Monday, August 24, 2009

Smack my botch-up

Good news on the referendum front: apparently, the 'No' campaign - that is to say, the people who organised and pressed for the damn' thing in the first place - were sponsored by "Focus on the Family", the notorious American pressure group founded by certifiable idiot James Dobson. Maybe that explains why the question was so... professional.

That's good news because it means Dobson's money, to the tune of an alleged $1 million, was paid to people in New Zealand, to finance their efforts to gather signatures for the referendum. I'm not clear what they did with it - there was no advertising that I noticed - but whatever, the point remains that it's American money flowing into the country. Which I guess means that "politics" is now an actual export, in the economic sense of the term.

Granted, the referendum itself cost us taxpayers $9 million. But that's money that was spent within the country - mostly for printing forms, advertising, and postage. So that's a total of $10 million injected into the economy, for a cost of only $9 million added to the public debt.


And it's even better news for Americans, because Dobson now has NZ$1 million less to spend on corrupting their politicians. Which can only make for a better country.

The result was much as predicted. 47% of New Zealanders voted "No", 6% voted "Yes", and 46% didn't even bother. That's significant, because the last of these referendum thingies attracted a turnout well above 80%. Also, an impressive 10,000 people took the time to spoil their ballot before sending it back. Since the ballot itself was pretty hard to mistake - two boxes, "Yes" or "No" - it's reasonable to assume that they did this on purpose.

Now: although there's a lot to resent here - $3 of my taxes to pay for this fiasco, the blatant dishonesty of the question and the slick "No" campaign, foreigners actively meddling in my country's politics - I'd have to concede that some good has come from it. Most notably, it's highlighted the earlier dishonesty of John Key's compromise on the smacking bill first time around: "It will be illegal, but you won't be prosecuted for it". Such a cowardly, treacherous "compromise" deserved to be met with opposition. And now it has been.

I only wish one side was willing to stand on some kind of "principle". In this instance, two wrongs might end up making a right, but at what cost? The political system has been debased, and now everyone has seen that the way to get things done is to lie, manipulate, cheat and spend other people's money.

That's not really a lesson I wanted people in this country to learn.

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