National today announced new rules and regulations regarding oil and gas exploration in our coastal waters…
And yet, it was only last year that the worst oil spill in history occurred in the Gulf of Mexico, threatening marine and coastal wildlife; local fishing industries; jobs; tourism; and costing billions in lost productivity and clean-up…
As a reminder what went down in the Gulf of Mexico, let’s not forget that there is no reason whatsoever that the same could not happen here, in our country…
Further economic, environmental, commercial, and human consequences of the oil spill.
If an oil spill of similar magnitude and severity hit our coast, we would not have the same resources to effect a clean-up, as our American cuzzies did. And somehow, this just doesn’t sound right,
I hope to god that the powers-that-be know what they’re doing. The consequences of a disaster could make the Christchurch earthquakes look like an entree.
How to be a sloppy journalist…
NZ Herald journalist Derek Cheng writes about National’s planned “welfare reforms” on 14 August. Mr Cheng writes,
“The Government will limit how 16 and 17-year-old beneficiaries and 18-year-old teen parents can spend the state’s money to ensure they are not buying items such as alcohol or cigarettes…”
Mr Cheng continues in the same vein, a little later on,
“* money for basic living costs like food and groceries will be loaded onto a payment card that can only be used to buy certain goods and cannot be used to buy things like alcohol and cigarettes…”
That’s all very well and good… but it’s already illegal for 16 and 17 year olds to purchase alcohol and tobacco products.
Why has Mr Cheng not pointed this out in his article?
National’s policy release has been barely challenged by the mainstream media (MSS) and sounds as if 16 and 17 year olds are freely purchasing tobacco and liquor in this country. They may well be. But it is not dependent on whether or not under 18s are beneficiaries.
In fact, it could be argued that 16 and 17 year olds on a Living Alone Allowance are less likely to be able to afford expensive cigarettes and booze.
The Independent Youth Benefit rate (as at 1 April 2011) is $167.83 per week – NETT.
That’s right folks, that’s what this is all about: $167.83 a week. Out of that, a young person living independently has to pay board, food, clothing, transport, power, phone, and other outgoings.
That doesn’t leave much for boozing and fagging much, does it?
Yet, Mr Cheng ignores all this and simply parrots National Party policy, without any critical analysis whatsoever.
This is simply unacceptable. It brings to mind government-owned newspapers such as “Pravda” and “Izveztia” from the now-defunct Soviet Union. These newspapers were nothing more than mouthpieces for the Soviet Communist Party. they had as much to do with critical, investigative reporting – as Vegans have to raising cattle and lamb for supermarkets.
Perhaps the Herald should re-brand as “The New Zealand Government Herald“? Or simply, “The State Mouthpiece“?
Because that is what it seems to be evolving into.
As usual, the three Golden Rules to apply to the MSS are,
- Don’t believe everything you read, see, and hear.
- What am I not being told?
- Will it sell advertising?
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It’s obvious really, why List Spot #3 is vacant…
ACT will be selling that position on Trademe. (Minimum bid; $1. Buy now price; $5)
I guess this explains why milk, other dairy products, tomatoes, etc, are so expensive.
And the Minister for Agriculture, David Carter, can save taxpayers the expense of a Parliamentary inquiry into why milk is so expensive here in NZ…
I guess it wasn’t such a bright idea to allow supermarkets to buy each other up, until we had only two, nation-wide chains remaining. Duopolies are not noted for promoting competition and keeping prices down.
New Zealand’s supermarket duopoly:
Chalk up yet another cock-up for the free market, unregulated economy?
I think so.
+++ Updates +++
Parliament’s Commerce Select Committee inquiry into milk prices gets under way,
Floating cities: PayPal billionaire plans to build a whole new libertarian colony off the coast of San Francisco
- Ocean state would have no welfare, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons
- Platforms would house 270 people and hundreds could eventually join together
PayPal-founder Peter Thiel was so inspired by Atlas Shrugged – Ayn Rand’s novel about free-market capitalism – that he’s trying to make its title a reality.
The Silicon Valley billionaire has funnelled $1.25million to the Seasteading Institute, an organisation that aspires to launch a floating colony into international waters, freeing them and like-minded thinkers to live by libertarian ideals.
Mr Thiel recently told Details magazine: ‘The United States Constitution had things you could do at the beginning that you couldn’t do later. So the question is, can you go back to the beginning of things? How do you start over?’
The floating sovereign nations that Mr Thiel imagines would be built on oil-rig-like platforms anchored in areas free of regulation, laws, and moral conventions.
The Seasteading Institute says it will ‘give people the freedom to choose the government they want instead of being stuck with the government they get’.
Mr Theil, the venture capitalist who famously helped Facebook expand beyond the Harvard campus, called Seasteading an ‘open frontier for experimenting with new ideas for government’.
After making his first investment in the project in 2008, Mr Thiel said: ‘Decades from now, those looking back at the start of the century will understand that Seasteading was an obvious step towards encouraging the development of more efficient, practical public sector models around the world.
‘We’re at a fascinating juncture: the nature of government is about to change at a very fundamental level.’
Mr Thiel and his colleagues say their ocean state would have no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.
Aiming to have tens of millions of residents by 2050, the Seasteading Institute says architectural plans for a prototype involve a movable, diesel-powered structure with room for 270 residents.
The long-term plan would be to have dozens and eventually hundreds of the platforms linked together.
Patri Friedman, a former Google engineer who is working on the project told Details that they hope to launch a flotilla of offices off the San Francisco coast next year.
‘Big ideas start as weird ideas,’ Mr Friedman said.
He predicted that full-time settlement will follow in about seven years.
But while some Ayn Rand acolytes may think the idea is brilliant, it’s not without its critics.
Margaret Crawford, an expert on urban planning and a professor of architecture at Berkeley, told Details: ‘it’s a silly idea without any urban-planning implications whatsoever.’
Mr Thiel told an audience at the Seasteading Institute Conference in 2009 that: ‘There are quite a lot of people who think it’s not possible.
‘That’s a good thing. We don’t need to really worry about those people very much, because since they don’t think it’s possible they won’t take us very seriously. And they will not actually try to stop us until it’s too late.’
I fully support founding such a colony. In fact, I’ll donate $100 for a (one way) ticket for Don Brash to migrate there.
I’ve suggested – on several occassions – that neo-liberals who want to live in a free-market, minimalist government, zero-tax, user-pays society have just such a country to migrate to: Somalia.
Somalia is perfect and meets their criteria in every respect.
Of course, as part of user-pays, they would have to pay for their own security; their own private police force. And why shouldn’t they? After all, why should other taxpayers pay for protection of someone elses’ property, in a User Pays nirvana?
Strangely enough, as far as I’m aware, no neo-lib has ever taken up my offer.
And stranger even still, neo-libs seem to prefer living in New Zealand; a country built on collective efforts by it’s citizens to build up every aspect of present day society; electricity sector, education, railways, health, roading, police, bridges, libraries, etc. Even telecommunications, airlines, and television started off as tax-payer funded services. All paid by our taxes.
Private enterprise was focused on providing citizens with supermarkets, clothing, shoes (once upon a time), and other consumer goods. It was a good balance.
“Mr Thiel and his colleagues say their ocean state would have no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons.”
No minimum wage? But… who would clean their toilets?
No building codes? On a free-standing oceanic city? Oh, I can see that working… not.
Call me cynical, but I doubt if Peter Thiel’s ‘Seasteading’ project will succeed. For one thing, human nature is involved – and as we all know, human nature can be a bugger of a thing to deal with.
Secondly, what happens if Thiel’s ‘island’ gets in trouble? Perhaps struck by a hurricane? Will the Seasteaders expect rescue from the international community? And will they be willing to PAY for assistance? (User pays, of course.)
The article further states,
“The Seasteading Institute says it will ‘give people the freedom to choose the government they want instead of being stuck with the government they get’.”
Uh oh. That sounds perilously close to that pesky concept popularly know as “de-mo-cra-cy”. Damned dangerous, that “de-mo-cra-cy”. What happens if, in time, the population of ‘Seastead’ elect a government that is more interventionist?
Will Thiel then build another libertarian community? To get away from the first ‘Seastead’, taken over over “leftists”?
Personally, I think Somalia would still be a cheaper option.
Let’s be honest here, though.
This is about one thing: money. Thiel wants to keep as much of his money as possible and not pay taxes. There may be other, immensely wealthy individuals, who feel lifewise.
Well, I say “good luck” to them. Let them set up their little sovereign “Island State”. Let them learn the hard way that a functioning, balanced, society involves more than just having a bloated bank balance. A dynamic society is a collection of mutually supporting groups and individuals – not just a handful of wealthy people.
My guess is that this little “Profit Paradise” will not last long. Nor will it be self-sufficient. And, the inhabitants will still want to spend (most of) their time on the US mainland, socialising, doing business, and all the other things that the rest of us enjoy. Their Island State will be nothing more than a taxation “bolthole”; a floating bank account.
And herein lies the dishonesty of such an idea.
But if billionaires want to spend their entire lives on such an Island, and not leave, then they are welcome to it. Imagine being forced to live your life in one little area; never leaving; and associating only with others of your ilk.
It’s called “prison”.
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John Key today announced that the proceeds from state asset sales could be used for roading…
Now hang on a mo’…
I thought National was intending to part-privatise Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy, Mighty River Power, coal miner Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand to pay off some of the $71 billion debt that National has racked up since it came to office in 2008?!
Now Key is suggesting that National may use the proceeds to pay for roading? Strangely enough, Key makes no mention of selling state assets to fund infra-structure here.
The questions that spring to my mind are;
1. Where is the income from Road User charges, gst on fuel, and other roading-related taxes that we are paying every time we fill up our vehicles at the pumps???
2. Wouldn’t it make more sense to use the profits from Meridian Energy, Genesis Energy, Mighty River Power, coal miner Solid Energy, and Air New Zealand, for infra-structure spending – rather han the actual generators of those profits???
3. If National has to rely on asset sales for infra-structure spending – what will they be relying on once all state assets are privatised and we’ve lost the entire income-stream???
This is like a heroin addict selling his car to pay for his next ‘fix’. What will he sell next? And what will he do once all his possessions are gone?
It’s not exactly a “good look” when a government behaves like a drug addict.
As for the good people of Kapiti – they got the government they voted for. It’s hard for me to feel any sympathy on this issue. My thoughts are with the 140 people who lost their jobs at MAF today. Or the thousands of others who’ve been made redundant these last three years.
My anger is directed at those individuals who blame welfare beneficiaries for the predicament they are in. The finger-pointers who blame the poorest and most vulnerable for daring to be poor and vulnerable.
To the people of Kapiti; you helped elect this government to office. You now have a wee taste of what it feels like to be steam-rolled and to be victimised.
Remember this on 26 November.
Gosh, just what New Zealand needs; an instruction manual from religious nutters on how to beat your children to death. Because, as we all know, we don’t have enough beaten; raped; maimed; and murdered children in our society.
Just a reminder how “good” we are at beating our children to death, here. But maybe ten children murdered each year, plus the hundreds more who suffer permanent injuries/maimings, aren’t enough? Because it seems that there are “helpful” individuals out there who are willing to put together a ‘manual’ on how we can do it more efficiently.
And if it’s based on the scribblings of a 2,000+ year old religious text – all the better. Personally, I’m waiting for a book on child-discipline according to the ancient Aztec Sun God worship .
I wonder if the next child killer; standing in the dock on charges of murder; will hold up this book and use it as an excuse for his/her behaviour?
“God said I can beat my child!”
How many deranged serial killers have also claimed to hear God’s voice?
“Data sets for the years 1997 to 2001 from each country include all deaths and hospitalisations from assault. The results show that a child in New Zealand is almost three times more likely to die from assault than a child in Sweden.”
So do we really need this book? It seems we’re pretty good at it already.
… and offering the voters real choices, other than the gerrymandered riggings and back-room deals of First Past the Post and Supplementary Member.
The good folk of Epsom now have a wide range of candidates to choose from, this coming November. Labour MP, David Parker, is experienced, articulate, and with a good common-sense attitude.
Spoilt for choice, Epsom folk?
Can David Parker win Epsom? Should he even try? What is the point of offering oneself in a safe National-seat that is as “blue ribbon” as one can find in this country?
I’m thinking that David Parker has a very simple plan: to Give It A Go.
New Zealanders love that “give it a go” attitude. The same attitude that has seen various individuals achieve stuff that – on the face of it – was practically unheard off. Whether climbing a bloody big mountain and “knocking the bastard off”, or producing a few ‘splatter’ movies and eventually becoming one of the biggest Names in Hollywood (Miramar Branch) – these individuals just gave it a go.
Now it may be a long-shot that David Parker wins Epsom. That’s a bloody high mountain to climb in anyone’s books.
But Kiwis love the “battler”; the Little Guy Up Against It. Hence why “Goodbye Pork Pie” is one of our most endearing movies?
I think that’s the rationale for David P to try it on in Epsom. He may not get anywhere – but by the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I think he’ll earn bucketloads of respect from the local Epsomites. ‘Cos he Gave It A Go.
Who knows – he may even…
As for the Parker Game Plan – I’m picking he’ll opt for Deputy Leadership if/when the Labour leadership issue ever arises.
Don Brash, on Q+A today (21 August),
“Nobody seriously believes that Governments run commercial business better than private owners do. There is no logic at all for Governments to continue to own them.”
Let’s do a Fact Check on your claim that “nobody seriously believes that Governments run commercial business better than private owners do”.
Case # 1: Air New Zealand.
In April 1989 the airline was privatised by Roger Douglas with a sale to a consortium consisting of; Brierley Investments Ltd(65%), Qantas (19.9%), Japan Air Lines Ltd (7.5%), and American Airlines Ltd (7.5%) .
The owners were a fairly high-powered, supposedly commercially-saavy, group of corporations.
The sale went through, earning the State $660 million.
In 2000, Air New Zealand entered into a commercial deal to buy 100% Ansett Airlines, for $A680 million, from Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation Ltd. This deal went sour and Ansett Australia was placed into liquidation by September 2000. Air New Zealand subsequently announced a $NZ1.425 billion operating loss .
By October 2001, Air New Zealand was itself in imminent danger of collapsing and was re-nationalised by the then Clark-led Labour government under a NZ$885 million bail-out. The government ended up with a 76.5% stake.
So much for private ownership.
Case #2: NZ Rail
In September 1993, NZ Rail was privatised and sold for $400 million (less debt) to a consortium consisting of Wisconsin Central (40%), Berkshire Partners III L.P. (20%), and Fay & Richwhite (40%). NZ rail then had a succession of owners, culminating in heavy losses, with a $346 million loss for the half-year ended December 2003.
In May 2008 the Labour Government agreed to buy Toll NZ Ltd (less its trucking and distribution operations) for $665 million.
This experiment in privatisation was also a spectacular failure. No private owner could make a profit, even with the government agreeing in 2003 to spend $200 million over the following five years, upgrading the track via the new SOE, Ontrack.
The rail network had been badly run down through lack of investment in new rolling stock and lack of basic maintenance. And one of it’s first private owners, David Richwhite were investigated late 2004, by the NZ Securities Commission, regarding alleged insider trading. In June 2007 Richwhite agreed to pay NZ$20 million, but did not admit liability.
Another “Tui time” for private ownership of state assets.
Case #3: Finance Companies.
It might be worthwhile reminding Don that the recent chain of collapse of finance companies in this country cost investors $6 – $8 billion dollars in losses . Many of these are the real “Mums and Dads” investors that National speaks lovingly when mooting asset sales.
So Don, spare us the rhetoric that “nobody seriously believes that Governments run commercial business better than private owners do”. Because as many will confirm – that’s bullshit.
The question I ask myself is; Don, do you really believe that fantasy or not. If you do, you are deluded. If you don’t, you are deliberately mis-representing the truth.
Either way – not a good look, mate.
… if Peter Dunne just dropped the charade of being a separate Party and simply joined National?
This is really taking “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” to new heights of absurdity.
“Frankly Speaking” has looked into this matter, and we think that any difference between the original Rugby World Cup, and the facsimile, is so minimal as to be negligible. We certainly couldn’t detect any obvious difference.
Check the image below and give us your opinion which is the original Cup…
Warren Buffet is regarded as one of the most successful investors in the world. He is ranked among the world’s wealthiest people and was ranked as the world’s wealthiest person in 2008. He is the third wealthiest person in the world as of 2011.
He is not a disaffected socialist, nor “random leftie” – he has serious money in his bank account(s). So when this guy warns us that the wealthy are not paying their way, and have been “coddled by billionaire-friendly governments” – you know he’s saying something important.
And that we should take note…
Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.
These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.
Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.
If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.
To understand why, you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.
I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.
Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.
The taxes I refer to here include only federal income tax, but you can be sure that any payroll tax for the 400 was inconsequential compared to income. In fact, 88 of the 400 in 2008 reported no wages at all, though every one of them reported capital gains. Some of my brethren may shun work but they all like to invest. (I can relate to that.)
I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.
Twelve members of Congress will soon take on the crucial job of rearranging our country’s finances. They’ve been instructed to devise a plan that reduces the 10-year deficit by at least $1.5 trillion. It’s vital, however, that they achieve far more than that. Americans are rapidly losing faith in the ability of Congress to deal with our country’s fiscal problems. Only action that is immediate, real and very substantial will prevent that doubt from morphing into hopelessness. That feeling can create its own reality.
Job one for the 12 is to pare down some future promises that even a rich America can’t fulfill. Big money must be saved here. The 12 should then turn to the issue of revenues. I would leave rates for 99.7 percent of taxpayers unchanged and continue the current 2-percentage-point reduction in the employee contribution to the payroll tax. This cut helps the poor and the middle class, who need every break they can get.
But for those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.
My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice.
(Warren E. Buffett is the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway.)
Buffet’s analysis holds true for New Zealand as much as it does for his own country, the USA.
In April 2009 and October 2010, this government awarded the highest income earners and the wealthiest the most in tax-cuts.
At the same time, the top ten wealthiest people in NZ (and probably others throughout the world also increased their wealth by 20 percent) – whilst the rest of the global economy was wracked by the worst recession since the 1930s, and millions lost their jobs.
The old excuse that the “wealthy work hard and should be rewarded for their labours” no longer deserves to be taken seriously. Most of us work hard, and long hours.
It is time that governments stopped coddling the rich. It’s not like they can take their wealth off-planet to Mars or elsewhere. The rich will still invest their vast wealth.
But it’s time they paid their fair share as the price of living in societies that gave them the opportunities to create their wealth.
It’s high time National looked at a fairer taxation system, and paid for the social services and job creation-friendly policies, rather than the top 10% of the population and middle-class rich-wannabees.
Otherwise, prepare yourselves for a society of growing inequality.
So far, the indicators are not good…
Well, I think the ‘message’ is reasonably clear for all but the most ideologically-blind. Question is – what are we going to do about it?
(Hint: more of the same will probably not work.)