from the very top – from the political class itself.

This lying and forcing other people to lie has the effect of devastating the social fabric.

If I go to see a doctor about pills I’ve ordered off the Internet, I don’t know if I can trust them or not. I already know that doctors will quite happily repeat lies told to them by authority figures, whether those figures are in government or the pharmaceutical industry.

A doctor will look you right in the eyes and tell you that cannabis causes depression if their paycheck is provided by a pharmaceutical company who sells an antidepressant that makes more money than cannabis could.

Does it have to be this way?

Teenagers are going through a rite of passage nowadays that is very common. It involves smoking your first joint and realising that you’ve been lied to, and then following the same reasoning described in this article. This rite of passage (Eleusinian Mysteries aside) is a modern thing – people in the recent past were generally more than happy to march into a meat grinder if an authority figure said it was to their benefit.

The astute reader might have observed the paradoxical benefit here – this exact cynicism about the government is what makes it harder for English-speaking people to follow dictators.

Still, there’s surely a better way to shock people awake then by putting an unlucky minority of them in prison and leaving their friends and family to rue the butcher’s bill.

The Government’s strategy of lying about cannabis to the detriment of the people it governs, and then refusing to stop telling lies even when it’s obvious to almost everyone that they are lying, has devastated confidence in authority figures for an entire generation of Westerners.

If You Want to Think of the Children, Then Legalise Cannabis

When I was working a cannabis law reform booth at a hippie festival in Nelson about eight years ago, I had an unpleasant encounter with a local hysteric. She approached us like she would have approached two fellows who were advocating to legalise child molestation and launched into a rant about the “twelves” who would inevitably get hold of cannabis if it was legal.

Before either of us could respond, she was dragged off by her embarrassed husband. If we had had the chance, we would have responded with an argument out of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook: that a repeal of cannabis prohibition would actually make it harder for teenagers to get hold of cannabis.

Now there is evidence that this counterargument was correct. The stupid thing is that, if one puts the hysteria aside for ten seconds, it’s quite obvious that legal cannabis is safer for teenagers than New Zealand’s current black market model.

It was found that in Colorado, where cannabis was legalised in 2012, legal cannabis stores generally don’t sell weed to minors. In a study similar to the Liquor Board stings in New Zealand, 19 out of 20 Colorado cannabis retailers refused to sell cannabis to a person who looked under 21 and who could not produce ID.

As can be imagined, a 19 out of 20 rejection rate is much better than what it would have been had the 20 stooges gone to tinnie houses instead.

Even though American teenagers are consuming less alcohol and tobacco than previously, rates of cannabis use among teenagers remains constant. Why?

It’s probably because, as centuries of relentless cultural brainwashing has ever less of an effect thanks to the Internet spreading truth about forbidden subjects, people naturally come to realise that they enjoy smoking cannabis more than getting drunk and smoking cancer sticks.

A short history lesson: the Greatest and Silent Generations survived the Great Depression and World War Two and incurred severe psychological trauma in doing so. This trauma was passed down to the Baby Boomers, many of who were fed into the meat grinder of Vietnam. Generation X, who followed, mostly escaped direct trauma but there are many who suffered secondary trauma as a consequence of being raised by mentally damaged Boomers. Now there are the Millennials, who are mostly okay.

It is not a coincidence that, as the generations get younger, they seem to naturally prefer smoking cannabis over using alcohol and tobacco.

This is probably because the less traumatised a person is, the less they desire the brutal sledgehammer effect on consciousness that alcohol has, and the less they desire the serenity-at-all-costs mentality that accompanies a tobacco habit. Alcohol is a brutal drug for a brutal age, and legal tobacco might prove to be an anachronism from a time when considerations like human life weighed far lighter than profit.

The desire to alter consciousness, however, also occurs frequently in people who have not been severely traumatised – and these people appear to prefer cannabis.

Cannabis tends to have the effect of making the user more, not less, sensitive. This means that people tend to avoid using it unless they are around people they like in a setting they find comfortable or in a mindstate where some cognitive enhancement, not destruction, is desired.

There is no good reason to limit the freedom of young people to alter consciousness to using alcohol and tobacco.

It may have made sense in an era when the life expectancy of humans was so low that few had the fortune to live long enough to die of alcohol or tobacco-related illnesses, but in the current age denying young people the use of recreational cannabis has the cruel effect of pushing them towards an early death from cancer or heart disease.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Understanding New Zealand: Cannabis Law Reform Voters

With the news that the Greens have more or less adopted the ALCP policy from the 2014 Election, there is a sudden interest in the sort of person who might be attracted to vote Green on the basis of this policy. In this specific instance, there’s one obvious and decent-sized demographic: actual ALCP voters from 2014, who were 10,961 in number.

So who are they? Well, they’re very clearly not the same sort of person who would vote National. The correlation betwen voting ALCP in 2014 and voting National in 2014 is -0.70. This is not at all surprising as the entire point of the war on drugs was to destroy the enemies of the conservative establishment.

Neither are they likely to vote ACT (-0.45) or Conservative (-0.54). These three correlations are fairly hefty, which tells us that the average cannabis law reform voter has a considerable level of apathy for conservatism and for right-wing politics in general.

Naturally, these correlations are the opposite on the left. Voting for the ALCP in 2014 and voting Labour in 2014 had a correlation of 0.38. For Internet MANA it was 0.76 and for the Maori Party it was 0.85.

Two correlations stand out against this easy narrative of ALCP voters primarily being leftists. They are the correlation between voting ALCP in 2014 and voting Green in 2014 (0.02) and with voting New Zealand First in 2014 (0.57).

The lack of a significant correlation with the Green Party vote might surprise many. It seems to be a natural assumption that, because the ALCP policy in 2014 was always more likely to be picked up in the future by the Greens than any other party, that a strong correlation ought to exist. The reality, however, is that the Greens and the ALCP have hitherto appealed to very different demographics.

The Greens have, since at least a decade ago, deprioritised their cannabis policy in favour of all kinds of trendy issues that appeal mostly to middle-class urban elites. This explains why the correlation between voting Green and Net Personal Income is 0.31, so much more positive than the correlation between voting ALCP and Net Personal Income, which is -0.40.

Not only do ALCP voters come from the other side of the socioeconomic spectrum to Green voters, but they are also much browner. The correlation between voting Green in 2014 and being Maori is (an insignificant) -0.09; for voting ALCP in 2014 and being Maori it is a whopping 0.89, one of the strongest correlations in this entire dataset.

This also explains much of the high correlation betwen voting ALCP and voting New Zealand First. The correlation between voting New Zealand First and being Maori is 0.66. Everyone who has ever met more than a few Maoris will have caught on to the popularity of cannabis within Maori culture, and it’s not surprising given the differential in how hard the law hits them that Maori are much more likely to cast a vote for cannabis law reform.

Few will be suprised that voting ALCP has a very strong negative correlation with turnout rate in 2014: -0.68. This is, however, only slightly worse than Labour’s correlation with voting of -0.67. So it’s less to do with lazy stoners and more to do with the general disenfranchisement of those who the system does not represent.

Cannabis voters have a moderate tendency to not be religious: correlations with voting ALCP in 2014 and being Christian, Buddhist or Hindu were -0.41, -0.52 and -0.40 respectively. Mirroring this was a correlation of 0.34 with having no religion. The odd statistic here was the sizable correlation between voting ALCP and having Spiritualism for a religion: this was 0.36.

If cannabis voters are poor, Maori and non-religious, it’s probably not surprising that they’re also young. Voting ALCP in 2014 had a hefty correlation of -0.55 with Median Age, which suggests that most of the people voting on the basis of this policy are young.

Perhaps the most interesting idea from all of these statistics is that the Greens might be winning votes with their new cannabis policy at the expense of New Zealand First voters. It’s apparent that many young Maori vote ALCP out of levity in their first election and then, as they age and become less radical, come to see the merit in voting New Zealand First. The Greens would be chiefly targeting these voters with their new cannabis policy.

If the Greens are making a serious push for cannabis voters again they may find that the demographics have changed since the last time they tried it, in 1999.

*

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

Estimating the Electoral Impact of the Greens’ New Cannabis Policy

The Greens have taken their sweet time in updating their cannabis policy to something reasonable, and this newspaper has not shied from criticising them for dragging their heels. But today they did update it – and this update has electoral ramifications worth considering.

The updated drug law policy seems to be the responsibility of Julie Anne Genter (whose sponsored FaceBook posts you may have seen recently if you were in enough cannabis-related groups). This is her first major effort since assuming the role of Greens Health Spokesperson from Kevin Hague.

Most encouragingly, in an interview about the new policy Genter made a reference to Canada and the USA, in particular the Western seaboard closest to New Zealand. It’s in Colorado, Washington, Oregon and California that cannabis prohibition was repealed by referendum and in Canada that it is in the process of being repealed by a party that ran explicitly on the issue in a General Election.

She also used a couple of arguments straight out of the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook: that cannabis law reform was a similar sort of deal to gay marriage in that the herd was against until until it had had a few decades to think about it and that legalisation would make it harder – not easier, as it is considered by some – for young people to get hold of it because of the current lack of ID checks on the black market.

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party has made a point of using the example of Colorado to suggest what a sane cannabis policy ought to look like. So if the Greens are signalling that this is also their long-term vision, then they ought to count on collecting votes from people who think along similar lines.

The ALCP scored 0.46% of the vote in the 2014 General Election. This isn’t much but it’s a lower limit on what the Greens might expect to gain from this policy.

All of these people were willing to drag themselves to the polls to vote for a party who had no realistic chance of making a difference but who did intend to make noise about the cannabis law, so it’s likely that the vast majority of people willing to vote for the non-Parliamentary ALCP would be willing to vote Green now that the Greens have a similar cannabis policy.

This newspaper estimated last year that the true amount of support for the ALCP was probably closer to 1%, based on the increase in support for reform to New Zealand’s drug laws since 2014 (change has been very rapid on this front). The Greens can count on most of those.

On top of that, one has to factor in all the people who would have voted for such a policy in 2014 had a major party supported it, as one now does.

These people are probably as least three times as numerous as those who voted ALCP in 2014 or were intending to do in 2017.

It’s interesting to note that voting Green in 2014 and voting ALCP in 2014 has a correlation of only 0.02. This is because Green voters tend to be white and wealthy whereas ALCP voters tend to be poor and Maori.

Voting ALCP in 2014 had a correlation of -0.40 with Net Personal Income, which suggests that cannabis voters are poorer than all but Labour, Maori Party and New Zealand First voters. Voting Green in 2014 had a correlation of 0.31 with Net Personal Income, which means Green voters are almost wealthier than average by as much as the average cannabis voter is poorer than average.

Implicit in these statistics is the potential for the Greens to attract a large number of new voters, especially those who didn’t vote in 2014, as the anti-cannabis brainwashing has been least effective on those who are already disenfranchised, such as Maori, young people and the mentally ill, and these traditionally low-voting groups now have a reason to reconsider.

These statistics suggest that there are many New Zealanders who have only just now started to hear the Green Party tune as the party seeks to expand outside of their traditional wealthy, white urban strongholds.

It’s easily possible that this new policy will result in 2% extra votes for the Greens on Election night 2017, because of the immense degree of disenfranchisement suffered by cannabis users before today. This alone would result in two extra seats once they were all dealt out.

After all, there are 400,000 cannabis users in New Zealand and our options, until today, were terrible.

How the Actions of the John Key Government Contributed to NZ’s Record Suicide Rate

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This year has been our generation’s equivalent of 1968 – changes on all fronts, and many records broken. Apart from breaking records at rugby, New Zealanders have also had recent success in breaking records at suicide.

Broadly speaking, we have some idea why people commit suicide. Although the biochemical reasons vary, the essential reason is a sustained abuse and/or neglect that convinces them it would be better to be dead than continue to live in a place where such things happen.

There is already evidence suggesting up to 90% of suicides occur in people with a mental health diagnosis or potential diagnosis, and an American study found that high rates of childhood abuse and neglect were correlated with a 12-fold increase in the frequency of suicide attempts as an adult.

Thus, it’s fair to say that – if it wasn’t already obvious to the reader – of those who attempt suicide as an adult, most will have a story of childhood abuse or neglect to tell.

What causes childhood abuse and neglect? Tragically, the answer to this is usually more childhood abuse and neglect; the child learns from its own parents that human life isn’t worth very much and naturally they treat their own children the same way. Monkey see, monkey do. Lack of empathy cascades down the generations.

Apart from this simplistic response, the strongest correlate with abuse and neglect of children is poverty. Poverty tends to lead to abuse and neglect for two reasons. The first is stress in the family unit, the second is that it causes mental illness in the mother.

Stress leads to abuse and neglect because a parent who is continually under high levels of stress will have greater difficulty maintaining the correct attitude towards their offspring. They are more likely to lash out from suppressed frustration and rage, and they are more likely to abandon consciousness through the bottle or other recreational drugs.

It might be obvious that mental illness in the mother contributes to an increased suicide rate among the offspring, but in case it isn’t obvious the science makes clear that such a causal relationship exists.

One of the most reliable factors predicting a future maltreatment report for any given child is known to be maternal depression.

It’s well known that poverty is one of the major causes of depression in women, usually because it imposes considerable psychological stress at the same time as removing women from accessing useful avenues of social support.

In fact the association between poverty and mental health is considered one of the most well-established in all of psychiatry.

For women it is especially acute because women tend to make much greater use of social networks to pre-empt mental health conditions. This means that poverty, in addition to the stress it already causes, makes it more difficult for women to maintain their social networks, and so an unfortunate feedback loop with poverty and decreased mental health outcomes can be observed.

Considering that the vast majority of people who are both poor and with dependent children are women, this pattern is especially impactful.

After reading all this, it is perhaps predictable that there is a relationship between childhood poverty and antisocial behaviour. Not only are children more likely to exhibit antisocial behaviour if they are from a home in poverty, but they are also more likely to show persistent patterns of antisocial behaviour into adulthood the more years that they spend in poverty.

All of this ultimately reflects an area where politics and health cross.

For, if poverty creates mental illness, then there’s a clear moral imperative to reduce poverty in the same way that there is a clear moral imperative to provide sanitation to people so as to prevent cholera outbreaks, typhus, plagues etc.

After all, in the same way that someone chucking a bucket of shit out into the street might impact you by creating a disease, childhood neglect and abuse is going to create the sort of adult that will rob, rape, burgle and murder you when you’re old.

However, a vote for the National Government of the past eight years was to vote for tax cuts in exchange for defunding rape crisis centres, slashing mental health funding, cutting benefits to sick people and perpetuating the war on drugs.

Looked at like this, it’s hard to deny that a vote for a National Government is a vote to decrease the mental health of everyone in the bottom half of society (or perhaps even bottom three-quarters, considering that many people vastly overestimate how wealthy they will be in ten years’ time), because it is a vote to redistribute wealth upwards from the already poor to the rich, thus increasing poverty and therefore the consequences of poverty, such as mental illness.

This might explain why so many old people vote National (the correlation between voting National in the 2014 General Election and Age is 0.81): they won’t be around to see the full extent of the damage that National policies do to the collective health of the nation, but they can cash in their tax cuts straight away.

Probably if John Key were to be presented with the information in this article he’d say that all mental health problems are caused by drug abuse. So there is little value in trying to talk sense to the current political establishment about the subject.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to educate the younger generations with the truth about how the bulk of psychological problems arose in our society, so that they’ll be in a position to do something about it when the grip of the Baby Boomers on the brass ring of power is relinquished in death.

How Low Does Turnout Have to Get Before Voting Loses Legitimacy?

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The obvious smartarse answer is “It never had legitimacy”, but this merely ducks the question. The question of when a democracy can lose enough of the perception of legitimacy that it stops working, not by being usurped by authoritarians but from the populace simply not caring about it enough, is worth exploring.

The logic goes something like this. It’s reasonable to assume that if no-one voted at all, not even the politicians themselves, then no-one would care about democracy. So there is a clear limit case as votes approach zero.

If everyone votes (or at least everyone eligible), then it stands to reason that democracy has the biggest possible buy-in. Probably in a culture where 100% of the population votes there would have to be an exceptionally unusual degree of philodemos – a degree never seen in practice.

If a hypothetical democracy starts with 100% participation and this falls over time towards 0%, at some point along the line representing that descent the democracy will fail.

But where exactly?

The most recent American presidential election does not have an official turnout rate yet, but BetFair appears to be sure that it will be somewhere around 58%. This is low by the standards of Western democracies – but there appears to be no way to tell how much of this is due to disenfranchisement and how much is due to people seeing through the system and protesting by not voting.

This already highlights a problem with democracy – bombs dropped by American forces do not do 58% damage, and sentences for non-violent drug offences are not 58% as long as they would otherwise be. No matter how much the population wants democracy, they will get it good and hard.

Not even 58% buy-in is necessary in any case. Adolf Hitler’s NSDAP won the 1933 German Federal Election with under 44% of the vote, and this was enough to get rid of the Communists and pass the Enabling Act which paved the way to total fascism.

You could even argue that – if you take the example of the United States in its infancy, where only white male landowners could vote – even with support for democracy in single digits, it can still function as long as all other possible organisational approaches are prevented from taking form.

The tricky thing is that this line of reasoning exposes the truth at the bottom of the political system: the plebs were never in charge and any impression given to that end is simply a useful illusion.

Ultimately it’s whoever controls the loyalty of the Police that is in charge, because then anyone who disagrees that they’re in charge can be taken by the Police and put in a cage (replace Police with Army in many non-Western countries). This was all that Hitler needed to ensure to take power in Germany.

One has to then ask, if the ruling classes just took all the ballots and dumped them in the ocean, invented some election results that both sounded plausible and ensured the interests of said classes were protected, and then divvied up the remaining jobs among themselves, how much wiser would we all be?

Because the ruling classes doing so wouldn’t even be much different from the way the con is already played.

We can take heart that not all New Zealanders have fallen for the ruse – 63% of the electorate did not vote for a politician in last week’s Mt. Roskill by-election, which means that 63% of potential suckers did not give their power away to a shyster by consenting to the democratic charade.

Indeed, Dr. Richard Goode of Not A Party successfully claimed victory in attracting the non-vote, declaring himself Not A Member of Parliament for Mt. Roskill. This obligates him to not attend Parliament, which means that he is not responsible for levying taxes to spend on flag referendums, and nor is he responsible for putting non-violent drug users in cages by setting the Police on them.

I think we can all agree that this is a better deal than what we are getting from our current crop of MPs.

Faith in democracy will, however, have to get much lower before philosopher-kings such as Dr. Goode can be returned to their true position in society.

Understanding New Zealand: Voting New Zealand First

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The New Zealand First Party has been around for over 20 years and has carved a reputation as a nationalist socialist party that caters especially to the old. Although this is somewhat true it is a simplicity that comes nowhere close to giving the full picture of what is arguably New Zealand’s third largest political movement.

The statistic that will surprise many is that there is no correlation at all between voting New Zealand First in 2014 and being of European descent. This value is an even 0.00, which gives the lie to the commonly-held belief that New Zealand First appeals heavily to white nationalist sentiments. In fact, the correlation between being Maori and voting New Zealand First is a strong 0.66, which tells us that Winston Peters’s party has a much stronger appeal to the tangata whenua than it does to the culture of the settlers.

This correlation can be easily observed without any complicated analysis: one need simply note the high percentage of New Zealand First support in the Maori electorates.

Although the statistics downplay the idea that New Zealand First appeals to racist sentiments, they certainly do not have much support among Asians – the correlation between voting New Zealand First and being Asian is -0.60. For being a Pacific Islander the correlation is -0.08, which suggests that Islanders are generally indifferent to Peters’s message.

Another surprising statistic is that there is no significant correlation between Median Age and voting New Zealand First (-0.08). So the idea that New Zealand First is a pensioners’ party also is a banal simplification. Indeed, the average New Zealand First voter is not much older than the average Green voter (for whom the correlation with Median Age is -0.17). Certainly much younger than the average National voter, for whom the correlation with Median Age was a very strong 0.81.

New Zealand First voters are the poorest of the supporters of any major party: voting for them has a correlation of -0.59 with Net Personal Income. They are also the most poorly educated. There is a correlation of 0.79 with voting New Zealand First and having no qualifications, which suggests a surprising working-class sentiment among their voters.

Indeed, as the New Zealand working class, especially those with no qualifications, are the primary losers from mass immigration, which sees their niche in the job market swamped with competition at the same time their rents skyrocket, it is not surprising they vote New Zealand First in great numbers.

Voting New Zealand First had a correlation of -0.41 with voting to change the flag in the second flag referendum, which might reflect monarchist sentiments, or perhaps a working class conservative streak. It could also reflect a distaste among New Zealand First supporters for the flagship project of an international banker who sold assets and opened the borders.

Supporting the idea that New Zealand First has a strong working class base, voting for them has a correlation of 0.40 with not voting at all, suggesting a significant degree of disenfranchisement. This is, however, not as strong as the correlation between voting Labour and not voting (0.67). Perhaps this is evidence of a higher level of political engagement among New Zealand First supporters compared to people in similar sociodemographics. This might reflect a higher level of political sophistication among New Zealand First supporters in comparison to those who support Labour.

Of interest to potential post-2017 coalition options, voting New Zealand First had a correlation of -0.34 with voting National, -0.39 with voting Green and 0.11 with voting Labour. The strongest correlations were 0.44 with voting Internet MANA and 0.46 with voting for the Maori Party.

On the face of it, this suggests that a Labour-New Zealand First-Maori coalition might be the left’s best best after 2017. As the correlation between voting Labour and voting Maori Party is 0.41 this arrangement might well be most amenable to all sides. That New Zealand First voters have an apparent dislike for Green voters that is even stronger than their enmity for National voters suggests the current cozy assumption of a Labour-Greens-New Zealand First coalition post 2017 might be miscalculated.

Interestingly, voting New Zealand First had a correlation of 0.57 with voting for the Cannabis Party. Although this can be mostly explained by the common factor of Maori support, it probably also reflects a shared rejection of the mainstream media message (cannabis users and New Zealand First supporters tend to share an extreme skepticism of the mainstream media).

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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: Wealth and Poverty

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This is the one correlation everyone knows. In fact, this might reflect the single most fundamental division in politics: the have-nots trying to get and the haves trying to keep. Kids at primary school figure out that rich kids are more likely to be conservative than poor ones, and nothing changes at adult level. So this article looks at correlates with Net Personal Income.

A vote for National has a moderate 0.53 correlation with Net Personal Income, whereas a vote for Labour is -0.51. These two are probably of the same magnitude because they reflect mainstream, everyday people rationally voting for what suits their economic interests (the rich for less sharing, the poor for more sharing).

Perhaps the most interesting is that the correlation between voting Conservative and Net Personal Income is an insignificant 0.06. The Conservative Party may have had a wealthy backer splashing the cash, but the sort of person who votes for them is much less big money than the average National Party voter. Possibly this reflects the degree to which religious fundamentalists were attracted by Craig’s righteous message – and religious fundamentalists are known for being uneducated and thus poor.

The correlation with ACT is 0.36, which is interesting because this is not as high as it is for National. This tells us that ACT voters are actually poorer than National voters – which goes against the stereotype of ACT being a party only for big business. They are, however, significantly more wealthy than average. This could reflect a voter base of young professionals who are doing well but lack the seniority for the really big money.

With voting New Zealand First the correlation with Net Personal Income is -0.59, which means that the average New Zealand First voter is even poorer than the average Labour one. This can be explained to a large degree by the fact that New Zealand First’s support base consists mostly of Maoris and of pensioners.

Voting for the Cannabis Party and Net Personal Income had a correlation of -0.40, which suggests that the average cannabis user, while hard done by, isn’t doing quite as bad as the average Labour or New Zealand First voter.

The correlation with voting for the Maori Party and Net Personal Income was -0.35. The fact that this is weaker than the correlation between being Maori and Net Personal Income (-0.48) suggests that the Maori Party attracts a relatively wealthy section of Maoridom.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that people of European descent are significantly wealthier than the average Kiwi – this had a correlation of 0.35 with Net Personal Income. Some might be surprised by the fact that this is a higher correlation than that of being Asian with Net Personal Income, at 0.22. This might reflect the fact that, although Asian immigrants often come here with a considerable amount of capital, their children usually end up the same kind of pleb as the rest of us.

Maoris are also much poorer than Pacific Islanders, which might surprise some. The correlation between Net Personal Income and being Maori is -0.48, whereas for Pacific Islanders it is -0.29. This might reflect the fact that a relatively higher proportion of Islanders have immigrated to New Zealand for full time work, and therefore a relatively lower proportion of them are students, children or beneficiaries.

Another correlation that will surprise no-one is that between having a Master’s degree and Net Personal Income (0.67). This was almost as strong, in the other direction, as having no qualification and Net Personal Income (-0.68). That the correlation between having a Master’s degree and Net Personal Income is stronger than with either voting National or being white underlines the value of an advanced education in an advanced post-industrial economy like New Zealand.

There is also a correlation of 0.27 between Net Personal Income and no religion. This probably reflects the fact that the religious are less likely to become educated and therefore will have less opportunity to trade their labour for high amounts of money. The correlation with being Christian was an insignificant -0.07, probably reflecting the degree to which Christianity is mainstream. The correlation with being Buddhist was 0.32, probably reflecting that immigrants from Buddhist cultures to New Zealand historically tended to be well-educated.

A statistic that will depress some and enthuse others is that the correlation between Net Personal Income and voting in the 2014 General Election is 0.52, which reflects the degree to which the poor are disenfranchised by politics in New Zealand (this correlation cannot be explained by age alone).

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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.