Wednesday, August 31, 2011

NZ online petitions for your consideration.

Firstly, against the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA)


We the undersigned citizens and permanent residents of New Zealand call upon the Government of New Zealand

• to cease negotiations on the Transpacific Partnership agreement; and

• to not sign this agreement; and

• to cease work on any other in-progress or proposed international trade and investment treaties containing clauses which limit or abrogate New Zealand's sovereign and democratic right to make and enforce laws and regulations and provide services which differ from those of other states or transnational organisations.

 Next, Against the Food Bill 2010, Which, as drafted, will make the trading of foodstuffs, including fresh fruit, vegetables and seeds, a privelege regulated by ministerial discression rather than a right. This will apply across the board for smallholders, home gardeners and community gardens, not just to corporate producers.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Taxation Programme to Address New Zealands Own Debt Crisis

Since the Election of November 2008, the National Party have deliberately pursued a treacherous programme of unnecessary bale-outs and unaffordable tax cuts designed to bankrupt the country in order to facilitate the outcome of the sale of sovereign assets- power, water, other state-owned enterprises and the very land itself. We see New Zealand wantonly reduced from a position of strength relative to the economies of  the USA and european  nations that were more afflicted by the banking crisis for reasons of pure ideology.
Their ideological basis for this is their fundamental lack of belief that all humans are of equal worth and worthy of equal representation and consideration in a sovereign nation. They would probably fantasize about a system whereby an individual was represented in direct proportion to their wealth, say, one vote per $100,000 of wealth, with corporations viewed as "legal persons" for electoral purposes or at very least the reinstatement of the "property qualification" for voters.
Realising that such views are utterly unconscionable in modern society, the next best thing for them is to remove (sell off) the assets of  the nation so that although we have universal suffrage, the body politic has very little bearing on public access to or dominion over things that we have come to consider  as human rights- food, water, shelter, warmth, health etc. This is the perverse logic behind the governments present seemingly disastrous course of action.
Regular readers will know how much I deprecate the so-called "left" in modern politics, including the New Zealand  Labour Party, for pandering to bureaucracy and for statism. This is because the public service and the businesses that derive their income from state spending is where Labour's core electorate lies, rather than "breeding them in South Auckland" as the knuckle-draggers of the National Party rank-and-file would have us believe.
Having said that, I have to say that I endorse the programme outlined in the Youtube presentation below, my caveat would be that the revenue raised be dedicated to the paying-down of the debt and preservation of a reasonable level of services rather than being used to further "big government" schemes.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Iceland's Ongoing Revolution

Why Iceland Should Be in the News, But Is Not
By Deena Stryker

An Italian radio program's story about Iceland’s on-going revolution is a stunning example of how little our media tells us about the rest of the world. You may remember that at the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Iceland literally went bankrupt.  The reasons were mentioned only in passing, and since then, this little-known member of the European Union fell back into oblivion.

As one European country after another fails or risks failing, imperiling the Euro, with repercussions for the entire world, the last thing the powers that be want is for Iceland to become an example. Here's why:

Five years of a pure neo-liberal regime had made Iceland, (population 320 thousand, no army), one of the richest countries in the world. In 2003 all the country’s banks were privatized, and in an effort to attract foreign investors, they offered on-line banking whose minimal costs allowed them to offer relatively high rates of return. The accounts, called IceSave, attracted many English and Dutch small investors.  But as investments grew, so did the banks’ foreign debt.  In 2003 Iceland’s debt was equal to 200 percent of its GNP, but in 2007, it was 900 percent. 

The 2008 world financial crisis was the coup de grace. The three main Icelandic banks, Landbanki, Kapthing and Glitnir, went belly up and were nationalized, while the Kroner lost 85% of its value with respect to the Euro.  At the end of the year Iceland declared bankruptcy.

Contrary to what could be expected, the crisis resulted in Icelanders recovering their sovereign rights, through a process of direct participatory democracy that eventually led to a new Constitution.  But only after much pain.

Geir Haarde, the Prime Minister of a Social Democratic coalition government, negotiated a two million one hundred thousand dollar loan, to which the Nordic countries added another two and a half million. But the foreign financial community pressured Iceland to impose drastic measures.  The FMI and the European Union wanted to take over its debt, claiming this was the only way for the country to pay back Holland and Great Britain, who had promised to reimburse their citizens.

Protests and riots continued, eventually forcing the government to resign. Elections were brought forward to April 2009, resulting in a left-wing coalition which condemned the neoliberal economic system, but immediately gave in to its demands that Iceland pay off a total of three and a half million Euros.  This required each Icelandic citizen to pay 100 Euros a month (or about $130) for fifteen years, at 5.5% interest, to pay off a debt incurred by private parties vis a vis other private parties. It was the straw that broke the reindeer’s back.

What happened next was extraordinary. The belief that citizens had to pay for the mistakes of a financial monopoly, that an entire nation must be taxed to pay off private debts was shattered, transforming the relationship between citizens and their political institutions and eventually driving Iceland’s leaders to the side of their constituents. The Head of State, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson, refused to ratify the law that would have made Iceland’s citizens responsible for its bankers’ debts, and accepted calls for a referendum.

Of course the international community only increased the pressure on Iceland. Great Britain and Holland threatened dire reprisals that would isolate the country.  As Icelanders went to vote, foreign bankers threatened to block any aid from the IMF.  The British government threatened to freeze Icelander savings and checking accounts. As Grimsson said: “We were told that if we refused the international community’s conditions, we would become the Cuba of the North.  But if we had accepted, we would have become the Haiti of the North.” (How many times have I written that when Cubans see the dire state of their neighbor, Haiti, they count themselves lucky.)

In the March 2010 referendum, 93% voted against repayment of the debt.  The IMF immediately froze its loan.  But the revolution (though not televised in the United States), would not be intimidated. With the support of a furious citizenry, the government launched civil and penal investigations into those responsible for the financial crisis.  Interpol put out an international arrest warrant for the ex-president of Kaupthing, Sigurdur Einarsson, as the other bankers implicated in the crash fled the country.

But Icelanders didn't stop there: they decided to draft a new constitution that would free the country from the exaggerated power of international finance and virtual money.  (The one in use had been written when Iceland gained its independence from Denmark, in 1918, the only difference with the Danish constitution being that the word ‘president’ replaced the word ‘king’.)

To write the new constitution, the people of Iceland elected twenty-five citizens from among 522 adults not belonging to any political party but recommended by at least thirty citizens. 

This document was not the work of a handful of politicians, but was written on the internet. 

The constituent’s meetings are streamed on-line, and citizens can send their comments and suggestions, witnessing the document as it takes shape. The constitution that eventually emerges from this participatory democratic process will be submitted to parliament for approval after the next elections.

Some readers will remember that Iceland’s ninth century agrarian collapse was featured in Jared Diamond’s book by the same name.

Today, that country is recovering from its financial collapse in ways just the opposite of those generally considered unavoidable, as confirmed yesterday by the new head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde to Fareed Zakaria. The people of Greece have been told that the privatization of their public sector is the only solution.  And those of Italy, Spain and Portugal are facing the same threat.

They should look to Iceland. Refusing to bow to foreign interests, that small country stated loud and clear that the people are sovereign.     

That’s why it is not in the news anymore.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Understanding the International Monetary System

A recent "conversation" I had with Steve Baron at his blog "Better Democracy"
Understanding the International Monetary System 
 Steve has recently graduated in political science and economics- congratulations! Steve.


Gas Fracking in New Zealand

Thanks to Robin Westenra at his blog Seemorerocks for bringing this to my attention:
Until recently I operated under the illusion that fracking was limited to North America!
Josh Fox, director of Gasland a documentary which exposes the health impacts of Fracking or horizontal hydraulic fracturing where a mixture of water, sand and chemicals is injected at extreme pressure to crack open rock, boosting gas flow; Russell Norman, co-leader of the Green Party; and Bernie Napp, a policy analyst for Staterra the umbrella group for the New Zealand resource sector (which includes mining and exploration).

 If the Taranaki Regional Council were, in the course of fulfilling their duties to environmental protection, to find against the use of "fracking" by the gas industry in the region, they would be putting themselves in the same position as Environment Canterbury did over the issue of water quality in relation to intensive dairying in their region, and to face the threat of suspension and the imposition of commissioners. Is it any wonder then that we find TRC regurgitating verbatim the gas industries platitudes concerning the integrity of wells when we hear that one in twenty is compromised by casing failure. Here we see again the conflict between what the government wants- facilitation of penetration of the interests of commerce and industry- and the Regional Councils' foremost duty- to protect that most basic of human rights, the security and safety of the drinking water supply.
  Russel Norman says that the Taranaki Regional Council have economic development objectives that may bring jobs to the area as well as those of environmental protection and these are of course potentially conflicting. This true but in my view this is deliberately avoiding the above mentioned "elephant in the room". I believe the parliamentary Greens are anxious not to unduly rile the National party as they are mindful of the possibility of an arrangement with the Nats following the election in November.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Role models from the riots?

This article is wierd. It seems to be mostly a clumsy vehicle for the handful of links incorporated within it. Of course most young people didn't riot, but then how many came out onto the streets to face-off or protest against the rioters. Not many- perhaps those three young asian men killed in Birmingham were the only ones? does this mean that most were silently approving / disapproving, scared, or just plain complacent.
 There has been a concerted effort to frame the recent events within the realms of "mindless criminality". Is the lack of obvious political context at-all surprising when for the last several decades all effort has been directed at the de-politicisation of the populace-at-large, young people being particularly affected.- Nevertheless the context is there for all who care to see it. Television and all the other banality of what passes for "culture" in the present age and the very tedium and lack of gravitas in modern political process have all contributed to this, not to mention the obvious complicity of the political class in the scandals referred to in the links within the article. The idea is fostered that politics is too "complicated" for ordinary people to be engaged in and is best left to the "experts". Now that ruse has come back to bite them in the backside, but then, how much easier to denounce this unrest than if it had been overtly political?
 I don't like the tone of this article, and the two previous comments with their empty plaudits raise my suspicions. I note that Mike Harris has only been at NEF for two months and that his profile page details put him firmly in the "political elite" camp in my view. I know that NEF is not a radical organisation and tries to bring along as broad a spectrum of followers as possible, but these factors together make me suspect that what I am seeing is an example of "gatekeeping". The board of NEF should be very circumspect about what this means for the credibility of the organisation.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Threat to rights to trade food and seeds in New Zealand

Reposted from Robin Westenra's blog, Seemorerocks.

If you have just seen the report of the raids on an organic store in the USA and think it couldn't happen here, think again...

If this Bill is passed it could compromise everything all of us in Transition Towns and the sustainability movement stand for.


New Zealand Food Security

Hello all.

It seems that you're concerned about the Food Bill, which will turn the basic human right to grow and distribute food into a restrictive, government-authorised privilege that can be revoked.

The website has been set up to illustrate the problems with the bill and highlight the solutions. Please tell as many people as possible about this, so we can remain well-fed.

The bill will breach the Treaty of Waitangi by interfering with traditional cultural values (growing and sharing food). It will also breach it by restricting the usages of taonga species - which the Waitangi Tribunal says are "species beneficial to humanity" (WAI 262) and fall under the "full authority" of the natives of this country.

Now, you're a native if you were born here. You can exercise your authority accordingly. Please approach your local marae, and discuss this bill with the local kaumatua and kuia (elders). Even if it is passed, it can be overridden with information available via

Please also visit, and leave feedback.

Thank you for your time.

Food Bill: threat to seed saving and natural medicines? Guy Ralls (Organic NZ, July/August 2011 Vol.70 No.4 Issue)

The Koanga Institute’s directors say the Food Bill is a “significant threat” to heritage seed saving networks, and that “any bill saying people can’t exchange food and plant material is fascist in intent.”

The Food Bill, which went through a submission process late last year, is likely to have its second reading in Parliament in the next few weeks.

Bob Corker and Kay Baxter spoke out following confirmation by lawyers that the Food Bill will criminalise people who exchange seeds, plant material or home-raised produce – even by giving these away – if they cannot afford or are otherwise not granted a government licence to do so.  MAF says that the Bill covers only food for sale for human consumption, and not seed (unless it were for human consumption); and that the definition of ‘sale’ includes bartering but not giving away.

“New Zealanders are losing their basic right to barter and exchange food and plant material,” says Corker.  “That’s crazy.  How are they expected to put up with that rubbish?”  Baxter also condemns as “laughable” the fact the WWOOFing would be outlawed.  The Bill could also affect the sale or exchange of rongoa – medicinal herbs.

“We now need to seriously look at its position in relation to seed sharing,” says Bob Corker.  “Our practices may need to be protected in a Claim of Right or even Maori Sovereignty.  This Bill is in breach of human rights.” (

What can you do?

Share this information, write a letter to the editor, approach your MP or marae.
Kevthefarmer wrote:
The fact that this bill is being brought in to bring NZ into line with WTO / Codex Alimentarus standards gives us a clue to it's true purpose. WTO/Codex exists to further the aims of corporate farming, corporate food processing and corporate retailing.

For years now the compliance sector have pursued this agenda, using "one size fits all" compliance models to advance corporate penetration and at the same time as a "town-hall job-creation scheme" to employ the low-grade graduates that can't get a job in real science and who's sense of entitlement precludes their engagement in "dirty hands" productive work.

A fine example of the collusion between bureaucracy and corporate sector to disempower and parasitise both the small business sector and the general public good.

Here's the subsection that means that small producers that use Wwoofers will not be eligible for exemption from the registration requirements requirements of the Food Act.

Small scale businesses:
95(5) Without limiting anything in this section, a person who may be granted an exemption under this section includes someone
(a) produces in his or her own home any food for sale; and
(b) sells the food to a consumer only; and
(c) does not employ or engage any other person to assist in the production or sale of the food; and
(d) does not otherwise sell or distribute the food.

Note the use of the words "might" and "may". In legalese, these mean that any exemption is entirely at the discretion of the minister and thus might never even come into being, and if it does, could be revoked at any time.

Disgusting. In my opinion a treason worthy of our utter contempt.