Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lucia Apathy reigns in NZ [Updated]

It had to happen. A poll was done to see if New Zealanders thought there was any point to the upcoming smacking referendum, and surprise, surprise 75% of us think it is a waste of money.

Congratulations media people and politicians, you have achieved your aim of ensuring that the citizens of this country continue to think of themselves as completely powerless.

An extra big congratulations to John Key, who torpedoed the whole referendum at the start by saying that whatever the result, he would ignore it anyway. Not that he could understand the question of course. And like regular little yes-men, most of the media followed suit. With a couple of notable exceptions such as Karl du Fresne and Tracy Watkins, who despite everything stacked against them still regain the ability to think for themselves.

So what's wrong with apathy anyway? Why not just vote the politicians in every three years and then let them get on with it all, because most of governing is really too complicated for the likes of us peasants.

Willie Whitelaw, a genial old buffer who served as Margaret Thatcher’s deputy for many years, once accused the Labour party of going around Britain stirring up apathy. Viscount Whitelaw’s apparent paradox is, in fact, a shrewd political insight, and all the sharper for being accidental. Big government depends, in large part, on going around the country stirring up apathy — creating the sense that problems are so big, so complex, so intractable that even attempting to think about them for yourself gives you such a splitting headache it’s easier to shrug and accept as given the proposition that only government can deal with them.

And today in NZ, we have a National Prime Minister doing the same. By telling New Zealanders he would ignore the results the referendum, John Key was stirring up apathy. An action far more suited to a socialist who wants to expand government than a person leading a party that apparently stands for personal freedom and responsibility. This from National's website:
National stands for freedom, choice, independence and ambition. We believe in less government not more red tape. We stand for personal freedom and responsibility.
It's not what you say, it's what you do that really tells everyone what you stand for. So, is National's aim to make us more like Britain?
More important, there is a cost to governmentalizing every responsibility of adulthood — and it is, in Lord Whitelaw’s phrase, the stirring up of apathy. If you wander round Liverpool or Antwerp, Hamburg or Lyons, the fatalism is palpable. In Britain, once the crucible of freedom, civic life is all but dead: In Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, some three-quarters of the economy is government spending; a malign alliance between state bureaucrats and state dependents has corroded democracy, perhaps irreparably. In England, the ground ceded to the worst sociopathic pathologies advances every day — and the latest report on “the seven evils” afflicting an ever more unlovely land blames “poverty” and “individualism,” failing to understand that if you remove the burdens of individual responsibility while loosening all restraint on individual hedonism the vaporization of the public space is all but inevitable.
Wake up, New Zealanders!

Nine million dollars is nothing compared to allowing the Government, any government, run by any party, to think they can do anything, take away any liberty or right and we will just shrug and go, it's pointless protesting they don't listen anyway. They do listen, they just don't want us to know that. Our politicians need to be afraid of us, the people, otherwise democracy is dead.

Related Links:
Poll says $8.9m smacking referendum 'a waste of money' ~ NZ Herald

Democracy would be fine if it wasn't for the voters ~ Karl du Fresne

Referendums can deliver political correction ~ Tracy Watkins, Dominion Post *

Retreat into Apathy ~ Mark Steyn, National Review Online

*[UPDATE] : A wonderful Admin person at the Dominion Post website has given me the link to Tracy Watkins' opinion piece, so I can now include it in my related links. I'll keep the original title that it was published under in the paper even though it's been retitled on the link.

18 comment(s):

Gooner said...

It is astounding.

Key is turning out to be a pragmatist like Bolger: stands for nothing but in facts stands for everything.

Lucia Maria said...

Yeah. The signs were there in the beginning, but I was hoping I was wrong.

Sean said...

I love how $9m is considered a lot (esp since there was the opportunity to include with the general election). What?

KG said...

" Our politicians need to be afraid of us, the people, otherwise democracy is dead."

Yes! Yes indeed.

Lucia Maria said...

Sean,

yes, $9 million is suddenly a lot of money.

What I would love to know is WHO paid for the research to be done? Was it the Government? I think, probably.

Then what are the chances of asking the populace if they think $50 million for a bike track is a waste of money. My guess is a huge percentage will say yes as well.

Lucia Maria said...

KG,

I think they are still afraid of us, hence the all-out attack on the referendum by stirring the general apathy that normally exists in this country. That referendum has woken a sleeping giant and the politicians want it to go back to sleep and to forget it can ever wake up.

squaredrive said...

This Research NZ 'survey' should be laughed off as the discredited bull it is. Once the CIR petition got the signature numbers and was approved, it is morally and legally compulsory for it to go ahead, irrespective of cost.

The fact that a big chunk of the $9m cost could have been saved if Helen Clark, John Key, & Sue Bradford had allowed it to be held in conjunction with the 2008 general election is irrelevant.

What does this witless pretense at a survey tell us? That National-Act should break the CIR law and not hold the referendum? (ignoring the fact that most of the $9m is already committed spend anyway, as the materials will be printed by now, and staff hired).

Just another social liberal effort to persuade Kiwi voters that they shouldn't vote, but if they are going to vote, they shouldn't vote for something thst 'wastes $9m of public money'. Feeble.

More puzzling is your outrage at John Key's social liberalism, Lucia? This was never hidden, as evidenced by Key whipping all Nat MPs to vote for Sue Bradford's S59 changes. If you didn't want Bradford's S59, you should have opposed Key....

But the best aspect of your post is to correctly identify that all voters - left or right, liberal or conservative, should reassert control over politicians (central and local govt). The most outrageous aspect of S59 changes has been the contempt politicians have shown the public - smackdown the fascist politicians, I say!

The best way I can think of to do this is to change electoral law to allow a rapid recall referendum on any MP or councillor. That would keep 'em in line on controversial issues, while leaving them free to get on with business on minor matters. How subversive, demanding democracy!

KG said...

Your last paragraph nails it Squaredrive. But it'll never happen, because politicians have just about dropped the pretense that they're accountable to we, the people.
We vote as part of a polite fiction that 'democracy' is something more than a ruling elite taking turn and turn about to grunt and snuffle at the trough provided by the taxpayers.

I.M Fletcher said...

I wonder whose idea this latest poll was? I smell Bradford's hands on this.

The result of this latest poll looks like it's been designed to obfuscate and confuse the issue with the question over the smacking law itself.

I bet Sue is loving this, but in no way does this mean that 75% of people believe that the smacking law is OK as it stands.

It's yet another media trick. Spin, spin, spin.

Psycho Milt said...

I don't think the poll is spin - it's an obvious outcome of Key saying that the result wouldn't sway him. Given that you know in advance you're wasting your time, what point is there in participating? It's a fair response, but let's put the blame squarely where it belongs - with Key. Bradford has nothing to do with it.

ZenTiger said...

Key deserves some flak for his statements, and his lack of respect for a democratic process, but ignoring Bradford's contribution is a little mean Milt.

Let's give credit where credit is due, and Bradford has been tireless in her misinformation campaign.

squaredrive said...

Indeed KG - it makes ya fume to realise how little politicians really listen. I never expected MPs like Judith Tizard or Roger Douglas or George Hawkins to pay any attention to us - they are timeservers or party hacks put there for party purposes. But the public should be able to force politicians to obey on issues like S59, and more important topics!

Good question, IM Fletcher - someone could ask Research NZ who commissioned the 'survey', and who paid for it! If they claim commercial sensitivity, remind them that they are publicising a survey on a hot public topic - we have a right to know who is pulling their strings. Better yet, get it declared part of the Yes campaigns $50,000 spending limit ;)

And to kick things off, here is the link to Research NZ's list of clients. Not too many suspects for the survey in the 'not for profit' sector...
http://www.researchnz.com/clients.html

Lucia Maria said...

Hmmm, the public sector list looks far more interesting. The Electoral Commission is a client. They would have to answer an official information request, wouldn't they?

Lucia Maria said...

Though, Save the Children IS more likely.

Jim Bailey - JimBWarrior - HandsOnEqualParent said...

I saw the same thing happen to the **Equal Parenting** Bill, which would of strengthened the **Whole Natural Biological FAMILY** in its true form and taken much of the violence and other social wrongs from New Zealand in due course - The far right, that time, changed it to suit the rich and famous - the then PM spoke against it and once again the best thing that could happen to our FAMILY Law lost power and the public were driven back to apathy - Onward - Jim

I.M Fletcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MK said...

"They do listen, they just don't want us to know that. Our politicians need to be afraid of us, the people, otherwise democracy is dead."

Exactly.

squaredrive said...

Just a cross-link to the Green party member's blog (which is publicly viewable and commentable), to pick up an interestig admission:

Ari - a good, honest liberal poster for the Greens, admits the Greens aren't listening to the public voice on S59:

http://greenvoices.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/the-referendumb/#comment-2316

While Ari doesn't speak for the whole Green party, I thought it good to draw attention to the fact that in their own minds, some Greens are aware they are not representing the majority views on S59.

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