Here's my blogroll for the week. The blogosphere was abuzz with news one of its own might be getting into Parliament soon. Have a good weekend all.
From the right
1. NZ a pathetic authoritarian backwater. Peter Cresswell at Not PC isn't too happy about pretty much everything being banned during the Rugby World Cup unless the IRB says it's ok. Great. Taxpayers are losing NZ$34 million on this thing and we're being dictated to by some Irish-based group of men in suits about how basically to run our economy for two months.
Latest result of them over-reaching themselves: no-fly zones, no-sign zones, a battalion of jackbooted clipboard wielders warming up to fan out around the country to say “No!” … and now a New Plymouth school offside with the govt's Rugby World Cup laws because they want to do the same thing they’ve done for every major rugby event at Yarrow Stadium since time began, which is park a few cars on its sports field to raise a bit of dosh for the school.
I loved this quote by friend Daniel Bell on a Facebook thread discussing this:
It's quite silly really. The tournament is running at a loss, pretty much everyone has admitted this now, but the original reason the Government decided to do this was apparently because of the economic benefits it would provide, yet now they're passing laws saying you can't benefit economically from the Rugby World Cup.
We really are a pathetic authoritarian backwater.
2. Free trade hypocrisy. Cactus Kate (who as Cathy Odgers will be standing for ACT at the upcoming election) asks why Kiwifruit grower Zespri was taken along as part of the NZ free trade delegation to India, when it benefits from anti-competitive government legeslation against its main rival Turners and Growers. She has a point.
Zespri apparently has a third of the world's kiwifruit sales but two-thirds of the value. Tell us something is wrong with that claim? Wrong if not for the growers but the consumers?
Forget even T&G, why was Zespri on a free trade trip when it is anti-competitive and anti-free trade?
Turners & Growers are allowed to sell all strawberries, apples, blueberries to India and some 60 other countries. Just not kiwifruit. The inanity of this situation is extraordinary. What is so special about the furry monster?
Worse was to come for the treatment of Gibbs and Turners & Growers, the usually cool customer Tim Groser flipped his lid and called it "braindead" to change when the current system produces the best prices. Entirely missing the point about the "free" in free trade. He then called Gibbs a "rank amateur" when it came to WTO law.
Lucky I guess they weren't together in the heat of India, the googlies may have turned into bouncers. Their mud-wrestling is legendary.
The point being that free trade may not always produce the "best" prices to the producer, for what is the comparison to judge what is "best"? Government and statutory intervention according to Groser is actually producing a price higher than market. He's just claimed that by saying the "best prices" for producers are through the single seller monopoly. What about consumers? Where is the free market?
If Cactus does become an MP, I have the perfect job for her. Make her Minister of Revenue, with her job being to close down all the loopholes. Ultimate poacher turned gamekeeper
So we think that she will make a bloody good MP. Her problem will be boredom. The pace in parliament is mind numbingly slow if you are not a Minister. She would need to be given some big projects and as David Farrar says - there is no - one more suited to sorting out the financial and tax sector than Cactus.
ACT has a big opportunity to win some public respect by putting forward some candidates that will resonate with the public. The younger members of ACT - who make up a strong core of the party machinery would be keen to see Cactus take her place on the hill. Older members have considerable admiration for her intellect she is a confidente of many member of the Business Round Table and many top media commentators and journalists.
From the left
But this endorsement isn’t all about foreshadowed electoral schadenfreude. Odgers, for all that I disagree with nearly every aspect of her politics, is intelligent, articulate and possessed of a sharp and analytical wit. By reputation she is driven, hard-working and will not tolerate time-wasters or time-servers.
If her boasts about the expat lifestyle and her drinking habits are to be believed, she will be taking a considerable cut in pay and increase in workload if elected to parliament, so we might reasonably assume her intentions are genuine. In other words, aside from her politics — which is admittedly a very big aside — she’s just the sort of person we need more of in Parliament. It may be that the rigours of public office mellow her, or it may be that her prickly public persona hides one more rounded and reasoned. They often do.
6. KiwiSaver cuts from today. A post on the Standard points out the government's KiwiSaver changes, where the NZ$20 per week Member tax credit is cut in half, effectively start today. [Although the payments don't start today, as Member Tax Credits are paid at the end of the financial year. So if Labour wanted to reinstate the NZ$20 per week it wouldn't be that hard].
From today, the government’s contribution to your Kiwisaver has been cut in half. ‘What?’, you say, ‘Didn’t they say that would only come in if they got re-elected?’ Yeah, nah. They were lying to you. From today on, the government contribution is a maximum of $10 a week. Remember, this was the central plank of National’s savings budget.
I had hoped my fellow blogger David’s problems were a one-off, and someone at Tower Insurance had made a mistake. But that is clearly not the case. Tonight’s Campbell Live reveals this is a widespread approach by the insurance industry – if a house can be repaired, but the Government has deemed the land to be unsuitable for housing, insurance companies will pay only the repair costs, rather than the replacement costs, even though the house will have to be demolished anyway.
Some Christchurch homeowners are even hoping for another big quake - to cause more damage to their homes and finally convince their insurers that the homes cannot be repaird.
This is a disgraceful approach from the insurance industry – trawling the fine print, and without seeng the policies I would suggest with dubious interpretation, to minimise their financial liability and maximise that of landowners.
8. Is it worth it? I/S at No Right Turn asks whether the austerity measures being imposed on the Greeks are worth it to the IMF and EU. He thinks what's been happening throughout the Middle East could come to Greece, as there doesn't seem to be a political alternative to the status quo.
And the answer is also very simple: no. Because the consequences are exceedingly unpleasant. But I suppose (as always) it comes down to distribution: those unpleasant consequences will be suffered by Greeks, not by foreign bankers. So the banks are quite happy to burn Greece's democracy and turn the country into a quisling dictatorship in order to get their money.
The problem for this plan is that it might not work. Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya showed that even dictatorships cannot stand against their people. Greece's new foreign masters may be about to learn the same lesson. But even then, it comes down to distribution again: it will be Greek politicians, rather than foreign bankers, getting strung up with piano wire. The bankers are protected by the angry mob simply by virtue of not being there, living somewhere else. And so they can visit misery and destruction upon the rest of us, safe from ever having to suffer the consequences themselves.
Steven Baker is the MP for Wycombe in the U.K. and he writes,I had the great pleasure last night of speaking to the Economic Research Council on the subject of Political Economy and the Crisis. I argued that:
Economics should become political economy, embracing the problem of knowledge in the social sciences, morality (think Adam Smith’s Theory of Moral Sentiments) and public choice theory, in particular.
- Classical liberalism is the most robust political economy.
- The Austrian School offers important insights, particularly into business cycles and capital theory.
- The Austrian School predicted and intellectually survived the crisis.
- That reality is, or should be, a challenge to the contemporary paradigm.
- The implications for financial reform are profound.
I wonder how many MPs in N.Z. have ever said such things!
10. Charlie Chaplin plays golf. Great technique. Have a good weekend all.