Friday, July 30, 2010

Mike Butler: Maori compulsory at school?

Whether the Maori language should be made a compulsory subject at school, like English, was a question bandied about during this year’s Maori Language Week, which ends on Sunday. The theme this year was “Te Mahi Kai – The Language of Food”. The line-up of nine veges featured in the local newspaper’s obligatory feature almost mirrored the make-up of the language that has rapidly expanded since colonisation, with borrowed words given a Maori look. The kumara was the only edible plant in the line-up that was here in 1840, and even that was brought here from somewhere else.

Ron Smith: Cultural Relations: Australia and the Aborigine

The following thoughts were inspired by a recent visit to Australia. In fact, north-western Australia: The Kimberley, as it is called. This is a vast and extraordinary area, twice the size of New Zealand and containing the most remarkable ancient land forms. There is also an ancient people, whose art from tens of thousands of years ago, reflects a rich mythology and a confident culture but whose contemporary reality is very different. Some are still producing the wonderful painting but many are sitting around in parks and on the pavements of small towns, or queuing up at the bottle-store. What they are not doing, despite all the apologies and the institutional deference to Aboriginal culture, is participating in the life of a modern developed economy.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Allan Peachey: Choice

Why is the word “choice” so inflammatory in education circles? Why are so many on the left side of the debate over school quality so affronted by suggestions that parents should have some sort of choice about where they send their children to school? Why do they see choice as some sort of violation of their egalitarian view of schooling?

Owen McShane: Being Business Friendly

The Government is wanting to encourage growth and development if only because it is the only way to increase tax revenues to pay off the debt and raise incomes to fund all the welfare programmes and superannuation for the baby boomers. So unsurprisingly Government and its agencies are trying to promote the efficient use of our resources, from pasture, to minerals, and to the scenery through tourism.

Roger Kerr: Council Democracy And Performance Must Be Improved


Parliament is considering a bill to amend the Local Government Act 2002 passed by the last government. It is a chance to improve democracy and performance in our councils. The 2002 Act reflected an expansionist and unconstrained view of local government. As one mayor enthused, the “horse can now gallop around the paddock.”

Ronald Kitching: The Disaster of Interventionism

It is obvious that many if not most politicians make stupid and socially damaging decisions. This occurs because they are ignorant of the science of economics. But economics, as taught in all of our universities is a course in interventionism.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Owen McShane: What is a Spatial Plan ... and whose is it?

The race is now on for the Mayor and Councillors of the Auckland Council – a critical stage in the process of creating the new Super City for the Auckland Region. We must all hope that this new Local Authority will contribute to the growth and development of the Auckland Region. After all, if Auckland is unable to perform to expectations we can hardly expect the nation to do any better.

Roger Kerr: Economic Fallacies And Their Consequences

A few weeks ago I decided to look out for examples of economic fallacies that routinely appear in our media. It didn’t take long to make a list. Local government is always a happy hunting ground. Mike Reid, governance manager of Local Government New Zealand, recently wrote that there wouldn’t be much interest in private financing of infrastructure like water services “as councils are able to borrow more cheaply than the private sector”.

Ronald Kitching: About Tax and the Economic Progress of a Nation

All a free people need a government for, is the protect their person and their assets from internal and external thugs. As the government has a monopoly of coercion, that means that a police force and a judiciary has to be introduced and paid for, to monitor and administer the law. And suitable defence forces to protect our boundaries.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lindsay Mitchell: The Church in the welfare debate

The emergence of a 'shadow' welfare working group is an interesting if somewhat predictable development. Predictable because any welfare debate is destined to become highly political and the idea that all views can be heard and accommodated is farcical. That's inevitable when any social service - health, education or welfare - is primarily the domain of the state. The only money government has is that which it generates from the public, and who then benefits from its redistribution is a highly contentious matter. All parties wanting a slice of the pie, either directly or as advocates for others, naturally become very nervous and defensive when there is a prospect the status quo may be upset.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Allan Peachey: Ideology Undermines Education

Just how socialist has schooling become? Ask the fools who abolished grammar schools in England. Fools you say, which fools? Well, start with the Harold Wilson Labour Government of the 1960s; go to the Heath Conservative Government of the 1970s (in which Margaret Thatcher no less was Education Secretary) and right up to current British Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, who said in 2007 that he would not lead any calls to “bring back grammars”. He argued that a selective system concentrating talent in a few schools would not raise standards across the board or promote social equality. Now how socialist is that, coming from an old Etonian no less?

Owen McShane: Carbon Footprints, Food Miles, & why the Country of Origin Really Matters

I suspect few of us have been surprised by the research from the University of Otago that challenges the argument that we have to have an Emissions Trading Scheme, because otherwise the consumers of Europe and other sensitive souls civilised countries will not buy our food. We certainly have good reason to be suspicious of polls that suggest otherwise. When I used to lecture MBA students on the management of innovation and change we would have a short "workshop" on marketing pitfalls. The "public good" distortion always featured. I used to give the example of the researcher with a clipboard standing in Queen Street, or wherever and asking a random sample of male passers-by "At six o'clock at night do you watch the national news or "Baywatch"? Ninety percent answer "the News." The next question asked is "Can you tell me what was on the News last night?" Ninety percent respond "Ah, No. But did you see that big pair of boobs on Baywatch?"

Roger Kerr: Politics Should Be About Doing What Is Necessary

It’s often said that “politics is the art of the possible”, usually by politicians who know they should be doing something in the overall national interest but aren’t willing or able to do it. The contrast is with Winston Churchill’s statement, “It is no use saying ‘we are doing our best’. You have got to succeed in doing what is necessary.”

Ronald Kitching: Socialism and Economic Calculation

The Essay titled “Economic Calculation in The Socialist Commonwealth” published in 1920 by Ludwig von Mises, showed conclusively that in a socialist state, rational economic activity cannot occur. Mises’s original thesis stands on its own against all counter arguments and without any need for qualification or emendation: without private ownership of the means of production, and the competition of the spontaneous market order for them, there cannot exist economic calculation and rational allocation of resources under conditions of the social division of labor. In short, socialist economy and society are impossible.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Allan Peachey: The Importance of Science

For our protection and prosperity as a democratic society there are two subjects in school that take on an importance beyond all others once the business of reading, writing and mathematics are taken care of. Those subjects are science and history. In this article I will concentrate on science with a view to discussing history in a subsequent article.

Steve Baron: Unemployed Youth the Bane of Waikato

Unemployed teenagers walk down the streets of every town in the Waikato, spray cans
hidden under their hoodies, usually looking for trouble. I sat there listening to their derogatory comments as the local Senior Sargent drove past in an unmarked car. They knew who he was and he knew who they were, as he glanced sideways with a glaring eye.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Owen McShane: The Economic Meaning of Village Markets

Flea markets and garage sales have been around for years. But for most New Zealanders, produce markets have been associated with old European villages, or the ethnic markets of Hong Kong and other exotic locations. Village markets focus on locally made crafts, while Flea Markets are essentially centralized garage sales. At the true Farmers’ Market vendors may sell only what they grow, farm, pickle, preserve, bake, smoke, or catch themselves from a defined area. There are now over 50 “official” Farmers’ Markets in New Zealand. But when all the flea markets, village markets and less formal markets are tallied up there must be hundreds throughout New Zealand.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Ron Smith: New Zealand and Nuclear Cargoes


They say that you always remember where you were when you heard certain items of momentous news, like the death of President Kennedy, or Princess Diana. In my case this principle also applies to when I first became aware that shipping containers of refined uranium ore (yellowcake) were passing through New Zealand ports. It was on 11May 1998 and I was sitting in a conference room of the Cooperative Monitoring Centre of Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The hosts were demonstrating, to a small audience of academic and diplomatic persons from the Asia-Pacific region, technology they had developed for the continuous GPS monitoring of the transportation of sensitive material. In this case it was container loads of yellowcake from South Australia. We watched a moving light on a large computer screen as the cargo left Adelaide and moved along the Victorian coast to Melbourne and thence on to Sydney. I should say at this point that we were mostly well-known to each other (having met together on previous occasions) and the fact that I was from ‘anti-nuclear’ New Zealand was also well-appreciated.