Posts by Tom Semmens

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  • Hard News: Behind Baltimore,

    It is only with slight hyperbole that I can say that in my observation a young policeman at a US music festivals is like an isolated and dangerous island, that the crowd carefully parts to avoid. Whereas in this country usually the main danger to a young policeman at music festivals is getting kissed by to many *ahem* "exuberant" young women.

    Compliance vs. community policing, I guess.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Envirologue: Too Big to Fail – Why…,

    What you are really calling for is the sort of internal resistance the surveillance state, created with the excuse of foreign terror, has really been created to repress.

    The neoliberal dark age is going to be being made more sinister, and more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Look in the Mirror, New Zealand,

    Once, (as in pre circa 1965) when you arrived in NZ you were cut off from your homeland. Sea travel was prohibitively expensive, TV and news was parochial. You were here for better or for worse, and news from your previous homeland trickled through. You assimilated, even while keeping some traditions alive. These are the Dutch, Poles, Irish, Brits and assorted Europeans who came here from just before WW2.

    These days, the internet keeps you connected with home, you can call and Skype anytime, and cheap air travel has put your homeland just a few thousand dollars away. That means that it is MUCH easier to not assimilate if you do not wish, and to retain – indeed, reinforce and use as a bulwark – your old countries values. In my observation, the practices, teachings and restriction of Islam actively hinder integration and assimilation, especially when the refugees are from backward countries that lack traditions of democracy, toleration, secularism, and liberalism. As a New Zealander proud of our progressive record on women’s rights and our secular traditions I get mightily pissed off at Islamic migrants coming here and keeping their women in the niqab. These people don’t want to integrate, to become New Zealanders. They just want a safe haven from the shitholes they fled, a safe haven where they seem to want to perpetuate the religious palaver that has contributed to the wars in their homelands. Well, I don’t like religion and since I live here, I want a say on the matter.

    You see to me, it isn’t enough they want to be “exemplary citizens”. They have to want to be New Zealanders as well, or I’m in favour of keeping them out.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Reviewing the Election,

    That would be soooo much easier than just making people vote. We just have to change the entire world, how it works, and everyone in it.

    Our grandparents managed it, and the neoliberals did it as well. Systemic change is possible. You sound like a defeatist.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Reviewing the Election,

    I am in two minds about overseas voting. On the one hand, the vote is a fundamental human right of every New Zealand citizen. On the other, why should a student loan defaulter who has skipped the country to get away from their obligations get a vote? Why should someone who came here for the minimum period to become qualified as a NZ resident as a back door to getting into Australia (a particularly popular tactic in 1990s/2000s with Brits and Indians, and the main reason Australia introduced it's racist anti-New Zealander laws) have a vote? Why should someone who hasn't lived here for 20 years have a say in how we are governed? I guess to my mind it is reasonable to say that in order to qualify to vote in an NZ election you must be a citizen, and have resided in New Zealand for at least twelve months in the preceding three years, or if a native born New Zealander at least six months.

    This whole discussion so far has gone along the usual path of such discussions in New Zealand. Everyone is talking about method, as if lowering the voting age and allowing children to vote and introducing compulsory voting would dramtically arrest the sliding participation rate. For the record, I would like to see civics classes, I would like people to be paid to vote - $10, or if you vote ACT and loath the idea of getting any government money in sums less than seven figures, you can mark it as a donation to a political party of your choice - I would like the election date to be fixed and made a paid (with proof of voting, in other words if you don't vote, you employer doesn't have to pay you for your day off) public holiday like Xmas. However, I think giving children (anyone under 18) the vote is a ridiculous idea. At that age they are simply to young to be able to form proper opinions to make the informed decisions casting a vote should require.

    But really, decline in voting participation is a symptom of the wider ailments of western democracies. After all, voting in New Zealand is already incredibly easy compared to many other democracies. When you see images of people waiting for hours to vote in third world democracies like the USA then you can only look in askance at people who complain it is to hard here. The vote in NZ isn't dropping due to any lack in our electoral methods; it is declining due to want of an informed and informing corporate media and due to a sense of powerlessness in the face of the growing power of corporations - the unelected and authoritarian new imperialists of our age. It is declining because political parties in the West, all founded in the great social and political upheavels of a century ago, are now ideologically exhausted, but retain the power of inertia and incumbency. Political parties are nothing but elite cadres, captured by careerists and easily swayed by lobbyists.

    Increasing participation means making politics -and most vitally, the change agent political parties - relevant again. It means reform of our political parties, their funding and governance. It is bizarre that our electoral laws recognise political parties, but they are subject to no constitutional constraints or requirements. It means making democracy fashionable again by passing laws that reintroduce it into the workplace via workers councils, and encouraging membership and participation in civics organisations (political parties, brass bands, Guides, anything really) with tax rebates for participation. If voters felt they were part of a community, that politics was part of their lives, that they had real choices, and felt they had reasons to vote they would return to the polls.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: What would a harm reduction…, in reply to david westcot,

    why is it that the media in general [&the political class] are unable to have an honest indepth cost/benefit discourse about drug policy

    I think you'll find that amongst the elites in the media and political class there is (in private) a general appetite for sane drug reform. But the police, who would see a lot of money vanish from the police budget and into health one, have a vested interest in keeping drugs as a criminal justice issue and a quick skim of the paper instructs us as to who opposes local stores selling LEGAL highs - the deepest opposition to drug reform comes from the middle and lower class Joe and Jane Sixpack with two kids at school. These classes are largely uncritical consumers of (apparently) unpolitical government information, and they've been subjected to decades of the most hysterical anti-drug propaganda imaginable from people they trust. For Joe and Jane, drugs are simply the stuff of degenerate behaviour.

    So you've now got a situation where there is a complete disconnect between expert opinion and popular sentiment. The chattering classes can talk about drug reform all they like. It is God fearing families in Papakura and Winton who will die in a ditch to prevent it.

    You can fix this two ways. One is the Sue Bradford section 59 approach, which is to use an elite consensus to ram a change down peoples throats, or you can work with the government and the medical profession to lay the groundwork for the publics acceptance of the need to replace our broken drug laws.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: What would a harm reduction…,

    I think it's about time to face the fact that the psychoactive substances act is a complete failure, except in one sense. I have always held that the act was never supposed to work, and the regulatory regime was simply a chimera designed to allow bulk banning of legal highs whilst erecting impossible barriers to legal market entry. About all we can take away from this failed piece of legislation is the philosophical volte-face of thinking about a legislative framework built upon regulation rather than prohibition, and from there start again.

    I question even the desirability of allowing legal highs into the market place, at least in the way we currently sell them. I would have thought that all the empirical evidence now points to the reality that buying traditional illegal drugs from a criminal network with raw market signals to provide decent products and not kill it's customers (combined, perhaps, with less strict policing) is actually a safer and better option for society than dairies flogging off to children and the mentally ill all sorts of synthetic concoctions made by ruthless profit-driven legal high manufacturers in Thailand. Better new Nikes for community pot dealers in Northland than Ferraris for legal high drug lords in Thailand.

    I guess "What would a harm reduction strategy look like now" would be accepting our bright new regulatory regime didn't work, and is now dedicated to producing absurd outcomes, where whole herds of elephants in the room are ignored and vast amounts of money is being spent to negotiate a deliberately broken Byzantine regulatory regime in pursuit of an utopian fantasy - a "healthy' high. And then apply the philosophical change that underpinned the psychoactive substances act - a legislative framework built upon regulation rather than prohibition, and shift to regarding drug use primarily as a public health issue tather than a criminal justice one - to the the place of all the old-school stuff like cocaine, heroin, marijuana, MDMA and so on.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: We don’t make the rules, we're…,

    There is a economic unreality to the cost of all this as well. If you already pay $1500PA to Sky, and about a grand to an ISP, then your bill for these media services is going to be in $2,500 range, plus another grand or so for the telephone. Now, I know it is hard for top execs on the fatcat salaries they all pay each other to grasp this, but for a lot of households somewhere north of $3,500 a year is a lot of money. How realistic is it to ask these consumers to then sign up to two or three ADDITIONAL content providers and cough up another $500-600PA to access stuff they can just torrent for free using their internet account?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: We don’t make the rules, we're…,

    One more thought. I have read an apparent axiom that if it is easier and quicker to get the torrent than get the show then you are doing it wrong. The thing is that consumers just won't put up with fragmented providers owning bits and bobs of content. But there is something else as well - the consumers view of content providers has been utterly poisoned by Sky's outrageous monopoly behaviour and the likes of Lightbox are suffering the (totally undeserved) backlash of consumers who are relishing giving a two finger salute to broadcast monopolies.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1882 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: We don’t make the rules, we're…,

    That’s fine for consumers, but it undermines the rights model that content creation is currently based on.

    I think I've spotted your problem. Your business model is obsolete.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1882 posts Report Reply

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