Posts by tussock

  • Hard News: Trump's Dummkopfs,

    That editorial is quite heart-warming, Alfie.

    Clinton is a presidential candidate; deliberate, serious, considered, and in a position to unite the country and make it stronger into a challenging future.

    Trump is none of those things. Arizona's a long shot to swing Democrat, about 10% or so yet, but little things like that, you never know. It's really nice to see serious folks in the US notice the same things the rest of the world does.

    Just gunna leave that there.

    Since Nov 2006 • 557 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Trump's Dummkopfs, in reply to Russell Brown,

    You might be reading too much into that Russell. Conservatives are always fearful about something or another, that's quite natural, the things those ones are afraid about are largely bullshit race and class issues because it's a pretty good country to live in with a massively powerful military and there's not any real problems for the majority to fear any more. That terrorism thing got old years ago, and everyone hates the security theatre surrounding it.

    Not that the actual race issues in the US are bullshit, they're terrible, but the way conservatives look at it over there is bullshit. Factually incorrect. Racist, if you will.

    But overall, it just looks like most conservative US voters aren't put off by his racism, because they're mostly racist, nor his foreign policy gaffs, because they can't even find their own country on a world map, nor his sexism, because they're mostly sexist, and so on.

    But the ones he is putting off, because not all conservative voters are any of that stuff, that's why he's still 7 points down rather than a couple points up that historical trends would put an average Republican at this point.

    He's not attracting people because he's racist, he's losing them, it just increases the relative concentration of racists that remain. Like the people at his rallies don't really give a shit what he's saying, because if you did you probably aren't at his rally.

    Take a group, exclude a sub section of it, remains of group seems to have more people not in that sub section. Really not more, just less of the excluded ones.

    Since Nov 2006 • 557 posts Report Reply

  • Polity: The most important graph in the world,

    Percentage growth rates aren't particularly useful for understanding things like growth in wealth, in that 1000% of nothing is still nothing, the peak at 50% may well represent a much smaller net growth than the dip at 80%.

    Late 80's is also a weird start point, it's mostly going to capture the massive economic growth of China and India as they underwent their equivalent of the industrial revolution in combination with the digital revolution, with nearly half the world's population between them.

    While presumably the near-zero relative growth is for western countries who piled on the neoliberalism, cut taxes on the rich to nothing, smashed unions, and slashed social spending to pay for it all in the early 90's, along with getting rid of any notion that the state should provide for full employment and a rising standard of living (or much of anything else). We have 6% unemployment because that is government policy, to hold wages down: obviously that limits the growth of wealth for most people here.

    None of which really has anything to do with modern trade networks.

    Since Nov 2006 • 557 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The war is still with us,

    The largest protests the western world had ever seen were on the streets of their major cities on the eve of the invasion of Iraq. There is almost no mainstream record of that. Millions of people marched, and it was ignored.

    The politicians, the press, they wanted a war. Anything said they shouldn't have a war was ignored, everything said maybe it was possible there was a reason to have one was seized on and played up endlessly, without any checking at all.

    The documents presented to the UN about WMDs were a from a decade old university thesis, everything else was thrown out because it didn't say what they wanted to hear. Carl Rove summed them up nicely, as described by a reporter. "The aide" is Carl Rove.

    The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works any more." He continued "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors … and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

    They don't actually believe in empiricism. Evidence, that's not how the world works any more. They know what it is and reject it. You just invade Iraq and make it work and then that's the new evidence, just because. When John Key talks about getting another scientist if you don't like the science, about how climate change isn't a problem because science will solve it (despite all of science pointing out what a colossal problem it is, and already having given them the solutions, which they ignore just because they're going to do that other thing and then you can study that instead), that's the same deal.

    They went to war in Iraq because it was going to be easy, and work really well, and be hugely profitable and help the people of Iraq too, because everyone saying otherwise just hasn't seen it happen yet. Just like that.

    Blair was the same, the war was going to go gloriously and promote Britain to being a new world leader and authority on all that is right and good, just because that's what they were going to do. When evidence means nothing, that's all there is left.

    Since Nov 2006 • 557 posts Report Reply

  • Polity: Post "post-truth" post,

    This certainly isn't new, in NZ, or I assume from what I've read, anywhere else.

    Machiavelli didn't write about how things could be, he wrote about how they really were, behind all the lies. Where the powerful serve the interests of the very few who keep them in power at the expense of everyone else, and that they do so with the cruellest of methods imaginable if it fits their purpose. Offshore torture camps to keep the racist party donor happy? Why not.

    French oil interests in Lybia. US/British oil ambitions in Iraq. German banker loans to various poor Euro states. No one really thought cutting taxes for millionaires and wages for the poor and middle class would "trickle down" the wealth, or no one who mattered, when obviously it just creates new landlords for an ever-more indebted underclass. Which politicians always promise to "fix" by giving us more loans and subsidising our landlords, funnily enough.

    Democracy hasn't changed that. It just makes for less revolutions, because we get to swap the puppets for the puppet show now and then.

    Since Nov 2006 • 557 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: The Government you Deserve,

    Only thing I read made any sense was British folk have used their relatively proportional votes on Europe as a means of expressing discontent with their local government for the last lifetime, and not actually cared what happened with them afterward.

    Because that's all the papers and other media ever talk about with 'em, and for most folk that's all there is.

    So when there was a referendum on something the government didn't want, the people protested against their government (which is not at all proportionate in the regular elections, and really very unpopular) by voting for the other thing.

    Which got them what they wanted, the PM will quit and the local politicians are all being appropriately po-faced for a bit. All this "things might be bad now" is just another day, things are always "might be bad now", like the wars and stuff.

    Oh, but, don't mention the wars. Isn't it a warm summer, and such thunderstorms, every day!

    Since Nov 2006 • 557 posts Report Reply

  • Polity: Custard, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    That's a big step, really, Joe. The 90 day law still requires you have a legitimate reason for firing someone, but it also says that reason need not be communicated to the employee at any point. National never managed to pass their fire-at-will version.

    Changing it to needing a legitimate reason that they have to tell you up front so you can at least try to fix whatever the problem is, that's a help. It's also basically the law for firing anyone, just with a few less steps.

    Since Nov 2006 • 557 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Hate and guns,

    The USians I've conversed with of late on the net make it clear that many of them are completely divorced from reality on the issues around guns.

    Like, they see news like that and imagine themselves being trapped in a shootout in a public building, like it's totally going to happen to them too. In a country of 324 million people. That their only defense is owning and carrying a gun at all times and also that the state wants to take their gun away from them so they need to buy more and bigger guns right now!

    It's a thing, people concerned about their family suddenly turning into gun nuts and driving themselves broke buying up an armory. Seen it a few times.

    Chatted with a guy whose spouse wants to move to NZ to get away from the violence, but he can't imagine not being allowed to carry his pistol everyone in case it all went down one day. Because he's scared to go out in public without a firearm. Fox News for you, I imagine, but there it is.

    That's not strictly sane, statistically his gun is the most dangerous one to him by a hundred times, but still vastly less dangerous than his car, which is another big step down from his cheeseburgers, but that's how a whole bunch of US citizens live their lives. Guns so ever-present and dangerous that you have to have one, or two, or ten, or you'll be the next victim.

    And then, obviously, that generates a huge well-funded gun lobby whose real job it is to drive up gun sales at every opportunity (not really a gun-owners lobby, but a gun-shop lobby). So it's not that they're afraid of the NRA, it's just that the NRA pays them well to talk up political threats to widespread gun ownership, because that sells more guns.

    Which gets us into the thing where you have a mass shooting and the political right there talks up how "we can't let this hurt our 2nd amendment rights" and up go gun sales because people are terrified and believe that widespread gun ownership is the solution to that fear, because that is what Fox News constantly tells them, which is like half the country.

    Since Nov 2006 • 557 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: This. Is. Crazy.,

    The whole thing is nonsense.

    I live in a house that was recently painted. Thus, solvents. There will be detectable levels of solvents in the house from that, cleaning products, and various other things which could cause serious health effects in sufficient quantity. Don't huff paint, kids. But it's not actually dangerous.

    In the meanwhile, if you get a supremely sensitive test for some bullshit thing that politicians have to be seen to be doing something about, the state gives you tens of thousands of dollars to strip a perfectly good house down and rebuild the insides. Which keeps it empty for a couple years, so the state can sell it on account of it never being occupied.

    You can't live in because it needs "repairs" forever, and because no one's been living in it after they do it up, they sell it and count the jump over the old book price as a profit.

    Contractor: Easy money.
    The State: Oops, asset sales, LOL.
    Poor people: GST went up, so yeah.

    Since Nov 2006 • 557 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: How the years flew by ...,

    There's a book somewhere about how if you hold inflation under 4% for long enough, no one can afford houses any more. That it's true in every part of the world for every part of history. It has always been fixed by deliberate redistribution, or revolution and murder, or a giant bunch of wage inflation (often following said revolution and murder).

    NZ has held inflation low since the neo-liberal reforms of the 80's, over 30 years, and that's long enough that no one can afford houses any more.

    Quite simply, wages follow inflation, but asset prices don't. Low inflation means low wages compared to asset values, and an ever smaller clique of asset owners who lord it over the rest of the country and use their position to decide how everyone has to live.

    We have an additional bubble on top of that because "everyone knows" house prices are going up so "everyone" is borrowing to put them up even further. Pyramid schemes are good like that, though eventually all the banks collapse and everyone loses their jobs all at once. Meanwhile the state keeps roofs over the heads of the workers by paying most of their rent for them, allowing even rents to rise out of ordinary people's reach and push house prices even higher.

    But in Holland after WWII, they had not enough houses and a bunch owned by too few people who felt no great need to fill them, so they just made a law that if your house had more bedrooms than you should use (according to the state inspectors and law) then you had to either find renters to fill the extra or be forced to sell it at short notice to someone with a big enough family to fill it at auction, and go move into something smaller. The forced sales of most of the housing stock to large families made prices realign to their contemporary wages rather quickly, and obviously no one paid more than that for the smaller ones.

    Or in NZ, in the 1880's, where the big landholdings of wannabe lords were broken up by the state by virtue of charging a vastly higher %ge rates on larger holdings, making them nonviable until split to whatever size the state approved of. Which is why our farms since have always been limited in size to that manageable by a single family, even though that law is long gone and a few people are trying to accumulate vast estates run by poorly paid laborers again.

    So, yeh, redistribute the wealth (as in, property), face revolution, or get some very serious wage inflation going. The plan seems to be to keep the bubble going a bit longer yet and leave a bigger problem for the next government. Deckchairs on the Titanic and all that.

    Since Nov 2006 • 557 posts Report Reply

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