Going Backwards

Delivering on this:

Brexit terrifies me. It reminds me that our basic human operating model is tribalism, and our default economic model is feudalism. What we thought was a new civilised way of sharing growth turned out to just be a brief respite brought on by those who experienced the horrors of tribalism first-hand. Now those memories have just barely passed out of living memory, we’re back to jeering at each other, egged on by lords in high towers.

Continue reading “Going Backwards”

Evidence Based Policy?

Last night I had a little conversation with one of my local elected representatives. Sure, I told him I wasn’t planning to vote for his party, but I was very interested in his party’s position on the environment, or lack thereof. Given how reliant New Zealand is on dairy farming (and food production in general), it is critical that we retain our “clean green” image, or risk a huge problem in the future when customers are turned off New Zealand products because of perception. Yes, perception, because reality has already overtaken us.

I pointed out Federated Farmers’ own research that points out that overall positive perception of the dairy industry is 65% and dropping (see page 13 of this pdf). The response? “Ben I don’t even believe in political polls let alone a poll on perceptions of dairying.

You don’t what? How can a politician come out and say they don’t believe in polling (aka research)? Is he saying he makes policy decisions from the seat of his pants?

I’ve left out the rest of the petty conversation, including the part where Tau referred to “people like you”. As someone who has voted ACT, National and Green in the past, I’m not sure who “people like me” are.

Please vote.


What I want from a Supermayor

I joked about running for mayor of the new combined Auckland City. My platform is bold and progressive, but I think that’s what we need. Under the current candidates I think we’re going to see more of the same mediocre urban planning and all-pleasing policies.

Here’s what we should do:

  • Aspen StreamRevitalise the inner city. Close Queen Street to vehicles from Victoria St to the waterfront. Resurrect the Waihorotiu stream as a grassy-banked stream. Like in Aspen, but bigger.
    Cruise ship tourists can drop off their shoes at the shoe-minder in the Ferry Building, and walk barefoot on the grass up Queen Street.
  • Harmonise the cost of driving with public transport. Primarily through a toll for single-occupant cars using motorways at rush hour. Electronically implemented so that couriers, wheelchair users, and others can be exempt.
    Use this income to reduce the cost of public transport, improve cycle lanes, and implement light rail (to airport, and the shore).
  • Invite international architects to pitch for a new harbour crossing and (if we need it) a waterfront theatre. Both can be public/private and funded with tolls and ticket sales. Perhaps a waterfront stadium to host a second team in the Aussie football league?
  • Aggressively pursue mid-scale international events for the city. Not the Olympics! Ironman, V8 Supercars, golf, an international-scale cycling criterium?

Expensive? Yes. Doable? Probably. Would you rather live in a city that has a crack at doing some truly interesting things, or one that seeks to chug along unchanged? Mustn’t grumble right?

We have voted No. Now what?

We have voted no. Regardless of my personal vote, the democratic outcome is that a vast majority of votes cast were of the opinion that smacking as “part of good parental correction” should not be a criminal offence. I’m not going to fiddle with numbers as some others have done to claim an apathetic majority. That’s not how democracy works. If you don’t vote, you don’t get a voice.

So then. A few months ago I made my personal opinion clear. Reading that post again, I still stand by it, with some clarification. After discussions with many people I hold to be wonderful parents with truly incredible kids, I’ve changed part of my opinion. You may not care, but purely for positioning, I accept now that smacking should not be a criminal offence in all cases, and frankly I’m a little ashamed that I’ve said otherwise. I truly do not wish criminal charges against any of the people I know who happen to smack their kids. Hopefully you can accept that one man’s dogma can be altered by exposure to fact.

The law, as it stands, clearly allows for “justifiable force” in several instances. These cover the range that most people would hold to be reasonable: avoiding danger, stopping disruptive behaviour, etc.. What the law does criminalise, and what I remain against, is the use of physical punishment for correction after the fact. I’d love to hear from the majority if they intended their “No” vote to enable physical punishment for correction, as opposed to instantaneous intervention.

If the question had been “Should a smack, as an instant intervention requirement, be a criminal offence”, I would have voted no. Would you have voted “Yes” if the question were “Should a smack, as a premeditated action intended to correct misbehaviour more than x minutes after the event, be a criminal offence?”. Or am I utterly barking up the wrong tree?

I ask this because as I read more and more online discussions about smacking and physical correction, the misinformation is utterly baffling. I’ve seen the argument that all mammals use physical correction, so it’s natural. I don’t however remember seeing a mammal hit its offspring some hours after the original event took place.

Please, this is not judgemental in any way. I’m truly, deeply interested in how to make this work, because it’s obvious that a minority of us don’t understand. You the majority owe me nothing, but I’d love to chat about your intentions so I can learn.

P.S. I remain a bit offended at Larry Baldock cheering like a madman at the result, after he was quoted as saying “I’m not opposed to the wooden spoon or ruler because you can control things with that better than you can with an open hand.” However I do understand he is on the fringe and not representative of many people who voted “No”.

New Zealand Electric Vehicles Exempt from Road User Charges

Credit: Tom Parker
Credit: Tom Parker

As I mentioned over in the community, an acquaintance (who happens to be converting his Mini to electric power) points out that for the next four years, drivers of fully electric vehicles will pay no road user charges. The only cost will be the electricity, and vehicle registration (at about NZ$200 per year).

Additionally, after having issues with proprietary software and controllers, a NZ based EV builder (greenstage.co.nz) has recently kicked off the Tumanako Open Source project to create the necessary hardware and software to drive and charge EVs:
[quote]The Tumanako Project is an Open Source development effort to produce Open Source hardware and software to drive and recharge electric vehicles. Tu manako is M?ori for hope & togetherness.[/quote]
Sure, EVs are currently not cheap, whether you buy them complete or convert them yourself. Here’s hoping these announcements, combined with the small but growing EV enthusiast community in New Zealand will get our stators charged and our rotors spinning.

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