Just change a few words

July 28th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I’ve changed just a few words in this column saying climate denial should be a crime:

There is no greater crime being perpetuated on future generations than that committed by those who deny the benefits of free trade. The economic consensus is so overwhelming that to argue against it is to perpetuate a dangerous fraud. Denial has become a yardstick by which intelligence can be tested. The term trade sceptic is now interchangeable with the term mindless fool.

Meta studies show that 97 per cent of published economists agree that free trade is beneficial for all countries and has lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty.

All of this might be a strange curiosity if the ramifications weren’t so serious. Whether it is the erosion of wealth, an influx of refugees from protectionist countries, or the economic impacts on our primary industries from tariffs, New Zealand must prepare for some significant realities.

The worst of these problems will impact more greatly on generations to come, but to ignore them now is as unconscionable as it is selfish. It ought be seen as a crime.

One way in which everyday crime can be discouraged is to ensure that “capable guardians” are around to deter criminal activity. When it comes to free trade, the capable guardians are educated members of the public who counteract the deniers.

There may be differing opinions on what policies to pursue, but those who deny that free trade is beneficial ought be shouted down like the charlatans that they are. Or better yet, looked upon with pitiful contempt and completely ignored.

There is no room to sit on the fence and say, “I don’t know if it’s true”. Ignorance of the law excuses no one – and so it is with the laws of economics.

Jails are going to end up very full of all those criminal free trade deniers.

UK Labour is a fight to the death

July 28th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

James Kirkup writes in The Telegraph:

There are wars where the two parties fight in the hope of seizing territory, righting a wrong or making a point, before settling the conflict with a deal each hopes will be advantageous to their interests.

And then there is total war, when each side knows that the fight only ends in the total destruction of one side, or perhaps even both. 

Jeremy Corbyn has today confirmed that the struggle underway in the Labour Party is now the political equivalent of total war. 

He did it with these words, at the launch of his campaign to keep his job, when he was asked whether Labour MPs should face mandatory re-selection to stand again as Labour candidates at the next election

“There would be a full selection process in every constituency but the sitting MP… would have an opportunity to put their name forward.

If Corbyn wins, his supporters will try and deselect 80% of the caucus.

If Mr Corbyn, the strong favourite to win, is indeed returned as leader on September 24 and moves ahead with mandatory reselection (backed by many members and the Unite trade union) then Labour would split.  

A number of sitting MPs would find themselves deselected as Labour candidates for the 2020 election, but still in Parliament, effectively independent of Mr Corbyn’s organisation. Some might even chose to stand again against Mr Corbyn’s “official” Labour candidate in their seat.  

It’s hard to see how a Labour Party fundamentally split in such a manner would lead to anything other than a comfortable Conservative election victory. Mr Corbyn’s words this morning could well mean Theresa May is Prime Minister until 2025.

Maybe even 2030, but I imagine she would hand over in her this term.

Is the Mallard as endangered as the rat?

July 28th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett writes:

Trevor Mallard has taken a more unusual evolutionary pathway. Rather than relying on his electorate for safety, Mallard this week announced he was giving it away in 2017 and instead throwing himself on the mercy of the list. He may regret it. For 2017 is also the year Labour has set itself a target of getting at least 50 per cent women in the caucus.

This is very bad news for Mallard and David Parker and basically any male List candidate.

There are seven more male electorate MPs in Labour than females. And the leader and No 1 List candidate is male. So basically no other male candidate will be able to be ranked in the top 10 of Labour’s effective list.

If this rule applied in 2014, then Mallard would at best be ranked below Ardern, Moroney, Street, Mackey, Radhakrishnan, Jones, Beaumont, and Russell. That will need a huge lift in their party vote to give him any chance.

Greens plan to lower house prices by 50%

July 28th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Radio NZ report:

A declaration by the Green Party that Auckland house prices should be deliberately dropped over the longer term has been met with strong resistance from its political ally, Labour.

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei has said prices should be gradually lowered by up to 50 percent over a number of years, in order to avoid a market crash.

Labour leader Andrew Little said such talk was irresponsible.

“It’s not going to happen under the next Labour-led government.

“Our plan is about stabilising house prices by building more affordable homes, and then secondly by taking the overseas speculators out of it by putting restrictions on non-resident foreign buyers.”

Labour and the Greens recently struck a co-operation agreement including a no-surprises policy but Mr Little said Ms Turei had not raised any plan with him, or others in the party, to deliberately push down house prices.

The Greens have clearly violated the agreement. Not off to a good start are they.

As the Greens basically oppose making more land available for housing in Auckland (they only want to build up, not out), they of course have no chance of stopping house price inflation, let alone reducing it.

But I look forward to them campaigning that they want to reduce the worth of Auckland homeowners by a total $300 billion or so.


Crone on Auckland housing

July 28th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Victoria Crone writes on what she would do to make housing more affordable in Auckland:

Implement higher and more realistic targets for how much housing the city needs to be consented in any year.

• Rethink planning restrictions under the final Unitary Plan to allow more housing where transport and water infrastructure already exist.

• Release underused public land for development much faster.

• Implement strict sunset clauses on released land so that development happens faster.

• Discourage land banking through substantial targeted rates.

• Overhaul the council’s consenting process to introduce shorter consenting times and tougher penalties for not meeting them, take it online, provide full transparency to users, take a serious look at the necessary resourcing and look at introducing competition.

• Provide stronger incentives to encourage the building of more affordable homes, including looking into consenting costs reflective of house size.

• Provide clear and useable report cards on our housing progress.

They all look good policies. But the most important is to abolish the MUB.

Trotter compares Trump to Gourlie

July 28th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Chris Trotter writes:

Paul Gourlie broke all the rules of student politics. In pre-student loans New Zealand, when the universities were still capable of disgorging thousands of student protesters on to the streets, Paul re-defined what it meant to be a student politician.

Not for him the varsity student uniform of jeans and T-shirts. To the consternation of the Otago student body, “The Governor” (as Paul styled himself) sailed across their campus in a starched wing-collar and a flapping under-graduate gown.

His critics may have described him as “a cross between Dracula and Batman” – but Paul didn’t care. He wasn’t interested in the votes of the student “activists” who wore badges and carried placards. The votes he was after were those of the students who didn’t protest. The “scarfies” who saw life at university as an opportunity to have fun. The ones who found student politics “boring”.

Paul’s crucial political insight was that student activism was a minority sport, and that the left-wing rhetoric spouted by those activists left most students cold. What he offered the “great silent majority” of Otago students (who were neither active nor left-wing) was a wildly charismatic, fun-loving alternative to the stereotypical student politician. Paul’s flamboyant speeches were fast, furious, funny and almost completely devoid of content. Ordinary students cheered him to the echo.

I was at Otago after Gourlie was there but his legend lived on. Off memory he was President of both OUSA and OPSA.

The left-wingers on campus were completely flummoxed. No one had the slightest idea how to fight – let alone beat – a candidate who appeared to have escaped from the pages of Tom Brown’s Schooldays (or, for the benefit of younger readers, Hogwarts). The Left’s obvious discomfiture only increased Paul’s popularity: his merciless mocking of their candidates drawing wild applause. For a while, Paul Gourlie was invincible: one of only a handful of student presidents to serve two consecutive terms.

Though they unfolded nearly 40 years ago, there is something disturbingly contemporary about “The Gourlie Years”. The US presidential election campaign of 2016 is stirring up old memories. Paul Gourlie, the student anti-politician, and Donald Trump, the populist anti-President, have more than a little in common.

Not the least of these commonalities is the challenge presented to the Left by right-wing candidates of such uninhibited flamboyance. And, if comparing Trump to Otago University’s student president of 1979-80 seems just a little too weird, then think instead of Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi. He, too, built a political career on the insight that, eventually, a great many voters become tired – even resentful – of social-democracy’s high-minded expectations. Sometimes all the punters want is a little “bunga-bunga” – and lower taxes.

The comparison of Trump to Berlusconi is a good one. Trump is not a fascist, but he is authoritarian. If he becomes President I imagine he would be like Berlusconi. That isn’t a compliment by the way.

The “Clinton-Kaine” ticket suggests that the Democratic Convention will be long on worthiness and short on spark. If this is the way it plays out, then the Clinton Campaign will find itself in serious bother. Conventional pundits may have slammed the chaos and confusion of the Republican Convention, but in doing so they entirely missed the point. Trump wasn’t interested in staging a well-run convention. What he wanted, and what he produced, was a riveting political mini-series; replete with heroes and heroines, hucksters and villains. For a whole week it was all anyone was talking about.

What distinguishes Trump’s campaigning from Gourlie’s and Berlusconi’s is the darkness and brutality of his rhetorical palette. The latter exploited voters grown weary of the Left’s moral exhortations. They ran on the alluring promise of exuberant amorality and laissez-faire administration. Trump’s voters, by contrast, are driven by a toxic mixture of moral indignation and the violent desire to discipline and punish an America they no longer recognise as their own.

Trump’s campaign blends flamboyance, demagoguery and recklessness in equal measure. My gut feeling is that the cautious Hillary Clinton will fare as badly against “The Donald” as I did against “The Governor”.

The latest average of the polls has Trump and Clinton tied on 42% each.

CIS on Kruger and terrorism

July 28th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Jeremy Sammut writes at CIS:

Banning Muslim immigration — as TV personality Sonia Kruger has urged — would cause more problems than it would solve. It would, at a minimum, violate the first rule of a successful non-discriminatory immigration program, which is that you cannot invite people into a country, insult them, and not expect to compromise social cohesion.

I agree. Treating all 1.4 billion Muslims as identical in views and beliefs is as silly as thinking the Pope and Brian Tamaki have the same views and beliefs.

That said, Kruger does not deserve the abuse that has been doled out for thinking aloud about Islamist terrorism and throwing up the idea of a religion-based migration bar.

The idea that Kruger is a racist is absurd. What is more telling is that someone who is far from being a culture warrior dared to cross a cultural fault line and express such an un-PC opinion.

Kruger is a modern woman who, like most of us, takes the norms of western democratic societies for granted. Like most of us, as well, she finds it unfathomable that religious belief would motivate the kind of horrific acts of political violence that are proliferating in number and scale in countries with large Muslim populations.

Unlike her critics, at least Kruger is honest, and takes the religious origins of terrorism seriously — and doesn’t buy the myth that atrocities like Paris and Nice are ‘nothing to do with religion’.

Kruger’s solution was wrong, but you should be able to debate the issue.

So far this year there have been 1,309 Islamic attacks, which is about seven a day. And more and more of these are happening in “Western” countries, so it is no surprise that people are scared and want to debate how to make their communities safer.

There have, of course, been predictable claims made about hatred and ‘Islamophobia’ … lead by local Islamic leaders and organisations.

Once again, the Islamic community has failed to adopt a more constructive approach. Instead of denying that terrorism has anything to do with Islam, they should accept that the kind of concerns Kruger articulated about religiously-motivated terrorism are entirely legitimate.

Many Australians simply do not understand why the Islamic community cannot come out strongly and state plainly that they share their fellow citizens’ concerns about what a minority of their co-religionists do in the name of their religion.

If they did this, they would practise what I think is the second rule of a successful non-discriminatory immigration program: fears about social cohesion are best addressed not by migrant groups playing the perpetual victim, but by demonstrating that these groups fully share and believe in mainstream Australian values.

Well said.

Palino wants boards to have rating powers

July 28th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

John Palino announced:

Auckland mayoral candidate John Palino today promised to restore local government in Auckland by restoring rating powers to local authorities.

The New Zealand Initiative’s latest report ‘The Local Benchmark – When Smaller is Better’, has confirmed what just about everybody in Auckland has been thinking: centralising local decisions in the hands of a large and unaccountable bureaucracy does not lead to better outcomes.

The promised gains from the Supercity, including lower rates, better decisions and a better Auckland have failed to materialise. Rates have increased massively, congestion has become worse, housing has got more expensive and local opinions have been silenced by an obstinate, overbearing centralised council.  

We’ve had six years and the results are now tragically clear. The Auckland Council is process-driven, inflexible and unresponsive to what distinct communities really value. A bloated and complex bureaucracy has failed to engage on local issues and every objection, reasonable or not, has been labelled NIMBYism in an effort to enforce regional conformity.

The New Zealand Initiative’s report outlines some of the opportunities and benefits of having decisions made at local level, rather than by a central body. There are some valuable lessons from other parts of the world, including the failed amalgamation in Montreal. “Perhaps the most surprising part of this paper is the way that smaller local government sizes provide lower costs and more efficient governance than the bigger amalgamated councils. Auckland is not alone in failing to deliver its citizens a dividend from amalgamation.

Auckland would be better governed if it were treated as a region rather than a single Super City. Only those matters which are relevant to the region as a whole should be dealt with by the Auckland Council: a high level growth management plan built off local plans; regional arterials and public transport; and water services.

I agree that local decisions should be made locally. The Auckland Council should only be deciding on things the affect the whole Region.


General Debate 28 July 2016

July 28th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Focusing on issues back home

July 28th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

ACT point out:

Green Times
According to her Green Party bio, Green MP Marama Davidson is ‘an online activist.’ She is now travelling to the Middle East to protest the blockade of the Gaza strip. We can only assume she has paid her own way including carbon credits, and she will be speaking out against the homophobia and misogyny in Gaza as well as the Israeli blockade.

Good to know everything is so good here that the big focus is Israel trying to stop suicide bombers.

Hamas, who control Gaza, are real friends of the people. Their record includes:

  • seizing union property
  • killing the union deputy general secretary
  • torturing people for being gay
  • banned girls from riding on motor scooters with men
  • banned women from doing marathons
  • banned a book of Palestinian folk-tales
  • beaten people for wearing hair gel

Will Marama Davidson be protesting against any of that?

Unitary Plan doesn’t go far enough

July 27th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

More urban sprawl and greater intensification have been recommended in a new rulebook for Auckland released today.

The city’s urban boundary will be expanded to free up 30 per cent more land for housing and many homeowners, particularly in the central isthmus, will find their homes rezoned for intensification.

These are among the big changes recommended by an independent hearings panel, for the new rulebook, formally known as the Unitary Plan.

Auckland council’s new rulebook telling people what can be built,where and what height buildings can go has been three years in the making.

The panel has come up with a proposal to provide 422,000 new dwellings over the next 30 years, 270,000 within the existing urban boundary and 152,000 in rural areas and around towns like Warkworth, Pukekohe and Kumeu.

This is a good step or even two steps in the right direction but the ratio between up and out should be around 50:50 not 2:1.

It is good they have recommended moving the boundary to free up 30% more land but as Phil Twyford has pointed out just moving the boundary encourages speculation and land banking to shift to the new boundary.  Only scrapping the boundary will lead to land prices stabilising.

The intensification proposals look good to me, and I hope they get approved. It isn’t a choice of up or out – we need both.

More National renewal

July 27th, 2016 at 3:19 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The at-times controversial National MP Maurice Williamson has announced his retirement from politics at next year’s election. …

Williamson thanked his electorate, who had “so generously supported” him for the past 30 years. 

“Their tremendous support has never been taken for granted and I have always known that I needed to earn each and every vote.

“I particularly appreciated their continued loyal support after the introduction of MMP in 1996, which enabled voters to support a political party but not necessarily that party’s candidate.”

He said it was a “privilege to be the MP for Pakuranga”, and to be a Minister for 15 of those years.

Maurice had and has huge support in Pakuranga. He got almost three times as many votes as the Labour candidate in 2014.

It is good to see National continuing to renew itself in Government. There will be new National candidates next year in East Coast Bays, Waikato and Pakuranga. I expect at least two more retirements to come also.


July 27th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A priest has been beheaded and a nun is “fighting for her life” after two knife-wielding Islamic State terrorists took worshippers hostage at a church in northern France.

The attackers were shot and killed after raiding a morning Mass at 9am Tuesday (7pm Tuesday NZT) in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, near Rouen in Normandy.

A third suspect – pictured wearing a white T-shirt and blue tracksuit pants – has been arrested.

Father Jacques Hamel, 84, was slaughtered by the assailants.

A nun who was in the church during the attack said he was forced to the ground before his throat was slit.

The slaughter of innocents is almost becoming a daily occurrence.

Labour thinks it can renegotiate TPP

July 27th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour would welcome the chance to negotiate a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact if it did not get United States approval this year, leader Andrew Little said on Tuesday.

In a major speech on international affairs in Wellington, Little underscored Labour’s continuing “engagement” and his rejection of “isolationism”, despite the party’s opposition to the TPP in its current form, saying it was proudly a free trade party.

It used to be. Actions count more than words and Labour has turned its back on 25 years of bipartisan support for trade agreements.

He said the 12 country trade agreement, which includes Japan and the US, offered a weak deal on dairy.

But he said the question could become moot. If the US does not ratify it, it would die – and both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton were opposed to the TPP.

“It’s getting too late for President Obama to try to pass it before he leaves office. Congress already defeated him once on trade this year, and something big needs to change before he’ll risk being defeated again,” Little said.

“If TPP doesn’t progress this year, Labour would welcome the chance to be part of resumed negotiations leading to an agreement that does away with more tariffs, without curtailing the ability of countries to make laws in their own interests.”

Little is in fairy land. Trump and Clinton are against TPP because they say countries like NZ and Australia got too good a deal at the expense of the US. Their constituencies don’t want any tariff reductions at all.

If TPP does not pass in the lame duck session of Congress, it is dead as a door knob. It won’t be renegotiated.

Herald says Hutt South more likely to go to National

July 27th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A decision by Labour’s Hutt South MP Trevor Mallard to stand on the list only next election makes it more likely the seat will fall to National.

Mallard has had a strong personal following in the seat, having held it since 1993.

But in the 2014 election, National’s young candidate Chris Bishop reduced Mallard’s majority to just 709, from 4825 in 2011.

Mallard would also have picked up votes from local Green candidate and list MP at the time Holly Walker, who was retiring from politics.

The greater indication of where the seat could head in next year’s election in in the party vote: National overwhelmingly won the party vote with 17,648, well ahead of Labour on 10,903.

Even with the Greens added to Labour, National was ahead on the party vote by more than 2000.

Generally there are only two reasons an Electorate MP goes list only:

  1. They are a senior Minister and don’t have the time to carry on being an effective Electorate MP (Michael Cullen, Bill English)
  2. They think they are going to lose the seat (or the nomination) and want someone else to wear the loss

It will be quite extraordinary if National picks up electorate seats in 2017, going for their 4th term. Normally governing parties lose electorate seats at their 4th election. The history is:

  • 1946 Labour lost three seats
  • 1957 National lost six seats
  • 1969 National lost one seat
  • 1984 National lost 10 seats
  • 1999 National lost five seats (lost seven electorate, gained two list)
  • 2008 Labour lost six seats (lost ten electorate, gained four list)

So National potentially winning new electorate seats in 2017 is a big thing – it goes against all post WWII history.

Frog Blog bans comments

July 27th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

A reader writes in:

I don’t know if you bother reading some of the other blog comments but there is strange goings on at FrogBlog  I go there  to post occasionally.

About a week or go, Gareth made another post on domestic solar energy. https://blog.greens.org.nz/2016/07/13/kiwis-and-solar-energy-record-numbers/   A fact check showed that he had left a word out of a quote that changed its meaning. One  their staffers recognised this in the comments and corrected the quote but without putting in an update postscript on the main post. Gareth never acknowledged his mistake but that is par for the course. 

Then several days later Ms Davidson put in a post https://blog.greens.org.nz/2016/07/19/racist-place-names-have-to-go-an-open-letter-to-the-minister/  The first responder with a name like Kiwi@NZ   rubbished her post with statements like it was bit of NZ history – this is NZ not Aotearoa blah blah blah. More stupid than aggressive or abusive.  I didn’t note any personal attack in his rant but then maybe I’m a bit thicker skinned. After a day, the comment was deleted. Other regular commenters noted this and started piling it on – nothing really bad, just pointing out the censorship. All those posts were then deleted.

Then this post came out  https://blog.greens.org.nz/2016/07/21/a-change-to-our-blog-switching-off-comments/      saying they weren’t going to have comments any more because people didn’t play fair.

Looks like a free and fair society is being redefined.

So the Labour Party blog has closed down and the Green blog no longer allows dissent. Sad.

General Debate 27 July 2016

July 27th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Academic links our tertiary education system to Nazis and the holocaust

July 27th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

A most bizarre article published by Massey University. It is by senior lecturer in management Dr Damian Ruth:

The Productivity Commission is two months away from delivering its draft report on the future of higher education in New Zealand. Its inquiry into new models of tertiary education aims to find ways of achieving better economic outcomes from New Zealand’s investment in the sector. This should be put into the context of ambitions to turn the ‘education industry’ into a million-dollar enterprise – but there is also a larger context.

Environmentalist David Orr says education systems are how we shape future generations to think about the world. Sadly, education per se is no guarantee of decency, prudence, or wisdom. As Orr points out, the destruction of the natural world to date has not been the work of ignorant people. It has been, largely, the result of the work of educated people. What kind of education do we need?

There are dots to be joined here. Donald Trump in the United States, xenophobia in Europe, the brutality of detention centres in Australia – these are the end result of an authoritarianism that will not tolerate dissent. We see the same thing in corporate malfeasance and government corruption. And now we can see it shaping education.

Meaningful education entails critique, reflexivity and conversation; when education is cast in terms of the management of provision and performance, it is rendered meaningless. As our education becomes more managed, more ‘effective’ in economic terms, it offers less and less of a barrier to barbarity. Today my students want to be efficient consumers and they want me to be an efficient courier. Under the pressure of productivity, education is turned into making sure the vending machine always works.

Up until this point it is the pretty standard rant against tertiary education management. But then he goes on and jumps the shark:

In her famous book about Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, political philosopher Hannah Arendt coined the term ‘banality of evil’ to describe the tendency of people to obey orders without critical evaluation. She pointed out that Eichmann did not want to think about the nature of his work – he just wanted to get on with the job and his job was organising transport. And as we know, he was very efficient. We know, because the forms were properly filled and the process was well-audited. Job done.

Education is a constant struggle against the banality of evil. To educate is to insist on thinking. It cultivates the capacity to contest. While it seems unthinkable that horrors such as the holocaust could ever take root here in New Zealand, it was also unthinkable in Germany in the 1930s. If we are going to fashion higher education policy here today along the fault lines identified by Wiesel in Germany preceding World War II, then perhaps it is not as unthinkable as we think.

So our tertiary education system is “evil” and may lead to New Zealand turning into Nazi Germany.

I despair that this is the level of argument a senior academic resorts to. It is also deeply deeply insulting to those who were affected by the Holocaust.

The Auckland Ratepayer Protection Pledge

July 26th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The ARA announced:

Today we launched our 2016 Ratepayer Protection Pledge, to identify those candidates standing for Auckland Council who are aligned to the Ratepayers’ Alliance vision of reasonable rates and sensible spending by the Super City.

The pledge reads:

“I [candidate’s name] pledge to all Aucklanders that I will not vote for any measures which increase the total average burden of rates, levies, and other compulsory Council charges, more than 2% per annum.”We’re asking all Auckland Council candidates – no matter their political persuasion – to champion fiscal prudence and sign the pledge.

This gives Aucklanders a choice. If you don’t want to keep receiving rates increases of 10%, then do not vote for any candidate who won’t sign this pledge.

There will be advertisements in Auckland showing who has and has not signed the pledge, to help people decide who to vote for Mayor, and for Council.

Cato on reforming socialist economies

July 26th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Cato report:

The transition from socialism to the market economy produced a divide between those who advocated rapid, or “big-bang” reforms, and those who advocated a gradual approach. More than 25 years have passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, providing ample empirical data to test those approaches. Evidence shows that early and rapid reformers by far outperformed gradual reformers, both on economic measures such as GDP per capita and on social indicators such as the United Nations Human Development Index.

I am not surprised.

A key argument for gradualism was that too-rapid reforms would cause great social pain. In reality, rapid reformers experienced shorter recessions and recovered much earlier than gradual reformers. Indeed a much broader measure of well-being, the Human Development Index, points to the same conclusion: the social costs of transition in rapidly reforming countries were lower.

NZ would be far worse off if we had not had the rapid reforms from 1984 to 1993.

Piers Morgan on how Trump can win

July 26th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Piers Morgan looks at how Trump can win the presidency. His ten points are:

  1. “Crooked Hillary” meme
  2. His family – aesthetically pleasing, articulate charmers
  3. The TV debates – Trump is a TV superstar and natural showman who loves working the camera and audiences
  4. The Rust Belt – win over Ohio, Iowa, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin
  5. VP Pick of Mike Pence – locks in conservative voters
  6. His gut – follows guts instinct not focus groups
  7. Social media – Has 10.1 million followers on Twitter
  8. Get organised – needs a top back room team
  9. Charm – show his softer side
  10. “Crooked Hillary” – when in doubt use this again

The polls show Trump got a boost from the convention but Clinton still ahead on average. The state polls will be the real ones to watch out for.

A good example of misrepresentation

July 26th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Bryce Wilkinson writes at the NZ Initiative:

Last week everyone in The New Zealand Initiative was amazed to read in the Otago Daily Times, recycled in The New Zealand Herald, that in effect we advocate the decimation of New Zealand’s welfare state.

This ludicrous assertion was attributed to a Brian Roper at the University of Otago. Here is the full quote:

”If you look at the New Zealand Initiative, which is the successor to the Business Roundtable, they want government expenditure reduced to 20% of GDP or lower, which would be the lowest level percentage in the OECD. That could only be achieved through the decimation of New Zealand’s welfare state.
”There is no end-point to their demands.”

This was news to me also. I’ve followed the Initiative since they were established and have never known them to demand government expenditure by reduced to 20% of GDP.

Naturally we contacted this sage for clarification. It turned out that he could offer no New Zealand Initiative statement whatsoever to support his assertion.

None. Zero. Zilch. It would be hard to conceive an emptier assertion.

The pathetic best he could do was to claim that anything that the New Zealand Business Roundtable had ever written and we had not explicitly disowned must represent our position!

Well we have some news for him. It doesn’t. The same applies to statements made by The New Zealand Institute. (These two organisations merged to form The New Zealand Initiative and they did not have the same views.)

So Roper is using something written by a previous organisation 20 years ago, to support his assertion.

Perhaps we should add at this point that Brian Roper happens to be an associate professor in the political science department. According to this piece of staff information on the University’s website he “has been a political activist for more than twenty years, and has been involved in a wide variety of progressive struggles and campaigns”. Apart from politics his listed research interests include; social inequality; gender and feminism and Marxism.

OK, doubtless many readers will be thinking “Say no more. What else could you expect from a Marxist ideologue? Move on.”

That reminds me of the research in the US which found eight times as many Marxist professors as Republican ones!

Can bosses be liable for fatigue from what people do in their own time?

July 26th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

MBIE have said:

Being tired on the job is a health and safety issue many businesses have to grapple with, says a world authority on worker fatigue.

“Fatigue is just another hazard,” says Professor Drew Dawson, director of the Appleton Institute at the Central Queensland University.

“Businesses need to be aware that the effects of fatigue on performance are similar to the effects of alcohol. It’s not reasonable to be in the workplace under the influence of alcohol or under the influence of fatigue.”

Managing fatigue is also about making sure staff have had sufficient sleep to work safely, says Prof Dawson.

But an employer can only do so much. Sure don’t have staff work 16 hours in a row, but what if they are fatigued and only working eight hours?

“Most people confuse fatigue management with their employment agreement and assume that if you comply with the rules of rostering, then it will be safe.

“It doesn’t take much thinking to realise this is not always true. For instance, if you’re up all night with a sick child, you will be unfit for work, irrespective of how long your shift is.”

This is true, but what does an employer do? Send a parent home because they were up all night? Is that the employer’s decision or the employee’s?

538 now projects Trump to win

July 26th, 2016 at 11:14 am by David Farrar

For the first time ever an electoral college projection has Trump in the lead, and it is Five Thirty Eight’s Nate Silver.


This will be major news. And just as the Democratic convention starts. Every time Clinton’s name is mentioned, the is huge booing. It has got so bad Bernie Sanders has had to text all the delegates asking them to stop booing speakers when they mention Clinton’s name.

The projection has Trump 281 and Clinton 257. Trump is now rated 56% likely to win.

They now have Trump ahead in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Iowa, Nevada and Georgia.

Cost of living to get cheaper and cheaper

July 26th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Peter Diamandis writes:

But what people aren’t talking about, and what’s getting my attention, is a forthcoming rapid demonetizationof the cost of living.

Meaning — it’s getting cheaper and cheaper to meet our basic needs.

Powered by developments in exponential technologies, the cost of housing, transportation, food, health care, entertainment, clothing, education and so on will fall, eventually approaching, believe it or not, zero.

In this blog, I’ll explore how people spend their money now and how “technological socialism” (i.e., having our lives taken care of by technology) can demonetize living.

As an entrepreneur, CEO or leader, understanding this trend and its implications is important…it will change the way we live, work, and play in the years ahead.

Sounds far fetched but …

To me, “demonetization” means the ability of technology to take a product or service that was previously expensive and make it substantially cheaper or potentially free (in the extreme boundary condition). It means removing money from the equation.

Consider Photography: In the Kodak years, photography was expensive. You paid for the camera, for the film, for developing the film, and so on. Today, during the megapixel era, the camera in your phone is free — no film, no developing. Completely demonetized.

Consider Information/Research: In years past, collecting obscure data was hard, expensive in time if you did it yourself, or expensive in money if you hired researchers. Today, during the Google era, it’s free and the quality is 1000x better. Access to information, data, and research is fully demonetized.

Consider live video or phone calls: Demonetized by Skype, Google Hangouts, the list goes on:

  • Craigslist demonetized classifieds

  • iTunes demonetized the music industry

  • Uber demonetized transportation

  • Airbnb demonetized hotels

  • Amazon demonetized bookstores

All good examples. Who spends on classified ads now? Photography only now costs time for most people. Calls to friends overseas are free and used to cost hundreds of dollars.

The automotive market (a trillion dollars) is being demonetized by startups like Uber. But this is just the beginning.

When Uber rolls out fully autonomous services, your cost of transportation will plummet.

Think about all of the related costs that disappear: auto insurance, auto repairs, parking, fuel, parking tickets. Your overall cost of “getting around” will be 5 to 10 times cheaper when compared to owning a car.

This is the future of “car as a service.”

Possibly the most exciting aspect.

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