Public bigger spy threat than GCSB

A lot has been said about the risks to the New Zealand public from spying by Government agencies the SIS and the GCSB, with scant evidence of there being any actual risk to most people.

In her latest Herald column Kerry McIvor makes an interesting point, suggesting that  public ‘spies’ are a bigger risk than the GCSB – Forget GCSB, public are the spies.

She refers to the surveillance, photographing and audio recording of Aaron Smith’s toilet liaison by a couple of of ordinary people (we are led to believe, unless the SIS has a Public Morals division that we don’t know about).

Which reinforces my opinion that it’s not the Government and the GCSB we have to worry about spying on us.

Its our fellow citizens and their smartphones. Nobody is safe, as Smith discovered.

I can only imagine the incredulity from the All Blacks team management when they heard of the incident: “He’s done what?!” “He did it where?!” “They recorded it?!”

How Smith thought he could get away with a liaison in a public toilet, at an airport – while people were queued outside the door, for heaven’s sake – is beyond me. That level of idiocy is mind-boggling.

But the woman in the loo wasn’t coerced. She was a willing participant.

That’s an assumption only that’s been made. We have very little evidence provided to us (fortunately).

What we have is the court of public opinion, or rather the court of media sensationalising, driven by scant evidence given to media by a couple of public spies.

This has been just about as bad as the office sex recording in Christchurch where a couple weren’t as private as they thought but a public spy recorded them and then they were harassed to an extreme level by media.

How many innocent people have had their lives trashed by the SIS or the GCSB?

Perhaps it’s not ‘big brother’ we should be worrying about (ok, we should still worry about that a bit) but rather ‘member of public with recording device’ plus ‘media intent on sensation and clicks’ may be our biggest risk.

How long will it be until a member of the public uses a drone to record something that is then used to trash a few people’s lives?

But the biggest spy risk is probably smart phones with dumb users and dumber media.

Stroppy and strident women versus whining

Kerry McIvor may cop a bit of stroppy whining for her Weekend Herald column Workers, take to the streets.

That men earn more than women is not news. Feminists, lobbyists and advocacy groups all around the Western world have been banging on about the pay gap for years as an example of women being exploited by the patriarchy.

There are two parts to the complaint – one is that women earn just 86 cents to every dollar a man earns.

The second is that in occupations and professions dominated by women, the pay is far lower than jobs where men are in the majority. Nurses and police officers, for example.

Advocates for reducing the gender pay gap say the two professions require similar training, face similar dangers and work similar hours – yet police officers earn a much higher hourly rate than nurses.

I don’t buy the apples and pears argument. If a woman police officer, with the same qualifications, training and experience as her male colleague was earning less than him, then sure, hand me a placard and see me march in the street.

Similarly, if a male teacher was earning more than his female colleagues, I’d storm the staffroom with the sisterhood. But once we start comparing occupations, the arguments aren’t valid.

Trying to compare occupations is fraught with problems and often self interest. I don’t hear police officers claiming their pay rates should be reduced to nurse salary levels.

McIvor concludes:

We are lucky to live in a country that offers us choice. So get on with it. If you feel you’re being undervalued and underpaid, join your union and use the power of your collective labour to bring about change. That’s how it was done by workers in years gone by.

We have a history of stroppy and strident women changing the way things are done. Whining that you’re unfairly treated simply because you’re a woman does them, and women workers, a disservice.

It won’t be universally popular amongst women by she has a point about the ‘poor me’ whiny syndrome versus stridently getting on and trying to change things for the better.

One thing that often seems to be missed from gender pay equality arguments is the possibility that many women may have different priorities and are so driven by wealth accumulation.

I once told someone that I didn’t think I’d ever be wealthy as that wasn’t my biggest priority, and she said “Look at the wealth you’ve got, a good home and a great family”.

I could have earned and could still earn more if money was my sole focus, but there’s more to life than a high earning job and a bank balance.

Perhaps similar sentiments are more common with women rather than with men.

You can’t make people earn more. Whining about others earning more is unlikely to change much.