Thursday, September 18, 2008

this means nothing to me

Due to popular demand (ALL the voices in my head), more billboards:

Friday, September 12, 2008

you don't have to hide anymore

I've been having a bit o' fun on the National Billboard 2008 site, where you get to make your own contribution to National's election campaign advertising. Because I am completely shameless , here are my own contributions:

Your turn, chumps.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

all that distance reconciled

Amidst all the kerfuffle around Winston Peters' funding arrangements, I thought I'd ruminate on my preferred way of funding political parties.

Being a wishy-washy that socialist it behoves me to be reflexively attracted to the idea of taxpayer funding and disapproving of the possibility of elections being defacto bought by that malign club of dark, smoky businessmen with the largest cheque books. On the other hand I'm not too much in favour of parties being able just to vote themselves an amount of money, which seems to be somewhat a conflict of interest and an enticement to foul corruption. With that in mind, public donation to political parties seems to be a much better system, since funding will follow party support more closely in between elections, rather than being at the whims of the winners of the last election - as long as you have a way of weighting those donations those rich individuals do not have disproportionate power than their citizenship should imply.

And so, naturally, I suggest a compromise - try to combine the best of the two systems - remove the sluggard money-men from the temple of democracy, but make sure to replace it with a democratic alternative.

My proposal would be for each taxpayer (i.e. any single person - no companies - who has paid a positive amount of income tax in the financial year) would get the opportunity to allocate a fixed amount to their party or parties of choice. For arguments sake I'll say $10 per financial year. It doesn't sound a lot, but multiply that by the number of taxpayers involved and the money involved could be reasonably significant. And political parties would have an incentive every year to be on their best behaviour, otherwise it hits them in their campaign budget. And if you really wanted to twist the knife, you could have an option for taxpayers to vote their contribution back to the Treasury - or their favorite government department - as a vote of no confidence ...

I think it is important to make it a flat-rate amount of money that citizens get to donate, rather than some pro-rata arrangement based on your taxable income - it creates an equalising effect, one-man-one-vote style, and it makes sure that political parties aren't pandering just to rich voters for the sake of campaign finance (as opposed to pandering to rich voters because that's the philosophical basis of your politics). And obviously, you would have to ban donations to parties outside of this system, and bolster that with a rigouous, and public, accounting of all party spending. Which leads me to my next point ...

This proposal unfortunately does nothing to solve the really big issue the Labour's EFA was supposed to crack down on - third party campaigning; in fact it would probably only exacerbate the problem, as there would be a lot of special interest groups out there with great gouts of money they would otherwise be giving to National the mainstream political parties suddenly free to float it out to extremists single-issue groups with a greater degree of autonomy and anonimity.

... but I have no smart answers for that issue, and more's to the point, I can't be solving all your fucking problems for you, ya lazy bastards.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

his heart in every line

“Should a smack as part of good parental correction be a criminal offense in New Zealand?”

Ahh, the smacking debate. There's a good long rant in there somewhere, but it's late, so I'll just leave you with this:
Where's the age limit?

No, really. Where does the statute of limitations for my parent's ability to smack me run out if this wonderful slice of sadism passes in the referendum next year? 10? 15? 25? Fucking never? Can my Dad still give me a state-sanctioned wallop when I'm 35 and he's 72 if I piss him off*?

What idiot drafted such an open-ended referendum question anyway? And can I give him a smack for fucking it up so royally?

You always wanted to know, but were afraid to ask:
How would the U.S. military fight a zombie army? - I know what you're thinking, and you're right. That is the best question ever asked.

*I should point out that my Dad seldom if every smacked any of us, and my Mum also worked out the error of her ways quite early ... though not early quite early enough for me not to develop a profound aversion to wooden spoons.

sitting in the dark

For comparison with the July 2008 results I posted last week - July 2005, again from TV3/TNS:

July Original Actual # Correct %
Labour 39 333.06 33.31%
National 39 333.06 33.31%
NZ First 7 59.78 5.98%
Green Party 6 51.24 5.12%
ACT 1.6 13.664 1.37%
United Future 1.4 11.956 1.20%
Maori Party 2.2 18.788 1.88%
Alliance 0.1 0.854 0.09%
Christian Heritage 0.4 3.416 0.34%
Progressive 0.4 3.416 0.34%
Destiny NZ 0.6 5.124 0.51%
All Others 2.3 19.642 1.96%
Base: 854
Don’t know/ undecided 12 120 12.00%
Would not vote 3 30 3.00%


The undecided vote seems to stay quite consistent at around the 11-12% mark at this point in the election cycle (cf the period directly after the election when it drops to 3 and 4%). The level of support for Labour is 3 points off now versus then; but National is up 8 points. They don't seem to be taking it off Labour, so where is the support coming from?

The answer seems to be that they are feeding off the parties to the right and to the centre - NZ First, Act, United Future, the Christian parties. They also seem to have picked up the people who last time around said they weren't going to vote (3% in 2005, 1.7% in 2008). The problem for National is that they cannibalising support partners, something that Labour doesn't seem to be doing to their left-of-centre partner, The Greens. But Labour's problem is that their voters seem more likely to just throw in the towel and stay home, versuses a seemingly fed-up right-wing. If the 2005/6 poll results can be trusted, it looks to me as though voters for NZ First believed that Winston would stick with National rather than Labour (the numbers dropped the month after election day by 2.2 points). While you can never trust NZ First to stay down after a rightous kicking, voters may have finally learned their lesson.

Friday, August 29, 2008

high above the golden calf

Well, after all that seriousness, let's wind-down with some funny posters. And since I haven't bagged religion for nigh on 15 minutes ... well, let's just say that there's a theme here ...

... and, because I'm an equal opportunity asshole ...

Now, I hasten to point out that none of these are my work, I've picked them up off various message boards and from For the weak of heart, or faint of stomach, or in fact anyone with more than a modicum of taste, I do not recommend a casual visit there. More than a few of the posters are unfunny, and roughly 98.7% of them are quite, quite offensive. You have been warned.

Finally, a cartoon for Apathy Jack:

panzers in poll-land

Nothing quite annoys me as the presentation of poll results in the media. Specifically, the dishonest presentation of the future make-up of parliament - complete with pretty graphical representations of all the seats in the debating chamber - by ignoring the sizable proportion of the public who have not yet made up their mind. The dishonesty is to my mind blatant and deliberate since no mainstream news source ever seems to mention the undecided when they report the latest poll results; to find out you have to try and find the original polling document. And even then you have to recalculate the numbers to find out the true support proportions.

Once you've done that, it becomes clear that National is nowhere near commanding a majority in the 2009 Parliament, unless you assume that either (a) all the undecideds are not going to vote, or (b) when they do come to vote they will all neatly fit into the patterns of those who have already made up their minds.

Below I've reinterpreted the July TV3/TNS poll. I can't speak to whether it is any better or worse than any other polling company, but they're the only company that I can find their full poll results from Scoop (unfortunately I can't yet find August 08 though).

July Original Actual#
Correct %
Labour 35 302.4 30.24%
National 48 414.72 41.47%
NZ First 4 34.56 3.46%
Green Party 7 60.48 6.05%
ACT 1 8.64 0.86%
United Future 0.3 2.592 0.26%
Maori Party 2 17.28 1.73%
Alliance -

Christian Heritage -

Progressive 0.2 1.728 0.17%
Destiny NZ -

All Others 2 17.28 1.73%
Base: 864

Don’t know/ undecided 11.9 119 11.90%
Would not vote 1.7 17 1.70%


I also ran the median support percentages across the Feb, April, May, July 08 polls and the numbers come up pretty close to the July results - Labour on 30.7%, National 42%, undecideds on 11.55%. It is where the undecideds will fall that will determine the election, or perhaps more importantly whether they go out to vote at all. My money is firmly on those undecideds being made up primarily of previous centre-left voters who have lost faith in Labour coalitions, but don't believe National offers anything better for them (except perhaps vague platitudes).

NB: On reflection, II should expand on the last point about turnout. I don't think it is safe to assume that the people who are undecided are necessarily more likely to not vote. There are a multitude of reasons why people don't vote: for instance, if it's raining on polling day, turnout will be down; ditto if there is a major rugby test. Heck, there are a great number of opinionated people out there who will give you there preference for Government, but won't actually get out of their chair to put there preference into practice (To illustrate, turn-out last year was 77%, but the proportion of undecided will not have been more than 10% the week before polling day); as long as National looks like a clear winner (because of the dodgy reporting on poll-results that are the subject of this post), I suspect the more that National supporters might be lulled into laziness in the belief that other voters will do their work for them. Nonetheless, my feeling is that Labour is the one that will be most damaged by low turnout.