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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Cameron's Capitalist Question-Libraries and Liberty

Cameron from the Free Papua Movement has a question that raises some interesting issues.

Hi Trev. Today I was in the Auckland University library reading old NZ left-wing publications from the 1990's. It is a hobby that I think you and I share...

I've been thinking about the issue in terms of economics. I doubt many people share our hobby, so in the free market place I doubt anyone would bother carefully archiving old communist publications to put on public display for research.

In a libertarian society how would you deal with these problems, ie keeping services going that aren't at all commercially viable but are definitely positive, such as libraries? I'm sure you've at some point utilised a public library for your profiles of leftist activists.

This is a very important issue Cameron. The state carries out many activities on the grounds that private sector is allegedly not able or willing to do.

Roading, libraries, parks and playgrounds, dams, art galleries and stadiums are often put in this category. The reality is that all could be and should be, done much better by the private sector.

There are two important points here.

Firstly in a libertarian society, not everything has to be motivated by money. Many on the left assume that "capitalist" societies are motivated solely by the accumulation of physical capital.

In fact, many libertarians, including myself, are far more motivated by ideas and concepts than we are by material wealth. In other words, we seek intellectual capital, or "wealth".

I don't pose this as a self proclaimed virtue by the way, I should be a lot more money motivated than I am.

A free society is a wealthy society.

Scholars and philosophers have traditionally been supported by the "nobility" or the taxpayer. This poses obvious limitations. In a wealthy capitalist society, the options for our academics are much wider. The universities will be much more richly endowed. They will be able to support a much wider base of academic, or non commercial research.

To be fair though, they will continually look for ways to "capitalise" on even the most arcane research topics. This will be a good thing, as obscure information will become more readily available to tiny "niche markets".

Libraries will be even more extensive than they are today. Political scientists and historians will study all strains of political thought. Universities, political parties, city libraries etc will all hold extensive periodical collections.

Private research foundations will spring up. Some will be commercially focused, some will not. Universities will compete among themselves for the reputation of having the best research libraries. Historical societies might contract to libraries to hold collections for them, in return for a share of the "profits" when researchers pay a nominal fee to access them.

Public figures may even sell their papers to libraries, rather than donating them as at present. Maybe much valuable historical material will be saved, rather than simply thrown out by ignorant relatives.

The possibilities, commercial, non commercial and semi-commercial are endless.

Secondly, capitalism has given us huge advances in information storage and sharing technology. More and more obscure information is being put online.

Some of this will remain free, some will be charged for. I can envisage, happily paying $20 to download the complete collection of "People's Voice" from 1940 to 1950.

You might be surprised Cameron, by just how many more people might be willing to help share in and finance our hobby.

All this information will have value of some kind, to some people. Let market forces free in our libraries and who knows what our information entrepeneurs will come up with.

Information, used correctly, is more valuable than any material item. Smart business people realise this, often better than do academics.

Freedom, technology and the profit motive may make our minority hobby, much more accessible, even than it is today.

Information is far too valuable to be monopolised by the state.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Repeat After Me-Russia is Our Friend...Russia is Our Friend...Russia is Our Friend.....

From Islamic Republic News Agency (Iran)

Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei on Sunday stressed the great importance of Tehran- Moscow cooperation and said the two sides can serve as partners in the political, economic, regional and international domains.

Receiving Russian Security Council Secretary Igor Ivanov, who submitted him a message from Russian President Vladimir Putin, Ayatollah Khamenei said that Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes all-out expansion of relations with Russia.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran welcomes all-out promotion of relations with Russia, believing that capacity for expansion of ties between the two sides is higher than expected," said the Supreme Leader, while voicing pleasure with Putin's message.

Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran and Russia hold half of the world's total gas reserves, adding, "The two countries through mutual cooperation can establish an organization of gas exporting countries like OPEC."

Referring to conditions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, and Lebanon as well as to the US unilateralism, Ayatollah Khamenei stressed, "Despite its huge attempts, the US has not yet been able to materialize its goals in the region. Active cooperation between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia on regional issues within a defined framework can be effective in foiling the US ambitious plans."

Pointing to Putin's emphasis in his message on continued cooperation between Tehran and Moscow in all domains, especially in completing and commissioning Bushehr nuclear power plant, Ayatollah Khamenei hoped the two sides would speed up implementation of their commitments and obligations.

On his part, Ivanov said that Moscow is seriously determined to expand ties with Tehran in all fields.

He said the Russian president believes the two countries should use all their capacities for promotion of strategic relations and cooperation both at bilateral, regional and international levels.

"National Question" 14 The 1975 Maori Land March

Several of those involved in the 1974 Communist Party/Maori delegation to China were active in the following year's, Maori Land March.

In 1975, a new Maori organisation "Te Matakite o Aoteroa" (TMA) organised a huge land march to demand the restoration of "Maori Lands". The march started in the far north and traveled the North Island, ending at Parliament Buildings in Wellington.

The marchers wanted Maori control and management of remaining Maori land.

The ubiquitous Ranginui Walker played a key role, as he modestly revealed in the Marxist journal "Sites" of Summer '88

"I attended meetings of the movement which subsequently adopted the name Matakite (the Seers). Basically I went along as an observer so as to be well informed on the movement... But... I could not adopt the role of passive observer. As a person with skills that are much needed in the Maori world, I was impelled by circumstances to write the Matakite Manifesto as the legitimate quid pro quo for my presence at meetings."

Other key activists involved included the group's first vice presidents, Tom Poata and Eva Rickard, as well as Dun Mihaka, Ripeka Evans, Titewhai Harawira, Syd and Hana Jackson, Barnie Pikari and Bay of Plenty, Communist Party leaders, Bernie Hornfeck and Willie Wilson.

The organisation was in many ways an extension of Nga Tamatoa, but this was kept in the background.

As Nga Tamatoa activist Hana Jackson told feminist magazine, "Broadsheet";

"The idea for the Land March came from Nga Tamatoa, from Titewhai, Syd and me. We realised that we could only unite Maoridom by having someone with mana lead it. Whina lived just around the corner. So we asked her. Nga Tamatoa decided to play a low key role because the media had given us such a bad image."

Nga Tamatoa members active in the march included Ted Nia, Rawiri Ruru, Ripeka Evans and Syd and Hana Jackson.

The march became one of the big news items of 1975. Thousands participated, many of whom were, surprisingly enough, Marxist-Leninists. Whina Cooper complained to the media about "communists" trying to take over her Land March.

Known Communist Party members, or sympathisers participating in the march included Willie Wilson, Bernie Hornfeck, Tihema Galvin, Hone Tuwhare and Jimmy O'Dea.

A few months after the Land March, TMA secretary Tom Poata and Nga Tamatoa activists Rawiri Ruru and Tame Iti, tried to set up a Maori Tent Embassy outside Parliament.

They wrote to Chairman Mao, British newspapers and world leaders to intervene in behalf of Maori land rights. As usual, Poata warned of "real violence, bullets and bloodshed over land issues".

Whina Cooper wisely disassociated herself from these revolutionaries.

Google Pays Price for Being Evil

From the Guardian

Google's decision to censor its search engine in China was bad for the company, its founders admitted yesterday.

Google, launched in 1998 by two Stanford University dropouts, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, was accused of selling out and reneging on its "Don't be evil" motto when it launched in China in 2005. The company modified the version of its search engine in China to exclude controversial topics such as the Tiananmen Square massacre or the Falun Gong movement, provoking a backlash in its core western markets.

Asked whether he regretted the decision, Mr Brin admitted yesterday: "On a business level, that decision to censor... was a net negative."

The company has only once expressed any regret and never in as strong terms as yesterday. Mr Brin said the company had suffered because of the damage to its reputation in the US and Europe.

Last year in a speech in Washington Mr Brin admitted the company had been forced to compromise its principles to operate in China. At the time, he also hinted at a potential reversal of its stance in the country, saying "perhaps now the principled approach makes more sense".

From what was said yesterday a policy change seemed unlikely in the near future. Co-founder Larry Page said: "We always consider what to do. But I don't think we as a company should be making decisions based on too much perception."

Drug Freeland Part 9 The Summary

In my previous posts in this series I have tried to show the means by which a free society can confront and limit the problem of drug abuse.

I have tried to show that a free society can deal with destructive behaviour, far more effectively than can the state.

There are many other angles that could be covered but I hope I've made my point.

New Freeland will legalise all personal vices, but the citizenry will be under no obligation to tolerate, endorse or support them.

Any New Freelander will have ready access to any drug he or she chooses, or can afford. No state agency will in any way interfere.

However other New Freelanders will have many ways to express their disapproval. They will be able to attempt to turn the drug fiend from his chosen path through persuasion, ostracism, withdrawl of material support, or legal action if the abuser's actions intrude into their space.

Drug abuse in New Freeland will be a very unnattractive activity indeed.

I hope this series gets people thinking.

I once rejected libertarianism as being too willing to tolerate evil. Now I see my mistake.

Libertarianism is the tough but true option, the real long term way to improve ourselves and society.

Libertarians believe in confronting evil directly, not relying on the state to do it for them.

Many conservatives, or classic liberals believe that libertarians want a society where irresponsible self indulgence is the highest ideal. While they often agree with us on economics, they are horrified at the thought of legalising dangerous drugs, the sex industry, gambling and other vices.

I believe a truly free society will do for moral standards and personal responsibility what free markets do for business.

Freedom raises standards. Free markets raise business standards. Free societies raise moral standards.

A free society will not be awash with drugs and vice. Those things will exist, just as they do now. The difference will be that private citizens will have a whole range of effective tools to deal with them and minimise their damage.

Human societies are improved, not by government bans, or ever heavier legislation, but by increased levels of personal responsibility.

You cannot force people to be responsible. Responsibility can only be chosen.

The society that maximises choice, will therefore also maximise responsibilty.

I hope I have made my case clear. Freedom will do more to reduce drug abuse and other social problems, than any amount of state interference.

Liberalising drug laws on their own however, could have a big negative impact on the libertarian cause.

Better to prioritise freeing up the more positive aspects of our society, so that when drugs are fully liberalised, society is well eqipped to deal with the results.

Drug Freeland 8 No State Control of Chemical Substances

Part 7 of Drug Freeland dealt with the establishment of a legal system that treats people as fully responsible for their actions. The next step we should take before legalising drugs is to get the government out of the chemical market.

Number Seven. The Elimination of State Classification of Chemical Substances

Currently the state, in it's eternal wisdom is the chief regulator of which chemical substances an individual may use and in what manner.

The state classifies substances as "good" or "bad" and makes laws accordingly. Certain substances, such as marijuana or LSD are banned outright. Others such as alcohol and tobacco are regulated and heavily taxed. Others, some of which are totally mind bending are subsidised and given to doctors to dish out at will.

Now there are moves afoot to reclassify various vitamins and minerals as "drugs" and to regulate their use accordingly.

New medicines take years and hundreds of millions of dollars to approve. Alternative and traditional medicines face regulation all over the world. Chemical substances are here for man's benefit. Everywhere you look, governments are dictating which combinations of molecules should be used by whom and how.

In New Freeland this will end. Any individual will be able to use or ingest any chemical substance he or she may desire as long as any harmful effects extend no further than their own body or boundary fence.

People may use glue for sniffing, mending or cooking. You may use hemp for smoking, rope making or fuel. You may fill your body with vitamins, heroin or plaster of paris.

Some people will poison themselves, but others may find cures for cancer, constipation and the common cold.

There will be free competition in the chemical market. Some companies will develop compounds to enhance health, restore balance to bodily systems and improve quality of life. Others will push products that are designed to make you a temporary psychotic. Which will you invest in?

Socialism in Venezuela

From La Prensa Latina

Caracas, Jan 28 The Venezuelan government on Sunday inaugurated 25 centers to train producers on the new socialist concepts it plans to implement in the economy during the 2007-2013 term.

In his regular radio program "Alo, Presidente," Chavez stated the approach is part of the new dynamic of the National Institute for Educative Training (INCE), which aims to get away from capitalist concepts.

During the program, the president toured the Jose Laurencio Silva Socialist Training Center, in the state of Cojedes, where experts are taught to promote cattle raising, with the support of Spanish members of cooperatives.

Chavez warned the people to pay no attention to those who try to distort the socialist approach of his government, and affirmed this is the only model able to develop the potential of each region.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

"National Question" 13 China's Shining Example

Nga Tamatoa and the Polynesian Panthers were Maoist leaning groups, inspired by the ideals of socialist China.

In September 1973 the then pro-Chinese, Communist Party of NZ was sent a delegation of Maori workers to visit the People's Republic.

The five delegates were:

Ama Rauhihi-Polynesian Panthers Minister of Culture and full time community worker "with the long term object to politicise and mobilize the community towards a new NZ that is suited for all people."

Tame Iti-Nga Tamatoa

Willie Wilson-A Murupara based timberworker, unionist and Communist Party member

Hone Tuwhare-A poet and writer. A member of the Communist Party in the'50s, who re-joined the Party in 1973

Timi Te Maipi-A Huntly miner and unionist.

The purpose of the visit was to visit Chinese minority groups. It was clearly designed to show the Maori delegates that socialist China had solved its minorities problems, while "capitalist" NZ was still oppressing its indigenous peoples.

The CPNZ's "Peoples Voice" of September 12 1973 published a photo of the delegation and commented;

"Under the old regime in China, the many minorities fared badly. Han chauvinism was fostered both under the Empire and the Kuomingtang as a political weapon to keep the non-Han Chinese in subjection and to exploit them to the full.

Only with Liberation did they come into their own and achieve full freedom and the right to settle their own affairs. All this has happened in recent living memory and the visiting Maoris should receive a vivid impression of the difference for minority peoples who had once lived under a corrupt class system and now live in one where the socialist system insists on equal rights for all."

According to Hone Tuwhare:

"We were guests in a low key way of the government of the PRC, with all expenses paid by them...Our itinerary was worked out mainly to have look at racial minorities.

They had our trip planned, with the exception of Thibet, to see minority states in northern China...(we)visited Soochow, Shanghai, Peking, Sian, Yenan and several cities in the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia."

On his return from China, Willie Wilson gave an interview to the Victoria University student paper "Salient". It was reprinted in the Maoist organ, "The Paper" in June 1974.

Wilson was described as Vice-chmn of Te Kotahitanga O Ngati Whakaue, a HART member and involved in "race relations work in Kaingaroa". No mention was made of his Communist Party membership.

Wilson told "Salient"

"Before I went to China I never had this hard-line attitude. I thought that this society was a bit racist but not totally... after being to China and seeing how the minorities are treated, how they are permitted to organise and run their own affairs, I was convinced. . . Minorities in China today enjoy a far more fortunate existence than Maoris in NZ".

Wilson went on to be one of NZ's most enthusiastic racial activists until he left the Communist Party around 1988.

Tame Iti is probably NZ's best known Maori activist. He was a member of the Communist Party for many years, as least as late as 1988.

Hone Tuwhare helped found the radical "Maori Writers and Artists Association" and participated in the Maori Land March of 1975. He was expelled from the Communist Party in 1978, but remains a socialist to this day.

Timi Te Maipi went on to be active in CORSO and marae based politics in the Waikato. In the late '90s he was electorate secretary for NZ First MP, Tuku Morgan.

The Chinese were probably quite pleased with their investment.

Red Stars Over Washington

It was the '70s all over again at the communist organised anti war rally in Washington DC yesterday.

From Bloomberg

Jan. 27 Anti-war protesters from across the nation including Jane Fonda rallied in the shadow of the Capitol building in Washington today to demand that Congress block President George W. Bush's new plan to send more troops to Iraq and withdraw those already there.

The demonstration, the first national peace rally since voters gave Democrats a majority in the U.S. Congress in the November elections, drew tens of thousands of people. Among them were activists such as Jesse Jackson, politicians such as Representative Dennis Kucinich, an Ohio Democrat, active-duty soldiers and families with children serving in Iraq.

``I haven't spoken at an anti-war rally in 34 years because of lies about me that were used to hurt the anti-war movement,'' Academy Award-winning actress and fitness guru Fonda told the cheering crowd. Fonda was referring to the criticism that dogged her for decades for speaking against the Vietnam War from Hanoi in 1972 and being photographed seated at a North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun.

``But silence is no longer an option,'' Fonda said. ``Thank you so much for the courage to stand up to this mean-spirited and vengeful administration.''

From Fox News

Actor Sean Penn said lawmakers will pay a price in the 2008 elections if they do not take firmer action than to pass a nonbinding resolution against the war, the course Congress is now taking.

"If they don't stand up and make a resolution as binding as the death toll, we're not going to be behind those politicians," he said. Actors Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins also spoke.

The House Judiciary Committee chairman, Rep. John Conyers, threatened to use congressional spending power to try to stop the war. "George Bush has a habit of firing military leaders who tell him the Iraq war is failing," he said, looking out at the masses. "He can't fire you." Referring to Congress, the Michigan Democrat added: "He can't fire us.

"The founders of our country gave our Congress the power of the purse because they envisioned a scenario exactly like we find ourselves in today. Now only is it in our power, it is our obligation to stop Bush."

A Letter to Scott Hamilton and the Bedggoods

I've never met David and Janet Bedggood. The couple are Auckland academics and long time socialist activists.

They stand for pretty much everything I oppose politically. I have even mockingly profiled David Bedggood after he blamed Kiwi "boorishness" on the free market reforms of the '80s.

On Wednesday this week, David and Janet Bedggood's 29 year old son, Bruno, committed suicide.

David Bedggood posted this piece on Indymedia yesterday, in commemoration of his dead son.

I read this piece and nearly cried. I have first hand (seperate)experiences with both mental illness and suicide in my own family. I also have children. I considered writing a sympathetic sentence in the comments section, but thought it would probably be construed as insincere.

The Bedggood's lead a small socialist group, the Communist Workers Group. One of their members, Scott Hamilton, who is one of only two people ever to be banned from New Zeal, has used this sad occasion, to criticise both myself and the political philosophy I support.

I thought I would publish some of Scott's post, with some commentary from myself. The occasion of a young man's death is not a good time to make political points. However I think Scott's post presents a good opportunity to clear up some misunderstandings surrounding the motivations of both sides of the political divide.

From Scott Hamilton's "Reading the Maps"

Act vice-President and inveterate redbaiter Trevor Loudon recently used his blog to reveal the true reason for the existence of socialists. According to Trevor, we are victims of a mental illness which makes us crave power - as 'damaged people' we 'want to change the world to make ourselves fit in'.

The post Scott refers to is here.

Prejudice usually comes wrapped in ignorance. Few Islamophobes have ever chatted with a Muslim, and not many racists have stepped onto a marae. Trevor's words make it clear that he hasn't met many socialists. Far from from grasping at privilege and power, most socialists sacrifice time and money for beliefs that will, in New Zealand especially, do little to help them acquire political power or advance their careers.

Sorry Scott, but I have met many socialists. Some were obnoxious, but most were kind and decent people. As long as I didn't try to argue politics that is. I always try to seperate the personal from the political and value many people in my life who don't share my beliefs. I would suspect that I know far more socialists, than Scott knows ACT members or other libertarian leaning people.

I wish Trevor had come to one of the barbeques that the Anti Imperialist Coalition (AIC), the Auckland anti-war outfit I was involved in between the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, used to organise on a semi-regular basis.

Laugh if you like, but I reckon that the barbeque should be one of the building blocks of socialism in New Zealand. AIC barbeques were bastions of comradeship and free discussion. Had Trevor attended one, he would have found representatives of many of the innumerable tribes of the left - Trotskyites, anarchists, Maoists, greenies, Christian socialists, Islamolefties, even one or two social democrats - sharing beer and sausages and discussing everything from the prospects for impeaching George Bush to the dismal performance of the Black Caps (some things never change). Those power-hungry zealots with building plans for that gulag at Waiorou in their pockets must have gone to the Act party in the next suburb.

I have accused the left of many things on my blog and elsewhere; ignorance, power lust, excusing tyranny, dishonesty, covert behaviour, criminality, thuggery, even treason. I have never accused the left of not caring. I think most leftists do care about ideas, about ethics and most of all about people. Scott's mistake here is to think that others don't care as passionately about their fellow man as he does.

There is no monopoly on compassion Scott. ACT people are revolutionaries for a reason. You don't join a 2% party like ACT, or the wider libertarian cause, for power or social advantage.

You join because you have a fire in your belly to liberate people from the evils you see them subjected to. You spend your weekends delivering letters and your nights at meetings, so that your kids will live in a free and benevolent society.

Dave and Janet Bedggood make excellent examples of the real-life socialists that Trevor Loudon has so far avoided meeting. For more than thirty years, they have both been mainstays of the union movement and the activist left in Auckland and New Zealand. They have marched against both the Vietnam and Iraq wars, and a few in between; they stood with the protesters defending Bastion Point from Muldoon's troops, and joined the seabed and foreshore hikoi in 2004.

Their politics have led them to reject both wealth and glittering careers. Had they wanted to, both could have entered local or central government a long time ago, as their old colleagues Bruce Jesson and Matt Robson did after moving carefully to the right.

Dave, who has taught in the sociology department of the University of Auckland for three decades, could have joined the Princes St branch of the Labour Party, that traditional conveyor belt from university to parliament, and be sitting in Cabinet now alongside that former sociologist and reformed socialist Steve Maharey.

I do not doubt the Bedggood's commitment. I admire it. This is not the time to debate the rightness or the wrongness of their beliefs and actions. It is time to call a short truce.

I've always been struck by the stories of British and German soldiers exchanging presents and playing soccer, between the trenches, during the brief Christmas truces of WW1.

Such stories have always brought tears to my eyes. My eyes are blurring as I type.

Scott, please pass on my condolences to the Bedggoods for their tragic loss.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Drug Freeland 7 Establish Full Personal Responsibility in the Legal System

Part 6 of Drug Freeland dealt with the abolition of laws limiting private sector access to information-"privacy laws". The next step we should take before legalising drugs is to establish a legal system that treats people as fully responsible for their actions.

Number Six. The Establishment of Full Personal Responsibility in the Legal System

How many times have you read of some burglar, fraudster, basher or road hoon being given lenient treatment in the courts, "because my client has a serious drug problem, which he is working hard to overcome M'Lud"?

Our criminal justice system system is lenient in the extreme and it is often particularly soft on those who have chosen to make a lifestyle of ingesting toxic chemicals.

New Freeland's Justice system will be based totally on the premises of free will and personal responsibility. Drugs will be legal, and people will no doubt do stupid things under the influence. However in court they will be just as liable, as if they had committed the offence while stone cold "straight".

Judges will be required to judge the offence, not the the possible state of mind behind it (except where others may have contributed through provocation for instance).

So the young "boy racer" will know that if he takes LSD and drives his Mazda into a red dragon that turns out to be a phone box with a person inside, he will face murder charges.

The insanity defence will hopefully also be history. Certainly, knowingly taking drugs, becoming temporarily or permanently insane and committing an offence will be regarded as an act of evil by the courts and punished accordingly.

People incarcerated for crimes committed drugged may be able to earn treatment treatment while in prison, but will serve the full sentence regardless of outcome.

Likewise, any property damage committed while "under the influence" will be fully paid for by the perpetrator. If you prang into a $300,000 BMW while you're stoned/tripping/drunk you'll be paying it off (plus interest) at 40% of your gross income per week until it's finished.

Of course you might have insurance, but your policy will quite possibly have a "no cash for hash", or "no hope for dope" getout clause.

If drugs were legal, but we had a tough justice system, that held people to account for ALL their evil deeds, I believe this would make drug abuse a very unattractive option?

Insolent Prick Lists Labour's Sorry Offerings

Insolent Prick briefly profiles Labour's MPs and list.

It's pretty hard to find one who wasn't a teacher, unionist or teacher's unionist.

Them's can, do. Them's can't, teach. Them's can't teach, unionise. Them's can't unionise, lead country.

Friday, January 26, 2007

US Communists Organise Huge Anti-War Rally

It's widely accepted these days that the Vietnam War was lost, not Asia, but in the USA.

The huge anti War demos of the time gave the leftists and defeatists in the US government the "mandate" they needed to gift Vietnam to the communist forces.

The demos were of course organised by the Communist Party USA, the Socialist Workers Party and other allies of the North Vietnamese.

The US left has been using the same tactics with the Iraq War. Mass mobilisations in order to give their allies in the US Congress and Senate the "excuse" they need to close down the war effort.

This Saturday, the 27th of January, the US far left have organised what they hope will be the largest rally of the war.

From the Communist Party USA's Political Affairs


Peace March Expected to be Among Largest Since War Began, National Organization for Women, Labor Unions Mobilize Members
Buses and vans coming from 30 states and 111 Cities

Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, Reverend Jesse Jackson, Jr., Members of Congress, Military Families, and Soldiers to Speak

Americans angered by Bush's plans to escalate the Iraq war will flood the streets of Washington on Saturday, January 27, in a massive national peace march organized by United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ). Marchers will call on Congress to listen to the voters, not Bush, by using its power to end Bush's war and bring the troops home. The last three national marches organized by UFPJ each attracted between 300,000 and 500,000 people. has called upon its 3.2 million members to join UFPJ, describing the march as potentially a "turning point for the war" comparable to how "Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington in 1963 was a turning point in the fight for equality and civil rights." The National Organization for Women (N.O.W.) is mobilizing its chapters to participate. Local antiwar groups in cities and towns across the nation are mobilizing.

What is United for Peace and Justice?

According to UFPJ's website;

With more than 1,400 member groups under its umbrella, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) is the nation's largest grassroots peace and justice coalition. Since its founding in October 2002, UFPJ has spurred hundreds of protests and rallies around the country, including the two largest marches against the Iraq war.

Members of UFPJ include;

Black Radical Congress-founded by the Communist Party USA
Campus Greens
Committees of Correspondence for Democracy & Socialism -breakaway from Communist Party USA
Communist Party USA
Democratic Socialists of America-Marxist, works with Communist Party USA
Freedom Road Socialist Organization -Maoist
Freedom Socialist Party
Green Party of the United States
Institute for Policy Studies -founded by and linked to Communist Party USA
International Socialist Organization -Trotskyist
League of Revolutionaries for a New America
Left Turn
National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression- Communist Party USA front
Lawyers Guild -founded by Communist Party USA
National Network on Cuba
National Youth & Student Peace Coalition-led by Communist Party USA member
Progressive Democrats of America -works with Communist Party USA
Socialist Alternative-Trotskyist
Socialist Party USA -Marxist
US Peace Council -Communist Party USA front
Veterans For Peace -Communist Party USA aligned, probable front
Young Communist League -Communist Party USA youth wing
Young Democratic Socialists of America-radical socialist
Z Magazine and ZNET-radical socialist

Is there a pattern here?

Who leads United for Peace and Justice? The two main leaders of the organisation are;

Leslie Cagan

Cagan is co-chair of United for Peace and Justice. She is also co-chair of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism-formed in 1992 as a breakaway group from the Communist Party USA.

Her CCDS bio, describes her thus;

From the Vietnam war to racism at home, from nuclear disarmament to lesbian/gay liberation, from fighting sexism to working against U.S. intervention. Leslie has put hundreds of thousands of people in the streets in many of the country's largest mobilizations. Ending seven years as Director of the Cuba Information Project, Cagan coordinated the largest U.S. delegation to Cuba for the World Festival of Youth and Students in 1997.

Judith LeBlanc

LeBlanc is the other co-chair of United for Peace and Justice. She is also National vice chair of the Communist Party USA and chair of the party's Peace and Solidarity Commission.

This commission is charged with co-ordinating "peace" activity within the US and laising with foreign organisations. For example LeBlanc represented GFPJ at the Japanese Communist Party organised World Conference against A and H Bombs, in Nagasaki in August 2003.

Of course, like all communist parties, the CPUSA is not anti-war; it is anti "right wing" war. The war is being used to help bring about a change of government in the US. LeBlanc explicitly states this
in a report to the CPUSA's National Committee of June 24th 2006.

This is worth reading in its entirety. It demonstrates just how much influence the Communist Party USA has on the "peace" movement and the US Democratic Party.

Here are some extracts;

I will discuss two points we, the Party and Left, need to address in the next months: 1) the need for an active, vibrant peace movement in the lead up to Election Day, and 2) Party District and Club initiatives to strengthen the impact of the peace movement in defeating the right in November.

After the past few weeks, the peace movement has a running start. We have political momentum to encourage both new and incumbent candidates to speak out against the war and challenge the rightwing Republicans.

The media spin has been that the Democrats are split on the war. The real story is that 85% of the Democrats in Congress voted for withdrawal and are in step with the majority public opinion. Eight months ago, two Democratic senators were for withdrawal; two months ago it was four. This past week 39 Democrats in the Senate voted for withdrawal and the need for non-military support for the reconstruction of Iraq.

The debate in the Congress and the shift among the Democrats is breathtaking. The peace movement is a movement that must make the links between the war policies and the domestic.

The peace movement is making progress in turning the politics of protest into a real political shift for ending the occupation.

As the Republicans make the defense of the war in Iraq the centerpiece of the midterm elections, the peace movement response must be targeted and vigorous. The highest priorities are helping elect Democratic and peace candidates....

Linking political action with building a vibrant movement is a critical contribution of the Communists and the left.

The movement is also critical to generating excitement on the streets for defeating the right. The main obstacle to empowering the peace majority is that over 50% of the people don’t vote! Mass demonstrative actions and educational work can activate the stay-at-home-vote.

The movement’s role is to respond to the daily stream of war mongering and new rationales for the occupation and to guard against new preemptive strikes against Iran, Venezuela, and Cuba or on the Korean peninsula.

The movement’s efforts in the midterm elections are geared to defeating the Republicans in November and quickly moving into action with the new Congress. No Honeymoon. We need to help develop tactics that result in a more organized, stronger, broader movement post election.

As a result of protests and an emphasis on Congressional pressure campaigns in the years since the Presidential election, the movement has had a big impact on the political terrain of the midterm elections. Think about it. We’ve shifted the position of the Democratic Party presidential candidate on the war. Kerry now believes that his vote in support of the war was the worst vote he has cast in his Senate career.

Now is not the time to sit out the elections, its time to step up! That’s the spirit the Party must bring into the peace movement organizing.

The peace movement needs more Congresspeople like Kerry, Feingold, Boxer, Inouye and Menendez, who are willing to stand firm and fight for a deadline for withdrawal.

Either way, the peace movement must see it’s main task between now and November is to shift the majority in Congress away from the Party of war. And then post election to exert the power of protest and congressional pressure campaigns to bring the troops home.

We are active in a cross-section of peace groups and local and national coalitions. Our contribution can be great.

First, Party peace activists discuss on District and Club levels a list of peace activists to meet with to discuss our outlook and assessment of the elections and ways to move peace groups into action. We are also doing this on the national level.

Although not all of our activists openly represent the Party in coalitions, it is still important to have these discussions with other activists.

The end objectives of our involvement in peace movement activity leading up to the midterm elections is:

1) To broaden the circle of people in the peace movement who are familiar with the Communist Party’s outlook on the elections and the need to defeat the ultra-right.

2) To deepen the understanding of the role of movements in political empowerment.

3) To strengthen basis for recruiting new Party members.

4) To energize the peace movement with tactics that move mass protest and majority opposition to the occupation into political action.

The Democratic Party and its candidates are only as strong politically and economically as the mass movements behind them. The greater participation of the Party and Left, the more effective the movements are, the more likely we can deliver a blow to the Right in November.

With our collective efforts in the targeted congressional races and our mobilizations in the streets and in the halls of Congress, the mid term elections can become a turning point in ending the occupation of Iraq.

Saturday's march may not just be a turning point for the Iraq War, but may effect the outcome of the 2008 US presidential elections and the political direction of the entire West.

Who says the communists have no influence in the US anymore?

Why a Capital Gains Tax on Property Would Hurt the Poor

In this post I criticised Alliance Party tax spokesman Jim Flynn for advocating a Capital Gains Tax on property to dampen down the housing market. Jim thinks this will make houses more affordable.

Alliance Party member and blogger, Joe Hendren took me to task.

I said "While there is no doubt that tax free capital gains on property does distort the market, it is one of the few areas in which the average Kiwi battler can make some real money."

Joe said Trev are you seriously making the claim the 'average kiwi battler' owns more than one residential property? That is simply not credible when so many kiwis are struggling to own their first home, let alone an investment property on top of this. Are you sure you didn't mean to say 'average kiwi banker' instead :)

The proposal, may I remind you, is for a captial gains tax on all BUT the family home.

Here's my reply;

Joe-several points. Yes, I personally know many people who leverage off their home to buy a rental property. It is very common. Most of them are not bankers, but wage and salary earners.

A CGT will hurt these people very badly.

Secondly, are you seriously trying to tell me that once introduced a CGT would not be applied to the family home eventually?

If the second house market is hammered, people will indeed invest elsewhere.

Its my bet however that most will put more money into their first home.

They will buy bigger and better, trying to get untaxed Capital Gain in the one area left to them.

Guess what? This will drive up the cost of family homes. It will also decimate the rental market as people dump their second properties.

A shortage of rental properties will arise, having two effects.

Firstly rents will climb and secondly house prices will further rise as some more affluent renters choose to buy a home.

This will bring on calls for applying CGT to family homes as well-to make them "affordable".

Guess what will happen to the low income people, that the Alliance professes to champion?

They will languish at the bottom of the heap, trapped in shit accomodation, with no prospect of ever buying a home.

The rich will find away around the tax, the middle clas will be weakened and the poor will be even poorer.

Is that what you really want Joe?

I've got no doubt that most people on the left really do want to help the poor, but good intentions alone aren't enough.

You need to take reality into account.

Communist Leader Urges Crackdown on Internet

Tell me again why NZ should have anything to do with this tyrant.

From the official Chinese Government website

Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday called on government officials to promote and better regulate rapidly developing Internet services in China.

Hu made the call at a study session of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of Communist Party of China (CPC), saying officials should "actively and creatively nurture a healthy online culture" that meets public demand.

"Whether we can cope with the Internet is a matter that affects the development of socialist culture, the security of information, and the stability of the state," Hu said, asking officials to use the Internet as a platform to spread healthy information.

Officials at all levels should facilitate the development of the Internet while improving the administration of web technologies, content and network security, said Hu.

Hu asked officials to become more knowledgeable and to improve their ability to administer the Internet.

Hu said the government should use advanced technologies to better guide public opinions voiced through the Internet.

"We should spread more information that is in good taste, and promote online products that can represent the grand Chinese culture," Hu said.

China's Internet population jumped by almost 24 percent last year to reach 137 million, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

Nearly one in 10 Chinese have Internet access and many regularly go online to read news, chat with friends, shop, and engage in debates.

The report also showed the number of Chinese bloggers reached 20.8 million at the end of last year, of whom 3.15 million are active authors.

The rising number of bloggers also caused problems and disputes. In 2006, blog piracy, infringement and "irresponsible" publications prompted the government to commission a study on the implementation of real-name blogs.

China Internet Association Councillor Hu Qiheng said the government was considering new ways to supervise blogs, requiring bloggers to identify themselves when they register, even if they write under a pseudonym.

The Ministry of Culture in December ordered all music distributors to register and apply for approval from cultural authorities to distribute imported music products on the Internet.

It also required online music based on music products copied or composed by netizens for non-profit purposes to be monitored more closely, saying some products had poor quality, or content that abused ethnic traditions or affected social stability.

New Zeal Would we put up with this tyranny here? How long would any Kiwi political blogger survive under such conditions? Why are we cuddling up to a country that treats its own people with such contempt?

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Another Stupid Socialist Idea From What's Left of the Alliance

From Indymedia

The Alliance Party says a capital gains tax could help people priced out of the overheated property market.

"A capital gains tax on all but the family home would be a significant step to make buying a house more affordable in the medium term," says Alliance tax spokesperson Professor Jim Flynn.

"Listening to the response of National and Labour to this issue, it seems they are both relying on market forces to fix the housing problem that market forces created."

New Zeal While there is no doubt that tax free capital gains on property does distort the market, it is one of the few areas in which the average Kiwi battler can make some real money.

ACT has a better answer-drop taxes on everything else, so that people can make money in other areas. That will even things out and get the economy moving without unnecessary pain.

Prof Jim also reveals his ignorance in blaming high house prices on "market forces".

If Jim really knew his history (he was a Pol Sci professor at Otago for aeons), he would know that market forces tend to lower prices by increasing competition.

The main reasons that houses are so expensive are;

Local councils are restricting land supply in a misguided effort to stop "urban sprawl"

The Resource Management Act and its associated compliance costs, adds tens of thousands of dollars to virtually every new house built.

That's socialism Jim, not "market forces".

By the way, is Jim a socialist?

Well back in the '60s, Jim was a civil rights activist in the Southern USA and a committed member of the Socialist Party USA, a strongly Marxist leaning outfit.

Later in NZ he was very active in the anti Vietnam War movement, the anti nuke movement and the Labour Party. He was even a foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Norman Kirk for a while.

Flynn was a founder of the New Labour Party and the Alliance.

He is author of five books, most recently "How To Defend Humane Ideals".

Jim Flynn has been profiled in Scientific American, reported in Newsweek, and awarded Otago University's Medal for Distinguished Career Research.

Just proves you can be smart in some areas and sadly lacking in others.

The Trials of Adopting Out in NZ

My wife and I successfully adopted two amazing children a couple of years ago. Our experience with Child Youth and Family was very positive and we are rapt with the result.

I am reprinting extracts of an article from the controversial website CYFWatch, not out of sour grapes, or emnity, but because I'd like more couples to have the positive experiences we have had.

There are fewer than 100 adoptions of Kiwis by Kiwis per year. Many of those are inter-family adoptions, so stranger to stranger adoption is extremely rare. Thirty years ago there were 4,000 per annum.

The article below gives you some idea why figures have deteriated so and what might be done to improve things.

As I mentioned yesterday, my teenage daughter found herself unexpectedly pregnant last year and decided that it would be in the best interests of the child, herself and some childless couple that an adoption be organised.

Now I have to say that this was a very brave and selfless decision on her part, in an era when adoptions have fallen to an all-time low and there's almost a stigma surrounding anyone who'd give up their child in this way.

However, there's just no way that a 19-year-old, in the middle of her education and without any job or other independent means of support could really give a child the opportunities and quality parenting that such kids need to grow up as positive members of society -- and she knew this.

My partner and I were in no position to contribute to the upbringing of such a child but towards the end of the pregnancy, we became aware (through friends) of a couple who would make ideal adoptive parents.

Now this would seem to be a win-win-win situation for the baby, my daughter and the otherwise childless couple involved.

This couple came highly recommended by friends and after examining their own situation and establishing that they were good people who'd simply been dealt a tough hand by mother nature, everyone appeared happy.

What's more, this couple had already applied to adopt children and had thus been carefully vetted by the relevant authorities -- what could go wrong?

Well the answer to that was (of course) CYF.

We figured that the best way to handle the whole matter was for the adoptive parents to roll up to the hospital during the delivery and take the child home with them as soon as it was declared fit and healthy.

This would avoid the situation where the mother's hormones kick in and subsequently create a strong bonding emotion with the child.

But CYF said no.

Their "policy", we were told, was that the birth mother should look after the child for a period of almost two weeks before it could be handed over to the adoptive parents.

Now this seemed utterly stupid to all concerned. Why force a birth mother into the situation where she will inevitably form a strong bond with the child before they are separated? Why make the adoptive parents wait such an interminable length of time with the threat that the birth-mother will be overwhelmed by hormones and bonding to the point where she changes her mind.

It should be mentioned right now that there is no law that forbids the adoptive parents from collecting the child from the delivery room, none at all. It's quite legal for them to do so -- but it's CYF "policy" that this must never happen.

When I asked CYF what would happen if we allowed the adoptive parents to do this the threats started rolling out.

If my daughter handed over the child in this way, CYF would oppose the adoption and a placement order would be denied. The child would be taken from the adoptive parents and placed into a home of CYF's selection.

This was made extremely clear -- if you don't adhere to our "policy" (which is *not* the law) then the child, your daughter and the adoptive parents will pay the price.

At this stage I asked why this was CYF policy.

We were told that it was because the mother needed a reasonable period of time in which to change her mind after the birth.

I pointed out that right now (before the birth) my daughter was thinking rationally, reasonably and logically. Whether that frame of mind would persist after many hours of labour and a flood of hormones was unpredictable - and that being made to care for that child over a two-week period would almost certainly confuse and complicate issues to the point where her decision-making abilities may well be compromised.

Was this in the best interests of the child?

Indeed, I asked just that question -- and got this rather stunning response:

"The United Nations has declared that the best place for a child is with its parents and if that's not possible, with family. If that's not possible then it's with someone of their own race in their own country and if that's not possible, it's adoption to a foreign country".

What the hell?

I asked why the CYF person was telling me what the UN was deciding was best for my daughter and her soon to be born child.

She repeated this little bit of canned prose "The United Nations has declared..."

Yes, it was brick-wall time!

So I asked to speak to her supervisor.

Exactly the same "I'm sorry but this is our policy and you have no choice" attitude was encountered.

I then moved further up the chain...

You guessed it -- those I'd spoken to earlier were 100% correct, this is CYF policy. Even though you may be legally entitled to hand over the child at the delivery room, it's against our policy and we will take the child if you do.

I also asked whether it would be possible for someone else to look after the child for those first couple of weeks prior to hand-over.

That would be fine I was told, it's only the (already approved) adoptive parents who couldn't do this without breaching CYF policy.

"So *anyone* else can look after the child? Even someone we just picked at random off the street?"

"Yes, that's right -- although I wouldn't recommend that" was the reply.

Hang on a minute. According to CYF policy, I could haul some potential paedophile or murderer off the street, hand over my daughter's child for two weeks and leave them to care for it -- and that's okay with CYF.

It's no wonder so many of our most defenseless kids have been abused or slaughtered while in CYF's "care" if this is their attitude.

I should mention that all during this time, we had another CYF worker trying to convince my daughter to keep her child and go on the DPB, like so many other young solo mothers.

"Why not keep the child, the government will pay you a good benefit and you can bring it up yourself?" was the message being regularly delivered here.

I thought CYF was supposed to be non-judgmental and unbiased in respect to a parent's choices?

Maybe I'm old-school or just stupid, but isn't it better that a child be brought up in a loving, caring two-parent home where there it gets a good chance at life?

Doesn't it make sense that my daughter continue her education and become a positive contributor to society rather than a drain on the public purse for the next 16 years as a solo mother, struggling to provide a balanced upbringing to her child?

New Zeal This story rings true to me. The 12 day wait is certainly CYF policy. I assumed it was the law. I am surprised to hear that that it may be only a "policy".

Our social worker told us of one couple who had adoptions lined up on two seperate occasions.

On each occasion, the baby went into care for 12 days and the couple visited every single day to bond with the child.

At almost the last day, both birth mothers changed their minds and refused to adopt out their babies. The couple were so gutted, they gave up on adoption altogether. They couldn't go through the stress again.

I'm not religious, but I'll tell you, I prayed every night for 12 nights, that that would not happen to us.

Furthermore, CYF social workers told me on several occasions that they were forbidden in any way to recommend adoption to a pregnant woman or girl.

However, I have certainly heard anecdotal evidence that social workers have actively tried to persuade mothers to back out of adoption agreements and go onto the DPB.

Adoption needs to be valued as a win-win option for all.

It is not the best choice in all cases, but at fewer than 100 Kiwi to Kiwi adoptions a year, there are clearly some changes needed.

Russia Increases Co-operation With India

There is a theory in some circles, that Russia's long term plan is to build a pan Asian economic and military alliance built around the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation. India and Iran already have observer status within the organisation

From Cuban News agency La Prensa Latina

New Delhi, Jan 22 India and Russia hope to bolster nuclear, space and defense cooperation during the 48-hour visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin from Thursday.

India s PTI news agency lists ten possible agreements, including joint aircraft production and satellite development and positioning, and interest to study and explore for oil and gas in third countries.

Russian Defense Minister Boris Ivanov wishes to reinforce military exchange with New Delhi and raise commercial exchange to ten billion dollars by 2010.

Monday's issue of The Times of India quotes Ivanov's hopes to improve the current seller-client level to partnership in high-tech and weaponry development.

Current joint defense projects include the Brahmos Cruise Missiles, while 70 percent of India s Armed Forces weaponry is made in Russia, making India its top client.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Australian Communists Back Fijian Coup

I have been arguing for some time that the recent coup in Fiji was fomented by the far left, possibly even by Beijing.

An almost complete lack of protest by the local left is significant, when one remembers their vocal protests after the last three coups.

Interestingly, the Communist Party of Australia has published an article in its latest issue of The Guardian which clearly favours the new regime.

Fiji: New government consolidates support

The government of Prime Minister Commodore Bainimarama has consolidated its support since the removal of the Qarase government in the military take-over on December 5 last year. The new government was expelled from the Commonwealth of Nations and Australia and New Zealand imposed some sanctions in the form personal boycotts and trade restrictions. Australians were discouraged from visiting Fiji which relies heavily on income from tourism.

A statement from the Prime Minister said that "We have been acting kindly towards our ‘big brother nations’ giving them a chance to accept the situation and help move Fiji forward. Both these countries export hundreds of millions of dollars of goods and services into our domestic market. They also have many expatriates here on work permits, working in various institutions and companies.

"I am considering imposing a series of retaliatory measures if both these countries do not respond positively to our situation", said the PM’s statement.

Positive developments

Positive developments include the endorsement of the new government by the Great Council of Chiefs which stated that it was time to move forward. The Chairman of the Council supported the President’s choice of cabinet ministers while adding that Fiji needs an urgent return to democracy. He called on the media to take a "responsible" attitude in reporting current events.

Among the newly appointed Cabinet Ministers is Mahendra Chaudry the leader of the Fijian Labour Party who’s government was removed in a coup about 20 years ago. The Chaudry government had also been democratically elected but when he was removed few tears were shed in Australia which saw the Chaudry government as too progressive.

Chaudry is the new Minister of Finance, National Planning, Public Enterprise and Sugar Reform. He gave as the new government’s priorities efforts to revive the economy and to uplift the living standards of poor people. He said that he would "do his best" to serve the nation and the people by addressing the problems of joblessness and poverty.

Another significant development was the support given to the new government by other Melanesian governments in the South Pacific — Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Immediately following the coup the Australian government called a meeting of South Pacific Island nations with a view to lining them up against the coup. The support of the Melanesian governments for Fiji suggest that Downer’s efforts have not been very successful.

Members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group have accused Australia of trying to dominate their affairs, especially after the military takeover of the Qarase-led government.

Drug Freeland 6 Abolish Laws Restricting Access to Information

Part 5 of Drug Freeland dealt with reforming welfare. The next step we should take before legalising drugs is the elimination of laws restricting private sector access to information-"privacy laws". The state however should remain restricted to gathering only the most superficial information on its citizens, unless engaged in criminal or subversive activities.

Number Five. The Elimination of Private Sector "Privacy Laws"

On several occasions the NZ Privacy Commission has condemned any suggestion that drug testing in the workplace be expanded. They have claimed that such testing would be an unwarranted intrusion on worker's privacy. Such statements reveal the socialist nature of the organisation and its brief.

In my opinion, the Privacy Commission has much more to do with establishing state control over private sector information flows than with "privacy".

Current privacy laws hamper the ability of individuals to check out individuals they may wish to deal with. They inhibit the the ability of responsible employers to weed out dangerous and incompetent people from their work force, including, of course, drug abusers. In so doing they put lives at risk.

In New Freeland, most of the "regulation" of irrational activity will be carried out by the insurance industry. Companies in order to be efficient and eliminate fraud must be able to compile and trade data on individuals.

Companies will no doubt specialise on building files on known drug abusers, criminals, contract breakers, serial sexual harassers and the like. They will then sell this data to company personnel departments, employers groups, school boards etc.

This is commonly done now with finance and credit histories. The internet has made it possible to rate teachers and employers. By eliminating private sector privacy laws, this concept will probably expand to cover far more areas than it does now.

In a country where drugs are legal, the ability to track and identify drug abusers will be essential to maintain safety and production standards. Bear in mind, that in New Freeland, the legal profession will be completely deregulated and libel actions will be much more affordable and speedy than they are now. This will give the individual quick redress if untruthful information is circulated about him or her.

This will be a powerful incentive to "get it right".

"Privacy" laws also interfere with the ability to make and enforce contracts, which is another reason why they should be knocked on the head.

In New Freeland contracts will sacrosanct and bureaucrats will have no role but to enforce them if they are broken.

Individuals or groups will make agreements to perform a service or services for another or others in exchange for specified benefits. Each party will aim to get the best deal possible and will be free to set whatever terms are deemed necessary to achieve the desired result.

The content of such agreements (unless fraudulent) will be of no interest to the state. The state may however be called in to arbitrate or enforce compensation if an agreement is broken.

Therefore any employer will have the right to put any conditions he or she likes in an employment contract. Drugs will of course be legal, but an employer will have every right to demand that an employee does not use them, even outside work hours.

An anti-drug employer will insert a drugs ban clause in his employment contract. This may be enforced by drug tests, sworn affidavits or both, depending on the wishes of the employer.

Also the employers insurance company will probably want to carry out testing as a condition of granting insurance cover. Can you imagine an airline or construction company, not requiring it's employees to be drug free? Would you travel with a bus company whose drivers were not subject to such a policy? The consequences for breaking such a contract would be far more than the tiny fine many drug offences now warrant.

Many companies will advertise as "drug free" workplaces. There will be competition amongst companies to enforce the toughest anti drug policies.

Drug abusers who want to rise above the lowest rung of the employment ladder will face a choice. Lie to their employer and hope they're off work sick every time a test is carried out, or give up drugs.

By the same token, a hippy shoemaker on the Coromandel might require regular dope smoking as a condition of employment. Either way, the prospective employee will have the option of accepting, rejecting or renegotiating the conditions on offer.

However I'm sure that on average, drug abuse will a lot less common than it is today.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Ecuador's Correa Calls for Socialist Latin America

Despite downplaying socialism during his election campaign, Ecuador's new president, Rafael Correa, is now quite open about where he wants to lead his country.

From Green Left Weekly
On January 15, Ecuador’s new president, Rafael Correa Delgado, was sworn in, promising to build “socialism of the 21st century” to overcome the poverty and instability of the small Andean country.

The previous day, Correa attended an indigenous inauguration ceremony in Zumbahua, the small Andean town where he did volunteer social work in his twenties. The presidents of Venezuela and Bolivia — Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales — were present as special guests.

The long night of neoliberalism is coming to an end”, said Correa, “A sovereign, dignified, just and socialist Latin America is beginning to rise.”

In a speech laced with the indigenous language Quichua and references to revolutionary figures Simon Bolivar and Che Guevara, Correa called for Latin American integration on the basis of cooperation and complementarity, and called on governments to create regional legislation to protect workers’ rights.

ACT on Campus In Good Hands

Just spent three days in Auckland. Caught the last day of the ACT on Campus Conference and spent two days working with the main party on ACT branding, policy workshops and strategising.

It was all great, but I particularly enjoyed the day with AOC. It was a very good turnout-about 45 on Saturday and 25 on Sunday. Better than election year.

AOC has active branches at every campus, but Massey and an excellent core of activists.

Several went on to participate in the main party activities, held in ultra-ultra secret locations north of Auckland.

Mike Bridge of Victoria, replaced Auckland's Helen Simpson as AOC national president.

Trent Bellingham of Lincoln, replaced Canterbury's Andrew Falloon as VP.

Congrats to Mike and Trent.

Thanks very much to Helen and Andrew for doing a great job through 2006.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Hide's Speech to ACT on Campus Conference

I think this is one of the best speeches that ACT Party leader, Rodney Hide, has ever written. Read the full text here.

Speech to ACT On Campus Conference Dinner, Auckland, 20th January 2007.

Being a happy classic liberal

When I first made it to Parliament I was asked by a fellow who had been around the complex for a long time why I was always so happy. New MPs are supposed to be miserable, he said. The direct comparison was Pam Corkery. She was always sour.

I thought about it for a time. The reason was that I am a Classical Liberal. For me, the government that governs best is the government that governs least.

I don't believe that politicians and bureaucrats have the information or incentive to tell us what to do better than we can for ourselves. We certainly know how to spend our own money better than politicians can spend it for us. That was my view when I first turned up to Parliament.

For Pam Corkery it was quite different. She believed that government is the solution to every problem and that all government needed was people like her who cared and who knew what the problems were. She figured the problem with government was that the wrong people were running it, i.e. they weren't her.

Every screw-up, every cynical move by politicians, every couldn't-care-less bureaucrat was a shock to her view of the world and a frustration. She herself could do nothing about it. She was a part of it and still couldn't. She was caught up in politics and the machinery of government.

For me, the government screw-ups just made me better realise how much better we all could do if government took less of our money in the first place - and let us get on with our lives and business without perpetually bossing us around.

My first experience of Parliament confirmed my view of the world and made me realise the huge potential of our country and New Zealanders - if we just trusted people more and put them first, instead of politics.

I was happy because I was right and doubly happy because I realised how much New Zealand could gain with the right policies and triply happy because I was in the one place where I could do something about it rather than just talk about it.

On the environment and economics

I started to reflect on what I had learned from Parliament and what my studies had taught me. I wanted to figure out how we could make politics and government work better for the country.

I had started out a passionate environmentalist. I still am. It's impossible to grow up in New Zealand and not feel a deep connection with the land, the forests and the sea. I studied Zoology and Botany at Canterbury University, specialising in Ecology. I spent some time travelling the world and working on oil rigs in the North Sea and a gas stripping plant in the Shetland Islands. I returned to New Zealand to complete a Masters in Resource Management at the Joint Centre for Environmental Sciences based at Canterbury and Lincoln Universities.

My intention was to work in better conserving and protecting New Zealand's native habitat.

However I stayed on to lecture and research at Lincoln University for some years in environmental science.

That's when I became disillusioned with big government. It seemed to me that the biggest problems in caring for the planet weren't caused by people, but governments. Everywhere I looked it was government action - and inaction - that was destroying native habitat and compromising sound attempts at nature conservation.

It was government that was committing our resources wastefully to Think Big projects, that locked land up thinking that alone was enough to conserve habitat, and it was government that was all about the here and now and day-to-day headlines rather than the long term and the science of nature conservation.

I found individual landowners were far more passionate about the land than government, far more knowledgeable and caring, and genuinely interested in nature conservation. What they weren't keen on was government coming along and pinching their land to better care for it - and understandably so. In fact, the government pinching land for the purposes of "saving" it was a major reason for much of the habitat destruction that I documented.

I realised it wasn't enough just understand ecology and science. I needed to understand why people use resources the way they do and why governments so often screw it up.

I went to Montana State University - which, up beside Yellowstone National Park, specialised in resource economics - to complete a Masters in Economics.

Economics to me was just like ecology in studying how complex systems operate, interact and evolve. We know that intervening in nature can produce perverse and distant effects, but so too can government interventions in the economy.

On curing inflation

For years New Zealand suffered the ravages of high inflation. It distorted the economy, hindered our prosperity and favoured the rich over the poor.

Politicians like Muldoon blamed the unions. Jim Anderton blamed big business. Winston Peters blamed Asians.

But the real cause was politicians themselves.

They controlled the money supply through the Reserve Bank. It made political sense for a government to run loose monetary policy to create the illusion that with more money the country was doing better. We had more money; but it was buying less and less. In the short-run it was a boost, the medium term was more money that bought less and less, and the long-term result was ever-increasing inflation and a faltering economy.

The best thing for the economy and the country was for politicians to get inflation under control. That would mean a dollar would be worth the same tomorrow as it was today - not something unpredictably less.

But controlling inflation made for bad politics. The expectation was for ever-increasing prices - reversing that expectation would be painful as people took time to adjust to stable prices. Besides, a Minister of Finance doing the right thing would probably get chucked out of office for the pain they caused - only to see the new government re-igniting inflation to short term political gain and long term economic cost. Nothing would be gained politically by getting inflation under control and everything could be lost. Inflation was built into are our political and economic system.

The answer lay not in trying to make politicians more virtuous but in changing the rules within which they made decisions. The Reserve Bank Act 1989 makes monetary policy more transparent, puts greater accountability on politicians and allows the public of New Zealand to see what's going on.

The Act requires the Minister of Finance to set an inflation target. Minister's previously never had to do this. They had no stated target and their directions to the Reserve Bank were secret not transparent. The target set originally was zero to two percent. It is now one to three.

It's the Reserve Bank Governor's job to keep to the target.

So the elected politicians are still in charge of the policy - it's just they have to be transparent and accountable for their decisions. They can't just give a nod and a wink to the governor and imply ‘an election is coming up - how about lightening things up a bit?'

The result has been dramatic. Double-digit inflation is now a thing of the past. Our money is stable and our economy stronger as a result. Our economy is no longer ravaged by inflation and inflation no longer hinders our ability to prosper.

The Reserve Bank Act was controversial in its early days but it has now survived six elections, changes of government, and the introduction of MMP. Politicians have only tweaked the target somewhat - to no net effect - but to look at least as though they were doing something differently from the previous government.

Commies on Commission-Taxpayer to Fund Marxist Lead Union

Marxist-Leninist union leader, Matt McCarten, wants to build his Unite union into a powerful force for social change.

That takes money. Unite has solicited money from Venezuela and British and US unions. Now he is cooperating with the so-called Maori University-Te Wananga o Aotearoa in a scheme designed to enrich both organisations with taxpayers money.

From Indymedia

As was reported in a New Zealand Herald article on the 4th December 2006, Unite and Te Wananga o Aotearoa (free tertiary education provider) have come to an agreement which brings wananga tutors and union organisers into the heart of Queen St to teach literacy, computing and business skills to some of the country's lowest-paid workers — cleaners, call centre workers, fast-food attendants and waiting staff.

That great bit of reporting by the NZ Herald leaves a lot to be desired. Firstly, the Unite has agreed to recruit workers and its own members to a variety of Wananga courses. For every new student signed up, the Wananga gets an increase in its funding from the Government. Of course, these courses are free whether you are a member of Unite or not, but the benefit for Unite is that for every student they recruit for the Wananga they get a rather healthy commission, rumoured to be several hundred dollars. Compare this to the Union fees a full time minimum-wage Unite member would pay — just below $200 a year — and you can see the appeal.

As the NZ Herald article made clear, however, Unite is also being given a new building to house its offices, the old ASB Building which is now renamed Unite House.

The deal is clearly lucrative for both organisations: effectively the Wananga is commissioning Unite to gain access to workplaces to recruit students and gain increased funding, while Unite is gaining offices in a half-a-million-dollar building and getting paid rather well on top of this. It is unsurprising to learn, then, that Unite Secretary Matt McCarten is also the trade union representative on the board of Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

Not one to remain idle, however, Unite recently announced 45 short-term paid recruiting positions across New Zealand presumably charged with recruiting for both Unite and Te Wananga. The positions are quickly being dolled out to unscrupulous activists already known to Unite, and it seems most of the positions in Christchurch have already gone to members of the "pro-Mao Marxist-Leninist" group Workers Party.

Commies on commission! Does anyone else smell a rat here?

Friday, January 19, 2007

Congressional Socialists to Block US War Effort

The Congressional Progressive Caucus, at approximately 70 members is the most powerful bloc in the US Congress.

Aligned to the Communist Party USA and the equally as radical, Democratic Socialists of America, the CPC is hell-bent on thwarting the US war effort in Iraq.

This is their latest scheme.

From the Communist Party USA's Peoples Weekly World

President Bush’s announcement that he is sending over 21,000 more troops to Iraq has fueled increasing bipartisan opposition in Congress, among the U.S. public, in the labor movement and among the military itself. Organizers of the Jan. 27-29 Washington antiwar march and lobbying report growing interest in the protest actions.

The co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Reps. Lynn Woolsey and Barbara Lee, and Rep. Maxine Waters (also CPC), chair of the Out of Iraq Caucus — all California Democrats — held a press conference Jan. 17 in the House Radio/TV Gallery to introduce the Bring the Troops Home and Iraq Sovereignty Restoration Act.

The measure would repeal the 2002 authorization for the use of force, fund withdrawal of U.S. forces and military contractors from Iraq within six months of the bill’s passage, prohibit funding to deploy or keep U.S. troops in Iraq, accelerate U.S. aid to train Iraqi police and community-based security, bar permanent U.S. bases there, provide economic and political aid to the Iraqi government, authorize U.S. support to replace U.S. troops and contractors with an international stabilization force if requested by the Iraqi government, and fully fund VA health care for all veterans.

Tongan "Democracy" Leader Arrested

Akilisi Pohiva, the allegedly Marxist leader of the Tongan "Democracy Movement" has been arrested in connection with last November's rioting and arson in Nuku'alofoa.

At the time, several commentators blamed the "Democracy Movement" for the destruction. Some alleged that it was not just politically motivated, but that commercial jealousy also played a role.

From Indymedia

‘Akilisi Pohiva, controversial leader of Tonga's pro-democracy movement and No. 1 People’s Representative to Parliament, was arrested yesterday at 5pm on charges relating to 16/11 - “Black Thursday”.

Pohiva is the highest profile leader arrested so far, accused of being one of the ringleaders of the riot that led to the burning of downtown Nuku’alofa on November 16, 2006.

His friend and No. 2 People’s Representative, ‘Isileli Pulu, is still in police custody, charged with sedition and abetting public disorder. He may also face other charges as the investigation continues.

‘Ofa Simiki, of OSB businesses, a well-known businesswoman and ardent supporter of Pohiva, has been released on bail. She faces sedition charges as well as charges of abetting arson.

These high profile arrests have been expected for some time, as police have assured the public that sooner or later their investigations will close in on the alleged ringleaders of 16/11.

Chavez's 5 Point Plan to Socialise Venezuela

Chavez has a plan for Venezuela. It is no exaggeration to describe it as evil.

From the Communist Party USA's Peoples Weekly World

President Hugo Chavez, emboldened by his overwhelming re-election on Dec. 3, has moved Venezuela’s revolutionary process into high gear.

On Jan. 8 he spoke of “a new era, the National Simon Bolivar Project of 2007-2021,” and “Bolivarian socialism, which requires greater levels of effort and engagement, clarity and efficiency, and revolutionary quality.”

Chavez outlined five steps, or “motors,” toward a socialist Venezuela.

First of these would be an enabling law letting him pass laws by decree for one year. One such decree, for example, is aimed at nationalizing previously privatized corporations. Chavez specified CANTV, a telecommunications company owned 25 percent by Verizon, and an electric power company owned by the U.S. multinational AES Corp.

The second “motor” is constitutional reform in the hands of a new constitutional assembly. The assembly would likely authorize government control of the central bank, nationalization of natural gas operations and full state control of the nationalized oil industry and allow unlimited presidential terms.

Third on the list is “popular education” that would “deepen the new values and demolish the old values of individualism, capitalism and egotism.”

Fourth, the government will readjust patterns of local political power to match geographic boundaries.

Lastly, the Chavez government will build up the community council movement to strengthen grassroots power. Observers point out that agitation for shaking up bureaucracies and local layers of government is coming from the community level.

The government announced Jan. 8 that $5 billion would go toward expanding the number of councils from 13,000 to 21,000 over one year. They are seen as the means by which education, health care, housing and other social missions can be managed locally rather than through the bureaucracies. Councils each representing 200-400 families will engage in participatory democracy.

The new minister for popular participation, the responsible agency for the community councils, will be David Velasquez, who as a Communist Party deputy in the National Assembly wrote enabling legislation for the councils.

New Zeal Of all the 5 points listed, the last is the most sinister. These "councils" were called "soviets" by the Bolsheviks. In Cuba they are known as "people's councils".

They will serve as monitoring organisations, with eyes and ears in every corner of the country. They are the communist state's most important means of maintaining power.

Once this system is in place, socialism will be secured in Venezuela. Organised resistance will become near impssible.

It is no accident that Venezuela's only openly communist minister drafted this legislation and will be in charge of implementing it.

Alistair Shaw-China's Little Kiwi Friend

China is not generally popular with today's NZ left-especially the younger set. There is something about China being a militaristic dictatorship and mass violator of human rights that even many Marxists cannot stomach.

One who can, however, is Alistair Shaw, easily one of this country's most committed young socialists.

Shaw became interested in socialism at 14, during research for a 4th form social studies project.

By the late '80s, he was mixing in the radical set at Auckland University, working on the student paper "Craccum" and getting involved in student politics.

In 1990/91, Shaw served as treasurer to the Auckland University Students Association (AUSA).

In 1991, Shaw stood on an openly left wing ticket with Julian La Valette, Richard Cornes and Robert Bennett. At the time he was in his 5th year at university, hoping to finish a BA in economics and an Llb in 1992.

Through most of the '90s, AUSA student politics were dominated by members of the Radical Society (Radsoc).

A hardcore Maoist group, supportive of Peru's "Shining Path" guerilla movement, Radsoc was plugged into the leftist network influenced by former members of the Workers Communist League and their sympathisers.

This network included the NZ University Students Association (NZUSA), Peace Movement Aotearoa (PMA) and the Aotearoa Youth Network(AYN).

Shaw was involved in Radsoc at Auckland and continued his membership when he moved to Wellington in 1993.

That year, Shaw was Wellington contact for the AYN, a member of the PMA Working Group and vice President of NZUSA.

He was also a member of the National Organising Group for the Peoples Assembly, a nationwide network led by religious leftists and former members of the Workers Communist League.

During Shaw's time at NZUSA, relations were re-established with the Asian Students Association (ASA), a pan-Asian network of Maoist leaning student unions.

During 1994 Shaw was a member of Next Step Democracy Movement(NSDM)Core Group. NSDM was promoted by PMA, AYN, NZUSA and the Peoples Assembly and aimed to force national referendums on several socialist proposals. After a long battle, the group wound up after failing to gain sufficient signatures for any of their propositions.

Shaw is a great traveler, often to socialist countries. In late '94 he traveled to Vietnam, for unknown reasons.

In 1995 Shaw founded the Student Workers Advice Centre at Victoria, which was run by ex WCL and Radsoc types. He was also spokesman for the radical controlled, Victoria University Education Action Group.

Shaw was also a contact for the Victoria University Radical Society with Christina Rizos, his then partner, who had been Canterbury student president in 1994.

The same year Shaw was on the organising committee for the first "Activism in Aoteoroa" workshop, held at Moores Valley, Wellington.

The AIA gatherings endured for several years. They were essentially designed for young radicals to learn subversive techniques from seasoned activists and foreign revolutionaries.

In 1996, Shaw was one of several Radsoc activists, serving on the Victoria student's association executive.

Radsoc affiliated to the Asian Students Association that year and in April, Shaw represented Radsoc at an ASA meeting in Nepal. He also met Burmese students in Thailand and attended a National Conference of Student Unity in Bangladesh.

Shaw also hoped to get to Manila for a Youth Conference organised by Japanese Socialist Party (which was more radical than the Japanese Communist Party)and to extend links with the League of Filipino Students (the student front of the Communist Party of the Philippines).

By 1996, Shaw was also a member of the Radsoc "core group", effectively the organisation's executive.

In 1997/98 Shaw served as president of the Victoria University Students Association, where he commissioned a centennial history of the association focusing on its radical tradition.

At the 1997 Activism in Aoteoroa Workshops, Shaw ran a "solidarity session" with Norman Uy Carnay (League of Filipino Students). Uy Carnay was later a leader of the Asian Students Association and a Filipino trade union activist.

In 1998, Shaw gave a paper at a conference in Portugal. He also stood unsuccessfully stood for the Wellington City Council on the leftist "Public Interest" ticket.

In 1999, Shaw was VUWSA's Office Manager, while his partner, Nikki Burrows edited the student paper, "Salient".

The same year, Shaw traveled to East Timor with another well known leftist, Tim Howard, to observe the UN supervised referendum on independence from Indonesia that paved the way for the "ex" communist Fretilin Party to come to power.

Shaw also traveled to Indonesia, at one stage bravely wearing a Lenin T shirt. In a later article in "Salient" on his trip, Shaw mentioned that president Wahid had suggested unbanning the Parti Kommunist Indonesia but had gotten no support in Parliament.

Incidentally, Abdurrahman Wahid was long suspected of coming under KGB influence while attending Cairo's Al Azhar Mosque and university.

While tutoring at Victoria's school of economics and finance, Shaw was also the student organiser for the newly founded UNITE union, lead by ex Workers Communist League member, Robert Reid.

In 2,000, Shaw was editor of Radsoc's "Outburst" magazine. He also wrote an article on Radsoc for "Salient" No 6.

"We pledge support to the New Peoples Army, the armed forces of the Peruvian Communist Party, the troops fighting feudalism, imperialism and capitalism in Nepal, and the just struggle of the Bouganville Revolutionary Army..."

In the early '00s, the remains of Radsoc became very close to NZ's pro-Chinese communist party, the "Organisation of Marxist Unity" (OMU).

Shaw used to promote OMU's "Struggle" at the Radsoc stall on uni "Club Days", as late as 2002.

By 2002, Shaw was founding president of the leftist dominated Post Graduate Students Association, but his main interest was in things Chinese.

Shaw was a member of the Asian Studies Board at Victoria and was working on a Phd on "NZ-China People to People diplomacy-1949/2002". He was also becoming very active in the NZ/China Friendship Society, once a communist front, but now a communist front/cultural association. The society was founded by the Communist Party and sustained by party members Maoist activists in its early days. It was used to organise dozens of delegations to China over the years, which were invariably well stacked with communists and sympathisers.

Shaw traveled to China in mid 2003 to research his Doctorate. According to his website;

The main purpose of my visit to China was to interview current and former Chinese participants in China's people-to-people diplomacy with other countries.

I was able to interview a broad cross-section of people engaged in people-to-people activities. These included foreigners resident in China, people involved in hosting people-to-people activities, people in leadership positions in the key organisations, and people retired from people-to-people activities.

Given their political nature, the issues I wanted to discuss could have been considered sensitive. Central to my research is the changing representation of China abroad. A common claim is that China's people-to-people activities constitute propaganda, and that foreigners engaged in them are somehow disloyal, even 'traitors', to their own countries.

Most of my interviews were conducted in Beijing. However the support of NZASIA/Asia 2000 also enabled me to travel outside of the capital to explore how the activities of two New Zealanders are remembered in present day China.

I spent a short time in Songjiazhuang, the small Hebei village in which New Zealand nurse Kathleen Hall tended the sick during what the Chinese refer to as 'the war of resistance against Japanese aggression'. Hall also helped the Communists' 8th Route Army and was described by Norman Bethune (a Canadian doctor who worked with the Communists in the late-1930s) as 'an angel'.

I also traveled to Shandan, via the capital of Gansu province, Lanzhou. These two cities are homes to schools founded by Rewi Alley, remembered in China as 'a great internationalist and social activist'. I was able to discuss Alley, his memory, and the ongoing contact between the schools and New Zealand with a number of people, including some who had known Alley personally. I spoke with school managers, local Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) and foreign affairs officials, and with students at the two schools.

At the NZ/Cina Society's 2004 conference, Shaw, (treasurer, Wellington Branch) presented his research into NZ youth and student visits into China. He stressed the importance of involving more young people in the Society.

In 2005, Shaw became a member of the Society's executive.