The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
November 28, 2011

Yawn of the Dead

So, Michael Jackson had it right after all. Long, long ago, a long long time before he magically changed from a black man into a white woman, he penned some words and danced some moves that sum up the New Zealand electoral scene quite nicely thank you:

“It’s close to midnight
Something evil’s lurkin’ in the dark
Under the moonlight
You see a sight that almost stops your heart
You try to scream
But terror takes the sound before you make it
You start to freeze
As horror looks you right between the eyes
You’re paralyzed”


“‘Cause this is Orsum
Election night
And no one’s gonna save you
From the beast about to strike
You know it’s Orsum
NewZillun Election night”

and the refrain from Vincent / Winston:
“Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize y’alls neighborhood
And whosoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell “

Is it just me or does anyone else think that Winston sounds like Vincent Price? And, evidently, has a similar scary effect on old ladies?

Here’s the real question though, on privatization. Certain politicians keep crowing that our economy is different from the basket-case economies of Greece, Ireland, Iceland et al, only by virtue that our Debt is privately accumulated, not Public government debt. That’s apparently all the credit-card debt, store card debt, and housing mortgage debt that “we all” have been running up for the last decade or two. How then, I ask you, are those same cash-strapped people going to have the money to buy shares in mega-big projects like power stations and airlines, and not increase our net indebtedness even further?

The idea is clearly in fruit-loop loony land. How many of Key’s much talked about “Mums and Dads” investors are going to have the money sitting around for state asset sales / purchases? Are we really expected to put another $10k on the mortgage just to own a piece of Mighty River Power? There are some who will have the available readies, but in most cases it is clearly going to be our large corporations who will have enough money to buy these shares. And with what funds, you may ask? Well, most likely with foreign owned debt. The end result, and the net effect, is that the shares will be purchased with money that is not ours, and will most likely go to offshore owners.

Denny
29 - 11 - 11

I hate the two facedness of politics… eg, which party sold off the railways? – but love the two faces of your thinking…

Maximus
29 - 11 - 11

I think that the selling off of the Railways was a complete disaster, as was the selling off of Air NZ, oh, and the selling off of the BNZ as well. And Electricity Corp as well….

Yes, arguably all achieved a much needed breaking of the union stranglehold / pricing monopoly, but – what an immense Cock-Up all round.
With Railways, they ran them into the ground, still with lots of staff (I seem to remember that at one stage NZR was the largest single employer of people in NZ – can that be right?), and then sold them off to Shonky companies who just sucked the money out of them. ie Wisconsin Rail, Toll, etc – and did no maintenance, and bought no new trains etc – and then “we” bought them back. Have since been pouring money into them just to catch up back to where we once were…

Can anyone name a successful privatisation in NZ ? Does Telecom count as successful, or just another complete disaster?

m-d
29 - 11 - 11

MoW??

Maximus
29 - 11 - 11

Oh come on m-d – surely that one counts as a disaster? Taking a large design / construction / training / infrastructure team, who virtually set all the rules in NZ for several decades, disbanding them and throwing accumulated learning to the winds, has resulted in such things as:
Dis-jointed thinking in the Electricity department
Lack of planning in the urban infrastructure arena
The entire leaky building fiasco can be blamed almost directly on the demise of the MoW. That’s a $10-20 billion cost right there, apparently, attributable to systemic lack of knowledge in the building industry…

DeepRed
29 - 11 - 11

Here’s some propaganda (from my new blog) to get all of us motivated…

http://kumararepublic.blogspot.com/2011/11/mum-dad-investors.html

It’s open source, so print it at your leisure.

Seamonkey Madness
30 - 11 - 11

Agree about the Mums & Dads comment, although a section of the boomers (those who didn’t blow it all on finance companies) would be all set to invest.

But you’re forgetting about two vehicles that can indirectly lead to “us” “owning” our own assets – Kiwisaver and the Cullen Fund.

PS: Greece has done (or tried to do – no-one was really interested!) a near wholesale sell-off of their assets (50 billion Euros worth out of a total of 110 billion Euros worth of debt). I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t have been sold off at bargain-basement prices. 39 airports; 850 ports, railways motorways; sewage works, a couple of energy companies, banks, defence groups, thousands of acres of land for potential development, casinos and the national lottery…

Opa!!

Maximus
30 - 11 - 11

Seamonkey – as a country we own huge amounts of assets – not just those, and they have been set up since the Labour gov 1980s deregulation efforts. So yes, they are assets, but not ones which I’m really talking about. There are a vast amount of things that economists regard as assets that National may or may not see as saleable – much the same as the Greeks. We could sell off roads, bridges, water, air rights, sewerage systems, schools, universities (for Sale, Massey: a large white elephant in Wellington with a largely empty building and a whole lot of potential). We could even sell off the railways (again) – anything is conceivable with National in power. Last time, with a mashed up alliance with Act and Maori et al, they passed much legislation overnight, in Urgency, during all night sessions, showing a complete distain for parliamentary procedures. Now, with a majority all of their own (i’m counting Banks and Dunne as complete National puppets), they will be able to do so even more. Expect Urgency sittings even more frequently.

Its an interesting conundrum though – how much can get sold off without screwing New Zealand. The fuss last year over selling off the Auckland Airport to the Chinese – well, they are hardly going to take it away back to China and put it in Shanghai are they? Were people scared of it being used as a strategic beachhead for invading Chinese forces 40 years hence? I have no idea really why they were so xenophobic over that particular bogeyman. What assets of ours could a foreign owner actually take away? In some cases it is the entire company – i think Navman, a NZ company originally, sold out to Americans, who eventually downsized or closed the NZ side and are now based primarily stateside. But its not so easy to do that to the Tekapo Power Station.

Seamonkey Madness
30 - 11 - 11

Re: urgency
Depends which spin you believe. Whether Labour say it is National trying to go behind everyone’s back to pass less-than-savoury bills into law, or whether National say they were ‘forced to’ due to filibustering efforts from Labour to delay bog-standard bills that they ideologically despised (i.e. Voluntary Student Membership legislation), so it had a knock-on effect down the line.

I say a bit of both.
That said, National have passed 17 bills under urgency (as up to April this year), whereas Labour’s last three years they passed 4. See here (http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2011/04/use_of_urgency.html) for more details.
(And here is a another interesting post on it http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2011/05/filibustering_urgency.html)

Yes, agree it is a bit of a weak argument if the company is concrete (as opposed to intellectual in Navman’s case) asset heavy. Still, the neglect side of it still gives me nightmares, especially as minority shareholders can potentially sue for not maximising profit (i.e. by not reinvesting in the infrastructure).