Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Much unobliged, thanks

The Prime Minister has confirmed a general Treaty of Waitangi clause will be included in new legislation paving the way for the partial sale of four state-owned energy companies. Mr Key says words will be added to make it absolutely clear the Treaty obligations do not apply to private shareholders in the partially privatized companies.
—news item

There is immense relief throughout the private shareholders community today that Treaty obligations will definitely not apply to them.

Expressions of relief have ranged from 'Phew!' to 'And a bloody good job too.'

One experienced shareholder who prefers not to be named says he and other shareholders would have found it embarrassing to even acknowledge the existence of the Treaty, let alone have any obligations under it.

'We just wouldn't have felt comfortable getting our heads around all that historical stuff,' he says. 'It's not really appropriate having a sense of history when you're looking for a decent return on your investment.'

This veteran investor says if Treaty ideas had been allowed to infiltrate and infect the financial markets, there's no telling where it would end. They'd probably start teaching it in schools, he says, and exposing vulnerable young people to unsettling ideas.

Another investor who is looking forward to getting a piece of Mighty River Power or Meridian Energy says he saw a Maori on the other side of the street once and felt a bit funny about it.

He points out that investment is a global business these days and it would have been totally cringe-making having to explain to overseas brokers and fund managers that in New Zealand you couldn't just go ahead and do what you like but had to keep looking over your shoulder wondering who was going to pop out of the bushes next and start talking about principles and clauses.

'I think New Zealand needs to keep in line with robust global standards,' he says, 'and this Treaty stuff frankly is, well, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit nancy-boy if you know what I mean.'

Hamilton father of three Donald Trumpet, who heads the investors' group Cashed-Up Mums and Deleveraged Dads, says it's all very well having fancy ideas about rights and ownership but when it comes to investment opportunities a level head and a firm handshake are the best fit with the profit motive.

'I think the Bible had it pretty right,' reasons Mr Trumpet. 'Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and let the Tauranga Horowhenua look after themselves.'

Mr Trumpet says shareholders are a proud people who have had to fight for everything they've got and didn't get where they are today by kowtowing to others, especially those who have no idea of the courage it takes to stand in the market and risk everything on a moment's trade.

He adds, however, that he is no racist—far from it; in fact, he personally regards Perry Weepu as a better halfback than Jimmy Cowan.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Honkies, listen up

Duncan Garner (a political journalist I have a lot of time for) may not realize it, but every time he says 'The Government sold the Crafar farms to the Chinese,' as he did twice tonight on 3 News, he is being vaguely if not specifically racist. The point being that I doubt very much whether he would say 'The Government sold the Crafar farms to the British,' or the Americans, or the Australians, or anyone else English-speaking. He would almost certainly say they sold them to the specifically named company or corporation that bought them. To keep saying 'the Chinese' is to lump everyone Chinese (all one-billion-plus of them) into the same basket. 'The Chinese,' whether intended or not, carries connotations of an entire nation with designs on New Zealand.

There is a similar tendency among some media (not Garner), commentators and politicians to talk about 'Maori' as if they are an amorphous blob of a race, all with the same intentions (usually interpreted as trying to take stuff off Pakeha). Honkies, listen up: it is possible to tell them apart. Make the effort.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Already begun

Oh no, I said too much; I haven't said enough. These lines, from REM's 'Losing My Religion,' always take me, by a direct route, to the incandescent last lines of Delmore Schwartz's short story 'In Dreams Begins Responsibilities,' when the usher in the movie theatre drags him away from his mother and father (his mother and father when they were courting, before he was born), saying, 'Don't you know that you can't do whatever you want to do?...You will be sorry if you do not do what you should do, you can't carry on like this, it is not right, you will find out soon enough, everything you do matters too much.' And he said that dragging me through the lobby of the theatre into the cold light, and I woke up into the bleak winter morning of my twenty-first birthday, the windowsill shining with its lip of snow, and the morning already begun.

Such connexions.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Put another log on the fire

The lawyer for the former chief executive of Pike River Coal, Peter Whittall, says the methane explosion that killed 29 men in the mine could have been ignited by contraband such as cigarette lighters, carried into the mine by the workers.—news item

Ten other possible reasons for the disaster that also absolve management from blame:

Mine worker with Scouting experience rubbing two sticks together to strike a spark.
Candles lit for cake to celebrate somebody's birthday.
Too much accelerant poured on barbecue to get it going.
Sausage sizzle that went tragically wrong.
Miner setting himself alight in protest at persecution of Tibetan monks.
One-bar heater accidentally knocked over by miner at coalface.
Heated towel rail malfunction.
Mine workers having fun during teabreak by waving sparklers.
Major fireworks display.
Kids playing with matches.