Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Taking people seriously

Something I have been thinking about over the last week is the unfortunate way in which modern methods of political communication, particularly during campaigns, bring political discussions down to the lowest common denominator.

In part it's simply the nature of modern media such as television advertising, in part it's because of more developed theories about how you "sell" messages to people, and in part I think it has been laziness on the part of various political parties. I think all of the parties have been guilty to some extent of treating voters like dopes in this way, although I do believe that National's recent Iwi/Kiwi billboard hit a new low as it was not only trite, but horribly divisive.

Anyway I'd be keen to hear other people's thoughts on the phenomona, that is the practice and effect of trying to hook voters with snazzy billboards, clever catch phrases, cutesy gimmicks, and all of that clap-trap, without actually genuinely engaging people on the fundamentally different ideas that really drive the various political parties.

We're trying to take voters more seriously in our Pakuranga campaign by actually talking to them like thinking human beings at stalls, shopping centres, and on the doorstep. In a bold move I am also planning on talking to one of the local Rotary Clubs about the differing policy implications of free market and social democratic political philosophy as opposed to the standard "here are our key achievements colour coded for your convenience" spiel.

We'll see how it goes!


spooks said...

Nervous, Mikey?

You, Labour, divided the country with your racist laws. You set the standard. It is not divisive to point out your racist division, your racism. It is you who is the racist.

One law for all is not racist. We do not need one set of laws for Maori, and another set for non-Maori. We don't need two classes of New Zealand citizen.

Haven't you been paying attention for the last year and a half?

One law for all. Simple.

Why is it that there is a group of people in New Zealand, who if they want to stand for Parliament, can choose from 120 seats in which to stand, while I can only put my name forward for 113 of them. That, based on my race, and only my race, is discrimination against me. It is one law for Maori, and another for non-Maori, based only on a claim to be part-Maori. That, by definition, is racism.

Cheezy said...

Hello Michael! It's good to find your blog - I'll come back often now.

I totally dig what you're saying about tacky 'headline-based' campaigning. And it's no surprise to hear that it's the Nats who are plumbing the depths in this regard...

It's heartening though, that during the recent UK election, everyone seemed to agree that the Tories had gone too far with their 'Are You Thinking What We're Thinking?' billboards.

Everyone was taking the piss out of this lame attempt at mob-rule. There was stuff like:

"I mean, how hard is it to keep a hospital clean?"

(Erm, very, I'd imagine. Isn't a hospital full of sick people?)

"How would you feel if a bloke on early release attacked your daughter?"

(Um, I don't have a daughter, Mr Howard...)

"It's not racist to impose limits on immigration".

(Maybe not, but it's a reasonably racist divide-and-conquer tactic to employ during an election campaign, isn't it?)

Most of these billboards got nicely 'modified' by election day, as you can see here...

So that's my advice to right-thinking (or should I say 'correct-thinking'!) NZers... get out there and show people what you think of the Iwi/Kiwi campaign!

Too Right said...

Mikey and Cheezy - sounds like a 70's band.

The carnival is over for Labour. The billboards may annoy you, but I suspect it is the truth that is causing the hurt.

Labour have had a golden period economically - and yet they have squandered their good fortune; giving away billions on idiotic schemes and scams.

How long a list do you want; 111, NCEA, Scholarship, School closures, Abu-Pope, Doonegate, Rob Robinson, emasculation of the Defence forces, special treatment for Maori, forcing an overtly gay agenda on a heterosexual ppopulation, George Hawkins, Marian Hobbs, contempt of parliament, High Commissioners in London and Ottawa, Margaret Wilson, higher and higher taxes, hectoring ministers, Te Wanaga o Aotearoa, poor calls on the budget, etc etc

I understand the worm turned 5 months ago - polls are only now beginning to show the momentum. It is going to get worse for Labour. The final irony is the hubristic attitude of the PM and her unbelievable conceit that she alone gets to choose the election date and the other parties can go hang, is the final nail in the labour coffin. Elections are the property of the electorate not Clark. This time she has overstepped so far there is no way she'll turn it around. There is not enough time to adopt National's agenda as she did post Orewa.

Oliver said...

"Contempt of parliament"

Even more so than Ruthanasia and the minority Winston-National coalition?!

Anonymous said...

"forcing an overtly gay agenda on a heterosexual ppopulation"

What a silly comment. There is no heterosexual who's been instructed to become homosexual under this Government.

Too Right said...

Hey Anon - the Agenda of the Labour Government is to force the views of one group on another. However that said, the general tenor was to alienate the established cultural norms as extremist and fair game. For example it is without penalty to burn the US flag on TV, but to accidently step on a Koran is somehow insulting to the entire Islamic tradition and population, and consequently they (Moslems) have a legitimate grievance to kill infidels in retaliation. Likewise homosexuality. Labour's plan (not sure whether carried it into law) was to outlaw comments against a gay lifestyle as discriminatory. I have no problems at all with those who have a gay lifestyle - I have a real problem if the State regulates what and how I think and say about that lifestyle. Voltaire would roll in his grave. I have absolutely no confidence Clark and Co would defend anyone's right to say what they want and when if it is contrary to what they want.

spooks said...

Oliver, would you like to discuss the events preceeding the Battle of Hastings as well. Get into the third millenium, Ollie.

And anon, your contribution is so lacking in logic, as to be unworthy of furt... ....

michael wood said...

Too Right - I think that you are referring to the proposed "hate speech" legislation. This would not "outlaw comments against a gay lifestyle". Rather it would be aimed against those who publicly incited hatred and violence against particular groups of people. Although there is of course an argument about the merits of this, it is quite different to what you suggest.

Spooks, you say: "We don't need two classes of New Zealand citizen." Yet you defend a billboard campaign that does that (Iwi/Kiwi) by making out that Maori are not New Zealanders like the rest of us!!!!

Anonymous said...

"the general tenor was to alienate the established cultural norms as extremist and fair game...... Likewise homosexuality"

What is the established cultural norm we are talking about here? I would have said it was equality, including in terms of how the state treats relationships...if churches want to run marriage on a man-woman basis as an institution separate from the state, fine....

spooks said...

Mikey, the billboard "Iwi/Kiwi" does NOT create two classes of citizen, and you know that.

What the billboard does is describe the two classes that Labour has created and perpetuates, as distinct from the one class that National envisages. National does not exclude Maori from the term Kiwi, and you know that too. On the contrary, National says we are all as one.

Really, that's the least intelligent, and crudest attempt at dishonest spin you've made on your blog so far, Mikey. I've said elsewhere that the public have had one lie too many from Labour. Please Mikey, don't be drawn down to the normal Labour gutter-level of lying as matter-of-fact par for the course. Until now, I'd given you more credit than that.

(Mikey, I bet you did not feel comfortable saying what you said above about Iwi/Kiwi, knowing what you were saying was manipulating. If you were okay with the spin it entailed, then you will probably be a good Labour politician over time. Of course I have to learn that not everyone has the same standards of decency as myself.)

Anonymous said...

Arguing that motherhood is not hard work but easy, and that those who believe otherwise have their head "up the bum of political correctness", probably means you fail the common person's decency test, spooks.

spooks said...

Okay, what is harder about motherhood than fatherhood, anon? Cummon get it out of your system, tell me why I am wrong? And then let's move on. You repeatedly want to raise this irrelevance, to say I am wrong, I say I am not, okay, the floor is yours. Why am I wrong?

Anonymous said...

Motherhood, or rather, being the main child rearer (who could be the father), seeing as the discussion was about whether people who devoted themselves solely to this were deficient in terms of their responsibilities to the economy and the society, is hard work, end of story. You sought to deny this by denigrating those who did it and referring to their 'semi-retirement' - women and men the country over would find that sentiment offensive to say the least. Amazing, given that this was one of Too Right's 'cultural norms' until the last dew decades - mums at home.

No comparison was made with fatherhood - no mutual exclusion on my part. Neither was any comparison made in favour of people who did this as opposed to mixing it with work. They split their hard work across the two activities, with help from child care providers etc.

Your concern might be over a parent who decides to stay at home when all children are beyond school-age. Many will do this, especially if they can afford it. But I think the vast majority in this situation would prefer not to - in part, for a change in life as well as extra money. The proportion of people on the DPB who engage in part-time work is far higher than I suspect you think, for instance. The Stats New Zealand website has these figures.
Even then, the philosophy of parenting one engages in is a private matter, and is so for beneficiaries as much as anyone else - this is an area when in fact you seem to want the state to make a interventionist judgement, contrary to your general philosophy. But the state can and should provide the facilities, eg, childcare support, for an effective choice when they don't otherwise exist, which was Clark was referring to about policies which provide the option for more women to work. Given the facilities, more women would take up the option, to economic benefit. But its a choice, one you seem inclined to force.

spooks said...

Thanks Anon, you make some excellent points (see how we make assumptions, I assumed you wouldn't make the effort). Believe it or not, much of what you have said I agree with. Especially your support for childcare. We are way off the original topic, but I'm sure our host will not mind fruitful discussion.

I give two examples of why I said what I did. These examples are very real, and are very disturbing. Both examples are repeated (anecdotally) throughout the country.

Girl, struggles (for whatever reasons) through high school, gets job at Pak 'n' Save checkout. Within six months deliberately gets pregnant, and "retires" at the age of .....teen. Through staged pregnancies (the identity of the sperm donors being immaterial), she stays on DPB for decades. Indeed, she uses the sperm donations as pay rises. And don't give me crap about this, you and I know that this happens. I could, but obviously I wouldn't, give names.

Married couple, three kids, they separate, in and out of Family Court for years, each wanting the kids. You know why they each want the kids? Cos the one that gets the kids, doesn't have to go out to work, and has a lot more money for smokes, than the ex does. Again, I could name names.

(In the second example, I have intentionally avoided the term "custody" - I am aware of the new legislation dropping custody. I have to say this, otherwise I know from years of experience in internet chatting, that an irrelevant tangent is about 5 seconds away.)

Anonymous said...

About 10-12% of those on the DPB have been on it for more than ten years. Over 60% have been on it for less than four.
I can't conceive of how people rationally would treat each child as the source of a 'pay-rise', because I cannot help suspecting that the rise to the benefit actually does not make up for the extra cost of an extra child. Benefits don't tend to deliver economies of scale on the whole.

The 'teen pregnancy' problem in relation to the DPB is more historic than current, in that it was the very low average marriage and first pregnancy ages of the 1970's and earlier 1980's that have been the source of the high numbers on the benefit. Those marriages were often shot-gun marriages and broke down in high numbers along the line, often with violence thrown in that women and the society were learning faster than the perpetrators not to accept.
Those average figures are much higher now than they used to be - on the whole young people are waiting longer, probably making better decisions and so starting marriages that last. Economically things are just not as free and easy anymore, either, even though the economy itself is strong.
The number on the DPB has declined for the last seven years, and it's because of that 70/80's generation moving through and on.

I don't think the teen pregnancy problem we have now is nearly as numerically bad, though I do suspect it is deep-seated in some parts of the country and needs close 'micro-intervention' on the eudcation front.

In terms of the broken marriage and the three kids, I do not see where the exact or necessary problem related to the DPB is. I think it could be said of most people whose circumstances match those you describe is that:
a) they have made an evident effort to build a family and have a satisfying family life, but have not succeeded;
b) there is hence little sense that the children have been had with a deliberate view to getting the DPB; and
c) that the children need to be looked after, full-stop.

Legal battles for 'control' will have an emotional component that will be a more powerful driver than money in most cases.

Generally I think the problems around the DPB are either just that - 'around' it and not 'of' it - and that the problems the DPB might be held to cause because its 'incentive effects' are simply vastly outweighed by the number of cases in which it does exactly what it is designed to do for good reason.
It amazes me that people like Muriel Newman have been on the DPB before and say how grateful they were for it, but want to tighten the access to it for current generations - they are seeing the DPB as a cause of a problem, when in fact people being on it is usually an effect of something else.

spooks said...

Interesting discourse on the DPB, but not the least bit relevant to the discussion we were having.

All very well, and all very conceited, for you to say, that you "can't conceive of how people rationally would treat each child as the source of a 'pay-rise'" but I'm sorry my dear, THEY DO. Of course you can't conceive of it. But is it can't conceive of it, or won't conveive of it. It would not suit your purposes to conceive of it. If you did, you might have to admit that some people actually choose this as a softer option than "real work".

Same thing on the "custody" thing. You say "I do not see where the exact or necessary problem related to the DPB is". Big deal, we weren't even talking about DPB. We were talking about real work. And in this example, looking after three kids is the softer option than "real work".

I find it very hard to conduct a discussion with you if you are going to swing off all over the place. You criticised me for my having an opinion on the myth of motherhood being such hard work. I have backed up my opinion, and you have launched off into the stratosphere about DPB. Thanks I'll leave it there.

Anonymous said...

"Through staged pregnancies (the identity of the sperm donors being immaterial), she stays on DPB for decades. Indeed, she uses the sperm donations as pay rises"

Is that not a comment by you on the DPB? Does one really go into the "stratosphere" responding to that with reference to the DPB?

I made my points about the hard work of child rearing earlier. Your post was essentially one to the effect that the 'system', ie, DPB/Family Court permitted some people to take the 'easy' route of child rearing.
My points are that:
a) no child rearing is ever easy;
and b) the system does not in the main have the incentive effect you claim, and caters for the much greater number of cases where the motives of people are not the solely economic ones you think they are. Your view is that mothers treat babies economically not maternally. I think otherwise.

You appear to have narrow and set resentments and to want to hammer them repeatedly. When someone puts the discussion in the broad and objective context you cannot handle it and say they have "swung all over the place". You won't move on until you try this yourself.

Anonymous said...

How can DPB 'careerism' be the problem you claim when only 10% of recipients have been on it for more than ten years?
Most are clearly on and off it in a relatively short, few year period....

You're directing your interpretation and resentment of the few towards everybody....

spooks said...

Resentments? You have an active imagination. Or complex.

Millsy said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
spooks said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
michael wood said...

Generally speaking it would be good if people could not on this blog:

a) incite murder.
b) suggest that murderous tendancies are a proclivity of Labour supporters.
c) engage in profanity unless it's genuinely witty.

Anyway, pleased that my post about engaging in informed discussions didn't go off track!!!!

spooks said...

In the circumstances of the above three posts, and any ambiguity that might result, I need to point out that I was not the inciter ala (a) above, but the respondent to such incitement. Thank you Mikey for responding to my appeal, and removing the offending post.

Anonymous said...

Though I do suspect the repeated use of 'Mikey' could be driving some people to violence, even if self-inflicted.....

spooks said...

Thanks Anony.

spooks said...

... ... or perhaps Mousey.

Anonymous said...

very fetching

spooks said...

... ... ... and demonstrating my being nothing less than a master, at the art of compromise, you hereby are awarded


as in

A "Nony" mous