The Dim-Post

May 24, 2012

Low hanging rotten fruit

Filed under: economics,Politics — danylmc @ 9:27 am

Today the Dom-Post has the results of an (unscientific) poll showing that National’s return to surplus has overwhelming public support. It’s an indication of how utterly our public debate and understanding of these issues is dominated by National’s rhetoric. Getting out of debt is important to do if you’re an individual and you’re going to retire and have no income at a fixed point in time, and it’s nice if you’re a corporation, because surplus helps you maximize shareholder returns – but if you’re a nation-state with a robust economy then being in debt really doesn’t matter very much.

Put it this way: it would be nice to have a surplus – but it’s not more important than:

  • reducing our massive private debt
  • reducing our superannuation liability
  • reducing unemployment
  • reducing the loss of skilled workers to Australia
  • increasing our anemic wage growth
  • improving business productivity
  • improving our capital markets
  • improving our savings rate
  • adding value to our exports

And that’s without getting into ‘ideological territory’ like reducing inequality or addressing carbon emissions. So while getting back into surplus is a nice thing to do, it’s probably not even the tenth most urgent problem the government needs to address.

But rushing back to surplus involves doing a bunch of stuff English wants to do anyway – privitise assets, slash the public sector, make the governments revenue base more regressive – which is why it’s his top priority and all of the serious, real issues facing the New Zealand economy are being completely ignored.

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91 Comments »

  1. “reducing our anemic wage growth”. Really? Shouldn’t we be trying to increase it. I’m not an economist but wage growth sounds like a good thing…

    Comment by Amy — May 24, 2012 @ 9:32 am

  2. Fixed it. Thanks.

    Comment by danylmc — May 24, 2012 @ 9:35 am

  3. Frustrated the dompost has made up so much bs news out of their reader polls. This story here gives another hint to their uselessness http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/budget-2012/6968174/Support-for-economic-direction-wavering
    Naturally fairfax has no subscribers in Auckland, so looks like survey is from readers of Press, Waikato Times and DomPost. The fairfax Manawatu Standard doesnt run this garbage so other small town papers probably don’t either.
    But agree with your main point that National has managed to totally frame the debate on their own terms. Helped by weak opposition after 2008 and gullible media who seem to be directed their stories more towards middle and upper class NZ all the time. Note political journos knowing that as they won’t be materially affected by prescription rises and got nice tax cuts that everyone else did too.

    Comment by Luke — May 24, 2012 @ 9:42 am

  4. A news media that buys into Nat frames for their stupid “polls” and then reports the bullshit results as though they were credible is also part of the problem. Nat rhetoric dominates? How does it dominate? Good for the Nats, they are playing well. Boo for the referees.

    Comment by Stephen J — May 24, 2012 @ 9:43 am

  5. Switching the foreign bogeyman from Wall St to Greece has been a brilliantly executed pass. Although most passes look brilliant when the opposition are bollards.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — May 24, 2012 @ 9:46 am

  6. I disagree as your solution is to pass more of the costs (through borrowing) on to future generations because you want it all, or at very least more of it, now. Everything the government has to borrow to pay for it’s existing spending has to be paid back, with interest, eventually (although many governments roll the whole thing over – interest as well – rather than have to make that hard decision themselves – and have to tell the voters the gravy train is coming to an end). Why can’t people see that even governments have to live within their means or it is just a gigantic ponzi scheme that will eventually unravel, as the PIIGS in the EU are demonstrating.

    Once the government is not just passing the cost on to my children, when it comes time for them to pay their own taxes, then I would be happy for them to do some or all of what you have proposed. Once in surplus there is no need for the surpluses to get too big – then you spend on one off stuff that could help achieve your list and pay down debt so the next time the world goes into a recession NZ does not have to slash and burn to stay afloat. The previous government’s response to good conditions was quite poor – adding a lot of long term cost (WFF, interest free student loans) while not reducing other costs by the same amount (debt repayment).

    I would have less of problem with any of these programmes if the on going cost of any of them had been countered by reducing enough government debt so the interest no longer needed to be paid on that debt was about the same amount as the new spending. But the way it was done, without some future changes needed the NZ government would have been in deficit continually, not just in bad times, but in the good as well – that is not sustainable.

    Comment by Stephen — May 24, 2012 @ 10:02 am

  7. Getting out of debt is … nice if you’re a corporation, because surplus helps you maximize shareholder returns

    That’s not true – as a corporation you’re much more likely to maximise shareholder returns by funding expansion through debt – it gears the corporation up.

    Comment by Phil — May 24, 2012 @ 10:14 am

  8. @Stephen #6

    “Why can’t people see that even governments have to live within their means or it is just a gigantic ponzi scheme that will eventually unravel,”

    Please send your comment to John Key, headed “Superannuation”.

    Comment by sammy 2.0 — May 24, 2012 @ 10:22 am

  9. Phil: it’s funny how business people who are savvy about gearing and leverage suddenly feign igorance when it comes to government, all the while exclaiming how government should be run like a business.

    Having said that, let’s please distinguish having debt and running a deficit.

    Comment by Stephen J — May 24, 2012 @ 10:41 am

  10. The part of the Opposition argument that’s been missing throughout the crisis is that growth is the key element in getting to a sustainable surplus — both because growth means more tax income and because growth makes your debt smaller relative to GDP. 3.5% growth and we probably do get a surplus by 2015. 2% growth and the deficit becomes structural.

    Comment by bradluen — May 24, 2012 @ 10:44 am

  11. (well making your debt smaller relative to GDP doesn’t directly affect your surplus but is worth remembering nonetheless)

    Comment by bradluen — May 24, 2012 @ 10:49 am

  12. Phil: it’s funny how business people who are savvy about gearing and leverage suddenly feign igorance when it comes to government, all the while exclaiming how government should be run like a business.

    It is surprising how the conversation doesn’t differentiate between debt supported government spending for operating costs (bad) and debt supported government spending to increase productivity (good). Paying interest on OPEX is just dumb, while interest on CAPEX isn’t really such a big deal being part of the total cost of ownership.

    I suspect this is why a lot of people find the government’s position in electing to not reverse tax cuts but instead borrowing to fund BAU operations so galling.

    Having said that, let’s please distinguish having debt and running a deficit.

    Indeed.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 24, 2012 @ 11:15 am

  13. Stephen @ 6: I notice that you don’t mention, not once, the possibility of raising taxes to fund these things now. The current government offloaded a lot of debt on to your children with their tax-package; I certainly hope you saved your share to add to their inheritance.

    Comment by Simon Poole — May 24, 2012 @ 11:49 am

  14. “…It’s an indication of how utterly our public debate and understanding of these issues is dominated by National’s rhetoric…”

    The posting of constant stories with unqualified headlines based entirely on the self-selecting online Fairfax polls (which are completely unscientific and usually come with a heavy right wing bias) by two of the most consistant John Key leaders at the Dompost (Watkins and Small, Watkins in particular seems to regard her job to be an extension of the Key PR machine) stinks of deliberate agenda setting.

    Today we were treated to Kathryn Ryan on Natrad doing a soft interview with some dry as dust unreformed Rogernome from Price-Waterhouse, who spent his whole time lamenting the failure of government to twist the neo-liberal bayonet that Roger Douglas had shoved into the publics guts. Coincidence that this occured on the eve of the budget? Or more agenda setting by neo-liberal journalists? This is, after all, the same Kathryn Ryan who according to Chris Trotter (and it hasn’t been denied in any way) refuses point blank to interview union economists.

    So yeah, dominated.

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 24, 2012 @ 12:31 pm

  15. Reversing National’s decrease in the top tax rate would be no where near enough to get rid of the deficit.

    if increased taxation is the solution then the govt would have to tax us all more. or maybe target specific policies such as interest free student loans and WFF going to the middle class.

    Also, part of the reduction in tax take is becasue people are saving more and spending less so there’s less GST. One could take that tax back but then there would be less savings. It’s all inter-related.

    Comment by NeilM — May 24, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

  16. Neil: simply pointing out that there are more options than savagely cutting spending in order to balance the books, if that is even really required at this stage.

    Comment by Simon Poole — May 24, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

  17. there are more options than savagely cutting spending

    but there are costs to raising taxes – people spend and save less which hurts the economy. I’m not arguing that taxes shouldn’t be raised just that we should undersand that there are negative consequences if we go down that road.

    Mind you, if both Labour and Naitonal agree on something, a govt surplus, chances are it has to be wrong.

    Comment by NeilM — May 24, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

  18. “Mind you, if both Labour and Naitonal agree on something, a govt surplus, chances are it has to be wrong.”

    Truth.

    I still don’t know why Labour has signed up to the vision, other than the fact that they’re desperate to appear sound on economic issues and therefore will just parrot whatever National plan on doing, only… y’know, less.

    Comment by Simon Poole — May 24, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

  19. “Getting out of debt is important to do if you’re an individual and you’re going to retire and have no income at a fixed point in time… but if you’re a nation-state with a robust economy then being in debt really doesn’t matter very much.”
    Eh? It is almost exactly the same thing: borrowing simply shifts consumption from the future, i.e. our children (who not only have to pay off our debt, but pay our National Super as well) to the present, i.e. ourselves.

    You left wing muppets talk about “sustainability”. How is it sustainable to consume stuff now so that our children can’t? How is it that you cannot see the dichotomy between carbon taxes, designed to slow consumption now in order to preserve stuff for the future, and borrowing to fund current consumption at the expense of future consumption?
    Let’s put that another way: greenies (and their left-wing sympathisers) want to stop us consuming what is RIGHT IN FRONT OF US. Lefties, (perhaps when the green side of their brain is asleep) want us to consume stuff that belongs to future generations.

    Again: http://dimpost.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/an-infinite-amount-more-where-that-came-from/
    In that post, you acknowledge where the State gets its money from. Every other post you have every written seems to prove that someone else wrote that post.
    Borrowing to sustain growth is like taking P to stay energetic.

    “But rushing back to surplus involves doing a bunch of stuff English wants to do anyway… make the governments revenue base more regressive”
    Exsqueeze me? Remind me who introduced GST? And, for bonus points, GST is (a) progressive, or (b) regressive.
    And isn’t it leftie Len Brown and his council who are introducing a fixed rate of $350 per home, regardless of size/capital value/number of occupants?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — May 24, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

  20. “13.Stephen @ 6: I notice that you don’t mention, not once, the possibility of raising taxes to fund these things now. The current government offloaded a lot of debt on to your children with their tax-package; I certainly hope you saved your share to add to their inheritance.
    Comment by Simon Poole — May 24, 2012 @ 11:49 am “
    Simon, I notice that you don’t mention, not once, the possibility of folk making voluntary payments to the State to fund these things now. Go on, off you go: make a donation to the State. No? I didn’t think so: you don’t want to give a cent more than the law requires, because you don’t believe in free will.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — May 24, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

  21. CF: Just making the observation that an increase in expenditure now does not necessarily mean an increase in debt for future generations. I’m not quite sure where the rest of your comment comes into it at all.

    Comment by Simon Poole — May 24, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

  22. My point is, if you want to see some more consumption now, use your own money.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — May 24, 2012 @ 2:28 pm

  23. Like DM I’m no fancy big city economist and that will not stop me from commenting here either on a topic I’m not qualified to debate …

    Comment by Quentin Rolloson III — May 24, 2012 @ 2:35 pm

  24. CF: How precisely would one go about consuming the product of government capital expenditure without paying taxes?

    Isn’t that the mechanism so we aren’t reliant on voluntary contributions to get stuff that we like / need / might take advantage of but in isolation, would find it practically impossible to procure (university degrees, electricity supply, territorial sovereignty, liver transplants etc.)?

    It’s not really an either / equation unless you are incredibly fucking rich, is it?

    Comment by Gregor W — May 24, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

  25. “either / or equation”

    Comment by Gregor W — May 24, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

  26. @Simon Poole.

    As my wife and I both work, and have progressed far enough through our careers to be the bottom levels of management, together we earn enough not to get WFF or any of the other assistance from the government – so are actual net tax payers – we don’t struggle, but have an average house in an average suburb, and funnily enough the average 2 children (although we plan to have two more) – but we pay our way and we can afford the extra children, so choose to do so. Yet it is us are who will be paying all these extra taxes you are suggesting – the really rich (and there aren’t that many in NZ anyway) can move things around and I imagine they pay less taxes than we do, and probably you as well. By the time we’ve paid PAYE, GST, rates, etc, it is pretty much half of our income gone – and I object to the government taking more than half of what I earn – that is enough – particularly since I see there is a lot the government is doing that is either of very low value or goes as far as being actually counter productive.

    So what you are saying is you want to take even more money off my family in taxes, just to pay for what you think are nice to haves? Well, bugger off. As someone else so nicely said – I doubt you over pay on your taxes – so unless you are happy to reach into your own pocket, don’t tell the government you are happy for them to reach in to mine.

    Comment by Stephen — May 24, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

  27. … and while we continue to lose money each day we make a negative investment in the country so the question becomes do we borrow more to make a bigger negative investment in the country every day in the hope that our borrowed funds return a greater number, or do we chose to change this.

    Comment by Quentin Rolloson III — May 24, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

  28. Forecasts are out. Treasury projects a precarious 0.1% surplus in 2015, figuring average growth of around 3% over the next three years. More than that and Key will like his chances for a third term; less than that and the Nats will need to do some serious fudging in the 2014 budget.

    Comment by bradluen — May 24, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

  29. Well, I guess the closer that any Treasury predictions are to neutral in any given metric, the less likely they are to be accused of (a) irrational exuberance and (b) being a bit shit at estimation.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 24, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

  30. The only thing in the forecasts that seems totally out of whack to me is (again) unemployment, predicted to fall to 5.7% in March 2013 — on 2.6% annual growth, which I can’t see being enough to create the projected 33k extra jobs.

    Comment by bradluen — May 24, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  31. “…but if you’re a nation-state with a robust economy then being in debt really doesn’t matter very much.”

    Tell that to the Greeks. Their economy was reasonably robust until their debt caught up with them.

    Comment by Gosman — May 24, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

  32. @Stephen: But do you not agree that the tax cut that you received came at the expense of others? It was not fiscally neutral, but even if it was it was still moving the tax burden from a progressive scheme to a regressive scheme. I, too, am similarly well-off (helped by the fact that we have no kids as yet) but I certainly recognise that my wife and I don’t need WFF, and I’d be quite happy if the tax cut that I received were to be reversed.

    It is completely silly to suggest that because I don’t give that money to the government now, that I wouldn’t be happy to do so should the government change the tax rate back to what it was.

    I do agree with you regarding the super-wealthy. It is well known that the upper-middle class (i.e. professionals on salary) pay the lions share of the tax as a percentage of income. We should be looking, therefore, at balancing this out, no? It’s a good thing that some of the tax loopholes have been tightened in this years budget in this regard, but really they’re just scratching the surface, right? After all, how can the super-wealthy increase their wealth without income? Where there is income, it can be taxed. It is just a matter of ensuring that it does get taxed.

    You probably shouldn’t be too proud of the “net tax payer” thing though – by doing so you ignore all the spending in health, roading, education and so on that benefit from. You just happen to not take as much as others less fortunate than yourself (and probably some more fortunate as well!)

    Comment by leftyliberal — May 24, 2012 @ 4:27 pm

  33. But do you not agree that the tax cut that you received came at the expense of others?

    not necassarily, most of the income tax cuts where compensated for by the increase in GST. It was a move towards more consumption tax and less income tax.

    And GST is something the wealthy cannot avoid.

    Comment by NeilM — May 24, 2012 @ 4:33 pm

  34. @NeilM: I agree with your basic premise on non-avoidance of domestic spending by the wealthy.

    However, the wealthy spend a small proportion of their income, thus increasing GST does not tend to be particularly burdensome on them either way. Those that cannot avoid it at all, and to whom it makes a huge difference are those on low incomes. They spend all of what they earn, yet received no tax cut.

    Thus, low income workers are now paying more tax than they were before these “fiscally neutral” changes.

    Comment by leftyliberal — May 24, 2012 @ 4:56 pm

  35. And GST is something the wealthy cannot avoid.

    Actually NeilM, as a representative of the rich, I can confirm that have not paid any GST on extensive and regular duty free purchases of Jaeger-LeCoultre timepieces, Fuente Don Arturo AnniverXario cigars and Verdi handbags.

    It does however truly shit me, that the government wants 15% of every $500 fish dinner I pay for at Martin Bosley’s.

    Bloodsucking fucks.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 24, 2012 @ 4:59 pm

  36. Gregor dot com is in da house

    Comment by Quentin Rolloson III — May 24, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

  37. Gregor W @ 24 asks “CF: How precisely would one go about consuming the product of government capital expenditure without paying taxes?”
    Who said anything about govt capital expenditure? Or not paying taxes?
    My point is: if you or anyone else wants more stuff than is already being supplied by govt, you use your own money. Want to see more spent on social housing? Buy an investment property and find a worthy tenant. Want more support for the arts? Dip your hand into your pocket and donate to theatre groups/buy some art from a budding NZ artist. Want to see a rugby world cup hosted in NZ (yep, I’m still unhappy about taxpayer money being used for that)? Sponsor it. Want even better childcare for your child? Pay for it yourself. Want superfast porn in your home (ditto as for RWC)? Pay for it yourself.

    Quentin Rolloson III say “and while we continue to lose money each day we make a negative investment” liar: this govt is building roads, fibre and maybe even a (tainted) convention centre. So, much of the borrowing is for wonderful stuff like 1000 officers to swoop on dotcoms, round up entire towns because some idiots are playing with guns in the bush, send dignitaries here and there around the world for no return on investment, give the solo mum who lives next door to me even more money as she has just given birth to another child to the father of her first child.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — May 24, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

  38. Yessssh CF.

    Comment by Quentin Rolloson III — May 24, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

  39. While I certainly wouldn’t hold up Britain as role models, they’ve run a deficit since 2002 (and for most of the last century) without raising doubts about their solvency. Helps a lot to be able to print your own money, preferably for a floating currency: then it’s hard to get into nation-threatening risk unless your government and institutions are as dysfunctional as the USA’s.

    Comment by bradluen — May 24, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

  40. CF: “this govt is building holiday highways with a poor BCR that have escaped scrutiny by Treasury”

    Fixed.

    Comment by deepred — May 24, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

  41. Helps a lot to be able to print your own money, preferably for a floating currency: then it’s hard to get into nation-threatening risk

    Technically, if you issue debt in (and can print) your own currency, it’s impossible to default, even though you only hear the exact opposite in the media (e.g. the ridiculous “if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling the US will default” stories from last year).

    That the media narrative favours National might be just a side effect of it making no sense at all.

    Comment by gazzaj — May 24, 2012 @ 11:09 pm

  42. Bill continues to feed National’s hungry monsters with the poor and vulnerable:
    http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2012/05/englishs-little-budget-of-horrors.html

    Comment by Dave Kennedy — May 25, 2012 @ 1:44 am

  43. @ Simon:

    “It is completely silly to suggest that because I don’t give that money to the government now, that I wouldn’t be happy to do so should the government change the tax rate back to what it was.”

    So do you? Pay more that is? You’d say you’d be happy for the tax cuts to be reversed, so show some initiate and give it back now. No one is stopping you. But don’t suggest the government stick their hand back in our pocket. We pay pretty much half of everything we earn to the government already – and to us that is enough.

    The tax cuts didn’t come at anyone’s ‘expense’, the government just took a little less money off the people they already take a disproportionate amount from. And now I pay more GST, just like 99% of NZ – there would be very few people in NZ that earn enough to avoid spending most of their income on things that attract GST – and you’ll never be able to set up a tax regime that captures that income – not without destroying the businesses and assets that generate that wealth in the first place.

    I am proud of our net tax payer status – means we take responsibility for ourselves – give our family more of our money and we’ll be happy to pay for all of those things ourselves as well – my wife’s Russian and she’s used to a government that provides nothing, and sees no problem with that. Personal integrity and self-reliance has declined to a greater degree in NZ to the point where most expect someone else (read government – local or national) to fix it – or at the very least pay to fix it.

    Comment by Stephen — May 25, 2012 @ 8:19 am

  44. The central problem is that, after thirty years of neo-liberalism, our economy is now not so much characterised by virtuous circles as being in a permanent Mexican stand off. For one example, look at the over valued exchange rate. The government is petrified of doing anything about it. They’ll say that is because they are committed to the purity of the free market and a free floating exchange, and true believers like Bill English may actually be sincere. But more importantly, it is because we’ve allowed an over valued exchange rate and unfettered access to our internal market to completely destroy manufacturing and import substitution industries. Therefore lowering the exchange rate by whatever mechanism will trigger price rises in all the low cost Chinese manufactured consumer opiates that keep the masses in their low paid jobs quiet – cheap imported consumer goods are literally the bread at our Roman circus. yet our trade deficit shows we can’t really afford as a country the flood of cheap TVs and white ware from China. The stupid reserve bank act does not discriminate between imported inflation and anything else, so rising prices for imports will also trigger the RBNZ to immediately hike interest rates, a disaster for our mortgaged up to the eyeballs middle class – a group also addicted to cheap (because of a high exchange rate) package holidays in Bali, Phuket or Fiji. So no government will drive down the exchange rate, because in our newly minted unequal society it ill simply rob the bread from the poor and the circuses from the rich.

    Yet lowering the exchange rate would add value to our exports, reduce our trade deficit, and possibly even allow for import substitution and more domestic manufacturing – both of which have well paying jobs for New Zealanders. And well paying jobs will of course (eventually) reduce private debt.

    Or look at housing. One of the main causes of private debt is the mortgage burden caused by our wild speculation on property. Surely the best way to send a signal to the public that looking for decadent speculative or rentier incomes is a burden the economy can no longer afford would be for the government to simply build tens of thousands of houses and apartments then sell them off at or below cost with guaranteed government mortgages set at 3% or less. Not only would this stimulate the economy, but it knock the bottom out of the over priced market. But no government would do that, because the baby boomers and the middle class would riot if they suddenly found themselves with negative equity and (if the government moved on the exchange rate causing inflation) rising interest rates.

    So we’ve managed to completely snooker ourselves. Do the right thing, and the house of cards we’ve built our current economy out of will come crushing down.

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 25, 2012 @ 8:41 am

  45. The right thing is NOT to cause a massive collapse of an asset class thus thrusting the entire country into depression for decades. Whatever in your head makes you think that that would ever be a rational course of action I don’t know. On the other hand if we constructed a score card of your speech based on the gamut of catchy revolutionary phrases used you’d score quite well in the ‘Marxist Monthly’ Prole of the Month competition. My personal favorite is your ‘opiate of the masses’ reference. Oh and the dual gaming reference at the end is a sly dig at the capitalist running dogs giving Sky City extra fruit machine concessions isn’t it.

    Comment by Quentin Rolloson III — May 25, 2012 @ 9:07 am

  46. @CF

    Who said anything about govt capital expenditure? Or not paying taxes?

    Maybe I misconstrued your comments, but it seemed to me that you are lumping state ‘borrowing’ together under the banner of consumption, inferring (I assumed) that government spending is all some form of social-engineering lolly scramble.

    My point is: if you or anyone else wants more stuff than is already being supplied by govt, you use your own money.

    Isn’t that what pretty much everyone does already?
    I don’t know about you but I don’t know any people who sit on wads of net income waiting for the State to provide more services. Certainly, my wife is easily capable of spending any surplus that isn’t hoovered up by the bank.

    If you’re basically saying you don’t like the government spending money on some things you personally don’t approve of, that’s fine, but it’s not a particularly unique or useful position to take though given that I suspect every other human feels the same way to some degree.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 25, 2012 @ 9:43 am

  47. @Sanctuary – So you’re saying that with an overvalued currency we get cheap holidays, and we enjoy the use of luxury products without having to actually make them.. but if we devalue the currency we get to work in factories?

    Comment by gazzaj — May 25, 2012 @ 9:44 am

  48. Stephen, you’re quoting leftyliberal and attributing it to me. Just thought I’d let you know.

    And my original position was this:

    IF: The govt is determined to get back into surplus
    THEN: There are two ways to do this (but everyone is only talking about one of them)
    AND: If a surplus is *that* important, then all options should be on board.

    Comment by Simon Poole — May 25, 2012 @ 9:53 am

  49. @gazza – and by gum you’ll enjoy them factories boy or else.

    Comment by Quentin Rolloson III — May 25, 2012 @ 10:06 am

  50. And, finally:

    Stephen @43 “The tax cuts didn’t come at anyone’s ‘expense’,”

    They came at the expense of the Governments books. Spending was not cut in correlation with the tax cuts, meaning the deficit has grown. As you were so quick to point out, that means a burden on future taxpayers. Or, to put it simply the tax cuts came at the expense of your children.

    Comment by Simon Poole — May 25, 2012 @ 10:20 am

  51. Bill English won’t be turning a surplus while he is Finance Minister.

    In the mean you Lefties can sit back with your chips and dip and see what happens when the German Ant tells the Greek Grasshopper where to get off.

    Comment by OECD rank 22 kiwi — May 25, 2012 @ 10:56 am

  52. Gregor W @ 24 “Isn’t that the mechanism so we aren’t reliant on voluntary contributions to get stuff that we like / need / might take advantage of but in isolation, would find it practically impossible to procure (university degrees, electricity supply, territorial sovereignty, liver transplants etc.)?”

    I find it totally impossible to procure cars, food and X Box, yet the govt doesn’t produce those paid for out of taxes. (And electricty is not paid for out of taxes: we buy it on a ‘user pays” basis and there are private providers. Govt involvement is an accident of history in some countries.) But I agree with you re territorrial authority/defence, that’s what govt ARE for. And if (like me) you can’t afford works of art, start an art buying club. Plenty of folk I know have joined/started these. Some of them even managed to fluke some financial gain out of it (well: they would have if they’d SOLD the art).

    I’m not sure what your “either / or” is about?

    Comment by Clunking Fist — May 25, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

  53. Leftieliberal @ 32: I agree with your point about a shift from prog taxes to regress taxes, it shits on the poor. You say “but I certainly recognise that my wife and I don’t need WFF, and I’d be quite happy if the tax cut that I received were to be reversed.” Why don’t you VOLUNTEER your tax cut back to the govt? There are folk out there on the same income as you, but with different circumstances (caring for an infirm elder, lost money in finance company, suffered a loss in an earthquake, etc) who welcomed the tax cut because they need the extra cash. You could simply give your tax cut to the local foodbank.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — May 25, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

  54. Badluen @ 39 says “While I certainly wouldn’t hold up Britain as role models, they’ve run a deficit since 2002 (and for most of the last century) without raising doubts about their solvency.”
    We obviously read different news and comment websites, I read a lot of concern about GB’s deficits. The concern with GB and NZ isn’t so much about the level of govt debt as a percentage of GDP, but the TREND. Thus far, Bill English has managed to convince everyone that our projection is downwards. But he may be wrong.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — May 25, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  55. Gregor W @ 46 “but it seemed to me that you are lumping state ‘borrowing’ together under the banner of consumption,”

    No: borrowing and taxes (incl rates) is where the state’s money COMES FROM, consumption and investment is where it GOES. Consumption is hospitals, education, police, army, RWC, benefits (incl NatSuper), art galleries, former MP travel allowances, the courts, ECE subsidies, rail subsidies. The govt is involved in precious little investment from what I can see: roads (yes deepred @ 40, some of them are shit roads) and fibre optic. (I assume I’ve missed some). remeber, all politicians announce new spending as “investment”, but that doesn’t mean it IS investment. I tried to explain to my wife how I INVESTED $1300 in a super widescreen tv, but she wasn’t having it.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — May 25, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

  56. Surely it would make more sense for the Government to cut a tax that applies to everyone and is charged to them every day, such as GST. I reckon if GST was changed back to 12.5% from its current 15%, then the Government would actually take in more revenue from GST because more people would spend. The figures wouldn’t actually change that much, even though the Government, by putting GST up in the first place, did so because they wanted voters to think it would bring in heaps more money, it doesn’t actually make that much of a difference, especially because we are in a recession and people are tightening up. To get people to untighten, and to boost the Government’s finances, the best way to do that is to target GST and reduce it to 12.5% or 10%. The Government won’t change it to 10% instantly but they should say, “okay, we’ll put it down to 12.5% for 18 months and bring in a Lotteries Taxation as insurance so that if this GST reduction doesn’t work and make people spend more, than at least we’ve got the Lotteries taxation to fall back on”, and then after 18 months, reduce it from 12.5% to 10%.

    In terms of yesterday’s budget, I thought it was the most stupid budget ever. The police budget is $300million to $400million worse off; students, who are studying so that they can contribute the most and the best they can to this country; and long-term beneficiaries, who work three or more months in a year without any Government assistance, have not been provided any tax incentives. The tax loopholes that apply to baches, luxury cars and aircraft will bring in bugger all tax revenue and ignores the fact that there are still many other loopholes out there for the rich and, also, the fact that there is a growing class gap in this country shows that the Government should have targeted the rich more, by increasing the top rate of company tax from 28% to 30% (I know people will say that doing that will create more unemployment but that is not the case because ACC levies for employers are considerably lower now).

    I think that the $511.9million boost to education wasn’t nearly good enough at all, because classroom sizes will increase from year 2 – 10 to 27.5 students per class, putting a strain on teachers, expecially those teaching year 2 students. Similar with healthcare, the revenue boost to that sector also wasn’t good enough.

    We are expecting to have more cuts to jobs in the public sector, which compromises our ability to communicate effectively with other countries such as the Scandinavian countries.

    I thought the plan to target cigarettes by putting a 10% tax increase every year for the next four years was good. It won’t see any stockpiling because the increases are happening gradually. And I thought the $326million increase to Science and Innovation was good because at the moment we are still lagging behind in the OECD. But apart from that, it was pure unadulterated crap and the Government didn’t even bother to increase the tax on alcohol, which is a huge issue from my standpoint. While other may be calling this the “zero budget”, I have decided to refer to it as the “useless budget”.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — May 25, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

  57. @Quentin Rolloson III @ 9.07am

    I think we can take your emotional aneurysm at as proof positive of the sort of pervasive entitlement culture of our baby boomer middle class that makes the actual provision of affordable housing a no-go area for New Zealand governments. What makes you think you are sospecial that the fate doled out to the freezing workers and factory workers of this country cannot, ever, be visited upon you? Your sneering and dismissive reaction is entirely typical of a class that has stood by and at best did nothing and at worst actively participated in the driving down of wages and conditions and opportunites for everyone else yet explodes in fury when its own privileges are threatened in the slightest way. I suppose if you want a Marxist analysis, you’ve managed to tick the class war box in full, red felt tip. As far you are concerned, you are on top and no one is going to take away your right to rentier incomes and engage in land speculation.

    And as for your inventive analysis of your pompously described “dual gaming reference” (WTF dude?), I just say you shouldn’t try so hard to be that clever old chum. Your attempts at analysis remind me of Samuel Johnson’s quote – it is “..like a dog walking on its hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all”.

    @ Gazza j – what I am saying is we are presiding over the destruction of our value-added productive sector, but in a way that means it is going to take us long time to realise its full implications. We have effectively sacrificed the high paying manufacturing jobs that used to exist in this country in order to keep inflation under control via an over-valued exchange rate. Simultaneously, the low wage service sector driven economy that decision created means low and median wage workers here have come to rely on cheap imports (and debt) to fund their lifestyles. Meanwhile, those at the top – the winners from neo-liberalism – or those with heavy mortgages will not tolerate the decline in their standard of living implicit in rising interest rates or a declining exchange rate. Basically, governments now have electoral pressure from both the top and the bottom to sacrifice the productive economy in favour of consumption, which is why I describe the economy as stuck in a Mexican stand off.

    When people say “we are living beyond our means” I don’t think they have in mind an economy in a country which can’t afford unrestricted imports of consumption goods and therefore where they’ll need a licence to take more than a few thousand out of the country on holiday or need signed permission to import a new car; But that is the sort of cold turkey for our consumption addicted society needs (along with gear-shifting away from retail to export orientated jobs earning foreign exchange) and is probably the sort of REAL austerity that is required to restore our productive sectors and economic performance.

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 25, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

  58. @ CF

    Truly prolific, Sir!

    52: I’m not sure what your “either / or” is about?

    I mean that without government spending on our behalf, we don’t tend to get easy access to stuff like of reliable power, liver transplants etc.
    The only reason a level(ish) playing field exist in terms of access is due to state intervention.

    This might be historical ‘accident’ but it’s a practical reality, particularly when there are few viable substitutes (power, liver transplants) for a given service unlike say, buying a car vs catching the bus or playing monopoly vs XBox.

    55: Consumption is hospitals, education, police, army, RWC, benefits (incl NatSuper), art galleries, former MP travel allowances, the courts, ECE subsidies, rail subsidies.

    This list is a bit mixed. Government consumption might be the production of the service (i.e. operational cost of supply, being the introduction of people and materials) of a hospital / universities / police station but the is absolutely an implied capital investment in setting these institutions up. This is an investment – capital and social.

    The govt is involved in precious little investment from what I can see: roads (yes deepred @ 40, some of them are shit roads) and fibre optic.(I assume I’ve missed some)

    A few. Power production facilities, power transmission / distribution, regional airports, seaports, hospitals, universities, schools, communication infrastructure (Kordia) etc. etc.

    Admittedly not all of these are funded at the local government level but it all comes out of taxes (rates)

    Comment by Gregor W — May 25, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

  59. one of the (intended) consequences of shifting tax from income to GST was that people would be encouraged to save more and spend less. Which did happen to some extent. So the GST take goes down, but savings are up.

    it’s a bit like a cat chasing its tail. the best solution is to grow a longer tail.

    Comment by NeilM — May 25, 2012 @ 2:05 pm

  60. My dear Sanctuary you’re a touchy fella.
    (Comment by Sanctuary — May 25, 2012 @ 1:47 pm)

    “I think we can take your emotional aneurysm at as proof positive of … some endless wittering designed to make it sound like I’m mentally touched &oppress the proles
    No we can’t because I don’t have a mental illness and don’t exploit the proles. Although extra points for using mental illness in such a callous fashion.

    “And as for your inventive analysis That was a humorous reference to your snooker and cards comment not analysis of your pompously humorous, you know har har described “dual gaming reference” (WTF dude?)oh I give up, I just say you shouldn’t try so hard to be that clever old chum. Your attempts at analysis remind me of Samuel Johnson’s quote – it is “..like a dog walking on its hind legs. It is not done well, but you are surprised to find it done at all”..Again a nice witter this time attempting to raise yourself educationally above the coarse ‘capitalist’
    Oh yes a humorous and timely aside becomes pompous and animal like in its accidental accuracy. Of course the other option is that you left some low hanging fruit that was just begging to plucked. Don’t be too upset it happens to he best of us.

    Comment by Quentin Rolloson III — May 25, 2012 @ 2:23 pm

  61. OK, so who told Jim Hopkins about the Dimpost??? Come on, fess up!

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 25, 2012 @ 3:08 pm

  62. It’s a little curious that some who are against cuts in govt spending are at the same time advocating raising the retirement age to 67. What’s that if not a cut in govt spending and such a major cut to the social welfare sysytem surely if anything is going to get called austere that should.

    The arguement is we can’t afford it. Which is the same arguement for all the other cuts.

    Comment by NeilM — May 25, 2012 @ 6:26 pm

  63. i swear the spelling gets mauled after i push post.

    Comment by NeilM — May 25, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

  64. Despite the fact that education is one of our highest performing sectors it continues to be attacked by this National Government. They must really hate teachers!
    http://localbodies-bsprout.blogspot.co.nz/2012/05/national-kneecaps-quality-public.html

    Comment by Dave Kennedy — May 26, 2012 @ 2:01 am

  65. “I mean that without government spending on our behalf, we don’t tend to get easy access to stuff like of reliable power, liver transplants etc.”

    Nah: more historical accidents: reliable power is easier to build than a reliable car, so the private sector could (and does) do it. There is no reason for the govt to be involved beyond regulation. Liver transplants: if you have a pribvate medical service plus medical insurance, then you could have a transplant. For reasons of perceived fairness, we as a country decided to pay doctors less than the market rate, so that ordinary folk could have access to healthcare, paid for by taxpayers.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — May 26, 2012 @ 11:56 am

  66. The more I look the more it looks to me that National and Labour are actually offering much the same medicine – increase tax and cut costs. Although both are looking to shift taxes around it bit aswell but in different ways.

    National are looking to reduce the cost of retirement by making those with assets pay more for rest home care. Which only effects those who are relatively well off.

    Labour would cut the cost of retirement by raising the age of superanuation eligibility, which would effect everyone including the less well off, as well as raising equity issues around lfie expectancy but would save more money than National’s approach.

    Comment by NeilM — May 26, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

  67. Finally a concise counter article to the absolute Jackanory I see printed in the Corporate propaganda sheets every week now
    . Haven’t met anyone yet who overwhelmingly thinks surplus at the cost of increasing our impoverished numbers, unemployed and mass exodus will result in anything less than chaos and societal distress, will be worth it! I assume English’s favourite country Greece must be exactly what it is all intended to achieve, as well as more people in private prisons/ poorhouses or whoring outside the Pokie funded convention centres before some of these politicians bugger off to gated communities,or Wall St…

    Comment by Jacquelyne Taylor — May 27, 2012 @ 6:43 pm

  68. Neil M

    I agree with your observations. Both parties are looking at superannuation as an issue and are putting measures in place to change the current structure. The fact is, however, that National’s measures (increasing the cost of rest home care for the relatively well-off) aren’t nearly enough to be sustainable. Sustainability involves increasing the age of superannuation to 67 years as soon as possible, or in ten years this country will have to default because we spent too much of our money on people, who for the most part at that time, will be cemetary residents.

    In terms of “equity issues around life expectancy”, I don’t think raising the age of superannuation should, from a logical perspective, raise too much of a protest because, even though people of Maori descent, for example, typically live less longer than those of European descent, the New Zealand Government has never treated Maori in such a way as to expect that it would be reasonable for provision to be made for a lower age of superannuation entitlement specifically for Maori. For example, we do not have segregation in this country; no race is expected to work as slaves, putting their health at risk and therefore justifying a lower age of entitlement for a specific race; so, it is not the responsibility of the Government, no matter how high they may rise the age of superannuation, to make any special provisions for a particular race.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — May 29, 2012 @ 10:35 am

  69. it is not the responsibility of the Government, no matter how high they may rise the age of superannuation, to make any special provisions for a particular race.

    it would be extremely hard to do but I think it’s an equity issue that should at least be acknowledged. Apart from Labour not even doing that I’m surprised there isn’t more grumbing that it’s an admission that they will not be able to grow the economy to the level where we could afford a social welfare system we once considered a birth right.

    Comment by NeilM — May 29, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

  70. Well, we’ve never considered it a birth right for different races to have different ages at which they can obtain superannuation. Why do you think that it’s an equity issue that should at least be acknowledged? Not to steal a line from the PM, but isn’t it more to do with lifestyle issues that causes a disproportionate number of Maori people to die before they reach retirement?

    Comment by Daniel Lang — May 30, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

  71. As a country we should stop thinking that Maori are disadvantaged and focus more on issues such as superannuation and education reform. We currently have public health and education systems. A generous social welfare system. Sufficient rehabilitation programs for prison inmates. An adequately funded mental health system. Race based scholarships and treaty settlements awarded to Maori. Do people of Maori heritage have a genuine need for the age of superannuation to be reduced solely for them? No, they don’t.

    The key to superannuation is to reduce it to 60 years for everyone, but you will only receive $200 per week from 60 – 64 years and you will have the option of earning up to an additional $200 per week (net) without your superannuation payments being affected. At 65 you will receive superannuation payments of $400 per week if you ares single; $550 for couples.

    There need be no exceptions to this based on race or occupation, and it will have the positive effect of freeing up jobs for younger people. To help pay for superannuation we need to implement a comprehensive Estate Taxation at the flat rate of 20% and a Lotteries and Gambling Taxation at the flat rate of 25%

    Comment by Daniel Lang — May 31, 2012 @ 11:16 am

  72. “…A generous social welfare system…”

    I think we can start disposing of this myth. We once had a comprehensive system of social security; three decades of neo-liberalism has wittled it down to patchy and mean spirited social welfare. A friend of my, a real life corporate banker in Zurich, just got made redundant. She is happy enough – her values have changed over the years and she was ready to set up her own business. To help her do this, the Swiss government will pay her 80% of her previous salary (remember, she is a corporate banker with matching income well into six figures) as a form of the dole for two years while she gets her business up and running.

    THAT is a “generous” bit social welfare, not the nickel and diming we have here.

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 31, 2012 @ 11:28 am

  73. I would say that we do have a generous social welfare system. No time limits on how long you can stay on a benefit. No cap on the number of children the Government will support you to bring up (the monetary amount does decrease, but, still, ther’s no cap there). Training programmes for the unemployed and confidence courses and military camps, etc. The only thing missing is tax incentives for long term beneficiaries who work fulltime without Government assistance for three of more months in the space of one year.

    This scheme in Switzerland is not only generous, it is excessive and has little or nothing to do with reality. I suspect it will be abolished in time, castigated as being another relic of the wealthy old past in another old nostalgic European country.

    Comment by Daniel Lang — May 31, 2012 @ 11:38 am

  74. THAT is a “generous” bit social welfare, not the nickel and diming we have here.

    France similarly. Hollande is axing Sarkozy’s attempt to raise the retirement age – to 62!!. It will now stay at 60.

    But that’s because they’re both richer countries. here we’re caught arguing if we should cut spending on children or old people and everyone wants the axe to fall well away from themselves and their interests.

    Comment by NeilM — May 31, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

  75. Sanc, do you really really in your heart of hearts believe that social welfare here is that mean spirited or that the Swiss system is sustainable? Really?

    Comment by merv — May 31, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

  76. Given that the Swiss Government presently is issuing debt at a NEGATIVE interest rate (i.e. investors are PAYING IT to take their money), their economic situation (complete with generous welfare system) can’t be all that terminal: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/markets/swiss-government-issues-debt-at-negative-interest-rate-as-investors-seek-safety-of-franc/2012/05/29/gJQAPL8DzU_story.html

    And its deficit/debt position doesn’t look too bad either: http://www.gecodia.com/Switzerland-Public-Deficit–Switzerland-Government-Gross-Debt-Switzerland_a1892.html

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 31, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

  77. I have another female friend who recently left her job to become a fulltime self-employed person and she is really struggling, for all the usual New Zealand reasons – little capital when started out, not much cash flow, no real knowledge of how to make the leap from full time paid employment with monstrous part time self-employment to full on self-employed. The Swiss scheme would be an immense help to my friend. As it is, after a year she is currently thinking of tossing it all in and going to work as a legal secretary. The Swiss have extensive business mentoring and, I would hazard to guess, some strict oversights of this scheme. To my mind, the Swiss scheme targets the most difficult time of all, the learning curve with poor cash-flow and the initial struggle to build business to a viable level in the first couple of years after setting up.

    “…This scheme in Switzerland is not only generous, it is excessive and has little or nothing to do with reality. I suspect it will be abolished in time, castigated as being another relic of the wealthy old past in another old nostalgic European country…”

    Switzerland’s economy has low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP among the highest in the world. Growth is not strong, but neither are they in recession. The Swiss are not noted for being a bunch of sprindthrifts wasting taxpayers money on over-generous compo schemes. I would suggest they’ve done the numbers and discovered that this sort of generous, targeted welfare assistance reaps mega rewards in down stream tax take and employment.

    Comment by Sanctuary — May 31, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

  78. I wonder how much of the lower life-expectancy for Maori is related to being poorer or in hard manual occupations. Allowing earlier retirement for people in hard manual occupations would be a lot more acceptable than early retirement on the basis of race.

    Comment by kahikatea — May 31, 2012 @ 1:12 pm

  79. Andrew – neg int. – that’s ’cause the CHF is a safe haven in a crisis not an indication their economy is all roses. Granted they aren’t complete basket cases like the rest of Europe but UBS going tits up would probably tip them into the basket.

    Sanc – the problem NZ has is that the cash NZ reaped during the post WW2 commodity boom was pissed up against the wall by various spendthrift schemes including an unsustainable social welfare system and Muldoon.

    Comment by merv — May 31, 2012 @ 1:21 pm

  80. merv,

    Sure – because Switzerland looks so safe compared to the rest of the world, they can profit from the disorder around them (effectively make money from borrowing). Meaning that even if they had to get money form elsewhere to cover a revenue deficit to keep their social programmes intact (which they don’t – they are in surplus), they’d still come out to the good.

    So exactly what in your heart of hearts tells you that the Swiss system is not sustainable, in light of present evidence? Or is just a faith-based assumption that such welfare programmes can’t continue … because they just can’t, dammit!

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 31, 2012 @ 1:27 pm

  81. “I wonder how much of the lower life-expectancy for Maori is related to being poorer or in hard manual occupations.”

    And both of these factors also may be linked to higher smoking rates (by way of lower levels of education) … so do we let smokers retire earlier, too (given that they’ve paid so much extra tax during their life, and can expect so much less by way of pension payments).

    Anyone’s head starting to hurt?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 31, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

  82. Andrew – It (the Swiss welfare system) may be sustainable you never know but the chances of that being the case given the unsustainability of most western welfare economies in the face of the sliver-wave of retiring boomers it’s unlikely.

    Comment by merv — May 31, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

  83. “do we let smokers retire earlier,”

    When you say retire do you mean process them into solyent green?

    Comment by merv — May 31, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

  84. merv – on looking at this a bit more (http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/6142898/swiss-welfare-runs-like-clockwork.thtml), it seems the Swiss welfare model actually isn’t very like “most western welfare economies”. Enough there for both the left and right to get excited about, methinks.

    And perhaps solyent green could come in two flavours – regular and smoked?

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — May 31, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

  85. Andrew – yes perhaps I was guilty of a wee bit of generalisation however you get my gist I take it. For the life of me I can’t see NZ managing welfare and health with such efficiency, we’d kill it with dare I say it whanau ora-esque special interest group exceptions.

    Green jerky you say?!

    Comment by merv — May 31, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

  86. Other studies suggest the Swiss system may not be sustainable no matter how efficient it is.

    http://www.soi.uzh.ch/research/wp/2010/wp1003.pdf

    http://www.sgi-network.org/pdf/SGI11_Switzerland.pdf

    Comment by merv — May 31, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

  87. For the life of me I can’t see NZ managing welfare and health with such efficiency, we’d kill it with dare I say it whanau ora-esque special interest group exceptions.

    Nope – we’d kill it with a combination of ideologically driven ministerial bungling, bureaucratic indifference and central government’s visceral loathing of devolving any responsibility (and hence, associated tax dollars) to a local level.

    Comment by Gregor W — May 31, 2012 @ 3:34 pm

  88. Let’s compromise and say a combination of all of the above.

    Comment by merv — May 31, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

  89. “I would say that we do have a generous social welfare system. No time limits on how long you can stay on a benefit. No cap on the number of children the Government will support you to bring up (the monetary amount does decrease, but, still, ther’s no cap there). Training programmes for the unemployed and confidence courses and military camps, etc.”

    Personally I wouldn’t consider being sent to a military camp a perk.

    It’s certainly a generous system using the goalposts you’ve set, but given that you seem to believe cutting off benefits and rationing kids to be a baseline, I think almost every existing welfare program would count as “generous”. In relation to peoples’ needs, as opposed to some preconception-informed concept of what constitutes fairness, it’s not especially generous and hasn’t been since 1991.

    Comment by Hugh — May 31, 2012 @ 7:10 pm

  90. …we’d kill it with dare I say it whanau ora-esque special interest group exceptions.</i?

    I'd like to put in a bit of a plug for whanua-ora.

    As much as I disagree with Tariana's romanticisation of families, the concept of devolving responsibilty and resouces to communities is not such a bad idea.

    It is a never ending juggling match, how much the govt should intervene to stop communties (familes in reality) doing damage to themselves, but some times it's only at the community level positive decisions can be made.

    Comment by NeklN — May 31, 2012 @ 9:51 pm

  91. How the swiss system works:
    “Officials from this ultra-small [comune] local government will come and investigate your individual circumstances. The father will be expected to pay. The mother’s family, if it is in a position to, will be expected to house and pay for her. As a last resort, the young mother will be given assistance by the commune. But the people who pay the local commune taxes will be paying part of the cost. You can imagine that they will not be thrilled at paying for a birth or separation that need never have taken place. Putting yourself in the position of the mother — and perhaps the father — you can imagine that you will be embarrassed as you pass people in the street who are paying for your baby. Instead of feeling you have impersonal legal rights, as in Britain, you are taking money from people you might meet at your local café. No wonder unmarried parenting is less common.”

    Yep, lets have more of this system, I say!

    Comment by Clunking Fist — June 1, 2012 @ 1:13 pm


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