What is freedom and why is it important?

Scrolling through twitter throughout the past day, I can’t help but notice the amount of political tweets out there regarding freedom. It got me thinking: What is freedom? And why is it important? I know I’m not the only one who wants to know this. Below I will share my findings in an easy and readable format. 

Freedom is the idea that citizens of a democracy are free from any oppression or coercion from the state. Freedom is important as it gives more power and opportunities to the individual, whilst disallowing the state to interfere with their lives. If implemented correctly, freedom always leads to a happier and more prosperous society in the long run. 

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Why is freedom so popular?

Freedom is an extremely popular political idea, and has been for centuries. The main reason it is so popular is because it gives you the individual more rights and opportunities. It gives you choices and gives you the power to shape your own destiny. It gives you independence, and does not make you dependent on the state.

Freedom is so popular because it is deeply rooted in human biology and evolution. When it comes to living one’s life, not one size fits all. Everyone has their own thoughts, opinions, values, beliefs and ways of being which all shape who they are as people. Freedom allows for people to explore these sides of themselves and become the best versions of themselves that they can be. This in turn makes society itself better, as each individual is harmoniously improving in their own ways. This would not be possible if freedom as a political idea didn’t exist, which would go against one of the most fundamental traits of being human. 

It is for these reasons why freedom is such a popular and adopted political idea. The alternatives to freedom are less popular as it suppresses the desires of the individual. The individual almost always has a better idea of how to run their own lives than the state. 

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The Three pillars of freedom

There are 3 main pillars which are fundamental to bringing the political idea of freedom into tuition. These are freedom of speech, freedom of opportunity and freedom of choice. Each will be broken down below.

Freedom of speech 

Freedom of speech is arguably the most fundamental element of a free and democratic society. It is a term that has been used increasingly frequently in political discourse throughout history. Essentially freedom of speech decrees that the individual allows the individual to articulate ideas and speak without fear of any censorship by the state. Apart from incitement to violence, it means individuals can say whatever they want with no consequences imposed by the government. This is an important element of freedom as it sparks discourse and debate which in turn leads to better ideas, people and a more prosperous society. As soon as speech starts being censored, individuals are no longer free to speak what they believe in, which leads to the gradual decline of freedom within a society. 

Freedom of opportunity

Freedom of opportunity means that all individuals have the same opportunities, regardless of their gender, race, age, sexuality, religion and more. This is an important one as a truly free society allows for all citizens opportunities to better themselves. If the state prevents a certain group from fully participating in society, or gives special privileges to other groups, then it is not truly a free society. All individuals should have the same rights and opportunities regardless of their differences. They should be free to express themselves without fear of the state punishing them. Every citizen should have the same opportunity to succeed despite class and social status. A free society is one where equality of opportunity is practised. 

Freedom of choice

Freedom of choice relates directly to freedom of opportunity. It essentially means that when faced with two options, the individual has the freedom to choose either one without any constraint from the state. 

Freedom of choice is important as it gives the individual control over their own lives. They aren’t tied down to one way of doing things. They can choose what is best for them without being forced to do anything by the state. The individual always knows what is best for them, so this is a crucial pillar of maintaining a free society. 

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The top 5 benefits of freedom

The top 5 benefits of freedom are:

  • More diversity
  • More prosperity
  • More emphasis on the individual
  • Less centralisation
  • Less corruption

Essentially, freedom gives more power to you, the individual. It means there is less centralisation, which helps prevent any corruption. In the long term, this leads to a more prosperous society with more diversity. 

There is a direct correlation with the success of a given society in regards to the amount of freedom its citizens have. The more free a society is, the more productive its economy is. This in turn leads to higher standards of living, higher amounts of happiness, less mental illness, better healthcare, better life expectancy and better education just to name a few. This shows how freedom benefits a society and why it is so important. 

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Freedom is the political theory that citizens are free from any oppression and coercion from the state. It puts more emphasis on you, the individual, rather than a powerful centralised entity. It is a popular idea because not only does it offer huge benefits to society such as individualism, diversity, economic prosperity and happiness. It is also deeply rooted in human nature, so it comes naturally to us. 

The three pillars of freedom are freedom of speech, freedom of opportunity and freedom of choice. All 3 pillars give more power to the individual. If any one of these pillars are non-existent within a society, it is very likely that society is not a free one. 

The top 5 benefits of freedom are more diversity, more prosperity, more emphasis on the individual, less centralisation and Less corruption. All 5 benefits lead to a more happy, healthy and prosperous society. 

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Why We Should Care About Censorship

A couple of weeks ago, the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump went on the Full Send Podcast, hosted by members of the popular youtube channel Nelk. The podcast was roughly an hour long, and there was not one single bit of controversy throughout the entire duration. The podcast was uploaded to Youtube, and had amassed a whopping five million views in under 24 hours before Youtube took it down for ‘violating terms and service’ and ‘misinformation’. This highlights something extremely dangerous that is becoming ever more common in today’s society: censorship. 

If you are up to date with the current political landscape and social climate, then you know cancel culture has become a very prominent force. The woke mob as they are often referred to as, constantly go out of their way to demonize those they disagree with and try and find any small chinks in someones armour to tear them down and deplatform them. It feels like everyone is trying to walk on eggshells, hoping they don’t stir up the mob. Social media platforms are caving in to the pressure from the wokist and are constantly removing and deplatforming people from their platforms. This climate of censorship and cancelling is a huge attack on the fundamental right of freedom of speech. 

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Freedom of speech is one of if not the most fundamental right society has. It is the right to freedom of expression that has helped build western civilisation as we know it today. It is how society has advanced so much over the years. The debates, ideas and discussion that free speech sparks is all crucial to helping humanity progress. Shockingly, this seemingly essential right has come under attack the last couple of years, and is edging nearer and nearer to being a thing of the past. 

The most common rebuttal to freedom of speech that the radical wokist use is that it allows for ‘hate speech’. This is a very weak argument as the definition of ‘hate speech’ differs from person to person. No-one is denying that there are countless examples of reprehensible speech out there. It is the question of who gets to determine what ‘hate speech’ is. Let’s call it for what it is. The radical wokist only wants to silence those they disagree with, so they go out of their way to try and find examples of right wingers (anyone who has a remotely different opinion for that matter) using ‘hate speech’. The definition of ‘hate speech’ in this instance is very convenient for the woke mob, as it means they get to eliminate prominent voices that have influence on the other side. What happens though if the roles were reversed?  What if radical right wingers had control on the monopoly of speech and ‘truth’? It would end extremely badly, as we have already seen from the Fascist Nazi Reigime earlier last centuary. This is no different. Censoring opinions you don’t agree with and deplatforming those on the other side is textbook fascism. It is very troubling that this is becoming ever more prominent. 

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Big Tech and the radical woke brigade aren’t the only ones guilty of this unfortunately. Governments around the world are now pondering ‘hate speech’ laws themselves. This is the case here in New Zealand as well. The Labour party was very close to passing through hate speech laws throughout this past term. Fortunately they came under scrutiny for doing so. Prime Minister Jacinda Adern and Justice Minister Chris Faafoi (who wrote the bill) couldn’t even give a clear explanation of what ‘hate speech’ was and how they would go about regulating it. It was extremely embarrassing. Thankfully they have given up on the reforms for the time being, but it was a close call and something voters should be very mindful about come the 2023 election. This highlights just how sticky the term ‘hate speech’ is and how dangerous all this censorship and cancel culture is. 

Everyone in a civilised democracy should be allowed to have an opinion and a right to voice that opinion. As a common saying goes, “I disagree with what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. As hard as it sounds, even the most evil of people should have a right to say what they want. Censorship is a slippery slope that you don’t want to go down. It has absolutely catastrophic consequences for society. The alternative is so much better. Instead of cancelling those you disagree with, try engaging in a civilised discussion with them. That not only challenges their views, but your own as well. Your opinions would then be so much more sharpened, and you would both be better because of it. This is how society progresses, and has progressed over the last couple of hundred years. 

In conclusion, it is very troubling to see so much censorship going on online and through legislation. This is a direct attack on freedom of speech, one of the most fundamental rights that has built the West to be so prosperous. We must fight each and every day to preserve this right, as life goes downhill faster than you think when you start getting rid of it. Censorship has grave consequences for society.

Why New Zealand’s Covid Response Has Been the Worst in the World

New Zealand has self proclaimed to be the leading country in the world when it comes to their covid response. Many feel the world looks at New Zealand’s covid response with envy. I tend to disagree with this. In fact, I believe New Zealand has had one of the most unsatisfactory responses to the pandemic in the entire world. I understand I am a major outlier in taking this viewpoint, but I hope by the end of this post you start looking at New Zealand’s covid response in a way you never have thought about before. 

First things first, our lockdowns. When the original strain of covid ripped across the world in the first quarter of 2020, Jacinda Adern was quick to implement what she called the “go hard and go early’ doctrine. What this essentially meant was before New Zealand was swamped with too many covid cases, Our borders were closed and we went into a strict lockdown for 4 weeks. This move was bold, but it ended up working (for the time being), as New Zealand essentially ‘defeated’ Covid. However, fast forward a year and a half later to when the Delta variant first arrived in New Zealand, The government decided to roll the dice and take another chance at a strict lockdown. This time it didn’t work, in fact it was an incredibly botched attempt and highlighted how unprepared our government was to actually deal with covid once it inevitably (key point) arrived. Was ‘locking down’ an effective strategy? Most kiwis say yes, but I say they were absolutely devastating to our country.

Before I continue, I need to address a theme that will be vital in all the points I make here. It is that throughout this pandemic, people, governments and epidemiologists have resorted to short term thinking. Absolutely no thought has been given to the long term consequences caused by the decisions we make today. This brings us back to lockdowns. Lockdowns are the epitome of what short term thinking looks like. The government was focussed on short term factors such as the amount of cases and amount of deaths, without considering the long term implications of what a lockdown would cause. Yes, we may have ‘kept’ covid out (the first time)  but what about the effects on the economy, people’s livelihoods, mental health and young children? Shouldn’t these be vital considerations? To back up my claim, John Hopkins University (one of the most prolific, prestigious and credible scientific universities in the world), conducted a study on the link between state enforced lockdowns in relation to the spread and death toll of Covid-19. The study concluded that government imposed lockdowns were only 0.2% effective at slowing the spread of covid-19! This may seem odd considering to our credit New Zealand did indeed ‘beat’ covid the first time. In reality however we were only pushing out the inevitable fact that covid was going to indeed come, and we were eventually going to have to live with it. The study cited above goes on to say that all things considered, state enforced lockdowns were such bad policy decisions, they were ‘Morally and Economically Irresponsible.’ 

The terrifying thing is we don’t know what the full long-term impact of these lockdowns and restrictions will be on the economy and society as a whole. Many economists believe that the impacts from these policies will eventually cause more poverty related deaths than the mortality rate of covid-19, much more. Young people should be very concerned about this. 2 weeks to flatten the curve has turned into 2 years to flatten a whole generation. We are already seeing inflation hit highs it hasn’t hit for several decades. Close to 7.5% in New Zealand. Who does inflation hit the hardest? Working class people and poor people. Poverty kills, and these state imposed restrictions have created a climate that breeds poverty. All of this destruction to only halt the spread of covid by 0.2%, disgraceful. Depression, anxiety and other terrible mental health diseases are rampant throughout New Zealand. This is another issue that politicians dodge constantly. The pandemic or more accurately, the Government’s response to the pandemic has ignited this issue even further. We don’t even know what the psychological consequences are going to be of young children being locked down and having to wear masks. They could be catastrophic. 

Our terrible covid response doesn’t end with lockdowns unfortunately. After our ‘elimination’ strategy proved ineffective (which it inevitably always would), the government still imposed overly bureaucratic and authoritarian measures to ‘slow’ the spread of covid-19. The most prominent of measures has been vaccine mandates and the vaccine pass system. Before we continue it’s important to note I am fully vaccinated and am very much pro vaccination. What I don’t agree with, however, is the state forcing people to be vaccinated in order to keep their livelihoods. This is exactly what the New Zealand government has done over the past couple of months and it is absolutely disgusting. First of all, the government’s whole rhetoric of unvaccinated individuals putting others at ‘risk’ is completely and utterly ludicrous. If you are fully vaccinated such as myself, why should you be worried about someone who isn’t. Does that not defeat the whole point of the argument that this vaccine is scientifically proven to be effective (which it is). If this vaccine is effective and you are fully vaccinated, then why on earth are you worried about the personal choice of someone else? It highlights the paranoia and fear the government has injected into New Zealanders throughout the past 2 years. The government invoking vaccine mandates, essentially destroying the livelihoods, families and careers of people over a personal bodily autonomy decision is absolutely tyrannical and very much terrifying. This one decision is going to have dire consequences felt many generations from now.

 New Zealand, a famously peaceful country, has already seen violent and bloody riots outside our parliament. It is truly frightening how much hate and division our government has caused throughout it’s covid response. This is what I mean by short term and long term thinking. Vaccine mandates were merely imposed in the short term to boost the country’s vaccination statistics to look good globally, without considering the long term stains it could have on New Zealand society. The long term consequences of these policies are going to be tremendously worse than covid itself, especially under the wave of the far less severe omicron variant.
Ironically, New Zealand is now in the midst of our first real wave of covid-19 while the rest of the world is essentially celebrating the end of the pandemic. Cases numbers are rising rapidly, and people are scared only due to the mere fact the government and the media has frightened us about the virus the past 2 years. Let’s face the truth, our governments covid measures throughout the past 2 years haven’t worked at all. They have only postponed the inevitable fact a wave of covid would essentially sweep across the country. We are lucky, however, it’s the omicron variant in this instance and not Delta or the original strain. In fact we should all be rejoicing in the fact that Covid has finally hit New Zealand. The sooner more people catch it, the more natural immunity our population will have which will in turn spell the end of the pandemic. We can’t be fearful of this virus, especially omicron. If you are fully vaccinated and supplement that with the right lifestyle choices, food and exercise then there is nothing to be worried about. Don’t take my word for it, South African scientists have said omicron is the strain that will end the pandemic, and that there is nothing to be worried about as Covid is now the most treatable respiratory disease in the world. Scientists in Europe have stated the same thing. We can’t go on living like a hermit kingdom in fear of a virus which isn’t nearly as bad as the media and government have hyped it up to be. We must follow the United Kingdom’s lead in dropping all mandates, restrictions and isolation requirements. Covid is a short term issue, in the long term preserving our freedoms, rights and dignity are far more important to society.

Why We Should All Be Interested in Politics

I have been on a very interesting journey throughout the past year. My outlook on politics, economics and social issues definitely reflect that. I have gone from being extremely enthusiastic about these topics, to paying absolutely no attention to them, back to showing interest again. In this post I will explain why that was, what I’ve learnt from it and try to answer if it is actually worth it, following politics and current affairs. 

I personally started following politics when I was 16 years old. It was something that really sparked a fire inside me. I loved learning about different political ideologies, the economy, social issues and much more. I would watch youtube videos, read articles, and listen to debates. All things that would make my brain race a hundred miles an hour for quite some time after. After a while it became all-consuming. I literally could not stop thinking about certain issues and things I had seen or read. My brain had no peace, it was working twenty-four seven with no time for rest. Fast-forward about a year and a half later, I had decided it was time to change my tune.

Come the start of 2021, I was met with a cross-roads. 2020 had been the absolute climax when it came to politics. Covid first emerged and New Zealand had an election, The United States had an election, not to mention a plephera of societal issues that popped up during the year such as the BLM movement after George Floyd was murdered. If I was being honest though, I was tired of it all, burnt out of following politics. It felt like it was too mentally draining and too time consuming to have to follow all the time. I had left school and was working full time, so I didn’t really see the need in stressing out about it. Why get myself vented up over political issues when I could just be chilling and watching Anime! There were other things I wasn’t happy about too. I wanted to work on myself, build my confidence and explore different things. I couldn’t do that if I was consumed by social issues and current affairs all the time. So I didn’t follow, hear or talk about politics for well over half a year. 

That 6 month period was extremely peaceful. I found out ignorance really was bliss. I had time to focus on myself and was at ease with life. I figured out there were a lot of pros to being disconnected from news and politics. I didn’t get frustrated over things that were way out of my control, I wasn’t angry or resentful. In fact, I had come to the conclusion that politics didn’t play a role in our lives at all. I was certain the world would be a better place if people stopped participating in our democracy, if we didn’t pay attention to any social, economic or political issues. I was soon to be corrected however. As soon as the first case of Delta was detected in New Zealand’s community, the whole country was plunged into a strict lockdown. It was a very frustrating time, especially for the South Island who had zero covid cases. Being an essential worker, I still had my regular work routine throughout the week, but come the weekend everything was shut down. To use a bit of hyperbole, it was like living in a dystopian nightmare. This made one thing very clear to me, that politics does indeed play a very big role in the daily lives of ordinary citizens, whether we like to admit it or not. 

I gradually started immersing myself in current affairs and politics again. This time, however, I was coming at it from a completely different angle. I was at ease with life and happy with who I was as a person and who I was becoming. I had actual real world experience having been working full time and had a sense of how political/economic/social decisions actually impacted people and workers on the front line. I went about it the right way, never getting angry or tense about any issue, just understanding both sides and making my own mind up with the information at hand. If the opportunity ever presented itself I would engage in political discussion, but I never went out of my way to bring it up in normal every day conversations. I came to the conclusion that being interested in politics, social issues and current affairs can actually be very fulfilling, if done properly. It nurtures your intellect and adds another interesting dimension to life. This is why I truly believe everyone would be interested in current political and societal issues. 

I completely understand why so many people are disinterested in following such a polarising and blood boiling thing. Why so many people feel like their voice doesn’t matter. Yet it one hundred percent does. As I figured out, you go through life thinking politics and politicians won’t affect you, until they do. Unfortunately most people act after the fact, when it’s too late and decisions and policies certain politicians have made are near irreversible. New Zealand is one of the fortunate countries in the world that actually is a liberal democracy. We must appreciate how lucky we are to live in such a prosperous society that gives people from all walks of life a voice and a say, in how we run the country. Everyone’s voice is important, each of us have our own life experiences, our own beliefs and ways of being which all benefit our society for the better. It is important these people make their voices heard and contribute to the amazing societal structure that is liberal democracy. If people refuse to participate in democracy or choose ignorance over being informed, all the power goes into the hands of the politicians. We can’t have that. Liberal democracy is a structure made by the people, for the people. Politicians must listen to us, not the other way around. Democracy yields the best results when people are fully engaged and participate avidly. When people are oblivious to what is going on, politics becomes a breeding ground for tyrannical politicians to emerge. 

Overall, I truly feel like it is better to be informed about current affairs and politics than to be ignorant. This is within reason, however, don’t be the one person who ruins a family gathering by bringing politics up. Being informed benefits not only your own life and psyche, but also your country and therefore the world. I am not saying necessarily you need to become a politician, I couldn’t think of anything worse! Just make sure you participate in our democracy and make the decisions that are best for yourself and your community. I have been down two extremes when it comes to this stuff and I can confidently say you will thank yourself for choosing to be informed on these issues. 

What Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine means for the West

In the short amount of time since my last post, Russia has declared war, and invaded Ukraine. It is a very turbulent time at the moment. There is so much information going around and I know it can all feel truly overwhelming. I will do my best to articulate my current thoughts on the situation. 

My first initial thought is that this is finally the time for the West to become united once more. After a long arduous time of having internal political warfare and polarisation, this is the wakeup call for us to rise out of our slump and focus collectively on the main issues facing humanity. All of our debates and verbal fistycuffs seem extremely miniscule when compared with the scenes of terror coming out of the Ukraine at this current time. While we have been going at it amongst ourselves about trivial things such as vaccine mandates, the gender binary and covid, dictators such as Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have been amassing forces and calculating plans to expand their empires. The fact that Putin, after pretty much every country excluding China calling on him not to engage, actually invaded Ukraine, highlights the current narcissism of the West.

For some reason, the West seems to believe all countries think and operate like we do. That is very far from the truth. The prosperity of the West has become the greatest chip in our armour, as our society has become very materialistic. Because of this, western leaders such as Joe Biden thought economic sanctions would be enough to prevent Putin from invading Ukraine. As is evident, Putin didn’t care about the sanctions at all. Not every country is solely focussed on the economy, whether you like it or not. Putin will happily trade short economic decline if it means he gets to take Ukraine. When talking about Russia and China, or more accurately, Putin and Xi Jinping (important distinction) these leaders rule on one thing and one thing only, power. These countries aren’t liberal democracies like the West, and we need to stop acting like they are. To put it bluntly, these two men don’t give a damn about their own citizens, international law (or any law and order for that matter), or what other countries are doing. They are selfish bloodthirsty men who only care about power and expanding their sphere of influence. They will go about this pursuit using any means necessary. This is why the West must start putting their big boy shoes on and step up to these bullies.

Another thing this Invasion has highlighted for me is how weak western leaders have become. Let’s call it for what it is. Our leaders don’t have a backbone. They are spineless and they are scared. Talk is cheap. It’s no good saying corny things like, “Russia needs to withdraw” or “prayers out to Ukraine ”. I am definitely an advocate for those cliches, but with all due respect statements like that aren’t going to deter Putin from causing chaos and bloodshed. We aren’t dealing with a normal level headed person here, we are dealing with an absolute tyrant who grins in the face of chaos. Our Leaders have one hundred percent failed the Ukraine. While Ukranian citizens are being slaughtered and terrorized, our leaders sit from afar and conjur up corny statements. Pitiful. I am not necessarily saying the West should declare war, that question is well outside my range of expertise. What I am saying though is that if our leaders were stronger, then this invasion would have been prevented. It is in our absolute best interest to prevent China from invading Taiwan. We need to send a clear message to these brutal dictators, that we will not sit and watch country after country fall to their brutal regimes. That we will stand up to the bully and fight for democracy all over the world. 

I absolutely despise conflict, of any sort. I understand, however, that sometimes conflicts are necessary to avoid further and potentially even bigger conflicts. The West posing sanctions on Russia is a good start, but we must strive to do more. The unfortunate truth is Putin and Xi Jinping relish conflict, they have no problem taking the lives of others and would do it in a heartbeat if the opportunity presented itself. Let’s be honest, our current politicians are too weak willed for situations like this. We need leaders who truly lead from the front, such as what Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been doing in the wake of this invasion. If he wanted to, he could have easily escaped, but he didn’t. He has stayed right in Kyiv and is there fighting with his people, fighting for his country, fighting for democracy. Unflinching in the face of possible annihilation. That is what a true leader is, and what our leaders should strive to be like. He has been truly inspiring. Western leaders need to take note. Our leaders need to stop sparring whoever is on the other end of the political aisle, and start uniting. This is a time for the West to truly come together for a common cause. To leave the hate, discrimination and polarisation currently plauging us behind. To Look out for one another and come together as one. Putin and Xi Jinping are licking their lips looking at the current state of the West. A united West however would send shivers down their spine, there is nothing they fear more than a united West that is all on the same page. A West that is in harmony would send a clear message to these two evil men, that we will not tolerate their actions, and prevent them from doing so using any means necessary. 

I will not sit here watching the World be swallowed up by two greedy, vicious, evil men. We all collectively have a part to play in this. Urge our leaders to take a tougher stance on these two nations. Putin and Xi Jinping are classic bullies, they are fear-mongering us on purpose with threats and ‘consequences’. There is nothing a bully hates more than someone stepping up and taking them on. That is what our leaders must do. Forget taking a diplomatic approach, these two men are pure evil, stand up for what’s right and don’t back down. Citizens can all play a role in this too. Rally around our leaders, unite and come together as one. Let’s put race, religion, gender, sexuality and political preference all aside and rise in harmony for the common good. That will truly petrify Putin and Jinping, and evil will be one step closer from being gone forever.

Why Extreme Polarisation is Crippling Society, and What We Can Do About It

If in recent times you have followed the news, listened to podcasts or observed any form of pop culture, you may be feeling extremely worried or confused about the current state of society. I share the same sentiments. It definitely feels as if the world is in turmoil. Day by day we are being sucked into a deeper and deeper hole. Full of hate, division, confusion, tyranny, greed, hopelessness and angst. When you are met with a problem in life, it is in your best interest to solve it before it becomes all-consuming. This is the current situation society faces today in the wake of an increasingly divided political climate and a global pandemic. The question is: How does society navigate through these treacherous waters? 

Let us first address the chaotic political climate. In my opinion the problem of increasing division started with the sudden rise of the 45th President of the United States, Donald Trump, in 2016. Donald Trump was the ultimate simplifier. Simplicity was his main appeal, as many average working class citizens could understand and relate to him. Where things got problematic was when Trump’s simplistic approach was utilised to popularise the ‘us vs them’ rhetoric. This is an extremely dangerous approach to take in politics. The proof is in the pudding. Go back to any time in history where this rhetoric was used and you see the absolute devastation it can cause. The Nazis, Maoist and the Soviot Union all have used this deadly (quite literally) rhetoric. Trump’s rhetoric slowly poisoned not only The United States, but countries all over the world throughout his 4 year reign.

It is human nature to combat hate with hate, no matter how many times we are told (and know) that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. So inevitably, once republicans started using this simplistic ‘Us versus Them’ rhetoric to spread hate towards the other side of the aisle, the democrats were quick to stoop down to the level of their counterparts and combat it with their own ‘Us vs Them’ rhetoric. This pattern unfortunately infiltrated every western democracy, including New Zealand. This tribalistic mentality goes against everything democracy is about. If I could make one sure bet about politics, it would be that not one person shares the EXACT same thoughts, opinions and beliefs. Politics is too diverse and complex to be viewed as a black and white thing. Nobody in a civilised democracy should be put in a box, and absolutely no one should be judged by the actions of a few outliers. The consequence of all this has been we are now seeing unnecessary hate and division, with no real logic or reasoning behind it. It is truly crippling society to the core.  

Then comes the pandemic. In my opinion Covid has added fuel to fire, sparking a global societal crisis that I would argue is worse than the pandemic itself. In theory, the pandemic should have unified everyone, brought us closer together and unified populations across the globe. Unfortunately, the complete opposite has happened, and is getting worse by the day. Politicians on all sides of the political spectrum, all over the world are responsible for creating arguably one of the worst and most toxic political climates ever seen. From the Right demonising those who actually follow health and safety protocols, and popularising countless conspiracy theories; to the tyrants on the Left invoking vaccine mandates, which are arguably the biggest infringement of personal liberty in the history of western democracy. All are to blame for the shipwreck we have at this moment in time. Covid should have never been politicised, it has funnily enough probably resulted in the pandemic raging longer, while the pillars of western democracy have been crushed in the process. The scars on civilization from this turbulent period will last much longer, and have more consequences than the pandemic itself. There is one common denominator throughout all of these points however, one entity that has enlarged this hate and division like no other, The media.

The media is the main perpetrator of the issues currently facing society. Over the past 6 years the media has relentlessly been divisive, misled and hateful. Gone are the days where journalism was about reporting the truth, and only the truth. The golden era of media where issues were discussed and debated civilly using a wide range of viewpoints is sadly non-existent. Media has unfortunately turned into an avenue for political loyalists (Left and Right) to further their agenda, spread misinformation and demonise their ‘foes’. The best examples are the two biggest mainstream news sources in the US: Fox News and CNN. Both of these entities are guilty of furthering the political divide, especially throughout the covid pandemic. Fox News for example has been extremely dismissive of covid vaccines, despite the science showing their effectiveness. Instead turning the issue into a political problem, The vaccine was only for those ‘communists’ on the left. CNN on the other hand, has repeatedly demonised people on the right who are rightfully against vaccine mandates, labeling them ‘anti-vaxxers’, ‘conspriracy theorist’ and even ‘Nazis’. As you can see, both media outlets are fueling extreme polarisation, which is deeply harming society. The media purposely spreads negativity to get more viewers, as according to what psychologists call the negativity bias, things of a more negative nature have more impact on one’s psychological state. This is all well and good for maximising profit, but it is wreaking havoc across the political landscape and in turn society itself. So what must society do in order to get itself out of this mess?

The world is currently in a very dire situation. If we all collectively fail to play our part then chaos and doom will be inevitable. We must hope that we can carefully manage to manoeuvre ourselves out of our current debacle. It is in our best interest to slowly navigate through this pandemic (which is in decline) without giving up our freedoms that our society has been built on. We must listen to the science and follow accordingly, without discriminating anyone for their personal choices along the way. We must hold the media accountable for their actions. We must only support the sources of news which tell the truth and share a wide range of viewpoints without bias, not ones that further an agenda. We must all do our part as individuals, be kind to one another, show compassion, never discriminate against someone for any reason, constantly challenge your beliefs and sympathise with those who think oppositely to you. We must slowly take small steps to make society and the world a better place. We must unify now more than ever, before it’s too late.

How the Right can win back support

It is very safe to say that 2020 was an absolutely abysmal year for the Right. National, New Zealand’s centre right party, recorded their worst result ever, winning only 33 seats, down from 56 in 2017. Not only this, historically safe blue electorates flipped red, in turn, landing a lethal blow to Veteran National MP’s such as then co-leader Gerry Brownlee, and Nick Smith. In my opinion, this result sends a clear message, that the Right is in need of a major revolution. In order to win back voters, the Right must modernize their policies and get with the times, as their old fashioned and outdated way of doing things are no longer viable in the current political climate. 

The Right must first draw inspiration from the Left, which with Labour winning over 50% of the vote, plus the Greens winning 7.5%, is obviously doing something right. So what has been making the Left so successful? In short, the Left has been connecting voters a lot more, creating an actual movement instead of a short term political campaign. The Left has identified many emerging trends and monopolized on them, focussing on the economic and social issues that really resonate with everyday New Zealanders. Compare this to National’s campaign run by Judith Collins in 2020, which striked an 18 year old like me as more of a boomer brigade instead of a movement encompassing all New Zealanders. Times are changing faster than ever, and the Right needs to adapt just as fast if not quicker if they have hopes of winning voters back.

First up is how the Right goes about their economic policies. The left has somehow managed to convince younger generations that socialism is how New Zealand can end poverty, even though capitalism has been responsible for lifting more people out of poverty than any other economic vehicle in the history of humankind. It is true that New Zealand is currently far from a socialist country, but the early seeds are being planted. The thing is though, the left isn’t necessarily wrong that our current economy is not working for everybody. As times change, so should our economy. What we need is an updated version of capitalism, one that champions innovation but at the same time leaves no kiwi behind. Unfortunately, National are still trapped in the 1980’s Rogernomics and Reaganomics mindset, where neoliberalism, a form of capitalism that champions the free market, minimal regulations and major tax breaks to large corporations reigns supreme. Kiwis can see how much damage this has done to society. The housing crisis, China’s takeover of our economy and out of control inequality can all be linked back to these neoliberal policies put in place in the 1980’s. This is the reality of trickle down economics, something the Right has tried to champion and sell to the public for decades. Trickle down economics has not worked, and has tarnished the name of capitalism, giving the Left the opportunity to spread the popularity of socialism. It is now time for the Right to champion ‘trickle up’ economics, and in my opinion it all starts with Universal Basic Income (UBI). 

UBI is still a relatively new idea, only brought recently to popularity by figures such as democratic nominee hopeful Andrew Yang, Businessman Elon Musk, and recently even Barack Obama. The Opportunities party had a solid UBI policy, which I’ll use as an example. This UBI proposal aimed to pay out $250 a week ($13,000 a year) to each and every New Zealander aged 18 and older. This would be paid for by a 33% flat tax rate (Businesses and individuals pay the same percentage of tax regardless of their income level). At first glance, this seems like more of a left wing idea (although Andrew Yang and Barack Obama would most likely be considered Right wing in New Zealand). However, in my opinion, UBI is the ultimate Right wing economic idea. Yes, it is true that the proposal stated above would raise the current business tax from 28% to 33%, which at first seems to go against the Right’s philosophy of Business first, but think about it. Basic income would lessen the need for the government to constantly increase the minimum wage, thus immensely helping out small businesses and allowing them to survive in the economy. It also opens up the doors for more ordinary kiwis to become more risk averse and start to open their own small businesses, as they now have $13000 per year to fall back on if all goes wrong. A true free market can’t allow monopolies to take up large percentages of the economy, as it means ordinary people and small businesses are pushed out of the marketplace as they can’t compete. Furthermore, yes it is true that UBI is paid out to everyone regardless if they work or not, which at first seems to go against the Rights prized philosophy of ‘personal responsibility’. When you think about it however, UBI encourages more personal responsibility than almost any other policy on offer. It is up to the individual to decide how they want to spend their UBI, whether they want to use it towards their Uni fees, afford better quality food or use it as extra income in retirement. The individual always has a better idea of how to spend money to benefit their own lives than the government, which is why policies such as first year free tertiary education, the winter energy payment and government kiwi saver contributions wail in comparison to basic income. It is important for New Zealand to remain a capitalist country, as without capitalism wealth is not created and innovation is non-existent, which ultimately makes every citizen poor in the end. The time has come for the Right to get rid of the horrid neoliberal policies they have been clinging on to for too long. It is time to get voters excited about what capitalism has to offer: Innovation, prosperity, freedom. It all starts with the Right championing UBI. 

Next is how the Right tackles social issues. Take it from an 18 year old, the times of social conservatism are well and truly over, regardless of where you lie on the political spectrum. Lets compare the ACT and New Conservative parties for example. ACT is New Zealand’s LIbertarian Party, at least under David Seymour’s leadership. This essentially means ACT stands for freedom in every which way. Economically it makes them New Zealand’s most right wing party, but socially it puts them on par with Labour and even the Greens on many issues. New Conservative on the other hand, take more traditional and old school stances on Social issues, while not actually being too extreme economically. The differences were that ACT for example was pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, pro-cannabis pro-marrige equality and mostly atheist. New Conservative on the other hand was against all things mentioned above, including marriage equality as the party was deeply religious. The result? ACT won 8% of the vote, despite their arguably extreme economic positions, while New Conservative was nowhere near close to making it into parliament, only winning 1.4% of the vote. This along with the fact NZ First crashed out of parliament shows that social conservatism doesn’t fit into New Zealand society anymore, and good riddance. 

National are currently in a dilemma, as their party is split between the more ACT like social liberal types and the dinosaurs that take a more socially conservative approach. Under Todd Muller and then Judith Collins, National definitely fell under the social conservative label. Judith Collins for example had a Donald Trump like presence about her, which made her come off cold, smug, arrogant and unpleasant. She had the caucus to match too! Nearly all of  the Nationals list were Pakeha, male and christian. Todd Muller arguably took this to the extreme, as not only was he anti-abortion, euthanasia and cannabis for example, but he actually had a MAGA hat displayed on his desk! No Todd, New Zealand doesn’t want to draw it’s political inspiration from the shit show that is the United States of America! The heartbreaking thing about all of this is at the start of 2020, National was polling at 46%, well above Jacinda Adern’s Labour party which at that time was experiencing failure after failure. Who was in charge of the party at this time? That’s right, Simon Bridges and Paula Bennet, two highly educated and successful Maori citizens who had had humble upbringings and achieved massive success. This again shows how social liberalism is the way of the future, so how should the Right adapt? 

First things first, the Right needs to tie Social Liberalism to its prized philosophy of small government and liberty. It amazes me how conservatives can skyte about how the government shouldn’t tread on anyones rights, and then for example be anti-abortion, which in turn essentially gives the state full control of a Womman’s reproductive rights. It amazes me how conservatives can claim to champion free markets, then turn around and be against legalizing marajuiana, which would create a huge industry and give the government hundreds of millions of dollars in new taxpayer money to play around with. Small government, individualism and Liberty are ideas that make me proud to be right wing, but our politicians must actually carry out these ideas, instead of power tripping minorities and vulnerable members of society. Recently for example, Conversion Therapy has been a huge issue amongst the LGBTQ+ community. During the election campaign, LGTBQ+ members put Labour under enough pressure to commit to banning Conversion Therapy, a practice that although barely seen in New Zealand, essentially makes it ok under the law to torture someone with the intention of changing their sexuality back to ‘normal’. Unfortuanately, Jacinda Adern is EXTREMELY hesitant to actually bring in legislation that would ban conversion therapy. This is the PRIME oppotunity for National to put pressure on Labour and come out in support of banning conversion therapy. After all, conversion therapy goes against the princibles of individualism and small government. This is the time that the right should be showcasing these amazing principles, and standing in solidarity with the LGTBQ+ community. Judith Collins however, being the conservative she is, essentially said in response that National don’t have a position on Conversion Therapy! Way to drive people away from the right and confirm to young people that anyone who is remotely right wing is bigoted, racist, sexist and homophobic, which of course is entirely untrue (but thats the image of the Right these leaders project). 

Astonishingly, National recently had a laughable attempt at trying to appear more progressive. Judith Collins announced that National would once again contest Maori seats in 2023. The first time since 2005 when then leader Don Brash refused to run any candidates in maori electorates for the name of equality. The public called this sick stunt out for what it was, tokenism. Is it true that the right needs more diversity? Yes, but tokenism and virtue signalling is not the way to accomplish that. Diversity must happen over time, as more and more people are exposed to the Rights ideas and how amazing these principles are. It must happen naturally, take for example the current Labour caucus, the most diverse caucus ever seen in the Beehive. Labour did not achieve this diversity by handing out positions to people in the name of Tokenism to appear diverse, it was a natural occurrence. Even on the right, ACT leader David Seymour is Maori (although many leftist try to call him a privileged white male for some reason), did he get handed his position? No, he worked his way up and has led ACT to their best result ever. Heck, even the New Conservative list was more diverse than National! The reality is, you can’t have a diverse caucus if one of your main ideologies is social conservatism. The right must go back to its roots and put the work in on the ground. Tie social liberalism to the incredible principles of liberty, individualism and small government. The Right must completely change it’s image, but it won’t happen overnight. The Right must have a long term vision and create a movement that can carry out that vision. If done successfully, The Right theoretically will become more diverse than the left. Winning over voters old and young, gay and straight, transgender and cisgender, maori and pakeha, atheist and religious. 

These are probably the most important things that the Right must start doing to win back voters. There are many more things however the Right must start focussing on unless they want to be a relic of the past. Although the left has monopolized the environment as a key area of concern, there is no reason the Right can’t champion environmentalism as well. There is still so much political capital to be seized in terms of genetic engineering, Nuclear energy, and other innovative ways of tackling climate change. There is an opportunity for the Right to champion Local Body Government, which has been neglected by all sides of the political spectrum for too long. Overall, the Right has to modernize their approach to politics. We are living in an exciting period and it’s time to think more innovatively about the ideas that can improve New Zealand and humanity. It will take a monumental effort to bring the Right into the 21st century and to influence people to turn to our side. With Jacinda Adern looking like she is going to hold on to power for a long time, now is the chance for the Right to work in the shadows and completely revolutionize politics as we know it. The Left shouldn’t be the only side bringing new ideas into the political landscape, the Right should be bold enough to do so as well. It is the difference between the Right’s future or their downfall.

Why An 18 Year Old Voted For ACT

2020 was an exciting year for New Zealand politically. Turning 18 in June, it was the first time I had the privilege of contributing to our democracy, casting a vote in the general election for the very first time. Contrary to other 18 year olds, I did not vote for Jacinda Ardern’s Labour party, nor the Greens, both parties that typically attract a younger voter base. The party that earnt my vote was David Seymours ACT party. 

Now before you go spitting out your avocado toast, it is important to note I have nothing against Jacinda Ardern’s leadership prowess, nor against the passionate voter base of the Greens, led by young admirable leaders such as Chloe Swarbrick. Similar to other 18 year olds, my areas of political concern include poverty, the housing crisis and more freedom for each and every Kiwi. The question then became which party had the best policies for solving these issues facing New Zealand, creating a country where everyone has equal opportunity to succeed and prosper, regardless of their background. Unimpressed with Labour and Nationals status quo style politics, I decided to turn my attention to the smaller parties. 

Observing the Greens, it was no wonder why so many young people viewed them as the party to create true change within New Zealand. Their MP’s talked with absolute passion about issues such as homelessness, the housing crisis, poverty and maximising the freedoms Kiwis could enjoy. It is this passion that evokes emotion in many young voters, especially since first time voters for the most part are oblivious to what makes good social and fiscal policy, usually voting on emotion instead. It is this emotion that the Greens use to sell voters the myth of a flawless utopian society, something they do extremely well. Unfortunately, their fiscal positions were very unsatisfactory. In the wake of an economic crisis, the Greens wanted to introduce new and raise taxes, implement more regulation and increase wasteful government spending. Some of their proposals such as the wealth tax have proven to be catastrophic in Europe, and yet somehow were still being sold by the Greens as a way to reduce income inequality. Their obsession on government spending, particularly $11.7M towards a new Private Greens School as the country was plummeting into debt with people losing their jobs, was just plain irresponsible. Although the idea on which the Greens ran their campaign was spot on, their policies would have done more harm than good to the country at this time. 

After eliminating the Greens, my party of choice was a battle between The Opportunities Party (TOP), or ACT. Both parties had very clever and well researched ways of tackling the issues which plagued New Zealand. I was a big fan of TOP’s Universal Basic Income (UBI) proposal. A policy that would give out $250 per week ($13,000 per year) to every Kiwi aged 18 and older no questions asked, paid for by a 33% flat tax rate. Unfortunately, polling indicated that TOP was nowhere near close enough to make it into parliament, which meant my best option was David Seymours ACT party, which had gained a considerable amount of momentum throughout the year. 

The 3 main reasons ACT appealed so much to me was their proposed economic recovery plan, their policy to help solve the housing crisis, and their stance on freedom of expression. 

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, New Zealand, like many other countries was plunged into an economic recession. The result was catastrophic, small businesses all across the country were forced to close, taking jobs with them. By May, over 200,000 Kwis had become unemployed. History shows that the quickest way for an economy to recover after a recession is to increase the spending power of the population, predominantly amongst poor, working ,and middle class households. Both TOP’s UBI proposal (in my opinion the best and smartest policy of any party) and ACT’s economic recovery plan strove to do just this. ACT went about the issue in a more classical neo-liberal way. It’s economic recovery plan aimed to cut the middle income tax from 30% down to 17.5%, and GST from 15% down to 10%. This would directly benefit poor, working and middle class households, introducing more spending power into the economy. To pay for these cuts, ACT planned to abolish costly and unnecessary government spending such as the Provincial Growth Fund and first year free tertiary education. They also planned to freeze the minimum wage for 3 years, which may sound ugly, but creates more jobs (in a time of mass unemployment) and allows small businesses to get back on their feet. The tax cuts combined with lower government spending would create a surplus in the economy, positioning the economy in a way where it could start to pay off the 140 billion dollars of debt it had incurred. Overall, ACT’s fiscal policy made the most sense out of all the significant party’s economic recovery plans (if they even had one in the first place). It focussed on what had worked in other countries and throughout history. It would have been a great stepping stone to raise the quality of life of each and every New Zealander and the quickest way for the economy to recover. 

In a closely related topic to the economy, ACT hands down had the best and most thorough policy to help fix the housing crisis, in my opinion the biggest crisis facing the country, especially for young people. Their policy titled ‘Build Like the Boomers’, aimed to simply build more houses. David Seymour says, “Since the mid-1970s, our population has grown by two million, but we’re building fewer houses now than we did then. It’s no wonder we have a housing crisis.” The root of the housing crisis simply comes down to Supply and Demand, one of the most basic economic concepts. New Zealand has a shortage of houses. Leftist usually dismiss this claim, arguing that the housing crisis is a lot more complicated than just building more houses. They suggest that we need to tax housing, be it through a capital gains or wealth tax, lower immigration (Labour made it a priority to curb immigration during their last term) and put a cap on the amount of investment properties one can own to fully deflate the prices of housing. While these suggestions do all hold some merit, and are important in the discourse for this particular matter, nothing will truly work unless we build a larger supply of housing, simple as that. ACT is the only party that understands this, so how do we build more houses? In the 2017 election cycle, one of Labour’s biggest policy proposals was the now infamous Kiwibuild, which sought to build 100,000 affordable houses through a government initiative. If the policy had achieved what it strove to do, it would have been a step in the right direction in terms of fixing the housing crisis. Unfortunately, Kiwibuild was an absolute disaster. By October 2020, only 602 houses had been built. What this highlighted was that there were too many regulations which prevented an adequate number of houses from being built. In other words, it was simply too hard to build a house in New Zealand. ACT identified this, suggesting to repeal and replace The Resource Management Act, and to focus on taking the bureaucracy out of housing and infrastructure. This would make housing development and construction a whole lot easier, leading to more homes being built in the short term and long term. The housing crisis is hot on the mind of every young New Zelander out there, and ACT was the only party that had real solutions to the problem (and made it one of their top Priorities). 

Freedom of speech has been a hotly contested issue in recent times, Not only in New Zealand, but all over the western world. New Zealand’s bill of rights act 1990 says everyone has the right to freedom of expression, “including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form”. Freedom of expression is one of the essential liberties of a free and fair democratic society. Unfortunately, freedom of expression has consistently been under attack throughout the last couple of years. ‘Hate speech’ legislation has been slowly creeping its way into New Zealand’s political psyche for some time. Most recently, Jacinda Ardern and Labour revealed their most blatant attack on freedom of expression yet. Outlining their plan to ‘sharpen’ current hate speech laws, adding religion and the LGTBTQ+ community to the list of protected characteristics. While with good intentions (you can’t dispute that these groups are precious and deserve to be protected), the problem with hate speech laws is that ‘hate speech’ is deeply subjective. Who gets to determine what ‘hate speech’ is? David Seymour was swift to defend the right to freedom of expression, saying, “Freedom of expression is one of the most fundamental rights New Zealanders possess. A new hate speech law will do the exact opposite of protecting and strengthening the rights of New Zealanders – it will fundamentally undermine them.” He goes on to say, “Hate speech laws are divisive and dangerous, turning debate into a popularity contest where the majority can silence unpopular views using the power of the state.” In defending freedom of expression, I am not suggesting that hate speech (however an individual defines it) is particularly pleasant or welcome. What I am saying is that each individual should be safe to express whatever thoughts, opinions or beliefs they have, safely under the law. In a free and democratic society, the state should not be allowed to silence anybody. ACT would prevent this from happening by repealing all existing hate speech laws, specify that the Harmful Digital Communications act only applies if the complainant is under the age of 18, and abolish the human rights commission. Freedom of expression is a crucial component of a progessive and inclusive society, which is why ACT, the only party that was truly defending freedom of expression, got my vote. 

Thus, contrary to many other 18 year olds, I proudly voted for David Seymour’s ACT party. After diligent research and careful consideration, I realised that ACT had the best solutions to the problems facing New Zealand. Many fellow Kiwis agreed, ACT’s share of the vote rose from 0.5% in 2017 to 8% in 2020, increasing the amount of ACT MP’s in parliament from 1 to 10. They have a lot of momentum going into 2021, especially with a divided and wavering National party and David Seymour’s amazing success in getting the End Of Life Choice Act across the line in the referendum. I have high hopes for ACT throughout the next 3 years, and hope they keep standing up for all New Zealanders, focussing on the important issues the country faces. 

As an 18 year old, my views are highly liquid, and change constantly as I encounter new information. This post is not stating that I am an ACT supporter for life (I couldn’t bear the thought of becoming too ideological). I voted for them in the recent election because after careful analysis I came to the conclusion that at this point in time, they had the best policies to help solve the problems I deemed important within New Zealand. My views are bound to change over time. I am excited to see what party will have the best answers to New Zealand’s problems next election.