Lawrence Lessig – One Way Forward

Kiwis may remember Lawrence Lessig from his keynote at last year’s Nethui. He’s just realeased a new e-book, and it sounds fascinating. Via BoingBoing

Lawrence Lessig’s new ebook One Way Forward is one of the most exciting documents I’ve read since I first found The Federalist Papers. One Way Forward is more of a long pamphlet than a book. It’s tempting to call it a “manifesto,” except that it’s so darned reasonable, and that’s not a word that comes readily to mind when one hears “manifesto.”

At the core of Lessig’s reasonable manifesto is the corrupting influence of money in politics, a corruption that predates the notorious Citizens United Supreme Court case. Lessig ascribes to this corruption the outrage that mobilizes both Occupy and the Tea Party, and he believes that the corruption can’t be ended until both the left and right realize that though they don’t have a common goal, they do share a common enemy, and unite to defeat it.

To this end, Lessig has a series of extremely practical suggestions, legislative proposals that, individually, strike at the root of the corruption, and, collectively, could kill it. Most of these don’t require any kind of constitutional amendment. All are designed to be passed through the nonpartisan action of activists of all political stripes, working together on ideals that neither should find fundamentally objectionable.

A matter of priorities – Mallard and the Ombudsman

A casual glance at the two major news websites this morning showed some pretty different priorities.

The Herald was running with a story about the Office of the Ombudman. They have not had any extra funding (so no pay rises, or extra staff) since 2007, and have almost twice the level of work they had planned for. Put simply, the organisation that is meant to be a watchdog for the public is in crisis. There is a backlog of over a year for cases before the Ombusman. It’s not good enough.

Contrast that to Stuff. They are running with a story about three concert-goers who bought tickets to a music festival off Labour MP Trevor Mallard on TradeMe. They were unhappy with the price they chose to pay for them, and so they’ve gone to the media.

I’m not sure about the print version of the Herald, but the Mallard story was also blazoned on the front page of the Dominion Post.

I realise it’s easy to get a photo of three people with zany hair outside an MP’s office, but really, which story is of greater public interest?

Morning Reading

I wasn’t sure if this was a feature worth continuing. Then I read the news this morning…

Brownlee sorry for Bob Parker ‘clown’ outburst (Paul Harper, NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB)

Oh nothing major here, just the Earthquake recovery minister calling the mayor of Christchurch a clown. Lets not forget this was a mayoral candidate the Nats backed…

PM Key’s radio show referred to police (Stuff)

No one who’s actually worked with electoral law will be particularly surprised by this, but despite getting a free pass from the Broadcasting Standards Authority, the Electoral Commission have decided that John Key’s free hour of advertising on RadioLive a month out from the election constituted a breach of the Electoral Act, and it has been referred to the police.

SkyCity conference project back on Joyce radar (John Dirinnan, NZ Herald)

So the Government wants a new conference facility in Auckland. Here is how they’ve decided to get it done:

The Government is easing gambling regulations and allowing more gambling capacity in return for SkyCity building a new conference centre near its Auckland casino.

This is just astonishing. Cronyism at it’s worst.

In the past Cameron Slater, David Farrar etc have described Labour as being the ‘nasty’ party. Looking at today’s headlines you really have to wonder which party the word ‘nasty’ would best describe…


Morning Reading

Political Legacy (Kāituhituhi Howard Keene, Te Karaka)

A very interesting profile of Labour’s new MP for Te Tai Tonga in the latest edition of the Ngai Tahu magazine, Te Karaka. Tirikatene reveals…

Why the Labour Party?

“I think everything I’ve done career-wise has been to try and help people. Now it’s just gone to another level.

“People often say ‘you’ve worked in the business area wouldn’t you be more National?’. Labour is not anti-business at all. We’re very pro-business and growing the economy, but we just want to make sure growing the economy benefits everybody.

“I’ve got a strong sense of social justice. From a young age I’ve just really wanted to help people.”

Diary (Hugh Muir, The Guardian)

Muir had this to say on the difference between what the Greens do and what they say in his latest Guardian column…

And with Labour flip-flopping over pay freezes and cuts, thank god for the Greens, and a measure of consistency. They refuse to shake the dead hand of austerity. Unless they are in power. Then who knows? Certainly there is confusion in Brighton, where they’ve watched party leader Caroline Lucas standing with the Occupy protesters at St Paul’s and attacking government austerity measures on Question Time, but where they also see her acolytes on the city council pushing ahead with cuts of £35m. Members don’t like it. “It is particularly disturbing to learn that Green party councillors in Brighton and Hove intend to proceed with budget plans that will cut millions of pounds from local services,” said a statement from Green Left. “The first Green-led council should be drawing up a budget which not only defends existing service provision but which also reverses the cuts made by previous councils.” Better opposition than this, they say, but there’s no sign of a U-turn. Always respect to be gained taking the tough decisions. Look at the Lib Dems.

Morning reading

10 things you need to know about Newt (Medhi Hasan, The New Stateman)

With the Florida primary almost upon us, lets take a look at Newt Gingrich’s background…

He’s been married three times and his middle name is Leroy. But that’s not the half of the things you might not know about the latest big hope of the Republican right . . .

The Third Wave Of Globalisation (Will Straw, Progress Online)

Given the recent talk surrounding the Crafar farm sales, and the accusations of economic protectionism, nationalism, patriotism and even xenophobia and racism, this piece is particularly relevent…

The ongoing elections in the US and France have exposed an electorally popular strand of protectionism in both countries. In the US, the Republican hopeful Mitt Romney has made hawkish noises about China’s currency while Arnaud Montebourg came an unexpected third in the Socialist primary election running on a ‘deglobalisation’ ticket. Britain has always been more open to trade but the negative effects of competition from Asia and elsewhere has begun to erode that old consensus.

For the last year, IPPR has undertaken a research programme, led by Lord Mandelson, to look at how the global economy is changing, digest the latest economic evidence of the positive and negative impacts of globalisation, investigate how Britain can earn a living in this new context, and set out a series of policy recommendations at the international and domestic level to ensure that globalisation contributes to a more equitable and sustainable form of economic growth rather than detracting from it. After meeting hundreds of people in cities across five continents, IPPR today publishes our conclusions in The Third Wave of Globalisation.

DAVOS 2012: IMF issues austerity warning (BBC World)

Via Helen Clark on Twitter

Crisis-hit countries such as Greece and Spain are implementing deep government spending cuts and raising taxes in order to try to bring down their deficits.

“For parts of Europe for a long time, there will be no alternative to very substantial adjustment in budget deficits,” Mr Geithner said.

He is one of a number of leaders who have said this week that the deficit-cutting measures have been an important step in addressing the eurozone debt crisis.


If you can’t laugh at yourself…

Cactus Kate is giving Danyl McLauchlan a run for his money when it comes to NZ political satire with her latest post.

She’s been “leaked” a copy of the Labour Camp schedule for the weekend. It’s rather good.

A personal favourite…

5.15PM Rebuilding Christchurch

Megan Woods, MP for Wigram.

Megan will speak about Christchurch and the relevance of hope in the rebuilding of our entire electorate organization down there after the decimation on 26th November where even Aaron Gilmore whopped our arse in the Party vote.


Morning reading

Well it looks like the NZ Herald political team are back from holiday…

McCully vows to scrutinise Foreign Affairs cuts (Audrey Young, NZ Herald)

Goff’s attacks I mentioned yesterday seem to have hit a nerve…

Foreign Minister Murray McCully says the Cabinet will closely scrutinise proposals to cut more than 200 staff by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and will not approve cuts that would risk important relationships.

“Anything we think is too risky, anything that appears to be not fully aligned with the Government’s priorities obviously isn’t going to happen,” he told the Herald yesterday.

New Zealand earned over $55 billion a year selling goods and services to more than 170 countries, he said.

“You’ve got to have a reasonable investment in the machinery that manages relationships with those countries and there is no way I am going to sign up to a proposal that puts any of that at risk. But there are some sensible economies that can be made.”

Time on the board has Shearer raring to go (Audrey Young, NZ Herald)

Another piece from Audrey…

New Labour leader David Shearer will be hoping he can ride a new wave of popularity after enjoying a surfing holiday.

Mr Shearer took his his wife and two children camping for about 10 days in Northland over Christmas.

He got in a few “sublime” days surfing on his nine-foot-plus Malibu board, which is now back on its rack in the garage in Auckland.

“It was great. I felt I needed a break and the break was good and so I’m raring to go actually. In some ways a bit of a rest kindles your enthusiasm for getting into it.”

Sounds like a good break – I’m sure he’ll be glad for it later in the year! And then on the upcoming Labour caucus retreat…

“The retreat to some degree is getting the right questions of things we need to be asking – how do we become an effective opposition in a more crowded oppositional space now? How do we work with other parties? What are the key messages we need to have to engage with those people that didn’t vote for us?”

Good good.

How Obama’s Long Game Will Outsmart His Critics (Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Beast)

Via @philquin

The right calls him a socialist, the left says he sucks up to Wall Street, and independents think he’s a wimp. Andrew Sullivan on how the president may just end up outsmarting them all.


As you will have noticed, a large part of this blog so far has been looking at various numbers and providing analysis.

This often requires quite a bit of work beforehand; pulling numbers from various sources and manipulating the structures so that it makes some sense. I’m often left with a nice spreadsheet ready to make graphs off.

I’ve had a few requests for some of the numbers behind my graphs. Knowing how hard it can be to get some of this information, I thought I’d follow the example of The Guardian, and where possible provide the background dataset I’ve used.

From now on I intend to not only provide a link to the data with any analysis I provide, but I’ll also link to them on my new Data page. Hopefully someone will find it helpful!