Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: A week being a long time in politics

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  • Kracklite,

    An observation about polls, FWIW/BTW, which I've used teaching design students.

    In the early eighties, Renault and Citroen researched responses to "one-box" cars, that is, small city cars that were more like miniature vans rather than conventional hatchbacks (engine compartment as a "box" out front, passenger and luggage as a bigger "box" behind it) or saloons (the boot as the third "box" sticking out the back). Both came up with the same results: the majority of potential buyers did not like one-box forms. Citroen decided then not to pursue that design philosophy and their model flopped. Renault made the Twingo, which was a hit, because while they found that the majority did not like it, a substantial minority loved it and would not make it the second choice after a German or Japanese competitor. Citroen lost because their model was "liked", it was not preferred over the various Golfs and Polos that Volkswagen offered.

    Since then, Citroen, with its new parallel DS range, has tried to push French quirkiness and won good sales, while, perversely, Renault, especially with its larger saloons, has declined against the German competition.

    The lesson is, the secret of failure is trying to please everyone and the secret of success might - just might - be trying to get enough to love you... enough.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • merc, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    The cut worm forgives the plow.
    William Blake.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Sacha,

    Not so. Smart enough to have pulled off the China FTA amongst other things.

    OK, he's a good technocrat, never doubted that, but I'm one of those people who harps on about principle and vision in a serious tone. Get me revved up and I'll talk about metaphysics as if it matters. I'll vote for anyone who can quote J. D. Bernal or Olaf Stapledon sincerely.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Kracklite,

    Olaf Stapledon

    So Odd John's the man for you then...
    :- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7892 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    More the Last Men, really.

    :)

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • martinb,

    Wow.

    No mostly at the image of them throwing a live hand grenade onto a school bus. I don’t like the comment. Being a racist doesn’t make you a child killer and you have been defending the ACT party who have Dr Don as their leader.

    Peters representing a party of anti-Asian zenophobes (and as someone who has lived in an Asian country, can write in an Asian language, ok so very poorly but, and understands a little bit about the attitudes and history of some parts of Asia I can say that tolerance of foreigners isn’t what defines that part of the world.) isn’t that nice, but I don’t notice you getting all annoyed for example that Key chose 3 Maori political leaders to pick on as causing instability or that John Banks stereotyped Polynesians as porn-watching, benefit-bludging drug addicts IIRC.

    So racists is racists

    -and as we all know plenty in the family and acquaintances circle I’m sure doesn’t mean that they can’t hold any number of contradictory positions, find people personally pleasant and be contributors to society, even TV3 debate panels-

    I don’t mind them being called out, and in fact encourage it but I feel using the gratuitous mangled burnt corpses of children to do so a bit too much.

    Auckland • Since Jul 2010 • 203 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Kracklite,

    Olaf Stapledon

    So Odd John’s the man for you then…
    :- )

    More the Last Men, really.

    :)

    Only at PAS :- )

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to martinb,

    So racists is racists

    More like model minoritarian I think, where you can call yourself 'one of us' if you have a big fat chequebook in your pocket, or if you otherwise send your kid to one of the snob schools.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    That's what I love about the place.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 982 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    Anyone have an opinion on whether National really would go to the polls again if they have to serve as a minority government, and are blocked from their neoliberal agenda? I think it might do them more harm than good, they've been bleeding poll support since the election campaigns started. Wouldn't they prefer another 3 years of "steady as she goes" stealth gutting, and the chance of global economic recovery over a chance of being ousted completely?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to BenWilson,

    Anyone have an opinion on whether National really would go to the polls again if they have to serve as a minority government, and are blocked from their neoliberal agenda?

    Let's not forget Kiwiblog back in 2005. When Winston was keeping everyone guessing, and DPF was damping down the commentariat while stopping short of actual endorsement of the old horror, this scurrilous comment appeared:
    "Please, please Winston, say yes! I've got such a stiffy!"

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to BenWilson,

    Anyone have an opinion on whether National really would go to the polls again if they have to serve as a minority government, and are blocked from their neoliberal agenda?

    Picking a question out of the sustained sneer, if any Government loses a confidence vote and is unable to pass the Appropriation Bill that gives legal effect to the Budget there's not a lot of choice in the matter. If you're talking about what would prompt a snap election, I don't know. We've had three snap elections, and I don't think you could argue any of them were prompted by a deep concern for sound governance and the public good. (Which is why I'm a fan of fixing the election date, but I digress.)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Joe Wylie,

    You're suggesting that there won't be a minority government? I'm asking the what-if question here. Given that no majority coalition manages to form, would National really go back to the polls, or would they opt to run the country sans majority? I'm inclined to think they would, hoping that obstruction of their agenda might increase antipathy to the left by the end of three years.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    Picking a question out of the sustained sneer

    I actually only asked one question, and yes, it was about whether they would choose to have an early election, rather than about whether they would be forced out of government by a no-confidence vote (an interesting question in its own right).

    Not so sure about a sustained sneer. Is there something that's not actually true about their plans to cut massive numbers of jobs out of the public sector, their plans to sell off state-owned assets, and their justification all being around waiting for a global economic recovery to create jobs? From what I can tell, they're making no secret of any of this.

    Certainly, I oppose all of those ideas. But I can accept that many don't, and National could end up in a position as a minority government. So the question is: Would they compromise, or go for broke and have another election? I think compromise, personally.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to BenWilson,

    You’re suggesting that there won’t be a minority government?

    I have no idea Ben. Nor, I suspect, do any of the commentariat, so I’m reliant on those few who feel these things in their ‘waters’, who assure me that it’s entirely possible.

    Would they compromise, or go for broke and have another election? I think compromise, personally.

    Given the punishment that the Nat strategists’ hubris has taken lately over their misreading of the tricky currents of MMP, you wouldn’t be wrong.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4591 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    No mostly at the image of them throwing a live hand grenade onto a school bus. I don’t like the comment. Being a racist doesn’t make you a child killer and you have been defending the ACT party who have Dr Don as their leader.

    I think you've taken the imagery a little seriously.

    I'd imagine if Act and UF don't make it, they'll look to Maori Party and then Greens, first for a coalition, next for some sort of agreement to abstain on confidence and supply.

    I would imagine that either one of them would give National the numbers - 61 or 62 depending on how the Maori party go in electorate and party votes.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • HenryB, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    ...some sort of agreement to abstain on confidence and supply

    It will be interesting to watch. particularly when it comes to the sale of Solid Energy. I doubt that the Greens see it as their most favourite state asset but would they sit by and see if being sold off to the highest bidders, especially as there is likely to be a lot of foreign interest in it?

    Palmerston North • Since Sep 2008 • 106 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews, in reply to HenryB,

    I honestly think that the asset sales policy has been such a clunker that National would happily water it down if they had an excuse - coalition partner would provide that.

    Personally I'm happy with the government selling assets - we should be flexible and be willing to sell something that we don't need to buy something that we want. But this policy is truly awful.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    Personally I’m happy with the government selling assets – we should be flexible and be willing to sell something that we don’t need to buy something that we want. But this policy is truly awful.

    And I’ve long been opposed to TVNZ being sold, but increasingly I’m tempted to think it’s the only way to save it from itself, given that the charter-minded Ian Fraser couldn’t bridge the commercial-public gap. Much better to start from scratch, as with Maori TV and the soon-to-be late & lamented TVNZ7.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5420 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    Personally I’m happy with the government selling assets – we should be flexible and be willing to sell something that we don’t need to buy something that we want. But this policy is truly awful.

    It's not that they want to sell, it's what they want to sell.
    Our power companies produce the power for all homes and industry, if we sell even a part of them it will increase costs across the board. A shareholder, or group of shareholders, can sue the controlling shareholder for not maximising profits, thus putting more pressure on homes and business.
    Not a good idea at the best of times, right now just plain stupid.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • merc,

    The only reason you would sell a power company...oh hang on.

    Since Dec 2006 • 2471 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    If you've got Maori/NAT (with/without ACT or UF) on one hand and Labour/Green on the other, then either the right or left will have a majority (or it'll be a dead tie).

    It's hard to see how the Greens would go to the right, when they could form a government on the left.

    The scenarios where they could be in play would be:
    - NZF get in, and take an asymmetric stance where they'll vote against Labour on C&S but abstain with National.
    - Mana get a couple of seats and Goff refuses to form a Labour/Green/Mana government, even though one would have a majority.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    Personally I'm happy with the government selling assets - we should be flexible and be willing to sell something that we don't need to buy something that we want. But this policy is truly awful.

    Yes, in theory, it's doable. If we owned massive state assets in high fashion retailing, I would have little qualms about using that money for something else. But not assets that are the very lifeblood of the nation, the power that literally drives it, keeps people warm and able to see at night, able to cook and shower, use their electronic appliances. It powers industry and commerce. This power is also a very complex blend of different supply mechanisms which must be coordinated, rather than at war with one another. Furthermore, they use scarce shared resources, which are the business of every NZer to have the a say in the use of.

    I think that if the Nats get in, though, they will ignore the unpopularity of this particular plank, claiming it as their main mandate. If they do this, it is going to be an absolute bonanza time for merchant bankers. There are most certainly going to be a small number of extremely rich people who make obscene fortunes, and this can't possibly go unnoticed.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10641 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    It’s not that they want to sell, it’s what they want to sell.

    That's it for me as well. There are assets a government develops (because nobody else will) that in the end can and should be managed privately. There are examples of such things all over the world. At some point there is no longer any advantage to the country to have the government manage those assets.

    But there are other assets where private management simply fails to work for the benefit of the country. To coin the phrase we get asked all the time about our research - "the benefit to New Zealand" is poor. You can look around the world for examples where assets in private ownership and management perform to the detriment of the country.

    The specific example of electricity generation and distribution is one where private ownership in the US very nearly resulted in complete collapse of the network across the entire US, yes it really did get that bad. Competing generation companies made inefficient choices, competing distribution companies failed to maintain distribution systems. Stupid profiteering resulted in energy produced in one state being sold to another state at the same time as brownouts were occurring in the state producing the energy. Stupid management resulted in overloading of some distribution networks while others were unused. Only government intervention at the state and federal level sorted the mess out - to howls of protests of course.

    From what I've seen around the world private ownership and management of electricity generation and distribution is simply not for "the benefit of New Zealand".

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4451 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    If we owned massive state assets in high fashion retailing

    Well, the government seems to consider running a bar an essential function of state.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

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