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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Was the Green's "Mr Clean", a Marxist-Leninist?

The Green Party will choose a male co-leader at its national conference in June. In a speech to Green Party members Whangarei on the 28th of January, Greens' co-leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons "sent a strong signal to the party's grassroot members that they should consider looking outside the current crop of MPs for a new male co-leader."

This has been interpreted as a clear signal that the Greens will go past their two male MPs, Keith Locke and Nandor Tanczos.

Both MPs would be electoral liabilities in a leadership role. Locke is widely regarded as a loony leftist, while Tanczos' dreadlocks, dope smoking and anarchist background do not endear him to middle class voters.

Many eyes are on Russell Norman, number 10 on the Green Party List and the Party's campaign manager in 2005.

Norman's Green Party website bio states that he came to NZ in 1997 after being active in the Australian Green's for two years. It also states that in his youth (he was born in 1967) "I was involved in many environmental and social justice campaigns in Australia eg. student fees, union issues, Aboriginal land rights, peace, and native forest logging."

On November 14th 2005, Brisbane based, leftwing Blog, "Larvatus Prodeo" speculated that Russell Norman might replace the late Rod Donald as Green co-leader. Larvatus Prodeo contributor "Naomi" quoted NZ's "Independent"

"The Greens' newly appointed commander of artillery - otherwise known as the party's campaign manager - is a lanky, young, Australian-born activist by the name of Russell Norman. A staunch Green Party member for more than 10 years, Norman also has close personal ties to former Alliance power-couple Laila Harre and Barry Gribben. One of several left leaning shareholders in Gribben's Waiheke Island vineyard... the Greens' new strategist is as comfortable among Gribben's rough reds as he is among the organic wine drinkers of his own party."

There were two interesting replies to this post

Mark 10 November 2005 at 3:00 pm

"Comrade Norman has travelled a long way since his condemnations of reformists on the parliamentary road as an SWP activist. Perhaps it’s the good vintages?"

Lefty Elitist 10 November 2005 at 10:34 pm

"Cripes. I know Russell from an extremely brief, late 80s DSP interludette (I know… but im tellin ya, they had the best parties in Brisbane). Hadn’t realised he’d got the big campaign job. Last I heard he was out on the Bay of Islands."

The SWP referred to, was almost certainly the Socialist Workers Party. The SWP was a Marxist-Leninist party, originally affiliated to the "Fourth International", as its name suggests, an international grouping of Trotskyite parties.

In 1984, the entire SWP infiltrated the fledgling Nuclear Disarmament Party, led by "Midnight Oil" vocalist, Peter Garrett. The resulting publicity virtually destroyed the new organisation.

In the late 80s the SWP failed in merger attempts with two other Marxist-Leninist parties, the Communist Party of Australia and the Socialist Party of Australia.

In 1990, the SWP changed its name to the Democratic Socialist Party and began to work closely with the environmental movement. It published a paper called "Green Left Weekly", but maintained both its Marxist-Leninist philosophy, tactics and extensive links with Marxist-Leninist parties in Australia and abroad. It was also extremely close to NZ's Alliance Party.

The post by "Lefty Elitist", mentions Norman as being involved in the "DSP" in the "late 80s". At that time the DSP was still the SWP, but it is quite common for leftist commentators to interchange the names. Incidentally, The DSP now stands for "Democratic Socialist Perspective" as the party is now part of the Australian Socialist Alliance.

I have already documented the extremely close ties Keith Locke has had to the DSP. I have also documented Jeanette Fitzsimon's attendance at a DSP organised international communist conference (She told Green Left Weekly number 147 "If socialism is to survive as a relevant political movement in the 21st century, it must develop a response to the ecological crisis and a socialist strategy to build a sustainable future.")

The links between the Greens and a Marxist-Leinist Party like the DSP are a cause for concern.

How serious would it be if it were proven that the Green's potential new co-leader was once a member of this organisation? What if he were still in contact with his old comrades until recent years? That would make three leading Greens involved with one of the most vigorous Marxist-Leninist parties in our region.

The conclusive evidence that Norman has had some DSP connection were several articles he wrote for Green left Weekly in the late '90s. They included;

1996 Article in GLW No 248 A Divided NZ Heads for the Polls"

1996 Article in GLW No 249 NZ's Politics of Hate and Fear

1997 Article in GLW No 288 Winston's Winebox Empty

1999 Article in GLW 363 NZ Labour Sinks GE Bill

Was Russell Norman the DSP's NZ correspondent? The Green Party needs to answer some questions. They claim not to be a socialist party, but several of their leading people have easily documentable Marxist-Leninist connections.

Is the Green Party willing to explain this connection? Is it willing to shed more light on Russell Norman's possible SWP/DSP background?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Red Flag Flies Over Latin America

The Communist Party USA sees great hope in Latin America and the Caribbean. Below are excerpts from an article from their "People's Weekly World" reprinted in the Communist Party of Australia's "Guardian" of 20th April, 2005.

This was written before the socialist victories in Chile and Bolivia and of course, the possible socialist victories looming in Mexico and Peru.

"Uruguay's recent election of Tabare Vazquez, the leader of a left-centre coalition that includes Socialists, Communists, Social-Democrats and former Marxist Tupamaro guerrillas, to the presidency was remarkable in at least two respects. First, it broke a 170-year-long, right-wing grip on the country's government. Second, it was but the latest in a string of such successes throughout the region.

Left or left-leaning leaders now govern more than three-quarters of Latin America's 355 million people.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has proposed building a working people's "axis of good" to eliminate poverty across the region, involving Chile's Ricardo Lagos, Brazil's Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and other emerging centre-left leaders.

In Nicaragua, there is a possibility that the left-wing Sandinistas may regain power following their improved fortunes in recent municipal elections. The next few months could bring similar leftward shifts in Mexico, Peru and Bolivia.

These developments represent a break from the pro-Washington, neo-liberal "free trade" policies that have been pursued by numerous Latin American governments. Voters have concluded that such a policy orientation leads to corruption and the enrichment of a small number of people at the expense of the overwhelming majority.

Hillbourne Watson, a professor of international relations at Bucknell University, told the People's Weekly World, "People have felt the impact of these [neo-liberal] policies and the strategies in very profound ways — declining wages, decline of standards of living, erosion of health and the broad social context of people lives. They are searching for alternatives."

A similar trend is evident in the English-speaking Caribbean. In some instances, former leaders of the revolutionary democratic movement of the 1970s and 1980s have merged into the fold of established parties — in some cases assuming leadership and winning national elections — as in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominica and St. Lucia.

In Grenada last year, in an election marred by irregularities, the conservative ruling party managed to barely retain office against a revived centre-left coalition by a mere six votes. In Guyana, a coalition led by the Marxist-oriented People's Progressive Party has retained power in successive elections.

With respect to Cuba, Watson said, "for the Caribbean region, Cuba's role extends beyond support for the national liberation movement in Africa [of the previous era] but [today] provides socio-economic and technical support and scholarships in a variety of disciplines."

The government of Dominica (English speaking), for example, reports that socialist Cuba has given the country more scholarships and other assistance since 1978 than Dominica received during the entire colonial period.

The recent victories in Latin America and the Caribbean represent a simultaneous defeat of US efforts to isolate Cuba and a vote against neo-liberalism. The vote tallies also indicate a desire for better living conditions and for greater regional economic integration, which can only be good for the working people Latin America and the Caribbean."

Communism is dead. Yeah right!

Chavez Chooses Socialism

I believe Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez sees himself as the heir to Fidel Castro. I believe he will try to use his country's oil wealth, to achieve Castro's dream, socialism from Mexico to Argentina.

Here are a few items on Chavez, taken from the Australian Communist Party's "Guardian" and the Communist Party of India (Marxist)'s "People's Democracy".

From the Guardian 4th May, 2005

"Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stated that his country has developed an economic model to live honourably, to fairly distribute wealth among all people and to demonstrate that there is a new spirit of solidarity and co-operation.

"There is a new logical alternative to capitalism, which is no other than socialism, and we are building our own socialist model without emulating the ones from the past", Chavez noted.

The Venezuelan leader made the remark at an act where property belonging to the National Industrial Valve Assembling Company was expropriated.

"This business is born under another option — that of sharing the property between the workers and the state, a different form of social property to the logic of capitalism which lacks a human face", said Hugo Chavez."

The Guardian 23 March, 2005, reprinted from People's Democracy

"Hugo Chávez Rafael Frias, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela boldly asserted that the 21st century belonged to the working people of the world and it belonged without doubt to socialism before an audience of several thousand people in and outside of the sprawling Rabindra Sarovar stadium in south Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) on March 5.

Chávez said that he had already concluded six bilateral treaties with India and that he looked forward to the cooperation between the two countries — as between workers, peasants, fishing-folk, students, youth, and women of India and Venezuela — widening and deepening. "We shall supply oil to India", said the Venezuelan President.

Kolkata, said Chávez, "is a city of working class and has an intellectual tradition and it has always stood against colonialism and imperialism: no wonder the British colonialists thought it prudent to shift the capital away from this great city".

For 27 years a Left Front Government — led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) — has been in office in the state of West Bengal and the Venezuelan leader declared amidst cheering that it was his firm belief that the Left Front Government would "continue to serve the people for very many more years to come".

Chávez said that he would take the opportunity to send forth his greetings to "two other Communist governments of the world: China and Cuba", and say saludos to Fidel and Hu Jintao.

In Chávez's words: "We have come to your state to learn how to work for the people, by remaining with the people all the way". Chávez said that he was repeatedly struck by the similarity of the ambience, political, social, and environmental, prevailing in Kolkata and Bengal, and that in Venezuela. "I do believe that everything here looks very familiar to me as if I am still in Caracas."

Chávez declared amidst cheering that while the 19th century belonged to Europe and the 20th century to the USA, the 21st century belonged to socialism and to the working people of the world. The 21st century will surely witness the people of Asia-Africa-Latin America winning their rights from the grip of the imperialists. "The people of these continents must unite and struggle and imperialism will bow low before us", declared the Venezuelan leader.

Quoting Karl Marx, Chávez called upon the working people of the world to unite and said that the time had come to iterate that slogan all over the world as the working people struggle against imperialism. Chávez said Imperialism had ruined the economies of both Latin America and India, and imperialism was also a sworn enemy of democracy.

Chávez said that for three years now Venezuela had been engaged in a struggle to ward off US moves against it. He said that although the US was determined to destroy Venezuela, the people of Venezuela are determined to triumph over imperialism. "If the US launched an aggression against Venezuela", declared Chávez, "they shall have to pay the highest price."

The history of Venezuela was in the process of being rebuilt through revolution, Chavez asserted, and he said that no one could defeat the Venezuelan revolution.

"Socialism is the future"

"We want the 21st century to be the century of social justice, of the triumph of the working people everywhere, and of Socialism. Socialism is the future and it is a certainty", declared Chavez before ending his speech by reciting a Tagore poem, which was then recited in the original by Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Earlier, welcoming Chávez, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee briefly described the anti-imperialist tradition of Kolkata and declared that Chavez, a friend of and a comrade to Fidel Castro, was also the torchbearer of the tradition set by the Latin American hero of anti-colonial struggle, Simon Bolivar.

Venezuela has sent oil to Cuba, which has sent 14,000 doctors to Venezuela, a bright example of cooperation in Latin America.

The Bolivarian Alternative of America was the way of the future, said the Bengal chief minister. Buddhadeb hoped that Chávez's visit would strengthen the ties between India and Venezuela. He ended his speech by declaring that the people of India and of Bengal would always remain with Chávez."

You can't say he hasn't warned us.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Jordan Carter on Why Labour Can Win Again.

Jordan Carter of Just Left has has blogged on why he believes Labour can win a fourth term (shudder). The article is well worth a read by anyone who thinks the Centre/Right can coast to victory in 2008.

Jordan Carter makes the point that;

"Never again is there going to be the kind of confluence of events that nearly helped National over the line in 2005:

a very large budget surplus
simmering angst on Treaty issues
a "moral backlash" of a sort due to e.g. civil unions, prostitution law reforms, etc
poor government attempts to engage the public in our issues"

According to Jordan:

National has a problem. Labour has recognised that motivating our base vote with sensible policies can get them out to the polls. National faces two choices: either moving to the centre, which will be ground it is hard to take from a wily and experienced Labour cabinet, or pitching to the right through the conventional neo-con politics of racism, wedge politics, etc.

Problem is they tried the latter last time, and all it did was drive moderate National voters into Labour's hands. That is a key reason why our vote went up 97,000.

Jordan Carter is an experienced Labour activist, now working amongst Labour's Wellington strategists and organisers. Nats and ACTivists would be wise to ponder his views.

Hat Tip David Farrar

Google Bes Evil

David Farrar at KiwiBlog has an excellent post on Google's decision to set up a Google China service which will censor out terms unacceptable to the Chinese Government.

Google's motto is "Don't Be Evil" so its fair to say that many, including myself are shocked and appalled by their decision.

Says David

"To put it more bluntly I totally expect Microsoft to censor information in return for market share in China. Google though has built up its brand and profile as supporting freedom of information everywhere and this week is for me the week they have jumped the shark and I go from being a passionate fan to merely a customer."

David also makes the point that Google's disgraceful decision will slow down the pressure for real change in China.

"Google had a chance of being a beacon of free speech and information by refusing to censor on behalf of the Chinese Government. Yes Chinese users would have remained unable to access many of their services but by doing so it would have encouraged more people in China to support a change in their political culture so they could access Google freely."

To the board of Google, I suggest they do a search on the word "Collaborator". Google has made a decision they will never live down.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Cuban Trained Doctors "Sow the Seed of Solidarity"

In a recent post I wrote about the fact that Cuba is training East Timorese doctors. "Cameron" in a replying comment said "I don't see what's so wrong with this. East Timor can get a cheap boost to its poorly resourced health system"

What Cameron misses is the fact that Castro does nothing for nothing. Cuba's medical training is highly politicised, as the above photo of graduating medical students in Havana indicates.

Cuba uses these exchanges to increase its influence in the "Third World". I'll quote some excerpts from the official Cuban newspaper "Granma", recently reprinted in the Communist Party of Australia's newspaper, "The Guardian" to back up my case.

"It was a solemn and, without any doubt, unique ceremony. Everyone present at the first graduation from the Latin American School of Medicine (ELAM) was touched by emotion. It was an unrepeatable moment with 1610 young doctors receiving their diplomas, rings and prizes for six years of energetic effort. They are not just a few more graduates. The fact that it was about the first graduation from ELAM, that work of "infinite love for humanity" was compounded by the students themselves.

Dr Juan Carrizo, the dean of ELAM, noted during the ceremony in Havana’s Karl Marx Theatre, that 71.9 percent are from the working class. More interesting, they represent 33 ethnicities; for example, Mayans and Mesquitos, Punas.

Arnolfo Quintero is a robust transport worker from the city of San Cristóbal in Tachira, the Andean region of Venezuela, but when he tried to comment for Granma International what he felt about his new fully-fledged doctor daughter, the lump in his throat and his tear-filled eyes overcame him.

"We are very proud and emotional. We are very grateful for what President Chávez, President Castro and the Cuban people have done."

It was a graduation within a Summit of these simple and brilliant young people. For them, the presence of the man who dreamed of and put into practice that inestimable project — the Cuban president, Fidel Castro, and, at his side, many of those who supported the idea, in first place, the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez.

Also present was the president of Panama; the prime ministers of Antigua and Bermuda, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines; the vice president of Ecuador; the deputy prime minister of St Lucia; the foreign ministers of the Bahamas, Guyana, Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic and Grenada; and ministers from Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica; and, in an outstanding way, the Reverend Lucius Walker (the graduates included a young African American).

The new doctors dedicated their graduation to President Fidel Castro, "who has given thousands of young people the possibility of knowing that a better world is necessarily possible", to the five Cuban heroes kidnapped in US jails, and "to the people who took us in with their integrity, dignity and love for the homeland".

There remained an oath: "We shall sow the fertile seed of solidarity."

Bit different from Otago Medical School isn't it?

W.A.Y.N.C.R. Number 3, Dale Frew

Anybody who attended Waikato Uni in the'90s would probably remember the subject of my third "Where Are You Now, Campus Radical?", profile, Dale Frew.

Frew was a "mature" student. He came to Waikato in '92 after 10 years as a union official, first with the Butchers and grocers Union and then as Waikato Secretary of the Timberworkers Union. Unsurprisingly, Frew did courses in "Labour Studies" under Mike Law, Paul Harris and David Neilson.

By '93 Frew was a leading member of the main campus Marxist group, the Waikato University Progressives Club. The same year he was the Hamilton "core group" member for the People's Assembly movement, a Maoist leaning organisation, led by ex Workers Communist League members like Sue Bradford, Robert Reid and Leonie Morris.

Affiliated to the People's Assembly was the Aotearoa Youth Network. Frew was Hamilton contact for this network of Maoists and anarchists, though he was well into his thirties at the time.

In '94, Frew was a leading member of the Students of Waikato Education Team. He helped organise a SWET hosted gathering at Waikato for education activists from campuses all over NZ.

In '95, Frew was active in the Waikato Environment Bunch. Linked to the Aotearoa Youth Network, WEB was part of the Students Environmental Action Network, which linked socialist and Green students nationwide.

The same year, Frew was Hamilton contact for the Next Step Democracy Movement, which was also linked to ex Workers Communist League members. NSDM tried to gain sufficient signatures to force referenda on a socialist wish list they dreamed up. They failed to gain the signatures and the movement faded away.

In '95 Frew was also the Waikato University campaigns co-ordinator, charged with organising protests and demos. He also made an unsuccessful bid for the Waikato Students Union 1996 vice-presidency, on a ticket with Trevor Leybourne and Margaret Dobson.

In the mid to late '90s, a group of activists around Rick Marshall and Ben King, turned Waikato Students Union inrto a voluntary organisation. Frew was a leader of the compulsory unionism forces, which after several years were successful.

During this period, Frew was the partner of the University's mediation officer, Bethea Weir, a former president of the WSU, with a fondness for Lenin badges.

Frew hung around Waikato Uni till 2001, before working for a while in Hamilton, then moving to Christchurch.

In November, 2005, Dale Frew turned up at the 10th Congress of the Communist Party of Australia. He was a delegate from the Socialist Party of Aotearoa, NZ's leading, traditional communist party. He warned the Aussie socialists to resist John Howard's new labour legislation, lest Australia go down the Employment Contracts Act road. Among friends, he was well received

S.A.P. Number 5, Mike Law

My latest Socialist Academic Profile is of Mike Law of Waikato University. Law has a BA from Auckland, a Diploma of Education Studies from Waikato and a masters of Education from Rutgers. He is chairman of the Department of Sociology and Social Policy and is Seniorr Lecturer (Labour and Trade Union Studies).

Law has a very long history of socialist activism, which began at Auckland University in the '60s.

In 1969, he was International vice president of AUSA and helped his friend and Maoist comrade, Trevor Richards, found Halt All Racist Tours.

In 1970, Law was involved in demonstrations against visiting US President, Lyndon Johnson. In 1971 he joined the executive of a Maoist front organisation, the NZ Race Relations Council. The same year he was vice President of NZUSA and chairman of the Wellington Committee on Vietnam.

Also in 1971, Law joined the first of several NZUSA organised tours to China. The month long tour was led by future Labour deputy Prime Minister, David Caygill and included new National MP Tim Groser and one time leader of the Workers Communist League, Graeme Clarke.

In 1972, Law was honorary Vice President of NZUSA. He also attended a 100 strong demo in Wellington, its theme "Victory to the NLF"-that is National Liberation Front, otherwise known as the Vietcong.

In Socialist Action of 16th February 1973, Keith Locke complained that Law had assaulted him in central Wellington on 8th December "following months of intense political debate within the antiwar and antitour movements" If true, this was probably part of the Maoists vs Trots rivalry that was then at its peak.

All through the '70s, Law edited HART News and in 1974 was business manger for the allied Maoist publication "The Paper". Other helpers or contributors to "The Paper" included, Rona Bailey, Alick Shaw, Peter Franks, Terry Auld, Robert Reid, Lisa Sacksen (all future members of the Workers Communist League) future Air NZ board member Rob Campbell, future Race Relations Conciliator Joris De Bres, unionist Pat Kelly, Principal Family Court judge Peter Boshier, journalist Gyles Beckford, writer Tony Simpson and HART leader Trevor Richards.

All through the'70s Law was Deputy chairman of HART, under his friend and comrade, Trevor Richards. He worked for much of this time as a union organiser for the Public Service Association.

In 1981, Law was in the thick of anti tour activity. On June 23rd, a pro tour mob, enraged by the protestor forced abandonment of the All Black's/Springbok game, invaded HART's Hamilton HQ in Gwynne Street and beat up Law, Dick Cuthbert and John Minto.

In the mid '80s, Law was working at Centre for Continuing Education, at the University of Waikato. Shortly after Labour's 1984 election victory, he was appointed chairman of of a four person Task Force on Trade Union Education. His three colleagues were;

Jackson Smith; A senior Socialist Unity Party member and Wellington drivers Union official

Dick Lowe; A former Labour party executive member and official in the SUP dominated, Labourers Union

Maryan Street; A PPTA official, Labour party activists, known to be on friendly terms with the SUP. Now a Labour list MP.

This Taskforce led to the establishment of the Trade Union Education Authority. Until it was abolished by the Bolger Government, TUEA srved as a taxpayer funded propaganda vehicle for the SUP. Known Party supporters who were paid or subsidised by TUEA include; Graeme Whimp, Hazel Armstrong, Ros Goldsbrough, Brendan Tuohy, Joe Te Pania, Gary Reading, Sam Murray and Marilyn Kohlhase.

Workers Communist League supporters on the payroll or in receipt of TUEA subsidies include; Graeme Clarke, David Streele and Therese O'Connell.

In 1993 Law lectured at a seminar run by the SUP breakaway, Socialist Party of Aotearoa's "Workers Institute of Scientific Education". His fellow lecturers included his Waikato Trade Union Education colleague, David Neilson.

The three main lecturers at Waikato's Labour and Trade Union Studies school, Law, David Neilson and Paul Harris are all come from well established socialist backgrounds.

In my view, this school is a taxpayer funded school for socialists. As usual, our taxes are paying for the revolution

New Slogan for ACT?

Rob Good at Puntiki wants your suggestions on a new slogan for ACT.

"What would be a better slogan for ACT, should ACT drop a slogan all together, or do you like "The Liberal Party" slogan?

Friday, January 27, 2006

The "Liberal" Word, Help or Hindrance?

From comments on ACT's future posted on Rob Good's Puntiki

Dan King "ACT has never employed marketing effectively. Our liberal brand means nothing to the average Jo Schmo who might vote for us, if he actually knew us. We need to ditch this intellectual 'liberal rubbish' and go for grass roots branding. 'The party for everyone who works, has worked or wants to work' for instance. Define the people we want to make ours and , wait for to them! in their own language

If you are selling to a mechanic you don't rock up in a three piece suit. We have had a three piece suit 'superior' approach in much of our language, when the people we really need to talk to will respond to the common touch..." Fancy pants aus marketing experts are not much good if we have not identified our market and the message that fits. The direct mail we delivered at tremendous human cost and loss of life was a complete waste of time for reasons mentioned above, wrong message and wrong target market."

Wined "If ACT! is ever to attain many real profile here again, the party must speak for NZ, and those people who are currently, and always will be disenfranchised on the Right. The Centre, and the drivel of "liberal" will never work for ACT. This is the ground of the National, and the right winger Labourites, and people like Peters and Dunne who want to hear themselves as a Leader."

I personally love the "Liberal" word, but I follow politics enough to appreciate its origin and meaning. "Liberal" to most on the centre right is identified with "sickly white liberal" etc.

ACT is a political party trying to win votes. Do we try to sell a political philosophy and a word that is surrounded by confusion to the one or two per cent who are interested in such things?

Or are we better to de-emphasise or even abandon the "Liberal" word and attempt to sell concrete policies, using plain language, appealing to people's self interest, in areas they care about?

Do you explain the "liberal" philosophy to a South Auckland mechanic, or do you show him how "school choice" will give his kids a far better future than zoning and mediocrity. Is he interested in Bastiat and Milton Friedman, or how much more quickly ACT's tax cuts will help him clear his mortgage?

I think I've made my leanings clear. What do you think?

Aaron Tells it Like He Sees It

The kinder part of a comment posted on Rob Good's Puntiki by former ACT Deputy Board member and current National Party member, Aaron Bhatnagar.

"I am not interested in handing out specific free advice for ACT, other than to note that ACT has always searched for one single silver bullet to fix all its problems and gain that clear breakthrough in the minds of voters. What ACT needed to do years ago were the things that all successful parties do which is:

1) open and transparent internal organisational structures, allowing ambitious and effective members the opportunity to thrive
2) a continual process of signing up new members and renewing the existing membership
3) regular grassroots activity like fundraising, social clubs, cottage meetings, newsletters
4) advocating policies and solutions relevant to your voting base, instead of getting caught up in the hurly burly of daily politics irrelevant to most people
5) an inclusive approach towards your voting base
6) a careful eye on your core constituencies to ensure that they do not become disaffected.
7) a tolerant attitude to factionalism, which is a natural part of internal competitive politicking and not something that should cause a party to shake itself to pieces over.

None of this is rocket science or a big secret. But I suppose its a lot easier to announce a "rock star" individual as a candidate or bring in a PR expert to relaunch your brand instead of doing a lot of little things that need continual attention."

Aaron is one of ACT's toughest critics, but my view is that your critics are often more helpful than your "friends". Aaron has seen both ACT and National from the inside. National is clearly the more succesful party, though ACT has the better policies for the country.

What can we learn from the Nat's organisation and culture, to get ACT's policies successfully implemented?

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Owen McShane Talks Sense on House Prices

From the NBR 20.2.06 by Owen McShane'

Everyone knows we all want higher incomes and lower prices. Nobody likes to see headlines saying "oil prices rose 20% last year"... or "Price increases of 20% demonstrate continuing strong economic growth".
Yet headlines that read "House prices continue their strong upward trend" are cause for celebration by the home owning majority and their agents.

This rapid and seemingly never ending rise in house prices is tragic because home ownership is a core value of our society that helps integrate young families and immigrants by giving them a real stake in the economy.

The first hard question is. "Why do we embrace massive price increases in the most expensive item any family has to buy?"

The second hard question is. "How many low income people, immigrants and young families do you price out of home ownership, because existing home owners want to further increase their capital gains and borrowing power."

The third hard question is. "How can a centre-left government, which claims to represent the interests of workers, immigrants and Maori and Pacific Islanders, legislate to impose 'smart growth' town planning policies which so clearly discriminate against all of them?"

Owen McShane is Director of the New Zealand Centre for Resource Management Studies.

Councils and RMA to Blame for High House Prices.

This morning's Press Release from Christchurch based property investor, Hugh Pavletich, is right on the button.

Recent comments by two Bank economists ( NZ Herald – “Low incomes blamed for affordability crisis” – by Anne Gibson – 25 January 2005 ) in response to the 2006 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, are seriously wide of the mark, in suggesting that other factors besides land and housing supply, explain why our housing is so unaffordable”, said Hugh Pavletich, co author of the Survey.

Anthony Byett of ASB Bank said that people’s poor earnings are the reason why housing is unaffordable. He is confident that the market will come back in to balance, when house prices stabilize and incomes rise. Darren Gibbs, Chief Economist of Deutsche Bank, questioned the reports value and asked whether it was meaningful or had any predictive value.

“Mr Byett would need to explain why housing in New Zealand and Australia was affordable or near affordable ten and twenty years ago, when peoples incomes were of course much lower” said Mr Pavletich adding “ and why urban markets have remained affordable in many North American cities”.

“To suggest that rising incomes will solve this serious problem is an extraordinary comment from a professional economist” he said.

The Demographia Survey uses median house price and divides it by the median household income to establish the “median multiple” of the 100 major urban markets of the six countries surveyed. It illustrates that most markets were historically affordable, in that house prices achieved median multiples of 3 or below.

“Within this years Survey, we explain in the clearest and simplest terms possible, why supply is the key determinant of urban property market performance and how any constraint on this, drives prices higher” said Mr Pavletich.

Pavletich is of the view that Darren Gibbs of Deutsche Bank may not adequately understand the important relationship between house prices and incomes. Over the past twelve months, New Zealand’s housing prices have increased by 14% and higher in many smaller cities and towns.

“For too long, property commentators have acted as cheerleaders for artificially created excessive house price increases, whilst completely ignoring the incomes that underpin them” said Mr Pavletich, adding “ The 2006 Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey will hopefully encourage more relevant and informed property market research and commentary in the future.”

Mr Pavletich contends that the main reason NZ housing is so expensive is that Council's are applying the Resource Management Act to stifle new housing developments. This is cutting the supply of residential land and massively inflating the price of sections.

Mr Pavletich told "Morning Report" on Monday "people are paying more than $100,000 for a section that should be worth 30 or 40 thousand."

For a thorough analysis of the report check out the several articles on Peter Cresswell's Not PC.

W.A.Y.N.C.R.? Number 2, Marinus La Rooij

Those of you at Otago Uni, in the early '90s or Vic in the mid '90s, might remember the subject of my second "Where Are You Now, Campus Radical?", profile, Marinus La Rooij.

La Rooij joined Jim Anerton's New Labour Party in 1989, while still only 17 or 18. He stood for Parliament for the NLP in 1990 in the conservative Southland seat of Wallace. At one point he was Otago District secretary of the NLP, but resigned, along with his comrade, John Andrew Zwingle Moore, in 1992, when the NLP joined the Alliance.

At Otago Uni, La Rooij was a leading member of the campus Marxist club, "Progressive Left", as was John Moore.

By 1993, La Rooij was studying at Vic and was an active member of the Victoria University "Bolshevik Club". The VUBC was affiliated to Bill Logan's Wellington based, Trotskyite sectlet, the "Permanent Revolution Group", which in turn was part of the "International Bolshevik Tendency". La Rooij was with the Bolsheviks for several years and at one point was their spokesman.

La Rooij's friend, John Moore, was also in the VUBC and was still supporting the "International Bolshevik Tendency as late as 2001.

In 1994, La Rooij was VUWSA Campaign co-ordinator, with the job of organising demos, protests, sit-ins, occupations and other "revolutionary" activity. In 1996 he spoke at a Vic Uni meeting against allowing a policeman to be based on campus. In 1997 he addressed a protest at Parliament where 70 students were arrested.

In 1998 La Rooij finished his MA History Thesis on "Anti Semitism and the Far Right in NZ 1929-47". He has maintained an interest in the subject and has published several articles. His latest, in January this year, in "Labour History", was entitled "Arthur Nelson Field : Kiwi Theoretician of the Australian Radical Right?"

By 2001, La Rooij was a researcher for the Waitangi Tribunal. Currently he is Research Team Manager for the Crown Forestry Rental Trust. The CFRT is charged with researching and funding maori land claims, so La Rooij's position is a very important and influential one.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Who is Cindy Kiro?

When Cindy Kiro was appointed as Children's Commissioner in 2003, the Commission put this bio on their webste.

"Dr Kiro has a PhD in Social Policy and has worked mainly in the area of public health and advocacy for children and young people. She is married and mother to two young men and is of Ngapuhi descent.

She worked as a social worker, researcher, manager and has maintained strong community links within Waitakere City where she has lived for many years. Dr Kiro has taken leave from her position as Associate Professor and Director of Waiora Centre for Public Health Research to take up the appointment as Commissioner.

She has also resigned a number of appointments on the National Health Committee and Public Health Advisory Committee, Casino Control Authority, Child Policy Reference Group (within Ministry of Social Policy), Health Research Council and Healthwest, in order to take up the position.

She has vowed to work to bring together a cohesive and effective children’s movement in New Zealand, recognising the contribution of NGOs and community organisations, Iwi, Maori and Pasifika organisations, young peoples networks and government agencies to addressing key problems like child poverty and violence against children. The Commissioner will focus on advocating for Children’s Rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as a key focus to the Office’s work in the future."

Cindy Kiro was also;

1988, a member of The Whare Hui Trust which ran Maori units at Carrington Hospital, Auckland

1992, appointed executive director of Greenpeace NZ.

June 1993, a keynote speaker at the Peace, Power and Politics conference in Wellington. This conference was attended by several hundred peace activists and socialists from NZ and abroad.

Late '90s, on the board of Greenpeace International. Kiro regularly travelled to GP's Amsterdam HQ for meetings.

1998, with Dr Ian Hassall, Dr Alison Blaiklock and Dr Colin Tukuitonga, the recipient of a $197,405 grant from the Health Research Council, for the development of indicators to describe the health and well being of children and young people.

2002, one of several authors (which included Alison Blaiklock) of a UNICEF commissioned report on child poverty in NZ. It is worth noting that Blaiklock was in 2003 on the committee of the Child Poverty Action Group. In 1996 Blaiklock coordinated the NGO's report, Action for Children in Aotearoa 1996, to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

2002, attended the UN World Summit on Sustainability in Johannesburg. Dr Kiro was invited by Prime Minister, Helen Clark to attend as one of two indigenous representatives. Said Kiro"I have had a long standing interest in environmental and social justice issues and the whole agenda was basically about that. I attended a number of indigenous peoples’ forums to prepare a report to the Government on these issues.

Every Child Needs a "Big Brother"

From this morning's Christchurch Press.

"The Children's Commissioner wants the Government to test every New Zealand child four times during childhood as part of a radical plan to keep tabs on child welfare.

As part of the proposal, commissioner Cindy Kiro said she wanted children assessed at milestones in their life as part of an intervention system aimed at preventing children from falling through the cracks.

The initiative is based on a Scottish programme and would have children's health, education and social situation assessed at birth, when they start school, reach their teens and leave the education system.

The assessment would cover areas such as whether a child had been subject to abuse, was malnourished or falling behind in education.

Government departments would then have responsibility to intervene in the child's life and put programmes in place.

In Scotland, a central file on every child is kept, detailing significant achievements, problems, developments, events and changes in their lives. Several government agencies gather the information.

Kiro said that while her idea was wide-ranging and potentially expensive, radical measures were needed to ensure the well-being of tomorrow's children.

Kiro said she wanted "the Government and all political parties to support" the proposal, and she had started talking to organisations to gauge interest."

Cubans Targeting East Timor

In December 2005, East Timorese Prime Minister, Bim Amude Mari Alkatiri, paid a state visit to Cuba at the invitation of the President of the Council of State and Ministers of Cuba, Fidel Castro.

conforming to a familiar pattern, Castro announced that Cuba is prepared to send up to 300 doctors to East Timor, in addition to the 65 already there.

This year, more East Timorese students will join the hundreds already studying medicine in Cuba. The Cuban government, will also send literacy specialists to East Timor to assist with literacy campaigns. According to the December 14th issue of the Cuban paper "Granma", Alkatiri called Cuba an "example of solidarity, providing lessons for the world with its selfless assistance".

Speaking to Prensa Latina, Amude Alkatiri highlighted the health collaboration and aid received from Cuba and urged increased ties in agriculture and energy, among other fields.

East Timor established diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2002, right after gaining independence from Indonesia.

Chilean Communist "Reminds" Socialist President.

On December 17, Guillermo Teillier, leader of the Chilean Communist Party, reminded Chile's new Socialist president, Michelle Bachelet, that without the support of the left she would not have won. Said Teillier,“We now hope that Bachelet will fulfill the promises that she has made before the people and trade unionists. We are now going to start to fight to make sure that those promises are implemented”,

The Chilean Communist Party is still a major force. In the recent election it gained 10% of the vote under a First Past the Post system. President Bachelet is under pressure to move Chile to a proportional representation voting system.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New Bolivian President Cements Links with Cubans

From Prensa Latina

"Bolivian President Evo Morales and Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage held talks at the governmental headquarters in La Paz on Monday, in an environment of friendship that marks historic relations between both nations.

Lage, who heads the delegation that attended Morales´ swearing-in on Sunday, is accompanied by Foreign Investment and Economic Collaboration Minister Martha Lomas, Foreign Vice Minister Rafael Daussa, Ambassador Luis Felipe Vazquez and Deputy Jorge Gonzalez.

Following Morales´ inauguration, Lages and Morales presided over a huge rally at the San Francisco Square on Sunday.

The new Bolivian president praised Cuba´s cooperation and asked Lage to address his compatriots."

Make Communist Fronts History

From Scoop Hat Tip Lindsay Mitchell

"A diverse panel of community representatives is calling on all NZers to make "poverty wages history" in 2006 at a press conference this Wednesday January 25, 12 noon at the Mercure Hotel, 8 Customs St.

The panel includes grassroots organisations, including health, student, ethnic and poverty groups, NGOs, unions and political representatives and will be joined by fast food workers from the SuperSizeMyPay.Com campaign to address New Zealand’s low wage crisis.

The panel recognises low pay and a substandard minimum wage as being at the heart of poverty in New Zealand. It supports the fast food workers and their SuperSizeMyPay.Com campaign as a step towards winning a reasonable standard of living and making poverty wages history for all NZers,” said John Minto, spokesperson for Global Peace and Justice Auckland.

SuperSizeMyPay.Com campaign co-ordinator, Simon Oosterman said that a broad range of community groups were adding their voices to fast food workers and customers for a liveable wage, highlighting that low wages have a detrimental impact on the community.

Community groups are joining the fast food workers’ call for McDonald’s, Burger King and (Restaurant Brands restaurants) KFC, Starbucks and Pizza Hut, to take social responsibility for the welfare of their workers, their families and the wider community,” Oosterman said.

In 2004, 19% of families had incomes below the poverty line and 43% of dependent children in sole parent families were living below the poverty line. Over 22% of households reported that ‘food runs out because of lack of money’.

“As the biggest brands, these companies set the wage standards for the entire industry and are in a key position to play a major role in making poverty wages history in New Zealand.

“Accepting the SuperSizeMyPay.Com demands for a $12 minimum wage, abolition of youth rates and secure hours would be a step in the right direction,” Oosterman concluded."

In this context "community groups" are what used to be called "communist fronts". We don't have one Communist Party in NZ now, we have several, including the Socialist Party of Aotearoa, Communist Party of Aotearoa, Organisation for Marxist Unity, Socialist Worker, Communist League, International Socialists, Communist Workers Group, Revolutionary Workers League, Alliance Party and elements of the Greens and Labour.

You can bet, nearly every "community group" gathered on Wednesday will have members or supporters of one or more of the above groups in their leadership.

Note the message here. Firms owe their workers a liviveable wage. Not a market wage, not a fair wage, but a "liveable" wage. This is the central message of socialism. You're not responsible for your own life choices, someone else is. Capitalists owe the less able or productive a "liveable" wage, merely because they are successful.

These idiots would be a joke, but for the fact that they lead some poor fools astray and retard their job prospects, so we end up paying their "wage" instead.

Advice for ACT's Next President?

Rob Good has come up with a great idea.

He asks"If you were elected as the President of the ACT party, and if you had the power and ability to make some big changes within ACT what would that be and how would you implement it?"

Link to Rob at Puntiki and give him your positive suggestions.

Aaron Bhatnagar has already posted what I think is very sound advice.

Heat Produces Light!

There's been some scrapping over five blogs recently between some National supporters and some ACTivists. While there has been some personal stuff, I think the results have been positive. It's got people thinking more about National/ACT relations and also what we need to do to improve our respective parties.

Spiit of '76 has come up with this four point plan for National and ACT. Hat Tip, Mike Heine.

* National - Start being more amicable to potential coalition partners now and be prepared to gravitate towards the centre ever so slightly.
* ACT - Knuckle down and develop a whole lot of new policy.
* National - ALL opposition spokesmen to up their workrate and be a formidible opposition - Attack!
* ACT - Sorry Rodney, Aaron is right, forget about numbnutted fuckwits like Benson-Pope and become that champion for consumers and taxpayers that you once were.

Ex ACT deputy board member, now National activist, Aaron Bhatnagar added his suggestions for ACT

ACT needs to actually concentrate on building local organisation - media work along with policy is simply wasted if come election year the hard yards in building branches were not done in the years prior. National is not immune from this criticism either. More members, more activity and more fundraising from the grassroots is required.

I couldn't agree more with Aaron. National has been NZ's most successful political party, since the Great Depression. I believe much of it's strength has come from strong inner party democracy, some form of remit system, local control over candidate selection and a commitment to building and maintaining local branches.

I believe MMP has weakened some of the above, but National still offers many lessons for those who wish to build a successful political party.

Rob Good, contributed this "ACT needs to set higher targets.... 15% of the party vote and 5 electorate seats. It is possible and with the right vision it can and will happen. It is all going to start with the electing of new Party President. You guys need to figure out who the best candidate is and put them forwards..."

Again, I completely agree. ACT must become much more ambitious and it must work to secure more constituency seats. We need to become a permanent and substantial part of the political landscape. We must also look beyond MMP (I'm a First Past the Post supporter), so that ACT is never dependent on list seats again.

I think it is very important that the next ACT President, Vice President and Board, are all committed to rebuilding ACT from the ground up and becoming the most internally democratic party in parliament.

Monday, January 23, 2006

"Woeful" Washout at Waihopai

Organisers of last weekend's protest at Waihopai surveillance station are disappointed at the turnout and lack of local support.

About a 100 protesters marched through Blenheim chanting "Waihopai spies, people die", yet this inspired hardly a local to turn up in support.

For all the publicity, it is actually a little bit woeful, how many Blenheim people came", said local Green Party member and protest organiser, Steffan Browning.

Three MPs did turn up, the Maori Party's, Hone Harawira, the ubiquitous marxist Green, Keith Locke and his comrade and leader, Jeanette Fitzsimons.

Fitzsimons came in spite of a total fire ban in the area. She used the occasion to deliver a "State of the Planet" speech.

"Think Global Act Local is about taking care of our own piece of the planet and managing our own activities using what we now know about the whole system. It empowers us to act more thoughtfully and more effectively. It requires us to ask, “what would be the effect of 6 billion people doing what I am doing now?"

As Rodney Hide pointed out on his blog today, "so what would happen if 6 billion people all lit a fire in high winds when a fire ban is on?"

Bolivia's New Leader, Cosies up to Castro

Before even being inaugurated, Bolivia's president-elect, Evo Morales of the Movemement Towards Socialism, paid a flying visit, just before new year, to Fidel Castro in Cuba.

During the visit, Castro and Morales announced a 30-month plan to eliminate illiteracy in Bolivia, provide free eye operations to up to 50,000 Bolivians and provide 5,000 medical scholarships for Bolivians to study in Cuba.

Morales said that his meetings with Castro have been "an encounter of two generations in the struggle for dignity ... of two revolutions."

Sunday, January 22, 2006

W.A.Y.N.C.R.? Number 1, Bruce Cronin

Some of you who attended Auckland University in the '80s and '90s might remember my first "Where Are You Now, Campus Radical?" profile, Bruce Cronin.

Cronin is now is Director of Postgraduate Programmes at the University of Greenwich Business School, UK. He teaches on corporate strategy and business networks.

"He has researched, consulted and published on the role of business networks in strategy and innovation. He convenes the University’s Business Network Research group and is a certified consultant for the UK Cynefin Centre for Organisational Complexity. Corporate clients have included Unilever, NHS, Pearson, McGraw-Hill, The Work Foundation, and the London Knowledge Network."

Previously Cronin led the International Business programme at Massey University before moving to the UK in 2001.

"His professional affiliations include the International Advisory Board of the Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change in Organisations, the European Academy of Management, and the International Network for Social Network Research."

Heavy stuff for a Maoist radical who stirred up at Auckland Uni for many years.

In the '80s, Cronin was involved in Auckland's Progressives Club and was AUSA International Affairs officer in 1984.

He was very close to the Workers Communist League and was probably a member. certainly, he lived for a time with Leonie Morris, a well known WCL activist.

In the late '80s he was involved with CORSO, then in '89 briefly joined Jim Anderton's, New Labour Party.

By 1990, Cronin was a research officer for the Northern Labourers Union. In 1991 he was a member (with Keith Locke) of the Editorial Group of "Agenda" magazine-which provided news and resources from a "broadly socialist viewpoint", Agenda

In the early 90s, Cronin was back on campus as a research officer for AUSA. He played a leading role in the "Education Action" protest group and was a leading member until at least 1997 of the neo-Maoist "Radical Society".

Radsoc supported Peru's notorious "Shining Path" guerillas and did things like plastering the US consulate with images of Mao and protesting outside the Peruvian embassy.

Cronin also had links to the "People's Plan for the 21st Century", a Pan Asian grouping of radical social movements. He also travelled to Manila to work with groups opposed to the Asian Development Bank and helped organise an Asia-Pacific Student Conference.

Eventually he left Auckland, for Massey University and much bigger things.

W.A.Y.N.C.R.s are Coming!

I've had a lot of positive feedback on my Socialist Academic Profiles, so I thought I'd add another series to run in tandem.

Some of my ex uni student readers might sometimes wonder, "what ever happened to those Marxist stirrers?, who tried to run student politics when I was at uni?".

You know the types; they were in the Progressives Club, or the Progressive Students League, or Radical Society, or Staunch, or Socialist Worker, or International Socialists, or Young Socialists, or Young Labour, or Communist Club, or Revolution, or Progressive Left, or Progressive Students Alliance, or Bolshevik Club etc etc.

They organised all the demos and occupations on campus and usually tried to control the student's association.

Where are they now? Well many have "sold out" and are now running homestays, dance schools, selling real estate or editing food magazines. Many are in high profile or influential jobs. Some are still socialists. Some are active in Labour or various other parties.

Some are still hard core. Some have never left the campus and are now academics.

The series will be titled "Where Are You Now, Campus Radical?".

Feel free to nominate your own favourite W.A.Y.N.C.R.? if you have one.

Gerry Eckhoff Still Fighting for Property Rights

Former ACT MP, Gerry Eckhoff might be back on the farm, but he's still doing what he does best-sticking up for property rights

From Newstalk ZB

"Former ACT MP and Central Otago farmer Gerry Eckhoff has issued a trespass notice against DOC, stopping department staff going onto his property to survey a supposedly endangered plant.

He is one of 12 farmers who have signed the trespass notice.
They fear they could lose rights to their own land if the plant is found to be significant.

Mr Eckhoff says DOC has told the farmers a botanical survey will have to be done on their land before they will ever get any form of resource consent. He says those are bullying tactics, and farmers have had enough....

Mr Eckhoff says DOC seems to think it owns everything of natural value in New Zealand.

He says at the moment the best thing farmers can do if they have something special on their property is get rid of it."

Hat tip Lindsay Mitchell

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Free Markets Make You Safer

In an earlier post I wrote about how taxi companies and insurance companies, working together in a free market could ensure passenger safety more effectively and fairly, than an any state regulatory agency.

I suggested that in a true free market, taxi companies could be sued and therefore would need to carry public liability insurance. Therefore, the taxi companies and insurance companies would have a vested interest in vetting drivers effectively. They could also be more flexible than the "one size fits all" Land Transport Safety Authority.

Rich took issue with me. "So a downmarket taxi company finds it can't hire staff with clean records. They don't declare the dodgier drivers to the insurance company. One of their drivers rapes a passenger - the insurance company finds out he's got a record and refuses to pay out. The passenger tries to sue, but is rapidly advised that the company's got no assets...."

Rich fails to see how a true free market will work in practice.

In a free market, competition constantly lifts standards. When governments set "minimum standards" in an industry, they quickly become maximum standards. If the taxi, or any other industry involving public safety, is operating in a true free market, they will compete not just on price, but also on level of insurance cover and safety records.

Cab company A has a sign on it's car doors "we carry public liability insurance of $5 million dollars", Cab company B only carries $1 million dollars. Company A clearly has a better record and can afford higher insurance. Which company will attract more customers?

Dodgy companies will be liable, as will their directors, if a passenger is harmed, in an accident, or assaulted by a criminal driver. Who would risk, thousands, or millions, setting up a company that no one will insure, because their safety standards are too low?

A true free market drives dodgy companies out of business very quickly. Well run businesses expand more quickly, because of lower taxes, lower compliance costs etc, so the whole industry standard is lifted. The penalties for poor performance are prohibitive, the rewards for excellence are unlimited.

If you want safer taxis, cleaner restaurants, fewer air crashes and industrial accidents, the answer is simple. Ditch all the relevant state "safety" authorities and let industry and insurance companies work together to improve standards out of all recognition.

Why We Need a Free Market in Sperm

From Radio NZ

"Fertility clinics are turning down sperm donations from gay men because of Australian regulations aimed at curbing the spread of HIV, a fertility specialist says.

A Wellington man says he has been discriminated against after he was rejected by a sperm bank as a donor because he is gay.

The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, says he decided to donate sperm after hearing media reports last week of a donor shortage.

He says when he called the clinic he was shocked to hear they would not accept him as a donor.

The clinic involved, Fertility Associates, says it cannot accept sperm donations from gay men because of Australian regulations, which control the accreditation of sperm banks in both Australia and New Zealand.

Fertility Associates medical director Dr Richard Fisher says the organisation has requested a review of the policy on several occasions as donor testing is now advanced enough to ensure safety.

But he says the Reproductive Technologies Accreditation Committee, which controls sperm bank accreditation in both Australia and New Zealand, continues to require all donors are heterosexual."

This perfectly illustrates the anomalies that arise when market forces are not allowed to function.

We have a big problem with infertility in this country, caused partly by the Chlamydia "boom", lowered male fertility and women delaying motherhood into their '30s or even '40s.

State funded abortions run at 18,000 per year. Adoption is little encouraged by the state, which has an effective stranglehold on the practice.

Sperm donations are "drying up", because the state dictates that donors can no longer remain anonymous and may be liable to find an 18 year old or two turning up on their door step looking for "daddy".

Then when a gay man wants to donate sperm, a state mandated regulatory authority turns him away. All this state interference means that fewer children are born and more adults miss out on the joys of parenthood.

Why the hell, is the government involved in regulating the conception of children, anyway?

Friday, January 20, 2006

Keith Locke Wins "Hypocrite of the Year, 2006".... in January!

Green MP Keith Locke has pulled off a stunning coup in taking out the New Zeal "Hypocrite of the Year" award for 2006, in January.

However our panel of judges felt compelled to award the prestigious prize to Mr Locke as they felt no one could possibly match his latest achievement.

As reported in this morning's NZ Herald, "NZ should lead the way by offering reparation to East Timor, Green MP Keith Locke said today after details of a damning UN report into what happened under Indonesian occupation were published.

The Australian newspaper quoted the report, which is yet to be presented to the UN, saying Indonesia killed up to 180,000 East Timorese through massacres, torture and starvation during its 24-year occupation.

It said 90 per cent of the 180,000 deaths (almost a third of the pre-invasion population) were caused by starvation and disease, and that starvation was used as a weapon.

Indonesia should pay reparation, the report said. It also called for Australia, Britain and the United States to offer reparation for providing backing for its military during the years of occupation 1975-1999.

Mr Locke told National Radio today that New Zealand had played a lesser role and had "much lower level" of military links than Australia.

Also; "politically NZ didn't go quite as far as Australia. Australia accepted the occupation," he said.

However Mr Locke said NZ's position was to accept that East Timor could not become independent.

"Politically NZ's position was, particularly in the cold war background, `we've got to support the Suharto regime we don't want a small radical state'."

Mr Locke said NZ's reparation could be small but meaningful "such as scholarships".

"Offering reparations would be a recognition that politically we went down the wrong track and we're very sorry for it and this is our message to the East Timorese people that we've learnt the lesson from that and put it behind us."

Indonesia's Invasion of east Timor occurred in 1975. What was Keith Locke doing that year? Well for one thing he was editor of the Marxist journal "Socialist Action".

On April 25th 1975, "Socialist Action" published a lead article by Locke under the banner heading: "Cambodia Liberated: Victory For Humanity"

This was of course the Khmer Rouge takeover of Cambodia, led by the infamous, Pol Pot. According to the very scholarly "Black Book of Communism" by French academics, S Courtois, N Werth, J L Panne, A Paczcowski, K Bartosek and J L Margolin, the Khmer Rouge murdered two million Cambodians.

On February 21st 1980, Mr Locke gave a public talk in Wellington, entitled "Why Workers Should Support Soviet Action in Afghanistan." . According to "Black Book of Communism", this Soviet "Action" resulted in the deaths of 1.5 million people.

As far as our panel of judges are aware, Mr Locke has never publicly apologised for supporting two of the worst sustained atrocities of modern times. Nor has he paid or offered one cent in reparations to the families of those whose slaughterers he supported.

These two events occurred around the time of events in East Timor. Mr Locke wants the NZ people to be accountable for our minor support for Indonesia at the time.

Has Mr Locke accepted responsibility for his far greater errors of judgement? Has he "learnt the lesson from that and put it behind" him? Simply breathtaking hypocrisy, Mr Locke.

New Zeal feels confident in awarding Mr Locke the "Hypocrite of the Year" award at this early stage. We feel he is in strong contention for "Hypocrite of the Decade".

Congratulations Mr Locke. You've earned it.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Nohopers Protest at Waihopai

The annual protest at the "US spybase" at Waihopai near Blenheim takes place this weekend. Organised by the Christchurch based, Anti Bases Campaign, a motley gathering of communists, anarchists, peaceniks, hippies and other no-hopers, will camp outside the base from Friday to Sunday and try to get themselves on TV.

This how ABC describe the Waihopai Base.

"Waihopai is controlled by the US, with NZ (including Parliament and the Prime Minister) having little or no idea what goes on there (let alone any control).

First announced in 1987, it is operated by NZ's Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) in the interests of the foreign Powers grouped together in the super-secret UKUSA Agreement (which shares global electronic and signals intelligence among the intelligence agencies of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and NZ). Its two satellite interception dishes (shielded from public view by giant domes) intercept a huge volume of telephone calls, telexes, faxes, e-mail and computer data communications.

It spies on our Asia/Pacific neighbours, and forwards the material on to the major partners in the UKUSA Agreement, specifically the US National Security Agency (NSA). Its targets are international communications involving NZers, including the interception of international phone calls. The codename for this – Echelon – has become notorious worldwide as the vast scope of its spying has become public.

NZ is an integral, albeit junior, part of a global spying network, a network that is ultimately accountable only to its own constituent agencies, not governments, and certainly not to citizens."

ABC wants to "invite people from around the country to join us for the weekend of anti-war protest at this spybase. Come prepared for roughing it and camping out. We’ve hired portaloos and a marquee. We provide the food (note: we cater for vegetarians but vegans will have to bring their own). Bring sleeping bag, groundsheet, a tent, torch, water bottle, eating utensils, clothing for all weather, and $40 (or $20 unwaged) to cover costs. Absolutely no open fires."

Clearly, Jeanette (Smokey the Bear) Fitzsimons will not be welcome this year.

Who Protests at Waihopai?

Waihopai protest 2000. Marxist Green MP Keith Locke.

Waihopai protest 2003. On left, Dr Hannah Middleton, President, Communist Party of Australia.

Don Brash Looks to the Future

According to Colin Espiner in today's NZ Herald, Don Brash is firm on leading National into the next election and is realistic about the need to work with other parties.

"Brash, who turned 65 after the election last September, said yesterday that after "overwhelming" positive feedback from the party, his colleagues and the public, he was determined to lead National into the next election.

He also hinted at a thawing in relations with the ACT Party, National's estranged partner on the Centre-Right.

While he did not regret National's decision to cut the party adrift during the election campaign, he said the Centre-Right was not helped by the perception that the two parties could not work together.

"I'm keen not to have that sniping. We have to find ways to work constructively with ACT," he said.

"There's not much doubt that we will have to work with ACT, and potentially United Future as well, in the future."

Espiner did sound a note of warning for Brash, however.

"But one senior National MP said Brash had about six months to prove to the caucus that he was the person most likely to beat Labour leader Helen Clark in 2008, having failed to do so last year. "After that, it could get a bit sticky for him."

In my view, ACT can help itself and Don Brash, best, by ignoring National and focusing on rebuilding our party. National's "wets" will only respect ACT, if we show them we are growing and dynamic and are capable of taking several seats in the next election. They will think twice about dumping Don Brash, if ACT is clearly needed to govern.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Three Generations of Real Revolutionaries

Sir Roger Douglas, ACT MP Heather Roy and some of the ACT on Campus leadership at last weekend's retreat in Wellington.

10,000 Hits

Just ticked over 10,000 hits in 68 days blogging (seems like forever). This is a lot better than I thought I'd do. Thanks for reading, thanks for your comments and thanks to the other bloggers for your links and hat tips.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

A Typical Chilean Exile?

After Pinochet overthrew the Allende government in the early '70s, thousands of Chilean socialists fled the country.

Many came to NZ, including Victor Humberto Batista.

Formerly an officer in the Chilean Army, Batista was tortured by Pinochet's secret police, before fleeing the country to NZ. Batista settled in Wellington with his wife and eleven children.

He worked for the Ministry of Transport, owned the Condor restaurant and later ran a printing business behind Wellington Trades Hall. The printing shop produced literature for the peace movement, trade unions and protest groups.

Batista also joined the Wellington Branch of the pro Soviet, Socialist Unity Party, as did several of his family. He was not open about his membership, but at one time served on the party's Wellington regional executive. In 1985 Batista wrote an article for the SUP's "Tribune" on Easter Island being used by US for "Star Wars".
In April 1987, Katya Batista "presented party cards" at a Wellington SUP meeting.

In the early '80s Batista co-founded the NZ/Cuba Friendship Society (which still exists)and was a leading member of the Chilean Committee for Human Rights.
In 1983, Batista was one of six Chilean exiles who tried to deliver a letter to Chile's Wellington embassy calling for Pinochet's overthrow. In October the same year he addressed a Wellington rally opposing the US invasion of Grenada.

During the mid '80s Batista also served as a NZ contact for the "Chilean Government in Exile", based in Moscow.

On the 10th of April 1987, MP Helen Clark, tabled a petition in Parliament from Victor H Batista, W Mason and 439 others, requesting that the government appeal for a "return to democracy" in Chile. Clark moved that the petition " referred to the government for the most favourable consideration".

Batista returned to Chile in the early 90s, shortly after the end of Pinochet's reign.

Socialists Hold Chile, Chavez Cheers

Abridged from today's Reuter's

"Chile president-elect Michelle Bachelet, a Socialist who will be the country's first female leader, vowed on Monday to shrink the gap between rich and poor that persists in the South American nation despite lower poverty and a thriving economy.

Bachelet, from Chile's ruling centre-left coalition, won 53 percent of ballots cast in Sunday's election while opposition candidate Sebastian Pincer took 47 percent, the government Electoral Service said.

Political scientist Ricardo Israel said a main challenge for Bachelet will be to bring more women into public office, and to find a place for her social-democratic coalition within the range of leftist governments taking hold in Latin America.

Bachelet has promised women would get half the jobs in her cabinet, and she told tens of thousands of confetti-throwing supporters she will work to improve social security and education by the time her four-year term ends in 2010.

A Bachelet victory consolidates a shift to the left in Latin America, where leftists now run Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela, some with politics more extreme than others.

Socialist Evo Morales will soon take office in gas-rich Bolivia, and a leftist is favoured to win Mexico's July presidential election.

"I think she will have to make one decision very soon, which is whether or not to attend the inauguration of Evo Morales, which is on January 22," Israel said, alluding to traditional tensions between the two neighbours.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, in a weekly broadcast on Sunday, called himself "a good friend" of Bachelet's. Chavez who says he is leading a socialist revolution in his own country has supported leftists that have risen to power in Latin America recently as part of his opposition to what he calls US Imoperialism. Chavez praised Bachelet's tenacity and pledged his government's collaboration with Chile, Venezuela's presidential press office reported."

Chile's Socialist President, Michelle Bachelet

Chile's first woman president, Michelle Bachelet has an interesting history.
Bachelet, was born in Santiago in 1951, the daughter of an Air Force general.

In 1971, while studying medicine at the University of Chile, she became active in the Socialist Party's youth wing. At the time the party was "Guevarist" and was led by Marxist, Salvadore Allende.

After Allende was elected to power at the head of a socialist/communist coalition, Bachelet's father, Alberto, supported the new regime. He was appointed by Allende to oversee the "supply and price councils" set up by the government to control and allot food supplies.

After General Pinochet's overthrow of Allende, Bachelet senior was arrested. He died in March 1974 in a prison cell in the Air Force War Academy as the result of a heart attack, allegedly brought on by torture.

In January 1975, Michelle Bachelet and her mother, were arrested by the Dirección de Inteligencia Nacional, and taken to the Villa Grimaldi concentration camp. After a month behind bars, they were sent into exile to Australia. From there they moved to East Germany.

There Bachelet married Chilean architect Jorge Dávalos and continued her medical studies. The couple returned to Chile in 1979.

Bachelet, graduated from medical school in Chile in 1982, specialising in pediatrics and public health. Towards the end of Pinochet's rule, Bachelet worked with an NGO that helped children traumatised by the disappearance of their parents under the military regime.

She also gained a graduate degree in the Armed Forces' National Academy of Political and Strategic Studies and won a scholarship to attend the Inter-American Defence College in Washington, D.C.

In 1999 she joined the Socialist Party Political Commission and in 200 was appointed by President Ricardo Lagos, as the health minister in his first cabinet. In 2002, Bachelet became Chilean, minister of defence.

Lagos released Bachelet from her ministerial duties in October 2004 so she could campaign full time for the presidency.

Pravda's View of Castro, Chavez and "Lula"

Text excerpts from Pravda online 28.7.05 by Ivan Shmelev

"The beginning of the year 1959, when Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba, became a bucket of cold water emptied on the USA. Castro was not saying anything about socialism at first. However, the new Cuban leader aimed his political course towards the USSR after an attempted coup organized by the CIA. Soviet nukes were deployed on the island, which subsequently resulted in the Caribbean crisis. The nuclear war did not break out, but the ghost of socialist revolution started roaming across Latin America....

The leader emerged on the brink of the new millennium. The politician appeared in the country, which the USA may refer to as the most important state in the entire Latin American region. It goes about Venezuela, an OPEC member, one of the world's largest crude-mining countries. Hugo Chavez became elected President of Venezuela at the end of 1998: the politician was firmly aimed to relieve his nation of USA's domination...

Chavez declared poverty and corruption to be Venezuela's prime enemies. Chavez raised taxes for US-run oil companies and started searching for other sales markets too. As for foreign politics, Chavez decided to join efforts with Cuba and consolidate Latin America to oppose the USA's influence. It goes without saying that American officials criticized Hugo Chavez for such "undemocratic governing methods," but the Venezuelan president was inexorable...

In addition to Cuba, Chavez was paying attention to Brazil, Mexico and Argentina. His popularity in Latin America was growing; being the head of a large crude-mining country, Hugo Chavez became a politician of global scale. According to Chavez, there should be four strongholds established in the world to resist the USA's supremacy: Europe and Russia, united Asia, Africa and Latin America....

.....The USA launched another diplomatic attack against Venezuela. The New York Times wrote in one of its articles that the Bush's administration was aiming to isolate Venezuela diplomatically. It is not going to be an easy goal to pursue because the majority of Latin American governments took the leftist orientation...

When Donald Rumsfeld was visiting Brazil in March of the current year, the US Defense Secretary expressed his concerns about Russia's plans to deliver Kalashnikov guns to Venezuela. Rumsfeld stated that leftist insurgents would take possession of the weapons, but Russia considered such claims inappropriate....

Brazilian incumbent President, Lula da Silva, does not conceal his sympathies to Hugo Chaves. Lula da Silva's government is an important ally of the Venezuelan president in his quest to consolidate and expand his "Bolivarian revolution" in the region. Lula da Silva untiringly proclaims the need for Brazil to lead South American integration, a political ambition he shares with Chavez and Fidel Castro, with unequivocal anti-American overtones....

Lula da Silva said the revolutionary dream "is close to its fulfillment." Chavez says that the Bolivarian revolution is an alternative to the American model of the regional integration. "I want to tell Chavez that I do not hesitate to affirm that we do not accept defamation against our companeros, that we do not accept insinuations against our companeros... So, President Chavez, you can be certain of our solidarity," Brazilian President Lula said.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Falloon on the Ins and Outs of Sperm Donation

Andrew Falloon has an excellent piece on free market solutions to the sperm donor shortage.

"Allow the free market to operate in sperm "donation." If a couple (or single woman) wants a baby, is willing to pay, and a "donor" is willing to accept the terms, allow it. This would allow those wanting a child to have a choice over who the father is, and pay the appropriate price."

MMP-More Marxists in Parliament, Part 3 (Final)

Part 2 here

In September 1991, just prior to the formation of the Alliance Party, Bill Andersen wrote a widely circulated open letter, from his Socialist Party of Aotearoa, calling for a "people's coalition to form a government of national salvation" in order to "meet the broad interests of the NZ people". Andersen said the key was forging an "electoral agreement" between Labour, the NLP and the Greens.

Andersen's call was soon echoed by fellow Marxist-Leninist, Ken Douglas. As keynote speaker at the 1992 Labour Party conference Douglas urged Labour and the Alliance to get together around an "electoral agreement" to defeat the National Government. Labour's then president Ruth Dyson (reportedly on friendly terms with Douglas' partner Marilyn Tucker) backed the appeal.

While rejected by then, Labour leader Mike Moore, it was considered at the time, highly unlikely that Douglas would have spoken without significant support inside the Labour Party.

It is clear that socialist coalitions were considered likely by many pro MMP activists.

Former ERC Vice-President Rod Donald told "Monthly Review" of January 1993 "I tend to think that New Zealand will tend towards centre left coalitions rather than centre right".

Incoming Labour President Maryan Street (a strong supporter of MMP) told Labour's 1993 Congress that an important part of her job would be preparing Labour for the post-1996 political landscape. "We cannot predict at this stage what the various players in the field are going to look like, so I don't know if the Alliance will still exist in it's current form...It may be a possibility in the future that the Left will have to look quite seriously at representation of a broad coalition of interests..."

In an interview with Robert Mannion of the Sunday Times of October 24th 1993, SPA leader, Bill Andersen, outlined his party's priorities and plans. According to Mannion, Andersen supported the Alliance and believed "the main issue now is to expand participatory democracy. Beginning with MMP..."

Mannion added that Andersen "would like to have seen Alliance/Labour accommodations in crucial electorates". And interestingly "They had a good meeting with Helen Clark and Alliance parliamentary candidate Laila Harre at the Trade Union Centre recently."

Harre a former Labour Party official, became General Secretary of the NLP, an Alliance cabinet minister and this year succeeded Bill Andersen as leader of the National Distribution Union.

Clark, of course shortly after, became leader of the Labour Party, in a coup described by Mike Moore as "almost Maoist".

Why did these two supposed political rivals meet members of NZ's most militant Marxist-Leninist Party? Was it to discuss their mutual interest in Nicaragua (Clark was there in '86, Harre in '87)? Or was it to discuss future "electoral agreements?"

Labour deputy leader Michael Cullen, was interviewed in the Socialist Unity Party's "Tribune" of March the 18th. The piece was entitled "Progressive Forces Should Dominate Under MMP""

In it, Cullen laid out his thoughts on a Labour/Alliance coalition.

The similarities;
"The frustrating thing about relations with the Alliance is that if you talk about what we think as a just society, we're not very far apart at all"... "The basic instincts of people in Labour, are pretty much the same I suspect, as the basic instincts of those who are Alliance activists"

The barriers;
"If we are capable of recognising that simple truth, and if the Alliance is capable of recognising that there is no route backwards....that there are certain fundamental constraints of being part of an international economy that we actually can't opt out of...once they've accepted that, then I think we've got an awful lot to talk about"

The goal;
"And we ought to be able to form basically a centre-left coalition which should be the dominant force under MMP for the foreseeable future".

To achieve this near monopoly, Cullen expected there would be increasing contact between Labour and Alliance people"to establish networks, to establish common ground, establish confidence"

However the voting public would not know about this coalition government until well after they had cast their votes. "One doubts that we're going to have formal talks before an election"..."but hopefully the sharp edges will have worn away enough that after an election we'll be able to talk seriously and quickly in order to be able to form an effective government"

The drive for MMP came from across the political spectrum. These ranged from the Christian Heritage Party, NZ First and even the odd Nat, to the Communist Party, Workers Power and virtually every other socialist sect in the country.

The main thrust came however from the Alliance, the CTU, the ERC and elements of the Labour Party.

Standing behind these organisations were NZ's two major Marxist-Leninist parties, Ken Douglas' SUP and Bill Andersen's, SPA.

It is clear that these groups intended to influence any likely coalition that arose from combinations of the NLP, Labour, Greens or Mana Motuhake.

Clearly MMP has not yet achieved everything that Douglas and Andersen thought it would. It did however, produce a Labour/Alliance coalition and damn near produced a Labour/Greens one. It has also brought Marxists like Matt Robson, Keith Locke and Sue Bradford into parliament

It has enabled ACT to get a foothold, but in my opinion has benefited the socialists more than the pro freedom forces.

Labour has effectively absorbed the values and many of the members of the SUP. Bill Andersen is dead and the Alliance nearly so. However his SPA is working with Matt McCarten, the Socialist Workers organisation and others to form a new leftist movement to replace the Alliance. Marxist=Leninists are nothing, if not long term, strategic thinkers.

MMP, was sold to the public as a means of making politicians more "accountable". It could yet produce future coalitions that would give tiny Marxist sects, the power to influence policy affecting more than 4,000,000 NZers. It will certainly give NZ more Marxist MPs and more socialist governments than this great country deserves.

Freedom, Responsibility and ACT on Campus

Serendipity. I was just about to post on the subject "Freedom with Responsibilty" when I read Andy Davies' comment on my last post. Andy was commenting on my description of new ACT on Campus president, Helen Simpson as a "social liberal".

This is what Andy, a committed Christian and "classic liberal" has to say about "social liberals".

"However, over the years I have become wary of anyone who calls themselves a social liberal. It seems that in advocating social freedoms they overlook the responsibility that goes with it. They are then no different to the socialists who advocate wishy washy anything goes type of liberalism that promotes freedom with impunity. This provides yet another excuse to redistribute wealth which is why wishy washy liberalism is so beloved by socialists. Consequences of actions should remain with those who cause them, anything else is actually socially repressive. Classical liberalism however requires freedom with responsibility."

The reason I was about to post, was a well reasoned speech at the ACT on Campus retreat by Lincoln Uni's, P.J. White.

In a discussion on how far AOC should go on promoting socially liberal ideas, P.J. made the point very strongly that if we're going to talk about social freedoms, we also have to talk about the responsibilities they bring. He emphasised very strongly that the "two must go in tandem"

P.J. used the drug example. Many AOCers would like to see marijuana and other drugs legalised, as do many Greens. The difference as P.J. pointed out, is that true liberals believe people should bear the cost of any arising health problems. The socialists want the freedom and everybody wears the cost.

I look askance at those who say that ACT has more in common with socialists on social issues than they do with conservatives.

To me the key word is responsibility. True liberals,libertarians and enlightened conservatives all share a degree of belief in personal responsibility and individual liberty.

Socialists say they believe in freedom, yet abhor personal responsibilty, so that any "freedom" they achieve will be very temporary.

I had this debate more than once with Bruce Logan. What Bruce would call "liberals", I would call socialists. AOC is full of true liberals. They very well understand that freedom cannot exist without responsibility.

I shouldn't really be talking on behalf of AOC, but I think I'm accurate in my analysis. Perhaps someone could back me up, or tear a few strips off me?