Category Archives: Pundit

Reducing External Political Interference In New Zealand: A Modest Proposal.

Are we too generous about the civilian rights of non-doms, who do not pay tax on all their incomes?  Bryan Gould has drawn attention to the dangers we face in New Zealand of foreign political interference by funding contributions to political activity. His apposite example is Chinese money being channeled into the change-the-flag campaign. Would it…
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Bubble and Pop.

The history of New Zealand is speculation on farm land which stokes up debt, with disastrous consequences when the bubble bursts. The New Zealand industry is going through another one.  During the Great War, farm land prices boomed. When farm product prices collapsed in 1920, farmers walked off their land. It was not that the…
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Do inequality and poverty matter?

A journalist’s list of the ten most important issues politically facing us did not mention inequality and poverty. Why? A month ago Fairfax political journalist Tracey Watkins listed the following ten areas to watch out for in the political year: Spies (especially the review and resulting legislation) Iraq (will the two year mission be extended?)…
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Are we spending enough on healthcare?

The government is restraining its spending on healthcare – perhaps by over $2 billion a year. Is that what we really want? A common assumption is that public spending on healthcare rises faster than GDP. There are three reasons behind this assumption. First, an aging population requires more healthcare. The over-65s consume more healthcare resources…
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Do The ISDS Provisions In The TPPA Reduce Our Sovereignty?

The short answer is all trade reduces sovereignty to some extent. The TPPA is no exception, but its effect is probably small.  Allow that we had to give away something, such as increased copyright extensions, for better access for our exports; the real issue for us in the TPPA is that it reduces ‘sovereignty’. To…
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A Return To ‘Think Big’?

The strange economic assessment of the proposed extension to Wellington Airport’s runway reduces to a plea for subsidies from tax and ratepayers. I am sometimes asked to assist voluntary groups with a critique of a commissioned economic assessment of a development project. I decline because of the high standard required from me – one which…
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Whadarya?

The Ethnic Future for New Zealand Is Unknown. But It Will Be Diverse and Different  The promise of increased future ethnic diversity is undoubtedly true, but often the statistical projections are both misleading and obscure the real issues. Each Population Census asks the respondents’ ethnicity. That is not their race, which is a genetic notion….
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Is Our Economics Good Enough?

A report on social services by the Productivity Commission raises serious problems about the quality of analysis in New Zealand. There is a widely held perception that the Productivity Commission, which makes recommendations to the government on how to increase productivity, is neoliberal. Partly that is because the commission was set up at the instigation…
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The TPP, Sovereignty and Copyright

While TPP – any trade deal – compromises sovereignty it does not mean we cannot respond constructively to unsatisfactory aspects such as those involving intellectual property.  The stupidest thing said about the TPP deal – thus far – is the claim that it does not reduce New Zealand’s sovereignty. Of course it does. Agreeing to…
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Thrive: The Power of Psychological Therapy: Richard Layard & David M Clark

The book’s ‘message is as compelling as it is important: the social costs of mental illness are terribly high and the costs of effective treatments are surprisingly low’.  Daniel Kahneman (psychologist and Nobel economics laureate). In due course this Penguin is likely to become fashionable – like The Sprit Level and Capital in the Twenty First Century – because it…
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