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New Zealand article about furry that cost tax payers an estimated 0.000000006% of their GDP raises ire of Taxpayer Union

Edited as of 21:21
Your rating: None Average: 3.9 (8 votes)

On January 11, 2022 Dylan Reeve published an article for The Spinoff entitled Who Runs the Internet? Furries. Within the piece he talks to individuals within the Information Technology industry within New Zealand about their hobby of being a furry on the internet in their spare time.

Articles about furry fandom have been increasingly less hostile toward the group since the more darker periods of CSI, MTV, and Vanity Fair in the earlier 2000s. Because of this, this particular article would have come and gone without too much notice, but then someone used its content to spin a rhetorical argument to promote their organization's cause.

In response to the piece, a political organization called the New Zealand Taxpayer’s Union made a loud objection to what they classified as pro-furry propaganda on the government dime. There were many oddities about their response. For one, the Union’s response called for ‘debate’ within the article, but never specified what about the article could have lent itself to confrontation. They seem to insinuate that the furry in the article was part of some far left cabal without evidence, which is why they may have seen need to confront the individual interviewed. There was
also insinuations such that the journalist in question should have collected information on the private New Zealand citizen to forward onto the authorities. Something I’m sure would not be a waste of governmental resources.

However, in this article we will focus on the thing they, as a Taxpayer Union, should probably be most concerned about— fiscal waste. After doing calculations with all available numbers, and even some provided by this supposed government watchdog organization, I found that the amount that the New Zealand government spent on the single article in question is 136.48 ($US). This is 6 billionths of a percent of New Zealand’s total Gross Domestic Product (0.000000006%).

More details about this calculation after the fold.

New Zealand Tax Union Release Letter

Breaking Down the Cost Per Article

In order to acquire how much in government subsidy this furry article was I needed to get an estimate as to the organization's article thru-put. In short, if I count how many articles they produce in a month I can multiply that by 12 to get an estimate for the year. I can then divide that number by the amount that they received in the fund.

Since the site splits their articles into sections, I had to count these up one section at a time from the date of Janurary 16th to December 16th. You can see this breakdown in the Google Spreadsheet linked here. The pie chart within, and that can be found at the bottom of this section, shows how silly it is for them to accuse the entire website of devoting to pro-furry or 'leftist' propaganda based on their single example.

We can see that articles tagged with Society get the most content at almost a third of the articles on the Spin Off site. If there was a subsidy, perhaps it was allocated so that society and culture should get the bulk of the content. It must be noted that the furry article was found within the Technology section which only had 4 articles published in the last month and compose about 2% of the content created. To put it on the chart I extracted the furry article and made it their own category. The full total of which is around 206 articles for the month period.

Using the number the Taxpayer Union proved in their tweet of $335,746.00 being given to The SpinOff in subsidy we will gather that the amount was for their full fiscal year. So we multiply the amount of articles by 12 to get an estimate of 2,472 articles for the year. We can then divide that subsidy amount and assume they were equally distributed to each article written in turn.

This gives us a grand total of $136.48(US) of subsidy per article.

Spin Off Quantites.jpg

Breaking Down the Cost Per GDP

The latest number we have for the GDP of New Zealand is 22 billion dollars. So you just take the $136.48 and divide it by that huge number to get the infinitesimal results in the headline. However, what makes this even more interesting is that this is not even a significant amount of the allocated Public Interest Journalist Fund.

We can acquire this number by simply searching Google. The amount allocated for the fiscal year in question is 25 million dollars. Of this the SpinOff got $335,746 as noted above by the Taxpayer Union, which is around one percent (1.34%) of the allocated funds for the whole SpinOff site. Of those allocated funds to the full site alone, the furry article was only 0.04% of the funds SpinOff received.

A full breakdown of these number can be found on the following spreadsheet. There is a pie chart, and someone tells me there is a slice that represents the furry article in there, but it you may need a microscope to see it.

Guess in New Zealand, the pie vores you.

Assessing the assessor

In finance there is the concept of value and getting the most bang for your buck. In this, there are people who are supposed to act as a check and a balance against governmental exuberance to ensure that a person who pays taxes gets the most out of their government payments. Those who appoint themselves to conserve fiscal resources typically try to make sure that money going into the coffers, should they be needed, are being put toward the systems they were allocated to and that those amounts are fair to the taxpayer.

However, like the government itself, sometimes those who are the supposed watchdogs of resource waste get caught in their own trap of misallocation. As we can no doubt conclude here, this Taxpayer Union organization has spent several hours creating propaganda against a single article about furries that ended up costing their take payers $135 (US).

While this may be a desire to start a conversation about whether a government should be subsidizing journalism to begin with, this kind of rhetoric could be done without pointing at a single furry article and making a circus of the ordeal. Given that New Zealand’s journalism fund has another year before the current bout of funding expires, it may have been better to wait and used our fandom as your rhetorical tool when the desire for renewal came up instead of blowing this wad in a knee jerk response to seeing an article about furry that wasn’t as salacious as you thought it should be.

Toward those who truly care about holding the government to account for the resources being spent, if folks like this are asking for your money, perhaps you can point them in a direction where they may better spend their time. If you want to beat your chest over dollars on the penny, then you can ask the local street sweeper to take the time to pick up the loose change on the pavement during their line of duties. You don’t need to support a whole organization to complain about a single $135 expenditure on a news article. There are worse ways money, in denominations that are orders of magnitude higher than this, gets allocated by your government. I guarantee it.

Maybe you should look into it?

And oh yeah, maybe do a bit more math this time. That’s an important skill for those dealing with finance. Because if some random furry on the internet can undermine your entire message with two spreadsheets, your government will have no problem handing you your ass.

Comments

Your rating: None Average: 4.5 (2 votes)

To be fair though I did spend three hours on 135 dollars.

Your rating: None Average: 4.3 (4 votes)

New Zealand fur here - it should be noted that the self-proclaimed "Taxpayers Union" is basically a pressure group with links to the right-wing/libertarian ACT Party. Despite being very critical of what they see as "wasteful" government spending, it didn't stop them putting their hand out for government wage subsidies during our COVID lockdown in 2020, and as per the linked Wikipedia article they have not been above playing fast and loose with the truth regarding false identities for obtaining Official Information Act requests.

I too would love to know what "the other side of the debate" is supposed to be regarding furries in NZ IT, of which I count myself as one (as well as being an NZ taxpayer, of course!). Maybe "Furries that aren't in IT is the "other" side? Who knows? (And who cares!)

Still, NZ furries (and others) are giving as good as they are getting :-)
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union Is Currently Being Trolled By a Bunch of Furries

Mayfurr

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

I love how the wiki goes "they might be a right wing pressure group". I think their press release kind of makes this a bit obvious, if there were any doubts.

Your rating: None Average: 1.4 (5 votes)

I've been seeing a bunch of news out of New Zealand recently. All of it makes New Zealand look bad.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Hey, at least they sent a plane to make sure that Tongo was OK (or rather, to what extent it wasn't), and also boats with water and medical supplies.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (1 vote)

Almost as if taxes are levied to deal with the unforeseeable events of the world.

Sadly they can at times be used to create those unforeseeable events just as much as mitigate them.

Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (3 votes)

I'd love to know what kind of news "makes New Zealand look bad" right now, because I can't think of anything and I live here.

I mean, some may think we're a "socialist hermit kingdom" at the moment due to COVID, but given the state of the US, UK, Europe and Australia right now I think I'll stick with the "socialist hermit kingdom" approach as it seems to be working out well for us right now :-)

Mayfurr

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

It won't, however, work well for you with Flayrah's spam filter, containing as it does the name of a frequently-promoted erectile dysfunction drug. You might want to register an account to avoid that happening again.

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

Wait, "Socialist Hermit Kingdom" is an ED pill?

Man, I would hope socialism would be all about the 'soft' power rather than the 'hard'.

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (4 votes)

That's Rakuen, he typically believes in the 'scientific method' of taking a handful of news stories about a handful of people within a country and painting everyone in the region with that broad brush.

Authoritarian-Dunning-Kruger-Populism is not just a New Zealand problem these days, the internet has released that particular bumbling dragon upon the entire world that is connected to the internet. Yes, even to the country he moved to.

The radio was the first tool of the beast, the internet has fast become the second.

Your rating: None Average: 2 (2 votes)

Wow. That's quite a stretch. Maybe you remember a time I don't but I recall every doing that. Perhaps you misunderstood because I didn't do it now either. Did I paint everyone with a broad brush? No. Heck, I didn't even say New Zealand was bad. I just said all the news articles I'd seen about them recently made them look bad. Nothing there to claim that the articles were representative or that the impression was true.

But as for the current stories floating around about New Zealand, they generally relate to the governments attempts to put Maori mythology into science classes. You remember when everyone was mocking the NRA for sending "thoughts and prayers" after shootings? Well, related to the whole mythology in science class, a manager in the New Zealand coastguard was suggesting that they use Maori prophylactic thoughts and prayers to reduce drownings.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None

My critique here is maybe your news sources are a little bit too attuned to you, Rakuen. Googling does reveal there is some kind of "Maori science" that does garner a Wikipedia article complete with a "controversies" section. It doesn't actually reveal any, you know, recent news articles. You'd kind of need to be looking for, or have brought to you, this kind of story, which tells me it might not be as big a deal as you think it is. (Also, I'm not sure you understand why most people are actually pissed off at the NRA's response to gun violence, there.)

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

Yes, it's attuned to me because I'm interested in stories about science. That's neither here nor there. Just because it's not there doesn't mean it's not a big deal. In the wider context it comes along many attacks on science that try to try to treat mythology as equal to science. In the case of New Zealand it also comes while New Zealand test scores for science have been dropping for the last few years. There are many stories which are important for specific disciplines which will not be known or discussed much outside of those disciplines.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 3.5 (2 votes)

You know what, Imma 'bout to drop my top ten list next week, this subthread is probably a tactical error, but you kind of seem less interested in science than science as a worldview.

I don't know, using science to judge other people doesn't seem like a good use of science.

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

I'd say it's one data point about a person (albeit rolling all views on science into one is itself a simplification). How important that is depend on their role in your life. You might not care about your bus driver's position, but it might be a big issue if it was your doctor - or a judge, or a politician in charge of funding.

Your rating: None Average: 1 (1 vote)

No and Yes. This is not the superficial sort of "love science" à la https://files.explosm.net/comics/Kris/same.png Science is not just a collection of facts. Science is a world-view; it is a way of approaching, learning and understanding the world. These things matter. Despite calls to "trust the science," there is a huge pushback from both the political left and right against science whenever it doesn't agree with their ideology. This manifests in people denying global warming, promoting alternative medicine, being anti-vax, opposing GMOs, opposing nuclear energy and promoting mythology as equal to science. So I am absolutely interested in science itself but that does not mean just being interested in collecting random facts, which may be falsified by later knowledge, it's about a world-view where all beliefs are supported by evidence and those which are not are discarded.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

Your rating: None Average: 1 (2 votes)

Attuned, like your ADSL router, and the excuse you used to give when your ISP business was giving customers bad service?

Your rating: None Average: 1 (3 votes)

And why does that worry you?
Oh... is your current shithole getting tight with all them power cuts and communist rhetoric?
Fun fact- they've closed them doors to where you're from, so I do hope ole sport, that yer trust fund is fat, because you're only getting in there one way, and that's to buy yer way in there uWu!!!

Your rating: None Average: 4 (1 vote)

Was recently recording my video on this situation and I thought of making this a bit easier to understand from a more 'mortal citizen' persepctive.

If you were to have a salary of $50,000 a year, this would be like your spose nagging your over a purchase that cost $0.0003

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About the author

Sonious (Tantroo McNally)read storiescontact (login required)

a project coordinator and Kangaroo from CheektRoowaga, NY, interested in video games, current events, politics, writing and finance