Aust govt to ban mortgage break fees?

April 19, 2009

The Australian government is considering a ban on mortgage break fees  which ought to be regarded with concern.

Mortgages are contracts and a government that gets between parties in a contract is treading in very dangerous waters.

Banks are being criticised for charging break fees for customers who want to get out of fixed term deals. If the charges were well above the cost there might be grounds for that criticism, but breaking a mortgage incurs expenses for the banks and they are justified in expecting customers to pay reasonable costs associated with backing out of a deal.

Banks have also received criticism for not passing interest rate falls on to people with fixed mortgages, but I have yet to hear anyone suggest that these customers pay more when interest rates rise.

If you agree to a fixed interest loan you gain if interest rates rise and lose if they fall. If you choose to use the floating rate you’ll be able to take advantage of falling rates but have to pay more if they rise.

There is no certainty. People who borrow have to accept the risks which come with it and governments should be very wary about trying to protect them from those risks.


A Bush Christening

April 19, 2009

JC left John O’Brien’s poem Tangamalangmaloo in response  to yesterday’s poem.

That prompted today’s contribution to poetry month. It’s Banjo Paterson’s Bush Christening which comes from The Man From Snowy River & Other Verses, published by Angus & Robertson.

                      A  Bush Christening

On the outer Barcoo where the churches are few,
And men of religion are scanty,
On a road never cross’d ‘cept by folk that are lost,
One Michael Magee had a shanty.
Now this Mike was the dad of a ten year old lad,
Plump, healthy, and stoutly conditioned;
He was strong as the best, but poor Mike had no rest
For the youngster had never been christened.

And his wife used to cry, `If the darlin’ should die
Saint Peter would not recognise him.’
But by luck he survived till a preacher arrived,
Who agreed straightaway to baptise him.

Now the artful young rogue, while they held their collogue,
With his ear to the keyhole was listenin’,
And he muttered in fright, while his features turned white,
`What the divil and all is this christenin’?’

He was none of your dolts, he had seen them brand colts,
And it seemed to his small understanding,
If the man in the frock made him one of the flock,
It must mean something very like branding.

So away with a rush he set off for the bush,
While the tears in his eyelids they glistened —
`’Tis outrageous,’ says he, `to brand youngsters like me,
I’ll be dashed if I’ll stop to be christened!’

Like a young native dog he ran into a log,
And his father with language uncivil,
Never heeding the `praste’ cried aloud in his haste,
`Come out and be christened, you divil!’

But he lay there as snug as a bug in a rug,
And his parents in vain might reprove him,
Till his reverence spoke (he was fond of a joke)
`I’ve a notion,’ says he, `that’ll move him.’

`Poke a stick up the log, give the spalpeen a prog;
Poke him aisy — don’t hurt him or maim him,
‘Tis not long that he’ll stand, I’ve the water at hand,
As he rushes out this end I’ll name him.

`Here he comes, and for shame! ye’ve forgotten the name —
Is it Patsy or Michael or Dinnis?’
Here the youngster ran out, and the priest gave a shout —
`Take your chance, anyhow, wid `Maginnis’!’

As the howling young cub ran away to the scrub
Where he knew that pursuit would be risky,
The priest, as he fled, flung a flask at his head
That was labelled `MAGINNIS’S WHISKY’!

And Maginnis Magee has been made a J.P.,
And the one thing he hates more than sin is
To be asked by the folk, who have heard of the joke,
How he came to be christened `Maginnis’!

 

        – Banjo Paterson –


P.J. O’Rourke on capitalism and free trade

April 19, 2009

The Business Herald interviewed USA satirist P.J. O’Rourke who said on capitalism:

The free market is simply a measurement. It’s a yardstick; a bathroom scale. You may hate what you see when you step on a bathroom scale, but you can’t pass a law making yourself thin. And I feel there are a lot of politicians out there who think that you can, or want to tell the public that the public can.

On China:

Two years ago, I spent quite a long time there. And I was there a year ago too, although that was more Hong Kong. But it’s an amazing place. The changes are great. People who say the Chinese economic boom has not come with greater freedoms are only talking about a limited range of freedoms. When people are able to feed themselves, as opposed to unable to feed themselves, that makes them a lot freer. Economic freedoms are a big part of the freedom we use every day. They’re easy to mock, but the freedom we use most often, and to the greatest extent, is economic freedom. And so the Chinese all of a sudden have that, and it’s extraordinary to see. But it also is an important lesson that economic freedom is a necessary, but not sufficient, part of complete freedom.

And On free trade:

People will lie about this. Even if they don’t always understand the free market is to their advantage, they do understand that free trade is to their advantage, in a macro sense over a long period of time. But nobody seems to understand yet that when you restrict your imports you are restricting the actions of your own people and you are hampering the freedoms of other people around the world to indulge in the harmless exchange of goods. People say free trade causes dislocation. In actual fact, it’s the lowering of trade barriers that causes the dislocation. It’s not the natural state of things that causes dislocation, so much as it is the changing from the previously unnatural state of things.

The full interview is here. 

He doesn’t know how to use a computer and writes with a typewriter. As a specialist in work avoidance I concur with his view on the danger of distraction with computers, but there is no way I’d choose a typewriter over a word processor and not just because it’s easier to make corrections when I type faster than I spell.

There’s a link at the bottom of the interview for information on O’Rourk’s John Bonython lecture in Auckland on April 30th. It didn’t work but I found if on the Centre for Independent Studies’ website.

Hat Tip: goNZo Freakpower


Dear Andrew Williams #2

April 19, 2009

Dear Andrew Willliams,

You’ve emailed me again and given I wasn’t impressed with your first two missives I was going to ignore these two, too.

But I was at a National Party regional meeting in Dunedin on Friday and one of the electorate chairs mentioned that she’d got a couple of emails from you and wasn’t impressed either.

She was even less impressed after her polite response requesting you stop sending her unsolicited emails was met by a return message saying something like great to hear from you, we’ve had so much repsonse we’ll deal with yours when we have time.

We’ve worked out you must have got our addresses from the National Party website.

It’s public so any of us whose addresses are there might expect the odd unsolicited email. But our contact details are there because we’re volunteer office holders who members and supporters might wish to contact, not as an invitation for lobby groups to bombarb us with unwanted propaganda.

If you’re going to send us spam the least you can do is include an unsubscribe option so our requests to be removed from your mailing list aren’t met with another unwanted message.

Yours sincerely

Ele


Q&A numbers disputed

April 19, 2009

Screening Q&A at 9am on Sunday isn’t the best plan if you’re aiming to attract viewers but a media release from TVNZ reckons that Tom Frewan got his numbers wrong.

His column in the print edition of the NBR said that numbers watching Q&A were only about half that which watched Agenda. TVNZ says the opposite is true with Q&A attracting more than twice as many viewers in March as Agenda did in the same month last year.

If they were serious about ratings they’d screen it at a more convenient time and they  might also have a better set than the one they’ve got which, as Brian Edwards points out, makes it easier to watch with closed eyes.

I’ve only managed to catch the show once, but  Murray McCully and Don Brash will be interviewed today so in spite of the inconvenient timing, I’ll try to watch.


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