Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mike Butler: Poverty, wealth, and the election

Dirty politics from the Left during the current New Zealand general election campaign obscures policy at a time when the issue of wealth or poverty and how to get there should be critical. Party policy can give a picture of the sort of country that the various politicians imagine. A wealthy country is good for everyone. A poor country is not. I looked for what the parties said about wealth and poverty and this is what they posted.

Wealth and poverty don’t just occur without a reason. Both are outcomes of human activity. Diligent activity towards a specific goal can result in wealth. Sitting around doing nothing will get you nothing.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Frank Newman: CGT winners and losers

 This week I conclude the discussion about Capital Gains Tax (CGT). A number of countries have capital gains taxes as part of their revenue raising regime, so one does not have to extend the imagination too much to see the effects should it be introduced here.

There is an inescapable truism in tax policy that no rational person, and few politicians, would dispute: Money flows into the area of least tax. For this reason good tax law is simple (GST for example). The problems start when exemptions appear.

Karl du Fresne: If National loses, it knows where the blame lies

Everything about the Dirty Politics affair is reprehensible. Let’s start with Cameron Slater. I fully understood the angry reaction to his headline “Feral dies in Greymouth, did world a favour” after a West Coast man was killed in a car that was allegedly trying to escape the police.

Slater wasn’t to know that the dead man’s family had already lost three other sons in accidents, including one in the Pike River explosion. But anyone with a modicum of sensitivity would have realised a family would be grieving. A cruel and gratuitous taunt wasn’t going to help.

Reuben Chapple: No English language Treaty of Waitangi

Several weeks after the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed in Northland, the Crown dispatched Captain William Cornwallis Symonds to seek the aid of various local missionaries in collecting signatures from Maori chiefs residing at the South Head of the Manukau Harbour, at Port Waikato, at Kawhia, and further south down to Taranaki.

Captain Symonds arrived at Port Waikato to find Reverend Maunsell had already taken advantage of a hui convened for another purpose to present the Treaty to local chiefs. That meeting had been held on 11 April 1840, before a large Maori assembly of approximately 1500.

Brian Gaynor: Greying of workforce good for economy

The New Zealand workforce has changed dramatically over the past 24 years.

In mid-1990 our workforce was young and energetic with 338,500, or 22 per cent, of all employed workers in the 15 to 24 age bracket. By mid-2014 the total number of 15 to 24 year old workers had declined to 325,700 or just 14 per cent of the workforce.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Frank Newman: Capital Gains Tax details explained

Although the media's focus of the general election has been on dirty politics, there are some critical policy issues defining the parties. Tax is one of them.
Labour, supported by its potential coalition partners, would increases taxes by raising income tax rates at the top end and introduce a capital gains tax (CGT). It says a CGT is needed to tax property speculators and make house prices more affordable. (In reality, speculators are already caught and the CGT net is cast much wider than real estate to include shares and businesses.)

Mike Butler: Nursing a grudge Tuhoe style

A claim that Crown soldiers threw Tuhoe children into the air and impaled them on bayonets, reported yesterday, offers a glimpse of how Tuhoe have nursed a grudge and how the facts don’t back their beliefs.

Kaumatua Taane Rakuraku “remembered” this story for the benefit of reporter Michael Fox of Stuff news as the Crown prepared to apologise for land confiscations, indiscriminate killings, including of women and children, and scorched-earth warfare. (1)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Karl du Fresne: I know what Shakespeare would have said

Let me get this straight. Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil site is hacked in retaliation for a post that upset a lot of people and as a result, a great swag of incriminating emails ends up in the hands of Nicky Hager. Meanwhile, Labour’s enemies discover there are weaknesses in the Labour Party’s website that enable them to go poking around there for sensitive information, some of which ends up with Slater. 
I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me that if either of these acts was illegal, it’s more likely to have been the hacking of Whale Oil. So why, on Q+A and The Nation this morning, did the interviewers apply the blowtorch to Slater and go soft on Hager?

Reuben Chapple: Illegal Immigration

Socialists are not nationalists, they’re internationalists. And they know that the nation state operates as a prophylactic against the “world-mindedness” they mean to encourage. 

Their underlying agenda is to collapse the nation state into a global multi-culture, then argue that since we’re all one world now anyway, a one-world government is “for the best.”

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Frank Newman: Revitalising the CBD

Central Business Districts (CBDs) are facing the challenges of change. People are changing the way they go about their lives and in particular how they spend their money. Many CBD’s are struggling to remain relevant against competition from big box retailers and as offices move to the cloud.  As a result the CBD is evolving as a place for small footprint boutique retailers, cafes, bars, restaurants and inner city apartment living.  That evolution is taking some time (decades) to work through but some provincial towns are taking the initiative by taking action now.

One I visited recently had just removed parking meters from its CBD. They have made parking free, with a three hour time limit.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Viv Forbes from Australia: Blowing Our Dollars in the Wind.

Wind energy produces costly, intermittent, unpredictable electricity. But Government subsidies and mandates have encouraged a massive gamble on wind investments in Australia - over $7 billion has already been spent and another $30 billion is proposed. This expenditure is justified by the claim that by using wind energy there will be less carbon dioxide emitted to the atmosphere which will help to prevent dangerous global warming.

Incredibly, this claim is not supported by any credible cost-benefit analysis - a searching enquiry is well overdue. Here is a summary of things that should be included in the enquiry.

Matt Ridley from the UK: This epidemic is not under control

As you may know by now, I am a serial debunker of alarm and it usually serves me in good stead. On the threat posed by diseases, I’ve been resolutely sceptical of exaggerated scares about bird flu and I once won a bet that mad cow disease would never claim more than 100 human lives a year when some “experts” were forecasting tens of thousands (it peaked at 28 in 2000). I’ve drawn attention to the steadily falling mortality from malaria and Aids.
Well, this time, about ebola, I am worried. Not for Britain, Europe or America or any other developed country and not for the human race as a whole.

Karl du Fresne: Is this the most bizarre campaign ever?

This election is shaping up to be the strangest in my lifetime. There’s a cacophony of minor parties scrambling for attention and a frenzied political bidding war in which there seems to be no limit on the extravagance of the promises made. 
We’ve had an outbreak of thinly disguised xenophobia over the sale of a farm, a sideshow over the use of the phrase “Sugar Daddy”, and a blatant appeal to the emotions of voters who imagine New Zealand can raise the drawbridge and retreat into a cosy and safe economic fortress, 1970s-style.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Matt Ridley from the UK: Priorities and goals for aid

In September next year, the United Nations plans to choose a list of development goals for the world to meet by the year 2030. What aspirations should it set for this global campaign to improve the lot of the poor, and how should it choose them?
In answering that question, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his advisers are confronted with a task that they often avoid: setting priorities. It is no good saying that we would like peace and prosperity to reach every corner of the world. And it is no good listing hundreds of targets. Money for foreign aid, though munificent, is limited. What are the things that matter most, and what would be nice to achieve but matter less?

Viv Forbes from Australia: Water rules the Weather - Carbon Dioxide is a Climate Pygmy

Rising carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is blamed for every weather emergency, but as a weather maker, water is far more important.

Without water, Earth’s weather would be dramatically different. We would have no clouds, no rain or snow, no rain or hail storms, no hurricanes, no seas, rivers, lakes or ice sheets – just cold, cloudless nights and hot, clear days with dry winds and fierce dust storms; a dead planet like Mars.

Frank Newman: Leadership

Last Thursday TV One’s Seven Sharp had an interesting segment about unemployment, or more accurately the way it is being confronted in Balclutha. The region has been hit hard in recent times. 150 people had just lost their jobs with company closures, including three sawmills. That’s 150 family incomes lost.

Fortunately the Clutha District (Pop 17,000) has a Mayor called Bryan Cadogan. There was a time when he was unemployed, so he knows being unemployed is not a nice place to be. His goal is zero unemployment for youth in his district. He put it this way; “zero is only a number, but it’s the only one that has not got an individual behind it”.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mike Butler: $80m for river woes, $30m for ?

Some tribes associated with the Wanganui River will receive more than $80-million to settle their river claims while a further $30-million fund will be set up for river-related tribes to apply for grants out of, according to an agreement signed this week.

The claims relate to use of the river and ownership of the riverbed, the latter of which has been thoroughly investigated, rejected, and brought back to life when claims back to 1840 were allowed. The signing took place at Ranana Marae, 60km up the river, on Tuesday, August 5.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Barend Vlaardingerbroek: The Kings and Chiefs of Old Calabar and Old NZ

Treaties have been around for a very long time. There’s a boundary treaty inscribed on stone between the city-states of Lagash and Umma dating back over 4,000 years. The Egyptians and Hittites concluded a comprehensive treaty concerning territorial demarcation and defence around 3,000 years ago. 

Winding the clock forward, one of my favourites is the Treaty of Tordesillas of 1494 when the Pope carved the world up into two halves by drawing a line running down the middle of the Atlantic – the Spanish were to take one half, the Portuguese the other. It didn’t quite work out that way!