It’s almost Christmas and without doubt, irrespective of religion, almost all Kiwis will enjoy some great time with our families.
All, that is, except those whose job it is to keep us safe, or if that doesn’t work, then to patch us up.
Not the great rock and roll band that tore up my airwaves in the late 70s and early 80s. No, I’m talking about the actual police.
The police will be dealing with all manner of domestic violence cases this festive season.
The worst day is Boxing Day.
With drinking having continued through the day and night before, it’s only going to be bad for kids and bad for any parent who gets in the way of drunken violence.
This week I met with the police. All of the police. I went around hundreds of police stations literally talking to thousands of police officers. Like a modern-day unbearded, female, non-Justice Minister Santa Clause, I sat them on my knee and asked them what they would like this Christmas.
Without a doubt, all of them said this one little sentence.
“We would like some guns, please.”
That made me think, and not because I’ve been in talks with a prominent United States side-arms manufacturer, but because I really, really care for our police.
Just think of it – they’re out there every day, putting their lives on the line with hardly anything to keep them safe. All to keep them safe from perpetrators of domestic violence are stab-proof vests, tasers, years of self-defence training, guns in the boots of their cars, and Armed Offenders Squad back up.
No wonder they need more guns.
Polling by the police association shows a different feeling from front-line police.
When asked the question, “Would you like to be armed with a hand-gun OR have to attend every domestic violence call-out dressed in a $2 shop sherrif’s outfit,” 97% of frontline cops said they would like the hand-gun.
That’s a clear and present majority.
I’m saying that if there is the slightest doubt as to safety, then police must be backed to protect both themselves and the public by being able to shoot the public.
As we find from the prevention first policy around recidivist family violence offenders, there’s nothing like being prepared with a deliciously powerful sidearm and an itchy trigger finger.
Until next week, do you feel lucky? Punk?
With the recent release of the OECD report into inequality, My Thinks thought it imperative we delve further into this and get some clarification on neoliberal economics. Emeritus Professor Archibald Ineruditus, head of the Ayn Rand College at the University of George W Bush in Texas, has studied classic neoliberalism since it’s inception following a meeting between William Randolph Hurst and Satan, the Prince of Darkness, at the birth of Rupert Murdoch in the 1930s. Professor Ineruditus joined our interviewer by internet phone from his palatial home in the leafy suburbs of Austin.
My Thinks: Thanks for joining us professor.
Professor: My pleasure.
My Thinks: Let’s get straight into it. Do you feel, in the wake of the release of the OECD report into inequality, that classic neoliberalism is on the way out?
Professor: Great first question Mr Thinks. Like all neoliberal theorists, I’m actually going to answer a different question by saying the weather in Austin is fine, thanks for asking.
My Thinks: If I could ask you again, do you think that neoliberalism has had its day and western democracies are going to start bringing in other, more egalitarian forms of economic management.
Professor: Oh no. We have to remember that all western governments, be they Republican or Democrat, Tory or Labour, or whatever you have in New Zealand, are all totally funded by monies obtained from very rich people. Normal people and poor people don’t have the kind of money they can splash about on paying for political party membership. It’s a well-known fact.
My Thinks: You’ve been studying classic neoliberalism for years now. What would you say is its strongest feature?
Professor: Well… over my many years of study I would say definitely the strongest point of neoliberalism is its comprehensiveness. Everybody benefits. From those running the multinationals right through to the people who own the multinationals.
My Thinks: Is there anyone who doesn’t benefit.
Professor: Because of the trickle down effect, everybody benefits. The extra growth created from those higher income earners reinvesting their tax cuts into housing and their superannuation funds or other tax-free investment opportunities really does mean that the whole economy does really, really well.
My Thinks: How?
Professor: It’s hard to quantify in terms of actual money, but certainly there is a vibe that trickles down. I’ve been many, many poor people standing outside in the rain looking with excitement at my house and where I live (Thanks to the many grants I get from various think-tanks and business lobby groups I have certainly benefited from the trickle down effect in a monetary way). Anyway, when this vibe is pretty all-encompassing.
My Thinks: If you were to sum up neoliberalism as a list of key elements, what would they be?
Professor: Oh, excellent. You read the list of questions I emailed. The first tenant of neoliberalism is user-pays. All government services are user pays for every single citizen. If you use it, you pay. The only legitimate exception to this would be those people who are able to structure their finances in such a way as to appear poor despite owning several million dollars worth of stuff.
My Thinks: What else?
Professor: Just quickly. Small hands-off government. If we have too much red-tape and bureaucracy that will stifle growth. Private business will be given absolute freedom to develop and run themselves as they see fit. Public services, such as health, education and social services, will be micro-managed with the paper fist of bureaucracy. If we paid tax, that would be our tax dollars being wasted.
My Thinks: So trickle down, user pays and small government. Is there anything else that you would say defines neoliberalism.
Professor: Yes. It’s important to ignore any scientific or empirical evidence that proves your entire life’s work is a complete joke. If I was to accept any research into, say, the economic impacts of climate change or inequality, then I would have to reject all the hard work I have done for my wealthy benefactors since the 1980s. I would be utterly discredited and I would probably have to sell all my Harley Davidsons.
My Thinks: Really?
Professor: Yes. I own a fleet of Harley Davidsons. That’s why neoliberalism is so important to the economy, growth and the future of the world.
My Thinks: So you absolutely reject the OECD’s findings that inequality is actually hurting growth in economies who’ve adopted neoliberalism.
Professor: Totally. Anyway, everybody knows the OECD is full of hippies and anything they say is a joke.
My Thinks: Except when you’re using data that supports your theories?
My Thinks: Once again, thanks for speaking with us this morning professor.
Professor: Thank you Mr Thinks.
I’ve known Brian Standardrate for a decade. He’s worked with his hands for 93 years. Pretty much all of his natural life and part of his father’s also.
The other week he popped over to my Papakura house to work on my deck. Anybody who knows me knows there’s nothing my husband and I enjoy more than relaxing on our deck with an ice-cold milk. Unfortunately, due to a recent incident involving an effigy, there appears to be a large charred hole thwarting my relaxation. Brian said he could easily replace the lost Indonesian mahogany and we’d be back on our chaise lounge in no time.
While he was unloading the rainforest timber from the back of his Hiace, I noticed Brian was limping. I asked him about it. Initially he wasn’t keen to talk about it but I pressed and eventually he said it was down to a workplace injury. This worried me. Why would someone, so clearly injured, continue working? This is a very important question and one I immediately texted Camoron Slater about. He’s planning an investigative exposé at some point in the near future – depending on whether or not his hacker is available.
As Brian scraped away the blacked edges of my deck I couldn’t help thinking that this might actually be a fantastic opportunity – a fantastic opportunity for growth. Why not use this builder’s issues with his lower limbs to construct a narrative that suggests I’ve been thinking about things a bit recently. Why not indicate to New Zealand that I’ve been reflecting on my life. Why not paint a picture with my words that portrays me as a caring women thinking only of others. Why not spend some time crushing The Crusher.
As Brian fell into the hole in my deck I wandered inside and turned on the desktop in my study and started typing. Half an hour later I had a column ready to email to the editors at Stuff.co.nz for publication.
I’m not sure what happened to Brian. He might still be working on my deck. I guess we’ll never know.
Hello and greetings. Frontbench cabinet minister and lady of the relm Sir Hekia Parata speaking. I’ve been asked by our wonderful prime minister to just clarify a few things surrounding our fabulous group of partnership schools – schools which are soon to be joined by a growing band of experimental educators.
This week here has been a myriad of unwarranted criticism of my partnership schools. If I was to choose something to criticise it wouldn’t be my partnership schools. I would, for example, criticise the biased media who appear to have sided with left wing conspiracy nut Nicky Hager. I might, for example, criticise those people around the country who are constantly accusing John Key of lying when he is quite clearly not un-lying at all times, or not.
Back to me.
The partnership school scheme the government is running has had an enormously successful year. There are so many tens of children attending these schools around the country. All these children are so happy with their brand-new school uniforms, their pastel coloured beanbags, and their 6 iPads each. And their iPhone 6.
I’ve had many reports of some very happy children at our partnership schools. When they attend they are very, very happy. All so very, very happy. Happy children with happy teachers. Happy teachers with their brand-new classrooms, their pastel coloured beanbags, and their 6 iPads each. And their iPhone 6.
As the Minister of Education it is hugely disappointing to hear so much criticism of these wonderful teachers, brilliant children and fantastic schools. It’s so hard to set up a school. Have you ever done it? No. Nobody has. The only people who’ve set up schools of any kind have worked for the government (unless you’re part of the wonderful private school system with their massive classrooms, tiny teachers and hugely deep pockets funded from giant pools of unpaid tax). You can’t just rock up to a paddock somewhere and set up a school in a couple of old buildings and hope for the best. No. You also need several million dollars and a licence to drill.
The other thing that is so disappointing is that people are saying that because just a few dozen students have left a couple of the schools over the course of the year that these schools are somehow failures. How utterly ridiculous. Schools are not failing because a few students have left. You need to remember students leave schools at all times through the year, all year, every year. As I understand it, once you’ve learnt everything there really isn’t much point in hanging around. You might as well leave and go and seek your fortune in the world of McDonalds or Burger King or driving a taxi or something.
Anyway, failing is a relative term. When I sat School Certificate back in the 1970s if you got 60% on your exam, that was deemed a pass. You were in the top echelons of the other spotty twerps. (I get the figure from 3 out of 5 of our wonderful partnership schools being 60% – not that I’m saying the other two are failures, far from it, they are incredibly successful, just not in the way of having robust systems in place or attracting and retaining students, staff or money).
It also gives me great joy to announce we’ve sold several power companies and some parts of our national airline and we can syphon of a couple of mill to set up a few more partnership schools. There are many, many children who we can also syphon off from some fairly low decile schools nearby to jazz up with a swanky new uniform, a pastel coloured beanbag, 6 iPads and an iPhone 6.
As you can see, partnership schools are a hugely successful enterprise and we should celebrate.
Beanbags for all!!