WOF changes

May 26th, 2012 at 11:43 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government could scrap the need for a Warrant of Fitness on new cars under changes to the vehicle licensing regime.

New cars would first be checked two years after being sold, followed by inspections at four and six years. Thereafter, they would need a yearly Warrant of Fitness. The current six-monthly WoF on cars over six years old could be moved out to 12 months.

The changes are part of government proposals to lower the annual compliance costs of the WoF, vehicle registrations and the certificate of fitness and transport services licensing systems.

This seems pretty sensible for me. The timing of WOF checks should be based on the probability of there having been faults develop during that period which make the car less safe to drive. I don’t know what the data is, but this should be an evidence based decsion.

Opponents say changes would put people out of work, affecting Vehicle Inspection NZ, Vehicle Testing NZ stations and small garages.

“The neighbourhood corner garage relies on six-monthly WoFs for its bread and butter,” said one man. “Switching to a year on older cars and two years on new ones would force many of the smaller garages to close.”

Sigh. Arguments like this depress me. This is effectively arguing that the reason we require WOF checks, is to create jobs in garages. Well why stop there, let’s require monthly checks and that will be a huge boost for jobs in garages.

Sustainable jobs are those based on their being a legitimate demand for the associated services or goods.

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48 Responses to “WOF changes”

  1. peterwn (3,211 comments) says:

    Some Australian states have abolished registration stickers and NSW is about to. Seems NZ could follow suit and abolish registration and WOF stickers.
    There is a funny rule that you cannot re-register a car unless you have a current WOF, but yet you are obliged to either re-register or de-register – if you do neither, registration fees remain due. Now that WOF and registration are databased and available to the police there seems no need for this rule.

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  2. Dave Stringer (186 comments) says:

    Sustainable jobs are those based on their being a legitimate demand for the associated services or goods

    So very true

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  3. adze (2,000 comments) says:

    For new cars you could probably move the first inspection out to 2 years. Cars are much safer and more reliable these days. Even my dear old 1993 Toyota is as reliable as ever even though it’s starting to cost me a bit more every 6 months (even the little things are expensive to replace). And vehicle licensing is very costly.

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  4. edd (157 comments) says:

    Good point. So how do we increase ‘legitimate demand for associated services or goods’ and get the growth we so desperately need??? Anyone who can’t answer that question has no place in government.

    [DPF: More mining, more dairy farming, more biotechnology - pretty much more of everything the Greens are trying to ban or reduce]

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  5. Lucia Maria (2,239 comments) says:

    We own a 1997 Mitsubishi, and I have to admit I like the 6 monthly WOF checks. Looks like I’ll have to be motivated enough to ask the garage to do the equivalent off my own bat now.

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  6. Maaik (33 comments) says:

    I have owned old (more than 10 years) cars, and found the 6-monthly WOF invaluable in detecting early signs of problems that could result in an unsafe vehicle, or costly repairs, if left unfixed.

    No problem with a longer spacing between checks for newer vehicles, but I would support a move to keep 6-monthly checks on cars older than 10 years.

    Of course, this could create an opportunity for enterprising garages to include a “safety check” with a normal service, so you get a WOF-style report on all the things (and maybe more) that you currently pay $50-$80 for.

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  7. kuntakinte (4 comments) says:

    I’m glad you’ve specifically paid attention to the job destruction part. I think the destruction of jobs due to the removal of bad regulation is more of a reason to avoid bad regulation in the first place than a reason to avoid removing it.

    Bad regulation props up demand for specific workers and distorts career decision making. It doesn’t create jobs, it just changes the mix of jobs in the economy.

    I’m yet to develop an opinion as to whether or not this regulation is good or bad, I’m just talking in a general sense.

    As for those who still like getting a 6 month check-up for their car (i.e. for early identification of problems), remember you can still go to the garage voluntarily if you like. (I believe) They pay a fee to process a warrant, so a voluntary equivalent check-up could be cheaper.

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  8. cauld (47 comments) says:

    The people who lose their jobs doing WoF’s could become glaziers and then the government could hire people to drive around suburbia throwing bricks through the windows of homes. This would not only provide sufficient work to soak up the new influx of glaziers but imagine the economic stimulus created by all the new demand for glass.

    #brilliant

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  9. Psycho Milt (2,365 comments) says:

    Arguments like this depress me.

    That’s odd – it didn’t appear to depress you the other day, when you were arguing that paying a living wage would put some firms out of business.

    [DPF: Just as goods and services should be based on legitimate demand, so should wages. A number of countries have tried saying cleaners should earn the same as doctors. They have all failed]

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  10. somewhatthoughtful (456 comments) says:

    I drive an older car, 6 monthly WOF costs me $100 a year, for the privilege of private transportation this isn’t that bad and I know the car is being looked at.

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  11. tempest (29 comments) says:

    Just in the midst of a holiday traveling around British Columbia.

    They have no safety inspection here at all. Basically you buy a vehicle, insure it (mandatory insurance through a single state owned provider) and that’s it. There is exhaust emissions testing every two years for vehicles registered in the Vancouver area, but this is going to be phased out by 2014.

    Funny thing is, you don’t see many old dungers floating around.

    Another interesting thing is that there is a lot less emphasis here in Canada on road safety, particularly in the media. No-one I’ve talked to has any idea what the national or provincial road is toll year to year, even a cop I chatted to didn’t know. None of this endless parroting over if holiday weekend X in year X has had a higher number of road fatalities than the same holiday weekend in year Y. Quite refreshing really. I think we are a bit obsessed with this in NZ.

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  12. scrubone (3,082 comments) says:

    Sounds quite sensible – new cars don’t need checked. But as people say, having your older car checked over every so often does provide some peace of mind.

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  13. elscorcho (153 comments) says:

    At $35 a WOF or so, surely the piece of mind of 6-monthly checks is worth it?

    How often does your car pass a WOF without *anything* that needs fixing? I’d say less than 50% of the time even if it’s a very minor thing… loose wire in the lights or something. Also, the 6-monthly WOF lets you know you’re probably going to need new tyres next tikme around, so you can start putting money aside

    Also, the 6-monthly WOF is the perfect time to get your oil and filter changed.

    Just seems to me to make a lot of sense.

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  14. tvb (4,247 comments) says:

    And another thing, I would also like road user charges for light vehicles abolished, I accept diesel will be grossed up for tax, probably close to premium price. And why should registration for diesel cars be so much more. I would have thought diesel was safer.

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  15. Pete George (23,312 comments) says:

    I drive an older car, 6 monthly WOF costs me $100 a year, for the privilege of private transportation this isn’t that bad and I know the car is being looked at.

    There’s nothing to stop you getting your car serviced every 6 months whether you have to get a warrant or not.

    Also, the 6-monthly WOF is the perfect time to get your oil and filter changed.

    Do the oil change then.

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  16. gazzmaniac (2,319 comments) says:

    I like the idea of newer cars getting inspected less regularly, but I don’t like the idea of older ones getting inspected less often. Maybe the 6 month warrant requirements should be pushed out to (say) 15 years or 300,000km. That would still ensure that the old cars that need it will still be inspected often, but will eliminate a hassle for people with modern but not new cars.

    The alternative of course is to go down the Queensland route, where I have a shitbox Camry that is on its last legs and doesn’t get inspected at all unless I forget to pay the rego on time.

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  17. rolla_fxgt (311 comments) says:

    I’m in two minds over it, while I don’t think the current system of 6 monthly checks is needed as cars are generally safer, and more durable than they used to be. The alternative, if as is the case in Aussie, and supposed to be in NZ, but never gets done, unless you drive a boy racer car, is that the police can inspect the car at anytime, and order it off the road, as not being warrantable in their opinion, meaning you have to take it to get a new warrant. Given that the NZ Police’s mechanical aptitude and ability in my experience, is somewhat less than nothing (by in large anyway), I’m a bit worried that it would just turn into a govt revenue gathering exercise, as with speeding, without the objective standards that speeding has. Basically it would be the officers opinion that mattered, not anything necessarily being wrong. If some objective form of assessment, and the police are given the correct tools, then I’m less worried about it.

    Also a lot of people use their warrant as a check to see what’s wrong with the car, rather than being proactive about checking the car on a regular basis. I’ve even heard of people who haven’t checked or changed their engine oil in 5 years (should be a compulsory warning on those cars when sold, I definitely wouldn’t want to buy it!), because they thought the WOF man did it.
    And to be honest, not many of us know how to check that the steering rack is in good condition do we?
    It would take a culture change amongst NZ drivers to become proactive about car care and maintenance, and I’m not sure it’d happen quickly enough for my liking to trust that the car coming towards me, isn’t going to have steering failure, and crash into me.

    But agree the point of the WOF isn’t to keep dodgy mechanics in business, and their seems to still be mechanics in aussie, so they can’t be too hard done by. Perhaps even going to a mechanic might become cheaper, as they’ll be after more business, rather than relying on govt mandated income.

    But for new cars then definately the warrant period should be something around once every 5 years, as most of them come with 5 year service plans now that are needed to keep the new car warranty on them. Anthing older than perhaps 10 years, should be once a year, and the same for used imports, after the original 5 year wof, if reasonably new.

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  18. Psycho Milt (2,365 comments) says:

    [DPF: Just as goods and services should be based on legitimate demand, so should wages. A number of countries have tried saying cleaners should earn the same as doctors. They have all failed]

    Cleaners earning the same as doctors? Wow, that’s more of a straw giant than a straw man.

    Today you’re arguing garages must base their business on legitimate demand, not have it subsidised by govt making everyone get a WoF every six months. The other day you were arguing businesses in general must not be made to base their wages on legitimate demand, instead the govt should continue subsidising it by paying WFF and various WINZ entitlements. One or the other, please.

    [DPF: You really are grasping. Forcing a business to pay higher wages than it deems necessary to retain competent employees is government interference not legitimate demand. It is supply and demand that generally sets prices.

    WFF is not about welfare being a substitute for wages. It is about when people have children, they get additional support. If you are an employee on $15/hr with no kids, then you do not get WFF]

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  19. swan (659 comments) says:

    Psycho Milt,

    You are correct that the two issues are related. They both involve government regulation interfering with supply and demand. However you are completely wrong with minimum wages. It is that demand is too low for labour that the minimum wage is less than some ideal definition of a “living wage”. This is the reality of the labour market. Forcing employers to pay more than the market rate for labour is the government interfering, not the other way around.

    The government is not subsidising businesses through welfare to low income households. If that were true, it would have to mean that, absent welfare, low income workers would refuse to supply labour for the minimum wage. Do you really think that is the case? For that to be true, there would need to be some alternative livelihood that low income people are giving up, in order to work for the minimum wage + welfare. What is that alternative? Would they start their own businesses? Set up communes? And if they would do this, then why dont we let them? There are other people, currently unemployed, who would like to have those jobs.

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  20. Kunta Kinte (4 comments) says:

    I think it’s helpful to think of a minimum wage as a ban on employing workers who add value below a certain level (the minimum wage per hour).

    Although it is not strictly the same as a ban, when firms response to a minimum wage is taken into account, it is effectively the same.

    Ask yourself: who is the government effectively banning firms from employing? I’ll give you a clue: it’s not high skilled workers who can add a lot of value. Although, if it creeps up enough, it will start hitting higher-skilled workers too.

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  21. thedavincimode (6,589 comments) says:

    Given the shape of some of the old shit-heaps on the roads, it’s easy to question the wisdom of doing this. Fine with the first 6 years for new vehicles, but yearly for the 30 year old Mitsi Shitpot? If a vehicle looks like a bag of arseholes on the outside through lack of maintenance and attention, that’s more than a hint that everything you can’t see might be in similar shape.

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  22. Psycho Milt (2,365 comments) says:

    I realise that right-wingers argue against the very existence of a minimum wage and for purity of supply and demand in the labour market, on the basis that it would enable the social Darwinism for which you’re such enthusiasts. However, the overwhelming majority of people recognise that shameful and repulsive vision of society for what it is, so a minimum wage is a given – there’s no more point in arguing against it than there would be in arguing against democracy. No, the post about the living wage was about the level at which the minimum wage should be set, not about whether there should be one or not. As with Warrants of Fitness, the govt interference is a given – the discussion is merely about the extent of the interference.

    So: We have the valid point that the govt shouldn’t subsidise the business of garages by making people renew WoFs every six months for the sole purpose of providing customers to those garages. Don’t we have an equally valid point that the govt shouldn’t subsidise the businesses of low-wage employers by making taxpayers contribute to social welfare payments for the sole purpose of topping up inadequate wages?

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  23. Johnboy (15,564 comments) says:

    “contribute to social welfare payments for the sole purpose of topping up inadequate wages?”

    In your case PM we are all happy to make a contribution so that your employer doesn’t realise you are worthless and sack you thus reducing the vast rainbow that is the blogosphere! :)

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  24. edd (157 comments) says:

    DPF: More mining, more dairy farming, more biotechnology – pretty much more of everything the Greens are trying to ban or reduce

    It’s not just the greens trying to ban it. Seems like loads of swing voters don’t want it either, otherwise we’d have all of it already….

    Maybe an industry around making these activities more congenial to the majority? New inovation for safe, low cost underground mines for example. Or is that too hard?

    I personally think the government should get back to its main job; of investing in the economy to make it cheaper and more efficent… I want value for my money not rocketing power bills!

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  25. Johnboy (15,564 comments) says:

    “Maybe an industry around making these activities more congenial to the majority? New inovation for safe, low cost underground mines for example. Or is that too hard?”

    Like Pike River perhaps?

    Or we could just dig a really big hole to supply adequate ventilation! :)

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  26. Johnboy (15,564 comments) says:

    As long as the “Majority” that don’t have to go underground are happy edd who gives a fuck about those who may die in your pretty little, environmentally nice, low impact mines? :)

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  27. Steve (North Shore) (4,522 comments) says:

    I have said this before. A motor vehicle should be tested on kilometers clocked up. But is also means making the owner responsible for say a worn or damaged tyre.
    When Mr Policeman puts your car off the road is he familiar with the regulations and exemtions? no way
    Another point is garages and testing stations losing out. Problem is the cars wear out at the same rate whether tested or not.
    6 month check is the perfect time to get the oil and filter changed? crap. The perfect time is when the maintainence schedual is followed based on kilometers. Common sense, I don’t believe some of the views posted above.

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  28. jims_whare (399 comments) says:

    Psycho – I’d be happy to see the end of WFF with a corresponding reduction in income tax to compensate. And to help balance the family thing allow income splitting for couples with children – not hard really.

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  29. nasska (10,903 comments) says:

    Steve

    A good mate of mine hails from the States. In Montana at least there is no equivalent of a WoF check regardless of the age or mileage of the car. Roadside inspections for tyres, lights etc are carried out & if you drive a piece of shit you can expect to collect fines on a regular basis.

    What they do have is a mandatory requirement for insurance which in its own way sorts out the wheat from the chaff. Anyone who gets ticketed on a regular basis or drives a substandard car is going to find it hard & expensive to obtain insurance cover. I’d rather see this system in use in NZ than the present inconvenience of remembering & scheduling 6/12 month WoF checks.

    Re the oil & filter…..most modern cars are okay for 7 to 8000Ks between servicing. The average annual distance traveled by NZ’s vehicle fleet is (from memory) 14000K so six monthly is probably about right for the private motorist.

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  30. swan (659 comments) says:

    PM,

    ” Don’t we have an equally valid point that the govt shouldn’t subsidise the businesses of low-wage employers by making taxpayers contribute to social welfare payments for the sole purpose of topping up inadequate wages?”

    Have you got rocks in your head? If you abolish welfare and raise the minimum wage to, say, $30 an hour (the level that would be required for some of the families we’ve seen profiled in the papers), you will get a lot more unemployed people. If you don’t produce $30 an hour, who is going to voluntarily pay you $30 an hour? Are you against unemployment welfare as well, as that is just the government subsidising the private sector who are obligated to give them a job.

    Please employ a little logic.

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  31. adamsmith1922 (890 comments) says:

    WOF OK, propping up businees through regulation, bizarre

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  32. Psycho Milt (2,365 comments) says:

    I don’t recall suggesting the abolition of the social welfare system, merely suggesting that if people in full-time employment require top-ups from the social welfare system in order to make ends meet, the social welfare system is subsidising low wages. I’m no trained philosopher, but the logic seems straightforward enough to me.

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  33. Johnboy (15,564 comments) says:

    “if you drive a piece of shit you can expect to collect fines on a regular basis.”

    Phew, racist discrimination eh bro? :)

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  34. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    However, the overwhelming majority of people recognise that shameful and repulsive vision of society for what it is

    My God Psycho, I hadn’t realized the left had ditched Rousseau in favour of Hobbes. No wonder the world’s in a mess – everyone’s changed sides

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  35. swan (659 comments) says:

    PM,

    “I don’t recall suggesting the abolition of the social welfare system, merely suggesting that if people in full-time employment require top-ups from the social welfare system in order to make ends meet, the social welfare system is subsidising low wages. I’m no trained philosopher, but the logic seems straightforward enough to me”

    You are making an assumption (or more correctly attempting a redefinition) that “unsubsidised” wages are equal to the level at which people can “make ends meet” (this is rather arbitrarily defined as a standard of living that equates to the top circa 10% of all humans alive today).

    I am not sure if you believe in a deity, but why that would be so escapes me. I mean why would it be that anyone in the labour market is able to produce enough to sustain a given standard of living? And that their ability to produce rises with the number of children they happen to have? Do you include intellectually handicapped people? Illiterate people? People who can’t speak a word of English?

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  36. Psycho Milt (2,365 comments) says:

    this is rather arbitrarily defined as a standard of living that equates to the top circa 10% of all humans alive today

    Exactly. This stuff’s all relative. Now you’re getting it.

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  37. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    Good idea and long over due. Its just a state bureaucracy revenue clipping scheme. NZ has a warped obsession with a masturbatory road toll that matters not a shit when compared to other far more lethal factors in NZ life. People die on the roads,by default some are going to…its a dangerous practice…too fucking bad….. deal with it.

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  38. The Scorned (719 comments) says:

    PM: don’t recall suggesting the abolition of the social welfare system, merely suggesting that if people in full-time employment require top-ups from the social welfare system in order to make ends meet, the social welfare system is subsidising low wages. I’m no trained philosopher, but the logic seems straightforward enough to me.

    Me too…and I’m usually opposed to PM in most situations.

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  39. swan (659 comments) says:

    “this is rather arbitrarily defined as a standard of living that equates to the top circa 10% of all humans alive today

    Exactly. This stuff’s all relative. Now you’re getting it.”

    I didnt want to have to spell it out, but it seems I have to. I am not making any argument about whether or not society/ the country should decide everyone is entitled to a reasonable standard of living. I am just saying that the welfare system happens to be a better way to ensure this than simply wishing it were so.

    Is the government subsidizing employers by providing free healthcare? By your logic people should be able to afford their own healthcare through their wages. That is a part of making ends meet after all.

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  40. Michael (899 comments) says:

    I recall in the mid 1990s when the tariff on imported cars was removed there were claims from the motor industry that 200,000 jobs were going to disappear as vehicle assembly supported that many people. Don’t recall a big spike in unemployment?

    Anyway, 6 Month WoFs are outdated – our vehicle fleet is much improved from when I first started driving 25 years ago with old dungers being uneconomic due to the second hand Japanese imports. As long as drivers know that they will be declined for claims if they have bald tires/major defects with their vehicles then annual warrants should be fine for vehicles over 6 years old.

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  41. Psycho Milt (2,365 comments) says:

    I am just saying that the welfare system happens to be a better way to ensure this than simply wishing it were so.

    Awesome. With the social welfare system picking up the tab, why not let employers just pay whatever they feel they can afford? That’s the beauty of subsidies, it just doesn’t matter how economic the business actually is…

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  42. swan (659 comments) says:

    “Awesome. With the social welfare system picking up the tab, why not let employers just pay whatever they feel they can afford? That’s the beauty of subsidies, it just doesn’t matter how economic the business actually is…”

    Oh right I see, all we have to do is assume an infinite supply of labour, then your argument makes perfect sense. Perhaps you can do us all a favor and let the reserve bank know they don’t need to worry about wage inflation.

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  43. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > DPF: Just as goods and services should be based on legitimate demand, so should wages

    I wonder who supports workers getting paid $8 an hour…presumably anyone who supports the free market thinks it’s great. That would be most on here I suspect.

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  44. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > Forcing a business to pay higher wages than it deems necessary to retain competent employees is government interference

    So it’s OK to pay workers $8 an hour…you should have just said so.

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  45. swan (659 comments) says:

    Ross69,

    So there is a level of wage at which it is better that people are unemployed? I find that a slightly disturbing position to be honest.

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  46. Kunta Kinte (4 comments) says:

    Without a minimum wage, low skilled workers have two options:

    1. Unemployment (and perhaps welfare support)
    2. Low wage (be it $8 an hour).

    With a minimum wage set at a point above the hourly value these workers add, here are the workers new options:

    1. Unemployment (and perhaps welfare support)

    The worker makes the choice. Does removing one of their options make them better off? Probably not, unless you argued that these workers have no self control and are addicted to working at their low wage job, but would actually rather be unemployed.

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  47. Manolo (13,516 comments) says:

    About time the regime changes. Less unwanted state interference is needed.

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  48. RRM (9,639 comments) says:

    Not sure if Like. This is policy to attract the MY RIGHTS MY FREEDOM ME ME ME element. I know I would love to have to visit the testing station half as often.

    This will impact on the safety of the general population though…
    Our newest office car at work (2008 Corolla, 6-speed manual, 1800cc vvt-i, nice little car) had bald front tyres within 18 months from new, due to the sustained raping it received from every member of staff since the day we took delivery.

    The Euro Accord my previous employers had chewed thru its rubber even quicker IIRC…

    Fortunately, RRM was brought up driving 1960s English cars and learned the importance of pre-flight checks and weekly maintenance at a young age… this is pretty much the ONLY reason that said bald tyres were discovered months before the next WoF was due.

    So yeah, not sure if like.

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