Quotes of the month

Labour and the Greens have always wanted state funding of political parties, but they need to be careful of putting narrow political interest ahead of public interest. . . Major changes to our electoral law need to have broad public support, Labour and the Greens need to remember that.- Nick Smith

The extreme abnormality of his behavior faded into simply Trump being Trump. He developed immunity to condemnation by way of lowered expectations. – James Hamblin

Whatever the result of the election, it’s always best to accept that and do so with good grace. Just as it is when someone wins an election, to act in the best interests of their country, and to show good grace in that too. – Judith Collins

The truth is that Trump himself is not America’s problem: he is a symptom of that nation’s problems. –Sir John Key

The challenge for the next President – whoever it is – is to get America’s mojo back, to reduce inequality and to harness the promise of the American dream. The challenge is that instead of trying to go it alone, the next US President again wears the mantle of the leader of the free world not as a burden to be shunned, but as a badge of honour to be celebrated. – Sir John Key

In like fashion, the word nostalgia, the melancholic or bittersweet looking back on the irrecoverable past, is nowadays wielded as a rhetorical weapon, as if the past were nothing but a chamber of horrors in a waxworks museum. Whoever is accused of nostalgia is a person of weak mind and probably of ill-will. The past is another country, where they do everything worse than we do now; we have nothing to learn from it, at least nothing of positive value, and we have only lessons to give it, tut-tutting at its deviation from our present state of complete and final enlightenment.

The fact that today is tomorrow’s past, and that if we teach no respect for history (except for those figures who were direct intellectual forerunners of ourselves), we too shall soon be consigned to that capacious repository, the dustbin of history, does not occur to those who reprehend both conservatism and nostalgia. But surely a person who has reached a certain age without feeling nostalgia has lived a very unfortunate, indeed a wretched, life. – Theodore Dalrymple 

By applying a single rate on the incomes of all taxpayers, the flat tax requires that voters impose a proportional tax increase on themselves while seeking to raise revenue from their high-income neighbors. Such a move, of course, proves less attractive. To be sure, the unlimited ability of the state to enact various transfer programs partially undermines the effectiveness of the flat tax. But progressives want to remove the constraint imposed by the flat tax because they know that people are less willing to raise taxes on others when they have to raise them on themselves. – Richard Epstein

Tolerance is one of those many qualities, such as bravery or originality, that in itself is neither good nor bad, but whose worth depends upon many other considerations. A precondition of tolerance, of course, is disapproval, for there is no need to exercise tolerance of what we approve of or are indifferent to. We can all tolerate what we approve of; it is in the exercise of control over the expression, verbal or in action, of our disapproval that tolerance lies. Such control may shade into stupidity or pusillanimity if it leads to tolerance of what ought not be tolerated; we call intolerant those people who do not accept what they ought to accept. Often our designation reveals as much about us as it reveals about them.Theodore Dalrymple

As to equality of opportunity, no more horrible concept could be imagined, not only because a total absence of opportunity would be compatible with it, but because, even to try seriously to achieve it, official interference would have to be so great that it would make North Korea look like a libertarian paradise. A society can offer opportunity to almost everyone, but not equality of opportunity, and to aim at the impossible is often to miss the possible. Theodore Dalrymple

I know that deep black hole that opens up in the middle of your chest and makes you feel like you’re being sucked into it. I know how mean, cruel, and unfair life can be sometimes… but I found the best way through pain, and loss and grief is to find purpose. – Joe Biden

I’m more worried about the tendency of progressive social movements to value their differences above their common goals or to seek economic advantage without working for a more sustainable economic system.  – Christopher Tremewan

At every funeral I’ve ever been to, necessary catharsis is often found in what my Irish-Catholic, rugby-loving family describe as the ‘after match’. Most cultures have evolved practices that, through the breaking of bread and the sharing of stories, pull us out of our isolation and individual grief and back into the collective experience of farewelling a loved one. It provides a kind of temporary, full stop to the profound intensity of loss. Irreverence counters reverence, jokes replace solemnity and food nourishes both body and soul. These communal experiences ground us, reminding us of the legacy of love left behind by the person we have said goodbye to. They exist not as frivolous excuses for a hooley but as a necessary part of moving us through to the next stage. –  Anna Rawhiti-Connell

When equality means equal outcomes, it removes individual effort and requires chopping everyone down to the same level. – Oliver Hartwich

When a society forgets what excellence is, it worships mediocrity. And the only way to notice the misstep is to look at other countries and compare. – Oliver Hartwich

Kiwis have mothballed their ambition. We have forgotten about growing the pie so we can share it. We have given up on excellence in favour of wellbeing, kindness and not rocking the boat. I am convinced this country can do better. But to achieve excellence, we must demand it. From our councils, our national politicians, our schools, our businesses – and, crucially, from ourselves. – Oliver Hartwich

The next question many people ask is what’s the difference between a median house price and an average house price? That’s a very good question which can be answered like this – the median house price is the price of just one house that you cannot afford to buy, whereas the average house price is the price of many houses that you cannot afford to buy.   – James Elliott

New Zealand is a victim of its own success. The low visibility of Covid-19 here means people are less likely to wear masks, scan QR codes, use hand sanitiser, get tested and stay home when sick. We’re stuck in something of a paradox – the better we handle Covid-19, the more our response is jeopardised in the future. – Marc Daalder

When considering whether life is getting better or worse, we need to remember to do the maths. The numbers show it’s not all bad news, and most of it is good news. Just because something is bad today doesn’t mean it was better in the past. We have reason be sceptical, but many more reasons to be optimistic, and especially to be grateful. – Andrew Taberner

I can see a guy hitting the face of one of my men. I’m playing for my country. That’s not respect. – Pablo Matera

Everything is hard in Argentina. At the moment it is one of the toughest times in our country. We wanted to show our people when you fight and work hard you get what you fight for. Pablo Matera

MPs who are bitter, angry or disappointed need to suck it up and move on. Dwelling on the past few months will do nothing to win the election in 2023. The only way forward is through positivity.   – Monique Poirier

The simple fact is that under current policy settings, micro-economic policies that attempt to artificially boost incomes beyond what businesses and the economy can afford will simply end up driving a bigger wedge between the haves and the have nots in terms of asset prices and wealth, through the mechanism of ever lower interest rates. We are chasing our tails. – Steven Joyce

Our system – and worldwide it is the case – eliminates mavericks. How high does your tolerance for boredom need to be before you are willing to sit in Parliament under Trevor Mallard? How patient (or ambivalent to results) do you need to be to hold a Ministry and work with State sector leaders (all of whom seem to have grey as their favourite colour)? – Alwyn Poole

It’s accepting that while nobody can reasonably demand perfection, these leakages are too often and too many. It’s simply asking that those tasked with designing and overseeing the systems that keep us safe do so to the level whereby they will own any and all failures. Until that time, these cases will continue. There will be spiralling consequences radiating out from the incident and affecting huge numbers of people in and out of New Zealand, and eventually one – maybe this one, maybe the next – will spread further, and kill someone.Duncan Grieve

The word austerity is already disingenuous, to put it no stronger. The word in this context means the attempt to align government expenditure a little more closely with government income. It certainly does not mean hair shirts and monastic silence in unheated stone-walled rooms. – Theodore Dalrymple

It seemed to me that rather than be overwhelmed by times that try men’s souls, we can still dream of making a better world; that small happinesses, and committed kindnesses, and goodwill to all men can be the yeast that quietly help us all to rise above fear, judgement, grief, and anger, or despair, doubt and despondency during this turn of the wheel. These small happinesses bring us back to the present moment, and anchor us in the goodness of the world. – Valerie Davies

If you do not get enough money to run your business, you haven’t got a business. If you can’t extract the money you need to survive, you go out of business. – Mike Chapman

You can dislike people and books without needing to publicly declare it. People do not need to be publicly punished for every statement you disagree with. Stop burning the books. Stop calling out every little thing. Stop performing virtue and purity and go out and behave like a decent human being. – Ani O’Brien

There is such power in the pages of a book. There is intrigue and excitement and bafflement, ideas and ideals that penetrate minds, even years later, even into adulthood. Books offer views of other worlds, they are windows into strangers’ souls, introducing us to characters who wear different shoes, different skins, different scars. Books are objects of art, too: their smell and their weight and their beautiful, tactile, tangible covers – Sonya Wilson

Details about the increased caring are yet to be revealed but experts predict it will be in line with the prime minister’s previous track record of looking thoughtful and sad whenever questioned about an issue in front of media, and will consist of furrowed brows, worried frowns, and empathic nodding. The furrowing, frowning and nodding, which Treasury refers to as F2N, will increase by one percentage point a year, aggregating each year to an astonishing 9% increase in Net Prime Ministerial Caring, or NPMC, by the end of the decade. –  Danyl Mclauchlan

In her post-cabinet press conference, the prime minister would not be drawn on whether she would care passionately about child poverty but deeply about climate change, or the reverse. The adverb she would use to care about housing affordability was still being decided. “Intensely” and “strongly” are rumoured to be options and Ardern refused to rule them out, declaring, “I’m leaving every option on the table. I will choose a word ending in ly. That is my commitment to you.” – Danyl Mclauchlan

The key to balancing tradeoffs between cooperation and parochialism lies in understanding that not all groups are created equal. Groups with voluntary memberships that allow people to be part of multiple, transient, and overlapping communities—for example, sports fans, chess clubs, or single-issue political organizations—tend to generate widespread cooperation both within and between groups because their members are also part of larger communities. . .  These types of groups allow diverse, large-scale societies to thrive by drawing people with varied beliefs, interests, opinions, and backgrounds together. These between-group connections encourage people to confront each other’s humanity and help to curtail out-group hatred. In contrast, groups that are formed around fixed, unchanging and non-overlapping identities—for example, sex, race, or ethnicity—while fostering tight bonds between their members, will tend to sow division and cultivate hatred between groups. These groups are likely to breed resentment, foment animosity, and promote tribalism.  – Robert Lynch

Nobody knows how history will unfold, but locking people into an unalterable hierarchy of suffering, pitting groups that we were born into against one another, nurturing persecution and offering up an overly simplistic interpretation of history all seem perfectly designed to prepare the field for another cataclysmic event. What will a nation enthralled by tribal identity do when a president refuses to concede regardless of the vote count? And once this process is set in motion, it might just shatter the fragile foundation on which our society rests. A politics based on membership in a particular religious, racial, or social group rather than broader groupings of people with the same political views was a dubious luxury that our species can simply no longer afford. Although E.O. Wilson originally intended “Wonderful theory, wrong species” to be a critique of Marxism, it is just as applicable to critical theory and its progeny—identity politics. – Robert Lynch

They tell us to stop flying; sell the car, ride a bike, stop eating meat, exist on mung beans and kombucha and there they are sipping carbonated water in business class, after stepping out of a taxi or Crown car at the airport.  – Ryan Bridge

For young people growing up in some of New Zealand’s most culturally diverse communities today, the nation is multicultural and looks and feels like them – less homogenous than prevailing attitudes suggest and less mono-cultural than previous generations. – Bronwyn Wood

First, we must stay true to our values. The National Party values of individual freedom and choice, personal responsibility, limited government, competitive enterprise, and equal citizenship and opportunity. They are the values I believe in. They are the values that you believe in. They are New Zealand values. They are the values that have made our country great and the values that our country needs now.Judith Collins

People will not vote for change without reason. We need to convince them to have high hopes for themselves, to believe a better New Zealand is possible, to expect more from their Government. – Judith Collins

We will expose the government’s wasteful spending and the costs it is putting on businesses, the shackles holding back innovation and entrepreneurship, the closed thinking that hinders progress across so many policy areas, the failure of imagination, the lack of ambition, and the tolerance for bland mediocrity. That mediocrity is robbing too many New Zealanders of the opportunities and choices they deserve. –  Judith Collins

In a crisis, we need to be more than a modified status quo. There are so many areas where New Zealand needs better policy. Our education system is falling backwards, rapidly. More than one-in five-children are leaving our schools without the basic literacy and numeracy skills they need to succeed. Our next generation is learning less than the generation before. – Judith Collins

My fellow members, I believe National is at its best when we speak to the aspirations of New Zealanders, when we voice your hopes and give you reason to believe they can be realised. The belief that hard work should reap reward. That we can deliver our children greater opportunities than we had. That each of us has it within us to shape our own lives for the better if given the choices and responsibility to do so. That the solutions to our worst problems lie not in the hands of an ever–bigger State, but in stronger families and stronger communities. – Judith Collins

We need our leaders to lead. This is an occasion where the nature of leadership is to draw a path, to reassure people about the options that lie ahead, to create both the sense of urgent action but also the sense of a better world. This is not going to happen if people feel alienated and intimidated – they’re not going to participate actively if they don’t see the upside as well as some of the challenges we will face if we don’t move. Leadership is being prepared to stake a position, having gathered some evidence, to then coach and guide and reassure others on a journey. – Rod Carr

The science itself is open to discussion among well-informed scientists. And then the implications of that science for human activity and the impacts that policy change will have on human activity merge from science into judgment. I think we need to be very careful that the pursuit of perfect science doesn’t become the enemy of early action. – Rod Carr

In the agricultural sector, there is no or very little denial of climate change. It’s a long time since I’ve had a farmer [say] that the weather patterns which they are experiencing are similar to the patterns their parents or grandparents experienced if they’d been in the same geographic location for a century. It is warmer in parts, drier in parts, wetter in parts, windier in parts. They are obviously anxious and concerned about how they sustain a viable business if they are unable to continue practices that they are familiar with. In the agricultural sector there is a growing awareness of the need for change, but also a concern about what is the nature of the change that is needed. I think the agricultural sector is highly innovative, I don’t think they’re in denial. For my money, New Zealand should be substantially increasing its investment in agriculture research. – Rod Carr

We hear a lot about structural, aka “institutional”, racism. It falls into the same category as so-called unconscious bias, which can be defined as the bias you have when you didn’t know you had a bias. (So how do you know you have it? Because woke activists tell you. They recognise it even when you can’t.) – Karl du Fresne

New Zealand has to decide what type of place it wants to be: a diverse, harmonious, tolerant, multicultural country with a common interest in prosperity and freedom, or a splintered one in which multiple groups jostle for special treatment on the basis of real or imagined differences of ethnicity, sexual preference, culture, religion, gender or any one of the many other divisive “identities”. I think I know which society most New Zealanders would opt for. – Karl du Fresne

I still look at the fact that [after] two and a half years, traumatised children have been traumatised again by the processes of Oranga Tamariki. You’re re-traumatising all those children just so we’re ‘culturally safe’ now. Where’s the consideration of the trauma of doing that. I think that’s what’s missing from this whole picture. What will this do to those children? – Mark Solomon

Children are real live human beings, they’re not objects. They’re not parcels that we can move around. They have feelings, they have significant ties. Children’s very survival depends on their emotional connections to adults. I don’t want to be disrespectful, but it’s a simplistic belief that culture trumps all else. And so therefore it justifies the removal of these children from where they have been for two and a half years, and the movement to people who at this point in time are from a child’s perspective, strangers. – Nicola Atwool

This suggests to me (not a very original thought) that a free society can exist only where there is some cultural, and not merely a legalistic, understanding of a constitutional order: an acceptance of limits of outrage, for example, if you happen to be fortunate enough to live in a tolerably tolerant society, even when that society is not perfectly just or fair (as no society yet known to man is).

This cultural understanding is easily lost, and indeed seems to be in the process of decline in Western countries, most dangerously among the very class—the intelligentsia—in whom one might have expected or hoped it to be strongest. Our universities are becoming bastions of unfreedom, if my few young academic friends are to be believed, and we are raising up a generation of secular ayatollahs. – Theodore Dalrymple

The attempt to whittle this down to a story about bloodlines undermines the rights of that child to be themselves as a whole person. I will always advocate that the best thing for Māori is, by Māori for Māori, but if a Māori child is happy and loved; supported in their cultural identity and has access to knowledge of their whakapapa, then re-traumising them to rewrite the OT agenda is patronising; it is cynical and smacks of the state tokenising and recolonising these children.  A foster parent

As caregivers we commit to protecting the privacy of the child. We honour this – and know that if we break this trust; we put at jeopardy the secure placements the children we care for have – it is with fear that I tell the story below; but also with anger and most importantly with love. Love for the children that we try to do the best for. The children whom we know better than any social worker. That thrive and flourish in our care. The children whose lives are controlled and manipulated by OT to satisfy a process. To tick a box. I also have another story – but it cannot be told without identifying ourselves or the child and there are too many people who can be hurt by this and I do not feel I have the right to tell that story when it is not mine to tell. I started writing that story a year ago. I felt it needed to be told but I had no voice to tell it with. I think for now it needs to remain untold by me: I still do not have that voice.A foster parent

I want our voice heard. Our whānau voice and most importantly the voices of the children. I want them to be able to feel they have the right to say what they want and to have that listened to and embedded in the plan that will shape their destinies. Because whatever happens their destinies will be changed and it is not them or the people who know them best that will do the shaping. OT controls that narrative. – A foster parent

It’s important that we act now to protect vulnerable consumers from the tyranny of surveillance capitalism. As the late internet activist Aaron Swartz once wrote, “Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves.”Trent Smith

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