Why Don’t Maori Leaders Represent Their People When It Comes to Cannabis?

(Photoshop credit: Kayla Chamberlain)

It’s not a secret to VJM Publishing readers that there is a great love of cannabis among the Maori population. The Maori people were never convinced that cannabis prohibition was a good idea, and they were always more heavily impacted by the enforcement of the law than non-Maoris. So why don’t Maori leaders represent their people when it comes to changing the cannabis laws? This essay explains.

Dan McGlashan showed in Understanding New Zealand that there was an extremely strong correlation between being Maori and voting for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in 2017: 0.91. This is one of the strongest correlations between any two factors in New Zealand society, even stronger than the correlation between personal income and voting ACT, or being on the unemployment benefit and voting Labour.

So those of us in the know were not at all surprised by the Horizon Research poll announced yesterday, which stated that 75% of Maori voters intend to vote to legalise cannabis when the referendum comes around. Moreover, of the remainder, only 14% intended to vote no, with 11% being unsure. This means that up to 86% of Maoris would vote yes on the referendum if it were held tomorrow.

The question arises, however: if a vast majority of Maoris support legal cannabis, why are Maori leaders so pathetically gutless on this issue?

First of all, it should be pointed out that the bulk of non-Maori leaders are equally as cowardly, so it’s partly a disease of our own political class. Jacinda Ardern and Andrew Little have also been pathetic on this issue, as has every member of the National Party. Cowardice is a characteristic feature of New Zealand politicians, and when it comes to cannabis this seems to double.

However, the bulk of non-Maori leaders are not representing a population as heavily impacted by cannabis prohibition as Maori leaders are. The British settlers were long since used to alcohol, but for the Maoris its introduction was akin to the deployment of a bioweapon. This makes the need for cannabis law reform more pressing for Maoris, and thereby the current crop of Maori leaders more negligent than the others.

Secondly, it’s also a fact that young people are much more likely to favour cannabis law reform than the old ones who suffered most of the propaganda. Again as shown by McGlashan, the correlation between median age and voting for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in 2014 was -0.55, which supports the Horizon Research poll suggesting that Maoris under 55 years of age are much more likely to support legalisation.

Most of the Members of Parliament who are Maori are old, so it can be seen that their attitudes are very likely the same prejudices against cannabis held by other old people. After all, they all went through the same reefer madness brainwashing as the other old people. At least part of the failure of Maori leaders on this issue can be attributed to the general failure of the Boomer generation to appreciate the perspectives of other generations. They’re simply out of touch.

Thirdly – and this is a very sad and depressing fact – there is a lot of lobbyist money from anti-cannabis sources flowing into the coffers of various politicians. A previous study here at VJM Publishing showed that at least 7% of National Party funding came directly from alcohol manufacturers and their associations, and those groups will have leaned heavily on the recipients to vote against any recreational alternative to alcohol.

We can’t say that any of these Maori leaders are taking money from alcohol, tobacco or pharmaceutical interests, because we don’t have any evidence for that. But there is a fuckton of anti-cannabis lobbyist money and these politicians are taking positions consistent with what the lobbyists want them to take. They’re certainly signalling a willingness to take money from such lobbyists. Ockham’s Razor would suggest that we at least be suspicious.

All of this helps to explain why Willie Jackson, Peeni Henare, Meka Whaitiri, and all the Maori members of the New Zealand First caucus voted against Chloe Swarbrick’s medicinal cannabis bill. Basically, they don’t give a shit about the reality of life on the ground for the average Maori, they just want their votes on the way to the Parliament trough.

The reality of life on the ground is that a great proportion of the Maori people have taken to cannabis because it’s a recreational alternative to alcohol. The arrival of alcohol had a similar effect on Maoris as it did on most New World people suddenly exposed to it: utter carnage, and they are smart enough to have learned that a session on cannabis tends up to end up much happier than a booze one.

We can’t realistically expect courage or leadership from a New Zealand politician, but we can at least expect them to understand and acknowledge when the winds of opinion have changed among the people they’re supposed to be representing, and to act accordingly. Maori leaders need to come out and publicly state that cannabis law reform is the way forward, not just for their constituents but for the entire nation.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

Why Victimhood Is Aggression

In a moral climate as degenerate as ours, weakness has become a virtue. We have come to believe that anyone who is weak must be innocent and the victim of misfortune or prejudice, and is therefore owed compensation. This has led to interest groups scrambling to position themselves as the biggest victim. This essay explains how victimhood is a form of aggression.

Justice is all about setting to rights what people are owed. If someone assaults another person, or steals from them, it’s important that the wider community steps in and sets things to rights. If they don’t, the original victim (or their friends and family) will seek vengeance, which historically has led to blood-feuding, which has frequently led to the destruction of entire areas.

Blood-feuding led to rulers and magistrates enforcing a code of laws – a codified, written set of laws and punishments for anyone who breaks those laws. The advantage of a code of laws is that aggrieved parties appeal to a magistrate for justice instead of taking revenge themselves, which means that grievances tend to settle down instead of festering into blood feuds.

The aggrieved party in any question of justice expects to be compensated. So the giver of justice, in order to keep the peace, tends to pass down rulings that favour the aggrieved. Because of the good nature of other people, it’s usually assumed that any party claiming a grievance must be deserving of compensation, and as a result, the majority of grievances are taken seriously.

The difficulty arises, as it has today, when some people start to realise that a sense of victimhood is highly profitable. A person, or group of people, with a deeply entrenched sense of victimhood can force the society around them to adapt to their wishes. This society does out of a fear of the implied threat of blood-feuding if those grievances are not settled. So artificially stoking a sense of victimhood can bring political power.

New Zealand anarchist philosopher Rick Giles has described this permanent victimhood as Victimhood Culture, one of the four major moral cultures of human history. Giles points out that, no matter how many concessions are given to people in victim mode, it’s never enough. This is because victimhood is an entire culture, a mindset into which people fall and into which they are often raised. It’s characterised by an absence of both honour and dignity.

There are genuine victims, but the proportion of them are ever fewer, and the proportion of grifters and chancers ever higher.

Making out like you’re owed, by exaggerating a sense of victimhood, is an act of aggression. The purpose is to intimidate good-natured people into giving up their wealth or freedom in order to compensate you for the supposed injustice. Because most people have trouble believing that anyone could be as shameless as to pretend to be a victim, most assertions of victimhood are taken at face value.

In reality, the world is an extremely complicated place. There are always a multitude of competing explanations for any political or historical event that might occur or have occurred, or for any sociological phenomenon that may have arisen. Therefore, it’s not always obvious to work out if you have been treated unfairly or not. So whether a person declares that they are a victim or not tells us much about them.

Take the example of the New Zealand Maori. The question of whether they benefitted from colonisation is one that draws a wide variety of responses. The competing explanations are that the British Empire showed up and rescued them from a life of intertribal warfare, slavery and cannibalism (on the one hand), or that they lived in perfect harmony with nature and with each other before the British turned up and corrupted them (on the other), or somewhere in between.

Therefore, it isn’t obvious for individual Maoris to know how much of a sense of victimhood they ought to feel. Inevitably, what ends up happening is that people feel a sense of victimhood that is proportionate to their own level of interpersonal aggression. This is why radicalism and violence go hand-in-hand.

This is true of people in any race, class or religion. If they are naturally aggressive, they will naturally want to take from others, and a sense of victimhood is the perfect justification. All that’s needed is some way of interpreting history so that you or the group you belong to were victimised by some other. Then, that other can be attacked until it pays compensation.

Unfortunately, this means that a sense of victimhood is worth money. If it can be stoked in other people, by suggesting to those people that they are victims and are owed compensation, then this victimhood can be parlayed into cash, jobs and other perks. A person claiming to represent a group of victims can easily siphon wealth into their own pockets. This makes it immensely tempting to stoke victimhood and to aggravate grievances.

The wise thing to do is to be exceptionally wary of anyone, whether an individual or a group, that claims to be a victim. Almost inevitably, this group will have managed to justify aggression against those who they see as oppressors. For this reason, a sense of victimhood, and perpetuating a sense of victimhood, can rightly be seen as a sign of aggression.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda V

This reading carries on from here.

The fifth chapter of Edward Bernays’s Propaganda is called ‘Business and the Public’.

Businesses have realised that their interactions with the public are not limited to selling their product. They also have to keep on side with that public, otherwise the latter will pass laws restricting the operational freedom of that business. This need to stay onside with the moral fashions of the public has created the public relations industry.

Incredibly for 1928, Bernays is already talking about the fact that it is no longer demand that causes goods to be supplied to the market. He is aware even then that demand is something that is created, and that this is economically necessary in an age of mass production owing to the size of the capital investment necessary to get started. This is entirely different to even a century beforehand.

It has meant that psychology is now necessary in order to conduct business. The minds of the market, both as individuals and as collectives, must be understood. The vast reach of mass media only makes this more important. “Business must express itself and its entire corporate existence so that the public will understand and accept it.”

A company must think hard about the impression that it creates on other people. This means that businesses have to think about things like the dress of their staff. Much of this sounds routine for 2019, so it must be remembered this book was written in 1928.

The propagandist’s work can be divided into two major groups: “continuous interpretation” and “dramatisation by highspotting”. The former is a kind of micromanagement of the public mind in all minor matters, whereas the latter attempts to create a striking and lasting impression. The appropriate method to use can only be determined after a thorough study of the needs of the client.

Bernays writes of his conviction that “as big business becomes bigger the need for expert manipulation of its innumerable contacts with the public will become greater.” Critical to this is finding common interests between the good or service to be sold and the public interest. This search can have an almost infinite number of dimensions. He emphasises against that the goodwill of the public is necessary for any success, in particular stock floats.

Competition is now so intense that almost every decision made by the consumer is someone’s interest. Even the choice of what to eat for breakfast impacts a large number of corporate interests, all of who want to sell their product. Bernays jokes that this might lead to people becoming fat out of a fear that manufacturers will go bankrupt if people don’t eat enough – bizarrely ironic considering our obesity struggles 90 years later.

Bernays finishes this chapter writing about the amusement industry, which has its roots in carnivals and “medicine shows”. They were the ones who taught business and industry about propaganda. Ultimately, propaganda is a dynamic industry that responds to changing trends, and therefore “Modern business must have its finger continuously on the public pulse”.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

Can We Euthanise Parliament, And Start Again?

Animal lovers and ethologists in New Zealand were dealt a blow yesterday by the news that four baboons at Wellington Zoo had to be put down, on account of that their social structure had collapsed. This social collapse had led to increased interpersonal aggression, and it was decided that it would be cruel to allow it to continue. As this essay will examine, the baboons were not the only group of primates in Wellington whose social structure has broken down.

Not all animals take well to captivity, and so the type of fighting that the Wellington baboons fell into is far from unique. It’s common for zoo animals to feel depression, anxiety and elevated levels of aggression. The reason why is described in the linked article, by the CEO of animal rights group SAFE, Debra Ashton:

“Social structures suffer in enclosed environments and could be attributed to fighting and anxiety for animals. When these social systems break down and there is fighting, vulnerable animals are not in a position to be able to escape as they would in the wild.”

People find this easy to accept in the case of baboons, but all of these facts are equally true of the human species. Individual human animals can fail to adapt to captivity in much the same way that the baboons in the story above did. Our society is equally as much a closed, prison-like space with no opportunity of escape – in fact, we arguably have even less opportunity to escape, with the advent of our 24/7 social media culture.

Nowhere is this more true than Parliament.

It’s clear from what happened between Jami-Lee Ross and the rest of the National Party, in particular Simon Bridges and Sarah Dowie, that the social structure there has broken down, leading to elevated levels of interpersonal aggression. These people are supposed to be colleagues, and yet they psychologically abuse each other to the point of openly wishing that the other would commit suicide. They are causing each other horrific amounts of harm, and it might be humane to intervene.

The problem is that many Parliamentarians have become demented. It’s apparent from observing individuals like Jacinda Ardern and Judith Collins that all the humanity has long since been lost from these people. They are twisted creatures of hate, willing to cause any amount of suffering to their own people if it furthers their ambitions. Any amount of suffering caused is acceptable if it makes you wealthier, or increases your standing in the eyes of the United Nations.

All of this raises a question: would it be more humane of us to accept that the social environment of Parliament has disintegrated, that this is causing great pain, and to euthanise all our MPs to prevent further suffering to them?

We don’t have to do it in a bloody manner. It can be done dispassionately and without prejudice. We just have to line our MPs up and march them into a veterinary office, where they are held down and given a lethal injection, one by one, and the bodies disposed of. We could even model our approach on that taken towards the four baboons at Wellington Zoo.

Once the humane thing has been done, Parliament would be empty. The New Zealand people would then be free to fill it with individuals who represented them, and who could co-operate in order to solve the challenges facing us as a people. Euthanising all of our current MPs would allow us to dissolve the rotten culture of abuse and hatred that defines our current Parliamentary system, and to replace it with something that worked for the people it’s supposed to represent.

Some might say that this proposal sounds cruel. The reality is that it would be cruel to continue to allow our Parliamentarians to suffer inside a completely failed social system. The individuals inside the Beehive are in deep emotional pain, and nothing will be able to prevent this, apart from starting again. This is apparent from the months off work that Jami-Lee Ross had taken in order to deal with the stress-related damage of the constant abuse he received from the others.

Therefore, euthanising them all is the most humane option.

One popular proposal is for the New Zealand people to come together and to agree on a list of inalienable rights that any future Parliament would be forced to accept, else run the risk of being euthanised again. This would start with the creation of a mission statement, which would declare that the objective of the New Zealand Parliament was to eliminate the suffering of the New Zealand people.

This means that the euthanisation of Parliament would not have to lead to chaos and disarray. If the correct approach was taken, and sufficient preparations made beforehand, it could lead to a drastic decrease in suffering among the New Zealand people.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

VJMP Reads: Edward Bernays’s Propaganda IV


This reading carries on from here.

The fourth chapter of Edward Bernays’s Propaganda is called ‘The Psychology of Public Relations’.

The study of mass psychology made people understand the possibility of the invisible government. We learned that the group has qualities that are distinct from the qualities of individuals. Bernays poses the question here: “is it not possible for us to control and regiment the masses according to our will without them knowing it?”

Bernays says it is possible, with certain limitations owing to the fact that psychological science is not well developed (it’s worth noting here, again, that this book was written in 1928). Propaganda is a human science and can therefore, like economics and sociology, never be exact.

Bernays again makes the point that if you can influence the leaders, you also influence the groups that they influence. Man’s gregarious nature will make him feel that he is part of a herd, and part of this herd psychology is to allow the group to make its imprints on him. Bernays gives the example of the man who buys railroad shares because something has caused him to associate that company with good feelings.

The group mind doesn’t really think, as such. Rather, it has emotions and raw animal impulses. Its first impulse is to follow a trusted leader. In this sense, we can see that the group mind is very primitive. But when a leader is not on hand and “the herd must think for itself”, it tends to do so in the form of simple cliches, whether in word or image form.

The truth is that men are seldom aware of what actually motivates their actions. They believe themselves to be making rational and dispassionate decisions, when in reality they are influenced by crude egotistical and biological desires. Freud was one of those who made people aware of how many of our desires and behaviours are really just expression of suppressed instincts. A man buys a car for status, not for locomotion.

The successful propagandist must understand people’s true motives, and therefore cannot be content with the reasons people give for why they do things. Human desires are “the steam which makes the human machine work”, and only by understanding these can the propagandist control society.

Old propaganda used what Bernays calls “reaction psychology”, in which people are more or less told what to buy. The new propaganda is more subtle. Instead of advertising bacon, the propagandist convinces doctors to tell their patients to eat it. Instead of breaking down sales resistance by direct attack, propagandists now act to remove it through subtle means.

If the propagandist can make it the group custom to buy a particular good, then he has succeeded. The old propaganda asked people to buy that good; the new propaganda convinces people to go into the salesroom and ask to be sold that good.

The leaders who lend their authority to a propagandist’s endeavour will only do so if it accords with their own interests. For this reason, the propagandist must endeavour to understand the aspirations of as many people as possible. There will be cases in which the interests of many different groups overlap, and in that there is power.

The new propaganda is based on “enlightened self-interest”. Bernays concludes this chapter by saying that this, and the three previous chapters, were devoted to giving a general outline of how propaganda works, and in the remainder of the book he will look at specifics.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

Government Action on Housing Crisis Missing-In-Action

by MARTIN GRONBACH

I stare wide eyed at my phone and let loose a snort of equal parts disgust and derision.

The listing on TradeMe for my neighbour’s house has revealed their asking price.

$540,000.

This probably won’t be terribly offensive to those of you battling to buy your own home considering the average house price in New Zealand reached an eye watering $645,250 as of last year, but let me put my outrage in context.

This is the asking price for a reasonable 3-bedroom house in Carterton, Wairarapa.

Over half a million for a house in Cartervegas, with me as a neighbour? Get the fuck outta here.

If this what politicians put forward as the “affordable provinces” then any young person aspiring to one day own their own home is pretty damn screwed. Trust fund babies need not consider themselves applicable.

Last year I decided to ask the three local councils as to what actions they were taking to address the housing crisis and housing affordability.

The responses ranged from “We can’t do anything”, “It’s not our problem to solve”, “Define affordable” to “We are waiting on direction and leadership on the issue from central government”.

Local governments are not interested in taking a leading role in solving the housing crisis. Maybe this is due to the nearly non-existent representation of young people in local body politics, but that’s a topic for another time.

If not local government, surely our transformative coalition government could surely be trusted to be kicking arse for the long-suffering Kiwi first home buyer?

Brace yourself for crushing disappointment as the salvation of Generation Rent won’t be found with this current government – at least not this term.

Kiwibuild has been flogged by Labour as the band-aid to fix the housing crisis booboo as far back as 2012. However once in a position to actually implement the policy in 2017, it was quickly revealed just how little thought had gone into it.

The reality was that Labour’s fix for the housing crisis was over-hyped and under-cooked, inaccessible for anyone earning the average wage, that had school age children, or any number of the realities New Zealanders face. With the additional restrictions on selling the property within three years, designed to stop property speculation, people considering Kiwibuild are better off not using the scheme if possible, as buying on the open market doesn’t have any such restrictions and, in the end, any difference in the final price paid was negligible.

It’s a sad state of affairs that even with the supposed singleness of purpose and financial backing of the tax payer, Kiwibuild has completely failed to deliver for the majority of people that voted for it.

With numerous New Zealand based kit-set home manufacturers, even houses built by robots in Wellington, building houses isn’t the bottleneck. Land supply, and the price of ticking the boxes before building, however, is.

Reforming the Resource Management Act to allow for faster development of land should be one of the more obvious issues to deal with if the Government was actually serious about tackling the housing crisis. Likewise, opening up the building materials market to some international competition by way of reforming the New Zealand Building Code could potentially topple the monopoly enjoyed by a select few manufacturers price gouging the currently captive New Zealand market and further decrease building costs.

Another touted solution in the build up to the election was the so-called foreign ownership ban. Put forward by both Labour and New Zealand First, this would stop overseas investment in our domestic housing market. However, this did not mean ALL foreign ownership as Australians, who make up a third of all foreign owners of New Zealand property alone, as well as Singaporean nationals in the pursuit of a YET ANOTHER free-trade agreement, are still able to buy New Zealand property.

Again, this was found to be a relative non-issue as measly three percent of all property sold was to foreign buyers and that three percent was mostly made up of large-scale farms and stations, life-style blocks and shares in new-build apartment blocks. While I don’t agree with any foreign ownership of New Zealand land, in the context of the housing crisis, this is, and continues to be, an outlying issue, if not entirely separate from the housing crisis.

Generation Rent isn’t, and never was, in the market for a thousand acres of pristine South Island sheep country, so the foreign ownership ban had little real impact in this regard.

The main influencers of the housing crisis are two issues. The first was, and continues to be, New Zealand’s high levels of immigration. That contentious issue both Labour AND New Zealand First made a huge deal about during the opposition years and during the 2017 election, which our coalition government now seems reluctant to firmly act on, apart from putting the boot into low hanging fruit like the dodgy export education industry.

Ironically the fallout following the banning of Huawei from supplying equipment for the upcoming 5G rollout, the responsive drop in tourists and wealthy international students from China may end up having more of a tangible impact on addressing housing affordability that anything the Government has intentionally done to date.

The second genuine influencer is the rife accumulation, hoarding and speculation of housing by fellow, and now extremely wealthy, New Zealanders. The final word on cause of the housing crisis is that it is a mess of our own making. Kiwis ripping off Kiwis. Ever heard of a cap or outright ban on the number of investment properties? Me neither, and so long as we keep voting for the same four political parties, you never will.

With Generation Rent’s patience starting to wear thin and half their term over already, the coalition government can’t afford to continue to wear the kiddie gloves for fear of threatening the entitlement culture of wealthy New Zealand nor the construction sector lobbyists whilst avoiding the real causes of our housing crisis. 2019 will either make or break this government and younger people’s trust in it.

At the end of the day I don’t want or need 20 rental properties. No reasonable New Zealander does.

I just want the safety and security of providing a home for my wife and children that won’t be put up for sale as soon as the market conditions are favourable.

But not for over half a million in bloody Carterton, thanks.

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Martin Gronbach is an unashamed nationalist, self-aware 30-year-old boomer, active political shitposter, father, husband, engineering student and full member of Generation Rent who lives in the Wairarapa.

Electoral Consequences of the Rise of a New Blue-Green Party in New Zealand

Much recent attention has been given to the possibility that a new blue-green party might arise to contest the 2020 General Election. A man named Vernon Tava has been interviewed outlining his vision for the putative movement, which is said to have some support. In this article, demographer Dan McGlashan, author of Understanding New Zealand, explains the electoral ramifications.

First, we need to determine who might vote for such a blue-green party. Secondly, we will speculate on what might happen if a large number of people do.

Crudely speaking, and this is very crude, we can say that New Zealand divides into four groups: the urban poor, who vote Labour, the urban rich, who vote Green, the rural poor, who vote New Zealand First, and the rural rich, who vote National.

The borderline between the Green and the National parties, therefore, is between the city and the country, and the unifying feature of these two parties is that their constituents are wealthy. So any new blue-green party would primarily target people who were doing better than average, regardless of whether they lived in the city or the country. But to distinguish them from the conservatives, they would need either an environmental or a social justice aspect from the green side.

Green and National voters are also characterised by being better educated than average (indeed, this is the basis of their greater wealth). So a green-blue party might target students, especially those who study at suburban universities. What unifies them, in particular, is that they tend to have globalist sympathies, and they tend to oppose the nationalist sentiments that they observe in Labour and New Zealand First.

This column has previously discussed the fact that the National and Green parties could ally on the basis of both being strong supporters of globalism. A new blue-green party might combine the green commitment to environmental causes with the desire to liberalise free trade and the movement of cheap labour (ignore the contradictions in that for a moment). They would then effectively be a neoliberal party.

The most obvious point is that such a party would compete directly with The Opportunities Party. As I showed shortly after the previous election in 2017, the bulk of TOP voters were disaffected Green voters. They were mostly young and well-educated, of either gender and any ethnicity, and were the ones most easily reached by the heavy investment made by TOP in FaceBook advertising. They have also had the most anti-nationalist conditioning.

Green Party voters would also be tempted towards a new party. The reason for this is many Green voters are well-educated, and so they often find themselves becoming wealthy by the end of their 30s, which means that they start to have an interest in protecting that wealth, and thereby paying less taxes. This pulls them towards the National Party, but they tend to be repelled by National’s indifferent attitude to human suffering.

National voters, for their part, will be hard to tempt to any blue-green party. For one thing, National voters are particularly loyal: the correlation between voting National in 2014 and voting National in 2017 was 0.99, an exceptionally strong correlation and higher than the equivalent figure for any other party. The other reason will be the electoral ramifications, as discussed below.

Second, the other major area of interest is the electoral ramifications of such a party if it would form and seriously contest the 2020 General Election.

One obvious point here is that the rise of a blue-green party would make things exceptionally difficult for The Opportunities Party. Although TOP does not describe itself as a blue-green party, they are competing for almost exactly the same demographic as any such new endeavour would also be competing for. Getting 5% of the electorate vote is hard enough as it is, and having two fledgling parties contesting that vote will make things extremely hard for both.

The obvious major point here relates to the overlap with Green Party voters. The Green Party only just made it over the threshold at the 2017 General Election, winning a mere 6.27% of the total votes. This means that they would only have to lose 30,000 or so votes in 2020 to a new blue-green party to run the risk of falling under the 5% threshold and so dropping out of Parliament entirely.

Ironically, game theory suggests that this is one of the most plausible ways for National to win the election. If a blue-green party did win enough of the Green Party vote that both parties failed to make the 5% threshold, the left bloc would lose all those Green party votes as well as some of the blue-green party ones, whereas the right bloc would only lose some of the blue-green party ones. This would leave National and ACT against Labour, competing for New Zealand First support.

Of course, these options are moot if the proposed party does win 5% of the electorate vote. As explained above, this would almost certainly lead to the obliteration of both the Greens and TOP, who are chasing similar voters. Assuming New Zealand First also won 5%, then there could be another head-to-head fight between Labour and National for the loyalty of the centrist parties, who would then in all probability hold the balance of power.

Because getting 5% of the vote is so difficult, and because the competition for the blue-green niche already so fierce, the future chances of Vernon Tava’s movement look extremely slim. They might have a greater impact as a spoiler that helps to wipe out the Green and Opportunities Parties, for the sake of ensuring that National holds the balance of power after 2020.

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Understanding New Zealand, by Dan McGlashan and published by VJM Publishing, is the comprehensive guide to the demographics and voting patterns of the New Zealand people. It is available on TradeMe (for Kiwis) and on Amazon (for international readers).

The Case For Cannabis: The Market Needs to Be Regulated

One of the strongest arguments for cannabis law reform is the appeal to regulate the market. The idea that a government can make cannabis illegal and then it just “goes away” is childish, and the historical example has borne this out. As this article will examine, legal cannabis is the only realistic way to regulate the market.

Many people envision that the world before cannabis prohibition was one of chaos. Shady dealers set up outside high schools to sell to pupils, pharmacists pushed untested and unresearched cannabis products on a naive public and criminal enterprises got fat with the income from cannabis bootlegging. The reality is closer to the reverse of this.

When a substance such as cannabis becomes illegal by act of law, what that means in practice is that the manufacture and supply of that good becomes completely unregulated. Making something illegal is not a way of regulating it – it’s a way of putting it into the “too hard” basket. It shifts control from the regulators to the black market.

The black market doesn’t attract nice people. It generally attracts people with no better options – desperados. Because there is currently no opportunity to legally profit from cannabis in New Zealand, the only people who deal with the subject matter are black marketeers. There is no guarantee that such individuals will adhere to what has been established overseas as professional industry standards for manufacture and supply of cannabis products.

Regarding the manufacture of goods on the black market, it’s apparent that there are little in the way of health and safety considerations. This is a relatively minor concern in the case of cannabis, but it’s still possible that any bud manufactured by a criminal enterprise has used unwanted chemicals in the growing process. They might have used chemical fertilisers that leave side-products that people don’t want in their bodies, or treated the bud with something to make it appear danker.

When it comes to supply, the situation is even worse. A normal business primarily competes with others through advertising, whether word-of-mouth or commercial. They don’t compete through intimidation. The manager of the local Countdown would never send an underling to take out Fresh Choice workers for selling on the wrong turf. Black marketeers selling illicit drugs happily take their competitors out such ways though.

The vast majority of the criminal activity associated with cannabis comes about because of prohibition. It’s isn’t natural to cannabis. With no regulatory oversight, there’s nothing stopping the black market selling to 13-year olds or wiping their competitors out in turf wars. Cannabis is already illegal, so it’s not like the victims could go to the Police. Black market actors have free rein until they are arrested.

Practically speaking, there is going to be a cannabis market whether we like it or not, so we might as well make sure that it’s on the level.

Regulation would solve the problem of tainted product, because growers will need to be able to account for their grow methodology and process. End consumers will be prevented from becoming ill because the possibility of dangerous chemicals being used at some point in the process will be minimised. If anyone does become sick, responsibility can be placed on the correct party and appropriate measures taken.

Moreover, a regulated cannabis supplier or dealer is much more likely to comply with public requests for decency than the black market is. Regulation will inevitably mean that cannabis dealers will need to become licensed, which means that they are strongly incentivised to adhere to laws regarding not supplying to minors, not supplying to intoxicated people etc. They also can’t shoot their competitors and expect that this will lead to a greater market share.

A final benefit is that regulation will mean that cannabis suppliers cannot deal with other products as well. As mentioned elsewhere, the gateway drug effect can only occur when people seeking cannabis are exposed to hard drugs. A professional cannabis retailer will not have an incentive to offer their customers methamphetamine, unlike a gang member. In practice, they are unlikely to even be allowed to sell alcohol or tobacco.

All this means that regulation will have the effect of almost taking cannabis away from the black market entirely. Those who are allowed to compete on the legal market for cannabis will have to meet quality standards that ensure that safety of the users (to such a degree that this is possible when people take psychoactive drugs). This will have the overall effect of reducing harm.

Cannabis should be legal because regulation of cannabis causes less suffering than criminalising it. We need to abandon the childish idea that making something illegal makes it go away, and employ a sophisticated and intelligent approach to dealing with the issues caused by cannabis. The only realistic way to do this is through regulation.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Reform Would Not Send The Wrong Message to the Children

One of the usual reasons trotted out for opposing cannabis law reform is that it “wouldn’t send the right message to the kids”. This was the statement that John Key frequently made to the media when pressed on the subject. As this article will examine, however, this thought-terminating cliche also attitude is mistaken.

It might sound laughable, but there are many in the New Zealand Government who believe that their personal conduct sets an example for the rest of the country to follow. These deluded fools genuinely believe that the young people of the nation look to them as an example of integrity, honesty and correct conduct. So detached from the people are they, that they are entirely unaware of the contempt in which they are held.

Some of these egomaniacs are afraid that making any move on cannabis law reform would “send the wrong message to the kids”. By this, they think that liberalising the cannabis laws will lead to a spate of young people taking up cannabis use as a habit, on account of that their elders had sent them the message that it was okay.

Leaving aside the obvious retort that this would actually be a good thing if it stopped those young people from doing as much alcohol or synthetic drugs, there are a number of reasons to think that this reasoning is illogical.

For one thing, the message that the politicians appear to be sending by example of their conduct is one of alcohol, tobacco and sleaze. If they are the ones setting the standards for the young to follow, then we can look forward to many decades of boozing, bribery, infidelity, dishonesty, backstabbing and all manner of petty quibbling and bitching.

For another thing, we have to ask ourselves if prohibition itself is actually a good message to be sending out.

The message that the Government seems to be sending by enforcing cannabis prohibition is that the best way to deal with drug problems is by putting people in cages. If someone has a drug dependency of some kind, the way to help them is not by giving them medical care, but by physically forcing them into a cage full of rapists, murderers and thieves.

They seem to be telling people that empathy and compassion don’t factor into government decisions, and that they are more than happy to brutally force citizens to conform to arbitrary laws, even when those same citizens don’t consent to them. Your body is the property of the Government, and they can do what they want with it, including put it in a cage if you use a medicine they don’t approve of.

Worse, they’re also sending the message that science, logic and reason don’t factor into government decisions. The Government is happy to go along with foreign mass hysteria about reefer madness, and thinks it acceptable to force laws onto New Zealanders on the grounds that they have been introduced overseas, with no consideration given to the science or to the need for evidence.

Perhaps the worst message of all has been that sent by Parliamentarians who have ignored all the letters and emails they have received from their constituents about cannabis law reform. For decades, Kiwis have been entreating their Parliamentarians to do something about cannabis prohibition, knowing how much access to cannabis medicine would improve their life quality. And for decades, those Parliamentarians did nothing – the vast majority too cowardly to even raise a peep.

By ignoring the will of the people for cannabis reform, the Government is sending the message that it’s acceptable for the Government to impose whatever arbitrary laws it likes on the population, even without that population’s consent, and then to ignore them when they complain about the suffering caused. This is far more of a danger than the risk of Parliamentarians sending the message that it’s okay to use cannabis.

If the Government is truly concerned about the message that their conduct sends to the people, they ought to legalise cannabis today, and make an apology for all the suffering their actions caused by waging a War on Drugs against their own people. This would send a message of humility, integrity and contrition – much better than imprisoning people for using a substance that the New Zealand people think should be legal.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.