Thursday, 27 October 2011

some random thoughts

just some random thoughts today:

we have a broken gas pipeline that's costing millions of dollars in lost economic activity each day. there are points to make regarding the privatisation of core infrastructure. which is not to say that this kind of thing would never happen if the state was in charge. it would mean that the state would be more likely to spend on maintenance, since there wouldn't be the commercial pressure to reduce costs. it's possibly more likely that there would be insurance for losses.

of course these things would only be likely if there was a government that believed in putting the money into maintaining strong and dependable infrastructure, rather than pushing for constant tax cuts and reduction in the size of government. in order for public ownership to work effectively, there needs to be proper investment and proper monitoring of that investment. yes, it all takes money. but i wonder if all those businesses who are directly suffering massive losses right now wouldn't much rather have those losses spread over several years in the form of higher taxes? surely that seems more sensible that the current mess.

but more important than this is the sight of millions of litres of milk being dumped. i hate to see the pictures, knowing there are so many on our planet in desperate need of basic nourishment. i know that there is no alternative, there is no way to get this milk to the people who most desperately need it. knowing the facts doesn't help with the emotions though.

labour's savings policy is certainly a bold one. i'm hating the raising of the retirement age mostly because i'm ready to retire right now. the thought of having to work for another 20 years before i can collect my pension is bad enough. adding another 2 years to that does not help. however, there is no doubt that something needs to be done given the changing demographics of society and the longer life expectancies. so even though i'm hating it, i can see the necessity of it.

the compulsory retirement savings and investment into the cullen fund are all good and entirely necessary. most people earning over the average age will have some kind of retirement fund anyway. it's the ones at the bottom end that will struggle, but i thought david cunliffe's explanation on check point was pretty good: that labour's other policies around the minimum wage & the first $5,000 of income being tax-free will more than balance the costs. really, in order for savings policies to work, incomes need to rise.

more violence around the occupy movement, this time in oakland. there is no doubt that as the movement becomes more successful, the state is much more likely to intervene. it's interesting, in a sad and rather pathetic kind of way, that ultimately the state response to popular protest is beginning to look similar in both the middle east and the west. in fact, egypt and tunisia fared better because the army and police were largely on the side of the protesters. we're not seeing that in western countries though - the security forces of the state are very much doing as they're told. i wonder if there will come a time when they too decide to disobey. maybe when it's their own friends and family involved in the protests, their own loved ones who are being gassed and shot at with rubber bullets. i really hope it doesn't come to that.

the waikato district council has decided to establish two maori seats for the 2013 elections. who would have thought? this is the council that decided to take the "environment" out of "environment waikato" (hence they have gone back to "waikato regional council"), the same council who has been chided by the auditor general for not adequately managing discharges into our waterways. i would never have picked them for being so progressive, but i'm very happy to see it. we certainly need much more diversity in our regional councils, and if that diversity has to be forced then so be it.

it's the official launch of the "keep MMP" campaign tomorrow. wish i could be there but i can't afford the time off work. not only is it an extremely busy time of the year for us, but i've used up a lot of my annual leave this year with the taku manawa training and a trip overseas. i'm wishing them all the best - sounds like it'll be a great launch.

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