Government Spending Ideology

Written By: - Date published: 7:45 am, December 16th, 2010 - 29 comments
Categories: class war, dpf, public services, tax - Tags: ,

David Farrar sees that the government is borrowing too much – $300 million each week.  But National’s tax cuts for the rich are obviously not to blame, no it’s the bloated public service.

He would like any party that wants to be government to declare what percentage of GDP is an appropriate amount of government spending.  Because all parties I’m sure have an ideological figure that it should be.  Rather than just enough to provide the public services citizens need, but still balancing the books.

The National Party sounding board is glad to see that the government aims to bring it down to the low 30s, but wants it to be mid 20s – “maybe as high as 28% but no higher”.

That would entail massive cuts to public services.  Like the US & Australia you’d want private health insurance and private education for your kids to match the services you get for free in NZ.  Your tax bills may be lower, but your other costs would rise much more than you’d save.  And, as it turns out, the US and Australian governments still spend a lot more than 30% of GDP.  Australia is low for a western country at 34.2% and the US is at 37.4%.

Looking at US Right-wing think tank The Heritage Foundation’s figures, western democracies all spend well above the levels Farrar advocates.  The UK is at 44%, Canada 39.1%, Germany 44.2%, France 52.3%, Sweden 52.4%.  Even Heritage Foundation and National poster-boy / basket-case Ireland is at 35.7%.  If you want good services and a stable society that’s what you pay.  Oddly in the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom Index almost all the top countries are marked down for high government spending -the only exceptions being Hong Kong (not actually a country) and Singapore – 2 incredibly unequal territories where you give up a lot of other freedoms.

Those with ideological blinkers, like Farrar and many in National, cannot see the high correlation between being a free and stable country and paying for it.  They’d rather screw the poor and live in a country like Azerbaijan (27.4%), Kazakhstan (24.4%) or Fiji (25.4%).

29 comments on “Government Spending Ideology ”

  1. higherstandard 1

    The only solution I can see to NZ s current economic woes is to.

    1. cut spending

    and

    2. increase taxes

    • Marty G 1.1

      just as a few non-radical suggestions:

      stop new motorway construction (invest half of what’s saved in public transport), half the new capital investment budget of the defence force, no new prisons. Keep real per capita funding of health and education at 2008 levels or higher.

      You’ll still save maybe half a billion a year.

      Undo National’s tax cuts for the rich and you’ll raise another billion or so.

      We’ll return to surplus a year or two earlier and borrow ten billion or more less in the process.

      • higherstandard 1.1.1

        I believe we need as a country to have that the kind of debate about what we can afford and need and how we’re going to pay for it, otherwise we ‘ll be trapped into the cyclical boom and bust for evermore.

        • Rex Widerstrom 1.1.1.1

          Well said, higherstandard. One side giveth and the other taketh away (but giveth other stuff instead) is a recipe for getting at best half-arsed projects with little or no cost-benefit anaylsis and at worst, a huge waste of public money.

          The worst example I’ve seen is in WA, where the Liberal government decided the state needed a train line from Perth to Bunbury (a small city about 200 km south). They started building it, got about as far as the southern part of Perth, and got defeated.

          The new Labor government had agreed with the “need” (I’ve yet to see a credible cost/benefit analysis, though as a commuter it’s great to read a book on the train and not have to drive) but couldn’t bee seen to completely agree with the Liberals so they abandoned the track and took a completely different route south, even though that meant tunnelling under the city and tearing up a really efficient, totally separate bus lane that ran down the middle of the freeway.

          The whole thing was fraught by union trouble; the state government was sued by the contractor; it all took three times as long as it should have and cost almost twice as much as budgeted (and that’s not counting the abandoned line to nowhere).

          I’ve deliberately refreained from finding out the dollar cost of this stupidity, as I fear I wouldn’t live through the experience.

          But the point of this rambling discourse is to point out that the architect of this monument to hubris, Allannah McTiernan, is widely hailed by punters, business people and pollies alike as “effective” because she “got things done”.

          Until we get beyond that level of tit-for-tat posturing, take politics (and politicians) off the table, and decide what we want and what we’re prepared to pay for it, we’re just going to have a series of cock-ups foisted upon us.

          But of course it’ll never happen, because pork barrel infrastructure promises are the butter of politics; the bread being “more police and longer sentences”, and both parties will continue to serve them up.

    • A 1.2

      We need to significantly raise taxes in the long term. We cheap out on things like education, health care and major infrastructure, which are things that the state is better at providing than the market. At the same time, we spend far too much on competitive consumption (status goods), most of which ends up being wasted and does absolutely nothing to improve the quality of life of most people (except the very few winners of the status competition).

  2. Bored 2

    The lines are drawn, those who have versus those who dont. Full on class war will come with the economic decline we are heading into as the energy runs out. The “middle” who all the politicians seem to chase will have to take sides. I have no confidence the fence sitting “aspiring” centre will go with their real interests, more likely their dreams of continuous growth, prosperity and the associated baubles. Then watch the turmoil as a destitute desparate middle emerges demanding jobs, welfare, health and education

  3. Rob A 3

    It seems to me that this is a long term problem needing a long term solution instead of what we’ve been doing like playing with tax rates and govt spending.

    How about we take the billions in the Super Fund and Kiwisaver and invest some of it back into New Zealand industry instead of sending it all overseas.

    For instance the company where I work tried for two years to raise capital fpr expansion in New Zealand but in the end we’ve sold 51% of it to the Chinese.

    • That’s the constant refrain isnit it? The Chinese are taking over so lets become a pawn in the US desperate struggle to stop the Chinese. But US corporates are in China exploiting Chinese workers. General Motors majorityowned by the US government has revived by expansion in China.
      The common enemy of NZ workers and Chinese and US workers is the US and Chinese ruling classes. It is not nation against nation but class against class. NZ is a pawn in the competition between US and Chiinese ruling classes over global domination of resources and workers. The worlds workers have no interest in siding with their national bosses in this struggle. We have a common interest in socialising those resources and managing them with our own labour.

    • prism 3.2

      China story. I was talking to a chap who buys fabric internationally for 10 stores in NZ. Much of what’s on offer comes from China. Interestingly, the Chinese haven’t any interest in doing business with NZs – we are too small to be bothered with. So they announce themselves as Australians and then bargain their way down to the amounts of fabric they need. The Chinese expect them to have a market size that will provide repeat orders and put up with these otherwise minor orders.

      After all the NZ manufacturing business our government has abandoned by withdrawing nearly all tariffs, are we to find that we can’t even buy the goods overseas that we require?

      antispam – fact

  4. prism 4

    Wealthy people can be very hard to extract payment for services from. They know what they want but when settling bills time comes, don’t want to pay for it. Likewise with our country, once they have the money they want, they don’t want to pay into the system to keep the standards that supported their accretion of money as expected from an advanced developed country.

    • Bored 4.1

      You are right, the wealthy wont give a cent without coercion, in fact they will also try and take more at the very time they are pressed to give. Their response backed by historic evidence of every similar event will be to back whichever armed coercive group they can create or align with to reinforce their hold on the failing status quo.

  5. Nick C 5

    This post is actually quite well written relative to some of the rubbish the bloggers here write. I agree that how high our taxes and government spending are is simply a manifestation of what sort of services we want then government to provide and what sort we want the provite sector to provide. I think the reason that those on ‘the right’ generally call for lower government spending and lower taxes is that we believe we get more choice when recieving services from the market. When I go to the supermarket and any other market I get to pick every single product I buy amoung thousands of other products every single time. When I got to the ballot box I get 2 ticks, to pick from a handful of parties with any chance of making parliament, and only once every 3 years. Statistically it is almost impossible for my individual vote to in any way affect the election outcome.

    I think the issue of equality is different from who provides what services also. You could say ‘the poor person gets no real choice at the supermarket’ and that is true to an extent. But say we were to have a guarenteed minimum income so that all citizens were able to live without getting free stuff. I think the case for governmetn provision of a lot of free stuff dries up quickly.

    • Bunji 5.1

      I see a great misnomer in the concept of “choice”, which is popular with many politicians (it was certainly the mantra when I was in the UK).

      I don’t want a “choice” of schools, I want my local one to be the best possible. I don’t need it to be better than my neighbours – I want every New Zealander to have the best possible education. Partly that’s altruistic, but even if every bone of my body is selfish, I’ll do better if I’m in a highly educated society of achievers.

      I don’t want a “choice” of doctor, or hospital, or even medical treatment. I’m not in a position to choose who or what’s best, so I just want the highest quality we can achieve and afford (cost being a particular issue with modern health care). I don’t see I deserve better than anyone else, so I don’t see that I should get a choice that disadvantages someone else.

      I don’t want a “choice” in my national infrastructure either. I don’t need 2 roads / sets of rails / lines of fibre between me and everyone I might want to be in contact with. I don’t see any second option as helping me at all, it’s just consuming the nation’s resources.

      In a lot of these things “choice” merely equates to me getting something better at someone else’s loss. Which equates to those with the wealth and education getting the best choices, which quickly evolves into a privileged class and an underclass caught into a poverty trap.

      I’d rather no “choice” and a focus on getting everywhere the best we can, particularly on those basic services that everyone should have.

      (I’m quite happy to have choice on my washing powder though, although I’m not sure that does me any good either – I don’t really know which one works best for my buck, and they all claim top-billing…)

      [I’ve made this into a post, to allow more discussion on “choice”]

    • Bunji 5.2

      I’d also say that the average person can have a lot more “choice” in their political party. If people get involved (and they used to in much greater numbers than they do now) they can influence the direction of that party. It’s a lot easier influencing parties that you already largely agree with, or small parties, but everyone can have input a lot more often than once every 3 years, with 2 ticks (and some want to take one of those ticks away!)

    • Jeremy Harris 5.3

      Nick C, has covered much of what I’d like to say but I’d also add that when running a business government tax rates greatly affect your ability to expand and hire more people and invest in increasing productivity… When it comes time to pay staff, their salaries minus the income taxes are paid out to them as if salary minus tax was their salaries but the taxes on their salaries are just another business expense, ditto company tax rates…

      That would entail massive cuts to public services. Like the US & Australia you’d want private health insurance and private education for your kids to match the services you get for free in NZ. Your tax bills may be lower, but your other costs would rise much more than you’d save.

      What evidence caused you to make this statement..?

      • Bunji 5.3.1

        Having to pay the staff greatly affects your ability to expand too. But wages and taxes are the price we pay for a stable, healthy, well-regulated and policed society, where people can a) afford your product and b) can’t murder you if they don’t like your product (see: Somalia).

        Evidence of other costs increasing more than you save in taxes: the US health system. With 16.7% of the population uninsured (and paying the consequences with their health instead of their wallet), still Americans pay as a country twice as much as other western countries. Private education economics don’t work out great either.

        • Jeremy Harris 5.3.1.1

          @Bunji, the cost of Police, Armed Forces, Courts, Prisons and Parliament usually runs at about 5% of GDP, so when your talking about the difference between that example, countries (who objectively have out of control government spending in Europe that you cite) and Somalia, Somalia really is a redundant example… Somalia is an example of no government not small government, a fact seemingly lost on those on this blog that constantly bring it up whenever a right winger speaks up…

          The US Health System is hardly private, Medicare and Medicaid are massive programmes, it is a mixture and is taking the worst parts of both government run health care and private big business protected by government…

          • Bunji 5.3.1.1.1

            As I specified stable and healthy as well, you might like to include the costs of public health and unemployment. Without unemployment benefits there’ll be a lot more disorder, and without public health your workers will be a lot more sick.

            Somalia was obviously a cheap shot, but they do technically have a government…

      • Pascal's bookie 5.3.2

        When it comes time to pay staff, their salaries minus the income taxes are paid out to them as if salary minus tax was their salaries but the taxes on their salaries are just another business expense,

        This is just sophistry. If PAYE really was an extra business expense above and beyond labour costs, which is what you are implying, then employers would get to pocket any cuts to income tax rates. If the payment of PAYE is stressing the company, then it is their labour costs that are the stress.

        The broader point just seems to be special pleading. ‘Oh if we didn’t have to pay tax we could do ever so much good, someone else should carry the tax burden.’ But everyone can argue that. Employees could similarly argue that paying their tax was greatly affecting their ability to create more retail demand, and make more use of small businesses like lawn-mowing and house cleaning services, builders, house painters and artists and what have you.

        In the US at the moment companies are hoarding cash. So are the banks. Why? It’s not profitable to be expanding production and hiring people because the demand isn’t there. Demand for services will always be the primary driver of whether or not a company expands or contracts. Beyond that I’d guess that availability of labour and capital would be the next biggest issues. The idea that taxation on profits, which is far a more predictable variable than anything else in business, is the thing that’s holding them back just seems silly in light of all the other things.

        • Jeremy Harris 5.3.2.1

          I’m not talking about companies in stressed situations but if PAYE was reduced the reduction would intially go to employees yes, over time large reductions have the same effect as a reduced or removed business expense, including the ability to pay higher wages…

          The broader point just seems to be special pleading. ‘Oh if we didn’t have to pay tax we could do ever so much good, someone else should carry the tax burden.’ But everyone can argue that. Employees could similarly argue that paying their tax was greatly affecting their ability to create more retail demand, and make more use of small businesses like lawn-mowing and house cleaning services, builders, house painters and artists and what have you.

          No you misunderstand the point I was making I think, I don’t want someone else to carry the tax burden, I want the burden removed through reduced spending…

          That is part of what was so predictable about the massive hole in the Treasury books, cutting taxes, especially taxes for the wealthiest individuals, while not cutting spending by a greater amount was always going to fail as an economic driver… What I thought they should have done (at it’s simplest level) was introduce a tax free threshold (to put money in the lowest earners pockets) at a cost of $2 billion a year and cut WFF at a saving of $3 billion a year…

          US banks and companies are hoarding money for many reasons, they are unsure about Congress, the Fed, Europe and Wall St, with good reason…

          The idea that taxation on profits, which is far a more predictable variable than anything else in business, is the thing that’s holding them back just seems silly in light of all the other things.

          It not variability but the fact that money isn’t on the balance sheet…

          • Lanthanide 5.3.2.1.1

            I was going to make the same reply that PB did earlier, but couldn’t be arsed because I figure you’d probably misunderstand it anyway. And you did.

            “I’m not talking about companies in stressed situations but if PAYE was reduced the reduction would intially go to employees yes, over time large reductions have the same effect as a reduced or removed business expense, including the ability to pay higher wages…”

            Sorry, but that is complete and utter bullshit. I’ll give you some examples:
            A: Tax rate is 30%, person gets paid $100k, gets $70k in pocket
            B: Tax rate is 15%, person gets paid $100k, gets $85k in pocket

            In both cases, the cost to the business is $100k, reducing the PAYE rate hasn’t saved the business any money.

            Now, how about this:
            C: Tax rate is 15%, person gets paid $82,353, gets $70k in pocket

            In this case the company has gone from paying $100k to only $82,353 with the staff member still getting the same after-tax rate. But this company is now paying it’s staff less than it was paying in case A.

            So if anything, all this allows a company to do is pay their staff less, while still giving the staff the same after-tax rate. Over the long term, this doesn’t enable the company to pay their staff more:
            D: Tax rate is 15%, person get’s paid $117,647, gets $100k in the pocket.
            E: Tax rate is 30%, person get’s paid $142,857, gets $100k in the pocket.

            Again the only difference here is that a lower tax rate allows the company to pay the employee less money than they would in a higher tax environment, but with the employee getting the same net benefit.

            Again as PB said, effectively what you are arguing is that if the government cuts personal tax rates, a business will happily say to it’s employees “we are going to cut your pay at the same rate, so you get the same after-tax pay”. I don’t think they’d have many people working for them after pulling a stunt like that.

            Long story short: employees care about their headline pay rate specifically, as tax is universal and will be applied to them equally anywhere they work. So any business trying to take advantage of a tax rate change would have to pay their employees LESS, rather than more as you’re trying to say.

            • Pascal's bookie 5.3.2.1.1.1

              Remember when telecom shareholders clawed back some of the CEO’s dosh when the top tax rate got slashed?

              Me neither.

              • Lanthanide

                Good example.

                My boyfriend also pointed out that all job advertisements are for your salary, eg before tax, not your after tax salary.

          • Pascal's bookie 5.3.2.1.2

            No you misunderstand the point I was making I think, I don’t want someone else to carry the tax burden, I want the burden removed through reduced spending…

            That might be true, but it’s a separate point. You were, and seem to be still, saying, that taxation is the main thing holding companies back. The effect on the govts books of cutting taxes is irrelevant in finding out if that is true.

            The only thing that matters in finding out if that is true is “the fact that the money is on the balance sheet”

            I agree, and I’ve said repeatedly, that cutting taxes without cutting spending is a bullshit mess. It’s not a tax cut until the spending is cut. What it is, is a transference of the tax burden, not only onto future taxpayers, but usually onto different types of tax payers.

            It not variability but the fact that money isn’t on the balance sheet…

            But you are talking as if a tax on profits destroys the availability of capital. That’s silly. businesses have many many more sources of capital for expansion than retained profits.

            At the moment for example, there is all that cash that companies and banks are hoarding. Your answer doesn’t explain this at all, it just waives it’s hands at the government as if that, rather than the collapse in demand is the primary issue.

            What are your thoughts on the importance of aggregate demand, and what do you think would be the effect on demand of the tax shift you suggest re WFF/tax free threshold?

            That’s the problem I have with what you are saying. You point out the benefits of lower taxation, but don’t seem to account for the fact that those taxes are mostly redistributed in ways that create demand. Remove the taxes, you reduce that demand. It needs to be replaced somewhere. We can’t cut taxes for the wealthy by eliminating transfer payments, and still have the same amount of demand in the economy.

            • Lanthanide 5.3.2.1.2.1

              Also note that the majority of money that is invested into a business as capital to help it grow and expand is tax deductible anyway, so a lower corporate tax rate should make no difference in investment into companies. The only thing that increases is your after-tax profits (which goes to the shareholders). In real, practical terms it probably means that a company that was going to go out of business in March, can now operate for a bit long and instead goes out of business in April.

              In other words you’re unlikely to see a corporate tax cut passed on to customers; more likely the tax cut will be absorbed into the balance sheet to help recoup an eroding profit margin (as they tend to do over time due to inflation and labour costs). In this case the corporate rate is going from 30% to 28%, which is even less likely to be passed on to customers because it’s such a small amount,.

  6. MrSmith 6

    Well I think i have just fallen on the Nat’s plan to raise productivity and eliminate the ‘P’ epidemic. Cocaine my friends, this stuff is pouring into the country! so not much sleep for some, may as well go to work then and at $300 a gram they will need to work, productivity and ‘P’ problem solved just like that .

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    Hi,We’ll get to the horrific world of male diet influencers (AKA Beefy Boys) shortly, but first you will be glad to know that since I sent out the Webworm explaining why the assassination attempt on Donald Trump was not a false flag operation, I’ve heard from a load of people ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    3 days ago
  • It's Starting To Look A Lot Like… Y2K

    Do you remember Y2K, the threat that hung over humanity in the closing days of the twentieth century? Horror scenarios of planes falling from the sky, electronic payments failing and ATMs refusing to dispense cash. As for your VCR following instructions and recording your favourite show - forget about it.All ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    4 days ago
  • Bernard’s Saturday Soliloquy for the week to July 20

    Climate Change Minister Simon Watts being questioned by The Kākā’s Bernard Hickey.TL;DR: My top six things to note around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the week to July 20 were:1. A strategy that fails Zero Carbon Act & Paris targetsThe National-ACT-NZ First Coalition Government finally unveiled ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    4 days ago
  • Pharmac Director, Climate Change Commissioner, Health NZ Directors – The latest to quit this m...

    Summary:As New Zealand loses at least 12 leaders in the public service space of health, climate, and pharmaceuticals, this month alone, directly in response to the Government’s policies and budget choices, what lies ahead may be darker than it appears. Tui examines some of those departures and draws a long ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    4 days ago
  • Flooding Housing Policy

    The Minister of Housing’s ambition is to reduce markedly the ratio of house prices to household incomes. If his strategy works it would transform the housing market, dramatically changing the prospects of housing as an investment.Leaving aside the Minister’s metaphor of ‘flooding the market’ I do not see how the ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    4 days ago
  • A Voyage Among the Vandals: Accepted (Again!)

    As previously noted, my historical fantasy piece, set in the fifth-century Mediterranean, was accepted for a Pirate Horror anthology, only for the anthology to later fall through. But in a good bit of news, it turned out that the story could indeed be re-marketed as sword and sorcery. As of ...
    5 days ago
  • The Kākā's Chorus for Friday, July 19

    An employee of tobacco company Philip Morris International demonstrates a heated tobacco device. Photo: Getty ImagesTL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy on Friday, July 19 are:At a time when the Coalition Government is cutting spending on health, infrastructure, education, housing ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Pick 'n' Mix for Friday, July 19

    TL;DR: My pick of the top six links elsewhere around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day or so to 8:30 am on Friday, July 19 are:Scoop: NZ First Minister Casey Costello orders 50% cut to excise tax on heated tobacco products. The minister has ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • Weekly Roundup 19-July-2024

    Kia ora, it’s time for another Friday roundup, in which we pull together some of the links and stories that caught our eye this week. Feel free to add more in the comments! Our header image this week shows a foggy day in Auckland town, captured by Patrick Reynolds. ...
    Greater AucklandBy Greater Auckland
    5 days ago
  • Weekly Climate Wrap: A market-led plan for failure

    TL;DR : Here’s the top six items climate news for Aotearoa this week, as selected by Bernard Hickey and The Kākā’s climate correspondent Cathrine Dyer. A discussion recorded yesterday is in the video above and the audio of that sent onto the podcast feed.The Government released its draft Emissions Reduction ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • Tobacco First

    Save some money, get rich and old, bring it back to Tobacco Road.Bring that dynamite and a crane, blow it up, start all over again.Roll up. Roll up. Or tailor made, if you prefer...Whether you’re selling ciggies, digging for gold, catching dolphins in your nets, or encouraging folks to flutter ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    5 days ago
  • Trump’s Adopted Son.

    Waiting In The Wings: For truly, if Trump is America’s un-assassinated Caesar, then J.D. Vance is America’s Octavian, the Republic’s youthful undertaker – and its first Emperor.DONALD TRUMP’S SELECTION of James D. Vance as his running-mate bodes ill for the American republic. A fervent supporter of Viktor Orban, the “illiberal” prime ...
    5 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Friday, July 19

    TL;DR: As of 6:00 am on Friday, July 19, the top six announcements, speeches, reports and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day are:The PSA announced the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) had ruled in the PSA’s favour in its case against the Ministry ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • The Hoon around the week to July 19

    TL;DR: The podcast above of the weekly ‘hoon’ webinar for paying subscribers last night features co-hosts and talking with:The Kākā’s climate correspondent talking about the National-ACT-NZ First Government’s release of its first Emissions Reduction Plan;University of Otago Foreign Relations Professor and special guest Dr Karin von ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • Skeptical Science New Research for Week #29 2024

    Open access notables Improving global temperature datasets to better account for non-uniform warming, Calvert, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society: To better account for spatial non-uniform trends in warming, a new GITD [global instrumental temperature dataset] was created that used maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) to combine the land surface ...
    5 days ago
  • We're back again! Join us for the weekly Hoon on YouTube Live

    Photo by Gabriel Crismariu on UnsplashWe’re back again after our mid-winter break. We’re still with the ‘new’ day of the week (Thursday rather than Friday) when we have our ‘hoon’ webinar with paying subscribers to The Kākā for an hour at 5 pm.Jump on this link on YouTube Livestream for ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    5 days ago
  • Gut Reactions.

    Trump Writes His Own Story: Would the “mainstream” media even try to reflect the horrified reaction of the MAGA crowd to the pop-pop-pop of the would-be assassin’s rifle, and Trump going down? Could it even grasp the sheer elation of the rally-goers seeing their champion rise up and punch the air, still alive, ...
    5 days ago
  • Dodging Bullets.

    Fight! Fight! Fight! Had the assassin’s bullet found its mark and killed Donald Trump, America’s descent into widespread and murderous violence – possibly spiralling-down into civil war – would have been immediate and quite possibly irreparable. The American Republic, upon whose survival liberty and democracy continue to depend, is certainly not ...
    6 days ago
  • 'Corruption First' Strikes Again

    There comes a point in all our lives when we must stop to say, “Enough is enough. We know what’s happening. We are not as stupid or as ignorant as you believe us to be. And making policies that kill or harm our people is not acceptable, Ministers.”Plausible deniability has ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    6 days ago
  • The Kākā's Chorus for Thursday, July 18

    TL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy today are:The inside stories of KiwiRail’s iRex debacle, Westport’s perma-delayed flood scheme and Christchurch’s post-quake sewer rebuild, which assumed no population growth, show just how deeply sceptical senior officials in Treasury, the Ministry of ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • What's that Jack Black?

    Ah-rah, deeSoo-guh-goo-gee-goo-geeGoo-guh fli-goo gee-gooGuh fli-goo, ga-goo-buh-deeOoh, guh-goo-beeOoh-guh-guh-bee-guh-guh-beeFli-goo gee-gooA-fliguh woo-wa mama Lucifer!I’m about ready to move on, how about you?Not from the shooting, that’s bad and we definitely shouldn’t have that. But the rehabilitation of Donald J Trump? The deification of Saint Donald? As the Great Unifier?Gimme a bucket.https://yellowscene.com/2024/04/07/trump-as-jesus/Just to re-iterate, ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    6 days ago
  • June 2024: Earth’s 13th-consecutive warmest month on record

    This is a re-post from Yale Climate Connections by Jeff Masters and Bob Henson June 2024 was Earth’s warmest June since global record-keeping began in 1850 and was the planet’s 13th consecutive warmest month on record, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, or NCEI, reported July 12. As opposed to being focused in ...
    6 days ago
  • Connecting the dots and filling the gaps in our bike network

    This is a guest post by Shaun Baker on the importance of filling the gaps in our cycling networks. It originally appeared on his blog Multimodal Adventures, and is re-posted here with kind permission. In our towns and cities in Aotearoa New Zealand, there are areas in our cycling networks ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    6 days ago
  • Webworm Down Under Photos!

    Hi,I wanted to share a few thoughts and photos from the Webworm popup and Tickled screening we held in Auckland, New Zealand last weekend.In short — it was a blast. I mean, I had a blast and I hope any of you that came also had a blast.An old friend ...
    David FarrierBy David Farrier
    6 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Pick 'n' Mix for Thursday, July 18

    TL;DR: My pick of the top six links elsewhere around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day or so to 6:30 am on Thursday, July 18 are:News: Christchurch's sewer systems block further housing developments RNZ’s Niva ChittockAnalysis: Interislander: Treasury, MoT officials' mistrust of KiwiRail led ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Thursday, July 18

    TL;DR: As of 6:00 am on Thursday, July 18, the top six announcements, speeches, reports and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day are:Verbatim: Climate Change Minister Simon Watts held a news conference in Auckland to release the Government’s Emissions Reduction Plan, including ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    6 days ago
  • The politics of managed retreat

    Climate change deniers are now challenging the Government over a key climate change adaptation policy. That begs the question of whether New Zealand First will then support Government moves to implement processes to deal with a managed retreat for properties in danger of flooding because of sea level rise and ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    6 days ago
  • Some changes are coming

    Warm welcome again to those who are here. The Mountain Tui substack was officially started on the 2nd of July. I wrote about what led me here on this post. Since then, it’s been a learning to navigate the platform, get to meet those in the community, and basically be ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    6 days ago
  • About fucking time

    The US Supreme Court has been rogue for years, with openly corrupt judges making the law up as they go to suit themselves, their billionaire buyers, and the Republican Party. But now, in the wake of them granting a licence for tyranny, President Biden is actually going to try and ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • Climate Change: False accounting and wishful thinking

    National released their draft 2026-2030 Emissions Reduction Plan today. The plan is required under the Zero Carbon Act, and must set out policies and strategies to meet the relevant emissions budget. Having cancelled all Labour's actually effective climate change policies and crashed the carbon price, National was always going to ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    6 days ago
  • The Enemies Of Sunshine And Space.

    Our Houses? The Urban Density debate is a horrible combination of intergenerational avarice and envy, fuelled by the grim certainty that none of the generations coming up after them will ever have it as good as the Boomers. To say that this situation rankles among those born after 1965 is to ...
    6 days ago
  • Still the 5 Eyes Achilles Heel?

    The National Cyber Security Centre (NZSC), a unit in the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) dedicated to cyber-security, has released a Review of its response to the 2021 email hacking of NZ members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC, … Continue reading ...
    KiwipoliticoBy Pablo
    6 days ago
  • Britain's Devastating Electoral Slip.

    Slip-Sliding Away: Labour may now enjoy a dominant position in Britain’s political landscape, but only by virtue of not being swallowed by it.THE BRITISH LABOUR PARTY’S “landslide victory” is nothing of the sort. As most people understand the term, a landslide election victory is one in which the incumbent government, or ...
    7 days ago
  • Gordon Campbell on why right wingers think all governments (including their own) are incompetent

    Since open denial of climate change is no longer a viable political option, denial now comes in disguise. The release this week of the coalition government’s ‘draft emissions reductions plan” shows that the Luxon government is refusing to see the need to cut emissions at source. Instead, it proposes to ...
    WerewolfBy lyndon
    7 days ago
  • The Kākā's Chorus for Wednesday, July 17

    TL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy this morning are:Chris Penk is set to roll back building standards for insulation that had only just been put in place, and which had been estimated to save 40% from power costs, after builders ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    7 days ago
  • Open Letter to Pharmac

    All this talk of getting oldIt's getting me down, my loveLike a cat in a bag, waiting to drownThis time I'm coming downAnd I hope you're thinking of meAs you lay down on your sideNow the drugs don't workThey just make you worse but I know I'll see your face ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    7 days ago
  • A blanket of misinformation

    Two old sayings have been on my mind lately. The first is: “The pen is mightier than the sword”, describing the power of language and communication to help or to harm. The other, which captures the speed with which falsehoods can become ingrained and hard to undo, is: “A lie can ...
    Greater AucklandBy Connor Sharp
    7 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Pick 'n' Mix for Wednesday, July 17

    TL;DR: My pick of the top six links elsewhere around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day to 7:00 am on Wednesday, July 17 are:Scoop: Government considers rolling back home insulation standards RNZ’s Eloise GibsonNews: Government plans tree-planting frenzy as report shows NZ no longer ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    7 days ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Wednesday, July 17

    TL;DR: As of 6:00 am on Wednesday, July 17 , the top six announcements, speeches, reports and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day were:Simon Watts released the Government’s draft Emissions Reduction Plan (ERP), which included proposed changes to the Emissions Trading Scheme ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    7 days ago
  • “Shhhh” – National's 3 Waters is loaded with higher costs and lays a path to ...

    This is a long, possibly technical, but very, very important read. I encourage you to take the time and spread your awareness.IntroductionIn 2022, then Labour Party Prime Minister Jacinda Adern expended significant political capital to protect New Zealand’s water assets from privatisation. She lost that battle, and Labour and the ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    1 week ago
  • Plugging a video channel: Dr Gilbz

    Dr. Ella Gilbert is a climate scientist and presenter with a PhD in Antarctic climate change, working at the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). Her background is in atmospheric sciences and she's especially interested in the physical mechanisms of climate change, clouds, and almost anything polar. She is passionate about communicating climate ...
    1 week ago
  • Some “scrutiny” again

    Back in 2022, in its Open Government Partnership National Action Plan, the government promised to strengthen scrutiny of Official Information Act exemption clauses in legislation. Since then they've run a secret "consultation" on how to do that, with their preferred outcome being that agencies will consult the Ministry of Justice ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    1 week ago
  • Crashing New Zealand's health system is not the way to prosperity, Prime Minister

    Another day, and yet another piece of bad news for New Zealand’s health system. Reports have come out that General Practitioners (GP) may have to close doors, or increase patient fees to survive. The so-called ‘capitation’ funding review, which supports GP practices to survive, is under way, and primary care ...
    Mountain TuiBy Mountain Tui
    1 week ago
  • Closer Than You Think: Ageing Boomers, Laurie & Les, Talk Politics.

    Redefining Our Terms: “When an angry majority is demanding change, defending the status-quo is an extremist position.”“WHAT’S THIS?”, asked Laurie, eyeing suspiciously the two glasses of red wine deposited in front of him.“A nice drop of red. I thought you’d be keen to celebrate the French Far-Right’s victory with the ...
    1 week ago
  • Come on Darleen.

    Good morning all, time for a return to things domestic. After elections in the UK and France, Luxon gatecrashing Nato, and the attempted shooting of Trump, it’s probably about time we re-focus on local politics.Unless of course you’re Christopher Luxon and you’re so exhausted from all your schmoozing in Washington ...
    Nick’s KōreroBy Nick Rockel
    1 week ago
  • How the Northwest was lost and may be won

    This is a guest post by Darren Davis. It originally appeared on his excellent blog, Adventures in Transitland, which we encourage you to check out. It is shared by kind permission. The Northwest has always been Auckland’s public transport Cinderella, rarely invited to the public funding ball. How did ...
    Greater AucklandBy Guest Post
    1 week ago
  • The Kākā's Chorus for Tuesday July 16

    Luxon has told a Financial Times’ correspondent he would openly call out China’s spying in future and does not fear economic retaliation from Aotearoa’s largest trading partner.File Photo: Lynn Grieveson / The KākāTL;DR: The top six things I’ve noted around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy on Tuesday, ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • The Kākā’s Pick 'n' Mix for Tuesday, July 16

    TL;DR: My pick of the top six links elsewhere around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day or so to 6:00 am on Tuesday, July 16 are:PM Christopher Luxon has given a very hawkish interview to the Financial Times-$$$ correspondent in Washington, Demetri Sevastopulu, saying ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • The Kākā’s Journal of Record for Tuesday, July 16

    Photo by Ryunosuke Kikuno on UnsplashTL;DR: The top six announcements, speeches, reports and research around housing, climate and poverty in Aotearoa’s political economy in the last day to 6:00 am are:BNZ released its Performance of Services Index for June, finding that services sector is at its lowest level of activity ...
    The KakaBy Bernard Hickey
    1 week ago
  • The second crisis; assumption was the mother

    Late on the night of July 16, 1984, while four National Cabinet Ministers were meeting in the Beehive office of Deputy Prime Minister Jim McLay, plotting the ultimate downfall of outgoing Prime Minister Sir Robert Muldoon, another crisis was building up in another part of the capital. The United States ...
    PolitikBy Richard Harman
    1 week ago
  • Can we air condition our way out of extreme heat?

    This is a re-post from The Climate Brink by Andrew Dessler Air conditioning was initially a symbol of comfort and wealth, enjoyed by the wealthy in theaters and upscale homes. Over time, as technology advanced and costs decreased, air conditioning became more accessible to the general public. With global warming, though, ...
    1 week ago
  • Review: The Zimiamvian Trilogy, by E.R. Eddison (1935-1958)

    I have reviewed some fairly obscure stuff on this blog. Nineteenth century New Zealand speculative fiction. Forgotten Tolkien adaptations. George MacDonald and William Morris. Last month I took a look at The Worm Ouroboros (1922), by E.R. Eddison, which while not strictly obscure, is also not overly inviting to many ...
    1 week ago

  • Charity lotteries to be permitted to operate online

    Minister of Internal Affairs Brooke van Velden says lotteries for charitable purposes, such as those run by the Heart Foundation, Coastguard NZ, and local hospices, will soon be allowed to operate online permanently. “Under current laws, these fundraising lotteries are only allowed to operate online until October 2024, after which ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Accelerating Northland Expressway

    The Coalition Government is accelerating work on the new four-lane expressway between Auckland and Whangārei as part of its Roads of National Significance programme, with an accelerated delivery model to deliver this project faster and more efficiently, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says. “For too long, the lack of resilient transport connections ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    12 hours ago
  • Sir Don to travel to Viet Nam as special envoy

    Sir Don McKinnon will travel to Viet Nam this week as a Special Envoy of the Government, Foreign Minister Winston Peters has announced.    “It is important that the Government give due recognition to the significant contributions that General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong made to New Zealand-Viet Nam relations,” Mr ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    14 hours ago
  • Grant Illingworth KC appointed as transitional Commissioner to Royal Commission

    Minister of Internal Affairs Brooke van Velden says newly appointed Commissioner, Grant Illingworth KC, will help deliver the report for the first phase of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into COVID-19 Lessons, due on 28 November 2024.  “I am pleased to announce that Mr Illingworth will commence his appointment as ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • NZ to advance relationships with ASEAN partners

    Foreign Minister Winston Peters travels to Laos this week to participate in a series of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-led Ministerial meetings in Vientiane.    “ASEAN plays an important role in supporting a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific,” Mr Peters says.   “This will be our third visit to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    15 hours ago
  • Backing mental health services on the West Coast

    Construction of a new mental health facility at Te Nikau Grey Hospital in Greymouth is today one step closer, Mental Health Minister Matt Doocey says. “This $27 million facility shows this Government is delivering on its promise to boost mental health care and improve front line services,” Mr Doocey says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • NZ support for sustainable Pacific fisheries

    New Zealand is committing nearly $50 million to a package supporting sustainable Pacific fisheries development over the next four years, Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones announced today. “This support consisting of a range of initiatives demonstrates New Zealand’s commitment to assisting our Pacific partners ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    16 hours ago
  • Students’ needs at centre of new charter school adjustments

    Associate Education Minister David Seymour says proposed changes to the Education and Training Amendment Bill will ensure charter schools have more flexibility to negotiate employment agreements and are equipped with the right teaching resources. “Cabinet has agreed to progress an amendment which means unions will not be able to initiate ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    17 hours ago
  • Commissioner replaces Health NZ Board

    In response to serious concerns around oversight, overspend and a significant deterioration in financial outlook, the Board of Health New Zealand will be replaced with a Commissioner, Health Minister Dr Shane Reti announced today.  “The previous government’s botched health reforms have created significant financial challenges at Health NZ that, without ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Minister to speak at Australian Space Forum

    Minister for Space and Science, Innovation and Technology Judith Collins will travel to Adelaide tomorrow for space and science engagements, including speaking at the Australian Space Forum.  While there she will also have meetings and visits with a focus on space, biotechnology and innovation.  “New Zealand has a thriving space ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Climate Change Minister to attend climate action meeting in China

    Climate Change Minister Simon Watts will travel to China on Saturday to attend the Ministerial on Climate Action meeting held in Wuhan.  “Attending the Ministerial on Climate Action is an opportunity to advocate for New Zealand climate priorities and engage with our key partners on climate action,” Mr Watts says. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Oceans and Fisheries Minister to Solomons

    Oceans and Fisheries Minister Shane Jones is travelling to the Solomon Islands tomorrow for meetings with his counterparts from around the Pacific supporting collective management of the region’s fisheries. The 23rd Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Committee and the 5th Regional Fisheries Ministers’ Meeting in Honiara from 23 to 26 July ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Government launches Military Style Academy Pilot

    The Government today launched the Military Style Academy Pilot at Te Au rere a te Tonga Youth Justice residence in Palmerston North, an important part of the Government’s plan to crackdown on youth crime and getting youth offenders back on track, Minister for Children, Karen Chhour said today. “On the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Nine priority bridge replacements to get underway

    The Government has welcomed news the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) has begun work to replace nine priority bridges across the country to ensure our state highway network remains resilient, reliable, and efficient for road users, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.“Increasing productivity and economic growth is a key priority for the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Update on global IT outage

    Acting Prime Minister David Seymour has been in contact throughout the evening with senior officials who have coordinated a whole of government response to the global IT outage and can provide an update. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet has designated the National Emergency Management Agency as the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New Zealand, Japan renew Pacific partnership

    New Zealand and Japan will continue to step up their shared engagement with the Pacific, Foreign Minister Winston Peters says.    “New Zealand and Japan have a strong, shared interest in a free, open and stable Pacific Islands region,” Mr Peters says.    “We are pleased to be finding more ways ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • New infrastructure energises BOP forestry towns

    New developments in the heart of North Island forestry country will reinvigorate their communities and boost economic development, Regional Development Minister Shane Jones says. Mr Jones visited Kaingaroa and Kawerau in Bay of Plenty today to open a landmark community centre in the former and a new connecting road in ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • 'Pacific Futures'

    President Adeang, fellow Ministers, honourable Diet Member Horii, Ambassadors, distinguished guests.    Minasama, konnichiwa, and good afternoon, everyone.    Distinguished guests, it’s a pleasure to be here with you today to talk about New Zealand’s foreign policy reset, the reasons for it, the values that underpin it, and how it ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Delivering 24 hour pothole repairs

    Kiwis and freight operators will benefit from the Coalition Government delivering on its commitment to introduce targets that will ensure a greater number of potholes on our state highways are identified and fixed within 24 hours, Transport Minister Simeon Brown says.  “Increasing productivity to help rebuild our economy is a key ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • Peer Support Specialists rolled out in hospitals

    Five hospitals have been selected to trial a new mental health and addiction peer support service in their emergency departments as part of the Government’s commitment to increase access to mental health and addiction support for New Zealanders, says Mental Health Minister Matt Doocey.  “Peer Support Specialists in EDs will ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Consultation opens for the Emissions Reduction Plan

    The Government’s draft Emissions Reduction Plan shows we can stay within the limits of the first two emissions budgets while growing the economy, Climate Change Minister Simon Watts says. “This draft Emissions Reduction Plan shows that with effective climate change policies we can both grow the economy and deliver our ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Benefit stats highlight need for welfare reset

    The coalition Government is providing extra support for job seekers to ensure as many Kiwis as possible are in work or preparing for work, Social Development and Employment Minister Louise Upston says. “While today’s quarterly data showing a rise in the number of people on Jobseeker benefits has been long ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • School attendance continues to increase

    Provisional school attendance data for Term 2 2024 released today has shown more students are back in class compared to last year, with 53.1 per cent of students regularly attending, compared with 47 per cent in Term 2 2023, Associate Education Minister David Seymour says. “The Government has prioritised student ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • $22.7m of West Coast resilience projects underway

    Transport Minister Simeon Brown has welcomed news of progress being made by the NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) on the first of several crucial resilience projects underway on the South Island’s West Coast.“State highways across the West Coast are critical lifelines for communities throughout the region, including for freight and tourism. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Migrant school leavers to get part-time work rights

    The coalition Government is providing migrant school leavers with greater opportunities, by increasing access to part-time work rights for those awaiting the outcome of a family residence application, Immigration Minister Erica Stanford has announced.  “Many young people who are part of a family residence application process are unable to work. ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    6 days ago
  • Funding to support use of NZ Sign Language

    Seven projects have received government funding totalling nearly $250,000 to maintain and promote the use of New Zealand Sign Language (NZSL). Initiatives that received an NZSL Board Community Grants this year include camps that support the use of NZSL through physical and sensory activities, and clubs where Deaf people and ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    7 days ago
  • Inflation data shows progress in economic recovery

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