Saturday, 8 July 2017

When Power Lusts for Money

What Now, Red Cow

The NZ Labour Party is nostalgically wishing that it could enter a time machine and get back to the late sixties.  Those were the days when Rob Muldoon, leader of the National Party, ran campaign attack ads against the Labour Party festooned with dancing Cossacks and warnings about "Reds under the bed."  Nowadays, as another election approaches, the Labour Party is wishing that it could go back to its glory days and find a few beds to hide under.

The problem is that the Labour Party has dragged out a revolutionary Pancho Villa pistol and shot every red foot in sight.  There was no force involved, you understand.  This was a pure "home goal".

Labour's coffers are a bit on the empty side.  The unions  have successfully captured the party machine and caucus but are scroogish when it comes to dolling out the lucre.  Labour therefore needs an army of gullible unpaid volunteers to work the political campaign.  New Zealand kids are pretty smart, though.  They know full-well that they can sit comfortably on the dole and do virtually nothing.  So, the uber-smart NZ young people looked at the "bargain" the Labour Party was offering them.  Live on the dole, work your butts off as a volunteer at the dirty end of a political campaign (door knocking, phone calling, working eighteen hours a day)--and all for nothing.  Just live off your dole payments.  It was an offer they refused faster than you can say, "Dancing Cossacks".  

So, the Labour Party turned overseas.
 There were much richer pickings to be had amongst furrinners.  Firstly, there was a huge potential labour pool.  Echelons of progressive privileged rich kids, for example, thinking that the world was rapidly turning Red.  Didn't Bernie Sanders conjure up an army of hard working volunteers?  Didn't the youth in that election become the vanguard of the nascent emerging Progressive world order?   And now, an opportunity to fly to Hobbiton--err, New Zealand--and work once again on the front lines of the revolution--but this time at the heart of one of the most progressive nations on earth, the Sweden of the South Pacific.  New Zealand was already the socialist workers paradise.  So the Labour Party was offering them unique experience in political revolution.  It was to be the Progressive version of  jihadi training camps.  But there would be lots of compensations for all those unpaid hours of voluntary sweat and tears.  Treats such as being lectured to by Helen Clark, former Labour PM and until recently No 3 in the UN hierarchy, for one.

Columnist Paul Little writes:
The scheme was a Labour Party scheme run by Labour.  It hadn't been outsourced to McDonald's, although if it had, the kids would have got paid, been better fed and had better working conditions.

Labour's justification seemed to be that when capitalists exploit people, it's exploitation; when the workers' friends exploit people, it's experience.  Andrew Little, who came to the Labour leadership the old-fashioned way, fighting for workers' rights in the union movement, said in explanation that the scheme "had got out of control".  When "got out of control" is the explanation, you're in real trouble.

The interns were undeniably "volunteers", but the question remains: should Labour be using unpaid foreign workers to do its chores when there is no shortage of unemployed New Zealanders who know how a doorbell works and would appreciate a free feed and a bed?  The arrangement may not have been a breach of visa law; it may not have been a breach of employment law; it's certainly a breach of Labour Party principles, from back when the party had principles.  [NZ Herald]
And the details?
The interns were lured here with promotional material that promised "a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in New Zealand politics".  If that wasn't enough to put them off, it went on to say, "There has never been a better time to get on the campaign trail and to work towards a Labour victory in New Zealand's most important city, Auckland."

Who were they targeting? People for whom self-flagellation no longer had any appeal?  "The fellows will be tasked primarily with projects surrounding the recruitment and retention of volunteers."  So they were being recruited to come here and recruit people.  Volunteers could presumably graduate to the "fellow" role depending on how many volunteers they recruited. When I was growing up, we called that pyramid selling.

Despite these warning signs, 85 people were still interested enough to come. As we know, they arrived to find conditions weren't exactly five star - more like half asteroid.  It wasn't all bad. One intern reported that "many of us have had positive experiences", which is a little like saying many of us who underwent waterboarding found it a valuable learning opportunity.

Quite quickly an anonymous intern popped up and gave an interview whose purpose seemed to be to separate the real culprits from anyone near the leadership.  It wasn't the Labour Party's fault, just a few bad eggs.  "I am probably the one who knows the most about the situation for certain reasons," said the intern.  Is this how all Americans talk now? "I can't tell you the reasons, but they are great reasons. These are some of the best reasons."
How gullible, stupid, and naive these "interns" were.  They deserved all they got really, which was a thoroughly over-egged pudding.  But it was the best food they had eaten in a month.  What on earth, apart from ideological blindness, persuaded them to take this "offer that they could not refuse"?    Maybe underneath it all there was a "wink and a nod" carrot dangled in front of the gullible interns.  One of them hinted at it, according to the newspaper article:
Asked about their plans for the future, many of the interns said they would like to stay on.
If the interns worked hard enough, and if the Labour Party were to win the election and form a government, the quid pro quo may have been that the interns would be put on a fast track to permanent visas and ultimately NZ citizenship.   Who knows what secret deals are made in those back rooms where Power lusts for Money.

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