David Farrar, Wellington, World of Wearable Arts

If only the WOW judges shared Farrar’s and my good taste

On Friday I lucked into a free ticket to World of Wearable Arts — on awards night!

Out of a blizzard of jawdroppingly dazzling entries, these two velvet and gold characters ‘WOWed’ me the most.

Clinging together like limpets doing a kind of shuffly waltz, gilded domes entwined, the point of it all was at first a mystery.

Then they shuffled into the spotlight, untwined their necks, leaned back, and became…

…a human purse!

In the ad world, award judges tend to bypass irrelevant complexity and honour the surprising and the simple.

So with complexity abundant and simplicity scarce, I thought Velluto Rosso by Wellington’s Paula Rowan, would clean up.

And so, I read on Kiwiblog, did David Farrar. And 3 News too, who showcased this entry on their website.

How telling that three amateur pundits should all recognise the power of the big idea.

Yet the judges did not.

They plumped for the complex, and the human purse was out of the money.

David describes the rest of the spectacular night well — an astonishing achievement for our small city.

I’ve always giggled at the tag ‘Coolest Little Capital’, since the only other ‘little’ capitals are Canberra, Reykjavik and Suva.

But with WOW, the Sevens and the breath-defying creations of Weta Workshop, Wellington must surely be the Fancy Dress Capital of the Universe.

Socialism

‘Marks-ism’ leads to classroom warfare

An economics class insisted to their professor that Obama’s socialism worked.

Why?

“Because there’ll be no poor people and no rich bastards. At last we’ll all be equal,” chorused the students.

So the professor said:

“OK, we’ll run an experiment on Obama’s plan. I’ll average all your grades.

“You’ll all get the same grade. None of you will fail, and none of you will get an A.”

After the first test, the grades were averaged. The whole class got a B.

The students who’d studied hard were upset. But the students who’d mucked around were over the moon.

The second test rolled around. The students who hadn’t done much work the first time did even less this time.

And those who’d studied hard for the first test now decided they wanted a free ride too. They put down their books and went partying.

The second test average was a D!

No one was happy.

In the 3rd test, the average grade was an F.

The tests went on, but the scores never did improve.

The classroom had become a snakepit of bickering, blaming and name-calling. No one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, at the end of the term the professor failed the whole class. (He’d never before failed a single student.)

The professor told the class:

“Socialism is also bound to fail. Because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great. But when government takes all the reward away, no one will see any point in working.”

It couldn’t be any simpler than that.

Remember, there is a test coming up: next Saturday’s election.

Now here are five of the best sentences you’ll ever read. They all apply to the above experiment:

  1. You can’t legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
  2. What one person gets without working for, another person must work for without getting.
  3. The government can’t give anyone anything that it doesn’t first take from someone else.
  4. You can’t multiply wealth by dividing it!
  5. When half the people figure out they don’t have to work because the other half will take care of them, and when the other half figure out they’d be mad to work because their pay will be given to someone else, that’s the beginning of the end of any nation.

Thanks to the excellent Foundation for Economic Growth for sending me the original (which I tinkered with for effect).

Dominion Post, Gisborne District Council, Parenting

Should we fence all rivers to protect toddlers from slack parents?

The Dominion Post devotes half this morning’s front page to the bleatings of a drowned toddler’s uncle that the council should have fenced the river in which his 2 year old nephew drowned.

A family hit by a drowning tragedy had repeatedly pleaded with the council to build a fence where a toddler died.

Sukhraj Singh, 2, died and his cousin Archilles Kaui, 3, remains in hospital in a critical condition after the pair wandered into Gisborne’s Taruheru River on Thursday.

“I’ve been asking myself all night, would this have happened if the fence was put up in our neighbourhood? And the answer is no. Because those toddlers would not have been able to get past the fence”, Sukhraj’s uncle Hemi Jahnke said.

And why were the toddlers able to get anywhere near the river? The Dom finally reveals all in paragraph 10:

Before the tragedy, Archilles’ mother, Diana McIntyre, had been visiting Sukhraj’s mother, Jamie Taewa, at her home in Atkinson St. It was thought about 10 to 15 minutes passed before the women noticed the two toddlers had wandered off.

Well sorry, but any mother who lets a toddler out of her sight for 10 or 15 minutes near a river has no one to blame but herself if the child drowns.

That’s a hard thing to write at this sad time, especially as the poor mother may well have arrived at the same conclusion and does not necessarily share the uncle’s view.

But for the uncle to blame the council (ie the rest of us) is outrageously unfair.

Members of the family were part of community group Kia Kaha Mangapapa, a charitable trust started to try to make a positive difference in the area. The idea of a fence at the reserve was brought up at several hui called with Gisborne District Council last year. Archilles’ parents, Ms McLean and Frank Kaui, attended one of the meetings.

Mr Jahnke said the council had agreed to put up the fence.

“They did have a plan for the fence but because the fence was going to cost too much it started getting smaller and smaller. Eventually it turned into just a fence around the culvert.”

He was angry with the council.

“How many lives have been lost in river accidents because the council says they haven’t got enough money?

“And them listening now is not going to bring back Sukhraj. It’s not going to bring back a baby boy. But someone needs to be held accountable.”

Damn right. And I think most of us have a fair idea who.

Gisborne District Council acting chief executive Nedine Thatcher-Swann said it was “inconclusive” whether fencing the reserve would have made a difference at this stage.

Fencing every waterway into which a poorly supervised toddler could wander would certainly make a huge difference to the amount of public money available for other services. Or to Gisborne residents’ rates bills.

In my view the Council did exactly the right thing in refusing to assume the role of parents.

“Around the country and the world it is very unusual to find our natural environments – rivers, lakes or ponds – fenced.”

And so it should be. Do we really want to turn our country into an unsightly baby-prison, just so we can protect our toddlers from slack parents?

I grew up in a house near the Waiwhetu Stream in Fairfield, Lower Hutt. The Stream got a bad press for being badly polluted down the industrial end, but the suburban reaches were and are a delightfully meandering waterway that greatly enhances the ambience of the area.

It remains unfenced, despite being bounded by houses for miles, and is dotted with reserves, also unfenced.

Presumably, parents who choose to live there, like mine did, also take responsibility for watching their children.

I hope the Dominion Post will reflect on the message their story sends, and provide some balance in the coming days.

ACT, John Key, Roger Douglas, Youth unemployment

Douglas points to why youth unemployment doubled

Youth Rates

This graph from ACT’s Roger Douglas illustrates John Key’s duplicity in first helping to cause, then pretending to care about, youth unemployment.

National, Labour and the Greens — all parties bar ACT — voted down Roger’s bill to reinstate youth rates and get kids off the couch and into work.

By refusing to allow kids to be paid less than adults, Key deliberately allowed the number of young unemployed to double.

Now he’s offering a dollop of your money to any boss who pays a kid an adult’s wage.

Why not just let the boss pay the kid a kid’s wage, and let the kid work their way up — the way most of us did?

Excellent graph, whoever did this.

Advertising, Advertising Standards Authority, Dominion Post, Maorification

Ad that Dom banned cleared by ASA

My ACT ad that contained 40 statements of fact has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority.

MAORI RADICALS ADVERT NOT IN BREACH – ASA

The Advertising Standards Authority has rejected a complaint about ACT’s controversial “Fed up with pandering to Maori radicals?” newspaper advertisement.

Twelve people argued the advert was “misleading, offensive, racist, in breach of the requirement for a due sense of social responsibility and likely to play on fear”.

The ASA said a political party advocating a robust view on matters of public interest allowed the public to see the party’s position. There was no breach of codes and no grounds for the complaints to proceed, it ruled.

Yet the Dominion Post refused to “allow the public to see the party’s position”. 

As a private company, they had the right to ban the ad. (Whether they had the right to charge ACT full price for the space is another matter.)

But the public also has the right to know that the capital’s daily newspaper is politically biased against ACT.

This is the ad that the Herald ran, and the Dom banned:

What sort of democracy do we live in when a monopoly newspaper can be so cravenly politically correct as to ban a question that most of its readers would answer Yes to, backed by 40 true statements?

NZ child poverty, OECD, Sunshine Coast Daily

How we make the news in Aussie these days

The Tasman wage gap, which John Key once pretended to want to close, is also a poverty gap.

Here’s how it’s being reported in Australia. 

Of course, setting the poverty line at 60% of median income is a typical lefty linguistic trick. 

Poverty is starvation. Being only 60% as rich as the averge person is envy.

Still, relative to 30 other First World nations, New Zealand’s performance is shameful:

20th for children living in poor households

21st for infant mortality

29th for measles immunisation rates

29th for child health and safety

3oth for teen suicides.

Thanks Ross for sending me this clipping.

Law and order, Plain English, San Francisco Police Dept

Putting it bluntly — a police chief speaks his mind

I dedicate this post to Garth McVicar.

It’s a San Francisco police chief giving the bedwetter media a bollocking for making a big deal of the speed one of his officers was travelling when he was killed chasing an armed felon.

This guy would make a great politician. He knows people despise the liberal media’s warped sense of justice, so doesn’t hesitate to get straight on the front foot.

Why do most public figures lack this instinct and resort to weasel words and apologies?

We should celebrate people who speak plainly. They’re islands of truth in a sea of deceit.

Thanks Digby for sending me this video.

Arthur Scargill, David Cameron, Lord Monckton, Margaret Thatcher

What would Maggie have done with the rioters?

After the pathetic response by British authorities to the riots, I can’t help wonder what Margaret Thatcher would have done in David Cameron’s shoes.

A lot more than talk tough, I bet.

She’d have had those watercannons and rubber bullets on the streets faster than you could say Arthur Scargill.

This is what she said at the time of the miners’ strike:

“What we have got is an attempt to substitute the rule of the mob for the rule of law, and it must not succeed. It must not succeed. There are those who are using violence and intimidation to impose their will on others who do not want it. The rule of law must prevail over the rule of the mob.”

And again, casting the miners as unpatriotic:

“We had to fight the enemy without in the Falklands. We always have to be aware of the enemy within, which is much more difficult to fight and more dangerous to liberty”.

By the way, did you know Scargill’s strike was funded by the KGB?

After his Wellington talk, Lord Monckton was telling us about his time with Thatcher, and how the government were tracking Scargill travelling round the Soviet Union collecting money and instructions.

Al Gore, climate change, Dominion Post, Lord Monckton

Well done, DomPost

After hammering the Dominion Post on Close Up for banning my ACT ‘Maori radicals ad’ that contained 40 statements of truth, I’m pleased to be able to congratulate the paper for yesterday making these two letters their lead and second letters of the day:

Where does that ‘science’ definition leave Al Gore, then?

Lorna Sutherland’s comments (Letters, August 8) highlight an interesting attitude to democracy and proper science. 

(That’s meant to say August 8. Of all the eccentric habits of WordPress, automatically turning the number eight followed by a close bracket into a smile takes the cake!) 

Does she agree that her denial that Lord Monckton should be permitted a platform to discuss climate change extends to former United States vice- president Al Gore, who is similarly lacking expertise and experience in science?

Is she aware that Dr John Abraham’s comments on Lord Monckton are subject to critical comments about misrepresentation and falsehoods ?

By what measure would we ever give the Greens, Niwa’s Dr James Renwick or anybody else the right to decide what may be presented by any person on any subject in public?

Real science is proven by sceptical trial and debate. False science has hidden data, insufficient record of proof, and protection from open query and dissenting opinion.

Real science isn’t proven by so-called consensus, authority or taking someone’s word for it.

Is Ms Sutherland aware no peer- reviewed scientific proof appears to exist that climate change, warming or whatever is driven by human-induced carbon-dioxide emissions, and the theory is supported by conjecture only?

I suggest she take tuition on what it means to live in a democracy.

GRAHAM CLAYTON
Taupo 

What have these people to fear?

Our climate change scientists and, maybe, politicians, seem to be running scared. They have refused to debate climate change with Lord Monckton because the matter is now agreed upon and settled among scientists. Really?

It was also said that to debate with him would give Lord Monckton and his unscientific ideas credibility. If our scientists’ views, which cost a lot of money, are so right, what have they to fear?

IRENE FAGAN
Island Bay

Well said, Graham and Irene.

Advertising, climate change, Lord Monckton, Patrick Moore, Roy Spencer, Teach tank, The Great Global Warming Swindle

Monckton, Greenpeace, NASA and Nazis

This is a good video to watch if you want a quick insight into the sceptic side of the global warming debate.

You’ll see clips from The Great Global Warming Swindle, the movie featuring Greenpeace founder-turned-sceptic Patrick Moore, NASA scientist Roy Spencer and other eminent sceptics.

Then in the middle you’ll see Lord Christopher Monckton completely monstering (with logic) a noisy gang of young Climate Scientologists who were silly enough to  disrupt his Copenhagen meeting.

Seizing upon the parallel with the bullying tactics of the Hitler Youth in the same city, he quickly gained a global audience by describing them as such.

When a Jewish member of the gang objects, Monckton front foots like a true Thatcherite. He tells the offended heckler that if he and his mates ares going to behave like the Hitler Youth, he’s going to keep calling him that.

(What a shame Monckton isn’t the Lord Mayor of London right now.)

This is all great sport, but in amongst it all is Monckton’s point:

Although these young hecklers are rude rather than murderous, There is a very real parallel between the green movement and evil regimes like the Nazis.

And that is the huge number of deaths from starvation being caused by food shortages, caused by rising food prices, caused by the conversion of food crops to biofuel.

The greenies never have an answer to that one. I made this little ad about it:

This is the way to defeat the Left. Tell the graphic truth about how their pathological stupidity invariably hurts the people they make such a play of pretending to care about.

I want to start a ‘teach tank’ to put ads like this in front of the public.

Right-wing politicians have tried to bust the media blockade, but failed. Ads like this will  cut through. If the media won’t run them, we just plaster them on poster sites.

They needn’t be big ads, but they do need to be plentiful, and regular. There are so many issues to cover. 

Such a campaign, from a brand that becomes trusted for its clarity, will change the polarity of politics.

Now, who wants to fund it?

Capitalism-optimism, Eco-pessimism, Global warming, Hans Rosling, Lord Monckton, Socialism-pessimism, Tim Lambert

To socialist-pessimists from capitalist-optimists: Cheer up!

A word to all you red-green (and, of late, yellow) malcontents who infest the comments section of this blog with your relentless nit-picking and overweaning planetary pessimism.

Whether you like it or not, guys, (and I know you don’t), you are members of a species with a stellar record of problem-solving.

I’m very sorry to have to say that, but the optimists among us (AKA capitalists) just keep dreaming up ways to make our lives better and better.

Including yours. Have you noticed? I guess not. It’s not really in your interests to look.

Despite the best efforts of communism and socialism (which I call Applied Pessimism), not to mention eco-pessimism (Applied Pessimism for Profit), things are getting better on this planet all the time.

If you think it’s not, ask yourself: which time and place in history would you like to be transported back to? (When some clever capitalist develops the inevitable time machine, I’m sure that can be arranged.)

When you’re back there in your colonial house or pre-colonial whare, liberated from annoyances like electricity and motor cars and vaccines and flush toilets — as you contemplate your new-found squalor and imminent demise — you may start to feel that life in the 21st century wasn’t so bad after all.

You may be forced to concede that all those gizmos you used to take for granted came to you via the evil capitalist Industrial Revolution and the fertile minds of geniuses with incentives.

As we speak, all over the Third World, that same reprehensible system of market capitalism is lifting millions out of poverty in former socialist-pessimist societies like China and India. 

Like it or not, capitalism has been doing this now for 200 years. Have a look at Hans Rosling’s beautiful moving graph of the Health and Wealth of Nations and you’ll see which nations have gone ahead the fastest — and which haven’t.

And you’ll see that all nations are healthier than they were in 1800. And all but a few corrupt African basket cases are wealthier.

You can’t stand the idea of that, can you? Especially as all your doomsday prophesies never quite complete the journey from wishful theory to reality.

The history of Western civilisation in recent times has been one of relentless, inspiring and beneficial progress.

Yet always you gloom-mongers would have us believe that all we hold dear is about to collapse.

Either it’s our economic system, or our health, or the computer system, or the climate and life as we know it.

The disgraceful thing is how you’re quite happy to frighten the children to further your goals.

But you don’t frighten the grown-ups. That’s because people who’ve been round the clock a few times recognise your tactics. We’ve noticed how most of these scares can be avoided with the payment of a large amount of money to some socialist cause.

Meanwhile society, fueled by capitalism fueled by optimism, advances regardless of your wishes. The rich get richer. And so, as long as their governments aren’t corrupt, do the poor.

So how about dropping your absurd addiction to socialism-pessimism and drink to the good times (ie the last 200 years)?

Your latest crisis of convenience is global warming. Sadly for you, many, if not most, people now agree this is an eco-socialist-pessimist plot to transport us en-masse back to your colonial house.

That’s because, despite all the efforts of the socialist brainwashing factory that purports to be the state education system, these people have somehow retained the capacity for joined-up thinking. You should try it.

Instead of creating diversions and parroting the party line about whether Monckton is qualified to make the sense he makes, how about doing the unthinkable and thinking for yourselves?

Yes I know it sounds an odd thing to suggest.

But how about actually watching his debate with Tim Lambert and making up your own mind?

You can do it in the privacy of your own home, so the Church of Climate Scientology doesn’t have to know.

And you don’t have to worry that Tim doesn’t hold your end up, because he does. He argues his case well. You may even conclude that he won the debate. Or you may be persuaded by Monckton. That’s what an open mind is for.

So have a look. Assess them both on their merits. With your eyepatch off.

And afterwards, if you feel like it, tell me what you thought.

Meantime, I’m raising my glass (which is a lot more than half-full) to my ingenious species and the continued success of capitalism-optimism. 

Tip for right-wing political marketers everywhere:

Our philosophy of freedom and free markets is, above all, the philosophy of optimism. So: own it. Move voters 5% to the right by embracing optimism and optimists as the antidote to socialism and pessimists.

(Note to Nats: optimism does not mean managing socialism with a smile. :-))

Global warming, Lord Monckton, Tim Lambert

The real reason the Greens chickened out of debating Monckton

You may have heard the Greens trumpeting their principled decision not to debate global warming sceptic Lord Monckton. 

You may not have heard that they discovered their principles only after seeing this video of Monckton debating scientist Tim Lambert in a more tolerant land called Australia:

Before they saw this video, they were happy for their climate spokesman, Kennedy Graham, to accept Monckton’s challenge.

After they saw it, they were not. They pulled out.

Not because they didn’t want to dignify him. (Ever heard of a politician turning down a chance to humiliate a high-value opponent – especially one so supposedly inept?)

No. They pulled out because they knew they weren’t going to win. They were either going to lose or — just as damaging to their claim that the science is settled — draw.

It wasn’t his showmanship they were afraid of. It was his facts. 

And what was the fact they were most scared of exposing to the light? What was the truth they were terrified of the public finding out?

That Monckton is clearly not the nutter they’ve been pretending he is.

When you see the debate, you’ll see that his grasp of the science is every bit as credible as that of the scientist he’s debating. You might even think moreso.

But the point is, to make his point he doesn’t have to be more credible. Only as credible.

The proposition before us is that the science is settled.

Settled in favour of global warming being a huge crisis that we need to rectify immediately by diverting trillions of dollars from otherwise productive activities.

That’s the line we’ve been fed. That’s what the Greens would have us believe. That’s why we’re saddled with an ETS.

And that’s why the poor are struggling to cope with higher food prices and higher petrol prices and higher most other prices.

That’s the sacred gospel of the Church of Climate Scientology that gets non-believers branded deniers or denialists — modern-day heretics.

And that, I think you’ll agree after watching this debate, is a myth. One that Monckton, among others, has busted.

I suggest you watch it from start to finish. It’s 1 hour 53 minutes — 15 You Tube videos — but worth it.

The moderator is sceptic and former Wallaby coach Alan Jones. He occasionally makes his bias clear, but is otherwise fair.

I think it’s a good scrap. Lambert is less polished than Monckton. (Aren’t we all?). But after a nervous start, he makes his points well.

Monckton, when challenged, is assured in his rebuttals, and both men answer each others’ probing questions pretty well.

It’s a debate everyone should see. It’s just a shame that New Zealand’s red-green-yellow politicians, scientists and journalists do not possess the courage of their convictions to allow the public to examine both sides of this supposedly crucial issue.

How disgraceful that a government would steal people’s money to avert what they claim is a crisis, then refuse to debate its reasons in public. 

Not only that, but it empowers its employees to brand anyone who asks it to do so as the modern equivalent of a witch.

(Thank Gaia for the blogosphere!)

BBC, climate change, Lord Monckton, TVNZ

STATE MOUTHPIECE MUZZLES MONCKTON: Is TVNZ the new BBC?

UPDATE: Since I wrote this post about TVNZ banning climate sceptic Lord Monckton, it so happens that I myself have been invited to appear on Close-Up tonight to talk about race issues. Should this drive more visitors here, I’m promoting this post to the home page so it’s the first thing they see! I saw and met Monckton today in Wellington and his accounts of similar attempts by the Left to shut him down and smear him were chilling. I’ll be posting on the experience soon. Now on with this post of two days’ ago…

You may recall the recent Close-Up interview with global cooling-warming (take your pick — he does) proponent James Hansen.

And do you recall which sceptic our government TV channel brought in to debate with him to provide balance?

Me neither. 

That’s because they didn’t make him debate anyone.

(The science is settled, remember?)

Now fast forward to this week. Same programme. Same channel. Same issue.

Only this time, the visiting climateer is a sceptic — with a flair for political incorrectitude.

He’s none other than Margaret Thatcher’s former science advisor Lord Christopher Monckton, here for a few days after a rip-roaring tour of Australia.

Now whatever else Monckton may be, he’s not boring. He’s articulate, amusing and opinionated, in the great tradition of British celebs.

In other words, he’s great television. 

So why won’t TVNZ let him on?

Because they can’t find anyone to debate him.

Huh?

Seems at government TV, only the sceptics get challenged. Warmists — even confused ones who used to be coolists —  just get believed.

We’ll come back to TVNZ’s obvious bias later.

But isn’t there something fishy about not one of our loud, proud warm-mongers being prepared to defend their position on this supposed crisis?

After all, the government has just conspired to ratchet up the price of your food and petrol and most everything else.

Why? Because of the supposed desperate need to impose a carbon trading scheme on our already struggling economy.

So wouldn’t you think Nick Smith would be itching to get stuck into the guy who’s been telling him for years that the climate crisis is a hoax?

Or John Key, who used to agree it was a hoax — till he figured there were more votes in saying it wasn’t?

Or any number of Greens, those brave eco-warriors whose relentless pessimism and loathing for their species got us into this mess?

Or one of the eleven experts at the so-called Victoria University climate debate I went to and blogged about — all of them clustered courageously on the same side?

Why doesn’t even one of these ‘believers’ have the courage to defend their position against the man they like to dismiss as a ‘potty peer’ and a ‘swivel-eyed loon’?

Seems Monckton is a man the warm-mongers love to hate, but hate to debate.

Why?

Seems that after all their huff and puff about the science being settled, Messrs Key, Smith, Norman, Trenberth and co. are decidedly unsettled by the thought of being found out.

(As, of course, was Al Gore.)

Of course, they’ll say tangling with Monckton is beneath them. He’s a nutter. Must be. Listen to that posh voice! Get a load of  those big bug eyes!

(The result of an hereditary condition, oddly enough unconnected with the ability to think.)

No mention of why Margaret Thatcher would choose him out of thousands to advise her on matters scientific.  They didn’t dub Maggie the Iron Lady for being soft in the head.

If these climate sages are so sure of their case, why not front up and use their superior logic to shut Monckton up once and for all?

Isn’t that what a real expert would do?

What does their mass no-show tell you about the honesty of our nation’s climate scientists and cabinet ministers?

And prime minister?

And anyway, why does TVNZ feel the need to have anyone at all debate Monckton? Why not apply the same standards to the sceptic as they applied to the scaremonger/warmist/coolist?

Is TVNZ trying to outdo the Biased BBC?

New evidence of eco-exaggeration

How ironic that Close-Up’s attempt to close down the climate debate should come in the same week as the Daily Mail ran this story:

Climate change far less serious than ‘alarmists’ predict says NASA scientist

This is, of course, another NASA scientist, not Hansen: 
Dr Roy Spencer, who works on the space agency’s temperature-monitoring satellites, claimed they showed ‘a huge discrepancy’ between the real levels of heating and forecasts by the United Nations and other groups.

After looking at the levels of radiation in the atmosphere over the past ten years, he believes the Earth releases a lot more heat into space than previously thought.

In other words, the computer models were wrong — just as thousands of sceptics (sorry, deniers; sorry, denialists) have been saying.

Now, come to think of it, this is not the first time I’ve heard about global heat escaping harmlessly into space. I first heard a leading sceptic bring it to light about two years ago.

And which sceptic would that have been?

You guessed it: the apparently not-so-mad Monckton.

I’ll be at his Wellington talk on Friday. I hope to see you there. (Whether you see him on state telly is another matter.)

For details of how to see Lord Monckton in Auckland on Thursday, Wellington on Friday and Whangarei on Saturday, hurry to the Climate Realists website.

Warm-mongers pressure PRINZ into pulling plug

Neil and Esther Henderson have been doing an excellent job bringing a dose of sanity to the climate debate — and Lord Monckton to New Zealand.

But one of Monckton’s scheduled events lost its original sponsor thanks to pressure from our brave eco-exaggerators.

Rest assured, though, Neil and Esther have saved the day.

Read this excerpt from their latest newsletter to see what they’ve been up against:

PRINZ, having volunteered to host two of the public events, has received an overwhelming barrage of negative publicity for their gall in allowing someone whose opinions are perceived as being ‘outside the politically correct mantra’ to speak in public.

PRINZ hunted far and wide to find someone to oppose Monckton in a debate and was unable to find anyone willing to front up.

Funny that.

PRINZ was prepared to continue and turn the debate into a ‘discussion’, but the vitriolic hatemail continued to such an extent that PRINZ has now made the decision to pull out of the Auckland event, and we, the CLIMATE REALISTS have taken over the arrangements.

Well done, that couple.

(And a brickbat to PRINZ for being cowed — but a bouquet for still going ahead with their Wellington event.)

The organisers of the business luncheon with Lord Monckton on Thursday have also received some very strongly worded correspondence questioning their integrity in hosting Lord Monckton and urging them (pressuring them!) to cancel.

Are business people are made of sterner stuff than communication people? Surely not!

Neil and Esther continue:

People, this is horrific!!!

What has happened to free speech in New Zealand?

We would like to urge every single one of you who is concerned about what is going on here, to contact Close Up closeup@tvnz.co.nz and challenge them about their decision not to interview Lord Monckton.

Do it now. I sent them this:

Your bias is showing

Mark and team,

 I was going to say I can’t believe your cowardice in canning your interview with Christopher Monckton.

 But then I guess I can.

If any of you at TVNZ still believe in free speech, I urge you to reconsider, stop being brainwashed by socialist liars, and let the man be heard.

Otherwise be prepared to incur the wrath of the blogosphere – a not-insignificant challenger to your supposed omnipotence.

John Ansell

Back to Esther and Neil:

Did Jim Salinger, Gareth Morgan, Rod Oram, Martin Manning, James Renwick, Kevin Trenberth, James Hansen….(think of anyone else you’ve heard prating the AGW mantra) need someone to present an alternative perspective before they were reported in the mainstream media?

We strongly believe Lord Monckton has a right to be heard. And we believe the public of New Zealand has a right to hear him and make up their own minds. There are an amazing number of accusations flying around the internet about Christopher Monckton. Here is a quote from one of our members who shall remain anonymous:

  • “Until this week, I thought Christopher was a rather obscure eccentric Englishman, with a keen interest in mathematics and climate change and a talent for entertainment. “Now, after dredging through endless pages of biography by Greenpeace, Bickmere, Abraham, etc, I’ve discovered that he is an international celebrity of huge importance. “Whole libraries havebeen written about his exploits; newspapers and bloggers record his every move and mood; scholars minutely analyze his spoken word, correspondence, logo, status, etc; activist groups mobilise at his approach.Seldom does little New Zealand have the opportunity to hear directly from an orator capable of generating such controversy and excitement on the world stage.” 

For my money, Monckton did more than any other single person to inform the world about the Climategate scandal and the shonkiness of Al Gore’s movie, and to neuter the Copenhagen talkfest.

I confess I believed Gore at first.

I was wowed by the slickness and clarity of his PowerPoint show.

I loved the way he got up in that cherrypicker to highlight the hockey stick graph.

And I had no reason at all to doubt his facts. (Like the fact that his hockey stick graph was bogus.)

It took brilliant communicators like Monckton — and Bob Carter and Ian Wishart and Jo Nova — to alerted me to the depth of my own gullibility.

Never again.

Neil and Esther:

We need to get out there and let people know that we have a right to doubt —  we have a right to be skeptical about everything we are spoonfed by the media, and having just witnessed what manipulation goes on behind the scenes, we need to call the media to account and demand balanced reporting and open debate.

Damn right we do.

The real deniers are the scientists and journalists who try to deny us our right to be sceptical about scientists and journalists.

I know from personal experience that the media are far more interested in entertaining than informing. And if the facts aren’t entertaining enough, they just make up facts that are.

They need to be exposed every time they do that. Which is almost certainly many times a day.

I am, of course, rather sensitive to press bias, given that less than a month ago the Dominion Post refused to run ACT’s 40 true statements on the race issue.

What has happened to free speech indeed.

Al Gore, climate change, John Key, Lord Monckton, Monty Python, Nick Smith, Russel Norman

The Ballad of Brave Sir Russel

[With apologies to Monty Python and The Holy Grail, and especially Brave Sir Robin.]

Bravely bold Sir Russel
Did love to scam a lot

He was not afraid to lie
O brave Sir Russel!

He was not afraid to claim
We’d be killed in nasty ways

Due to climate change
Brave Sir Russel!

He was not in the least bit scared
To make the children cry
With tales of terrible drought
And polar bears drowned
To exaggerate the threat
For the votes that he could get

And put us deep in debt
Brave Sir Russel!

And then the man he loved to hate
Did challenge him to a debate
To see who’s global view was true
And what did brave Sir Russel do?…

Brave Sir Russel ran away
Bravely ran away, away!
When Monckton reared his ugly head
He bravely turned his tail and fled
Yes, brave Sir Russel turned about
And gallantly he chickened out
Bravely taking to his feet
He beat a very brave retreat
Bravest of the brave, Sir Russel!

NOTE: Sir Russel is really an amalgam of John Key, Nick Smith, Russel Norman, Al Gore and all the courageous climate scammers who insist the science is settled, yet refuse to debate the facts.

The Climate Con is one of 4 Big Cons being perpetrated upon the people of New Zealand — the others being the John Key Con, the Maorification Con, and the Education Con.

I’ll be doing my best to expose them all as clearly as I can.

2025 Taskforce, Don Brash, Posters, Roger Douglas

When are we going to start catching Australia?

Apologies for the lack of recent posts, but I’ve been busy making posters like this for Sir Roger Douglas.  

This one highlights the government’s distinct lack of ambition for New Zealand relative to the country it said it was committed to  catching.

Even an Australia under a Labor government is a fast-moving target for NZ under a National one, so granny steps in the right direction won’t cut it. 

As the 2025 Taskforce’s second report said, “We can catch Australia, but we have to start.”

That, I think, is Brash-speak for, “My former colleagues are as lily-livered as ever.”

And because we’ve yet to start, we now have to grow at 2% a year faster than Australia grows (up from 1.6% faster) — hardly likely under a PM who takes his policy direction from Lucy Lawless.

Will post more posters and have a general catch up soonish.

Billboards, Coastal Coalition, John Key

Success — for now

Good to see John Key appears to be having a rethink.

John says the billboard is inaccurate. Really — which bits? 

Does he mean iwi will no longer get

  • ownership rights
  • development rights
  • mining rights, and
  • veto rights

over the foreshore and seabed, and that all New Zealanders will continue to have 

  • free access to all beaches (including those declared by iwi to be ‘culturally significant’)?

Because if he doesn’t, he should apologise to the Coastal Coalition, who are getting mightily sick of being painted as liars.

And if he does, then why is he going to the trouble of renouncing Crown ownership?

Advertising, Foreshore and seabed, John Key

Iwi/Kiwi — the Sequel and the Prequel

 
2010

Come back Helen Clark, all is forgiven.

You may have thought Ethics was a county in England. You may have trampled on our free speech in election year. But at least you locked in our right to a free beach.

Just yesterday we learned that John Key can no longer guarantee that right.

He can’t be sure a group of part-Maori, part-Pakeha New Zealanders won’t one day tax you for the right to swim, sail or fish in your own bay.

By Christmas he may well have traded away tens of thousands of square kilometres of New Zealand coastline for a resource he prizes more highly than all the oil in our territorial sea.

Five Maori Party votes.

There’s a word for that, and it’s not trader.

There was a time not so long ago when the National Party could say it was to the right of Helen Clark on matters Maori.

It had a leader with principles for whom I was proud to create advertising.

As the billboard below made clear (but was cynically misinterpreted by the left), there was never any doubt who Don Brash stood for.

As any dictionary will tell you, Kiwi means all New Zealanders, which clearly includes those represented by the last three letters — iwi.

But when John Key gives iwi the right to negotiate directly with the Crown — meaning former Ngai Tahu lawyer and strongly pro-Maori minister Chris Finlayson — who will speak for Kiwis?

 

2005

Critics on the left thought it dishonest to characterise Helen Clark as ‘Iwi’. After all, did her Foreshore and Seabed Act not claim the coast for the Crown?

It’s a fair point.

But it was not the way the National Party saw things at the time.

They viewed Labour’s bill as deliberately embedded with fish-hooks that iwi could use to eventually hook the resources they craved.

Below is the long copy forerunner of the Iwi/Kiwi billboard, which I wrote a year earlier to spell out National’s concerns.

It talks of their fear of vague concepts like tikanga Maori and customary rights.

In 2004 the Nats believed those concerns to be real, but it would now appear those fish-hooks were blunt. In the six years since, few if any tribes have succeeded with their coastal claims.

So while Clark may have been Iwi next to Brash’s Kiwi, alongside Kaumatua Key she’s ‘Kiwi as’.

Key’s foreshore and seabed plans are frightening, as he’s repeatedly shown he’s willing to sacrifice the national interest for the interests of the National Party.

For a fascinating insight into principles as a tradable commodity, click on the magnified image at the very bottom and read my 2004 body copy.

You may need to pinch yourself as you do.

Yes, this is the National Party trying to scare you about Labour’s coastal management — when most of the same fish-hooks are now part of their own policy, but sharper.

Enjoy the exquisite hypocrisy.

2004

Click on the below image to magnify the body copy, then again if you need to.

 This post is also appearing on Muriel Newman’s site www.nzcpr.co.nz.

Note: I’ve submitted the billboard at the top to the Coastal Coalition. Hope they decide to run it.

Emissions Trading Scheme, John Key, Nick Smith

Today is…

In honour of possibly the stupidest tax in New Zealand history, which comes into effect today.

The above was produced with the help of the intimidatingly multi-talented Grant McLachlan (lawyer, columnist, screenwriter, researcher, cartoonist, animator, designer, yacht club commodore, etc., etc., etc.)

If you like it, pass it on.

 The more the public can be encouraged to link their price rises with John Key’s and Nick Smith’s totally pointless ETS, the sooner the Nats will be encouraged to scrap it.

climate change, Emissions Trading Scheme, IPCC, John Key

Key has faith in IPCC

A prime minister needs to be a jack of all trades. So it’s not really fair to expect him to be master of many.

But we do expect him to be a good judge of which masters to place his faith in.

On global warming, as you can read here, our prime minister places his total faith in the much-maligned IPCC.

With his idiotic climate tax due to start hitting you in the pocket the day after tomorrow, read this and weep. 

JOHN KEY ON LEIGHTON SMITH SHOW
4 FEBRUARY, 2010

SMITH

I’ve never had so many questions for a prime minister before.

No doubt because of the higher prices those listeners will soon be paying because of the ETS.

An emailed question:

In view of the overwhelming evidence that the IPCC has produced a flawed document and flawed policy, would he consider postponing the extra charges on petrol and electricity coming into force on July 1?

If not, where does the tax money go? I have not been able to get a satisfactory answer from anyone.

KEY

It’s not our intention at this point to delay the ETS.

And what I’d say about the Emissions Trading Scheme that we have in place is it’s at the very mild end of an Emissions Trading Scheme.

So why do I say that?

Beats me, John.

Because your scheme is the most punishing emissions trading scheme in the world. No country outside the socialist EU is silly enough to have one.

And theirs only punishes 4% of their economy, while yours punishes 100% of ours.

Also, 80% of European trade is inside Europe. So their companies are on a level playing field with their competitors.

Whereas 100% of New Zealand trade is outside New Zealand. So our exporters’ are playing on a field that’s tilted in their competitors’ favour.

Well firstly, basically the price of carbon is capped at $12.50.

So it’s significantly lower and can’t rise for the period of time that it’s in for the first few years.

Secondly, where does the money go?

It gets recycled.

So the old scheme Labour had proposed actually sucked, in the end, tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer’s money out of the economy into the pockets of the government.

That’s right. The only scheme dumber than National’s was Labour’s.

Dumb and Dumber. Is that the best this country can be?

We’re not doing that.

We are taking a modest amount and giving it to people who plant trees or come up with technological answers to climate change.

So it’s quite modest.

Tell that to the shivering pensioners and other strugglers you’ll soon be hitting with higher petrol, power and grocery prices — on top of your GST rise and any normal price rises.

SMITH

Are you still receiving advice on climate change from Dr. Gluckman?

KEY

I don’t get really my major advice on climate change from him. I do talk to him.

But he doesn’t provide the formal written advice. That comes from other government departments.

SMITH

Such as?

KEY

Well, NIWA provides advice.

That would be the same NIWA who were donkey-deep in the Climategate racket?

The Ministry of the Environment provides advice. Some comes from Forestry actually.

That would be the foresters who can’t believe their luck at being compensated for trees they planted after 1989, even though they neither expected any compensation, nor think they deserve it.

 SMITH

Plus the IPCC. Which a lot of those entities you talk about take their advice from.

KEY

Yeah, a combination of things.

For instance, if you look at the most recent advice I had before I went to Copenhagen – and we can come back to that and the merits or success of that particular meeting.

But, if you go and have a look at that, the advice we’ve had is that NZ has warmed by about .8 of a degree, just under 1 degree, over the last (I think it’s) 50 odd years.

Yet back in the pre-industrial 18th century, there was a rise of 2.2 degrees in 36 years. From natural causes. 

SMITH 

That’s the advice you had before you went?

KEY

[No response]

SMITH

You know that advice is now under severe criticism.

KEY

  This is New Zealand, not… not…

SMITH

Yes, but are you aware that that is under severe criticism now?

KEY

Well, I think we’ll go back to the debate.

There are always going to be arguments over the merits one way or the other.

What you can say is that those that wanted a focus on climate change and nothing else, such as Greenpeace, were winning public opinion.

And there was a big push in that direction.

And we were out of sync with them.

Because we said: New Zealand needs a balanced approach between creating jobs and growing our economy, and dealing with our environmental issues.

On the other side of the coin, there are clearly those who think this is all a load of rubbish – it should be completely discounted as a left wing plan.

Er, yeah. You’d think a right-wing government would have been wise to that possibility.

And what happened since the Copenhagen breakdown, there has been growing scepticism around the world.

Not since Copenhagen, John. Since Climategate. Which was before Copenhagen. Big difference.

I think the pendulum will eventually settle somewhere around where National has been the whole way through.

You mean the Al Gore position? I don’t think so.  

We will eventually do things about climate change, because we are expelling more greenhouse gases. The population is growing.

How do we deal with that in a practical way without asking people to change their standard of living?

But you are asking people to be poorer — even though New Zealand has next-to-no population, and expels next-to-no greenhouse gases.

Oh and is — so you keep telling us — supposed to be trying to become as rich as Australia.

SMITH

So you still subscribe to CO 2 being a driver of climate change?

KEY

Well, it’s not just CO 2, it’s methane and nitrate.

SMITH

What would it take to disabuse you of this theory?

KEY

I think the first thing is: factually, we can measure the rise in greenhouse gases.

We can measure quite accurately the rise of CO 2 and methane and nitrate in the atmosphere.

So that’s not debatable.

Nor is it an answer to Leighton’s question, John.

What we can’t do, I guess, is ever – when it comes to science – 100% say that there’s a cause and effect: because that’s rising, that’s having these implications.

 And that’s where the debate often rests.

That’s where it should rest — until the cause and effect is proven.

It should not rest with the knee-jerk acceptance of a highly dubious theory as fact.

It should certainly not rest with the squandering of billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money on a non-solution to a non-problem.

You’ll get those who say climate change is responsible for Hurricane Katrina, catastrophic weather conditions, and actually cooling.

And a lot of the people making the most bizarre claims (now discredited) are those very same people you take advice from — the climate scientologists of the IPCC.

(It’s not necessarily always changes in warming. Changes in weather patterns.)

Others will say they are not.

But if you go back to the bulk of the scientific evidence, it overwhelmingly supports that there is an effect.

The real evidence says the effect is minuscule.

Yes, a bunch of computer models are forecasting all manner of doom and gloom, but they’ve been programmed to produce the result their politicised programmers want.

And how have those projections panned out in real life?

Very badly.

Here’s the Global Warming Model Validation Scorecard. By 2006, when this site stopped counting, the models’ record of successful predictions stood at: Won 1, Lost 27, Drawn 4.

(Ever wonder why scientists only ever call them projections, not predictions? It’s because they get it wrong over 90% of the time.) 

Dodgy computer models are not evidence.

Now, can that change? Will it change?

I don’t know.

But all I can tell you is that a lot of people, for a long period of time, have looked at this.

And the overwhelming bulk of scientific evidence supports it.

Even if you go to someone like Bjorn Lomborg, he would say to you — yes, the Sceptical Environmentalist — he would say to you, “Climate change is happening, but is it worth fixing?”

He would say, “Pour money into fixing the world’s water supplies,” for instance.

Glad you mentioned Dr Lomborg. Let’s have a look at what he actually said.

Here he is at the TED conference in 2005.

He said a number of different groups of economists were asked to rank the world’s fifteen biggest problems by how cost-effectively we could solve them.

All groups rated one problem 15th and least worth trying to fix.

That problem? You guessed it: global warming.

Why?

Not because it wasn’t happening. But because we’d have to spend $150 billion a year cooling the planet. And with all that money, we’d still only be able to nudge the temperature down by a gnat’s whisker.

It’s simply not worth it.

With half that money — $75 billion a year — we could fix all of the world’s major problems. Including all of the world’s communicable diseases like AIDS and malaria.

Lomborg also said something else very interesting.

He talked about what would happen if we let the market system kept lifting poor people out of poverty at the same rate as it has been.

He said that by 2100, the average Bangladeshi will be as wealthy as today’s average Dutchman. So they’ll be well able to adapt to any climatic problem they may face.

(And we all know how the Dutch coped with their little water problem centuries ago — when they had less technology than today’s Bangladeshis.)

So I personally believe human-induced climate change is occurring.

New Zealand’s got to take a responsible approach for a variety of reasons.

 But not one of those reasons stacks up.

Most of the foresters don’t need compensating, and those that do would only set us back about $20 million.

No country is going to take action against us for not having an ETS when they either haven’t got one themselves or (in the case of Europe) it doesn’t apply to agriculture or anything except heavy industry.

But I don’t think we should be at the extreme end of the debate.

So why are you?

If the world’s first all-sectors, all-gases ETS doesn’t put us at the extreme end of the debate, what would?

SMITH

Let me ask you again: What would disabuse you of that belief that you’ve adopted?

KEY

Scientific support that we are wrong.

SMITH

Are you — with the greatest respect to the office of the Prime Minister — can I suggest to you that you are ill informed, and the sources that you’re getting your information from are not providing you with up to date and accurate information?

The scam of man-made global warming – of man-made climate change – is being exposed all over the world at the moment.

Even the New Zealand Herald, while it still held reserve at the end of the Editorial yesterday, finally woke up from it’s 40 year sleep and wrote an editorial that said this scam is going on.

Time Magazine – all the pro-anthropogenic global warming pushers in the media  – have backed off and are now saying we need to go back to square one and work with real science, and not the nonsense that’s led the prime ministers of the world to tax their populations.

KEY

Yeah.

So isn’t the answer here, though, to say, “Look, let’s accept for a moment that it is occurring” – and I accept your perspective that it’s not. 

No that most certainly is not the answer, John.

Before you commit billions of dollars of taxpayers to fixing a problem, the burden of proof must be on the scientists to prove that the problem exists.

You should not just “accept for a moment that it is occurring”.

That’s lazy leadership.

It’s a very long-term problem. Whatever happens, it’s a long-term issue.

The history of the world’s climate is an extremely long-term issue. And as paleontologist Professor Bob Carter will tell you, by the standards of the past we’re going through a rather chilly phase at the moment, with relatively little carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

But I don’t suppose Dr Gluckman and his IPCC friends mentioned that, did he John?

And where the debate becomes ridiculous at one level is when someone like myself and other leaders turn up in Copenhagen, and world leaders like the head of Bangladesh — the President or Prime Minister of Bangladesh — gets up and says — as she did actually at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting at Trinidad and Tobago — that hundreds of millions of people were starving in her country as a result of climate change.

Well, actually, there’s been long-standing problems in Bangladesh, and I think to start rooting them all back to climate change is ridiculous. 

You had Bolivia and Venezuela getting up at Copenhagen saying that climate change was the evil that was causing capitalism.

Well, I mean that’s a ridiculous statement.

So you’re less ridiculous than Hugo Chavez, Evo Morales and the president or prime minister of Bangladesh. Hardly cause for celebration.

SMITH

But you are in good company now. You’ve got Osama Bin Laden on your side.

KEY

 Oh right. So…

But my point is simply this.

We have a very modest system, which we can gear up or ultimately can gear down.

If, at the end of the day, we plant a few more trees in New Zealand, work on expelling less greenhouse gases, in my view — and build greater efficiency, fuel efficiency and the likes — in my view they all have merits and benefits.

We have a million hectares of erosion-prone land in New Zealand. Let’s fix that anyway.

SMITH

The Australian ran a piece today… [went on to talk about the article that said that trees may not be the carbon sink we thought they were.]

KEY

Yeah, there’ll always be a debate. But if you look at it, we have years of research and evidence that shows that trees do suck co2 out of the atmosphere.

So does grass. Why can’t our farmers get any credits for that?

SMITH

I want to conclude it with this.

The claim was, “The science is settled, the consensus has it.”

Both of those are fallacies. They are now becoming unravelled big-time.

KEY

Well, I would go back to you and say what I started with.

I think the debate got extreme on one side pre-Copenhagen.

I think you are seeing a predictable push back the other way.

But I’ll be amazed if, in a few years time, you’re still not seeing countries around the world attempting to do something about this problem.

I’m not saying they’ll- Well, if they’re smart, they won’t sacrifice everything in their economy and all these stupid things for taking a sole and singular focus on climate change.

But I think countries will deal with it.

SMITH

Dr Lomborg, who you quoted earlier, said, “The brave thing to do at the moment is nothing.”

He said that. And somebody wrote to me this morning with a question for you: “Are you brave enough to do nothing?”

KEY

Well, it’s not a question of being brave.

I think the answer there is that if New Zealand did nothing, what would be the implications on the international markets – given we export around about a third of our economy, and want to export more?

And the answer is, there will be pushback.

SMITH

Given what the leading media in the UK is saying at the moment — and other places, but the UK seem to be of major interest to us on this front — no pushback.

None whatsoever.

KEY

Well, I don’t know, ‘cos you’ve got the UK being taxed on that front. You’ve got all of Europe in an Emissions Trading Scheme.

So you are saying that… See, you can argue the merits of it one way or the other. But in the end, the Europeans, the Americans…

In the end, John, the Europeans aren’t taxing agriculture. So they can hardly get upset if we don’t either.

The Americans aren’t going ahead with their cap and trade scheme.

The Chinese won’t be getting an ETS any century soon.

And to cap it all off, Australia’s delayed the scheme we’re supposed to be working in with for at least three years. (A delay that new PM Julia Gillard has endorsed.)

That’s all our main trading partners.

So where will the reprisals be coming from? 

SMITH

Have I drawn your attention though this morning to the fact that it really is unravelling?

And can I ask you to make further enquiry?

KEY

I will.

I hope Leighton asks him to report back.

CALLER

What debate are we prepared to get involved in? Certainly sooner or later someone has to say, “The emperor has no clothes.”

We have to have- Chicken Little has to be called home to roost, so that we can have that debate, so that we can actually know what direction to go to.

Because we’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars of peoples funds, nations’ funds, right at the time of a global catastrophic financial meltdown.

KEY

I think the truthful answer is: you’re not going to get as straightforward and binary black and white answer as that any time real soon.

Because I think there will be conjecture and debate and quite ferocious arguments put up by both sides for decades.

What we do know is: the population of the world is getting larger.

We know that they’re industrialising quicker and consuming a lot more carbon.

The question now is ultimately: Does that have any long term impact on the world?

And the scientific evidence that we see indicates it does, and that we should attempt to do something about it.

From New Zealand’s point of view, I think that if we don’t play our part in the world, we’ll have our reputation tarnished. We’ll have reduced access for our goods and services.

So now that we’re playing our part and the rest of the world isn’t, will the rest of the world give us increased access? Or is our shining reputation just one for stupidity?

But I think we should do it in a considered and modest way. And that’s what we’re doing.

Enjoy your considered and modest prices rises after Thursday.

Thanks to Karen Bridgman for the transcript of the interview.

Jeffrey Wigand, Poetry, Smoker's Coffin

A poem for Jeffrey Wigand

Grant McLachlan, Dan McCaffrey and I were having dinner at Leuven last Wednesday, when who should plonk himself down at the next table but Jeffrey Wigand, the legendary Big Tobacco whistleblower.

I haven’t seen Russell Crowe’s portrayal of him on The Insider, but I recognised him from a Breakfast interview that morning.

Grant greeted him like a long-lost friend. And Dan, tongue firmly in cheek, launched into a rave about how soaring cigarette prices were unfairly punishing our beneficiaries.

And boy, did Dr Wigand seize the bait. With shark-like ferocity, he replied that anyone caught spending their welfare check on cigarettes should have their benefit cut.

(Sounds fair to me.)

I could see at that moment why Jeffrey Wigand was such a handful for those tobacco lawyers. He’s one determined guy, who speaks in the plainest of English. I wish we had more of them here.

I told him I’d send him this poem from my book I Think The Clouds Are Cotton Wool:

SMOKER’S COFFIN

(First verse sung to the tune of A Bicycle Built For Two

Hazy Daisy,
Give me your cancer, do;
I’m inhaling
More of your smoke than you;
It’s hard to believe that soon we’ll
Be meeting at my funeral,
And when I’m dead
It can be said
I was basically killed by you.

. . .

Nothing on this planet kills
Like W.D. and H.O. Wills;
Not the tiger, not the shark,
Not Al-Qaeda in Iraq;
More than Hitler or Bin Laden,
Genghis Khan or Joseph Stalin;
Mussolini and Saddam
Haven’t done a lot of harm
Next to the collected horrors
Of a certain Philip Morris.

Kaiser Bill and Mao Zedong
Hardly put a jackboot wrong;
Idi’s army in Uganda,
Tutsi-butchers in Rwanda;
Even naughty old Pol Pot
Couldn’t slaughter like this lot;
The worst of men from history’s annals
Did not kill like RJ Reynolds.

Slobodan Milosevic,
Serbia, the loss of which
Must have hurt — and serves him right —
But not as much as Winston Light.
Evil Nicolai Ceaucescu,
Though he left us kids to rescue,
More Romanian orphans die
From nicotine than Nicolai.

Mr Benson, Mr Hedges —
Killers both, the state alleges;
Rothmans, Carlton and Winfield —
Murderers who stand revealed.
As their legal team tap-dances,
Ask them questions, they give cancers;
Should there be a total ban?
Why not ask the Marlboro Man?

Marlboro Man, that great romancer,
Just before he died of cancer,
Choked, “I think … at last … I’ve hit
Upon a … failsafe … way to … quit.”

Lawyers stall and judges fudge;
Politicians dare not budge;
Big Tobacco’s biggest three
(Reynolds, Morris, BAT)
Hide behind the same defence:
“Inconclusive evidence.”

. . .

(This last verse sung to the tune of Chim-chim-cheree)

Chim-chimney chim-chimney
Chim-chim cheroot;
Time we were giving
Tobacco the boot;
How many more, how many more
Graves must be filled
Full of the smokers
You jokers have killed?

© J Ansell 2003

I hope he likes it.

A few years back, when the air quality in most pubs was on a par with the inside of a chimney, I plucked up the courage to perform the above in a bar full of smokers.

I thought I’d be lucky to get out alive, but I wanted them to know how I felt about their selfish habit.

And did they attack me?

Er, no. They clapped and cheered, and voted me the bar tab for best poem of the night.

So did my brave recital cause them to rethink their attitude toward polluting other people’s lungs?

Again, no. When the reading had finished, most of them went back to the bar and lit up a fag.

Helen Clark, Middle East, Phil Goff, Sir Geoffrey Palmer

Leftist UN appoints leftist PM to absolve club-wielding leftist peace activists

So the UN thinks a former NZ Labour PM is the ideal neutral party to investigate the Israeli clash with the so-called peace activists off Gaza.

As they say in Tel Aviv, כן, בטח  (yeah right).

Could Ban Ki-moon’s promotion of Sir Geoffrey Palmer have anything to do with another former New Zealand PM not a million miles from his office?

Because we know her views on the Israelis and Palestinians, don’t we?

Clue: here’s a 2005 photo of her former foreign minister and successor Phil Goff getting unusually chummy with former PLO leader and Black September terrorist group founder (think Munich 1972) Yasser Arafat.

Let’s hope fellow Labourite Sir Geoffrey will be sufficiently impartial to ask why the Mavi Marmara was carrying peace activists like these:

Ahmad Umimon — Hamas operative.

Ken O’Keefe — Hamas operative. Tried to enter the Gaza Strip to form and train a commando unit.

Hassan Iynasi — Financial supporter of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror organization.

Hussein Urosh — Activist in the IHH organization. On his way to Gaza to help smuggle Al-Qaeda operatives into the Strip.

Fatimah Mahmadi — Active member of “Viva Palestine.” Tried to smuggle forbidden electronic components into Gaza.

Thanks to Kiwi in America via Kiwiblog for the link.

I note David Farrar’s more generous view of Sir Geoffrey’s appropriateness. But in politics, perception is everything.

And that means no matter how expert in maritime law our former PM may be, and no matter how impeccable his integrity, his link to a party that’s so shamelessly partisan is bound to cast doubt on any judgement he may make against Israel.

John Key, Sunday Star-Times

JK — master sidestepper

I like John Key. He’s a nice guy, a great husband and father, and might just be the most astute politician any political party ever had.

He’s just not a good leader for our country.

You can tell this by the way he sidesteps and spins his way out of all the tough questions.

Now I happen to believe that when a citizen asks a question of his elected servant, that servant should do the citizen the honour of answering it.

And if he sidesteps the question, I think we should call him on it.

And if he keeps sidestepping, we should keep calling him on it until he learns to respect his employer. 

So that’s what I’m going to do in this post. 

In Sunday’s Star-Times, 50 New Zealanders, including me, were asked to put a question to John Key.

You can see my question below. 

And you can see how JK sidestepped it.

And not just my question. Also questions from Sir Colin Meads, Gareth Morgan, Don Nicholson, Oscar Kightley, Denis Dutton, Michael Laws, Peter Chin, Phil O’Reilly and others.

This PM, like the last one, has the sidestepping down pat.

So much so that it reminds me of that other famous JK, All Black John Kirwan. (For the culturally challenged, that’s him on the left.)

Here’s a selection of those questions and answers — punctuated by the interjections I wish I could have made.

1. Sir Colin Meads, former All Black: Do you think you are doing too much for the Maori people? Is it just to keep their votes?

We are putting our focus and energy into the settling of historic claims and the sense of grievance it conjures, so we can move on into the next phase of this country’s history. I think it would be a betrayal of Kiwis’ basic sense of decency to forget the past and the legitimate claims of iwi.

Sidestep. Everyone agrees about the legitimate claims. But what about the illegitimate ones? Like the recent half billion dollar payment to Tuwharetoa.

By all accounts, that iwi was so happy with their 19th century payout (for the then-barren Volcanic Plateau) that they dug up their late chief negotiator and propped him up against a tree for the celebration party.

But at the same time I am determined New Zealand will not become stuck in that past.

You mean like stuck with the temporary Maori seats you promised to abolish — a promise you broke to forge a totally unnecessary alliance with the Maori (sovereignty) Party?

 I am optimistic the next phase can be characterised by better race relations and an even more strongly united sense of our shared aspirations as New Zealanders.

Sounds idyllic. United? Sounds like One Law For All — a concept your predecessor promoted and you ditched to please your new mates.

7. Oscar Kightley, film-maker and comedian: Pacific heroes Michael Jones and Inga Tuigamala gave you their support, and that of their supporters, because they thought that, under National, Pacific people would be owning factories and not just working in them. When do you think that will happen?

Lifting New Zealand’s economic performance will help all New Zealanders, and I know that is also what Inga and Michael believe.

So why have you ruled out so many policies that would lift New Zealand’s economic performance?

Michael has said publicly it was my aspiration to bring all New Zealanders forward, including Pacific people, which convinced him to support us. I know our strong commitment to economic growth in the Pacific nations, including business mentoring, is important to New Zealand’s Pacific people.

Sidestep. Oscar asked “When?” 

10. Greg Fleming, chief executive of the Maxim Institute: Are there any issues you care enough about that you would be willing to lose all your political capital for them?

I have some bottom lines, and I care deeply about many issues, not least of which is education. I have said I would resign as PM if superannuation entitlements were ever cut. However, political capital is important because it is a measure of how well the public is receiving your policies. Democracy demands the involvement of voters in all the decisions you make,

You mean like with the anti-smacking referendum, where you ignored 85% of voters?

so it can be a balancing act.

Likewise, we have three support partners whose views must be balanced against our own.

I know we’re not meant to ask this, but: Why must the views of the Maori Party be taken into account? After all, their supporters gave their party votes to Labour.

Yet to feather your own political nest you:

a) broke the promise you made to the electorate to abolish the race-based seats

b) gave $500 million of our money to Tuwharetoa for land they’d already been paid for in the 19th century

c) bribed the tribes to get them to support the ETS (where you broke another promise not to lead the world)

d) secretly signed us up to a UN convention that opens a new track for the Treaty gravy train

e) gave away the foreshore and seabed to any iwi with a sense of grievance and a smart lawyer.

That is the nature of MMP government.

Maybe it’s time we got rid of it.

So you’re saying you’ve got one bottom line. You’d sacrifice everything else to keep superannuation payments from being cut.

Isn’t this just Winston Insurance — for when the Oracle returns and reminds his bewildered flock about National’s broken promise over the superannuation surcharge in 1990?

14. John Ansell, designer of the famous “Iwi-Kiwi” billboards for the National Party election campaign in 2005: If you’re genuine about closing the Tasman wage gap, why are you driving up New Zealanders’ power and petrol prices with an emissions trading scheme, when Australia and all other countries have deferred their climate taxes because so much of the science is fraudulent?

I believe human-induced climate change is happening.

Why? Why are you now a Climate Scientologist when you were one of the first to conclude it was a hoax? (A view now clearly shared by our biggest trading partners.)

Further, by refusing to implement the ETS proposed under the former Labour government, we have halved the fuel and electricity costs facing businesses and households.

Oh great. So we’ve progressed from Dumber all the way up to Dumb.

New Zealand, as a responsible international citizen, and as a country that values its clean, green environment, must act to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

Why, when…

a) there’s hardly any of them.

b) it won’t change the climate in the slightest.

c) it won’t help you achieve your goal of catching Australia — since even Aussie’s Labor government isn’t dumb enough to punish their people with a tax on the breath of life?

However, this must be in ways that result in the least cost to society and the economy.

Sidestep. You didn’t answer my question. So here’s another one for you…

Which has the least cost to society and the economy:

a) A 5-10% power price rise plus a 4-8c a litre petrol price rise?

b) A 0% power price rise plus a 0c a litre petrol price rise?

15. Peter Elliott, actor: How difficult is it to reconcile the recent success of New Zealand’s ideological stance on nuclear issues with President Barack Obama, when the National Party vilified and ridiculed the instigators of our anti-nuclear policy?

Just days after becoming leader of the National Party in November 2006, I announced my unswerving support for New Zealand’s anti-nuclear legislation. I said then that under my leadership the anti-nuclear legislation will not change, and it won’t. New Zealanders are proud of the anti-nuclear policy, and it is iconic. As I said in 2006, I believe in that position and see absolutely no reason for change.

Translation: “Where Helen stands, I stand.”

(Will you be going to the UN too, in return for promoting the opponent so many of us worked so hard to defeat?)

20. Roger Kerr, executive director, Business Roundtable: Unlike your predecessor who famously said, “The government’s role is whatever the government defines it to be”, you have endorsed the concept of limited government. What do you regard as the proper limited role of government?

A vital role of government is to improve the living standards of New Zealanders. Sometimes it can do that by funding or providing services itself; sometimes by keeping out of the way of private enterprise. I am not overly ideological about the role of government; I believe in what works.

We look forward to the next OECD GDP per capita rankings to see whether your policies are taking us up or down. Will you take us ahead of the hapless Greeks or be overhauled by the clever Koreans?

I note those same policies have already widened the Tasman Wage Gap.

25. Peter Chin, mayor of Dunedin: When will the government be required to meet the same levels of transparency it demands of local government – especially since the increasing costs of such central government imposed compliance (annual plans, consultation etc) become a further burden to be met by ratepayers?

Central and local government are not directly comparable, but the process of accountability and transparency seems to me to operate in a similar way. For example, both central and local government are subject to the Official Information Act. Through that, expenditure by government – no matter whether it is central or local – can be scrutinised publicly.

Sidestep. Peter was talking about annual plans. How come local governments have to submit annual plans and central government doesn’t?

And how come a prime minister can get away with saying he’s got a plan for achieving his stated goal, when he hasn’t?

26. Don Nicolson, president of Federated Farmers: Do you categorically know if our assumed “clean-green” and “sustainable” brand is a primary reason why consumers in the growing markets of Asia, the Middle East and Africa buy New Zealand food products and if not, why not?

As I said in a speech to Federated Farmers last November, we ignore environmental concerns of our overseas customers at our peril. I said then that environmentally aware consumers across Britain and Europe were increasingly demanding higher environmental standards for the food they buy.

America’s largest supermarket chain, Walmart, is introducing a Sustainability Index. It includes factors such as the impact on natural resources, energy and climate change in the manufacture of its products. I believe consumers in other markets like the ones you cite will increasingly become sensitive to environmental concerns. I do not believe we can differentiate between those types of markets.

Sidestep. The question is not whether Walmart has a Sustainability Index. It’s whether a large percentage of their customers base their buying decisions on it.

As I said to the conference last year, regardless of your view about the environment or climate change, the opinions of your consumers will ultimately decide how well your products sell.

Do you really think our exporters need to be told that? If our professional marketers don’t think it’s a problem, why should the government get involved?

27. Ruth Lim, Sunday Star-Times reader, Christchurch: You went through the public school system and seem to have fond memories of your time there, as evidenced by your recent visit to Burnside High. You have also done very well in the business and political world since. What are your reasons for sending your own children to private schools?

I believe all New Zealanders should have the freedom to make choices, especially when it comes to issues like education and healthcare. New Zealand has excellent schools and one of the reasons for that is different schools are able to cater for students’ various needs. My children enjoy their schools – they’re a good fit. As all parents know, if your children are happy at their school it makes a big impact on their all-round wellbeing.

Sidestep. John, you once said our private schools were no better than our state schools.

If so, why do you and every other senior politician I’m aware of (Labour’s former education minister Mallard included) send your children to private schools?

You know private schools tend to be better. You lead a private enterprise party. Why not be honest and say so — proudly?

30. Denis Dutton, professor of philosophy, University of Canterbury: We continue to lose our smartest, most imaginative and entrepreneurial young people to Australia, the UK, and the US. New Zealanders have a tiresome repertoire of self-delusional excuses for this (“They will come back to raise families”, “We can replace them with Zimbabwe-trained professionals”, “If they are so greedy, who needs them”, etc). Our loss of university-trained citizens is near the top of the OECD. What three initiatives would you put in place to staunch New Zealand’s haemorrhaging of its best young talent?

Ensuring New Zealand remains a lifestyle choice for returning New Zealanders and new migrants means developing a package of initiatives which will endure.

Sidestep. Staunching the haemorrhaging means convincing our  kids not to leave in the first place.

These include an attractive tax system, incentives for businesses, and world-class health and education. New Zealand will always see its young people doing an OE. While many come back home, there will always be those who settle into a new life overseas, and we can’t begrudge them seizing those opportunities. However, we can continue to develop a suite of policy initiatives to ensure we can compete with other countries to attract not only our own best and brightest, but the very best in the world.

The question asked for three initiatives. The answer provided none.

42. Michael Laws, mayor of Whanganui: One of the primary reasons Labour was voted out of office in 2008 was a perceived political correctness that dominated its political thinking. Is the National government not guilty of the same – with its decisions on parental smacking, the spelling of Whanganui, the repeal of the seabed legislation, its embrace of Whanau Ora and its relationship with the minority Maori Party?

One of the government’s priorities this year is to make significant reforms in social sectors like the welfare system, education, the justice system, health and state housing, to deliver better results. All New Zealanders deserve a future with less unemployment, welfare dependence, crime and all the social problems that go along these. To secure this brighter future, we have to get to grips with some of the big issues in these areas which have long been left unaddressed, and we need to tackle these issues as a nation. If National, with its confidence and supply partners, can make headway in these issues, then all New Zealand will benefit. But I don’t believe it’s something National should do alone – having the support of our political partners and New Zealanders across the spectrum is crucial. One thing I believe strongly is that there is no room in New Zealand for separatism. And, although there will be bumps along the way, we need to acknowledge that this is the only way forward.

Sidestep. 169 words and not one on-topic. Never mind Kirwan, that’s Bryan Williams territory.

43. Gareth Morgan, economist and investor: What is the single most important policy advance, to your mind, if NZ is going to have any chance of closing the income gap with Australia?

I have always maintained there is no one silver bullet. It will be a raft of policies that lift New Zealand’s economic performance. Reforming our tax system in a fair and equitable way is one. Reducing red tape, boosting infrastructure such as broadband, electric rail and road networks, driving better performance in the public sector, and encouraging innovation, particularly in science, are others. This will be an ongoing programme, year-on-year.

Sidestep. Gareth asked you for your signature dish, not the whole menu.

44. Phil O’Reilly, chief executive, Business New Zealand: We’re a nation of small businesses, but we really need to develop more global-sized firms like Fonterra to secure our economic future. What are the two most important policy levers you would pull to increase our chances of growing more global companies?

To grow more successful companies in New Zealand, we have to be a better place to run a business. And that doesn’t happen with just two policy levers – we actually have to do hundreds of things well as government, so businesses have the confidence to invest, grow and create higher-paying jobs.

That’s why we have been busy in a whole lot of policy areas from the RMA to trade agreements, to tax to transport, to science to electricity, to education to capital markets, to local government to broadband, and so on. With action in all those areas we increase our chances of growing more successful, internationally competitive, bigger businesses.

Sidestep. Phil didn’t say there should be only two policy levers. He asked for the two most important.

47. Selwyn Pellett, businessman: In business a CEO is hired who knows his craft, understands his chosen market and knows how to extract value from it in the interests of all his shareholders. The corporate goals are almost always achieved with a clear inspiring vision that all stakeholders buy into it. If this is the prescribed business wisdom for success (strong, strategic and inspiring leadership) and you are the head of our business party, do you think that New Zealanders should also demand this of our prime minister?

Running a business is one thing, running a country is another. There are obviously some similarities but it is the job of a prime minister to articulate a vision for where the country is heading, why we want to get there, and how. Voters demand that of political leaders, and that is what I am focusing on.

Wrong. The job of a prime minister is not to talk about getting there. It’s to get there.  

You articulate a vision of closing the Tasman Wage Gap. That’s good.

And you articulate why you want to close it. Also good.

Then you fail to articulate how you’re going to close it. Not so good.

And as a result you’re failing to close it. Bad.

In other words, John, your non-plan is not working.

Now people may think this post is mean. Part of me really doesn’t want to talk like this. I’ve got friends in the National Party, and I have no personal animosity towards John Key at all. Quite the reverse.

But there’s a bigger issue here. The future of our country.

For the last 10 years, under two dominant leaders, New Zealand has been a parliamentary dictatorship.

Now, thanks to his unparalleled political skills, what JK wants, JK gets.

And what JK wants is popularity.

And that’s the wrong motivation. It wasn’t Don Brash’s. It’s not Roger Douglas’s. Nor was it Winston Churchill’s or Margaret Thatcher’s or Ronald Reagan’s.

Real leaders get out of bed in the morning hell-bent on creating a better country. Not just building a bigger majority.

That’s why real leaders like Churchill and Thatcher (and in New Zealand, Douglas) will be remembered long after mere politicians like Clark and Key are forgotten.

Where is the New Zealand leader who can talk straight?

One who doesn’t need to sidestep?

Catherine Delahunty

Green MP would find Stone Age tools unsustainable

Photo: www.bronze-age-swords.com

On Backbenchers last week, Green MP Catherine Delahunty (below) was asked what she’d do if she found there was $100 million worth of gold buried beneath her private property.

She replied that she’d plant a garden.

Because gardens are sustainable.

As David Farrar points out, Ms Delahunty opposes all forms of mining, not just gold.

So to describe the Greens as Luddites would appear, at least in Catherine’s case, to be very unfair.

To the Luddites.

This eco-warriorwoman would seem to favour rewinding civilisation 43,000 years — to before the first paleolithic flint mines.

Now for your average Stone Ager, life was no picnic at the best of times. But take away his trusty flint adze and he’d be well and truly at the mercy of the Earth Mother.

(Or Catherine, as she’d surely become known.)

As for the comparatively modern 5,000 year old Bronze Age family above, in a Delahunty world, their sword, spearhead and arrow tips would be outlawed as unsustainable.

Bang goes their defence capability.

City made of pots by Zhan Wang

And the lady of the house can forget about doing any cooking in those new-fangled bronze pots.

For alas, bronze  does not grow on trees. It’s made by mixing a smidgen of naturally-occurring tin with nine smidgens of naturally-occurring copper.

All of which must be — sorry to have to break this to you — mined.

If Bronze Agers would struggle to do without mined metal, how is modern man supposed to cope?

Or is modern man the last thing the Greens are concerned about?

Advertising, Dominion Post, PPTA, TeachersUnionExposed.com

Dom damns PPTA

I love the way those brash  Noo Yawk ad men go right to the heart of an issue in the bluntest of Anglo-Saxon.

(I try to do the same.)

Here’s their take on a common pestilence: unions that put bad teachers before good teachers and children.

I thought it would make a cute backdrop for a post in praise of this morning’s brilliant DomPost editorial about the PPTA’s latest extortion demand.

Teachers need to get real

There has long been a suspicion that reality stops at the door to the teachers’ staffroom.

Now is a time for restraint, not political game-playing. The PPTA is on the wrong side of public opinion. It should abandon its pay claim and focus on improving the quality of teaching.

There is no denying that good teachers are underpaid. But that will not change until teacher unions allow schools to remunerate their staff according to their abilities. No government could afford to bump up the salaries of good teachers by giving all teachers a pay rise.

In Switzerland, I’m told most teachers are paid around NZ$120,000 a year. And who hires them? The parents.

The Post Primary Teachers Association’s ludicrous claim for a 4 per cent pay rise for secondary school teachers lends credence to the theory.

The world is just emerging from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, the Government is effectively borrowing $200 million a week to maintain existing levels of services, tens of thousands of New Zealanders have lost their jobs, and hundreds of thousands have received little, if any, pay rise for the past two years.

The majority reluctantly accept that is the price they must pay for job security. At a time of crisis, everybody – employers and employees – has to tighten their belts.

For the PPTA to demand a big pay increase at such a time is to show gross insensitivity to those who pay teacher salaries through their taxes. For it to demand the increase after its members received 4 per cent pay increases in each of the past three years is to show secondary teachers, or their union at least, are completely out of touch with the real world.

Teachers perform a vital role. They shape the scientists, doctors, cleaners and electricians of the future. As every parent knows, some – those who inspire, engage and excite pupils – are worth their weight in gold. It would be almost impossible to overpay them. However, there are others who go through the motions for a weekly pay cheque and a third group who are simply not up to the job.

Yet the present pay structure does not allow schools to differentiate between the performance of good, indifferent and bad teachers. They are all paid on the basis of their years of service and the responsibilities they hold.

If teacher unions are as serious as they say they are about wanting to keep good teachers in schools, they should work with the Education Ministry to devise a formula that allows schools to pay great teachers what they are worth and send a message to poor teachers that they should review their career options.

Every child knows who their outstanding teachers are. Didn’t you?

Me too. I had about three. I still keep in touch with them 35-40 years later.

Certainly every principal knows who his star performers are. As does any parent who cares about their child’s progress.

I’ve always made a big fuss of great teachers. Anyone who can mesmerise over two dozen hormonal teenagers into mastering  quadratic equations or psychoanalysing Hamlet is one of society’s true heroes.

We had one a few years back who inspired our 12 year old to write a 150 page novel in three weeks.

Like any12 year old, the boy preferred zapping aliens online than pouring prose out of his keyboard.

But this magnificent teacher said “Jump!” And the kids said, “How high?”

As for the dullard teachers, they’re not hard to spot either.

They’re the ones with the long queues of parents snaking out the door and down the corridor on meet-the-teacher nights.

I had one of these for science at high school. More than one actually. Together, they’re the reason I know nothing about science except how to spell it. (Oh, and how to sing the Periodic Table – but that came decades later).

When this guy eventually retired, he apologised to all those he’d mistaught over the years. Which was a fat lot of use.

He should never have been allowed near a classroom. Instead, thanks to the PPTA, he ended up being paid more than his younger, smarter, more diligent colleagues.

For that union to suggest that teachers can’t be measured is exquisitely hypocritical. After all, their members have no trouble applying numerical grades to the children they teach!

But back to the editorial: 

Alternatively, the unions could work with the Government to identify other areas of saving in the education budget. The overstaffed ministry would be a good starting point.

Every 1 per cent increase in primary, secondary and early childhood education salaries costs $50m. Contrary to what the teacher unions and their members appear to believe, the Government is not sitting on a big pot of money. Every extra dollar paid to teachers or other public service employees has to be cut from other areas of government spending or borrowed from overseas.

Whoever wrote that, take a bow.

(Get in touch and I’ll buy you a beer.)

 

climate change, Emissions Trading Scheme, John Key, Kevin Rudd

Rudd pushes Aussie ETS back 3 years. Key’s Big New Tax due inside 3 months.

Australia’s left-wing Labor PM has just put off their ETS for at least three years.

Meanwhile our left-wing National PM – who says he’s ambitious for New Zealand and claims he wants to catch up with Australian living standards – will be punishing his people with an ETS inside three months.

Rudd’s backdown shows the power of new Liberal leader Tony Abbott’s campaign against “The Big New Tax”.

What a shame New Zealand doesn’t have an Opposition.

If we did, it could put a climate change invoice for $3000 in every letterbox, complete with a few basic facts about the real science of climate change.

Then the public would know what the sceptics know, and the ETS would be a red-hot election issue.

Wanted: one Opposition.

Note: according to the Doomsdayers who love to terrify our children (which includes many warmmongers), the world is going to end in December 2012. Is Rudd’s 2013 deadline just his subtle way of telling the faithful that the ETS is off for good?

climate change, John Key

Key trades your prosperity for green votes

Thanks to reader The Silent Majority for sending me the above quote from John Key’s campaign blog.

Silent Majority sums up the flip-flop:

Well we are the world leader now John Key, way out in front, leading the charge, putting our businesses, farmers and exporters at risk, jobs will be lost, beef and sheep farms will convert to forestry, small rural communities will struggle, costs will go up across the board, for everyone, and our noble efforts will make not one iota of difference to the world climate.

When the facts change, John Key, intelligent people are willing to change their mind. You are an intelligent man John Key, so change your mind, before it is too late.

Perhaps that should be ‘change your mind back.’

Because as Opposition Leader, he had it right.

Yet as Prime Minister, little more than a year later, he became the world’s first national leader to pass a law punishing carbon-based life forms for emitting carbon.

In doing so, he ignored a slew of evidence that the world has been much warmer in the past than even the most extreme warm-monger says it’s likely to get in the future – and that those warm times were times of great abundance and prosperity.

He refused to look at evidence that the evidence of his advisors was not evidence at all.

Instead, he chose to believe a theory put about by a discredited religious sect masquerading as scientists, who base their claims on doctored computer models that dissolve on contact with reality.

John Key won’t delay the ETS, as the more sensible Australians and Americans have done.

Why not?

Because he simply doesn’t listen to anyone outside the NIWA/ Environment Ministry climate clique.

Just as they don’t listen to anyone outside the increasingly comical IPCC (Intergovernmental Perpetrators of Climate Cockups).

And so to July 1, and the aforementioned expense to our economy. Power prices up. Petrol prices up. All other prices up.

All because of John Key and Nick Smith’s determination to lead the world in saddling their people with a pointless solution to a   non-problem.

In a future post, I’ll publish a transcript of an interview that shows you how thoroughly the PM has been captured by one side of the climate debate.

In the meantime, you might ponder why John Key and Nick Smith would change their minds so completely on this issue from their time in Opposition.

Could it be the Nats are locking in those female urban liberal green votes “at the expense of our economy”?

Porirua City Council, Te Rauparaha Arena statues

Political erectness in Porirua

This photo [blurred to conceal the boy’s identity after a complaint from his father] was taken at the 2008 opening of Porirua’s Te Rauparaha Arena [link to press article removed].

In front is [name removed], a descendant of the great chief.

Behind the 11 year old are two chaps who seem  unusually excited to see him. (I think the third one may be texting.)

In fairness to young [name removed], the tattooed flashers’  attentions are nothing personal.

I’ve noticed they’re just as excited to see thousands of other Porirua children.

The kids have to pass a lineup of these wooden woodies on the way to their swimming lessons and basketball games.

Am I the only parent to find this a bit off?

Oh I’m sure there’s a fascinating cultural reason why the Porirua City Council had to erect carvings of violent rapists outside a children’s recreation centre.

But does that mean they’re free to display images which, were they not Maori, would be classed as pornography?

Did the Ngati Toa carvers really have to go so far out of their way to offend?

UPDATE: 8  OCTOBER 2011: I’ve just received a phone call from this boy’s irate father accusing me of using his son’s image for depraved sexual purposes.

He wants to meet me to explain the depth of his offence in person. Otherwise he will go to the police.

I invited him to do just that, as I’m not convinced that a meeting with an enraged descendant of Te Rauparaha would be good for my health.

However, I’m always sorry when something I do creates unintended offence, and I’m sorry that he and his wife feel upset by this post. 

He asked me how I would feel if our positions were reversed. The answer is that they wouldn’t be. I simply would not allow a young son of mine to pose for a newspaper in front of statues of men with erect penises.

If I did, I could hardly claim to be offended by the predictable media reaction.

I had thought I would take the post down, but having looked it up and read the words the man objected to, I now have no intention of doing so.

I stand by every word I’ve written.

But out of respect for the father’s concern, I have now blurred the image, withheld the boy’s name, and deleted the link to the original article.

My verbal apology was not enough for this man. After continuing to berate me for some time, he asked me if I would furnish him with a written apology.

At that point, I lost it. I’ve just woken up after a long day farewelling my father and am in no mood for grovelling. I said, “No” and hung up. 

In case I haven’t made myself clear, I certainly am sorry for having caused him offence, but certainly am not sorry for highlighting yet another New Zealand cultural double standard.

UPDATE : 8 NOVEMBER 2011: Here’s a short testimonial to the character of Te Rauparaha from A Mission of Honour by John McLean:

“The demon devoured all his prisoners, himself tearing open the living mother and holding the half-formed embryo upon a pointed stick in the flames to be afterwards devoured.”

That was from the diary of the ship Acheron, after her Captain Stokes had returned from Te Rauparaha’s killing fields at Kaiapoi.

For the Porirua City Council to honour this monster with his own stadium is akin to the Germans building an Adolf Hitler Gasworks or Phnom Penh opening a Pol Pot Ping Pong Palace.

Anne Tolley, Billboards, PPTA, Steven Joyce

PPTA declares war on education ministers

When all the fluff is stripped away, teacher unions exist so that:

  • Teachers who can’t teach can’t be stopped from teaching.
  • Those who can teach can’t earn more than those who can’t.

In my book, that makes the PPTA the educational equivalent of a Big Tobacco lobbyist.

They know that a teacher’s ability to explain and fascinate is what determines whether or not a child learns.

They know that the difference between a competent and incompetent teacher is the difference between children’s success and failure.

They know that one boring teacher can kill hundreds of children’s enthusiasm for a subject forever.

They know all this. Yet they still turn out stomach-churning ads claiming that they care about children. 

Well, this latest billboard surely confirms that they don’t.

Just when the National government is bringing some real-world standards to our increasingly dumbed-downed education system, what does this supposedly child-centred union do?

Publicly brands education ministers Anne Tolley and Steven Joyce as dimbulbs.

Wow, that’s really bright. The Dale Carnegie negotiation strategy: guaranteed to win friends and influence the employers’ employers.

Now I’m told the dimming campaign is really about the government’s decision to relieve you and me of the burden of paying for other people’s hobby classes.

Hard to say. The billboard gives no clue. But no matter.

Never waste a crisis, as the saying goes. And a grievous (and possibly unprecedented) insult like this can certainly be parlayed into a crisis.

The Nats should grab this slur as the perfect excuse to smash the teacher protection racket the way Margaret Thatcher smashed the miners.

If you ever hear a unionist sounding plausible about how national standards will stigmatise children, remember: their sole interest in your children is to keep the worst teachers in front of them.

climate change, New York Times headlines, Teach tank

To beat false alarmists, expose the patterns

 
The best disinfectant for persistent greenwash is sunlight.

All too often though, thanks to our typically-socialist scientists, politicians and media, the Left are left free to operate under cover of darkness.

Ads like this would blow their cover.

(It works best horizontally as one long, wildly bucking graph.)

The way to neutralise the false alarmists is to graphically present their patterns of deception. 

Shine the light on the various beatups, so people can see how they’re being conned time and again.

Such a ‘teach tank’ campaign of daily factoids like this would educate the public about the real world, and allow them to rest easier in their beds.

It could also be employed right now to get the Nats to dump their mad ETS.

Funding anyone?

As a famous lefty president didn’t quite say, the only thing we have to fear is unbalanced fearmongering.

Politics, Teach tank

Think tank + teach tank = sea change

Why should the Left have a mortgage on talking to the heart?

The big problem with the Right is that they don’t understand the emotional power of a few short words and pictures.

Especially pictures.

They think the force of their logic should be enough to persuade people to make sensible decisions. Logic laid out in longwinded articles, speeches and press statements.

Maybe it should be. But clearly it isn’t.

Our long history of socialist governments making shortsighted decisions (both Labour and National) shows that.

I’ve made the above poster to show how a punchy pictorial message can trump the most elegantly-crafted 1000-word article on the same subject.

Imagine the effect of this in your daily paper. Which would grab more readers: the poster or the article?

No contest, right?

That’s because the mind processes in pictures. And over half of us are visual learners.

OK, so what does this suggest about the way the Right goes about its job of converting the convertible (as opposed to preaching to the converted)?

It suggests to me that it needs a retail arm to distill and showcase the excellent work of its many policy wholesalers.

(Think the Business Roundtable, the Centre for Independent Studies and the Centre for Resource Management Studies – all of whom, despite their diligence, reach only a tiny fraction of the population.)

What these think tanks need to get their messages out to the 99% of people beyond the beltway is a teach tank.  

A teach tank’s sole job would be to distill the essence of all that world class research into easily-digestible, posterised morsels that can be fed to the general public one bite at a time.

The bites could be ‘nutshell’ newspaper ads, or posters slapped on walls (again, why should the Lefties control the streets?), or emails – whatever works best for the subject of the day.

Each nutshell ad would contain one fascinating factoid. Just one.

As they roll out day after day, naturally-curious people would come to trust the brand for giving them new insights into the workings of the world.

I’ve spoken about the teach tank idea to a couple of Business Roundtable CEO Forums, some potential funders, and again last weekend at the Summersounds Symposium in Nelson.

In fact, the speech was rewarded with an audience-judged Be Upstanding Award, which was nice – but not as nice as some serious funding, which has so far proved elusive.

(The heavy hitters of the Right are not as free with the cheques as the Left may like to think.)

If you know anyone who’d be keen to support the teach tank, I’d be keen to make the ads.

If the Right wants to create a real political sea change, it must  harness the persuasive power of short words, simple pictures and emotion, and use it to tell the public what’s going on.