Thursday’s quiz

August 28, 2014

1.  Who said: “Spring is nature’s way of saying, “Let’s party!””

2. What was the title of Robert Bolt’s play about Thomas Moore?

3. It’s too easy in French, in stagione Italian, estación in Spanish and wa in Maori, what is it in English?

4.  How does this sentence begin and where does it come from: . . . and a time to every purpose under the heaven?

5. What’s your favourite spring flower?


National working in and for the south #25

August 28, 2014

Fantastic Fact # 25:

 


Grow garden not pie

August 28, 2014

Slicing or growing the pie is a popular metaphor in discussions on the economy.

Keith Hennessey has a better one. He likens the economy to a garden:

The most common metaphor for debates about growth and income distribution is that of the economy as a pie. Some focus their policy efforts on economic growth and efficiency: making the pie bigger. Others emphasize policies that increase equity and redistribute income: how shall we cut up the pie and distribute its slices, whatever its total size?

We learn early in introductory economics that there is a big tradeoff between these two goals of equality and efficiency. Higher marginal tax rates allow for more income redistribution but create disincentives to work, save and invest and thereby reduce economic growth. Policymakers try to optimize, but at the end of the day someone has to decide whether faster economic growth or increased equity is the higher priority. . .

A flower garden is a better metaphor for looking at economic growth and income distribution. A flower’s growth depends on the individual characteristics of that type of flower and that particular seed. It also depends on common factors shared with other flowers in the same garden (e.g., the local climate, pests, the skill and diligence of the gardener) as well as its particular advantages relative to other flowers (better sunlight, soil, and water in this part of the garden than that part over there).  Although there is some interdependence, the rapid growth of a sunflower at one end of the garden largely does not come at the expense of a struggling tulip at the other end. The sunflower may have advantages the tulip does not, even unfair ones, but the fast-growing sunflower is not “taking growth” from the slow-growing tulip.

Flowers will grow at different rates for a variety of different reasons. Policymakers should focus their energies on absolute growth rates rather than relative ones. It’s not a problem that some flowers are growing faster than normal, unless (a) that growth is indeed coming at the expense of other flowers, or (b) that more rapid growth is because the gardeners are neglecting the tulips to help the sunflowers grow faster.

The role of policy makers is to provide good law to ensure competition is fair and that businesses face their share of external costs, it isn’t to interfere in the market.

In the same way it makes more sense to think of economic growth as the sum of the unequal income growths of tens of millions of separate individuals, rather than as a single growing pie to be divided. Any particular individual’s income growth depends on his innate talent, education, and skills, his effort and diligence, and some degree of luck. It also depends on common factors such as the health of the local, regional, national, and world economies, as well as shared resources like transportation and communications infrastructures and a stable and predictable system of law, property rights, and government rules.

The principal economic challenges are to maximize the growth potential of the entire economy/garden and to maximize the opportunities for those individuals/flowers struggling to succeed/grow. And just as a gardener should spend more time tending to the parts of his garden that are struggling, policymakers should devote greater effort to maximizing opportunities for those at the bottom of the income distribution to improve their lot. In the long run this means things like improving elementary and secondary education, expanding free trade, and reducing the growth burden of regulations, government spending, and debt. In the short run it means getting the incentives right so that those on means-tested government assistance don’t face exorbitant marginal effective tax rates from poorly designed income phase-outs.

Benefits should be to support those who need it while they need it, not a disincentive to people who can help themselves to do so.

The flower garden metaphor has one final advantage over the pie metaphor. A pie does not exist without a baker, whereas flowers grow naturally. The growth comes from the flowers, facilitated but not created by a good gardener. In the same way policymakers and elected officials neither “create jobs,” nor “increase economic growth.” Smart policymakers create the conditions under which private firms create jobs and in which millions of individuals combine their separate efforts to create economic growth. The origins of economic growth are in the private sector, not the public.

In an area of economic policy as complex as this, a good metaphor matters and can influence policy. Policymakers should create the conditions under which the whole economy can grow as rapidly as possible, and should devote particular effort to maximizing the potential for those most struggling to succeed. Let’s not fight about dividing up the pie, but instead work to help the whole flower garden, and all the flowers in it, to blossom.

 The garden is a healthier, more attractive and natural  metaphor than the pie and provides a much better picture of good economic management.

The election gives us a choice between the National gardeners who respect the ability of businesses and individuals and understand the conditions which will help them flourish and the Labour/Green/NZ First/Internet Mana who don’t.

Hat tip: AE Ideas


Free trade fairest

August 28, 2014

Prime Minister John Key says free trade will lift kiwi incomes:

National today released a set of policies that reinforces the Party’s commitment to openness with the world as the path to lift New Zealanders’ incomes, in contrast with opposition parties that want to isolate us from the rest of the world.

“New Zealand’s economic prosperity relies on selling our goods and services to the rest of the world,” says National Party Leader John Key.  “The fewer barriers there are for our exporters, the better off New Zealanders will be.”

“That is why as Prime Minister I have been working hard on behalf of New Zealanders to crack open more doors to free trade, alongside Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Trade Minister Tim Groser.

“This includes pushing for a high-quality free trade agreement under the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes economic giants like the United States and Japan.

“The choice for voters in this area, like so many others, is stark.

“The Greens want to end free trade and Labour, riven by caucus division, is very confused about what it wants after previously being in favour of free trade.  The Dotcom party, of course, is totally opposed to free trade.

“There can be no doubt that this combination in government would damage the cause of New Zealand’s exporters and damage New Zealand’s economic prosperity.

“Raising barriers to the rest of the world and halting the momentum of trade agreements with key markets like the US, Japan and Korea, would be disastrous,” says Mr Key.

“Our policy to encourage free trade is one of the most important ways we can become more prosperous.

“Trade agreements allow New Zealand companies to access big international markets as if they were part of New Zealand’s domestic market.  For a small country they are hugely important.”

Mr Key made the comments at the opening of the New Zealand Winegrowers conference in Blenheim today as National released its Trade, Foreign Affairs and Tourism policies.

“The wine industry is a leading example of New Zealand companies thriving on the world stage,” says Mr Key.

“The policies we are releasing today show our commitment to remaining open to trade with the world, having an independent foreign policy, and encouraging and supporting our crucial tourism industry.

“Should National have the privilege of forming a government after the election, I would continue as Minister of Tourism, working hard to promote New Zealand as a tourism destination,” he says.

Mr Key also announced along with Education Minister Hekia Parata that the National Government has decided to create a $10 million fund over five years to increase the provision of Asian languages in schools.

“These policies together demonstrate National is committed to seeing New Zealand remaining open to the world, continuing to generate economic prosperity through good relations with other countries, and lowering barriers to trade.”

New Zealand would not be where it is economically or socially if it wasn’t for the free trade agreements negotiated by successive governments.

Until recently National and Labour have had a reasonable degree of consensus on the importance of free trade.

That is no longer the case.

Labour is back tracking on its commitment to open borders and it would be dragged further back if it needed the support of the Green, New Zealand First and Internet Mana parties to govern.

Only a National-led government will guarantee continuing focus on free trade and the economic and social benefits which come from that.

 


Election outcome less certain

August 28, 2014

It was inevitable that polls would tighten as the election gets closer and last night’s 3 News Reid Research poll shows that’s happening:

August 19-25, 1000 people polled, margin of error 3.1 percent

National 45 percent, down 2.5 percent
Labour 26.4 percent, down 2.6 percent
Greens 13.5 percent, up 0.5 percent
NZ First 6.3 percent, up 1.7 percent
Conservative 4.6 percent, up 2.1 percent
Internet Mana 2.1 percent, up 0.1 percent
Maori Party 0.7 percent, down 0.1 percent
United Future 0.4 percent, up 0.2 percent
ACT 0.3 percent, no change

Seats in the house:

National 57
ACT 1
United Future 1
Maori Party 2
Right total: 61

Labour 33
Greens 17
Internet Mana 3
Left total: 53

NZ First 8

The Maori Party could go left or right.

But while it has voted against National more times than with it, the choice of being in a stable National-led government supported by Act, United Future and possibly New Zealand First would almost certainly be preferable to it than supporting an unstable Labour, Green, NZ First, Internet Mana coalition.

The Conservative Party is now in spitting distance of the 5% threshold.

Kiwiblog shows that if it makes it into parliament, Labour won’t be able to govern:

Conservatives 4.6%

Centre-Right 59 seats (Nat 57, ACT 1, UF1)

Centre-Left 53 seats (Lab 33, Greens 17, Internet Mana 3)

Centre 11 seats (NZ First 8, Maori 3)

This means National would need the Maori Party to govern, and Labour would need both NZ First and the Maori Party (plus Greens, Mana)

Conservatives 5.0%

Centre-Right 62 seats (Nat 54,  Conservatives 6, ACT 1, UF1)

Centre-Left 51 seats (Lab 32, Greens 16, Internet Mana 3)

Centre 11 seats (NZ First 8, Maori 3)

This means National would still need the Maori Party (or NZ First) to govern, but Labour would be unable to govern under any combination.

As another example of MMP’s perversity, National would have more seats if the Conservative Party didn’t make it into parliament but could be

more likely to govern if the Conservatives do cross the line because Labour wouldn’t be able to cobble together a coalition.


August 28 in history

August 28, 2014

489  Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths defeats Odoacer at the Battle of Isonzo, forcing his way into Italy.

1189  Third Crusade: the Crusaders began the Siege of Acre under Guy of Lusignan.

1349 6,000 Jews were killed in Mainz, accused of being the cause of the plague.

1511  The Portuguese conquered Malacca.

1542 Turkish-Portuguese War (1538-1557) – Battle of Wofla: the Portuguese were scattered, their leader Christovão da Gama captured and later executed.

1609  Henry Hudson discovered Delaware Bay.

1619  Ferdinand II was elected emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

1640 Second Bishop’s War: King Charles I’s English army lost to a Scottish Covenanter force at the Battle of Newburn.

1749 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German writer and scientist (d. 1832).

1774 Elizabeth Ann Seton, American-born Catholic saint, was born (d. 1821).

1789  William Herschel discovered a new moon of Saturn.

1810  Battle of Grand Port – the French accepted the surrender of a British Navy fleet.

1828 Leo Tolstoy, Russian author, was born (d. 1910).

1830  The Tom Thumb presaged the first railway service in the United States.

1845 The first issue of Scientific American magazine was published.

1859  A geomagnetic storm caused the Aurora Borealis to shine so brightly it was seen clearly over parts of USA, Europe, and as far away as Japan.

1862 American Civil War: Second Battle of Bull Run.

1879  Cetshwayo, last king of the Zulus, was captured by the British.

1884 Peter Fraser, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, was born (d. 1950).

1898  Caleb Bradham renamed his carbonated soft drink “Pepsi-Cola”.

1901  Silliman University was founded in the Philippines,  the first American private school in the country.

1906 John Betjeman, English poet, was born (d. 1984).

1913 Queen Wilhelmina opened the Peace Palace in The Hague.

1914  World War I: the Royal Navy defeated the German fleet in the Battle of Heligoland Bight.

1916  World War I: Germany declared war on Romania.

1916 – World War I: Italy declared war on Germany.

1917  Ten Suffragettes wre arrested while picketing the White House.

1924 Janet Frame, New Zealand author, was born (d. 2004).

1924 The Georgian opposition stages the August Uprising against the Soviet Union.

1930 Windsor Davies, British actor, was born.

1931  France and Soviet Union signed a treaty of non-aggression.

1937  Toyota Motors became an independent company.

1943  World War II: in Denmark, a general strike against the Nazi occupation started.

1944  World War II: Marseille and Toulon were liberated.

1948 Danny Seraphine, American musician (Chicago), was born.

1951 Wayne Osmond, American singer (The Osmonds), was born.

1953  Nippon Television broadcast Japan’s first television show, including its first TV advertisement.

1954 Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme were convicted of murdering Parker’s mother Honora.

'Heavenly Creatures' found guilty of murder

1955  Black teenager Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi, galvanizing the nascent American Civil Rights Movement.

1961 Motown released what would be its first #1 hit, “Please Mr. Postman” by The Marvelettes.

1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom: Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his I Have a Dream speech.

1963 Emily Hoffert and Janice Wylie were murdered in their Manhattan flat, prompting the events that led to the passing of the Miranda Rights.

1964  The Philadelphia race riot began.

1965 Shania Twain, Canadian singer, was born.

1979  An IRA bomb exploded on the Grand Place in Brussels.

1986  United States Navy officer Jerry A. Whitworth was sentenced to 365 years imprisonment for espionage for the Soviet Union.

1988 Ramstein airshow disaster: three aircraft of the Frecce Tricolori demonstration team collided. The wreckage fell into the crowd killing  75 and seriously injuring 346.

1990  Iraq declared Kuwait to be its newest province.

1990 The Plainfield Tornado: an F5 tornado hit Plainfield and Joliet, Illinois, killing 28 people.

1991  Ukraine declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

1991 Collapse of the Soviet Union – Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party.

1992 Canterbury’s “Big Snow“.

Canterbury's 'Big Snow'

1996  Charles, Prince of Wales and Diana, Princess of Wales divorced.

2003  An electricity blackout cut off power to around 500,000 people living in south east England and brought 60% of London’s underground rail network to a halt.

2011 – Hurricane Irene struck the United States east coast, killing 47 and causing an estimated $15.6 billion in damage.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Word of the day

August 27, 2014

Hwyl - a stirring feeling of emotional motivation and energy.


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