Saturday, March 11, 2006

State housing

Unlike Lindsay, I do not think that the situations like this are endemic to the provision of state housing - but they are to the current system:

I think the main difference I have there is that I see the role of the Government as being a market facilitator; not dissimilar in many respects to the market makers on the NASDAQ. This means that I see that state housing is a good thing within their role - however they should not be providing it at a discount to the market rates. They are there to provide liquidity to that level of the housing market - however only in so far as it still pays for itself, they are not there to undercut the market or use other tax payers funds to subsidise tenancy.,2106,3600103a11,00.html

Friday, March 10, 2006

A slightly more serious gripe

But only just.

Would people PLEASE stop referring to Johnny Cash singing Hurt as if it was an original?

Trust me this is a cover (albeit a deeply felt cover) of a NIN (AKA Nine Inch Nails, trent Reznor) song from 1994, album The Downward Spiral.

Don't have anything against people liking the new version - but at least give credit for the authorship where it is due.

Jokes and Urban Legends

Ok - if you are going to send around jokes and urban legends PLEASE do not insist that this or that one is funny "because it's real". Chances are its not - and it should be funny in its own right for you to waste my time sending it to me.

Below I've included the joke that sent off my unjustified rant ;-). Trust me QANTAS don't use IFF so this is not real... (but still funny)

Here are some actual maintenance complaints/problems, generally known as squawks, recently submitted by QANTAS Pilots to maintenance engineers. After attending to the squawks, maintenance crews are required to log the details of the action taken to solve the pilots' squawks.

Problem - Left inside main tyre almost needs replacement.
Solution - Almost replaced left inside main tyre.

Problem - Test flight OK, except autoland very rough.
Solution - Autoland not installed on this aircraft.

Problem - No. 2 propeller seeping prop fluid.
Solution - No. 2 propeller seepage normal. Nos. 1, 3 and 4 propellers lack normal seepage.

Problem - Something loose in cockpit.
Solution - Something tightened in cockpit.

Problem - Dead bugs on windshield.
Solution - Live bugs on backorder.

Problem - Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200-fpm descent.
Solution - Cannot reproduce problem on ground.

Problem - Evidence of leak on right main landing gear.
Solution - Evidence removed.

Problem - DME volume unbelievably loud.
Solution - Volume set to more believable level.

Problem - Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick.
Solution - That's what they are there for!

Problem - IFF inoperative.
Solution - IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.

Problem - Suspected crack in windscreen.
Solution - Suspect you're right.

Problem - Number 3 engine missing.
Solution - Engine found on right wing after brief search.

Problem - Aircraft handles funny.
Solution - Aircraft warned to "Straighten up, Fly Right, and Be Serious."

Problem - Target radar hums.
Solution - Reprogrammed target radar with words.

Problem - Mouse in cockpit.
Solution - Cat installed.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Seperate the causes of prison

The primary reason that prisons continue to pose a problem in politics - and in peoples minds if they think about the prison problem - is that it is always unclear whether they are there as a deterrent through punishment, or for reformation.

Personally this is easily alleviated through the change of the prison system to do both explicity, but seperately:

First have the criminal serve out their sentance (entire sentance - but slightly different argument there) in an establishment designed for the punishment / deterrant purposes. So something like the establishments now, but without the sky tv etc...

Then they can be moved to reformation centers / home detention etc which they remain in UNTIL REFORMED. IE until there is a good degree of certainty that they can be reintegrated with society with a low possibility of recidivsm. This could take a long time and resources but I believe most people would agree that this step is worth it. It also means a murder from a crime of passion may only spend a couple of weeks in this phase, while a repeat burglar could still be there after 10/15 years. That is expected, the criminal does not earn the RIGHT to rejoin society until they can show they are prepared to take on the RESPONSIBILTIES that are entailed.

This just reinforces my long held view on the purposes of prisons:

Thanks to Murray for this one!

There is NO money for tax cuts!
Just for terrorists


On the earlier ECU scale that would be 102,740 ECU's just killed. But in this case I'd be willing to say the actual body count would be alot higher...

oops - OK so its 103 ECU's because its $500,000 , not $500m as I originally read it :{
However it actually doesnt change the point.

ECU's of Government waste and mismangement

Okay so this probably isn't the most PC entry in the world, but it had to be done.

From now on I'm going to comment on the conspicuous wastes of our Government in terms of the ECU's it costs, where an ECU is an Ethiopian Child Unit. Im going a step further to make this at least somewhat fair that an ECU is the number of childrens lives that could be saved in PERPETUITY by investing the money at 7.5% net, and using the infamous $1 day quote ;-)

My first gripe - one I've had for a while. How can the NZ Government justify wasting 224 lives (sorry - ECU's) to keep one family in a state house around Paratai drive?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tribute to Darren for inventing the term


Bank profits and household savings

We've heard alot about Kiwibank being out there to help stop these evil offshore banks making huge profits off our backs, and more recently the KiwiSaver scheme to help improve our savings levels (and make buying a first home easier...)

Personally I have one policy I like that would strike at the heart of all three of these. Make all mortgages tax deductable.

The current high level of property price growth is fueled at least partially through the diseconomies of capital costs, in which there is a 39% difference in the interest rates paid by different parties.

Changing this really is a situation that would only be to the detriment of the lawyers and acountants that are required to create the tax deductable structures around investment; and the greatest benefits would be reaped by the poorest sectors of the productive economy, where the greatest competition between buyers and investors is fueled.

The only point on this about which I am somewhat ambivalent is whether this should then always make the capital gain on the house taxable - I have a feeling that this should be so, but could easily be persuaded either way on that one...

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Not Guilty != Innocent

OK just 2 quick points about the cover story in the NZ Herald that irritated me today.
1) 250 people escaping conviction does not equal 250 innocent people. There is a big difference between being found innocent and there being insufficient evidence to convict.
2) The rise from 230 people to 500 people with life sentances is meaningless without knowing the crossover in those two sets.

Tree Felling

OK - so in some ways this post is a little late, and runs the danger of no longer being topical. But sometimes I prefer to sit back and think about the issue for a bit longer before just shooting from the hip.

First with regards to the penalty - my belief is that it did not go far enough. Given that the covenant existed when the property was bought, the line should have been taken that this was a condition of the contract that the property was bought with. By cutting down the tree he has breached the contract and forfeited any right to the property. Sod the fine, take away the dirt completely and that would make pretty sure it would not happen again.

Should the covenant actually have existed - no. Effectively under the current regulations the Auckland City Council confiscates part of your land for the "crime" of allowing a tree to grow taller than 8 meters. This is fundamentally unjust, and in future is probably going to mean that people:
1) plant less natives
2) never allow a tree to grow tall enough to reach protected status.

What should really happen? I believe that our large and historic trees are worthy of protection and are not exactly a replaceable commodity, so the need to apply for resource consent before destroying a large tree can stay. But the response to the consent either needs to be a yes (go ahead) or an offer to buy the tree (and whatever land is required to support it - with the required easement). IE the consent process is just used to give the opportunity for an offer to be made - not a perfect capitalist system, but a compromise I would be happy with. And I'm pretty sure most people would gladly sell their tree for EG $10,000? This can be funded either through specific fund raising for that tree - or more likely funded from the parks / nature budget.

In Brisbane there is a seperate charge as part of the rates that is dedicated to buying back land and putting in greenbelts. Personally I think this is a great idea - and the concept can easily be spread to buying back specific trees.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The connection Labour doesnt want you to make

Why is the normally heavy handed Labour Government so reticent to regulate Telecom?

I would suggest that as:
"Telecom's recently announced broadband prices are amongst the lowest in the OECD"

Then the lack of affordability must be down to the low wage economy - Labours problem, not Telecoms...

I told you so

I hate saying I told you so - mainly because Im an optimistic cynic; which generally means that when I'm saying it I'm being proven right about something that negatively affects the majority of us (I'll explain that conclusion another time...)

In the first months of Labours first term they cancelled two contracts, with the defence contract cancelled "because they could without penalty". At the time I raised that this was incredibly dangerous precendent, not least because all contracts can.
OK - this is the bit I actually don't like explaining, because it is probably better that most people do not know or understand it. Breach of contract is a civil not crimial matter. Civil law does not allow for punitive damages - only restoration. This means all the damages clauses in contracts are unenforceable, and whether there is one or not a person / organisation can only ever get back what they have provably lost as a result of the breach.

In other words people being bound to contracts is actually more about convention than law. And the Labour party in its first few weeks declared two things explicitly and loudly through these acts:

1) They have no regard for convention;
2) They will gladly choose to break the law where the perceived benefit is greater than the potential penalty.

I warned at the time both through print and radio - and was generally derided at the time. However look again at the two things declared above and apply this to:

Bus stop advertising
$450,000 pledge card spending
etc (feel free to list the rest yourselves)

I told you so.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

What do they say about getting what you wished for....

OK - so I asked for a better fight from the Windies and got it - would still have been nice to win though ;-)
But as I alluded to yesterday - was still more enjoyable to watch a close game than us winning by a huge margin!

Only complaint is - if you are going to stop people bringing in plastic bottles bigger than a litre, this needs to be advertised heavily at the time the tickets are sold! Im pretty sure the resultant lack of water within the ground is likely to cause greater problems than having larger plastic bottles around...