Turei and a Pharmac fallacy

There’s been a lot of speculation about Pharmac in relation to the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. And misinformed comment and misinformation.

In a column (MP’s View) in Dunedin’s The Star Metiria Turei wrote:

Is the TPP agreement good or bad?

There are many questions about what it means, largely because we have been kept in the dark. The agreement has been negotiated in secret and that has made it hard for everyone on both sides of the debate to really understand the impact of it.

Until the Agreement was agreed on of course it was difficult to know what the impact might be. But it was finalised and the full text was made available last year.

So now the text has been released, we can all, for the first time, really look at what is negotiated and make our own judgements.

Let’s look at Pharmac for example. There are many people who are concerned about maintaining access to free and cheap medicines.

So, we are seriously concerned about then increased cost of medicines, especially the new and better ones emerging called biologics. As more of these become available in New Zealand the cost will rise.

It’s unclear what she means by that. Of course if there are more of a group of medicines the cost of that group will probably rise.

The Government estimates a $1 million annual cost to Pharmac but says nothing about increased costs of new medicines.

It’s likely new medicines will be more expensive with or without the TPPA. Medine costs have been rising for decades.

The Government also estimates $4.5 million for the set-up cost and a $2.2 million annual cost of a process to allow Pharmac decisions to be reviewed by other agencies.

Even the most conservative analysis from MFAT shows costs rising but little benefit to sick New Zealanders needing help.

I don’t think anyone expected there would be definable benefits to sick people from the TPPA. I doubt MFAT made an emotional ‘analysis’ like that.

What they do say in Cost to PHARMAC of Implementing the Transparency Annex of TPP :

The analysis below outlines the estimated costs of operating new administrative procedures required under TPP. While these procedures will not change the PHARMAC model or its ability to fund, prioritise, approve or decline applications for funding pharmaceuticals, they do involve some cost to implement.

The actual operating cost to PHARMAC of implementing TPP is likely to be less than the estimates below, partly because PHARMAC may be able to absorb some of the activities required by the Annex within existing resources.

Estimated costs are then detailed, coming to the totals cited by Turei. But Turei doesn’t say that MFAT said that the operating costs are likely to be lower. And MFAT doesn’t say anything like “little benefit to sick New Zealanders needing help”.

And we have listened carefully to the arguments on both sides of this debate.

Medicines is just one example where the details give us all better information about the effects of the TPP agreement.

I encourage you to look a little deeper into it.

This exchange on Facebook has been circulating:

PharmacTPPAMueller

Pharmac director Jens Mueller said:

Any PHARMAC cost increases will be absolutely negligible in comparison to the total PHARMAC budget and the additional export revenues from the TPPA.

An MFAT Fact Sheet says:

Consumers will not pay more for subsidised medicines as a result of TPP. Most prescription medicines are fully subsidised and, with few exceptions, New Zealanders pay no more than $5. TPP does not change this in any way.

I wonder how carefully Turei and the Greens have listened to both sides of the argument. Turei is playing on people’s fears with little justification and only vague assertions.

Reports I’ve seen in media show little concern about the effects of the TPPA and medicine costs.

It looks like Turei is playing on a Pharmac fallacy.

 

Psst, pass it round

Martyn Bradbury is asking social media to pass around the news about his “new progressive current affairs show”.

Pssst – there’s a new progressive current affairs show about to start 7pm weekdays to go up against Story and 7 Sharp

Pssst – TDB whanau – there’s a new progressive current affairs show about to start 7pm weekdays to go up against Story and 7 Sharp but it’s only going to succeed if you who want an alternative pass it around and share it on social media.

More details soon, but start the word now

This appears to be more about trying to stick it to the media man rather than coming up with a forward looking media format.

10847557_424207824413691_2902545023576850790_o-600x366

I’m not sure we will get any more of a good balanced idea of what is going in this country from Martyn Media. We shall see.

He gets some support from Clemgeopin:

Great idea. Looking forward to it. Make it interesting and informative. Be prepared for the attacks from the big media corporates, the right wing rogues and the RW blogs.

I don’t think the big media corporates will care much about it.

Mary_A:

A big thumbs up for a courageous move to get the truth out there to the people. The beginning of the winds of change in visual media alternative news delivery. A definite positive.

Visual media alternative news delivery has been in the midst of a hurricane of change for yonks.

Judy Johannessen:

Looking forward to some unbiased reporting.

I look forward to seeing if that’s possible from a Bradbury enterprise.

An alternative view from Im Right (presumed apostrophe crimes –  ‘Im or I’m?).

Its the only media work you can get Martyn, internet and your own show, TV/Radio dont want to know you as you represent a tiny minority of marxist far left subvertives. Im sure your new show will all be about Key=evil, National the same, and each episode TTP bad etc etc. Good luck though, as long as my tax dollar isnt giving you a platform, its all good.

It’s good that in modern New Zealand private enterprise media is free to have a go. Whether Martyn Media makes much of an impact will be seen soon – he has indicated they will be starting up this week.

I’m curious and prepared to give it a go and see what it’s like.

What Harre really wanted from TPPA questions

Yesterday I posted Some questions about the TPP from a post by Brendon Harre in which he said…

I have an open mind regarding international trade.

I am in favour of free trade reforms if the beneficiaries are spread throughout society.

I am not sure if the TPPA fits into the beneficial category for the ordinary person. I am not sure if trade and democracy are working together like they have in the past or against each other.

I have some questions -not just for the supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership but also to those that oppose it.

He has circulated this on left wing blogs were he has made what he wanted clearer.

At The Daily Blog:

It was directed at both sides. But I mainly want answers from the pro-TPP people because they have done such a poor job answering basic questions.

Some of anti-TPP people have also done a poor job of truthfully answering basic questions.

At The Standard:

I wrote an article about the TPP where it seems we may be in danger of losing important aspects of our democracy. Pro-TPP people have to give some pretty robust answers to some fundamental questions IMHO.

So it’s fairly clear where his TPP allegiances lie.

Are we really “in danger of losing important aspects of our democracy” with the TPP?

I haven’t seen any robust arguments in support of this claim. There seems to be little if anything in the agreement that impacts any more on our democracy than past international agreements.

Every international agreement can put some restriction on what New Zealand can do, but it’s a voluntary restriction that can be reversed if ever our democracy chooses to do so.

Before the TPP agreements was reached last year the anti-TPP warned of a range of specific potential problems.

After the text of the agreement was made public the opposition changed to general terms like anti-democracy and anti-sovereignty.

Brendon, it’s up to you and those who oppose the TPP to make robust arguments for the problems you allege.

In the absence of compelling arguments that our democracy will be compromised I assume there is nothing much we need to be concerned about.

Awaroa Beach – public, not political

Seven hectares of land, including a beach and bush, at Awaroa Inlet at the top of the South Island is for sale for $2 million.

AwaroaInlet

A Givealittle campaign has so far raised $1.2 million to by this with the intention of giving the land to the Able Tasman National Park.

Givealittle: Pristine beach in the heart of the Abel Tasman

There is a pristine piece of beach and bush in the heart of the Abel Tasman up for private sale. Together we can buy it and gift it to NZ.

Main image

We rang DOC and they said they had been interested in it, but market price was out of their ballpark. We will gift it to DOC, or a suitable trust. The bottom line for this project is that this beautiful piece of NZ is off the market permanently for all to enjoy.

Not really the time for political aspects of this or relying on ‘the government’. Even our NGO’s can’t mobilise in this timeframe. It might simply be vote with your feet before the opportunity passes.

NZ Herald reports:

Last week, Conservation Minister Maggie Barry confirmed that the beach would be added to the Abel Tasman National Park if the online campaign to buy the land succeeded.

Today, Ms Barry said she had instructed conservation officials to speak to the organisers of the campaign about the legal requirements for making the beach part of the national park.

If the target were reached, free access would be secured for the public in perpetuity.

The Department of Conservation has previously said that it is not interested in buying the spot because it is not considered a precious ecological site, but it would be open to receiving the land as a gift.

A spokesman said the department could not justify spending $2 million on 800m of beach and a section of kanuka scrub.

Sounds good. DOC can’t justify buying the land so a public campaign is raising money to buy it and gift it to New Zealand and New Zealanders. They are well on their way to raising the money.

So why the hell has Andrew Little got involved?

Taxpayer money should help buy Awaroa beach: Labour

Today, Labour leader Andrew Little said the Government should make it a Waitangi weekend to remember by agreeing to meet the remaining cost of buying the beach.

“The Prime Minister should follow the lead of thousands of Kiwis who have already stumped up half the purchase price because they see this beach as more than just any old piece of land,” Mr Little said.

“More than 11,000 people have chipped in to the campaign because they care and they see access to as much of our coastline as possible as a birthright.”

A remote beach has suddenly become popular. People are doing what they can to gift to to the public, and that is a popular campaign.

There’s no need for politicians to get involved.

This seems to be a lame attempt by Little to make himself popular by jumping on a popular cause. Does he see this as a prudent use of public money? Or is he trying to make the Government look mean if they don’t pony up with the cash.

Well done Duane Major for your initiative and a successful campaign. There’s no need for politicians to try and pinch your popularity.

 

Straddling the political divide

Some see politics as a big division between one thing or another but in reality there’s far more fairly common ground than there are extreme differences.

But today the ODT chose to call their editorial Straddling the political divide, looking ahead to the year in Parliament kicking off. However i think what they are referring to is more of a divide between what the public would like to see of their Members of Parliament and how those MPs present themselves in Parliament.

Parliament resumes tomorrow with the Prime Minister’s statement taking precedence over other business.

While official business takes centre stage tomorrow, the political year started earlier with the State of the Nation speeches by political leaders.

Mr Key can take all the time he needs as his statement has no limit in length. The debate in reply has a limit of 14 hours but the Government can, if it chooses, and it probably will, adjourn the debate and get on with other business. The year needs to start strongly.

The debate in reply begins with the Leader of the Opposition moving a no-confidence vote in the Government and moves on from there into the Opposition parties trying to score some political points against the Government in general and Mr Key in particular.

Mr Key has been untouchable for seven years and will point to the achievements of his Government as he outlines parliamentary priorities for the year ahead. In the past, Mr Key has deviated from his set speech to get a march on the Opposition, which has an advance copy of his address.

Tomorrow can really be the time for Mr Key to put aside the political agenda of trying to make his opponents look silly and provide some uplifting goals to which he aspires.

The Opposition can use their time to avoid making personal attacks and focus on providing some alternatives to what it sees as damaging policies.

All of this seems sadly unlikely and New Zealanders will again be left frustrated on the sides of the political divide.

As I said at the start, I think one of biggest divides in New Zealand politics is  not left versus right (the main parties are often called National Lite and Labour Lite) but a divide between how our Members of Parliament behave in Parliament and how the public would like them to behave.

Robust debate with opponents and challenging policies are very important aspects of a democracy.

But far too often our politicians resort to petty attacking and opposing for the sake of opposing rather than based on common sense.

The tone of our politics and of Parliament must be set from the top, by the party leaders. When did we last have a leader who led by example?

John Key has been a very successful leader but I don’t think he has yet been a great leader. He often tries to be a person of the people, quite successfully going by the polls but that’s probably as much to do with a lack of strong opponents.

Andrew Little is yet to step up as a credible leader.

The party leader I’ve been most impressed with over the annual Waitangi debacle is Winston Peters, who spoke honestly about the core of the problems. Perhaps the wily old campaigner can rise above his usually futile game playing and end his career on a respectable high.

Is Key capable of providing ‘some uplifting goals”?

Or will he continue to massage the masses with meanderings, policy-wise?

Likeable (to half the population) but with modest achievements who eventual fades away? Or can he become a leader of our times? If he aspires to the latter he will need to do more than just wave a flag.

Can Key find a way of straddling the divide between successful politician and aspirational leader? Does he want to?

Site notice

In general things have picked up well here as the new year has cranked up after the holiday period and politicians have emerged from their annual hiatus.

Readership has bounced back and commenting is in the main healthy, with a wide range of opinions being expressed and and good range of ideas and issues contested.

One of the primary aims of Your NZ is to have a forum where anyone regardless of their political leanings or social preferences feels comfortable contributing. Some of the best discussions involve differences of opinion in contest.

Principles of free speech are important here. That means that things may be expressed that others disagree strongly with or find offensive. To an extent that’s something that’s unavoidable. If you start to clamp down on certain things being said because others don’t like it then others with opposite views can ask for limits on things and people they don’t like. That’s a slippery slope I want to avoid here.

Extreme and outlandish comments may be made. Usually the best way to deal with them is ignore them knowing that most people will see the comments as extreme or outlandish, or to contest them with reason and facts.

But free speech here isn’t a blank cheque.

There are things I must not allow if they could present legal risks for this site. The most obvious examples are potential breaches of court ordered suppression or potential defamation.

This could be due to inadvertent overstepping, or it could be deliberate attempts to compromise this site, and the latter has unfortunately happened here last year with concerted attempts to both disrupt this site and to entrap. This resulted in an attempt to gag this site legally via court order, which was averted due to the legal incompetence of the people involved (see Court order discharged  and Questions about HDCA court order if you missed that).

I will challenge people when they make unsubstantiated or false claims and accusations here, so if you make claims about someone else be prepared to back them up. You’re able to challenge me too, I’m prepared to hold myself to the same standards as anyone else.

As much as it’s encouraged to stick to arguing issues there will inevitably be some bickering and personal abuse. Jousting is acceptable to an extent.

But personal abuse and ongoing feuds are strongly discouraged as it is bad for this site because it can discourage others from speaking freely for fear of being attacked. Unfortunately some people in social media use personal attack and abuse as a way of trying to shut down and drive away opinions they want to suppress.

So the greater good of this site must prevail. If someone’s ‘free speech’ has a negative effect on the freedom of others to speak then I’ll ask them to desist. This has usually been sufficient here, most people will acknowledge when they may have overstepped.

In bad cases I’ll edit comments (openly) and if behaviour is persistent or extreme as it did at times last year I’ll take stronger action, including exposing the behaviour. It can come down to them or us and I’ll do what I can to protect us, which is most people participating here.

‘Trolling’ is a tricky issue. One person’s troll can be another person’s hero. The term is used in many ways

I see trolling as persistent and deliberately disruptive behaviour. I don’t want to restrict prolific commenters but if someone appears to be often disruptive, deliberate or not,  then they may be asked to reconsider their approach here.

I’m well aware of difficulties with accusations of trolling and disruption as I’ve been accused of this sort of behaviour on other forums, I believe as a way of trying to shut me up and drive me away. Sometimes those who accuse others of being trolls are the ones doing the trolling. So I may or may not agree with others who make accusations of trolling. It can be difficult to determine actual motives, which is a good reason for a light handed approach.

Please remember and respect the fact that a wide range of people read Your NZ, like any blog there are far more readers than writers, and some of the more extreme and over the top comments of a few can be offensive to many.

While extreme comments reflect mostly on the person who writes them they can upset the feel of the forum, which here aims to be inclusive and non-abusive. So please respect the right of others to not be subjected to material that could generally be seen as offensive.

Most of the time I can keep moderation here low key and light, asking for those who participate to act responsibly, which most do. Most of you most of the time are a credit to Your NZ and contribute to our success.

Thanks for making Your NZ what it is.

Social Media – Monday

8 February 2016

Social Media Watch is an open forum similar to Open Forum where any topic can be introduced, but with a focus on New Zealand blogs and social media.

This expands on the aim for Your NZ to be a joint project with the more people contributing and the more variety the better.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information.

If being critical address the issues and don’t do personal abuse. Constructive and reasonably balanced criticism is more effective than general moans.

As usual avoid anything that could cause any legal issues such as potential defamation or breaching suppression orders.

Also remember that keeping things civil, legal and factual is more effective and harder to argue against or discredit.

Note that sometimes other blogs get irate if their material is highlighted elsewhere but the Internet is specifically designed to share and repeat information and anyone who comments or puts anything into a public forum should be aware that it could be republished elsewhere (but attribution is essential).

If comments raise issues deserving of a full post I may use content to do a post, and may expand on it.

Open Forum – Monday

8 February 2016

Facebook: NZ politics/media+

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is to encourage you to raise topics that interest you. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts.

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some basic ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.
  • Debate hard if you like but respect people’s right to have varying views and to not be personally be attacked.
  • Don’t say to a stranger online anything you wouldn’t say to their face.

Moderation will be minimal if these guidelines are followed. Should they ever be necessary any moderator edits, deletes or bans will be clearly and openly advised.

Some questions about the TPP

Brendon Harre has posted about the Trans-Pacific Partnership and asks a number of questions about aspects of it.

Some questions about the Trans-Pacific Partnership

I have an open mind regarding international trade.

…broadly I am in favour of free trade reforms if the beneficiaries are spread throughout society.

I am not sure if the TPPA fits into the beneficial category for the ordinary person. I am not sure if trade and democracy are working together like they have in the past or against each other. I have some questions -not just for the supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership but also to those that oppose it.

He posts quite a bit of detail so go to his post to see that, but here are his questions.

Trans-Pacific Partnership and Chinese Free Trade Agreement

  • Would someone who is familiar with both the US based Trans-Pacific Partnership and New Zealand’s earlier trade agreement with China explain how they differ and how they fit together?
  • Does the TPPA allow the US to set the global trade rules to benefit its multinational companies?
  • When President Obama says the TPPA will allow the US to set the trade rules for our region is that true?
  • Is the TPPA the best vehicle for New Zealand to avoid being squashed by the fists of China or the United States?
  • Would the World Trade Organisation be a better instrument?
  • Are trade agreements the best tool for achieving non-trade objectives – international peace? In Europe, peace has been the driving force for ever closer unification, but that has led to a governance and economic crisis within the Euro-zone.

Sovereignty

  • Why is that one treaty between the Crown and sovereign peoples -Maori tribes, the adjudicating court is not binding on Parliament, while another treaty -the TPPA the adjudicating court is binding on Parliament?
  • In the future, if New Zealand wants to reassert Parliament’s right to sovereignty over the Investor State Dispute Settlement court -will it be able to -or will New Zealand be like Finland and find it difficult to reclaim lost aspects of sovereignty?

Investor State Dispute Settlement

  • Why do foreign owned companies need to use TPPA-like investor dispute processes against democratic countries which already have the -rule of law?
  • What are these hundreds of cases about?
  • Has the ISDS system gone rogue?
  • If the ISDS system does go rogue what can we do about it? Have an election and throw the buggers out?
  • What safeguards does the TPPA put in place to protect our Parliament and democracy, so it is unimpeded in determining the public interest?
  • Or are we on a slippery slope between democracy and corporate plutocracy?

Some good questions and fuel for discussion on the TPPA.

Details about Brendon’s questions: Some questions about the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Brendon has put his questions to anti-TPPA organiser Barry Coates at The Daily Blog but says he is aiming more at ‘pro-TPP people’:

I wrote an article about the TPP from a centre-left perspective that contained a series of questions. It was directed at both sides. But I mainly want answers from the pro-TPP people because they have done such a poor job answering basic questions.

I think that quite a few anti-TPP people have also done a poor job of answering basic questions too.

Is ‘socialism’ a dirty word?

Mark Dawson, editor of the Wanganui Chronicle, has written about Socialism alive and kicking. 

…here in NZ, socialism seems to be a dirty word, those tagged with it presumably having no table manners and bad body odour.

It depends entirely on how the term is used, and where – Cameron Slater tends to refer to socialism differently to Chris Trotter.

Dawson is obviously a fan of some sort of socialism.

Yet, in reality, socialism is about some sense of equality and fairness in society, some sense of the people – via a democratically elected government – having control over the economy and the services which the country provides by means of taxation, and having some counter-balance to the power of private wealth.

In other words, we might regard New Zealand as a fairly socialist country, and John Key as, at least, a fellow traveller.

It is interesting how words are used and invested with meaning, often for political ends.

Other writers in the Chronicle have noted attempts to turn “activist” into an offensive and derogatory term. It is usually done by those in power who fear they may be the targets of that activism.

Those opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership have been called activists as though it was a bad thing. Some of them are probably socialists, too.

Yes they are – there were socialist banners at last weekend’s Dunedin protest meeting, and on the International Socialist Organisation of Aotearoa/New Zealand website Andrew Tait wrote a post about it – Dunedin Protests the TPPA.

“Socialist”: Someone concerned with the greater good of society, rather than their own personal gain.

Sounds great – and most people have some concern about the greater good of society, although almost everyone also have thoughts about personal gain as well.

“Activist”: Someone who takes action to change aspects of their society which they believe are wrong.

That’s fine too, if the action is reasonable and doesn’t impinge too much on the rights of others.

But I presume those are Dawson’s definitions. Here’s Oxford’s take on it:

socialist

noun: A person who advocates or practises socialism

adjective: Adhering to or based on the principles of socialism

So it’s necessary to check our socialism, and that says that the term has had quite different meanings, from anarchism to social democracy.

socialism

A political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

Policy or practice based on the political and economic theory of socialism.

(In Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of Communism.

Here’s where the International Socialist Organisation of Aotearoa/New Zealand stand on it.

Socialism

Capitalism is a system of crisis, exploitation and war in which production is for profit – not for human need. Although workers create society’s wealth, they have no control over its production or distribution. A new society can only be built when workers collectively seize control of that wealth and create a new state in which they will make the decisions about the economy, social life and the environment.

Workers’ Power

Only the working class has the power to create a society free from exploitation, oppression and want. Liberation can be won only through the struggles of workers themselves, organised independently of other classes and fighting for real workers’ power – a new kind of state based on democratically elected workers’ councils. China and Cuba, like the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, have nothing to do with socialism. They are repressive state capitalist regimes. We support the struggles of workers against every ruling class.

Liberation From Oppression

We fight for democratic rights. We are opposed to all forms of racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. These forms of oppression are used to divide the working class. We support the rights of all oppressed groups to organise for their own defence. All forms of liberation are essential to socialism and impossible without it.

Revolution Not Reformism

Despite the claims of the Labour party and trade union leaders, the structures of the present parliament, army, police, and judiciary cannot be taken over and used by the working class. They grew up under capitalism and are designed to protect the ruling class against workers. There is no parliamentary road to socialism.

Internationalism

Workers in every country are exploited by capitalism, so the struggle for socialism is part of a worldwide struggle. We oppose everything that divides workers of different countries, We oppose all immigration controls. We campaign for solidarity with workers in other countries. We oppose imperialism and support all genuine national liberation struggles.

Revolutionary Organisation

To achieve socialism, the most militant sections of the working class have to be organised into a revolutionary socialist party. Such a party can only be built by day-to-day activity in the mass organisations of the working class. We have to prove in practise that reformist leaders and reformist ideas are opposed to their own interests. We have to build a rank and file movement within the unions.

That’s quite different to Dawson’s slant, far more extreme, revolutionary, than “someone concerned with the greater good of society”.

And ‘activists’ can range from “someone who takes action to change aspects of their society which they believe are wrong” to “collectively seize control”, with contradictions like “we fight for democratic rights” and “there is no parliamentary road to socialism”.

I think that most people in New Zealand are status quoists rather than revolutionaries, where most battles are over which tweaks to the balance between capitalism socialism will be made.

Socialism is a dirty word only if used in a dirty context.

But socialism with all capitalism rejected is not something many Kiwis aspire to.

Most of us are even happy for international corporations to make it easy for us to find stuff on the Internet with ever cheaper and more powerful devices that only the research and development and manufacturing money of capitalists could have enable.

And most of us are happy for ‘big pharma’ to develop new antibiotics and cancer drugs with their big money. Most of us being able to survive early childhood is kinda nice. Even for socialists.

Perhaps Dawson could write his next on editorial asking if capitalism and corparation really are dirty words.

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