Real Issues Blog

Shouting at elephants

Kieran Madden
11 April 14

Politics here in New Zealand could be seen as an epic battle of invisible elephants. The majority of debates presume that the “other guys” (those who stubbornly disagree with us) are misguided at best, malicious at worst, and that with enough information and evidence they will finally see the light.+ more

Think again

Luke Fenwick
10 April 14

I caught myself last week saying “you learn something new every day.” I try to avoid using clichés that can be bankrupt of meaning, but maybe this one isn’t in that category. It roughly aligns with an idea in the New Zealand Curriculum, “life-long learning,” which is an aspiration of mine. Life-long learning refers to more deliberate learning than our cliché, and I see in it a key to understanding the world better.+ more

Normalising suicide

Jane Silloway Smith
07 April 14

Mental health issues affect a huge number of New Zealanders. The last thing vulnerable members of the public need is to see suicide extensively covered by the media as an object of public fascination – sending unhelpful cultural cues that it’s a viable option. The Law Commission—and Government ministers—see the vast power and sway that learning the details of a suicide death can have on people who may be depressed, lonely, sick, or feeling hopeless and trapped by life.+ more

Who are you reserving a seat in Parliament for?

Jeremy Vargo
05 April 14

Let’s be honest, most New Zealanders would be hard pressed to keep track of who’s actually sitting in every one of the 121 seats, especially as the news tends to focus on just a few ministers and opposition spokespeople. However, in an election year, MMP means that it is super important that we know who makes up the numbers on the lists of the parties we are considering giving our vote to.+ more

Growing Aotearoa

Kieran Madden
03 April 14

Is New Zealand growing better, or worse? Well, it depends on what you look at, of course. Stats New Zealand has just released a tool which may help, called “Tupuranga Aotearoa.” Tupuranga means growth, which has over the past few decades been measured by New Zealand’s average income and GDP.+ more

China: what are we not talking about?

Jane Silloway Smith
28 March 14

As a free people living in a free nation, we should have an interest in at least speaking up for the fundamental right of people in every nation to live free and to have their value and dignity respected by their governments. We should expect our government not to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses and territorial aggression all for the sake of a better trade deal or some geopolitical clout.+ more

This is why politicians don't really need to care about the opinions of young people

Danielle van Dalen
27 March 14

In the 2008 election, a significant number of eligible young people didn’t vote. In fact, almost four out of every ten 18-24 year olds (39.9%) failed to turn up to a voting booth. In the last election, that number rose to 41.8%. That’s worryingly close to half of my peer group silencing their own democratic voice. + more

Is Crimea just a bit of history repeating?

Luke Fenwick
20 March 14

In this spirit, the international community shouldn’t shirk voicing its discontent with the annexation of Crimea and backing up these words with action, especially maintaining sanctions. It should not be passive. Any weakness may allow further Russian expansion under the pretext of protecting Russian-speakers; a Ukrainian friend of mine has posted a link on her Facebook page about just such a fear for Kazakhstan. + more

What do you know about TOMS?

Danielle van Dalen
19 March 14

TOMS, an abbreviation for “Tomorrow’s Shoes,” have a programme called “One for One,” where customers buy a pair of shoes, eyewear, or a bag of coffee and in exchange TOMS will give the corresponding article to someone in one of the over 60 countries where they now work. This donation in kind can be anything from an appropriate pair of shoes, to correct eye treatment, or clean water. + more

What I didn't know about Ukraine

Jeremy Vargo
14 March 14

What on earth is going on in Ukraine? I’m sure you’ve seen the images of fire, death and protest on the news, and heard words like Putin, referendum, invasion, and maybe even Crimea. But what does it all mean, who’s to blame, and what’s at risk?+ more

Dallas Buyers Club: a surprising ad for free market economics

Jane Silloway Smith
12 March 14

Economics is one of those subjects that we all know we should know more about, but often find the barriers to entry to be quite high—what with all the jargon and formulas that some economists are so fond of. Nice snappy videos like EconPop’s take on Dallas Buyers Club get us past those barriers and settle us in for some eye-opening insights.+ more

A mania for the state

Kieran Madden
10 March 14

We remain a people captivated by the idea of the state as the simplest fix to all our ills. But delicate questions and complex problems like poverty need solutions that are equally delicate and complex; axes just won’t cut it. + more