OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Boarding the funeral barge

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  • Craig Ranapia,

    These kinds of rhetorical reacharounds are grossly offensive.

    Really, Keith? The great abolitionist movements in the United Kingdom and the United States contained all kinds of people whose common cause was regarding human slavery as an unspeakable evil despite their political views often being dramatically opposed on every other point.

    And, yes, they included some very rich people who were willing to finance magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, print books etc agitating for legislation banning slavery.

    I think saying they should have fucked off and formed a political party is a pretty coarse and frankly stupid conception of what being an engaged citizen is.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Semmens,

    I have got a great idea for every post i make! I'll create a straw man argument, demolish it, then use that to show how easy it is to delude myself that my bitter cynicism is cleverness.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1811 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    I've got an idea, Tom: Get in the spirit of the season and be an elf not a troll. I directly responded to something Keith wrote, and he (or anyone else who wants to put up a counter-argument) can reply or not.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Greg Dawson,

    without wanting to sound like a troll, and while being sorely undereducated -

    isn't the main difference between the abolitionist era and the current that we allow dissenting political parties a voice? or at the least, that it's much more difficult to dispose of dissenters without great risk to ourselves(germanys interesting take on the war on terror aside).

    i didnt think keith was saying they should "fuck off and form a political party" so much as "maybe they should feel free to be public about who they are and where they're coming before they start fucking with everything that it is to live in our country" - which, if i'm not mistaken, is the groups who the efa, with all its flaws, was trying to approach.


    personally, i'm a lot more comfortable with a political party saying "hey i think we should take away your ability to do x, and if we(or our nominated proxies) get the vote we'll make it happen"

    ... than i am with someone convincing everyone around me that "oh my god the world will end if we don't do this thing we barely understand" with severe consequences to them and everyone else afterwards.
    (note that my personal opinions and comforts are not necessarily sensible and/or logical. also i second the estimable Emma Harts guess that people don't post here because you're all very smart and it's intimidating as all hell)

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 278 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Boscawen had the same pivotal effect with me too. I was uneasy, but then I thought, if it means people like you won't be able to phone-spam with your expensive astroturf campaigns, then maybe that's a good thing ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18991 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    if it means people like you won't be able to phone-spam with your expensive astroturf campaigns, then maybe that's a good thing ...

    So you think it does that?

    :-)

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    I mostly agree - and know that money in politics is bad, corrosive even - to put in a rather righty frame: politics is all about a market place of ideas - letting one group be able to afford to push their ideas over people who can't seems to me to be the moral equivalent of protectionism or something - we want to choose the best ideas not the ones with the best money.

    Quite apart from whether the bill is a good idea or not does anyone else in the rest of the country feel this whole fuss is an Auckland storm in a teacup (yeah I know it's a big teacup) - we were talking about it the other night and no one could understand why such a big fuss was being made

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2179 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I think saying they should have fucked off and formed a political party is a pretty coarse and frankly stupid conception of what being an engaged citizen is.

    Note, Keith said 'third party', not 'political party'. You've tangled up his later comments on 'you could just form a political party' with his smackdown of Rodney Hide which was that the abolitionists would have to register as a third party. I think Keith's point still stands, which is "what would be different for the abolitionist movement if the EFB had been in force, apart from having to register and fill in the forms?"

    Personally I think comparisons between abolitionist movements of a few centuries ago, and a modern NZ political parties are a bit idiotic. Not for the reasons that Keith has outlined, but because the political world was incredibly different back then.

    It's about as useful a comparison as jumping up and saying "ooh! Wouldn't have happened in the democracy of Ancient Greece!". Yup. But after the debate, Rodney Hide also doesn't head off with the National Party caucus to fondle some pretty young slave boys either, so we're making progress.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6208 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    Addressing the broader point, Craig, what were the abolitionists? Sure, in the present context, slavery and universal suffrage aren't political issues, but that's just because we have near-universal consensus on on them. Back in their day, these were political campaigns.

    And that's all I'm saying - SST, FF, Brethrens, etc., they are many things, but when they step into the political arena and become electoral campaigners, they become political groups, and regulated *as* political groups. And when they want to spend $120,000-$1m on an election, they just have to register as a political party, so that they undergo the same degree of scrutiny as all the other political parties.

    Most people - especially some elements who are against the EFA - agree that scrutiny of politicians is a good thing. Well, here are all these people trying to influence an election, wanting to spend as much money as the politicians, but also wanting to avoid the scrutiny by saying "woah - don't look at me, I'm not a politician, I'm just a concerned citizen".

    That's what bugs me.

    --

    (And just to nitpick)

    Really, Keith? The great abolitionist movements in the United Kingdom and the United States contained all kinds of people whose common cause was regarding human slavery as an unspeakable evil despite their political views often being dramatically opposed on every other point.

    Well, National has member who are dramatically opposed on a lot of social issues, too. Doesn't stop them from being a party. And if they don't like it, there's nothing to stop them from forming separate parties.

    And, yes, they included some very rich people who were willing to finance magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, print books etc agitating for legislation banning slavery.

    I think saying they should have fucked off and formed a political party is a pretty coarse and frankly stupid conception of what being an engaged citizen is.

    What Kyle said.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 535 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    I have got a great idea for every post i make! I'll create a straw man argument, demolish it, then use that to show how easy it is to delude myself that my bitter cynicism is cleverness.

    Craig, I think he's talking about me. 8-) But thanks for taking that one for the team, anyway.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 535 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    Graeme said:

    So you think it does that?

    :-)

    Quit teasing and post, damnit! 8-)

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 535 posts Report Reply

  • Keith Ng,

    Actually, Craig, the thing that pisses me off the most about Hide's comments was that it was a deliberate rhetorical trick.

    He never said that the abolitionist or the suffragette campaigns would have been defeated or even hampered by the EFA, so if you took his words at face value, it's virtually meaningless, because he's just saying that they'll need to register. But clearly, that's not what he means. He said it knowing that people will interpret it further, so he's insinuating what he can't say - because it ain't true.

    That's some sneaky shit, and he's using the memories of the heroes of liberalism to pull it off. Hence - "grossly offensive".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 535 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Well, National has member who are dramatically opposed on a lot of social issues, too.

    Sure, and I don't see why the hell people like DPF and I can blog our fingers into stumps in favour of (say) amending the Marriage Act to give same-sex couples full equality before the law, and encouraging people to vote for candidates who feel the same... but if went out and raised funds to run a series of full page ads in metropolitan dailies doing the same thing that's 'electioneering'? (Assuming we fall foul of Annette's Law of Common Sense' - which seems to mutate faster than the flu.)

    Sorry, but I see no reason to view the EFB as serious election finance reform rather than rather dodgy legislative therapy for folks who keep seeing scarf-wearing bogeymen in every shadow.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Boscawen et al have to do a bit more than start a political party to access the higher limit: they also need to run candidates and/or contest the party list. Not that that's a Bad Thing at all.

    (See s84(1) of the Electoral Finance Act. Cthulhu, I love saying that. Electoral Finance Act. Electoral Finance Act. Take that, plutocrats!)

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1661 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And when they want to spend $120,000-$1m on an election, they just have to register as a political party, so that they undergo the same degree of scrutiny as all the other political parties.

    How about we split the difference and regulate them to exactly the same extent as incumbent MPs. Same level of scrutiny and de facto public subsidy too - though in the spirit of fair play, every political group should get one piece of retrospective validating legislation if they cross the line.

    That's not pure snark, Keith, because it sure seems to me that the EFA does precisely nothing to address the real electoral plutocracy here. And that's the way everyone in Parliament wants it, with all the strategically ambiguous rules and cynical nudge-nudge, wink-wink electioneering on the public dime untouched.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    I don't see why the hell people like DPF and I can blog our fingers into stumps in favour of (say) amending the Marriage Act to give same-sex couples full equality before the law, and encouraging people to vote for candidates who feel the same... but if went out and raised funds to run a series of full page ads in metropolitan dailies doing the same thing that's 'electioneering'?

    It's not "electioneering".

    The Act only affects advertisements which explicitly encourage people to vote or not to vote for a party or parties (s5 (1) (a) (i)), or encourage them to vote or not to vote for a party or parties described or indicated by their positions (s5 (1) (a) (ii)). Ads in support of full equality don't fall under either category, unless they say "don't vote for bigots" (and Destiny is running candidates).

    Really, this debate would have been a lot easier without the constant FUD from the right. The law doesn't affect issue advertising in any way. What it does affect is attempts to circumvent spending restrictions by the rich, of the sort we saw in the 2005 election campaign.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1661 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Take that, plutocrats!

    Pluto isn't even a real planet, fascist! Golly, you are right - this is fun. Come on hit me again! "Tool of the military-industrial complex" is a particular turn on.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Really, this debate would have been a lot easier without the constant FUD from the right.

    And I'd say this is another debate that would have been better served without the evangelical self-righteousness of large parts of the left.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    And I'd say this is another debate that would have been better served without the evangelical self-righteousness of large parts of the left.

    I may be self-righteous (who isn't, when it comes to democracy?), but at least I can read a statute properly.

    The blunt fact is that this law does not do what you claim it does. it will not affect your ability to campaign on issues one iota. It will only affect you if you intend to spend large amounts of money in an effort to influence the outcome of elections. And like most democrats, I don't have any problem with that at all.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1661 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Boscawen et al have to do a bit more than start a political party to access the higher limit: they also need to run candidates and/or contest the party list. Not that that's a Bad Thing at all.

    See s84(1) of the Electoral Finance Act.

    I/S - that would be:

    On the application of a claimant or candidate's financial agent, a District Court may make an order granting leave to a financial agent to pay-
    (a) a claim for election expenses sent after the period specified in section 68(1); or
    (b) a claim not paid in the period specified in section 68(2); or
    (c) a disputed claim in respect of which an action was not brought within the period specified in section 69(1)(b).

    I'm not sure how this helps you.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    It's not "electioneering".

    I/S - I think you missed this bit:

    and encouraging people to vote for candidates who feel the same

    With that, it is an election advertisement.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Graeme: I'm working off the 3R draft of the divided bill on the Parliamentary website, the law not having appeared yet on legislation.govt.nz. Section 84 (1) of that reads:

    Where a party is listed in the part of the ballot paper that relates to the party vote, the party's election expenses in respect of any regulated period must not exceed the amount of $1,000,000 plus the amount of $20,000 for each electoral district contested by a candidate for the party.

    So, those saying "we'll just form a party" will need to go beyond that, and actually run candidates. otherwise, non-contsting parties are treated as third parties.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1661 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Obviously :-)

    But given you went to the trouble of quoting a section of the Act rather than a clause in the Bill, I thought I'd have some fun.

    And it hasn't appeared on legislation.govt.nz yet, because it's not yet a law. Not for a couple of days yet. I am aware that those forming a party have to have a list (or a candidate running somewhere) to qualify for the spending party-vote spending limit. It will also ban them from opposing individual candidates.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3009 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Boscawen had the same pivotal effect with me too. I was uneasy, but then I thought, if it means people like you won't be able to phone-spam with your expensive astroturf campaigns, then maybe that's a good thing ...

    Russell: There are times of day when I'd like to see some serious regulation of phone spammers, full stop. I'd also like to see a little less nudge-nudge, wink-wink electioneering from incumbent MPs paid for with your taxes. Funny how the status quo where incumbent MPs can 'buy speech' with gay abandon didn't really get touched by the EFA.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And, Keith, on reflection I'd like to withdraw and apologise for my use of the s-word.

    To avoid sounding like Trevor Mallard, it was not only an unwise choice of words but unfair, untrue and failed to display the basic civility of debate I expect to be shown by others. You put up an argument in good faith, and however much I disagree bitching it as 'stupid' was out of line.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12040 posts Report Reply

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