Tuesday, 10 December 2013

I’m all white, Jack

One of the world’s great men passed away last week and he can be proud that he made a difference. I would venture to say that any of us who can go to our graves knowing we have made a difference (for the good that is), then we should be able to rest in peace.

Nelson Mandella is a man who has been celebrated in many different ways during his life and he will no doubt also be celebrated in many more ways in the future. He was a man who showed how it is possible to forgive even some of the most heinous of crimes. His humanity should be an example to all of us.

However (and didn’t you just know I’d have one of them lurking somewhere?) I have to say something about the appalling hypocrisy of the New Zealand Government in regards to Mandella’s funeral and what he stood for in general.

Madiba would probably not be impressed with me getting stuck into these guys over this, but I am a less evolved person than him and I haven’t yet learned to be as forgiving.

I cringe at the make-up of the ‘New Zealand delegation’ that has been ‘chosen’ to attend the funeral in South Africa. Let me dissect it (and them) one by one.

First of all we have little Jianqi. Well I have to grudgingly concede that this greedy little money grubber is the Prime Minister and as such he has ONE qualification for attending. I am however extremely uneasy about the fact that he has managed another of his famous brain-fades regarding where he stood in 1981.

I can tell you where he stood in 1981; in a corner somewhere counting out his money and plotting how he could get even more of the stuff for as little effort as possible. As for his views regarding the Springbok tour, I think I can safely say that he didn’t give it a moment’s though and if he had he would have backed the stance of the Muldoon Government and said that sport and politics don’t mix which was of course the right-wing platitude du jour at the time. If it were otherwise he would be proudly (or in his case, boastfully) proclaiming it from the hilltops for all to hear.

However, be that as it may; he is the leader and should go. I could add that he might want to consider not coming back, but that would be mean. To the South Africans, that is.

Next batter up to the plate is James Brendan Bolger, a former Prime Minister and eternal rider of gravy trains. This pillock was a member of that Muldoon Government in 1981 so he helped facilitate that tour by his lack of vocal opposition to it. I am also worried that his presence might lead to further embarrassment for us all when he attempts to adopt a South African accent for the tour.

Then there is Don McKinnon – he of the permanently upstanding hair and surprised look. Don was also a member of the Muldoon Government in 1981 and he has also been a leech on the public purse ever since riding every gravy train that has come to town. This genius caused something of a stir (and an embarrassment to all good Kiwis) when he proclaimed that economic development and free trade are more important than democracy. Mind you that was at a CHOGM meeting (Chaps Hanging Out on Government Money). I KNOW Nelson Mandella would not have shared that sentiment and would have shuddered at the very thought that money was more important than freedom, but then that is the manifesto of Jianqi isn’t it?

Pita Sharples is going of course and I guess he does have the cred that he opposed the tour, although I think it is fair to say he has long since traded away most of his principles to be a part of the Jianqi Government. This leaves him as a poor candidate and probably a token one since he is the only non-white member of the delegation. He really has developed into an “Uncle Tom’ or a ‘Benedict Arnold’; or perhaps a Faustian clone selling his soul to the devil for a little time holding awe corner of the reins of power. Mandella stood up for moral principles and was prepared to die for them. This wooss wouldn’t know a moral principle if it bit him on the nono.

And speaking of token members; David Cunliffe without the ‘t’ has only been chosen because even Jianqi knows that the leader of the opposition is usually expected to attend such events. He probably has the pedigree for this event and he opposed the tour.

So looking at the delegation it stands out like the proverbial ‘dog’s nuts’ that it is with one solitary exception comprised of old white guys, only one of whom actually stood for what Mandella did and one token Maori who has spent the last two parliamentary terms selling out his people so he could rub shoulders with the latest batch of power brokers.

I don’t necessarily think John Minto should have gone at the nation’s expense although he would have been a better choice than Don McKinnon or Jim Bolger, but I would have thought at least somebody with good Human Rights creds should have been included. It might not have been a bad idea to include a woman as well.

But definitely not our Racist Relations Commissioner who is another lacking any suitable qualifications for the trip or her job for that matter.

And just to make matters worse; the Huffington Post has picked up on Jianqi’s brain-fade as well. Oh the shame of it all!

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The madness of pouring money into a hole in the ground

Human beings do some incredibly stupid things as we all know, and the current NZ Government is not immune to this malaise.

At present they seem obsessed with pouring money into all sorts of holes in the ground. In some instances they are doing this literally and in others figuratively. However in all cases the practice makes no sense when the longer view is taken.

Unfortunately when you have a Government that is headed up by a money trader you are going to see policies that are driven by the desire to reap short term gains and to hell with any ‘collateral damage’ that might be caused by chasing those gains.

Under this sort of management anything that doesn’t bring the cash that will enrich the drivers of those policies and their mates is expendable.

This is the philosophy that allows companies such as Anna Dark Knight to plunder the depths of our oceans in search of 20th Century fuels for the 21st Century.

We are told by the Government that if we allow these modern day environmental rapists to drill ginormous holes in our seabed we will all get fabulously wealthy and live happily ever after. In true Nelsonian style Jianqi has hoisted his telescope to his squinty little eyes after first sticking a large banknote over the lens which is bad enough, but he wants all of us to look through it as well without removing the distraction of the cash first so that we can see the real picture.

A conspiracy has been hatched to massage the figures so that we are not being made aware of ADK’s track record and the true number of ‘incidents’ that have occurred as a result of their drilling operations. The EPA (Environmental Prostitution Agency) has pimped us to these people based on the directives given to it by the Government. Figures with dozens of zeroes at the end of them have been bandied about in an attempt to dazzle us with their bright shiny nature and imply that we will all get a big share of the dough. This is going to happen via the trickle-down effect which is the system where the earnings all go to the rich who drink up large on their bounty and then piss on the rest of us.

Meanwhile the enormous pachyderm sits in the corner waiting for the day when he inevitably has to take a dump and we end up spending any gains we might as a nation have made trying to mop up somebody else’s shit from our ocean. However that won’t bother Jianqi and his bunch of vagabonds because they will have all made their money and buggered off somewhere else leaving us with the mess to clean up and still not a cent better off.

Some might say our Government is not putting any money into this particular hole and that it is ADK that is pouring money into it instead. But our Government has sold these resources to ADK extremely cheaply when compared with most other countries in the world and when it all goes wrong that is when they will really have to chuck a load of money down a very deep hole.

But not content with chucking millions or possibly billions down into the ocean Jianqi is also feverishly doing the same with large holes in the ground looking for another form of ‘black gold’. The only difference here is the scale f the operations and the fact that this particular product is 19th Century fuel for the 21st Century.

Instead of damage to the marine environment we are gearing up for damage to the land, gas explosions, collapses, and further fiascos of the Pike River variety.

Once again the usual suspects will be the only ones who will be enriched and as usual the taxpayers will pick up the tab for the damage when it inevitably occurs.

But I said earlier that money is being also chucked down what I call figurative holes and it is these holes in which you will find the key (geddit) to what is really wrong with this Government.

One of the smaller examples of this earlier this year was the $250,000 they spent on trying to get Grocer Tim a job at the WTO (World Twats Organisation). In the overall scheme of things this is a paltry sum; but try telling that to an NZ Post worker who is about to lose his $30,000 a year job because the Government is hell-bent on running the company down so it can be sold to another of their cronies.

Of much more concern is the money that is being thrown at our farcical attempts to get a spot on the UN (United Nitwits) Security Council is one such example. If ever there was a waste of public money on a grand scale, then this is it. The figure of $25M has been thrown around and although Jianqi doesn’t want to get specific (why not it’s OUR money?) it seems this is probably a bare minimum that will be spent on this programme.

So we don’t have enough money to run our health sector properly but we still have a lazy $25M to waste on trying to get a seat on the world’s most toothless organisation where any one of the permanent members can use their power of veto to stop anything we might want to bring up there. Was there ever anything more pointless upon which to spend $25M?

But this is chicken feed when compared to the costs involved in selling off our assets. $100M was apparently spent on selling 48 percent of Mighty River Power, which the Bill Nospeakada English is claiming as a victory netting 1.6B for the Government. But that is not taking account of the loss of profits from a very large company such as Mighty River. In 2012 the net profits were over $83B and 48 percent of that is nearly $40B. Of course there are other costs to come out of that, but I am sure you get my drift. More money down a very large hole that was spewing money in our direction but instead is now feeding the overfed.

Despite claims that money is tight and ‘we are not out of the woods yet’ our Government is spending truckloads of money on every magic bean it can get it’s grubby little paws on despite the fact that none of them are going to germinate and produce a plant that will nourish the nation.

Meanwhile the greater majority of us are being told to save our money (what money?) and tighten our belts – but we all had to change to braces years ago to hold our increasingly roomy trou up. But the porkers at the public trough cruise along on the largesse of the Remuneration Authority who has kindly given them another pay rise backdated to the middle of the year.

I know what I’d like to throw into a big hole.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

The young and the gutless (nuts vs sledgehammers)

There are times when you just have to say wtf is going on in the world. It seems that some really atrocious things can occur without any sort of official reaction, while some other innocuous activities are reacted to as if someone was eating their babies.

One of the most obvious atrocities right now in my country is the case of the self-styled ‘Roastbusters’. Ha ha, very funny name little boys and hopefully some roasting of your nether parts is about to occur anytime soon.

For those not familiar with the news in New Z at the moment, these little lowlifes are a group of toxic teenagers who think it is (a) clever and (b) funny to get underage girls drunk and/or stoned and then gang-bang them. As if that wasn’t enough they like to increase the humiliation of the young and admittedly stupid/gullible girls by boasting about their exploits on Facebook.

This group have apparently been operating for a couple of years and FB would appear to condone the practice as their postings have kept appearing which begs the question about what sort of monitoring the social disease, I mean network actually does. But more of that later.......

Complaints were made to police when the media finally became aware of this group of limp dicks who must only be able to function with their mates encouraging them on. (Begs a few questions, doesn’t it?). However the response from police has been about as flaccid as I imagine these young scumbags are without their mates to encourage some kind of performance out of them, despite the fact these little needle dicks have made no effort to hide their identities. Police also reckon they have been monitoring this page for two years, but despite this they have managed to do absolutely zero about it.

Of course the lack of any meaningful police response would have nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that one of these tiny slugs is the son of a police officer and another is the son of Hollywood actor Anthony Ray Parker.

Thankfully not everyone in New Zealand is brain dead and I learn this morning that one of the pieces of excrement in this group has had his employment terminated now that his employer has become aware of it and a vigilante group has begun to form with the intent of delivering the justice the police seem incapable of setting in motion. I should imagine some suitably limp-wristed tut-tuts will be eventually delivered by an overpaid and out of touch judge after a few hundred thousand dollars of the taxpayers money has been spent on bringing these rock dwellers who will no doubt be supported by legal aid to trial.

Significantly Facebunk will of course not be dragged into any of this despite the fact they have allowed this page to continue for two years without interference.

And speaking of the gutless; the Jianqi Government has just bowed ever so gently to public pressure in regards to drink driving. For the last three years Labour(ed)’s Ian Lees-Galloway has been trying to push through a private members’ bill to lower the allowable blood alcohol levels for drivers to 50mls per litre of blood.

The Nats, most of whom sport ruddy cheeks and large bulbous noses with little veins all over their faces were dead against it. Of course their opposition to the idea had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact they are strongly supported by Federated Farmers whose complexions and hooters are even worse than those of the Cabinet.

As recently as only a few weeks ago Just Is Minister Little Bo Tox was ruling any change out for the very sound (in road safety terms) reason that it would clog up the courts. Funny how idiots can say things with a straight face that merely serve to illustrate how far off-beam their thinking is. Clearly we have a problem with the numbers of munters going out and slinging back the piss and then driving, for if we did not the courts would not potentially be clogged up, now would they?

Furthermore what sort of a message is the woman with the frozen face sending when she rates the spectre of an overworked court system ahead of road deaths and injuries? Once again Government was showing they don’t actually take drunk driving seriously at all. The many millions they have spent on (largely ineffective and pointless) adverts that are supposed to deter such practices are simply a box ticking exercise.

However a very good couple of Campbell Live programmes including one where several of his staff got pie-eyed under controlled circumstances showed the world how pissed you can actually be without reaching the 80 mils currently in force. Considerable public reaction to those programmes convinced the Government that with an election less than twelve months away it might be a good idea to go along with this one.

Having said that; their innate gutlessness and lack of commitment to the real issue has arisen once more. While the change in the levels will come through now its effect has been gelded by the fact that those found with between 50mls and 80mls will only get fined and a few points on their licence.

So despite the fact that we know t6he medical definition of intoxication kicks in at 50mls we will still continue to view those between 50mls and 80mls as slightly naughty school kids who will simply have to write a few lines. “I must not get caught drinking and driving.”

So while we live in a world that allows drunks to drive with little or no consequences and male sluts to spread their STDs among underage girls with no comeback from either police or Facebunk, I would like to share a local story that tends to fly in the face of all of that.

Finally some of you who read my blogs might have noticed that you did not get a personal message from me via Facebook to announce my last blog As above so below the link for which is here: http://philossifer.hubpages.com/hub/asabove . The reason for this is that Facebonk has decided in its infinite wisdom that I am a dangerous creature who should be blocked and thus everyone that I sent one to via a Faceberk email address was bounced back to me. Clearly expressing a (I think) soundly argued opinion about local or world affairs is much worse than boasting about one’s sleazy exploits at the bottom of the sewer. 

If you were one of those to whom I used to send these epistles via a Faceblock email and you still wish to receive these (apparently) dangerous communications, please email me at ken@writerman.co.nz with a suitable non-Faceblank email address and I will add that to my now somewhat damaged mailing list. Of course Facelessbook won’t reply to any emails I have sent them asking for an explanation for this situation. I expect their next move will be to ban me from publishing a link to this on my own timeline. Come the revolution, you bastards!!

Nothing like getting one’s priorities right, eh?

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The last chance cafe or the last straw?

The Laboured Party has elected their fourth leader since they were last in power. As that was only five years ago, this is not a good look. But have they got it right this time? Somehow I doubt it. Helen Clark was the last good leader they had. Of course she lost her head because she lost the election and that is a pretty common outcome for leaders who lose an election.

She was then replaced by Phil Goffisthatthetime who, nice guy though he is, was not made of sufficiently stern stuff and who surprised nobody (probably including himself) when he lost the next election.

Next up was an equally inappropriate contender in the form of The Shearer; a diplomat cut from a similarly limp bolt of cloth as his predecessor. I have always believed he was the compromise candidate when the party was at loggerheads over whether to elect Cunliffe (without the “t”) or (Nosy) Parker. As with many compromises in life he ended up pleasing nobody except perhaps those warming the treasury benches.

So now we have the recycled version of Cunliffe which to my eye looks very little different to the rather smug and abrasive version that surfaced at the last leadership stoush.

For those who watch NZ politics fairly closely it is no secret that we have a dearth of good leaders among the parties in our parliament. In fact dearth doesn’t really do justice to the situation. An almost complete absence of good leaders would seem to sum it up better.

This might not matter so much were it not for the fact that the party in power at the moment is laying waste to almost everything Kiwis have held dear and a change of government is urgently needed. In order to bring that about one would expect some good leadership would be a pre-requisite for any of the pretenders.

Of course we could all just bumble along and hope that Jianqi accidentally shoots himself in the foot and the Natsis self-destruct. You might think this could happen with their coalition partners are doing their darndest to emulate the leadership cock-ups of the Laboured Party. 

The Maori Party weren’t able to make up their minds how many leaders they needed until someone kicked Sharples in the goolies and he got the point and stepped aside. The Actors went through two leaders until their cunning election plan in 2011 misfired and their leader didn’t get elected and they had to elect a very short man with a very small brain because he was the only one they managed to get into parliament. And of course the No Future Party managed to retain the same leader but lost the entire party for a while.

However through all of this and despite the squinty-eyed little money-man dropping more than his share of passes the Natsis have stayed true to the one leader since 2006. Prior to that they had three leaders within the space of five years and they paid for that by remaining on the opposition benches.

Significantly the current ‘opposition’ parties have managed pretty much to remain stable. Winston First is still all about Winston, Mana is always going to be Hone’s party – he would leave and start another were it to be otherwise – and the Greens have been stable, only changing their leadership due to a death and a retirement.

But these three parties cannot muster enough support to govern without a coalition partner such as the Laboured Party and that is where the plan all turns to shit.

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, the Laboured Party are a necessary part of any alternative to the NWO/Money worshipping/CIA lapdogs that run this show for now. This presents a big problem for New Zealand. I hate to think what this country will look like if they get a third term.

Unfortunately I can’t see Cunliffe being the one to galvanise the opposition and convince the electorate. He certainly doesn’t convince me. But then I am a picky bugger.

In my opinion Grant Robertson was the obvious choice. He is smart, charismatic and funny. He reminds me of David Lange before he got Rogered by Douglas. Maybe that was what the wider party was worried about. By all accounts the parliamentary party wanted him to lead them and it is that which worries me most about the chances of Cunliffe being able to get them onto the government side of the house.

Of course the unspoken notion is that the wider party was afraid NZ wasn’t ready for their first openly gay PM. I hope that wasn’t their reasoning because I personally believe they were grossly underestimating the electorate if it was. After all this is the country that was among the first to legalise homosexual practices nearly thirty years ago and has recently been one of the first countries in the world to legalise same sex marriage and who was one of the first countries in the world to elect a trans-sexual MP. I think that track record would indicate that the although the average Kiwi bloke or blokes might make jokes about people with different sexual orientation to themselves, they really couldn’t care less what people do in the privacy of their own homes.

It remains to be seen whether Cunliffe remains to be seen still at the helm in October next year. I hope that he does, despite my reservations about him, because a fifth leader in six years would almost certainly be the kiss of death for the Laboured Party and unfortunately for any hope of a coalition to replace the current unholy alliance that is in power now.

Still hope springs eternal, eh and spring is here now so who knows?

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A wigwam for a goose’s bridle

It never fails to amaze me how gullible people can sometimes be. It is a shame I don’t have more cheek than I do, because it seems that the snake oil salesmen are having a great time these days.

For every wacko idea you can think of there seems to be somebody marketing it and selling it and for some reason they never seem to run out of suckers to buy it. Some of the schemes are downright evil and some very trusting albeit naive people get sucked in and spat out and they are often pretty knocked about by the experience. For the peddlers of such goods and services horsewhipping is too good.

However every once in a while somebody comes along with a really wacky idea that is taken up by people who should know better and I for one can’t help but chuckle at both the audacity of the vendor and the stupidity of the buyer.

One such scheme was dreamed up by a bloke called Gary Bolton. Now before I go any further I should make it clear that I think horsewhipping is also too good for Bolton because his little scheme had some catastrophic downstream effects. However he is far from the only culpable party here. Bolton’s outrageous plan could have been scuppered long before any harm was done if certain bodies including the U.K. Government and various police and military forces had done their jobs properly.

Bolton is the bloke who came up with the idea of selling bomb detectors and made over three million quid selling them to police and military clients in Mexico, Thailand, Pakistan, China, India, the Philippines, Singapore, Egypt and Tunisia. Good idea, you might think until you learn that these devices were completely bogus.

Based upon a golf ball finder the device consisted of a box with a handle and antennae attached and some pieces of plastic inside it. It was first launched in 1999 and tested by the Royal Engineers whose opinion was that was only accurate about 30 percent of the time, which of course means that the other 70 percent of the time you were likely to get blown up. In other words probably no better than guesswork at detecting bombs.

It would seem Mr Bolt-On took this assessment with a pinch of salt and a lot more twink and as a result his publicity material for his marvellous machine explained that the device worked by locking onto the atomic structure of the suspicious parcel or substance and then giving its exact location. He claimed it worked on static electricity, which would seem to me to be a rather dangerous thing to have around explosive devices (think cellphone and petrol station). Under the circumstances Bolt-On seems an appropriate name for this modern day mad inventor.

Our backyard amateur engineer also claimed his device had a range of 766 yards at ground level and 2.5 miles in the air and could penetrate lead lined and metal walls, water and earth, but not apparently the brains of certain armies, police and trade missions. Okay, I made those last couple up.

The British judiciary has just jailed Bolt-On for seven years for his fraud and it was claimed at his trial that people had lost their lives as a result of relying upon his machines, which if true is definitely not funny.

But what I can’t get over is why it took the law enforcement agencies over a decade to catch up with this bloke considering he was marketing these machines to law enforcement agencies and the military. I am also gobsmacked that the U.K. Government offered support to his enterprise and Whitehall’s sales and export division even introduced clients to him and allowed him to use their premises for demonstrations. One can only assume that he used a genuine bomb detector for these demos otherwise it is hard to see how anyone – even the police or military could be fooled. And they wonder why military intelligence is one of the best examples of an oxymoron you can find.

Let us not forget that this bloke’s clients were people who were ‘in the business’ so to speak. So how come they were so comprehensively hoodwinked and shouldn’t they all be appearing before the beak charged with criminal negligence for buying the bloody things and putting them into service? At the very least heads should roll (or be blown off) in every agency that bought them.

Mr Bolt-On was not working alone; he had a partner-in-crime called Jim McCormick who was obviously a better salesman than him and who was jailed in May this year for selling 50 million quid’s worth of the contraptions, mainly to Iraq. Expect a fatwa on that dude when he emerges from jail.

But the real punch line comes at the end as it does with every good story. Our enterprising duo was nothing if not cheeky; they were selling their devices for £15,000 each yet they only cost £1.82 each to make. 

Is this the ultimate in cynical disregard for human life or what? 

Monday, 19 August 2013

Finding a final resting place

There comes a time in our life when old age suddenly dawns upon us. There are exceptions of course. Those who die young never experience old age and those whose health deteriorates comparatively early, no doubt have more warning of the approach of old age.

For me it is still on the horizon and not actually here yet (silence you rude buggers!). However for my parents it has definitely arrived. Now old age doesn’t need to be a bad thing, but one thing is for certain; it definitely changes a lot of things.

Sadly none of the Governments of the last fifty years seem to have paid much attention to the changing demographic make-up of our country. They have all told us plenty of times along the way that we were heading towards a time when the oldies would outnumber the young ‘uns, but they seem to have taken very little account of it in their planning.

What this has led to is a very messy situation in regards to the needs of those older people. Health services for the elderly are notoriously complicated and difficult to access and unless as an older person you have a tenacious advocate working for you it is likely you will miss out on many things you could be entitled to and get ignored by many agencies that would have us believe they are there to help older people.

Rules have been devised to ensure assistance is not wasted on those who have amassed fortunes along the way, but those rules have been developed without a broader overview of the developing situation. Nowhere is this more noticeable than in the area of housing for the elderly.

I will share some of what I have found out over the course of the last couple of years in the hopes that some of my readers might be saved some of the grief I have encountered while trying to negotiate this slippery path.

The options when an older person can’t live in their own home any longer are as follows:
·         Move in with kids
·         Council housing
·         Retirement village
·         Rest home care
·         Renter units in a retirement village or rest home

The first of these is often not possible for any number of reasons. The house might not be suitable for example it might have stairs; it might not be large enough to accommodate two extra people; the kids might not live anywhere suitable; or they might not be able to afford to stop working and look after their parents. In many cases more than one of these factors will prevent this option from being a goer.

Council housing
The option of council housing is only available to those with absolutely no means, so unless your folks are absolutely boracic this one is out of the picture. The asset limits might differ slightly around the country, but in Tauranga for example the limit is $30,000. This means if your parents have just sold their house they will be well outside those limits.

Retirement villages
Retirement villages have a lot of obvious benefits and several hidden fish-hooks. Here your parents will have a chance to ‘buy’ a small villa, apartment or cottage within a secure environment with a lot of useful age-related services available on-site. But don’t ever let them sign up for one of these without very carefully examining the licence to occupy yourself or getting your solicitor to do so if legal documents are not your thing.

The fish-hooks you will need to look out for are pretty damned sharp and you need to know what their implications will be. For example they are not actually ‘buying’ the property in the normal sense we Kiwis understand. They are entering into a licence to occupy which means the property can only ever be sold back to the company that owns the village. It therefore follows that at the very most they will only get back the amount that company has specified in the agreement at the outset.

In other words they will not see any capital gain from their investment and in some cases they could actually lose on the deal. I have seen one such agreement where, if the unit cannot fetch the same amount from the next occupant then the outgoing one takes the loss rather than the company.

Now that might sound fair enough, but when you realise that at the end of tenure, the company also charges a further 30% of the ‘purchase price’ back to the outgoing occupants you begin to get the picture of a greedy corporate ripping off vulnerable elderly people. Some agreements even require the outgoing occupant (actually this is usually their heirs as there is normally only one way you leave these places), to redecorate before the new occupant comes in and often they are forced to use contractors chosen by the village owners, so no chance to make any savings there either.

There is also a weekly fee of about $100pw to see that the windows are washed rubbish is collected, and as a part contribution to general village maintenance and access to various village facilities.

Rest home care
Rest homes involve a good deal of preparatory work and can also be a trap for the unwary. Of course a rest home environment means they will only have one small room to live out of and will have to get rid of nearly all of their personal stuff due to the space constraints involved with that.

If you are considering such an option you will first require an assessment carried out on behalf of the DHB to establish what level of care is required. An assessment level indicates whether or not they are entitled to subsidised care. This is very important because if they are not entitled to subsidised care the full costs will have to be borne privately.

The assessment involves three basic criteria; care needs; asset levels; and income. Assets cannot exceed approximately $230,000 for a couple, which if they have just sold a house means they will probably not qualify. Income will not be a problem if their only source is NZ Superannuation, or a benefit for a widow, invalid or service veteran.

The care needs category is the where the assessors have the most scope to disqualify. Problems arise when one half of a couple qualifies for care and the other does not and trying to find out exactly what qualifies is damned near impossible as the actual criteria are shrouded in DHB jargon and mystery. I can only conclude the DHB is suffering from a variety of paranoia which causes them to keep this stuff secret in case anyone learns how to qualify and constructs an elaborate opera to act out to achieve their ends. Good luck to anyone trying to do that with an old person who has forgotten what you told them ten minutes ago!

However what I have been able to learn is that unless your parent has dementia – and good luck getting a diagnosis of that despite tons of visible evidence – or an inability to feed or dress themselves, they will almost certainly be classified as fit to look after themselves and ineligible for subsidised rest home care.

Fair enough; you might think. Why not just pay for their care? For the uninitiated I will now reveal the cost of care in such establishments when the subsidy is not available. Are you sitting down?  For just one person to be cared for in a rest home you are likely to be paying between $800 and $1200 per week (between $41,600 and $62,400 per year).

That sum probably isn’t unreasonable when you consider all their needs are theoretically being met, but on an affordability level it can be another matter altogether.

Hospital level care in a rest home falls into the same price range.

Renter units in a retirement village
Renter units sound like a good option when contrasted against the costs of rest home care if a subsidy is not available. But at around $500pw ($26,000 per year) they can be costly if your relative stands a good chance of living for some while yet.

It’s a minefield dear readers and one which some of us have already almost had our legs blown off on and which many more of you will have to negotiate sometime in the future.

After seeing all the options, the retirement village option doesn’t seem so bad. Just make sure you check that agreement first.

Good luck, guys and gals. You will need it.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Spy vs Spy and other funnies

If it wasn’t for the fact that this is ‘real life’ the antics of Jianqi’s spies would be almost as funny as the Spy vs Spy comic strips in Mad Magazine used to be.

There is certainly an equivalent amount of bungling going on anyway, all of which goes to show that our Minister of Spies couldn’t organise the proverbial piss-up in a brewery.

Call me naive, but I always thought that the point about spying is that nobody knows you are doing it. Stealth and subterfuge are the cornerstones of spying, surely? Spies are often referred to (at least in British TV shows) as ‘the funny people’, except I don’t think that was supposed to mean they act like the Keystone Cops. In this case I think the word funny had the meaning of funny peculiar rather than funny ha-ha.

However it seems that Jianqi’s funny people really are hilarious. Their idea of subterfuge would appear to be closing their eyes and saying, “You can’t see me”.

Of course we now live in the digital age and most of us are aware that we leave a large digital footprint almost everywhere we go, both in the real and cyberworlds. All sorts of people have been spying on us for ages. It’s just that most of them up to now have been comparatively harmless.

Advertisers and marketers have been dredging the cybercanals for a couple of decades trying to find the right fit for each of us so they can deluge us with special offers and products they think we can be convinced to buy. Annoying though this is, it is for the most part, pretty harmless for all of us apart from the truly gullible. But at the end of the day it is impossible to protect the truly stupid from the consequences of their own actions. We shouldn’t even try anyway, because as long as they exist it gives us all a chance to feel a little more secure about ourselves.

So what is likely to come out of this current furore about Jianqi and his funny people snorting up every tiny grain of information they can on everyone they think might pose a problem for them?

Probably not a lot, I am sorry to say, at least not from Parliament. Yes there will be a series of tiresome and expensive inquiries and a few more departmental heads will be dropping into the basket, but unless we are really fortunate it is unlikely that the power behind the drones will be brought to account. We can only hope and pray that the voters make up for that in 2014 – always providing Jianqi is not at this very moment attending the Robert Mugabe School of electoral practices.

If the opposition was sufficiently organised and ACTUALLY WANTED TO they could really make things tough and work on Peter Dung and get him to vote down the GCSB bill which seeks to legalise the illegal acts the Government has been caught out doing.

Sadly when it comes to matters of national security many people are easily captured by scare tactics and seem to think there are shadowy figures out there who might steal away our freedoms if we don’t implement all sorts of regulations and surrender our right to privacy in order to stop them.

Well, hello! There are such people but they ain’t so shadowy. They currently occupy the Government benches of this land and they have already travelled a long way down that path towards Big Brother. Doublespeak has been a feature of their speeches for a very long time.

But whenever a government is questioned about introducing these types of measures their first reaction is to try and justify their lunacy rather than deny the activity is taking place. No better example of that can be found in Jianqi’s rambling nonsense on his favourite (read most compliant and National Party friendly) radio station More FM. He tore a large leaf out of the George Dubbyah book of crowd control by claiming he had to give the GCSB more powers because there were people undergoing terrorist training in Yemen with the implication they were going to return to Godzone, blow us all to pieces and take over the country.

Duhhh! Let’s face it; with the devious lot we have running this country (into the ground) anyone who wanted to take it over would only need to chuck them 30 pieces of silver and it would be theirs. If you don’t believe me just look at how many large multi-national corporations have already picked up the deeds to much of our industry and land with full co-operation from the Government. Several have even had laws changed to suit them.

The other argument that has been put forward to try and justify these intrusions into our freedom is that if we don’t have anything to hide, then we don’t have anything to worry about. The trouble with that one is that not so long ago I can recall a couple of politicians who were apoplectic when they thought their little tete-a-tete had been overheard by a journalist. But surely you had nothing to hide, boys, so where was the harm?

I won’t be holding my breath for the combined opposition to do the damage to Jianqi, although I will be delighted if I am proven wrong about that. But what does give me some hope in all of this is that Jianqi has made one of the most fundamental blunders a polly can make. He has threatened the freedom of the press.

Now I have been very critical of the job the NZ press has been doing in terms of bringing this government to account, and I have suggested in the past that it is because they are poorly trained and lack the mongrel journos once had. I still think that is the case, but I have always known that they hold the principle of freedom of the press very close to their hearts even if they are rather slack about going after the rabbit.

Jianqi has foolishly assumed that because they have let him get away with murder before they won’t have the balls to stand up for themselves when he impinges on this final bastion of their pride. Wrong! Most journos see this sort of intrusion as the equivalent of doing something unspeakable to their mother. They will (and already are) going after him with implements designed to nip off the bits that offended them and they will not stop until something much bigger comes along. Already the papers are full of stories with unflattering pictures and little editorialising comments throughout them. Words like bungling and blunder are being liberally used and it is quite apparent that they are going after him.

There is an unspoken rule in politics which any politician should know. It is that you don’t upset the press because if they take a dislike to you they can and will make you look stupid. You can get away with being rude to them and failing to front for interviews but if you touch the sacred cow of press freedom, then you had better find another career because this one is over.   

Watch your papers and television news programmes over the next few months. The new game in town will be Pin the Tail on the Jianqi and when they’ve finished he won’t want to sit in parliament again.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Here we go with Judith & John or the ABC of NZ politics part 2

Last week I brought you the first half of a leaked document that is being used to train our new MPs. Of course since then there have been denials from the Government that this document is genuine and even suggestions (heaven forbid) that I made the whole thing up.

Clearly this is another case of brain fade from the ruling party and to prove that I publish for you this week part two of the MP’s primer.

Last week we learned the letters from A for amnesia (or had you forgotten that already – John certainly has), to M for mess which is what Judith and John will have to clean up this week after Smaug lashed out over the weekend. Trying to turn Wellywood in Middle Earth wasn’t such a good idea after all, was it Johnny?

N is for noes which is what you pick when you want to vote against a particular bill (in accordance with the party line of course). Lately it has also come to mean Novopay; a pay system developed to ensure teachers don’t get too powerful (or paid). It was teed up by the last Labour Government and its failings are therefore not the fault of the present Government despite being signed off by them in the face of advice from almost every quarter not to do so.

O is for obfuscation, which is an art you will be trained in for important occasions such as answering direct and confrontational questions from the press. (Does anyone in the Press Gallery still do this?). Simply put, it is a technique that involves using at least five words where one would have done. Your speech is delivered in a circular pattern that leads one inevitably back to the start without divulging anything that even vaguely resembles a direct answer. It has been unkindly suggested that “O” also stands for old-boys’ network, a club where your membership entitles you to preferential career advancement and wealth beyond your wildest dreams, but this is merely an ugly rumour perpetuated by the opposition. There is no such thing as an old boys’ network anymore. The name was first changed to old persons’ network and subsequently to ‘senior citizens’ network’, which as everybody knows is another name for Grey Power and nothing sinister at all.  

P is for posturing and populist. These two are a package deal. Posturing is the art of appearing to take a stand on the issue du jour. But the stand you take when posturing is the one in which the most votes lie so this makes it populist. There is no point in taking a stand on an issue that is likely to cost you votes and by implication, your place on the party list. It is important to remember when playing the posturing card to do so via an obfuscating speech (see under “O” above) to ensure you don’t say anything you might later be held accountable for. 

Q is for quisling. A quisling is not a small goose although the parallels with a bird brain are obvious. It is somebody who displays treachery and fails to recite the party mantra and sides with anything that emanates from the opposition benches. It also applies to coalition parties that join up with the opposition to form a government instead of helping the true party rule as they are born to.

R is for redacted. This is the process whereby dangerous information is removed from official documents to protect the press, the public and others from harm From time to time opposition members and media sources will unreasonably demand official documents and sometimes these will contain information that could compromise National’s security. Usually these are in the form of errors where it is incorrectly stated that a Government Minister knew about a certain person or series of events which that Minister has already repeatedly told Parliament they have no recollection of. To avoid humiliation for the compilers of these documents owing to their lack of accuracy the Government removes these damning pieces of evidence before releasing the documents and this is called redacting.

S is for SkyCity.  SkyCity is a philanthropic organisation that has the best interests of the ordinary New Zealander at heart. They are here to help the Government out by building a world class convention centre that will drag our economy out of the red that the Labour Party took it into and into the black of prosperity. The generosity of this great benefactor is so huge that it has agreed to fork out $402M of its own hard earned money to boost our economy by over $90M per year until the end of time. Furthermore they agreed to do this with no strings attached other than asking the Government to (quite reasonably) extend their gambling licence for a mere 35 years and allow a trifling 230 extra pokie machines and 40 extra gambling tables.

T is for taxation. This is the way Government funds all those free lunches free air travel for you and your family and expenses claims that you will have during your term in Parliament. It is collected by a fair process in which everyone except big business, which is the lifeblood of the country, pays their fair share. It is important to remember that big business has big expenses so it must be given big tax breaks to enable it to employ big numbers of people who can in turn pay big slices of their income in taxation to support us all (in Parliament that is).  

U is for unions a.k.a. the Anti-Christ. Unions are devious cults hell-bent on destroying the country. They are doing this in cahoots with the Labour Party and various other Pinkos. They seem to think that everyone is entitled to have a say in their workplace, the right to a fair wage and various other namby pamby rights such as holidays and sick leave.

V is for vertical integration. This is not only a flash term you can wave about like a big willy and confuse the public, but it is also the secret to business efficiency. Big companies get the opportunity to grow even bigger and to move into more diverse business fields through the medium of vertical integration. To understand it better you could think of it as ‘keeping it all in the family’ which after all makes sense since the family that plays together stays together. For example if you were to start a business where you developed seeds for farmers to plant, then it makes sense that you would also develop chemicals to fight off the diseases and pests they might encounter. Then you would start developing drugs to fight off the diseases people will get when they eat the food grown from those seeds and using those chemicals. It’s only logical to have all those businesses under one banner so you can help everyone at the same time as helping yourself.

W is for whitewash. This is another name for an enquiry into scurrilous allegations from the other side of the house. It gained the name because it is a nice clean way of airing your washing and showing that it is all Persil white and not mucky as alleged by the stone throwing hypocrites on the opposition benches.

X is for Xmas. This is the time of the year when Parliament closes down and you get to mumble some meaningless platitudes before taking off for your holiday home in Hawaii while the voters fight over the last tin of baked beans at the City Mission’s Festive spread.  

Y is for Young Turks. This term does not refer to youths from the Dardanelles, although Turkey was at one time ruled by a party of that name. In this context it used to mean a young movement within the National Party that was named after a similar group in the American Republican Party during the 1960s. This term has now fallen out of use as the modern party is just that; i.e. modern. It doesn’t need stroppy little upstarts trying to change party policy which has been very carefully developed with maximum input from the voters – or at least the ones who make the biggest donations to the election fund.

Z is for Zilland as in New Zilland. This is the correct way to pronounce the name of our fine country as demonstrated by our fine leader who has been setting the bar extremely high in the development of New Zilland Inglush.

So there you have it; the unabridged version of the new MP’s training manual. No expense has been expended on this invaluable resource and as you will have noticed, it is bringing obvious returns with the standard of representation we now have.

But maybe with returns like that we should bolt the gates and not let the buggers back in.