This is a thoughtful read - The evolution of trickster stories among the dogs of North Park after the Change, a tale about what might happen if dogs could talk. It's been around for a while and you may have seen it already, but if you haven't it's worth reading. It's all full of metaphor and stuff.
NZ hits back at PhRMA's attacks on our medication funding regime, and it's being noticed internationally.
I am concerned about this. Apparently NZ has a very poor savings record. This isn't really surprising considering that in the 90s anyone poor was scratching just to survive and everyone else was being encouraged to buy property, which is now not worth all that much. Then we had 10 years of relatively good times in which some poor people continued to be poor, others got a bit better off and bought property, and the rich sent their money offshore. So yeah, fuck all savings.
The last government introduced KiwiSaver, a scheme whereby a person can voluntarily contribute part of their wages to a savings scheme which is invested on their behalf in the person's choice of options from low risk to high risk. At the start, the government contributes $1000 and employers were required to match the person's contributions up to 4% of income. Meanwhile, the government would give tax breaks to people up to $1040 a year, and tax breaks to employers whose workers were in the scheme. I started it last year and at last count mine is up to about $3000. Peanuts in the grand scheme of things but still more than I've ever had saved before. I was one of the poor people who got less poor and bought property that's now devalued, so it's actually nice to have this wee nest egg. I doubt there'll be much goverment help around by the time I retire.
So anyway, the current government has already reduced the employer contribution from 4% to 2%. Now, it appears that in this month's budget they are looking at perhaps axing the $1000 kickstart and reducing government contributions - which will reduce the appeal of bothering with KiwiSaver since it won't look a hell of a lot different from any old savings account (except you can't access it except under conditions someone else decides).
The government, when voted in, promised not to do this. They are 'keeping their promise' by saying the changes won't come in until after the election. The rhetoric accompanying this is that we need to cut costs until the budget deficit is addressed. Meanwhile, the government is borrowing $250 million a week.
I don't think you need to be a mental giant to realise that a) cutting KiwiSaver is counter-intuitive for long-term financial health for the country and b) cutting KiwiSaver will not save $250 million a week. But you know, the Rugby World Cup deficit would save us a couple of weeks' borrowing. Another couple of weeks on tax cuts for the rich. And so on and so forth.
Now, I might be looking at this with all the fervour of a first year sociology student who's just discovered Weber, but I've been looking pretty intensely at crimes of globalisation lately and it seems that International Financial Institutions are the biggest wolves out there in terms of crapping on countries. The terms we looked at this under were relating to developing nations - the way in which the IFIs would loan money to these nations for development and then impose certain political requirements - read: neoliberalism - on their governments in order to free up trade - read: get cheap stuff. Said countries would struggle to service their debt and also be exploited by 'investors' moving in and doing things like privatising the water or taking advantage of the cheap labour available through a system with little support for workers and a great deal of competition for jobs. And they are still doing it. You don't have to read the whole article, just the second-to-last paragraph:
- "The Bank of Portugal last year identified several areas where deep change is needed, including education, bureaucratic procedures and the legal system. The IMF has previously singled out long-standing Portuguese job protection laws as needing to be changed, to be replaced with new legislation making it easier to hire and fire workers."
So the IMF wants Portugal to 'free up its job market' and the loan is conditional on this. All I can think is 'those poor, poor people.'
And having seen what these kinds of debt+neoliberalisation tactics have done to other developing nations, I realise how close we are to being like that. Think I'm joking? Our government is giving tax cuts to the rich while reducing benefits to the poor and assistance to workers. Our government has changed employment law in the favour of employers in an environment where unemployment has risen from 4.8% to 6.5%. Our government is negotiating a deal which will allow foreign 'investors' to pursue profits here and take that money offshore. All of these things are in line with the 'requirements' of historical (and present) IMF loans to developing nations. And our government is embracing this ideology for all it's worth.
Our government is borrowing $250 million a week, which will carry interest that has to be serviced. Didn't their mother ever tell them that debt is bad? That buying a flash car while your credit card is maxed out is a recipe for disaster? So, um, why are we spending all this money on frivolous things and pursuit of ideology that evidence demonstrates is a fail for everyone except the rich?
PLEASE, AT ELECTION TIME, VOTE THESE FUCKERS OUT. As someone said to me the other day, we are one earthquake away from being Ethiopia.
Oh yeah, the moving to Australia thing. Sorry, got a bit carried away there.. I looked online for 5 minutes at one job site in New South Wales. In that time I found two jobs I could interview for, both similar to what I'm doing now. Each paid ~$100K.
It is being considered.