Greens keen on Gareth’s fat tax

September 30th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Not content with heralding the economic and agricultural miracle of North Korea, is also promoting their healthy food, as Eric Crampton reports from an offline Press article:

He’s barely off the plane after a 40,000-kilometre ride across Russia and Korea. Controversy trailed after him like his billowing motorcycle exhaust, with critics accusing him of becoming a propaganda pawn on his six-year-in-the-planning tour of North Korea.

But he’s still gushing about the experience, and how he lost 6kg in the absence of the processed food – “crap basically” – that dominates the New Zealand food supply. That and the fact there was less food in general, and the wine was terrible. 

There it’s all whole food, that fills you up, takes longer to eat and delivers more nutrients for less energy.

And there, in a nutshell, is the thrust of Morgan’s new book, Appetite for Destruction, co-written with offsider Geoff Simmons. Fake food, he says, is killing us.

Actually it was in North Korea where millions died of starvation.

I’m staggered media still report Gareth as an expert on everything. Is there any topic at all on which he is not an expert?

But he has allies. The Greens like his idea of a fat tax.

The would support an investigation into how a ‘’ on processed food in New Zealand’s supermarkets could be imposed.

But the government has dismissed the idea, saying it would add to the burden of families in tight economic times.

Why stop at a fax tax. I await them to announce subsidies for vegetables and a ban on food they disapprove of.

Kevin Hague, Green Party spokesperson on health and wellbeing, said he would be interested to read Mr Morgan’s new book as it sounded similar to party policy on combating obesity.

Clear front labelling of unhealthy ingredients and a traffic-light type classification system is a “no-brainer”, said Mr Hague.

We already have extensive labelling. A traffic-light system sounds appealing due to its simplicity, but the problem is it is simple. Milk gets a red light and diet coke and popcorn a green light.

An article explains that  flour, bread and pasts get green lights despite high carbs and lot nutrition. Also:

A bag of sugar, with no nutritional value whatsoever, would get green lights for fat, saturated fat and salt – an obvious red light for sugar. Sweets generally would get green lights for fat, saturated fat and salt. They would get red lights for sugar only – appearing healthier overall than olives and sunflower seeds on first sight.

Back to the fax tax:

In 2011, Denmark introduced a tax on butter, meat, cheese, pizza, oil and processed food that contained more than 2.3 per cent saturated fat, but withdrew it a year later due to difficulty in implementing it.

There was no difficultly in implementing it. It failed. It did not change eating habits, it destroyed jobs and led to a boon in purchasing from other countries. It did however bring in extra money for the Danish Government.

You never hear proponents of these extra taxes say that they’ll use them to reduce other tax rates such as income tax. No – it is all about  revenue grab.

However, the Greens would support an investigation into how to design an effective processed food tax.

I bet they would.

“Spending on prevention of obesity should be the absolute priority for any health minister.”

The absolute priority? Not cancer treatments? Not rheumatic fever? Not maternity services? Not life saving surgery? Not quality A&E Departments. The absolute priority for the Health Minister should be telling people what food choices they should make?

That says volumes about the world-view of the Greens.

 

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56 Responses to “Greens keen on Gareth’s fat tax”

  1. nickb (3,696 comments) says:

    If the Greens implemented a fat tax then Metiria really won’t be saving that house deposit any time soon.

    She will also learn that tax is a burden.

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  2. Redbaiter (10,398 comments) says:

    The 12 % of the population who vote for the Greens are largely brainwashed students.

    Just as in Nth Korea, they’re indoctrinated in schools with false beliefs of a political nature.

    The fat tax is farcical but watermelon brainwashing in schools a la Nth Korea is a far greater problem.

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  3. RRM (10,099 comments) says:

    That and the fact there was less food in general, and the wine was terrible.

    I know it would be in very VERY bad taste to laugh at that gem from Crampton.

    But… LOL :lol:

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  4. flipper (4,328 comments) says:

    Heather Roy on Q + A yesterday made sense, and in a low key, coherent presentation, blew Morgan from the water.
    What a pity that the producers hauled in an ultra-left arsehole, who purports to “edit” Metro magazine, as an expert commentator. Listening to him was very much like replaying all the controlling Kedgley, Hague, Hughes Green garbage.-

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  5. RRM (10,099 comments) says:

    BTW – an insanely fit dude here at work observed that fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does…

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  6. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    To be fair to the Greens, Hague was quoted as acknowledging “it may be too difficult to police a wide range of food”.

    Which means that Gareth Morgan has become even loopier than the Greens. Gareth Morgan, your 15 minutes is up.

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  7. labrator (1,851 comments) says:

    BTW – an insanely fit dude here at work observed that fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does…

    Indeed. The obesity epidemic can largely be traced to the last major government inteference in the food chain, the “food pyramid”. In this they set about redefining what is good and what is bad for you and got it completely and utterly wrong. Eat what people ate in the 1950s and before and you should lead a long and healthy life.

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  8. RightNow (7,014 comments) says:

    If they want to combat obesity they should stop paying benefits and instead send the approved groceries directly to beneficiaries, as well as paying their rent and utilities for them. No more smoking, bad foods, drinking, drugs, gambling, polluting the environment… see how many crises that solves?

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  9. DylanReeve (167 comments) says:

    In general I’m supportive of the Greens, but this, like Labour’s proposal to remove GST from fruit and veges, would be a very complex system that tries to implement a way too simple approach to addressing a complex problem.

    My kids at school and kindy sometimes hear about “good foods” and “bad foods” which I find frustrating, as there is no such thing. There are some foods that you should eat more of and some you should eat less of, but there’s really no simple way to enforce that behaviour. It must come from education and a decision to actually do that.

    And then, sadly, there’s the issue of cost. It’s often more expensive to eat better food. Sure it doesn’t have to be, but in practice it usually is. Even simple things – cheap bread is usually high in sugars and simple carbs, less expensive meat is usually much fattier, fresh fruit and veges spoil quickly.

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  10. DylanReeve (167 comments) says:

    If they want to combat obesity they should stop paying benefits and instead send the approved groceries directly to beneficiaries, as well as paying their rent and utilities for them.

    That’s an interesting idea (in part) – it would be interesting to see if government could partner with companies like Foodbox to do regular home delivery of simple and affordable fresh fruit and veges at least. Scale makes thing more affordable of course – the buying power of WINZ (or whatever they’re called these days) is pretty significant.

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  11. Ryan Sproull (7,360 comments) says:

    What Dylan said.

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  12. RRM (10,099 comments) says:

    Seconded.

    We live in the boondocks and Countdown delivery costs between $11 and $15 depending on how much we buy. It’s a very good service.

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  13. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    “Spending on prevention of obesity should be the absolute priority for any health minister.”

    The absolute priority? Not cancer treatments? Not rheumatic fever? Not maternity services? Not life saving surgery? Not quality A&E Departments. The absolute priority for the Health Minister should be telling people what food choices they should make?

    Yes, Farrar, yes. Absolute priority. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity

    Obesity is a leading preventable cause of death worldwide, with increasing prevalence in adults and children, and authorities view it as one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century.

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  14. Colville (2,318 comments) says:

    I still struggle with the obesity epidemic AND all these kids in poor familys with not enough to eat. How does that work?
    Cant we just swap a few kids around and it wil even itself out? :-)

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  15. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    Free food and compulsory sterilisation free contraception.

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  16. DylanReeve (167 comments) says:

    I still struggle with the obesity epidemic AND all these kids in poor familys with not enough to eat. How does that work?

    It’s not necessarily that they don’t have enough to eat, it’s that they’re don’t get proper nutrition. And obesity ties into it pretty well. When the cheapest “filling” food is high in fat and sugar then it’s what they get fed and it fills them up, but doesn’t provide very good nutrition.

    If you were to generalise that those at or near poverty were more obese (I’m not sure if it’s the case, and it’s a shitty generalisation) then it wouldn’t be because they were eating a lot of food, but that they were eating cheap and crappy food.

    But still I don’t support the idea of taxing that cheap crappy food or restricting it in some way – because although it’s cheap and crappy it’s only really a problem if you eat too much of it. And making it more expensive (but still probably cheaper than better food options) just means people either have less to eat overall, or have to spend even more on their food.

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  17. Ryan Sproull (7,360 comments) says:

    It’s probably worth noting that a lot of poverty-related obesity and malnutrition might come from people being time-poor too. Healthier meals don’t have to be that much more expensive than eating crap, but they almost always take more preparation time.

    I don’t know that much about the kind of time burdens there are on low-income families, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a fair amount of working single parents or two parents, possibly doing long hours and/or shift work to make ends meet, leaving either little time to prepare meals or leaving kids to feed themselves (poorly).

    That’s not something that taxing shitty food would address – and it would only make the quick-prep necessities of such a household more expensive.

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  18. Peter (1,694 comments) says:

    Given a socialist health system…..

    Offer tax rebates to people who visit a doctor once a year to verify they aren’t fat.

    End result: fatties pay their way, thin people save more money.

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  19. dime (10,212 comments) says:

    I thought the Greens wanted less people on the planet? Let the fatties eat til they die. Good for them.

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  20. labrator (1,851 comments) says:

    less expensive meat is usually much fattier

    You say that like it’s a bad thing. Buy a slow cooker. Make some broths. Cheap, easy and healthy food. People have been indoctrinated with ‘fat is bad’. It’s not, it never has been.

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  21. Sir Cullen's Sidekick (899 comments) says:

    Why am I not surprised? The communists will take up any idea which has the tag “tax” attached to it….I am so sad that we have 12% of our population has no brains…..

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  22. Psycho Milt (2,423 comments) says:

    BTW – an insanely fit dude here at work observed that fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar does…

    He’s right. Fat is stored in your body by insulin, and insulin is produced in response to blood glucose. The faster what you eat can be turned into glucose, the more insulin you release and the more fat gets deposited (unless you happen to be carb-loading for some insanely debilitating athletic event, in which case you’ll be needing all that blood glucose). A traffic light system for food is moronically stupid as an obesity prevention measure unless everything that consists mostly of carbs gets a red light.

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  23. Redbaiter (10,398 comments) says:

    The more responsibility is taken by government, the less responsibility among the citizenry.

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  24. Ed Snack (1,937 comments) says:

    It is important to get the “fat makes you fat” mantra out of the way, it is untrue in general. Labrator has it right, the current obesity epidemic can at least in part be traced to exactly this sort of government action previously. The “food pyramid” which my children had drummed into them at school, with the premise that lots of carbohydrates were good for you looks incredibly foolish now, but was the received wisdom back then. In fact there was a consensus (something like 97% from memory, now what does that remind me of…) because it was politicized science, and remains so.

    Almost all the “heat’n’eat” ready to run, quickie meals are very carbohydrate heavy, as are most quick to prepare raw materials. This idea is just another “hate the market” sort of fake scare.

    And controlled eating is only part of the problem, lack of physical exertion is another (tax chairs and sofas maybe ?), and the sheer mental approach of “gimme, gimme, gimme” so beloved of the left are also to blame.

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  25. Valueroad (1 comment) says:

    I think who we should be focused on is this guy in the middle taking 80% of the value. Ie the Goverment tax and huge margins the big players in the food industry take.

    Take a Kumara grower who gets ave 50 cents a kg for his Kumara, Turners and growers $3 and then the supermarkets $8 including Tax along the chain. I think this is a big problem where we need to disintermediate the middle guys and give to the people who are creating the value what they really deserve. This gives the consumer the chance to eat healthy affordably all while increasing standard of living for the grower.

    Do I have a solution to this yet? No, but I think rather then being generic, uncreative and cynics of everything lets put our heads together and look at the real issue. You are what you eat, its expensive so people are buying cheap food, making them sick and then increasing our health bills and insurance. Once the middle guys gone, we get people out of the state of thinking shit cheap food is best and they can support the kumara grower then we really have done something.

    As for the interim. You would think someone like Gareth is smarter then just to put on a tax. Help the people who are creating the value and the people supplying it . grower and consumer .

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  26. dime (10,212 comments) says:

    Didnt the american grain industry churn out the food pyramid?

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  27. OTGO (579 comments) says:

    “poverty-related obesity and malnutrition”

    I’ve never heard of that before. Seen a lot of fat kids in Sth AKL. Are they in poverty?

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  28. bhudson (4,741 comments) says:

    If he wants a fat tax, then tax fat people like me.

    No need to penalise the skinny and/or well disciplined who can exercise sufficient moderation.

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  29. alwyn (439 comments) says:

    The problem appears to be, to me, one of obesity rather than what particular food you eat.
    I suggest we introduce a trial tax system to provide an incentive, for our Green MPs at least, to cut obesity.
    We set a maximum bodyfat percentage for the MPs. How about 12% for the men and 20% for the women.
    For each percentage point above that figure they will be taxed 5% of their annual salary.
    That would test the MPs resoltion and for some of them save us a great deal of money.
    I suspect, judging from her picture, that Metiria would owe us money as the penalty would probably exceed her salary.

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  30. dime (10,212 comments) says:

    Does anyone think that jacking the price of twisties by 30% is going to have an impact?

    “fuck bro, my food bill has gone up. no shoes for the kids this year!”

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  31. Longknives (4,953 comments) says:

    Twisties were always a poor cousin of the Rashun…
    Or for the older reader..the Disco or even the UFO!

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  32. BeaB (2,164 comments) says:

    When the price of fags went up, more kids went hungry.

    I was at a primary school sports day recently. Out of around 600 kids only a couple of fatties puffing up the rear. Just like when I was at school in the 50’s.

    I think obesity is the latest fad to pad out budgets and provide lots of junkets.

    My parents were stout and died in their 90’s, disease free – lots of roast dinners, butter, cheese, cream, eggs and veg.

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  33. Redbaiter (10,398 comments) says:

    “My parents were stout and died in their 90′s, disease free”

    Shame about their offspring.

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  34. All_on_Red (1,742 comments) says:

    The Greens have never met a Tax they didn’t like.

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  35. edhunter (554 comments) says:

    Now when I was lad we died of a proper diseases, none of this namby pamby dying of fatness, no we had things like diphtheria, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, small pox, polio & the flu. And when we lived past the ripe old age of 70 it was old age that killed us not the raft of excuses they now come up with.
    Health like Education & the Welfare system are well in need of a major over haul shame that no one has the balls to do it.

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  36. BeaB (2,164 comments) says:

    All of us still alive and kicking – and healthy.

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  37. hj (7,154 comments) says:

    Eric Crampton “can make an argument” for open borders.

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  38. James Stephenson (2,266 comments) says:

    My parents were stout and died in their 90′s,

    Stout…

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  39. hj (7,154 comments) says:

    I’m staggered media still report Gareth as an expert on everything. Is there any topic at all on which he is not an expert?

    Poles Apart was good as was Health Check as is The Big Kahuna. He uses experts to help him write.

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  40. UpandComer (537 comments) says:

    So they want a processed food tax, in the SR that will mean higher prices on those foods as well, which presumably will mean they’ll enforce price ceilings on the things they designate as being ‘good’. What concerns me is that if they are even-handed with this, they’ll need to include fruit into the mix, since fruit has a very high sugar content. There are some reasonable arguments to be made around food labelling, and people passing off sucrose liquids as honey, or vegetable oil as olive oil, but as usual Meteria is overegging the puddings she must be eating every day twice a day.

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  41. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    Apple juice is worse than Coke. From a certain point of view.

    The Greens modus operandi:

    Step 1: Make the tax payer pay for something
    Step 2: Attribute those payments to something the tax payer likes to do
    Step 3: Stop the tax payer from doing those things to “save” the tax payer

    Most importantly, never reduce the amount of tax being paid. That means:
    – never reverse Step 1
    – always use the “savings” from Step 3 on some other Green pet project

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  42. seanmaitland (501 comments) says:

    I’ve got a better idea:

    Divide the population into which party they support or would vote for. Everyone is required to choose one party.

    Those who support the Greens can have their diets controlled and will pay extra tax on processed, sugary and fatty foods which goes into a pool of money to be used to pay for the side effects of obesity for those who support the Greens.

    Everyone else can choose their own diet and has to pay health insurance each month (if they don’t already) – say, $30.

    Run this for a couple of years and see if there is any difference whatsoever in outcomes for both groups. I’m picking that the tax up front isn’t going to do a thing other than make people poorer.

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  43. Rich Prick (1,750 comments) says:

    Given that these bastards never give up, I wonder what comes after our prescribed diet. Compulsory morning exercise in a square nearby? Gareth may have got ideas after a recent trip.

    I’d like Gareth and the Greens to stay out of my fridge and my life. That’s not too much to ask is it?

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  44. Albert_Ross (337 comments) says:

    Labrator and Ed Snack – seriously? People can be shown to have changed their behaviour in response to Government advice? Got any research, scientific study to back that up?

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  45. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    People can be shown to have changed their behaviour in response to Government advice? Got any research, scientific study to back that up?

    Anti-smoking campaigns, drink driving campaigns, seat belt campaigns …

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  46. Simon (780 comments) says:

    “Anti-smoking campaigns, drink driving campaigns, seat belt campaigns …”

    Rubbish. Under the threat of fines, arrests & arbitrary price increases not Government advice. Try again.

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  47. labrator (1,851 comments) says:

    People can be shown to have changed their behaviour in response to Government advice?

    What is Government advice? I’ve never heard of people campaigning for the Government to advise on anything. I hear lots of calls for Government education campaigns. They cost millions of dollars to run and apparently are quite effective. According to Simon though they’re just “threat of fines, arrests & arbitrary price increases”. That’ll be good news to parents too as all of those ads they have during kiddy tv are just Capitalist ‘advice’ are utterly ineffective at getting their children to want the latest sweet, toy or game.

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  48. UglyTruth (4,554 comments) says:

    Take a Kumara grower who gets ave 50 cents a kg for his Kumara, Turners and growers $3 and then the supermarkets $8 including Tax along the chain. I think this is a big problem where we need to disintermediate the middle guys and give to the people who are creating the value what they really deserve.

    This can be done with a food trust, where the trustees contract with workers for production and delivery.
    Equity for land and other assets would typically come from the families of the beneficiaries, but possibly a philanthropist might also contribute equity to the trust.

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  49. chris (647 comments) says:

    Once the middle guys gone, we get people out of the state of thinking shit cheap food is best and they can support the kumara grower then we really have done something.

    The problem is, if you get rid of the middle guy, it’s much harder for the guy selling the kumara to sell it. He now has to do all the selling and distribution himself direct to a myriad of retailers (not just the supermarket, there’s all those fruit n veg shops etc too) instead of selling to one buyer who does the distribution for him. So his costs go up considerably. It’s also harder for retailers to get the stock in the first place. Less supply + same demand = increased retail prices.

    The alternative is co-ops (I think the food trusts UglyTruth talks about above are probably more or less the same) but the distribution channel effectively becomes the intermediary and still needs its cut to get the stuff out there. That’s more or less what Fonterra is – a co-op which is the middleman between the dairy farmers and the retailers.

    Yes, I’d like to see cheaper food prices too for natural foods, but there’s no magic bullet. And unfortunately too many people seem to think they can wave a magic legislative wand and solve all problems by taxing this, subsidising that and price regulation. Regardless of how you set food prices, a whole of bunch of people are still going to eat crap food.

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  50. Kimble (3,955 comments) says:

    Rubbish. Under the threat of fines, arrests & arbitrary price increases not Government advice. Try again.

    Price increases dont have much effect on tobacco consumption. That issue is raised every time the tax is increased under the guise of a “nudge”.
    Fines and arrests existed before the education campaigns for the other two. They alone cannot be the reason for the change in behaviour.

    Government advice has changed behaviour. Its not a controversial statement. Anyone who says that Government advice has NEVER changed behaviour is the one holding the ridiculous position. That absolutist is probably a waste-of-time ideologue.

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  51. gravedodger (1,575 comments) says:

    @ Mr Truth just substitute “State Kumera Purchasing board” for trust much more accurate.

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  52. lolitasbrother (774 comments) says:

    Yes, good post Mr Farrar,
    Whenever I read comments by people like the Greens [ or anyone] describing ‘no brainers’ It makes me very suspicious indeed. A ‘no brainer’ is a simplistic and arrogant dismissal .
    The food narrative has changed dramatically over twenty years, and keeps changing with increasing knowledge. There was a time when fat was going to kill us all, then cholesterol, and you were supposed to munch carbohydrates and plenty.
    But now it seems even fruit [ fructose ] sugar is something to be very wary of.
    The food chain is littered with claims one way and another .

    As for Gareth Morgan, his grandiosity has made him a laughing stock within the country, as he gives us advice on everything from tax, to cats, to Korea, the environment, dairy, housing, everything he says is now the subject of derision.
    What do you think now Bernard Hickey.
    The signs of Morgan’s distance from reality were there quite a few years ago. His ludicrous capital tax scheme, for instance would tax 2% yearly on capital value of all homes, businesses, farms and factories.
    Lets take a Widow in Auckland with income only superannuation, but a reasonable home , where she has lived before and after her husband died , this mad tax would take out her entire superannuation for the nutcase Morgan to redistribute to his favoured Green causes.
    See http://garethmorgantax.blogspot.co.nz/
    Thats right, but I nearly forgot he also wants to let specialists like himself have control over reserve bank policy.
    Morgan is a sociopath, his arrogance and messianic attitude is unusual in New Zealand .

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  53. Left Right and Centre (3,007 comments) says:

    RightNow Agreed. I’m on the dole but I don’t smoke, drink, gamble or use drugs. I can bake and generally don’t like eating ‘bad foods’ unless I’ve gone to the trouble of making them for myself. And I’m fit and in shape. I’m probably an exception though.

    It’s a fact that I’ve never lost weight whilst in employment. I’m just saying. Part of me is scared that if I start working, I’ll regain weight and not have time or ‘get up and go’ to stay in shape.

    I can understand why people who are time poor don’t have the time or energy to devote to physical activity for weight management.

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  54. Left Right and Centre (3,007 comments) says:

    Gareth Morgan….the man has become a joke.

    I say it’s a shame because I like Gareth And I don’t like to see it happen.

    I’ve still got a lot of respect for him an as economist and businessman… his area of expertise. He seems well-meaning and seems like a nice decent bloke who speaks his mind openly. A lot of these ‘social crusades’ have changed how a lot of people see him however. His appeal is dropping to the same level as Jaime and Sally Ridge.

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  55. Left Right and Centre (3,007 comments) says:

    Ryan Sproull In small part time-poor, almost entirely brain-poor.

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  56. Left Right and Centre (3,007 comments) says:

    Fat vs sugar….

    Neither.

    Energy equation.

    Energy in less energy burnt = weight gain /loss/ no change.

    Thanks for playing.

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