Posts by Bart Janssen

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  • Hard News: Steven Joyce: Prick or Treat, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Science funding is being cut because National are adamantly opposed to tax increases/new taxes

    Truth be told I blame decreased science funding on the ridiculous proposition that National and Labour both subscribe to - that we cannot and should not raise taxes. This despite all evidence worldwide indicating low taxation results in shitty lives for the population (with the exception of tax haven microstates).

    Within that stupid pool of limited taxation any distinctions are arbitrary, in short the government can and does change the law frequently to move moneys around between the sub-pools.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3253 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Grey Fucking Area, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    I don’t find his surly bovver boy shtick endearing either

    Especially since when you talk to people who have actual contact with him he is apparently smart and hard working, he apparently actually reads and comments on some of the grant applications and they are not light reading.

    There are talented hard working people in the National party but we don't get to see much of them and even less of the work they do - disappointing really.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3253 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Grey Fucking Area, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    warp ten rhetoric

    Unlike for example the right honourable Mr Joyce in full "I see nothing mode"

    Do I like politics consisting of a bunch of kids (god I'm old) shouting their dislike of the PM, and lets just for a second do them the courtesy of considering their dislike to be genuine, in rude terms? No I think we could do better with political debate.

    But National has hung it's hat on being John Key's party and make a very very big deal of him being such a nice man him all having "drug 'imself up from 'umble beginnings". Not exactly in the deep end of the intellectual political debate pool either really.

    You're right we should expect more from our representatives. Perhaps National could start by bringing some serious thinking to the hustings. So far though the prize for that race has to go to The Greens whose commitment to evidence-based policy is refreshing, if not complete.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3253 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Steven Joyce: Prick or Treat, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    But NZ doesn’t have grad-level jobs for people with science degrees, either. I know several people with reasonably good degrees in bioscience who have been unable to get any kind of grad-level job (often winding up in IT/teaching/overseas).

    Yup. The brutal fact is that a good MSc is worth almost nothing. We pay our managers, finance and admin staff "market rates" but we pay our technicians the lowest amount we can get away with. We see people all the time make the entirely rational decision to take their talent and intelligence and use it in careers that actually will allow them to pay their mortgage. And yet our senior executives continue to get pay rises.

    Part of the problem is the continued starvation of the science funding but a part of it is a management problem.

    As for teaching - most of our techs can get an instant pay rise by going to teachers training college with a clear defined career path from there - sigh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3253 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Steven Joyce: Prick or Treat,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3253 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The silence of the public square, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Yeah, because someone who (whether you like it or not) is still Prime Minister after not one but two free, fair and credible general elections is exactly like a fictional mass murderer.

    While I agree name calling is silly and a waste of time*, I'd also caution against using success in elections as proof of honest and legal behaviour, such proof is best left in the courts assuming sufficient evidence exists to even bring a case.

    Personally I'm pretty sure Key is not a mass murderer and also probably not fictional.


    * Although sometimes genuine satire and comedic value is a reasonable excuse.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3253 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Steven Joyce: Prick or Treat, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    In the sector I’m in there’s a high level of despondency, cynicism and anger about this new funding structure, which is widely seen as a great leap backwards and a criminal waste of time.

    Oh same here. And yes it's criminal to waste taxpayers (my) money on a dumbass new funding tool. Even worse shoehorning our existing funding into the same "challenges".

    But the first two years of MBIE rounds were just as hopeless. Nobody knew what the funding criteria really were. We all just guessed what MBIE really wanted from us. Even they were guessing what they wanted from us.

    And to be fair I do think the NSCs appear to have all the worst features of design-by-committee.

    But I still trust in the people at the bench to do their best so long as some money gets to them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3253 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Steven Joyce: Prick or Treat, in reply to Russell Brown,

    What a fucking disaster.

    Honestly it really isn't a disaster. Yes as a new funding tool it's a cock-up of the first water, but that's no different to most of the new funding tools introduced over the last three decades by Labour and National governments.

    The notable exceptions are The Marsden Fund which has proven to be incredibly successful at funding science with high impact internationally AND that leads to patents and products of potential economic benefit to New Zealand (to coin a hated phrase). The other exception, IMO, is the long gone version of the FRST NERF fund back when it was assessed predominantly by scientists for quality.

    The problem is and always has been that politicians would like science funding to produce predictable economic benefit. They want to hand over $5M and get back $25M of economic growth in specific areas, and within 3 years. It's the last bit that screws everything up.

    All the analysis says that science funding improves the economy. The actual return varies from study to study but numbers around 100 fold are not unusual. But those studies all show that you cannot predict where in the economy the return will appear. That bit really pisses off politicians because they can't take any personal credit.

    Over the last two governments in particular (Clark and Key) we have had science funding controlled by treasury who hate the above even more than politicians.

    So we've had funding tool after funding tool designed to direct research to where the politicians believe it will do the most good - at the expense of quality.

    Oh and they've all continued to reduce science funding in real dollar terms because the public don't appear to care that our science funding is being starved to death to build more roads.

    But it isn't a disaster, because in spite of all that we still have really good scientists doing really good work. They have become very skilled at figuring out how to fit the work they do into the new funding tools. And life goes on. Sure we could do more science and better science if they just gave the money to The Marsden fund but that doesn't seem likely to happen.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3253 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Steven Joyce: Prick or Treat, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    Steven Joyce is also bullishly insisting that all is well with the National Science Challenges, despite steadily accumulating evidence that NSC are turning into a Novopay-scale trainwreck.

    I've tried to stay generous and positive about the NSC, but it isn't easy. The money put into the scheme is pathetic when counted on a per year basis. The money is going into a completely new scheme with no proven record of performance. And worst of all to me the challenges have ultimately been chosen by committee with all the faults of any design by committee project. What we've ended up with have been amorphous catchall goals, instead of clearly focussed challenges.

    I have no doubt that the scientists funded by the money will do great work, we always find a way to do the best work possible. But the cost in conforming to yet another funding and reporting structure and the time and money wasted in setting this up makes me very sad.

    It would have been much easier and much more productive to simply double the funding for the Marsden fund. But that would not have allowed Steven Joyce to grandstand, which is a pity.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3253 posts Report Reply

  • Feed: Food Show 2014: Not Bad, in reply to Gareth Ward,

    With all these events I simply don’t get paying $30 for the right to be marketed to. Bunch of awesome stall holders etc I’m sure, but why would I pay for the right for them to then sell me stuff?

    You don't have to buy much to get savings of $30. The show deals are pretty good, with some exceptions. I don't think you can argue it's bad value - unless there is nothing there that you want to buy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3253 posts Report Reply

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