Editorials 16 March 2010

March 16th, 2010 at 10:24 am by David Farrar

The Herald looks at the Iraqi elections:

’s national elections were some distance removed from the type of poll associated with a smoothly functioning democracy. They were conducted amid an intimidating campaign of violence, and in the aftermath there have been accusations of fraud.

Even now, only partial results are available because of disorderly vote-counting. Yet the pluses of the election far outweigh the negatives, especially in indicating that Iraq may be ready to turn its back on years of sectarian strife.

The results announced so far show the Prime Minister, Nouri Maliki, edging ahead. His State of Law coalition leads in seven of the country’s 18 provinces. …

If a coalition is cobbled together relatively quickly, it will clear the way for the smooth pull-out of more American troops by the end of August, and a final exit by the end of next year.

The new government will have its hands full preserving Iraq’s fragile security, continuing to resolve its sectarian tensions and repairing shattered public services.

But, at the very least, this election marks a promising start. Iraq has defied the many doomsayers by moving further along the road to democracy and reconciliation.

It is going to be fascinating to see what Iraq is like in 2020. Will it still have major sectarian violence and terrorism, or will it be a relatively well functioning democratic state?

The Press talks football:

The Wellington Phoenix football team has provided one of the sporting highlights of the past year. For the club to have made the A-League playoffs for the first time, and to have got within one match of the grand final, was an achievement all New Zealanders can be proud of. As Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert has noted, this has been a breakthrough season for the club. It also augurs well for the 2010-11 season.

Although the dream run ended on Saturday night, thanks partly to a handball goal by a Sydney player, the Phoenix’s successful season helped to heighten public interest in football, as shown by the crowds of up to 33,000 that the team attracted.

Maybe the Warriors would do better if they were Wellington based also :-)

The Dominion Post talks :

One thing is for sure in the wake of the publication of Health Ministry statistics comparing the performances of 80 primary health organisations.

Total Healthcare Otara, the PHO with the poorest record of immunising two-year-olds, will be taking immediate steps to improve its performance. Public ignominy is a powerful motivating tool.

So it should be. The release of the data highlights yet again the benefits of comparing the performance of organisations doing essentially the same job, whether they operate in the health sector, the education sector or any other area. Not only is the information useful to decision-makers and the public, it is also useful to the organisations themselves. As Helen Rodenburg, the chairwoman of a clinical quality board that oversees four PHOs in Wellington, told Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report yesterday, before the publication of the data, PHOs did not know how their performance compared with those of similar organisations in other parts of the country.

The primary teachers’ union, the New Zealand Educational Institute, should take note.

This is exactly why the NZEI is so opposed.

Of course there are limitations associated with the way the data is collected. Of course it is important to compare like with like and, of course, it is important to consider the different environments in which schools operate. Just as a PHO in Wellington City could be expected to outperform a PHO in Porirua on many measures, so children at a decile 10 primary school in Khandallah could be expected to perform better in tests than children at a decile 1 school in Cannons Creek. The children in wealthier neighbourhoods are more likely to come from homes in which English is the first language, there is space for a dedicated homework area and the shelves are stacked with books.

But instead of flatly rejecting the introduction of national standards as the NZEI is doing, it should be devoting its energies to ensuring the tests measure something useful.

NZEI be constructive? Sure, and Satan has this nice little ski chalet for sale.

The ODT focuses on investor migrants:

The Government is rightly taking a hard-headed look at the domain – New Zealand is not so wealthy as to be able to offer refuge to thousands of migrants who bring little other than “diversity” to their new country, but neither should it push these policies so far that, in effect, the prize of New Zealand citizenship is being sold to the highest bidder.

There are, after all, many values – honesty, pride, diligence, community-mindedness, intelligence, aspiration, entrepreneurialism among them – besides an already accumulated wealth that will colour the future contribution of any migrant, including those in the new parent and temporary retirement categories, to his or her adopted country.

Dr Coleman and the National-led Government are evidently determined to implement policies that pay.

The ambition is laudable, but wealth is relatively easy to measure, other desirable qualities less so.

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13 Responses to “Editorials 16 March 2010”

  1. MikeNZ (3,234 comments) says:

    Rugby is in decline.
    Football is so successful there is a shortage of fields and has been for some time.
    Capital soccer has been pitiful at its role there.

    That”s why Kerry Prendergast closed three fields to build a indoor centre as her lasting monument.

    NZEI constructive and pigs might fly.

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  2. MT_Tinman (2,795 comments) says:

    It is going to be fascinating to see what Iraq is like in 2020.

    Sky keep assuring me that the world will end in approximately 30 months so I doubt anyone will be fascinated.

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  3. dime (8,789 comments) says:

    “It is going to be fascinating to see what Iraq is like in 2020. Will it still have major sectarian violence and terrorism, or will it be a relatively well functioning democratic state?”

    It will be around then when W. starts getting some praise!

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  4. Bob R (1,254 comments) says:

    ***Dr Coleman and the National-led Government are evidently determined to implement immigration policies that pay.

    The ambition is laudable, but wealth is relatively easy to measure, other desirable qualities less so.***

    Having a certain level of cognitive ability is particularly important and skill based selection is important in this respect:

    “In summary, higher IQ people appear to be more morally sophisticated, altruistic, and forward-looking. They exhibit higher levels of civic participation, more strongly adhere to middle-class behavioral standards, and cooperate more readily. This evidence, taken as a whole, confirms that intelligence and social capital are strongly related.

    ——————-

    Some clear policy implications follow. What we want are immigrants who are most likely to be cooperative, trustworthy, and concerned about the welfare of the community. No one has any simple, reliable way of ascertaining whether an individual possesses these qualities. But we do have a simple, reliable way of measuring another quality that is correlated with them—cognitive ability, as measured by an IQ test or an educational credential. The smarter our immigrants are, the more likely they are to trust and cooperate, and the less likely they are to subtract from our existing stock of social capital. Selecting immigrants for intelligence (or a proxy indicator like education) could lessen the negative impact of ethnic diversity on American society.

    This proposal works especially well in the broader debate over immigration. Many economists have advocated that the United States de-emphasize family preferences in favor of skill-based selection, much as Canada and Australia have already done. Though few people ever describe “skill” selection as a search for people with high IQs, immigrants with advanced degrees and sought-after talents are usually quite intelligent.

    Skill selection is a desirable way of addressing the problem of ethnic diversity because it is already a policy option on the table. More intelligent (or educated) immigrants would be more productive workers, and they would also have a much less objectionable social impact on the United States due to their enhanced ability to cooperate. Putnam’s concerns about deteriorating social capital form another argument for immigrant skill selection.

    When Robert Putnam came to my class five years ago, he presented some surprising and provocative results. But even more surprising is that his findings, public for at least two years, have generated so little substantive discussion among policymakers. The challenge that ethnic diversity poses to 21st century communities is significant, and meeting that challenge requires robust public discussion and debate. That discussion should include not just how we deal with the diversity of our current population, but how we can ensure future diversity causes as little harm as possible. Selecting intelligent immigrants is the smart way to begin.”

    http://www.american.com/archive/2009/august/dealing-with-diversity-the-smart-way

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  5. Pete George (21,830 comments) says:

    It will be around then when W. starts getting some praise!

    What do you know about him? I thought he said he probably wouldn’t be lauded until after he’s dead.

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  6. emmess (1,334 comments) says:

    Forget 2020
    What about just in a year or two?
    With 600,000+ Iraqi security forces and less than 100,000 US forces who have done themselves out of job and are no longer needed.
    It going to get bloody hard for the terrorists to make a claim that they are fighting an occupation.
    And think about it when the oil starts to really get pumping, 10 million bpd (seems a bit ambitious) is the plan opposed to 2.4 at the moment.

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  7. spector (180 comments) says:

    I’m pleased the phoenix didn’t win the soccer. The Wellington council would probably propose putting up a big sign saying “Phoenix” near the airport if they had won.

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  8. voice of reason (491 comments) says:

    “Maybe the Warriors would do better if they were Wellington based also”

    They already have – you forget they actually reached the Final in 2002.

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  9. Kris K (3,570 comments) says:

    On Iraq:

    But, at the very least, this election marks a promising start. Iraq has defied the many doomsayers by moving further along the road to democracy and reconciliation.

    It is going to be fascinating to see what Iraq is like in 2020. Will it still have major sectarian violence and terrorism, or will it be a relatively well functioning democratic state?

    My personal belief is that Islam and Democarcy are mutually exclusive (and so called secular Turkey isn’t the success story some make it out to be).

    Even with the Yanks out of the picture, I believe that in ten years Iraq will still suffer from “major sectarian violence and terrorism”. If Islam isn’t fighting its enemies, then it’s fighting itself – always has, always will.

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  10. kowtow (6,734 comments) says:

    Iraq will either be a military dictatorship or will have broken up into its”natural” ethnic groupins,Shia aligned to Iran <if the Mullahs are still in chrge , Kurds in the North in a new Kurdistan carved out of Turkey and the Sunni in the middle.How many plausible scenarios can you get out of that region?

    It certainly wont be a democracy as we understand the term.

    Immigration, "diversity"and ODT are interesting. I was pleasantly surprised at Chris Trotter on Jim Moras yesterday questioning the Race Relations annual report and this diversity business,the country really needs this debate now before it becomes a major problem down the road.

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  11. Brian Smaller (3,915 comments) says:

    “It is going to be fascinating to see what Iraq is like in 2020. Will it still have major sectarian violence and terrorism, or will it be a relatively well functioning democratic state?”

    Hope I am wrong but when the choice is between the Hang the Homos Party, the Kill all Infidels Coalition and the Keep the Women Covered Party, I predict that it will be just another Islamic shit hole in 2020.

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  12. Inky_the_Red (719 comments) says:

    “Maybe the Warriors would do better if they were Wellington based also :-)”

    I know you are kidding but I will bite. The reason this a silly comment there is no Rugby League culture in Wellington. Rugby League roots are deep in a many place, parts of Auckland. Christchurch, Greymouth and Huntly.

    The fact that the Warriors underperform, like the Knights, Kingz and Breakers. Yes all 4 are based in Auckland. Another frequent factor is these organistion like to have John Hart involved. John Hart took a successful Rugby Union side and made it competitive against other provinces (the provinces the team was previously consistingly better than). He also coached the All Blacks to two dismal world cups.

    The secret to the Phoenix is no John Hart and long will that last

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  13. Luc Hansen (4,573 comments) says:

    David, you should fact check journalists before giving them your support:

    But instead of flatly rejecting the introduction of national standards as the NZEI is doing

    Actually, the NZEI has, quite sensibly, called for a trial.

    A trial period will uncover any fish hooks or unintended consequences.

    The knee jerk response from you, I’m sure, is that a trial is just a method of strangling standards. Well, that’s easy to overcome – a time limit of say two years will endure minds become focused.

    What’s needed is leadership, which seems in short supply at the moment in this government, I’m sad to say.

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