Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Be the party of good science

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  • Keir Leslie,

    It's a prerequisite for taking executive power. I guarantee he won't change jack shit and by the end of his last term he'll be as hated and compromised as every other president.

    Oh, go and play with Ralph Nader would you? Elections matter.

    (In fact, Obama has changed things; look at the stimulus, look at health care reform, etc. Also note that it is the Senate that's the roadblock to change at the moment.)

    Also: the bullshit false dichotomy between economic and social leftism is, of course, bullshit: we can have both, and in fact I think have to go together. I think that the left should be running on economics at the moment, because when there's a global economic crisis caused and prolonged by mad right-wing policies, I think there's one really obvious case to be made, but that isn't to say we should throw the rest under the bus.

    In other words, they're happy to see inequality - and all its resulting social ills - increase.

    No, this does not follow from the premises.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1252 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    My Father was very angry with the lightbulb ban, not because he's a climate change denier but because almost every light switch in his house is on a dimmer switch, CFLs blow up if you put them into those sockets and he was going to have to get his whole house rewired.

    From my understanding of what would be banned, and what was available, he had no reason to be so upset. One company was producing a dimmer bulb wasn't it?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6145 posts Report Reply

  • Eddie Clark,

    Danyl - I take your point about the New Left as well. In its Blairite and 3rd term NZ Labour incarnations, it is mostly about empty symbolism and pandering, papering over a rather nasty authoritarian impulse.

    I also understand that constant bleating about rights and discrimination and lesbian maori whales is about as electorally popular with centrist voters as smallpox. I'm not saying that a retreat to populism doesn't make electoral sense, just that its a) unprincipled, and b) one that would certainly not bring me back to Labour. Its easier to play electoral games with rights when they're not ones that protect you personally.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 270 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    If we're going to pull stuff from the book of Marx, sure. But if it's about maintaining a decent welfare state, education and healthcare paid by a central tax system, these are still at heart popular concepts in New Zealand, despite being 'old school', and pretty socialist.

    I've been saying for a little while now that, at some point, NZ needs to have a discussion about just what kind of society we want to be: do we want to be a low-tax economy, or do we want to have high-quality, readily-available social services coupled with quality education? The two are mutually exclusive (as Craig is so ready to point out), but neither side of the political spectrum has shown any inclination to actually ask the public which way we want to turn.
    Act, at least, are speaking in consistent terms - slash taxes, but also slash services. They have a prescription that is balanced, but it's also one that, as I understand Kiwis, isn't broadly acceptable to the country. Unfortunately nobody else is asking about a real alternative. Instead we're being sold reduced tax rates with no acknowledgement that this isn't sustainable if we want to keep the kinds of public services for which we were once widely-known.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    In our house we can't use fluoro bulbs in the most-used light fittings, because they're recessed into the ceiling and the bulbs overheat and fail after about 2 months. And because we don't own the house, we have no control over the light fittings.

    If there were some serious government carrot/stick, we might convince our landlord to replace the fittings similarly to how he has improved the insulation since that became subsidised.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    I read recently that the whole European Union had banned the old 100w light bulbs. Fines for importation. No big deal.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 1901 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Also: the bullshit false dichotomy between economic and social leftism is, of course, bullshit: we can have both, and in fact I think have to go together. I think that the left should be running on economics at the moment, because when there's a global economic crisis caused and prolonged by mad right-wing policies, I think there's one really obvious case to be made, but that isn't to say we should throw the rest under the bus.

    Unfortunately, many people seem to think it means exactly that.

    No, this does not follow from the premises.

    I'm not talking about premise - I'm talking about their actual policy record. For a party supposedly committed to greater economic equality, Labour is awfuly timid in enacting policies that would help. Yes, they've had successes - Working For Families is the best move we've seen on that front for a long time. But it is still basically tinkering around the edges of the problem.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1592 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Hilary, that'd be because in the EU it's possible to carry out some fairly significant degree of "social engineering" without the media and the public screaming and ranting about it.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    If there were some serious government carrot/stick, we might convince our landlord to replace the fittings similarly to how he has improved the insulation since that became subsidised.

    I'd suggest regulating for minimum standards to solve the problem of split incentives in rental properties, but someone - probably a landlord - would cry "nanny state".

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1592 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    in that case why make claims about the mental state of actors you haven't got a clue about?

    (And, er, you have premises and then you draw conclusions that aren't warranted, of course it is about the damn premises; either that or the logic you are using.)

    Since Jul 2008 • 1252 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Wrong thread, Keir?

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3733 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    One company was producing a dimmer bulb wasn't it?

    I have 90% CFLs in my house, but dimmer switches in the lounge and I can honestly say I've never seen dimmer CFLs for sale. I'm sure I can source them on the internet someplace, but I'm a lazy, lazy man and not really inclined to buy my lightbulbs over the internet. There were other arguments against them as well - recessed lights, they take a while to warm up so aren't very good for external lighting, or hallways. My point is that it would have been a lot smarter to create economic incentives than a fiat ban - because you know what? That ban has now been rescinded, so it got them LOTS of terrible press coverage yet gained them nothing, while a less prescriptive policy would still be in place.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 894 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    no, not really. I/S thinks Labour's quite happy to see inequality and the negative effects of that increase based on the certain facts. I do not think his facts support his conclusion.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1252 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    in that case why make claims about the mental state of actors you haven't got a clue about?

    On the grounds that if they really gave a shit, they'd do a lot more. They don't, therefore they don't - classic modus ponnens.

    It is not as if the solutions to inequality are unknown. Progressive taxation and redistribution are not some grand mysteries which elude us. Labour does not pursue these policies because it does not want to. And that puts them squarely on the hook for failing to tackle what is supposedly their chief concern: inequality.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1592 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    So you are saying that WWII soldiers got a welfare state as a reward?
    Yes

    But... Rob already showed you that they didn't. The welfare state was instituted long before World War II, and leftists all over the world had been agitating for those benefits since the 19th century. Don't make us break out the historical science, yo.

    Obama has changed things

    Rescinding the global gag rule and passing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act are reasonably big deals to me. (Chicks might dig Obama a little more than Brickley does, I'm thinking.)

    I'm wondering if New Zealanders actually do believe in 'everyone having a fair go' any more. Perhaps lefties are just nostalgic for those egalitarian ideals, but I might be the last gasp of that in my own age cohort, and a lot of voters are younger than I am. (OTOH, I might just be mentally crushed by a relentless onslaught of Your Views-ism.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3583 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Though I suppose you could believe that Labour does not think that inequality leads to negative social effects. This a) flies in the face of their public statements; and b) requires us to belive that they are inutterably stupid. Intellectual charity demands I believe they are evil instead.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1592 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    Clearly those of us who take the language of equality seriously and believe that it isn't just about rich and poor should just STFU, take our lumps, and bow our heads in obediance to our self-appointed leaders of the economic-only left.<quote>

    Oh, come on. That's hardly what I was saying. Rather, I was pointing out that Labour, other than in its first term where it had pressure from the Alliance, rarely made much attempt to address the economic bases of the forms of inequality you quite rightly decry. Instead, like other Third Way parties, it accepted the neoliberal consensus while focussing on a series of symbolic, rather than substantive, examples of inequality. This is where I think talking about the "language" of inequality, rather than its actual social manifestations, is suspect.

    Labour had 9 years in office, yet failed to do much meaningful about the massive structural inequalities and straight out social deprivation that arose in the wake of the reforms of the '80s and '90s. It failed to put really effective paid-parental-leave and paid-childcare provisions in place. It failed to significantly reduce class sizes in schools, particularly in "at risk" communities. It failed to undo the damage in terms of staffing, morale, and resource availability that the neoliberal reforms unleashed on the health sector. And it failed to stop private, sorry, "intergrated," schools from continuing to drain millions of dollars from the public education budget. You might notice that all of these have a significant impact upon minority and disadvantaged communities, and that they also have a large economic component.

    <quote>If the left isn't for individual freedom (in its substantive sense of requiring the economic resources to be actually realised rather than merely theoretical), then what is it for?

    So, what are you saying? 4WDs and flat-screen TVs for everyone? The Left is a broad church, and I, for one, think it should still have room for those who think there should be moral, ethical, and practical constraints on consumption. (Or, as you put it, the "realisation" of "economic resources.")

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 411 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    My Father was very angry with the lightbulb ban, not because he's a climate change denier but because almost every light switch in his house is on a dimmer switch, CFLs blow up if you put them into those sockets and he was going to have to get his whole house rewired. He wasn't terribly impressed with the Green/Labour position that anyone protesting the ban was a far-right flat earth luddite.

    He was angry because he had been misled. By National and ACT Party MPs, talkback hosts, and editors and "journalists" who couldn't work out a simple concept.

    There was no ban.

    There was however a minimum standard.

    To quote Jeanette Fitzsimons, from an excoriating attack on Phil Goff

    National members have admitted to me that they knew what they were doing, they knew they were misleading the public, but it was too good an opportunity to miss because Labour hadn’t explained its policy – even to its ministers, it seems. Phil, do you have to perpetuate their lies?

    The lighting standard was similar, and on its own was expected to save households who currently have incandescent lights around $500/year. Many current incandescent lights would not have met the standard, but the better ones would have, along with compact fluorescents and halogen lights and LEDs.

    Quite. $500 dollars per year.

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2078 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks,

    And secondly, it does seem to imply a kind of top-down, shadowy cabal, kind of deliberate manipulation.

    It's not necessarily for there to be any conspiricy, R A. That's the gist of Manufacturing Consent, and other commentary on this matter; it could be a systemic problem.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1122 posts Report Reply

  • Caleb D'Anvers,

    Dammit. Closing my tags this time:

    Clearly those of us who take the language of equality seriously and believe that it isn't just about rich and poor should just STFU, take our lumps, and bow our heads in obediance to our self-appointed leaders of the economic-only left.

    Oh, come on. That's hardly what I was saying. Rather, I was pointing out that Labour, other than in its first term where it had pressure from the Alliance, rarely made much attempt to address the economic bases of the forms of inequality you quite rightly decry. Instead, like other Third Way parties, it accepted the neoliberal consensus while focussing on a series of symbolic, rather than substantive, examples of inequality. This is where I think talking about the "language" of inequality, rather than its actual social manifestations, is suspect.

    Labour had 9 years in office, yet failed to do much meaningful about the massive structural inequalities and straight out social deprivation that arose in the wake of the reforms of the '80s and '90s. It failed to put really effective paid-parental-leave and paid-childcare provisions in place. It failed to significantly reduce class sizes in schools, particularly in "at risk" communities. It failed to undo the damage in terms of staffing, morale, and resource availability that the neoliberal reforms unleashed on the health sector. And it failed to stop private, sorry, "intergrated," schools from continuing to drain millions of dollars from the public education budget. You might notice that all of these have a significant impact upon minority and disadvantaged communities, and that they also have a large economic component.

    If the left isn't for individual freedom (in its substantive sense of requiring the economic resources to be actually realised rather than merely theoretical), then what is it for?

    So, what are you saying? 4WDs and flat-screen TVs for everyone? The Left is a broad church, and I, for one, think it should still have room for those who think there should be moral, ethical, and practical constraints on consumption. (Or, as you put it, the "realisation" of "economic resources.")

    East Greenwich • Since Mar 2008 • 411 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    But of course, the Greens are quite happy to throw evidence out the window of their Bowen House offices when it suits them.

    Sue Kedgley:

    I will officially open this inaugural Natural Health Expo

    ...

    My topic at 10.30am is:
    "Why the NZ Government needs to embrace Natural Healthcare into the Health System"

    Chartered Natural Healthcare Professionals will be available to explain their work, with opportunities for the public to explore and experience numerous modalities including: Massage, Reiki, Reflexology, Kinesiology, Breathwork, Su Jok Onnuri, Flower Essences, Self Realization meditation/healing, Ortho-Bionomy, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Natural Medicine , Craniosacral Therapy, Holistic Pulsing, Hellerwork and Natural Healing.

    I'm not going to get too upset when they practice these things which absolutely have no evidence of efficacy, despite the externalities they generate. But to inflict these on the rest of the population, and give them the credibility that "Government approved" generates in the credulous?

    The People's Republic of … • Since Nov 2006 • 2078 posts Report Reply

  • James Butler,

    Intellectual charity demands I believe they are evil instead.

    Hanlon's Razor demands otherwise.

    Auckland • Since Jan 2009 • 790 posts Report Reply

  • Keir Leslie,

    Hang on, they do some things that help, but not enough, therefore they are happy to see inequality increase?

    Well, no. I'd even accept: they are willing to let inequality increase in exchange for increased economic growth, etc. But `happy for inequality to increase'? Yeah. No.

    (And the attendant social ills? I mean, really, wtf, you think Labour are keen on bad things that cost money? Also, do you remember the first thing Labour did to the tax rates at the start of this government?)

    Also, from the Dimpost & generally applicable

    Ramsey McDonald who said he became a democratic socialist after he realised that the workers didn’t want a revolution, they just wanted a decent salary and a good life for their kids

    Well, he kind of failed spectacularly at that didn't he? There may be a lesson in it; after all, nobody wants to end up a bloody tragedy.

    Since Jul 2008 • 1252 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    If the left isn't for individual freedom (in its substantive sense of requiring the economic resources to be actually realised rather than merely theoretical), then what is it for?

    So, what are you saying? 4WDs and flat-screen TVs for everyone? The Left is a broad church, and I, for one, think it should still have room for those who think there should be moral, ethical, and practical constraints on consumption. (Or, as you put it, the "realisation" of "economic resources.")

    That's a rather perverse reading. The economic resources required for individual freedom to be actually realised are things like free healthcare and education and a welfare state which allows people to continue to pursue their life-plans regardless of the vagaries of fortune, rather than one which drives them further into poverty. It's not about consumption, its about the state providing stuff so that we are free to get on with our lives.

    If you want to attack consumerism, fine, be my guest. But individualism is perfectly compatible with being on the left. it just requires a bunch of old fuddy-duddies to lose the sticks up their arses and stop purporting to represent people who have never consented to such.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1592 posts Report Reply

  • Dinah Dunavan,

    It disturbs me that Labour appears to be trying to woo voters back by being more like National.

    After the election a cousin said to me as we argued about politics "but you must admit we needed a change". That told me all I needed to know about why he voted right instead of left. Because he was bored with the current faces and wanted a 'change'. He had no idea of the policies of either party, and he didn't care.

    I'd rather politicians stood a little above the whole nasty mud slinging going on. If a few nasty small minded bloggers and reporters call you names, maybe you should ignore them. The more attention a bully gets the worse they become. You see it in schools, the bully feeds off the attention and that attention brings others in to the bully's circle and they become bullies too. So rational behaviour is put aside in the frenzy of nastiness.

    Dunedin • Since Jun 2008 • 167 posts Report Reply

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