I've Been Reading...
A response to… ACT's The Letter - Monday 17 November 2003
By Dave Taggart
I’ve read Richard Prebble’s latest Association of Consumers and Taxpayers ‘Letter’ and it’s good to see he’s taking creative writing classes while he’s spending time in America. Let’s look at a few choice morsels from Preb’s ‘Letter’:
In the paragraph titled ‘Not State TV’, Preb offers an array of ‘facts’ showing that Iraq is doing really well under American rule. Then we see his source for all this good news is none other than that highly esteemed journal ‘The New York Sun’. Never heard of it? The NY Sun is a tabloid that’s only been on the market since April and is bank-rolled by such democratic philanthropists such as “conservative media tycoon Conrad Black -- last seen in the news taking a $300 million loss on his Canadian newspaper launch, the National Post -- and Michael Steinhardt -- last seen in the news writing a letter to President Clinton urging him to pardon disgraced financier Marc Rich” (Eric Boehlert). For more on the amazingly sloppy journalism found within the pages of Preb’s favourite ‘finger on the pulse of Iraq’ see Boehlert’s article at: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2002/04/25/nysun/
Preb also informs us that Bush’s ‘approval rating’ [within US borders] is higher than either Clinton’s or Reagan’s were at the same point in their presidency. Where, oh where did he find this precious gem? Maybe, in another edition of the NY Sun, or maybe he dropped in on Rush Limbaugh and had a wee chat while Limbaugh detoxed from a decade of ‘ghetto heroin’ addiction. Or, maybe Limbaugh slipped Preb a couple of Oxycontin. Preb further claims that the US economy is booming. No, that’s the sound of hundreds of thousands of jobs simultaneously collapsing, while investors clamber for the next available flight to China or some other country to asset-strip.
And, for a real flight of fancy, Preb tells us that if Bush stays in ‘power’, it will be good for New Zealand, because “a Republican congress is more open to free trade”. I guess the Oxycontin hadn’t worn off when he wrote that bit. Yeah, that’s just what we need, a strong dose of Republican free trade, just like in Iraq. Oops, I forgot, Iraq is really blossoming under Republican free trade (if you discount all the dead Iraqis and a totally screwed infrastructure).
I could go on to mention Preb’s other hallucinations, like how Deborah Coddington plans to save the education system with a flotilla of freedom-loving yellow plastic ducks, but I really don’t see yellow as being the correct colour to signify freedom.
But, what is going on with the women in the Association of Consumer and Taxpayers? Aunty Donna gets caught with both hands, feet and her snout in the public trough and Aunty Deb is tangled up in a con-job that’s ripping people off on both sides of the Tasman? Is the difference here simply that, because Aunty Donna tried some creative accounting with public funds she’s a ‘bad’ person while Aunty Deb’s imbroglio has to do with ‘private money’ and that makes her a ‘good’ girl? You just have to love the Association of Consumers and Taxpayers sense of justice and loyalty; it’s modelled on the American Republicans. Perhaps, that’s the strongest possible argument for New Zealand staying in the Commonwealth.
- Dave Taggart is a Social Anthropologist currently living in Napier, NZ.