Tuesday, 27 October 2015


Last week our home became an entry in the nation’s house break-in statistics. Fortunately, no one was home or harmed in the mid-morning invasion which revealed that brute force can defeat even the costliest and well installed security devices. The usual clutch of electronic goodies was stolen including of course the laptop on which Tidemarks is crafted each week and which hosted the mailing list of recipients. The necessary conversion to a new computer operating system and recovery from some patchy backups has been incredibly trying but here is a belated comment bashed out on a brand new computer thingy.
Because of the aforementioned imperfect mailing list reconstruction process this letter will be reaching people who may have never seen Tidemarks before and unless you object, your name will remain on the list. More complicated is the recovery of those names who were added to my list since the last back up. If you recall asking me in the last six weeks or so to add a friend or even an enemy, please just send me that request again.
And meanwhile, our poor nation was having its own problems with revolting students. Some hyperbolic opinions have been aired but it certainly seems possible that our leaders are paralysed with fear. No one has emerged to be willing to confront the mobs and impose some discipline and order. With so many in government, from Number 1 down, largely ignorant of arithmetic, economics or indeed what universities are for, the rhetoric and appalling hash tag sloganeering has not produced any sound and sensible debate. The ruling party seems to be in panic mode and frantically trying to distance themselves from government. An impossible task, as the two have been inseparable for a couple of decades.
It appears that the tertiary education sector has now joined the schools and most state-owned and operated enterprises on the scrap heap of broken institutions. The desperation of young people to get into a university is probably based on their earnest but misguided belief that a degree is the sole route to employment. The number of powerful positions occupied by people who have lied about their qualifications is testimony to this. But actually peaceful competence in almost any field including just driving a broom is a saleable skill. The cruel fact is that university is indeed a privilege open to far fewer candidates than our dysfunctional school leaving system promises. If student numbers were restricted to the truly worthy, the university funding issues would diminish and scholarships, bursaries and loans could operate as intended.
All of this submerged poor Finance Minister Nene’s semi-annual trip to the parliamentary podium and any plans he might have for allocating resources were trashed by just about everyone. It seems likely that his peers will insist that he raises more tax from those who are so “obviously” able to afford it. The air is thick with the noise of calculator buttons as the pundits demonstrate yet again the impossibility of raising significant amounts of money from insignificant fractions of the population. Retirement and emigration has thinned the ranks of  the so-called previously advantaged male citizens that the socialists are so pleased to bludgeon and blame. They are going have to find new and wealthier people to tax.
In the end the three-point shortfall was heart-breaking for the ‘bokke and us fans. Unfortunately, the lads can’t even come home now as they have to play that silly third place decider next weekend.
With luck this communique will resume normal service next week.
James Greener
Sunday 25th October 2015