Naomi Klein's new book This Changes  Everything: Capitalism Vs the Climate is published  on September 18. Klein writes  that it is capitalism – not carbon – that is responsible for climate change and the ecological crisis. It is a book that won't be embraced by Russel Norman and his pro-market Green Party.

NAOMI KLEIN'S  new book is This Changes  Everything: Capitalism  Vs the Climate and it may be her most provocative book yet. The author of No Logo (2000) and The Shock Doctrine (2007) says the book has an 'unashamedly radical thesis at it heart':

'The really inconvenient truth is that it’s not about carbon—it’s about capitalism. The convenient truth is that we can seize this existential crisis to transform our failed economic system and build something radically better.'

Many mainstream environmental groups will be uncomfortable with this book because she bluntly criticises  them for having surrendered to the demands of capitalism.

She dismisses  pro-market solutions proposed by people like Russel Norman and the Green Party because '“dealing with the climate crisis will require a completely different economic system.'

She says that  so called alternatives  like technological innovations, cap and trade schemes and so-called  'clean energy', are, at best, 'band aid solutions'. She  says  they have also had a negative impact on the environment.

Klein says, for instance, that carbon trading programs simply allow manufacturers to produce more harmful greenhouse gases, just to be paid to reduce them. In the process, carbon trading schemes have helped corporations make billions—allowing them to directly profit off the degradation of the planet.  Carbon trading has become simply another profit-making  vehicle for market capitalism.

Naomi Klein's argues that we must break with market economics and move to an economy that is not based on fossil fuels, demands endless growth, and concentrates power in the hands of the 1 percent.

 In a speech she made last year, Klein said:

'...our current economic model is not only waging war on workers, on communities, on public services and social safety nets. It’s waging war on the life support systems of the planet itself. The conditions for life on earth.

Climate change. It’s not an “issue” for you to add to the list of things to worry about it. It is a civilizational wake up call. A powerful message – spoken in the language of fires, floods, storms and droughts — telling us that we need an entirely new economic model, one based on justice and sustainability.'


Sue Bradford is the target of  flak for suggesting that  draconian  government policies are culpable for putting Work and Income staff under increasing pressure.

WELL KNOWN ACTVIST Sue Bradford copped a fair amount  of  flak for this tweet.  She was accused of trying to make political capital out of the Ashburton shootings which resulted  in  two people being  killed and one person seriously wounded.  One of her critics has been the principled and ethical blogger Cameron Slater.

Sue Bradford  later said  that  posted the message in the immediate aftermath of the Ashburton  shootings  and before she knew that there had been fatalities. She deleted the tweet.

Perhaps it could be argued  she  was unwise to make such a comment when the incident was so raw in the minds of the public  and emotions were running high. But I would note that talkback radio last night  was dominated by calls about the  shootings.  None of the callers, or the talkback hosts for that matter, seemed to think to think that it was inappropriate and insensitive to make politically charged comments about what had happened. What a difference a few hours makes - apparently.

Similarly on Newtalk ZB and less than twenty fours after the shootings, local Christchurch morning host Chris Lynch opened his show by attacking Sue Bradford for 'politicising' the incident.

He and his callers then  proceeded to politicise the shootings themselves  with Lynch declaring, at one point, that government policies could not be blamed for the shootings. He did not bother to explain why  he knew this  and seemed more intent on attributing the shootings to the alleged gunman's mental state.

What was largely ignored  in all this was Sue Bradford's observation which was this:

“The Work and Income office is the front line of the Government’s welfare policies. People are very, very badly affected by what happens there everyday. This is in no way excusing what’s happened. But I think it’s unfortunate that governments sometimes don’t understand or accept the risks that they put their staff under in implementing their policies.”

Indeed as the government's welfare policies have begun to bite, Work and Income staff  on the front line are having to cope with the consequences of those policies, namely  more and more angry and frustrated people, under enough stress as it is, responding to more and more  bureaucratic obstacles being put in front of them.

Auckland Action Against Poverty  commented earlier this year:  '...we find that people are often so distressed by their experiences with Work and Income that they will do anything to avoid registering for a benefit; won’t ask for what they desperately need in supplementary assistance; or are simply denied support altogether.'

Between July and September  last year, for example, nearly 2800   sole parents had their benefits cut by 50 percent because they supposedly were not doing a good enough job of looking for paid work - at a time of high unemployment and underemployment. How did this help the 270,000 children already living under the poverty line?

While we grieve at the death of the two Work and Income workers  let us also  not  forget the many welfare beneficiaries who are being driven to the wall by this government's  callous welfare policies. But it seems that some people would rather lash out at Sue Bradford instead.


Green Party co-leader  Russel Norman says he and the Green Party are more committed to free market policies than the National Party.

BECAUSE OF THE FURORE THAT is still being generated by Nicky Hager's book Dirty Politics, I doubt that many people took much notice of Russel Norman  laying out the politics of the Green Party this week.

Despite the media's lazy and inaccurate characterisation of the Green Party as a 'left wing' party, Norman reaffirmed the party's commitment to free market policies. Norman actually says he's more of a disciple of market policies than the National Party!  I don't think you'll see any mention of the Green's loyalty  to neoliberalism  in its election material though. 'We're more neoliberal than National!' would  not be a vote winner.

Or maybe it would. The Green's, after all,  have managed  to capture a  swathe of conservative supporters and Green activism has largely been reduced to  single issue campaigns  like agitating  for more public  transport. Nothing to frighten the voter from Remuera or Fendalton here.

Said Norman this week: "If you look at the Greens, or at least our policies, they are pro-market. Lower company tax rates, price signals for carbon - let the market resolve the issue."

Yes  the 'invisible hand' of the market will resolve our problems!

Norman's right wing views do not come  as a surprise though. He was enthusing about the 'power of the market several years  ago and he has not changed his tune. In fact he seems to be singing from the free market hymn book with an ever greater gusto these days:

 'The fact is my view, and the Green Party policy, is that markets are a really good solution to the big challenges we're facing in sustainability, so that's why we're very pro the use of market forces, whereas National are into state intervention, which is the exact opposite of the predominant discourse, right?"

Russel Norman's  cuddly view of the economic beast  flies in the face of reality.

The fact is  a system that concentrates political and economic power in the hands of those who pursue the accumulation of capital without restraint is going to continue to demand expansion and growth.  The imperative to grow and accumulate in turn redoubles the economy’s impacts on the earth’s threatened ecosystems  as well as increasing levels of social deprivation.

Indeed we are confronted with a double whammy of a crisis. At the same time as we are confronted by a deepening ecological crisis, a social crisis is becoming increasingly obvious to all: the failure of capitalism to make good on its promise of raising living standards.

As the American philosopher and linguist Noam Chomsky said last year, “In the moral calculus of capitalism, greater profits in the next quarter outweigh the fate of your grandchildren.”

This is a point that author and activist Naomi Klein elaborates  in her new book This Changes Everything,  which will be published next month.

She has signaled the themes of her new book in  several newspaper and magazine columns.

She says  that  the market has not—and cannot—fix the environmental crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by an even more  rampant capitalism.

She has made the point that such  is the magnitude of the ecological crisis that we now  need to ditch our  present  economic system. This, she says, is now no longer a matter of mere ideological preference but rather 'one of species-wide existential necessity.'

In his important article 'Green Capitalism: The God That Failed' Richard Smith writes: efforts are doomed to fail, and a sustainable economy is inconceivable without sweeping systemic economic change. The project of sustainable capitalism based on carbon taxes, green marketing, "dematerialization" and so forth was misconceived and doomed from the start because maximizing profit and saving the planet are inherently in conflict and cannot be systematically aligned even if, here and there, they might coincide for a moment. That's because under capitalism, CEOs and corporate boards are not responsible to society; they're responsible to private shareholders.

Russel Norman and the Green Party are having none of this though.  They  continue  to support the machine that is killing our planet.  That the Green Party can even be described as 'progressive' once again highlights the arid and conservative nature of New Zealand politics in 2014.


Britain's Channel 4 told the residents of James Turner Street in Birmingham that its new documentary would show the best of a working class community being hit hard by austerity. Instead Benefits Street helped label the residents as “scum”. Now the series is being screened by TVNZ.

IN A TRULY DISMAL  ACT  OF PROGRAMMING, TVNZ has begun screening the  British Channel 4 series, Benefits Street.

It  pretends to  portray the lives of the people of James Turner Street in Birmingham  but  the five part  series  was  condemned by the residents themselves.

The first episode of Benefits Street, which screened tonight, showed resident  Dee Roberts pointing at houses where people were unemployed or on benefits. But programme makers edited out the houses where she said people were working.

“They lied to us from the very beginning. We opened our doors and hearts to them and they violated us and abused our trust,” she told the local Birmingham media.

Another 'bludger' portrayed in the show is Nikita Bell. She has since  found work but was looking for employment when the series  was filmed. She also  felt  betrayed  by the makers of the series, Love Productions.

“They only showed the part with us laughing to make it look like it was all a big joke. They have betrayed me and everyone else. They told us it would be a show about community but it’s not.” she told The Guardian.

Owen Jones, the bestselling author of Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, writing in The Independent  commented:

'Benefits Street followed a now-predictable formula. Television producers hunt for unsympathetic examples of unemployed people – in this case, on a street in Birmingham; they portray them in the worst possible light; and they fuel the pervasive sense that people on benefits are feckless scroungers.... A healthy media would stand up to the powerful and wealthy. Not ours, though: instead it stands up to the poor and voiceless.'

Asked Jones: 'Where are the shows about the wealthy tax-dodgers who deprive the Exchequer of £25bn each year, even as millions have to both pay their taxes and be pounded by austerity? What about the bankers who plunged the world into economic catastrophe and continue to thrive as others suffer the consequences?'

All Benefits Street does is reinforce prejudices about the poor and unemployed. But demonising the victims  conveniently lets capitalism off the hook.

TVNZ, whose own limited  news and currents affairs has degenerated to the ratings-driven  tabloid level,  has largely  ignored the issue of unemployment and poverty in this country.  But  it is more than happy to screen  a sensationalist and fundamentally dishonest  British series that portrays the poor as feckless bludgers  and  not as they really  are -   the victims of the  British government's brutal austerity policies.

TVNZ  should explain why it is screening this series because it  can  do nothing but provoke a backslash against beneficiaries in this country - as it did in Britain, where the residents of James Turner Street were the victims of abuse and threats of physical violence.


Kim Dotcom is dangerous, declares Mike Hosking.

I THINK MIKE HOSKING intersects with real life at few points on any given day.  In the morning, he walks out of the cocooned, sealed-off environment of his swanky house (I'm assuming it is  in Remuera or somewhere similar), gets into the cocooned, sealed-off environment of his Maserati and then travels to work, where he spends a few hours in the cocooned, sealed-off environment of the Newstalk ZB studio. Later in the day he gets back into the cocooned,sealed-off environment of his Maserati and travels to TVNZ  where he spends more time in the cocooned, sealed-off environment of a television studio.

You would like to think Hosking might hanker to blow  some  fresh air through his fetid world. It seems not. His only distraction seems to be to sit in the manicured and pampered  environment  of a expensive  restaurant, where he and the wife spend as much on a meal as a South Auckland family spend on groceries each week.  But in the words of comedian  Ernie Wise, Hosking is relaxed about his privileged position because it is due recognition 'for the talent what I've got.'

It is from his cloistered and privileged   world that Hosking delivers  his uninformed  opinions to people he has little interest or affinity for. He speaks to people while swigging down another glass of Pinot Noir and preening himself in the mirror, while weighting up the implications of  changing his brand of hair product.

And he  is mindnumbingly predictable. In an age of conservative commentators, the only way Hosking can distinguish himself from the pack is by being more gung ho conservative than everyone else. The default position for Hosking is to love John Key and  to castigate and mock his detractors.

Mike Hosking writes on the Newstalk ZB  website. But he does not write well,  reason well, or know much about anything. There should be a warning attached to all his columns: 'Intelligence Free Zone'.

When Nicky's Hager's book was published Hosking declared  that it 'amounted to nothing'. He even said that no one would be talking about it by Friday, two days after publication. On Monday, Hosking was attacking  Nicky Hager  and Dirty Politics on his radio show.

Yesterday Hosking again went into bat for the Prime Minister declaring  that Kim Dotcom to be  'dangerous, plain and simple.' And, what's more, if you do not understand that 'you're not normal'.  So there. Hosking's argument  is as enlightening as a schoolboy sticking out his  tongue at you.

Having 'established'  that Dotcom is 'dangerous' Hosking then proceeds  to smear more of John Key's opponents , namely  Hone Harawira  and Laila Harre. Even David Cunliffe , according to Hosking,  is 'tainted' by his association to Dotcom.

I don't hold any brief for Internet Mana or Labour but I would point to Hosking's remarkable  hypocrisy, which is one of his few 'talents'.

Hosking is tainted not by his 'association' to Cameron Slater, but by his open and determined  support for him.

While condemning  Dotcom as 'dangerous', Hosking  praises the  sleaze merchant. Indeed on one Seven Sharp show  he informed the viewers that Slater  often agreed with his opinions and ran with them  on the  Whaleoil website. This apparently makes Cameron Slater a man of class and discernment.

I would of thought describing a  young man  who died in a car accident as 'feral'  is as  grubby as it gets. As is describing  Christchurch earthquake victims as 'scum'. 

Hosking also does not have any problems with Slater  being in the pay of the tobacco industry. Of course this is not surprising since Hosking isn't averse to some 'cash for comment' either.

Like the Prime Minister who he adores, Hosking just can't find it in himself to condemn Cameron Slater. At the heart of  his 'politics' is venal self-interest. He recognises a fellow traveller in Cameron Slater.

Kim Dotcom is definitely dangerous  though. Why else would he be causing trouble for John Key?



It could only have been someone like Nicky Hager who could have written Dirty Politics.

THIS MORNING I listened to Morning Report's Brent Edwards explain that John Key's  apparent strength  has always been his ability to portray himself as being 'above politics'. John Key has liked to cultivate an  image of himself as a  good, genial bloke who likes his rugby and a beer or two at the barbie. He's the guy who likes to share a laugh or two with his mates, Si and Gary, on More FM.  When he's not doing that, he's cooking on TVNZ's Good Morning show.

If John Key  has been able to cultivate this cartoon  image of himself  it has only been  because a mainstream media has, for  most of the time, allowed him to do it.

Certainly the left - whether  it be soft or hard - has largely  never been conned by 'Brand Key'.  He's been the frontperson for a government that has  enriched the wealthy and pauperised the poor. While John Key has been  having his photo taken with Richie McCaw, Paula Bennett  has been putting the boot into beneficiaries.

But our  voices have largely been confined to the blogosphere. Within the mainstream media a cabal of journalists have forgotten that their  job is to speak truth to power and not to chat pleasantly with the Prime Minister on a  sofa in a television studio or write another friendly newspaper column about his government. And it certainly isn't a job of  a television host to  use a prime time television show  like Seven Sharp to cheer on the government while berating and making jokes about its political opponents. 

But what Nicky Hager has done is blow apart the mainstream media's  cosy relationship  with the government, a relationship  that has conspired to leave the neoliberal  orthodoxy unquestioned and intact. This is a neoliberal orthodoxy that has journalists like Radio Live's Duncan Garner declaring that John Key  is doing 'a good job' managing the economy - instead of giving voice to the 270,000 children living under the poverty line.

It could only have been someone like Hager, outside the mainstream media, who could have written a book like Dirty Politics - with, of course, some not insubstantial  help from someone who gave him access to the treasure trove of data obtained from the Whaleoil website. It could have only been someone like Hager because mainstream journalists in this country are only too willing to defer  to government.  Indeed many journalists in this country have used Whaleoil as a legitimate news source.  Very few will no doubt admit to that now.

The media would retort that they just report the 'facts' but an increasing number  of us  have way too  many problems with what the  mainstream media define as  'facts' - and how they frame those 'facts'.  The media has  continued to foster a stubborn editorial bias under a veneer of “objectivity”.

Initially the media  were  seemingly willing to accept the Prime Minister's  claim  that Dirty Politics was all part of a 'left wing conspiracy'. Government cheerleaders like Mike Hosking and Sean Plunket were happy to promote the government line that Kim Dotcom was somehow pulling all the strings.

But these sort of arguments have become plainly ridiculous and untenable, especially now that #whaledump on Twitter has begun uploading the Whaleoil emails to the web, for all to read. This is the age of digital empowerment! If Brand Key has been severely damaged then so has the credibility of a swathe of journalists who have promoted that brand.

I'd like to think Nicky Hager has demonstrated that the political agenda does not have to be controlled by government and its allies  in the mainstream media.  In this digital world  we have the power to upset the conservative agenda  that protects the rich and powerful. We certainly do not have to accept it.




Mike Hosking  showed off his  'impartiality'  on Seven Sharp tonight. 

 MIKE HOSKING  PLUNGED to a new low on Seven Sharp  with a blatant attempt to discredit Nicky Hager and his book  Dirty Politics. There was no pretence of anything resembling  journalism - this was an exercise in defending a government that Hosking  wants to see re-elected.

After he  had allowed National's campaign manager Steven Joyce to take a few  free swipes at  Hager, Hosking himself weighed in. He was not  interested in talking about the substantive issues raised in Hager's book because he had already decided  that there was  'no smoking gun'. But as ex-Listener editor Finlay MacDonald tweeted, 'Mike Hosking wouldn't recognise a 'smoking gun' if it was presented to him on a plate in book form'.

Instead Hosking  was intent on portraying Hager  as someone who had 'stolen' data from the computer of Cameron Slater  and, anyway,  Hager  had not proved a thing because 'everyone' ( the government) had denied all  his allegations. Case closed. So let's talk about something else then, shall we?

This little rant from Hosking was  simply a continuation of a rancorous  interview Hosking  conducted with Hager on his Newstalk ZB show this morning. While this sort of thing is par for the course on the right wing talkback station it is unacceptable that TVNZ continues to allow Hosking to use Seven Sharp as a platform not only  to parade his support for the Key government but attempt to shut down an issue that is embarrassing and potentially fatal for John Key.

At one point Hager accused Hosking of not having an 'open' mind on the book which I think was being far too polite. I think Laila Harre's demolition job  on another National Party cheerleader, Rawdon Christie, earlier this week is  a useful guide on how to treat Hosking.  Challenge him. Call him out for his blatant political favouritism. He is contemptible and he should be treated with contempt.

Hager was also not happy with Heather du Plessis-Allan and her  facile item on Dirty Politics. She avoided all the main issues too and highlighted the fact that Judith Collins called a few people a few names. It was all just one big joke for the woman who was also responsible for  the  awful sycophantic profile of Cameron Slater  that screened on Seven Sharp several weeks ago. Slater will be delighted to know that he can continue to count on her support.

If Mike Hosking was working in the United States he'd be working for Fox News and berating Edward Snowden for being a traitor to America. That's how bad this guy is. We deserve a whole lot better than this ignorant right wing hack.

The good thing is  that no one is listening to Hosking. The first edition  of the book has already sold out and a second printing has been ordered. And you can get it on Kindle via Amazon.


The  TVNZ Breakfast host gets his comeuppance.

ONLY A FEW DAYS after the Prime Minister had snidely suggested that Kim Dotcom was Laila Harre's 'sugar daddy', Harre was in no  mood to politely  brush  aside  John Key's new allegation that Internet Mana  were responsible  for the  effigy burning video.

The Internet Party leader was invited on to TVNZ's Breakfast to respond to the allegation as if it might possibly be...true. No wonder Harre was exasperated.

A proper journalist  should  have been able to work out  for himself that the allegation was without merit. After all the claim was first  made on  Cameron Slater's sleazy Whaleoil website - a notorious attack dog for the National Party.

But we're talking Rawdon Christie here.

Christie admitted he took the video from Whaleoil. But he never bothered to check out its credentials. Perhaps he had other more important things to do - like droning on again about his skiing adventures or cracking jokes with  Sam the maniacal weather guy.

Laila Harre took him to task for his ineptitude.

"The Prime Minister cast a slur and told a lie on your programme yesterday," she told the increasingly rattled Breakfast host . "You presented that video to the Prime Minister and you knew from your research, or should have known from your research, that it had no relationship with the Internet Party."

Christie's pathetic defence was  'I didn't tell the PM that this was Dotcom's doing.'

No, having handed John Key the ammunition, you  just sat  there like a  schmuck and  allowed the Prime Minister to make the allegation unchallenged.

Of course none of this comes as any surprise. Christie doesn't interview Key in a proper journalistic sense - he chats to him in a 'I think you're great' sense.

After copping an earful from Harre, Rawdon tried to salvage something  from the wreckage. It was pathetic - but strangely gripping - television. If I freeze frame the picture I can clearly see Rawdon's credibility disappearing out of the studio.

He talked about 'balance' and how 'the election wasn't about him'. Unfortunately for Christie he dug a deeper hole for himself when he read out a text that accused Breakfast of 'spinning the feedback its way'.  Great stuff.


The good people of Christchurch will pay nearly $300 million for a massive convention centre but will see few benefits from it.  It's all part of a rebuild of central Christchurch that is economically unjust.

I DID NOT  DETECT  A LOT OF excitement  for the proposed  Christchurch Convention Centre when it was unveiled last week.

Perhaps that's because  many people have other pressing matters on their minds. Like - why am I still living in a severely damaged home over three  years after the big quake?  Why am  I still living in a garage? Is this destined to be permanent?

A young couple near me were also nonplussed by the unveiling. In fact, they did know it had happened until I told them. Their view was straightforward and to the point - 'they' should fix the mess in the suburbs before even contemplating  spending $500 million on a convention centre that people like them will be unlikely to use.

But, of course, their view is biased. They are forced to find  $600 a week rent to house themselves and their small child in a small two bedroom house. They are victims of  a government that has allowed private  landlords to run amok while Gerry Brownlee (a landlord himself) smugly assured the city  that  'competition' would eventually bring rents down. Not surprisingly they are less than impressed with his  frequent appearances in the local media declaring what 'great progress' Christchurch is making. 

They would certainly not be impressed with Brownlee waxing enthusiastically about the convention centre in the latest issue of the CERA propaganda broadsheet, the Greater Christchurch Recovery Update:

'The venue will be one of the jewels of the central city and have huge benefits for tourism in Canterbury and the South Island. Convention centres attract high spending professionals and capturing more of this high-value expenditure would be of considerable benefit to the wider Canterbury economy'.

The proposed Convention Centre itself is, architecturally, a dog.  It's a metal and glass pancake  dropped in the middle in the city. The Christchurch Convention Centre fails to  acknowledge or reflect  'our past, our shared experiences, and our common future.'

I'm quoting Mark Solomon of Nga Tahu. This  is what he wrote in a foreword to the Central City Recovery Plan - which  Nga Tahu had a big hand in writing.

Now - are we surprised ? -  Nga Tahu is also  part  of the consortium that will build the convention centre, which also includes the Carter Group  and Plenary Conventions.

These three firms will generate large profits out of this project. Meanwhile the people of Christchurch are expected to fork out some $280 million as its contribution.  With the Christchurch City Council already in a  financial hole it is unacceptable that this project is being  pursued.

As Eugenie Sage of the Green Party has pointed out, if so much public money is going in to the convention centre then it should be  owned by the good people of Christchurch.

But what is essentially a public works project isn't a public works project at all.

Plenary Group are a company that specialises in public private partnership (PPP) and that means the convention centre could  simply see, as Sage says, a direct transfer of public money to private profit.

What is also galling about the convention centre  is that isn't even being built for the needs  of the local community. It's been built, as Brownlee enthuses, for 'high spending professionals' - ie tourists and convention goers.

It will be a focal point in creating a  gentrified central city. The immediate blocks around the convention centre will be publicly -financed gentrification facade aimed at putting Christchurch 'on the map for the conference and convention market' (Brownlee).

The local economic elite  will frequent the upmarket retail stores and restaurants but those of us who don't have a fat wallet  we will effectively be locked out of our own central city.

 But we will end up paying for the party via exorbitant rates, the sale of public assets, and cut backs in other services.  As an aside, one of the 'dirty little secrets'  the Christchurch City Council does not want you to know is that  it is dipping into the mortgages of an increasing number of financially stressed citizens  to pay for outstanding rates - while, at the same time, it gives 'rates holidays' to wealthy property developers in the central city.

As I've said before, only a powerful, unified, and organized political opposition contesting for power could hope to lead an altogether different urban renewal. While there have been sporadic  and isolated outbreaks of resistance, such  a grassroots opposition has  obviously been missing. When we needed a 'People's Recovery' we've ended up with a corporate money-grab.

The rebuild of central Christchurch is economically unjust and could well prove to be a fiscal disaster as well. 


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