Politics: And so the lolly scramble begins

Mr Cunliffe said a minimum wage of $16.25 an hour would put nearly $4000 a year into the pockets of a minimum wage earner. – NZ Herald

This announcement should not come as a surprise given it is election year and Labour needs all the help it can get however if low wages are the problem, why not make the minimum wage $25 or $50?

The economically illiterate citizens of New Zealand cannot grasp how backwards minimum wage laws really are. By forcing employers to pay over and above market rates for labour, price signals are thrown out of whack meaning businesses go under and more people, mostly those who desperately need work, are unemployed and most likely will remain so with assistance from WINZ. Where they could be employed adding the productive capacity of New Zealand and providing for themselves and families, they are left in the unwanted basket unable to better themselves.

But then again, we are ill-informed people who care little for the detail of economics, so in that it is well played Labour. Im sure you will pick up some votes with that bag of lollies that has been scattered amongst us.

Politics: The Green Party billboards…hmmmm

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Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei admits she was “extremely nervous” about the party’s billboard campaign using pictures of hungry, barefoot kids, mining scars on the landscape, gridlocked traffic and a beach clean up from the Rena oil spill.

…and so she should be. Obviously the billboards are styled around the Greens election campaign to paint New Zealand is so bad a light that a change of Government can solve all its problems, however real or mythical the problems are but for a billboard that will be seen for all of 3-5 seconds, can voters real process the image properly?

Are the images confronting or obvious enough for the average Joe driving along or sitting at the lights to differentiate or see the contradiction between the text and ‘reality based’ image? I would say no and thus conclude the Greens have lost it on election hoardings. Positivity wins votes, the same way big notes get votes on tv talent shows.

By merely showing or exaggerating certain aspects of society the Greens want to fix in pictures to make voters think deep within themselves at these issues, and they are issues that need real thought, not just a glance, they have lost a mental battle with many voters who want to look forward to stuff, not have to think about ‘real’ things, that stuff can, however harsh it may (be but it is election strategy) can come later.
Get the votes first based on uplifting positive stuff then you can fiddle with things and change stuff once in power.

I respect the Greens in the way they have really put themselves out there with these billboards but yeah…not sure they will work as efficiently as the ones they had last election.
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Politics: Where the f**k is Cunliffe?

On holiday it would appear. That is why no one had heard from him for a while, yet one would consider that it was rather unwise to be advised to take such a break given the ever mounting negative outlook for Cunliffe & Co.
The perfect moment to make yourself known and kick up a fuss is while the PM is on his own break, yet Cunliffe takes a break almost at the same time thus maintaining the status quo while his party takes another dive in the polls.
Its looking unlikely Labour can claw their way to victory but stranger things have happened. Much talkback radio still debates Cunliffes leadership abilities and ponders if pressure is building up within the party to knock him off and put Shearer back in the hot seat.
While I would personally find this scenario highly amusing I think it would backfire a little like how it did for Labour during the Palmer/Moore era when Helen Clark managed to slip in a poll question that asked if they changed their leader would that make you vote for them and poll results said ‘yes’ so out went poor old Geoffrey and in came big Mike but what a disaster that whole debacle was.
In the Shearer/Cunliffe case, it would just be suicide. Think about it. You put some nice guy up as leader, one who can barely cut a sandwich let alone cut it as leader, continually destabilise him and eventually get him to stand down, then vote in the man who was causing the destabilising who promises the world but delivers nothing, then after he turns out to be an even shitter leader than the one before, replace him with the one you did have before months out from an election where your opposition has been riding extremely high in the polls and their leader as whipped any of your leaders as preferred PM for donkeys years, and expect to win the election at hand?

No they can’t do that, they have to maintain continuity and although it looks likely that Cunliffe will fail, he will have to push on through for the Labour party to get through their mess and come out the other side with some idea of what went wrong otherwise they will continually blunder their way through the next year with blind eyes.

Obviously National has to shore up some friends first to make sure they hedge their bets but its looking so good, so far for them. As Duncan Garner pointed out the other day, the Dotcom bombshell should have been deployed as soon as he had it to hand, not delayed and played with like a football, kiwis don’t like those types of tactics and it could very well backfire on Dotcom who I think is starting to wear a little thin on some Kiwis.

The shittest months of the year are in swing and so the door knocking in the wing and the rain begins. One a side note, what influence could the weather have on voters? Anyone looked into that?

Economics: A random lesson

As with most families, each member typically has different tastes and interests. Growing up it was no different with me. As soon as I was able to see over the kitchen bench I was preparing my own breakfast, lunch and dinner, my parents also attending to their own preferences. This is not bad parenting on their part, in fact quite the opposite.
Now you may be asking “what does this have to do with economics?”
Well it has a lot to do with it, primarily around the notion of efficiency and collective deadweight loss.

Simply put, when my mother cooked a large dinner say for our family, basing it on the assumed preferences of everyone who would partake in the meal, it was always appreciated and well liked (who would want to criticise mothers cooking!) however what mother could not know was the exact amounts each individual would consume and what their taste preferences were and thus there was leftovers or surplus food, usually slapped together for lunch the next day so not all was lost, but still that leftover lunch tomorrow might not be what you wanted, not to mention all the dishes stacked up that no one really wants to do since everyone was involved in consuming the shared meal.

The flip side to this is when each of us got our own dinner individually. We would all select the items we felt like on that particular day, cook it using the resources we wished to use or in some cases not use, eat when we felt like it and usually since we made the mess by our own actions we usually cleaned up after ourselves thus wastage was kept at a minimum and efficiency in the kitchen was born! No more dirty dishes staked up, no more leftover food waste in the bin or for lunch the next day, no more arguments about dinner choices. Everyone was satisfied, happy and content with their own choices made by themselves for themselves.

This efficiency is lost in the real world.
With you being taxed without no say on how that money will be really spent, you are in a situation like the collective family meal. You put up with it but your preferences are rarely met and there is a large deadweight loss involved.
If you were like the individual preference scenario, you could, as you would choose your own meal when and where you liked, you could choose where and when you spent your money that wasn’t being taxed away and spent without much say by yourself. Deadweight loss would be minimised if not eliminated and everyone would be better off since you had more money to spend on the things that concern you specifically.

Politics: Will the ‘Dotcom bombshell’ be a dud?

Your guess is as good as mine however Dotcom better know that by saying that, he has put himself on such a pedestal that if his bombshell bombs out, then his credibility will certainly take a hit.
But like any good businessman he has hedged himself but only doing it 5 days out from the election, so effectively creating an air of distrust among some about Key and his knowledge of Dotcom in the early days pre raid but so much so that be placing the bomb so close to the election date that if it does prove to be a dud he will most likely be history or partial history so no major repercussions but whenever you set yourself up, you better know what you are talking about and are 100% certain that whatever information you have up your sleeve has to be sharp, pointy and stick into your opponent right where it will hurt otherwise it is as pathetic as holding up a bank with a banana.

Certainly on the surface of it all, Dotcoms case involving Key, the GCSB and the NZ Police has been a little amateur and possibly naive to think they could do the things they did however, the tolerance of the electorate is not an issue that can be ignored. The Internet-Mana Party is all well and good should it promote relevant policy but the more it keeps looking like Dotcoms proxy political weapon, then people on the margin will start to turn off.

This election is shaping up to be one of the most interesting in decades. We have a potentially third term National government doing quite well for themselves, an economy that is pretty stable, possibly not at rockstar status but not doing too bad all things considering, and an opposition that is fractured, solid but indeed segregated. Throw Dotcom into the mix playing happy families with one of the extreme left partys of New Zealand politics and you have a recipe for a close election. National can not rest on their laurels. They must prepare for a battle for it probably will be.

Opinion: Not all publicity is good publicity…

Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton was on about $2 million a year during the last America’s Cup campaign.

The salaries have emerged a week after Dalton told a press conference that without an immediate multi-million-dollar cash injection from taxpayers, the syndicate would be “gone by the end of the month”.

This latest spill from the Herald will certainly have some fatal consequences with the publics love affair with beloved Team New Zealand. Already seen as a ‘rich mans sport’, it does not matter if the figures are true or not, the damage has already been done. $2m seems like a pretty high salary given how contentious the whole Team NZ cup campaign is so I will be surprised if Dalton did receive this much however I would imagine the figures to be fairly high, enough to pretty well piss off your average kiwi. After crying poor a couple weeks ago, this revelation does nothing to help their cause. The only course of action Dalton could take now would to be come out with the real salary figures, something I don’t think he would consider doing as that in itself is a pretty dangerous tactic however some reaction is called for is Team New Zealand is to try save face with the New Zealand public.

If the salary claims are true, then it does explain how Dalton amassed such a vast property portfolio

Politics: The young ones…the Internet Party list

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With an average age of just 33, the young candidate list for the Internet Party is rather refreshing in the somewhat stale world of grey suit-and-tie politician’s that lurk under todays sun. The list contains many unfamiliar faces and names but all seem fairly talented in their respected fields. Will this new ‘yoooff’ face of politics help sway that demographic that just doesn’t give a toss to vote come the next election? Time will tell although I would put a couple bucks down to say it could well do so. For me, I was interested in the Internet Party until Mana came along and sold its soul out so I regard both with equal suspicion but putting that aside from speaking to friends many do seem to gravitate towards Kim Dotcoms cause like a satellite falling into orbit around a large mass, once locked in to the ideology, they are unable to break away from the gravitational pull that the Internet Party has. I love all their policys, well most of them but if they ever were in a position to put into place any of them, at what cost would it come to the country? That is the question to ponder.

I do also find it weird how Dr Russell Norman did his PhD on the democratic processes of the Alliance Party, to then employ former Alliance MP Laila Harre in the Auckland office, who then leaves to enter politics proper again in a party leadership role for a German multi-millionaire facing extradition charges who has just cozied up to a party from the far left of New Zealand politics. Its just strange but probably one of those ‘only in New Zealand’ type of things.

The youth vote is integral to the Internet Partys ultimate success and credibility. If they cannot harness that then there won’t be much point flogging a dead horse, although with the planned ‘party party’s’ they are organising throughout the country in the lead up to the election featuring many New Zealand music artists who will be performing (at what rate I wonder) it could well be the bread and circus’s that the voting kids out there need to sway them to vote for a voice representing their generation and issues that concern them. Just look at the promo pic. Smartly dressed, intelligent people with a somewhat ‘still in touch’ leader at the helm…it could be a recipe for success as there are no old fogeys to be found, as kids these days seem to distrust old fogeys since they seem the most corrupt and dodgy *cough* John Banks *cough*.

The Internet Party is probably the most exciting thing to happen to New Zealand politics for decades, even if you don’t like Dotcom and his set up here, you have to admit if you follow politics, it has certainly made for some interesting thought experiments on the possible consequences of his political ambitions not only in the short term but for the long term interests of the next generation of voters and politicians to come through the ranks. A changing of the political guard is about to take place age wise as the young replace the old. It started with sort of John Key coming through and you can see it in the Green Party list. A lot of the old tree huggers and activists are gone and in their place are smart academics like Julie Anne Genter and Gareth Hughes etc. Maybe not at this election but certain in the next two to come, more of this younger generation will be coming through the ranks bringing ideas and real world knowledge to issues that will, like it or not, be affecting us all in this digital age.

The latest polls show Labour slumping badly (even before Cunliffes latest cock up)so where are those votes going? Greens? Possibly… most likely some are. Mana? Probably not. The Internet Party? Again could be some spill over from the Labour train wreck but at this stage i guess its a little hard to tell where that support has or will eventually go. The core Labour voter is still with them but those marginal swing voters is what will bring the left across the line, and by having this Mana/Internet Party the dilution is such that the fracturing that has occurred with the left vote will leave them all worse off. National should be pretty pleased with how things are going.

The Internet Party top 5:

1. Laila Harre (Leader), TBA (electorate)
2. Chris Yong, Te Atatu
3. Miriam Pierard, Auckland Central
4. David Currin, Whangarei
5. Beverley Ballantine, Ilam