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Sunday, September 16, 2012


The similarities between sports and politics.

Loyalty. Its often a hard pill to swallow. Especially if the team or party you are supporting just aren't performing.

Sunday mornings Q + A was a prime example. David Shearer, for all the good he means, was abysmal. John Key let out a whole heap of political flatulence, and Shearer sat in the stench. No, I'm not a political commentator, and I'm not particularly good at making predictions, I couldn't tell you what the parties will do, nor how the public will respond. What I can say, is what I perceived. And John Armstrong, as a blogger, I have a 'right' to impart my opinion on any one in any form.

So what were some good points that David Shearer could have combated?

Firstly, that John Key stated rather triumphantly that with 3/4 of New Zealanders on the 17.5% PAYE tax rate our tax system was the envy of the world. Of course, I'm no tax specialist, but you only need to look at the PAYE income tax rates for individuals to see, that those on the 17.5% rate are on low incomes (less than $48,0000), and this was misleading also, since this is the rate that excludes the ACC levy. Effectively, John Key affirmed that it was enviable that 3/4 of New Zealanders are on the lower tax rate, which translates to an endorsement of 3/4 of New Zealanders being on low incomes. Shearer could have gone to town on this point, especially given Labours constituency are predominantly those on the 17.5% PAYE tax rate.

Secondly, that John Key tried to provide his 'own' interpretation of Te Tiriti couched in language that favoured the majority. It is unfathomable that the Government continue to interpret the Treaty in terms favourable to them, which in any other circumstance would be inequitable. The international standard is  the rule of contra proferentem which states that in the event of ambiguity a provision should be construed against the party which drafted or proposed that provision.  David Shearer, had the opportunity to address this ignorance, but his failure to do so, leaves me skeptical about what Labour actually believe about Te Tiriti. 

Thirdly, national standards. They are a measure. Is that all you have Shearer? They are an inaccurate measure. They don't take into account confounding variables, i.e. those factors that might also impact on a child's learning such as socio-economic background, social or cultural values and pre-school learning etc. They are based on some arbitrary measure that the government has determined all children must meet at a particular age. That would be fine if all children had the same start in life or if all children learnt at the same rate, or in the same ways. 

Anyhow, there will be those of you who viewed Shearer's performance differently from me, but note, my criticism is not because I think John Key did a spectacular job, on the contrary, John Key was an egg. 

So back to my point, how is supporting a political party similar to supporting a sports team? 

For any Warriors fans, I'm sure you know what I mean here (even though I don't really watch sport, nor do I have a particular interest in doing so). Many supporters have expressed that sometimes the Warriors are a hard team to support, but presumably, out of loyalty they continue to do so. Where does the loyalty derive? In my view, from a history of supporting them. Similarly, like those who have the same set Lotto numbers week in week out. This is then coupled with a self-creating paranoia that the moment they stop picking those numbers, will be the moment they become the winning numbers, or in the sports sense, the moment the team start performing and likewise in politics. I suppose it also involves a element of faith or belief that their performance will improve. In my view, this is an irrational basis for supporting either a sports team or a political party.  

At last election, I took a tactical vote. I didn't vote Labour, like I normally would have in the past, why? because I hated the idea that a party rules out working with another party especially if they both sit on the same side of the political fence. In a representative democracy, it seems rather undemocratic to choose not to represent a particular group of voters, especially since in New Zealand we have a two party system, so the smaller parties only have some effect if they work with either National or Labour. I was going to continue on with this issue, but I think I have made my point.

My conclusion is that loyalty + faith + paranoia = irrational support. If we took more stock of the smaller parties who might offer better solutions, or at least a more creative solutions, then we might be able to escape the irrationality of voting for one of the big parties who both seem to be stepping in and out of each others domains on a persistent basis and  both making shithouse decisions.