Once upon a time, even far from well-off New Zealand families could every now and again afford two or three crayfish to share out for a meal.
Today? Forget it. A small crayfish, a meal for one person only, has a price-tag of $78 in a local fish shop. A larger one which would feed two – around $100 upwards.
Once upon a time we could freely buy paua to make fritters, and the beautiful shells were treasured. It’s impossible to now buy whole paua. They are priced out of reach.
A fisherman friend is at present trawling in New Zealand waters around the Chathams for the rare and expensive scampi, worth so much overseas that it is sent straight there – rather than made available in this country.
English friends who came here 10 years ago are now returning to England, defeated not only by our house prices – but by higher prices across the board. New Zealand, they say, is a far different country from when they came here. It’s a phrase echoed by other immigrants, commenting on how expensive items, including food, now are in this country…while wondering how a New Zealand leg of lamb, for example, as with more of our produce, can sell more cheaply in supermarkets in Britain – even with the extra transport costs involved – than in this country.
Parents I know of have returned to Scotland, dismayed by what they have encountered as a smug inadequacy from teachers with regard to minimal academic content – and the propagandised content of our state school system. Other former immigrants have now left to educate their children away from the racist pressures now focusing on Maori supremacy that increasingly permeate our schools. One family reports that on their return to England, their child was found to be a year, academically, behind her contemporaries. Unfortunately, not enough schools have been independent enough to bypass the dumbed-down requirements of the NCEA, and reach towards the standards of the International Baccalaureate.
What about, at the very basis of family life, a home in which to raise children; a lawn for them to play on; a fruit tree or two; a garden in which to grow vegetables for the table, and for children to see the small miracle of radish seeds emerging? Housing is now beyond the reach of so many New Zealanders, and the push for high-rise apartments will not help families.
Once upon a time, nobody would have contradicted the proud claim that New Zealand country was a great place to bring up children. However, our cases of child abuse have reached record numbers, particularly among part-Maori; our teenage-pregnancy statistics are among the highest in the world; we apparently now have more New Zealanders sporting tattoos than in any other country, and our drug abuse statistics, at the very least, rival Australia’s as the worst in the world. Some see a pattern in these groupings – also related to the fact that so many now emerge from our schools with virtually nothing to show from what should be these many years of genuine learning and study.
Try ringing any of the now privatised communication companies flagged as a triumph for free enterprise. The basically insulting way in which the public is treated, the time-wasting, button-pressing-more-button-pressing, tedious and unnecessary options which have replaced a helpful receptionist are not an improvement on previous, government-owned companies. Queues at banks are today kept deliberately long to force people to bank online.
Try ringing 111 – and it’s pot-luck apparently, whether or not emergency services located at the other end of the country even get the details right…Or whether St John’s ambulance now has the time to attend to emergencies – let alone send a driver and crewed service ambulance. Apparently St John’s ambulance staff now even turn up in taxis.
O Brave New World – and have we been sold a pup, with the privatisation of so many services and companies, those with the prime aim of returning profits to their shareholders – rather than that of the public good?
So much of what has gone wrong with this country can be targeted fair and square at the decision-making of a political over-class, which, through the various ministries of government – the finance, regulatory, energy, trade, education, health, defence, social welfare, treaty, justice, environment, arts and culture – and other portfolios – has exercised an increasing control over our lives and decision-making utterly inappropriate in a democracy. Moreover, the agenda behind too many of the rules and regulations…the requirements, constrictions, edicts and rulings have very often been largely influenced by those with a highly blinkered or distinctly compromised, anti-democratic agenda.
A physician recently retired from the health service here is finding far more enjoyment now practising in Australia, notably commenting it is more like the old days when he practised in New Zealand. What is regarded as the Alan Gibbs business model of managerialism carried to excess – as advanced by the New Zealand Business Roundtable at the height of its influence – has been arguably inappropriately applied to health and sickness issues ill-suited to this model. The deluge of paperwork now making the practice of medicine far less enjoyable, and reducing the time available for quality patient care, has taken its toll on both doctors and patients.
Moreover, the health sector is starved of funding in so many areas, with inappropriately long waiting lists for operations; a shortage of qualified staff; inadequate funding and resources for disturbed adolescents; mental illness patients; and for combating the epidemic of drug usage. Nevertheless, the government continues to lavish literally hundred of millions of dollars on treaty settlements which well-qualified researchers have challenged as fraudulent. It suits the government not to listen. And apparently it suits the Minister of Treaty Negotiations, Chris Finlayson, to arrogantly and crudely badmouth commentators far better informed than he apparently is – airily dismissing them as “clowns” or “nutters’.
Interestingly enough, The Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller, Andre Marr’s “A History of the World”, points out in its introduction, the importance of having a sense of world history, and that the better we understand how rulers lose touch with reality, or why revolutions produce dictators more often than they produce happiness…the easier it is to understand our own times.” The British Prime Minister David Cameron, similarly badmouthed UKIP in 2006 as “sort of a bunch of fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists” – a deadly remark – but affecting the perception of Cameron more than of UKIP . It is a pleasure to note that its leader, Nigel Farage, who has given new hope to the disenfranchised British, subscribes to our own 100 Days mailouts – http://www.100days.co.nz
Finlayson’s undemocratic control of his portfolio would not be tolerated in Switzerland today – the country now regarded as the most open, democratic and successful in the world. There government members respectfully refer to their countrymen as “sovereign” – and if government thinking is challenged, then the consensus is that their parliament must have got it wrong – and that the government needs to go back and rethink the issue.
Nor would the Swiss put up with the assertive multi-millionaire John Key, the richest MP in our parliament. Modelled on a similar principle to the Roman Republic, Switzerland recognises the corruption of power, and will not allow one man or woman to virtually rule a political party, and so a country…as the highly determined Helen Clark also did previously. Mindful of the proverb – birds of a feather – we can regard it as no coincidence that John Key and Helen Clark get on very well – Key even knowingly and undemocratically rubber-stamping the childless Clark’s infliction of her and the reputedly Marxist Sue Bradford’s destructive, anti-smacking legislation on New Zealanders. The consequent undermining of parental authority has not been accidental.
In the Swiss cabinet, totalling only 7 members, the President must step down after one year. Normally the Finance Minister from the previous year then steps up as President. Bearing in mind the damage that can be, and has been done throughout history (including in this country) by strong-minded political individuals controlling their own parties, and manipulating the electorate, the Swiss people would regard Key’s attempt to retain the Prime Ministership for a third, and even fourth term as alarming, let alone far from optimum.
How much more accountable our government might well be, with much reduced domination of a political party by a determined leader like John Key, if a Key or Clark were required to step down after a year and the role of leader – rather than being that of domination of caucus – took on the role of chairmanship. Genuine debate and consultation would then be far more likely we see with Minister Nick Smith’s enquiry as to how high he should jump, when told to by the National Party leader.
Prime Minister Key has turned out to be considerably different behind the scenes from the smiling, folksy persona he can so swiftly adopt. For example, challenged by Duncan Garner at a Wellington event as to why he was so concerned about what were known as the teapot tapes, he simply cut short the interview and left the question time. As this exceptionally good reporter shows us, there is a quite different John Key when the cameras have stopped rolling. The smiling mask can come off, and his former colleagues’ supposedly puzzling description of him as “the smiling assassin” makes more sense. The fact that he apparently showed no concern at all but maintained an unwavering cheerfulness when sacking dozens- some say hundreds of staff – after heavy financial losses from the 1998 Russian financial crisis, apparently shocked fellow workers.
What about the international agreements such as the TPP, due to be signed on behalf of New Zealanders, which could give multinationals and wealthy corporations authority even over our own government? Yet New Zealanders are prevented from being fully informed or scrutinising these. Again, the Swiss would be perturbed, if not incredulous, that as a supposedly democratic country, New Zealanders themselves are not only excluded from decision-making – but from even knowing what is going to be signed. It is at the least unsatisfactory, at the worst, ominous, that this ambitious Prime Minister, apparently given to brain fades when it comes to some important issues, and ambitious to retain power, has been markedly secretive about security matters. He was also culpably complicit in smuggling Maori Party leader Pita Sharpies off to New York to sign the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples…without New Zealanders being consulted – let alone being told – given its antidemocratic consequences for this country.
And now the whole question of why Kim Dotcom’s entry into NZ was sped up, against official advice – and whether in fact John Key knew about this, in spite of his denials – as Dotcom has consistently claimed – is more serious than simply a possible white lie – as one commentator too generously called it. Surely these are questions relating to political integrity? Moreover how many New Zealanders are comfortable with the new provision, introduced in 2009, as part of the Business Migration Scheme, that permanent residence could be fast-tracked for people willing to invest $10 million dollars or more in this country?
What about Honoré de Balzac’s contention that, “Behind every great fortune lies a great crime.”? Even questioning this as a sweeping assertion, there is enough of an element of truth underpinning it – at least in the case of some great fortunes – to make us even more careful to scrutinise applications from those whose considerable wealth undoubtedly gives them more chance to make their mark, one way or another, in what New Zealanders have always wanted to regard as an egalitarian society. The realisation not only that this is no longer the case, but that part of the exodus from Communist China includes those fleeing from possible charges of corruption – and that this fact may well underpin much of the Chinese present acquisition of housing, land, and businesses – is causing considerable disquiet – as it should.
So what has gone wrong with this country? Part of this has been that fact that for five decades now our education system has been well and truly dumbed down, and that this has not been accidental. We have not been sufficiently mindful of the Italian Communist Gramsci’s advice to those wishing to destroy the West that the way to do this was by infiltrating all our institutions…our political structures, universities, training colleges, arts and literary establishments – and education in particular. This targeted our young, to remove as much of value as possible, with the aim of producing an under-educated population, in the real sense of the word, educated. The result? We can recall George Orwell’s reminder that if people have not learned to think well, others will do their thinking for them.
Moreover, an undue respect for the supposed science of economics, far from being an exact science, and regarded as “the dismal science” – with all its conflicting theorising – (we can recall Queen Elizabeth asking why by far the majority of economists did not foresee the coming crash in 2008) – has arguably produced a political class which”knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”.
The growing commercialisation of New Zealand, for example has, given us an over-lordship of decision-making by those with degrees in commerce and economics who make the mistake considering themselves well-educated, but who very obviously have not been exposed to anything like a genuine, well-founded education.
Moreover, the now blatant orientation of the Ministry of Education’s determined underpinning of PC propaganda in relation to radicalized issues – including its giving precedence, over our mainstream culture, to a bowdlerized promotion of Maori tribal values – has produced a kind of Maori triumphalism, with its implied superiority over those of the majority culture. The latter, however, with its roots in the civilised values absorbed in past millennia and underpinned by those of Christianity, lays its emphasis on the importance of the individual, of good conscience, and freedom in decision-making…all alien concepts to a tribal culture.
Recently the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, stated that capitalism must regain a sense of responsibility to restore public faith in its virtues…that for markets to sustain their legitimacy they need to be not only effective , but fair.
We can contrast this statement, with which few would argue, to the philosophy of the former New Zealand Business Roundtable, whose CEO, Roger Kerr, was irritated by the business with social responsibility advocacy promoted by Stephen Tindall and Dick Hubbard. The mantra of the NZBR’s spokesman was – Take what you can get…that business was its own justification. I recall from memory another NZBR spokesman, its then Vice-Chairman, Rod Deane, also CEO of Telecom, stating in a radio interview that Telecom’s only responsibility was to make a profit. I also recall thinking that it was Telecom’s equal responsibility to supply a good service.
Few would agree with an extremist statement which would basically imply that business without a conscience is acceptable. There is an argument to be made that in recent years, so much of the damage done to the West, with consequences in the 2008 collapse of so many financial institutions, was basically because big business was operating without a conscience. In this respect, it’s interesting how many of those involved in currency dealing, or whose careers overwhelmingly focus on finance, say they have no belief in an after-life, or in a God to whose judgment we may one day all have to submit. Some would say – it figures. And we may be overdue to recall the words of Thomas Jefferson -” I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.”
Our politicians have long had a messianic belief that they have the right to inflict on New Zealanders legislation which the country doesn’t want. Moreover, politicians themselves are very much more open to listening to what we can call the money boys – and few doubt that satisfactory accommodations are able to – and sometimes do take place to mutual advantage behind-the-scenes. How else, for example, could a previous government’s Minister of Health, while in office, approach a business-related CEO, for example and ask for private funding to write a book – with the suggestion, in return that, perhaps “help” with regard to his portfolio might be useful? And today, now extremely wealth iwi corporate leaders automatically have far more access to government than do the public at large.
At the heart of the matter…how fair is it – in fact, how totally undemocratic – that New Zealanders have now minimal say in the directions in which politicians push us – or the decisions inflicted on us? Carney is right in arguing that the basic social contract across generations is breaking down.
Business may be the life-blood of the economy – and so of a country. But it is not the heart and lungs and soul of that country, and the prioritisation of business-related outcomes has done a great deal of damage. Their intrusion into all aspects of our national life has meant that not only time-honoured profession such as medicine and nursing, but even our universities, those so-called independent institutions of learning, of investigation and enquiry, have now been turned into business-orientated factories, where churning out papers according to government requirements – and tapping into iwi billions, has meant a downgrading of everything our universities once stood for. Moreover, research itself has become corrupted as grants and over-all funding has made it a priority to follow the political line on issues. This has damaged the respect in which universities were one held. In recent years, for example, we have seen scientists who seek funding closing down debate and ostracising colleagues who have challenged their politicised theorising.
Moreover, the not-even-elected list MP, Steven Joyce, the so-called Minister of Everything, shows little understanding of the real role of a university – given his desire to push more ministerial appointments on to university councils. Reportedly, two-thirds of his appointments so far have been chief executives, company directors or accountants, those involved in commerce. The same blinkered “logic” arises behind these damaging initiatives, with the thinking that the universities, too, should be cloned on corporate models.
No doubt, then, that our political overlords have brought into the philosophy that corporations should rule the world – regardless of the concern that in many countries the despotism of the State has been matched, or even outstripped, by the despotism of corporations. Steven Joyce’s business super-ministry, for example “now employs 56 members of its communications team… although when National came to power this party promised to restrict the growth of the public sector… However, recent figures reveal that the total number of public servants rose by almost 1100 in the second half of last year to be 45,588 by December 31, more than at any time under Labour.”
Many New Zealanders worry that much has gone very wrong. Evidence of corruption and of not telling the truth comes more and more to the fore from among members of parliament. The present crisis of housing, and the scandal of families not being able to afford homes can be laid right at the doors of successive governments. We are faced with another hugely worrying situation whose significance John Key is down-playing – immigration from Communist China… It is also a reasonable question to ask whether it is fair that our legislation how now been so framed that our best assets can be snapped up by overseas owners, disenfranchising New Zealanders themselves.
The GCSB has apparently been spying on even ordinary New Zealanders for more than a decade, and wants to pool information including medical, religious or legal information. Tolerance of workplace stress is falling as a new survey shows Kiwi workers are increasingly facing stress-related illnesses. This is not the country our parents remember as once far more stable and happy – regardless of the challenge each age brings.
Certainly, we now have a generation far less well-educated in a real sense of the word, than their parents. And the ongoing levelling of our once far more valuable education system, with so much now lost from any concept of genuine academic excellence, means that only a very small percentage of New Zealanders are anything like genuinely well-educated.
Given that this Marxist, white-anting of standards of excellence has so successfully spread throughout the English-speaking countries of the West, the crisis in education is not confined to this country. Soberingly, in Australia, it is estimated that probably no more than 1% of the population is thought to be genuinely well-educated. The remainder have had no exposure to anything like the valuable academic education available to our parents and grandparents. It was recently very much brought home to me that even some of our young in their 20s and 30s are well aware of how they have been cheated of an education of genuine quality by an e-mail which recently despondently asked if there was any real hope of ever having this again…if there is any real chance of reversing what has happened to this country.
At present, this is certainly an open-ended question.
Basically, it is a lack of moral courage which is sinking this country. The major political parties would not have been able to seize and maintain the power they have if they were more effectively opposed. And the radicalised factions which have so successfully used abuse and name-calling such as “racist”, “homophobic”, etc. to intimidate those who disagree, and to avoid genuine debate, would not have been able to get as far as they have, if more New Zealanders had that courage which saw our forebears stand up against tyranny.
A soft tyranny, is after all, still a tyranny – and as a political oligarchy now rules the country, directed and controlled by determined leaders, this is largely what we have.
It is after all individuals themselves, standing up to be counted, who can make a halt to the takeover of New Zealand by power groups basically antipathetic to the values which once earned us the envy of other countries. It also brought with it the well-meant boast of those who, for this reason, regarded New Zealand as “God’s own country”. Even those who might profess no religious belief well knew what was meant…and did not disagree.
It is very late in the day – but there is still time to claim it back to this country. However, it needs a tipping point of New Zealanders letting others know about the 100 Days – and joining us to help.
It is up to each of us – and whether we look at what lies ahead for our children, even grandchildren – and care enough about them to help – now. If not, we can look forward to more of the same, and worse, from the creeping State.
If UKIP can do it, so can we! Will you help?
© Amy Brooke – for The 100 Days – Claiming Back New Zealand…what has gone wrong, and how we can control our politicians.