Friday, July 31, 2015

Karl du Fresne: So much for the Licensed Building Practitioner scheme ...


The house I live in was built in 1916. My wife and I plan a party next year to celebrate its centenary. Of all the houses we’ve owned (this is number seven), it’s the one in which I've felt most at home.
It was built in what architectural historians call the transitional villa style, an intermediate stage between the traditional villa of the late 19th century and the Californian bungalow that became fashionable after World War I.

Brian Arrandale: The Future Structure of Local Government Needs Radical Change



The future of Local Government is destined to change due to the Government empowering the Local Government Commission to push for fewer local bodies - using the pretext that amalgamation will bring the desired changes. But will it? 

Certainly it brought forth changes in Auckland that have been extremely costly, and have resulted in an increase in the governing bureaucracy of that Super City. It is however a global trend in our present “Cosmetic Age”, as opposed to previous ones such as the Age of Enlightenment, and the Age of Reason which have contributed to real progress and the advancement of mankind.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Frank Newman: Interest rates and changes to local councils


As expected, last week the Reserve Bank cut the official cash rate (OCR) a quarter of a percent to 3%. This follows a reduction of the same amount six weeks ago.

Floating mortgage rates adjusted immediately. Kiwibank and the ANZ reduced their floating rates by 0.25% to 6.15% and 6.24% respectively. The other major banks are expected to follow suit shortly.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Karl du Fresne: Savaged by goldfish - again


As I fully expected, I came under attack yesterday from some of my fellow journalists over my criticism of Nicky Hager’s claim to be an investigative journalist.

The usual suspects were represented among the comments posted on the Kiwi Journalists’ Association Facebook page. The sleazy socialist journalism academic Martin Hirst popped up like an unwelcome recurring pimple – the first time I’ve encountered his odious presence since he left the Auckland University of Technology journalism school several years ago to return to his native Australia.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Richard Epstein from the US: Obama’s Disastrous Iran Deal



In his famous 1897 essay, “The Path of the Law,” Oliver Wendell Holmes said that to understand the law, it would be necessary to adopt the perspective of the famous “bad man,” the one “who cares only for the material consequences” of his actions, but “does not care two straws for the axioms or deductions” of natural law. Our bad man just wants “to know what the Massachusetts or English courts are likely to do in fact.”

Today, Holmes’s quintessential bad man is Iran, as it only cares about what happens if it gets caught,—caught, in this case, developing nuclear weapons.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Viv Forbes from Australia: Green Energy Steals from the Biosphere


Earth has only three significant sources of energy.

First is geothermal energy from Earth’s molten core and decaying radioactive minerals in Earth’s crust. This energy moves continents, powers volcanoes and its heat migrates towards the crust, warming the lithosphere and the deep oceans. It can be harvested successfully in favourable locations, and radioactive minerals can be extracted to provide large amounts of reliable heat for power generation.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bryan Leyland: Things you know that ain't so - environmentalists have brought huge benefits in health and welfare


"Things you know that ain't so - environmentalists have brought huge benefits in health and welfare"

It is commonly believed that, overall, the environmental movement has had positive effects for health and welfare. The reality is that many of their beliefs and actions have had seriously negative effects.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Frank Newman: Dairy prices, Greece, and Ruakaka


The prospects of an early revival in dairy prices have taken another hit. The Global Dairy Trade index was down 10.7% at last week’s auction, and the all-important whole milk powder price (which is responsible for about 75% of Fonterra's farmgate milk price) was down 13.1% to US$1,848, the largest fall in 12 months.

The whole milk powder price is now at its lowest level in six years, down 65% from its peak of US$5,245 in April 2013, and a long way from Fonterra's forecast price of US$3,500 a tonne.

Karl du Fresne: The New Puritans and their vision of Utopia


New Zealanders are under siege, bombarded almost weekly with warnings that we’re killing ourselves, either by drinking too much, eating the wrong food or being too fond of sugar.

Last week a coterie of academics from Otago, Auckland and Oxford universities called for special taxes on fatty and salty foods and government subsidies on fruit and vegetables. Luckily for them, they wouldn’t have to work out the nightmarish regulatory details such a proposal would entail, nor pay for the army of public servants that would be required to administer it. Not their problem.

Richard Epstein from the US: The Folly Of "Fair" Housing


This past week, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a long and convoluted final rule, entitled “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing” (Final Rule). This rule sets out the new terms and conditions which all local governments will be required to meet if they receive federal funds to advance their local housing programs.

These obligations are not made out of whole cloth, but were explicitly set out in the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (FHA), which has two separate parts.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Viv Forbes: Climate Concern is Mis-directed.


“Climate” is sometimes defined as the thirty year “average” of weather. Climate is what we expect, on average – weather is what we actually get.

It is true that atmospheric conditions (dust, smoke, smog, aerosols, aircraft contrails, clouds and trace gases) can affect Earth’s weather. But none of these minor atmospheric constituents can generate energy – they merely filter, block, reflect, transfer or redirect a portion of solar energy.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Frank Newman: China's bubble has burst


While the Samoan rugby test dominated the news in New Zealand last week, the eyes of the world were on a remarkable economic event taking place in China.

Since the middle of June Chinese share prices have collapsed 30%. The response of the Chinese government has been to initiate a multi-trillion dollar bail-out to prevent an economic melt-down. The collapse comes after a year when stock prices rose 100%.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Matt Ridley: What the climate wars did to science


In June I published a lengthy essay in Quadrant magazine on the effect that the global warming debate is having on science itself:

For much of my life I have been a science writer. That means I eavesdrop on what’s going on in laboratories so I can tell interesting stories. It’s analogous to the way art critics write about art, but with a difference: we “science critics” rarely criticise. If we think a scientific paper is dumb, we just ignore it. There’s too much good stuff coming out of science to waste time knocking the bad stuff.

Michael Coote: Counterpunching Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)


Pugnacious former New Zealand prime minister Sir Robert Muldoon proudly defined himself as a “counterpuncher”.

In Sir Robert’s official biography, author Barry Gustafson expands on the term by writing, “He developed a deserved reputation as a counterpuncher who saw attack as the best means of defence, and who believed that he should always retaliate if anyone attacked him.”

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Mike Butler: Insulation, alarms latest kneejerk


Housing Minister Nick Smith’s announcement today that insulation and smoke alarms will become legally required in rental properties comes with the news that the government has taken the idiotic rental property warrant of fitness proposal off the table. (1)

This is the latest of a line of apparent National Party crackdowns on property owners that included a mini capital gains tax on properties sold within two years, and loan-to-value requirements on banks to reduce lending to property investors.

Dr Michael Gousmett: Taxing Non-related Large-scale Trading by Charities - correcting an unintended consequence



Recent letters to the Press have asked the question, why do trading operations undertaken by Ngai Tahu have charitable status, therefore are exempt from income tax?  As a charity specialist I always reply to such letters but the Press in exercising its editorial discretion does not always see fit for whatever reason to publish my informed responses. 

The latest letter, on 25 June by John Burn, pointed out that no doubt property developers and agricultural commercial rivals would be aggrieved at the fact that Ngai Tahu pays no income tax on its trading activities, the basis of which are public assets gifted by the government which now allows Ngai Tahu to build a huge corpus.  Mr Burn is quite right about the growth of Ngai Tahu’s trading activities and my response to the Press explained how that growth is occurring.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Karl du Fresne: Honouring those gentle, benign stingrays


I read recently that the New Zealand Geographic Board proposes to change the name of Frank Kitts Lagoon, on the Wellington waterfront, to Whairepo Lagoon.
Fair enough. Sir Frank Kitts, a long-serving Wellington mayor, is already commemorated in the name of a nearby park. And while Whairepo may not be the easiest name for non-speakers of Maori to get their tongues around, it has local relevance. Whairepo is the Maori name for the eagle rays – commonly known as stingrays – that are frequently seen basking and feeding in the lagoon.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Mike Butler: Shameful HB Airport giveaway


The right for claimant group Mana Ahuriri to buy half of the HB Airport as part of its treaty settlement, as reported in the HB Today on Saturday, is the latest of a long line of government blunders over the airport.

Under the deed of settlement, which is still to be ratified by members of Ahuriri hapu, Mana Ahuriri Incorporated's governance body will have the right to elect to buy the 50 per cent stake in Hawke's Bay Airport the Crown owns.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Gary Judd: World defenceless against next financial crisis



The world is defenceless against the next financial crisis, warns BIS. Monetary policymakers have run out of room to fight the next crisis with interest rates unable to go lower, the BIS warns

That is a headline in The Daily Telegraph of 28 June 2015. The article commences “The world will be unable to fight the next global financial crash as central banks have used up their ammunition trying to tackle the last crises, the Bank for International Settlements has warned…. The BIS report described the threat of a new bust in advanced economies as a “main risk”, with many reaching the top of the economic cycle.”[1]

Ron Smith: More People on Boats


As if to prove my point about the overlap between political activism and an ostensibly independent media (‘Boat People’, 30 June, 2015), we now have the story of a pair of Maori TV journalists, Ruwani Perera and Jacob Bryant, turning up on a protest boat in the Mediterranean.  Ostensibly, they are there to report but, in fact, they are part of an elaborate propaganda effort promoted by Kiaora Gaza, through Maori TV’s Native Affairs.  

As it happened, the story was already out, before the event was over. As recounted by Martyn Bradbury on his DailyBlog the ‘peace flotilla’ (actually reduced to one vessel by the end; three of the four having turned back) is ‘trying to break the violent and brutal blockade of Gaza’, and protest at a ‘great cultural genocide’.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Matt Ridley: Technology, consumerism and the pope


Why are people so down on technological progress? Pope Francis complains in his new encyclical about “a blind confidence in technical solutions”, of “irrational confidence in progress” and the drawbacks of the “technocratic paradigm”. He is reflecting a popular view, held across the political spectrum, from the Unabomber to Russell Brand, that technology, consumerism and progress have been bad for people, by making them more selfish and unhappy.

But however thoroughly you search the papal encyclical (a document that does at least pay heed to science, and to evolutionary biology in particular), you will find no data to support the claim that as people have got richer they have got nastier and more miserable.

Karl du Fresne: Navigating the Kafkaesque world of Work and Income


One of the crowning accomplishments of technology is that it has enabled the government bureaucracy to place itself out of reach of the people it’s supposed to serve.
I had a brief and slightly surreal taste of this a few days ago. I had lodged an online application for national superannuation, for which I will soon become eligible. All I now needed to do was attend the local Work and Income office and present my documentation – proof of identity, that sort of stuff. To do this I needed to make an appointment.

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: Girls who like bad boys


If you’re a guy and your teenhood experience with girls was anything like mine, you’ll undoubtedly recall your ire and frustration at being ignored by the sheilas while the boorish louts whom you so despised got the female attention and, indeed, their admiration. 

And when this translated a little later into the realisation that they were ‘getting plenty’ where you got none, you probably consoled yourself with the view that at least some girls are their own worst enemy with regard to the male company they seek.