Last night was the final Meet the candidates evening held in Blenheim.
I recorded it, and have edited my bits into this file, transcribed below.
I did the evening without notes, just speaking what was there to say.
My name is Ted Howard, currently resident in Kaikoura. I started out life in Papakura. Mum and Dad moved around a lot. The first 10 years I think Dad was a fisherman 3 times, a farm worker 4 times, a boiler-man, a butcher and a carpenter. So I have a bit of a broad experience. I was a commercial fisherman myself for 17 years, and in that time I caught enough fish to feed 10 people for 100 years. So I figured that was enough actual physical work to consider myself a contributing member of society. 28 years ago I started a software business, worked really hard at it, got a bit lucky, did reasonably well. So I have a bit of an idea about how hard it is to make a business work. I think the only reason I survived in fishing for the first 3 years was just bloody mindedness. I should have gone broke, but I didn’t. By the time I had been at it for 5 years, I was starting to learn how to do it. By the time I had been doing it for 15 years I was making quite a bit out of it.
When you look back at the history of our society, for most of the time that humans have been around, most things have been scarce, and money has been a really useful tool in allocating scarce resources.
But we are now moving into an age that is defined by information, and computers and automation. And when you have got a factory and it is producing stuff and you have got people working there, there is this term “marginal cost of production”. It costs a lot of money to build the factory, so the first things have cost you quite a bit, then the extra ones don’t cost so much. Now that we have got fully automated systems. When I produced my software it took me a lot of work to produce my main system. It took me the best part of 20 years work. Now I can copy it in a fraction of a second. It costs me almost nothing. The marginal cost of production of another copy is essentially nothing, or close enough to nothing. The same is becoming true of physical things. We have now got 3D printers which are in the first generation, and they can print out little things. It takes a lot of time to design the first one, but the marginal cost of production is starting to drop on physical objects now. And when your marginal cost of production hits zero, the concept of money loses it’s sense.
The only way we can keep money having any value is by putting artificial barriers in place. We create things like “intellectual property rights” which really don’t make a lot of sense when you think about them.
Four and half years ago I was diagnosed terminal melanoma. 7 years ago I had a little melanoma show up on my temple, after 3 years it sort of got away, into my cheek and my neck and then down into my liver and I was sent home “palliative care only”, nothing we can do for you, after 3 lots of operations. So I did a lot of research myself. I’m a speed reader, a biochemist by training at university. So in three weeks I probably looked at something like 200 thousand articles on the Internet, most of which were complete rubbish. I was really annoyed that a lot of the information I wanted to look at was behind pay per view screens. People had done this research, mostly done on public money at universities, but I couldn’t get access to the information. As it turned out I got enough information from what I could get to, to go onto a strict vegan diet, high dose vitamin C, and it took me two months to get rid of the tumours.
So I think we have got to the stage now where money has passed its utility to humanity. It is now becoming more of a threat than it is a service.
Ended 11mins in
36:53 – Question 1 – important thing for Marlborough
The number 1 priority would have to be empowering people – getting rid of poverty.
There are so many weird things that happen in economies.
We have the ability to feed everyone on the planet, but we don’t do it, because there is no profit in it.
We have the ability to give anyone, everyone, whatever education they want, but we don’t do it because there is no money in it.
To me it seems that the values of the market, the values of money, have come to dominate over human values.
To my mind, we should be putting people first, and money as a tool with which to deliver things to people.
For people to have a healthy life they have got to have resources, they need clean air, fresh water, good food, housing, education, communication, transportation and a health care system that works. Get those basics right and people can do whatever they responsibly choose.
Q2 – How will you represent the People of Marlborough when their views differ from your party’s views.
I’ve had a little bit of experience in democracy. I’ve been a district councillor, I’ve been president of the Kaikoura Boating Club for the last 10 years, I’ve been treasurer for Te Korowai o te Tai o Marokura for the last 9 years, so I believe in participatory democracy.
I think what we need to do for the future is to take the decisions away from government, and bring them back to the local communities. We have now the technology to enable us to do that. We could easily develop that. So if I do get into parliament, my job there is to do myself out of a job, and bring the decision making and democracy back to the people.
55:00 candidate questions to 2 candidates
A bit of an odd question.
I think it is just going to be more of the same sort of problem.
There are guys like Ray Kurzweil out there – I don’t know if any of you have heard of that name, he is currently the director of engineering at Google.
He is a world renowned inventor, he developed the first scanner to recognise handwriting, the first reader for the blind, and one of the toys he developed is an artificial intelligence thing that sits out there and plays the international money market. Its doing very very well. Ray doesn’t need to work at Google, but he just loves doing it, so he does.
The idea that NZ could compete with that sort of thing is laughable, but then the whole finance system is so fundamentally corrupt that we have lost it. I’m sorry but we’ve got to go past it, we’ve got to get back to human values.
My time in fisheries and my degree in marine biology have taught me some things. Fisheries are not simple. Blue cod are not simple, people are not simple.
In Kaikoura we have gone 9 years through a process. we got everybody sitting around the table, recreational, commercial, conservation, Maori, tourism, all the interest groups. For 3 years we talked straight past each other. It took 3 years to really start listening to what other people were saying, it took another couple of years to build trust, then 4 years to come up with a management strategy that has been accepted by government and I think will work. I think there has to be local management. I think the biggest problem that you’ve got in the sounds is that there is so much of the biomass coming out of there as mussels. There is only so much productivity that you can get out of any amount of sunlight, and if you take it out as mussels, you can’t have it as blue cod. As simple as that.
Question – Social Values
I don’t have any religious values, I am a scientist and a sceptic by training. And as I see it, we are a highly evolved social ape. We have evolved to live in social groups. We have all sorts of mechanisms that make us fundamentally cooperative. And providing everyone is getting the basics, we can cooperate and we can support individuals to do whatever those individuals responsibly choose. And I think we have the technology to empower everyone into a life like that, and currently we are being kept out of it by being trapped in the box of a market based system. We need to get out of that box. We have the technology to do it. We have the evolution and the culture to do it. We just need to take that step out of the box.
I have a son and a daughter. My daughter got a diploma in graphic design, spent 6 months going around handing out CVs, and was unable to get a job and is now back in training. My son spent 5 years at university, and spent two years trying to get a paid job. He did voluntary work during that time. He eventually got a job. He was the one successful applicant of the two hundred that applied for that job. He’s been in that job for two years and is moving up that organisation.
It’s tough out there.
It’s really tough out there.
It will always be tough in a market based system.
We could give everyone the choice to do whatever they responsibly choose. Whatever you really want to do, you could do it. The only thing stopping us is money. Our belief in it, not the fact that we haven’t got it, just the fact that we believe we need it – that is what’s stopping us.
1:54:50 – Closing remarks
I started working with computers and automation 40 years ago.
I’ve been kinda lucky in life.
I started out really poor, worked hard in the fishing business, worked hard in the software business, we own our own home, we own a farm, I’ve done well.
I’ve seen plenty of people around who have worked just as hard, haven’t been so lucky, and are still living hand to mouth.
Three year’s ago I was over at Google’s headquarters, at the 25th Foresight conference on nanotechnology and the future, and I saw machines there that can molecular assemble, build from the molecular level upwards. They were huge machines, test bed things at the moment, and they will get better, smaller.
That technology is coming.
I don’t see any excuse for us to continue to live in a system that denies the productivity we are capable of giving to the majority of people.
We have to go beyond money and markets.
We are a cooperative species, lets start cooperating [at the highest level].
Authorised by Ted Howard – 1 Maui Street, Kaikoura