Posts by tussock

  • 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 • 551 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 • 551 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 • 551 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 • 551 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: Banking on a relationship,

    The basic problem credit card providers have is that they cover the cost of any fraud. If someone in Nigeria gets your card numbers and spends up to the limit on it that all goes on your provider and you don't pay anything.

    So they have dumb computer algorithms that block your card if it starts doing anything wildly outside your usual spending habits, like yours always works in Wellington and then suddenly buys a laptop in London.

    And when you call them and say, hey, I did really just buy a laptop in London, it's cool, a human unlocks your card for you again. Which they can also do in advance if you detail your travel plans for them it seems.

    I don't really see the problem. You get a wallet-sized no-fault piece of plastic that lets you buy anything in any currency anywhere in the world at any time without notice (where the people you're paying don't see any real money for a while) and the cost is they all try to not get constantly defrauded on that if that looks like someone might be stealing from them.

    Maybe just tell them your travel plans. Good luck when your next bank does exactly the same thing to you.

    Since Nov 2006 • 551 posts Report Reply

  • Up Front: Cui bono?,

    When Labour was last in, they had a thing on the reserve bank that said they had to consider the unemployment rate when trying to limit inflation, that it should sit around 2% unemployed, which it did.

    When National got in, they removed that and told the reserve bank to work harder on limiting inflation. Like the last time, unemployment rapidly rose to 6% and has sat there ever since.

    Real unemployment rates are much higher of course, most of the extra people who work under Labour don't actually qualify for unemployment under National, they're in some sort of relationship that disqualifies them or simply can't handle the application process.

    Unsurprisingly, this lowers inflation by lowering real wages over time, making people too poor to buy things they used to be able to buy. Turning ever more of the economy to service of the rich, and stifling overall growth in favour of growth for those at the top only.

    The Prime Minister is a proponent of how he wanted to be rich and now is, and therefore everyone would be rich if they just wanted to, so you've just got to kick them a bit harder until they figure that out. When Blinglish talks about useless people, "no hopers", that's literally what they think, it's just people who don't want it. It's a long-disproved medieval philosophy, but still popular with the neoliberals.

    WINZ is also now dealing with vastly more people having the work-seeking requirement, even relative to the extra unemployed, without any extra budget for most of that, so obviously that's made life worse for everyone who has to deal with WINZ in recent years.

    But it was always a shit system. It's founded on a presumption of guilt where you constantly prove yourself innocent and every mistake is punished with the catastrophe of financial abandonment. Which, obviously, isn't helpful for people for anyone who struggles with anything at all. To a large extent, that's because it's not supposed to be. It's not for us, but nothing else is either, so tough luck.

    Since Nov 2006 • 551 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Labour's medical cannabis…,

    Haha, wait, they want us to arrest people for selling tea and coffee?

    Since Nov 2006 • 551 posts Report Reply

  • Polity: Eleventy billion dollars!, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    Hey Tom.

    1/ A UBI gives everyone money, that's about it. What adult people do with money, experimentally, is improve their lives in various ways, including health, dentistry, extending their education, and job seeking with improved transport and clothing and so on. Needed stuff that just gets shelved when you don't have money.

    You'd think everyone would cut back their hours and write a novel or whatever, but in the real world they don't, because that's super-boring. A lot of people will try starting a small business related to their expertise though, using the UBI to effectively lower the initial setup costs on their own time investment.

    2/ Worrying about what crazy people are doing just makes you crazy, or a psychiatrist I guess. Stuff either works or it doesn't, don't worry about the crazy people.

    3/ The Taliban runs public schools and public hospitals. In the anarchy of recent times in Somalia and Iraq private businessmen kept the public schools and public hospitals afloat until the state got back on it's feet. Basically, no nation can compete at all without them, even the total monsters educate and provide professional healthcare to the local kids for folks, and have for a couple centuries now.

    Even the USA used to provide healthcare, it just couldn't figure out how to forgive anyone's debt for it after the fact, when the only answer is obviously just to not charge one.

    Since Nov 2006 • 551 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Approved by lunchtime,

    Next thing they'll be using alcohol to clean our wounds, despite the inherent dangers of over-consumption! Won't someone think of the children!

    Since Nov 2006 • 551 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The CRL and the nature of change,

    Eh, it's all ideological. National wants rich people to be richer, and also get more from the government, partly by making poor people poorer and giving them less things from government. Because rich people are more deserving in their eyes.

    So they completely cut funding for solo parents education, and massively increase state funding for private schools, and allow crazy rich folk to start weird little "we love Brian" schools. Cut public health funding, increase private health funding. Cut rail funding to cut back public mass transport, increase road funding to run bigger private trucks.

    In this case, the big money folk have pointed out that they need the rail line too, to get more workers into the CBD in reasonable time and inflate the property and business values in there (and all rail-connected areas) a bit further, without having to drive up wages and other compensation.

    Because useful infrastructure is really good for everyone, which most of the time also means even better for the really rich folks. So is socialism in general and things like public health and education, but you have to understand that to the national party some people just aren't as deserving.

    So we don't really have service cuts to afford the tax cuts. It's nonsense, state budgets don't work like that at all. They just happen believe in both cutting services to the poor and giving more money to rich people.

    Since Nov 2006 • 551 posts Report Reply

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