Sunday, December 9, 2018

A Christmas Wish

Are Local Councils In NZ About To Commit Treeson?

Notable and protected trees in NZ have lost their Government protection. Local Councils now have the power lift protection, so will that open the way for developers? Time will tell as each Council decides where they will draw the line.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Labour Day

Today, October 22nd, is Labour Day in New Zealand. It once commemorated the creation of "The Forty Hour Week" and now looks sadly out of date in the current retro-liberal economic regimes that have been in force here since the 1980's. In most Western economies it is much the same and has seen the re-emergence of widening levels of inequality and lower living standards for many middle class and most lower skilled working people and beneficiaries. The minimum wage in NZ of $16.50 per hour might seem a lot to workers in less affluent countries, but in New Zealand we now have large numbers of working poor who struggle to survive on incomes comparatively very similar to those in the pre World War Two period of the Great Depression.

It is increasingly accepted in NZ that just over $20 per hour is the amount needed to be a "Living Wage". Many business people disagree and say it would hurt the economy as well as push them to ask for importing migrant workers instead of locals (eg. especially in NZ orchards and vineyards). Others say that it would turn them to look at automation and result in more unemployment. Both arguments do not appeal to me and in the latter option of automation I see real advantages. History tells us the technological advances of automation have in fact ultimately created more better paid jobs and a generally richer society, so I see little to fear there.

I grew up in a time of unprecedented economic growth and rising wages and working conditions during the 1950's and 1960's when NZ had one of the highest standards of living per head in the World. So what has changed to make us worse off now than many other countries? I blame our shift from Neo-Mercantilism to Retro-Liberalism. Retro-Liberalism is my term and used in place of of neo-liberalism - that pretends to be something new. It is not of course because it resurrects policies that I am sure made The Great Depression far worse and contributed to the disastrous Second World War. Neo-Mercantilism covers a mixed bag of policies where governments and local businesses (and unions) work together pragmatically to create trade surpluses that fuel economic growth. Whereas classical Mercantilist regimes often used armed force to establish colonies to supply raw materials for consumption and industrial production. Today, Neo-Mercantilist governments are also obliged to work within a sustainable, Earth friendly framework and actively ensure business does the same because they reserve the right to guide the economy in desirable directions.

I would like to see a return to the "Forty Hour Week" and time and a half wages after usual working hours - plus double time on Sundays to compensate for the loss of a day of rest. Saturday afternoons should be a time for recreation ( re-creation) and Sundays a period of spiritual and family time - as it once was when I was a youngster. Retro-liberal policies are a recipe for eventual social and then economic collapse and repeat the terrible mistakes of the past.

What do you think? Do you like what is happening to Western democracies - where people get angry and nitwits get into power and wreck the show for the rest of us. Surely there is a better way and Labour Day is a timely reminder that well supported unions pushing for better working conditions and a productive neo-mercantilist economy  are the best ways to go - as opposed to the blindfolded, consumer driven and financial and social deficit tolerating economy that we have today.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Cock-a-doodle doo!!!

More chooks!! This time I am celebrating the birth of my 4th grandson this month - drawn and coloured on Affinity Design. His grandmother was there to help bring him into the world. Alas I will not be able to hold him till next year.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Will The USA Ever Learn?

No point doing another cartoon about the pointless deaths in the USA that keep on happening when guns are so easily available there. This old cartoon of mine still sums up how I feel.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Time's Up For Bill English

After New Zealand's Leader Of The Opposition and ex Prime Minister announced his resignation, there were many Kiwis who said they thought of him as compassionate, a financially prudent Minister of Finance, a good Christian principled family man and generally nice guy etc. However Bill English's track record suggests another way of thinking about this long serving National  Party politician.

Bill English has left behind a legacy of record levels of homelessness and inequality, a dangerously huge house price bubble (one of the World's highest), trade deficits, record numbers of immigrants from non traditional sources such as Asia (that is rapidly changing the demographic balance in NZ), a large increase in Government debt and reductions in government services such as health and broadcasting. In my opinion, New Zealanders have generally accepted such policies like the proverbial frog being slowly boiled to death while having every opportunity to opt out of that fate. John Key, a recent and very popular National Party Prime Minister, called it "incremental reform". I call it turning the clock back to pre World War policies that created the Great Depression.

I once asked my father what life was like during the Great Depression in the 1930's. His reply surprised me. "Well, I was lucky, I had a job (on reduced wages) and life went on as usual for a lot of people and actually the really well off enjoyed the drop in prices, especially luxuries and the lower cost of labour and services. The problem was that 25 to 30 percent of the population were cast into dire circumstances and sort of dropped out of the economy and I hardly saw them in the streets. Although the shops were full of things to buy they could not afford to buy them and so some became so desperate, the Government had to put armed guards at the rubbish tips to stop people going there to get food to eat and clothing to wear."

Today we are supposed to be much better off, but why are the charity food banks once again being overwhelmed by the need to help the rising numbers of poor people? I put the blame at the feet of "good old guy" politicians like Bill English. Thanks but no thanks Bill! You will not be missed by the many newly impoverished New Zealanders who cannot afford to buy a house, have to pay exorbitant rents and struggle to feed and clothe their families.

Thursday, January 4, 2018


Doris might be making a return to my drawing board and tablet. A collaboration with a comic writer has been resurrected and we shall see how she develops. This is roughly how she will appear.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Will It Be So?

The newly elected Labour/New Zealand First Coalition Government has made a cautious start and I have yet to see the major reforms needed to roll back the neo-liberal policies of the 1980s that extended into the 1990s. On my wish list this year would be a minimum living wage, a return to the progressive tax rates and welfare rates prior to 1984, fair trade tariffs defending local industry (from unfair competition and hidden state assistance), housing assistance for all first home buyers and affordable and enough state and council owned houses for the needy. The social, GMO restrictions and anti-nuclear reforms would be welcome to see stay. In short, more Government social assistance to reduce inequality and support for productive (NZ Owned) industries that create prosperity and a healthy international balance are what I think are needed. Keeping in mind, that in NZ, the word "Government" really is our collective democratic ability to do things for the benefit of all.

On the other hand, if marijuana becomes legalized to get support of the Green Party, then perhaps a majority of Kiwis will soon fantasize that such things do not matter anymore and so the future is now. But I hope we go no further than decriminalization and steer clear of total legalization. Marijuana is just a another generally harmful narcotic that I would hate to see available to our youngsters in the local dairy and supermarkets masquerading as a harmless recreational thing to do. I believe we would be better off without it and we should continue to restrict it to being used as a medicinal alternative to conventional pain killers etc.