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Open mike 24/12/2020

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, December 24th, 2020 - 41 comments
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Open mike is your post.

For announcements, general discussion, whatever you choose.

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Step up to the mike …

41 comments on “Open mike 24/12/2020 ”

  1. Cooper oil 1

    In my fathers wallet there was always a photo of my twin brother and i . Dad always said it was behind a photo of Tito because he did not want the sun to fade it.

    Miss you DAD!!

    Merry Christmas to you all and a Happy New Year

  2. Ad 2

    Hey Sanctuary put your pants on and do a post on the media lowlights this year.

  3. mac1 3

    73 of an intake of 1200 cadets at West Point cheat in a calculus online exam. That's 6%.

    Wikipedia says "Candidates for admission must apply directly to the academy and receive a nomination, usually from a member of Congress. Other nomination sources include the president and vice president"!

    "The academic program grants a bachelor of science degree. Cadets are required to adhere to the Cadet Honor Code, which states that "a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Military_Academy

    The worst scandal in 45 years!

    I wonder how many of these cheats debasing university qualifications and heading for high office in the US military were nominated by Republicans, and how many by Democrats?

    A wider question is do we wonder how power elites maintain their power when prospective top military officers have to be nominated by members of the power elite?

    • Gabby 3.1

      Does Prump have time to pardon them?

    • mary_a 3.2

      @ mac1 (3) …

      Hardly surprising, considering the likes of Donald Trump is an ex cadet/student of West Point! He who got out of doing a tour of duty in Vietnam, due to his "flat feet." Then went on to criticise John McCain for being taken a prisoner of war during the same conflict!

      • McFlock 3.2.1

        The oompah loompah attended west point? Never heard that one before.

        Humourous side note: tried to search for even an incomplete attendance using "trump education west point", got this:

        Not many results contain education.

        Search only for trump "education" west point?

        lol

        • Andre 3.2.1.1

          Generalissimo Bonespurs got sent to New York Military Academy in lieu of regular high school. Because he was too obnoxious for regular schooling to deal with.

          While NYMA is just up the river from West Point, there is zero connection, and very few NYMA alumni went on to military careers. Basically, in the US, "military academies" are private boarding schools that the privileged and wealthy sent their snotty offspring to try to straighten them out.

  4. Hooton in the Herald today:

    OMC's name was meant to be ironic. Everyone knew Ōtara had no millionaires, let alone enough for a club.

    November's $1.01 million sale of 1 Tate Place has predictably been labelled "how bizarre". Yet the price paid for the 95 square metre, one-bathroom, three-bedroom, weatherboard house on less than a fifth of an acre was not the first in Ōtara above $1m and most certainly will not be the last.

    Nevertheless, Ōtara may remain millionaire-free, with only around a third of houses in the Panmure-Ōtāhuhu electorate, of which it is part, being owner-occupied. The electorate's median household income is in the $50,000 to $70,000 range.

    OMC's name was meant to be ironic. Everyone knew Ōtara had no millionaires, let alone enough for a club.

    November's $1.01 million sale of 1 Tate Place has predictably been labelled "how bizarre". Yet the price paid for the 95 square metre, one-bathroom, three-bedroom, weatherboard house on less than a fifth of an acre was not the first in Ōtara above $1m and most certainly will not be the last.

    Nevertheless, Ōtara may remain millionaire-free, with only around a third of houses in the Panmure-Ōtāhuhu electorate, of which it is part, being owner-occupied. The electorate's median household income is in the $50,000 to $70,000 range.

    Closer to the action, Councillor Efeso Collins, who was born and raised in Ōtara, says 80 per cent of Pacific people, the majority in his Manukau ward, do not own their homes – and there is now no chance they ever will.

    Jacinda Ardern expresses concern, but says she wants house prices to keep going up.

    Insofar as further meaning can be discerned from her remarks, it seems the Prime Minister hopes future wage inflation will be above house-price inflation.

    Yet this is not the picture painted by Treasury in last week's Half-Year Economic and Fiscal Update (HYEFU), signed off by Finance Minister Grant Robertson as reflecting all government decisions and other circumstances of which he is aware.

    According to Robertson's HYEFU, house prices will increase by another 32 per cent over the next five years while wages will go up by only 14 per cent, and consumer prices by 8 per cent.

    The good news for an Ōtara family with an annual household income of $60,000 wanting to buy a $600,000 house is that they can expect to be earning $156 a week more in five years' time.

    They'll also be able to save a bit more, since their weekly supermarket shop will only go up from, say, $200 to $216 – although their bank won't help much, since interest rates on savings accounts will remain dismally low for the full five years.

    The really bad news is that the $600,000 house they have their eye on will go up by another $195,000. The Reserve Bank restoring loan-to-value restrictions will make it even harder for them to buy it, but not those who already own a home who they will need to compete with.

    By dint of his own signature, Robertson says he knows of no government decisions or other circumstances that make these forecasts unsafe.

    The realpolitik of the median voter model means that no one in Wellington actually cares or even thinks about a $60,000-a-year family in Ōtara dreaming of one day owning a home – and they never have.

    But Beehive strategists do worry about middle-class couples wanting to save for their first home over the next parliamentary term. Double or triple the numbers above, and you've worked out the equally impossible maths facing them.

    Ardern and Roberston appear either oblivious to the effects of their own Treasury's forecasts or utterly complacent about them.

    Having wailed about a housing crisis for more than a decade – when house prices were half what they are now – they have not replied to the latest numbers with an emergency pre-Christmas programme the way previous governments with big mandates have responded to the economic, fiscal or social calamity of the day.

    Instead, Robertson says the Government is now in a position to – and I quote him – "start addressing some of those long-term issues like housing [and] child poverty". A "housing package" is promised next year, although it will apparently focus more on making renting easier than on home ownership.

    The time for excuses on the housing crisis has surely run out. Ardern has been re-elected with one of the most overwhelming mandates in the history of New Zealand or any proportional representation system. She no longer has the excuse of being new to the job or constrained by a coalition partner. She faces no credible opposition.

    Nor is the housing crisis an issue where the best policy response has not been well-canvassed. Ardern and Robertson could do worse than even just re-reading Phil Goff's Mayoral Taskforce Housing Report released more than three years ago, with Labour's support.

    It outlined a clear strategy covering everything from finance through to the building code, and was the consensus view of investors, lenders, developers, designers, builders, politicians, government officials and council officers.

    As well as much-needed intensification throughout Auckland, Labour might also look at its own manifesto from 2017, which promised commuter rail linking the golden triangle of Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga and new suburbs between them.

    After the failure of the pepper-potting Kiwibuild, Labour could announce that new suburbs to the south and west of Auckland will be built as a single undertaking, including all necessary infrastructure and connectivity to the public transport network. Every construction company in the world would seek that contract.

    In line with Labour ideology and the huge blow-out of eligible families on state-house waiting lists, these could start out as entirely state-house suburbs but with residents able to progressively purchase their home under a rent-to-buy scheme.

    The surprisingly statist shared-equity scheme proposed by Roger Douglas some weeks ago should also be part of Robertson's promised package.

    I have become as tired of writing about the housing crisis as you are of reading about it. Even the lunchtime jokes among homeowners about their properties working harder than they do are now falling flat.

    There is a genuine threat to social cohesion in New Zealand unless the Prime Minister takes big, bold action on which she need not so much expend her political capital as invest it for further big political gains.

    It is disappointing the first two months since her historic mandate have not been used more productively, but perhaps understandable given the senior leadership's general exhaustion after Covid-19.

    But there can be no excuses when the housing package is released in the New Year. There have been enough platitudes. And there are no longer any constraints on Ardern from doing whatever she believes is necessary for the people she claims she entered politics to help.

    Terrible experience for me…I agree almost entirely with Hooton…except for the Thatcherist rent to buy for state houses; I prefer Douglas’s shared equity…OMG now I’m agreeing with him.

    There is a rich vein of votes to be mined here by the Greens. Jacinda appears tone deaf on this central issue.

    • Anne 4.1

      Hooton is clever at dropping lies into opinion pieces that are designed to create a falsely negative perception of people he either doesn't like or opposes on political/ideological grounds.

      An obvious example from the piece above:

      Jacinda Ardern expresses concern, but says she wants house prices to keep going up.

      Oh bullshit. she said nothing of the sort. What she did say was something to the effect that house prices will continue to go up in the short term.

      That is an unfortunate fact. They will continue to rise, and there's nothing she or anyone else can do about it – in the short term.

      • Anne 4.1.1

        Never forget that Hooton is an apologist for right-wing ideology – the very ideology that created the problem in the first place. His righteous indignation about an over- heated house market seems only to have surfaced since the Labour led government came to power despite the problem arising years sooner. Funny that.

      • James Thrace 4.1.2

        The easiest thing to do to address house pricing and the availability is to remove the ability for Landlords to claim interest and maintenance deductions on rental properties and shift that over to Owner Occupiers only.

        Many landlords deliberately gear up rental properties to the maximum mortgage amount, on interest only, and make a killing getting refunds from IRD each year. Their own Owner Occupiers homes are often mortgage free. That interest refund helps pay for the new car, or goes towards another property.

        Removing the interest deductibility on rental properties will have a staggering effect, and likely one that will be far more beneficial than any other tinkering that could be proposed.

        • SPC 4.1.2.1

          There is nothing wrong with landlords spending money on maintenance and renovation/improvement to meet regulatory standards for rental property. And such is a legitimate expense against taxable income.

          As for interest deductability well … maybe interest claimed as an expense should become a tax liability if they sell the property for an untaxed CG (up to the taxable value of that CG at least). Thus still no CGT if the investor owns the property without a mortgage and does not sell within the brightline period.

          • James Thrace 4.1.2.1.1

            Why? Let's use the theory that "only rental houses are habitable houses"

            Owner Occupiers should not live at a lesser standard than renters. They should all be equal. How then, is it morally right to allow landlords to claim maintenance costs on bringing a rental property up to scratch, but not allow Owner Occupiers to do the same thing?

            It's farcical, especially considering that the OO is highly likely to use their property as equity to buy another, and then use the original house as a rental. So therefore any argument revolving around expected future gains immediately drops away as now both classes of people are in the same boat. If OO were the only ones able to claim back maintenance costs, you can bet your sweet bippy that a lot more houses would be bought up to a more habitable standard a lot faster as people don't want to live in damp ridden boxes so will do upgrades so they are comfortable where they live.

            Forcing landlords to do it is like extracting hens teeth. People have a vested interest in themselves first and foremost. Removing the landlord rort and giving it to OO will immediately address the housing crisis and lead to a faster reduction in house price growth.

            As for the last sentence, very few landlords in NZ now are mortgage free on their rental property. Why should they be? It’s far better to have a mortgage to the maximum against the rental.

            • Nic the NZer 4.1.2.1.1.1

              Businesses get all kinds of tax advantages over end users. For example a GST registered business doesn't pay GST on goods it uses.

              I don't really see a good case that interest payments on houses should be treated differently to interest costs on any other business. There is also a question on where the line is drawn on commercial property ownership.

              I think the right way to tackle this is to ring fence the property business from other income sources so that unrelated income can't be rebated against a loss. But to some extent these losses have been allowing a slower rate of rental price increases (with the owners satisfied with the unrealised capital gains).

              In the case of a property owner they are still not writing off the interest on their own place of living so I don't think its so clear that they receive an unfair advantage.

              • SPC

                There used to be a mortgage rebate claim in the annual tax return – but this was removed when the top rate of income tax was reduced down from 66 to 33 cents. The presumption being homeowners (with mortgages to pay) were those in the higher income tax bracket etc.

                Ring fencing moves have already begun, at these property values rent returns are now quite low and so any net loss cannot be charged against other (say working) income.

                https://www.chapmans.co.nz/media/1043/new-loss-ring-fencing-rules.pdf

                • Nic the NZer

                  Well, yes. I was raising the pertinent question about all these things we know will bring property prices down (if implemented). How do we know, will they actually, and given they have been why didn't it work (e.g brightline test/CGT).

                  It all points towards the successful policy measure being the one which drives lots of first home buyers out. I think that will be very unpopular.

            • SPC 4.1.2.1.1.2

              Why? As to maintenance, is because of the charge of tax against rental income. There is no profit/income to tax, but after cost profit/income.

              Most low quality housing is rental not OO. And if the government allowed homeowners to charge necessary maintenance to government, it would be another middle class handout. Near all working homeowners are quite capable of borrowing while mortgage rates are cheap (and values are rising) to maintain their property. If it was allowed for low income homeowners (say the retired) it should be chargeable against the estate/or on sale.

              Removing the ability to claim for maintenance costs is more likely to lead to lower quality rentals and more landlord tenant problems.

              And it would do nothing to lower property values (a supply and demand thing) – but it would encourage speculators to simply leave their properties untenanted as they waited for CG.

              As to my last sentence – the existence of such mortgage free owner investors is the reason why any tax claim against interest paid by other landlords could not be described as a CGT.

      • Steve 4.1.3

        Hooten's right on this one Anne- see comments taken from an article and video with interest.co.nz

        Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she would like to see small increases in houses prices, acknowledging most people “expect” the value of their most valuable asset to keep rising.

        Asked by interest.co.nz whether “sustained moderation” of house prices was still the government’s goal, Ardern said: “Yes. We don’t want to see the significant increases; these huge jumps in house price growth.

        I tend to agree with the PM, rightly or wrongly people don't want to see a 30% reduction in house prices, especially those that have just purchased even if they are staying put for a while. She like all politicians that have successfully achieved goals 1 and 2 of the job has an eye on number 3 which is to be re-elected again and promising to cut the value of houses 30% is not a way to do this.

        • Bearded Git 4.1.3.1

          "..rightly or wrongly people don't want to see a 30% reduction in house prices.."

          Even though houses are 30% over-valued?

          • Nic the NZer 4.1.3.1.1

            Depends on the situation. An immediate 30% fall in values would put some recent buyers under water and many into the low equity category paying higher interest rates. Sometimes banks ask for rapid debt repayment in those situations too.

            And if more broadly that price change spills over into a recession then the negative consequences will not fall fairly or on home owners.

            We should also be aware wages don't typically fall during a recession and in nominal terms property prices tend not to either so to get that outcome something pretty rough might need to happen to the economy.

      • Cricklewood 4.1.4

        I think Hootons spin is pretty close to the truth of what was said… closer than your spin anyway

        "Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says she would like to see small increases in houses prices, acknowledging most people “expect” the value of their most valuable asset to keep rising."

        "Asked by interest.co.nz (see video below) whether “sustained moderation” of house prices was still the government’s goal, Ardern said: “Yes. We don’t want to see the significant increases; these huge jumps in house price growth."

        From https://www.interest.co.nz/property/108301/pm-jacinda-ardern-says-sustained-moderation-remains-governments-goal-when-it-comes

        • Anne 4.1.4.1

          Hooton was lying when he said Ardern wants house prices to keep going up and he knows it. At best he could be said to be misinterpreting – deliberately in my view – what she said.

          She was talking in general terms in so far as she appreciated nobody wants to see their house decrease in value so a small increase over time is acceptable. What has been happening since well before Labour came to power is: house prices have been going up in leaps and bounds to the point its now out of control and that is totally unacceptable.

          Nobody needs Hooton's spin on the situation. We already know what is fueling the rise in house prices. See my 4.1.1

          • Cricklewood 4.1.4.1.1

            Yes, his spin vs your spin in your eqrlier comment this one is closer the truth…

            Reality is it's looking like this govt is going to over see the biggest increase in house prices in both dollar value and as a percentage in our history.

            Its very fair to say that after railing against Nationals inaction in opposition, having Kiwibuild fail utterly, and now inflating the market with cheap money seemingly having no real plan outside of expressing concern this govt is unwillingly to take meaningful steps.

            This crisis and Labours inaction is going to have a similar long term effect to Rogernomics…

            Fuck Labour is better at looking after the well healed than the nats are…

    • AB 4.2

      It would be appropriately precautionary to assume that Hooten is arguing in bad faith -hoping to create an environment where the Government is spooked into doing something electorally damaging to itself. And thereby giving National a pathway back.

      Strategically, it is essential that any discontent with Labour's approach to housing grows the political bloc to it's left – not give National a totally undeserved break when they are down.

      • Anne 4.2.1

        It would be appropriately precautionary to assume that Hooten is arguing in bad faith – hoping to create an environment where the Government is spooked into doing something electorally damaging to itself.

        That is exactly what he is doing.

    • Phillip ure 4.3

      hard to argue with anything hooton sez there..

      (I am pretty sure that is the first time I have ever said those words..)

      I like the idea of fully serviced state house suburbs..('green' houses in them..)

      and I see no problem with a rent-to-buy option in there…

      why is that a problem for some here..?

      it is perhaps the only chance many have to attain a home..after all..

      and I don't see it as a privatisation stalking-horse…

      just build more houses..!

      and just out of interests' sake…what do those opposing this plan see as the solution..?

      y'know..!..a good idea is a good idea..

      ..I couldn't give a hoot where it comes from…

      (see what I did there…?..)

      [Fixed typo in user name]

      • Phillip ure 4.3.1

        sometimes adherence to a political party spills over into cult behaviour..

        I've noticed ..

        the guru is always correct..

        dissension will not be tolerated…

        blind faith is the norm..

        we are never wrong..

        and the 'other' ..i.e. not them..are always wrong…

        there are plenty of them in pretty much every party..

        the 'true believers'..of whatever political faith..

        can be quite tiresome..

        I see it all as being much more fluid/nuanced..

        ..and there are many moves that could be made on the housing market..

        but just making it a bit uncomfortable for the rentier class..isn't enough..

        as hooton advocates..

        ..a massive building program must be part of it..

        and new green state house suburbs sounds pretty pretty good to me…

    • Stuart Munro 4.4

      Probably the only Thatcherite policy that withstands scrutiny is rent-to-buy schemes for state houses – but only if the state keeps on building them. The Singaporean state housing scheme prioritizes getting people into their own homes. Among other models they looked at before embarking on that was NZ's state housing scheme – before a greedy little wanker called Roger Douglas parasitized it of course.

      • Bearded Git 4.4.1

        I don't agree Stuart.

        In Thatcher's Britain the state houses sold were "cherry-picked" for the best ones leaving the crap ones still in the hands of the state for poor people. They were sold at massive discounts which meant the state lost a capital asset it could have rented out to needy people in the future and they were not replaced meaning the stock of state houses went down….was privatised. No wonder Hooton likes this.

        My guess is the same thing would happen here.

        The shared equity option looks far better in this context.

        • Stuart Munro 4.4.1.1

          Yeah, I know what they did. But it is far more economical (and realistic) for the government to take up the slack in the non-MacMansion end of the market, than it is for them to throw money at 'investors' hoping they will solve it.

          The UK Tories are the epitome of uselessness, and our Gnats give them a run for their money. But Singapore has successfully run a scheme where the state builds and sells apartments to occupiers for some decades.

          If we have a surfeit of corrupt assholes wrecking our attempts at governance, well, we'd better have a bit of a clear out. Nothing good is possible till we do.

          • Bearded Git 4.4.1.1.1

            Agree…I would love to see a big state house construction programme and the Bright Line Test extended to 10 years-that is probably the only housing tax change Labour can make under its manifesto.

  5. Peter 5

    It seems Chris Bishop has set himself a target of being in the media as much as possible.

    Quantity will not equal quality. Maybe he doesn't realise that while being there will boost his profile of course 10 X 0 still = 0

    • fender 5.1

      Yeah him and the highly irritating Seymour, the pair of them make me ill.

      RNZ seem to have a fixation with Seymour making comments in as many "news" bulletins as possible, needless to say I turn the damn thing off every time I hear the little pricks voice!

    • SPC 5.2

      Bishop said the Government needed to respond to the new strain by introducing pre-departure tests for arrivals from the UK. Bishop said the situation in the UK was another example of why the government should introduce a 'traffic-light system' to grade the risk of incoming travellers.

      https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2020/12/covid-19-national-calls-on-govt-to-address-concerns-over-new-covid-strain-in-the-uk.html

      Bishop is taking the position of Baker. What he overlooks is that airlines are now limiting services out of the UK – so there is a de facto traffic light system developing – where those from Oz will take up bookings allocated to those who can no longer get flights. And pre flight tests are simply a bad idea – people leaving lockdown safety to get a test are placed at risk of catching the virus – they will test negative but be infected by the time they get to the plane with their now obsolete result. It would make things worse. Sometimes people do not think.

      For mine the best move we can make with a new more infectious strain about is to keep people in their hotel rooms for the first week (so recent arrivals are kept apart from those in the second week about to leave the hotel).

      • Adrian 5.2.1

        The mention of Baker is interesting, he is practicly the only commentator on the media. What exactly was his role in the huge Covid committee, I was under the impression he was sidelined quite early on. Was he the one who wanted to completely seal the borders even to returning NZers which I think goes against international law. I lost all respect for him when I read his Guardian article mid year pretty much claiming all the credit for the lockdown and espousing just how brilliant he thought he was, it was the sort of thing Trump could have written it about himself.

        I don't think this new variant will be found to be that much faster spread, I think the problem is that when FC Johnson lifted the London Lockdown too early the pent up infections just exploded. Who has a " lockdown "when the top tier only closes cinemas and pubs, restaurants, gyms, and pretty much everything else was wide open. It was a story that FC Johnson concocted to cover even more of his stupidity.

        Note.. if you want to know about the FC identifier, look up what the UK No1 Christmas song is looking like being this year. It is a brilliant punk rock anthem.

        • McFlock 5.2.1.1

          Baker is doing his job, and he's damned good at it. He was the one who said that we could eliminate this thing, when everyone else was just trying to lessen the impact. And public communication is part of his role.

          But his job is to focus solely on the health of the population. If there's anything with a tiny chance of improving things, he throws it up the flagpole. Other people have the job of looking at things from a financial, practical, or social impact perspective.

          We tried pre-testing. It didn't work well enough to make arrival isolation less important. But he's right to keep throwing options up.

          • Adrian 5.2.1.1.1

            He may be very, very good at his job but there are ways to be a little less of the smug manner about it, and smug is probably the wrong word. There are also around 40 or so others who are or were advising like Dr Ian Town, Dr Ayesha Verrall Stephen?Hendry , and many others I can't recall. One does get the impression from Dr Baker that he is the only one who is the authority.

            • McFlock 5.2.1.1.1.1

              Most scientific advisors have multiple hats. In Baker's case, he's a senior academic (which requires being "critic and conscience" of society), and is probably on speed dial for any journo needing a quote from an expert in public health.

              DHB professionals, for example, don't have the same public communication job as academics, and might even be constrained by policies about speaking out. Science communicators might not have the specialisation. So folk like Baker have their moment in the sun.

              As to smug… well, that's a more subjective judgement.

    • Stuart Munro 5.3

      His dad often writes in the Dom. Tragic when your only fan club is your parents.

  6. Herodotus 6

    Thoughts go out to those serving the community over this festive season be you distributing food from a food bank serving meals to those in need

    hopefully these services will be in less demand, we can only hope

  7. mary_a 7

    @ Andre ..

    My mistake. Cheers for clarifying that point re the Brumpf's (military) schooling.

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