Archives for January 2023 | Josie Pagani



Why does the internet think the left is so dull?

I was worried that AI’s turgid prose was mimicking me. Then I realised, AI was not learning from what I have actually written. Instead, it identified me by the description “progressive, political commentator from the left”. Then read the internet, and regurgitated content it thinks someone on the left would produce. Boy, does the internet's idea of the progressive Left sound lifeless.

Josie's DominionPost column is here.

The Star Who Didn’t Quite Deliver

Josie's guest essay on Jacinda Ardern's resignation, in the New York Times:

A poll taken just before she announced her resignation showed that for the first time more New Zealanders (41 percent) had an unfavorable opinion of her than a favorable one (40 percent). Another poll showed 64 percent believed the country has become more divided in the past few years. Many in the Labour Party, and others, cite misogyny as a factor driving Ms. Ardern from office. Misogynists are loud and probably wore her down, but they are not the reason her popularity at home tumbled.

What was the point of all that?

It was meant to be the most transformational government ever. Now, Jacinda Ardern's Labour government has ended. There was no transformation.

Chris Hipkins is sensible, likeable, tough and capable, and appears likeliest to reimagine Labour.

Josie's Stuff column on Jacinda Ardern's resignation is here.

This housing crisis has actually been a wage problem all along

This Government and the last failed to properly define the problem.

If the 'housing crisis' is a crisis of supply, then build more houses. Incentivise developers to get working. Cut red tape, free up land, and simplify regulations. Governments and local councils can put in the roads and pipes to attract the developers. Kiwibuild promised 100,000. So far just over 1000 have been built.

If the problem is lack of social housing where too many families are now living in motels in Rotorua for years on end, then just build more social housing. Governments can fund community organisations and iwi to do the building and the planning. The Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, iwi organisations know who the families that need a place to live and where to build the houses in their communities.

If affordability is the crisis, then focus on supply and look at the tax system. My son is about to rent his first student flat in Tāmaki Makaurau. It's a basic house, probably worth about $1 million. Together, his mates are paying about $1400 a week rent. Deduct rates and insurance from that, and the owner will won't even make enough to pay off his mortgage with interest rates as high as they are. Presumably the owner's plan was to bank the tax-free capital gain when they sell. That capital gain isn't looking so great now.

Those of us who have been calling for house prices to drop so Kiwis can own their homes - home ownership has dropped from a high of about 60 percent in the 1950s to somewhere below 30 percent - have got what we asked for. But inequality is still with us. The average wage still can't buy the average house.

Perhaps we don't have a housing problem after all. We have a wage problem.

Josie's editorial on Today FM is here.

Free dental care for everyone is not a pipe dream

The Labour leader, Prime Minister Ardern has just ruled out free dental care as an expensive pipe dream that will never happen. A brave move in an election year. These are exactly the things we're focused on right now. The cost of everything, and our health. Both cause us a lot of pain. Also, she's wrong. It is neither a 'dream' nor is it too expensive.

There were 7,000 Tesla bought last year, with a very kind government subsidy for all those 'vulnerable' citizens able to afford a NZ$70k car from Elon Musk. At NZ$8,000 subsidy per car, that's $56 million. Just the tesla subsidy alone would pay for everyone up to the age of 25 to have free dental care. Ministry of Health figures from 2018 show that we need just NZ$648m a year, to give all Kiwi adults free dental care. That is less than the GIDI fund (Government Investment for Decarbonising Industry) which subsidises industries to - you guessed it - decarbonise.

Josie's editorial on Today FM is here.

Cops on buses now? Is this the New Zealand we want?

Fifteen teenagers - children - boarded a bus in Queensgate mall - Lower Hutt, and started causing trouble, playing music, shouting and carrying on. Next thing, multiple people were injured. Six people taken into custody. One 19 years old - the rest referred to Youth Services. In other words, children. Now there are calls for a dedicated team of roving uniformed and plain-clothed police to cover public transport to stop violence, graffiti and anti-social behaviour.

UK PM Tony Blair had a way of talking about crime that makes sense to most of us. Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. Like all good clichés, his formula is well-worn because it is obvious.

Most of us understand some of these kids have never had a chance. The OT kids or parents who've been hopeless. More than 70 percent of them are not attending school on a regular basis. So sort out the truancy. Fund the community organisations who know these kids to get them on the right track.

The public will only listen to politicians who show understanding of their own plight as potential victims. There have to be ways of getting these kids ram raiding or intimidating people on buses - off the streets now. Deal with the source of the problem - and do it now - tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. And give the cops whatever they need to do the job of policing. That's step one.

Josie's editorial on Today FM is here.

What King Charles needs to do to fix the Harry situation

You can’t solve this by judging whether Harry is in the right or wrong, good or bad. We know he is damaged. In fact, we know far too much about him. We know he had a frostbitten penis at his brother's wedding. (He should have had the salmon.)

Damaged people are easy to dislike. They are self-obsessed, humourless and prone to grandiose ideas about themselves. Despite their damage, they are loveable because all humans are. At the risk of sounding like a New Age Treasury wellbeing spa, the King, alone, can fix this with love.

Because, how is his current strategy working?

Only the King can stop the feud. This family will heal when the father reaches out to the broken, hurting son. Write to Harry:

Son, I love you. I am hurt by how obviously you are in pain. I am sorry that I could not be the father who could prevent your pain. I’m sorry I did not know how badly you were hurt and made mistakes when you tried to tell me. I’m sorry that the way you were raised re-traumatised you again and again. It’s true that the Household learned some bad behaviour when your Mum and I parted. That must stop. I don’t know if I can fix things. But I do know I am ready to listen and to do what is best for my sons. You are not a spare to me. You are my son.

Josie's column on the publication of Prince Harry's book is here.

How to make your own cheese: Juliet Harbutt

On Holiday Talk on Today FM, Josie spoke to Juliet Harbutt from The Cheese Web. Here's her simple cheese recipe.


Monet’s Cheese

This is the simplest of recipes used since man first learnt to domesticate animals and preserve milk. It takes barely an hour, children love it, it’s a great way of using up excess milk [by the way did you know you can freeze milk!] and is beautiful. Its light, slightly creamy texture and delicate lemony tang makes it easy to spread, easy to eat and can be used like ricotta.

Equipment & Ingredients [Yields approximately 150 gm]
1 litre fresh whole milk [can use cow or goat]
2 tbsp cream [optional]
1 juice of one lemon [ around 2 tbsp]
Add a little more if it doesn’t curdle immediately
Zest of 1⁄4 lemon
1 saucepan [with solid bottom]
1 very fine sieve or colander lined with cheesecloth
1 thermometer [not essential]
1 small cheese mould or ramekin
Edible flowers or herbs for flavour and decoration

1: Warm milk in a saucepan over medium heat to 170F [75 degrees C] stirring occasionally. Takes around 6 – 8 minutes – it’s ready when the milk starts rising up the sides of the pan.

2: Remove from heat, stir in lemon juice, and leave for 10-20 minutes when the milk will separate into small, uneven lumps of curd and greenish-white whey.

3: Ladle into a sieve over a bowl, sprinkle with a little salt [ 1⁄4 teaspoon] and stand for 10-20 minutes or so. Scrapping the sides down occasionally to aid draining, until the whey stops dripping. Alternatively use a jellybag.

4: Add lemon zest, S&P to taste and stir with a fork. Sprinkle chives, fresh herbs or tiny flowers into small container or ramekin and add the fresh curd on top. Press gently into the container and leave for an hour or so to absorb the flavours from the herbs etc

5: Tip onto a small plate when ready to serve and decorate with edible flowers – nasturtiums, chive heads, lavender, rosemary, viola etc or fresh herbs, cracked pepper and serve as a spread or snack.

Will keep in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

I predict that before long a bot will be writing this column

Josie's column of 2023 predictions in Stuff is here.

I predict that by the end of this year an artificial Intelligence bot will write this column in the style of Josie Pagani. Are you sure this has not already happened?

Peering only for a minute or so into the future, I foretell I am going to make more predictions.

Russians who criticise their government's murderous and illegal war on Ukraine will continue to balance much too close to window sills.

You will still be panicking about charging your EV when you're on holiday.

The election will be contested between politicians who have lost the art of communication, but not, alas, the art of speech (to paraphrase former UK prime minister Gordon Brown).

We will treat election promises with the same deference we reserve for the claim that chips cooked in the air fryer you got for Christmas will taste as good as fried.

The one prediction I am truly confident in is that we will never know what the future holds.

2023 in geopolitics

The outlook for global politics: Josie interviewed Geoffrey Miller on Today FM.

Listen here or below.

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