The New Zealand election is over

“Santa’s dead.” That’s what the four year old at the bank told me when I asked about her behavioural status with the big guy. The Mum was making slightly embarrassed choking motions to me behind the girl’s back which could suggest either some religious arguments against the worship of consumerism through the cult of Santa or it could be just some creative, if slightly extreme budgeting. Stocking filling becoming stressful? Kill off Santa. End of.

I had the same reaction on Sunday morning after the election.  The promises are big. National says we’ll be back in surplus by 2014 but I think even Santa would have trouble delivering on that one. 

Christchurch is a whole lot more broken than I could have imagined when I was there last week and everywhere you look screams massive amounts of money to fix it.  Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal could easily just decide they’re not going to pay back the money they owe in the same way that Argentina did over 10 years ago. It’s served them remarkably well. This could take a super-hero and looking at the pre-election posters it seemed as if the election had descended to caricature. Phil Heatley played a geeky Robin to Key’s mask-like Batman. Post election Winston was even speaking like the Joker; ‘ He’d been marginalised, stigmatised and even demonised’. His words.  His stigmata was not in evidence but the slightly messianic ‘help is coming’ message hinted at him having been crucified by mainstream media. In fact he managed to resurrect himself on the third day with his pinstripe penguin suits and joker smile to smite the people of Gotham city with another enormous spanner to be thrown at Key’s well-oiled political machine. 

The good people of Epsom ended up being nicely shepherded into the corral (baaa!) where they got to have two National MP’s where everyone else just gets one.  This means that a well to do suburb in Auckland now has more stamp in Wellington than most of Northland put together. Farcical and embarrassing but Banks doesn’t seem to think so – with his new glasses he looked like the mad Scientist out of Finneus and Ferb. I wouldn’t be surprised if a platypus is controlling his brain too. He seems intent on reinventing the Act party (never mind that people have supposedly just voted for the old one, this alone makes the Epsom result a joke) and making it into something new. What about a  time machine? Or a banana? And about a million people, most probably the disaffected (young, unemployed), dislocated (refugees from Christchurch) the disinterested (again that would be the young) who didn’t bother to vote at all. Not to forget the whole squadron of people, especially in Northland, two of whom I met this week, who did not vote, not because they didn’t want to but because they just can’t read. That’s right. They are almost entirely illiterate. In New Zealand. I’m not sure that NCEA standards or deep sea drilling or the sale of energy companies is going to address such problems as illiteracy because it arises out of a complex cluster of factors that cause a poverty deeper than that which can be described on a balance sheet.

The South Americans really are much better at true democracy than we are for the simple reason that they were without it for a very long time. It’s a civic duty to vote. Welfare is cut if you don’t. You cannot get a business loan if you don’t. Maybe we could learn something. 

The election is over and the people have spoken but I have a feeling when the hang-over is over we might just wake up to find that  Santa has well and truly sucked the kumara and there is no masked crusader there to take his place.

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The Death of Small Children

Letter to God Regarding the Death of Small Children by Cancer. With respect to some of the things about this world that are really pissing me off I have decided that it would be best to address these concerns to someone in charge. In lieu of finding the appropriate body, organisation or board I have decided that your position as master and creator of the universe is probably the correct channel to pursue.

In my role as embodied spirit currently occupying a human form down here in Christchurch I have to say that you have seriously fucked up big time this time.

The death of small children from cancer is something you really should reconsider
as I believe it falls in the category of the cruel and unnecessary and while many things on this earth may also be filed under this heading I do believe in this case you have gone too far.

For starters it’s not like a 4 year old boy could possibly fit into any ideas of karmic nature or cause and effect.
He’s only been here 5 minutes. There are many who perhaps would justify such an end but I note, with a considerable amount of ire – that they are not on your cancer list.

I have at my disposal a list of more suitable candidates should you require it and am happy to share my thoughts on who would more appropriately have their life pre-emptively terminated before they can do any more damage. I do acknowledge that Gaddafi has already been taken out and I have crossed him off my list. This little boy’s name, please note, is conspicuously absent and I am confused as to why is he is still suffering and is not in fact, cured and heading off to the beach this summer as I had asked.

I know that this is not how things generally work but this is a rather urgent matter and I think it’s particularly bad form that you have chosen to slope off just when the going gets rough.

I have serious issues regarding your complaints department – in all honesty you would be better to fire all your staff there as they have done nothing to address my previous complaints or redress the issues.

When you said ‘Suffer unto me the little children’ I did not seriously think for a minute it would be the children that would suffer. What is that all about? I mean really? And it’s not like I can give any comfort to his Mum either.

I mean I could say “ ‘This all has a higher purpose’ but that’s the kind of thing Christians say that make you want to shoot them in the head. Seriously. What possible purpose can this be serving? It is patently bloody obvious that it is not his time. Not for another 70 years at least.

I cannot believe people saying that ‘he will be better off in the place he is going’. That also produces in me a homicidal response. He’s pretty well off where he is right now. He has a family who love him and a beautiful world to discover and that’s the thing – if you can get so much right whether in a ‘try and tweak’ form of evolution or the instant ‘just add water’ variety of creationism – if there is so much that is so irrationally right about this world – how could you get this one just so plain wrong?

Having worked a lot in kitchens I know that a truly great chef (which is kind of what I imagine you to be except with some very exceptional recipes) takes the flak and stands the heat – even or most especially when they or their staff have got something wrong. I’m sending this plate back.

I’m asking you to seriously reconsider the whole deal with children getting cancer and if this issue is not resolved in my lifetime I will be asking for my money back on this whole life deal.

Yours faithfully, (just)

Nickie Muir

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Helens voice

​I miss Helen Clarke’s voice. Phil could do with it right now. It was a voice honed over years of being a chick trying to get heard in a big boy’s game and had the low steady grind of a two-stroke lawn mower perfect for riding over bullies. Bullies hated it precisely because it usually beat them at their own game. It was calm. It was rational. It took no prisoners and did not stop until the point had been driven home. It was not conversational and it did not often stretch to compromise or concession – it was, in short, the kind of voice that one would need for an election campaign. This was the voice or at least the style that was needed in the Leaders televised debate because the actual arguments seemed to be entirely irrelevant.

Reviving the spectre of Jerry McGuire by a constant lectern thumping ‘Show me the Money’ on the part of John Key might have scored points with the old boy financiers but was an unfortunate link given the state of the world economy and the reasons for it being that way. It seemed like an ‘80’s throw back and given that National seems set to send the cash cow to the meat works in terms of selling power companies – it all seemed ill advised. Still it made Phil look like a dork for a few seconds so I guess it was successful and John looked like he was having fun saying it so that’s good. I think.

Having sat through the debates I’ve started shouting back at both the radio and the television. The eight year old – with a nonchalant raised eyebrow – says “Mum – you do know they can’t hear you – right?” Embarrassing but I wish they could. What I’ve been shouting is “Show me the Numbers!!!” Because the numbers – and I have to confess numbers are not my forte – but these numbers that the political Pooh-Bahs are chucking about are doing my head in. Seriously – does anyone really understand them and if they do can somebody please explain it to me?

Can you really predict much when we’re not even sure if the Euro is going to exist next week? Do you know anything if Italy’s situation makes Greece look like someone overspent the petty cash from the local kindy? How can you not guarantee early childhood education but can guarantee the banks and finance companies? Is it really a good idea to sell a family business with a good cash-flow in order to pay down the mortgage or is selling state assets more like selling the family home and then having to rent? Amongst the revenue rhetoric are there any real numbers that make sense to financially illiterate people like myself?

At this point I’m thinking of voting based on the time honoured ‘eeny meeny miny mo’ technique. As suggested by the eight year old who was extremely unimpressed with my need to view the leaders debate when we were squandering precious Sponge Bob time. Her conclusion and insightful summary of the issues? “This sucks. No offense.” None taken, especially when said with a lisp and as valid a response as either of the leaders were giving to each other’s policies.

The only thing I really do know is how to finally catch ourselves up to Australian wages – and I’ll let Phil and John know for free. No consultant fees. First you balls up your job back here in New Zealand by being a racist dickhead. Then you write a book that makes it to the bargain bin by day two of sales entitled “ What was I thinking?” Not a lot. Obviously. Then the Murdochs offer you to the Australian public as the next best thing. Worked for Paul Henry.

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