Word of the day

01/10/2021

Iracundulous  – easily angered or irritable; cranky; crotchety.


Sowell says

01/10/2021


Rural round-up

01/10/2021

Ball dropped! – Rural News:

For more than a year now the primary sector has been crying out for changed around immigration settings to help ease numerous critical worker shortages right across the country’s key export earning industries.

The Government and immigration officials have badly dropped the ball on this issue – with the entire country is paying for their incompetence.

There is no doubt that things have been complicated by Covid-19 and the ongoing restrictions this has placed on allowing people into the country. However, governments are elected – and officials employed and well paid – to come up with solutions to such problems. Yet the piecemeal, ad-hoc, minimal changes made by both in this area are a national disgrace.

For starters, Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has been completely MIA – that’s ‘missing in action’, not the Meat Industry Association, which is probably keen to chat to him on immigration issues, as is the rest of the primary sector. He is clearly either out of his depth or not interested and the Prime Minister should have relieved him of the portfolio months ago. One suspects that because her caucus has all the depth of the bird bath, and any capable minister is already overloaded, there is no one with the talent to manage or oversee this highly challenging role. . .

Catchment groups need to be farmer-led – Jessica Marshall:

Catchment projects need to be farmerled, according to Louise Totman, who coordinates the Rangitikei Rivers Catchment Collective.
Totman says the decision to join the collective needs to be a farmer-led initiative on behalf of the sub-catchment group.

The Rangitikei collective is an umbrella for 17 sub-catchment groups, covering 700,000ha across the Rangitikei, Turakina, and Whangaehu river catchments. Recently it received $910,000 in Government funding.

“We don’t do a big push to get these groups up and running,” she told Dairy News. . . 

Old dogs finding a new home – Shawn McAvinue:

A North Otago teacher is giving retired working dogs a second chance at life.

Waitaki Boys’ High School agriculture teacher Elizabeth Prentice adopted her dog Meg after seeing her listed on the website of Retired Working Dogs.

Before retiring, the pig dog worked in pest control around the world, including Bali and Canada.

Her former owner lives in Ashhurst, near Palmerston North, and loved Meg, she said. . . 

Radical dog biscuits the cherry on top – Ashley Smyth:

There is a saying, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but after turning to pet food production after 50 years of farming, John Newlands may beg to differ. He talks to Ashley Smyth about how Radical Dog started, how it is going and where it is heading.

When it comes to food for dogs, Radical Dog could be the pick of the crop.

The dog biscuits are made using Montmorency tart cherries and are the brainchild of John and Maureen Newlands, of Incholme, near Maheno.

In the late 1980s, the couple were considering options to integrate something different into their farming business which used their irrigation more efficiently, and they wanted grow something high yielding and profitable, within a small land area.

 

Auckland BioSciences buys Australia’s CellSera, creating $40m firm – Chris Keall:

In a pandemic year that has seen so many New Zealand tech firms bought by offshore rivals, Auckland BioSciences (ABS) has bucked the trend by acquiring Australia’s CellSera.

ABS manufactures and exports New Zealand-made serum and plasma, derived from the blood of cows, pigs and sheep, sourced from meat processing plants around NZ.

Animal serum is a key ingredient for cell culture in bio-pharmaceutical manufacturing and is used in medical research and in the manufacture of human and veterinary products such as vaccines and other biological preparations, ABS says.

The global cell culture market is expected to reach US$36 billion by 2027, according to one market researcher. . . 

Allbirds 2.0? Woolies seeks crowdfund to take ‘NZ Made’ merino jeans worldwide :

Auckland-based jeans company Woolies Jeans will launch an equity crowdfunding campaign on 4 October to fund their international launch

Started in 2018 by Jovian Garcia Cummins, Woolies Jeans was created in a woolshed, where a then 22 year old Jovian, became fed up with the workwear he was wearing – and thus enlisted his mother to help create his first pair of jeans made with comfortable merino lining and protective denim exterior.

“I’m excited to share my invention with the world because I’ve been making these jeans for mates in exchange for some beers, but want to hire some smart hardworking kiwis to help really get this thing going and start shipping worldwide,” says the enthusiastic entrepreneur. . . 


Thatcher thinks

01/10/2021


Quotes of the month

01/10/2021

Our Parliament has never before been unilaterally shut by the Speaker. Open Democracy reports that 31 authoritarian governments have used Covid to shut or limit parliaments. Now the list is 32 countries.  –  Richard Prebble

There seems to be a strange alliance developing between the urban environmentalists on the one hand and huge financial interests on the other. The environmentalists want “green” technology not so much to preserve the environment, for whose aesthetic aspects they care little, but as evidence that they “care.” A 600-foot white windmill in a beauty spot does not offend them, on the contrary, they rejoice at it; they see not a bird-slaying eyesore, but an almost religious symbol of salvation, much as crosses used to be placed in the countryside in once-Christian countries. As to the actual effect on the environment, whether the windmill saves or expends energy overall is something that very few of them would be able to compute, but is beside the point, which is to demonstrate compassion toward the biosphere. Meanwhile, subsidies make millionaires. No subsidies, no windmills.Theodore Dalrymple

Intention these days is nine-tenths of virtue, and intention is measured mainly by what people say that their intentions are. After all, each of us is expert on his own intentions, perhaps the only subject on which he is really expert; and therefore if I say I want more 600-feet windmills because that is the only by which the planet be saved, who can gainsay it? – Theodore Dalrymple

I concede, however, that many people feel differently, and regard their car as a symbol of their freedom to be mobile. Voluntary servitude is a well-known condition, but let it not be electrified into the bargain.Theodore Dalrymple

Indeed, looking backwards is a big part of New Zealand’s current predicament. The puttering start to the vaccine rollout while other countries sped ahead. The obvious shortcomings with our managed isolation and quarantine facilities. The Ministry of Health’s failure to stress-test its contact tracing capabilities or even develop workable Bluetooth tracing capability. And the constant repetition of tired slogans from 2020. All this smacks of excessive satisfaction with past success. – Roger Partridge

Looking backwards, elimination has served us well. And New Zealand’s low vaccination rates means the country has no feasible alternative but to use strict lockdowns to try to stamp out the current incursion.

But how sustainable is this strategy going forwards? –  Roger Partridge

The economic costs of lockdowns are not measured by the cost to the taxpayer alone. The real financial costs are to people’s livelihoods. Economist Michael Reddell calculates that last year’s lockdowns wiped $12b from GDP last year. The current lockdown will add billions more to that. Once again, business opportunities will disappear, firms will fail, and jobs will be lost. –  Roger Partridge

Just as the financial costs of lockdown are cumulative, so too are the human costs. Curtailing freedoms comes at a high price. Medical appointments missed. Education foregone. Friends and families cut off from each other, even at times of acute emotional stress during births and bereavements. Even the loss of everyday recreational activities like a day at the beach or in the mountains takes a heavy toll. – Roger Partridge

There are no good options with Covid. But an elimination strategy that was undoubtedly optimal for the first part of the Covid journey, looks much harder to justify for the journey ahead.

A change of course would bring significant benefits. Families separated by the closed borders would have an opportunity to be reunited. Kiwis stranded overseas would have a better chance of returning. Businesses would be able to meet offshore customers and suppliers. – Roger Partridge

More than that, a new course would mark an end of an authoritarian state that at times has seemed more willing to limit our liberty than to learn from its own mistakes. – Roger Partridge

Looking back, few Kiwis would have swapped their experience during the first year-and-a-bit of the pandemic with anyone else’s around the world.

But whether the road ahead requires the same approach is another matter. There are plenty of reasons for Kiwis to question both the driving and the direction of travel. – – Roger Partridge

Anyone who accidentally creates discomfort—whether through their teaching methods, their editorial standards, their opinions, or their personality—may suddenly find themselves on the wrong side of not just a student or a colleague but an entire bureaucracy, one dedicated to weeding out people who make other people uncomfortable. And these bureaucracies are illiberal. They do not necessarily follow rules of fact-based investigation, rational argument, or due process. Instead, the formal and informal administrative bodies that judge the fate of people who have broken social codes are very much part of a swirling, emotive public conversation, one governed not by the rules of the courtroom or logic or the Enlightenment but by social-media algorithms that encourage anger and emotion, and by the economy of likes and shares that pushes people to feel—and to perform—outrage. The interaction between the angry mob and the illiberal bureaucracy engenders a thirst for blood, for sacrifices to be offered up to the pious and unforgiving gods of outrage—a story we see in other eras of history, from the Inquisition to the more recent past.  – Anne Applebaum

There’s another thesis to be written on the contrasting Covid-19 strategies adopted in Australia and New Zealand, and their strikingly different outcomes. Whoever writes it might like to consider, among other things, why New Zealand appears more amenable to lockdowns. Setting aside contrasting political structures, I think it’s another reminder that despite all our superficial similarities, the two countries are culturally and socially quite distinct. Some might say it’s the difference between a larrikin country with lawlessness in its DNA (that would be Australia, in case you’re wondering) and one whose people are meeker and more compliant – or if you prefer, more inclined to pull together in pursuit of a common goal. But I won’t stick my neck out by going any further than that.Karl du Fresne

I’m valuable enough to work in healthcare, but not valuable enough to be a resident. – Yvette du Plessis-Uys

We migrants are not burdens to this country. We are contributing to the country … but are treated like, even less than second class citizens.Thao Joy 

Lack of clarity of goals is a recipe both for inefficiency and an opportunity for bureaucratic overgrowth. Practically nothing goes uncontested; all is confusion. The police are unsure whether their job is to keep public order, prevent and detect crime, or engage in social engineering, by, say, eliminating expressions of hatred or joining in local carnivals by dancing in them. Are teachers supposed to impart certain basic skills and knowledge to children, or turn them into right-thinking mental clones, incapable of bad thoughts? Absurdities proliferate, generating heat but no light. – Theodore Dalrymple

The secret of success, it seems, is an intellectually modest, but very clear, goal in the national interest. In such circumstances, organizational complexity can be managed. It is ideological confusion of purpose that conduces to incompetence.Theodore Dalrymple

Chief Human Rights Commissioners, however, are supposed to uphold the secular character of the New Zealand state. As public servants, they are not entitled to talk like Archbishops. They may tell us what is lawful and unlawful. They may even reiterate the purposes of the Act of Parliament which created their office. But they have no mandate whatsoever to instruct New Zealanders on what is “Right” and what is “Wrong”. – Chris Trotter

Criticism of Ardern is not that she again locked down the country on August 17. Everyone accepts she had no choice, given the circumstances. The criticism is why those circumstances prevailed.Matthew Hooton

Being angry about the Ardern Government’s operational failures is not the same as opposing her objective, strategy or individual decisions. In fact, it is essential those failures be highlighted and those responsible be held to account — in real time by the media, promptly by the Auditor-General and Brian Roche’s continuous monitoring committee, and ultimately by the inevitable Royal Commission into New Zealand’s Covid response and — if necessary — by the judiciary. – Matthew Hooton

Most importantly, academics, the media, the Opposition and the public have a responsibility to continually put the blowtorch on Ardern to ensure her Government prepares for the end of the elimination era a hell of a lot better than it did the arrival of Delta. Cheerleading any government is the most likely way to make it lazy and sloppy.

With Covid, that risks costing people their lives.Matthew Hooton

Current legislation is based on a false interpretation of the original Treaty documents signed by an overwhelming majority of Iwi leaders that clearly stated the terms of the deal reached between the Crown and Maori.

The fact that parts of that agreement were, in subsequent years ignored by the Crown – although reprehensible, does not in itself justify the creation of a separatist society in compensation for the “sins of our Pakeha forebears.” – Clive Bibby

This lockdown feels different. Taking the temperature of friends and colleagues, there seems less stoicism and more grumpiness. There is a weariness about people’s responses when you ask how they are going. Part of it is the novelty wearing off. Making your own bread might have been fun the first time around, but the third or fourth time, not so much. Another part is the sense that we shouldn’t be here.

No matter how much the Government spins, people know it is the low and slow vaccination rate which has meant there is no other option besides lockdown, just as it has been in the eastern states of Australia. Then there is the loss of control over your own life. That sense of frustration and powerlessness and an inability to make plans. For many, that loss of personal agency is debilitating.Steven Joyce

It doesn’t help anyone that there is no sense of direction about what comes next. The Government is playing its cards too close to its chest. Whether they haven’t thought things through or have a fear of subsequently being proven wrong, ministers aren’t saying anything substantive about the future. – Steven Joyce

People need hope. They need to know what is coming next. They need a sense of positive momentum.

And they also need to see a change in approach. There has been too much bumbling around, too much dissembling, and too much poor delivery for things to continue the way they have been.

The Government needs to start by setting a clear vaccination target and a date. It is surely now apparent people are willing to get their vaccinations. Notwithstanding the PM’s comment, the problem is supply, not demand. The Government should set a target for the country to achieve by the end of the year, and go all out to achieve it. That would give everyone something to work towards.Steven Joyce

The game-playing at 1pm also needs to stop. The Government’s management of the message risks insulting the intelligence of voters. The Ministry of Health should provide the data earlier in the day, and ministers should call press conferences when they have something significant to say. – Steven Joyce

Whether it’s a bunker mentality or ideology, it is ridiculous how many talented people who don’t work on the public payroll have been excluded from the pandemic response.

Whether it’s vaccine procurement, provision of MIQ facilities, saliva and antigen testing, contact tracing, hospital preparedness, or dragging the chain on letting pharmacies and GPs give the jabs, two-thirds of the country’s capability has been left on the bench. That has to change. Doing so would visibly give the public confidence that the Government is open to new ideas and new directions.Steven Joyce

And finally, ministers should halt their health reforms. These were designed for another time. It is ludicrous they have continued to trundle along during the pandemic, and each passing month makes it more so. It is generally a bad idea to reorganise an army while it is fighting a war, and that surely applies here.

There is no evidence from the pandemic that greater top-down centralisation of the health sector will achieve better results, and in fact the reverse. From clipboard Charlies preventing pharmacies from providing vaccines to opaque dissembling with information, there is nothing in the ministry’s recent performance that gives confidence that a national health service would do a better job than a local one.

The health sector does need reform in the future but not this reform and not now. Rip it up and let’s start again later. Put the money into the front line. – Steven Joyce

 I just hope this is another time in our country’s history where we come together to show that love is stronger than any hate.Kerre McIvor

Yet the state’s failures in other areas has been shocking. It appears no provision has been made to increase ICU capacity, despite 18 months to prepare. There is no Plan B and Plan A is failing.

Perhaps Delta has been a gift in accelerating the rate of vaccines as well as driving home the message that, in this pandemic, as in mate selection, demanding purity is an unobtainable standard that leads only to disappointment and isolation. – Damien Grant

Violence in the name of ideology is the polar opposite of free speech. It is the ultimate attempt to silence those who do not share your worldview.

Differences of political and religious opinion must be navigated with reason and dialogue. Never through violence. Never through fear.

Those who refuse to resolve ideological differences with words are the ones who turn to violence. Those who refuse to respectfully engage in civil dialogue with those they disagree with are the ones who become hateful extremists in the first place.

Freedom of speech — the fundamental human right to peacefully express one’s opinion — is an inherently non-violent principle. This is why we seek to protect it. –  Free Speech Union

But this act of terrorism is also unthinkable because it was utterly predictable.

Yet it happened anyway. No amount of finger pointing will change that.

But we deserve to know why it went so wrong. – Tracy Watkins

The same people who won’t take a vaccine that has been given to billions to people around the world – an extraordinarily safe vaccine – are willing to take a cow medicine and a cow dose, but their argument against the vaccine is that it’s not safe?Kurt Krause

As things stand, an unvaccinated employee has greater rights than her vulnerable co-worker. It is like banning non-smoking workplaces while prohibiting workers from complaining about the smoker at the next desk. – Eric Crampton

Leadership is about doing not talking. 

There are almost three million Australians directly benefiting from the doing and not a single New Zealander benefiting from the talking. – Mike Hosking

Awareness without access to mental health support is kind of like noticing you’re thirsty but having no water. Noticing the thirst may help you seek out the water, but if you are in a situation where there is literally no water, then you are probably better off trying to forget about the thirst. I’m not sure I can stomach another Mental Health Awareness Week where people are encouraged to reach out, get into nature, but absolutely nothing is done to help those people who have been desperately trying to do that, those people who have been coming up against closed doors. For some people in New Zealand, awareness is still valuable (and there are many appropriate resources available for people facing less severe mental health challenges), but there are many people who are well past awareness and what we actually need is some help.  – Lucy McLean

Twelve months later, it is no longer heretical to question the Ministry of Health’s pandemic management. Indeed, it is mainstream. The litany of the ministry’s failings is too long for questions about its fitness for purpose to be decried. The delayed start of the vaccine rollout. Ongoing border testing bungles. The inexplicable delays with saliva testing. The failure to scale up ICU capacity. The constant refrains about failures being “frustrating” or “not what we expected”. The list goes on and on. Roger Partridge

Gorman and Horn observe that the proverbial “Man from Mars” would puzzle at biosecurity in New Zealand and Australia. Both countries have sophisticated and proactive biosecurity agencies to protect against pests and diseases that threaten their agricultural sectors. Yet, when it comes to biosecurity arrangements that protect their populations from pandemics, both have been found wanting.

They have a point. Indeed, the Martian visitor might also wonder why the Government ever tasked the Ministry of Health with operating managed isolation and quarantine facilities. The ministry’s areas of expertise are in policy, procurement and regulation. It is not expert in complex logistical operations. Little wonder the Government eventually concluded the ministry was not up to the MIQ task and enlisted the army’s assistance.

Yet the Government repeated the mistake when entrusting the ministry with managing the national vaccine rollout. Is anyone surprised the rollout got off to such a poor start? – Roger Partridge

It used to be that each village had an idiot, but now those village idiots can converge online in communities, which create echo chambers that reinforce those beliefs. But if social media provides the oxygen, what about the initial spark?Jarrod Gilbert

Among the prime minister’s significant political skills is the ability to appear to answer a question without really answering it at all.  – Luke Malpass

However, it’s all very well laughing at this nonsensical verbosity, but the implications are serious. What it reveals is an inability to be honest and admit a cock-up, as the Australian PM did and apologised to the nation for, but worse, screaming incompetence and abysmally poor judgement.Bob Jones

The single greatest thing any New Zealander can do right now is go and get vaccinated; I cannot stress how important that is. The vaccines are the single greatest investment this Government, or indeed any government, will make in the economy. – Chris Bishop

The Government doesn’t believe that argument on its own rhetoric. They’re saying other countries needed it more than we did so it’s fine to be last in the world while simultaneously saying the vaccine rollout is going really well.’’

“If it’s true that the moral thing to do is for New Zealand to be second to last in the OECD, then why not give away all our vaccines now and hand them over to the developing world? There’s plenty of African countries not rolling out the vaccine, on their own rhetoric that would be the moral thing to do but we’re not doing that. Chris Bishop

I think they’ve done a pretty good job overall with Covid, but they’ve slipped into complacency and self-congratulation mode at the expense of preparation. We sat back and said, ‘We’re the best in the world, we’ve got freedoms that nobody else has, Six60 is playing at Eden Park and it’s so amazing’ (if you like Six60, which apparently people do). – Chris Bishop

The PM likes to say, ‘We were last to get Delta so we could be prepared’, but where’s the evidence that New Zealand actually spent the time being the last to get Delta, looking overseas and saying, ‘You know what, maybe we need to change up our approach here’. Chris Bishop

The two most powerful emotions a government can engage the public with are fear and hope. This Government has been superb on fear. – Mike Hosking

The messaging has been so effective, a few still think that the 26 who originally died pre-vaccine is a stat worth re-quoting ad nauseum, almost as though the world hasn’t moved on, hasn’t got a vaccine, and hasn’t worked out how to live with Covid.

It’s been so effective some still think this lockdown, although brought about solely through ineptitude in terms of failing to prepare for the inevitable outbreak by not hiring enough contact tracers, not expanding health capacity and not getting enough vaccine at a time we actually need it, is to be defended.

Yes the lockdown this time was the right thing to do, only because it was the only thing to do.  But it was the only thing to do because preparation, foresight, planning and delivery fail this government in a way I have not seen in the modern political era. – Mike Hosking

My fear about the fear is this government doesn’t like hope because it involves aspiration and promising stuff it might not be able to deliver.

Delivering fear is easy, we’ve lived it for 18 months.

If you look at the world now versus 18 months ago and look at us now versus 18 months ago, one is dramatically different and yet one isn’t.

And the one that isn’t is the one crippled by fear, not driven by hope. – Mike Hosking

When a government decides to stop citizens saying what they think, it never ends well for democracy.  – Matt McCarten

The proposed solution is far worse than the problem. Do we really feel we have to be protected from someone espousing nonsense or even venom?

When the state thinks it needs to decide what ideas can be said or heard, it’s inevitably used to suppress voices that the powerful don’t want us to hear. – Matt McCarten

So when my mates on the left say we need legislation to stop hate, my response is: we don’t. The current changes will stop people from saying what they think. Frankly, that’s worse.

Ideas we don’t like can make us uncomfortable. Every change in society requires debate. People say stupid things. Only through discussion can we win the hearts and minds of others, and then, eventually, society adopts these new ideas as a new norm. Do people really believe we should have censors determining what we can say and hear?

Suppressing voices is always worse than having a few idiots mouthing off. Matt McCarten

Anyone with knowledge of history knows that suppression laws will eventually be used by the powerful against the weak. Free speech is not a left versus right debate. It’s about protecting democracy and civil society.  – Matt McCarten

The Ministry of Alphabetical Truth seems to like creating the illusion of men not needing women in order to produce children. Motherhood is erased, and perhaps we are to believe that it is replaced by obliging rainbow storks. Not a woman in sight. – Gary Powell

The white heat of domestic politics can be quick to defeat high-minded virtue. – Claire Trevett

When I joined the Department, I was a committed protectionist, believing that controlling imports the way we were was the right thing for New Zealand. But after a few months of seeing the system at work and having on an almost weekly basis visits from senior business leaders begging the likes of this fresh-faced official for import licences so they could carry on or expand their businesses, I realised its folly and became the ardent supporter of free trade and open markets I remain today.  – Peter Dunne 

The thought that major building and construction industry players are having to go cap in hand to junior officials in MBIE to plead their case to be allowed to resume business seems like import licensing all over again. The sole concern here should be whether it is safe for a business to reopen in a Covid19 environment. There should be nothing more to it than that.

It is most certainly not for MBIE to decide whether this product or that is necessary or desirable. Junior government officials, often with little life experience, making major decisions about when and how significant businesses can operate seems just as ludicrous now as it was when I was doing import licensing. And it will surely prove to be just as an inept and uneven approach. The best people to understand business conditions and the demand for specialist goods and services are those involved in the businesses themselves, not an official with no direct business experience sitting behind a desk in Wellington, or, now more likely, working comfortably from home. – Peter Dunne 

One of the major reasons for import licensing’s ultimate failure was that the assumption and practices which underpinned its administration fell out of step and way behind current business practice of the day. Yesterday’s solutions were no longer fit for purpose for dealing with today’s challenges. Yet setting up a business continuity licensing regime, which is effectively what is occurring at present, run by faceless officials with no practical experience is the modern equivalent of the failed import licensing system.

MBIE’s approach, endorsed by Ministers, amounts to subtle re-regulation of the business sector in a way not seen since Muldoonism of the late 1970s and early 1980s. In line with the axiom, “history repeats itself”, it is likely to be just as spectacular a failure and will have eventually to be unwound and balance restored. But given that the current government seems to think that anything that happened before it came to office in 2017 is ancient history and therefore not worth taking any notice of, that is likely to be some time away. – Peter Dunne 

There are intangible reasons to justify say a year or two at university as a bridging experience between childhood and adult status. But otherwise, unless studying for a traditional career such as medicine or law, to a very large degree trusting and unworldly kids attending university today are victims of a gigantic fraud. –  Bob Jones

The modern university is today largely a scam, exploiting the vulnerable with its ever expanding range of non-intellectual bullshit degrees.Bob Jones

Nothing good comes from the politics of fear and hate.  – Matthew Hooton

The only real way to get out of the debt position New Zealand will find itself in “is to grow the economy like billy-o – Andrew Bayley

If suffering confers moral authority, greater suffering confers greater moral authority; and everyone wants, and believes he has, moral authority, the more of it the better. Hence it is necessary to claim to have suffered enormously, in short to be a survivor. Suffering must be magnified and lengthened: it is no good having suffered if you have merely got over it by, for example, pushing it to the back of your mind and getting on with life. And such is the nature of the human mind, that wonderfully flexible instrument, that you can magnify and lengthen your suffering at will, as much and as long as you wish, or as much and as long as necessary to obtain the desired kudos. At the same time you can disguise from yourself that fact that this is what you are doing.

Moreover, you can be a hereditary sufferer, so to speak. It is not necessary for you to have suffered anything personally to obtain the moral authority of suffering and sufferers. It is only necessary that you should belong to a group that, historically, has been wronged and suffered as a result. The glory of this is that you can claim to have suffered enormously while having, in fact, led a very privileged existence. Your membership of the group that has suffered, or suffers still, turns you into an honorary victim; and as we know, amateurs are often better than professionals. They have a more genuine attachment to their role. – Theodore Dalrymple

If 2021, as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern put it, is the year of the vaccine, then 2020 was the year of the vaccine purchase agreement. And it bears remembering that the former has been delivered in accordance with the terms of the latter. – Kate MacNamara

But it’s important to note that Medsafe’s approval was later than other countries’ regulatory agencies in large measure because New Zealand’s original vaccine purchase was late. Initial data was submitted to Medsafe by Pfizer for the vaccine approval on October 21, only after the first purchase agreement was in place. Kate MacNamara

So the late timing of Pfizer doses was in train much earlier than the Government likes to imply. In addition, scope for reopening deals and paying more for early vaccine delivery certainly existed, though perhaps that window of opportunity was not open as late as February-March of this year. Kate MacNamara

It wouldn’t matter much except vaccination, the Government promises, will restore some normalcy, save billions of dollars, and free us from the blight of lockdowns. Kate MacNamara

Yes, our government stuffed it up big time. It moved too slow due to sluggish administrative, regulatory & bureaucratic processes in Wellington. That’s why we’re all locked down today. It was a $10 billion mistake – and counting – by the Ministry of Health. And the economic costs of moving oh-so-slow amount to half of this country’s entire annual health budget. – Robert MacCulloch

 If there is any risk that the media is skewing their representation of the performance of government, then we are indeed on shaky ground. In fact I suggest that there is nothing quite as dangerous in any democracy as a media that is beholden to the Government.

And there is no doubt in my mind that this Government, as it lurches from clumsy mistakes to avoidable crises, is currently getting an easy ride from the majority of the media operators. – Bruce Cotterill

A free and independent press is a critically important foundation to any democracy. Without it, governments can go unchecked and the rule of law will suffer. – Bruce Cotterill

Sadly, our media does not appear to be as independent and free as we should prefer. We seem to show a lot of photos of the Prime Minister smiling and the opposition leader frowning. – Bruce Cotterill

But reporting what you see and hear is not journalism. Journalism involves questioning what you see and hear. Is it true? Is it right? Who did it? Who said it? Why do you think that? Where is the supporting information and evidence? 

That’s what we’re missing. – Bruce Cotterill

I recently spoke to a senior journalist based in Wellington. He is someone whose opinions and writing I respect. I asked why the questions from the press gallery didn’t seek to dig deeper into what are often flippant answers from our government ministers. He simply said the following; “If you are too tough, you don’t get invited back”. – Bruce Cotterill

Some call this censorship of the press. I call it a denial of access. If the media is threatened with a lack of access, or in other words, if access is used as a negotiating tool or a bargaining chip, then we have a challenge to our democracy that is greater than anything we have had to previously consider.Bruce Cotterill

The media must be free. Free to ask, question, challenge and investigate. Free to publish its findings. Free to hold governments to account. And not just governments.

Businesses, sporting organisations, and high profile personalities, all by virtue of their position in society, need to be held to an appropriate level of conduct and behaviour. – Bruce Cotterill

In a democracy it is very important that a government and indeed members across the political spectrum are able to get their messages out to the people in a way that provides a fair representation of their policies and their activities.

However, it is also equally important that the media question those policies and activities in a way that seeks greater clarity about what those policies are meant to achieve, and greater accountability in regard to their execution and effectiveness. Bruce Cotterill

There is a message in all this. The media who have put out their hands and cheerfully pocketed taxpayer funds they don’t need have only themselves to blame if the public smells a rat and begins to doubt their message. – Michael Bassett

It is possible to build applications that serve our needs, and save lives by providing evidence of vaccinations while also protecting personal privacy.

But it is vital activists, civil society, Parliament and the courts are allowed to carefully scrutinise new measures to ensure that even in the midst of a health panic, we aren’t giving up what we can’t take back. – Andrea Vance

We’ll never know the true cost of 9/11, the cost of the lost of the thousands of lives, what they might have created, what their children might have created, and how much richer humanity would have been for it.  It was an attack not just on them, but on an idea.  The idea that free people can choose how they live, to work, to trade, to enjoy life, and to not have their lives owned by others, by self-serving authority bowing to an ideology that shackles them to the literal interpretation of some aged religious tracts. The idea that Government should be to subordinate people to the will of theocratic bigots, rather than exist to protect their rights and established by the people to protect them from those who wish to take away those rights.  – Liberty Scott

I never once believed —  nor do I now —  that the purpose of instruction was to lead my students to a particular conclusion. Rather, I sought to create the conditions for rigorous thought; to help them gain the tools to hunt and furrow for their own conclusions. This is why I became a teacher and why I love teaching.

But brick by brick, the university has made this kind of intellectual exploration impossible. It has transformed a bastion of free inquiry into a Social Justice factory whose only inputs were race, gender, and victimhood and whose only outputs were grievance and division.

Students at Portland State are not being taught to think. Rather, they are being trained to mimic the moral certainty of ideologues. Faculty and administrators have abdicated the university’s truth-seeking mission and instead drive intolerance of divergent beliefs and opinions. This has created a culture of offense where students are now afraid to speak openly and honestly. Peter Boghossian

This isn’t about me. This is about the kind of institutions we want and the values we choose. Every idea that has advanced human freedom has always, and without fail, been initially condemned. As individuals, we often seem incapable of remembering this lesson, but that is exactly what our institutions are for: to remind us that the freedom to question is our fundamental right. Educational institutions should remind us that that right is also our duty.  – Peter Boghossian

Ovarian cancer is the most deadly gynaecological cancer, and kills more women than New Zealand’s annual road toll and more than melanoma. Yet it remains underfunded and largely ignored. Jane Ludemann

Women need to advocate for themselves, to not be afraid to stand up and say ‘No, I’m not happy with that diagnosis, I want further investigation’. For this to happen, we need to make women aware that these cancers exist, and show them what to look out for. If they don’t have this information, they can’t connect the dots. – Sara Ingram

Having a cancer diagnosis changes everything. Now I do the things that make me happy. It’s about always looking forward, not having regrets and accepting mistakes. Everybody has to deal with tough stuff. It’s about taking that stuff and seeing that something great can be born out of it.Sara Ingram

My point is that even though the decision was wrong, it was made for the right reasons. Our immigration authorities might appear to be incompetent, but they are neither bad, corrupt nor venal. – Damien Grant

This is a law that needs to be changed but a person cannot be deprived of their liberty because what did they should be illegal, if what they did wasn’t illegal. Damien Grant

By upholding the rights of the worst amongst us, we protect the rights of us all. Rights apply to all residents of these islands and are not subject to removal by executive whim. – Damien Grant

These rights are enjoyed by all of us only because they are enjoyed by the least of us. The trade-off between liberty and safety is necessarily high.

It is tempting to consider that less violence would have occurred had we given the state a freer hand, but if you want to understand what the state does with a free hand ask the Waikato Māori. Ultimately, our civil liberties are to protect us from the Crown, who has, unfortunately, a nasty history of abusing its subjects.Damien Grant

The war on terror has eroded our liberties in many small ways, but we have retained a bedrock of institutional restrictions that limit the arbitrary power of the state.

We should remember this as we navigate our way in the months, and possibly years, ahead. The principles that were applied to this terrorist’s rights were developed over 800 years; first laid down in the Magna Carta and refined, expanded and fought for over many centuries.

We should not give them up lightly, or cheaply. We should not give them up at all. – Damien Grant

This is only one event that got across the border and look at the mayhem, one month lockdown, a billion dollars a week that’s just not sustainable in the long term and all the pressure that people are under … the family issues, the schools, the devastation to the economy and the extra health issues.

People aren’t getting their colonoscopys, getting their skin checked for melanoma, heart checks up, all those things are really important health issues.Graham Le Gros

I think that’s where the economic, the other health issues and the social pressures really start to come into play and I think that if you’ve got 70-80 percent vaccinated even with the one jab you’re in a pretty good situation to be able to withstand the major effects of this virus.

I’m not throwing elimination out just yet … but you’ve also just got to face facts if the virus has got away and it’s just staying underground until it pops up again then let’s just focus on vaccination and learning to live with the virus. – Graham Le Gros

The Government’s been caught short again – this time, lacking a clear strategy to get us out of dodge. 

On the one hand, they’re saving Kiwis’ lives. On the other, they’re eliminating businesses and harming mental health. 

Like sunbathers on the beach watching a tsunami roll in, we have not yet – 18 months on from the first outbreak – left the comfort of our beach towels on the sand to build a single managed isolation and quarantine facility outside of Auckland. Ryan Bridge

Jacinda Ardern’s Year of the Vaccination became her year of vacillation, that is until her mate ScoMo across the ditch scouted around his buddies abroad and got some additional vials of the stuff. –  Barry Soper

To use the word corruption is unchallengeable, when any government pays media outlets to propagandise the public — with the same outlets untruthfully claiming to be independent and trustworthy — while basically being bribed to follow a far-Left agenda. That this should happen in not (quite yet) a totalitarian régime, but in what was once thought of as a democracy, with a free press, is quite staggering.  

Ardern’s government is blatantly taking over the media, an important part of any plan to destroy a democracy. It is more than shameful for those at the top of media management to be accepting these bribes, with the inevitable resulting pressure on all journalists to conform. It is to the great credit of those few who are increasingly reluctant to do so –- but who are now at risk of losing their livelihoods.  – Amy Brooke

Xenophobia is, regrettably, not a new strain in the national psyche, more an endemic seasonal virus that has circulated since time immemorial. However, the prevailing attitude, expressed through policy and the rhetoric of our leaders, to New Zealanders outside the border – ranging from frosty indifference to outright hostility – is very much a new development.Ben Thomas

However, since Covid, New Zealanders’ circle of empathy seems to have been pulled tight, like a knot, around the territorial boundaries of the country.

New Zealanders caught outside, or the families of foreign visa holders here doing often essential work including nursing and teaching, feel very much like they are looking in. In some respects, the pandemic has made the country smaller. Our families, our co-workers’ families, our friends, now show up in the public discourse mainly as risks to be managed or, more likely, excluded. – Ben Thomas

In order for values to count as character, they have to endure in good times and bad. Is the New Zealand national identity we treasure a reflection of who we really are, or of the benign times we have lived through until now? With the imminent effects of climate change and the movement of mass refugees from the hell of Afghanistan under the Taliban, these are questions we may be answering soon. – Ben Thomas

Well, you can’t fight a war by hiding under your bed. Deluding itself about a low covid death count the government ignores the soaring suicide numbers, the numerous deaths through inability to access hospitals, the widespread depression as any GP or pharmacist will confirm and the huge toll in families split by the idiotic closed borders.

We look with envy at Europe and North American nations run by grown-ups who are getting on with life. Their covid death tolls are almost totally half-wits who for diverse reasons refuse to be vaccinated. Future historians will record the current government in scathing terms. They remind me of the last 3 years of the Muldoon government, denying reality and lacking the courage to confront a necessary new world order. – Bob Jones

So far, the Wellbeing Budgets have promised many things but I fail to see what they achieved. The Government’s obsession with “wellbeing” comes at the cost of abandoning economic growth and a relatively poor economic performance. – Dennis Wesselbaum

Looking back, the Wellbeing Budgets have never been anything other than a successful public relations exercise.

Sadly, they all fall short of effectively supporting important areas like education (from kindergarten to universities), health, research, housing, and infrastructure and they abandon fostering economic growth.

There is nothing left from the initial worldwide hype around the Wellbeing Budgets. The Ardern-led governments have wasted the chances they had to make New Zealand stronger in the future and missed their election and budget targets.

It would be much better if the Government would stop looking beyond GDP and instead look at developing a proper economic growth strategy. After all, jobs earning decent wages are the foundation of wellbeing. – Dennis Wesselbaum

As time drags on, more and more travel begins to look essential. Cancelling an annual trip home from Oz or the UK is one thing, but a whole generation of overseas Kiwis now face a future disconnected from their friends and families, never knowing their nieces and nephews. After a few years of being grounded, holidays to visit family become essential travel too.

All of this is to say that the Government will fast run out of excuses for why its ministers and officials should travel, while the rest of the country is more or less grounded.Thomas Coughlan

There’s no vaccine against stupidity. James Rifi

It is the way you conduct yourself and if there is a lie, you speak against it. If you see injustice, you try and stop it. If you can’t do it by your action, you do it by your words. This is my life, that’s the way I do thingsJames Rifi

And I want to thank – that fellow Down Under. Thank you, Mr Prime Minister. Appreciate it, pal. – Joe Biden

The costs of Covid-19 extend well beyond the illness itself to continuing impacts of both the virus and our response to it on the rest of the health system, mental health and well-being, and family ties. Sadly, such impacts extend to family violence and economic insecurity as well as ongoing and negative effects on our economy, education, innovation opportunities, international business relationships, and our diplomatic footprint.Sir Peter Gluckman

When will such high vaccination rates allow the balance to tilt from efforts to exclude the virus to a different management strategy?  This cannot be far away. But it too has costs and risks, especially for those who are not vaccinated. Are incentives now needed to get as many as possible of the hesitant and resistant vaccinated? What else needs to be in place? Do we need both internal and external vaccine passports (with strong legal protections on how they would be used)? Should widespread use of rapid self-testing – now well used in Europe – be adopted? Should employers be able to require masks and/or vaccines, and does that need legislative protection?  These questions, which all have ethical and “social licence” dimensions, go hand in hand with the more obvious ones of border triage, rapid testing at the border, modified entry management, ensuring adequate health facilities, and location of quarantine facilities.

Neither science nor politics alone can answer such equations. Whatever choices Government makes will involve trade-offs and time-sensitive decisions. These will necessarily be made in the face of incomplete knowledge and contestable perspectives and values from different elements of our community. “Social licence” and trust will be necessary for whichever choices are made. – Sir Peter Gluckman

 Fear can undermine democracy. Parliament’s 2020 Epidemic Response Committee – a truly democratic innovation receiving much international interest – played a major role through its transparency, contributing to broad public acceptance of trade-offs required in following the elimination route. Similar levels of truth and transparency will be key for future choices. The Government’s challenge is to ensure trust in the pragmatic decisions it must soon make.Sir Peter Gluckman

It is much more challenging to ‘open up’ than ‘close down’. In crisis and risk management, the concept of the ‘Red Team’ has emerged. Comprising a group of experienced and skilled people who have no responsibility for managing the crisis but have access to the same data as those who are, it can ask tough questions of the decision-makers, in real time. Given the complexities and the need to get beyond political point-scoring, trust could be enhanced for our ‘team of five million’ through using such a process. After all, we want our Government to continue to do the best job possible on all our behalf. – Sir Peter Gluckman

In a world of fully vaccinated people, the virus would still cause harm, but at a much lower level. By then, it would have become one of many other dangers such as drowning, falling from ladders, or getting injured in a traffic accident.

Society accepts such risks, even when they can theoretically be avoided, not least because a “zero-harm” approach would be prohibitively expensive. For example, the idea of lighting all country roads, imposing a general 30 km/h speed limit, and only allowing five-star rated cars is absurd. Sure, it would reduce the road toll. But it would also defeat the purpose of promoting mobility. –  Oliver Hartwich 

If we had never gone down the path of Covid elimination, we would regard the virus in just the way as we think of road accidents. Sure, nobody likes accidents, but we would not go to extremes to avoid them. Similarly, while no one wants to get sick or die from Covid, we would not surrender our lives to achieve that aim.

However, this is where our “sunk-cost fallacy”kicks in. Having spent billions on elimination, for many people, the calculus looks different. Even minor health hazards associated with Covid now appear to be unbearable. After all the sacrifices we have made, why should we accept any illness or death in our community? Can’t we just stay with “Zero Covid” forever?   –  Oliver Hartwich 

New Zealanders may view the phrase “learn to live with the virus” as cynical since some will die from it.

But to the English and the Danes, such a connotation does not exist. Because the virus was never eradicated in either country, people have always died from it.

Neither had England and Denmark invested vast amounts and efforts into the goal of elimination. There are no “sunk costs” they now believe they need to protect. As a result, both the English and the Danes can treat the virus as an everyday health risk.Oliver Hartwich 

New Zealand will hopefully reach the same immunisation rates as England and Denmark in time. Perhaps we will get even higher since our compliant population may yield higher vaccination participation than other countries.

And (here is hoping), we will soon realise that our hospital system requires an upgrade (not just to deal with Covid). Having more capacity will also enable us to cope with outbreaks.  –  Oliver Hartwich 

How has the Talibanization of Western mentalities happened? How is it that so many young people have now adapted Henry Ford’s great dictum (to change briefly the source of inspiration of young intellectuals), that you can have any color you like so long as it’s black, to matters of opinion, such that none other than the sanctioned one may get a hearing? How is it that the Taliban’s example in destroying the statues in Bamiyan was so soon copied by the students in those madrassas of the West known as universities? 

The most obvious explanation is the expansion of tertiary education beyond the capacity of those who receive it to derive any mental, spiritual, or even vocational benefit from it. Far from increasing their mental sophistication, this education severely limits it. The numbers following courses in the so-called humanities and social sciences exploded since the 1960s, with the inevitable hollowing out of what a university education meant. All that they are left with is a distorting lens through which to view the world and focus their anger.Theodore Dalrymple

It is true that a deception has been practiced on them: In large part, they have been tricked into indebting themselves to pay for their own unemployment. Politicians whose brains are composed of a combination of those nerve centers that exist in lizards’ nervous systems and tinsel encouraged ever-increasing proportions of young people to attend university in the way that the Soviet Union in its propaganda used to boast about ever-increasing production of pig iron. In a world in which procedural outcomes is much more important than real outcomes, where governments set targets and bureaucrats arrange to meet them, usually by legerdemain, it matters not that the students left university worse educated than when they entered. – Theodore Dalrymple

It is impossible to put a precise date on a social process such as the degradation of our educational system (other than, of course, the day Eve gave the apple to Adam), but it has now continued for so long that many of the university teachers themselves are just as indoctrinated as the students they indoctrinate. In art schools there cannot be a return to teaching such skills as drawing because the teachers themselves were never taught them and therefore cannot teach them in their turn. The best they can do is denigrate them as retrograde or reactionary. 

The Taliban have a ministry for the suppression of vice and the promotion (or imposition) of virtue. I think that they could find many suitable civil servants—and no doubt executioners—in our universities. We produce them, in fact, by the thousands. Of course, there are some slight differences: The Taliban want women to have as many children as possible, while our students are so anxious about the fate of the planet that they think it immoral to bring children into the world.Theodore Dalrymple

People who take risks and are prepared to have a go have made this country what it is, and their energy and courage will take it further still.

Which is one reason why the impacts of these lockdowns trouble me so much. The impact on the people who own so many businesses prevented from operating, who are Kiwis just like you and me, is more immense than it is for most.

If you are in a government job, work for a big corporate that shuffles data for a living, or in the professions, lockdown has been a pain and it has certainly cramped your style, but your income keeps coming in the door. For these people it doesn’t.  – Steven Joyce

Maybe it is hard to imagine if you have never been there. Taking responsibility for paying the rent, the power bill, and all your suppliers, whether or not you have customers or revenue coming through the door.

To feel personally responsible for the incomes of your staff, and for their families’ wellbeing. To have to call the bank to ask for a bigger loan or overdraft, or a bigger mortgage because your house is the only collateral the bank will take.

To postpone your dreams five years or abandon them completely after years of hard work, because that’s how far these lockdowns have set you back.Steven Joyce

The powers that be have reactivated the Covid wage subsidy and that’s good, as far as it goes. But it was always intended as a Band-Aid to keep workers attached to their place of employment.

It doesn’t cover the rent, the rates, the electricity, the HP on the equipment, the vehicle lease, or the spoilt food. And if that wasn’t enough there are new headaches.

The doubling of paid sick leave in July this year, the big annual hikes in the minimum wage you must pay for your newest workers, and the post-Covid prospect of your wage bill and conditions being set in far off Wellington by people that have never set foot in a shop in Dargaville, Palmerston North, or Timaru. – Steven Joyce

The arbitrary pettiness of the lockdown rules drive some business owners bonkers. The small food shops that can’t open while supermarkets can, ostensibly because their public health systems won’t be robust enough.

Of course we trust them to sell perishable food at other times. Or the arbitrary restrictions on the number of people in your cafe in towns that haven’t had Covid for months and months.

One extraordinary example of bureaucratic silliness this week was the news seasonal fruit-pickers from Covid-free countries (note that bit) will no longer be allowed to enter New Zealand without quarantine as had been planned, ostensibly because of Delta.  – Steven Joyce

It is ironic for a country that has been trying to diversify its exports for 30 years that the only exporters able to operate their businesses over lockdown are our primary industries.

The rest of us sail serenely along in our bubbles. We’ve inflated our economy so much with debt and printed money the people in economic pain are almost completely invisible to us.

We have a zero tolerance for Covid health casualties, but not so much for the economic casualties.  – Steven Joyce

The small businesses, the tiny businesses, and the niche exporters, are all carrying a massive share of the cost of this pandemic. That needs to be acknowledged and responded to more by everyone else, from the Beehive down.

We all didn’t choose to have the pandemic disrupt our lives. But these people are paying in a far more brutal and long-lasting way than most.  – Steven Joyce

We’ve had our moments … but negativity just feeds negativity. We’re in a position it’s not going to wipe us out and it’s not going to be our worst year. We’ve got to remain positive and carry on. – Ian Riddell

You genuinely want people to be blessed by your flowers. People buy them for themselves to cheer them up, they give flowers away to cheer up other people. All that cheer got left here.Ian Riddell

Although she is not a daughter by blood, she is a daughter of my heart now. – Mr “Smith”

Oranga Tamariki is broken. You can’t fix an organisation that has fallen into such depravity that Judge Peter Callinicos exposed. It won’t be, of course. It will continue to damage families for many decades to come; driven by ideology and unchastised by this rebuke.

But for the moment, we should take a moment to appreciate that we have decent, bold and courageous people such as these successful caregivers who were prepared to make a stand for the daughter of their heart. They are the heroes of this story. I wish them and Moana all the best. Damien Grant

Murder is carried out by uneducated thugs with a lump of wood or an illegal firearm (weren’t they all handed in?). It’s carried out by psychotically violent men over perceived wrongs or a botched drug deal. It’s messy and nasty and leaves families shattered. Dead bodies don’t lie peacefully on a deep pile carpet in a perfectly manicured room; they bleed out on the front lawn, or into the gutter near a smashed bottle while other drunks continue fighting around them.

That’s where real murder lives; the gutter. There’s nothing fancy about it. Children get killed by those who should be protecting them. It’s gutting and mind-boggling and never seems to stop. – Angus McLean

It is not surprising, then, that one’s opinion on matters social and political has become for a considerable part of the population the measure of virtue. If you have the right opinions you are good; if you have the wrong ones you are bad. Nuance itself becomes suspect, as it is in a tabloid newspaper, for doubt is treachery and nuance is the means by which bad opinions make their comeback. In this atmosphere, people of differing opinions find it difficult to tolerate each other’s presence in a room: the only way to avoid open conflict is either to avoid certain persons or certain subjects. Where opinion is virtue, disagreement amounts to accusation of vice. – Anthony Daniels

The extreme importance now given to opinion (by contrast with conduct) in the estimation of a person’s character has certain consequences. This is not to say that in the past a person’s opinions played no part in such an assessment, and no doubt there are some opinions so extreme or vicious, for example that some whole population should be mercilessly wiped out, that in any day and age one would hesitate to associate with someone who held them. But before, even when someone held an opinion that we considered very bad, we still also assessed the degree of seriousness with which he held it, the degree to which it was purely theoretical, the importance it played in his overall mental life. The holding of such an opinion would not redound to his credit, but if lightly held and with no likely effect on his actual behavior, it would detract only slightly from our view of him. He might still be a good man, albeit one with a quirk, a mental blind spot. – Anthony Daniels

For one thing, the elevation of the moral importance of opinion changes the locus of a person’s moral concern from that over which he has most control, namely how he behaves himself, to that over which he has almost no personal control. He becomes a Mrs. Jellyby who, it will be remembered, was extremely concerned about the fate of children thousands of miles away in Africa but completely neglected her own children right under her own eyes, in her house in London. –Anthony Daniels

The overemphasis on opinion as the main or only determinant of a person’s moral character thus has the effect of promoting irrationalism, and all argument becomes in effect ad hominem. If a person holds one opinion, he is good; if another, he is bad. Everything is decided in advance by means of moral dichotomy. Nuance disappears. –Anthony Daniels

There is a positive-feedback mechanism built into opinion as the measure of virtue, for if it is virtuous to espouse a particular opinion, it is even more virtuous to espouse a more extreme or generalized version of it. It then becomes morally impermissible for a person to hold the relatively moderate opinion; he is denounced with the peculiar venom that the orthodox reserve for heretics. When J. K. Rowling, a feminist once in good odor with the morally self-anointed, delivered herself of an opinion couched in moderate terms stating something so obvious that it will one day (I hope) astonish future social or cultural historians that it needed saying at all, namely that a transsexual woman is not a woman simpliciter, she was turned upon viciously, including by those who owed their great fortunes to her—or at least to her work. She had committed the cardinal sin in a world of opinion as the criterion of virtue of not having realized that the moral caravan had moved on. How easily sheep become goats! Anthony Daniels

 

Taking opinion as the hallmark of virtue has other effects besides provoking dichotomization, bad temper, and the exertion of a ratchet effect in the direction of ever more extreme and absurd ideas. It tends to limit the imagination, moral and otherwise. For example, once something tangible is declared to be a human right, which no decent person can thenceforth question or deny on pain of excommunication by the virtuous, the good procured by the exercise of that right ceases to be a good for any other reason than that it is a right. The recipient has no reason to feel grateful for what he receives, because it was his right to receive it, though he may, of course, feel rightfully aggrieved if he does not receive it. A United Nations rapporteur recently condemned New Zealand for its breach of human rights because it did not provide decent housing for all its citizens (and other inhabitants); rents were expensive and there was overcrowding as well as some homelessness. The New Zealand government, which had committed itself to the view that there was a human right to decent housing, meekly promised to try to do better. It had not promised to treat housing as if it were a human right, but to treat it as a right itself; it was therefore skewered by its own supposed virtue. –Anthony Daniels

The supposed moral quality of the objector trumps the possible validity of his objections, which therefore do not have to be considered. Far from the objector lacking imagination, however, it is the proponent of the human right who lacks it: he fails even to try to imagine what the consequences of what he advocates might be. Words are the money of fools, no doubt, but also of people who desire unlimited powers of interference in the lives of others. Anthony Daniels

The importance accorded to opinion—correct opinion, of course—as the criterion of virtue has another strange effect, besides increasing intolerance and limiting imagination, for it conduces both to a new dictatorial puritanism and a new libertinism whose equilibrium is forever unstable. –Anthony Daniels

Even in my childhood, we used frequently to recite the old proverb in response to an intended insult, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” No more: in a world in which opinion is the measure of Man, words are poison, dagger, Kalashnikov, hand grenade, and atomic bomb, and no one now gains a reputation for moral uprightness who does not sift the words of others for the wickedness they may contain.

No one could possibly deny the great importance of words and opinions in human life, of course, or their power to give offense and even to provoke violence. Words and opinions may inspire people either to the best or the worst acts, but we do not usually absolve people of their responsibility, or fail to praise or blame them, on the grounds that they were inspired or influenced by the words of others. –Anthony Daniels

Where opinion is virtue, the strength of offense taken is a sign of commitment to virtue, which then sets up a type of arms race of moral exhibitionism, in which my offense taken at something must be greater than yours because only thus can I prove my moral superiority over you. Shrillness then becomes a token of depth of feeling, and no one can feel anything who does not parade his outrage in public. – Anthony Daniels

The danger comes when the most dubious, even fatuous, social theories and reforms in the name of virtue become the cynosure of the moral life of a large and influential sector of society, namely the intelligentsia that is ultimately the determinant of a modern society’s history. This is so even, or perhaps especially, when the intelligentsia in question is ignorant, foolish, grasping, power-hungry, and unrealistic.

The effect, if not the purpose, of the overemphasis on opinion as the whole of virtue is both to liberate and to control. The liberation—from restraint on personal conduct—is for the persons with the right opinions; the control is for, and over, the rest of society. The intelligentsia is thus like an aristocracy, but without the noblesse obligeor the good taste that to some extent justified the aristocracy. – Anthony Daniels

That so many Aucklanders have been going to work over the last month underlines that lockdown is largely a middle-class phenomenon. While white collar workers get to work from home or pretend to, those in healthcare, social services, agriculture, forestry, fishing, manufacturing, distribution and retail have been showing up at their workplaces right through. Across the country, over 500,000 essential workers kept the real economy going through the 2020 and 2021 national lockdowns. We should applaud them. – Matthew Hooton 

One thing is inarguable: the vaccine works. It may not stop all Covid transmission, but it stops it from killing you or your loved ones, or you or them getting very sick. According to the Ministry of Health, of the 1071 people who tested positive for Covid, 83 per cent were entirely unvaccinated and just 3 per cent fully vaccinated more than two weeks earlier. Any political pollster or health researcher will tell you that legitimate conclusions can be drawn from a sample size of over 1000.Matthew Hooton 

The data shows that not a single person who had had even their first jab more than two weeks earlier wound up in an intensive care unit (ICU). Not a single person who was fully vaccinated more than two weeks earlier even ended up in hospital, and just one whose second dose had been administered in the previous two weeks had to be admitted to an ordinary ward.

In contrast, if you are unvaccinated and over age 11, the data from the outbreak suggests you have a 13 per cent chance of being hospitalised, and nearly a 3 per cent chance of dying or ending up in ICU. – Matthew Hooton

It’s official. The Government’s impossible Covid elimination strategy has been scrapped, although don’t expect it to admit to that. Just like it would never accept the alert level 4 lockdown in Auckland hasn’t been anything but a raging success. – Barry Soper 

This lockdown isn’t working.  It never was.  We’ve had 8 people turn up at Middlemore with no idea where they got covid, it’s cropped up in the mongrel mob who aren’t known for obedience to the law, it’s been exported over the Auckland border.

One of the strictest lockdowns in the world, couldn’t’ get us back to zero.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

It is awful having to constantly tell the Government what they’ve done wrong, but then again someone has to do it, that’s why it’s called leader of the opposition, not leader of the cheerleaders. – Judith Collins

The Government don’t want a points system it seems for the simple reason, or excuse, that’s it too complicated. As in too complicated for them to work out how to do it.

Obviously, there is queue from the tech sector who would solve it by Thursday. So, the system is held hostage to a degree by a government that hasn’t got the slightest aspirational gene in its makeup. Nor, tragically, do they have the wherewithal to recognise that and ask for help.

So, for the foreseeable, tens of thousands of New Zealanders are stuck, business is hamstrung, funerals are missed, and sports people can’t make a living. There’s a massive queue of misery and desperation.

Of all the cock ups of this pandemic, behind the abject failure of an urgent vaccine rollout, MIQ would be the biggest. Their fix? A foe lobby followed by a numerical conformation of how screwed you are when you enter. – Mike Hosking

But here it would appear that while New Zealanders are renown for their “can do” approach, our bureaucracy’s response is “can’t”. – Fran O’Sullivan

 The only urgency we’ve seen for months is an enthusiasm to lock down our country, lock up our people and lock out our citizens who are overseas. – John Key

Some people might like to continue the North Korean option. I am not one of them. Public health experts and politicians have done a good job of making the public fearful, and therefore willing to accept multiple restrictions on their civil liberties which are disproportionate to the risk of them contracting Covid.

Another problem with the hermit kingdom model is that you have to believe the Government can go on borrowing a billion dollars every week to disguise that we are no longer making our way in the world. – John Key

A lottery is not a public policy. It’s a national embarrassment. Whether you get to see your grandchild, or your dying mother, or your sister’s wedding, depends on whether or not your number comes up. This is a lottery that is gambling with people’s families and futures. John Key

Meanwhile, those brave New Zealanders who have started or bought a small business are sleepless with worry – as are their workers – because lockdowns are an indiscriminate tool that stops commerce as effectively as it stops Covid. The true harm is being concealed by an economy propped up by borrowing. – John Key

For those who say it’s too hard, or too risky I ask this: one day, when the largest part of the Minister of Finance’s Budget pays only the interest on the debt we are racking up now, and you can’t have the latest cancer drugs, or more police, because New Zealand can’t afford them, what will you think?

Will you wish that in 2021 the Government had acted with the urgency and creativity that Nasa showed when suddenly having to rethink its approach to the Apollo 13 mission? Nasa succeeded. It proved that to get a different outcome, you need a different strategy. John Key

The current setting is to vaccinate as many people as we can while keeping the virus at bay. If we succeed, by this time next year we will have a population with minimal exposure to Covid and with declining vaccine effectiveness.

Why would we do that?

Isn’t this like putting on a raincoat and then staying indoors in case it rains? There isn’t much point in teaching celibacy whilst handing out prophylactics. If we are aiming for 90 per cent vaccine coverage, the latest ad hoc policy in 18 months of ad hoc policy, perhaps the state would care to explain what is going to change if we get there. – Damien Grant

 In an endless series of good bureaucratic intentions creating bad outcomes, we vaccinated the elderly and vulnerable first. They are now the most exposed to breakthrough infections, while the young and healthy have fresh protein spikes coursing through their bloodstreams.Damien Grant

At this point I don’t really care what the plan is, so long as I know what it is. I have a life I want to lead. I have a business that needs direction. I have a family that wants to enjoy the pleasures and joy that are still permitted. – Damien Grant

Behavioural experts say the pandemic has brought about a rise in xenophobia and nationalism, and could mean expat and domestic communities struggle to coalesce beyond the pandemic. The messaging around the “team of five million” could be to blame. –  Ashleigh Stewart

The anti-expat rhetoric started when the government pushed every expat out of the ‘team of five million. Messaging like that has fed the mob online to hurl insults shamelessly towards us. It feels like this resentment has been simmering away for a long time, and now it’s acceptable to scream to ‘close the borders’. Clint Heine

It’s not just that it’s a cruel and inhumane lottery that keeps families and friends and loved ones apart while the Wiggles are waved through; or that it’s cut us off from the rest of the world – or even that it has become a convenient excuse for kicking the can down the road on critical economic decisions.

No, the worst thing is that it seems to have fundamentally changed who we are.

We’ve gone from a nation of travellers and adventurers, to an inward looking and angry mob, cut off and isolated from the rest of the world, and fearful of “strangers” at the border, whether they’re foreigners, or fellow Kiwis rendered stateless by a pandemic that was none of their doing.

We pat ourselves on the back for getting through the first lockdown by being kind – then close our hearts when a dying man pleads for permission to die at home.

We tear down high-flyers who dared to pursue their dreams overseas, and tell them they’re no longer welcome in the country where they found their wings.

And we spit bile at people who want to come home for Christmas with their family, cheered on by the government, who it suits to paint expats as gadabouts and summer holidaymakers. As though wanting to be with family, or ageing parents, over Christmas is not a fundamental human desire.Tracy Watkins

But our success at keeping Covid out for so long has bred complacency.

Hospital ICUs are still critically understaffed and in no shape to cope with a wave of sick Covid patients; we’ve failed to implement rapid advances from overseas, like saliva testing or self-testing, and MIQ is still a hastily knocked-up system of modified hotels, the bulk of them in our most populous city, all but guaranteeing that any breach will have the worst possible outcome.

But questioning it has become akin to heresy – even though no-one is seriously advocating we abandon quarantine and testing as the cornerstone of any new system, especially not with the parlous state of our ICU system, and low rates of vaccination. – Tracy Watkins

There has been no shortage of ideas from New Zealand’s most innovative thinkers on how to improve the system, while still keeping people safe.

But those ideas all go seem to go nowhere. Why? They keep hitting the same wall of bureaucratic and government inertia. There is no political will to make MIQ work better – and that’s because there is no public appetite to open the tap, even with safeguards.

Whenever change is proposed, or the Government’s models questioned, an angry mob steps in to shout it down as treason.

Whatever happened to the number 8 wire Kiwi? Or are they all stranded overseas? – Tracy Watkins

Our world is about to be split into two very definitive tribes; those who have the vaccine and those who don’t. Those who have the jab won’t enjoy the freedoms of the past, but they will be able to travel, while those who don’t have it won’t be able to. That may well become the ultimate decider for the vaccine-hesitant. It may be “my body, my choice” when it comes to vaccination, but only if you can enjoy the freedom that everyone else does. – Janet Wilson

What’s really alarming with this is, there has been millions of dollars spent on consultants and what have we really got? We’ve basically shown Government doesn’t understand how local councils operate. Sam MacDonald

Nonetheless, New Zealanders continued to excel at home and globally in disproportionately large numbers. . . So how is it we have become willing lapdogs, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome? Hovering around daily briefings in the hope our captors will throw us a bone?- Paul Henry

Regardless of whether the news is good or bad, we feel comforted that those who know what’s best for us keep us from harm’s way. Protecting us from the violation that freedom would otherwise bring. We listen for the responses to banal questions that all but the most ignorant citizen would already be able to answer.

In short, we have for the most part surrendered our lives through fear. We accept that our own citizens should be forced into lotteries in order to come home from their adventures and that we may well be refused a seat next to a dying parent. – Paul Henry

What the world did not know then – but has since found out – is New Zealand had moved into phase two of its unofficial Covid strategy, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. We went hard and fast on borrowing. And borrowing is fine as long as you borrow to invest. But not us.

Did we use our hard-won, Covid-free months – almost a year – to invest in health infrastructure, both hardware and staffing? No.

Did we vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate? No.

Did we invest in money-making initiatives that exploited our Covid-free status? No.  – Paul Henry

We have squandered our leading edge for the lack of a plan. And having lost the lead we undoubtedly had, we are now racing to the back of the pack.

Our economic policy is akin to a reverse mortgage, as we live quite well whilst building debt. Unfortunately, in order to be sound, reverse mortgages require that you die quite soon.

Maybe that’s the third phase of our strategy. Paul Henry

The government has an ideology-driven desire for centralised bureaucratic control. They do not care if it divorces providers from the communities they are supposed to serve and reduces accountability. In doing so they are taking the opportunity to indulge a sectional political constituency at the expense of the principles of democracy and the community. – Gray Judd

Bloody Friday tragically saw 1500 sheep sacrificed in protest. Forty-three years on, and the boot is on the other foot. It’s the farmers themselves who don’t want to be sacrificial lambs on the altar of Ministers David Parker and James Shaw. Jamie Mackay

So add this voice of reason to that of Sir John Key’s, to Sir Ian Taylor’s, to Rob Fyfe’s – these are not people who are mad granny killers, who want to throw New Zealanders to the wolf of Covid.

They just see a government who does not seem to be able to pivot the way it has asked businesses to do, a government that is bereft of ideas, that is anything but transparent and that only knows one simplistic way to manage a crisis.

And that’s to shut everything down.   – Kerre McIvor

But Aucklanders, on the whole, don’t feel better about things.

I think many of us resented the latest lengthy lockdown and blamed the government for it.

We’ve more than done our bit as citizens and businesses and we’d come to the conclusion, by the end of this latest lockdown level 4, that it was pointless and dragging on. As is this level 3 we’re in right now. Why? And why was the South Island at an alert level at all?

Why restrict businesses now with such petty but costly barriers when privately the government has abandoned the Covid elimination strategy and has instead settled on managing the pandemic and keeping hospitalisation numbers down. They won’t admit this, of course, but look at their actions for confirmation. – Duncan Garner

Truth is, this government has to keep hospitalisation numbers down because our hospitals wouldn’t cope with a mass outbreak.

It’s this scenario that mostly keeps those running our pandemic response awake at night.

And it’s been made worse by the huge holes in staffing numbers and a lack of specialist staff. We never had enough ICU beds and when we went all those months Covid free last year, the government failed to build any meaningful increase in capacity in ICU. Just six new beds were created.

How was that ever acceptable to senior ministers and the prime minister? Did they push it? Did they ask questions? Did they even know? The best ministers keep their departments accountable and on task. If that’s happening regularly with this government, it’s not immediately obvious.- Duncan Garner

But, clearly, ‘being kind’ has waned as a phrase. We are rightly furious with the government’s vaccine debacle, which has left us vulnerable. It put cynical political spin ahead of telling the truth about its failure to secure enough vaccinations.

What’s worse is they positioned us as being at the front of a queue that it appears we were never in. It meant we relaxed and we all became complacent – led by a government who appeared to think the job was done. Celebrating daily zero cases was put before long-term planning.  Duncan Garner

The Covid cushion is losing its stuffing, lockdowns usually sees the party getting a sympathetic bump in the polls from a frightened, insecure public. But with one death in 1185 cases in the current outbreak it isn’t creating the climate of fear that they’ve relied on.  – Barry Soper

But neither the new nor the old system were sophisticated enough to prioritise those whose needs were greater or who had waited the longest. The emergency allocations are for a very limited group of people. For everybody else, the sorter doing the prioritising is Lady Luck. – Claire Trevett

Difficulty securing a spot in MIQ may indeed be “reasonably foreseeable” – but it should not be – or at least not beyond the Christmas rush – and not anymore.

It is a government created system and they are government created rules. The system does not allow people to book MIQ rooms months and months in advance, so long-term trip planning is impossible.

People have been forced to take a chance by the system itself – they should not be blamed when that system fails to deliver.

It has also been “reasonably foreseeable” that MIQ was not catering for the numbers it needed to for some time. –   Claire Trevett

The issue is not last year, or those who made it back. It is now, and those who cannot get back. –   Claire Trevett

Thus far, the Government and officials have always been able to muster up a lot of excuses for saying no: usually a shortage of the required health and security staff needed for MIQ facilities, or the inadequacy of ventilation or the space required.

But it did not find the same energy to find solutions for those problems or to work on refining ideas to make them workable.  –   Claire Trevett

Ardern said, when explaining why only businesspeople were being used for a trial of home isolation, it was because they had “skin in the game” so were less likely to try to sneak around the rules.

Businesspeople are not the only ones with skin in the game, Prime Minister. All of us do.

Fix it.  Claire Trevett

It’s a pretty sad day when you sit inside reading an article in a popular farming paper and it’s talking about carbon farming.

Who would have ever thought we could get paid for air? – Mike Firth

Picking and choosing when you listen to science is no way to treat people or their livelihoods, and hopefully people will see the charade for what it is. 

The elimination strategy they’ve fancifully been chasing will suddenly not be so important anymore; they’ll spin us a yarn about how it’s worked out just as they wanted it to, but the numbers will tell the real story. Kate Hawkesby

Labour governments typically have two standard responses to a political problem, or even the mere perception of one. They either throw vast amounts of money at it, or they create an unwieldy, centralised bureaucracy to give the impression something is being done. Sometimes it’s both, since these solutions often overlap. – Karl du Fresne

Once again a centralised, opaque governance structure will be created that will give grossly disproportionate power to unelected Maori, sweep away local representation and discard generations of local knowledge, investment and experience.

Arguably the most offensive aspect of Three Waters is its audacious dishonesty. Rather than solving a problem, the government has invented one. – Karl du Fresne

All this is all intended to create the illusion of decisive, meaningful action, but it’s merely the announcement of a plan that has yet to be formulated. It contains nothing substantive or concrete – not even any goals or targets (they’ll come later, presumably).  It will provide work for lots of highly paid consultants and hangers-on but do nothing in the short term to help people suffering from mental illness. In short, it’s a disgrace and a travesty. – Karl du Fresne

Responsible governments decide what needs to be done then work out what it’s likely to cost. But this one appears to work backwards, plucking a sum out of the air then wondering what to do with it. – Karl du Fresne

 


Pravda Project at work

01/10/2021

Is the media biased?

I can understand reluctance to give any oxygen to conspiracy theories, but it is possible to write a story on this extraordinary response without doing that.

 

Could the reluctance to report this have anything to do with the Public Interest Journalism Fund which Karl du Fresne calls the Pravda Project.

. . . Judith Collins and David Seymour were putting the heat on Jacinda Ardern over Labour’s so-called Public Interest Journalism Fund. Collins wanted to know whether the fund – applicants for which must commit to Treaty principles and support for te reo, among other things – was influencing the editorial decisions of media outlets. Seymour more pointedly asked what would happen to a media outlet that had accepted money from the fund but wanted to report something deemed inconsistent with Treaty principles.

Ardern brushed off the questions as if they weren’t worthy of an answer, but that’s by the bye. What interests me is whether the exchange in the House was reported by any media outlet that has accepted, or has its hand out for, money from the fund.

This highlights another potentially disturbing and insidious aspect of the media slush fund. Can we expect mainstream media outlets to report criticism of the fund or possible revelations and concerns about its misuse, or will that be left to independent journalists such as Adams?  

You see what’s happening here? I’m already wondering whether the media are choosing to ignore stories about the fund that might not reflect favourably on it or them. The mere fact that it’s necessary to ask this question shows how media companies compromise their credibility by accepting money from a highly politicised government agency.  

Incidentally, “Public Interest Journalism Fund” strikes me as a bit of a mouthful, and time-consuming to type, besides. So I’m giving it a shorter, punchier name: the Pravda Project, after the old Soviet Union’s esteemed official press organ, on the assumption that the PIJF will exhibit the same fearless independence and unstinting commitment to the truth. 

Michael Basset has similar concerns:

. . . The availability of money, coupled with a completely absent sense of constitutional propriety, appear to offer the divine intervention Ardern and Robertson need going forward. Their gig is to bribe the media in the run-up to the next election in the hope that they will save Labour. This is happening in two ways. First, the direct distribution of cash from the Public Interest Journalism Fund aimed at keeping the media on side until the next election. All the big daily papers have dipped into it already, and applications are now open for a further swag of taxpayer money. The second way the government is trying to keep the media on side is by over-paying them for printing the masses of Covid announcements. I’m reliably informed that the government negotiated none of the regular discounts available to those who advertise on a grand scale in newspapers and TV. The expectation is that none of the media greedies will bite the government hand that feeds them. Or not very hard.

If my information is correct, it is corruption, pure and simple. In normal circumstances there would be rebellion. But in the topsy-turvy world of this pandemic, I’m not sure that anyone any longer cares much about constitutional propriety.

Privately owned media has a lot more leeway in what it chooses to report and how it reports it.

But publicly owned media has a much greater responsibility to be balanced and fair.

Regardless of whether its privately owned or publicly, the Pravda Project makes it look like the media is softer on the government and harder on the opposition which leads it wide open to accusations of bias.


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