Hobbit Fever

I’ve been a big fan of JRR Tolkien since I was a kid. I was so taken with Lord of the Rings that after I finished reading the books I became convinced that one of my older sisters was a hobbit and she started shaving her toes to shut me up. In my teens my boyfriend’s car was called Gandalf and my mother forbade me from calling our new puppy Pippin or Merry.

I loved Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy.  It was a blast seeing our gorgeous scenery and local actors on the screen.  I swear half the population of Auckland was an extra in the movies. Half the fun of watching the movies was spotting familiar faces in the background.

And while it’s great that Jackson is getting to make another three fantastic movies on the Hobbit, it’s not so great that the National Government pandered to the union-busting wishes of the American film industry – Warner Brothers – and changed the laws around collective bargaining and contractors in exchange for a bunch of industry jobs in New Zealand that are cheaper than their international counterparts.

And frankly last night when the Prime Minister was on the red carpet at the premier of The Hobbit: An Unexpected journey and thanked the people of New Zealand for ‘allowing’ his government to change the law it was a huge affront to Actors Equity and the workers who were told they could not bargain collectively for their wages and conditions and were deemed to be ‘contractors’ while working on the movie.  It’s an affront to all workers actually, because the law weakens the rights for workers on other movies and in other industries.

The New Zealand public did not support or allow this law.  It was passed under urgency – so the basics of democracy were suspended to get the legislation passed.  The law was not needed.  Official Information Act requests showed that the government was on track to change the law – at the request of Warners – despite the fact that the dispute around pay and conditions had been settled so the problem was over.

The Greens support a strong vibrant film industry for New Zealand.  We support jobs in what is on the whole a ‘knowledge industry’ sector.  We acknowledge the marketing benefits the Hobbit movies offer to our economy and we also acknowledge the fact that New Zealand taxpayers gave over $100 million in subsidies for the making of these movies.

Selling our laws to give fewer rights for workers on top of this is too is too high a price.

90 thoughts on “Hobbit Fever

  1. If you think we are losing the argument wait until YOUR employer, or customers if you are in a “professional association” wants to make you casual or take a large pay cut. You will soon see the point of Unions.

    By the way the Labour movement pre-dated the Labour party so it would be correct to say Labour movement, not Labour, but it does mot change the point that free and secular education in NZ was the result of Union pressure.

  2. Unfortunately this trend of money being able to sway anything is a feature of most modern day governments. Look at australia’s new policy of guaranteed citizenship for $5million. Big shame they slipped this one through under the guise of making the hobbit.

    BTW can’t wait for the movie, kiwi’s are the sheeeet!! keep it up cuzzy bros.

  3. OK, bj, but sustainability is much more than just producing stuff ourselves and more than just about “money/work”.

    I bow to your memory of fusion but maybe it was different from where I lived. I certainly haven’t been following it as long as you (maybe 30 or 35 years, for me) but, for me, it’s always been 30-40 years off. Unlike you, I have heard optimistic stories; however, they seem to involve cold fusion devices – I think one was supposed to be on the market last year; I wonder how many people were embarrassed over that? Unfortunately, people, some apparently sane, are all too willing to grasp at anything that can keep BAU going, despite the obvious impossibility of that.

  4. Perhaps I should say… can’t come down voluntarily… without crashing the entire economic system rather than simply saying “can’t come down” … hitting the physical stops hard enough will bring down consumption as it is impossible to consume what can no longer be “produced”… and I have yet to see an oil executive shit crude. :-)

  5. When I was 10 Tony, it was expected to produce power within a decade. That was a more optimistic age. I remember it very well for someone my age. It didn’t happen and if people are now saying 40-50 it is because they know that history. I haven’t heard any optimistic fusion stories in a long long time.

    Making our own stuff makes our economy sustainable in terms of money/work… but that says nothing about our consumption. The levels of consumption can’t come down until the basis of the money itself is changed… as the money we have now demands growth just to appear to be stable. That’s a separate consideration.

    There are too many dimensions to address with a single solution. I am discussing economics and turning around to discuss the environment and there are several things that must be done to alter the balances and ultimately reduce consumption. Since we aren’t doing any of them right now, owing to the government in power and us not being in power, we’re going to be a long way towards a lee shore before we even get a chance to start beating out of the trap…

  6. Once a forest is gone, it’s ecosystem is gone. It can’t be rebuilt by planting more trees, though a new climax system will eventually emerge. It’s wishful thinking to believe that the world is being reforested and will therefore be just like it was (in some recent past, not distant past.

    Arana,

    Wishful thinking aside, there will be no replacement for fossil fuels – they are such a concentrated form of ancient sunlight having many beneficial features (for economies) making them rather unique. Even if some magic replacement were found, it would not make a bit of difference. By then a catastrophic amount of warming will be baked in and the planet would still be finite.

    By the way, the disadvantages of fossil fuels do not outweigh the advantages, assuming that most people would rather have a habitable planet than their nice cars and toys.

    BJ,

    Correction, fusion has always been 30-40 years away, not 10 years away. Even its proponents still think it’s 30-40 years away. ITER is well behind schedule and may even lose funding, I think I read, but that is just a prototype to try to prove some ideas.

    Making our own stuff doesn’t make us sustainable. Certainly, one would have to produce everything locally but it depends on what gets produced and how it’s produced that determines whether it’s sustainable. Whilst we engage in an unsustainable global society, we will not be sustainable.

  7. “Yes, there are forests growing back, but not all forests are equal,” said Bill Laurance, another senior scientist at the Smithsonian, who has worked extensively in the Amazon.

    He scoffed as he viewed Ms. Ortega de Wing’s overgrown land: “This is a caricature of a rain forest!” he said. “There’s no canopy, there’s too much light, there are only a few species. There is a lot of change all around here whittling away at the forest, from highways to development.”

    While new forests may absorb carbon emissions, he says, they are unlikely to save most endangered rain-forest species, which have no way to reach them.”

    I see.

  8. “The idea has stirred outrage among environmentalists who believe that vigorous efforts to protect native rain forest should remain a top priority. But the notion has gained currency in mainstream organizations like the Smithsonian Institution and the United Nations, which in 2005 concluded that new forests were “increasing dramatically” and “undervalued” for their environmental benefits. The United Nations is undertaking the first global catalog of the new forests, which vary greatly in their stage of growth.

    “Biologists were ignoring these huge population trends and acting as if only original forest has conservation value, and that’s just wrong,” said Joe Wright, a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute here, who set off a firestorm two years ago by suggesting that the new forests could substantially compensate for rain forest destruction.”

  9. Fusion has been 10 years from now for the past 50, and I know because I have been disappointed for 40… so it isn’t a given and cannot be assumed to be a given, that the needed scientific breakthrough will occur.

    We could OTOH, build Cheap Access To Space starting tomorrow. The technology to make it work is already understood… but the combination of technologies is not accepted. CATS gives us Satellite Solar Power, a slightly less difficult form of Fusion for us to work with. :-)

  10. “We’ll solve the energy question. It’s within our grasp.’

    Really? have we solved that pesky ‘extinction of untold speciaes’ thing? The ‘disappearing rainforsets’ thing?
    The ‘global warming’ thing?

    Your faith is misplaced and groundless and brings to mind advocates of the Rapture as the escape from jail card. Perhaps you are sincere. the Rapture crew certainly seem to be.

  11. ‘I find it preferable to your bleak enviro-catastrophe future, which sounds more like a rewind to some mythical, agrarian past.”

    I have a “bleak, enviro-catastrophe future”?
    Please link to where I’ve described my belief in that, so that I don’t think you are just blowing blue smoke out of your arse (scuse!).

    You have no concept, it seems to me, of the complexity of nature and the need for complexity for the sustainability of an environment that can support future generations of humans. Your simplistic favoured options (vats of grey spam etc) are so shallow as to rival the film of sweat on a coal-miners upper lip.

  12. @Tony

    The sustainable economics we often discuss here always involve us making things here.

    We don’t have a sustainable economy, simply because we produce stuff-all, and persuading New Zealand governments (and the New Zealand people) that we have to have industry here and that industry here has to be supported to survive

    For whatever reasons, and I don’t think most of them speak well of the collective wisdom of New Zealanders or their governments, the only industry to get actual support here has been the film industry. It isn’t what I wanted, it is simply what we got.

    We would have been wiser to build our rail wagons and retain the manufacture of white-goods and F&P here.

    What we need we SHOULD be able to build here, and the things we need and import in bulk we need to build ourselves.

    There will be a time – maybe 50 years from now, when production of goods using renewable energy will be critical… and when the nations to the north can no longer supply us with the chips and boards and drives and stuff that is the backbone of our current tech. We can lose it all in that period.

    Because it isn’t the ENVIRONMENT that is fragile Arana…. it is human civilization. The Environment merely has to change a little to break the social contracts and economic arrangements of the last few centuries.

    The blink of an eye
    will suffice.

  13. Through our unthinking destruction of our environment we could be setting the stage for our extinction (and there are plenty of deep thinkers who see that coming within the next century or two, possibly within decades – don’t just dismiss that notion because things around you seem OK now)

    There will always be alarmists and catastrophists. I think some of them even wish it – misanthropes that they are….

  14. We should be producing meat-equivalents in giant vats! Great heaving grey masses of protein that could easily be coloured and cut into appealing shapes that customers would love! That’d feed the starving of the world and be kinda space-agey at the same time! Wow! Yeah!

    I find it preferable to your bleak enviro-catastrophe future, which sounds more like a rewind to some mythical, agrarian past.

    We’ll solve the energy question. It’s within our grasp.

  15. ‘Nature springs back after oil spills’, I don’t think the people of the Niger delta who can’t fish or farm would agree with that. Yes oil is organic and will eventually breakdown, unlike nuclear or other pollution, but the Exxon Valdez spill still effects the ecosystems and livelihoods of people there and the Gulf of Mexico has a long way to go to get cleaned up

    I think we should always be careful, of course, but it comes down to a cost/benefit equation. The benefits of oil vastly outweigh the costs. If we can replace it with an alternative, then great, but we’re not there yet. No, wind, solar and tide is not a viable replacement.

    I imagine the replacement will most likely be fusion.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/steven_cowley_fusion_is_energy_s_future.html

  16. Arana,

    Less sharks don’t mean more of what the sharks fed on, at least in the long term. That is far too simplistic a view for the complexity of ecology. For there to be more of what the sharks fed on, there would have to be more of what those creatures fed on, and so ad infinitum. Removing the sharks peturbs the system and, this is where nature is robust, some new climax system will emerge but it may not have any of the species that the ecosystem once had. Indeed, a lifeless rock spinning through space is still nature but I doubt anyone would want that.

    Through our unthinking destruction of our environment we could be setting the stage for our extinction (and there are plenty of deep thinkers who see that coming within the next century or two, possibly within decades – don’t just dismiss that notion because things around you seem OK now). Space travel is certainly not a saviour, if it ever will be. Of course, humans will (or are likely to) become extinct eventually but that is no reason to hasten our own demise.

    This thread was about hobbits. However, I don’t think policies such as supporting a strong and vibrant film industry have been fully thought through. It’s a trivial, frivolous policy, unrelated to a goal of a sustainable society, which is what the Greens should be focused on.

  17. “If there are fewer sharks, it means there will be more of whatever the shark feasted upon. Nature balances things out.”

    I see you didn’t read/couldn’t understand Tony’s very good comment at 11:30.

    I wonder if you’d like to go and explain to the last remaining moa, somewhere in Fiordland (reputedly) that it doesn’t matter about the extinction the moa have experienced as the plants they once ate are now doing better. I cringe when I read your silliness. You did even better with your, “We should have a lot more fish farming, for example.”
    Fortunately I don’t regard your comments as serious, but if I did, I’d despair at the shallowness of your thinking. Hey! We should be producing meat-equivalents in giant vats! Great heaving grey masses of protein that could easily be coloured and cut into appealing shapes that customers would love! That’d feed the starving of the world and be kinda space-agey at the same time! Wow! Yeah!

  18. ‘Nature springs back after oil spills’, I don’t think the people of the Niger delta who can’t fish or farm would agree with that. Yes oil is organic and will eventually breakdown, unlike nuclear or other pollution, but the Exxon Valdez spill still effects the ecosystems and livelihoods of people there and the Gulf of Mexico has a long way to go to get cleaned up. You say nature is as tough as nails as an excuse to trash it. For all our big brains, humans are pretty stupid when it comes to our current fossil fueled lifestyle and the damage it is, and will, cause to the ecosystems that sustain us. As for leaving on a spaceship, it would be great if you and everyone else who thinks that’s a good idea could board now.

  19. Arana –

    You are Correct: It is the things we do not and cannot own that get abused. Our commons are at the mercy of our self government for it is only through self-government that a commons can be protected.

    We have submitted that self-government to the corruption of debt-based money and it is no longer democratic…. I remind you of the words of Rothschild…

    So we go to extremes. I call the PM a “traitor” at least once or twice a week now, and while I do have grounds to say what I say, I question… can he really be as bad as that?

    But the disease we suffer from is very much one of having created a VERY destructive civilization… based entirely on the cheap energy stored over the last several billion years. Hawking is not someone I would bet against… and he says we must go… as I have said all my life, and I am older than he. The long view.

    But to get there we have to get through the next 300 years without losing the knowledge we’ve accumulated to date, we have to change from ever-increasing consumption to a much more sustainable civilization.

    …and to get THERE we have to give our current economic system and particularly the monetary system based on debt, the three-fingered-salute it so richly deserves. It ties together, and it is tied far too tightly for either of the major parties to even acknowledge the problem fully. Yet there is no way to protect the commons without altering these structures.

    Worse there is not enough time to alter the structures before the CO2 we emit pushes us over the invisible line. Scientists have drawn it, in ppm of CO2, but it is invisible, and it is a one-way-trip. The metastable nature of the climate is still only partly understood… we know of the two stable states of the last couple of million years, the glaciations and the interglacials… the CO2 we’ve released is unheard of in the last 3 million years, before those cyclical events, and we released that CO2 at a rate that is unheard of – full stop. So where are we going to wind up? We can’t actually look back to see, because the differences are too great, and the changes too sudden.

    …and wasn’t this thread about a hobbit? Crikey what a threadjacking!

    :-)

  20. The issue isn’t ‘is nature easily destroyed’, it’s nature’s bits and pieces that we are extinguishing, one by one, rapidly. That can’t end well for one of nature’s bits – us.

    If there are fewer sharks, it means there will be more of whatever the shark feasted upon. Nature balances things out.

    Personally, I think one of the problems with the ocean is that it is not owned. It suffers a crisis of the commons. We should have a lot more fish farming, for example.

  21. No, nature isn’t robust in that it will be unaffected by what we do, you are plain wrong there.

    I didn’t say it was “unaffected”, it’s just not as delicate as it is (mis)characterised in the environmentalist story. For example, nature springs back after oil spills.

    Nature is hardy. It’s as tough as nails. We’re rather weak and ineffectual, in comparison.

  22. One of our major scraps with Tony is when we discuss the advantages of Cheap Access To Space – and the potential of our children’s children to outlive the star we start from.

    Agreed. We will eventually leave the nest, just as we left the cave in Africa. Nature selected us, via evolution, to have the brain capacity to explore and colonise.

    Torus-like space colonies will be essential if the human race is to continue. The problem with limiting ourselves to earth is that it is a single point of failure.

    If we don’t, I suspect Hawking is correct – we will most likely we wiped out by a virus.

  23. Arana you clearly don’t like answering direct questions I ask you here or on previous threads, you just come back with more unsubstantiated waffle. ‘ Nature is robust’ – well obviously volcanoes are massive and we can’t influence them, but estuaries and their ecosytems are vunerable to pollution caused by human activity. No, nature isn’t robust in that it will be unaffected by what we do, you are plain wrong there.

  24. “Environmentalism is a story.

    To believe in this story, you must accept that nature is a delicate petal, that nature is a fragile thing man can easily destroy.”

    What drivel. Was the moa ‘a delicate petal’?
    Hardly. And yet they’re rarely seen these days, aye, Arana.
    Is the Great White Shark a petal?
    Endangered.
    The issue isn’t ‘is nature easily destroyed’, it’s nature’s bits and pieces that we are extinguishing, one by one, rapidly. That can’t end well for one of nature’s bits – us.

  25. “Environmentalism is a story.

    To believe in this story, you must accept that nature is a delicate petal, that nature is a fragile thing man can easily destroy.”

    What drivel. Was the moa ‘a delicate petal’?
    Hardly. And yet they’re rarely seen these days, aye, Arana.
    Is the Great White Shark a petal?
    Endangered.
    The issue isn’t ‘is nature easily destroyed’, it’s nature’s bits and pieces that we are extinguishing, one by one, rapidly. That can’t end well for one of nature’s bits – us.

  26. Arana,

    You have some of it right. But even though humans may not be intrinsically destroyers, the civilisation they’ve built up certainly is. Civilisation always destroys its environment.

    Nature is robust because nature doesn’t care about the elements that make it up. But that’s hardly a consideration for us. Environmental changes usually (but not always) take many thousands or millions of years but humans are changing the environment in the veritable blink of an eye. The members of current nature can’t adapt to that and evolution hasn’t got enough time to act.

    Humans are supposed to be intelligent but even knowing what our lifestyles are doing to the only environment we have, I don’t see much evidence of intelligence.

    We can all live more simply and I am certainly doing that, despite what you may think, but there are certain constraints imposed by our current society and a lack of education in skills that really matter. So please don’t dismiss my words just because I don’t live in a cave, that really is not a counter argument.

    BJ is right, we argue a lot. He’s a good bloke too but, like most Greens, doesn’t go far enough and has some rather odd (in my view) long term priorities. The Greens are the best of a bad bunch, no doubt about it, but many/most are still firmly planted in a destructive civilisation.

  27. The Sun is finite, but I wouldn’t spend any time worrying about it. Man is only finite if he stops fighting and controlling nature. We prosper, or we die.

    Earned you a rec that did.

    One of our major scraps with Tony is when we discuss the advantages of Cheap Access To Space – and the potential of our children’s children to outlive the star we start from. :-)

  28. Arana – I worded my response quite precisely to leave out the political animals.

    The science demands action and is QUITE sufficient to make anyone with three working brain cells afraid. The science is not distorted and the scientists are not distorting it, and the reports of the science I look at and provide on this forum are generally the best I can find outside the never to be sufficiently damned paywalls.

    There are OF COURSE people who will try to obtain political power behind this and to change the political power structure. They do that on both sides and HAVE been doing it since the dawn of time. However, the wealthy people and bankers who depend on the status quo, those who owe their power and wealth to BAU, they are demonstrably distorting the science to the public to preserve that power.

    Given the current setup, with bankers and corporations in charge of what used to be democratically elected governments (and I am from the USA so I know exactly how that works there), I feel no particular allegiance to their continuing their positions, nor concern that someone might tear them down.

  29. Clearly, you can’t figure it out.

    Yes, I can. You don’t choose it yourself because you know it would be a poor choice. Therefore, you’re highly unlikely to convince anyone else, are you.

    The Sun is finite, but I wouldn’t spend any time worrying about it. Man is only finite if he stops fighting and controlling nature. We prosper, or we die.

  30. I wasn’t talking about the scientists, BJ. I was talking about the politicization of science to serve ideological ends.

    You can see the ideology in the opposing camp clearly enough, yet don’t seem to recognise the ideology that might distort the science you do support?

  31. @arana – Note that although we often agree with Tony, he goes much further with his emphasis on sustainability than even I am prepared to go, and I think that he sees the Green Party as far too wishy-washy about the environment for him to support us.

    So before you draw conclusions about the Greens based on his comments, ask him if we don’t argue :-)

    He is really quite good though.

  32. I’d be more wary of those who spin such nonsense in an attempt to control you. Once they scare you, then they own you.

    That… would be true this time IF the scientists were trying to control you. The funny thing about that is that THEY are more scared than anyone.

    You might want to think about this a little harder… about who is trying to scare YOU about the perfidy of science. Who are the Koch Brothers, the Scaifes, the editors of the Wall Street Journal… the backers of the deniers?

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/2012/11/28/meet-the-climate-denial-machine/191545

    The people IN power are the ones you should be scared of now mate. Not the scientists who have no such ambitions.

  33. Environmentalism is a story.

    To believe in this story, you must accept that nature is a delicate petal, that nature is a fragile thing man can easily destroy.

    Is this story accurate?

    I think it is more accurate to characterise nature as cruel, vicious and unkind. Watch any wildlife documentary and you’ll see that might is right. For humans to prosper, we must bend nature to our will. We exploit, or we die. We seek prosperity, or we die.

    The organic farm example cited above requires a lot of unnatural things to happen in order to exist and prosper. It needs people to work on it, many of whom are alive, fit and strong only due to years of unnatural medical technology. It needs high tech mining (tools). It needs oil (fuels the high tech mining, delivery systems, and administrative process that provides security, law and order).

    We’re still not safe, of course. With one flick of natures tail, the supervolcano that is Lake Taupo could erupt and make NZ uninhabitable. Millions of people would likely die in the resulting ash cloud, and there’s not a thing we could do about it. If any of us were to spend a few weeks in nature, without our layers of technology and knowledge about how to defeat nature, most of us would likely die. A super-virus could overwhelm us.

    Nature finds a balance. If there are too many people making demands on resources, fewer people are born (or survive), as natural constraints make it so. Europe is below replacement level, and falling. I don’t think we need to worry about nature as much as you seem to think we do.

    There is a nasty, self-loathing, misanthropy underlying environmentalism that I do not care for. It casts humans as destroyers, not creators. If humans are “consumers” of natural resources, then their numbers, activities, and liberties must be severely constrained, and someone must be empowered to do the constraining. It’s a recipe for tyranny and oppression.

    Who is more right?

    Well, that’s what we argue about….

  34. Arana,

    If you can’t live it, don’t expect anyone else to.

    Clearly, you can’t figure it out. This is further evident by your comment about apocalypse fantasies. Don’t worry, you’re in good company; most people can’t imagine that the world is actually finite.

  35. So Arana, do you reckon everything is fine? No worries about global warming, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, water pollution? Do you actually believe this is all made up? What level of science education do you have, if any? This earth is basically a closed system, humans can only shit in their own nests for a limited time before large parts of the planet become unliveable. It ain’t some socialist plot, it’s reality!

  36. Arana – “I’d be more wary of those who spin such nonsense in an attempt to control you. Once they scare you, then they own you.”

    Me too. The false fear National created around ACC, education, the ‘need’ for mining to ‘save’ us from the Global Economic Crisis, that sort of cynical fear-mongering is exactly the nonsense we all need to be very wary of. You doubtless agree with me on that, Arana.

  37. We desperately need to figure out a different way of existing on this increasingly inhospitable planet.

    You believe that, but you believe extremist garbage.

    Every generation has their apocalypse fantasy that appeals to the naive – and enviro-armageddon is just the new spin on a very old fear.

    I’d be more wary of those who spin such nonsense in an attempt to control you. Once they scare you, then they own you.

  38. This sort of comment is childish in the extreme. If you can’t figure out why, perhaps this is the wrong forum for you.

    If you can’t live it, don’t expect anyone else to.

  39. Dave,

    You say that “The Greens shouldn’t be supporting the continuation of business as usual because that destroys our environment” so my question is what businesses should the greens be supporting?

    “Business as usual” doesn’t mean businesses as usual. We desperately need to figure out a different way of existing on this increasingly inhospitable planet. I don’t know what that future could look like but you can bet we will not get any kind of smooth (or, at least, low pain) transition to it if we simply support the current economic model. That is what the Greens do, sadly.

  40. Arana,

    How come you don’t live that existence right now? Go form a commune. Sell your computer.

    This sort of comment is childish in the extreme. If you can’t figure out why, perhaps this is the wrong forum for you.

  41. Tony
    I think mate that you’ve missed my point.

    I have no problem with your position, I just seek to understand it. YOu say that “The Greens shouldn’t be supporting the continuation of business as usual because that destroys our environment” so my question is what businesses should the greens be supporting?

  42. So Tony
    Answer my question.
    what jobs WOULD you support creation of?

    If we are not to use anything other than a horse and cart for transport, what other ‘professions’ would you like to see in your ‘neighbourhood’ ?

    Dave,

    I think you’ve entirely missed my point. Supporting frivolous triviality is certainly not a green notion, though it may gain some popularity I suppose. The point is that we need a radical rethink of our way of life because this way of life is killing the planet which, I’m sure you’d agree, we need to keep in the habitable zone for our wellbeing, as well as that of other species.

    The Greens shouldn’t be supporting the continuation of business as usual (even with a green tinge) because that destroys our environment. However, I understand that they play within the current system and so will never make any headway in changing that system. The support for a strong film industry or any other planet destroying industry is expected but sad.

    Sorry if you’re unhappy with that answer because it doesn’t fit within your current paradigm.

  43. Arana says “What is it – 18%? And falling.”

    Jackal says “You’re clearly another tory disinformation troll Arana. …. but at least try to acknowledge reality… ….., Union membership is continuing to increase with 384,644 registered union members in 2011.”

    With 2,218,000 workers in NZ, 384,644 is 17%.

    Funny that you talk about disinformation and acknowledging reality – then give a figure theat’s LOWER than the one you are scoffing at.

    Talk about an own goal….

  44. Denise says “The Greens support a strong vibrant film industry for New Zealand. ”

    Surely this is humour.

    Warners were about to shift the Hobbit the the Harry Potter studios (which they bought for a quarter billion dollars JUST ONE WEEK LATER). They’d already location scouted the UK.

    And the Greens were strongly critical of everything done to stop the flim moving.

    That’s the opposite of supportive.

  45. “Dipshit. Free education in NZ was a product of the Labour Government, pushed, by Unions.” says Kerry.

    Meanwhile back in the real world, the Education Act 1877 established free education across the country – 39 years before the Labour Party even existed.

  46. I also suggest that this “Unions are Great vs Unions Suck” meme is not really going anywhere. Unions did great things, they did awful things and so have our corporate owners.

    Hell yeah. The dispute that Denise mentioned right at the top was an example of union maliciousness, and you need look no further than the Auckland ports dispute to see a CEO that should be carefully loaded into a container and then bounced across the Pacific until the end of time.

    The father of modern physics, whilst not dreaming up the theory of relativity, noted that “only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” There’s clearly plenty to go round.

  47. If you think we are losing the argument wait until YOUR employer, or customers if you are in a “professional association” wants to make you casual or take a large pay cut. You will soon see the point of Unions.

    By the way the Labour movement pre-dated the Labour party so it would be correct to say Labour movement, not Labour, but it does mot change the point that free and secular education in NZ was the result of Union pressure.

  48. This thread has turned into Mordor, complete with Orcs.

    May I suggest, as a more reasoned approach, that the year-on-year stats for union membership are not as relevant as a multi-decade measurements, which give an indication that is NOT basically noise?

    I also suggest that this “Unions are Great vs Unions Suck” meme is not really going anywhere. Unions did great things, they did awful things and so have our corporate owners. We need the Unions to stand up to the corporations. If we could trust our GOVERNMENT to do so and to work for US, the need for the Unions would be much reduced.

    This was and remains an issue the Greens need to steer clear from, as the actual factual ain’t available.

    The only thing I can be sure of given the conflicting stories, is that there is a lot of untruth being promoted and there is no way to know where it is from.

    So this thread fills a desperately needed hole.

    :-)

  49. If the notion of careers survives then organic farmers on small farms would be the best example of jobs that should be encouraged

    Ah, Cambodia.

    Would they use spades on these farms? Anything made of metals? How would they transport their goods? Horse and cart (all made from wood, of course, fashioned using….erm….sharp stones?)

    How come you don’t live that existence right now? Go form a commune. Sell your computer.

  50. So Tony
    Answer my question.
    what jobs WOULD you support creation of?

    If we are not to use anything other than a horse and cart for transport, what other ‘professions’ would you like to see in your ‘neighbourhood’ ?

  51. dave stringer,

    You’re getting the idea. Pretty much everything we do now is destructive. If the notion of careers survives then organic farmers on small farms would be the best example of jobs that should be encouraged. However, as your post might imply, our whole civilization is not concerned with sustainability or living within environmental limits, so saying that a strong NZ film industry is good news is irrelevant to all our futures. There is a lack of vision here. An inability to see our society as anything other than what it is, or perhaps with a green tinge to it.

    I can no longer get excited about big business, the film industry, corporate entertainment and celebrities. The Lord of the Rings is a great BOOK and The Hobbit is a very good book. They are better, and more sustainable, than the films.

  52. Arana

    Can I suggest you try and ease up on poor Kerry and Jackal a bit. They are losing the discussion so badly it is bringing out the dark side in them.

  53. Kerry Thomas @8.08pm
    You claim that “Free education in New Zealand in New Zealand was a product of the Labour Government”.
    A little earlier you said that Arana’s education lacked any history.
    For your information free, secular and compulsory primary education in New Zealand dates back to 1877 and free secondary education to 1914.
    I may be wrong of course but my knowledge of history says that the first Labour government in New Zealand was in 1935. You appear to run on a very peculiar time system if you think 1935 was before 1877 or 1914.

  54. Tony

    Of course film making (especially at this scale) destroys the environment (what about the making of the film sets, all that flying…

    Its a question of scale and context. Ultimately, pretty much everything we do has an impact on the environment; me writing this post is destroying the environment.

    The film sector turns over $10bn a year, and any sector at that scale is going to cause damage. However, film’s environmental impact has improved dramatically over the years in a number of leaps and bounds. Most recently is the transition to digital cinema. Although the passing of Kodak is quite sad, the trillions of feet of 35mm film it used to turn out will no longer have to be disposed of. For example, the US release of Skyfall if all on 35mm would need about 56 million feet of film, almost all of which would by now be in need of recycling. That is just one movie in one country.

    …all that money?

    Yes, there is a lot of money in the movie biz. It is nice that New Zealand can bring some of it home.

    Yes, jobs are important in this current society but that is not a green issue

    Jobs are not an environmental issue per se, but they are very much a green issue (and a Green party issue), and, more than that, having jobs is actually pretty fundamental to us having a working country. Film work is good work, see the next reference.

    nor should we be supporting jobs that ultimately destroy the environment and support this destructive culture, so that a few people can become very wealthy for a time.

    Where did “so that a few people can become very wealthy for a time” come from?

    The film business is good for lots of people. I don’t have numbers for New Zealand, but the case in the UK is pretty compelling, and should also apply here, have a google for a PDF entitled The Economic Impact of the UK Film Industry.

  55. Yes, jobs are important in this current society but that is not a green issue, nor should we be supporting jobs that ultimately destroy the environment and support this destructive culture.

    Interesting. Specifically what jobs would that leave you to support, given the extremeism of view here on what damages the environment? Can’t be manufacturing jobs, they consume raw materials which have to be mined. Can’t be farm jobs, they destroy the water unless they are involved in raising crops – which ultimately takes all the goodness out of the soil. Can’t be transport jobs (e.g. train driver) the exhaust from the train destroys the environment AND the vehicles need steel (mining) in order to exist. Can’t be shop-keeper, most of the goods people want to but are imported and their transport is polluting.

    FFS Tony, what jobs WOULD you support creation of?

  56. The disinformation is coming from you, Jackal

    http://tvnz.co.nz/national-news/union-membership-rates-dropping-4007844

    “A copy of a union membership return report compiled by the Department of Labour shows there were 157 registered unions with a total membership of almost 380,000 people last year.

    That compares to 159 unions in 2009 with a total membership of around 388,000 people.

    Documents show union membership did spike in 2009 and had higher levels than those recorded from 2006 to 2008″

  57. Arana

    They’re not for most workers, given the membership levels. What is it – 18%? And falling.

    You’re clearly another tory disinformation troll Arana. I mean linking to Rodney Hide to try and support your anti-union argument was bad enough, but at least try to acknowledge reality… Despite the right wings desperate and connived attacks on unions and their members, Union membership is continuing to increase with 384,644 registered union members in 2011.

  58. That’s nice Arana, and yet you’ve not provided any semblance of a reasonable argument against unionism.

    Join a Union. If you want.

    They’re not for me. They’re not for most workers, given the membership levels. What is it – 18%? And falling.

    That’s because they aren’t relevant.

  59. What a load of tosh! Frog is probably the most consistent and fair moderator around. Saying that Kerry Thomas should be banned for calling you a dipshit is pretty stupid! He really should have called you a fuckwit instead.

    Okay. Hey Toad, can I call Jackal a fuckwit?

  60. Arana, you still haven’t responded to my 5:54 PM comment (and the link to The Standard I provided there) comparing the pay relativity of unionised and non-unionised workers.

    Is that too difficult? Or are you just a troll like photonz1 who makes shit up and ignores evidence?

    Here’s the link again in case you are too lazy to go and find it.

  61. Arana

    I remain, proudly, anti-union. I made my money. I employed people. I had no need of Unions.

    That’s nice Arana, and yet you’ve not provided any semblance of a reasonable argument against unionism. I can give you a pro-union argument: Higher wages and better working conditions.

    Unions ensure people are properly compensated for their work, which means they have a better lifestyle and money to spend, which in turn supports the economy. That means more taxes are paid and governments can then afford to build schools, roads and all that other infrastructure you capitalists take for granted. Better working conditions mean there’s less reliance on the state by people who’ve become unwell through excessive or unsafe work. That’s why union membership continues to grow.

    If I said that, I’d be banned, but I don’t expect editorial consistency here.

    What a load of tosh! Frog is probably the most consistent and fair moderator around. Saying that Kerry Thomas should be banned for calling you a dipshit is pretty stupid! He really should have called you a fuckwit instead.

  62. “I pay taxes. The state says that we are taking these taxes to provide school, health and more. I expect them to do so, Union or not”.

    Wouldn’t have been there in the first place without Unions.

    You claim to be an employer. Are you in one of, Chambers of commerce, Employers and manufacturers association, Chartered accountants, Medical association, federated farmers etc? Unionist!

    Taking the piss is a so called manager playing patience on his computer half the day and collecting thousands a week. But their Union is much more powerful.

    Working on the wharfs, and ships, can be and often is difficult, tiring, unpleasant and dangerous, just like mining. Office workers have no idea. Since Unions lost their power it has got a lot worse. Especially with part time half trained casuals. . Two wharfies nearly killed at my work place this year. Sitting on your arse, my arse!

  63. Dipshit.

    What a charmer you are. If I said that, I’d be banned, but I don’t expect editorial consistency here.

    To be consistent you should refuse every benefit Union industrial action gained for you.

    Schools can operate without Unions. You’re confusing state and Unions. The first “schools” in NZ were the front rooms of private houses. They were run by middle class/wealthy women.

    I pay taxes. The state tells me they are taking these taxes to provide school, health and more. I expect them to do so, Union or not.

  64. Unions served a purpose at a point in time, no question. In most respects, the Unions won. They achieved strong labour law. Bravo! Then, they overplayed their hand.

    And received a kicking that will last a generation. And more.

    I prefer the old model of socialism. The Welsh miners built pools, and schools, and libraries for their kids. But with those rights came responsibilities. You pulled your weight. If you didn’t, you were cast out.

    In the new country, NZ, sitting idle half the day on the wharves and going on strike during the school holidays is not the spirit – it is taking the p*ss.

  65. Dipshit. Free education in NZ was a product of the Labour Government, pushed, by Unions.

    To be consistent you should refuse every benefit Union industrial action gained for you. Including your State educated employees, weekends, health care, State infrastructure, University education? and all the rest of the long list. . If you really are an employer. Most RWNJ’s on here turn out to be wannabees who have employed way less people than I did.

  66. Rodney Hide is even more delusional about Unions than you are.

    Without Unions, Hide, Key and Bennett, probably Arana, and many others would never have had the opportunities they did. Or the opportunity to pull the drawbridge up after them. Someone born with little money in non-unionised countries would still be in their cardboard box begging on the streets.

  67. It is very doubtful you would have had the education and been in the position to employ people without Unions.

    WTF? I wouldn’t have been educated if it weren’t for Unions? What planet are you on? A teacher who is non-Union is suddenly unable to teach? I wouldn’t have been able to employ? People cannot possibly work if it weren’t for Unions?

    I experienced history, as you did yours, you condescending….Unionist. Reaffirms my view of you people.

  68. dbuckley,

    Of course film making (especially at this scale) destroys the environment (what about the making of the film sets, all that flying, all that money? Yes, jobs are important in this current society but that is not a green issue, nor should we be supporting jobs that ultimately destroy the environment and support this destructive culture, so that a few people can become very wealthy for a time.

  69. If Tony Gibson had been concerned about Auckland, shippers and shipping companies he would not have cost his employers 34 million plus dollars. That shows who has the really powerful Union, old boys network. He kept his job.

  70. Arana.
    It is very doubtful you would have had the education and been in the position to employ people without Unions.

    It wasn’t the Unions who kept the negotiations going for months each year.

    Though I agree it seems the education we gave you, failed. Not enough history.

  71. Arana.
    Few people join Unions now because there is little point. With the right to take industrial action gone Unions no longer have much power to help their members. Non-members, like you, happily, and ignorantly, freeload off past Union gains without feeling any need to support them.

  72. Yeah, right Kerry. If they were sooo concerned about passengers, then why didn’t they strike in, say, March? Why was it always the school holidays?

    I’ll tell you why. Leverage. And who was the leverage? Me, and my two sibblings, stuck in the back of a VW Beetle. My parents, already on a non-existent budget, worrying about what they’re going to do on the wrong side of the strait.

    I remain, proudly, anti-union. I made my money. I employed people. I had no need of Unions.

  73. How many people is National’s present, do nothing except cut everything, chase up delusional benefits for farmers and sell out to their mates doing for jobs?

    They lost us a lot more than the Hobbit gained. Long term skilled well paid manufacturing jobs.

    And the consequent cuts to pay and conditions for 100s of thousands of New Zealanders as a result of killing off Unions and fudging t5he laws around contracting will hurt us all for decades to come.

  74. Bullshit Arana. That is fact.
    You were a kid, and the newspapers, even then, were careful not to publish anything in support of Unions.

    I didn’t have much time for the Cooks and Stewards then. I had to work with them, but, they were pussycats compared with the blatant stealing National and our present managers and directors are engaging in.

  75. Arana 7:08 PM

    Lots of straw men comments from you, but you have not responded to my 5:54 PM comment (and the link to The Standard) comparing the pay of unionised and non-unionised workers.

    Is that too difficult? Or do you just want to see us in the race to the bottom as far as wages are concerned?

  76. Note the seaman’s Union at the time always volunteered to take passengers and their cars even when on strike. It was Railways who refused to sail without freight and always stymied the award talks until the holidays.

    They categorically did not when I was kid. If that offer was there, my parents never heard it. Perhaps it was a Clayton’s offer, knowing full well they wouldn’t be sailing anyway.

    Because numerous times – we did not sail.

  77. Because as a kid you were inconvenienced by some industrial action by unionised workers? Get real!

    Yes. That sort of thing has an effect on a poor family taking their long saved-for holiday. It stayed with me.

    No longer poor, and proudly, have never been voluntarily part of Union.

    Yes, the Unions served a purpose once, and if people wish to join one, that’s fine. But we have entrenched labour laws that work well. Unions are, for the most part, redundant.

    That’s why so few people voluntarily join them.

  78. Pretending that employees are contractors is a sneaky and dishonest way of getting around employment laws that are there to protect workers.

    Unlike Arana, I’m pro-union, and agree with pretty much everything in your rant aimed at Arana above.

    However, thats all pretty irrelevent in the context of what happened, and nothing will alter the fact that a union representing one group of people attempted to (at best) disrupt the careers of many others who genuinely are contractors, and the union and its membership tried to trash the Kiwi film industry into the bargain.

    Prostituting labour laws was totally different. we will all suffer for that long term.

    Well…. had the union not rocked the boat then there wouldn’t have been any need for the law to be changed to honour the existing working practices, would there. The law of unintended consequences. So you can lay that one at Equity as well. Or perhaps the puppet masters off-shore. Who knows.

  79. Too many RWNJ’s on here sound like the Australian boat builders who shifted production to Thailand, and then complained the market for their boats, in Australia, was vanishing.
    They, like most RWNJ’s were too stupid to make the obvious connection. Thai labourers on a dollar a day do not buy $300k boats.

    I have no real problem with tax incentives to keep work and business in NZ. Every other country does it to.

    Prostituting labour laws was totally different. we will all suffer for that long term.

  80. Pretending that employees are contractors is a sneaky and dishonest way of getting around employment laws that are there to protect workers.

    The laws are already inadequate, as Pike river showed very calligraphic, and you want Unions to have less power so we continue to head for third world pay and conditions.

    Well. I have news for you. Chinese slave labour does not pay $12 each to see movies.

  81. You hate Unions.

    So you refuse the weekends, lunch-breaks and holidays you get in your job, because of Unions. Free education, Because of Unions. Decent pay for everyone because of Unions. Decent pay which allowed a prosperous society instead of a colony sending the bulk of our wealth to wealthy owners in the UK. You went to school instead of working at age 9 down a coal mine, because of Unions.

    Note the seaman’s Union at the time always volunteered to take passengers and their cars even when on strike. It was Railways who refused to sail without freight and always stymied the award talks until the holidays.

    If you hate Unions you are showing a depressing lack of knowledge of history..

  82. @Arana 5:54 PM

    I hate Unions with a passion.

    Because as a kid you were inconvenienced by some industrial action by unionised workers? Get real!

    Reality is that the wages of unionised workers have fared far better than the wages of those who are non-unionised over the last few years.

    So if you want a high wage economy, with the increased spending, economic activity and tax take that brings, you should be supporting unionisation, Arana.

    If you want us to be in the race to the bottom with Third World banana republics over declining real wages, then I guess it is okay to hate unions.

    So which side are you on, Arana?

  83. The New Zealand public did not support or allow this law.

    I did. I hate Unions with a passion. As a kid, they held up our Christmas holidays, and I remember the tedious hours spent waiting in the car for the Picton ferry.

    Never forget.

    John Key did the right thing and should be commended. How can you possibly say you “support a strong vibrant film industry for New Zealand”, and in particular, the Hobbit, when the very law you support would have seen it move offshore? It is quite clear you put Union politics first, which, ironically, would have seen hundreds of people out of work.

    Film workers ARE contractors. They were lining up to work on it. If they didn’t like the pay and conditions, they wouldn’t. End of story.

  84. Different point.

    The movie was exported, exports are not liable to GST.
    The actual subsidy, almost exactly, equates to the amount of GST collected as a result of the movie being made here. There was no handing over of $100,000,000 to Warner Brothers, or anyone else, if there had been I would expect to see “20% funded by New Zealand Tax Payers” on the back-end of the film, and I doubt that I will. The $100 million number is fiddlefaddle, balderdash, twaddle, the worst of a series of misleading comments I have ever heard from a group who clearly have no understanding of economics, the movie-making industry or how to avoid being upset because they weren’t given a cameo!

  85. m. DBuckly – well said

    to suggest that the thousands who worked on the Hobbit (I am merely one of those many) wanted more then a contractor relationship with 3’4′ is to make far too large an ass/u/me ption. I, and everyoneelse I worked with that talked about it (quite a large percentage actually) ALL agreed that we were happy with the relationship as it was and would not want to have an employer/employee relationship.

  86. So lets get this straight: Actors Equity NZ try to trash our film industry and Denise appears to be all in favour. That directly contradicts her statement “The Greens support a strong vibrant film industry for New Zealand”.

    Thank heavens sanity prevailed, John Key (for once) did the right thing, and we still have a Kiwi film industry.

    Tony – Supporting the Kiwi film industry is a very green (if not Green) thing to do. Making movies gives people work, makes export money, and doesn’t destroy the country like so many other activities that make export money do. I just wished the Green Party’s actions coincided with their words on this issue.

    And this is old news, we did this just recently in another thread. Do any of the thread starters actually read the FrogBlog?

  87. The Greens support a strong vibrant film industry for New Zealand.

    OK, so this is yet another Green policy that isn’t green and that I disagree with.

    I’m glad that the premier is over; we’ve had to suffer night after night of subduing real news (not that we get much real news in the mainstream media) in favour of advertising an entertainment industry event and getting to talk about celebrities.

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