Saturday, September 20, 2014

Steve Lafleur from Canada: Mid-Sized Cities Can Attract Tourists by Being Themselves

People flock to major cities to take advantage of unique experiences. In theory, most of the types of activities tourists seek out can be replicated most anywhere, but people are willing to pay a large premium and go out of their way to see a show on Broadway, or eat a Philly cheese steak in Philadelphia. 

These unique experiences don’t merely appeal to tourists. They are part of what keep people coming Downtown after hours, rather than staying in the suburbs. Having a glass of wine or coffee at a patio on a cobblestone sidewalk can be a much more enjoyable experience than doing in a suburban strip mall.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Matt Ridley in the UK: It's an official protection racket

Nobody seems to agree whether Islamic State is best described as a gang of criminals, a terrorist organisation or a religious movement. It clearly has a bit of all three. But don’t forget that it aspires, for better or worse, to be a government. A brutal, bigoted and murderous government, its appeal is at least partly that it seems capable of imposing its version of “order” on the territory it controls, however briefly. It reminds us that the origin and defining characteristic of all government is that it is an organisation with a monopoly on violence.
The deal implicit in being governed is at root a simple one: we allow the people who govern us to have an exclusive right to commit violence, so long as they direct it at other countries and at criminals.

Jeremy Sammut from Australia: Hard conversation about Aboriginal culture and child protection

Conservative social commentators have indulged in 'divisive grandstanding' by linking Aboriginal culture to the abuse and neglect of Aboriginal children, according to Ngiare Brown, the deputy chairman of the Prime Minister's Indigenous Advisory Council.

These claims suppress the hard conversation we need to have about Aboriginal culture and child protection.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Karl du Fresne: Politics isn't all dirt, even if it sometimes looks that way

Don’t despair. Things are not as bad as they seem. At least that’s the optimistic message I’ve taken from all the unedifying political argy-bargy of the past few weeks.
It’s easy to think the worst, mind you. First, there was the YouTube video of Christchurch students moronically chanting “F… John Key”. That was a low in New Zealand politics, but it took only a couple of weeks to be surpassed in loathsomeness by a “song” – I use that word in the loosest possible sense – in which a semi-literate swamp-dweller snarled that he wanted to kill John Key and f … his daughter.

Frank Newman: RMA racketeers

Unfortunately the population at large do not appreciate how much the Resource Management Act (RMA) has destroyed the economy. I guess they don't because they are not engaged in the RMA process so it does not affect them directly.

Bob Jones summed up some of the problems in an article called "Councils promoting rackets of cultural correctness a disgrace" (NZ Herald of the 9/9/14). It's well worth a read. Here are some snippets from the article.

Matt Ridley from the UK: Whatever happened to global warming?

On Sept. 23 the United Nations will host a party for world leaders in New York to pledge urgent action against climate change. Yet leaders from China, India and Germany have already announced that they won't attend the summit and others are likely to follow, leaving President Obama looking a bit lonely. Could it be that they no longer regard it as an urgent threat that some time later in this century the air may get a bit warmer?

Friday, September 12, 2014

Reuben Chapple: "Rednecks" and their discontents

“Redneck” is an imported American term that has no place in New Zealand’s public discourse. 

It refers to “poor Southern white trash”, who before the American Civil War, were the overseer class on the estates owned by rich planters. They’d sat on horses toting whips and guns, overseeing black slaves as they went about their work in the cotton fields.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Matt Ridley from the UK: Try free enterprise in Europe

The financial crisis was supposed to have discredited the “Anglo-Saxon” model of economic management as surely as the fall of the Berlin wall discredited communism. Yet last week’s numbers on economic growth show emphatically the opposite. The British economy is up 3.2 per cent in a year, having generated an astonishing 820,000 jobs. We are behaving more like Canada, Australia and America than Europe.
If you think one year is too short, consider that (as David Smith pointed out in the Sunday Times) Britain’s GDP is now 30 per cent higher than it was in 1999, whereas Germany, France and Italy are just 18 per cent, 17 per cent and 3 per cent more prosperous respectively. For all Britain’s huge debt burden, high taxes and chronic problems, we do still seem to be able to grow the economy. Thank heavens we stayed out of the euro.

Frank Newman: Affordable housing

The latest issue of ANZ Property Focus included a feature on the 2013 census. This comment about housing was particularly interesting.
"Rising prices for residential land have made the quarter acre dream unattainable for many NZ households. The proportion of standalone houses has fallen from just over 80% of the private dwelling stock in 1991 to just over 75% by 2013. Despite this, the average consent for a new residential dwelling averaged 198 square metres in the March 2013 quarter, as compared to just 174 square metres in early 2001 and 138 in the early 1990s. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Stephen Franks: Competition to end parole

ACT and the Conservatives are making excellent criminal justice policy announcements. If both are in Parliament we might see an end to the cosy major party consensus that has fostered our high rates of serious violent and youth crime.

Garth McVicar's announcement on parole is more straightforward than I had expected. Most criminals come up for parole at one third of their Judge-given sentence. Garth says:

Barend Vlaardingerbroek from Lebanon: Colonial boundaries here to stay

When ISIS announced the founding of the Islamic State, its propaganda machine made a big deal of the fact that it was scuppering the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 that was to shape the political map of the post-Ottoman Middle East. This agreement was negotiated between the British and the French, with Russian complicity, with a view to establishing each Western power’s sphere of influence and ensuring that others kept their noses out.

It was not, of course, the first time that the imperial powers had drawn lines on maps of regions far away from home.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Mike Butler: Poverty, wealth, and the election

Dirty politics from the Left during the current New Zealand general election campaign obscures policy at a time when the issue of wealth or poverty and how to get there should be critical. Party policy can give a picture of the sort of country that the various politicians imagine. A wealthy country is good for everyone. A poor country is not. I looked for what the parties said about wealth and poverty and this is what they posted.

Wealth and poverty don’t just occur without a reason. Both are outcomes of human activity. Diligent activity towards a specific goal can result in wealth. Sitting around doing nothing will get you nothing.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Frank Newman: CGT winners and losers

 This week I conclude the discussion about Capital Gains Tax (CGT). A number of countries have capital gains taxes as part of their revenue raising regime, so one does not have to extend the imagination too much to see the effects should it be introduced here.

There is an inescapable truism in tax policy that no rational person, and few politicians, would dispute: Money flows into the area of least tax. For this reason good tax law is simple (GST for example). The problems start when exemptions appear.

Karl du Fresne: If National loses, it knows where the blame lies

Everything about the Dirty Politics affair is reprehensible. Let’s start with Cameron Slater. I fully understood the angry reaction to his headline “Feral dies in Greymouth, did world a favour” after a West Coast man was killed in a car that was allegedly trying to escape the police.

Slater wasn’t to know that the dead man’s family had already lost three other sons in accidents, including one in the Pike River explosion. But anyone with a modicum of sensitivity would have realised a family would be grieving. A cruel and gratuitous taunt wasn’t going to help.

Reuben Chapple: No English language Treaty of Waitangi

Several weeks after the Treaty of Waitangi was first signed in Northland, the Crown dispatched Captain William Cornwallis Symonds to seek the aid of various local missionaries in collecting signatures from Maori chiefs residing at the South Head of the Manukau Harbour, at Port Waikato, at Kawhia, and further south down to Taranaki.

Captain Symonds arrived at Port Waikato to find Reverend Maunsell had already taken advantage of a hui convened for another purpose to present the Treaty to local chiefs. That meeting had been held on 11 April 1840, before a large Maori assembly of approximately 1500.

Brian Gaynor: Greying of workforce good for economy

The New Zealand workforce has changed dramatically over the past 24 years.

In mid-1990 our workforce was young and energetic with 338,500, or 22 per cent, of all employed workers in the 15 to 24 age bracket. By mid-2014 the total number of 15 to 24 year old workers had declined to 325,700 or just 14 per cent of the workforce.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Frank Newman: Capital Gains Tax details explained

Although the media's focus of the general election has been on dirty politics, there are some critical policy issues defining the parties. Tax is one of them.
Labour, supported by its potential coalition partners, would increases taxes by raising income tax rates at the top end and introduce a capital gains tax (CGT). It says a CGT is needed to tax property speculators and make house prices more affordable. (In reality, speculators are already caught and the CGT net is cast much wider than real estate to include shares and businesses.)

Mike Butler: Nursing a grudge Tuhoe style

A claim that Crown soldiers threw Tuhoe children into the air and impaled them on bayonets, reported yesterday, offers a glimpse of how Tuhoe have nursed a grudge and how the facts don’t back their beliefs.

Kaumatua Taane Rakuraku “remembered” this story for the benefit of reporter Michael Fox of Stuff news as the Crown prepared to apologise for land confiscations, indiscriminate killings, including of women and children, and scorched-earth warfare. (1)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Karl du Fresne: I know what Shakespeare would have said

Let me get this straight. Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil site is hacked in retaliation for a post that upset a lot of people and as a result, a great swag of incriminating emails ends up in the hands of Nicky Hager. Meanwhile, Labour’s enemies discover there are weaknesses in the Labour Party’s website that enable them to go poking around there for sensitive information, some of which ends up with Slater. 
I’m no lawyer, but it seems to me that if either of these acts was illegal, it’s more likely to have been the hacking of Whale Oil. So why, on Q+A and The Nation this morning, did the interviewers apply the blowtorch to Slater and go soft on Hager?

Reuben Chapple: Illegal Immigration

Socialists are not nationalists, they’re internationalists. And they know that the nation state operates as a prophylactic against the “world-mindedness” they mean to encourage. 

Their underlying agenda is to collapse the nation state into a global multi-culture, then argue that since we’re all one world now anyway, a one-world government is “for the best.”