Monday, July 20, 2009

Can't explain

Man came on the radio to tell me that the task of welfare provision for Maori should be taken from the state and put into the hands of iwi and churches. Said man was Rob McLeod, who runs the Business Roundtable. He was talking about one of said Roundtable's many reports, this one written by one Lindsay Mitchell. I was stunned. It was too early for this sort of thing - the lead story starting the week on Nine to Noon. It was like waking up to martial music on the radio and the sound of tanks and marching feet.

An aside: the report apparently is written by Lindsay Mitchell; Here, for the benefit of younger readers, is an example of the incisive analysis for which Ms Mitchell is famed:
Phil Goff wants the dole paid to people whose partners are working. What a hypocrite. It is Labour's pursuit of means-testing egalitarianism which has left New Zealanders with a tax-funded unemployment insurance system which rips half of them off when push comes to shove.
Makes no sense whatsoever, does it? Anyway, back to the chase.

But why, you may ask (I know I did) is NatRad doing this sort of thing? Is this report urgent, important, innovative, unusual? No, none of the above. It is the same old bollocks that the Business Roundtable has always been producing at the behest of its corporate sponsors. Here is how it goes: the problem is the state; the solution is the private "sector." In between problem and solution is some analysis, a bunch of self-justifying hyperbole, dodgy statistics and sweeping assumptions, all wrapped up in Friedmanite rhetoric.

How do I know this? I don't. I am just guessing. All the other reports have been like this, so why not this one? In any case, where is this one? It all seemed terribly important and happening when Ms Ryan was talking to Mr McLeod about it, but can you find it? I know I can't. I looked here and I looked there and there was no mention of it, not even on the Business Roundtable site. Where can it be?

So why is Nine to Noon giving this space cadet so much valuable airtime to spout? Really, why? This report is neither interesting, relevant nor new; it may not even be real. So why give him another opportunity to talk the same rubbish that his mob have always been talking? Doesn't Nine to Noon have more important things to talk about?

Things like new research into ADHD, which followed hard on the heels of Mr McLeod; or, even better, the story of a man who bonded with his father when his mother had cancer, by cooking with him. Yes indeedy, cooking, cancer and intergenerational bonding all in one story; for Nine to Noon, which has descended to sub-Listener levels of mawkishness in recent months, this sort of thing is like the perfect alignment of planets: it has heartbreak, father-and-son stuff and recipes.

And wait, there is more: with its usual sensitivity, Nine to Noon today included both an item about urban foraging ("using the internet to share spots where people can find free fruit and other produce") and its usual pretentious foodie stuff: today's recipe was Roasted Fillet of Fish on Caramelized Onion and Fennel, Roasted Beetroot and Garlic with Warm Tomato Vinaigrette and Aioli; followed by Semifreddo Nougat Ice Cream with Grilled Pineapple. Yes, it has something for everything, rich and poor, young and hypochondriac.

Of course, some of us pine for the days when Nine to Noon did not come with all this heartbreak and self-indulgence, when it was about intelligent conversation rather than true-life stories of triumph over adversity; but then we are no longer in the target demographic.

And here's another thing which bothers me: how everyone is prattling on about how absolutely marvelous were Michael Jackson's promo videos. No, they were not; they were just expensive; gaudy, vulgar, and opulent. What follows is a great (and possibly the first) promo. Clearly it was made for about 2s/6d and, equally clearly, the makers only knew two girls. But everybody is cool, and that is what counts.


Tom Semmens said...

To me, the circuit breaker is mashed celeriac. I don't know anyone who has ever made mashed celeriac. I am not sure if I've even seen mashed celeriac. Yet there it is, on featured recipes everywhere.

Lyndon said...

I've found mashing often mentioned in the context of "What in the name of all that's holy do I do with this celeriac" information. I eventually realised I had been trying to mash kohlrabi.

The welfare report will be released this afternoon. Pita Sharples will apparently be attending.

Peter in Dundee said...

Tom, despite having lived and shopped in London, Edinburgh and now small city Scotland I'm not sure I could point out some celeriac to you, were there to be some for sale.

The only place I have ever even eaten it is in restaurants where it comes as an unannounced side. it is not unpleasant, I just don't think it special enough to bother with. But that seems to be how food is now, some food writer will decide celeriac hasn't been mentioned much and suddenly it is everywhere. It'll be artichokes next, see above for my opinion of those.

Just don't get me started on 'superfoods'.

Peter in Dundee said...

As for such Roundtable stuff, obviously if welfare provision to unemployed Maori could be monetised (horrible word) they would be proposing that. But obviously they cannot so some other way must be found to move off the books of poor taxpayers like, erm, themselves (do they pay tax?).

After all unemployed Maori can't even be described as customers (nor can most unemployed of course), so they really are beyond the pale. Just like the Business Roundtable in fact.

I share your depression Paul that they are still like this, though if you are a hammer every problem looks like a nail . . .

David Ritchie said...

The best meal I've ever made had mashed celeriac. Indeed, that's the only time I've ever cooked celeriac, since I'm worried any further attempts to cook it won't actually achieve such heady success.

I'm firmly in the pro-celeriac camp, and will be voting thusly in the upcoming referendum.

Paul said...

Wilted spinach is what bothers me, at least when I am not worrying about the dismantling of the public service. I had always thought that when spinach wilted it should be thrown out, or drowned in a stew; but Top Chefs decided that spinach should be wilted by artificial means and then made into a bed. So for a while, before mashed celeriac became fashionable, all mains in restaurants came on a bed of wilted spinach.