Saturday, October 29, 2011

Good and bad Dictators.


This Dictator of an oil rich country.

Overthrew a democratically elected Government.
Murdered between 700 thousand and a million of his own citizens to get into power.
Brutally squashed two independence movements. Now engaged in squashing a third.
Keeps about 2/3 of his country in poverty.
Allows foreign companies to repatriate almost 100% of their profits. Especially Western oil companies.
Has the worst environmental record in the Pacific..
Allows abuse of workers in virtual slave labour.
Sends troops in to kill unionists.
Country has unsustainable debt.
Streets of beggars and homeless.

This Dictator of an oil rich country.

Left his country with no external debt.
Gave interest free loans to citizens.
Had Western standards of living.
Increased literacy from 25% to 83%.
Had the Highest Standard of living in Africa.
A proportion of all oil sales was credited to every citizens bank account.
No beggars in the streets and no homeless.

Guess which one was helped into place by the US Government and is supported by other Western Governments, including ours.

Guess which one is considered so bad that we should support his overthrow.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Occupy Wall Street.


The response from the Neo-Liberal establishment to OWS, shows they know how effective  bottom up changes can be.

Why we should protest.

Management 101. Effective change management.
1. Establish a consensus that there is a need for change.
2. Figure out what needs to be changed. Again by consensus.
3. Invite ideas and positive changes from the shop floor.
4. Managers should act as facilitators and supporters of change agents.

Lasting and effective changes, need to have the active support of the majority of the workforce, at all levels.
Authoritarian managers are rarely effective at making lasting changes. People always find a way to derail changes they do not support.

Despite some of the best research on Management and Leadership coming from the USA. Places like the USA, NZ and UK ignore it. Leaving effective implementation to Germany, Japan and Scandinavia.

It is strange that despite all the research that says they are less effective, the cult of the Authoritarian Manager/National Leader still remains. Maybe the answer lies in the research about Authoritarian followers. Those who like certainty, even if it is leading them into a country like Somalia.

OWS is at stage 1 at present.

The first stage.

What is frightening politicians, who dream of absolute power, is they know OWS will grow.

We will soon see the solution is democracy. Very scary for those who have been ripping us of while accepting a Parliamentary salary from us.

Why should we leave our future up to a power hungry, greedy minority.

We are the 99%.

In the meantime. We can do our part in supporting stage one. Worldwide. 
Occupy Wall Street.

Friday, October 21, 2011

"We had to wait 5 days to pump the oil out of the Rena"


The contradictory statements and outright spin coming from Maritime New Zealand and National are excuses for delay, not reasons.

I know,, that given the resources, pumps, tugs, helicopters, barges, hoses and other equipment available in Marsden point, Tauranga and Auckland, oil could have been pumping off the vessel within 24 hours of the grounding.

We know the ship had power and heating to the bunker tanks for the first few days.

It was obvious to mariners that with damage forward and the depths below the ship she would be aground for many weeks, if she could be refloated at all.

Given that,  power and fuel oil heating would be lost if the ship was more damaged, bad weather was forecast within a week and the ship was only supported along half her length, making breaking up in bad weather almost certain, getting the oil off should have been top priority.

MNZ's on scene commander has the legal powers to commandeer equipment, vessels and personnel to avoid oil pollution.

Ships piping can be adapted to pump overside to a barge within a lot less than 4 days.

Heating would have been on for at least the tanks in use. Takes less than a day to heat further tanks.

If the pipework was too damaged to use, which was highly unlikely for the after bunkers, portable pumps and generators could have been choppered to the vessel within hours.

While the oil was hot almost any pumps could have been used at rates of hundreds of ton an hour. Instead of a specialised displacement pump, required, after it had cooled.

Any barge or vessel capable of holding oil, which there were several around, could have been used to pump into, initially.

Awanuia does not take 4 days to go to Marsden point, empty, and return to Tauranga. More like 8 hours to Marsden point. About 7 to discharge and no more than 12 hours to Tauranga.
Bunker piping is available on the wharf in all three ports.

We have Mates, Masters and engineers in NZ that have years of experience on pumping fuel between ships and making things work in adverse conditions.

When we have a valve failure in a tanker we do not leave it sitting around for 5 days at 60k plus a day while we wait for an overseas expert or for negotiations with insurance companies.  . We open a manhole and pump it out using a salvage pump.
If fuel pipes or anything else fails at sea. We fix it

The whole thing is an in indictment on the lack of preparedness of MNZ, helped by lack of funding and lack of experienced and qualified seafarers in the top ranks.

It has become obvious that MNZ had no idea of the personnel and equipment, already on hand, that could be used.

Strange, considering that some of the skilled personnel work for MNZ.

This episode has also exposed the lack of preparedness and equipment for a serious spill. Due to lack of funding.  To keep the costs of oil pollution levies, and hence shipping costs down.

Successive Governments have been told many times  the race for the cheapest shipping costs makes more of this sort of accident inevitable. They all failed in their duty to prepare for it.

Appointing chair polishing ignoramus as bosses in MNZ, allowing substandard FOC ships, many of which which would not be allowed on the EC coasts, to  starving emergency response planning and equipping of funding, is at the door of all our Neo-Liberal Governments since 1984.

The ineptitude and lack of preparedness does not make me confident of their ability to monitor deep sea drilling.

The Rena. A Neo-Liberal failure.


Nearly two weeks ago now a container vessel grounded on Astrolobe  reef near Tauranga, New Zealand.

Shipping accidents like the Rena are entirely at the door of Neo-Liberal economics.

The foreseeable results   of Globalisation, de-regulation, the endless search for the cheapest, the socialisation of risks and the privatisation of benefits..

Tired, overstressed, low paid  crews,  cheaply built and maintained ships, inadequate or ignored regulation and excessive workloads are the norm at sea.

Flags of convenience exist entirely so that shipping companies, and shippers, can reduce the costs: of corporate and income taxes, safety  standards, operating standards, crew conditions and wages and build standards of shipping.

They allow a competitive race to the bottom to see who can become the cheapest.

There is no reason whatsoever to use a flag of convenience if you intend to operate a vessel to a high standard. There would not be any cost savings.

The constant struggle to maintain cheaply built ships, designed and built for a 15 year life. Is bad enough when they are new.  5 or 10 years  beyound their design life , keeping them going is a 24 hour a day job.

Low wages, mean that high quality well trained crew find other work ashore or in higher paid work like the oil industry.

Masters and Chief engineers are often the only properly trained and skilled members of the crew, with the numbers made up of cheap labour with dodgy qualifications.

It is common for crew to be on board working shifts with less tha 8 hours off a day for more than 9 months.

Training standards are variable, with a noticeable drop in the standard of training, even from first world countries.  At the same time crew numbers have been dropped so there are not the personnel available to babysit and train.

Seafarers are expected to rest in ships with levels of noise and vibration that would have been totally unacceptable thirty years ago.  Ashore in NZ it is illegal to get people to work, let alone sleep, in those conditions

In New Zealand, Masters who refuse to sail because of broken equipment or rough weather and crew members who refuse to falsify rest hour,  maintenance, safety  and leave records are protected by our employment laws.
A sacking for those reasons, in New Zealand,  would be a legitimate case for unjustified dismissal..
 On FOC ships  they are sacked or their contracts are simply not renewed.

The worst of it, since the 1980's and Governments cave in to the farming lobby on Cabotage, in NZ, even local shipping companies, whatever their intentions , are also cutting standards to compete with cheap overseas shipping.

Saturday, October 8, 2011


A reminder of why we have to change our economic paradigm.

Our present one is not sustainable, even short term.

“Memo To The #Occupied Movement (A Post-Growth Economy)
By Richard Heinberg
06 October, 2011
Post Carbon Institute
Here’s a fact that’s hard for most Americans to swallow: economic growth is over. Given the finite nature of our planet and its resources, the recent trend of global economic expansion was destined to end. No stimulus package or slashing of social programs is going to flip the economy back to an expansionary trajectory. We’ve hit the proverbial wall, and this will be the defining reality of our lives from now on.
The growth-seeking political-economic system has failed us. Today that system is dominated by Wall Street. “Goldman Sachs rules the world,” trader Alessio Rastani told us in a now-viral BBC interview. I met people like Rastani in researching my book, The End of Growth.
At one lavish conference, 800 global investors packed a hotel ballroom to consider climate change. There was no talk of how to avert or mitigate floods and droughts. Instead, the discussion focused on profiting from warming with — no joke — weather derivatives. These folks were just doing their job, despite any private feelings of concern, remorse, or dread. And each was getting paid enough to single-handedly fund a midsize school district.
Both Wall Street and Washington are trying to do something impossible: grow human consumption forever in a world of limited energy, minerals, water, topsoil, and biodiversity, all while protecting and expanding the riches of the top one percent. If economic growth is over, that means we can no longer count on a rising tide to lift all boats. Under these conditions, extreme income inequality is not just unfair, it is socially unsustainable.
It’s strategic to bring protest to Wall Street rather than Washington. We must go directly to the crime scene — not with a request for reforms, but with an arrest warrant from the people.
You courageous people in the #occupy movement are absolutely right in saying the system is broken, greedy, and unfair. But when our discussion turns to replacing the current system, we’ve got to embrace a bigger view of reality than the one held by stock traders and politicians. It’s not just our wealth they want to control, it’s our vision for what is both possible and necessary. We need a post-growth economy that works both for people (all of them) and for the rest of nature: a localized economy based on renewable resources harvested at nature’s rates of replenishment, not a fossil-fueled global economy driven by the imperative of ever-higher returns on investment."""

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

New Zealands credit downgrade. Or the Story of more Neo-Liberal economic "successes".


It would be funny if it was not so serious.

NACT (New Zealand,s,  Right wing, Neo-Liberal Government) cannot even meet performance targets from, the totally discredited, "credit rating" agencies.
Agencies which are on the side of the same economic dogma as NACT.

This could have been avoided simply by legislating that no private finance companies would be bailed out.

The New Zealand Government, like, the other failing States, Ireland, UK, Greece and the US etc, has made it obvious that private finance debt is a taxpayer liability.

Look to Argentina and Iceland to see the benefits of telling the banks to get stuffed. Argentina, one of the worlds fastest growth economies since 2002, when they told the banks to take a bath.

Noting that most lenders to Governments have taken no notice of States credit rating downgrades recently.
Government bonds are still considered much safer than private lending.

One of the reasons for the continuing recession in the USA.  The cashed up  prefer to lend to the Government instead of industry and development. Government lending at 0% intended as a stimulus is being invested in 3% yeald Government bonds.

Meanwhile the Media have had almost no coverage of Nationals failure to succeed, even under their own terms. If we had a credit downgrade under Labour it would have been frontline news.

A rugby players nuts are more important!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Democracy Repris'


""You’re oversimplifying. MPs in Labour, National and the Greens view the majority of NZ – correctly – as people who have not read hundreds of policy analysis documents, sat on select committees and arrived at informed decisions on issues that affect large numbers of people.
Adults are quite capable of making decisions about their own lives; it’s when they start making decisions that affect everybody else’s lives purely based on their own preferences that it becomes difficult. That is why we have a representative democracy.""

Are you serious. Do you mean these people?

You mean the largely self appointed old boys club of the marginally competent. Who examine all the papers and evidence and then do the opposite because of an irrational faith in free markets and other religions.
The ones who totally ignore expert research, empirical evidence, overseas experiences and advice and follow the failed footsteps of the UK, Ireland, Greece and USA.

There are very few politicians who could even survive in a job where you have to take real responsibility. Hows Brownlee doing in Christchurch. McCully in Auckland.
Couldn’t run a p–up in a brothel.

Since 1984 we havn’t even had the choice to get rid of an economic dogma, which is heading NZ for the third world.

Presently, National/ACT/Maori party, while accepting an income from us, are actively working against the best interests of the majority of New Zealanders.

The last round of privatisations costs more than 14 billion a year. not to mention the costs of buying back essential infrastructure when the, so efficient, private sector have run it into the ground.

How could democracy possibly make worse decisions than politicians have.

The evidence from the few places that have democracy, Switzerland etc, shows that better decisions result. Their politicians know that poorly researched and explained legislation will be overturned by referenda.

That is why we should have democracy. Why should the fate of 4 million be totally in the hands of whichever 61 incompetents won the beauty contest last election.