Saturday, February 27, 2010

Roger Kerr: Does Economic Reform Mean Pain

Writing in the Dominion Post around the time of the release of the taskforce report on catching up with Australian income levels by 2025, prime minister John Key said, “Neither do New Zealanders need or want the government to embark on a hugely radical, disruptive policy agenda.”

The implicit reference is to New Zealand’s painful economic reforms of the 1980s and early 1990s. But do they bear comparison with what is needed today to catch up to Australia?

Allan Peachey: Performance Pay for Teachers

There is an elephant in the room of National Standards. That is performance pay for teachers. People around education circles are beginning to whisper it, a few have the courage to talk about it openly. Nobody who knows anything about how children learn doubts that it is the quality of the teacher in the classroom more than any other single factor that determines whether children learn or not. National Standards of themselves will not make children learn. The way that quality teachers use them will. If we accept that premise, then we have to ask why we are not prepared to pay highly performing teachers more than ordinary or poorly performing teachers are paid.

Ronald Kitching: Ludwig von Mises, Interventionism

Here is an extract from Ludwig von Mises’ book "Interventionism: An Economic Analysis", from Chapter V11 The Economic, Social, and Political Consequences of Interventionism, which I hope will inspire readers to examine his works ......

Frank Newman: MPs a sorry bunch

Our elected representatives really are a sorry lot of individuals. The Prime Minister of Australia was very sorry for removal of aboriginal children from their families decades ago. Likewise Prime Minister Gordon Brown was this week truly sorry for the lost generation of children extracted from their parents and sent to distant colonies like New Zealand. And locally this year Rodney has been sorry, Hone has too (but not truly and sincerely so) and last week former Minister Phil Heatley was tearfully sorry for shouting the party faithful a couple of bottles of wine at a National Party do.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ron Smith: Politics and Political Theatre: Invading Iraq

There were a number of good reasons for invading Iraq in 2003 and only one of them was a potential threat from weapons of mass destruction. To begin with, Iraq was one of the most atrocious regimes of the Twentieth Century, which over the course of more than twenty years had killed millions of its own people, together with substantial numbers of Iranians and Kuwaitis. To have ended the tyranny of Saddam Hussein was an enormous boon to the Iraqi people, who are now in control of their affairs in a way that they have not been in modern times. Of course, Iraqi society is still riven by tribal and religious differences and a continuing propensity to use violence where there are now democratic processes available. Whatever the ostensible or imputed purpose of the invasion, the people of Iraq now have a chance to establish institutions and social practices that meet their needs and aspirations. This is surely a good thing and not just for Iraqis.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Frank Newman: Time for mandatory disclosure of fund managers

Questions regarding the way Huljich Wealth Management has been reporting historical investment returns raises some wider issues about the way fund manager performance is reported. If investors are to be better informed as the current government expects, then a good starting point would be to ensure all fund managers are reporting returns in a consistent manner, as there is none at present.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ronald Kitching: Ludwig von Mises, The Anti-Capitalist Mentality

Here is an essay that I hope will inspire readers to get Ludwig von Mises’ book and study it. It is an extract from his book titled The Anti-Capitalist Mentality: A nation is the more prosperous today the less it has tried to put obstacles in the way of the spirit of free enterprise and private initiative...

Mike Butler: Whanau Ora questions remain

A report on Whanau Ora separate Maori welfare, which was made available to the Government last week, remains under wraps while Prime Minister John Key has declared that the initiative would be open to all New Zealanders.

Possibly Mr Key wants to diffuse criticism since separate welfare plans based on race remain as unpopular as they were when the previous Clark-Cullen government backed away from its Closing The Gaps policy.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mike Butler: Tax proposals from a landlord's perspective

The National Party was voted in on a policy of cutting personal tax. Last Tuesday Prime Minister John Key told parliament of an intended raft of tax increases, including hiking GST to 15 percent, to achieve an unspecified decrease in the top personal tax rate. He had ignored his pre-election promise of no increase to GST, so was obliged to weather accusations in the House of an astounding flip-flop. Even so, by Saturday he blithely claimed, in an interview on Radio NZ, that everyone would be better off.

Frank Newman: Co-management with Maori

New reports that Maori were charging media groups to enter a Marae at Waitangi should come as no surprise. It is totally consistent with the real agenda behind the Maori rights groups – which is about money not mana. This is why the government is foolish to enter into co-management arrangements with Maori groups, especially in sensitive areas like the foreshore and seabed. Maori know theses areas are a perpetual goldmine, hence the vehemence with which the Maori Party is pursuing this issue, including threats that it will withdraw support for the government should it not get its way.

Allan Peachey: Calling the Shots in Education

The debate over National Standards is interesting for what it tells us about who controls education policy in New Zealand. It also contains lessons for future education reform. The debate is simple. The Government wants National Standards. This was a significant policy platform for the 2008 election and the National Party was overwhelmingly voted into office. The parents clearly want National Standards and have expressed that view strongly. A lot of principals and teachers want National Standards. The teacher unions apparently don’t. How arrogant was it of the NZEI to dismiss parental support of the Standards by claiming that many parents do not understand them?!!

David Round: Absurd Treaty of Waitangi Claims

I daresay, gentle readers, that no more than me do you understand precisely the difference between analogue and digital television. If you do understand, do not bother explaining, because I might not understand your explanation, and even if I did I would soon forget it. I tend to operate on a need-to-remember basis. The important thing to note for present purposes is that in the next three to five years there is to be a switchover from analogue to digital. This is evidently going to be an improvement from a television point of view.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

David Round: Is the Treaty of Waitangi Holding New Zealand Back?

You may perhaps have seen, reasonably early on Waitangi Day, a debate on the Marae programme on Television One, about whether the Treaty of Waitangi is holding New Zealand back. It was recorded in Auckland a couple of days earlier, and involved four speakers ~ Stephen Franks and Tim Wikiriwhi for the motion, and Hana O’Regan and Matthew Hooton  against. There was a hand-picked studio audience, reflecting a rich diversity of points of view ~ I was in the front row, in the white jacket, & managed to say a couple of things ~ and I thought that as television debates went, it actually did not too bad a job.

Roger Kerr: Budget 2010 Will Be Test of Governments Resolve

Last month the government released its Budget Policy Statement (BPS) for 2010, along with its 2009 Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update.

Shortly the Finance and Expenditure Committee of parliament will be considering submissions on the BPS and the process of putting together the budget will be in full swing.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mike Butler: Between rich and poor

While the 2025 taskforce shows a widening gap between living standards of New Zealand and Australia over 40 years, this blog shows where New Zealand and Australia sit between the world’s richest and poorest nations in terms of per capita gross domestic product (GDP).

The 2025 taskforce, headed by former National Party leader and Reserve Bank Governor Don Brash, produced a report entitled “Answering the $64,000 question: Closing the income gap with Australia by 2025”.

The report shows that average Australian incomes are around 35 percent higher than those in New Zealand, which means a gap of $64,000 for a family of four.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ron Smith: Captives of the War on Terror



In my earlier posting on ‘BreakingViews’ (‘Prisoners and War – Why we need Guantanamo’) I argued that, on the basis of international law, American authorities and, indeed, other Western states, could consider the Christmas Day bomber and any other captives of the ‘war on terror’, as either ‘enemy combatants’ or as criminals. I now want to argue that there are sound prudential reasons for choosing the former and considerable disadvantages in choosing the latter.