Saturday, 22 December 2012

This Government lacks accountability not to mention Ethics!

I was listening to the radio this morning and they commented on something that has been noticeable in it's absence. Namely politicians and good leadership.
John Key leads the lack of accountability brigade with his flippant remarks or fudged replies. His careful covering of his own arse is about where his buck stops.

His second in command Bill English is hazy on how much asset sales are likely to recoup. In fact Bill's guesses are not much to go on. People generally expect a better plan for the economic recovery of their country.

There are no new jobs. None have been created and many job losses are still happening.
I am at a loss on how this improves our country.

When asked to comment on various issues that affect us, the voting public many National MPs are unavailable for comment.What do they get paid to do again? remind me?
 The education minister Hekia PARATA IS A incompetent and willful women who has never taught in a classroom . she wants to privatise education in Christchurch through stealth and partnership schools, Schools are Government run services to educate our population not produce a profit.

Profit is what the government seems to care about . In fact making a buck seems to be ALL this Government cares about. It is a trickle down effect but in this instance it's not money that is trickling down but bad attitudes.

We did not vote in people so they could extort our last dollars. We didn't vote in a Government who will decimate schools, and local councils to make a profit. If you don't believe me just look towards the Post Office.

Once the backbone of every small centre,The Post Office was the hub for both banking and mail services now a shell of the former glory, and the last stamp I brought was a piece of sticky paper with a franked stamp in ink on it. I guess stamp collecting is deemed obsolete too.

The Government has only one agenda for this country and it seems to be to wring out every last cent of profit  or sell it off. There is no leadership of confidence in building something for the state. The State is a dirty word under a National government. State houses, get rid of them. sell them off or demo them and build motorways. A State house was meant to provide security and a permanent home to those unable to afford a deposit on their own home. Now it feels like state housing is despised.

The number of MPs who won't front up for a radio interview is also astounding. Frankly lets make a bigger effort next year and remove this nasty vermin that call itself Government and get some real people who want to provide good governance and real ethical leadership.

What blows me away the most is the money spent on mistakes and errors that adds up to millions of dollars. There are people in New Zealand who are in court for offences of $10.00 shoplifting or half a gram of cannabis or a beneficiary claiming an extra few bucks..This people go on to be made criminals while those in posh offices are screwing up and screwing us over and getting a golden handshake as well.
That is criminal.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Orphanages and a new twist on Oliver

I am a mother , a teacher and a grandmother. I Like children, and I worry about them. I think that children are powerless in society and that when children grow up in dysfunctional homes they are often damaged in ways that can make them in turn not the best of parents. I am not saying anyone is a deliberate bad parent but that some have little understanding of the needs of an infant.

In my childhood I read a lot of books and stories about poor children who lived in orphanages. I guess after two world wars there were large numbers of children that lacked two parents or one fit parent . Grief and loss were accepted with a stoicism that is unseen in our young people today. The book Goodnight Mr Tom was a classic example of abuse and hunger and poverty after the second world war. Thousands of children were also evacuated to safety . Many out of England and to Canada or New Zealand and Australia.

The 60's changed the way the world thought about war and contraception and the me generation, X and Y and it's subsequent offspring, have a sense of entitlement, unheard of too.

 I see, little children in sad homes , hungry, neglected, poor and abused. How do we deal with it. Many blame. Some blame drugs and others race and inexperience. Is there help and adequet support and if you were 3 or 6 or 9 years old where would you go for help? Would you have somewhere to go for help? And would you? Children never tell on their parents, most think all parents are the same. Some are told not to tell or the consequences may be worse treatment!

In our "don't tell" culture, people are labeled narc if they report suspected child abuse. Famlies can conceal abuse and a code of silence surrounded the death of two babies in this country.  Do I have an answer? I am not sure, but I think that our model of keeping the family together although well intended overlooks the child and it's whole environment.

Why don't we take all the children who are at risk out of the dysfunctional families altogether? We know that families are often ALL part of the cycle of abuse. If Nana or Grandad beat mum or dad , I would figure that all the Aunties and Uncles have been treated the same way. Sexual abuse, violence, alcohol and drug problems are connected as is the family.

I wonder if large modern and State run Orphanages or residential homes for kids are needed to supply the stability and security that has been lacking in their lives. The parents are not excluded but the children who are deemed unsafe within their own family need a fresh start and deserve something better . Something a lot better than many of them have been used too. A good breakfast, a warm bed, a bath or shower and a clean and dry towel plus schooling is the most basic needs of a child. Yet many  are missing out. I know this seems against the grain , but maybe purpose built places for children where their own families can visit and learn how to be better parents, budget better, or reduce drug and alcohol use are what is needed.

In other words we value our children and as a country we are not going to allow them to be in cold unsafe and violent homes any more.  I am not suggesting this is going to happen to anyone not already familiar and part of the system already. but CyF's policy of placing children and paying people to care for them is unsatisfactory in my opinion for the young person. Too often they get moved from home to home or placement to placement. I have worked with a young person who had had 51 placements. This is a disservice to this young man who is unlikely to ever feel secure when he can be moved when things don't work out. I go so far as to call it a form of structural and institutional violence. The person being protected- is not.

For this reason I wonder if we need to actually invest real money in creating happy and safe environments  for our young children to grow up as wards of the state , together is a group where children are part of a group , and can form a new kind of family . Paid well qualified and trained staff work round the clock as house parents. I know that there have been problems with this arrangement in the past but I am sure we can do better.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Being heard and Drug Testing Beneficiaries...

On Friday I was able to present my oral submission to the Politicians about the Amendment proposed under the Social Security Act about Drug Testing Beneficiaries. I was given name suppression and the room was cleared because, (i don't really know) but I guess it was because I was disclosing my deep dark personal secret cannabis use.

I wrote a submission outlining my life story as a teacher and how it is difficult to be a law reform activist and remain employed. Also how being on a benefit and having a prior conviction can make employment next to impossible. I certainly feel like I am last choice. Which is a shame, as I have had over  a decade working alongside drug users, as a counsellor and two years working with youth at Odyssey House. I have a unique set of skills.

So when I went to present my submission I was pretty sure of the ground I stood on.
I thought it best to start by asking those on the panel, MPs from all Parties are part of the select committee three questions.
1. Have you ever been long term unemployed?

2. Have you ever been before a court?

3. Have you or your family ever smoked cannabis?

I must say I did not really get any answers.

One lady MP put her hand up for being unemployed I think.

I then said when there are no jobs and the number of being made redundant each week is growing there is a real problem.

I am afraid I did not know the name of the chair but he proudly held up his shiny new I pad and said there are 14,000 jobs on seek and I could get one easily. It may not fit my skills but that did not bother him.

I tried to explain that many people do not have internet or phones or many in Avondale, where I live are immigrants without the required language skills.
His reply was directed at me and that perhaps I should not be too choosy.

I said it does not make sense for me to go off and pick fruit when I am nearly finished a Masters degree in Public Health.
The word dolt! entered my mind when listening to this pompous prick with an I Pad tell me there are 17,000 jobs on seek.

I guess I can only hope that common sense prevails and this lot of DOLTs get voted out.

When you are creating the problem, (jobless) blaming them for being jobless does not bring about change.

What is needed is a proper structure in place to train young people and prepare them for real jobs. Not everyone is going to go to University and the cleaners,cooks and childcare workers are undervalued and underpaid.

To solve any problem I learned from Paolo Friere that you must be able to understand what the problem really is.
The point I wanted to make was why test beneficiaries for using drugs when there are no jobs. I have no issue with drug testing once a person has a contract for a job and that the job requires a level of alertness or safety that drug testing is justified.

It costs over $100.00 to test for substances in a body. Plus most substances, E, alcohol , P and LSD etc have been passed out leaving only cannabis remaining in the system for detection. why waste time and money  when the goal is to create employment and more REAL jobs.

Right now there is extra seasonal work , pre- Christmas but that is not going to last.
I hope they understood me, that it is a pointless exercise, and one that smacks of coercion and bullying to attack the weakest and most vulnerable when a real job at a real living wage is what is needed.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Times have changed

I heard an interesting speaker in the weekend talk about drugs and changing our consciousness . His topic showed that for the whole of mans time on Earth we have been enjoying getting high, From  the ancient rock drawings on caves to buried herb burning bowls, for ritual, people have liked to use substances to alter their perception.  Alcohol is the main drug used today . It is legal and widely accepted plus it is also very cheap. 80% of New Zealander's over 18 have tried alcohol.

I come from parent who were minimal users of alcohol. They were daily drinkers , yes but drank about a thimble full each night with dinner. Port for or Sherry. Eeew.
They were not part of any party set.

In fact seriously straight probably best describes them. the most entertaining of their friends once leapt into his pool at a party with his socks still on. to my parents this was hilarious . Quite outrageous behaviour. Hmmm not quite scandalous or even risky compared to behaviour these days.
The range of substances available and used by many today is also astounding.

At the Meeting another speaker asked us to name  the different substances people commonly use and then we rated their harm individually. What was amazing to me was I am so unfamiliar with many of the substances. I know my ABC's and BZP and P , E and LSD but I am not too sure about MMD and DMT sounds very close to MSD??

Being an advocate of Cannabis Law Reform and also a Drug and Alcohol Counsellor I was surprised by my own ignorance. I am naive to the point I do not know what some of these products are or their effects. Certainly I have tried some pills for educational purposes and in my experience I do not get any pleasure from them.

 I then had to question am I a product of my parents and super straight too?  

Monday, 19 November 2012

LOSER? Who me?

I wonder what sort of person, immediately calls a person a loser because they disagree with what you are saying? It has been said that the person who resorts to name calling has already lost the argument. Clearly they are unable to argue with fact or reason. 

Yesterday I rang a well known talk-back radio station to comment on a facebook posting  that invited callers to comment on Kim Dotcom calling John Key a liar. I felt qualified to phone in and comment as I saw the interview with Kim Dotcom on the television. Problem was , instead of getting Mike Yardley in Christchurch I got some buffoon called Elation in Auckland who promptly called me a loser for voicing my opinion.

He asked what evidence did I have for my assertion and I and said body language but his credibility.That John Key has been seen to be not telling the truth on several occasions previously.  He mocked me and called me a loser. 

I have had a day to reflect on my loser status and I have come to the conclusion , that I am not a loser. I work 6 days a week in my cafe business and am not a loser.
I have raised three children mostly on my own and with very little income . I am not a loser. 
My two school aged children are doing well at school and are well liked by their teachers.

I am not a loser as I survived the Christchurch earthquake, sold my house and moved to Auckland on my own. I am neither a quitter or a loser.
I fight for the under dog and may be a little different to some peoples opinion of what makes a winner. 
But I participated in Occupy and felt more alive there, than I have ever have .... any where.
I also protested against the closure of the Avondale Post Office as part of the community I now belong to. I belong to Auckland Action Against Poverty.

I care, and that makes me an OK person , If not Lame Leighton's view of a winner.

His idea of a winner seems to be a male. Perhaps one with money and more power. His idea of a winner is a bully who can name call . 
I do not have status. I am not rich. I have been to court for my beliefs and will sit in a cell again . 
I care about the children and young people who have not got a voice. I care about the people who cannot read or write and cannot participate.
I have a voice and no one can silence me or make me a loser. 

Monday, 10 September 2012

New Zealand is an alcoholic country awash in denial

I am perplexed as to the character of those currently sitting in Parliament. Especially those leaning right and wearing expensive suits. No amount of dry-cleaning will be able to rid them of the smell of hypocrisy. I am referring to those in power who want us to believe- cannabis bad, alcohol good. It's so Orwellian like two legs good , four legs better.

Every study from around the world tells us that like tobacco, alcohol is an addictive drug and it's harm outweighs its pleasures for many people. I do not want to ban alcohol I want some fairness. Last night the Campbell show featured a story about an ordinary woman and her fall from grace due to her dependence on alcohol. Those people are everywhere. They are normal part of society and a product of what happens when we normalise an essentially unsafe commodity. They feel ashamed but carry on drinking. Its too easy to get alcohol 24/7 and its cheap.

The opposite is also occurring, where the people, who use cannabis , (often instead of alcohol) are being demonised. This week the presenter of  the Q+A programme said in relation to something about the drug testing of beneficiaries , "Lazy , over paid, dope smoking crims". How outrageous and offensive!

How very disingenious of our politicians to want to bring all sort of punishment down on a few people who smoke cannabis. Was this a response to the Court Protest in Palmerston North, where Billy McKee pleaded with a judge for permission to use cannabis. Billy McKee is 57 and an amputee as the result of a drunk driver. It would be ironic if it wasn't so sad. His supporters protested outside the court. I made a sign that said , Doctors not Judges. I want a doctor to have the power to say , this man can benefit from this treatment.

Judges do not like to be challenged. In court they are always listened too and of course always right. Maybe they are right and it is the Law that is wrong in this case.

Lazy , over paid chardonnay drinking crims may also apply to the politicians. How is it that over 52% of New Zealanders' have tried cannabis and in one longitudinal study the figure was 72% of the cohort had tried cannabis. What they are saying and it makes me feel sick to my stomach is, it's ok to punish people for a harmless act. In fact they are so far removed the reality of truthfulness, in suggesting this because imagine that before any beneficiary is drug tested we were able to apply the same principle to our MP's. And why stop at drug testing them , shouldn't they all be breathalysed each morning before they come to work?

I am sick of lies and double standards. We all know that people smoke cannabis with very little harm all over the world. We also know that these people in power have family and friends that smoke cannabis as cannabis is used across the whole of society. It just suits the media to only show the poorest of the people who have nothing to lose to make a point. You would be forgetting the American Billionaire who came to new Zealand on his super yacht was caught with hash and cannabis in 1999 and Richard Branson is in favour of legalising cannabis. Hardly loser types.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

RESPECT for change

In New Zealand the word respect is not used often enough. We pay lip service to the word and teach it at schools. You will find that the word respect is used liberally when teaching children. Yet when I think of the New Zealand culture and respect as a value. We come up short.

The type of words to describe our national team are strong , winners and skilled. Respectful is not a word we use often in our sporting language.  Instead of showing respect and honouring our worthy opponents, our strategy has been to discredit or undermine them.

Compare this to a Japanese tradition of showing respect. Because the Japanese culture is much older it has developed a more tolerant approach to many things.

In New Zealand we also show little respect for alcohol. We drink unsafely , drink excessive amounts, binge drink and injure ourselves and others. By contrast, in Japan, many centuries of drinking alcohol has seen a greater respect for the consumption of it and respectful treatment of each other. Drunks are not hooligans and do not drive.

We also need to show respect for each other. I know it is not our nature, as the competitive culture we are raised in tends to make winners and losers and not great shows of solidarity, but I think we need to learn to respect others more, than winning.

I also want to think about a more respectful way forward for the Cannabis Law Reform Movement.

In the past we have fought for law reform, perhaps now we need to change our approach and show some respect and demand it in return.

The cannabis law reform movt. is not about cannabis, or smoking it. It about people. The people who are now standing up for their rights and challenging the courts, deserve respect.

They deserve respect for coming out and standing up for their rights and the rights of others.

It is the Billy McKee's , the Peter Davy's, Neville Yates and the Ann Vernon's who are respectfully urging the public to consider why they should not be allowed to use this effective medicine.

Not only are they challenging the Government, for it's refusal to adopt any of the Law Commissions recommendations on Medical Marijuana.

They are challenging the COURT's as judges are not doctors.

I want to challenge you to respect a persons right to choose what they want to put into their body and wonder why cannabis users don't deserve the same respect as any other group in society.
Can you name one harm that an adult cannabis user may be doing to society?
Is it greater than the harm that is done to cannabis users and growers through our current court system and prisons?

I have the greatest respect for those that are trying to change the laws and not blowing smoke in people faces.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

The Glass Bead Game

Beads of courage are part of a programme in cancer treatment for children. A lovely little glass bead is given to make a necklace or bracelet for the patient, at every procedure. An injection, dressing change or blood test are all marked with the addition of a pretty little glass bead.

 I am beginning to wonder if there should not be something similar for every person who attends a funeral for someone who has taken their own life.

On Friday I came home from a sunny island holiday to the grim news that a friend and colleague had taken his own life. His name was Stephen. He was a special man , a loved father and husband and a gifted musician .Like me he was born in 1965 . It was only when I got home and started to get my own thoughts together that I realised, the last funeral I had attended was also for a person called Stephen, although we knew him as Steve. This Steve was also a father and loved partner and also took his life due to a long standing issue with depression due to drugs.

While on holiday, I met a man whose son had taken his own life three years earlier. Unfortunately his best mate in new Zealand was now experiencing the same thing. 
I opened the paper on Sunday and read of yet another mans story. The "High price of pretence" is how Graham Skellern describes the stigma that surrounds mental illness, bipolar and eventually his son's depression that led to his death. The young man in question was a superb athlete and also close to completing a Masters Thesis on surf protection. The world was his oyster and yet for him due to his illness life had no lustre.

And on the National radio today I heard of yet another father, Arthur Harawira, who also lost a son to suicide is forming a new group,Fathers against suicide will be speaking to schools to tell children that they love them .

I wonder just what can be done to prevent this epidemic of death that could be prevented.
In New Zealand around 500 deaths each year are attributed to suicide. Many more people are harmed or injured while attempting to take their own life. Even more deaths deemed to be accidental may well be suicide.

I have been fortunate to have been trusted enough, that people have confided to me, that their intention was to end their life in my former role as a counsellor. Each time I swallowed down the shock and terror I felt and attempted to stay calm and comfort the person as best I could. My belief is that their illness distorts the persons thinking to the point where they feel hopeless and without any value. My solution has been to stay at their home out of sight but there to stop the act of suicide taking place. An ear to listen and not judge and person who can just make a cup of tea and be a quiet presence.

If I could, I would financially fund a service that sends a little guardian angel to be with any person who reaches out to a service like lifeline for help. Any person who says," I am going to end my life. I have no hope left! "
 Some would say that is not going to work , 24 hour care is too expensive. I have to ask , how can that be true when we spend hundreds of thousands of dollars patching up accident victims in hospital? All cancer treatments cost thousands. So a few days of caring is a cheap solution if it allows a person to be saved.

Three days may be all that is required for a person to get some rest, feel a little more hopeful, know that someone cares and that they may need to try medication or move into some better care facility. But by not having any quick response service for these people many lives are being lost that potentially could be saved. Not only that , once recovered these are the people best to be part of the support group to help others.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Oh No, Not again! Cannabis Law Reform 101

Once again the Daktory cannabis club was raided by the police last night. It's not that I don't support the Daktory, I take my Hat off to Dakta Green, and his supporters, but I do think the adage applies, if you keep doing what you have always done , you will get what you have always got . In their case arrested!

There are no winners in arresting Dakta Green, the police appear over zealous and Dakta Green is likely to then become another cost to the country in jail.

Closer examination of the situation looks a bit like a Mexican stand -off. Green has plenty of supporters and support for the cannabis club and the police, it can be argued are only doing their job.  But is this how the Cannabis Law Reform battle is going to be played out?

There are several stake holders in the game of Law reform through civil disobedience. In many ways its a repeat of what when on in massage parlours around the country for decades until the law regulated the industry with health concerns and age restrictions.

The stakeholders are the growers, sellers, and buyers versus the law and the treatment fraternity who claim that cannabis is the biggest cause of presentations to health services of illegal drugs. But as a Chief Medical Officer from Wellington, was recently on the radio saying that cannabis accounts for only one in 500 presentations to hospital compared to alcohol abuse.  He is not alone. Professor Doug Sellman will admit readily that alcohol causes more harm to the community to cannabis as will Prof. David Nutt of the UK. Nutt was the head of the the UK scientific drug research programme until he was fired for saying, that Esctasy is safer than horse riding, a  fact that drove the Government into overdrive until he was sacked.

While Dakta Green is doing what he believes is right for Law reform, there are other options to pursue and many that pose less risk. The Law Commission conducted a review of cannabis and came up with many recommendations , including investigation into medical uses of cannabis and lower sanctions for social dealing. The law commission remained clear that commercial scale operations would not be tolerated.

Things are pretty confused, I will admit, as presently a great number of sick people and invalids are appearing before a judge who is forced to make a legal decision on what perhaps, may be a moral and ethical issue as well as a legal one. Most people will agree that the courts are not the right places for medical decisions as there are not too many judges, that are also medical doctors. How difficult it must be for a compassionate person to see an amputee in a wheel chair and deny him or her the use of a plant for therapeutic purposes.

Why should they even be in this position?

Billy McKee is a veteran activist for cannabis law reform and is an amputee. Right now , he is on trial for supplying cannabis to other sick people. He makes no financial gain. his lifestyle is simple and he tends not to smoke the cannabis plant but apply it as a poultice.

 I think this is the common cause for people to unite for. Regardless of your feeling about smoking a plant, or legalising cannabis. In this day and age, cannabis should be allowed as a medicine and all barriers preventing this, should be removed. Any invalid will tell you, life with pain is difficult enough without further restrictions on the individuals right to, choice of treatment. Plus it is only in keeping with what has already occurring in most places in the USA and Canada and of course has been common practice for the past thousands of years in Asia.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

What about the children? Paula.

Michael Jackson loved children and wanted to live his life sharing the joy and wonderment with them. Perhaps he loved some children too much . The question that is on my mind today is the fact that Paula Bennett seems to want to have a discussion that begins with , it's worth considering sterelising mothers rather than allowing them to breed more children to harm and kill. Hekia Parata wants to reduce facilities in our Intermediate schools in an effort to save money.

Both of these initiatives directly affect young people and yet when do we hear the voice of these young people. Their voices are silenced in this country. They have no volume switch to turn up, to be heard even.

I believe that we use the wrong lens to view our social problems. We let our anger get in the way and we use our power to blame and manipulate people and attempt to control the environment. When that fails again we punish harder.

What I think we should be doing is turning our focus onto the children and looking at ways to provide better safety, shelter, food and clothing. If warmth is lacking the home, it is time to remember the most basic of human rights; is the right to safety and have access to shelter and food.

 Instead of intensively focussing on the damaged , hopeless, ill, depressed or impoverished parents who fail to be capable, we need to provide the safety net to their children. These children of school age will speak up for their younger siblings too provided it is not a dobbing in or narking situation. There needs to be a gentle approach as the lives these children live, are already brutal enough.Children may need more after school and weekend centres, to prevent cases of neglect.

Why are we so moral and quick to point the finger at a crap parent?
 There have always been historical cases of very bleak childhoods, with violence and cruelty. But at some level  we may have to change our ideas about fixing the adults, and just focus on listening to the needs of the children . I have never seen consultation with children in finding the solution apart from some youth court restorative justice conferences.

Punishing the worst of parents tends to perpetuate the problem as to avoid punishment, the parent may suddenly move. Kids need this extra support provided to them for free as it is part of their human rights, given they are the victims in the situation and powerless .

Sunday, 20 May 2012

R20 for ALL. Gambling, Drinking and Smoking.

I have had over ten years experience working with clients with drug and alcohol problems. My speciality is youth, as I am a trained teacher and worked in residential treatment for young people with drug and alcohol problems. The range of problems was broad as was the choice of substances.
One thing that stood out clearly was the younger the using starts , the greater the problem later. When young people, as young as 12 , start regularly drinking alcohol they are like a cluster-bomb of potential accidents and risks. A drunken 12 year old is a lot more vulnerable than a drunken 20 year old. A drunken thirteen year old girl who looks sixteen is even more concern.

Unfortunately the child user is likely to be accessing their alcohol or cannabis or any other substance from home. There for it can be argued, that raising the age makes no difference.

Well, I do believe it makes sense, to raise the age back to 20, because, the well known fact, that people can do what they like in their own home. So if 18 year-olds want to continue to drink. That's fine, do it at home and make sure your parents look after you. No one wants to be tripping over your vomitess mess on Queen St at 2 am. Like wise the hoardes of mini skirted creatures who travel in loud raucous packs, barely able to stand or staggering along in stilettos. Girls some of you look about 14 or 15. ( I have a very impressionable 14 year old) I also think having bars open all night is madness.

I am certainly not a wowser or an angel. But I am tired of a patchwork of laws cobbled together that don't represent anything barely coherent. It is not public approval we want to appeal to with this issue. Nor do I require the permission of the alcohol and tobacco industries. Its a public health issue that we must tackle. In this instance we need to swing the pendulum out a little further before it can swing back and forth down the middle. Like all good bell curves the bulk of the population conforms to safe drinking practices. But there is a percentage that will not stop drinking or using any other substance till they physically can't. If you are dealing with the group of youth out at night, a quick round up of the most affected usually confirms they are already well known to the police and agencies.

If we removed alcohol from all supermarkets. (Not just the great ones in Waitakere) we have had a major step forward. Then remove cigarettes from them, dairies and garages. Why? Because they are drugs and for adults. These substances are psycho-active and alter our mood and behaviour. I think that is reason enough for them to made available to those only 20 and over. The equivalent, is visiting a doctor to be prescribed a psycho-active substance, which requires 7 years study to ensure the substance prescribed is the correct one.

There are a flood of drugs available and many young people are mixing them with the most readily available one, alcohol. Often the results are tragic, sometimes fatal.

5000 New Zealanders die each year as a result of smoking. I find that too many and unacceptable. I don't want to bury any of my family and friends due to smoking . Cigarettes are one drug that I don't want to see 12 year olds using and yet statistically most young people start smoking at 14. If we could break the uptake in young people we would have the problems associated with smoking half solved.

  So my reason for wanting the R20 to be considered is because I want R20 for all drugs and I want cannabis included in the equation. Cannabis is the third most popular drug used in new Zealand and the number one illegally used substance. Tried by 52% of the population and used regularly by 17 it is a waste of time criminalising people for this plant. However due to cannabis being illegal there are few studies to show whether cannabis is as harmful as tobacco when smoked.  Lets do a study, is all I can say.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

John Key , Evil Genius?

I must admit to thinking that John key's latest attack on cannabis users is not fitting for one in his position and nor does it reflect any real truth about drug use in New Zealand. Its actually a pretty low blow to report toxicologist reports showing both pilots, involved in two separate air accidents, had cannabis in their system.
As a person familiar with drug testing and toxicology reports I would be willing to gamble that both of the pilots  consumed alcohol ,a legal drug, in the previous 48 hours prior to the accident. Perhaps they took other medication as well.The thing with flight safety, a period of time must pass before the pilot is able to fly after consuming alcohol. Fortunately alcohol is rarely detected in air accident as it passes through the system usually in under 24 hours.

No one is suggesting that either of the pilots were anything less than professional and nor is the suggestion that cannabis was being consumed to cause the accident.

John Key, as head of tourism is attempting to shift the blame, and responsibility off him, and instead stir up the old bogey, cannabis. It is not original or new, and in this instance it is offensive. There is nothing to suggest that cannabis had any role in two air accidents. Cannabis is not a dangerous drug and it is not the drug that the police are struggling to combat every weekend. Alcohol is responsible for 70 % of hospital admissions in the weekends. ACC statistics will show far more accidents , injuries and deaths are, as the result of rugby and skiing not cannabis. And Extreme sports are called that, for a reason!

The second reason I am annoyed, that John Key believes, he can be so dismissive and critical of cannabis is, because it actually makes good economic sense to, look at taxing and regulating cannabis in New Zealand. Dr Don Brash does not smoke cannabis but he did have the economic numbers to show that decriminalising cannabis stacks up financially.

The estimated tax from the  estimated amount spent on cannabis sales in New Zealand could be as high as NZ$200 million. Currently over NZ$120 million is spent on enforcing the current laws but does not include the court costs.

I think the evil genius of John Key's plan to make disparaging comments about cannabis and it's users is insulting. One real issue in Parliament that perhaps John Key does not want to draw attention to is his views on raising the alcohol age . His conscience votes shows little desire to mess with the relationship that the National Party has with the alcohol industry and indications show his intention is to split the age to 18 for an on licence and 20 for an off licence. A little twiddle unlikely to result in any noticeable difference.

Like the Emperors' new clothes. The fable has the Emperor, parading naked in the belief his clothes are wonderful. The actual real naked lie is the one that is being perpetuated , by a Minister of Tourism who could well benefit from seeing that cannabis and tourism may belong together. Hemp clothing is also very popular with thousands of New Zealanders and tourists who know a bit more about cannabis than our PM. I just wish he would stop, discriminating against cannabis users, many are medicinal, but that is a whole new blog.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Learning to get along, Lessons from Occupy

I have been a member of a number of groups. I like being part of a group and I especially like sharing a common -stated-goal. Maybe I am more goal orientated than other people. I like to achieve a goal. I don't know, but just as many groups I have worked with have failed in some ways. Or possibly I am too difficult to work with. I am not called the dissenter for nothin!

However after a few late night discussions with others, one idea struck me, that democracy is disappearing from our political landscape. It is being eroded by stealth by Corrupt people in Government, who although elected, tend to operate by stealth and without a mandate.

The opposite approach was, what we learnt at Occupy. The GA model meant consensus needed to be reached by all the people who take part in the meetings.

Too often, meetings have an agenda that gets rammed through and even, as part of a committee, who may mostly object, in many instances, the dominant members push through their own agenda. Sometimes deals are done, and even brought to the table mostly completed. To disagree, can be deemed to be time wasting or requesting more information deemed rude!

At Occupy we were able to be open to all questions, and continue the discussion until such a time, as all people were satisfied the outcome would be desirable and acceptable to all.

We all need to learn these skills and look at this type of model, if we truly want to have both, a democratic process and participatory public. Any group can learn to use this model.

What it ensures is that- in meetings and group decision making situations, appropriate time is allocated for all points of view to be heard. Too often, only two opposing views are presented without an opportunity to examine all possible options.

Meetings then tend to become unproductive and hostilities become entrenched. Many groups continue to function with two opposing factions, seeming more happy, to score points than cooperatively seek a solution. What a waste of time and money.

I loved the start of Occupy. It was bursting with new ideas and energy. The challenge to maintain the integrity of the movement and to remain cohesive, was not easy. But I do not believe all is over and done with either. The Occupy Movement is not a spent force, and in America, is reforming, as the cold winter has ended and the Presidential elections are in full swing.

I hope to take some wisdom from Occupy to any meetings I attend, and the main thing is to allow time for everyone to speak, encourage everyone to take part and have their say. Sitting round a table "the twinkle fingers" are also not required. To many people's relief.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Handshakes in politics!

A picture says a thousand words or so the saying goes. For those in Auckland the picture of the one handed hand shake between John Banks and not John Key, has captured another awkward moment for John B.
Hand shakes are the universal sign of acceptance and agreement on a deal.

When three hands are offered, like post RWC the squirmy moment was John Key's. Now it seems the hand is staying firmly in pocket and John Banks one handed shake is a clear sign all is not well.

This Government seems to be rapidly imploding .
Its bungled attempt to sell State assets seems stalled and about to back fire. Well it was not much of a deal now that Bill English seems to be saying the numbers were more of a guess than an accurate prediction.
Well Mr English, as Minister of Finance a guess isn't really good enough.

Things seem to be a little strained between two Mayors as well.
I guess that it doesn't matter?

Gerry Brownlee has not been able to make much progress in Christchurch. It seems that the Salvation Army has largely done the work of the Government and now that it's resources are almost gone, things look bleak in Christchurch.

Len Brown also does not seem to be able to please two masters.
The casino deal stinks and we all know it.

All in all I really don't think it will take much more to pop this balloon of hot air that is the current Government. Protesters marched on Peter Dunne's Electorate to protest the State Asset sales and he did not even come out to talk with them

Self serving is the only way to describe the crop of politicians we have in power.

We elected these people , yet half of us did not want them at all? How did we manage to change the voting system, get MMP and still be stuck with the same FPP mentality ?
Isn't obvious that the National Government is looking after business interests, (its own) before acting in the best interests of the Nation?

I don't have an answer, as to how to fix the problems.
Namely low employment and growing inequality .

But I if the question was, What would be best for the 4 million new Zealanders?
I am sure the answer would not be ,
This Government.

Monday, 30 April 2012

The difference between The Daktory and illegal gangs..

Last week there was an unpleasant incident outside the large community cannabis club known as the Daktory. Reports say, that a member from a patch wearing gang arrived and demanded to be paid a cut, of the Daktory income, as it was on their gangs turf.
The Daktory staff member who came to the door said that no money was going to be paid and there was no reason to make threats.
I am given to understand that serious threats were made and that the police were called after efforts to calm the situation failed.

The police arrived and an arrest was made. Later the same night a large number of police arrived at the Daktory and quoted the MODA and began an unauthorised search. I heard as many as 30 police officers were involved. Doors were kicked in and a substantial amount of damage to property resulted.
Two arrests were made and a small quantity of cannabis was seized again. One person is still detained in prison, as the Daktory was her home.

I want to make the clear distinction between what the Daktory does and is. And what a gang is and does.
I have seen a little of life, more than just watching tv shows depicting gangs, like, Sons off Anarchy but typically women are never in any senior positions in gangs, which would be the main point of difference in this instance. One woman has been single handedly trying to keep the Daktory open while her partner is incarcerated. He had a 8 month sentence increased without a retrial, from 8 to 23 months . Unbelievable. Wrong and unjust.

Violence is part of gang life. The leader of the gang usually holds that position through being the one with the most power or strength. The Daktory has a "No Violence" policy and in over 3 years operation, has never had a major violent event. The Daktory has been searched by the police multiple times and weapons have never been found.  The Daktory does not deal with gangs, have guns or other weapons, or consider civil disobedience to be organised crime.

The Daktory is headquarters for both NORML, National Organisation for the Reform of Marijauna Laws, and the ALCP, The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party. Organisations that have been in existence since the seventies and a political party that has been contesting elections since 1996. Hello!  Could someone please get up of their couch and see what is happening to your rights!

Please come to J  Day and make a large donation to the fund ,So that we can show others what the difference is, between a Club and a gang. Especially when it is a club that exists solely for the right to be able to smoke a plant for your own enjoyment! See you on Saturday.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

The struggle continues... The Daktory busted again last night.

I arrived last night to the Daktory on Delta Ave, New Lynn to see a paddy wagon and a police car. I was sad.  Many people, including myself have spent over a decade researching, writing to MP's , Doctors , Lawyers and Judges about the fact that cannabis is a part of our New Zealand culture. Not only have many people also reached that conclusion; The Law Commission also concluded last year in its report that cannabis has historically been used for medical purposes.

In fact the Law Commission goes as far to say , "At this stage we think that the cultivators of cannabis should be licensed in the same way as other legitimate dealers in controlled drugs" but it also makes the point that cannabis is a medical issue.

This is where I think the issue is and the problem lies.
Cannabis use is medicinal and recreational. Like alcohol, many use cannabis to feel better, many get relief from pain and cannabis has other therapeutic purposes. Where are our human rights to chose our own medicine?

In my opinion the crux of the issue is that cannabis is illegal and comes under the justice department instead of being viewed medical and being treated as a medical issue and sometime problem, like alcohol and tobacco.

It seems logical to treat cannabis in the same way as the two other drugs we have legalised and use frequently.

Shutting down the Daktory is the same as suddenly closing the local watering hole. As anyone familiar with cannabis users will tell you. Stoned people are rarely aggressive, loud , violent or randy. Nor do they have the urge to urinate in gardens or vomit on footpaths. I ask, why are we as a society, so tolerant of alcohol and so intolerant of cannabis use?

I am concerned that instead of viewing this model as a safe way to manage cannabis use in the community and reduce the rate of alcohol consumption the Police are being used by a Government trying to crack down on the vulnerable. Not only that, the likely result of this police action will only put the money and power back into the hands of the organised criminal gangs.

The people taken in the paddy wagon Gizella Von Trigt, Dakta Blaze and Solar as well as Julian Crawford all deserve recognition of their combined efforts to bring about law reform. Its  not so long ago that brothels were illegal and so was being gay. If you don't agree that's ok, but perhaps its because you just don't understand that over 50% of New Zealanders have tried cannabis. Are we a 50% criminal country or just a country with a law that is criminal?

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Lesson for the year ahead.

2012 is the Chinese year of the dragon.A dragon year is a good year to be born in as it is believed, that the year of the dragon is a powerful symbol of mental agility and power.Many people are feeling the exact opposite right now and view this year with very little optimism or enthusiasm.

I saw a few rumblings at Waitangi but nothing of the grand scale of past years.

However if the papers are to believed there is very little optimism around at the moment.

The National Party is likely to make some serious miscalculations and I am predicting they will be very lucky if they last out this term.
There are a number of fires that that have failed to extinguish . I think the Christchurch earthquake and other unresolved issues are going to bubble over in the coming months.

The second group of people that the Government has ignored and angered is the teachers. The ACT Charter Schools is a joke and at $40,000 tagged funds, per child, you can see why the business model appeals but what about the fate of the education for our young, when the woman at the helm has no experience apart from being on a Board of Trustees?

However if the National Party think that Maori in New Zealand are happy to accept the sale of  State assets and an eroding of Te Puni Kokiri they are not listening. There are a few Maori who have benefited very well out of the treaty settlements. They are typically the Maori who operate in the world far removed from the majority of the beneficiaries among the many tribes

Equally aggrieved are the people of the west Coast and their men down a mine , forgotten. Not by them but the Solid Energy company has passed on the responsibility to the receivers, who don't have any emotional interest or financial reason to help.

The Christchurch situation also beggars belief. I am not trying to show off but I left Christchurch due to the farce of the mayoralty. Nice man, wrong job, seems to apply to several in the CCC . There are people with plans and one visionary called Yani but with Gerry Brownlee on the job I don't hold out much hope for enlightenment, let alone movement forward.

The lesson is, that things do stay the same and yet change is always taking place too. I think the secret is to have faith in your own abilities, be optimistic and make a plan. There is far less resistance than you think. I opened a new business this year . I needed to, as I could not rely on getting a well paid job or even being able to stay on a benefit while job seeking. Have courage, and do what it is that is best for you Over all and before too long we will see a change asnd a back lash to what's happening now. There is a resistance but it takes time to build and be successful.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

X=y2 but does N =Profits b4 (people) ?

What does that mean for the non mathematicians? I think it means the  NATIONAL PARTY (N) lie through their smiling white teeth.
I think, that the situation in the Christchurch council now, is the same situation that will see the National party fail to complete this term. Why, because there has been a total lack of democracy. In Christchurch , the then, Mayor Bob Parker decided to not have a local election due to the earthquake and undemocratically re-elected itself. As if, that lack of decency, and fairness was not obvious the CEO Tony Mariott has seen fit to be rewarded with a $68,000.00 bonus.
Excuse me, but given the state, of the worlds financial market , should  the CEO already, on a half a million dollar package also try and practise a little restraint? Also does that just not rub snot on the face of the people in Chch who desperately want to leave, but can't for lack of funds, seem out of place ?
Once again it begs to look at the cognitive dissonance or huge gap in the rhetoric between what they say they will do, and what they actually will do.

Who else feels that the National Party put profits before people?

I know that senior people in the National Party decided that Kim Dotcom could live in New Zealand and due to his vast wealth his shady  past dealing were overlooked. Not one to miss out on a good time or a golden handshake, john Banks also accepted this man's money and hospitality. The same John Banks who would never ever visit an Occupy and meet some of this countries displaced.

I am beginning to believe that John Key is New Zealand's Gordon Gecko, of the Greed is good mantra! I have no other explanation for all the times he has been able to shrug off the needs and wishes of the common man. John Key has done nothing to get the 29 bodies out of the ground of the Pike River mine. reason , too expensive and best left in the hands of the receivers.

John Keys solution for Christchurch was not one to help the people of Christchurch. No it was to set the old boys building club, Fletchers up for the job of the century and thus eliminating all the small and existing companies out of business or to work at the set rates by the Fletchers crowd. Many people are still waiting an answer and many would leave if the government would step in allow it.

It would seem that they don't want people to have free choice in Chch or access to information either .
Now it seems that the Prime minister is able to renege on all election promises, do as he pleases and do what benefits the few at the top the most.

What should happen ? I think we need to revisit the election , the promises and the fact that over 35% of the people did not vote. I think we need to cull Parliament by the same percentage . If you do not vote for the people in power, then that is a valid choice, and the numbers should represent the proportion of people that did not vote. That would mean a 30% saving and a reduction of the numbers in Parliament. A good thing too.

When you have a Government that puts profits before people , you actually collapse the world economy . As we all know, that if the money does not go to the people, or the jobs are not there for the people to earn money there is going to be a collapse in the economy and a big increase in crime. John Key you need to do a lot better or expect some heavy reactions back.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Lessons in Banking

I will be the first to admit I have an unusual attitude towards money. I have a scrooge mentality and could live on porridge 6 days of the week in order to be able to save for some small luxury once a week. After all we are hardwired in our brains for rewards.  By the same token we have also the ability to develop avoidance techniques to delay or stall an unpleasant activity.

I have little money and being on a fixed income even less choice about how I spend my cash as it goes on rent. Rent first, power and phone second equal and food with the remainder.

One thing that I have been battling with is the banks in New Zealand and in particular the way they punish their clients financially for daring to not have enough money to cover all the outgoings. Sound familiar?
The point that I have been dwelling on, after my time at Occupy and the intensity, that is now on the world financial markets, is I am not going to pay any more fees to banks who already have my all money. In my case I have paid a mortgage for over 20 years an now have suffered a loss due to the earthquake and have also relocated to another city, bringing some expenses. In order to live in my new city I may need to borrow against my asset , my house , of which the bank own the mortgage. Would seem a simple request, borrow against investment, start a new business and income.

Instead the bank, sends off my credit card debt, small amount, and sends it off to a debt collector who adds a $529.00 fee for collection services. I am incensed. This is the the worst kind of rip off. This is worse than Chrisco. Banks are exploiting the poor by making us slaves to their system with ATM cards and internet banking. A system we have to participate but can have no direct control or effect on.

being a student or beneficiary I have had two sorts of treatment from banks. as a graduate I can have a free overdraft and no fees. As a beneficiary I can incur a fee of up to $35. everytime I go over my limit. No free overdraft for someone on a benefit. Given that the fees of $35 or more can be applied and money extracted before the account holder is aware often one more fee is collected thus withdrawing a total of $70 fee on a benefit that may be only $300 to $400 . See what a difference a missing $70 dollars makes when you are that little money.

Currently our banking system places an equal burden on the poor. The poor are discriminated by the fees. Its about time we looked at how banks are profiting off the poor, while the wealthy shield their money from taxes and gain high interest of accounts hidden overseas. This year I am going to be learning a lot about banking and I hope I can share it.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Happy New Year from the Dissenter

Hi and Happy New Year all. I would like to say I have been having a great holiday in the sun somewhere but it is all untrue. The reason I have not been blogging is I have been busy opening a new dissenters cafe. That's right. I am so throughly annoyed with the election I decided it's time to create some more like minded space.

I have had some big lifestyle changes and made some big changes in my thinking, due in part to my time at Occupy. Going to Occupy was like a 101 in Activism. Fast , hard and great big group to start and and like University only the real stayers at the end.

I went to Occupy as I was disgusted with the National Government and it's attitude towards democracy. I am opposed to privatisation, I don't believe it is democratic for THEM to sell what WE own , when we did nt want it or vote for it even. So having National re-elected was no real surprise but a disappointment on many levels.

At the beginning of the Election campaign I was supportive of the ALCP the Aotearoa Legalise cannabis Party as they are the real stayers in terms of years as a party and contested elections. Unfortunately they lack the funds and finesse of the larger parties and they lack cohesion in their message.

I went to Occupy to support the Global Occupy Movt. however in creating the Occupy movt. many of the old rules also applied in our new Occupy. The same discrimination was applied to cannabis activists without even the sniff of use, just like the other society. In fact the number of cannabis activists and supporters without ever being overt was a large number of the Occupy movt.

Occupy still is going but the demands of children and school holidays, Christmas meant that my last visit to Occupy was to take down some Xmas Cheers.

So far this year, the National Government is rushing through legislation about food and as we all watch the Rena break up and spill it contents along the shore. We can only hope that something that catastrophic will happen to the National Party, ACT, UF cabal and sanity and democracy shall return.

Alternatively, and by not scolding those who did not vote, perhaps some of the 100% of representatives (MPs) should reduce their numbers to be like 68% representative. Representing only the percentage of voters who engaged in the voting process.