Saturday, March 16, 2013

Jeremy Clarkson likens New Zealand to the 'Holy Land.!

I know New Zealanders have a ‘small town’ mentality at times and they get quite uptight when any criticism from a visiting dignitary hits the headlines. When John Cleese reported on a recent visit that Palmerston North (a University City, just north of Wellington) was a good place to commit suicide the citizens and mayor of the ‘afflicted’ city were aghast and probably would have launched a Jihad against him if they came from another continent.

Well now they have reason to forgive the enigmatic Cleese because Jeremy Clarkson has come to their ‘holy aid.’ The popular star of Top Gear has just completed a visit to New Zealand and his praise has indeed been a ‘cup runnething over’ with words of liquid poetry.

He loves the green beauty of Auckland (OMG---was he blind--- we are in the middle of the worst drought in decades?). Perhaps he was partaking in something else of the same colour he thought he saw.

Oh well, New Zealand needs favourable comments from the ‘Old Country’ as we once so fondly called the UK, so bring it on Jeremy. ‘Middle Earth’ thanks you from the bottom of our Hobbit hearts. Perhaps the Jesus connection will ring true to a few here too and the little dwellings at Matamata would have made a great setting for that ‘special day’ more than two millennium ago!

Thanks, Jeremy.

Rodney Hide---another 'outburst,' or is he correct?!

Rodney Hide is a ‘populist politician’ of the worst kind. He takes a fact and turns it into a lie because he does not tell the whole truth. His diatribe today is an example of that. He plays on people’s prejudices and distorts reality.

Take for example his claim that the rich pay their accountants to avoid taxes while the poor are destined to pay at an effectively higher rate. If ‘any’ Government were to expand and examine the reasons behind such a claim, then bring in policies that force the rich to pay their fair share (that is proportionate to what they are earning) such claims would be more valid of course, but that does not happen.

He claims that successive government policies have created the gap between rich and poor. That ‘partial’ truth therefore needs to be looked at in the light that 'history teaches us lessons, if only we would learn them.' Look at why the poor continue to fail and cannot manage to get their feet in the economic door; represented by a living wage and the capacity to own their own homes. Political survival and the need to attract enough votes in a three year cycle make this a likely outcome.

It seems that no party has the courage to make the mix between State and private participation work. Both major parties are hamstrung by their perceived political backers, thus making it nigh on impossible le to embed economic and social policies, much like those we see in Scandinavia, both historically and in the present.

The widening of the gap between rich and poor (and that entails the failures within the educational system) is alluded to by Rodney Hide but he deliberately mistakes the reasons for this. Our decile one schools are just that—decile one, not failures. The teachers in such schools are every bit as good and passionate about their work as those in decile 9 and 10 schools (if not better), but they are hampered by many factors, the least being the lack of capacity for parents to mirror the strengths and skills needed along with the economic clout to take part in the ‘competitive race’ that schools have become. How many students can afford the lap tops or Ipads that their counterparts possess in those schools at the top of the pile? Even those in the middle are struggling now.

Rodney also plays the ‘race’ card in a cynical manner, by trying to blame ‘The Treaty’ and political correctness for the failings of students in lower decile schools. The small amount of time spent on such issues is nothing compared to the lack of resources the families and teachers face in such schools.

His comments about ‘benefits’ are repugnant. To talk about school girls dropping out of school in order to gain a ‘benefit’ is a gross misunderstanding of what is going on out there.

I wish Rodney could take the time to go to South Auckland and other areas of New Zealand and learn about life in the suburbs and not just take a few ‘figures’ and turn them into a nasty little attack in order to increase the fortunes of his almost defunct party.

However, if his outbursts stimulate debate about finding answers to New Zealand’s serious problems, then fine---bring it on!

Smoking in hospitals----another smokescreen?

What’s he on about now you may be saying. Yeah, you are right; my header is just a smokescreen to launch a quite different slant on the smoking debate. It is related to a report today that some of New Zealand’s largest hospitals are considering asking prospective employees whether they are smokers. One can only assume that they will take this into account when they make a decision about employing those people who admit to smoking.

The hackles are up amongst not just smokers, but others who use this as a reason to question the legality of the move and the issue around human rights. We have all heard the debates over the years about the right of those who don’t smoke to have access to clean smoke-free air. We have also seen hospitals slowly make their domains smoke-free. This latest proposition just goes the final step.

Should people who work in the health system be subject to be exclusion from employment if they smoke? Does it affect their job performance? Should they present as examples of good health, simply because they work in the health system? Surely that would be tantamount to saying that all teachers should not drink, smoke or engage in other health or morally ‘questionable’ activities.

In other words, where do we draw the lines? We must be consistent. I far prefer the other strategies related to lowering the number smokers in society. Taxing the products and continuing education thrusts, for the most part is achieving the overall gaol, slowly but most definitely. Yes’ there are some groups in New Zealand where such progress is slow, but some of them may eventually be forced to stop, because the costs related to smoking are becoming so high.

One final point must be made. If one was asked whether they smoked, would they not say ‘no,’ and then carry on as usual, well away from their pace of work? Would they then possibly live in fear that a workmate or employer might see them outside a local café, happily smoking away? Maybe that fear will have the flow-on effect of chasing these pesky smokers away from cafes too, leaving the rest of us to enjoy clean air and having to go inside the café on hot days in order to escape our tormentors. Oops. Sorry, I k now have just offended many people I know. Yes, I do suffer from your damn smoke as it drift across from where you are sitting, Damn it, you don’t even try to figure out which way the wind is blowing. There I have had my vent on that subject.

As for the hospital banning---get real, those in position to make this decision.