Friday, November 24, 2006

The Real Stadium Decision

It is easy to see that the proponents of the Waterfront stadium live in a sadly deluded world - just by looking at the comments of the main support base.
The most common reason you see given for supporting the Waterfront stadium is that: "the 1 billion is going to be spent anyway; so why not on this? / something we want?". Which of course is the saddest possible reason to invest in a project; it's not good enough to actually do - but hey we've got the money so lets spend it!

It also makes an ironic mockery of Cullen et al. claims that there is insufficient money for a tax cut - in fact this type of project is the precise definition within corporate theory showing where dividends lead to far better outcomes due to the removal of agency issues.

Lets face it - the real decision here is actually between the Waterfront stadium or Jade, but Jade with a $300 dividend (fully imputated) distributed back. And that is the connection and thinking that this Socialist driven Government has managed to supress. It has managed to pervert and subjugate the thinking of the country to such a degree that we cannot seem to actually make a real comparison anymore. No one I have spoken to refutes that the latter is a far better idea than the waterfront stadium; and yet surely this is the real underlying decision that is being made?

Friday, November 17, 2006

How is this not news? (NZ national saving falls to $575 per capita)

Hattip: Stuff

I actually first spotted this as a small side bar in the printed NZ Herald today - but then apparently it isn't even newsworthy enough to post on their website. Fortunately Stuff have deigned to post it - although only as their 21st story within the business section.

Due to how important I feel this really is I have included the whole article at the end of this post. Although given it's not that long that really isn't much of an imposition.

How as a nation we can continue to complain about levels of foreign ownership and poverty while returning appalling statistics like this is beyond me; despite our disposable incomes rising 3.9% our national savings have plummeted to $2.3 billion - or $575 per person. This is reinforcing the
statistic I was initially planning to highlight which is that the median level of share ownership in this country at the moment is only $6000.

Of course most of our companies are owned offshore and return their profits there. As a nation we are too stupid and apathetic to do anything about it. Buying shares just isn't that hard people - and until you do you are abdicating any right to whinge about offshore profits, and morals of offshore conglomerates. There are two main ways that people should be affecting the behaviors of companies; the first to exercise your powers of choice as a consumer - if you don't like the practices involved in providing a product do not buy it and notify the producer why you're not buying their product. Secondly, become a shareholder - when two of the three main stakeholder groups for a company are intrinsically aligned it becomes really easy to mold behavior...

And actually having some real, country generating wealth means we can start to improve the standards of living for the people living here - rather than mortgaging ourselves to selling our land as the only asset we own. It is not real wealth you are sitting on there people, but fools gold maybe.

NZ national saving falls to six-year low
16 November 2006

New Zealand's saving fell in the year to March to the lowest level in six years, Statistics New Zealand said today.

National saving fell to $2.3 billion, from $5.5 billion in 2005, and $7.3 billion in 2004, according to the consolidated accounts.

At the same time, national disposable income for consumption or saving rose 3.9 per cent, following a 5.3 per cent rise in the March 2005 year, the government agency said.

Increased final consumption by households and government – up 6.9 per cent – eroded national saving, on the back of falling agricultural profits and lower export growth.

Time will tell

Hattip: Stuff

At the same time it said its surveyors had costed the waterfront stadium at $902m.

Mr Mallard said Eden Park's latest figures for how much they think the waterfront would cost were "absolutely outrageous" and incorrect.

I hope Mallard is still willing to stand by his claims when the stadium does end up costing that much. In fact one would think this would be a good time to introduce the practice of personal guarantees into politics.
It is a fairly common practice in business where the owner has to place their assets and asses on the line as a guarantee for their culpability - one would think that the governors of our country would be far more truthful and prudent if they were held to the same standards of accountability...

Monday, November 13, 2006

Good on ya boys!!

Spectacular work by the Kiwi's to thump Great Britain in the league on Saturday!
Although I have to admit that there were actually a few worrying signs despite the 34-4 scoreline;
Great Britain's ability to compromise our line with line breaks almost perpetually through the game,
A number of our tries were just luck (OK - I know Stacey is a fantastic kicker, but if 'that' kick hadn't taken the crossbar it was about to be a 20m restart because it was well covered behind the line)
Great Britain was only that far behind because the blew a couple of chances (although personally I think the try being disallowed was the correct decision)
Given the possession and territory stats - surely we should have got more points!

Simpkins showed a worrying decision around Keith Senior and Steve Matai. While I agree with the final decision to send them both for 10 minutes (this option really should get used more) he intimated that originally he was only going to send Matai. When you compare the conduct of the two players; throwing the ball at Danny McGuire, or storming in from 3 people away to throw a punch - I know which one I would be sending first. Whereas apparently Senior only got sent because of his conduct while being called up for the chat...

And for one final complaint about the officiating:
You have got to get consistent - get the ruck area cleared, draw a line and then stick to it. This crap of throwing out random penalties for holding down in the ruck for what are clearly not the worst offences just confuses and frustrates the players and fans.
Similarly there is a reason the lines are drawn at 10m intervals refs - Simpkins was all over the place on Saturday and I have to commend both sides for not giving away a plethora of offside penalties as a result. But it has got to be unsettling for your defensive line when you don't know from tackle to tackle how far you are going to have to recede.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Political Compass Meme

Economic Left/Right: 3.13
Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -3.08

Helps to serve as a disclaimer for your posts :D - interesting that it does actually place me about where I would expect myself to be. From reading the posts around the blogosphere it sounds like it is relatively accurate...
So where do your persuasions lie?

Incentivising sub-optimal behaviour

The interesting thing in watching the latest round of commerce commission inquiries into Credit Cards and interchange payments is that the issues highly parallel many policy initiatives that Labour has been implementing these terms.

The primary issue with Credit Card interchange fees and the reason they stay high is because there is a behavioural driver towards using the most inefficient method of payment.

To explain (very briefly) - when you pay via Credit Card the charge for using the card (the net revenue) goes to the bank that has issued you with the card. IE you have an ASB Credit Card, when you pay with it ASB Bank makes money, and the bank that the merchant you are buying from actually loses money. When you pay via EFTPOS however it is the opposite way around - you pay with your ASB Bank EFTPOS card the ASB Bank loses a transaction fee to the merchant banking operation. In both cases the transaction switch (ETSL or EFTPOS NZ) takes a cut, but this can be seen as net zero across a comparison of transaction type.

So the issuing bank has a direct incentive to have you pay via the Credit Card, and not your EFTPOS card; which is why you get reward points on your Visa purchases, and pay transaction fees on your ETFPOS purchases. This is despite there being less parties involved in the EFTPOS transaction (no VISA / Mastercard to take their cut), and the overall system actually being cheaper and more efficient.

So as a consumer presented with the skewed information that we have at our fingertips it seems that we are better off paying via our Credit Card; and as an individual we are. However systemically this leads to higher prices, and in net terms we actually end up losing out as the amount we are paying for the goods includes a higher and higher percentage of averaged transaction cost rather than actual good / service provision.

Now apply this to the policy initiatives that Labour has used, particularly in the recent term:

WFF incentivises the premature forming of a family unit, particularly where an individuals wages / salaries are expected to rise over the medium term.

Stepped income tax brackets increases the incentive to use and retain lawyers / accountants increasing transaction costs rather than actual good / service provision.

Tax free student loans encourage borrowers to borrow as much capital as possible, and take the longest possible time to pay back - on the first major debt commitment they are ever likely to have.

Capital Gains initiatives encourage the diversification of a persons portfolio to be reduced, tending towards a maximum diversification across Australasia.

There are many more examples that they have given recently - take the time to think critically about the effects of your Governments policies - both in terms of what behaviour that encourages in terms of being beneficial to the individual, and whether the net effect is just an increase in fiscal drag on the economy.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Been out of touch

Just to make you jealous (our room with a view) - finally made it down to Queenstown for a week away (so no posting last week) - and it was more than enjoyable to cut oneself off from the world over that time.
So now this week will be a case of slowly emerging from the hermitage once again ;-)

And yes - we did the bungy; Nevis = 143m = 8.5 second freefall

Auckland, great city, great future, great big bill...

I'm presuming everyone in Auckland just received the latest Auckland City Annual Report Summary via their local pamphlet deliverer?

If not then you would have missed the delightful performance of our elected officials, who despite gaining $44 million more in revenue than forcast managed to outdo themselves by increasing expenditure by $209 million more than forcast to still reach a deficit situation.

To be fair they explain that much of this is due to one-off non-budgeted expenditure - but then again missing one-off expenditures from the budget that make up 37% of the original budget size would get most of us fired.

Meanwhile I'm sure everyone will be delighted to congratulate the 48 winners of $296,000 each in public works grants. I can partially understand the council wanting to get involved in flood risk reduction - but the question has to be asked at what point it would be more economical to buy the land as wetland reserve? Especially as the delapidated number of Kahikitea wetlands is recognised as being core to the plumitting native bird numbers. And that is before pointing out as a good Libertarian; why are the general Auckland pubilc being called on to increase the value of others property who specifically got their land for the price they did due to location and geological features that lead to the aforementioned flood risk.
You may find it harder to argue against me in favour of the council spending than you might think - my house happens to be on the edge of a 100 year flood plain. You may be willing to pay me to make that a 500 year flood plain, but personally I know that we got our land for the price we did because of it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

You have to love Labour press releases

Hattip: Scoop

“Politics is a public business and it requires transparency. National is opposed to that because they want to repeat their 2005 rorts next time, which is why they are hostile to every initiative to ensure our political system is open to all, transparent, and clean,” Pete Hodgson said.

What can you say? That Delusions of Honesty quote comes to mind as the only cogent answer.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tax cut affordability

This snippet from the CIS report "Why tax cuts are good for growth"
is too important to leave "isolated" on Kiwiblog

One could lower the corporate, top and middle rates to 30% and the lower-middle rate to 18% for just $3.15 billion per annum

This one statement helps to reveal the Left wing rhetoric for what it is; inflamatory and empty.
Their defensive cries of tax cuts requiring service cuts are just not true; even Michael Cullen has admitted to there being "only" $3 billion (of the $11 billion surplus) that could be attributed to tax cuts. And this $11 billion surplus is after his ferriting away $19 billion in "unallocated" spending.

And it further debunks that tax cuts are for the rich at the expense of the poor and middle class.
Show me a middle class household that wouldn't greatly benefit by a 14% reduction in their taxation rate.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Sign petition now!

At PetitionOnline

To: His Excellency, Anand Satyanand, Governor General of New Zealand

We, the undersigned, being gravely concerned that the New Zealand House of Representatives intends to retrospectively legalise previous violations of the Electoral Act and thus usurp the Constitution of New Zealand and its democratic processes, earnestly petition Your Excellency, as representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Queen of New Zealand, that Your Excellency withhold the Royal Assent from any such legislation as an assertation that Members of Parliament govern subject to the will of the people of New Zealand at Her Majesty's pleasure and not at their own.


Why? (Hattip: KiwiBlog)

Amendments which they defeated include:

Clause 6A(1) Nothing in this Act shall affect the High Court proceedings of Darnton v Clark dated 29 June 2006 (Civ No. 2006-485-1398) in which the plaintiff seeks a declaration that the expenditure on the “pledge card” and related brochures by the Labour Parliamentary Party is a breach of the Constitution Act 1986, the Public Finance Act 1989 and the Bill of Rights 1688.

This means Labour have explictly voted to kill off a lawsuit against themselves
Helen Clark has explicitly voted to kill off a lawsuit in which she is the prime defendant.

[edit] Yay - well, at least just watched the petition crack 10,000 votes so at least that is a start; but I can't see it meaning anything at all without a whole lot more. Get the word out there people, and to your less politically and information technology astute peers as well!

[edit] And it appears to have managed to generate enough publicity that even some of the MSM are picking up on it:
Petition calls for legislation to be blocked

Animal activists, defend the pie!

OK - I know I'm about 2 weeks behind the story on this, but needed to vent a little on it as it's still floating around. (Hattip: Stuff, Stuff)

Proposed changes to the rules on what can go into meat pies means that snouts, tongues and lung material may be on the way out.

The question I have to ask is why - who really cares? Is it not actually a good thing that all those parts of a beast that you would not normally purchase nor eat have actually found a way to be made appetizing and be used? Surely this should be something that people are behind - as long as these parts of the animal are rendered in such a way as to be unrecognisable, I really don't care whether they are in there - and if that is what tastes good in my pie then I'm happy that I'm not wasting a perfectly good steak in there which would have cost a further animal its life.

While in Europe I had a number of meals from animal parts that I would not normally touch; pig trotters,
pig head, horse, etc. And each time my only question before trying these things was to make sure that they were not going to come out in a recognisable fashion (IE the trotters had been deboned, the head comes out as just meat, didn't actually worry about the horse...) - and they were spectacular. As most people who can bring themselves to eat well cooked offal will tell you - it really does tend to be the most flavoursome parts of the animal; it just isn't easy to eat them when you know what they are.

Step in that wonderful encasement of pastry and sauce and those less adventurous can still join in the culinary journey. Until they can only contain "flesh".

Monday, October 16, 2006

James makes some sense

After getting over my surprise about that I had to point it out; (Hattip: Urbancast)

Otherwise, reconsider that donation to cover Labour's misspend, donate here instead - and then tell the PM about it.

Help to make a difference to poverty from lack of free trade and choices - not that which is brought on oneself through theft and arrogance.

A bit too precious about culture

A pity I missed watching the painful experience of our getting thumped by the Aussie League team on Saturday, as mentioned before we cannot justify the expense of Sky.

However one incident, that of Willie Mason slagging off our team during the Haka, has highlighted one important aspect of Maori culture with its latter coverage - that in general we are far too precious about it.

Face it guys - what is the Haka at the start of the game, what is its cultural meaning? It is a challenge from one warrior tribe to another - so what is more appropriate than the other side giving you their cultural challenge in reply? In fact you are probably lucky the Aussies didn't take the chance to give their real cultural reply to black men inhabiting ground they want - raising a musket and firing.

The Aussies just managed to outwit you again, as you predictably rose to take the bait and lose the composure that we desperately need to take them down a notch. Want to know the best way to respond next time? Get a grip and and win the game that you are there to play.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Thanks to LLU

Congratulations on the increased competition brought about by LLU, now Whangarei residents are to get 10Mbit/s symmetrical service from $20/month. (Hattip: ComputerWorld)

Of course this breakthrough is actually nothing to do with LLU - how does LLU have anything to do with the provision of a new Wireless ISP? And that is the point.
LLU was not only a confiscation of private property rights, but it was an entirely unnecessary one. Telecom's main competitor, Vodafone, doesn't even have a fixed line business. So yeah - unbundling the copper loop is really necessary for competition.
There is already fiber based competition in those areas that actually warrant competition, even the likes of developments in Manakau are being trialled with fiber to the home deployments. Why is it that it is up to Telecom to perform all this infrastructure? Because the other Telco's can see that they can just sit back and be able to wait and use it - they have seen that there actually isn't the amount of price gouging going on that is claimed, and they might as well let someone else take the capital risk of investment when they will be able to use it just as if they had made the investment.
And then if Telecom makes the wrong call in the eyes of history, then the "new" players will blow them out of the water by investing in alternative routes.

Like Wi-Max.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Progressive Ideology

From the NZ Herald: (As spotted on Kiwiblog)
The only party that did not spend election money illegally, the Progressives, says it was not hard to keep within the rules during the last campaign. And when it was unsure, it asked the office of the Auditor-General himself, Kevin Brady. Former list MP Matt Robson, who could perhaps still be in Parliament if the Progressives had dipped into leader Jim Anderton's parliamentary budget, said "there was no ambiguity"

As much as I dislike the actual policies of Jim Anderton - this just helps to reinforce my belief that he is one of the only remaining parliamentarians who actually stands by his principles.
Good on you Jim - now all that remains is for you to pull support from any party who is too corrupt or stupid to follow the same guidelines you did...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

A Fairy Tale for Our Times

Because this was way too good to leave buried as a comment on kiwiblog!

Copyright: Kiwi_Donkey

“Mirror, mirror on the wall,
Who’s the most popular of them all?”
“’Tis you, O Queen, wise and fair
Your judgement puts you in the clear
The people love you just and true
They do not turn to anyone new.”

The Queen received her due with grace
While peace and beauty showed on her face
Until a grunt disturbed her royal self
And she turned to see her finance Elf
“My Toiler! Banisher of all my cares
What news have you for my sweet ears?”

“None good, your Majesty,” replied the Elf
“The cupboard’s bare and so is the shelf
I’ve robbed Peter to pay Paul
Put the middle class in Thrall
Let taxes rise, put on new charges
Gathered windfalls, cut at margins
The roads are old, crime is rising
People are sick and business crying.”

“But what has happened to the cash we raised?”
Cried the Queen. If that is gone I’d be amazed.”

“Some went to the old woman who lives in a shoe,
And more to pay those telling her what to do
Some I kept to help the future old
Locked in my treasury is that last bit of gold
But most we spent as you told us to
A fritter here, a brainstorm there, and soon it’s through.”

“WHAT!” cried the mighty Queen with rage
“I must have gifts for the public mind
Handouts and favourites at every stage
Are necessary to keep them blind!”

At this the mirror stirred to life
“O Queen, the situation has changed
Your hope for love is hitting strife
From the woods, a new man arisen
Is treating your programmes with derision
Your reign so popular, wise and fair
Is now being seen as just hot air
Around him gather both good and mean
To take the throne from the spendthrift Queen.”

“How dare they challenge me, I am Snow White!
And to prove it I’ll smite with all my might.
Send for my dwarfs! Abandon the law!
If we can’t win fairly, we’ll have a war.”

So in came Smarmy, Angry, Sleepy,
Prissy, Dancer and Little Creepy
And last of all that mighty twit
Now known to all as the hypocrite

“Advance!” cried the Queen in a harsh tone.
“Find that man who claims the throne
Hack him down ‘till you reach bone
Do not rest until he doth moan
‘enough’ and retires from the fray
So that unfettered we may have our way.”

At the end of the day the dwarfs returned
Beaten, battered, broken and burned
Angry would no longer talk
At the thought of strife did Sleepy balk
Dancer still muttered, “he lied”, “he lied”
While Smarmy had just ducked and dived
Prissy was found behind the throne
His only weapon a wounded tone.

The hypocrite had fought with gusto
Fuelled by an antipasto,
Scampi and wine, consumed legato
But while his blows intended pain
They missed the target and hit John McCain.

And as for little creepy, that nosy squirt
None could tell whose side was worst hurt.

“Oh, no,” said the Queen to her finance Elf
“If you want something done, do it yourself”

And so she mounted her white charger
Rode to battle with great ardour
Galloping into filth and muck
Keeping going due to luck
Wielding claims both real and fake
And looking back not at her wake
Where sewers flowed and nightmares gathered
And with shapeless heaving the evil blathered.

Who knows the end of the fair Queen’s plan?
Perhaps she will strike down her man?
But however much she strives and conquers,
If she thinks the mirror approves, she’s bonkers.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Don's sentiments worth repeating verbatim

Hattip: Stuff

Dr Brash said he was not denying many people identified strongly with their Maori ancestry, but it was wrong to argue the Government had failed its Treaty obligation if Maori were over-represented in negative social statistics.

"If Maori New Zealanders die more frequently from lung cancer than non-Maori do, for example, it is almost certainly because Maori New Zealanders choose to smoke more heavily than other New Zealanders do," he said.

"Similarly if there are relatively few Maori at the Auckland Law School - and that despite preferential arrangements for Maori - that is not a failing of the Government, but a result of decisions made by individual Maori.

"Nobody would suggest that because there are relatively few European New Zealanders in the All Blacks, there has been a breach of the Treaty."

On what basis do you dispute this? The only way I see is by avoiding the issue (again) and claiming that it is not the way the Treaty works. Maybe - but that is a diversionary tactic to the point. Give the responsibility to the decision maker - and maybe the decision will be different.

"But everybodies doing it"

Hattip: Stuff
As a further refutation to Labour's cries of dismay over the Auditor General's pending report into the Parliamentary services funding misspending - it is interesting to look at the ruling against Westpac - and more interestingly the comments made by the Commerce Commision regarding their prosecution:

Commerce Commission General Manager Geoff Thorn said some people had commented that non-disclosure of the charges was common practice in the New Zealand banking industry at the time.

"The commission is not swayed by that argument.

"The behaviour clearly was widespread, but illegal actions can not be justified on the basis that others were doing it too."

Once again we see the points in general practice that:
Ignorance of the law is not a defence
Lack of clarity in the law is not a defence
Past occurances of the same offence is not a defence against gettting charged this time
But I'm only one of many, is definately not a defence.

Given that everybody else has to play by these principles - the politicians had better start too.
Maybe it is time for more names like Lafayette and Robspierre to be entered into history.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Airline Services Agreement

I'll admit to being terribly surprised today at finding out that the third largest provider of trans-tasman flight services is effectively bound by a non-competition agreement.

Emirates, which provides around 12% of the trans-tasman flight capacity is bound in its Airline Services Agreement (which allows it to fly to New Zealand) to not materially affect the interests of New Zealand's national carrier (IE Air New Zealand). Most worrying however (given that a number of old bi-lateral airline services agreements apparently contain these clauses - that was an eye opener) is that New Zealand officials have recently sent communications to Emirates reminding them of this obligation.

If any one can find the reference to this - I believe it was actually Phil Goff from whom this missive was sent; at which point given this Governments posturing over increasing competition giving it the right to effectively confiscate private property, Labour really needs to explain why it is enforcing anti-competitive practices just because it has a shareholding in another enterprise.

I recently opined on how the Labour Government was continuing its march towards ensuring the utopian Socialist collective hidden beneath the veneer of capitalist endeavor (catch-22). It would seem that it wasn't far wrong.
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Friday, September 22, 2006

Congratulations Labour

So what do these companies have in common:
BNZ (twice)
Origin Pacific
Air New Zealand

other than being iconic New Zealand brands? Which others can you name that should be included?

[Edit] Add to the list as an exception:
Georgie Pie

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The Phishers are getting good!

I'm impressed - note how even once you follow the link in the email the URL looks like a paypal URL on first glance.
Just remember folks - if you get an email like this it is always better to just type the URL yourself - following links is going to get you in a world of hurt!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Prohibition, because it works?

Hattip: Stuff

A survey commissioned by the Greens earlier this year found pies, doughnuts, chips, fizzy drinks and oversize cookies were the staple items sold in school canteens.
Shock, horror?

"This fund combined with new nutrition guidelines being worked on will require schools over the next few years will only allow schools to sell food and drinks that are healthy."
Now the main point here is that those kids whose parents devolve the responsibility of food provision onto their kids will continue to do so - which is the root cause of this issue. Those parents that actually care enough to provide food rather than money tend not to have a high incidence of their children overindulging in these types of foods.

And lets face it - kids are crafty and greedy. If they have money and the school cafeteria doesn't sell pies - they will just get them from the Dairies. We saw this at the school cafeteria in New Plymouth where there were no sweets sold in the tuckshop. So kids just left school and went to the nearby dairy - yeah that was a great win getting children to sneak out of school grounds.

So the school even managed to persuade the dairy not to sell to children during school hours (and I'll bet you won't manage to do that everywhere). This didn't decrease the amount of kids spending their money on lollies though - it just delayed it until the end of the day meaning they didn't eat anything during the day, and then got their lolly fix. Again, a great win for everyone.

Lets face it - how many times has prohibition worked?
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Unions argue that keeping their members informed illegal

Hattip: Stuff

I loved this gem in the latest update on the Distribution Workers strike:
The unions representing them are also taking legal action against what they allege are Progressive's attempts to "undermine collective bargaining" by sending a copy of its only offer – which was rejected – directly to union members instead of the unions.

Basically the unions are arguing that it undermines their power when information is sent directly to members rather than only being diluted via their "official channels first". Which of course is probably right. It is much harder to force people to give up weeks of their wages to fight against a proposal that they actually know the full contents of, and have the chance to get independent advice on.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Labour scared of money they can't steal

It has been interesting to see the Labour party continue to try and smear other opposition parties on the basis of their funding. They have always tried to complain about how they need state funding of things like election advertising to stop the likes of National beating them purely through their "deeper pockets". We will ignore (for the moment) the hypocrisy of these statements with reference to Labour's Union backers, but instead now see Labour's reaction as they are challenged by a smaller party than themselves that is recognized as not having those deep pockets - the Libertarianz.

"I'd be very surprised to learn that the Libertarianz have the financial means to pay Mr Molloy's fees. This raises significant questions about who is actually backing this case and what their motives are."

And instead of helping to support those other parties that are in even more need of political funding than themselves - yes the Libertarianz cannot help themselves to $800,000 of the public purse like Labour - they belittle the fact that they have managed to find funding themselves for their worthy cause.

You see Labour's argument about their taking funds from the public purse to battle the deep pockets of National has one major flaw. Labour has the breadth of backers to combat National in purse - it is the smaller parties of the Greens, Progressives, Libertarianz et al. that should actually be the main recipients of the public election money under Labour's arguments. Look at all their arguments about state funding of electioneering and try to follow them logically as to whether that means the largest parties should receive any funding? By their own arguments neither Labour nor National should receive public assistance, or every party regardless of size should receive the same funding.

The latter case would certainly be interesting in terms of an actual level playing field where all parties had the same allocation and could only spend that allocation and nothing more. Might actually force an election to be fought on policies with the smaller parties having a real chance to get their policies across.

But that would require some actual decorum and integrity within our political process, and so is likely to remain a pipe dream. What would your ideal election funding source and spending restriction model be? And what concessions would you make to make that feasible?
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Monday, September 11, 2006

Peak trash theory?

With David Farrar recently pointing out the Greens (people not party) tendency to answer everything with a new "peak" theory - I wonder how long it will take for them to point out the following plan suffers from a peak garbage problem?
Florida county plans to vaporize landfill trash
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Friday, September 08, 2006

Speaker of the house

Thanks to the Maori Party, the Greens and even United Future for pointing out that question time in the house is exactly that - for answering political questions.

The main problem is they and many parts of the media are still pointing partial blame on this at the National Party - however the blame here really lies completely with Labour, and more specifically the Speaker; Margaret Wilson.

It has been documented many times before now the number of complaints about Ministers failing to answer a question put to them; instead being allowed to give anything from a personal attack on the opposition to an "I couldn't comment on that" as "addressing the question". And so the question time has both been allowed to degenerate, and in fact couldn't help but to degenerate to the mess it is now in.

The minor parties here have shown the way forward. Next time any minister fails to answer the question the procedure must be:
* Raise a point of order that the question has not been addressed
* When Margaret again fails to bring the minister to order, raise a motion of no confidence in the speaker
* If the motion fails, walk out.

The opposition and coalition parties need to bring some respect back into Parliamentary proceedings. Labour won't - it is not in their best interest. They are already seen with the most derision by the general public in terms of accountability and behavior. They can only win by dragging other parties down to their level. Here is hoping that the members of all other parties will have enough decency to stay above it, and show that the "highest court of the land" can be a place of genuine debate and thinking.
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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Mangere Bridge gets a chance to speak for all New Zealanders

Due to the inability of Labour affiliated people to observe the property rights of others, the people of Mangere Bridge now have the chance that Tamaki rejected.
That is to send a message to the Labour party in Wellington that they will not accept the endemic corruption that would appear to be steeped in their organisation, whilst simultaneously letting the Auckland City Council that their over taxation via rates is unacceptable.

Of course given the areas socio-economic status this would also equate to a message to the rest of the country that the people there are actually willing to stand on their own feet rather than relying on handouts for the majority of their per capita income.

I read with interest in the The Aucklander South the brave platform that Sylvia Taylor is standing on; "If I had my way, I wouldn't sanction social welfare for our kids under 20"
Reputedly there has been a number of South Ausklanders approach her in the past for this type of reform to help save the youth in those neighbourhoods.
It will be interesting to watch now that they are being given another chance to support that reform whether it will be taken, or prove to be empty rhetoric.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Along the vein of my favorite topic Rights and Responsibilities, we now have the drivel from the East and Bays Courier attempting moral outrage over a pensioners rent rise.

They exclaim loudly about the 261 percent increase Ken Cameron was suddenly faced with; and pull the reader in with stories about how will he pay his $165 per week rent bill with his $200 per week pension.

But they make the fatal mistake of actually explaining the facts around the circumstances which dissolves any sympathy someone should have for Mr Cameron. You see the reason for the change in Mr Camerons rent bill from $63 per week to $165 per week was due to him losing his income related rent status. Which is because he didn't fill out the form for it.
Or more accurately he did - but with the expression of "get lost".

So the one task that he was being paid $5200 per year to do was fill out a form. One form that was delivered to him, that he knew full well needed to be completed and that he didn't do. If he can't handle the responsibility of filling out one form, why should he expect society to give him the right to carry on living in that place? This is someone that we are paying over $15,000 per year for the simple task of carrying on living, and filling out a form.

Nice work if you can get it.
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Abuse of parliamentary letter head, or wandering blog posts.

In my previous post I was actually intending to go a slightly different direction and bring up a few more areas specifically along the lines of HC's abuse of parliamentary letter head in making a submission about the tenanting house in her area, and the interference in judicial process not being isolated to the painting saga. In fact the latter isn't even limited to our own judicial process with documents obtained under the Official Information Act showing that they've even attempted interfering in Australian cases.

But without repeating the framework of the previous post I guess I'll now need to wait for another event before heading down that line. Would seem with the issues swirling around this Government I shouldn't have to wait too long for something pertinent. Maybe I should just wait for something specific like the speaker refusing to uphold parliamentary process again?
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Why do you always start with "PainterGate"?

OK - first I'll quickly vent that I despise the term and all the "Gates" anyway. Please can we find another way of referring to *all* those events except the actual WaterGate Scandal?

But more to the point why do all the right wing blog commentators always start their chronological lists of convention and law breaking by this Government and its officials with PainterGate? First issue I have with this is that no-one actually remembers that "scandal" for what it should be anyway. Ask anyone left / right / central / libertarian / indifferent what PainterGate was about and they will pretty much all tell you it was about HC signing her name to someone else's painting.
Which of course is the trivial and stupid thing it should have been about had HC not pressured the Attorney General about the open case using official parliamentary stationary, had HC not lied to police with regards to both the paintings whereabouts, knowledge of events, had HC not had a Secretary destroy the painting (which at that point was evidence) etc. If these were the issues brought to mind by the phrase PainterGate, then sure use it. Otherwise refer to the specific events which actually had some measure of real wrong about them. Who really cares about the "fraud" of signing her name to the painting - very few at a very academic level.

Second issue I have is when you are compiling these lists it is far better to start it from 1999 when Labour first took power - rather than waiting until 2002? This gives the impression that Labour actually waited until its 2nd term before its predilection for weighing self-interest over law and convention came to the surface.

In actual fact this surfaced in the first *months* of their first term, where they cancelled the contracts with both Timberlands and the U.S.A. F-16 purchase contracts. What raised my heckles at that time was the comments that they did so "as they could without penalty". This event while quite crucial in viewing the subsequent events in a particular light is one that very few New Zealanders attach *any* significance to. The significance is one that I do not like discussing - mainly because it is one that the stability of the free market actually depends on very few people exploiting. Which is that *anyone* can terminate virtually *any* contract *without penalty*.

You see penalty clauses in contracts are unenforceable. By law. And the maximum that can be "recovered" by anyone for breach of contract by another party is their actual economic loss. No more. Because it is a civil not criminal breach.
This is why when you look at the contracts used in the construction industry these work on the basis of large bonuses for timely delivery, and not penalties for late delivery. Because unless actual economic loss could be shown (which would frequently be difficult) then the penalty would be unenforceable.

So the explicit statement made by the Labour party at the very start of their first term was that they would look at any law or convention, and weigh up the penalty of breaching it against their personal benefit.

Sound familiar to anything recent?
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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Congratulations to the Distribution Workers Union

How does it feel knowing that you single handedly just managed to get 500 of your workers sacked?
I quite like the idea of having my groceries delivered direct from supplier to supermarket, so I'm quite glad the Distribution Union has pushed progressive towards this "novel" idea.

This would seem to be a fairly universal issue for Unions in that they believe that striking is their ultimate power. Without realizing it is frequently the means by which an employer can judge just exactly how useless to a business a certain segment is. Sure there are some sectors in which the Union actually has a true power, because its workers have real skill bases which are difficult to replicate. The irony is that those tend to be the professions in least <i>need</i> of a Union or representation.

So all that tends to happen in the low pay / low skill arena is that the Union progressively screws over its members both by taking and wasting their money directly, and by decreasing their usefulness to their employer.
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Monday, August 28, 2006

So which economy do you want to live in?

Hattip: Scoop
The Canterbury Manufacturers Association has recently gone on the offensive again against companies like IceBreaker that are proudly New Zealand owned and operated - at least as far as their high wealth operations are concerned.
The CMU is highly critical of the fact that they offload their low-wealth operations like the actual clothing manufacture onto countries like China, while retaining the design and patent operations locally.

I love Mr Walley's (from the CMU) quote:
“Yes, they may be registered in New Zealand, their shareholders benefit as do the people working on their designs but do they provide for New Zealand’s export development or contribute all they can to a reduction in the trade deficit?”

It is extremely hard to rebut a comment when it generally says everything you wanted it to in all but tone. The real question is where do we want to compete, where do we want to be as a country? I know that I would far prefer to be supporting that New Zealand company that has made the realisation that we want the high wealth value adding jobs in this country. And offload the menial, likely to be replaced through capital investment jobs elsewhere.
How are we going to reduce our trade deficit? Through increasing our labour productivity levels - something really not particularly possible in the jobs that Mr Walley wants to protect. But if the profits from IceBreakers Chinese operations are repatriated to here, then it is something highly possible. Mr Walley doesn't seem to understand that it is far better for our trade deficit to have each New Zealander earning the trade dollars from "10" Chinese workers, than only pulling in those dollars for their own work.

Mr Walley continues with "“‘Buy Kiwi Made’ is important in promoting New Zealand’s export and economic growth, it also means that you just might be buying your job, you are certainly supporting New Zealand values.”"
The question is which job do you want, and do you want your children to have - clothing design and architecture, or sitting behind a sewing machine?
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New Zealanders voting for what they want

Unfortunately it looks like this is increasingly diverging from what I would want.

The results from the Tamaki by-election for the Auckland city council are in; One corrupt Labour politician replaced by another Labour politician. There are now another 2500 people in Auckland that need to shut up and stop whining about the rates levels / increases because they just explicitly supported them.
The Auckland City Council just got the message that they are on the right track continuing to waste our ratepayers money thanks to you.

All 3 supermarkets near me have stopped stocking barn laid eggs. It would seem that despite people's rhetoric about wanting to ban cage farmed chickens they really just do not care. Given the eclectic collection of free range eggs that manages to survive I'm guessing it wouldn't have taken that many people supporting barn laid eggs for them to at least continue to be stocked. As it stands now the cages will be getting my dollar again because I'm not incensed enough to sacrifice 7 ECU's for the sake of 1 1/2 chickens happiness.
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Friday, August 25, 2006


The New Zealand Goverment continues on its farcical march towards becoming Milo Minderbinder's "M&M enterprises", in which "everyone has a share".

Kiwibank, Kiwisaver, Air New Zealand, Vector, Transpower et al. all are increasingly pointing towards this Governments absolute goal of the Kiwi collective ownership of everything via their benevolent and enterprising Government.

My own catch-22 now lies in how do I continue to help and support a country and people to whom I am increasingly drawn to despise?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

EPMU vitriole wins the day

Hattip: Scoop / Scoop

Unfortunately it looks like the EPMU et al. campaign of lies and hyperbole has managed to convince enough people that Wayne Maps Probationary employment bill is an "attack on their rights". And so the Maori party have decided to withdraw their support for the bill meaning it is likely to be defeated rather shortly.

Workers need to wake up and realize that initiatives like this are *not* an "attack on their rights" but are attempts to actually bring realistic responsibilities back to those rights that they possess. The current climate of repealing employers rights and making the employee ever more powerful and legislated will continue to drive New Zealand down its path of foreign ownership and small business ownership.

Those people with enough entrepreneurial spirit to start their own businesses will continue to trend towards being single proprietorships, possibly expanding to partnerships, and then typically moving offshore for expansion - if that isn't where they started already. It is ludicrous that it is becoming increasingly less risky and orders of magnitude cheaper for someone to move into a partnership agreement than to hire their first employee.
Only large multi-corporates are likely to continue with the increasing hassle of employment, only they can continue to take the risk and employ the legal / HR teams that are required to deal with actually having employees. If workers think either of these trends are in their favor then they are severely mistaken.

We have already seen a number of our businesses start to replace staff with machinery due to their increasing costs - this is the one positive side effect of these moves. New Zealand needs to increase its labor productivity if we are to regain any kind of comparative standing in the OECD. However it would be nice to be able to have a domestic manufacturing segment rather than watching them all (Jack Links et al) slowly collapse and shut down, it would be nice to continue having a domestic clothing market, car assembly - in fact almost anything other than food and aluminum would be good.

As we continue to make this less of a reality for ourselves, as we punish the entrepreneur for the lack of vision, lack of risk tolerance, and lack of intellect for their workers we will see ourselves continue to decline until we are that prison colony at the end of the Earth that Gene Roddenberry predicted.
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Monday, August 21, 2006

Pay it back - IRD style

"A payment is late if it is posted or delivered to Inland Revenue after the due date. If you send in a payment after the due date, you will be charged an initial 1% late payment penalty on the day after the due date.

A further 4% penalty will be charged if there is still an amount of unpaid tax (including penalties), at the end of the 7th day from the due date. Every month after the due date, a further 1% will be added to any unpaid amount (including penalties)."

Thanks to Insolent Prick for his discourse on the situation: link
However the biggest disgust that I have had over this entire episode is that politicians in general seem to think that just "paying it back" would be restitution enough (those that you can get to admit a theoretical guilt from).
However there is nowhere else, and no other party that can play by those rules.  In particular the money that was spent from the public purse is coerced under the penalty structure above. 

Note that it is worse if you were avoiding tax - this is just the penalties for not paying on time - which includes if you didn't know you had a bill to pay.  Which can occur up to 7 years after the fact.  Even if it takes a court case to establish some unclear portion of tax legislation which you could have justifiably thought you were in the right over.

What really needs to happen is for all political parties who abused the parliamentary services funding and electoral spending caps to be treated in the same way as every person and business in the country.  They should be audited for the last 7 years and made to pay for every cent spent unjustifiably, with penalties and back interest.

This is the threat that they as politicians and political parties have created.  It would be nice to see them see what that feels like.
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Friday, August 11, 2006

Public Service Association "defends" staffing increase, by pointing out exactly how they are not needed

Hattip: Scoop "The myth of the exploding public sector"

The PSA provided an attempted press release with regards to defending the greater than 50% increase in public servants, which generally does a pretty good job.  Primarily through ignoring the actual issue and quoting completely irrelevant statistics (decreasing debt has nothing to do with public service employment figures...) and then mixing in with those areas that actually are relevant and can be used to support their cause.

However they do fantastically as they point out what Public services incorporate:
"The services that are central to the administration of our society such as collecting taxes, paying benefits, passing laws, regulating consumer protections."

Kindof speaks for itself as to why we "need" 65% more public servants now.  43 new taxes, WFF, x new laws, constant interference in infrastructure companies (Telecom and Vector anyone?).  We need that many more public servants because we have a Labour Government - the relationship is that simple.  The core of the public service employment is doing those things that the Labour Government is philosophically aligned with increasing: taxes, welfare, regulation and market intervention.  The only Government that would increase the public service faster is the Greens.

Bye Bye Origin Pacific

Kind of sad to see Origin Pacific finally shut its doors completely, especially after it looked like they may have rescued themselves from bankruptcy earlier this year.  I quite liked some of the innovations they brought to the table with their five flight click strips, and a greater accessibility to standby tickets.

However they were always going to struggle against the might of another player that could get free $300 million capital injections.  Just like the Overlander.
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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Maori failing the closing the gaps policies

The NZ Herald today published a fantastic statistic that should help everybody question the entire intent of the closing the gaps policy, and the fundamental mis-guidance with which it has been sold to the public.
It shows how the poverty line in New Zealand has moved from being 12% of the population in 1985 to 19% in 2005 - where poverty is defined as earning less than 60% of the median income level.  Which of course means that the success of Peter Jackson, Sam Morgan et al. should all be deplored as they have contributed to the increase of poverty in this country.  Every time anyone creates wealth above their station, moves from a menial type role to a high productivity role, they have increased the numbers in poverty.

Which is of course ludicrous.  Poverty should only ever be defined in terms of an absolute level.  Not in income, but in living standards.  And because your neighbor has a plasma TV, and you don't does not make you in poverty - which is effectively how our current definition works.

It is this type of thinking that has led to the current situation where despite millions of dollars being poured into Maori and Pacific Island communities, their growth rates have continued to lag further behind the growth of the rest of the New Zealand community.  At some point the responsibility for this needs to be placed at the feet of those communities themselves, rather than blaming the rest of the community for growing faster than them...

As Gareth Morgan points out:
"Could it be that the traditional Maori marae-based model with its denial of private property rights and promotion of lineage over meritocracy is just incompatible with the achievement of economic and social outcomes that mainstream Western capitalist democracies achieve? Economic theory would suggest tribal-based feudalism is bound to impoverish those it discriminates against - commonly women and children. As well as being a questionable practice anyway (from the perspective of Human Rights), protecting this chauvinistic societal model under the guise of Treaty of Waitangi obligations is to discourage its evolution. The approach portends the need for infinitely deep taxpayer pockets if equitable outcomes under Treaty Article Three are to be achieved."

I would highly recommend reading the rest of his article: Closing Gaps is a misnomer which helps to direct attention towards the question of whether we want to close the gaps, if this means pulling the top down rather than pulling the bottom up. 

And I would pose the subsequent query: Are not Maori failing the policies, more than the policies are failing them?
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Employment discrimination, no smokers need apply

Smokers really need to wake up on this latest development where it has been found that the human rights act et al. do not prevent employers from specifying that smokers will not get employed.

Mainly because they need to realise that the primary defense which they are presenting is completely fallacious.  At present the reaction has been that "it is discriminatory and where would you draw the line?".  Discrimination is already inherent in our employment legislation and the line drawing already exists - so what the smoker needs to do is differentiate which side of the line (protected or open-season) they sit.  An employer can already discriminate on the basis of criminal record, education record, previous employers, time in the workplace, cultural fit etc, smoking in many realms is actually more relevant to your future perceived performance than some of these highly used discrimination measures.  What they need to realise is that the actual protected areas: sex, race, religion, sexual preference etc are all generally protected due to their supposed "non-choice" based origin.  A person does not "choose" these things, and therefore may not be discriminated against on the basis of them.

However things that are chosen, or are the results of decisions are all (currently) fair game for the purpose of discrimination. 
So the question needs to be: If we protect a smoker from being discriminated against, where do we stop, where does the line get drawn?
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Monday, August 07, 2006

Dysfuntional Justice System

I have been surprised by the amount of backlash against both the Rotorua city council and the police with regards to the RCC's proposal to ban repeat criminals from the city center for periods of time.

The main reason for my surprise being centered around the fact that the main reasons that people are touting are actually showing the dysfunctional nature of the justice system, not either of the two parties they tend to focus on.
Where you have a repeat offender to the tune of over 80 offences that is still offending, it is not the police you should blame.  They have done their job - hence the convictions for 80+ offences.  It is the justice system that keeps recycling this type of individual into our society with whom umbrage should be taken.

It would seem to be a failing of our current system that it does tend to take the view that once a criminals "debt to society" is "paid" (IE time served, fine paid, fine waived due to insufficient means...) that this should take little to no part in determining future sentences, and most particularly; cannot be used to escalate the offence with which one has been charged. 

In the latter point one would think that a system much like that of the NRL should be used - where a person accumulates their penalty points against their record and this is used to determine appropriate atonement in conjunction with the seriousness of the current offence.  This would remove the need for the RCC to enact their current bylaw - the people who they are banning would still be being dealt with by the appropriate authorities, and it would free up the police from needing to deal to the same criminals on as frequent a basis.  Because the simple fact is someone else won't start offending because other offenders have been removed.  Crime does not increase to populate a vacuum...
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Thursday, August 03, 2006

Thanks to slashdot for reminding me I've worked with computers for far too long

Hattip: Slashdot
Today is the day of the 386, yesterday was the 286, Friday the 486 - which I guess means that Saturday somewhat appropriately is the day of the Pentium (586)

The fact that I can remember and tell you the configuration of each of the machines I had with each of those processors is kind of depressing (and sad in a whole other meaning).  Especially given that the 386 was the first one with a HDD, the only HDD I've had that never ran out of space. 

That's right that 20 MB was inexhaustible.
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Rates and the elderly

It has been quite interesting to see over the past week the reactions to the new Auckland city rates bills. 

The NZ Herald managed to elict this nugget from Auckland City chief executive David Rankin:
"People did not realise the wide range of services provided by rates, such as world-class water and treatment of sewage or that most spending on roads and public transport came from rates."

But the more insightful quotes were actually:
People wanted more and better public facilities and there was no "painless" way of paying for it.
He [Mr McKinlay] said people moaned about rates bills but did not get nearly as excited about power bills, which were often higher.

I personally don't mind this set of rates increases - because I happened to provide feedback to the Auckland city plan and the eventual decision on what they were planning to increase funding on has a reasonable congruence with what I was willing to spend additional money on.  But what is interesting in the current set of public opinions is the number of people that have supported collectivist and redistribution policies, now complaining about the effects of those policies. 

Because rates are just a form of taxation, which happens to attempt to levy itself on a proxy of wealth (much like income taxes).  Both are made unfair in their application through their supposed attempt to be equitable.  The most amusing thing in reading the opinions in the blogosphere and Herald is that in the main the right wing sphere has actually been derisive towards those complaining about the bills saying they should just sell their appreciated assets and it is just free markets in action (when taxes and levies are normally quoted as market failures...), while those on the left wing have in the main been the complainers about the size of the funding required for their public transport / community initiatives etc for which they were the main protagonists. 

We then of course have the Libertarian sphere combining with the less politically partisan (a strange sight) to decry the whole concept of rates in general.  Although in the last case the Libertarians are normally calling for better user pays allocation while the non-politically partisan seem to be calling for central Government funding, where the latter of these is just an obfuscation of the problem, and just lumps more into a different inequitable funding mechanism.

David Rankin's quote caught my eye in particular with regards to this because he is of course right - alot of the issue in rates is that people cannot tell what they are paying for.  What is less clear is two things:
Why he doesn't see that this is implicitly solved by moving to actual user pays?
Why he chose the two examples that do have specific taxes and charges outside of the rates system?
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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Labour Party Politicians

I cannot help but point out the delicious irony in the simultaneous conviction of David Maka for dishonesty and abuse of priviledge offences (number 50 on Labours 2002 party list) with Taito Phillip Fields grilling in the house for dishonesty and abuse of priviledge.

I can only wonder as these types of ironies continue to occur how people can doubt the systemic corruption within the Labour Party. How do people continue to look at seemingly trivial seperate events such as the F16s, Timberlands, the boardinghouse fax, Paintergate, Dover Samuels, Tamihere, TPF, etc as disconnected incidents?
Whether you believe in genuine corruption, or just straight incompetence, this Government seems determined to implicate itself fully one way or the other.

For once I actually wish Winnie was here and in the house - then after the recent behaviour of Margaret Wilson things might get interesting. As it stands by the time he has back her recent ejecting of members from the house is likely to have faded from our political short term memory.

Someone else worth watching with interest though is Jim Anderton. Labours lapdog to be sure, but mainlybecause their interests are so well aligned. Jim was normally one of the only politicians you could guarantee to stand by his principles - even though I completely disagree with what his political beliefs are. If it came to the crunch in terms of his actually having to explicitly support Field or Wilsons behaviour I would be interested in which way he would lean.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Michael Cullen's blatant lies about tax

Hattip: "The Business" / NZ Herald
In particular I take umbrage with one particular part of Michael Cullen's latest speech:
"We are proposing to match Australia's corporate rate without burdening business with all the other onerous taxes Australians suffer - namely, a capital gains tax, stamp duties, payroll taxes and compulsory superannuation"

I was of course very glad to hear that we have no tax on capital gains here in New Zealand.  I will now no longer have capital gains declared in my tax returns.

Compulsory superannuation in Australia is not a tax - I can self-collect and self-manage my own superannuation fund.  Strangest tax I've ever seen with no money ever going to anyone else but myself.  As compared to our compulsory superannuation here which is a tax, or the upcoming Kiwisaver scheme that the Government determines where the funds can be invested; close to a tax.

Stamp Duties - OK, a fair point there until you look at the context of the discussion: business competitiveness.  So then the question becomes how many companies own their own land / buildings?  Sure this will be a consideration to some - but given that most businesses tend to lease their premises stamp duty is something a person worries about.

Payroll Taxes - Yay, I suppose 1 out of 4 specific examples isn't bad.

But this seems to be about MC's rate of telling the truth anyway given the "We have never had Treasury price a party policy" --> "We didn't get treasury to price  interest free student loans" --> "We got treasury to do one costing of  interest free student loans" --> "We got a treasury costing of interest free student loans, and then had them change the assumptions to give us another one..."
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Monday, July 31, 2006

In the "only something a Government department can get away with" file


Accountants warn that a defence of following IRD instructions does not get a taxpayer off the hook if what the department says is wrong.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't - What else can you say?
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Labour finally admits that subsidies are inefficient...

Did anyone else have trouble deciding whether they should laugh or cry as Michael Cullen, completely straight faced, explained that they would not be subsidizing the Overlander train service because subsidies were inefficient and a bad idea?  Why did no reporter ask him why it was completely inappropriate in this case, and yet so core to this Governements philosophy in so many other areas from the arts, Jim Anderton's business grants, Kiwibank, or most ironically: Air New Zealand. 

Of course the irony that the main internal air competition that sunk this route was provided by a company that received a subsidy that would have been sufficient for the Overlander to run for 150 years didn't seem to phase MC at all.  Chances are he was oblivious to it.

Of course that I agree with the decision in this case is actually irrelevant - if there are enough people up in arms about the demise of this route then there are enough to donate $1 a year to a foundation to do the subsidization.  If there are not enough people to care to that level then it is rightly scrapped.  Of course anyone who is surprized at the lack of patronage just needs to look at the problem that the journey takes 12 hours.  This is a pretty similar distance to the train we used from Koln (Cologne) to Berlin that took 4 hours 15 minutes.  The first - despite the view of the countryside is an ordeal; the second - a nice trip.  And you still get a pretty good view of the scenery despite travelling at up to 300 kph... 

I realise we probably don't have the population (including tourists) to justify the upgrading of our lines to the level that you can put an ICE train on it - but wouldn't even a trip of 6/7 hours make it one that you would consider?

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[EDIT] In an interesting article posted by Unlimited they also highlight the inefficiencies of Government subsidization in that case in the R&D market.  For those too lazy to read the whole article (which I recommend) and excerpt follows:

The survey responses reflect FRST’s conclusions: government R&D spending in CRIs, universities and State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) is not resulting in commercially valuable IP of any great consequence for New Zealand companies — especially SMEs. This situation reflects findings in the US and EU that universities and government-funded laboratories contribute less than 10% of the IP used by companies to produce and market innovative products."

Friday, July 21, 2006

Likelihood of posts next week = low

Going off to freeze next week in Dunedin onsite for a client. 
Mmmm - had a high today of 6 degrees, really looking forward to that!
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Good use of RFID - but is anyone else worried its needed?

I read an article on this earlier in the week, but it was this eweek article that prompted me to point it out:
NEW YORK (Reuters Health)—Radio frequency ID (RFID) chips, similar to those implanted in products to deter theft, may help prevent sponges and other materials from being left in a patient during surgery, the findings from a small study suggest.

The study I read earlier (and now cannot find) was mentioning that this trial was likely to be extended to all the surgical implements used so that they can use an RFID scanning wand to check for implements / sponges after the patient has been closed up.  Certainly in the case of this study:
The wand identified all of the RFID-tagged sponges and never reported the presence of a tagged sponge when, in fact, there wasn't one. On average, it took just 3 seconds for the wand to pick up the presence of an RFID-tagged sponge.

Which is all a great use for a much maligned technology.  But the question you have to ask yourself is: how happy are you that it is needed in the first place?
Still, further research is needed to determine whether placement of these chips in surgical sponges and other operating room materials will be cost effective for a problem that occurs once in every 10,000 procedures.

Due for surgery? Feeling Lucky?
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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Ben Elton

Watched Ben Elton at his standup gig "Get a Grip" at the Aotea center in Auckland last night.  Absolutely brilliant and extremely funny, Elton managed to cover every topic from politics, health, beauty obsession, conspiracy theories, through to consumerism.  As he put it at the start it was all about linking the size of his Mars Bar with Newtons 3rd law of physics (the equal reaction one for those too lazy to google it :D )

He really was at his exuberant, cutting best - doing extremely well to toe the line quite firmly on a number of what could be quite touchy issues, cutting deep enough to make people think, but I would deem not actually offending many people.  Of course his humour isn't for everyone (most popularly known via Blackadder 2+, Bottom, The Young Ones etc), especially given its real bite (not actually shown through the aforementioned series).  His stand-up definitely reminds more of his books - in this case mostly his earlier books of Stark, This Other Eden and Gridlock.

One of the fascinating aspects of his performance was the ease with which he localized the majority of his performance - The Warehouse, Air New Zealand, the descent into Wellington airport, Freedom Furniture, etc all became the examples within his performance without hesitation.  He was even able to preface the section about Iraq with appropriate sentiments about how NZ did not go and still managed to make the section entirely relevant - despite NZ only comprising 4 shows on his tour and being the only country with that stance on Iraq.

Absolutly worth going to see - sorry to all you Kiwi's who have now missed out unless you dash to Australia quickly (but hey, 600 of you were already planning to go this week anyway ;-> ). To anyone else who still has the chance to catch him on his tour, I unconditionally recommend you to go.
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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

New Zealand Labour Party endorses exploitation of immigrant workers

Helen Clark has indicated that the Ingram report clears Taito Phillip Field of any wrong doing.
Given that this is the same report that while saying Field had no conflict of interest he showed poor judgment in his use of (extremely) low income workers.

Apparently this type of exploitation of poor, defenseless workers is supported by the Labour party - ratified by the fact that Field is already being reinstated to the Executive.

Poor exploitable workers take note: Exploitation of the worker is what Labour is about.
I wouldn't expect an ACT, National, Green or NZ First MP to get away with this type of behavior - would you?
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Monday, July 17, 2006

Superb work Cactus

Cactus Kate today has an excellent post on envy, wealth and politics that I could not leave unsung. It is a long post but I would highly recommend people to read it through - regardless which side of the political divide you sit.  It can help to open some neurons for all supporters (and that goes for non-NZer's as well).  Just be aware that Cactus Kate can be abrasive in nature and suffers no fools...

She is spot on in her underlying message about that which most Socialist / left wing political supporters cannot grasp:
That the only greedy, envious messages and policies are coming from your side of the table.
And that there are no *rich* in New Zealand on which to practice your redistribution policies - all you are doing is taking from those without a lot to give to others without a lot.

What is most important to take from her vitriolic discharge however is the point that the myth of powerful rich people only being rich through exploitation of others and particularly old money is absolute BS.  Although this scares most Socialists and poor (in 1st / 2nd world countries) because they cannot handle the fact that the reason they are in the situation(s) they are is their own fault.  Not because they weren't "born into money".

Against that final point argue to me how many families you know that the current generation is truly rich because they were rich 5 generations ago.  And if there has been any bankruptcy along that chain of 5 generations then it (obviously) doesn't count.  Although I wager many of you haven't thought about that part before.
C'mon I'm waiting...

( For those complete dimwits out there who just had the thought "I know one", you better post it here and hope for a lot more - because the point is if there is considerably less than what there was truly rich people 75 years ago my point is proven)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Widening income and living standard disparities

It is interesting to look at the amount of debate kicked up by the recent "overview of living standards" released by the MSD, in a different context.  The report highlighted how it is not the absolute income of a familial grouping that determines their final living standard, but is just as closely linked to the income sources and decision making of those familial groups in terms of their income disposal.

In that respect I would turn your analysis to the same debate, but using New Zealand and Australia as test subjects, rather than New Zealand family units.  In that respect I would point out that it is still the continuing wasteful monetary mind sets of both the New Zealand Government and general public that would doom us to a continuing relative decline in living standards, despite our recent closing of growth rates. 

Australia is currently in the process of implementing a change to their superannuation scheme such that wage / salary earners will be saving at the rate (opt-out) of 12% of their pre-tax income.  Even if they opt-out of the 12% rate they will still be saving a compulsory 8-9% pre-tax.  Contrast this to the New Zealand situation of 4% opt-out, an optional 8% opt-in, or a 0% if you would still like.  The wealth generation difference of the Australian situation running between 9% - 12% of their salary / wage income versus New Zealand's prospective 4% savings (household savings are still negative so the superannuation stands as the only incrementing savings pool) means that the Australian capital pool will be increasing at a rate of double to treble our own. 

Even most of New Zealand's financially illiterate citizens should be able to understand that if you start with a greater capital base, and then continue to add to that base faster than your comparative position, you will quickly and irrevocably be in an unassailable position.

Even more than fighting our internal issues of beneficiary entitlement mindsets, bloated local Government bodies and high child abuse rates, we need to realize as a country that we need to start building a wealth base.  Otherwise we will continue to lose on the living standards scales, and beyond not being able to support those other Pacific nations that depend on us, we won't even be able to support ourselves.
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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Maori kill 945 children

In the wonderful thinking of our current Government it is most important to tell every potential Maori by Television ad that they have the opportunity to register on a separatist roll.  The fact that around half of Maori continue to not want to register on this roll in itself would question the point of its existence.

But more importantly at present is the waste of a further 945 lives (ECU's) in the attempt to make this artifact of separatism more relevant.  Somehow it seems more important to play around with the demographics of our electorates to the point of 945 lives.  Please tell me why?
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Everybody else just lives where they can afford to...

There seems to be this interesting philosophy that while people who work to survive must put up with living both:
a) in the locality of their job and
b) in housing that they can afford to
that beneficiaries are somehow above this.

Ngapuhi Social Services chief executive, Arapeta Hamilton, says many Maori families group together, especially in high-rent areas such as Auckland, because it is the only way they can survive.
This is definitely not the first time that I have seen these sentiments exhibited - in fact another example that comes to mind is:
"The woman living in the most expensive state house - on land valued at $1 million - had been there five years and said if the property was sold, she would have to be relocated in the same area." (NZ Herald - original article no longer available) 

A similar one could be:
"At a hastily arranged meeting days after the occupation, the then Ngati Whatua trust board, unwilling to call in police to deal with people who were essentially family members, offered the group houses in Glen Innes. The offer was rejected. "Like hell. I'm not going to give up a million-dollar view to look at railway tracks," says Anderson.(NZ Herald - original article no longer available)

Can anyone give me a coherent argument why we should continue to support the idea of people living in housing that they cannot afford so that they can be in areas in which drug and alcohol abuse is high?  It is already a posit of the above situation that these people are not in this locality because of jobs...
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