Archive for the ‘‘Mainstream’ media’ Category

by Don Franks

I don’t care what anyone thinks, I’ve had enough of all the talk about child poverty.  Some of the talk is well-intentioned, but much of it’s actually bullshit

Phrases roll off the tongue but what does poverty mean in New Zealand today?

The Ministry of Social Development works from the level of income set at  60% of median household disposable income after housing costs. This is deemed a reasonable level to protect people from the worst effects of poverty.

Source: Stats NZ 2016

In these terms it’s calculated that the poverty line after deducting housing costs for a household with two adults and two children lies at $600 per week or $31,200 annually in 2016 dollars. For a sole parent with one child it is $385 per week or $20,200 annually in 2016 dollars. Inadequate amounts of money for a decent life and, by such reckoning, there are around 682,50 people in poverty in this country, or one in seven households.

New Zealand is a far more unequal country than it was a generation back. Over the past three decades, under both National- and Labour-led governments, New Zealand has gone from being one of the most equal to one of the most unequal nations in the wealthy OECD countries.  In those 30 years, incomes for the average of the top 10% income earners roughly doubled while lower and middle incomes barely increased. Let’s compare two reports, almost a decade apart.

The 2007 Statistics Department study Wealth and disparities in New Zealand revealed that the top 10% of wealthy New Zealand individuals owned over half of New Zealand’s total net worth, and nearly one fifth of total net worth was owned by the top one percent of wealthy individuals. At the halfway mark, the bottom half of the population collectively owned a mere 5 percent of total net worth.

The most recent available information is a 2016 Statistics Department study Household Net Worth Statistics: Year ended June 2015 (published 2016).  It reveals that the (more…)

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by Don Franks (Rewrite of Blind Alfred Reed song)

There was never a time when everything was cheap
But these days the cost of living is so steep
If you’re stuck on a benefit
You just know that you’ll be hit
Tell me – how can the poor folks stand such times and live?

Meritia used her platform for the poor
Like Oliver Twist, please sir, we want some more
The bourgeoisie wouldn’t let that ride
She was duly crucified
Tell me – how can the poor folks stand such times and live?

Not so long ago , Labour was little lead
Now everywhere you look is blazing red
Well, you can believe the dazzling spin
Just remember what class you’re in
Tell me – how can the poor folks stand such times and live?

Now in a few more days, we all get to vote
They say that means we’re all in the same boat
parliaments for the smug well dressed
Its not there for the dispossessed
Tell me – how can the poor folks stand such times and live?

 

by Daphna Whitmore

For Labour’s 34 MPs the odds of becoming leader are quite high. Yesterday, for the fifth time in nine years, the party dipped into its talent puddle to present a new saviour. It was Jacinda Ardern’s turn to work some magic. Jacinda

In the press gallery expectations were not high as Jacinda stepped up for her first press conference as leader. The reporters seemed genuinely amazed when Jacinda showed she could speak fluently about nothing much, and could even inject humour into the void.

Four months ago she was elected to be Labour’s shiny new deputy leader. With her face beaming down from the hoardings alongside the last leader, what’s-his-name, she was to bring some X-factor. Somehow the magic didn’t happen and the polls fell further. That was yesterday; today Labour is optimistic.

Labour is the most optimistic (more…)

by Phil Duncan

Well, according to the media – and there seems to be quite a consensus – the answer to the question above is a resounding ‘yes’.  According to Tim Murphy, co-editor of Newsroom, policies adopted at last weekend’s Green Party AGM have “placed the Greens on the risky side of radical. Probably just where they want to be.”

According to TV1 political editor Corin Dann, the Greens have made “a bold statement on social justice”.  On Spin-Off, Simon Wilson suggested, “For the left, which was looking like it was going to watch another election slide by, it was the most impressive statement of the year.”  Columnist Stacey Kirk argues, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei, is “counting on New Zealanders to not only voice concern over inequality, but to collectively do something about it that may go against the nature of their very core.”

Perhaps not surprisingly, the most hyperbolic response has come from (more…)

US naval carrier taking part in manoeuvres off coast of Korea; Photo by JO JUNG-HO / Yonhap via AP)

by Nizar Visram 

IN its latest move early June 2017, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted a resolution drafted by the United States to expand the scope of sanctions against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) over its latest missile tests.

Prior to this the UNSC slapped North Korea with six rounds of sanctions, but Washington and its allies have been  pushing for more powerful and crippling sanctions in an attempt to halt the increasing wave of missile tests by Pyongyang.

Meanwhile, President Trump said “all options are on the table” (implying military solution), while his Vice President Pence declared the “end of strategic patience.” Pence added:

“The patience of the United States in this region has run out. . . The world has witnessed the strength and resolve of the US in actions taken in Syria and Afghanistan.

Pence was alluding to the (more…)

by John Pilger

Julian Assange has been vindicated because the Swedish case against him was corrupt. The prosecutor, Marianne Ny, obstructed justice and should be prosecuted. Her obsession with Assange not only embarrassed her colleagues and the judiciary but exposed the Swedish state’s collusion with the United States in its crimes of war and “rendition”.

Had Assange not sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, he would have been on his way to the kind of American torture pit Chelsea Manning had to endure.

This prospect was obscured by the grim farce played out in Sweden. “It’s a laughing stock,” said James Catlin, one of Assange’s Australian lawyers. “It is as if they make it up as they go along”.

Serious purpose

It may have seemed that way, but there was always serious purpose. In 2008, a secret Pentagon document prepared by the “Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch” foretold a detailed plan to discredit WikiLeaks and smear Assange personally.

The “mission” was to destroy the “trust” that was WikiLeaks’ “centre of gravity”. This would be achieved with threats of “exposure [and] criminal prosecution”. Silencing and criminalising such an unpredictable source of truth-telling was the aim.

Perhaps this was understandable. WikiLeaks has exposed the way America dominates much of human affairs, including its epic crimes, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale, often homicidal killing of civilians and the contempt for sovereignty and international law.

These disclosures are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution. As a presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama, a professor of constitutional law, lauded whistle blowers as “part of a healthy democracy [and they] must be protected from reprisal”.

In 2012, the Obama campaign boasted on its website that Obama had prosecuted more whistleblowers in his first term than all other US presidents combined. Before Chelsea Manning had even received a trial, Obama had publicly pronounced her guilty.

Few serious observers doubt that should the US get their hands on Assange, a similar fate (more…)

by Jim Creegan

It is now increasingly apparent that the abrupt reversals of the Trump White House, emerging from behind a curtain of court intrigue, signal a major political shift. The white nationalist platform upon which the parvenu real estate mogul was elected in November seems in the process of being scrapped, plank by plank, in favour of a far more conventional rightwing Republican agenda, at home and abroad.

Far too often, Marxist political writing suffers from a conceptual gap. On the one hand, the bourgeois state is said – as a general theoretical proposition – to be an instrument of capitalist class rule. On the other hand, short to medium-term political events are analysed exclusively in terms of the pronouncements and deeds of political actors, momentary combinations, electoral moods etc., without regard to the interface between politics and class. No attempt is made uncover the particular pressures and influences through which the interests of the bourgeoisie are brought to bear.

In cases where politics flow through accustomed channels, the challenge is not daunting. Political parties and institutions are headed by individuals who either come from the ruling class themselves, or who are thoroughly venal and have undergone certain vetting procedures for class loyalty. The task of explanation becomes more difficult, however, when extraordinary convulsions – coups or insurrections in authoritarian regimes, or electoral upsets in democracies – put power in the hands of individuals and groups without long-established ruling class connections, and who may be hostile in important ways to the settled aims and practices of the bourgeoisie.

Hostile takeover?

Donald Trump is a case in point. Although himself a member of the ruling class, he entered the presidential primaries as an (more…)