Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Steven Joyce: Prick or Treat

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  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Hear! Hear!

    I believe party lists are the price we pay for MMP, Sofie.
    Of course we could try doing as they do in Baden-Wurttemberg:
    In Baden-Württemberg there are no lists; they use the "best near-winner" method in a four-region model, where the regional members are the local candidates of the under-represented party in that region who received the most votes in their local constituency without being elected in it.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 828 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart,

    I'll respectfully disagree with you there, Bart, though I much admire your pragmatism. In the sector I'm in there's a high level of despondency, cynicism and anger about this new funding structure, which is widely seen as a great leap backwards and a criminal waste of time.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 828 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Richard Aston,

    I wish us viewers had that power

    Great idea - sound mix enabled at home.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    List MPs are there to represent communities of interest, not place. The accountability mechanism is not an electorate but a party. The idea was that the public would join a political party to influence its list selection processes.

    I’d rather have a parliament that looks more like our whole population, not just old white men in suits. In that sense, List MPs are working well. It seems to be electorate MPs that are causing problems for some parties at present.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Carol Stewart,

    In the sector I’m in there’s a high level of despondency, cynicism and anger about this new funding structure, which is widely seen as a great leap backwards and a criminal waste of time.

    Oh same here. And yes it's criminal to waste taxpayers (my) money on a dumbass new funding tool. Even worse shoehorning our existing funding into the same "challenges".

    But the first two years of MBIE rounds were just as hopeless. Nobody knew what the funding criteria really were. We all just guessed what MBIE really wanted from us. Even they were guessing what they wanted from us.

    And to be fair I do think the NSCs appear to have all the worst features of design-by-committee.

    But I still trust in the people at the bench to do their best so long as some money gets to them.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Carol Stewart, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Yes, I do too. Scientists are amazing people.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2008 • 828 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    But I still trust in the people at the bench to do their best so long as some money gets to them.

    And that's the problem we're having around my neck of the woods. Good people who won't be at the bench because the money isn't getting to them.

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • NBH,

    It is worth noting that Peter Gluckman's been the driving force behind the National Science Challenges and they're one of his pet projects; I'm somewhat surprised that no one's asked him for his views on all this yet.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    If you don’t like a parties list MPs, don’t vote for the party.

    oops ! I meant I agreed with "The manner in which democracy is run and the business of government is conducted is such that neither are a servant of the people " Steven Joyce is just a prick. I have no problem with list MPs, just the ones I don't like ;)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • stever@cs.waikato.ac.nz, in reply to Jeremy Andrew,

    Yep, same here. No career path, not even a start on one should a youngster be mad enough to want to try.

    So, off they go overseas, taking their intellects with them.

    Hamilton • Since Nov 2006 • 73 posts Report Reply

  • linger, in reply to stever@cs.waikato.ac.nz,

    off they go overseas, taking their intellects with them

    and leaving only politicians behind.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1940 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to stever@cs.waikato.ac.nz,

    Yep, same here. No career path, not even a start on one should a youngster be mad enough to want to try.

    So, off they go overseas, taking their intellects with them.

    Scientific careers are difficult to come by everywhere; here in the US, for example, the odds of a biomedical PhD getting a long-term (i.e. tenure-track) job are somewhere between 10-20%. Maybe lower. NZ certainly isn't making itself a haven for scientists right now, though.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    The vast majority of people who might embark on a science degree aren't aiming or expecting to be tenured academics though.

    But NZ doesn't have grad-level jobs for people with science degrees, either. I know several people with reasonably good degrees in bioscience who have been unable to get any kind of grad-level job (often winding up in IT/teaching/overseas).

    That suggests to me that we're a long way from any kind of knowledge based economy.

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

  • st ephen, in reply to NBH,

    It is worth noting that Peter Gluckman’s been the driving force behind the National Science Challenges and they’re one of his pet projects; I’m somewhat surprised that no one’s asked him for his views on all this yet.

    Don't be surprised if few scientists are willing to go public with their views on Gluckman's role in the process.

    dunedin • Since Jul 2008 • 254 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    often winding up in IT

    Yeah we seem to end up employing a lot of them at work.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 3122 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    But NZ doesn’t have grad-level jobs for people with science degrees, either. I know several people with reasonably good degrees in bioscience who have been unable to get any kind of grad-level job (often winding up in IT/teaching/overseas).

    Yup. The brutal fact is that a good MSc is worth almost nothing. We pay our managers, finance and admin staff "market rates" but we pay our technicians the lowest amount we can get away with. We see people all the time make the entirely rational decision to take their talent and intelligence and use it in careers that actually will allow them to pay their mortgage. And yet our senior executives continue to get pay rises.

    Part of the problem is the continued starvation of the science funding but a part of it is a management problem.

    As for teaching - most of our techs can get an instant pay rise by going to teachers training college with a clear defined career path from there - sigh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    often winding up in IT

    I applied for a job as a programmer sort and explained that my BSc degree was in philosophy (no, really), and the head of the department replied that since his degree was in classics, he completely understood...

    It's not just science degrees.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to linger,

    and leaving only politicians behind.

    And the estate agents.

    And don't forget the all-important telephone sanitisers!

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to ,

    It was interesting for me to learn fabrication engineering, and compleat an arts degree at the same campus. The art* academics and the boilermakers, had no idea what each other did. They couldn’t even speak the same language. I was at pains to explain to the engineers, that artists creat markets for the fabricators to employ there technology. I also tried to argue with the artists, why introducing yourself as an artist, could be seen as leading with the chin in almost all circumstances.

    Something of a bugbear of mine. My experience at university in the UK was that graduate engineers had little to no idea how to actually get their hands dirty (for want of a better phrase). There was a real white collar/blue collar split between those who worked with tools, and those who sat behind a desk/CAD machine. We spent three years learning hardcore maths, thermodynamics, etc, and a cursory 2-3 weeks at the end of the course at the local college learing how to weld, bend pipes, cast metal, etc.

    So this happens even in what is nominally the same tech field/industry.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    yet our senior executives continue to get pay rises

    That's a problem in any industry. Those execs wring their hands about not being able to afford payrises for their staff - because increased profits are going back to the shareholders/owners.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19740 posts Report Reply

  • NBH, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Yup. The brutal fact is that a good MSc is worth almost nothing. We pay our managers, finance and admin staff “market rates” but we pay our technicians the lowest amount we can get away with. We see people all the time make the entirely rational decision to take their talent and intelligence and use it in careers that actually will allow them to pay their mortgage.

    Yeah, and this is why current government 'STEM' policy is so misguided; it insists on treating the 'problem' in this area as an education one, when the real issue lies in the labour market. We already have a pretty high number of people studying in these areas (48% of degree students in 2013 were studying in STEM areas; 68% if you include Health under that umbrella), and simply trying to increase the number of students studying in these areas is pointless and a waste of everyone's time if there aren't sustainable jobs (& postdocs) available at the end.

    Wellington • Since Oct 2008 • 97 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Rich Lock,

    We spent three years learning hardcore maths, thermodynamics, etc, and a cursory 2-3 weeks at the end of the course at the local college learing how to weld, bend pipes, cast metal, etc.

    In NZ we do a Polytech course in that normally at the start of an engineering degree, but it's not very useful. It's explicitly more a safety-around-machines course than trying to give any understanding of how stuff works. Unfortunately even for engineering a lot of that requires experimentation, which builds on using the tools rather than replacing it.

    That said, even 25 years ago there were real problems with electrical engineering students not having basic lab skills (like soldering), so often first year labs were "can you make a simple circuit work at all". That meant students who could were often bored, and some labs really struggled to produce "experiments" that covered the range of abilities. I tried to make a point of doing additional work for every lab session but sometimes it was all a bit hard.

    Then when we did the 6 week "intro to civil engineering" course (etc) the whole thing became a bit of a joke. Yes, I've used a fluid tank to see pretty waves, and I have a vague idea of how to measure water flow rates. But any appreciation for how structures work came from my experience on the shiny end of a welder at home, not from school. I vaguely remember some equations, but if I had to do structural modelling I'd be starting with wikipedia (or a pirated copy of SolidWorks)

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    the public don’t appear to care that our science funding is being starved to death to build more roads

    Except that the two are not related. Science funding comes from the Consolidated Fund. The Roads of Dubious Significance are funded by fuel excise and Road User Charges. You can blame the Steven Joyce Memorial Highway and its tarmac-coated brethren for the City Rail Link not being funded and cuts to the maintenance budget for non-motorway state highways, but they have zero bearing on science funding.

    Science funding is being cut because National are adamantly opposed to tax increases/new taxes, regardless of merit, and because it's much easier to squeeze science out of a fixed-and-shrinking budget than it is to squeeze out education or healthcare. If you really want to blame something, blame penal policies which have turned Corrections into the biggest capital-expenditure sink in the entire public sector. That is a correlation that withstands scrutiny.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Science funding is being cut because National are adamantly opposed to tax increases/new taxes

    Truth be told I blame decreased science funding on the ridiculous proposition that National and Labour both subscribe to - that we cannot and should not raise taxes. This despite all evidence worldwide indicating low taxation results in shitty lives for the population (with the exception of tax haven microstates).

    Within that stupid pool of limited taxation any distinctions are arbitrary, in short the government can and does change the law frequently to move moneys around between the sub-pools.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4460 posts Report Reply

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