The first I heard of the Population Policy Brouhaha was earlier today as I was campaigning on Queen Street with Zachary Dorner and Gareth Hughes encouraging young workers to take advantage of their legal rights to paid time off work to vote on Saturday the 8th…
Needless to say I was a little confused…I hadn’t watched TV last night as I was cooking for friends, and I hadn’t had a chance to read the newspapers today, so I was unsure what the story was.
So I did what every good informed citizen does, I went home and read the population policy. Then I watched TV3’s news story, and, mouth agog, I had a read about what everyone was saying.
Elections are critical times to get the stories right. You don’t get a chance for corrections or alterations if someone gets it wrong, even if you do. You get one chance to get your message across and that’s it. Unfortunately, we were denied that chance.
TV3’s reporting was shoddy and sensational on a very important issue A global storm is coming in the form of climate change that will uproot hundreds of millions of people, developing countries continue to experience economic and population growth as living standards improve, a fact that we should not begrudge or seek to curtail.
The Green Party are the only mainstream party that has the gumption and the courage to look at the challenges of the future and start some discussions about how we are going to support our nation with finite resources.
Enter David Farrar and his Strawman. Normally I’m a regular reader of Kiwiblog: Farrar is a relatively cogent writer two thirds of the time, but it seems that election years bring out the worst in him.
An issue that would normally have led to some rational discourse on his part – whether be it new energy efficiency building codes or this population policy – inexorably causes the the blinders go up and the blood pressure to go through the roof. Suddenly any screaming hysterical response is fair game, in order to whip up a frothing at the mouth frenzy among his substantially angry readership.
It doesn’t matter if those responses are incorrect or false. It doesn’t matter if they’re deliberate misinterpretations. It doesn’t matter if they’re cherry picked out of context. What matters is if you say something often enough, it becomes common sense. And to the Dad4Justices of the world, those angry men who predominatly read Kiwiblog, Common Sense is what really matters.
According to Farrar:
“The Greens want negative population growth”
Wrong. If Farrar had bothered reading our FULL Population Policy, rather than relying on that bastion of objective analysis, the New Zealand Herald, he would have noted nowhere in our policy to do we advocate or promote negative population growth.
Current projections from Statistics New Zealand indicate our population is likely to level off at around the 5.5 million mark. Funnily enough this is under the predicted ecological carrying capacity of New Zealand anyway. Nowhere in our policy implicitly or explicitly do we advocate negative population growth. But that’s not important to Farrar or his readers: why let the truth get in the way of a good angry ignorant rant?
If Farrar had bothered to read our population policy – hell, if he’d bothered to browse the policy summary so kindly available for him on the Greens website rather than cherry pick some things to twist out of context – he would have seen that the maximum sustainable population for New Zealand that will keep allowing him to enjoy the lifestyle he’s so hell bent on ruining by voting for National is not final or fixed, but flexible. That means that if we get our arses into gear and stop consuming natural resources beyond what our systems can provide, then we can support more people. But if we insist on, and indeed advocate for as Farrar and the National Party do – consuming more than our fair share and beyond our means, then we’re up shit creek.
Methinks the reason Farrar and his ilk are so angry is that they recognise the truth in what we’re saying. The fat over fed chickens that have eaten beyond what they can afford are coming home to roost, and the roof is caving in.
“You will have to build up enough carbon credits in order to get permission to have a child.”
Wrong. This line’s so retarded I shouldn’t even have to address it. Yes David! And if you have more than the limited number of children, we’ll turn them into organic fertiliser. Would you like to take that line and run a wild eyed post on that too?
“So let’s make sure we have this right. NZ already has a shrinking population from fertility. But in order to allow India, Libya, Saudia Arabia, Pakistan and the Niger to carry on with their over-populating, NZ families should have less children.”
Wrong. Again. If Farrar had bothered to read the damn policy, he would understand that we do not advocate people having less children. What we suggest is that people and are informed about the issues of constrained resources, something that Farrar clearly isn’t. I especially find this part deliciously ironic because you can bet your bottom dollar that it would be someone from the Kiwiblog Right who would make the first utterance about Bloody Useless Maoris Breeding For Business™. Maybe it’s only ok to talk about how many children people should have if they’re brown? Wasn’t it National that advocated putting a limit on how many Useless Teenage Mums could have last election?
“What this means is taxpayer funded bureaucrats working on pamphlets and seminars to frighten parents off having more kids. Can you imagine every school in NZ having some dour faced do gooder preaching to all the kids they they should not have children, in order to save the planet.”
Wrong. Unlike the National Party, the Greens don’t believe in frightening people into making decisions. Communities need to know about the consequences of their collective decisions. People are free to have as many babies as they want. People also need to know that lots and lots of babies will put pressure on our resources, and we need to get prepared now to deal with extra pressure if we collectively choose to go down that path.
Farrar is of course aware of all of this. It doesn’t matter – real ideas and arguments are irrelevant to him. You see, Farrar is the master of the strawman – a fake argument that’s put up by someone to falsely represent another’s position, only to have it torn down in a raging frenzy. It gets people angry. It gets people upset. It gets the Anti PC, Nanny State crusaders chafing at the bit. That’s what it’s all about in Election ’08
It’s a real pity that he chooses to engage in that type of rhetoric. It doesn’t do him justice.