A recent Customs report suggests that the New Zealand Government may lose up to $10,000,000 in revenue per year from a black market in tobacco as a consequence of raising taxes on both cigarettes and loose tobacco. The predictable Government reaction will be more restrictions against home growing and even more taxes, but this essay will argue that if the Government had any sense they’d drop the whole hubris-fuelled idea.
An example of how the Kiwi political class has more shit for brains than it does grey or white matter was provided by Nicky Wagner’s response to the report. She said:
“We’re monitoring it very closely, we’re intercepting [tobacco] the border, you may be aware that the Customs and Excise Act is changing in the New Year. That cuts the amount of growth for personal use from 15 kilograms down to 5kg… We’re attacking it on several different levels.”
So rather than accept that they may have made an error, or that the 40-year failure of the War on Drugs may have taught us anything, or that the failure of alcohol prohibition in America may have taught us anything, our politicians are just going to double down on pissing our taxmoney up the wall.
Tobacco prohibition, however gradually it might be brought about, is a sadistic idea dreamed up by morons.
Some might ask, given the evident physical dangers of smoking tobacco, how this can be.
The answer: tobacco is a mental health medicine. This is not generally understood by either doctors severely brainwashed into taking a physicalist perspective towards everything or by politicians who are generally either ignorant or indifferent to mental health and the people suffering from a lack of it.
It has long been noted that people who are hard done by and the majority of severely mentally ill people smoke something, almost always either tobacco or cannabis.
An article from the Journal of the American Medical Association points out that “individuals with mental illness smoke at rates approximately twice that of adults without mental disorders… and comprise more than half of nicotine-dependent smokers.”
In other words, half of the haul of increased tax revenue from the Smokefree New Zealand policy comes out of the wallets of mentally ill people who are taxed for trying to obtain relief from psychological distress.
And the higher they pump the tax up, the more the mentally ill will just have to keep paying, because people with high levels of psychological distress have no other reliable way to control that distress when it gets out of control than to have a cigarette.
Why the Smokefree New Zealand policy is so cruel can be summarised with a line from a recent article in the Journal of Nicotine and Tobacco Research: “people with high levels of psychological distress do not benefit to the same extent as others from existing tobacco control measures.”
In fact, people with high levels of psychological distress lose out immensely from the Smokefree New Zealand policy, because they have to pay more for tobacco which leaves them in increased poverty, which increases the psychological distress (and thus the demand for tobacco).
Here’s a question that the gutless chickenshits in Parliament will never have the courage to ask themselves: Is there a connection between the tobacco prices and our world record teen suicide rate?
They won’t ask themselves that question, because they lack either the integrity or the courage. The rest of us, for our part, might like to consider this question: will the attempt to ban tobacco be any less of a futile waste of resources, achieving nothing but human misery, than the attempts to ban alcohol and cannabis have been?
This column contends that it will not. The crusade against tobacco has all the hallmarks of being another futile, self-destructive suicide mission foisted on an unwilling populace by the morons in Parliament.
On the face of it, it seems self-evident that a New Zealand libertarian party would be a staunch supporter of cannabis law reform. There’s nothing less libertarian than the government putting people in cages for using a medicine they don’t approve of, and there’s nowhere in the world with a greater appetite for a repeal of cannabis prohibition.
The New Zealand ACT Party claims to be a libertarian party. They have wrapped themselves in the libertarian yellow and their website boldly states “We believe the current role of government is far too large and should be limited on a principled basis.”
Sounds good, as probably 75% of New Zealand agrees that the New Zealand Government’s decades-long war on medicinal cannabis users has been a governmental overreach and should be limited.
The ACT Party Crime and Justice page even goes as far as to state, at the top: “We’re striving for a progressive, vibrant New Zealand that encourages individual choice, responsibility and excellence.”
From all this rhetoric you’d think a repeal of cannabis prohibition would be front and centre, but it’s not even mentioned. Instead the entire Crime and Justice section is just a lengthy diatribe about how burglary is the greatest evil facing our nation and ought to be punished severely.
The inability of the ACT Party to make good on their rhetoric about compassion and freedom by supporting a repeal of New Zealand’s cannabis laws – despite their unprecedented degree of leverage on the current Government – marks that party, and David Seymour, as a pack of weaklings.
What takes the ACT Party’s behaviour from disappointing to pathetic is the fact that it has already been well established that a repeal of our cannabis laws would save the taxpayer $400,000,000 per year.
So changing our cannabis laws, and making good on all the lofty rhetoric about compassion and freedom and fulfilling New Zealand’s destiny as a forward-thinking nation, would be a simple matter of negotiating with the current National Government $400,000,000 worth of tax cuts that would be paid for with the savings from cannabis prohibition.
It isn’t clear why Seymour has yet to kick the ball into this wide open goal.
Probably because he is a coward, but it’s unlikely that a man could possibly be so craven. Imagine being so gutless, so lily-livered, so chickenshit, that a 76-year old former leader of your party was saying what needed to be said six years ago, and you still can’t find the stomach to walk the same trail blazed by this geriatric.
A more charitable explanation though, going by his wittering about the need to do work on evaluating what’s happening overseas, is that Seymour is just in the same twenty-year time warp as most of the rest of the country.
It was pointed out in a previous Dan McGlashan column that supporting the ACT Party has a very strong negative correlation with being born in New Zealand (-0.74). Has the ACT Party sold its soul to corporate globalist interests so that Seymour could be a National party puppet?
Considering that there are significant correlations between voting ACT and both having a professional occupation, or with working in financial and insurance services, it’s unlikely that ACT voters or supporters have much in common with cannabis users at all, much less using cannabis themselves.
If those are the circles Seymour moves in, perhaps this is why Seymour has failed to observe the immense appetite for a change to our ridiculous laws.
So maybe he needs to climb down out of the ivory tower and get a clue.
Coming out in support of cannabis law reform would lend credence to the idea that ACT might really be a libertarian party, instead of what most Kiwis suspect them to be – paid whores of big corporate interests.
The question is whether Seymour has the courage to stand up to a Catholic prohibitionist National Party leader, or whether he’d rather scurry away and prepare himself for the aftermath of the likely National loss later this year.
The most sure thing of all is that if ACT does not make an appeal to libertarian New Zealanders by updating their cannabis policy, they have little hope of winning more than one seat in this year’s election.
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Of all the world-hating, female-fearing, life-denying cults that sprang up in the wake of the Curse of Abraham, one of the most interesting is Gnosticism. As far as Abrahamic cults go, it’s unusually moderate, and its adherents appear to have achieved a far higher level of general spiritual awareness than the others. It’s worth taking a closer look at.
Gnosticism might not even really be an Abrahamic cult, as the sentiments that led to its creation may predate Abraham and go all the way back to Zoroaster, but the common interpretation of it nowadays is in the Christian context, as it was codified in the Christian Syria and Egypt of the second century A.D.
We may never really know if this movement was started by Christians who accidentally got close to the truth or if it was started by people who knew the truth and therefore knew that they had to modify it to fit a Christian paradigm for it to be accepted. Therefore we cannot judge if the Gnostics basically had it right or wrong (at least not here).
The essentials are this: there exists a unified, remote, supreme force that is considered a deity. From this deity various lesser forms have emanated. It is one of these forms – known as the demiurge – that has created our material world. In some schools of Gnosticism this demiurge is considered merely imperfect – in others, outright evil.
The essential idea that the world as it appears to the senses is not the full story is an idea that is shared with many other esoteric traditions. On the face of it there are similarities with the Hindu concept of Maya.
Let’s leave aside what we know about consciousness and the contents of consciousness for now. This essay posits a simple argument: any demiurge intelligent enough to have created the world in which we find ourselves wouldn’t do anything so simple and easy to outwit as merely maintaining the illusion of a material world.
A clever demiurge would create two competing illusions, one masculine and one feminine. In this manner, the vast majority of people will spend all their time and wit trying to figure out which of the masculine or feminine illusions are correct, never suspecting that they were both shadows cast by one black fire.
This is a far more accurate picture of our world that to posit simply truth and illusion. There is not only truth and illusion, but truth within illusion, and enough so to make it far more powerful an illusion.
After all, if we were merely trapped in an illusion, then knowing the truth would be a simple matter of outlining the illusion and then looking at its opposite.
A clever demiurge might create just the one material world, but it would be created in a way such that there were at least two entirely different interpretations of it, and therefore conflict. This conflict would itself intensify the power of the illusion, as it would force all of us in the material world to take it seriously or suffer and die.
The most obvious way to understand this is to look at modern politics from a Gnostic viewpoint.
Most of us agree that there is only one material world, but, by way of example, consider these two competing perspectives. If one looks at the world in a feminine way it is natural to conclude that the primary imperative was to co-operate. If one looks at the world in a masculine way it is natural to conclude that the primary imperative was to compete.
This can lead to two entirely different attitudes to life, which naturally cause their bearers to come into conflict. After all, if someone is truly committed to competition there is no way to co-operate with them short of abject submission.
If one takes a fundamentally feminine perspective it may be that one looks to co-operate first and foremost and is thus likely to end up supporting a social democrat party. This will inevitably lead one into conflict with anyone taking a fundamentally masculine perspective, because this latter group will resent paying the taxes demanded by the social democrats.
If one takes a fundamentally masculine perspective it may be that one looks to compete first and foremost and so ends up supporting a conservative party, and so comes into conflict with those taking a fundamentally feminine perspective, because this latter group resents the inequality, coercion and social decay demanded by organising society for optimal capital production.
The demiurge may have achieved all this by emanating from itself lesser demiurges. Perhaps there’s a left wing demiurge making us want to do stupid things like let millions of Muslims in, and a right wing demiurge making us want to do stupid things like spend our children’s education money on a giant bronze statue of Jesus.
If any of this is true, the only way to find absolution is to reject entirely the belief that politics is a lens through which the truth appears. The left wing tells half truth and half lies, and the right wing simply tells the truth where the left lies, and lies where the left tells the truth.
There is a faulty premise in the national consciousness – the premise that the pro-cannabis lobby has the responsibility to make the case for legalising cannabis before prohibition can be repealed. All kinds of politicians, from Andrew Little to Peter Dunne, have trotted out this lazy deception.
This line of rhetoric is false because it relies on a more fundamental premise, which is that the manner cannabis was made illegal was legitimate in the first place.
The usual apologia is that the politicians are our lawful representatives and so the laws they pass are done so with our consent, and so the politicians have the consent of the governed, and so all the laws they have passed are legitimate, including the ones pertaining to cannabis prohibition.
Basic logic that even a child can understand will tell you that, in the case of cannabis, the lack of a victim makes the law against it categorically different to other laws.
Punching people in the face is bad because it causes suffering.
Stealing someone’s food is bad because it will make them suffer from hunger.
Killing people is bad because it causes suffering to the remaining friends and family (not to mention the person while they’re being killed).
Murdering, shooting, stabbing, raping, kidnapping, defrauding, robbing, stealing, assaulting and battering – all of these are crimes because they have victims.
Outside of the delusional fantasy role-playing world that judges, lawyers and politicians have invented, crimes are distinguished from non-crimes on the basis that crimes cause suffering, not on the basis that a bunch of paedophiles in Wellington have decreed them thus.
This might sound really obvious to any Buddhist readers out there, but to many Kiwis, conditioned from childhood to obey authority without ever questioning its legitimacy, it appears revelatory.
It also puts the moral responsibility back on us to consider if the laws being passed by our supposed representatives actually have the effect of reducing suffering in New Zealand or not. The responsibility is not on our political representatives to make moral decisions on our behalf, because politicians are men of silver and philosophy is the preserve of everyone.
One argument is that cannabis, even if not directly harmful, may be indirectly harmful because of long-term health considerations of the user that the general taxpayer has to pay to treat. This argument contends that we ought to wait for science to prove that cannabis is relatively harmless.
The truth is this – we don’t need to prove that science says cannabis should be legal because science was never used to make it illegal. We also don’t need to prove that cannabis is harmless because harmless is not the standard things have to reach in order to be legal.
It’s legal to consume any of alcohol, caffeine, sugar, fat or tobacco to whatever extent one likes and to have the taxpayer cover any medical costs that may arise.
It’s legal to fill the tank of your car up with petrol, a vital and ever-diminishing resource, and to drive around and around in circles for no reason.
It’s legal to join a rugby team and to hit another person in a tackle with the intent of injuring them and to break a bone oneself and to go on ACC.
It’s legal to go into a forest with a rifle and shoot dead a whole bunch of large mammals.
All of these activities arguably cause more harm than smoking cannabis does, even under the broadest interpretation of health issues.
The standard to make cannabis illegal – which has never been met and which never will be met – is that there is more suffering under a regime of cannabis freedom than under a regime of cannabis prohibition.
Until this standard is met, no further reason for using cannabis need be given than ‘I like smoking weed.’
After the reign of Graham Capill, Peter Dunne vied with Colin Craig and Nick Smith for the title of “New Zealand Politician Considered Most Likely To Get Sent Down For Kiddy Fiddling”, as Dunne is also a highly narcissistic, sexually repressed, out-of-touch Bible thumper – the prime demographic. But in the cold light of day, not even a dozen Beasts of Blenheim could have done as much damage to Aotearoa New Zealand as Peter Dunne.
This article limits itself to calculating the amount of financial damage Peter Dunne did to New Zealand through his one-man campaign to prevent even the possibility of reform to our expensive, vicious and counterproductive cannabis laws.
After the 2002 General Election, called in the wake of the collapse of the Alliance Party, Labour Leader Helen Clark had three possible options to help her stitch together a Government: New Zealand First, who wanted no immigration; the Greens, who wanted no genetic engineering; and United Future, who wanted no reform on social issues.
In the end it was apparent that big business strongly supported both mass immigration and genetic engineering, so cannabis users and gays and lesbians wishing to marry got thrown under the bus for the $$$$$. Helen Clark signed on the Wormrider’s bottom line for the support of his 8 MPs and the rest is history.
After the 2005 General Election things were slightly different. United Future had less influence on account of voters not being so easily tricked by a television gimmick this time around, so Labour was in a position to try and unfuck the country.
Dunne was able to get a cabinet position, cementing his reputation as “Hemhorroid of the House” by resisting all progress.
He continued to oppose progress on social issues by voting against the Civil Unions Bill, a half-arsed attempt at a gay marriage bill sold as an ingenious compromise with New Zealand’s legion of elderly Christian bigots, and, of course, by not allowing so much as a discussion about cannabis.
After 2008 the conservative National Government took power, and naturally they did not repeal cannabis prohibition as it directly serves major capitalist interests to have a competitor to the alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceutical industries crushed.
Dunne managed to worm his way into the position of Associate Minister of Health, from where he was able to garrote all attempts at cannabis law reform in their infancy, most notably by skillful and successful actions in dividing the cannabis law reform movement.
The two most notable examples of this were declaring the grossly unsuitable fraudster Toni-Marie Matich to be the public face of cannabis law reform, thus damaging the credibility of the movement, and the Orwellian Psychoactive Substances Act, which made everything illegal and divided the movement into people who had read it and people who hadn’t.
So, aside from the couple of million that Dunne has leeched from the public funds in the form of an MP’s salary and perks, how much has he cost the country?
There is no simple calculation because it depends on the extent of the cannabis law reform that was prevented in the last window of opportunity presented by the Fifth Labour Government.
We know that full, Colorado-style reform would save New Zealand $500,000,000 per year in Police costs, court costs, prison costs, and lost tax revenue. Multiplying this by the 14 years since 2002, when Dunne first had his influence in preventing reform, gives us a figure of $7,000,000,000.
In reality, the Clark Administration would have likely brought in some kind of medicinal cannabis and/or decriminalisation in 2003/4, with full legalisation coming later, so the immediate savings might have been a third to a half of their final value, increasing as time went on.
This suggests a figure for the total wastage of Kiwi labour and resources due to Peter Dunne’s actions of between $3 and $7 billion.
This thought experiment ought to be a sobering one for anyone worried about Maori beneficiaries having too many kids and Chinese restaurants not paying taxes. If one politician can cost the country $3,000,000,000 because of moral and intellectual incompetence, all of our scrutiny ought to be directed at the ruling classes, and not on each other.
Back in the day (19th century) the Western world completed the Scramble for Africa and held virtually the entire continent in bondage. Every part of Africa under European control was raped for its natural resources, a process that made Europe very wealthy and Africa very poor.
In recent decades, the West has more or less come to widely accept that this process was immoral. The primary reason for this is that it’s apparent in hindsight that, in order to get the populations to be compliant with colonialism and the processes of resource extraction, massive abuse and neglect had to be inflicted upon the native populations of Africa.
This abuse and neglect led directly to a widespread emotional, intellectual and cognitive impairment that has been passed down through the generations, crippling the capacity of Africans to care for themselves to this very day.
But, we also know that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
In today’s world, wealth has less to do with natural resources and more to do with human resources. After all, diamonds or oil buried deep under the earth are not valuable without the human capital that knows how to extract and process them.
In an age when the total dollar value of services are five times the value of manufacturing, why go through the expense of building an empire just to dig up shiny rocks and extract rubber?
We know that doctors, engineers, psychologists, nurses etc. are generally more than happy to abandon their own people the moment you wave a fat Western paycheck in front of them, so it’s much better to loosen the immigration policy and let the human capital come to you.
The great irony here – which has been entirely unappreciated by the left – is that, from the perspective of people in the developing world, anyone who becomes capable of making a positive difference to the people around them usually ends up disappearing before they do, abandoning those they grew up with.
After all, why should a Kenyan doctor get paid $5,000 for saving 1,000 kids from malaria when he can move to New Zealand and get paid $50,000 to wipe old white people’s arses?
The next time a wealthy person tells you that allowing mass immigration is a moral imperative because of prior colonial action in the developing world, just know that the purpose of this mass immigration is not as moral as it sounds. The purpose is to plunder the affected areas of their human capital, making the West once again wealthy at the expense of Africa and the Middle East.
The only difference with the 19th century is that, today, the capital is getting itself on planes and delivering itself to us.
Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.