Thursday, March 30, 2006

Voting Rights

I firmly believe that everybody should have the right to vote (with the qualification that I agree in the current "age discrimination") - however this is quite different to the statement that everybody SHOULD vote.

Last election we had millions of our dollars poured down the collective drain in an effort to persuade everybody to vote regardless of whether they had any idea whatsoever about what they were voting for.

Now while the concept of merit based voting would initially seem to hold some kind of solution - along the lines of intelligence testing etc - I am actually against this for a number of reasons.  However primary amongst these is that I would actually prefer the future direction of our country to be decided by:  a group of illiterate fools who had nevertheless found out about the issues that concern them, made value judgments on these and come to a conclusion about what party(s) best serviced them and decided to vote; than a group of super-geniuses that just turn up to a pollsters booth with the intention of voting for who they pseudo-randomly decide is best.

This is regardless of the fact that the latter would probably actually result in a better overall result for the country.

Next election what I would like to see is an equal number of ads to the "little orange man" pointing out that while voting technically is as easy as ticking a box, the responsibility that attaches to that right is to make an informed decision.  Which means more than just listening to party political broadcasts, more than just voting on polls, and far more than just voting for who you did last time.

That group of voters [sic] who do not know why they are voting for someone, having come to a conclusion that they best fit their values - this is the group I would disenfranchise (for that election).  One of the prime ironies in democracy is that a country gets the Government that it deserves. And for that I weep for you NZ.

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With savings like these who could resist!

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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Microchipping Dogs

With the new regulations going into force I felt the need to have my rant about where I stand on the issue.

Personally I think the mandatory chipping of all dogs is a pointless and bureaucratic attempt to attack the wrong problem in a completely ineffective manner.  The stated purpose of the micro-chipping / registration is to reduce the incidence of dog attacks, particularly against young children.  However how does the identification of dog and owner by registered vets / dog control officers help to reduce this problem? To allude to the oft used quote - this can be no better than an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff.  And I would further question how frequently there is a dog in "custody" after an attack that cannot be identified or tracked to the owner.  Certainly this has not been the case in ANY of the high profile dog attacks that have led to the new regulations being brought into action.

To re-iterate an earlier point that might have been missed - only people using a microchip reader can even try to see whether the dog is even chipped - let alone find out the details.  At least with the collar registration there is a visual indication of whether a dog is registered or not.  And microchipping is in fact no better than standard registration at identifying the CURRENT CONTROLLER of the dog - if a dog is sold / stolen / etc then there are no guarantees that the registration details will be updated to reflect this.  So the only thing we have actually done is prove beyond a doubt what dog this is, whereas registration tags can be swapped between dogs.  But I would again stress that this "advantage" does not actually help to identify a dog in the case of an attack unless the dog is apprehended.  At which stage the point is moot.

If anyone can raise a single reason why micro-chipping helps the safety of the community I may change my mind - but I don't see it happening.  And please don't bang away about stricter enforcement - that does not rely on chipping, it relies on stricter enforcement....

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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Silver lining in the minimum wage cloud

The way I see it, yesterdays increase in the minimum wage is destined to bring bad things for New Zealand - but on reflection there is one potential positive that could prove me wrong: a vast increase in productivity. One of New Zealand's continuing problems in trying to increase our standard of living is that we are far too dependent on manpower as a way of increasing production - as a nation we are very poor in increasing productivity through the investment of capital. This keeps us idling along - and now that we have also hit the wall in terms of deploying more people with our relatively low levels of unemployment about the only way we can increase our GDP in any meaningful way is encouraging the deployment of capital and machinery. And what better way of doing that than making the cost of labour higher than its productivity / output?

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Monday, March 27, 2006

Too true to be left alone

I think it’s entirely appropriate to have no opinion when you don’t have enough information on the topic. As far as I can tell, few people agree with that position. And that's frightening. I thought this quote from Scott Adams was far too important to be left only on the far more widely syndicated Dilbert blog. I only wish more people agreed.

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Telecom to offer 'superfast' internet

full story The problem with a lot of these calls for Telecom et al. to provide "real broadband" etc is that the main bottleneck in the Internet experience for most New Zealanders simply is NOT the pipe into / out of the home. Even with the advances in bandwidth provided by the Southern Cross cable this is still the primary bandwidth bottleneck. We already experience congestion at peak usage times that are visible in international traffic - so unless New Zealanders are willing to accept the type of metered traffic split for national / international traffic a faster connection into the home simply will not solve a great deal. Either that or we need to start relying on local content providers and hosting for far more of our browsing experience...

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