Targeting makes sense

April 13th, 2013 at 9:52 am by David Farrar

Simon Collins at NZ Herald reports:

A subsidy that has helped to insulate about one in every six low-income homes looks likely to be cut back in next month’s Budget to a more targeted scheme.

The Green Party, which won the subsidy in a post-election deal with the incoming National Government in 2008, is pushing for it to continue at the current level of about $70 million, reaching about 50,000 homes, a year. …

Energy Minister Simon Bridges said the Government was considering, as part of its Budget process, “whether or how the programme might be extended” beyond its scheduled expiry in September.

“Were it to continue – and I emphasise no decision has been made – consideration may be given to transitioning it to a more targeted programme towards households in need,” he said.

He said the scheme had been “a huge success”, with 204,000 homes insulated at a cost of $347 million.

A cost-benefit analysis led by Reserve Bank chairman Dr Arthur Grimes found the country gained almost $5, largely in reduced health costs, for every $1 spent on the subsidy – a net benefit of almost $1 billion.

But the study also found that the health benefits averaged $854 a year for households with community services cards, but only $336 a year for other households, and recommended that the scheme should be aimed at low income earners.

Targeting makes sense for me. Households that can afford to insulate should do so without taxpayer subsidies. Government assistance should generally be directed at the least well off, not those who have sufficient income to make their own choices.

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Editorials 1 March 2010

March 1st, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Herald editorial does not appear to be online.

The Press looks at the furore over the forged passports by Mossad:

British police officers have arrived in Israel in an attempt to find out who or what stole the identities of six British-Israeli nationals and used them in the assassination in Dubai last month of a leader of the Palestinian Hamas organisation. The chances that the police will find anything worthwhile is exceedingly remote. If the murder was carried out by the Israeli foreign intelligence agency Mossad, as Dubai alleges and many others suspect, the Israeli Government will see to it that the truth never emerges. If it was perpetrated by some other actor – and the possibility that the killing was carried out by Arab agents from Hamas or elsewhere as part of some internecine feud has not been entirely ruled out – there is no chance that any plodding Western investigation is going to get to the bottom of it.

Maybe iPredict should do a market on who was it. My money will be on Mossad!

The victim was Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, co-founder of the military wing of Hamas, the radical Islamic organisation that controls the Gaza Strip. What Mabhouh was doing in Dubai without security protection is not known. As someone well aware that he was a target for assassination from a variety of quarters, Mabhouh seldom ventured far from Damascus where he was heavily protected. It appears likely he was involved in arranging a further illicit shipment of weapons from Iran for Hamas’s continuing attacks on Israel and for some reason felt secure travelling without guards. If this is the case, it is likely that Israeli intelligence seized the chance to carry out a strike that had probably been planned for some time.

Hamas is at war with Israel. Their policy is to destroy Israel. It is hard to argue that the co-founder of the military wing is not a legitimate military target.

The Dom Post welcomes a review of employment law:

Four years ago, a Tauranga company concerned about the theft of company property installed motion-sensitive cameras on its premises.

The cameras filmed a worker placing a cardboard box containing cakes of soap under a bench. Another worker, who subsequently admitted stealing company property, was filmed taking a box from under the bench and putting it in his car. The company believed it was a clear case of theft. It asked the worker who had placed the box under the bench to explain his actions. He refused. The company sacked him.

End of story? No. The worker took his case to the Employment Relations Authority. The authority found in favour of the employer. The worker appealed to the Employment Court. It took a different view.

It found the worker had been unjustifiably dismissed because his employer had not followed proper procedures. It had given him only selected portions of the surveillance tape, it had not put in writing the misdeeds of which he was accused, and it had wrongly concluded that the worker’s representative was stalling when he put off meetings because of other commitments. The company was ordered to pay the employee $12,000 for lost wages and $7000 for distress.

A good example of the case for change.

The ODT looks at home insulation:

Large-scale taxpayer subsiding of home insulation would seem an unlikely policy for a right-of-centre political party.

But that is what pragmatic National did and, by and large, Prime Minister John Key and his colleagues will be pleased with the outcome.

As are the Greens!

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Forgetting the margin of error

September 15th, 2009 at 6:18 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Big earners are lining up for the Government’s home insulation subsidy, a survey suggests, prompting fears middle income earners will miss out unless the scheme gets more Government money.

An online survey of 1578 homeowners found high earners were twice as likely to want to take advantage of floor and ceiling insulation subsidies under which home owners must pay up to $3500 themselves.

That sounds about right to me. Must untargeted schemes have higher income earners take more advantage of them. This is why I tend to support targeting over universal provision, and why stuff like tax incentives for health insurance tends not to increase the number of people who have health insurance.

The $323 million scheme gives grants of up to $1300 to insulate floors and ceilings in homes built before 2000, and $500 towards a heat pump or other energy-efficient home heating.

The poll suggests about 280,000 home owners may apply – pushing demand well above the four-year target of insulating and improving heating in 180,000 homes.

This is quite possible, but I would be cautious about that figure. The poll is done by the NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development and I suspect those who respond to their polls (done through an online sample, not random phone polling) are far more environmentally aware than the average home owner, and hence more likely to say they are interested in such a scheme.

Homeowners making more than $200,000 a year made up only 1 per cent of respondents, but 45 per cent of them planned to get help with home insulation costs, as did 35 per cent of those making $70,000 to $100,000 and 29 per cent of those on $100,000 and $150,000.

I can not believe they are quoting results for homeowners making more than $200k a year. By their own admission that is 1% of respondents or 16 people. So that figure of 45% has a margin of error of 25.8%.

Those other figures quoted may have very high margin of errors also. Normally I would check the source report but it doesn’t appear to be online yet.

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The madness of a 40% reduction by 2020

July 16th, 2009 at 5:12 pm by David Farrar

No Right Turn blogs:

The UK government has just announced an ambitious plan to meet its 34% by 2020 climate change target. The details look like nothing less than a green revolution:

Now you may look at this and think hey the UK is going for a 34% by 2020 target, so why not have NZ go for a 40% by 2020 target.

But here is the key difference. This is about how much below 1990 levels you can get. Now as of 2007 NZ was around 20% to 25% above 1990 levels. So in fact we would be having to go from 120% of 1990 to 60% of 1990 – in other words cut our emissions in half in just a decade. It simply can not be done without shooting a hell of a lot of cows.

The UK in 2006 was already 20% below its 1990 level. So the UK has to just go from 80% to 66% (a 14% reduction on 1990 levels), while NZ would have to go from 120% to 60% (a 60% reduction on 1990 levels).

This is why I call a 40% target by 2002 madness. It ignores where we are at today. It would lead to a huge number of jobs destroyed, and could well lead to increased emissions from other countries as they would take up our drop in agricultural production.

a massive investment by electricity companies in home insulation – £3.2 billion over four years to insulate 7.5 million homes.

This sounds a lot. But the UK economy is 20 times the size of the NZ economy. So in NZ terms that is the equivalent of spending 160 million pounds over four years or NZ$409 million.

And National’s 2009  budget announced $320 million over four years for home insulation. So in fact the UK commitment is only 25% greater.

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Spy from the sky

April 13th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Achtung. You have been wasting energy. This is prohibited under state directive XXVI. It does not matter that you paid for it. Ve will launch aerial surveilance of your homes, so we cann ame and shame offenders.

Think this is a joke. Read this:

Christchurch City Council is considering using a spy-in-the-sky to identify poorly-insulated homes.

The proposal to use an aircraft with an infra-red camera to track down energy wasters is part of an ambitious plan to cut the city’s annual $1.6 billion energy bill, with an aim to reduce energy use by every resident by 9 per cent, the Press reported.

Council energy manager Leonid Itskovich said the thermal-imaging map could shame people into improving energy efficiency.

“People will be shamed and will have to do something about insulation,” he said.

How about some public lynchings also? How dare a home owner not have insulation.

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A smarter move by Labour

March 18th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s campaign website called Healthy Homes Healthy Kiwis is a sign they are starting to learn Opposition. It is a sensible and good move for them, as compared to reminding everyone of how badly they stuffed up ACC.

This campaign is asking the Government do something positive – a nationwide insulation project.

While it is asking for money to be spent – it is one off money, which for me is far preferable to something that permamently increases annual spending (such as increasing superannuation floor from 65% to 66% of average wage). And there are some strong arguments that insulation pays for itself with lower power bills, lower health costs etc.

There is still a very legitimate debate about whether the Government or householders should pay for the cost. But it is well timed as a possible infrastructure project during the recession. And the Government is already doing it on a lesser scale with state houses.

Labour of course do not mention on the site that while they agreed to do it in 2008 with the Greens, they never set aside funding for it.

But overall it is a pretty good choice of issue for their first campaign.

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