Friday, 29 August 2014

When winning is not loosing. TVNZ Leaders Debate roundup

Last night I sat down to watch the TVNZ leaders debate on TV One expecting fireworks, unfortunately they didn't happen. Perhaps we have last weekends injuries at the All Blacks game to blame for that. I'm not sure, but whatever the reason why it was disappointing.

Key looked totally flat, and frankly bored to be there. He really looked like a man wanting to give up on it all.
And really can anyone blame him after the last few weeks in NZ politics, and the release of the Dirty Politics book by Nicky Hager. Which in my opinion is not worth the paper it's printed on, and designed purely as a means to cause maximum damage to National because the left can't win on policy or personality.
Muck raking can wear even the most energetic person down.
Key was further thrown it appeared by Winston Peters and his allegations that night of an approach from someone within Judith Collins office for the opportunity to work with National post election with her as leader. On this I think Winston is just making crap up, as Winston does (who remembers his claims earlier this year that Huka Lodge had been sold to the Chinese, when it hadn't been sold to anyone), and shouldn't have been reported on without requiring Winston to provide some proof.
But such is the standard of journalism in NZ at the moment.

I think it sowed a seed of doubt in Key's mind for most of the debate and it showed. He seemed to be distracted by it anyway.
And a final point on this rumour, if it's true, after all Judith Collins is under a lot of pressure at the moment, and may feel wronged by Key, then not only should she be sacked as a minister, but expelled completely from the National Party, regardless of the risks. National can't have a place for any renegade MP's regardless of who they are. Plus I personally don't like Collins and would love to see her gone. But that's an aside.

Key sounded like a politician, something he has in the past tried to avoid. It's his lack of sounding like a politician that is his main strength. Cunliffe sounds exactly like a politician and see where that has him in the preferred PM ratings.
Key was the breath of fresh air, and last night he went stale. Someone needs to tell him to be himself again and laugh. We don't like preachy or bossy leaders, and Key was both last night. His repeated use of statements like 'if you want growth then you need to follow Nationals plan' sounded more like something Helen Clark would have said, rather than the old jovial Key. It's a turn off for voters.
Key failed to also pull Cunliffe up on many of his factual and positional errors. Like when Cunliffe claimed the Greens requirement of Labour needing to have its budget independently audited was just a throw away line. When the Greens have been very clear that it's a bottom line. That line of attack alone could have shown Cunliffe as tricky and dodgy in the eyes of voters.
What does Labour have to hide in their budget if they're scared of having it audited? Do they know their own figures don't add up?
Also Key needed to attack Cunliffe over CGT and housing affordability. I mean does Labour honestly think no one will pass on the cost of their proposed capital gains tax by increasing the asking price for their house. Around the world CGT gets passed on by being added to the asking price of a house, adding to the housing unaffordability crisis.
Labour can't have their cake and eat it.

Cunliffe on the other hand didn't end up in the corner crying like a baby, like many including myself, thought or hoped for.
And apart from talking over Key all the time, didn't sound like an ass, and didn't make many mistakes.
Given everyone including the political pundits low expectations of him, this gave him a win this time.
But next time our expectations of him will be higher, at the level we expect of all who want to be PM.
I'm not sure next time Cunliffe will be so lucky.

Key will by his own high standards be disappointed in his own performance and won't let the same happen to him again.
But equally, Cunliffe will be buoyed by his own performance and will be eager to take Key on next time.
The only question is will he let his own natural self confidence add to this confidence and turn into arrogance and be the David Cunliffe no one likes next time?

Friday, 8 August 2014

Race to the sky is back!

My favourite NZ motorsport event looks like it's making a comeback thanks to the vision and generosity of Tony Quinn the owner of Highlands motorsport park in Cromwell.
It was announced in today's ODT that the event on the Snow Farm access road will be back next year from the 17th-19th of April. Resource consent pending of course, but most of the residents of the Cardrona valley sound in favour of it, so the consent should be mere formality.

With Pikes Peak now being entirely sealed, this race will be the challenge for hill climb racers and car manufacturers around the world. After all gravel is a much harder test than tarmac.
And if as the article states Monster Tajima is keen to come back and race, you can bet other top world competitors will come out for it too. Perhaps even Sebastian Loeb may be tempted to bring his Peugeot Pikes Peak racer out? Who knows, but I can't wait for it to be back again.
The race being open to cars, trucks, buggies, quads, and bikes means you get to see a lot of different machinery in a short space of time. The car class alone ranges from full on specialist hill climb vehicles to 1980's Toyota Starlet club racer's. Plus the odd person turns up every year with a car totally unsuited to the race such as sprint cars or old nascars. But sideways is spectacular, if slow. And we all after all want to be entertained first and foremost.
I have fond memories of watching Tajima, Rod Millen and our own Possum Bourne battling it out to claim the crown of king of the mountain. Tajima in various versions of his Suzuki Escudo, Rod Millen alternating between his trophy truck and his Pikes Peak winning Toyota Celica, with Possum always turning up in his ex WRC Impreza turned up to the max.
I hope that someone will bring that ex Bourne car to next year's event and race it in the way it was meant to be.
The course had a unique rally stage style start with a big jump at the bottom of the mountain, in a natural bowl with great viewing for spectators, before crossing a narrow one lane bridge and heading up the mountain road and its many corners and dangerous drops. Certainly a road where bravery counted for a lot.
As a spectator you weren't limited to being stuck at the bottom to watch either, there were many spectator areas,  many within easy walking distance as long as you didn't mind walking up the mountain on narrow goat tracks.

The only shame is Possum Bourne is no longer with us to compete any more, having been killed in a road vehicle crash on the mountain after a practice session. The crash wasn't his fault, as he was hit by another competitor coming up the mountain. Which caused a crash with fatal injuries to Possum. A statue of Possum was until recently sited near the site of his death. The statue now stands in Pukekohe town centre, his home town.

I know for certain I'll be booking my tickets and flights for next April as soon as they come on sale.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

The economics of teacher salaries

One of my friends who is a teacher posted this the other day. I assume as it's school holidays, she's sick of being told how much teachers get paid for the little work they do, and all the holidays they get. Lucky buggers right?
Well the answer is actually yes.

Teachers are over paid as new graduates compared to other similarly qualified graduates in other industries. Teachers on average start on about $48,000 dollars in NZ, where as the average for other graduates outside of medicine is under $40,000. From there teachers get 2 almost guaranteed pay rises each year, one on their anniversary of employment of the contractually agreed pay rise. And the other being the step increase for moving up the salary progression scale.

Nominally this second increase is for performance and ability, but in practice every teacher gets it. Education and proper performance appraisals don't go together, it's more a tick the box process. Within a couple of years teachers are all on over $50,000 with regular guaranteed pay increases. The salary scale steps being the biggest increse. This is just base salary without management units, or any other allowances teachers can get, even as new teachers. The base pay scale tops out around $75,000, but as I said hardly any teacher will be paid the base salary. This relatively flat pay scale is one of the major issues I have with the education sector.
To me the starting pay is far too high, and should be at least $10,000 less, and top in class, as opposed to HOD's principals etc, should be paid well over $100,000 a year.

This could all be achieved for roughly the same staffing budget as it is now, but will never happen with the current strong union movement. This could be achieved because there are a lot of teachers at the bottom of the pay pyramid, with fewer at the top.
It's this big bottom group of teachers on relatively high rates of graduate pay that cost most of the staffing budget. Teachers also tend to only stay in teaching for short periods of time, with a majority teaching for less than 10 years, including their 2 years as provisionally registered teachers, while they complete their on job training on reduced hours. This makes the effective starting salary much higher, almost on par with doctors.

Before anyone accuses me of being anti teachers, I should let you know my wife is a teacher, my dad was a teacher, and I grew up with a lot of family friends as teachers. So in arguing for lower teacher starting salaries, I'm arguing against my self interest, as my wife only started teaching less than 5 years ago. Meaning as a household we would have been significantly less well off had my style pay scale been in place for teachers when my wife first started.
I also actually really admire teachers for being able to stand kids all day every day. I couldn't do it.

But enough about how I would pay teachers, back to the original article and it's failed economic basis. Even though the article itself is American, the same principles apply in NZ, just our minimum wage, and babysitting rates are higher.

Fully qualified teachers teach for 20 hours a week, with 5 hours for class preparation/marking/down time. The number of students in each class varies by year level, roughly following a bell shaped curve, with less in new entrant classes, more in mid and senior primary through intermediate, and junior secondary, with progressively less through senior secondary.

But let's for argument sake say there's 30 students in each class. Then lets pay graduate teachers at an hourly rate similar to other graduates, of $18.27 an hour ($38,000/52/40) for the hours they work. And lets be generous and pay newly graduated teachers for the 4 hours less than other teachers, recognising they are still getting up to speed, just like all graduates. So that's 25 hours per week, for 40 weeks a year, that they're paid to be teaching. And before I hear teachers scream about the amount of prep work they do each year before school starts, and during the year. Most other jobs have that too. I can assure you HR doesn't end when you clock out at the end of the day. You're always thinking about something that's going on. Even when I worked in a library, I still thought about work after I had gone home for the night, and often took work home with me.
So carrying out that calculation we can work out graduate teachers should earn $18,270 pa. Far far less than the $48,000 they're currently paid. But then again I'm not sure anyone would teach for that little money. Being paid at minimum wage would be $14,500 pa. And I'm positive no one would work for that.

This is where the article falls down on economics. It falls into the simple trap of thinking that every unit of production(student) brings the same price. This is a common mistake made by many people with little understanding of economics. But in reality it's not how it works. The costs of teaching one child is no more than teaching 30, other than a slight marginal increase costs for materials such as books and photocopying. Thus the price received by the teacher has to reflect this reality. A parent may be happy to pay $20 a day to have their child educated, but a teacher couldn't charge every parent this, because they can't devote exactly the same amount of time to the 30th student as to the first. If there's only one student they get all of the teachers attention for the entire day, and the teacher can tailor their teaching to the students needs. With 30 students this is impossible, you have to teach to the average. Thus parents are prepared to pay less for each child, depending on how many children are in the class. This amount will be different for each parent, some parents will want individual education, others will be happy with a hundred students per class. Different teachers will likewise have differing levels of class size comfort. Some will limit theirs to 15 students, others will be happy teaching 100.

It's these reasons why teachers are paid salary, rather than piecemeal rates per child. And why teachers wouldn't be paid as much as they think, and this article suggests if they were paid on a per child basis.

Monday, 30 June 2014

The humble arrogance of the National Party, and why they'll comfortably win the Election anyway.

The National party, and in particular John Key, have of late been heavily downplaying the likelihood of a National victory at the 2014 election. Which given the polls is surprising with their achievement of over 50% in all the recent polls and projected ability to govern alone. Far ahead of the Labour/Greens/NZ First/Internet-Mana bloc.
The reason supposedly being that anything could happen and National voters need to be reminded to not take a win for granted, and pushed to go out and vote for National on election day, otherwise risk a far left government.

Now I have a few issues with this sort of thinking. It's both humble and arrogant at the same time. It's humble because it shows National not taking a win for granted and shows they aren't taking it easy. But at the same time it shows Nationals arrogance, of assuming its voters are too stupid to bother or remember to go vote. And we all need that nice John Key to strongly remind us to do so.
As a voter I feel angry about this. I'm pretty intelligent, and I keep abreast of politics so I know the risks of not voting. So why do National need to remind their own party members of this? Surely anyone who's gone to the bother of joining a political party, let alone turn up to the national conference, in this age of declining party membership, is a switched on voter. And given they've joined the National Party,  likely to be pretty smart too (a generalisation I know, but most National party members and voters tend to be smarter and more successful than those who are members of or vote for the Labour party). So reminding them of the importance of voting is both patronising and arrogant to assume the party knows better than their own members, and runs the risk of irritating them, and perhaps even reconsidering where their party vote is placed. Perhaps driving them to vote for ACT or the Conservatives,  or even NZ First, rather than the goal of consolidating the National Party vote.
Surely Nationals strategists are aware of the political and economic psychology that suggests that negatives have a bigger affect on people than positives. Which is applicable to the electoral race in NZ at the moment. Labour are suffering blunder and bad news on at least a weekly, if not more regular basis,having a hugely negative effect on their voters perceptions of the party. This leads to the lower poll results we see, as all but the hardcore supporters desert them, by either not voting, or voting for another left party that inspires them more. This is on top of the supposed swing voter movement that has already moved to National, after making up their mind about Labour's ability to govern months ago. And this desertion of left voters becomes a self fulfilling prophecy when they see continued low poll results, meaning they can't see Labour forming a government, and come election day they just can't be bothered to get out and vote, as they can't see it having any effect of benefiting them to do so.
This effect also has some affect on Nationals vote, with some voters seeing Nationals win as a given, but this number is small, and is countered by the increase in votes from people who want to back a winner. Everyone loves backing a winner, and feels like it was because they backed them that National won. This gives the voter a sense of happiness and also a sense of importance. They also ascribe somewhat the good features they see in the winners to themselves, further increasing their self worth.
It is this reason why National will win the election comfortably on September 20 and Labour will fall to their lowest party vote in the MMP era.

We only need to look at the National vote in the 2002 election to see the affect of being the guaranteed looser. The middle ground voters had departed them months before the election, and their previously solid voters had looked to the likes of ACT for their party vote to show their support for a right wing party that inspires them more. It wasn't that ACT suddenly became more popular, it was that National became hugely unpopular, and otherwise National voters deserted the party like rats off a sinking ship.
This combined with the swing votes gave Labour a safe win, with less of a margin than National have today, due to the fractured left in NZ.

Nationals win this time will make Labour's win in 2002 look like a close run thing. But like Nationals decimation in 2002 enabled National to renew it's caucus. Labour's 2014 decimation, of low to mid 20% party vote will give it the signal to renew, and renew rapidly. Or result in a further fracturing of the Labour Party as the the factions fail to agree on the way forward. Either way,  a new revived Labour Party will come of it. Probably to strongly challenge National in the 2017 election as the mood for change becomes overwhelming.
After all the public loves change for changes sake.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Knives out for Cunliffe? Nah mate more like Nukes at Dawn.

There is nothing more sweet than a political party turning on itself. It's a rare chance to get a ringside view of the best live action political thriller of the decade.
Thankfully for us in our stable political democracy the chance of a major party erupting into all out internal guerrilla warfare of the most dirty kind is low. But every now and then us mere mortals get the chance to peak behind the iron curtain and see the machinations of politicians fighting for their personal survival, over the interests of the party.
This is exactly what is happening with the NZ Labour Party right now. Their poll numbers are in free fall, the leaders poll ratings are even worse at 11%, the majority of the Labour caucus either hate or are indifferent to their leader David Cunliffe, for his superiority complex. And now via a well timed leak, someone within Labour has sought to kill his leadership once and for all. Damming him to going down in history as Labour's worst leader of all time. Which incidentally is exactly what the Labour caucus want. They don't want to roll him before the election, no one wants that poisoned chalice. I don't even think the ever stupid Trevor Mallard would want to risk it for his 5 second claim to fame. Certainly none of the serious contenders for future leadership will want it before the election. They want it to be such a serious disaster for the Labour Party, that they can legitimately remove David Cunliffe once and for all from the Labour Party, never to be seen again. And to be able to amend the Labour constitution to remove or at least severely curtail the ability of the party members and union affiliates to choose the Labour leader.
They want to show the party grassroots members that their idea of a hard left direction for the Labour Party is not electable in this day and age. That the voters no longer want hard left class politics, the voters demand centrist policies and crave stability.
The Labour caucus wants to banish those that think like this, and who supported David Cunliffes leadership bid to the very fringe of the party, probably in the hope that they will become disenfranchised and leave the party altogether.

There is no other narrative that makes sense.
It's not in Nationals interest to roll a weak and ineffective Labour leader like David Cunliffe. To them he's the gift that keeps on giving. Almost every time he opens his mouth National see their poll ratings go higher as people realise that he's not PM material.
National know that the next in line for Labour leader is Grant Robertson, someone who presents a much greater threat to National, given his great oratory skills. Even his supposed downside of his being gay doesn't really seem to have much affect on his genuine like ability.
So for anyone to argue a National hatched plan, or scheme makes little sense.

What do National have to gain from it? Surely the answer is nothing.

Someone within the parliamentary Labour Party stands to gain far more than anyone within National, or any of their supporters. Even the idea of being able to show a shambles of a Labour Party with a change of leadership so close to the election doesn't fly, as as I've pointed out above Grant Robertson is a far greater threat to National, especially once you take into account the inevitable poll bounce he and Labour will get once he becomes leader.  National under MMP don't have the luxury of risking permanently damaging 2 Labour leaders for some potential long term gain. They can't afford the risk of Labour and it's left allies gaining the percentage points that having Grant Robertson as Labour leader could bring, being the reason for National loosing this election.
The risk/reward equation just doesn't work for it.

The only reasonable reason for this well timed leak from within the parliamentary Labour Party, or at least it's offices, is that someone has decided to use the nuclear option to permanently destroy any chance of David Cunliffe becoming PM, or retaining the Labour leadership post election. By doing it so close to an election and the opening to remove the leader they've also given themselves a great cover and room for the all important plausible deniability. Of course whoever has done it is safe in the knowledge that they have a safe electorate seat and will survive their self created nuclear winter to rise like a cock roach out the other side to flourish another day.
It's just a pity for David Cunliffe he's at ground zero and he hasn't even realised it's a nuke from his own side.

Brings new meaning to the phrase all is fair in love and war.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Admitting Depression, A Sure Way to Kill Your Career?

In New Zealand we believe that the best person for the job will be appointed to a role without being discriminated against based upon the protected grounds of the human rights act. But is it really the case?
Sadly it appears not always, is the answer. As someone who has suffered depression while studying at university I have seen this type of discrimination occur, both to me personally, and to others.

The experts often say the first step to getting better is admitting you have a problem, but in my experience this has been really hard.
At first I didn't want to admit there was anything wrong with me, it was just a phase/part of life and the depression will go away. Then I went through a period of denying it was happening, because I'm a red blooded male and it only happens to girls.
Then after suicide attempt number two and a trip to the hospital I admitted I had a problem after one of the doctor's said to me "if you had a broken leg you'd let us treat it wouldn't you? So why not let us treat your depression and make it better?" As someone that's usually quite logical, this made me stop and actually think about it, rather than my default setting of denial and belief that I was always right. I had this light bulb moment if you will, where I realised I couldn't find an error in his argument, and I had to admit he was right. Admitting I'm wrong is a hard thing for me, just ask my wife!
After that I realised I had to admit I wasn't well, and I had a problem I needed to sort out.
The first scariest step was saying out loud to my friends that I had depression. Most of them were great about it, and didn't really treat me any differently, some told me to toughen up, it's not a real illness, others dropped me completely. And all of that was okay for me. One even came to me latter and admitted to me that my being open about my depression made them go get help with their own depression.
I was lucky I had an awesome group of close friends and some flatmates who really cared about me and wanted to help me out. I didn't have to have a big sit down with my boss and tell her what was going on. I just said I was going through depression, and I might be a bit off for a few weeks, but don't treat me any different, I need normal to take my mind off everything else. Which I'm forever thankful she did. Work gave me something to live for and focus on. I couldn't let them down I kept telling myself. And for me that worked.  I was letting my university work suffer by not going to all my classes, and not handing in some assignments, but work and the thought of letting others down kept me going. It was also a place where I had to put on a happy face, I was dealing with the public, and I couldn't let my issues get in the way of helping them. This helped me remember what happy felt like too. Something that sounds odd to others,  but for depressed people makes sense. You forget what happiness feels like and how it makes you feel. Sure I still had and have crappy days, but so does everyone else, I just had to focus harder to feel happy.
It also helped at this workplace that I worked with a really good friend who I think may have talked to my boss from time to time for me, just to let her know what was going on in my life. Others who I worked with generally didn't say anything about it, some knew, others didn't. Some asked about the cuts on my arm the time I forgot to cover them up, and I'm sure they didn't buy my story of a cat scratching it. After all what cat only attacks one arm, and leaves 5mm wide cuts! But like most workplaces, they dropped it and didn't delve to deeply into my personal life. Maybe if I had told them all it would have started a conversation about depression, and shown them that people with mental health issues are by in large pretty normal. But at the time I wasn't mentally strong enough to have that conversation with people. Now, even though it scares the crap out of me I am.
I'd be more than happy to do an online AMA (ask me anything) for HR professionals in NZ, and prove to them that depression is not all big and scary, but even if I did I'm not sure it would change much. Depression is almost the last taboo where discrimination still happens in the workplace, and is allowed to happen.

When I first graduated one of the first jobs I applied for and interviewed for was with a national organisation that helps people suffering mental health issues find jobs. I thought I'd have a unique ability in this role having experienced depression,  and having an HR degree, in helping them get their clients in long term roles, and know what the clients were talking about when they were discussing their illness and what sort of work they want. Sadly even here depression was discriminated against, not in the way you think though. I didn't fit their mold off how people with mental health issues should act. I didn't feel sorry for myself, and I didn't think people with mental health issues should be treated any differently to any other person. They told me after the interview I wasn't going to get the job, which was fine, but it was because I didn't think people with mental health issues should be treated any different to those without, and that it was wrong of me to think this way. Not because I didn't have the skills needed, but because I didn't think the 'right way' about depression. I left feeling puzzled, as the John Kirwin depression advertising told me that it was okay to have depression, and it shouldn't make a difference to how I should be treated. Clearly it isn't the case.

I soon found that being honest about having had depression in the past on job applications was a sure way not to get an interview. Even with companies that were supposedly EEO employers.
Once I got a job,  I found that others I worked with held discriminatory views about those with depression, some complaining about others who had the odd day off, or took longer to do tasks because they were experiencing mental health issues. A common statement was, "that people with depression shouldn't be in important roles like that", often about people with depression in financial roles.
We wouldn't accept those sort of statements about women who suffer painful menstrual issues, or people with other health issues that can affect their ability to work sometimes, so why do we think it's okay for depression?
And maybe it's partly my fault for not saying anything, but as a reasonably new graduate, I didn't want to put my career advancement at risk.  I still don't, hence my blogging anonymously (although I'm not hiding who I am, and people who have met me could figure out who I am). Although if I knew it wouldn't affect my career I would say something.

Anyone is at risk of getting depression,  it's like cancer, it doesn't discriminate.
So why is it okay as employers, or hiring managers to discriminate against those who are honest about having had depression, and have it under control, who know their signs when it's coming back, and what to do to control it and get back to 'normal'. But we happily employ people who at some stage may develop depression, and who may not know how to deal with it. What makes more business sense? For me it seems to be more logical to employ those who know how to deal with their mental health issues, rather than those who don't.

Clearly their are some risks with depression, but if my hero Winston Churchill can deal with depression and still lead Britain to winning WW2 then I don't think any business in NZ has an excuse for discriminating against those with depression.

Certainly not as is the case with the article linked to, the medical profession. Sure being a doctor can be stressful, but what sort of message does it send to anyone who is experiencing mental health issues if the medical profession doesn't even want to deal with employees who are going through it. Not a very good look at all.
I'd hope that MOBIE would contact this articles author and ask for details of each and every employer he sought work at, and take legal action against them for breaching the human rights act.
Maybe such a public enforcement action would end mental health discrimination in NZ and get us all talking more honestly about how we are feeling. And what we in HR can do to really embrace employee diversity and total health and safety.

Monday, 2 June 2014

Fisking Bradbury & The NZ Herald

Martyn "Bomber" Bradbury, the darling of the left, self described political strategy genius, and now founding member of the Internet Party, has in his latest opinion piece for the NZ Herald, self congratulated himself for the greatest political alliance in NZ's history. (Note the slight paraphrasing, and general air of sarcasm.)
Of course we know that Bradbury has been working behind the scenes of the Internet Party for a long time, supplying them with his great insights into political strategy (again the sarcasm, but I can't help it), for a fee of course. Whaleoil leaked this to the world a few months back, to much general amusement at the irony of a supposedly internet savvy party failing to protect their documents and allow them to be leaked.  Providing us with solid knowledge that there is a convent of media and hard left political actors forming to back the Internet Party, both publicly, and by well placed media articles. Once this had gotten out, I would have thought it would have rendered this strategy DOA, but alas I was wrong, as we can now see with the opinion piece from Bradbury in the NZ Herald, with I note, no disclosure statement.
But enough of the image problems, lets focus on the meat of his piece, the reason for the perfectly sensible merger of the Internet and Mana Parties.

The apparent basis for this union according to Bradbury is the raid on the Dotcom Mansion by the NZ Police at the request of the FBI to arrest Kim Dotcom on charges relating to his company Megaupload, for piracy, racketeering, and other criminal charges.
Now I like many, was appalled at the use of the NZ Police Special Tactics Group (STG), a more highly trained heavily armed, and permanent group of Armed Offenders Squad members to arrest a group of people on what was not really more than piracy charges. At the time I compared it to use of the an armed Air Force helicopter to stop a speeding car. Making jokes to my friends about this online, and wondering what was going to happen next time I went more than 4kph over the posted speed limit.
Soon though we began to see the real Kim Dotcom, and I began to no longer feel sorry for him.
But a fair number of us have been unfairly harassed or otherwise detained by the Police at one time or another, so for Bradbury to base his argument for Dotcom's radicalization, on the raid, is in my eyes stretching it too far.
When 70 armed paramilitary police kick in your front door, terrify your whanau, seize your assets and use illegal spying to justify it, I think it has a deep effect and radicalises a person. That's what I think has happened to Dotcom.
After all given the number of people who have suffered unfair treatment at the hands of the Police, don't you think we'd have seen a general rise in the number of people radicalized in NZ? I would, and we haven't, so perhaps Bradbury is just making up reasons to make the odd couple seem legit?
Lets see by rebutting some of his further arguments.
Oh and one more thing Bradbury, the STG are not paramilitary, as much as you would love them to be, as then it'd fit your hard left, struggle against the evil right wing state story. They're full time sworn members of the NZ Police, and have nothing to do with the military, other than using their transport, and training facilities from time to time.
But lets not not get facts in the way of your good story now aye.

His next point is that both party founders Hone and Dotcom are anti-establishment rebels (note the choice of words to reinforce the struggle). Well yes I guess you could say breaking the law is anti-establishment, but then a lot of people do that, and we don't all hang out together or form political parties on that basis do we? If dislike of authority, or breaking the law is all it takes now to be considered an anti-establishment rebel, then the political left has fallen further than anyone has given it credit for. What happened to the real rebels of the political left, those that fought the establishment for things that mattered like racial equality, banning nuclear power, or the rights of minorities? Has it all died now, and all that is left is fighting minor injustices for the benefit of those who have done wrong. If that's the case I'd be ashamed to call myself a lefty today.

The only reason Dotcom has supposedly found his radicalized, anti-establishment self, is because he can see the prison cell he may end up in, over in the Good ol US of A. And it terrifies him. Nothing greater than that. No great cause worth fighting for, just self interest in ensuring he isn't locked up next to Bubba in some prison cell for the foreseeable future, and that he isn't dispossessed of his assets and money that allow him to live the lifestyle he does.
The only way they can do this is to change the government, as the Minister of Justice, and the Cabinet have the final say on all extraditions. If Dotcom can ensure he has a paid up MP that can help form the next left leaning coalition government, then he's achieved his goal, and his $3 million plus spend is money well spent.
Of course if he were to admit this his, and by association Hone Hawawira's, and Martyn Bradbury's political careers would be over before you know it.
So I guess they all have to keep up the big lie, that there is some greater cause behind the Internet-Mana Party than changing the government to keep Kim Dotcom in NZ.

I just wish the media would force them to be honest about it, rather than swallowing the political cool-aid that is being served up by these two parties.
If they don't I'm worried about how many NZ voters won't know about it, and come election day vote to make NZ a banana republic, where one man can buy his international freedom.