Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Wikileaks Diplomatic Cables Leak

Wikileak's cables leak puts the state of affairs in a better light than the media does. Perhaps the establishment shouldn't find releasing the truth so scary.

But then again, we can probably always rely on the media to distort whatever they say (jazz it up, sensationalise it, speculate on it, etc).


Saturday, November 27, 2010

You've Got To be Kidding!

Australia's Kevin Rudd was at least partly kicked out of government because of Australia's slavish kowtowing to the United States, so why an Earth is this still going on?

Not to mention Obama, who was most definitely voted in by a vast margin because of Bush's total delinquency on foreign policy. And yet the US Pentagon is still acting like it should be protecting that legacy rather than reneging it: we all know Bush was a prick, and that Obama is meant to be genuine, upfront and supporting the truth. So why the hell is he (via the Pentagon) protecting Bush?

That the US and Bush were backstabbing its allies… What a surprise!!! The neo-conservatives were only about America. No-one should be surprised that the documents prove that. There were plenty of public documents at the time that ascribed Cheney and other Bush cronies to exactly these policies.

The awful shock, if any, is that the Pentagon under Obama is just as secretive and just as defensive as it was under Bush. Either Obama hasn't got a grip on changing the culture of the departments of Homeland Security, et cetera, et cetera (and it has only been a short time) or he's just a sap.

And the same can be said of Australia's 'new' government. What's changed?

Power corrupts – that rule never seems to change. God damn it.

Australia slams 'reckless' WikiLeaks over US cables http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iOEg5Znwgpu57lX9sx19wNY_mNJg?docId=CNG.5b3b763ba2738bcc238cf218258f7f67.421

US warns of likely harm from WikiLeaks release http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jUZomhwHKrBR-R3tw_E-cFunmZgQ?docId=e36bae4685ba416e80c2fde3e9ec78ff


Friday, November 26, 2010

David Miliband Makes A Blunder On Leadership

"So you're saying to the country, 'show me where to lead and I'll follow'; you're not saying, 'I'm going to be your next Prime Minister and I will lead you'; you're saying, 'tell me where to go...'?"

Such an invitation to get it right. But he doesn't. So close. But he fails. Like every leader (virtually). He fails. The interviewer is right. Ask the people. Listen to the people on the topics they are interested in – they will show you the direction: the data, the information and the knowledge, will show you the answer.

C'mon Miliband, you can do better than this. It's by listening to the people, by studying the problems, by getting feedback on the solutions from those whom the issues affect that you will find the answers. There is no other way to a correct solution. Don't take the 'strong-man' road of being the 'strong leader' and not admitting that you have to ask people what they want – that's just stupid.

I think you've just made mistake in hearing what was being asked. I think you know better. Tell us you do.

[BBC Radio 4 Interview with David Miliband – 'Who are Miliband's 'squeezed middle'?' - http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9231000/9231239.stm]


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Joint Drug-Taking & Social Bonding

Joint drug-taking is a form of social bonding, but can quickly become a requirement of social bonding.

If we are to remove the requirement of drug-taking in social bonding, whether it be alcohol in pubs, parties, ad infinitum, or other forms of drugs, then we need to show that these social occasions can occur as well as they should without the drug. This can be fostered with the knowledge that all of our social bonding before the age of eleven was without drugs.

But can we really do that? Can we, any more, socialise without alcohol?


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Alcohol Recruitment

Alcohol companies deliberately recruit young people into drinking their product – that's what they do, as Bacardi CEO Seamus McBride specifically attests to on BBC's The Bottom Line (02 Nov 2010):

"My first thought is, 'who are going to be the target group to recruit the new generation of drinkers for our global brands?' We generally focus on legal drinking ages (because that changes by country), and then, 'how are we going to introduce 23, 24, 25, 30-year olds to our spirit brands?' Now they consume media, communication very differently to when we were younger…, so we need people who are open to, expert at, both inside and outside the company, on digital work, social networks, on events, on sponsorship, on celebrity, and that kind of thing."

"We focus on, let's say, 25 to 30 year olds because that's the age when boys become men, girls become women, and they develop their preferences."

"One of the things we want to do is revitalise the rum market. So we try to attract 25 to 30 year olds into the rum market through the brand Bacardi. So we will portray people in our advertising people who are 25 to 30 because they will recognise themselves in that."

"We have 25 year olds, we have 30 year olds in our businesses around the world because those people understand the trend, they understand what 25 year olds think."

What chance do youth have against this?

Liquor companies will never voluntarily inform on the harm their product does.

But the information provided on what a product does needs to reflect the whole balance of what that product does, not just the fun part. Alcohol companies in the current capitalist ethos will not work to provide this. We need a system that's ethos isn't just the pursuit of money regardless of harm, but the pursuit of fulfilment (for all) without harm (to any).

(The Bottom Line, 02 Nov 2010 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00bqscp#synopsis)
(OUR SYSTEM - http://www.oursystem.info/)


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WINZ Doesn't Provide Support, It Provides Coercion

That's why people try to get on the sickness benefit, to get some protection from WINZ.

I doubt there is a single person who has ever been forced to apply for a benefit that has ever had any trust in WINZ.

If WINZ really provided support they wouldn't confine themselves to the strict mantra of availability for only full-time work, and they would consider work outside of the confines of just employee jobs. They would tailor their assistance to people, not force people into their policy peg holes which don't fit anyone.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

WINZ – Trying To Find A Way Not To Help

They're trying to find a way, trying to find a reason, not to give you assistance.

WINZ (Work & Income New Zealand) can't decide if it wants to help people and be flexible to individual circumstances or to rebuff people and stick to narrow benefit definitions that don't fit individuals. Actually it can decide, and the decision has been made, despite any niceties the system isn't human, it's mechanical, and so it doesn't work for people.


The Big Society

Our government is part of our society, it's our answer to how to provide many essential services. If we're going to move essential service provision outside of the domain of government (into the 'Big Society') we need to ensure people have the basic income they need to contribute these services.

A base income is a lot less than we pay officials, but it has to exist, people can't live and contribute on nothing, there can't be a Big Society in which we share our contributions and ideas if incomes aren't shared.


WINZ – The Job We Choose For You

'The job we choose for you is better than any work you could choose' is wrong. It's wrong in New Zealand, wrong in the UK and wrong in the States. But this is the latest mantra of their benefit systems.

Immense talent is wasted by jobs that don't realise our potential, all this when a base income would enable everyone to make their best contribution. With time, some of these contributions would generate enormous incomes which can be shared to sustain an ever greater base income.

[The Guardian, Unemployed told: do four weeks of unpaid work or lose your benefits - http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/nov/07/unemployed-unpaid-work-lose-benefits]


WINZ - Forcing People Into Unsuitable Jobs Is Bad Social Policy

But this is what Paula Bennett's trying to do.

Any new applicant for the unemployment benefit (there's a name they could change for a start, how about income assistance?) has to attend a seminar where they are shown a video of how to apply for a job. This is regardless of your background - whether you were previously a professor, brick layer, student, journalist or scientist, you have to attend this seminar and watch the video. Then you are asked to fill in a form detailing all manner of your previous experience, regardless of whether you have a CV that already shows this.

Then you must speak individually to a WINZ representative who quizzes you on your circumstances. The interviewer amazes at your personal situation, is uncomprehending of what jointly raising a child means for separate parents, and continuously tells you to be flexible in your job choice while showing no clue to the references in their own literature of 'suitable' work or that different people have 'different circumstances'.

Following this you must attend everyday for the next five days an appointment in the WINZ office with a representative who tries to convince you to be flexible in your job choice. Can you imagine the effect of this on people's self concept? On their ability to even look for suitable work while this goes on?

All this takes place before you are even considered able to apply for the benefit. If they recommend you a job during this process you must take it or forfeit any entitlement to assistance.

What will this mean for human beings trying to build careers and productive lives which realise their abilities? What will screwing people into jobs in which they just don’t fit mean for these people? What will happen to the people who don't want to be screwed and fall out of the benefit system altogether?

This is Paula Bennett's new plan to get people into paid work. It will be a quick fix on the numbers in the short run (certainly less on the benefit), but it's going to screw up a lot of people, and the longer this goes on the more it's going to cost us.

This is not the way to help people work or make any form of meaningful contribution. But help isn't what Paula Bennett has in mind. She's short-sighted. Her system isn't designed to help people contribute their best, it's designed to crush people and make them conform to whatever employers need them for. But this method will cost all of us and we'll lose the unique contribution of people who could give more if they were enabled to.

[Post Script – The experience of WINZ, as with many organisations, depends on the WINZ rep you get. A good rep tries to rise above 'the rules' to try and understand the individual and help you (probably to be knocked down by the supervisor), but a bad rep sticks to 'the rules' and is uncomprehending. The question is, 'are the rules or the rep empowered to deliver the service?' If it's the rules, as I fear it is, then people aren't going to be treated as people, and diversity is going to be punished.]


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Aussie History Myopia

Why didn't Sean Plunket (NZ journalist) challenge John Howard (former Australian Prime Minister)'s depiction of Australian history as "Western" and "English-speaking" with the fact that, actually, Australia's history is Aboriginal and Aborigine-speaking? For the last two hundred years Australia has been primarily Western and English-speaking, prior to that, and for fifty-thousand years, it has been Aboriginal. Isn't that something Australia, John Howard, and any Western journalist of any standing should make pains to point out? Why don't they do so?

"You don't get respect in Asia by denying your past" - John Howard (in the same interview). Well by this comment John, you've just proven yourself a complete hypocrite, because denying Australia's past is precisely what you have done.

[This comment relates to an interview by Sean Plunket with former Australian Prime Minister John Howard on 'The Nation' - http://www.tv3.co.nz/Shows/NewsandCurrentAffairs/TheNation/tabid/1016/Default.aspx?showid=18808 (the interview is online, but unfortunately you'll have to watch the whole programme to see it)]