Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Top of the Populism

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    On Sunday night, Australia's Seven network kicked off its new current affairs show by looking at Pacific Brands' flight from local manufacture -- confronting Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with tearful workers made redundant by a company that has frequently traded on nationalistic passion

    So, how does the Seven Network -- and the rest of the by jingo Australian media-industrial complex -- rate when it comes to reporting their own staff cuts?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    Funniest thing about the Key interview in the Wall Street Journal:

    "Bank of America," he says, with not a little mirth, "it's probably soon to be owned by Barack Ob-ah-ma!" -- emphasis on the "ah" in Kiwi-speak. His press secretary rolls her eyes.

    I like to imagine John Key alone in his office after reading the article and quietly saying to himself, "Ob-ah-ma, Oh-bah-mah, Ob-ah-ma, Oh-bah-mah..."

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1946 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I like to imagine John Key alone in his office after reading the article and quietly saying to himself, "Ob-ah-ma, Oh-bah-mah, Ob-ah-ma, Oh-bah-mah..."

    I'm enjoying imagining the "editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal Asia" on the phone back to civilization, trying to set up her next penetrating interview: "Velly saw-wee, ooo no speek-ee Eng-rish?"

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I listened to the woman from the WSJ who wrote that article on Morning Report. Once I got back from the loo after being physically ill by Sean Plunkett's fawning, I decided that this story has nothing to do with new Zealand and everything to do with a shameless corporate America fighting back against the Obama administration. Her New Zealand is little more than a Shangri-La stick with which to beat a U.S. domestic drum.

    When it comes to economic nationalism i was channel surfing the other night when I came across some sort of pannel discussion on CNN about the economic crisis. I was astonished at what I saw and heard. The arguments were all about getting wages up, getting the minimum wage back to its early 1980's level and an even handed discussion of the various pros and cons of different aspects of aiding the U.S. economy. It was a salutary reminder of just how hard right the media, business and political elites (and I include Phil Goff in that) are skewed in this country. And that is why our media is "soft peddling" these issues. Neo-liberalism is now so ingrained as the received wisdom in this country the media is quite incapable of thinking outside the boundaries of it'ss dogma and an ideological self-censorship reigns.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • Joshua Drummond,

    "Bank of America," he says, with not a little mirth, "it's probably soon to be owned by Barack Ob-ah-ma!" -- emphasis on the "ah" in Kiwi-speak. His press secretary rolls her eyes.

    His press secretary did that when Nexus interviewed him at Feildays a couple years back. She did it a lot. At one point she kind of frantically made throat-cutting gestures. It was like Kapa O Pango.

    On a semi-related note, does the specter of private prisons mildly worry anyone else? I'm filing them in my "what could possibly go wrong" basket.

    Since Nov 2006 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Scott Yorke,

    I'd have been more surprised if the Wall Street Journal had anything nice at all to say about the previous government.

    Which is not a bad thing, since Wall Street doesn't seem to have a clue.

    Since Nov 2006 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    and embrace causes like global warming

    I like how global warming is a cause like, I dunno, Save the Whales or Ronald McDonald House.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart,

    On a semi-related note, does the specter of private prisons mildly worry anyone else? I'm filing them in my "what could possibly go wrong" basket.

    *Mildly* worry? There's nothing mild about it. There was a very alarming interview on Morning Report which covered Australian private prisons, some of which have been taken back over by the government or are on their last warning due to high suicide and riot rates. That is people *dying* to give private industry a chance to stuff up. It's pretty damn disturbing.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    On a semi-related note, does the specter of private prisons mildly worry anyone else? I'm filing them in my "what could possibly go wrong" basket.

    Yes that's right, nothing to see here, move along!

    More seriously, last year for a variety of reasons (doing an LLM the principal one) I read a fair bit of academic literature on private prisons. They DO tend to reduce costs, but at the expense of prisoner welfare and conditions. These two, on average, were observed to be reduced only slightly. More importantly, though, there was an observed decrease in the effectiveness of rehabilitation programmes - the private prisons have a perverse incentive to encourage recidivism, because recidivism increases the number of 'clients'. And that isn't even going in to the problems in principle of the state contracting out of the responsibilities that go hand in hand with a monopoly on punishment/incarcertation.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 273 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    On a semi-related note, does the specter of private prisons mildly worry anyone else? I'm filing them in my "what could possibly go wrong" basket.

    I liked that the government dropped that into the Corrections news basket on the same day that the SSC Report came back not saying what they'd built it up to say.

    No no, don't look at that! Look over here instead! Privatisation!

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    On a semi-related note, does the specter of private prisons mildly worry anyone else? I'm filing them in my "what could possibly go wrong" basket.

    The excellent doco "Business Behind Bars" will allay your vague fears and replace them with very precise and far more terrifying ones.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7473 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    But the most interesting thing about the profile is the contrast between John Key's posture in it, and the face he presents to the New Zealand public. He does seem to have a habit of telling everyone what they want to hear.

    I wondered about that as well. Usually the MSM pounce on contradictions especially from a PM but most of the people I ask have noticed nothing incongruous. Huh?

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    On private prisons: Here is something I was mulling over in the bath last night. I know you are supposed to follow the money in journalism, but please, someone tell me I am just succumbing to conspiracy-itis...

    A/ The Sensible Sentencing Trust has exactly the same rhetoric and policy solutions as the groups funded by GEO Corp & it's ilk in the United States - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_prisons

    and

    B/ The Sensible Sentencing Trust refused to register under the Charities Act despite the tax benefits, because doing so would force some transparency over who’s paying the bills.

    and

    C/ The Sensible Sentencing Trust refused to register under the Electoral Finance Act - http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/594921 - because at least partially it would require transparency over their funding.

    and

    D/ The Sensible Sentencing Trust funded a trip for high profile ACT candidate Stephen Franks to the United States (or did GEO Corp. really pay for that trip? Who knows, the SST won't tell us - Yes, know I am indulging a bit of pleasurable Wishartism there) and it clearly did a deal with ACT to get their law and order nutjob David Garrett into parliament. Now, if National were to privatise prisons under GEO Corp. and ACT were to get it's "three strikes" law onto the books it isn't hard to work out who stands to make a lot of lollie from all those extra billions we will have to spend on the new prisons to house the estimated extra 14,000 prisoners and the onging cost of running them, is it?

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2214 posts Report Reply

  • simon g,

    When reading foreign reports of New Zealand politics, there is only one thing to bear in mind: New Zealand does not matter. It may not actually exist (more research needed, funding on hold).

    When Helen Clark was PM, the purpose of the (very occasional) coverage of NZ politics was to draw the contrast with the reader's domestic politics. New Zealand was a Good Thing because it did not support the invasion of Iraq, had women in all the top jobs (a few years back), legalised prostitution, etc. So there were Lessons to be Learned for (insert country here).

    Now New Zealand is a Good Thing for a different audience - the WSJ constituency, or these rather strange people in Canada. Reality in New Zealand itself is irrelevant.

    You read about Iraq or China or Israel because you're interested in Iraq or China or Israel. You read about New Zealand because it's another cold day in Bolton or Boston and you'd really like to be somewhere else.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1329 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Now New Zealand is a Good Thing for a different audience - the WSJ constituency, or these rather strange people in Canada. Reality in New Zealand itself is irrelevant.

    Oooh. That's so cynical. And quite probably true.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22825 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen,

    ...the private prisons have a perverse incentive to encourage recidivism, because recidivism increases the number of 'clients'.

    And if there was a carrot/stick system implemented (e.g.'$5,000 reward for every prisoner who doesn't reoffend within 5 years')by the government that gives contracts out?

    Auckland • Since Apr 2008 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Litterick,

    At prep school in England, I learned that New Zealand was more British than the British: New Zealand served as a reassurance that Britain was alright.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1000 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    On Sunday night, Australia's Seven network kicked off its new current affairs show by looking at Pacific Brands' flight from local manufacture -- confronting Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with tearful workers made redundant by a company that has frequently traded on nationalistic passion

    The contrast is fascinating but perhaps a little false. I wonder what Key would have done if he'd had a $200 billion surplus too? You do what you can I guess.

    Both Reserve Banks have moved aggressively to improve liquidity, it's just the fiscal response that's different but it is markedly different. Without speaking out of tune, or rather jeopardising my employment, the combined effort of Commonwealth and state governments to prop up employment is huge (and not only via direct grants).

    The Herald's editor-at-large, Paul Sheehan, excoriated Rudd yesterday comparing him with Whitlam and predicting long-term deficits. Economic activity has held up however this won't last - contracts and prices for coal and iron ore are softening and, I heard, something like 70 per cent of the grants have been saved/applied to debt (though retail numbers were very strong when last reported).

    I'll be interested to see what your panel's views are. There's a growing divergence in commentary here between those that argue Rudd spent the surplus exactly when the rain was most heavy and others who think he, and Obama too, over reacted.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2273 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    Stephen:

    This becomes the problem - the tension between the cost savings achievable through privatization and the public policy goals we think it's important to achieve. The system you suggest is theoretically possible, though I don't think it's been tried. However, I suspect it would require a massively expensive monitoring effort which would significantly eat into any cost savings that privatisation achieved. That being the case, why bother privatising?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 273 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Re the WSJ article: it is another demonstration of how facile and superficial any analysis of New Zealand politics/economics/culture is, when the Northern Hemisphere media occasionally gazes our way. There was a short piece in The Guardian Weekly a couple of weeks ago (about the haka) which was also rather silly.

    Any thoughts about National's decision to take us back to the 1950s, and reinstate sirs and dames? It has always seemed to me that 'sir'=servile.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2557 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    And if there was a carrot/stick system implemented (e.g.'$5,000 reward for every prisoner who doesn't reoffend within 5 years')by the government that gives contracts out?

    I think you're chronically underestimating the cost of housing a prisoner for a year. The $5,000 wouldn't come close to the money that could be made.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen,

    Yeah Eddie my post was very much an un-educated theory. How expensive could it be when we already have criminal records - a crime is added to the record/no crime is added to the record over 5 years, this registers against/for the prison - bang?

    Otherwise some sort of effort would presumably have to be made to keep on eye on lobbying activities at the very least, but I can't even get theoretical on that.

    Auckland • Since Apr 2008 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    The problem with the effect Simon G outlines is that it makes it hard to counter things that hurt and matter to NZ. For eg here in the UK whenever the issue of food miles arises in the media NZ kiwifruit and lamb are trotted out along with the shibboleth that they are airfreighted. I do my bit to counter these lies but I am only one voice without a media presence. No amount of advertising of how our animals eat only grass will counter this.

    What the 'ethical shopper' will remember when in the supermarket is that you don't by NZ produce because doing so kills the planet.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen,

    Kyle, that number was just pulled out of my arse as an example, should've added a disclaimer. There's the cost (sounds like 20,000-40,000 a year), but more importantly would be the profit that can be made - incentives would have to make sure that it is more rewarding to limit reoffending than to imprison someone, which does actually sound tricky when long-term prisoners would bring in the most money...maybe that can be accounted for too...

    Details...pfft!

    Auckland • Since Apr 2008 • 47 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    I'm not sure which "industries" were "renationalised" either

    ACC - which National is busy reprivatisating for the benefit of its insurance industry donors. Air New Zealand, which they seem content to hold on to for the moment. And the railways, which they're going to run into the ground and ruin to save the private sector the bother.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1716 posts Report Reply

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