The ruling by idiots
voted in by idiots
for the purposes of idiotically screwing the world

[Don’t do it America,
all the signs of what he is are there,
listen to everyone who cares,
don’t listen to him,
don’t become like him,
don’t vote for him]


NZ MMP voting and the demise of representation in the electorates

In NZ we have a Mixed Member Proportional voting system for our 121 member Parliament. The system was voted in in the 1990s.  I voted for it and would still advocate for a system that reflects the diversity of the populous rather than the straight first past the post system we had before that.

But there are losses.  The loss of the connection with the electorates being the major one as the electorates have become very large. Only 71 of the members of parliament represent electorates.  The others, put up by the political parties may be active in the areas where they reside, but the fact remains that there is a disconnect primarily in the area of accountability.  The votes to win in elections are the party votes as that ultimately determines the ruling party (either through a clear majority, or through some kind of coalition arrangement with other parties).  Thus, when the general election is held, the concerns of the regions of the country are secondary to the collective vote.

We vote for the party we want rather than the candidate who represents us.  In my view, this was accentuated in the last election where, in the area where I reside, the electorate MP, Hon. Gerry Brownlee, was voted in by a resounding majority, despite his virtual absence from the electorate, his unwillingness to participate in any pre-election ‘meet the candidate’ meetings, and his blatant bullying of the city of Christchurch in his role as earthquake recovery minister.  If only the man would demonstrate just an ounce of a capacity to listen!

By way of contrast, when an electorate by-election was held this year, an impoverished and considerably neglected electorate, Northland, got to stamp its feet and make a statement to the government whose party had won the seat in last year’s election by a considerable majority.  Granted, by-elections can be grump-fests, but it became very obvious that aside from fly-by visits and the promise of a few bridges ‘if they won’, the government had little sense of the needs of the electorate and next to no imagination in how to attend to the challenges.  It opened the door for NZ’s great fluffy-duck opportunist MP, Winston Peters to grab the limelight.  While that should never have happened, it is a far better situation for the electorate than what they had had to put up with for years under the previous MPs.

So what to do?  I am afraid that the middle ground voters who tend to decide NZ elections have been coaxed and manipulated into a dull stupor of indifference (‘I’m ok therefore everyone is ok’, when everyone is clearly not ok!), and, the people who could make a mark – some one million potential voters, simply don’t trust anyone so they stay away from the polling booths.

I like the idea of a clutch of seasonal electorate by-elections in mid-terms.  It is a way of forcing ruling governments to listen to the people and be accountable for their policies.  What say we had five of these each 3 years – just enough to make the majority coalitions nervous – just enough to check and balance the purpose of representation which is at the heart of a democracy.  Just a crazy idea from a frustrated voter.

Nelson Mandela

The final release has come for Nelson Mandela today…
Without a doubt he has been the highest profile world personality in my lifetime – a humble giant of a man who learned the ways of radical grace and non-violent peace-making despite being held captive by a racist and violent regime that believed it had some sort of biblical mandate for its actions.
I imagine he hoped for more than has so far been achieved in South Africa, but look at how much has been achieved!  In some ways the test of his leadership will be now when those who have revered him walk on into a new day without his presence.
Achieving greatness is not what can be said about many human beings – most people in power readily trip over themselves when overly adored by the crowd.  But Nelson Mandela was truly great – not in a shouting from the rooftops style (not great at all!), but in humble sacrificial service, wise and careful words, patience, kindness, gentleness…
The long walk to freedom has been completed.


David Cunliffe and the media

I am ever so greatly annoyed at the role the news media played in the demotion of the Labour Party member of parliament David Cunliffe.  David is a long-time friend of mine, so I will reflect a bias in my opinion, and politics is a dirty game and the motivations of any parliamentarian are always hard to read.  But I haven’t talked with David since his demotion to the back-benches on Tuesday, thus what I write is not in any way reflective of his opinions about anything, though, I am sure Continue reading

Fringe Jesus

I preached last Sunday on the tendency Jesus had to hang out on the edges of towns and cities where, of course, edgy and marginalised people are to be found.
Here are the words…
Mark 7:24-37  Jesus on the margins   Sermon by Mart the Rev
I am interested in the context of the two healing stories from Jesus ministry that we heard this morning.  The first, the encounter with the Syro- Phoenician woman who badgered Jesus into offering just some of the crumbs from the table of the ‘Chosen People’ so that he would heal her daughter’s malady, and the second, the healing of the deaf man who could not speak clearly because of his disability.  Both stories are from the margins.  One, across the border in what we now know as Syria (an interesting place for Jesus to go!)  The other, in the region of the ten cities of the Decapolis.  The Decapolis was the name given to cities that the Greeks and then the Romans had developed over the centuries.  They were cities influenced more by these cultures than by the cultures of the natives of the regions in which they were located.  They were cosmopolitan cities and the population of these cities was mainly Gentile.  The only one of these cities mentioned in the gospels is Caesarea Philippi – and then only in reference to Jesus and the disciples visiting the villages nearby.  Continue reading

perception is reality

Overnight the NZ Prime Minister has declared that ‘Perception is Reality.’ [Sources: The Press & National Radio]

This milestone in philosophical thought was spoken in relation to the rapid backpedalling the Government made in relation to the idea of increasing class sizes in schools.

While it is good they backpedalled, the philosophy that guided such an act disturbs me more than how many kids are in our school classrooms.  If perception is reality then we need to totally redefine (among other things) all mental illness (because from today these are now normal) and criticism of all conspiracy theories (because from today they are also true – Investigate magazine will be so thrilled!).

I have long perceived that the motivations of  Government are essentially malevolent.  I knew I was onto something but received confirmation today (to my surprise!) from the highest source in the land, that what I perceived is actually true.

Thanks John!

Sky Tower Reflection

I spent a few days in Auckland last week and was fascinated again by the dominance of the Sky Tower – and its beauty.  Around the city centre it kept popping up on the landscape – but especially in the reflections off buildings that I increasingly began to look for.

Auckland's Sky Tower

Here I have captured a reflection that kind of has an element of apocalyptic judgement on it… it is an iconic and quite wonderful building, but it also houses a gambling house – a place of broken dreams, addictions, and this last week, some dodgy politics over the number of pokie machines!

The following impressionistic image is a lot less damning…

scene out my bedroom window