Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Listening to

As little TV and radio as possible. The shallowness of what passes for dear little NZ's public political commentary is just too much. The blogs, of course, rule as always. I tend to read financial papers' analyses (Australian Financial Review, Independent, Financial Times) to get a nuanced and intelligent picture.

Which is not looking too pretty, frankly; we are in for another three years of a redistributionist, lame-duck gummint about to encounter a perfect storm:

- Labour and its coalition partners (whoever they turn out to be, and for how long) are effectively shorn of a political mandate by the near-enough 50/50 split between social engineers of any breed and those interested in individual rights, freedoms and responsibilities. There will be considerable social resistance to further meddling, nanny-state-ing, and tribalism.

- And at the end of three long years (or maybe much sooner) Labour will lose office, for certain. Why?

- There is an economic storm brewing, composed of about equal parts external shocks (commodity prices, oil, energy) and internal mismanagement (energy and transport infrastructure provision, industrial relations expectations, welfare entitlement expectations), all considerably highlighted during the election campaign. These are not well managed by even conventional centre-right gummints, let alone leftish ones.

- The Minister of Finance is comprehensively discredited. Hid a bag of goodies under a Budget carpet, claimed they weren't there (oh, no room for Tax Cuts!) then flourished them with glee at key points during election campaigning. Financiers take a dim view of such obfustication. The MoF will have a long, torrid three years.

- Election bribes will cost dearly - Student Loans at 0% interest (you heard that right - and so has practically every arbitrageur in the First World) is costed by Treasury at close to $NZD1 billion.

- Existing financial cock-ups will cost more too: Kyoto was costed at roughly $USD15-20 per carbon tonne, but current world trading prices are close to twice that. So a $NZD 600m credit has turned into close to $NZD 2 billion debit. Funded by You Know Who.

- Turning working families into welfare beneficiaries is not going to do wonders for entrepreneurship or wealth generation generally. The signals are confused, and the deadweight inherent in getting, counting, redistributing taxes is considerable. And think of the stigma in waiting to apply for some of your own money back, in WINZ queues with hoodies, druggies, buskers and assorted rent-a-scum!

- There will be a vigourous, vocal and high-business-IQ Opposition snapping at the heels of every Gummint initiative, action, perk, slip-up, and SNAFU. The election campaign for the Centre-Right has effectively started now.

- The public at large has heard (if not acted on) a key message about tax - "Hey, that was My money first!" This will continue to grumble away in tax-payers' gizzards, and may have some surprising and unpleasant results during the term.

So after three inglorious years, during which time a fragile, electorally barely-sanctioned gummint muddles its lonely way through this swamp, all it will have to show for it is exhaustion, a more completely demonstrated lack of competence, an ecomony several clicks further down the OECD scale, and a greatly deepened resentment amongst voters. Who will then vote for? Anyone But Labour......

For a working example of what this looks like, read almost anything about Germany.

So even though I'm tempted to break out the 2005 Schadenfreude, I do have to remind myself that this is My country I'd be toasting.

So back to the title of this rant: I'm listening to Marta Topferova - Czech, gorgeous contralto voice, best harp playing I've heard in my life. And soon to be experienced with a replacement speaker set-up: budget price but decent sounds - KEF Q1's bookshelfs, and a little KEF PSW1000 subwoofer in the corner to round out the bass a bit. The great big ol' Infinity RS4001's move to the B speaker wires - they are sounding quite flat now.

A Czech, singing South American genres, in flawless Spanish. A telling line from one of the reviews: She is living proof that gaining a deep spiritual connection with a country and its music does not require hereditary ties .

Tell that to the new tribalists.

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