Monthly Archives: August 2005

Let’s Talk About Tax.

Ruth Laugesen, a senior writer for “The Sunday Star Times”, asked me a dozen questions for her article ‘The Truth About Tax’ of 28 August, 2005 (It does not seem to be on the Web). Here follows my full answers to her questions.

Keywords: Regulation & Taxation;

Other articles on the 2005 Election Tax Debate

1. Are New Zealanders paying through the nose when it comes to tax? No. On international measures, the total tax take in New Zealand is not high. I think we are very lucky. We have a reasonable health system, a reasonable education system, a generous minimum retirement income system. They could be better of course, but it is almost a miracle as how good they are, given the little tax we pay.

Rabin’s Law

Someone (almost) always suffers when a new policy improves the lot of others.

Listener: 27 August, 2005.

Keywords: History of Ideas, Methodology & Philosophy;

Matthew Rabin is a wonderfully eccentric economist. His University of California at Berkeley website is littered with jokes. But his research on how we behave economically is some of the most interesting being done today, promising the 42-year-old a deserved economics prize in honour of Alfred Nobel.

Waste Not, Want Not: It’s Harder Than It Seems.

This was prepared as a Listener economics column on the assumption that National would propose fiscally prudent tax cuts, based on their cutting ‘waste’ (they mean ‘programs’). However, when National announced the size of its cuts, I canned the column for another. It wont be used, because its ‘news’ significance will have gone after the election, although no doubt I shall cannibalise some of it. I am putting it on the website for the record.

Keywords: Governance; Regulation & Taxation;

Other articles on the 2005 Election Tax Debate

Politicians “are talking as though it will be easy to cut enough fat from the state to pay for tax cuts – it won’t be. Believe me I’ve been there and I have done that. The combination of the State Enterprises Act, the Public Finance Act and the State Sector Act, which I helped to design and implement, brought remarkable improvements in the effectiveness of public organisations and lower costs. I wrote a textbook about it. But those systems have not been used vigorously for a while and some slack has got into the system. We can get better value for money but it has to be done with a scalpel not an axe. … Designing tax cuts is child’s play. It is on the expenditure side where all the problems are and where skill and experience are needed.” (Graham Scott)

What the Tax Debate Is Really About

Paper to a lunch meeting of the Diplomatic Club of Wellington, August 2005, Lunch Meeting.

Keywords: Regulation & Taxation;

Other articles on the 2005 Election Tax Debate

When I offered this topic, I planned to talk about the political-philosophical implications of the New Zealand tax debate in an international context. Since then, the two major parties have released their tax proposals, and I owe my audience a commentary on the differences.

On Being Pakeha: Some Thoughts Of a New Zealander

For Kapiti U3A, August 11, 2005

Keywords: Maori; Political Economy & History;

This paper begins with a little about my experience of growing up a Pakeha New Zealander. Although I dont think there is much of interest in me, it is perhaps worth noting that most of us have similarly conventional histories. I will then talk about my relationship with the Maori, and try to draw a few useful conclusions. I will finish with a discussion on nationalism and being a New Zealander, which is the topic I am currently working on in the context of my Marsden Research Grant on globalisation.

Further Developments in Estimating the Social Costs Of Substance Abuse


The views in this report on the Avoidable Costs of Substance Abuse Workshop (Ottawa June 21-22) are my own and do not reflect those of the others involved. It focusses on issues particularly pertinent to New Zealand. The paper was presented to a seminar of officials on 7 August, 2005. Comments Welcome [1]

Keywords: Health;


This report is on The Avoidable Costs Workshop held in Ottawa, Canada June 21-22, under the sponsorship of the Office of Research and Surveillance, Health Canada (Bureu de la rechercher and de la surveillance, Sante Canada).