CREATIONISM RAISES ITS SILLY HEAD AGAIN



Creationism has raised its silly head in New Zealand again, this time via the Christian fundamentalist group Focus on the Family. Focus on the Family is an American-based fundamentalist organisation but it has branches throughout the world, including one in Auckland.

The New Zealand branch of Focus on the Family has distributed four hundred copies of the pro-'intelligent design' DVD Privileged Planet to schools throughout the country.

The executive director of the Auckland office of Focus on the Family is Tim Sisarich, a former announcer with fundamentalist radio station, Radio Rhema.

Second in charge is Sheryl Savill, who is described as Focus on the Family's programme administrator.

Savill, along with former MP Larry Baldock, have been the principal organisers of the petition to force a referendum on Sue Bradford's anti-smacking legislation.

Focus on the Family works closely with Bob McCoskrie's Family First group. McCoskrie is also a former announcer on Radio Rhema.

Family First, like Focus on the Family, has long railed against 'liberal values' and 'liberal culture' and has been actively lobbying the National Party to adopt policies that 'reflect Judeo-Christian values'. McCoskrie's reactionary interpretation of Judeo-Christian values led him to lay a complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority about the hit TV series 'The Simpsons', for 'inappropriate language'. He also described another TV3 series, Californication, as 'evil'.

Like Focus on the Family, Family First is among other things, anti-abortion and anti-gay. It has also consistently attacked the welfare state.

It is also strongly opposes the anti-smacking legislation and, like Focus on the Family, would like to see the reintroduction of corporal punishment into schools. Apparently they have no problems with adults inflicting violence on children, via the cane.

On the Family First board include former All Black Michael Jones and TV1 weather presenter Jim Hickey.

Another supporter of Focus on the Family and Family First is Stars In Their Eyes presenter Simon Barnett. He actively opposed the anti-smacking legislation.

Focus on the Family takes its lead from head office in the United States, specifically Colorado Springs, Colorado, though its unclear whether it receives any financial assistance.

It was formed in 1977 by James Dobson and actively works to promote and have implemented conservative governernemtn policies.

It produces magazines, video and radio programmes which are available through the Auckland office.

The radio shows are broadcast on Radio Rhema.

Since he formed Focus on the Family, Dobson has attacked Democrats and promoted the Republican Party - and he has done it largely with impunity.

However the tide appears to be turning for Dobson and Focus on the Family - and it is the emergence of Barack Obama that has turned the political tide.

Dobson was offended by Obama's criticism that the evangelical right promoted just their own view of Christianity and that they were, in fact, a range of differences within Christianity. Dobson was also angered with Obama's comment that a person could be moral without being religious.

Dobson, ironically, charged Obama with what he himself has have often been accused of - namely, 'distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to suit his own worldview'.

Dobson's attack on Obama provoked a reaction. A website was launched condemning Dobson.

And it was launched by a coalition of Christian leaders headed by Kirbyjon Caldwell who had led the benediction of George W. Bush's first Inauguration.

Dobson's religious and political beliefs are fast becoming a minority view in the United States. The influence of the Christian right is waning with many new evangelical leaders refusing to join the Old Guard's crusade against the Democrats.

As a consequence Focus on the Family is losing both members and revenue.

Here in New Zealand Focus on the Family and Family First have used the campaign to get a referendum on the anti smacking legislation as a trojan horse to promote their conservative views.

Now Focus on the Family are again pushing creationism. This is not the first time they have done this - in 2005 they sent out the same DVD and workbooks to some 500 New Zealand schools, with minimal impact.

Recent polls have shown that over 75 percent of New Zealanders reject creationism

The Education Ministry is taking a sensible view of the creationist nonsense. It says the unsanctioned material does not breach the Education Act and there are no plans to ban its distribution. But it stresses the theory of evolution underpins the science curriculum and schools have a responsibility to teach theories that are subject to accepted scientific scrutiny.

For a good review of The Privileged Planet check out http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/06-01-09.html

THE CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST


With Christchurch property developer and right wing libertarian Dave Henderson looking like he’s heading for the financial rocks – and not for the first time we should add- he’ll perhaps be looking for support from his friends.

Perhaps Mayor Sideshow Bob Parker we’ll be there for him. After all Dave came out in support of his mayoralty bid.

And Sideshow was at the premiere of Dave’s film We’re Here To Help – a movie he described as excellent.

Of course none of the local Labour MP’s made an appearance, which annoyed Dave.

‘It’s time they got over my success,’ said ‘successful’ Dave.

Well, the Labour MPs were wise to give ‘Hendo’ a wide berth.

The same thing can’t be said for Sideshow Bob.

Or for that matter writer Bruce Ansley , who wrote a gushy profile of Henderson for the Listener.

Nor has TV3’s John Campbell got much to be proud of either for his bootlicking interview with Henderson on the night the movie premiered.

And perhaps the usually sensible Mike Yardley would like to explain why Henderson has been one of his regular guests on his chat show on local channel Canterbury Television.

As I wrote some months ago – so I’m not being wise after the event – Henderson’s high profile property deals and his movie-making venture have taken in a lot of people.

They not only chose to ignore Henderson’s less than impressive business track record but helped him to further inflate his already inflated and underserved reputation as a successful and innovative property developer and entrepreneur.

Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

DAVE HENDERSON'S COMPANIES FACE LIQUIDATION



High profile Christchurch property developer Dave Henderson is in financial trouble.

Christchurch crane-hire company Smith Crane and Company have filed papers to have Henderson's companies, Property Ventures and Five Mile Holdings, wound up.

A court hearing for the applications is scheduled for July 21.

The company had an obstacle put in its way when a public notice notifying the court action was pulled from the Christchurch Press. A person purporting to be a representative of Smith Crane and Construction rang the newspaper and order that the notice be pulled.

"They did not act with our knowledge or authority," the company's spokesman said. The identity of the caller remains a mystery.

Smith Crane and Construction have lost patience with Henderson who has failed to pay his bill, despite six months of 'negotiation'. The comapny say it is a high 'six figure' bill.

The company has been working on Henderson's Five Mile village project near Queenstown. There has been little activity on the site for some six weeks and locals refer to it as 'the hole in the ground.'

And it appears that other creditors are set to line up behind Smith Crane and Construction because of unpaid accounts. First up is Morgan and Pollard, a landscape firm, who says its owed money for work done at Five Miles.

Significantly Henderson has referred to 'frustrations that relate to the market and relate to general funding difficulties out there.'

What this means is that the property market has collapsed and, as the credit squeeze gets ever-tighter, Henderson is finding it increasingly difficult to secure any more loans.

Then there is the question of Henderson servicing his present loans.

His company Property Ventures was partly funded by Dominion Finance - that company has now ceased trading. It simply ran out of money and said at the time that it was having difficulty getting loans repaid to it. It appears it'll be at least two years before investors - many of them small 'mum and dad' investors will see any of their money again.

Another major finance company, Hanover Finance - yet unscathed by the finance sector meltdown - has also lent money to Property Ventures. It has refused to supply details of just how much it has tied up with Dave Henderson, although it's rumoured that it is a significant amount.

People who have money invested in Hanover have good reason to be anxious about their investments.


ONE RACE WE DON'T WANT TO WIN


Fisher and Paykel's decision to move its business offshore shows the true face of neo-liberal global capitalism - making money at anyone's expense. James Ayers comments.

Nothing demonstrates the conflicting interests of shareholders versus workers more the clearly the recent decision of Fisher and Paykel to close its Dunedin factory and shift production to Mexico. When its share price has its highest ever daily rise on the same day as 430 workers are told their loyal service means nothing, you see very clearly how the fortunes of owners and workers are often diametrically opposed.

To quote the F&P CEO John Bongard “…unless we can reduce the manufacturing costs, particularly labour, we will not be able to provide an adequate return to our shareholders”. Clearly $61m (last years profit) is not enough, but then again, when it comes to the greed of shareholders and their puppet directors and CEO, there is no such thing as enough!

Never mind that their factory in Dunedin was state of the art, or that they were an iconic Kiwi company with a tremendous amount of goodwill both within their Kiwi workforce and the many loyal customers around New Zealand. I am sure many people reading this will have grown up with F&P appliances in the house.

Oh, and if you think the price of their products will drop because of some supposed cost savings, think again. As the CEO said, it is about improved returns to shareholders, not better deals for customers. As for the workers, it's been nice knowing you; I'll send you a postcard from Acapulco!

It was probably less of a surprise that the ANZ National Bank announced 500 jobs would shift to Bangalore. The greed of the banking sector, and in particular the overseas owned cartel of ANZ National, Westpac, BNZ and ASB is infamous. In justifying this decision, the CEO Graham Hodges cites “the financial benefit of lower labour costs in India”. I suppose profits of over $1 billion per year (or many tens of thousands per ANZ employee) are once again not enough? Or is it to cover the ANZ’s shonky share lending activities across the ditch?

And what are the benefits of the plethora of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) currently being negotiated around the world. Three-fold.

Firstly reduced costs to manufacturers and importers so they can make more profits - don’t expect much of these increased profits to flow to workers.

Secondly the creation of even cheaper products we don’t need or necessary products that won’t last. After all, who of us in NZ is going to contact the Chinese manufacturer of a $10 toaster, which malfunctions one week after the warranty expires?

Thirdly and most worrying, FTAs will force consumers of fundamental products like food to pay the highest price because that is the world price, as kiwi cheese consumers are now discovering. The price we now pay has very little to do with the cost of production and everything to do with the maximum price Fon-Terror (no spelling mistake) can get on the world stage. One percent of kiwis may benefit from a FTA with China; the rest of us won't.

Of course, Fisher & Paykel and the ANZ National Bank are not the only companies moving as much of their operations as quickly as possible to the cheapest parts of the world. It's a global race to the bottom where there will be a few winners and billions of losers. The improved standard of living for some workers in India, China, Mexico, will just as quickly be lost to bright lights of mindless consumerism and to the enslavement of debt.

And by cheapest, I don't稚 just mean labour. God given natural resources and the environment itself are being exploited and ultimately destroyed in the pursuit of profit. Whether it is the forests of the Amazon, fisheries of the Southern Ocean, the air above China, or water below the Canterbury Plains, greed has no moral compass and only one direction - more.

F&P and the ANZ show the true face of neo-liberal, globalised capitalism for what it is; how to make as much money as quickly as possible at anyone’s expense.

It’s a race to exploit the world’s poorest people so the world’s richest can get richer. In the process, the working families who have built up these companies whether they are in Manchester, Michigan or Mosgiel are kicked in the guts and left on the side of the highway called Globalisation.

And where does that highway lead? It leads to Economic Dictatorship via a New World Order of privately controlled transnational corporations. You have been warned!

James Ayers can be heard on his show 'The Corporate Nemesis' on Plains FM 96.9, Christchurch,Tuesdays 11am

CHINA:THE WORLD'S BIGGEST MALWARE PRODUCER


With the New Zealand Government getting all cosy with the Chinese Stalinist regime, its interesting to note that China is exporting more than just cheap clothes and TV sets.

China is also exporting a whole load of computer malware.

According to StopBadware.org, almost half the websites inflicting malware on computer users comes from just ten networks. Six of these ten networks are internet service providers and are based in China. These providers host 41 percent of the world’s malicious websites.

Using data from Google’s Safe Browsing project, StopBadware.org analysed over 200,000 websites producing malware.

Google itself is also a culprit.- it hosted approximately 4,200 malicious blogs or about two percent of all the malware-infested sites.

THE MELTDOWN CONTINUES: ANOTHER FINANCE COMPANY FALLS OVER

Finance and Property group St Laurence today became the nineteenth finance company to collapse in the past year - and the twenty-second in the past two years.

St Laurence says that the decision to stop lending money and withdraw its prospectus '"results from rapid changes in the property lending markets affecting many financiers and investors".

It seems that St Laurence, like Dominion Finance, is heavily exposed to property development loans - and these developers (often lauded in the mainstream media as 'innovative entrepreneurs') have been caught out by the collapse in the property market. But it'll be small 'mum and dad' investors who will be paying the price for the failures of these 'heroes' of the 'free market'.

Interestingly, Dominion Finance lent money to two developments around Queenstown.

One is the Benbrae Lodge project at Cardrona. But only eight of the thirty-six lodges have been sold and several are now for sale on Trade Me.

It raises questions about the future of property developer Dave Henderson's Five Mile Village project near Queenstown. This $2-3 billion project is now 'on hold'.

IS DAVE HENDERSON IN FINANCIAL TROUBLE?


Is high profile Christchurch property developer Dave Henderson feeling the financial pinch?

Ten days ago right-wing libertarian Dave announced that he was selling two city developments that reportedly have a total sale value of some $ 30 million.

This comes on top of Henderson recently laying off staff from his construction company Montecristo. As well he has ‘slowed down’ work on some developments. This includes his ambitious $2-3 billion Five Miles township located near Queenstown.

As this is happening another major finance company, Dominion Finance, announced last week that it was running out of money and had stopped repaying deposits investors as their investments matured.

Interestingly the global credit crunch now engulfing New Zealand, as well as the slowing property market, means that property developers are struggling to sell property projects and repaying or financing loans.

So property developers aren’t repaying their loans to companies like Dominion Finance who, in turn, can’t repay investors. The majority of these investors are small ‘mum and dad’ investors.

Of course one has to wonder if one of the property developers not repaying their loans just might be that darling of the corporate media and ACT Party pin-up boy, Dave Henderson.



MORE THAN 1,0000 TIBETAN PROTESTORS STILL 'MISSING'
I see that Amnesty International have reported that more than 1,000 Tibetans ‘detained’ during the March protests against the Chinese regime are still ‘missing’.

Amnesty say that there are reports that detainees have been beaten and deprived of food.

Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific Director Sam Zarifi said the information coming out of Tibet painted "a dire picture of arbitrary detentions and abuse of detainees".

With foreign journalists still not allowed into Tibet, reports coming through friends and family members to the media and Tibetan organisations suggested that police had carried out hundreds of raids on monasteries, nunneries and private homes.

No doubt Christchurch Mayor Sideshow Bob Parker would say that this is yet another example of the media giving a ‘one-sided’ view of what’s happening in Tibet.


STILL WAITING..
Speaking of things China, I have still have not a ruling from the Broadcasting Standards Authority about my complaint against local channel Canterbury Television for screening a particularly vile piece of Chinese propaganda against the Tibetan uprising. (see March 25 blog).

I lodged a complaint nearly three months ago!

Apparently things move slowly in the offices of the Broadcasting Standards Authority.


TUMEKE!, ME AND SIDESHOW BOB
The Tumeke blog, run by Martyn Bradbury (presently reading a confidential Corrections Department document), Tim Selwyn and Ben Thomas, recently compiled a list of the top one hundred New Zealand posts (based on various criteria).

This blog hasn’t been around that long so it ain’t in the top 100 as yet –well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

However it did get a special mention as a blog worthy of attention.

My recent reports on the adventures of Sideshow Bob Parker also got a mention. This is what Tumeke said:

I love how much he hates the Mayor of Christchurch, "Sideshow Bob", I hate him too now too. This blog will make you love to hate him. Not since the Michael Laws-watch blog has an obsessional fixation bordering on stalking been made into an art form.

I hate Sideshow Bob? He’s a right wing politician who call himself ‘independent’. He puts council rents up by twenty-four percent. He defends the murderous Chinese regime. He ponces around in a $100,000 Audi while a great many people are struggling to pay the power bill and buy the groceries. What’s not to hate?

But obsessed? No, of course not. Excuse me, while I stick another pin in my Bob Parker doll..

WHOSE TO BLAME FOR THE RISING PETROL PRICES?


With fuel prices continuing to rise people are looking for someone to blame.

A few days ago the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd decided it was the oil-producing nations of OPEC (twelve countries including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Venezuela and Nigeria) and called on the G8 countries to 'apply the blowtorch' to force OPEC to increase oil production.

Rudd was echoing the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who had implied just a day or so earlier that the OPEC countries were deliberately restricting their output in order to maintain the artificially high prices.

Other people have pointed the finger of blame at the oil multinationals, namely the five corporations - Exxon/Mobil, ChevronTexaco, ConnocoPhilips, BP and Shell - that virtually control the refining and distribution of petroleum commodities. They have pointed to the massive profits the 'five sisters' are making and the suspicion is that they are profiteering.

In recent months, as the price of crude has soared, the OPEC producers have certainly gained huge increases in oil revenue, as have non-OPEC producers like Russia. But it seems unlikely they have been deliberately restricting their output (in any case, OPEC now accounts for only 40% of world oil production). In fact, they say they have been pumping oil to something near their maximum capacity.

Certainly the oil regimes have welcomed price increases as compensation for the sharp fall in the value of the US dollar (in which oil is priced). In real, inflation-adjusted terms, the 1979 peak of $39.50 was only surpassed in May this year. The OPEC countries now fear that excessively high crude prices will provoke a world recession, leading to a fall in demand for oil and a disastrous slump in their oil revenues. This is hardly in their best interests and they are blaming the financial speculators for the current situation..

The oil multinationals are also blaming the speculators but there is a certain amount of blame shifting going on here.. Just as the producers have always sought to maximise their revenue, the five sisters have always worked to maximise their profits from pumping, refining and distributing petroleum products. For instance, as crude prices rose between 1999 and 2006, US oil refineries increased their profit margin per gallon of gasoline from 22.8% to 53.5%. Today, their profit margin is no doubt even higher.

There is no doubt that, as a broad trend over recent years, oil prices have been pushed up by supply and demand factors. Strong growth of the world economy after 2003 (averaging 5% a year) and even higher growth in the emerging Chinese and Indian economies (over 10% a year) have created a massive demand for oil.

At the same time, supply has been restrained by a series of problems. Globally, the production of crude oil is rising faster than the discovery and development of new reserves. Many experts say that 'peak oil' has already been reached and from now on reserves will inevitably decline.

Geo-political factors have also pushed up prices and provoked volatility in oil markets. The turmoil in the Middle East provoked by the invasion of Iraq by US and British imperialism - aimed at controlling the region's oil fields and securing cheap oil - has undoubtedly pushed up oil prices.

But are these forces of supply and demand sufficient to explain the recent surge in crude oil prices? Supply and demand have fluctuated only slightly since oil was $60 a barrel at the end of 2006. There have been no big supply shocks recently. Demand, moreover, has declined slightly as a result of a slowdown in the US and some European economies According to The Economist. "Consumption has been falling for the past two and a half years." Normally, oil prices would be easing downwards under these conditions. Yet they have exploded - and the obvious cause is speculation.

So what's going on?

The real reason for the oil price explosion was recently spelt out by a veteran Wall Street oil analyst in testimony to a US Congressional committee that is investigating the oil market. Fadel Gheit of Oppenheimer & Co told the committee: "I believe the current high oil prices are inflated by as much as 100%. I don't think industry fundamentals of supply and demand justify the current high prices, which I believe, are driven by excessive speculation.

He went on to say: "There is a total disconnect between supply and demand and the price of oil . Oil companies can profitably obtain crude oil for $15 to $20 per barrel. Historically, the price of crude has been about three times the extraction price. So oil should be selling at $45/b. "Anything over $45 a barrel is all fat."

"I truly believe that major investment banks and a large number of high-risk-taking financial players have seized control of the oil markets, especially in the last six months... Financial institutions, while making billions of dollars in profits, are wrecking global economic growth. The same bubble that happened in housing and tech stocks will come back and haunt us."

Billionaire George Soros, who made his money from gambling on world currency markets, says that speculators - and he has specifically fingered pension fund managers - are exaggerating price rises and creating a dangerous bubble in oil and other commodity markets.

He says that today's speculative activity is similar to the situation before the 1987 stockmarket crash. If the speculators head for the exit door, he says, then there will be a crash.

The soaring prices of petrol and diesel are already aggravating the downturn in the American economy provoked by the credit crunch. And the US recession - yet too be officially announced - is already adversely impacting on Europe, Japan and little old New Zealand with one of the most 'open' economies in the world.

Inevitably the demand for oil will decline when it simply becomes too expensive to buy. This will lead to sharp drop in oil prices.

Keep an eye on the media when this happens. Wendy and Hillary on the six o'clock news shows will be portraying this as 'good news for consumers'.

Don't believe the hype.

The return to lower oil prices will have come too late to prevent the economy from pulling out of its tailspin. Moreover, lower prices - and therefore reduced oil revenue - will spell economic and political crisis for many of the oil-producing regimes. This has major international implications.

The frenzied speculation in commodity markets - like the sub-prime mortgage crisis in the United States - arises from the chaos of casino capitalism, where big oil corporations and ultra-rich financiers compete and gamble for the biggest share of the profits

Capitalism is incapable of securing and supplying vital energy, food and raw materials in a balanced way that would meet the needs of society as a whole. Despite what the Green Party might think, it will never take adequate measures to conserve natural resources, protect the environment and combat global warming.

Capitalist governments and giant corporations are taking only token measures to develop alternative sources of safe, renewable energy.

What is needed is a genuine socialist solution.

LOCAL MEDIA BANNED FROM NZ-CHINA FREE TRADE SEMINAR


The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise are presently running a series of roadshows on the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement.

That roadshow was in Dunedin on June 9 and 10.

More than 130 registrations were taken for the two-day seminars and workshops being run for southern businesses interested in pursuing ‘opportunities’ in China under the auspices of the Free Trade Agreement.

It was a bizarre cloak and dagger affair.

The media were told by government bureaucrats that they could only attend the first day as ‘observers’ and could not report what was discussed. They weren’t even allowed to take photos.

Perhaps the representatives of the Chinese regime, present at the two-day seminar, were camera-shy.

But it got worse on the second day: the media was banned altogether from the workshops that were being held.

The Otago Daily Times took issue with the severe media restrictions and were told that an active media presence would inhibit ‘full and frank discussion.’

Of course there’s a lot be sensitive about when it comes to the Chinese regime – low wages, lack of political freedoms, no trade union protection for workers, etc.

Only the Alliance raised a stink about this unjustified media ban.

Alliance spokesperson Victor Billot commented that the roadshow was ‘a publicly funded forum to discuss free trade. What gives the right for unelected, unaccountable state servants to shut off the public from being told what free trade has got in store for them?”

Billot went on to say that it was obvious manufacturing jobs were going to evaporate under free trade agreements, and such sensitive issues had been placed off the agenda.

“The workers who are being laid off at Fisher and Paykel when their jobs got moved to Mexico have a right to know what is going on with free trade deals, since their taxes are paying for these cosy chats with the select few. Why aren’t workers being invited to these seminars?”

“This is exactly what the Alliance has been saying all along. The restrictions on democracy and free speech in our free trading partners will spread back towards us. Information is being restricted and controlled, and the public will be kept in the dark and fed public relations spin.”

This remarkable and disturbing clampdown on basic media freedoms went largely unnoticed in the corporate mainstream media.

SHOCK! HORROR! BILL SUTCH NOT A SPY!


The recently released Security Intelligence Service file on Dr Bill Sutch confirms what a lot of us already knew - Bill Sutch was not spying for the Soviet Union.

The SIS had not a shred of evidence to back up this serious claim yet, despite this, they charged him under the Official Secrets Act of ‘obtaining information ‘ that would be ‘helpful to the enemy’.

Sutch was acquitted in 1975 and died some six months later of liver cancer.

Bill Sutch was, more or less, a Fabian socialist. Indeed in 1934 Sutch was apparently involved in setting up the Wellington Fabian Society, which was formed solely in order to invite George Bernard Shaw to give a public address.

This should of told the SIS that Sutch wasn’t a Marxist - Fabian’s believed in softening the more harsher aspects of capitalism. They didn’t believe in overthrowing capitalism altogether.

What Bill Sutch was was an economic nationalist. His was the economics of Keynes.

He was not alone. In fact it was the prevailing orthodoxy within the political and intellectual elite in which he circulated.

It was Sutch and others like him, who built up what later became disparagingly referred to by its detractors as ‘Fortress New Zealand’.

This was an economy that was heavily regulated. It was the social democratic model of a state that intervened heavily in the economy and that believed in a strong welfare state.

It was from this model that New Zealand’s post-war egalitarian ethos flowed.

Politicians of the opposing camps believed in it. Holyoake did. Kirk did. Rowling did. Muldoon did. Jim Anderton used to.

It was an attempt to build ‘capitalism in one country’.

Little wonder that people like Sutch were attracted to some aspects of the Stalinist concept of ‘socialism in one country’.

In fact, and this is where Sutch can be criticised, while admiring Soviet-style central planning, Sutch tended to turn a blind eye to the obvious lack of political freedoms in the Soviet Union.

He wasn’t alone in this failing. There are still people around today - now converts to the ‘free market’- who were once admirers and defenders of the Soviet Union. Former CTU President Ken Douglas, for instance.

But by the early 1970s things were beginning to change.

Sutch, as an economic nationalist, questioned whether selling off New Zealand’s assets was either sensible or desirable. In particular, two books - Colony Or Nation (1966) and Takeover New Zealand (1972)- were a defence of ‘Fortress New Zealand’ and an attack on the political forces that wished to break down that fortress.

Sutch argued that, rather than opening up the New Zealand economy to the global economy, New Zealand would be better off going it alone.

It was, in a way, a last defence of neo-keynesianism.

It was an argument that Sutch was destined to lose as capitalism attempted to restore its rate of profit by reverting back to monetarist economic theory that had been previously been discredited in the 1930s.

Bill Sutch was no spy. His only 'crime' was that he became increasingly out of step with political forces that were seeking a way to break down the economic and political model that he helped to build, forces that would eventually find their expression in the fourth Labour Government.

TIME FOR REAL CHANGE


If a series of opinion polls are to be believed, then we have a dead government walking.

But the rising fortunes of John Key and the National Party is not an indication of enthusiasm for Key's brand of free market economics; the simple fact is that people are fed up with Helen Clark and the Labour Government. By default almost, John Key and his team will be occupying the government benches in six months time.

Key, while harbouring some hard right views, has largely kept these under wraps and he has also managed, so far, to keep his more gung ho free right wing colleagues in line. They've even taken aboard a green agenda - it's alluring enough to keep the sorry Green Party interested in doing deals.

But, really, the new 'centrist' National Party is largely a wafer thin creation - scratch the surface and you'll find the likes of Bill English and Maurice Williamson making their plans.

But an economic crisis is engulfing the world and the waves of that crisis have begun to hit New Zealand. Like Clark and co, Key and his parliamentary colleagues have no solution to the crisis. The recent round of redundancies is only the forerunner of bigger job losses to come. As well rising prices - everything from food to fuel to mortgages - are slicing into people's incomes and fueling a recession.

Michael Cullen's modest tax cuts have largely been coldly received. Key's repeated remark that all working people got was the price of a block of cheese has struck a chord.

New Zealanders have effectively been disenfranchised. On offer come November is Free Market Party 1 or Free Market Party 2.

Whether they'll be any minor parties in parliament after the general election is debatable but, really, who cares? After all, all the present minor parliamentary parties don't offer any alternative to the free market consensus.

The exception is the Alliance which isn't presently in parliament.

The 'free market' has failed and its time to offer a new, alternative vision for New Zealand society.

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