Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Privacy and the Public Interest

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  • UglyTruth,

    No it doesnt they pay lipservice to it all the time.

    Paying lipservice doesn't diminish the hypocrisy of their secular laws.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    So when you go to a political meeting, and look around, the question isn’t who they appear to be supporting, but who isn’t there.

    The collapse of mass membership political parties and the damage to our democracy that accompanied the Rogernomics betrayal by our political class in the 1980s and 90s has never really been repaired. MMP has in some ways made that damage permanent by creating elite cadre parties where it is not in the interests of a narrow class of professional politicians to encourage mass participation in politics, lest they lose control of the party machinery that controls party list and the MP selection process.

    Cynicism, the fact that the two main parties have for thirty years had a consensus to maintain a deeply divisive neo-liberal economic model that has created an entrenched reactionary class that controls much of the media, and a deliberate program aimed at the atomisation of society and the annihilation of alternative centres of ideas and political organisation have all contributed to a hollowing out of our democracy where we are in real danger of elections becoming a grostesque charade.

    My personal view is what the public are looking for - and what needs to occur as a precursor to real economic reform - is a political party with the vision to promise a real program of democratic and civic renewal, for example:

    Political reform: Term limits. Ban all donations to political parties. Introduce state funding based on a dollar sum per party member. Make voting compulsory. Make election day a fixed date - the first Wednesday 1095 days after the return of the writs and make it a paid public holiday like Xmas.

    - Devolution: Give local government the ability to levy some types of taxes and hand over to them some government functions like housing and social welfare (Whanu Ora for everyone!). Create a new class of "community juries" that are compulsory, empanelled from local voters at a suburban level and sit every Saturday and Sunday in a local hall. They won't have the power to imprison, but they will hear summary offenses that occurred in their neighbourhood.

    Citizen responsibility: Introduce a graduated community services tax, rebatable upon the completion of, say, 200 hours of voluntary work per year. Earn 160K PA and to busy to volunteer? Then your tax rate just went up. Civics training in schools.

    Fourth estate: Increase funding to state media like RNZ, and completely reform TVNZ. Introduce strong anti-trust laws and force the break up of SKY TV and the media duopoloy. Ban foreign ownership of NZ media.

    The likes of Slater and Farrar and the PR men are a bacillus that fester in a political open wound because democracy is to sick to fight their infection off. We need to apply some democratic penicillin to heal the wound.

    Sevilla, Espana • Since Nov 2006 • 2217 posts Report Reply

  • UglyTruth,

    We need to apply some democratic penicillin to heal the wound.

    What sort of democracy, English, Greek, or Roman?

    If we start with the assumption that NZ democracy is based on English democracy, then how do we identify the rights which are characteristic of English democracy? Why should civil rights or human rights be presumed to trump natural rights when the opposite was the case for eighteenth century English law?

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    I like a lot of your ideas, Tom, especially the devolution of power to local communities, civics in schools (though I'd prefer education to training) and reform of the media (though I'm not sure of your ban on foreign ownership - seems to me Kiwis are just as good at being bad media owners). But:

    MMP has in some ways made that damage permanent by creating elite cadre parties

    Really? That's MMP's fault?

    And you seem awfully keen on compulsion. If you have to resort to forcing people to vote, you've lost the argument. People should vote because they see how it is in their interests and feel a sense of civic duty - i.e. there should be a healthy civil society everybody wants to take part in and feels a part of. Similarly your community services tax. You don't get people engaged by threatening them with a big stick, that just creates resentment and entrenches a different ruling class.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    If you have to resort to forcing people to vote, you’ve lost the argument.

    I don't think so. We can at least remove the rational voter paradox, which probably quite strongly disproportionately afflicts the least privileged classes. I think compulsory voting is a good idea, by which I mean it's a small fine (maybe $50) for not voting, and by voting I mean turning up at a polling station, getting the form, going behind the screen where the pen is, and then putting the form in the box. If you're still super lazy you might choose to not mark it, but we've removed most of that excuse not to vote. People with a genuine reason to not vote can even get a box on the form to do that, or they can write whatever they like on the form, or nothing.

    In other words, I think abstaining from the political system is a perfectly valid choice, and they can do so by the simple expedient of ticking a box saying so. Anyone who would vote, but is too lazy or apathetic to go to the polls is given a strong incentive to reconsider. And advance voting should be easy, for anyone whose excuse is that they're too busy on the day. Which it is already.

    You don’t get people engaged by threatening them with a big stick, that just creates resentment and entrenches a different ruling class.

    Except that we threaten with a big stick on so many other things that are civic duties. This one IS quite important, for the system to actually work.

    Making it a public holiday is also quite a good idea.

    On Tom's other ideas, I can take them or leave them, and that seems likely to be not just me, which goes to explaining why it's not what Labour does put as their policy. He says:

    My personal view is what the public are looking for – and what needs to occur as a precursor to real economic reform – is a political party with the vision to promise a real program of democratic and civic renewal

    and yet there are many parties like this, and they don't get massive support. That's not "what the public are looking for". It's what Tom is looking for. I'd like it too, but we're both quite left wing. I think it's a wrong analysis because it still fundamentally changes nothing. It's expecting our current political system to deliver this, when it hasn't done so for my whole life.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Angela Hart,

    My personal view is what the public are looking for - and what needs to occur as a precursor to real economic reform - is a political party with the vision to promise a real program of democratic and civic renewal, for example:

    Under the current system it would never get into a position of being able to implement any of this. If we don't get the rot cut out in the next term, only rebellion is going to force positive change. It may not be that far away either, if you think about the decision to fortify MSD offices.

    Christchurch • Since Apr 2014 • 614 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    People always seem to find solutions to low voter turnout in other people, never in themselves. If you want to increase turnout, make sure all your friends and workmates are enrolled and vote --- you can vote early, which makes it easier to chase people up. It's the most effective way of increasing voter participation: direct contact from someone they know.

    And if you want to scale up that kind of intervention, there's ways to do it.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1452 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I think that our democratic system hasn't stopped working. It's just working to the natural limit of its current ability, and we have come to expect a lot more. It's hit some kind of equilibrium, and so we can't expect continual progress out of it.

    It's an old idea, more suited to the organization of smaller groups of people than a whole nation. To move forward, our democracy has to modernize. The idea of electing a bunch of people every few years hails from a time when getting people to partake is an expensive thing, and also from a time when it wasn't that long before that they weren't democratic at all, and just expected to have their decisions made for them. We have a system that is just a step along the evolution of modern decision making from a councils of advisors to a monarch. In fact, it's still technically that, even in NZ. We could do so much better, so easily.

    I think that we will actually do it anyway, even if the old system doesn't want that. It will just get superceded, like our monarch, and our own Upper House. It won't be violent, and it also won't be fast. It will be a gradual devolution of power towards polling the public on questions of morality and conscience, and towards experts on questions of fact.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Keir Leslie,

    If you want to increase turnout, make sure all your friends and workmates are enrolled and vote — you can vote early, which makes it easier to chase people up. It’s the most effective way of increasing voter participation: direct contact from someone they know.

    It’s not as effective as making it compulsory. That’s like saying that the best way to stop littering is getting bitter on people who litter near you, rather than making an actual law against it. Yes, if you really want to stop littering, you should get bitter, sure. But there should also be a law to give your bitterness any teeth at all.

    ETA: Put it another way. Anyone who says that you should vote because you just should, and wants to make a song and dance about it will simply get told to fuck right off because the right not to is protected by our laws, every bit as strongly as the right to drink some alcohol, even though both of them might be a little bit bad for you (or even a lot bad for you in the case of alcohol). If you really strongly believe everyone should vote, then believing it should be compulsory is a no-brainer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    a gradual devolution of power towards polling the public on questions of morality and conscience, and towards experts on questions of fact

    I’d like that to be right – but, have you got a mechanism for that to come about? ’Cos questions of fact don’t exactly seem a strong priority for most of our politicians, nor for most of our media, as they’re currently configured.

    Education has to be a large part of the (long-term, gradual) solution here – but even that is being increasingly deregulated and fragmented to a point where its potential for societal change is limited. Compare the discussion on the other thread dealing with religious instruction vs. more general ethics/ morality instruction.

    As things stand ... on the one hand, we can’t take it for granted that minority rights will be upheld in a general referendum (which surely suggests a limit to how far any such devolution is possible?); and on the other, we have a government that shops round for the expert advice most commensurate with their own biases.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1942 posts Report Reply

  • sandra, in reply to UglyTruth,

    @UglyTruth, you're quite right. My best solution so far is highly impractical.

    I think every citizen who feels strongly enough about what's been revealed should look an MP in the eye, one on one, and ask them about their moral standards, about where they rate serving the citizens of this country as opposed to staying in Parliament, about what he or she has done to clean the stables. Obvs Nats first, but they could all do with being reminded why they're there - to serve this country and its people, not themselves.

    Remember, I already said impractical!

    tauranga • Since Dec 2011 • 72 posts Report Reply

  • UglyTruth,

    If we don't get the rot cut out in the next term, only rebellion is going to force positive change. It may not be that far away either, if you think about the decision to fortify MSD offices.

    You can't cut the rot out, it's institutional. Rebellion isn't the only alternative though, there's also desertion or abandonment of the civil state in favour of returning the law of the land to its natural condition.

    The primary change of focus here is security, with a transition away from the current centralized territorial system to a more localized arrangement. The judge & jury model is a reasonable approach to the local administration of justice, the process can be simplified by using character references in a similar way to the oath-helpers of the common law.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • UglyTruth,

    I think every citizen who feels strongly enough about what's been revealed should look an MP in the eye, one on one, and ask them about their moral standards, about where they rate serving the citizens of this country as opposed to staying in Parliament

    Good luck with that.

    Please don't take that the wrong way, kudos to anyone who is prepared to actually do something to fix the problem. Historically speaking, the important issue for the public here is wisdom, apply that in conjunction with reason and conscience and you've got a fighting change of making a difference.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2014 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Part of the problem is that the unthinking voters don’t go to political meetings.

    What are the preferred ways to actually find out about these meetings? I’m presently living in Ohariu, and a few weeks back when I was trying to discover which public candidate meetings were actually happening, I found it very difficult. There barely seemed to be any advertising, in any obvious place I could think of, short of driving through the main road of Ngaio (just one smallish demographic part of the electorate) and spotting an obscure sign on the side of the road that advertised a meeting in Ngaio (still haven’t found out about any anywhere else). A web search didn’t turn up much, until I came across a calendar buried deep in the Green Party’s website, where the local GP candidate had advertised a meeting… and then at least a couple of times I’ve come across newspaper reports of different meetings I never even knew were happening.

    How do people find out about these meetings? Am I meant to be buying the DomPost and reading each day’s Public Notices section? Some type of central database of public meetings which people can attend is something I thought the Electoral Commission, or similar, would be doing. Not as far as I can see, but if anyone can point something out it’d be great.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1141 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Key's Mr Lollipop Man T-shirt, mangles our cultures like he mangles words - mr sensitive...

    Wow! That T-shirt is indeed a remarkable reflection of his judgement of style and message -- multiple points of offensiveness to parade at Waitangi!

    Alas, rather pointedly underscores how far I am from the mass of NZ voters who are said to support him as preferred prime minister - imcomprehensible, mutter mutter ...

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to linger,

    I’d like that to be right – but, have you got a mechanism for that to come about? ’Cos questions of fact don’t exactly seem a strong priority for most of our politicians, nor for most of our media, as they’re currently configured.

    I don't have any particular mechanism to hasten it, but I think it's slowly happening anyway. I think politicians and the media have both been loose with facts forever. In the case of the media, the natural mechanism is just that people are turning away from it when it comes to getting information, because the information they get is low quality. And that in itself means politicians can't get away with anywhere near as much as they did before. Yes, it's easier for the right than the left to bullshit, but that's nothing new - everything is easier for them, almost by definition.

    I'm not trying to say it's all good, just that I don't think everything's going to hell in a handbasket. We tend to talk like it is around election time, but that's a function of how tapped out the system is, that people get all wild, but only every three years. Everyone who cares goes hard for their point of view, and then the decision comes down and pretty much everything is business as usual with a left or right wing flavour. Decisions that actually affect us tend not to be actually acted on for years, and then they stay like that for years, and of the things we actually wanted we can expect a very small fraction of them to happen, and they'll be accompanied by a bunch of things we didn't want to happen. It's slow as fuck, built that way. A naturally conservative system.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Hooton, in reply to Andrew Geddis,

    Andrew, you picked it pretty much spot on. And I think the judge made a wise decision in a very difficult case - you can't steal information and distribute it, but if that has happened then the media can't be gagged. (If I have understood judgment correctly.)

    Auckland • Since Aug 2007 • 195 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Lucy Telfar Barnard,

    Part of the problem is that the unthinking voters don’t go to political meetings

    I had a conversation with a friend last night. When l say friend I mean someone l have spoken to many times, we have visited each others houses and so… friends.
    However, our conversation turned to the election and he was adamant that he will be voting National, he says he is right wing he knows I am not bet hey…

    I said “How can you vote for them after hearing all this dirty politics stuff?”
    He said ” Oh that’s just rubbish”
    ” have you read it?” l asked
    “Nah, everybody knows its just nothing, trivial stuff”
    I asked him where he got his news from “Tvnz, tv3, the Herald?”
    “Nah, none of those, that’s all biased”
    “Your telling me” I said “its all just National party propaganda”
    ” Left wing more like it” he snorted.
    “So where do you get your facts?”
    “From people who know what they are talking about, business people”
    “People like John Key, that man couldn’t lie straight in bed” I retorted.
    He snarled slightly and leaned forward ” He’s better than that idiot Cunliffe”
    “You really have been sucked in, haven’t you” I was taken aback.
    The conversation continued with him saying he was more interested in policy than muckraking, I asked what policies he had heard from National and he just said nothing should change as the country was doing so well. I challenged him on a few other things but gradually realised that I might as well have been talking to a Hitler supporter.
    Let us all hope, that at the end of the day, God wins.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Simon Sjorn,

    I have had similar discussions - to the point where I won't bother now. The justifications for many are all headlines, strutting parroted lines and no actual coherent evidence based reasoning.

    New Zealand • Since Sep 2013 • 39 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to UglyTruth,

    Paying lipservice doesn’t diminish the hypocrisy of their secular laws.

    Or the hypocrisy demonstrated everyday by people everywhere.
    Just face it we're all just filling in time before we die and our species goes extinct.
    Reforming govt is a waste of time. Whatever, I've had a wine and I dont give a shit!
    I work in a shit job for shit money, and I supposed to think that those in power give a flying fuck about me! I long ago got rid of that illusion.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • stephen clover, in reply to ChrisW,

    Key’s Mr Lollipop Man T-shirt, mangles our cultures like he mangles words – mr sensitive…

    Wow! That T-shirt is indeed a remarkable reflection of his judgement of style and message – multiple points of offensiveness to parade at Waitangi!

    Don't know if this helps and can't find web resource to back this up but I'm pretty sure that is a Wayne Youle (Māori artist) tee.

    wgtn • Since Sep 2007 • 355 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to UglyTruth,

    Paying lipservice doesn’t diminish the hypocrisy of their secular laws.

    You really, truly don't want non-secular laws. Because whichever sect they embody, there'll be several they oppress.

    If what you're saying is that we need to do away with the futile trappings in law, such as swearing on a bible, or praying in the House, I'm with you 100%. But if you're saying we need to remove hypocrisy by actively legislating according to religious belief, I'm afraid I will have to hunt you down and destroy you.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2935 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to stephen clover,

    I’m pretty sure that is a Wayne Youle (Māori artist) tee.

    Reckon you're right. If it's not Youle it's an actionable knockoff.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4593 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    Sounds like a Redbaiter type to me, or at best a low-info voter/mortgage-belter who's fallen for the 'temporarily embarrassed millionaire' delusion. I suspect the only thing that will jolt such people back to their senses is something truly drastic like a collapse of the housing market, or even a 2nd Great Depression.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5441 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    or even a 2nd Great Depression

    We've already had that, and it hasn't worked.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

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