Sunday, July 16, 2006

Where is National going?

It appears to me that National is heading towards the "David Cameron" route of attempting to appeal to voters. "Softening down" policies that some people are uncomfortable with in order to become a clone of Labour with a different party. John Key seems like a Cameron clone - a young, telegenic man who thinks the best way to win power is by promoting "friendly" policies that are inevitably throwing money around.

Key will probably be made leader if the chances of National winning the next election are not close to assured with Brash on board. In attempt to appear "centrist" and to "soften down" Nationals' supposedly "hard image", he'll remove all principle from the party. In hints of what they'd said about reaching out to ethnic minorities, they'll probably campaign that affirmative action or "closing the gaps" is still necessary - we'll just "reform it". All sorts of special interests will keep their Government-granted privileges because they'll be too afraid to offend anyone. Public services ala David Cameron will be too special to touch. In the end they'll probably be elected and play it safe.

What exactly is the point of being in politics if you're not in there to further your ideology? If the whole point is to get into power, you're just an opportunist who wouldn't care what party you were in. If you want to get the other party out of power, if both parties are trying that out, there's nothing scary about them anymore in the first place.

Most "moderates" or "centrists" are not that because they have an open mind to good policy. It basically means they vote whichever side offers them the biggest carrot. I'd say most voters are a somewhat paradoxical "Progressive Reactionary" otherwise. They want a Government that "gets things done", i.e. spends a few million here and there on their favourite special interest, cuts a ribbon here and there, gets involved just enough so they can take credit for "running the economy". On the other hand, they don't want things to change much, they'd prefer the status quo.

Looking back through history it's patently obvious that people don't have principles set in stone based on much anything but the status quo. What if slavery was solved by "moderate" politicians who tried to please everyone by giving a miniscule amount of extra rights to slaves? You'd be able to keep everything running smoothly but you've gotten absolutely nowhere in abolishing something injust. Roger Douglas didn't use a crowd-pleasing approach. You may get turfed for office in anger but now that the status quo had been changed, few actively suggest going back to where it was before. Support for the Monarchy or Maori seats still remains high because they're the status quo, not necessarily due to the merits of the ideas. I'm quite sure that if they never existed support to implement them would be far smaller than the support to abolish them now is. Democracy is very short-sighted. Whatever you do now without majority support against will often have large support for it to remain in the future.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

What if New Zealand had a Senate?

I've been thinking that perhaps Bolger was on the right track. The main purpose of an Upper House in this case would be primarily to stagger out shifts in public opinion, as well as possibly have a different than the House of Representatives, by differing proportionality. Similar to the Australian Senate, but I disagree with the population malapportionment.

What you could do is have electorates that elect both MPs and Senators, but in differing ways. For instance, there could be 30 electorates that elect 3 MPs each using STV every 3 years. Those same electorates elect 2 Senators, via instant-runoff voting, one each election cycle.
Though I'm not sure those are the right numbers. You could have only one Senator elected from each electorate, elected every second election. 30 Senators and 90 MPs? Or else you could have even bigger constituencies, with 5 MPs and 2 Senators each, elected at alternating elections, for say, 100 MPs and 40 Senators. The last idea seems most interesting politically, with what I think is the right balance between Upper and Lower House in size, but has the problem of electorates becoming too geographically large and seeming to be too "impersonal".

Friday, June 02, 2006

Love = Sex² + Money

Who can deny this? Sex appeal's utility tends to increase faster than money, ie someone with twice as much "attractiveness" would be treated far better than someone with twice as much money.

But now, we can also find out the evil minimising ratio of love and sex!

Given than Money = √Evil, you can substitute this into Love = Sex² + Money to get Evil = (Love - Sex²)².
When Evil = 0, Love must equal Sex², or √Love = Sex.

Thus, you can word this as "When sex is the root of love, evil equals zero."

Monday, May 01, 2006

So Galbraith is dead, let his politics die too

And finally, at the age of 97, John Kenneth Galbraith has finally died. A Keynesian and staunch liberal, he supported another type of trickle-down economics - despite his objections to the usual type. Keynesian economics supports privilege in the forms of public works that are absorbed by a minority, in the excuse that the economic activity would benefit everybody.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Bird Flu: A boon to the economy

That's right! We'll all become richer from a global bird flu pandemic:

- Funeral homes will find themselves with a large increase in business.

- Suppliers of masks and emergency supplies will also find themselves with greater profits.

- Doomsayers will spend their money now rather than later, stimulating economic growth.

- Doctors and nurses get increased business, also stimulating economic growth.

- Increased tensions throughout the world lead to an arms race and eventual war. This war creates millions of military jobs, as well as ensuring the high death rate from bird flu is sustained for the sake of funeral services.

- Any unemployment will result in more WINZ employees, creating jobs.

- But unemployment should decrease anyway: the jobs of those killed by bird flu should transfer to the unemployed.

- As the number of people decrease, each person has a greater share of the remaining resources. Plenty of inheritances!

- Speaking of them, the inheritances and related legal issues are going to increase work for lawyers.

- Higher prices and general harsh conditions force people to work more to survive.

- Keynesian economics will cause magical solutions from logical fallacies.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Small parties: worn out, no use, blah blah blah

What exactly have the minor parties achieved since 1996?

In Government, I'm talking. Little more than a few baubles of Ministerial office.

There are arguments for ACT to cease the "scandal" politics. Honestly, that's the main way you can see any results out of them. Raising issues important to their voters as a "think tank" inside Parliament is good, sure, but there's talk of election and coalition strategies. Forget about it. ACT is far more useful outside of Government than inside. Some ACTivists are actually rooting for John Key so ACT could win back more of their former voters and hopefully give them influence. Forget about it. Even if ACT got 20% of the vote National still wouldn't concede a 15% flat tax - maybe under Brash, but not under Key.

The Greens should learn this lesson. There is no point in trying to achieve results through coalition. Labour has shafted them for the past three elections. Instead, all minor parties are better off being think-tanks that happen to be elected to Parliament. That is of course, except the shameless opportunist parties which are responsible for most of the problems with MMP.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Mind Rotting Blogosphere

How ever so enlightening it is. A typical political discussion

"Liar-bour sucks. They keep stealing our money! We need tax cuts!"
"You right-wingers are so uncaring. We'll lose services! We can't lose services."

So many arguments, so little logic. Have we ever considered something as simple as what the trade-off should be? Are taxes always too high or just right? If taxes were extremely high, the left-wingers would say they're just fine. If they were low enough, right-wingers would still call them too high, even if they would have been more than happy with them when they looked at it from the high level.

A side note: The NZ blogosphere at least, I've observed, seems to have political arguments mainly over economic issues. They seem to be almost unanimously socially liberal. Some are not quite as strong as others, but it seems considerably more so than the general population. Perhaps it is the relative youth of bloggers?

Monday, March 27, 2006

Political Quizzes: Misleading

Sites such as The Political Compass are somewhat better than "Left-wing" and "Right-wing" definitions, but are still far off. People not do have views simply divided up into "social freedom" and "economic freedom". They are however, generally consistent with an ideology. For instance, take "Libertarian" versus "Liberal". Based on the Nolan chart style, Libertarians advocate high social freedom and high economic freedom, whereas Liberals advocate high social freedom but low economic freedom. If this were true, we would see far fewer differences on the social side between Libertarians and Liberals. The Greens are classified as "social liberals", but they often advocate considerable restrictions on personal freedom, i.e. junk food crusades, anti-guns. These are not consistent with "personal freedom". They are, however, consistent with an ideology.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Canadian Tory Sweep?

The two times the Canadian Tories last came to power, they had distinct patterns about them. Both were preceded by short-lived minorities (though not directly in the case of 1984). And they were the two biggest majority governments ever. Both were greatly assisted by a breakthrough in Quebec. Perhaps Harper will win a massive romp next year? If failing that, possibly one term later.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Pet peeve

How was 1906 pronounced? It seems the most common way is "nineteen-oh-six". Why "two thousand and six" then? Isn't "twenty-oh-six" the most consistent?

But far more annoying is how years such as 1925 are overwhelmingly pronounced "nineteen-twenty-five", yet years in the future are often pronounced like "two thousand and twenty-five". Isn't this ridiculously inefficient? Are we really going to call 2737 "two thousand seven hundred and thirty-seven"?

Friday, March 10, 2006

Races can only exist because of racism

Maybe we should stop and think about this. If nobody discriminated on racial grounds when choosing a partner, it seems in this globalized world that distinct races should be rapidly disappearing. Apparently it seems interracial marriage is lower than it should be on a per-capita basis. Obviously we should all be imprisoned for hate crimes.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Are choices always good?

Choice isn't always wonderful. What about Sophie's Choice? If you were sitting in a room with a bunch of friends, a guy with a gun is going to shoot one of them. In one scenario, he forces you to choose one. In another, it's decided randomly. While technically, the first is the best choice because you can choose the "worst friend", it creates far more guilt.

There are many scenarios where compulsion may be the best for everyone. Unfortunately it doesn't really work so well if people are democratically electing against it - if people won't do something, chances are they won't vote for the Government to force them to do it either. But compulsion can have a number of effects that even assuming rationality, may be of benefit. For instance, if school was not compulsory, or the leaving age was far lower, peer pressure may encourage students to drop out, or be distracted by the possibility. If everyone is (even grudgingly) held in, this effect is far less significant. Going to school may be "uncool" and may be of tremendous influence to someone who really is leaning towards staying, but if there's no choice, the others will be still be sticking around and not mentioning it either.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Solving MMP somewhat

The great fallacy of proportional representation is that seats=power. Most of the time, this is not true. It would be if our system was different, but Parliament and democracy in general is majoritarian. A majority of seats is needed, so inherently power has to do with how you fit in there. This also forces a "left-right" divide, regardless of that's actually the way the population is divided. Governments being formed are the only way anything comes through, so if there were four parties, the "Right-Auth", the "Left-Auth", the "Right-Lib" and the "Left-Lib", some form of coalition is going to have to take place, so you must taken sides. It's far worse when someone like Dunne or Peters sits on the crossbenches, because then you have horrible balance of power issues that have nothing to do with how the electorate voted.

Therefore, I propose that parties contest the election under two broad coalitions, "Left" and "Right". They are still all individual parties, but they sit together. Inevitably this will need to happen after the election anyway, so it's best to do it beforehand. In some respects, the system will be very similar to FPP in the sense that the "coalitions are decided beforehand". However, you get to gauge what degree of support comes from what faction. If Labour elected 40 MPs under FPP say, you have no idea what degree comes from the "hard left" section, the "Green left" section, the "moderate" section. They're all bundled up into one coalition, just like they used to be, but now the voters can influence somewhat more how it turns out.

However, we've still got the Party List problem. Perhaps STV could assist here. Every multi-member constituency could have several different "strands" of the "Right Coalitian" to vote for. The electors also have somewhat more ability to vote someone out.

Monday, February 20, 2006

New Zealand will have Sharia law within 20 years

And no, not because of large Muslim immigration (though that still may be the case).

It's because we'll appease to radical Islam. No guts. It'll be a slippery slope almost certainly, but it seems quite likely. It's more likely to be Islam because of the tendancy for them to freak people out with death threats more than other groups, but it's possible that another violent group could have the same effect. Take for instance the Bloody Mary episode: if Catholics issued serious death threats against C4 and carried some out even, everyone would so shit scared from then on they wouldn't dare do anything that could offend them. This gives them a *huge* amount of power over what we can, regardless of actual legislation. We must stop it.