Posts by Jason Kemp

  • Hard News: Stop acting like the law is…,

    I recently watched the Ken Burns documentary miniseries on Prohibition. What was very interesting about it was all the unintended consequences of those laws and how that played out. Various commentators in that series may have overstated their views but the criminalisation of alcohol was said to have created many of the organised crime in the U.S at the time.

    Regardless of whether that might have happened in any case the criminalisation of alcohol resulted in widespread disrespect for the prohibition law. A word was even invented for that “scofflaw”.

    Institutions and governments don’t ever seem to learn from history. I don’t know what the answer is here but as a nation we have developed rules around alcohol use that generally work. The tax system is weighted towards the health costs however it doesn’t seem that we are prepared to look at the same legal structure for managing cannabis.

    The last time I checked 22 U.S States had legalised some form of use and are benefitting from tax revenues and the decriminalisation aspects.

    Surely there is something to be learned from that?

    As others have noted the present government is still socially conservative. Any actual law change will happen only when public opinion changes. The short term answer has to be better informed public debate but I’m afraid we have a news media running on auto pilot.

    Just today the PM has been reported as changing rules around GCSB snooping on NZers’. This is u-turn and exactly opposite what he said last year but it it is reported as a news item with no attempt at balance or any kind of argument.

    This is relevant because if we want public opinion to be informed and coherent we also have to have a media that is capable and willing. This is same media that are still publishing moral panic stories say regarding the cleaning up of P houses with no mention of the science at all.

    I am personally not a fan of smoking anything but I did read somewhere that Colorado was using at least some of the revenues from legalised cannabis use to fund education programmes.

    According to this graph NZ has the third highest score on Adult lifetime cannabis use by country after the U.S and Canada so perhaps public opinion changes are not far behind?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 288 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: On the Clark candidacy,

    I read that Ungerer post in the Guardian and thought it was clearly wrong.

    The SG position is not something any of us get to vote on. Indirectly some of us may have influence but whomever gets the role needs to reform the UN. My guess is that most votes will be split between the status quo or a change candidate.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 288 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: RNC 2016: A literal shitshow,

    Some one has done the math on that speech and says There’s a 1 in 87 billion chance Melania didn’t rip off Michelle An Astrophysicist Used Math To Show Melania Trump Stole Her Speech

    The earlier story I mentioned about Trumps ghostwriter mentioned how impossible it was to get any coherent content from Trump at all. And that he doesn't read books FWIW

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 288 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Darkness in New York,

    I’m guessing very few people read the NewYorker these days but Adam Gopnik in Being Honest About Trump manages to call Trump out.

    "It is no surprise that the American face of fascism would take on the forms of celebrity television and the casino greeter’s come-on, since that is as much our symbolic scene as nostalgic re-creations of Roman splendors once were Italy’s.

    What all forms of fascism have in common is the glorification of the nation, and the exaggeration of its humiliations, with violence promised to its enemies, at home and abroad; the worship of power wherever it appears and whoever holds it; contempt for the rule of law and for reason; unashamed employment of repeated lies as a rhetorical strategy; and a promise of vengeance for those who feel themselves disempowered by history. It promises to turn back time and take no prisoners. That it can appeal to those who do not understand its consequences is doubtless true. But the first job of those who do understand is to state what those consequences invariably are. Those who think that the underlying institutions of American government are immunized against it fail to understand history. In every historical situation where a leader of Trump’s kind comes to power, normal safeguards collapse."

    That bit about normal safeguards collapsing is very scary. I hope there is no violence at the convention and that at least some speakers are cautious but not looking positive so far.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 288 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: RNC 2016: A literal shitshow,

    How to explain how anyone could consciously vote for Trump. Still inexplicable to me. The only possible reason that makes any sense is that voters in the U.S have given up on the system and they are voting to screw the system completely.

    I’d imagine that a percentage of voters are hoping that there is another Trump who is might not be quite so crazy as he seems but that is looking highly unlikely now.

    In DONALD TRUMP’S GHOSTWRITER TELLS ALL in the New Yorker magazine the ghost writer Tony Schwartz tells us about writing the Trump biography back in 1987.

    It turns out it was mostly a work of fiction since Trump really had nothing to say of consequence.

    A couple of paragraphs here but you should read the whole article if you can.

    “But the prospect of President Trump terrified him. It wasn’t because of Trump’s ideology—Schwartz doubted that he had one. The problem was Trump’s personality, which he considered pathologically impulsive and self-centered.”


    “Schwartz had written about Trump before. In 1985, he’d published a piece in New York called “A Different Kind of Donald Trump Story,” which portrayed him not as a brilliant mogul but as a ham-fisted thug who had unsuccessfully tried to evict rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants from a building that he had bought on Central Park South. Trump’s efforts—which included a plan to house homeless people in the building in order to harass the tenants—became what Schwartz described as a “fugue of failure, a farce of fumbling and bumbling.” An accompanying cover portrait depicted Trump as unshaven, unpleasant-looking, and shiny with sweat. Yet, to Schwartz’s amazement, Trump loved the article.”

    ““I was shocked,” Schwartz told me. “Trump didn’t fit any model of human being I’d ever met. He was obsessed with publicity, and he didn’t care what you wrote.”


    “Trump has been written about a thousand ways from Sunday, but this fundamental aspect of who he is doesn’t seem to be fully understood,” Schwartz told me. “It’s implicit in a lot of what people write, but it’s never explicit—or, at least, I haven’t seen it. And that is that it’s impossible to keep him focussed on any topic, other than his own self-aggrandizement, for more than a few minutes, and even then . . . ” Schwartz trailed off, shaking his head in amazement. He regards Trump’s inability to concentrate as alarming in a Presidential candidate. “If he had to be briefed on a crisis in the Situation Room, it’s impossible to imagine him paying attention over a long period of time,” he said….
    “This year, Schwartz has heard some argue that there must be a more thoughtful and nuanced version of Donald Trump that he is keeping in reserve for after the campaign. “There isn’t,” Schwartz insists. “There is no private Trump.” This is not a matter of hindsight. While working on “The Art of the Deal,” Schwartz kept a journal in which he expressed his amazement at Trump’s personality, writing that Trump seemed driven entirely by a need for public attention.”

    And so on. It all makes for scary reading. Last quote:

    “Trump’s self-portrayal as a Horatio Alger figure has buttressed his populist appeal in 2016. But his origins were hardly humble. Fred’s fortune, based on his ownership of middle-income properties, wasn’t glamorous, but it was sizable: in 2003, a few years after Fred died, Trump and his siblings reportedly sold some of their father’s real-estate holdings for half a billion dollars.”

    Even a share of $ half a billion is still a huge advantage.

    I tried watching the live stream but it is just too weird. Even the states that voted against him seem to have got pro Trump spokespeople to announce their votes.

    I wonder if there will be a higher than usual vote for parties and candidates other than those of the Republican or Democrats due to these very strange results in the Presidential race?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 288 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Hate and guns,

    These graphs have been doing the rounds today.

    "No data yet on the correlation between “thoughts and prayers” and gun violence, but I did find these."

    Who needs an Assault rifle for anything?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 288 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Confessions of an Uber Driver…,

    I don't use Uber but I did have the app on my phone as I was thinking about it. As of this discussion I have deleted it because I don't want to encourage another life sucking culture at all. It is an example of a good idea that would work if drivers had a fair say on true costs but that looks like it is not going to happen now.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 288 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The media awards are dead –…,

    Great news well done Russell and all the other award winners.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 288 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Forgetting what we didn't know,


    Analysis of the database will take time and given the NZ crew only just got full access – as per the attached image – a simple high level search on New Zealand shows links Offshore Entities (16) Officers (58) Intermediaries (5) Addresses (391). The real stories will be a bit more hidden than that and there are other searches to be made including the ones on other Pacific Islands as mentioned earlier (by others.)

    What I’m concerned about is the reputational damage to NZ business. When 300 economists can sign their names to say that essentially the secret trust business is one that should be controlled or shut down then NZ has to take notice.

    Tax havens have no economic justification, say top economists

    Regardless of what the NZ trusts actually do – they are seen to facilitate dodgy practices in other places. If NZ ever wants to collect tax from the bigger trans national companies who are “legitimately” not paying tax in NZ, UK, U.S or most places then we need to have a clean out.

    If 35 or so other nations can commit to changing this then New Zealand should be part of that. Ironically Australia has tightened up the rules on transnationals and is doing the same on the #panamapapers.

    Panama Papers: 35 countries agree on joint compliance action

    Like or not these wider issues are connected and that could be part of the reason for some of the denial that is coming from National party hacks.

    Overseas territories resist calls for concessions to end tax secrecy

    Of course they will. The most simple fix that can be put in place fairly quickly is an inter country data sharing arrangement so lets join other governments and do that.

    If New Zealand is as squeaky clean as National party politicians think then they should show a leadership position and put some controls in place. Make that trusts regime more transparent to other governments and stop facilitating questionable business.

    As for Garner and TV in New Zealand. Have stopped watching long ago.

    Also don’t look now but a proposed merger between NZME & Fairfax – two basket case businesses with a failing business model in a sunset industry will be somewhat distracted by the blood on the streets if allowed to merge as they cull their head count. That is a greater threat to media than anything else. ( but off topic so)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 288 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Friday Music: Good News,

    A very long time ago I remember a magazine / newspaper called Hotlicks which disappeared and then came RipItUp. As an earnest music fixated teen like many others I waited each month to find out the latest from RIU on NZ music news and other music.

    It was the (music) journal of record back in the 70’s and 80’s. Then it got a bit more complicated. Running a business is never easy especially with a tiny population.

    Well done Simon for rescuing this archive. Back when AudioCulture was just an idea I asked Murray about all of the past issues and it seemed like it would be good if somehow those back issues could be found and saved.

    In a pre-internet world New Zealand was extremely isolated. yes you could get an NME or another music mag but RIU represented the heart and soul of NZ music for many years. Awesome news.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 288 posts Report Reply

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