Crikey. When I arksed for a calculator, I was just expecting some little solar-powered thingamy. Punch in the numbers, push the button and bingo. But no. This is some scientific shit. The Casio FX82-B with the fliptop lid that breaks halfway through your School C maths year ain't got nuttin' on this one.
Now I'm no campaign manager – although there are plenty around if that's what you're looking for – but is it ever a good idea to tell people they're better off voting for the opposition? Because that's precisely what National are saying to many voters, putting Labour's figures beside their own calculations.
Perhaps they've done the research. Maybe they realise that a low-middle income family with a bunch of kids already know they're going to be better off with Labour. But this is election year, surely there must be some way the Nats could spin it?
It's interesting though. Considering it's a calculator, it's very hard to get a straight answer out of it. Particularly when it comes to my student loan. I'm sorry, but "$40,000+" just won't cut it. There's a huge difference between $40,000, my loan ($52k), and someone with a loan of $80k. I know the average loan is considerably lower than $40k, but I also know I'm not the only one whose balance is higher.
So why can't we just type numbers into the boxes, rather than having to select from a finite list? Is it simply bad design, or because as your loan heads up over $40k, the greater the chance you'll be 'Better Off with Labour'?
Similarly, it's impossible to separate out National's student loan rebate from it's tax policy. Mind you, with the $40k limit, any comparisons are meaningless for me.
David Farrar has kindly taken the time to put together an Excel spreadsheet which fixes a few of NatCalc's errors. Although it does base its bottom line on the Mother of All Assumptions – that you'll put ALL of National's tax cuts back into your student loan as voluntary payments.
It's this sort of thinking that brought you the "everyone will max out their loan, invest it, then pay it back and pocket the profit" call I've seen spouted. This isn't a question of left versus right, it's actually the question "do humans always act completely rationally?" Or, more personally, "do I always act completely rationally when it comes to money?"
If you have problems putting money aside, saving for the future, and could say in good faith that when National's tax cuts kick in, you'll plough it straight back into your loan without a second thought, then great. But if you're one of those "I'll just have a holiday first/ oh hang on now my cellphone bill is due/ how much was my rebate again/ my birthday's next month, I'll treat myself first" kinda people, you might be better off with Labour's no interest policy. But that's for you to decide.
Chapman is described euphemistically as a "staunch patriot". But my favourite line is would have to be:
He worked for 4 years with disadvantaged youngsters and was involved in many projects, mostly dealing with the pressing issues of the moment.
I imagine the greatest disadvantage those children ever faced was Chapman himself. And "mostly dealing with the pressing issues of the moment"? I suppose I can't blame them for being vague…
Okay, I'm not in the slightest bit concerned they're going to end up in Parliament, but what sort of party is DirectDemocracy that they thought it would help their cause having Chapman associated?
I'm sure it doesn't help anyone's reputation to be associated with a dangerous idiot like Chapman, I’m particularly interested in knowing how his fellow candidates Dilip Rupa, Tin Chan, Paul Teio and Seira Perese feel about it. I've written to them, and will keep you updated on their responses.
Oh, and just in case anyone was being vaguely swayed by Chapman's consistent denials of his NeoNazi heritage, have another look at this picture.
In the interests of fairness and accuracy, I should add that Kyle has previously stated he never noticed the eight guys doing Nazi salutes behind him, nor that the guy on the left was wearing a Swastika armband. He also never even knew who the guys were apparently; they just turned up and wanted to have their photo taken with him holding the National Front flag. Um, because they were impressed like with his work with disadvantaged youth and stuff, you know?